HC Deb 01 August 1962 vol 664 cc92-4W
61. Mr. Brewis

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the inadequate rural bus services in South-West Scotland; and whether he will now make a statement on the implementation of the Jack Report.

62. Sir J. Maitland

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the concern caused in rural areas by the proposed reduction in railway facilities; and if he will now make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy to ensure adequate transport arrangements in country districts following the Jack Report.

68. Mr. Kimball

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the difficulties caused to people in rural Lincolnshire by the proposed reduction in railway facilities, he will make a statement about alternative methods of transport following the Jack Report.

79. Mr. Speir

asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the increasing costs rural bus operators are having to bear for labour, fuel and licences, and the danger of the wholesale withdrawal of uneconomic rural bus services unless the operators can be safeguarded against financial loss, what action he will now take on the recommendations of the Jack Committee on Rural Bus Services.

Mr. Marples

I have been giving consideration to the problem of rural transport, and to the Report of the Jack Committee on Rural Bus Services. As the House knows, this is an intricate matter, for circumstances vary from case to case, and the most careful thought has not yet produced a generally acceptable solution.

Where the closure of railway passenger lines or stations is concerned, I have power under the Transport Bill to require the Railways Board to provide and maintain alternative bus services where hardship would otherwise arise. I shall have the advice of the Area Transport Users' Consultative Committees in assessing any hardship involved.

Essentially, the problem arises from the gradual reduction in public transport, including bus services, as fewer people use it. The relatively small numbers of people affected make the problem particularly intractable. But we should be dear that it is not due to any overall lack of transport. I therefore propose to put in hand detailed studies of passenger transport facilities in a few selected rural areas, and of how essential needs are being met at present. These studies will cover ways of using existing resources, whether public or private, more flexibility and to greater effect, so as to relieve any hardship which may be found to exist.

I would hope to have the full assistance of the transport undertakings, local authorities, and local voluntary welfare organisations, and of all public bodies with transport resources in the areas selected, in making these studies and in carrying out any pilot experiments which it might seem desirable to undertake.