§ Mr. Cormack
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to bring to the attention of local authorities their powers to give financial help to rural transport.
§ Mr. Michael Heseltine
My right hon. Friends, the Secretaries of State for the Environment and Wales have today sent circulars of guidance to local authorities in England and Wales. Copies are available in the Library. They have been prepared in close consultation with the associations representing local authorities and bus operators, and with the benefit of the experience of those local authorities who have been among the first to make use of their rural bus grant powers. The Government reimburses to local authorities 50 per cent. of their expenditure on these grants.
The circulars explain that assistance may be given to services whether operated by buses or by smaller vehicles such as minibuses, cars, taxis or dual-purpose vehicles. Local authorities do not need prior approval before introducing schemes on which they intend to claim the Government contribution, so long as they 383W follow the guidance code, but an annual review will be made of the progress of the scheme.