HC Deb 02 November 1976 vol 918 cc541-2W
42. Mr. Richard Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she hopes to make a statement on her plans for revising school transport arrangements.

44. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the result of her examination of the review by her Department's working party of the arrangements for school transport, and in particular the proposal of a flat-rate fare.

Miss Margaret Jackson

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave earlier today to Questions by the hon. Members for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Madel) and Shoreham (Mr. Luce).

45. Sir D. Walker-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will consider the advisability of allowing the supplementation of free school transport by transport bearing a contribution from parents willing to make such contribution and of introducing any legislation which may be required with a view thereto.

Miss Margaret Jackson

As the law now stands, transport which LEAs are obliged to provide for schoolchildren living outside the statutory walking distances must be free of charge. Our proposals for the abolition of the walking distances coupled with the introduction of a flat-rate fare proved to be unacceptable to those whose children now travel free and to LEAs generally which were especially concerned about the administrative implications of charging. Local education authorities already have wide discretionary powers to assist with the fares of any pupil not covered by the walking distance provisions and to allow that pupil to use transport provided for pupils entitled to travel free. However, they are finding it increasingly difficult within the present financial constraints to make use of these powers.

Schools and groups of parents who buy and operate minibuses need to take considerable care in meeting the costs of running their vehicles to keep within the Road Traffic Acts which are, of course, primarily the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.