§ Mr. Bottomley
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report on the bus maintenance operations of the London Transport Executive will be published.
§ Mr. Alexander Fletcher
The report is published today. The Commission were asked to report on whether the London Transport Executive could improve the efficiency of its bus maintenance and reduce its costs. The Commission shares the view of the London Transport Executive that there is an urgent need for substantial improvement in the efficiency and cost effectiveness of its bus maintenance activities. The Commission makes a number of criticisms and suggests a total of 39 remedies to improve efficiency and reduce costs. The Commission notes that for 1984–85, LTE plans a reduction of about 8 per cent. both in unit costs and gross expenditure. As priority matters to assist LTE to achieve or perhaps improve on that reduction, the MMC proposes that LTE should include in the 1984–85 budget cost reduction targets in such a form that their achievement largely rests with the management at the individual garages and works; review the need for night and running shifts at the smaller garages; pursue vigorously a policy for increased labour flexibility; and improve the planning and control of vehicle overhauls.
Other MMC proposals concern the structure and scale of the engineering organisation and its competitiveness; management control systems; industrial relations; incentive schemes and investment policies.
The MMC was also asked to consider the effect on maintenance costs of the introduction of annual testing of public service vehicles. The MMC found they were not significant.
Finally the MMC was asked whether LTE is pursuing a course of conduct that operates against the public interest. The Commission considers that LTE's senior management is intent upon achieving a significant improvement in the efficiency of its bus maintenance activities over the next 12 or 18 months, and in its judgment it cannot now be said that the executive is pursuing a course of conduct which operates against the public interest.
The executive will be publishing within three to four months its preliminary response which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, will bring to the attention of hon. Members.