§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
I have today placed in the Library of the House the initial response produced by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland, in consultation with the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company and the bus companies, to the report submitted by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in June 1989.
I am grateful to the commission for the comprehensive review it carried out and the series of 58 recommendations it made. The commission found an effective, low-cost and lean organisation with short chains of command supported by loyal, hard-working and often courageous staff. The report noted the high level of civil disorder with which the companies have had to cope, reflected in the destruction of over 1,100 buses since 1969. It especially commented on the dedication of staff at all levels in maintaining services in the face of severe harassment.
The commission confirmed that the companies do not operate against the public interest. The report contained 58 recommendations most of which have been accepted and, where appropriate, are being implemented. This should result in a marked improvement of services to the public and the management of the companies. The companies are still considering the feasibility of a few recommendations.
The Department continues in dialogue with the companies about the implementation of the recommendations and I will report on progress to the House in due course.