HC Deb 03 March 1999 vol 326 c779W
14. Mr. John Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the future of rural bus services in Wales. [72468]

Mr. Hain

The future for bus services in rural Wales is brighter now than for many years. In the current financial year £2.25 million has been made available to local authorities in Wales under the Bus Subsidy Grant Scheme to boost rural bus services, increasing to at least £3 million in 1999–2000. In addition, local authorities will be free to decide whether to spend a further £2 million on either rural or urban bus services.

This new money will secure 16 million bus kilometres next year, and allow authorities to increase by more than 60 per cent. the provision of socially necessary bus services compared with 1997–98. It will help to increase accessibility and mobility in the countryside, and to overcome problems of social exclusion.

Following the transfer of functions, the National Assembly for Wales will be responsible for determining the future of the Welsh Bus Subsidy Grant Scheme.