Yes, Sir. Returns for the period up to 10th May show that on average, the number of Members using the buses was no more than 34, or about three per bus, and their fares have contributed only £45 towards the £394, which represents their share of the cost. The number of staff using the buses averaged £27. It was felt by the Government that, in these circumstances, continuance of the service could not be justified. The question whether any alternative facilities should be provided for the staff is now under consideration.
I am sorry that I am not in a position to give that information. I am unable to state a date, but we are doing our best to see whether an alternative form of service is possible.
The service was in operation between 17th March and 23rd May. Up to 10th May, the latest date for which figures are available, the excess of costs over receipts, was £750 13s. ld., of which £348 8s. 4d. was due to conveyance of Members.
May I ask whether this loss falls upon the taxpayer, and, if not, by whom it will be borne; and, secondly, whether these vehicles will now be transferred to the service of the noble Lords in another place, who, I understand, are now sitting inordinately late?
The answer to the first question is that we have agreed to a Supplementary Estimate to meet this, and it will be a matter for discussion when we come to consider the Estimates next time.
Yes, Sir, but I did say that we were working completely in the dark, that the service was an experimental one, and that we were basing the fares on what had been given to us as a reasonable basis, which would mean that Members would pay their proper share towards the costs.