I understand that local authority and bus operator associations are not generally in favour of such a formula. I am continuing discussions to see whether such a formula would serve any purpose.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that many local authorities, such as Leicester, are waiting for that formula so that they may consider giving concessionary fares to certain of those who use the Midland Red bus undertaking? Will he also bear in mind that the very high fares of this nationalised bus undertaking represent a very heavy burden on the elderly, in contrast with those of the local authority in Leicester?
I think that my hon. Friend would find that there would be no purpose in introducing the circular from the point of view of implementing a scheme such as the one which could be implemented in his local authority area. The circular will not make that possible. It is a matter for the local authority. There is always a differential between the fares of urban and rural transport services, but that reflects the degree of cross-subsidisation which goes on between the two.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many Conservative councils are hiding behind the formula which they say will be issued and have no intention of introducing concessionary fares? Will he confirm that there is nothing to stop local authorities issuing books of tickets, which do not need negotiation but can simply be handed out to pensioners?
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that what my hon. Friend says is so? Many local authorities use the lack of a formula as an excuse for not implementing concessionary fares schemes. Will not he send a circular to local authorities saying that they should go ahead with schemes, whether or not such a formula is to come into being?
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman made it clear to local authorities that they could go ahead with or without the circular. I am sure that they are well aware of the fact.