London Transport (Capital Programmes)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th June 1980.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford 12:00 am, 25th June 1980

asked the Minister of Transport what capital programmes for London Transport have been cut in the last 12 months.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

The overall control of London Transport's capital expenditure programme is a matter for the Greater London Council. I understand that, following the transport supplementary grant settlement for 1980–81, the council asked the London Transport Executive to reduce its capital budget for 1980 by £12 million. This is being achieved by the deferment or rephasing of a variety of projects.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that many people think that, the more London Transport has spent on capital programmes in recent years, the worse has become the service and the higher the fares? In fact, there are 10 per cent. more people employed in London Transport now than there were in 1973. Will the Minister do something, either through the GLC or directly, to see that the unions co-operate in getting better productivity so that the commuter can get a better service?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

The GLC and London Transport are both now seriously discussing ways of improving performance on London Transport using the advice they have received from consultants commissioned by London Transport. I am sure that all those involved are fully aware of the need to improve the productivity of the system.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Where contributions to capital amounts spent by London Transport are made by the Ministry of Transport and by the Treasury, is the Minister fully confident that there is proper value for money? Can he assure the House that in future the actual amounts under such grants are made known?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

I know that the hon. Member is concerned about new bus grant which has been paid to London Transport for the Fleet line buses, which have not proved very satisfactory. We only decide eligibility for grant, and there is no way in which the Department can take over from London Transport the choice of a particular type of bus. The buses LT has now ordered are very much more reliable.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

While productivity may be one of the problems, is it not clear from the report to which my hon. and learned Friend referred that there is considerable criticism of management in London Transport's operations and of the relationship between London Transport and the GLC? Will my hon. and learned Friend consult our right hon. Friend the Minister about my proposal that British Rail should take over the running of London Transport rail services and that the National Bus Company should take over the running of the bus services, in view of the expertise that resides in both those bodies and the apparent lack of it in London Transport?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

To be fair, the report praised the technical efficiency of middle and line management in London Transport, though it made many criticisms of management in general and the executive. The GLC and London Transport are anxiously considering the recommenddations and it is for them to decide. Certainly my right hon. Friend will consider the rather more sweeping suggestions put forward by my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , Newham North West

I do not know which report the Minister is referring to. I am more interested in the report by Leslie Chapman, the author of "Your Disobedient Servant", who points out that the London Transport management are taken round in chaffeur-driven limousines when they ought to be experiencing their own services. Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the passengers on the underground would love to see some of those over-paid and under-worked people using the services that the public have to use instead of being driven around in limousines?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Transport)

I am sure that the hon. Member knows that Sir Horace Cutler and the GLC also took a close interest in that report and some of its findings.