Is the Minister aware of the superior quality of the concessions provided by most Labour-controlled authorities compared with areas not under Labour control? Is that not illustrated by the Labour-controlled Harlow district council as compared with the Conservative-controlled Epping Forest district council? Is there not an overwhelming case for a basic national scheme that provides minimum concessions so that all old people can enjoy them?
Circumstances vary widely between local authorities. They must be able to make their decisions about support in the light of their knowledge of the needs and circumstances of their areas.
Is my hon. Friend aware of the problems of the retirement pensioner when more that one bus undertaking operates within the same local authority district, each taking a different view of such matters as discs, which leads to confusion and difficulties for the elderly? Will my hon. Friend issue guidance on simplification and aid?
Is not the need for mobility and access for the elderly common to every town, city and rural area in Britain? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree, therefore, that the matter should not be left for local authorities to decide? Will he reconsider his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) and agree that the Government should consider introducing a minimum requirement for concessionary fares to operate throughout Britain?
The right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that such problems are experienced by the elderly throughout Britain, but the way in which the problems are dealt with, the measures that are brought forward and the services provided, differ so much according to local circumstances that it is right to leave local authorities to make the best arrangements that they can for the population in their areas.