Concessionary Fares

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Harlow 12:00 am, 16th March 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities have now established schemes providing for concessionary travel on public transport for retirement pensioners; and how many do not operate such schemes.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

Concessionary fare schemes are for individual local authorities to decide. They are not required to notify my Department of details.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Harlow

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?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I agree that there are differences, but they do not follow the party political pattern that the hon. Gentleman described——

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

It is not possible to consider imposing a national scheme——

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

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.

Photo of Mr John Wells Mr John Wells , Maidstone

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?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I am sorry to hear about such difficulties. I should welcome and encourage moves by local authorities to harmonise such arrangements.

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness

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?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

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.

Later——

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman , Huddersfield East

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point relates to question 14 and to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens). The Minister obviously misled the House in terms of the——

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman , Huddersfield East

—concession pensions——

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. The hon. Gentleman is very ill-mannered to remain on his feet talking when I am on my feet. He knows that he has not raised a point of order.