Bus Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1984.

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Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry , Banbury 12:00 am, 3rd December 1984

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what impact he anticipates there will be on the creation of new jobs if free competition in the provision of bus services is introduced.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Our policy will give operators a greater incentive to provide the transport which customers want by improving existing services and developing new ones. Growth in new services will create additional jobs.

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry , Banbury

Does not the evidence of allowing competition into express coach services and of trial areas such as Hereford, Worcester and Exeter show that by allowing competition double decker buses will no longer trundle around the countryside on fixed routes with no passengers and that they will be able to provide a service that people need, in areas where they want it, and thus provide a better service and more jobs?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend is right. Another example is the new Exeter minibus service, which operates at high frequency and therefore attracts many more passengers. By virtue of having a much higher frequency it has already created more jobs. If that sort of thing were repeated throughout the country there would he many more jobs.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley Central

Is the Minister aware that after privatisation, if he manages to get the legislation through, there are likely to be fewer night and rural services, a cutback in services and routes that do not pay, and, inevitably, fewer jobs? Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The right hon. Gentleman clearly has not studied the White Paper.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that local authorities, even his local authority, will be able to bring into existence services which do not now operate, by going out to tender and giving subsidies to provide such services. If such services do not exist in his area, that will be because of his local authority, not me.

Photo of Mr Peter Fry Mr Peter Fry , Wellingborough

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) in relation to express services? Is it not true that although there has been increased activity on the most popular routes, many places which used to have express coach services no longer have such services today?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

There are, of course, many more new services than services which have ceased to run. That may be a defect in the legislation, which confines such services to journeys over 30 miles. By reducing that distance we shall have more express coach services as well.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Is not the reality likely to be that although the gross number of new jobs may increase, one will see part-timers hobbling for pin money and replacing full-time men now in the industry?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman is at least beginning to acknowledge that this policy will result in more jobs, but, given the Opposition's continuing concern about unemployment, horrified to hear him condemning that.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

Is it not obvious that most of the opposition to these proposals comes from those who feel that their little empires are being threatened, and, in particular, from trade union organisers who are fearful that under private enterprise they will have fewer people under their control?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Yes, Sir. Monopolies on busy routes have led to high fares in order to provide the money for cross subsidy. In turn, that has choked off much of the traffic on buses. If that was stopped the amount of traffic on the buses would increase, so there would be more jobs and less expense.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

Is the Secretary of State not aware of the report prepared for the Plymouth authority, which clearly shows that to maintain the existing level of provision there will have to be a 22 per cent. rise in the rate? Will he acknowledge that creating part-time black economy jobs for people who are already tired from other jobs does not create new employment but merely puts passengers at risk?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I have not yet received a copy of the Plymouth report, but I should obviously like to study it—

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

A copy has not been sent to me. The hon. Lady mentioned part-time black economy jobs, so I shall have to refer again to the Exeter experiment. If the frequency of minibuses increases, many more people can be employed full time. That is the sort of service that people want. They demand a better service. Our policy is designed to end the restrictions on providing better services.