Yes, Sir. While I am not complacent, I congratulate him on increasing by 3 per cent. in 1986–87 alone the mileage of trains run on the Underground, and on his plans for further increases this year.
Is my hon. Friend aware that I am grateful for the interest that he and the chairman are taking in the suffering of my constituents on the Central line? Will sympathetic consideration be given to constructive suggestions which may be made by the Central line users action group and myself?
Following a lengthy discussion with my hon. Friend, who raised several matters on behalf of his constituents, I have written to the chairman of London Underground Ltd. about them and I shall be in touch with my hon. Friend. As for the line users' association, of course I shall be happy to convey its views as well.
When the Minister next meets the chairman of London Regional Transport, will he bear in mind the thousands of south-east London commuters who would love to have an Underground service about which to complain? How long will south-east London remain the forgotten corner of the city when it comes to the development of the Underground system?
London Underground Ltd. is concentrating on improving its existing network and services. The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that the number of passengers has gone up by 50 per cent. since 1982 to an all-time record and that some £260 million of investment— the highest ever level— will be carried through this year. We should see those improvements through before we undertake a further extension of the system.
Is the Minister satisfied with the level of service provided by LRT, bearing in mind the number of ticket machines that are switched off or are out of order and the lack of staff issuing or collecting tickets, especially late at night? If there is £20 million to spare in this newly nationalised industry, would it not be better to spend it on providing much needed improvements for passengers who travel on the system than to hand it back to the Government?