Rural Areas

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th January 1988.

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Photo of Matthew Taylor Matthew Taylor Liberal-SDP Alliance Spokesperson (Energy) 12:00 am, 11th January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received concerning the availability of transport in rural areas.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , North West Hampshire

A number of representations were received when bus deregulation was proposed, but very few recently, as operators and local authorities have taken up the opportunities provided under the Transport Act 1985.

Photo of Matthew Taylor Matthew Taylor Liberal-SDP Alliance Spokesperson (Energy)

I previously asked the Minister when the Government would make their response to the third report of the Select Committee on Transport on the financing of rail services. Can he now say when that response will be made? Will he seek time in the House to debate the conclusions of that report, with particular reference to local control of rail services in places such as Cornwall?

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , North West Hampshire

We expect to make a considered response to the Select Committee's report shortly. It would be quite wrong for me to speculate today in advance of doing so.

Photo of Mr David Harris Mr David Harris , St Ives

Does my hon. Friend agree that the introduction of the Transport Act 1985 has been a success in Cornwall? Will he take particular note of the extreme difficulty that has arisen in that county as a result of the crass decision by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly health authority to abolish completely the hospital car service? Will my hon. Friend have discussions with the Development Commission to ensure that a grant is made from the rural development fund to the new voluntary car service, Medilink, so that it can help fill that gap?

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , North West Hampshire

I am aware that the hospital car service has been withdrawn. I understand that the county council is waiting to see whether any commercial service is put forward. Of course, the council has powers to subsidise such a service if it deems that to be right and proper. There is also, as my hon. Friend said, the opportunity of using part of the £1 million a year that the Department of Transport has given to the Development Commission for this sort of purpose.