Transport Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 9th November 2000.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 6:15 pm, 9th November 2000

My Lords, I understand why both the noble Baroness and my noble friend argue the matter in this way, but there are significant costs involved. Our estimate is that for the whole age group the cost would be somewhat higher than £50 million, although I accept that if it is confined to young people in full-time education the figure might be different. Nevertheless, it is a large sum. That figure would double our commitment in relation to pensioners and the disabled where we have already provided a guaranteed entitlement. In this House we have added the entitlement to people with disabilities. They are important steps, and inevitably there is an element of priority here.

The noble Baroness asked when I would review the situation and persuade the Chancellor to give me another £50 million. I cannot give a straight answer tonight, but clearly these matters will be kept under review. However, as the noble Baroness rightly says, under Clause 147 the Secretary of State has power to extend eligibility to such groups by statutory instrument. That is provided deliberately in order to be able to add particular groups, such as this one, when it is appropriate and additional finance is available. We believe that our immediate priorities are correct.