[Mr Gary Streeter in the Chair] — Bus Industry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:33 am on 6th September 2011.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport 10:33 am, 6th September 2011

That is not a matter for me, but the comments have been heard and will no doubt be passed on.

The hon. Member for Denton and Reddish mentioned the situation in London. He was advocating that the powers that are held by TFL might be extended to the rest of the country, which would be quite a change in the arrangements. I am not quite sure whether that is official Labour party policy. If it is, I am interested that he has put it forward today. Although his argument interests me, it is not quite the panacea that some people think. For example, when competition started in Manchester, we heard how there were queues of buses down the main street. I have to say that we get queues of buses in London, many of which are empty, because they have, in some cases, been overprovided, so similar problems arise with one operator—TFL. It is also the case that London buses are much more expensive to run overall and there is quite a cost to the public purse. Although I am not negating the argument in total, I am just making the point that counter arguments have to be taken into account when we consider the landscape after the Competition Commission has reported.

To conclude, buses matter to this Government. My focus is on ensuring that the right funding and regulatory framework are in place to ensure that passengers receive the best possible service, and that taxpayers receive the best possible value from public expenditure.