§ Mr. Luce
Does the Minister realise that there is widespread support from schools and voluntary organisations for my Transport (Amendment) Bill, which is designed to facilitate the provision of transport for such bodies? How can the Government justify objecting to, and therefore sabotaging, a Bill that is designed to help those in need?
§ Mr. Marks
I have sympathy with Clause 3 of the hon. Gentleman's Bill, which deals with minibuses run by voluntary organisations and schools, but to seek to proceed with the Bill before we have 643 had the necessary consultations would be wrong. At the moment the National Council of Social Service and the national youth organisations have a working party that is investigating the matter. We expect it to report in September. We shall be meeting the Association of County Councils and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities to discuss the rôle of the county councils in the matter, particularly on the subject of registration and safety. We must also consult the Charity Commission.
§ Mr. Flannery
Is my hon. Friend aware that today I met representatives of the National Union of Teachers, who are deeply disturbed about the matter? Is he further aware that they pointed out that schools all over the country are in real trouble over the issue of minibuses? Will he expedite action?
§ Mr. Marks
There has been no recent change in the law. It has been the same for the past 16 or 17 years, when the law of the 1930s dealing with safety was replaced. I declare an interest, as a member of the same trade union as that which my hon. Friend mentioned. We have consulted carefully with organisations such as that and the National Council of Social Service, as well as representatives of the metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. They will have a lot of work to do, because they have recently been given much work by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Norman Fowler
Is the Minister aware that the issue is causing concern on both sides of the House? Does he accept that the present position of minibuses is also causing anxiety to voluntary organisations and schools throughout the country? Such organisations have heard many words from the Minister; when will they get some action?
§ Mr. Marks
I have specified three different things that we are doing. We are consulting county councils of both kinds, the Charity Commission and the various bodies that have expressed support for Clause 3 of the hon. Member's 644 Bill. We must be extremely careful before giving wide powers not just to voluntary organisations but to those people who might look for loopholes in the law.