HC Deb 29 June 1988 vol 136 c362
17. Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what has been, in percentages and for each year since 1974, the average increase in bus fares in Scotland.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Information on bus fare increases in Scotland is readily available only from 1980. I have arranged for a table to be placed in the Library which shows annual fares increases from 1980.

Mr. Wray

Does the Minister agree that since deregulation of public transport there has been a substantial increase in fares and drastic cuts in services in some areas that have brought hardship to large families in perimeter schemes? Does he also agree that all transport should be transferred back to the regional authorities?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

No, Sir. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. The figures show that the overall annual fare increases from 1983 have been modest and below the rate of inflation. On routes that are subject to competition, fares have generally fallen or have increased at a rate below the rate of inflation. On other routes fares have generally increased in line with inflation. What has undoubtedly happened since deregulation is that vehicle mileage has increased by 4 per cent. and many innovative services have been introduced. For example, in Fort William, independent Gaelic Bus is competing with the Scottish Bus Group operator, Highland Scottish, and that has led to fare reductions on some routes.

Mr. Leigh

Will my hon. Friend tell some of the carping Jeremiahs on the Opposition Benches that there were plenty of their spiritual cousins south of the border before deregulation, but that since deregulation they have been strangely silent? Perhaps Opposition Members should take a leaf out of our book.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The object of privatisation is to ensure that the services are more responsive to the requirements and needs of the consumer.