§ 1. Andrew Selous (South-West Bedfordshire) (Con)
If he will make a statement on the Translink guided busway proposed between Dunstable and Luton. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tony McNulty)
Translink was given provisional approval for funding of up to £78.39 million in the 2004–05 local transport settlement, subject to statutory powers and planning approval being obtained. The scheme is now the subject of an application to the Secretary of State for approval under the Transport and Works Act 1992. It would not be appropriate therefore for me to comment on its merits, as doing so could prejudice our consideration of the application.
§ Andrew Selous
Yet again, the wishes of the people of south Bedfordshire, as expressed in every survey of public opinion undertaken, and the wishes of all their county and district councillors, irrespective of party, are being ignored. They resent having an unwanted, expensive and bad value for money scheme imposed on them. Will the Minister please, even at this late stage, agree to put on hold the plans for Translink until a full and proper evaluation is undertaken into an alternative light rail scheme with feeder bus services, which would save the Government about £70 million and win them the undying affection of the people of south Bedfordshire?
§ Mr. McNulty
The hon. Gentleman will know that I am not able to put a hold on a process that has started to unfold under the Transport and Works Act 1992, but I can assure him that heavy rail and light rail alternatives to Translink were thoroughly assessed by the Department. Patronage for such projects was shown to be insufficient, and the alternatives did not offer value for money, despite some of the projects included. If he is serious about heavy rail or light rail alternatives, he might have a word with his right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) and explain to him what public expenditure means.
§ Mr. Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North) (Lab)
My constituency could be served by Translink, but, unfortunately, only really effectively if it is a guided busway because bus services offer flexibility. However, does my hon. Friend not agree that the whole scheme could be expanded to cover much longer distances and a much wider area, especially when housing between Luton and Milton Keynes is developed in future years? Will he continue his strong support for the Translink busway scheme, which we strongly support in Luton?
§ Mr. McNulty
I thank my hon. Friend for those comments. All I can say at this stage is that we will wait and see how the process under the Transport and Works Act develops for the Translink project, but I am sure that the Department will entertain any subsequent well-founded applications and treat them in the appropriate manner.