§ Mr. Clifford Forsythe
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progresss has been made towards implementation of the recommendations contained in the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report of June 1989 on the bus services in Northern Ireland provided by Ulsterbus Ltd. and Citybus Ltd.; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Atkins
I have today placed in the Library of the House, the third and final response to the report which has been prepared by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland in consultation with the bus companies and the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company. I am glad to confirm that good progress has been made on the implementation of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's recommendations since this matter was last reported to the House in March 1991. The response now indicates that 42 of the 58 recommendations made by the 245W MMC have been implemented in full and that the remaining 16 recommendations have been accepted and their implementation is continuing.
I am pleased to inform the House that research published recently by the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland has shown that there has been a significant improvement in services provided by the bus companies since the council carried out similar research in 1987. This reflects in some measure the steps taken by companies in response to the MMC recommendations and the oversight of their implementation by the Transport Holding Company and the Department. In February 1993, the companies fulfilled the commitment in the Northern Ireland citizens charter by publishing their bus passengers charter. I am confident that the companies will meet the targets it sets for standards and quality of service and that, over time, will strive to improve standards even further, achieve better value for money and, in consultation with their customers, provide greater choice and a better and more attractive service which the public are entitled to expect.