§ Brian Cotter
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children in Weston-Super-Mare constituency he estimates would lose the right to free school transport under the proposals contained in the Draft School Transport Bill. 
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
This would be a matter for the LEA. The School transport Bill (which has been published for prelegislative scrutiny) allows local education authorities to apply to the Secretary of State to run pilot schemes which will cater for ALL pupils, not94W just those currently qualifying for free school transport. Pilot authorities may charge for transport, except for pupils eligible for free school meals, but charges must be set at a level that does not encourage car use and caters for the needs of large and low income families.
The Local Government Association, the Audit Commission and the Social Exclusion Unit have all asked us to trial alternatives to the current regime. No authority will be forced to run a trial, and we have no plans to require all authorities to change their existing arrangements.