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Legislative Programme

Volume 884: debated on Thursday 23 January 1975

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asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with progress in the implementation of the Government's programme as set out in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech.

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance to the House that the National Enterprise Board, when it is set up, will be adequately financed? Can he say whether its decisions, once it is established, can be overridden by the European Commission?

I hope that the Bill dealing with the National Enterprise Board will be introduced in the very near future and that it will make reasonably speedy progress through the House, with the general will of hon. Members in all parts. Its powers will be set out in the Bill. It will follow strictly the lines of the White Paper published by the Government before the General Eelection and clearly endorsed by the country. There is no power that I am aware of in the European Commission which in any way interferes with the right of the Government to set up anything like the 1RC or the NEB or to take firms into public ownership, in accordance with the law of the land.

Will the Prime Minister tell the House when the Government intend to do something to redeem their pledge to improve rural transport? Is he aware that, because of the vastly increased price of petrol, bus services in many rural areas are being drastically reduced? Is it not time that the Government came forward with proposals to help when many people are finding it difficult to get to work?

The hon. Gentleman has raised a most important issue. I am not sure whether he is referring to public transport in rural areas or to owner-drivers. Both cases are important. The House has discussed the petrol problems of those who have to drive to work. I have answered questions about it and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport has given help to rural bus undertakings, road transport and railways. Because this is an important point, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will pursue this matter with my right hon. Friend.