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School Transport

Volume 932: debated on Friday 20 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has received on educational grounds relating to the proposal by British Railways to terminate the half-fare concessions for school pupils aged 14 to 18 years whilst continuing concessions to students of mature age; and if she will make a statement as regards recoupment from local education authorities.

My right hon. Friend has received about a dozen letters on this subject, and I understand that a greater number of representations have been made to the Department of Transport, which is more directly concerned. This action by British Rail is regretted, but the position is that, subject to the approval of the Price Commission—already given—the matter is within the discretion of British Rail. As regards recoupment from local education authorities, British Rail will be seeking larger payments from them in cases where school transport continues to be provided by rail after the concession for schoolchildren is withdrawn, and the increased cost to the authorities will be taken into account for rate support grant purposes.The concession to older students is designed for wider purposes than daily travel from home, which is virtually excluded.