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Fares (London Underground)

Volume 933: debated on Monday 20 June 1977

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25.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection when he expects to receive the report of the Price Commission on Underground fare increases in Hertfordshire.

The Price Commission considers applications to increase fares from London Transport Executive against the rules set out in the Price Code and does not report to my right hon. Friend or any other Minister the outcome of that consideration.

Will the Minister in future consider the wisdom of matters of this kind being exempt from any veto of investigation? These increases—40 per cent. and 50 per cent. in this case—represent a substantial rise in the cost of living to the individuals concerned. They reflect not only on Hertfordshire but on Essex and Buckinghamshire. Surely this is the kind of matter with which the Department should be intimately concerned.

My Department is concerned about these matters, as the hon. Gentleman will know from the debate which he initiated on this subject last week, which, I think, answered his question fairly extensively.

Is my hon. Friend aware that almost all Conservative Members want some form of price control on services and goods in their constituencies and no such control in other constituencies? Does he agree that if there were no price control whatsoever we should be running into one of the greatest confrontations ever with organised labour and that that would do no good to this House, the nation or, indeed, Europe as a whole?

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the discrepancies between the views of Conservative Back-Bench Members who call for selective price control when speaking for narrow constituency interests and those of Opposition Front Bench speakers who have opposed the Price Commission Bill, which will enable such powers to be taken. The Opposition must sort out that problem among themselves. They must also recognise that the country is increasingly mystified about their policy on prices.