asked the Minister of Transport which metropolitan authority has had the largest cut in transport supplementary grant between 1979–80 and 1980–81; and what percentage this represents of its 1979–80 grant.
Tyne and Wear county council was allocated 46 per cent. less transport supplementary grant for 1980–81 than for the current year.
How can the Minister expect a metropolitan authority to carry out its statutory duty to develop and maintain good passenger transport services—at a time when the costs of those services are rising—if he chops 46 per cent. off the grant? Surely that is a totally unreasonable proposition? The right hon. Gentleman should find the funds to enable the metropolitan authorities to carry out the duties laid upon them by this House.
The Tyne and Wear authority is a special case, because of the leasing of rolling stock and the use of extra loan sanction outside the TSG system. The fact is that Tyne and Wear still does comparatively well.
Is the Minister aware that the Tyne and Wear metropolitan authority has just increased its rates by 30 per cent? Did the cut in the transport grant have an effect upon that increase?
Without examining the arrangements it is difficult to comment. The Tyne and Wear authority is treated fairly compared with other authorities.
Is the Minister aware that the scandalous cut of 46 per cent. in the Tyne and Wear transport grant has resulted not only in a savage increase in rates but, more importantly, in a savage reduction in bus services? Is he aware that that is having a serious detrimental effect on an area which is already under-privileged?
It is unrealistic to talk in those terms. I have already explained the reason for the reduction to the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth). I cannot believe that, under any objective analysis, it can be said that the Tyne and Wear authority is being badly treated in the provision of transport facilities.