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Volume 77: debated on Friday 19 April 1985

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9.35 am

I have the honour to present a petition which may well be unique of its kind. It bears the common seal of the council of the city of Manchester, in pursuance of an order of the council, and thus expresses the opinion of a major city in petition form. Informed opinion has it that, if the petition is not unique, it is certainly a most unusual and important one.

The petition is about the Government's policies on buses and states that, if implemented, they could endanger concessionary fares for elderly, disabled and other people in special need, including schoolchildren and the young employed. At present these concessions are available to assist over 200,000 people in Manchester.

The policies will also mean, in the words of the petition,
that transport services required for social needs will be threatened. Of all Manchester households, 60 per cent. do not have a car (compared with 39 per cent. of households nationally), and in some parts of the Inner City this figure rises to over 75 per cent. Indeed these figures conceal that the car is not always available to the whole family in one-car owning families. For example, during the working day where the family car is used for the journey to work, the remainder of the family is deprived of the use of the car, and are therefore dependent upon public transport. It is estimated that, during the working day, the percentage of households in Manchester which either do not have a car or in which the car is not available for family use rises to 85 per cent. The impact of this falls particularly on women (who as a group make greater use of public transport than men), young people and those over the age of retirement.
Among other criticisms of the policies, the petition states:
that the strict safety standards needed for public service vehicles will not be upheld;

that continuity, reliability and stability of services will end;

many bus and rail services will vanish;

the few services that are left will no longer connect and services will become less frequent;

passengers will not know which services should run at what times, or what fares are to be charged;

operators will compete with old, unsuitable buses and coaches;

neither Users nor Ratepayers will have any say about their local public transport services;

the vital economic activity of the City Centre in particular and Manchester as a whole will not be maintained.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your honourable House will reject any legislation to implement the proposals of the White Paper on buses and the Transport Bill.
The message of the petition is one of compelling importance for tens of thousands of my constituents and for hundreds of thousands of the citizens of Manchester as a whole. That is why it bears the common seal of a great city and I most warmly commend it to the House.

To lie upon the Table.