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Free Bus Travel

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 17 January 2007

4. What discussions he has had with Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on implementation of free bus travel across the England-Wales border. (114703)

I have regular discussions with Welsh Assembly Government colleagues on transport matters, including the Welsh free bus travel scheme for over-60s and disabled people.

One of the issues in my constituency is the impact of the national border when bus journeys go across it. I know that the Secretary of State for Transport is making sure that the new framework legislation will enable a seamless transition. I would be grateful if the Secretary of State for Wales could press his colleagues in the Welsh Assembly Government to take up that framework legislation to ensure that we can have seamless journeys across the English-Welsh border.

Indeed. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that Welsh Assembly Government Ministers will do that. I congratulate him on supporting bus services, as Mrs. Thatcher once said:

“Any man who rides a bus to work after the age of 26 can count himself a failure”,

and Steven Norris, when Transport Minister, said that bus passengers are “dreadful human beings”. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is contradicting that record.

Over 20,000 elderly and disabled people in Flintshire have benefited from the scheme. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it and similar schemes could be endangered if we ever saw a ragbag coalition of separatist Tories and nationalists running the Assembly?

Indeed. Not only would that policy be under threat, but the entire future of the United Kingdom would be under threat from the Tories’ policy of creating an English Parliament, relegating Scots and Welsh MPs, and presumably Northern Ireland MPs in the future, to second-class status. That is a recipe for the break-up of the United Kingdom and for such policies to be destroyed.