My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is correct that consideration of any alternative coach service between Heathrow and Central London was not possible in the past because of the refusal by London Transport to allow any such licence to be granted; and, if so, what steps have been taken by the Department of Trade, British Airways and London Transport to safeguard the consumer interest.
My Lords, various proposals have been put forward in the past for alternative coach services between Heathrow and Central London, and London Transport have had to consider each case. The Transport Act 1980 now provides prospective operators of any London bus service with the right of appeal to the Minister of Transport against a refusal by London Transport to agree to the operation of the service. The Department of Trade encouraged British Airways to ensure that there would be continuity of a coach service between Victoria and Heathrow following their withdrawal from the route on 14th November.
My Lords, I did not want to go into the past but is the Minister aware that on 4th August (at col. 1260 of Hansard) his noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton assured me:
"them" being the people who made applications to run these services. We were all rather shocked to hear that and I think it should be on the record. May I move on from that to Tuesday's Question? The noble Lord may recall that he omitted to answer one of my questions. Could he assure me that on the new bus service to start on 15th November there will be assistance for people to put their luggage on the buses?"…whereas up until now London Transport has stopped them,"
My Lords, that would be a question of crewing the bus concerned and that would be a matter for London Transport.
My Lords, does the noble Lord consider it right that any public service that has a monopoly over its service should have the legal right, in the light of consumer interest, to forbid other services to encroach upon it?
Yes, my Lords, that was a shortcoming of the previous arrangements. Happily, the Transport Act 1980 has now provided for an appeal to the Minister.
My Lords, if we are all going to have to use the Underground or are more or less forced to do so, would the noble Lord look again to see whether some express trains could be provided instead of one that stops at every station between the East End and Heathrow?
My Lords, the noble Lord is not compelled to use the Underground service if he does not want it. As I said on Tuesday, when I answered the noble Baroness, two new bus services are shortly to start which may suit the noble Lord better.
My Lords, would the noble Lord answer my question about express trains on the Underground?
My Lords, that again would be a matter for London Transport.
My Lords, would it not also be a matter of a miracle to get an express train through an underground tube?
My Lords, I did not hear every word that my noble friend said; but it sounded to be another matter for London Transport.