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London Regional Transport: Staffing Levels

Volume 491: debated on Monday 11 January 1988

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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the present total number of London Regional Transport employees and what was the corresponding number on 1st December 1984.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport
(Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, LRT employed about 42,800 people at the beginning of December 1987. The corresponding figure for December 1984 was approximately 56,600.

My Lords, as the manpower cuts forced on London Transport by the Government have in recent weeks caused increasing congestion, delay, inconvenience and even risks to passengers, will the Government now ensure that the system recruits sufficient extra staff to restore it to its previous level of efficiency?

My Lords, I take issue with the noble Lord's suggestion that LRT is not operating efficiently at the moment. It is for LRT, not the Government, to determine the staffing levels required to operate services both safely and efficiently.

My Lords, the Minister gave overall figures for London Regional Transport. I understand that at the end of 1987 the drop in personnel on the Underground services was 1,000, of which 500 were on the operating side. Does the Minister not appreciate that there are large-scale complaints about the shortage of platform staff, particularly on many of the commuter stations?

I also checked and found that the number of staff employed on bus transport dropped by 2,400, of which 1,800 are drivers and conductors. Undoubtedly this is due to tendering out a number of services. Will the Minister appreciate that, judging by my own area where there has been large-scale tendering out, the resultant services are erratic, with numerous complaints? The state of the outside of many of the tendered-out buses is absolutely disgraceful and would never have been tolerated by the previous London Transport.

My Lords, as I said, it is for LRT and not the Government to determine staffing levels. It is essential that London Transport, both on the buses and the Underground, should operate safely and efficiently and give good value for money. I should have thought that the fact that a record number of people travelled on the Underground last year showed that they were providing a good service.