Commons Gate

Speeches and parliamentary questions in the House of Commons in the 2007-08 session

While speaking in the chamber of the House is a high profile activity for an MP, much other work is done elsewhere, in committee, as well as a large casework load for constituents.
 

A backbencher speaks for his constituents

 

 

Current Session

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25/11/08 Rail Network
11/11/08 Heathrow
07/10/08 Republic of Macedonia
22/07/08 DEFRA Employees in Cumbria
15/07/08 DEFRA Employees in Cumbria
10/07/08 Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee
07/07/08 Seals: Animal Products
07/07/08 Concessionary Travel
07/07/08 Badger Cull
25/06/08 Flooding - Pitt Report
23/06/08 Missing Persons: Cumbria
10/06/08 Motor Vehicles: Licensing
09/06/08 Daytime Running Lamps
05/06/08 Road Traffic Offences
25/03/08 Concessionary Bus Travel
14/03/08 Rutherford Appleton Laboratory: Finance
26/02/08 Councils in Cumbria
26/02/08 Social Housing
07/02/08 Danger on Rural Roads
30/01/08 Maternity Services
23/01/08 Flood defences
05/12/07 Public Service Broadcasting
04/12/07 Concessionary Bus Travel
04/12/07 DEFRA debate
20/11/07 Channel Tunnel Rail Link (Supplementary Provisions) Bill


 

Commons Hansard
25 Nov 2008

Rail Network

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): You, Mr. Speaker, will be aware that for over a decade I have been asking questions about the upgrade of the west coast main line, which, thanks to the generosity of this Government, is almost complete. However, even when it is completed, there will still be a capacity problem in the near future. What plans does the Secretary of State have to build a high-speed line going from London to Scotland on the west coast?

Mr. Geoff Hoon, Secretary of State, Department for Transport: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for paying tribute to the Government for spending some £8.8 billion on improvements to the west coast main line. That has meant extra capacity and improvements in journey times right up the line and on either side of it, and it has been a considerable success. I recognise, however, that it is important that we maintain capacity levels and see where there are capacity constraints on the network. I am sure that my noble Friend Lord Adonis will take my hon. Friendís submissions into consideration when looking at possible routes for future high-speed rail links. As my hon. Friend will be aware, there is more one route to Scotland.


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Commons Hansard
11 Nov 2008

Heathrow

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I totally agree with the hon. Gentleman on the high-speed line, and there is no stronger advocate of high-speed trains than myself, but does he not believe that the idea of a spur to Heathrow is a red herring to help get the Conservatives out of the hole they have dug themselves into?

Norman Baker: Since my party was the first to advocate a spur to Heathrow, I am not sure I entirely agree with that intervention.

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Mr. Martlew: Does the hon. Gentleman accept that he is being churlish, because as a result of this Governmentís actions this country has a high-speed line, which was not the case under Mrs. Thatcher? He should stop talking down the railways.

Norman Baker: That is the first time I have been accused of talking down the railways. I am not sure who was responsible for the channel tunnel, although I have a feeling that it predates this Government. Never mind that, because we have it now and it provides an opportunity to expand. Logically, we should do what other European countries have done very successfully and roll high-speed lines out across the country. Paris to Lyon was a corridor along which the vast majority of traffic went by air, but 91 per cent. of it now goes by rail, so the potential for a switch from air to rail is enormous.


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Commons Hansard
7 Oct 2008

Republic of Macedonia

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development and I led a ministerial team for this yearís UN General Assembly ministerial week. The Prime Ministerís personal commitment contributed significantly to the success of the Secretary-Generalís high-level event on the millennium development goals. I took forward our work on several of our top-priority foreign policy issues, from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Burma. The Security Council agreed a new resolution on Iran, and I had useful discussions on Somalia, Sudan, the middle east peace process, Georgia and international peacekeeping.

Mr. Martlew: During the summer I visited Romania, and was able to see the prosperity and hope that membership of the EU had brought to that country. Can my right hon. Friend tell me what progress is being made on the application from the Republic of Macedonia? It, too, could benefit from the prosperity that being a member of the EU would bring.

The Minister for Europe (Caroline Flint): As my hon. Friend knows, Macedonia is an EU candidate country and has made real progress against the benchmarks this year. However, work still needs to be done to improve on the conduct of elections and to strengthen political dialogue and legislative processes. A progress report from the European Commission is due in November, and that will provide an important assessment. I understand that the Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European integration is coming to London next week; I hope to have the time to meet him.


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Commons Hansard
22 Jul 2008

DEFRA Employees in Cumbria

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to increase the number of people working in his Department in Cumbria. [216276]

Jonathan Shaw, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: The majority of DEFRA staff working in Cumbria are located in Carlisle, Penrith and Workington.

Animal Health has an office at Carlisle that is staffed at a level to carry out duties effectively. Currently there are no immediate plans to increase staff levels.

Present staffing levels within Rural Payments Agency are sufficient to meet present business needs and are expected to remain reasonably constant going forward, although processes and structures are constantly under review for efficiency purposes.

There are currently no plans to increase staff numbers at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency's office in Penrith.


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Commons Hansard
15 Jul 2008

DEFRA Employees in Cumbria

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were employed by his predecessor Department in Cumbria in 1997; and how many were employed by his Department in Cumbria at the most recent date for which figures are available. [216277]

Jonathan Shaw, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: The number of staff employed by DEFRA's predecessor Department in Cumbria in 1997 is unavailable.

The number of staff (in full-time equivalents) employed at DEFRA's offices in Cumbria as at 30 June 2008 was as follows:

  Full-time equivalent
Carlisle (DEFRA)1.00
Carlisle (Animal Health)40.79
Carlisle (Rural Payments Agency)377.57
Penrith (Veterinary Laboratories Agency)25.18
Whitehaven (Marine and Fisheries Agency)1.54
Workington (Rural Payments Agency)672.37
Total1,118.45

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Commons Hansard
10 Jul 2008

North West Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place for the (a) representation of the interests and (b) consideration of the views of the Solway Haafnetters by the North West Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee when making decisions affecting them. [216289]

Jonathan Shaw, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Stakeholder groups including the Solway Haafnetters are not represented on the North West Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee (RFERAC).

The Environment Agency advertises regularly for applications for membership of the Environment Agency's North West RFERAC. The most recent recruitment process took place in May 2008. An application for a committee member place was not received by a Solway Haafnet licence holder at that time.

As standard practice, the Environment Agency would take into account the interests of affected stakeholders when forming views on fisheries and other matters. When items connected with haafnetters are debated by the Committee, members are free to ask for any information to assist with their deliberations. All agendas and minutes of the North West RFERAC are available upon request.

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the previous Chair of the North West Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee made a declaration of relevant interests on his appointment. [216278]

Jonathan Shaw: James Carr was appointed by DEFRA's predecessor MAFF, to the role of chair of the North West Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee, in April 1997.

As a condition of the appointment to chair, a declaration of interest statement was completed in accordance with the Environment Agency's procedure.

James Carr's appointment ended on 30 September 2002.

The current chair, Nicholas Marriner was appointed to the role in October 2002. He completed a declaration of interest statement in accordance with our procedures. These forms are also completed on an annual basis, and are available for inspection by the public.

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who appointed the Chair of the North West Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee. [216284]

Jonathan Shaw: I appointed the new chair for the north west region in May 2008. The current chair was appointed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) in May 2002 and reappointed by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) in February 2005.

Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons are for appointments to the Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee not falling within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. [216285]

Jonathan Shaw: The Commissioner for Public Appointments regulates ministerial appointments to the boards of certain public bodies - including that of the Environment Agency. The Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committees are, however, considered sub-committees of the Environment Agency board and do not, therefore, fall within the Commissioner's remit.

However, when making appointments to these Committees, DEFRA follows the Commissioner's 'Code of Practice' as a matter of good practice.


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Commons Hansard
7 Jul 2008

Seals: Animal Products

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made on discussions with the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission on the introduction of an EU-wide ban on the importation of seal products; and if he will make a statement. [216286]

Mr. Gareth Thomas, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform: We expect the European Commission to announce shortly what measures it intends to propose concerning the trade in seal products.

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment his Department has made of the likely effects of plans to introduce an EU-wide ban on the importation of seal products; and if he will make a statement. [216287]

Mr. Thomas: The Government have said that they would strongly support an EU ban on the importation of harp and hooded seal products. We expect the European Commission to announce shortly its conclusions on possible measures concerning the trade in seal products and an assessment will be made when any proposal is received.


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Commons Hansard
7 Jul 2008

Concessionary Travel

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): Does my hon. Friend agree that although the inequalities that have been talked about do exist, this system is of benefit even to people who live in rural areas, because when they visit towns or go on holiday or come to London, they can now travel on the buses if they have a pass, whereas before they had no service whatever?

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. A point that was consistently raised during the long campaign for such a national scheme was that when people went away from where they lived to other areas, they were not able to take advantage of concessionary local transport. Because of the existence of this concessionary scheme, people can take advantage of such local transport schemes everywhere, even in places where they do not live.

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Mr. Martlew: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con): By all means; I thought that I might have provoked the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Martlew: I suspect that most of those are Conservative authorities. Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House what his party would do?

Daniel Kawczynski: This is meant to be about scrutinising the Government.

Mr. Goodwill: As my hon. Friend says, this debate is about scrutinising the Government. We are not arguing with the overall budget for the scheme but about its allocation - some local authorities have been allocated more money than they have used. The Government have patently failed to identify where the expenditure would be needed, and places such as coastal resorts and cities where people go shopping have borne the brunt.

Mr. Martlew: I interpret the hon. Gentleman's remarks as meaning that the Conservative party will take money away from some local authorities to give it to others. Is that correct?

Mr. Goodwill: My point is that it is important that the money allocated for the scheme is allocated correctly.

Carlisle told us that it had a £272,000 shortfall. If the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) would like to dispute that figure, I would be pleased to hear his estimate, but the council tax payers of Carlisle are certainly picking up that bill.

Mr. Martlew: The hon. Gentleman is drawing me into this; I did not want that to happen. The reality is that the Conservative party in Carlisle said that it would cut the hours of the scheme to after 9.30 am, then changed it and said that the disabled could travel all the time, and then, three days before the local elections, found extra money to say that everybody could travel all the time. The idea that it had a shortage of money is absolute nonsense.

Mr. Goodwill: Perhaps I could run this one past the hon. Gentleman. If he thinks that I am mentioning only Conservative-controlled authorities, Barnsley metropolitan borough council, which is hardly a Conservative stronghold, told us:

"I do feel our local authority is receiving inadequate compensation from Central Government for funding concessionary fares."

This is not restricted to Tory authorities. Because of that uncertainty about take-up, which the Government failed to predict, local authorities are having great difficulty in planning ahead.

On the alphabetical list, I started with the Bs, and I shall end with the Ws. Winchester has a shortfall of £300,000; Worthing has a £600,000 shortfall; and Wyre has a £100,000 shortfall.


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Commons Hansard
7 Jul 2008

Badger Cull

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I congratulate the Secretary of State on making the decision, because it must have been very tempting to kick the issue into the long grass and go on holiday. Time will tell whether the decision is right or wrong, but is not the reality that the science did not justify a cull, and that the practicalities make a cull impossible? Many of us believe that the Welsh decision will never be implemented. Does he not think that more money should have been spent on research into a vaccine long before now?

Hilary Benn, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: I am sure that my hon. Friend will believe me when I say that the easiest decision that I could have taken would have been to announce another study, another review, another piece of work - [Interruption.] No, I could have done that, as opposed to finally taking a decision in light of a 10-year scientific study, in which the Government have invested £50 million, or we could have culled badgers to see what the impact would be. The study is our strongest evidence base from which to work. We have already invested a lot of money in vaccines, and I hope that the House will welcome the fact that I have announced a significant increase today.


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Commons Hansard
25 Jun 2008

Flooding - Pitt Report

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I welcome the Secretary of State's statement, but I wish to make two points. First, we should not believe that the privatised utilities will take the action that is necessary. After the 2005 floods in my constituency, of which I was a victim, they should have learned the lessons, but they did not. If they had done so, the problems last summer would have been lessened.

My second point is the need for more money for more flood defences. The Government have been very generous, and the Secretary of State has said today that more money will be spent, but there will never be enough taxpayers' money, and money will have to come from other sources, whether it is the businesses or the individual households that will benefit from those defences or the insurance companies. I hope that future legislation will ensure that if the Government keep their side of the bargain and put in extra resources, other resources will also be brought in.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): The responsibility that falls on the utility providers to ensure continuity of supply is clear. My hon. Friend can rest assured that the steps that we are taking will ensure improved protection for that infrastructure. Part of the process of the assessment is to identify where a piece of infrastructure is critical and where a way round it can be found, such as pumping water by a different route if a water treatment works is submerged, as happened with Mythe in the flooding last year.

My hon. Friend makes a good point about increased investment, and I am glad that he recognises that money that the Government are putting in. However, when it comes to the privatisation of schemes, we may find local communities, businesses and local authorities being prepared to put some money in. The question that we will have to address together is how we can draw on such contributions while also ensuring that we have a fair system, so that it is not only areas that can afford it that get flood defence schemes. The truth is that we all have a shared responsibility.


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Commons Hansard
23 Jun 2008

Missing Persons: Cumbria

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reports of missing people were made to Cumbria Constabulary in 2007, broken down by local authority area of origin; how many of them related to (a) vulnerable adults, (b) children under the age of 12 years, (c) children aged 12 to 16 years and (d) young people aged 17 to 18 years; and how many of the reports of a missing person under the age of 18 years related to a child or young person (i) in the care of a local authority, (ii) with a learning disability and (iii) with a physical disability. [207306]

Rt Hon Tony McNulty, Minister of State, Home Office: This is a matter for Cumbria constabulary. Statistics on the number and age of individuals who are reported missing from home are not currently collected centrally.

One of the priorities for the Missing Persons Bureau is the development of a national picture of missing persons, including the relevant statistical information. The National Policing Improvement Agency is working with key stakeholders, including Missing People and the Missing Persons Strategic Oversight Group, to take this work forward.


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Commons Hansard
10 Jun 2008

Motor Vehicles: Licensing

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many appeals relating to Traffic Commissioner decisions on (a) public service and (b) heavy goods vehicle licensing matters have been (i) submitted to, (ii) heard by, (iii) upheld by and (iv) rejected by the Transport Tribunal. [208870]

Bridget Prentice, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice: I have been asked to reply.

In the period between January 2003 to 6 June 2008, the following appeals against Traffic Commissioner decisions have been received and heard by the Transport Tribunal.

  Public service Heavy good vehicles
Submitted134509
Heard98342
Allowed3896
Dismissed60233

The difference between those submitted and those heard (203 cases total) account for the proportion of cases that have been withdrawn and/or settled. In addition, 13 appeals relating to heavy goods vehicles licensing matters have been referred back to the Traffic Commissioner for further consideration.


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Commons Hansard
9 Jun 2008

Daytime Running Lamps

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has to introduce legislative proposals to make daytime running lamps compulsory for all motor vehicles; and if she will make a statement. [209352]

Jim Fitzpatrick, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport: A directive requiring daytime running lamps on new types of vehicle from early 2011 was recently adopted by European member states.

The directive will require that from early 2011 new types of passenger car/light van are fitted with low-wattage dedicated daylight running lamps (DRL). These will automatically activate when the engine is started. By summer 2012, buses and large/heavy vehicles will also have to be fitted. This will apply to new vehicle types, not to existing vehicles or new vehicles built under existing approvals.

The Government have no plans to introduce additional legislation on this matter.


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Commons Hansard
5 Jun 2008

Road Traffic Offences

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when the Government plans to implement section 20 of the Road Safety Act 2006 regarding the offence of causing death by careless driving; and if he will make a statement. [207715]

Maria Eagle, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice: We intend to implement the section 20 offence of causing death by careless driving together with the Section 21 offence of causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured following the publication of sentencing guidelines by the Sentencing Guidelines Council. We anticipate that the guidelines will be published before the summer recess and we are currently considering possible implementation dates.


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Commons Hansard
14 Mar 2008

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory: Finance

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what he plans to spend on the operation of the Diamond facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in each of the next three financial years.

Ian Pearson (Minister of State (Science and Innovation), Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills): The Science and Technology Facilities Council, (STFC) plans to spend £26.997 million on Diamond operations in 2008/09. The planned spend for the following two financial years is to be discussed and agreed between STFC and Diamond Light Source.


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Commons Hansard
26 Feb 2008

Councils in Cumbria

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): Last year, the Department for Communities and Local Government decided not to reorganise Cumbria, but to leave it under a two-tier authority. When that decision, which I supported, was announced, the six district councils and the county council pledged to work together to reduce waste, save money and improve services. Will the Secretary of State write to those councils and ask them what progress they have made on that pledge?

The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): My hon. Friend is right: we decided last year not to proceed with the unitary proposals from Cumbria, and the onus is now on the county and district councils to work together more closely. He may be interested to know that the Leadership Centre for Local Government is involved in helping them to do just that, and that over the next three years £380 million will be made available to help councils to improve and become more efficient. Part of the way they need to do that will be to work together more closely. I hope that his councils will draw on those funds, and on the expertise that we are making available to them.


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Commons Hansard
26 Feb 2008

Social Housing

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): What assessment she has made of the potential of local housing companies to increase available social housing stock. [188693]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright): Local housing companies have the potential to contribute significantly to the target of 200,000 new homes on surplus public sector land by 2016. English Partnerships is working with 14 local authorities on developing the local housing company model. That will provide an accurate basis for assessing its potential, but early indications suggest that it may be possible, through the model, to deliver 15 to 20 per cent. more affordable housing on each site than traditional disposal and planning processes would deliver.

Mr. Martlew: Will the Minister expand on the benefits of local housing companies in providing extra resources for local authorities and extra affordable houses in my constituency and others?

Mr. Wright: The model places local authorities at the very heart of the development process, thereby affording councils greater influence over such matters as the quality and mix of houses. To respond directly to my hon. Friend, I should say that, crucially, it allows councils to benefit from the increasing value of land on the site which can be ploughed back into affordable housing. I am taking a keen and personal interest in the 14 pilot areas for local housing companies and I hope that more councils will consider that model in future.


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Commons Hansard
23 Jan 2008

Flood defences

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): My question is about flood defences. When a community has been flooded, the people there feel great fear and anxiety the next time there is heavy rainfall. That happened in Carlisle on Monday. Parts of the city have good flood defences, and extra defences will be put in place where they are needed, but what is happening nationally? The Government have massively increased funding for flood defences since last year's tremendous downpours, but that will not be enough. [Interruption.] Will the Prime Minister assure the House that he will look to the insurance companies and local authorities for other funding sources? Will he review - [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order.

The Prime Minister: I sympathise with those of my hon. Friend's constituents who are facing floods, and with everyone around the country who has been hit by them. Sir Michael Pitt has undertaken a review of our policies since last summer's floods, and we will implement all his recommendations. However, expenditure on flood defences was £300 million in 1997: this year, it is £600 million, and it will rise to £800 million in 2011. That means that more than £2 billion will be spent on flood defences in the next three years, and of course we will consult with local authorities to ensure that the money is spent in the best way.


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Commons Hansard
4 Dec 2007

Concessionary Bus Travel

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers she estimates will use the concessionary bus fares scheme. [170405]

Ms Rosie Winterton: From April next year around 11 million older and eligible disabled people resident in England will be entitled to at least free off-peak bus travel anywhere in England. In calculating the extra funding of £212 million we assumed an 85 per cent. uptake of passes, which we believe is a generous assumption.


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Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO

On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB