Gordon Brown has mocked a Birmingham MP who complained about cancelled bus services in the city,
The Prime Minister sarcastically told the House of Commons he would call an “emergency cabinet” after John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) raised the issue of the number 41 bus.
Mr Hemming said every council should have the same control over buses as the Greater London Authority, which is able to demand that bus companies provide specific services.
And he highlighted the case of the number 41, which ran between Hall Green, Acocks Green, Yardley, Sheldon and Solihull, before it was scrapped on Saturday by National Express.
But he was jeered by Labour MPs for raising what appeared to be a local issue instead of a national concern such as the economy or the conflict in Afghanistan.
Mr Hemming began: “At the weekend, National Express group cancelled without consultation the number 41 bus in Birmingham, causing major problems for people in Birmingham.”
At this point, MPs began to heckle and Mr Hemming had to shout to be heard above the din.
He continued: “This is symptomatic of a national problem. When will the rest of the country be allowed to use the same system for bus management as exists in London?”
The Prime Minister waited for his colleagues to calm down, before saying: “I’m sure I should call an emergency cabinet to look at the situation of the 41 bus.
“I shall look at what he says and I shall write to him.”
Afterwards, Mr Hemming said he was furious that his concerns had not been taken seriously.
He said: “This is actually a major national issue, because every council outside London is affected. I focused on how it affected my constituents.
“I am shocked that Labour thinks it is funny. The people who are most affected are those that Labour claims to represent, those who do not have cars and depend on bus services.
“They are saying they don’t care about bus users. I believe Labour MPs should apologise to bus users for their behaviour.”
Local councils across the country have been calling for reform to the bus system for years. Under reforms introduced by the Conservatives in 1985, services outside London are deregulated and based almost entirely on where bus companies can make a profit.
In London, however, the mayor’s administration can demand certain services are provided, and subsidise unprofitable services using cash from profitable routes.