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Mr. Wilkinson: I apologise for intervening after missing the speech by the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake). However, the Minister's statement is of such significance that it cannot go unanswered. She made a series of pronouncements that should be incorporated in new clauses. She said that references to the national rail network in this part of the Bill will in future often relate to the Strategic Rail Authority. The mayoralty will have powers beyond guidance to the franchising director in the form of instructions. The mayoralty will have a strategic responsibility vis-a-vis the railways in London that was not envisaged when the Bill was published. The changes were not mooted by the Government on Second Reading or in Committee.

I greatly welcome the new provisions because if the Greater London Authority is to be genuinely strategic, one of the most important strategic functions is the co-ordination and rationalisation of the provision of public transport in the capital. It made little sense for the mayoralty to be able to issue guidance to the franchising director but to be unable to make dispositions as to the facilities and resources necessary to bring about the co-ordination that is central to the mayoralty's role.

I hope that their Lordships will give those matters the closest scrutiny. I welcome the outline of the new provisions but several questions are begged by the

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Minister's observations. As she admitted, there could be conflict between the guidance to be issued by the Secretary of State and the mayoralty to the franchising director. There will be a mechanism to resolve that conflict, but Londoners will want the mayor and his authority to have the predominant power to bring about the rationalisation of public transport facilities in the railway sector that the Bill was intended to achieve and that it has hitherto lacked the mechanism to bring about. The Government are moving in the right direction, but I wish that they had spelt it out much more clearly a lot earlier.

8.15 pm

Mr. Brake: I thank the Minister for her statement, which is of some significance. I welcome her announcement that the Government will table amendments in the other place. It is important that they fine-tune arrangements between the mayor and the franchising director and between the mayor and the Strategic Rail Authority. I hope that that will shift the balance of power away from the franchising director towards the mayor, as I think the Minister said would happen. The views of the mayor and of Londoners should be paramount in discussing London rail services. I welcome the fact that the mayor will be able to promote new services. In those circumstances, I shall not press the amendment.

Ms Glenda Jackson: I wish briefly to respond to the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson). In Committee, I said:

In some of our lengthy and substantial debates in Committee, I said that the Government were considering tabling amendments later on particular matters. That is what we have done. I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's response to what I said. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) for welcoming the Government's proposals and for his commitment to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Brake: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 199

Provisions consequent on alteration of metropolitan police district

Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton): I beg to move amendment No. 67, in page 104, line 29, leave out clause 199.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 66, in clause 239, page 129, line 24, after '(1)', insert

'Subject to subsection (1A) and (1B) below,'.

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No. 65, in page 129, line 26, at end insert--

'(1A) With respect to the Acts shown in subsection (1B) below, the Metropolitan Police district is defined by the area shown in (1) above and the following areas:
(a) in the county of Essex, in the district of Epping Forest--
the area of the former urban district of Chigwell
the parish of Waltham Abbey;
(b) in the county of Hertfordshire--
in the borough of Broxbourne, the area of the former urban district of Cheshunt
the district of Hertsmere
in the district of Welwyn Hatfield, the parish of Northaw;
(c) in the county of Surrey--
in the borough of Elmbridge, the area of the former urban district of Esher
the boroughs of Epsom and Ewell and Spelthorne
in the district of Reigate and Banstead, the area of the former district of Banstead.
(1B) Subsection (1A) above relates to the following Acts:
(i) The London Hackney Carriages Act 1843;
(ii) The London Hackney Carriages Act 1850;
(iii) The London Hackney Carriages Act 1853;
(iv) The London Hackney Carriages (No. 2) Act 1853;
(v) The Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 (in so far as it applies to London Hackney Carriages);
(vi) The London Cab and Stage Carriage Act 1907;
(vii) The London Cab Act 1968;
(viii) The Transport Act 1985 (in so far as it applies to London Hackney Carriages);
(ix) The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.'.

Mr. Davey: The amendments reflect a debate in Committee that did not focus on amendments that would have put into law the issues with which we were concerned. The Government want to make the boundaries of the Metropolitan police authority coterminous with those of the Greater London Authority. That makes sense for many aspects of its operation. It will help it to be more accountable. The establishment of the Metropolitan police authority in many ways requires the two sets of boundaries to be as one.

As with any boundary change, anomalies are thrown up. Our amendments seek to put right such an anomaly. They deal with the effect of the boundary change on taxi drivers who are regulated by the Metropolitan police authority under the legislation listed in the amendment. We believe that reducing the Metropolitan police district to being coterminous with the GLA will denude the market of many cab drivers, particularly those who ply in the suburbs. By fiat, the livelihoods of many of my constituents will be made more difficult because their lawful business will suffer from the loss of some customers.

We make no apologies for arguing again on Report on behalf of those constituents. They may support the Greater London Authority and the Metropolitan police authority coming under democratic control, but they feel that they are being hard done by.

There seems to be no problem in retaining the current Metropolitan district simply for the purpose of regulating London cabs. As we pointed out in Standing Committee, that creates no real problem for the regulatory bodies--the police. I discussed with officers from the Metropolitan police and from the Surrey constabulary how such a

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policy could be implemented. It was clear that it would create no problems for them on the ground. They would be able to distinguish who should take responsibility in which areas and to whom they would have to report any transgressions of the regulations. As there are no practical difficulties associated with the proposal, one has to ask why anybody should be opposed to it. I can see no particular reason, unless people with over-tidy minds need to ensure that each boundary looks nice on the map.

The Minister may recall that we had an interesting debate in Standing Committee, when I pressed her on several points during her response to my argument. At one stage, she seemed to suggest that my point was not valid because taxi drivers could be licensed by the new licensing authorities--for example, in my neck of the woods, the Elmbridge district council--and could also be licensed by the Metropolitan police authority. Taxi drivers could continue to earn their living in both taxi areas. I picked the Minister up on that point because it was news to me.

Cab drivers who are members of the Kingston and Surbiton cab drivers association have told me that it is most unusual to be able to be licensed by two authorities and that that is not allowed by the taxi regulatory authorities in many parts of the country. However, the Minister was clear on that point:

The Minister made it clear that dual licensing was possible. When I pressed her on how that would be implemented practically, she clarified her remarks by saying that the licence was related to the vehicle and not to the owner. Therefore, if, in order to maintain their standard of living, drivers took up her suggestion, they would have to operate two cabs. They would need one for the GLA area and one for the area outside the GLA boundaries. One needs only to reflect on that proposition for one minute to see how impractical it would be. Not only would there be the cost of purchasing and maintaining two separate vehicles: there would be different health and vehicle checks every year under different regulations, and that would be extremely costly.

The solution offered by the Minister in Committee is not a practical answer to people whose livelihoods are affected by the proposal that we are debating. If the Minister can offer another alternative to protect the living of those cab drivers, we should be glad to discuss it. Our amendments would provide a solution that works within the remit of the current legislation and would ensure that it was clear in statute that the anomalous boundary distinction of keeping the current Metropolitan police district for cab drivers would apply only to cab drivers. It would not affect other aspects of the day-to-day duties of the Metropolitan police.

My hon. Friends and I believe that the amendments provide a constructive way forward that is more practical than the solution of dual licensing offered by the Minister

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in Standing Committee. I hope that the Minister has reflected on the matter; we are keen that she should give us a positive answer.

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