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Session 2001- 02|
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|Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill [HL]|
These notes refer to the Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill [HL]
TRAVEL CONCESSIONS (ELIGIBILITY) BILL [HL]
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill [H.L.] as brought from the House of Lords on 25 October 2001. They have been prepared by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND
3. Provision for travel concessions is contained in the Transport Act 1985 ("the 1985 Act"), Greater London Authority Act 1999 ("the 1999 Act") and Transport Act 2000 ("the 2000 Act"). Local authorities in England and Wales must arrange for elderly and disabled people living in their area to receive a half-fare concession on local bus services subject to the person obtaining a bus permit, which must be given free of charge. Those local authorities also have discretion to offer further concessions on bus and other public passenger transport services if they wish.
4. Current legislation, however, links the entitlement of elderly people to travel concessions to pensionable age as defined in the Pensions Act 1995, that is 60 for women but 65 for men. Schedule 4 to the Pensions Act 1995 provides for pensionable age to be equalised at 65 for both men and women by 2020, with transitional arrangements from 2010. The purpose of the Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill [H.L.] is to equalise the age at which men and women become entitled to travel concessions at an earlier date.
5. The Bill consists of three clauses.
COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES
Clause 1: Eligibility for travel concessions: age
6. Clause 1 is the substantive clause of the Bill. By virtue of:
a) section 93(7) of the 1985 Act,
b) section 240(5) of the 1999 Act, and
c) section 146 of the 2000 Act,
men become entitled at age 65, on the one hand, to the mandatory half-fare travel concession on bus services and, on the other, to further discretionary concessions while women become so entitled at age 60. (Section 93(7) and section 240(5) were amended, respectively, by paragraph 15 of Schedule 11 to the 2000 Act and by section 151 of that Act.)
7. Subsection (1) amends the 1985 Act so that both men and women become eligible at age 60 for discretionary travel concessions applying on journeys outside Greater London. Subsection (2) makes a similar amendment to the 1999 Act in respect of all types of travel concessions on journeys in and around Greater London. Subsection (3) makes an amendment to the 2000 Act having the same effect in respect of entitlement to the mandatory half-fare travel concession on bus services outside Greater London.
8. Subsection (4) enables the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (in England) and the National Assembly (in Wales) to make an order to replace references to age 60 in the amendments made by subsections (1) to (3) with a formula which gradually raises the age of entitlement of men and women to 65. In this way, eligibility for concessionary travel could be equalised at 65 by 2020 in line with the provisions of paragraph 1 of Schedule 4 to the Pensions Act 1995.
FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL
9. Extending eligibility to men aged 60 to 64 will cost approximately £50 million a year. Local authorities are obliged to reimburse bus operators for revenue foregone and to do so in such a way that the bus operators are no worse or better off as a result of operating the concessionary travel scheme. Local authorities are reimbursed from central Government through the Revenue Support Grant system.
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY APPRAISAL
10. The main impact of the Bill will be on local authorities who will have to adjust their current concessionary fares schemes to broaden entitlement to men aged 60 to 64. Reimbursement arrangements under the existing legislative provisions mean that the financial impacts on bus operators will be neutral.
11. The substantive provisions of the Bill will come into force in accordance with orders made under clause 2 by the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, or the National Assembly for Wales using separate powers to make orders. The changes for Greater London may only be commenced with effect from the beginning of a financial year (1 April) given the particular provisions 1 contained in the 1999 Act. Transitional provisions are included at clause 2(3) to enable local authorities in Greater London to make in advance arrangements with Transport for London ("TfL") which are to come into effect in the next financial year. The 1999 Act requires TfL to be satisfied by 31 December in each year that those arrangements comply with the provisions of that Act.
1 These are:
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
12. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The statement has to be made before second reading. The Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions has made the following statement:
In my view the provisions of the Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill [HL] are compatible with the Convention rights.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2001||Prepared: 26 October 2001|