A. GENERAL POLICY QUESTIONS
2. AMENDED PROPOSAL FOR A RECOMMENDATION ON A PARKING
CARD FOR DISABLED PEOPLE (6480/97)
Letter from Lord Geddes, Chairman of Sub-Committee
B, to Glenda Jackson CBE, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of
State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
The above proposal was considered by Sub-Committee B at its
meeting this morning. The Sub-Committee noted that the present
text differs in some respects from the earlier version it considered
last year and on which my predecessor, Lord Elibank, wrote to
your predecessor, Mr Norris.
In particular, we welcome the fact that the previous Government's
concerns about the inclusion of the address and date-of-birth
of the holder have now been satisfied.
Nevertheless, the Sub-Committee remains unconvinced that
any good case has yet been made for a European model parking card,
given that a reciprocal arrangement already exists with which
disability organisations are, apparently, satisfied. In view of
the likely costs to local authorities outlined in your EM, we
would therefore urge you to take a firm line in the continuing
negotiations. In particular we would urge you to seek amendments
that would allow existing orange badges and signs to continue
to be used in the UK, with the new blue badges available on an
optional basis for disabled drivers travelling abroad.
We shall maintain a scrutiny reserve pending your reply.
12 June 1997
Letter from the Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP, Minister
for Transport, Department of the Environment, Transport and the
Regions, to Lord Geddes, Chairman of Sub-Committee B
Thank you for your letter of 12 June with your Sub-Committee's
views on the European Commission's amended proposal for a recommendation
on a parking card for disabled people.
We would support your reservations on this proposal. When
the amended proposal comes forward for discussion in the Social
Questions Working Group we will be pressing for it to be amended
to allow for our existing scheme to continue in perpetuity and
for the European badge to be issued in parallel for those who
wish to travel to continental Europe. We would, of course, also
recognise a European Parking card from another member state.
At this stage we have no indication of when the proposal
is likely to be discussed, but I will ensure that your Sub-Committee
is kept informed as the proposal progresses.
23 June 1997
Letter from Lord Geddes, Chairman of Sub-Committee
B, to Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP, Minister for Transport, Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Thank you for your letter of 23 June which was considered
by Sub-Committee B at its meeting this morning.
The Sub-Committee was grateful to you for your assurances
that you will be pressing for amendments in line with the views
of the Sub-Committee expressed in my letter of 12 June. On that
basis, the Sub-Committee agreed to lift the scrutiny reserve on
this proposal and welcomed your commitment to keep it informed
of the outcome of negotiations on this proposal.
3 July 1997
Letter from Glenda Jackson CBE, MP, Parliamentary Under
Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and
the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
The draft Council Recommendation on a parking card for people
with disabilities was considered by the House of Commons European
Legislation Committee following the submission of Explanatory
Memorandum 6480/97 dated 21 May. The Committee deemed the matter
to be legally and politically important and further information
was sought. I am writing to inform you of the latest developments
with regard to this Recommendation.
The Committee questioned the use of Article 75(1)(c) of the
Treaty as the legal base for the proposed Recommendation as this
deals with measures to improve transport safety". They suggested
Article 75(1)(d) would be more appropriate. I am please to report
that the European Presidency and Council legal services accepted
this criticism and proposed instead that the legal base for the
proposed Recommendation should simply be Article 75(1).
Furthermore, there have been welcome amendments to the proposed
Recommendation which have been agreed in the Social Questions
Working Group and in COREPER. The starting date has been revised
to 1 January 2000. Changes to the recital will also enable us
to introduce security features to address our concerns about possible
forgery of the parking card. These amendments are in addition
to those secured earlier of which your Committee is already aware
ie, the deletion of the requirement for the holder's date of birth
and address. The Commission has also clarified the position with
regard to the eligibility criteria, which remain firmly with Member
The Committee also sought further information on costs, reflecting
concerns which the Government had expressed about the costs of
replacing the existing badges and replacing or altering road signs
which use the wheelchair symbol on an orange background. My officials
are now in the process of compiling a Compliance Cost Assessment
and drafting a supplementary Explanatory Memorandum to accompany
it, and I hope to be able to send these documents to you very
shortly. However, I am glad to say that there now appears to be
less of a problem here than we feared. The Recommendation will
allow the new cards to be phased in over our normal three-year
cycle for replacing Orange Badges. The cost of road signs will
depend on a domestic decision about the replacement period - essentially,
about how long we can tolerate an anomaly of having orange signs
related to blue badges.
Whilst the Government would have preferred that the proposal
allowed for the parallel operation of the European model parking
card with the UK's existing national Orange Badge Scheme, this
approach did not find favour among other Member States. To the
extent that this preference reflected a concern about costs, it
was, I believe, adequately met by the transitional provisions.
We therefore decided not to press this point.
Similarly, although we are still not convinced of the need
for the proposal our concerns about proportionality did not attract
support from other Member States and, given that the details of
the proposal had become much more satisfactory, we decided that
this point should also not be pressed.
The proposal was on the agenda for the Labour and Social
Affairs Council meeting on 7 October and, in view of the success
that had been achieved in addressing our major concerns, and as
a common position between Member States had been attained, the
Government confirmed that it welcomed the amendments which had
been made to the proposal and that it was content for the proposal
to be approved, though it retained a Parliamentary scrutiny reserve.
I am sorry that we had not sought scrutiny clearance by that time.
However, we felt that the importance of securing the success achieved
in negotiating a revised timetable and changes to the detail of
the parking card's design was such that it was sensible for the
Government to confirm its support for the revised text on 7 October.
That does not, of course, bind us to implement the Recommendation
and we shall want to discuss the way forward with the Disabled
Persons Transport Advisory Committee before taking any final decisions.
22 October 1997
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee,
to Glenda Jackson CBE, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State,
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Thank you for your letter of 22 October in which you explain
the Government's reasons for indicating approval for the amended
proposal at the Council meeting on 7 October.
Lord Geddes, Chairman of Sub-Committee B, to whom the proposal
was sifted for scrutiny, wrote to Mr Strang on 3 July to inform
him that the Sub-Committee had that day lifted the scrutiny reserve.
In that letter, the Sub-Committee re-iterated the support it had
expressed in earlier correspondence for the negotiating position
the Government was pursuing.
I have passed your latest letter to Sub-Committee B for information
and I am sure it will welcome the fact that you have managed to
secure changes to the proposal that go some way to meeting the
concerns it had expressed. I am grateful to you for keeping us
informed of these developments.
28 October 1997
2 Printed in Correspondence with Ministers,
9th Report, Session 1995-96, pp15-16. Back