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Lord Morris of Manchester moved Amendment No. 69A:


Page 14, line 18, at beginning insert ("Subject to sections 228(4) and 229(3)")

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to my Amendments Nos. 298 and 314. My noble friend Lord Whitty is aware of my interest in the Bill from my representations to him for Greater London Action on Disability (GLAD)--of which I am a patron--about its concern to see its provisions, as they affect transport strategy, made more inclusive of the needs and views of the organisations that represent disabled and older people. Later amendments to the Bill tabled by my friend, the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, and to which I am a signatory, also express GLAD's concern, while that of Dial-a-Ride and Taxi-Card Users (DaRT) are reflected in the new clause of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner.

My noble friend is also aware of my interest in the Bill as the author of the orange badge scheme, for which I legislated in my Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. He knows, too, from my comments at Second Reading, at col. 442 of the Official Report of 20th May, that it was the nightmare for disabled people of the exclusion of four inner London boroughs from that scheme which prompted my Amendments Nos. 298 and 314 to exempt from road user charging and workplace parking levies disabled people who rely crucially on cars for their independence. In addition to the support of disability organisations, my amendments have the backing of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

The primary purpose of both road user charging and workplace parking levies is to reduce congestion by encouraging people to use their cars less and other modes of transport more. In Guidance on Provisional Local Transport Plans, the Government recognised that,

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    "for some disabled people the private car will remain the only viable way of getting around. It is vital therefore that local authorities ... address the needs of disabled people as motorists".

The Joint Committee on Mobility for Disabled People (JCMD), over which Sir Peter Large presides with such distinction, insists that to impose charges and levies on disabled motorists with severe walking difficulties is a cruel and unavoidable tax for being disabled. The JCMD believes, as I do, that all such people should be exempted from road user charging and workplace parking levies. It applauds the Government for consulting on how this might be arranged, but adds:


    "If disabled people are to avoid being penalised in one area and not in another, or penalised to a different extent in one area compared with another, it will be essential to agree a single national exemption scheme which must apply in and throughout London". It would be entirely unacceptable to make access to the attractions and amenities of one part of London more expensive for disabled motorists than other parts. It would be entirely unacceptable also to make it financially impossible for some disabled people to get into any part of London, whether as passenger or driver and whether as employer, employee, customer or visitor. It is thus entirely reasonable, in giving London's mayor powers to introduce road user charges and workplace parking levies, for the Government to impose a duty to ensure that disabled people with severe walking difficulties are fully exempted from these charges and levies and not further disadvantaged by them. That exemption, without which handicap is piled on handicap for disabled people, ought not to be decided by personal whim but by the political will of Parliament. This basically is what these amendments are about.

Glenda Jackson MP, whose concern for the problems and needs of disabled people is transparently clear to everyone who knows her, said in a ministerial reply to representations from DIPTAC:


    "I would like to make it clear that any national exemption which may be included in future national charging legislation would be able to apply across London ... I might add that I would expect the Mayor to look favourably at an exemption for disabled motorists across Greater London ahead of any future national exemption". I am sure that other Ministers in the department share her expectation. But disabled people want exemption to be decided now--by this Bill--and believe that no mayor of London worthy of the office would take exception to that exercise of parliamentary sovereignty on an issue of such important principle. For it is ultimately to the Government and Parliament that disabled people dependent on the use of a car look for protection.

At all costs, we must avoid the chaos for disabled people of having four special disabled parking badge schemes in inner London, each with its own idiosyncratic set of rules and concessions which add unnecessarily to the difficulties of London's disabled motorists and make life impossible for disabled visitors to the capital, even if they possess orange badges. These are highly important amendments to which I hope my noble friend will be able to offer a positive and helpful reply. I beg to move.

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3.15 p.m.

Lord Swinfen: My name is attached to these amendments. I support very strongly what the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester, said. In no way does either of us wish to clog up the streets of London, but one must remember that those who are disabled very often cannot move around the capital without their own private transport. They need that facility. In addition, the Government are very anxious, as were the previous government, for disabled people to move into gainful employment so that they are no longer a burden on the social security system. For that reason alone the Government should accept the third of the three amendments--that is, free parking in the workplace. The noble Lord has said all that I would wish to say. I strongly support all three amendments.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: I, too, support these amendments, so clearly and comprehensively moved and explained by the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester. I have put my name to Amendments Nos. 298 and 314 but unfortunately I missed putting my name to the paving one.

The noble Lord mentioned GLAD. I should declare that I, too, am a patron, and a member of the Joint Committee on Mobility for Disabled People. As the noble Lord said, it is clear from the White Paper, A New Deal for Transport, that the Government appreciate that for severely disabled people a car may be the only viable way of getting around. It is clear therefore that we should not penalise those people financially for using their cars; to do so would be to tax them for being disabled.

If the amendments are accepted, I agree with the noble Lord that it is very important there should be a national scheme--not only in England but also, I hope, in Scotland and Wales--and that one scheme should apply throughout London. We cannot have the chaos that the orange badge scheme has created.

The noble Lord, Lord Morris, made the point well on Second Reading and referred again today to the nightmare situation for orange badge holders. In the four inner London boroughs of the City, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Camden no fewer than five parking badge schemes apply--four individual schemes and orange badge. The latter is supposed to be a national scheme, but its use is restricted in those four boroughs. Each scheme has its own idiosyncratic set of rules.

As the holder of an orange badge for many years and of a Westminster badge, I will dwell on the situation for a moment to inform your Lordships of how appalling it is. The number of orange badges issued under the discretionary criterion as opposed to the as-of-right criterion varies as a percentage of all individual badges issued--from as high as 80 per cent in Westminster to as low as 55 per cent in Camden and 57 per cent for inner London as a whole. There is no logic to that variation, which leads to chaos for disabled motorists. It is difficult for them to know the concessions and penalties that apply in a particular area--and heaven help someone coming to London the first time. One

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needs the knowledge of a taxi driver backed by a databank of the details that apply. In reality one gets various leaflets.

I am grateful to the boroughs for issuing various leaflets about their schemes but that should not have to be so. The leaflets show, for example, which streets in the City have orange badge places, and they explain whether one can park on a single yellow line, a double yellow line or neither. Camden operates two sets of rules in one borough. The larger part of it fully recognises the orange badge and grants all concessions but in another part, the green badge operates. To complicate matters, one can park on a yellow line in the orange sector if one has an orange badge. In the green sector, one cannot park on a yellow line even if one has a green badge.

The borough also issues a map, which is useful except that one needs a magnifying glass to see it clearly. It is a funny jagged shape, so adjacent streets may fall either side of the line between the orange and green badge areas. If one takes a knight's move sideways, one may be back in the green area and subject to a parking charge. It is a crazy game and it came to me as no surprise to find that Mornington Crescent is in the borough of Camden.

We cannot risk compounding that nightmare with different exemption schemes for disabled people in connection with road use charging and workplace parking levy schemes, which is why I strongly support the amendments.


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