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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I support the general principle that road use charging and a workplace parking levy should be on a national basis, but I do not go along with the idea of changing the situation in the four inner London boroughs.
I was chairman of social services at the time of the first national parking scheme and we considered it in great detail. When we studied the statistics, we found that if every orange badge holder in England--every one of them in London would be enough--were permitted to park, the whole of Westminster could be parked out. The special badges issued by the inner London boroughs are granted after a medical examination. That has to be done because of the pressure on parking space.
The noble Baroness, Lady Darcy, mentioned the different schemes in London. When I was chairman of the Royal Free Hospital, we had a home for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and sought special permission for a small parking space for one or two cars for visitors. Camden told me that Hampstead had parking rules that were different from anywhere else in the whole of Camden. When I asked why, I was told that that was what Hampstead people wanted. The local authority has listened to what the local electors wanted and felt that it was fitting in. Other parts of the borough that could have benefited from parking controls had none.
I am concerned about parking being confused with charges for road usage, congestion or workplace parking. We should not mix them up. I would support the amendment, provided that it allows local parking schemes to be retained. In my GLC constituency, it was
Baroness Darcy de Knayth: Before the noble Baroness sits down, I realise that I may have shot myself in the foot by dwelling too long on troubles with the orange badge scheme. Much as I would love that to be uniform, I was saying that we must not fall into the trap of having different rules for different schemes.
Lord Addington: If one gives disabled people the ability to travel, one brings them within society as a whole. The entire thrust of recent legislation has been to make sure that disabled people are integrated and have the same opportunities. The amendments would exempt disabled people from charges levied in the capital. The capital is the place to which people with any normal job have to travel. London still attracts people from all parts of the country and abroad. If one exempts disabled people from charges, one is giving them one more way to interact in the capital. Where someone is totally dependent on a car, surely it is not right to impose extra charges for something they cannot do without. If one charges someone who is dependent on a car for its use, it is like refusing them travel.
Baroness Masham of Ilton: Last night, I was telephoned by a lady from Suffolk whose disabled husband cannot use public transport. She feels that he may not even be able to get into a taxi. The husband has an orange badge. They are coming to London for a memorial service at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on Wednesday. That lady asked whether she would be able to park there. Both she and her husband are elderly.
Parking badges should be given only to genuinely disabled people. All sorts of people seem to obtain them. When I go to the supermarket, I see people jumping out of cars after parking in spaces for disabled persons. Their cars have an orange badge but those people are not disabled. That is most frustrating for people who are genuinely severely disabled. I hope that the Government will do something.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: Generally speaking, we support the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Morris. I congratulate the noble Lord on his ingenuity in bringing forward his amendments at this point in the Bill. I was waiting for the transport sections. We have tabled Amendments Nos. 307 and 322, which cover disabled people in respect of congestion charging and a workplace parking levy. We would go further than the noble Lord and exempt other categories, but we will debate that at the appropriate point. We on these Benches oppose congestion charging in general.
Secondly, how do the Government think that the workplace parking levy will operate? My understanding is that it will probably be an annual charge, presumably on the owner or the occupier of the property and on the number of parking places that the property has. It will therefore presumably be difficult to say how many of those places will be occupied for the whole year by a disabled person. It will be quite a complicated exercise. Perhaps the Minister will comment. Generally speaking, we on these Benches support the amendment; we have tabled a similar one for debate later.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: First, we on these Benches support congestion charging and the levy on workplace parking. So we start from a different perspective from that of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara. Secondly, I was regarded as delightfully straightforward when I could not understand the connection between the paving amendment and the major amendment in this group. The noble Lord, being more experienced than I am, immediately leapt to the correct conclusion that we wish to debate them at an early stage.
From our point of view, these are interesting amendments. It is true that other groups are claiming exemption, from congestion charging in particular. However, to take one example, London First supports congestion charging and the levy on workplace parking. So there are big business and local interests which are very much in favour of those two policies. They also, however, support a number of exemptions.
I should like now to hear the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, tell us, if he does not accept the amendments that are before the Committee today, how he intends to incorporate the idea behind them into the Bill. There is an important principle at stake; namely, people who can get to work or go shopping only by car should not be additionally penalised by the charge and levy system, which others can avoid by taking different forms of transport.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: In replying to the points about workplace parking, will the Minister clarify the position in regard to private garages, which could be used by someone coming to work? They could be attached to houses, or they could belong to a resident in the house. How will they fit into the picture of workplace charging?
Although in one sense Amendment No. 69A may be a paving amendment, it is unnecessary--even if the subsequent amendments were to be accepted--because the use of the general power conferred by Clause 25 will in any case be subject to other provisions in the Bill. That includes any provisions enacted by subsequent amendments, some of which are grouped and some of which have been referred to.
In addition, Clause 26(1) specifically rules out the use of the general power to incur expenditure in doing anything that may be done by a functional body. Transport for London will undertake this area of operation. Therefore, we need to deal with the substantive issue when we debate Transport for London.
By way of a preview of the specific amendments that have been tabled, although I have considerable sympathy with the concerns that lie behind them, I am not able to accept them. The Government are firmly of the view that the charging and licensing authorities in London, under road-user charging and workplace parking charges, should be given the maximum flexibility and responsibility for the design, implementation and operation of any new charging schemes. Simply from listening to the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, one can see the complexity of the different aspects and how they relate to existing on-street parking. The noble Baroness also asked about private garages, which in normal circumstances would not be covered by the legislation, although that will in some part be subject to the feedback on the consultation.
The responsibility that we are placing on the London authorities includes taking decisions about exemptions, including any exemption for disabled persons, in so far as those exemptions are ahead of national exemptions which may be included in future national charging legislation. The consultation paper to which I have referred, Breaking the Logjam, specifically invited views on whether national exemptions from charges for disabled persons should be included in that future legislation. We are currently analysing responses to that consultation exercise.
My noble friend referred to the views expressed by my colleague, Glenda Jackson. They give a general indication of the Government's position. I assure the Committee that any national exemptions included in future national charging legislation will be able to apply in Greater London. It would clearly be absurd if that were not the case. In the meantime, it should be for the mayor to grant exemption from charges for disabled motorists in Greater London. We should certainly expect the mayor to look favourably on such an
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