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Lord Avebury: Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether the omission of the word "passenger" in sub-paragraph (1) of the new clause in Amendment No. 259D means that Transport for London could give financial assistance to persons or organisations concerned with freight transport. This has a bearing on the amendment we heard about a few moments ago from the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. He spoke of freight interchange within Greater London. Let us suppose that the Minister comes back with a clause similar to the one tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. Would it be broad enough to allow Transport for London, for example, to grant financial assistance to organisations concerned with the interchange of freight throughout the area of the capital?

Lord Whitty: The answer is broadly yes. Under this amendment, grants could be given by TfL for anything which it believes is conducive to the provision of integrated transport. Therefore, it would cover both freight and the intermodal aspects. In effect, this gives TfL the same scope as the mayor's overall strategy.

Lord Dixon-Smith : I also have a question for the Minister concerning Amendment No. 259D. Would this clause give TfL the power to make grants for environmental purposes? The technical development going on within the motor industry means that it is producing ever more fuel-efficient and less environmentally-offensive vehicles. However, the ultimate pollution-free car is only just a few steps down the road. I refer to fuel cell powered cars, which will be non-polluting. When we reach a point where they are hydrogen-powered they become totally and absolutely non-polluting, with no emissions other than water.

I raise this point at this stage for two reasons: first, as of now these vehicles are expensive and experimental. However, there will be 25 running within Los Angeles within about 18 months. Part of the problem of introducing new technologies is to install the necessary fuel infrastructure on the ground. It is no good having a vehicle that produces no pollution if one cannot obtain fuel for it. It occurs to me that that ought to be an area on which either the mayor or Transport for London ought to take a view. Non-pollution is equally valid for all forms of transport; it could be valid for someone running a bus company. After I had read the clause I was not clear whether it would permit the mayor to pay grants, either to help bring forward the new systems or, more importantly, to help to develop the necessary infrastructure that would assist in making them viable.

9 p.m.

Lord Whitty: The noble Lord raises an interesting area. Clearly we are concerned with developing alternative fuels or better use of conventional fuels for environmental purposes. From the national level, this

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week I announced an increase in the amount of resources we are giving to Powershift to try to assist public and private authorities to change their fleets in that direction.

The position within the Bill is that integrated transport has an environmental dimension. As long as it comes under the integrated transport heading, then Transport for London can provide environmental grants, either of the sort referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, or to borough councils as highway or traffic authorities. That can include mitigation work on noise and air quality.

For environmental measures outside the transport field, Transport for London is limited. But, for the bulk of activities to which the noble Lord is referring, the answer is "Yes".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 259E:

Before Clause 137, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) Transport for London may guarantee to discharge any financial obligation of--
(a) a subsidiary of Transport for London; or
(b) any person (other than such a subsidiary) with whom Transport for London has entered into an agreement by virtue of section 136(3) or (4) above, where the guarantee is given for the purpose of enabling that person to carry out the agreement.
(2) Transport for London may, for the purposes of discharging any of its functions, guarantee to discharge any financial obligation incurred or to be incurred by any person for the purposes of--
(a) an undertaking carried on by him; or
(b) where the person is a body corporate, an undertaking carried on by a subsidiary of that body corporate.
(3) A guarantee under this section may be subject to such conditions as Transport for London considers appropriate.
(4) Transport for London may enter into arrangements with another person under which that person gives a guarantee which Transport for London has power to give under this section.
(5) Where Transport for London enters into arrangements by virtue of subsection (4) above, the arrangements may provide for Transport for London to indemnify the person who gives the guarantee.
(6) This section is without prejudice to any other power of Transport for London.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 137 [Co-operation with the Franchising Director]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 259EA:

Page 74, line 46, leave out ("reasonably")

The noble Baroness said: It may seem unreasonable of us to propose to take out the word "reasonably" in connection with the provision of information between Transport for London and the franchising director. Of course, we support co-operation between the two, and understand, sadly, that sometimes one has to direct people and organisations to co-operate with one another.

However, I wondered about limiting the information as to that which was "reasonably required". My anxiety arose from thinking about how one or other of the bodies would enforce the provisions of this section. One can see that if the recipient of a request for information was reluctant, for a variety of reasons, to provide it, then there would be an easy answer in saying that the request simply

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was not reasonable. I accept that one then has to go into what is and is not reasonable, but how is it enforced? One would have to go to court.

I wondered what it might be reasonable for one to withhold from the other, apart from commercially confidential information. If that is the only category of information which it would be reasonable to withhold, I would be much happier to see that spelt out. The purpose of this amendment is to probe what the Government have in mind in providing this exception. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The use of the word "reasonably" in provisions such as this is simply designed to discourage frivolous or trivial requests for information. I am not sure about this amendment. Given that we are talking about co-operation between two named authorities, its absence may not make any material difference and thereby avoid possible litigation, as the noble Baroness says. However, it would differ from the previous legislation based on Section 2(3) of the London Regional Transport Act 1984 and therefore I would be slightly reluctant to remove it. However, I will undertake to take further advice as to whether or not its removal would materially affect the situation, and, if so, in which direction.

Lord Avebury: Perhaps the Minister could let us know, when he comes back to the Chamber, whether there have been any cases under Section 2(3) of the London Regional Transport Act where an authority has contended that it would be unreasonable to demand the information concerned and has refused to provide it.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful to the Minister. He has taken my point that with two public bodies the tests that may apply may be rather different from those applying to individuals. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 259EB not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 259F:

Transpose Clause 137 to after Clause 143

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 137, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 138 [Co-operation with other persons]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 259G:

Transpose Clause 138 to after Clause 143

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 138, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 139 [Annual report]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 259H:

Page 75, line 37, at end insert--
("( ) any financial assistance given under section (Financial assistance by Transport for London) above;
( ) any guarantees given under section (Guarantees)(1) or (2) above;
( ) any arrangements entered into under section (Guarantees)(4) above; and
( ) any indemnities given by virtue of section (Guarantees) (5) above.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 260:

Page 75, line 37, at end insert--
("(c) the externally audited accounts required under subsection (3) below, and
(d) the projected budget for the next financial year, including the proposals of Transport for London for ensuring that public debt remains at a stable and prudent level.")

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 261 to 263. All of these amendments concentrate on the same theme; namely, that the accounts of TfL should be externally audited, as accounts of plcs are, and that a number of matters should be looked at during that time. The first amendment provides that the "projected budget" for the next financial year should be looked at, whereas the following amendment provides that the financial statements and statistics relating to the "efficiency and reliability" of the discharge of the functions of TfL be considered--for example, the number of days on which passenger transport services are disrupted by industrial action, the number of cancellations, the number of formerly operated routes which have been closed, the remuneration of senior staff and a number of issues which one would expect of any company whose shares are listed on the Stock Exchange.

We also believe that the report should be available to the public at no charge and published via the Internet, which is the modern procedure. Amendment No. 262 suggests that in public session the assembly should "discuss and vote on" the report submitted by TfL and that, if the report does not receive the support of two-thirds of the members of the assembly, its funds for the following year should not be authorised.

Finally, we suggest that the assembly should have the duty to appoint and fix the remuneration of the external auditors of TfL which, again, is very analogous to corporate governance principles. From what was said when we discussed earlier amendments, we believe that TfL should be treated very much as a commercial company and that it should have to meet the same kind of requirements for external audit, and so on, as apply to any major plc. Indeed, the company will have a large turnover and should be subject to such requirements. I beg to move.

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