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Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: I also support the noble Earl. Many Members of the Committee may have read the case of the nun who fell asleep on a bus. They took her through the courts. Cannot common sense be applied? Does the Minister realise that we all remember the advertisements saying: "If you are caught not paying your fare, you are a criminal"? That is how the lady felt when she was dragged through the courts. Admittedly, she got off in the end, as is being whispered on the Front Bench, but the matter still got into the press and was unpleasant.

Will the Minister consider all that has been said? I agree totally with the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, that when fares are not paid there must be a system for collecting them. It cannot be fair that those who are willing to pay should pay higher fares because the company does not receive the full income. Of course I understand that. But also, as the noble Baroness said, it is not right to have a judge and jury situation. I hope the Minister will consider the matter.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: I, too, hope the Government will consider the amendments. As I understand it, and as the noble Earl explained, this is not about penalty fares but appeals against penalty fares. There is no mechanism for them at the moment, other than an internal one operated by London Transport.

My noble friend Lord Archer pre-empted my criticism of the actions of London Buses the other day, widely reported in the press, in pursuing the most ridiculous claim against the nun who happened to fall asleep. I am glad that the magistrates dealt with it in the best way they could. Nevertheless, it caused the victim of the incident a good deal of disquiet. No doubt it also cost the fare-paying passengers of London Transport a good deal of money to pursue the exercise through the courts. It seemed to me completely unnecessary.

When the noble Earl last raised the issue at Question Time, I said that one of the best solutions would be to introduce more automatic ticket barriers at outlying stations. I reported that at the station I use in Zone 2 the barriers had been put in but were not yet in operation, owing to a lack of power at the station, according to London Transport. I cannot remember how long ago the Question was--at least a month--and I have to report that the barriers are still not in operation. I do not know whether there is a problem with the electricity in Fulham; I have not found one at home, where it seems to work well for me, but obviously it does not at Putney Bridge station.

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I digress from the purpose of the amendment and I shall be interested to hear what the Minister says on the subject of appeals.

Baroness Hamwee: The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, said that in the case of the nun who fell asleep on the bus the magistrates dealt with the matter in the best way they could. That described it precisely. As I understand it, the nun was not found not guilty, but was given a conditional discharge. That goes to the heart of the complaints made by Members of the Committee about the criminalisation of something which should not be treated as a criminal matter. If I were taken to the magistrates' court on whatever charge and received a conditional discharge, I would leave the court feeling very unhappy.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: As I understand the penalty fare system, certainly the one I introduced, there is no criminal charge involved. The nun must have been charged under some other process; perhaps fraud. It is one of the important features of the legislation that when you are asked to pay a penalty fare no criminal liability or criminal record is involved.

4 p.m.

Lord Whitty: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for both her earlier intervention explaining why we introduced the penalty fare system in the first place and for the clarification of the position. The nun in the case was prosecuted for travelling with intent to avoid payment. I am not clear why she was not able to pay a penalty fare, but we are making further inquiries in that regard.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: I believe the nun tried to pay the penalty fare.

Lord Whitty: We are trying to establish the exact circumstances and why she was not permitted to pay the penalty fare. The noble Baroness is correct that the penalty fare system was introduced to avoid criminality and taking people through the courts. It was to provide a penalty fare, irrespective of proof of intent. Nevertheless, it was free from the label of criminality.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, said, there is a problem of fare evasion on the London Underground. Some of it will be dealt with when the whole network has been gated under the prestige project. I am not sure why the gates at Putney Bridge do not currently work, but no doubt when the full system is in operation they will. We hope that that will restrict evasion in the sense of intent to travel without a ticket. But there will still be people who travel beyond the duration of the ticket, for whom the penalty fare should apply.

The current legislation does not formally recognise the concept of an appeal. The appeal process was well established by London Transport, at the request of the previous government, at the time the penalty scheme was introduced. We are aware of the concerns of the noble Earl and other Members of the Committee in this matter. The Government have asked London Transport and the London Regional Passengers' Committee to

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review the whole system of penalty fares. A draft report has been produced and has, we hope, already led to some improvements in the operation of the scheme by London Transport. The final version has not yet been produced, and I must ask the Committee for a further period of patience before we see the final recommendations. The draft form is currently being considered by my colleague Glenda Jackson.

The amendment would compel the mayor to establish an independent appeals body without having the opportunity to assess the merits of that body in that situation. For example, the mayor may instead conclude that the administration of penalty fares can best be improved by other means. The review has already resulted in a much closer convergence of approach between the London Transport system and that which applies to the national rail network.

Changes arising from the penalty fares review are already being phased in by London Transport. I believe that London Transport should be given a little time to demonstrate that it can operate the scheme more effectively, including the appeals dimension thereof. I recognise the concerns of the Committee, but I believe that it is better to deal with the issue in that context rather than by way of an amendment to the Bill.

The Earl of Clancarty: I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, suggested that there should be more ticket barriers. I do not believe that we should await technology in order to have a fair and sensitive penalty system in operation right now. I am disappointed that the Minister does not immediately see the merits of this amendment and accept it straight away. I await with interest the recommendations relating to penalty fares. I shall certainly return to this matter at Report stage, but for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 198 agreed to.

Clause 199 [The London Transport Users' Committee]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 288B:

Page 106, line 37, after ("use") insert ("public").

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 288B takes us to that part of the Bill which deals with the Transport Users' Committee. The amendment provides that the new committee shall represent the interests of those who use public transport facilities and services, as distinct from all passenger transport facilities and services. Later the Committee will consider Amendment No. 294A in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and my noble friend Lady Thomas of Walliswood (who is to be congratulated on spotting this matter in two places). That amendment also provides that the matters referred to in Clause 200, which deals with representations to the committee, are restricted to public transport.

We understand that the Government are concerned to encourage all of us to think about integrated transport, not just integrated public transport, and that is entirely

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right. However, we do not believe it means that every reference to transport should deal with all transport. We do not believe that the new Transport Users' Committee is an appropriate vehicle to deal with the rights and concerns of all transport users. The Bill makes clear in dealing with the duties of the committee that the remit of that body is primarily public. If the definition included all transport it would cover almost everything, not just users of buses and so on but car users, pedestrians and cyclists. I do not deny that these people have rights, but there would be considerable problems if the committee was required, and resourced, to acquire the detailed knowledge and necessary representativeness to cover the wider agenda.

The committee may also have directly conflicting interests; for example, the respective claims of bus users and motorists where road space is scarce. The London Regional Passengers' Committee has put to me what is probably the worst case scenario with which the new committee may be faced: an appeal from a householder whose property fronts a GLA road and who wants to park his or her car outside the house but TfL wants to site a bus stop at that point. In our view, it would not be appropriate for the Transport Users' Committee to be required to deal with that situation. It will not be able properly to voice the concerns of the users of public transport, which must be its primary purpose.

We do not believe that the benefits that might be gained by including the interests of all transport users within the LTUC's remit would outweigh the dilution of its commitment to passengers which would inevitably occur. It is not the task of the new committee to take decisions about priorities between public and private interests that are likely to arise. The LTUC will have quite enough to do looking after the needs of public transport users, and its effectiveness could be very badly prejudiced if its remit was widened. I beg to move.

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