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Baroness Hamwee: We are used to being not quite as satisfied as we would wish. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth moved Amendment No. 291:

Page 237, line 5, at end insert--
("( ) The Committee shall appoint a sub-committee whose sole responsibility shall be to deal with complaints about door-to-door transport.").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment has been tabled in my name and that of the noble Lord, Swinfen, and the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood. In moving this amendment, I should like briefly to speak to Amendment No. 294B which is grouped with it

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and stands in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Thomas, and the noble Lord, Lord Tope.

The aim of Amendment No. 291 is to ensure that in the new arrangements whereby the London Regional Passengers' Committee is replaced by the London Transport Users' Committee, there is a body capable of dealing with the specialised area of complaints from disabled people about door-to-door services. Door-to-door services are a new, expanding and specialised area. The London Accessible Transport Alliance feels that the users of these door-to-door services will require a body dedicated to dealing with these complaints, probably a sub-committee of LTUC which will still deal with accessibility issues regarding mainstream transport. But it must be an adequately resourced body purely dedicated to dealing with this complicated area. The majority of members should be disabled people and users of the door-to-door services because they have the required expertise in these matters.

Amendment No. 294B would leave such matters to be dealt with by the main committee. I look forward to hearing what other Members of the Committee have to say on both these amendments, and particularly to the noble Lord's reply. I beg to move.

Lord Morris of Manchester: Again I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, for tabling Amendment No. 291, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, for moving it this afternoon. She did so with all her customary persuasiveness. I welcome the amendment and underline the importance of her point about ensuring that the body helping users of door-to-door transport is adequately resourced and dedicated to dealing with this complicated area of provision. I will not detain the Committee further except to say that this is an important amendment to which I know that my noble friend the Minister will want to reply as helpfully as he can.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I rise briefly to support Amendment No. 291 and to refer to our Amendment No. 294B which states that the functions of the authority that relate to transport should include transport for those with mobility impairments. The Minister has already told us that he is prepared to have a meeting with those who have taken a great interest in this matter. For that reason I do not propose to discuss this amendment in further detail.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty: I believe that the concerns which lie behind these two amendments could perhaps be dealt with in the meeting, as the noble Baroness suggests. It is our view that these amendments are unnecessary. Of course it is right that LTUC should be able to consider representations from all transport users, including in particular those who use door-to-door transport. The Bill already provides for LTUC to consider representations from the users of such services directly provided or funded by TfL, including Dial-a-Ride. However, there is no need to spell that out on the face of the Bill.

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The reference in Clause 200(1)(a) to the transport functions of the authority and TfL includes precisely those functions relating to the provision of transport services to disabled people. The mayor will of course have a duty to include in his or her transport strategy proposals for the provision of accessible transport and TfL will be responsible for implementing those proposals. LTUC will be consulted and will be able to comment on those proposals. These activities are therefore clearly functions which LTUC can consider.

As regards Amendment No. 294B, clearly what I have said about the provisions in Clause 200(1)(a) relating to transport functions already provide for this matter to be covered. As to prescribing a sub-committee, I believe it would be rare to include provisions on the face of a Bill describing how an organisation should divide itself into sub-committees. The noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, may be thinking of something rather more than a sub-committee, although Amendment No. 291 refers to a sub-committee.

Paragraph 10 of Schedule 14 already provides LTUC with the power to form sub-committees and to co-opt people on to them who are not members of the committee. The assembly will have to ensure that LTUC truly represents all users of transport in London, including disabled people and so on. I think it would be an unhelpful precedent for us to specify how bodies set up in statute should organise themselves in terms of sub-committees, especially as in this case it is clear that what the noble Baroness seeks is already covered by other provisions in this Bill. Nevertheless if there are remaining anxieties I shall discuss them with those interested, as the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, suggested.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: First, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Morris, for his welcome support. He stressed that this is an important amendment and that it is important to get it right. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, for her support. I welcome very much indeed what the Minister has said. I find it greatly reassuring. I think that the matter of the expert body of people is exactly the kind of matter that we could pursue further in the meeting. I am most grateful for the offer of a meeting. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 291A:

Page 237, line 19, after second ("the") insert ("Authority, Transport for London, the").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 291A I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 291B, 294C and 294D. Amendment No. 291A seeks to enable the committee to exclude the public not only when discussing items of business that already fall within paragraph 13(2)(a) of Schedule 14--that is, when discussing information that is furnished in confidence by the rail regulator or the franchising director--but also when discussing information that has been furnished by the authority itself or by Transport for London.

Amendment No. 291B would provide that only commercial, legal or personnel information from the various bodies to which I have referred will be dealt

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with on the basis I have mentioned. In another place in response to similar amendments it was argued that the committee should be consistent with other rail user consultative committees. As I said on a previous amendment, it seems to me that it is more important to be right than to be consistent.

Amendment No. 294B seeks to place a duty on Transport for London or the authority to provide information to the committee. This again was an amendment proposed in another place for the obvious reason that the committee will need information in order to carry out its duties. I accept of course that this amendment was lost in a Division in another place. The Minister there said that the amendment was not necessary because the committee,

    "will inevitably not be able to carry out its function without access to information".--[Official Report, Commons, Standing Cttee A, 2/3/99; col. 895.] The Minister here has alerted the Committee to amendments which the Government propose to table at a later stage which deal with guidance. Can this matter not be dealt with in guidance, if not on the face of the Bill?

Amendment No. 294D seeks to provide for Transport for London or the authority to give reasons to the committee for any decision that it reaches in response to the committee's recommendations. That seems to me to be almost a matter of natural justice. That is perhaps using too technical and "highfalutin" a term, but to give reasons must be more than simply sensible. It cannot be appropriate for reasons not to be given when a decision is made. In another place the Government said that this measure was not necessary because there was a statutory requirement for the committee to be notified of decisions. It was further stated in Standing Committee A in another place that:

    "Neither the authority nor Transport for London is likely to supply a decision with no reasons attached. Including an explanation of a decision is a matter of good practice, not a matter for legislation".--[Official Report, Commons, Standing Cttee A, 2/3/99; col. 900.]

We are in danger of being criticised for being over-prescriptive but that is in response to what we see as the over-prescription of the Bill. We believe that giving an explanation for a decision constitutes a little more than simply good practice. It is important to the good functioning of the bodies concerned. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: As the noble Baroness has indicated that she does not accept my main objection to the amendments as drafted--namely, that they would clearly make the London Transport Users' Committee operate under a different system from that which applies to the Rail Users' Consultative Committee--I am not sure that I will be able to convince her totally of my position. Nevertheless, as I think she recognised at various points, these amendments would be much more suitable to guidance than on the face of the Bill. For example, Amendment No. 291A would place TfL in a rather odd position. It would give information imparted by TfL the same status as that imparted by the regulatory bodies, whereas TfL is, in this sense, a service provider.

Apart from the fact that it would be inconsistent with the provisions on other rail user consultative committees, Amendment No. 291B seeks to limit the kinds of

5 Jul 1999 : Column 630

information provided by the franchising director and the rail regulator which are subject to being heard in private. If that were restricted it could well hinder the flow of information between the regulatory bodies and the committees, which would be undesirable.

As to Amendment No. 294C, while it is understandable that the committee would wish to have access to information held by the GLA--and, in nearly every case, also by Transport for London--it is equally clear that a constructive relationship is a better way of achieving this than by putting it on the face of the Bill. If there is any difficulty it is, of course, open to the LTUC to approach the assembly to ask for assistance; the assembly will have powers to require TfL to provide information. We hope to avoid that situation if we follow the noble Baroness's view that this is more appropriate to guidance.

As to the final amendment concerning reasons, clearly we would normally expect reasons to be given. If reasons are not given, again it would be open to the LTUC to raise the matter with assembly members in accordance with other provisions in the Bill; they can always question the mayor and obtain answers at that point. Again, we hope that this will be a matter where good practice and a constructive growth of relations will ensure that in most cases the mayor or TfL would automatically give reasons. If that requirement were to be on the face of the Bill, one would have to bring forward an amendment which recognised that there would be certain circumstances where the mayor or TfL were constrained from giving reasons; for example, because of on-going legal proceedings, privacy and so on. It would be a more complicated amendment. I feel that this should be subject to the organic growth of good relations, perhaps subject to guidance, as the noble Baroness has suggested. I therefore request that she withdraws her amendments.

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