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Baroness Hamwee: I do not want to damage the chances of matters we would like to see in the guidance by starting on a path of commenting on what seems to be in the Bill and what seems to be left out--with not, to our eyes, huge distinctions between the two. We should be very happy for quite a lot of the prescription around this subject to go into guidance. I am happy to wait until I see the Government's amendments on guidance.

I, among others of your Lordships, have been lax and have failed to ask when the draft guidance might be available for consideration. The Minister might have thought that he was going to get away without being asked that question. He might like to respond now.

Lord Whitty: We are referring here to guidance by the assembly rather than by the Secretary of State. Although that is normally the question, it is not appropriate at this point.

Baroness Hamwee: I deserved that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 291B to 293 not moved.]

5 Jul 1999 : Column 631

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 294:


Page 237, line 39, leave out paragraph 14.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 294 standing in my name and the names of my noble friends. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, has also added his name to the amendment. That is a first for this side of the Committee.

The amendment seeks to strike out that the consent of the Treasury should be required for any determination or approval by the assembly under this schedule. We feel that on the principle of subsidiarity the Treasury has no right to veto the assembly on the matter of the committee's remuneration and structure. It should be a purely London matter and it would be petty to give the Exchequer the right to interfere. I should very much hope that officials in that great department of state, the Treasury, would have better things to do than to deal with this kind of matter. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, is absolutely correct. At one stage I had thought of making a dramatic concession on the floor of House. It is a matter on which we all clearly agree. Unlike its predecessor, the LTUC is not a government NDPB. Therefore, in those circumstances, it is not appropriate that the Treasury should be involved. I agree with the noble Lord.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 200 [Representations to the Committee]:

[Amendments Nos. 294A to 294C not moved.]

Clause 200 agreed to.

Clause 201 [Recommendations and reports etc]:

[Amendment No. 294D not moved.]

Clause 201 agreed to.

Clause 202 agreed to.

Schedule 15 agreed to.

Clause 203 agreed to.

Schedule 16 [Hackney carriages]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 294E:


Page 240, leave out lines 37 to 40 and insert--
("(5) A fee of such amount (if any) as Transport for London may determine shall be paid to Transport for London--
(a) by any applicant for a licence under this section, on making the application for the licence;
(b) by any applicant for the taking or re-taking of any test or examination, or any part of a test or examination, with respect to any matter of fitness, on making the application for the taking or re-taking of the test, examination or part; and
(c) by any person granted a licence under this section, on the grant of the licence.
(5A) In paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of this section "matter of fitness" means--
(a) any matter as respects which Transport for London must be satisfied before granting a licence under this section; or
(b) any matter such that, if Transport for London is not satisfied with respect to the matter, they may refuse to grant a licence under this section.
(5B) Different amounts may be determined under subsection (5) of this section for different purposes or different cases.

5 Jul 1999 : Column 632


(5C) Transport for London may remit or refund the whole or part of a fee under subsection (5) of this section.").

The noble Lord said: We now come to Chapter IX of the Bill, which deals with taxis and minicabs. With the indulgence of the Committee, before I turn to the amendments it might be appropriate to record a few words about Lord Winchilsea and Nottingham who, unfortunately, is no longer with us, although he attended the Second Reading of the Bill.

Your Lordships will know that he had a number of diverse interests but in the House he was well known as a champion of the London taxi trade. He drove a black cab himself, which could occasionally be seen in the forecourt, and was engaged in many charitable aspects of the London taxi trade--including accompanying cab drivers taking less affluent children to Disneyland and leading a convoy of lorries to Algeria. The noble Earl's work was well appreciated in the House and probably even more so by the London taxi trade. I regret his passing, particularly before seeing the full passage of the Bill. He will be much missed in discussing the current amendments.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: With the leave of the Committee, I would like to thank the Minister very much for what he said about our much-cherished colleague, Lord Winchilsea and Nottingham. He was not only a man of many interests, which included a profound love and knowledge of jazz, but was the dearest, kindest colleague that anybody could have. I never heard him express a cross word or saw him to be anything except smiling and delightful. He will be greatly missed, not only for his contribution to our debates but for his charm and personality.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Lord Brabazon of Tara: I would, from these Benches, like to be associated with the remarks of the Minister and the noble Baroness.

Lord Whitty: I thank the noble Baroness and the noble Lord.

Earlier in the passage of the Bill in another place, my colleague Glenda Jackson gave an undertaking to take away and consider an amendment to provide for Transport for London to be able to charge fees on application for the grant of a taxi driver's and vehicle licence. That undertaking recognised the considerable support from the taxi trade, members of both Houses and others that the measure has attracted.

The current position is that taxi drivers pay fees only for the grant, including renewal, of drivers' and vehicle licences, but the work involved in the lead-up to the grant of a licence can vary greatly from case to case. For example, some would-be taxi drivers pass the knowledge of London test fairly quickly. Others require a number of tests, with the resources that involves, before they pass-- if they pass at all. The effect of the current charging system is that people have no incentive properly to prepare themselves or their vehicles before going forward for a test.

5 Jul 1999 : Column 633

The result is inefficiency because the resources of the Public Carriage Office are wasted on testing people or vehicles that are not ready. The result is also unfairness. People who have prepared properly are undoubtedly kept waiting. People who pass the test and gain a licence are in effect paying in their licence fee for people who did not prepare adequately and have failed. That cannot be right.

Amendments Nos. 294E and 294F address that anomaly by providing for TfL to charge for the initial application for a taxi driver and vehicle licence, and for any test or re-test arising from the licence application. The amendments fulfil the Government's undertaking in another place and I commend them to the Committee. I beg to move.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: The taxi community asked me to bring forward such amendments but it is so good to see that the Minister has done so. I strongly support them.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 294F:


Page 241, leave out lines 29 to 32 and insert--
("(7) A fee of such amount (if any) as Transport for London may determine shall be paid to Transport for London--
(a) by any applicant for a licence under this section, on making the application for the licence;
(b) by any applicant for the taking or re-taking of any test or examination, or any part of a test or examination, with respect to any matter of fitness, on making the application for the taking or re-taking of the test, examination or part; and
(c) by any person granted a licence under this section, on the grant of the licence.
(8) In paragraph (b) of subsection (7) of this section "matter of fitness" means--
(a) any matter as respects which Transport for London must be satisfied before granting a licence under this section; or
(b) any matter such that, if Transport for London is not satisfied with respect to the matter, they may refuse to grant a licence under this section.
(9) Different amounts may be determined under subsection (7) of this section for different purposes or different cases.
(10) Transport for London may remit or refund the whole or part of a fee under subsection (7) of this section.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 16, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 204 agreed to

Schedule 17 agreed to.

Clause 205 agreed to.

6 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment 294G:


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