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Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I rise to support the intention behind the amendment. The real benefit of an idea such as this is how it will be perceived and the emphasis it will give to the subject. I hope that elected members and officials of the Greater London Authority and the local boroughs, as well as those in

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the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, will take this matter a little more seriously.

The noble Lord, Lord Renton, mentioned the word “vulnerable". Some road users are a great deal more vulnerable than others. There is also the question of education. The consultation document on safety, published this summer by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, mentioned the number of fatalities suffered by pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and so on. Of course, the highest fatalities are among cyclists and pedestrians. However, he failed to mention that cyclists and pedestrians are nearly all killed by motor vehicles. There is a difficulty of perception. I hope that the amendment will go some way to flagging up the fact that people need to take the needs of the vulnerable road users more seriously.

Recently there has been talk about what needs to be done to encourage interchange between modes of transport. I have heard that some rail franchise companies believe that they have achieved the objective of modal shift by putting up a bus timetable on the station door. That is not good enough. If this amendment shows that they must do something more proactive, as was said in Committee by a number of noble Lords, it will have achieved its objective.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I strongly support the sentiments expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, but I believe that the Bill already adequately covers her concerns.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I commend the succinct intervention by the noble Earl. Broadly speaking, he has covered the point I was to make at rather greater length.

In response to the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, on the issue of cycling, the Government have made a clear commitment to cycling and the London cycling network. The Bill will end the fragmentation of responsibility within London for cycling. Clearly, that covers the issue of safe cycling as well as the provision of cycle networks. The integrated transport strategy within London must provide for the safety of road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.

The present wording refers to the,

    “encouragement of safe, integrated ... transport facilities and services to, from and within Greater London".

Clearly, “safe" means safe for all road users including vulnerable groups.

The noble Lord, Lord Renton, pointed out the slight difficulty of how one defines vulnerable groups because at various times all road users consider themselves vulnerable and indeed are vulnerable. I hope that this amendment will not be pressed because the intention of the provision in the Bill is clear from the reference to the word “safe". To include these words could lead to problems of definition.

On the second amendment in the group, the reference to integrated transport subsumes the commitment to interchanges of various sorts, including interchanges with public transport for

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cyclists and pedestrians. I would assume that a major part of the mayor's commitment to an integrated transport policy, and to public transport that is more attractive to the citizens of London, would definitely include a commitment to provide such interchanges. Although these amendments point in the right direction, I believe that they are unnecessary having regard to what is already on the face of the Bill. I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I thank the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, and the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for their support. I refer particularly to the observation made by the noble Viscount, that the words on interchanges and vulnerable road users are a useful device which would give the mayor additional clout when he wants to promote such a matter. I shall return to that in a moment.

The phrase “vulnerable road users" is in constant use among transport planners. It means precisely those people who are the most vulnerable. Of course, everyone is vulnerable. One can be vulnerable in a car, but one is a great deal more vulnerable when not in a car and when one's body is not protected by a steel surround. Broadly speaking, people who fall into that category--children, pedestrians and so on--are often referred to as vulnerable road users.

Having come from local government, I am always conscious of the way in which such provisions are read and interpreted. It seems to me that an Act, a planning direction, a PPT or whatever, should indicate clearly the direction in which the Government want to go, otherwise there will always be those, in any local authority, who will not agree with the policy.

I am sure that there will be those involved in authorities who will say, “Bicycling is not important", “Cyclists are not important", or “We pay enough attention to pedestrians, look how wide our pavements are". Hence, it is useful for an officer, who is recommending a course of action to a council, to be able to say, “I am sorry, but that attitude is not in accordance with the legislation". This provision tells people about that. For that reason I have been a little pernickety in putting forward this amendment.

However, I can see that I shall not get my way, so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 127 [The Mayor's transport strategy]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 345:

Page 70, line 25, after (“problems,") insert--
(“(aa) shall specify a timetable for the implementation of the proposals contained in the transport strategy by virtue of paragraph (a) above,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall take some time to deal with this group of amendments. I want to put on record the commitment that I mentioned earlier in relation to meeting the concerns of the disabled within London and within this House.

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In Committee we debated a number of amendments on this subject, and I want to pull them all together.

I beg to move formally Amendment No. 345 and speak to Amendment No. 346.

During the passage of this Bill a number of individuals have expressed their concern that the Bill is not sufficiently inclusive of the needs of people who need more accessible transport services. I have discussed those with some noble Lords present and with others. We have considered all those arguments carefully and, while we believe that the existing Bill largely meets the concerns over consultation with organisations representing disabled and elderly people, I recognise that there is still some considerable concern on the issue. I accept that there are distinct advantages in giving a clear signal about the importance that we attach to such issues. For that reason we have tabled Amendments Nos. 345 and 346.

Amendment No. 346 clearly requires the mayor to consult groups representing persons with mobility problems when preparing the transport strategy.

Amendment No. 345 explicitly requires that the mayor sets out in the transport strategy a timetable for the implementation of his or her proposals for the provision of transport which is accessible to persons with mobility problems.

I stress that these amendments are targeted specifically at the transport strategy, in recognition of the particular impact the strategy will have on those with mobility problems. The amendments, taken together, will ensure that transport for those with mobility problems will be key to the mayor's development of a transport strategy.

As it was raised, I should like to take a few moments to restate our position on transport services specifically for disabled people. In addition to the amendments, I hope that my remarks will give further reassurance to noble Lords.

We are committed to comprehensive, enforceable civil rights for disabled people. Accessible public transport within the framework of an integrated transport policy must be fundamental in delivering that commitment. The long-term goal must be to ensure that accessible transport is seen as part of the mainstream transport infrastructure and not as an “add-on". That means the design of transport strategies, the design of the physical nature of transport and the access and information relating to public transport; the needs of the disabled and others with mobility and access problems need to be built in. We must not forget the reality that many Londoners with mobility problems rely not on mainstream public transport, but on dedicated door-to-door transport services. The London White Paper set out our commitments in that area. Responsibility for the dedicated door-to-door services currently provided by the Dial-a-Ride and Taxicard schemes will transfer to the new authority. The mayor's duty to include in the transport strategy proposals for accessible transport encompasses proposals for door-to-door services as well as public transport.

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During our debates in Committee the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, raised the issue of funding for the Taxicard scheme in the interim period before the mayor assumes responsibility for the scheme. I subsequently wrote to the noble Baroness on the subject, and I hope it will be helpful if I reiterate the gist of my letter here.

Taxicard is currently a voluntary scheme. Those boroughs which participate in it are under no statutory obligation to do so and funding levels are a matter for the boroughs. That has naturally led to differences of approach from borough to borough, with eligible residents in some areas receiving different levels of service from those in others. Our proposals in the GLA Bill will give the mayor the ability to take a more cohesive approach--through his or her transport strategy and the boroughs' local implementation plans which will help to deliver the strategy. Each borough will be required to submit those plans to the mayor for his or her approval.

Users of the Taxicard scheme--and others like it--will benefit from the more co-ordinated approach in contrast to the present situation where decisions are left to individual boroughs. Given the reliance of many disabled Londoners on door-to-door transport, we have been concerned to hear reports that some boroughs have reduced funding or service levels in the pre-GLA period. Boroughs (including those which do not currently offer such a service) will need to bear in mind that they may have to revise any decisions they take now about funding or service levels once the mayor is on the scene. Even before the mayor is elected, boroughs will no doubt be watching carefully what mayoral candidates have to say on this issue. I therefore urge those boroughs which have reduced service levels for Taxicard to consider carefully how their decisions will impact on disabled Londoners, and what steps can be taken to mitigate any adverse effects.

I felt it was useful to cover that aspect of these provisions, otherwise the amendments may be taken to apply solely to public transport in its narrower sense. They do not; they cover also the issue of door-to-door services. Our amendments place the mayor under a duty in respect of mobility. They will send a clear message to the mayor as to what experience and expertise should be required in developing the strategy and ensure that the interests of those with mobility problems are fully represented.

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