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Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I believe that my noble friend has done a real service by highlighting an important issue which he anticipates the Minister will be able to deal with satisfactorily. However, there was some doubt which led to my noble friend tabling this amendment. Whether it is a “quabble", quibble or whatever, I believe that my noble friend wants to find

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his place in the history books of London. Perhaps he will do so as a result of this. He should not try too hard because he is already there.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I fully accept the noble Lord's point that it is desirable to maintain, or even improve, the current level of services. But suppose that a major employer closes down in an outlying town. Demand for transport services will be reduced, and therefore frequencies may have to be adjusted. I believe that the noble Lord's amendment precludes that. On a more general note, I believe that it is important to avoid cuts in service that chase falls in demand caused by cuts in service.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, despite the brief absence of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, I can assure my noble friend that throughout the passage of this Bill I have always been concerned to protect the interests of the inhabitants of Essex, in particular those who rely on London Transport, and especially my noble friends Lord Graham of Edmonton and Lord Murray of Epping Forest. We have addressed those concerns in the Bill in two ways. First, the mayor's general transport duty will shape the overall approach that he or she takes on transport, including areas beyond London. Secondly, there are detailed provisions in Part IV which safeguard the interests of travellers who live outside the London boundary. I shall deal with those two aspects in turn.

In drawing up the strategy the mayor will have to take account of national policy, including the Government's integrated transport policy. By virtue of Clause 126 the mayor will be under a statutory duty to develop and implement policies for the promotion and encouragement of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport services to, from and within Greater London. That encompasses passengers and customers outside the London boundary.

To deal with the more detailed provisions of Part IV, the powers in Schedule 9, which Transport for London will use to provide public passenger transport services between places outside the Greater London boundary, are very similar to those which London Transport currently has under the London Regional Transport Act 1984. We do not envisage that that situation will change significantly. However, in recognition of the position of those who live outside London, Clause 181 provides that persons aggrieved by a mayoral decision about discontinuance of services wholly or partly outside London will have a right of appeal to the Secretary of State. We believe that that approach strikes the right balance between giving the mayor operational control over TfL services and protecting the interests of those who live outside London.

I cannot accept my noble friend's amendments as they stand because, as he indicated, I have already informed him that the mayor will need flexibility to make sensible decisions on the level and provision of transport services. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said that one could not set these things in concrete. Flexibility is required. To specify fare and service levels

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on the face of the Bill would deny that flexibility. Incidentally, it will also give the Secretary of State greater powers than the Bill envisages. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords will note in that context my resistance to going down that road.

Services beyond the London boundary cannot be seen in isolation from the totality of the operation of the Underground network. Setting service standards in one area will undoubtedly have an effect on the rest of the system. That again will reduce the mayor's ability to cater for changes in travel requirements throughout the system, both in and outside London.

I hope that these reassurances and the others that I gave to my noble friend Lord Graham of Edmonton and to the noble Lord, Lord Murray of Epping Forest, in writing will reassure them that the interests of those who use the London transport network outside London will be looked after under the new setup. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend can withdraw his amendment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, I certainly intend to withdraw my amendment. I express to the Minister my satisfaction and that of the noble Lord, Lord Murray, who is sitting in his place, that the Minister has gone as far as he can. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, raised the interesting point that there may be normal commercial assessments resulting in a service being reduced because the number of users had declined.

Our amendment refers to the general level, frequency and cost of services. That implies some flexibility. A decline in the number of users means that any community will expect some adjustment.

That leads me to the point made by the Minister that the Bill could not be expected to create exceptional circumstances for the outer London areas. We shall be satisfied provided we receive the same treatment as those within the London boundary. From past experience, we are concerned that opportunities have been taken to treat those living outside the circle in less favourable ways than those inside the boundaries. I can assure the Minister that I am deeply grateful for the care he has taken tonight and previously in correspondence. He has gone a very long way to satisfy our concerns and, I am sure, those of the people we represent. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 375B and 375C not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 375D to 380:

Page 236, line 33, leave out (“(3)(a)") and insert (“(1)(a)").
Page 237, line 41, leave out sub-paragraph (2).
Page 238, line 1, leave out (“means") and insert (“includes").
Page 238, line 3, leave out from (“services") to end of line 4 and insert (“, the reservation of seats in vehicles used in the provision of those services and the provision of information about those services to members of the general public").
Page 238, line 23, at end insert (“arising from the activities it carries on in the discharge of its functions.").

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Page 238, line 23, at end insert--
(“Intermodal freight facilities

13A. Transport for London may provide and maintain facilities for the transfer of freight--
(a) from a railway to any other mode of transport,
(b) to a railway from any other mode of transport,
(c) from a waterway to any other mode of transport,
(d) to a waterway from any other mode of transport.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 381:

Page 238, line 25, after (“land") insert (“except operational land").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 388 to 390 and Amendment No. 524. This is a difficult series of amendments. They deal with the sale of operational land by Transport for London and with an issue that we raised at an earlier stage; namely, the need for people to know how much land, major interests and buildings will be left in the hands of TfL after the transitional period.

Amendment No. 381 would limit the ability of Transport for London to develop its land as it thinks fit. That is a very broadly based power. The amendment excludes from the power operational land. Amendments Nos. 388 to 390 all amend Clause 146 which deals with restrictions on the ability of Transport for London and the authority to dispose of land. In particular, neither organisation can dispose of operational land without the consent of the Secretary of State.

Amendment No. 388 provides that land must have ceased to be operational for 10 rather than five years before the Secretary of State's consent is no longer required for a sale. Amendment No. 389 limits the power of the Secretary of State to vary that length of time, but not to increase it. In other words, the Secretary of State cannot permit the sale of land which has been out of operation for less than 10 years. Amendment No. 524 allows that after the transitional period during which Transport for London is established, a list of the interests in land and buildings owned by Transport for London shall be available for inspection at its office. That is quite a severe modification of the amendment which we put forward at Committee stage when in effect we said that everything that TfL owned should be listed. Now we only require interests in land and buildings to be so listed.

Arguably the most important amendment is Amendment No. 390 which amends Clause 146. It sets out a series of conditions which Transport for London and the authority have to meet before they can dispose of operational land under the Secretary of State's dispensation. Neither organisation can dispose of its interests unless it has been given not less than four months' notice of its intention to make such a disposal. In addition, that information should be made available to the London borough councils, the Common Council and bodies providing public passenger transport services. Whoever disposes of

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such land should have full regard to all the responses made by any of these bodies, including any proposal for acquired land. Finally, Transport for London shall prepare, and keep available for inspection, a list of its freehold and other interests in operational and non-operational land and buildings.

We put forward similar amendments at the previous stage of the Bill. We were correctly reprimanded by the Minister, who pointed out that the amendments had been put into the wrong series of clauses. I believe I have corrected that mistake.

Perhaps I may explain how the conditions in Amendment No. 390 have been selected. They reflect the conditions which the Secretary of State has now put on British Rail Holdings and Railtrack in the disposal of their land. We know that the disposal of former railway land has been a matter of great contention since privatisation. The reason is very obvious; namely, that there is not very much land available on which, without any real difficulty, the track and other requirements for increasing the infrastructure of the rail system can be developed.

Our contention is that the same worries will accumulate around the relatively small parcels of land which are currently in the ownership of London Transport and which will be conveyed to Transport for London. The purpose of these amendments is to make sure that Transport for London will be unable to emulate BRB by selling land without anyone knowing how much had been sold and what the pieces of land were. In this amendment we are applying the same conditions to Transport for London at the outset as the Secretary of State has now applied to BRB and Railtrack. I beg to move.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the issues raised by the noble Baroness are complex. I cannot accept Amendment No. 381. We certainly want TfL to maximise the transport use of its operational land but we do not want unnecessarily to restrict the way it does that. The amendment would prevent TfL from developing operational land for any purpose, including transport. TfL should be free to develop its land as it thinks fit, in the same way as London Regional Transport does now so that the revenue from development can be reinvested in transport. We have included in the Bill measures to protect operational land.

On Amendments Nos. 388 and 389, Clause 146 also provides that the Secretary of State's consent is not required if the land in question has stopped being operational land for at least five years. The Secretary of State can, by order, vary the five-year period up or down. Amendments Nos. 388 and 389 would lengthen the period from five years to 10 and restrict the Secretary of State's power to vary the period so that it could only be lengthened, not shortened.

As noble Lords will recall, the provisions which are the subject of the noble Baroness's amendments were inserted by the Government in Committee so that the Bill now provides that former operational land can be

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disposed of without the Secretary of State's consent after a period of five years. That five-year period can be varied up or down.

We think that five years is a reasonable period. It strikes the right balance between safeguarding transport assets and giving TfL a degree of flexibility. However, the noble Baroness may have a point with Amendment No. 389 which provides that the Secretary of State can only lengthen the five-year period. I am therefore prepared to consider this point and, it is to be hoped, return to it at Third Reading.

Amendment No. 390 would require TfL to give at least two months' notice of any proposal to sell operational land. The noble Baroness has drawn a parallel here with last month's announcement by my noble friend Lord Macdonald about British Rail property sales. But the situation with BR is different from TfL. BR is no longer directly involved in railway operations and its residual property holdings and is not constrained in its property dealings in the same way as TfL will by other provisions in the Bill. TfL, on the other hand, will operate a live railway. Under Clause 146, it will be restricted from offering operational land for permanent disposal. The situations are different.

Amendment No. 390 would require TfL to prepare and keep available for inspection a list of its interests in operational and non-operational land. Amendment No. 524 would require TfL to provide a list of property interests.

During our debates in Committee, the noble Baroness tabled an amendment which would have required the Secretary of State, prior to the establishment of TfL, to publish a list of all property. In the debate it became clear that the noble Baroness's interests were more narrowly focused. I indicated at the time that it might still be a substantial and complex task to identify all major sites but undertook to consider the point further. Although I cannot accept these two amendments as they stand, I hope that I can now respond to those issues.

We have carefully studied the arguments made in earlier debates. We agree on the importance of clarity on the land that will transfer at that point to TfL. I can therefore agree in principle that we shall arrange for the publication of such details at the point prior to land transferring to TfL.

But as I mentioned previously, it would be impractical and probably disproportionate to compile a list of all assets, including the most minor. We propose, therefore, to concentrate on major land assets. That will require definition, but that is the intention. I shall keep the House informed of our proposals.

However, we do not think it is necessary to require TfL to maintain a list of property for public inspection, as envisaged in subsection (4D) of Amendment No. 390. To do so would place a more onerous requirement on TfL than on local authorities elsewhere. In any event, if TfL were to want to dispose of any land asset it would be in TfL's interests to circulate details widely so as to obtain the

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best price. And, as I mentioned earlier in this debate, any proposals to dispose of operational land will be made public by means of Parliament's consideration of any consent which the Secretary of State intends to give. Moreover, the assembly will be able to require TfL to provide details of TfL property holdings, if it so chooses. Such information would have to be made public unless it was commercially sensitive.

Similarly, we see no need for Amendment No. 524, but I hope that the noble Baroness will be reassured by our commitment that, in addition to the publication of details of major land assets which TfL will have on its establishment, we shall arrange for the publication of details of major land assets which will be transferred to TfL when control of the Underground passes to the mayor.

In that context, London Transport will remain in existence for that interim period and run the Underground prior to the delivery of a PPP. It will have to retain the necessary property for its remaining functions. We will therefore arrange for publication of two sets of details. The first will include the London Transport property which will transfer to TfL on TfL's establishment. The second will include details of London Transport property which will transfer to TfL upon delivery of the PPP.

This approach also takes account of the fact that London Transport is currently considering with its advisers the best arrangements for the future of its non-operational property. We want London Transport to continue to raise money from its non-operational property as a contribution to the increased investment in the Tube which my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced last July. We have not taken any final decisions on precisely how that contribution should be made and we are still considering advice from professional advisers. But we certainly want to see all property managed in a way that will provide value for money and allow TfL to concentrate on its key task of providing a quality transport service for London. Proceeds from sales of non-operational property will of course be used to fund investment in the Underground.

I am sorry that I have had to relate that at some length. The noble Baroness raises important issues. It is important that we know what property assets we shall list, and at what point, in accordance with her wishes. In the light of the commitments I have given, I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.

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