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Page 240, line 27, at end insert--

(“Museums

.--(1) Transport for London may provide and maintain a museum of transport artefacts, records and other exhibits and may do anything necessary or expedient for or in connection with the provision or maintenance of the museum.
(2) Transport for London may make a charge for admission to a museum maintained by it.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 145 [Annual report]:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 385:


Page 80, line 34, leave out subsections (3) to (6) and insert--
(“(2A) The report made under this section in respect of any financial year shall include the following information--
(a) financial statements prepared on the basis of generally accepted principles of accounting;
(b) the report of external auditors on those financial statements;
(c) detailed statistics relating to the efficiency and reliability of the discharge of its functions by Transport for London including (but not limited to)--
(i) the number of days during the financial year in which any public passenger transport service was disrupted by any industrial dispute (whether official or otherwise);

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(ii) the number of cancellations of proposed journeys during the financial year by any public passenger transport service;
(iii) the number of routes formerly operated by public passenger transport services closed during the financial year; and
(iv) a table disclosing the remuneration of all senior staff employed by or officers of Transport for London compiled to the same standards as would apply to a company whose shares were listed on the London Stock Exchange.
(2B) The report required by this section shall be available to the public at no charge and also published electronically in a form capable of access by members of the general public.
(2C) A summary of the matters referred to in subsection (2A) above shall also be published in at least two newspapers circulating in the entire area of Greater London.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I wish to move Amendment No. 385 which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara. In speaking to the amendment it may be convenient if I speak also to Amendment No. 387.

Amendment No. 385 is a key amendment to protect Londoners' financial stake in TfL. It will also improve transport standards and efficiency by forcing an outside audit of TfL's competence. The current provisions in Clause 145 relating to the reporting of the performance of TfL are weak. The requirement to pay a fee to obtain a copy of the report contrasts unfavourably with the practice of most modern listed companies.

As the clause is drafted, TfL could produce a super but very expensive glossy report; the fee for the report then might be reasonable bearing in mind the cost of producing the report, but not affordable by most people. This amendment will deter that possibility.

Finally, the amendment provides that the report should be published on the Internet. I am sure that TfL will do that anyway but it should be obliged to do so under Clause 145. The use of the Internet will dramatically reduce the cost of promulgating the report and increase its availability.

Amendment No. 387 is good for democracy because it ensures that the auditors are accountable to someone other than those they are auditing. After all, company shareholders--not the directors--approve auditors, although on the recommendation of the board of directors. Can the Minister say why this should not apply to TfL? I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the Audit Commission Act 1998 and the 1996 accounts and audit regulations lay down requirements as to what TfL must include in its published accounts. There is a provision laying down the rights of local government electors in the area of the body subject to audit to inspect its accounts and supporting documents. Like the GLA and other functional bodies, TfL will be covered by the same audit system as applies to other organisations within the local government finance system.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked whether TfL would be obliged to publish its accounts on the Internet. I indicated that my

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understanding was that that would be a matter for TfL. I wish to take this opportunity to confirm that my reply was correct.

As long as TfL meets the statutory requirements to make its accounts available for inspection to the public, it can decide what further measures to take to publicise the report and accounts. It would be overly prescriptive to require TfL to make its accounts available electronically. To do so would be to place TfL on a different footing from local authorities elsewhere.

The noble Earl returns to the issue of giving the assembly the duty of appointing and fixing the fee of TfL's external auditors. This matter was raised in Committee. Clause 118 of the Bill adds the functional bodies, including TfL, to the list of public bodies which under the Audit Commission Act 1998 are required to make up accounts annually. It also adds TfL to the list of bodies which must be audited by an auditor or auditors appointed by the Audit Commission. This means that TfL, like the GLA and other functional bodies, will be covered by the same audit system as applies to other organisations within the local government finance system. Not only is this tried and tested but it would also avoid the danger of the assembly getting bogged down in routine appointment procedures. The assembly's role, should it so choose, is to scrutinise and challenge the contents of the audit.

With these assurances, I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister's response to the amendments. I am concerned by her lack of interest in the Internet amendment. In two years' time anyone who is not using the Internet will be, relatively speaking, in the age of the quill pen. The Minister seems to be allowing for the possibility that TfL will not publish its accounts on the Internet. That would be most unfortunate. I am happy to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 386:


After Clause 145, insert the following new clause--

PROVISION OF INFORMATION

(“ .--(1) Transport for London shall make available such information as it thinks fit which--
(a) relates to public passenger transport services provided to, from and within Greater London, and
(b) is required by members of the general public to assist in deciding what use to make of such services.
(2) The information shall be made available, in such manner as Transport for London thinks fit, to--
(a) the general public, and
(b) such other persons as Transport for London thinks fit.

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(3) Transport for London may make such charges as it thinks fit for information which it makes available; but no such charge may be made if the information relates to public passenger transport services provided exclusively--
(a) by Transport for London or any of its subsidiaries, or
(b) by other persons under agreements entered into under section 141(2) or (3) above.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 387 not moved.]

Clause 146 [Restrictions on disposal of land]:

[Amendments Nos. 388 to 390 not moved.]

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 391:


Leave out Clause 146.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I rise to move Amendment No. 391 which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara.

We return momentarily to the disposal of operational land, but from a slightly different viewpoint. Clause 146 represents an illogical shackling of TfL's ability to generate funds through the disposal of surplus land. The clause is likely to lead to Londoners paying higher local taxes to fund TfL.

On the grounds of subsidiarity, the requirement for the Secretary of State's consent should be deleted. I accept that there may be a need to consult with other interested parties; we discussed that. The need to avoid prejudicing future railway developments is well recognised and very important. However, this clause as drafted would catch the disposal of a redundant electrical substation, for example, even though it was not adjacent to what we would understand to be railway lands.

I do not intend to test the opinion of the House on this amendment. I suggest that the Minister has another look at subsection (8) of the clause, which defines operational land. The clause will catch land it does not need to catch. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, Clause 146 places restrictions on TfL's ability to dispose of operational railway and tramway land. The clause is designed, as the noble Earl indicated, to prevent the permanent sale of key operational assets, primarily the Underground and Docklands Light Railway lines and stations. TfL is required to obtain the Secretary of State's consent to such disposals.

We made clear in our manifesto that privatisation of the Underground was not the answer to the problems faced by the Tube. We must ensure that the network is run first and foremost as a public transport asset. Therefore we must not allow ourselves to get into a situation where the land or other assets can be disposed of without an assessment of the public interest. Clause 146 provides the necessary safeguards. Were it to be deleted, those safeguards would be removed.

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We have taken a pragmatic approach in that we recognise that TfL needs flexibility over its property portfolio. That is why in Committee we tabled amendments to the clause to give TfL the ability to manage its property holdings sensibly. However, we do need these safeguards and we believe that the arrangements we have put in place strike the right balance, on the one hand in protecting public assets, and on the other in allowing TfL to manage those assets effectively to the benefit of their overall operations.

The deletion of the clause would remove many safeguards. I am happy to look at the particular point raised by the noble Earl, but it is clear that the amendment as a whole is not acceptable and I hope that he will feel able to withdraw it.


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