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SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY APPRAISAL
274. The proposed public-private partnership for NATS will remove the constraints which currently apply in relation to its investment and management decisions, due to the application at present of Government finance rules. The Bill would permit investment decisions to be made in future on a commercial basis. It would also provide more transparency in charges, clearly separate regulation from service provision, and provide NATS with the opportunity to develop business, for example by expanding overseas. NATS' customers are the airlines and others within the aviation industry; the proposals will have no direct impact on other businesses or charities.
275. The local transport provisions are intended to facilitate partnership between local authorities and bus operators in the interests of improving bus travel: they provide scope for local authority discretion, for example, as to standards to be set for Quality Partnerships. Impact on bus operators will depend on the extent to which local authorities choose to exercise their powers, and the extent to which operators choose to participate in partnership schemes. Operators should generally benefit, since measures to promote buses ought to lead to higher bus use and increased revenues. There should be no impact on other businesses or on charities.
276. Local authorities will have new discretionary powers to address congestion through road user charges or a levy on workplace parking. Charging on trunk roads will be introduced in two specific cases: to support local authority charging schemes, and for trunk road bridges and tunnels of at least 600 metres in length. These are defined circumstances where charging can be introduced in the short term to deal with local congestion or to fund costly structures. Reducing congestion, and thereby cutting journey times and increasing journey reliability, will be of direct benefit to business (current estimates indicate that road congestion involves considerable costs for businesses). Impacts on businesses and charities will, however, depend upon the manner in which local authorities exercise their new powers. There is not yet enough understanding of the effects of larger scale trunk road charging, and the technological systems which would operate such schemes are not yet developed enough, for more widespread powers to be appropriate at this stage.
277. The regulatory impact assessment demonstrates that there will be no significant costs to business arising from the establishment of the Strategic Rail Authority and the proposals for a more effective and accountable regulatory framework. The precise financial effect of the enhanced enforcement powers depends on the extent to which the industry complies with its contractual and licence obligations. Both the Strategic Rail Authority and the Rail Regulator will be required to act in a manner which enables the provider of rail services to plan their businesses with a reasonable degree of assurance.
278. A copy of the regulatory impact assessment may be obtained from DETR Free Literature, PO Box No 236, Wetherby L23 7NB (telephone 0870 1226 236).
279. The Bill will come into force in accordance with provision made by order or orders. (See clause 248.)
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
280. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement before second reading about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined in section 1 of that Act). The Lord Macdonald of Tradeston, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, made the following statement:
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