Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, perhaps he will give the House the answer that he would have given to my noble friend Lord Shutt of Greetland on Amendment No. 182. It is a straightforward amendment. It provides that when an operator fails substantially, the traffic commissioner may disqualify that operator from further operations. A response would be helpful to the House. There is a relatively short period between this stage and Third Reading during which my noble friend may wish to consider what to do.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, my note says that the Liberal Democrats need a reply in writing and orally. There is a slight difficulty about the references in her noble friend's amendment. I understand that the noble Baroness needs reassurance--I can give it to her--that the traffic commissioners will have exactly the same powers to enforce against breach of registered details by what is referred to as an exempted operator under the quality contract scheme as they would in respect of a bus operator outside that area. I believe that that is the assurance the noble Baroness and her noble friend seek.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his response. As he rightly says, we come to this part of the Bill from reciprocal positions. I suspect that there will never be a meeting of minds on these issues. I shall study the noble Lord's explanations with care. While I may understand them, I do not believe that I shall ever agree with them. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 113 to 114 not moved.]

Clause 129 [Tendering for quality contracts]:

[Amendments Nos. 115 to 117 not moved.]

Clause 135 [Notice and consultation requirements]:

[Amendment No. 118 not moved.]

3.45 p.m.

Clause 136 [Making of scheme]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 119:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this part of the Bill relates to joint ticketing schemes and so on. The amendment relates to that part of the Bill which deals with variations to the scheme.

Any ticketing scheme requires a deal of public notice and public consultation. The public are made well aware, and rightly so, of what is going on and, in so far as that can be done, their views will be taken into consideration during that process. Clause 136(6)--it seems an oddity--provides that,

    "The authority or authorities may vary or revoke the scheme; and the variation or revocation is subject to the same procedure as the making of the scheme".

30 Oct 2000 : Column 677

I go along with the Bill to that point. That seems eminently sensible. If one has a scheme which is brought into being with a great deal of public participation and consultation, one should go through the same process to vary or revoke it.

However, the Bill then states,

    "except to the extent that that procedure is modified by regulations made by the appropriate national authority".

I have the greatest difficulty in deciding why the appropriate national authority--it may be the Minister or the Welsh Assembly--should wish to vary those conditions.

The Government say that they may need that power in case they have the procedure wrong. If we have the procedure wrong, the whole Bill is wrong. I cannot seriously believe that the Government think that this part of the Bill is flawed. I do not understand the need for those words. They should be struck from the Bill. The amendment gives effect to that.

Amendment No. 120 deals with a small matter of practicality. Clause 137 states:

    "During any period in which a ticketing scheme is in operation, operators of local services to which the scheme relates must make and implement the arrangements required by the scheme".

We have simply added--the Minister may say that they are unnecessary--the words,

    "provided that it is practicable for it to do so at a cost that is not disproportionate".

Despite my eternal championing of the good sense of local authorities, it is not unknown for them occasionally to make illogical and rash decisions, in particular when they trespass into what I call the commercial field. I believe that the words in the amendment are useful in ensuring that the schemes are sensible, practicable and not too expensive.

These are small amendments. Their effect is not massive. I hope that the Minister will consider them. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, in this context we are dealing with the procedure for revoking or varying a scheme, not making a scheme, although some of the provisions read across. The noble Lord seeks to remove the power to make regulations in regard to revoking or modifying the procedures.

As drafted, Clause 136(6) recognises that it would be appropriate to have some degree of flexibility in order to change by regulation the variation or revocation procedure in the light of experience. In Committee I gave an example of where experience may change circumstances. We would want to vary the scheme, for example, by bringing in other operators or transport modes. That may mean that the procedure would have to be modified in order to do so when, for example, the scheme had been established for one mode or one relatively narrow group of operators. In those circumstances--there may well be others--regulations would be a perfectly reasonable way to modify the procedure. It is with that in mind that we have sought to build in the flexibility in this clause.

30 Oct 2000 : Column 678

Amendment No. 120 could present a serious inhibition on using the powers in the Bill. It would add the proviso that the requirement on operators to make and implement arrangements under the scheme would apply only if those arrangements were practicable and involved a cost which was not disproportionate. In all these cases, the authority is bound to act reasonably. This wording, as in other fields of law, would lead the way for endless and unproductive disputes as to what was practicable and what was disproportionate. Local authorities are already required to consult operators before making the scheme. They would need to take sensible account of any representations. They have a general obligation to act reasonably in using these powers. I believe that that is sufficient safeguard against such schemes leading to disproportionate or totally unreasonable provisions and impositions on the operators and others.

So both amendments would be detrimental. The first deals with a situation that is unlikely to arise frequently, but we need the flexibility to deal with it if it should arise, and I believe that the second could seriously undermine the scheme by potentially giving specious grounds for challenge. I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. However, I had some difficulty in following what he said on Amendment No. 119. I understand the need to modify the schemes--the Bill provides for consultation and for schemes to be modified--but I do not believe that the Minister has answered why what is set out on the face of the Bill may need to be varied. The Minister says that such a situation would be a rare occurrence with which I agree--I do not believe that such a situation should exist--but I do not understand why, if there is need to vary a scheme, the existing procedures cannot be complied with.

We can continue to have fundamental disagreements, but at some point the matter must be made plain. Therefore, I believe that it is worth testing the opinion of the House on this issue.

3.51 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 119) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 57; Not-Contents, 101.

Division No. 1


Aberdare, L.
Ackner, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brightman, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cuckney, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hanham, B.
Haslam, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Hooper, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northesk, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rees, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Sharples, B.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Warnock, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Brett, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Jacobs, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Layard, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
McNally, L.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Peston, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

30 Oct 2000 : Column 680

4.1 p.m.

Clause 137 [Effect of scheme]:

[Amendment No. 120 not moved.]

Clause 138 [Information about bus services]:

[Amendment No. 121 not moved.]

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page