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Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I thank the Minister for replying to my amendments before I speak to them. Amendments Nos. 162 and 168 in this group, which raise an important issue, are both slightly controversial, particularly the latter. Do the Government envisage that when a driving licence is withdrawn on account of disability, which is one of the reasons why an individual is granted a concessionary fare, it shall be done permanently on the grounds of permanent disability? Alternatively, if a person has been unable to obtain a licence because of a disability which can be alleviated--therefore, the loss may be only temporary--will the individual be able to have a concessionary fare while he or she is without a licence? I dare say the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, will have something to say about this complicated matter because it is something about which disability groups are quite concerned. I put forward this matter, with which the noble Lord may not agree, in order to have the Government's views on the record.

Lord Swinfen: I deal first with government Amendment No. 171. That amendment requires that local authorities should only "have regard to" the issues. I am advised that originally the Government intended to insert the words "must act in accordance with". Guidance is purely advice. No matter how often one gives advice, one cannot make the person take it. The Government may wish to strengthen that particular amendment at the next stage of the Bill.

At the same time, I welcome government Amendment No. 190. However, does it include the aspect that is referred to in my Amendment No. 170, which mainly achieves the same object? My amendment includes,

As I read it, the Government's amendment does not cover such people. Further, given that the Greater London Authority Act is now in force, does the government amendment include London?

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, in answer to the noble Baroness, Amendment No. 168 would cover a person who had been refused a driving licence permanently. The government amendments do not echo that. It is possible for a person to be refused a driving licence on medical grounds but to be issued with one if the medical condition improves: epilepsy is one example and blindness through cataracts which are subsequently operated on is another.

The noble Baroness asked whether I believed that a temporary licence would be issued. I believe that that would be the case. But if I am wrong I shall certainly write to the noble Lord and try to sort out the problem.

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In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, and the question of "having regard to" as opposed to "must act in accordance with", I am advised that the wording, which has been strengthened slightly, is that it "must have regard to". I hope that that added emphasis may be of some use to him there.

Mental health in-patients will not be included as such on the face of the Bill but may be subject to regulation later on. London is indeed covered by the government amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 147 to 149 not moved.]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston moved Amendment No. 150:

    Page 88, leave out line 8 and insert ("the concession specified in subsection (1)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 145 [Mandatory concessions: supplementary]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 151 to 155:

    Page 88, line 11, leave out from first ("blind") to end of line 15 and insert ("or partially sighted,").

    Page 88, line 16, after ("is") insert ("profoundly or severely").

    Page 88, line 18, leave out ("seriously impairs") and insert ("has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on").

    Page 88, line 20, leave out paragraph (f) and insert--

("(f) does not have arms or has long-term loss of the use of both arms,").

    Page 88, line 28, at end insert ("otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Swinfen had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 156:

    Page 88, line 28, at end insert--

("( ) is a specified companion of an eligible person who, in the opinion of the authority responsible for the administration of the scheme, requires the assistance of a companion to be able to travel on public transport, or
( ) is a person who has used in-patient mental health services and requires continuing support,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we seem to have moved suddenly from Amendment No. 146 to Amendment No. 156. I have a group of amendments which starts with Amendment No. 148 which was originally grouped with Amendment No. 147 standing in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas. I was waiting for that to be called.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, I told the House that if Amendment No. 146 was agreed to, I could not call Amendments Nos. 147 to 149 because they were pre-empted by Amendment No. 146.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, I shall not move Amendment No. 156 but come back to it at a later stage if necessary.

[Amendment No. 156 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 157 not moved.]

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Lord Macdonald of Tradeston moved Amendment No. 158:

    Page 89, line 9, leave out from ("Wales") to end of line 14.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to Amendment No. 158 with Amendment No. 146. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 159 not moved.]

Clause 146 [Variation of mandatory concessions]:

[Amendment No. 160 not moved.]

Clause 148 [Reinbursement of operators]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 161:

    Page 89, line 46, leave out ("for") and insert ("the full cost to the operator of").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 148 provides that:

    "Where an operator provides concessions under section 144(1)"--

that is concessionary fares--

    "for persons who reside in a travel concession authority's area, the authority shall reimburse the operator for providing the concessions".

On these Benches we are not clear whether that means providing the operator not just with the actual cost of the concessions but also the administrative costs involved. The administrative costs could be a burden--not an unreasonable one--on anyone obliged to operate the concessions because they must account for the number of concessionary clients they have and for whom they provide services. That cannot be done for nothing. Therefore, we thought it was appropriate to table the amendment which says that the full cost should be reimbursed to the operator. It is a small but not unreasonable point which I hope the Minister will consider. I beg to move.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for explaining the amendment. I can assure the noble Lord that our firm intention is to maintain the present principle. That principle is underlined in the regulations. It provides for the reimbursement to operators of concessionary fares. That principle is that each operator should be left no better and no worse off by virtue of participation in the concessionary fare scheme.

The difference between being reimbursed for providing the concessions and reimbursed the full cost is perhaps a little obscure. But the basic principle makes it absolutely clear. That is embodied in the existing regulations. It is fair to say that on the whole these arrangements have worked reasonably well and they are fairly well understood. It would not therefore be our intention to change that basis. But it does seem right to have the regulation-making power available for future flexibility. In the light of that I hope the noble Lord will not pursue the amendment.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his response. The amendment was tabled with a desire not to upset anything but to make sure

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that stability would continue. I think the Minister answered the point when he said that the operator should be no worse off. That seems to cover the point quite adequately. I am grateful for that assurance. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 150 [Concessions in Greater London]:

[Amendment No. 162 not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 163 to 167:

    Page 91, line 36, after ("(5),") insert ("for "are persons, or any description of persons," substitute "by an authority are persons appearing to the authority to be persons" and").

    Page 91, line 36, leave out from ("for") to end of line 39 and insert ("paragraphs (b) and (c) substitute--

"(b) who are blind;
(c) who are partially sighted;").

    Page 91, line 40, after ("are") insert ("profoundly or severely").

    Page 91, line 43, leave out ("seriously impairs") and insert ("has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on").

    Page 91, line 44, leave out from ("who") to end of line 45 and insert ("do not have arms or have long-term loss of the use of both arms;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to Amendments No. 163 to 167 with Amendment No. 146. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 168 not moved.]

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