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Lord Berkeley: I congratulate my noble friend on his amendments. They may assist in doing away with interminable queues at bus stops when nobody has a travelcard and everybody pays a 70 pence fare with a £5 note. I have one question for my noble friend on Amendment No. 63. New subsection (3B)(b) states that a ticket can be bought on a bus for a journey to any other place in the country. Any noble Lord who has tried to buy a train ticket from a station that has a computerised system, especially for complicated journeys such as those on Virgin, will know that it takes a couple of minutes. If such a ticket is to be sold from a bus, it will be very exciting for the other passengers. Can my noble friend tell me where it is proposed to sell these tickets? Will they be readily available? Will bus conductors have credit card machines? How will it work?
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: It is not difficult to prophesy that in any new arrangement ticketing problems are bound to arise. I want to be reasonably sure that the Government are now engaged--without waiting for the Bill to be enacted--in some form of consultation with bus operators. Putting it as delicately as I can, not all of them are known for their flexibility. I hope that
Lord Bradshaw: Again, we on this side welcome the amendment. However, we have some concerns, which have been partly expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. It is a fact that under the present system used by the railways for issuing tickets, tickets can be bought for use on buses and trams, but there is virtually no reciprocal arrangement for the railways to accept tickets that have been sold on buses for travel on trains. A great deal needs to be done before the intentions that are set down here can come into effect.
We are also concerned about the effect of the Competition Act and the relationship between the powers of the Director-General of Fair Trading, the local authority and the bus companies, and how we believe they will be able to interfere with ticketing and other things. However, when we come to debate Schedule 10, I shall say something more about that.
Specifically in relation to tickets I should say that bus companies are now extraordinarily reluctant to enter into any ticketing arrangements, because there are two barriers. If the local authority under the Bill promotes a ticketing scheme, the Director-General of Fair Trading will consider it without charging a fee. But if a bus company promotes a ticketing scheme, for each scheme it is required to pay a fee (I believe around £13,000) to the Director-General of Fair Trading. In most cases it would take a long time for the proceeds of a ticketing scheme to recoup that £13,000, and that does not include the costs of legal representation in persuading the Director-General of Fair Trading that the scheme is anti-competitive.
From this side we very much welcome this amendment and the extension to trams and trains. But a great deal more work needs to be done; not drafting work, but work behind the scenes between the department and the director-general, and between the department, the Strategic Rail Authority and ATOC before this highly desirable system can be made to work.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: We too welcome the principle of the three ticketing schemes. And I hope that the Minister has answered my question about why it should be compulsory for bus companies to provide tickets on different modes of transport but not compulsory for train companies to do the same. The Minister covered that point, but the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, has just raised an extremely important point about the cost of the Competition Commission's inquiries. I hope the Minister can give a good answer to that.
The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, raised the problems of buying tickets on the buses, and I would put in a plea which I have made before: why is it not possible to buy a one-day Travelcard on London buses, particularly conductor-operated ones? It is extremely irritating if one is starting the first leg of one's journey on a bus not
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: That is the most I can do because the Bill is not concerned with London. However, I certainly undertake to pass that on. It may be said that it is possible not just at tube stations, but also at newsagents and various other places.
Let me respond first of all to my noble friend Lord Berkeley who expresses concern as to whether ticketing will be physically possible; whether it will slow things down if tickets are issued on buses. The best answer I can give to him is that it is already happening. In over 130 towns one can buy a £1 bus add-on entitling the holder to use a local bus network at the end of a rail journey. The bus and rail industry is working together through a joint body called Journey Solutions, committed to having at least 200 schemes of this kind available by the end of this year. In Oxford a person can buy a ticket on the local bus which entitles him to travel by rail to London and then have the use of the London Underground, and in Manchester he can buy a Travelcard which gives him the freedom of the bus, rail and tram system or different combinations of them, including travel on buses operated by over 40 bus operators in the conurbation. That is already quite commonplace in a number of conurbations.
There are other examples, like through-ticketing from London to Portsmouth, across on the ferry to the Isle of Wight and then for travel round the island. There are plenty of examples of how it can be made to happen, and it is important that we should be encouraging that. I use the word "encouraging" but I shall come on to that when I respond to the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon. Those schemes are clearly beneficial to passengers and we want to see them extended.
Lord Islwyn: I am a little concerned about the issue of rail fares. We all know that these are multifarious. If we go to certain stations we can obtain certain concessions but are often quoted different prices for a ticket. How are we going to standardise things, particularly now that this is going to be operated through buses as well?
Clause 124 is concerned with ticket types, not with prices of multi-modal tickets, to which we shall return in due course. The Office of Fair Trading will naturally have a view about price fixing against the public interest. This is clearly a matter for the Committee in the Chamber later on. I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Peyton--I hope it will be clear from what I have said about what is happening now--that there is already plenty of consultation with the bus companies.
The noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, raised the specific point about the role of the Office of Fair Trading and charges to the bus operator. He mentioned the fee of £13,000 to the Office of Fair Trading for ruling on whether or not a competition test in Schedule 10 should be passed. We have not reached that yet but he is right that there is a power in that schedule for the Director-General of Fair Trading to charge a fee. However, it has not been decided what that fee shall be, nor even that there will be a fee. The £13,000 is the fee under the Competition Act, which is different legislation. I shall pass on the noble Lord's point to the Office of Fair Trading and perhaps it can be teased out in subsequent stages of the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, rightly pointed out that the obligation in these amendments is on the bus operator. It is only fair to say, however, that the train companies already have an obligation on them in legislation. Tram companies tend to operate under private or local legislation so it would be difficult to impose an obligation on them without immense complication in the Bill. However, many tram operators have obligations on them in their concessions and there are many examples both of train and tram operators collaborating through ticketing arrangements. For example, Midland Metro is involved in joint ticketing with bus and rail as part of their concession agreement. In Sheffield, the Supertram is part of the PTE ticketing scheme. In Tyne and Wear, the PTE operates the Metro and there is fully integrated ticketing, as is also happening with Croydon Tramlink and the Docklands Light Railway, with London Transport's ticketing and travelcard arrangements.
("( ) If the scheme applies to tickets within section 124(3A)(d), it may only be made with the agreement of the operators of the connecting rail or tram services concerned.").
Page 77, line 43, leave out from ("services") to ("and") in line 44 and insert ("or services for the carriage of passengers by railway or by tramway (or by both) who would, in the opinion of the authority or authorities, be affected by it,
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