|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Islwyn: In relation to the difficulties that pensioners are going to experience as a result of the different times of operations--for example nine o'clock in London and half past nine according to the provision in Clause 134--I should have thought that the Bill was the opportunity to bring some rationality into the whole procedure. The operating time, as I say, for London is nine o'clock in the morning. But schemes that are operating in the rest of the country vary. I understand that Essex operates a scheme which commences at nine o'clock, the same as London, though it is nothing like as generous.
As I understand it, Clause 139 is a fall-back option. Under the present system, if the London boroughs and London Transport fail to agree, a decision is taken on this matter each year. London Transport also has a reserve scheme which again provides for free travel from nine o'clock in the morning. So I strongly urge the Minister to think again about the timing of the
Lord Swinfen: I was going to speak about that particular subject in Grand Committee and have a great deal of sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Islwyn, said. I was going to raise the matter on behalf of disabled people at a later stage in the Bill, though concessionary fares are probably unnecessary for those who work unusual hours.
The Earl of Mar and Kellie: Has the department had any contact with the Scottish Executive about this? Clearly this measure does not extend to Scotland, and I am a little distressed, when looking at the Transport (Scotland) Bill introduced recently in the Scottish Parliament, that there is no mention of such a scheme. Devolution certainly does not require Scotland to do anything like the same, but I hope that the Scottish Executive will, after some consultation, come up with approximately the same scheme.
Lord Whitty: On that last point, that is entirely a matter for the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament and not for us. The noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, referred to disabled people who are unable to use normal public transport. That is a different issue; it is not dealt with in this context. This provision deals with access to scheduled services provided by public transport. It does not deal with the issue of door-to-door transport; that is usually provided directly by the local authorities.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, asked about the cost. I indicated our estimate of the cost and that the intention is that it would indeed be fully funded through the revenue support grant settlement.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked whether this definition of the disabled would apply in other legislation. I assume that he meant that very widely. It is, of course, based on the existing legislation in this area which deals with what it is already open to local authorities to do on a discretionary basis. It turns that into a legal requirement and applies it to London. The question of whether the same definition should apply to other legislation is probably beyond the scope of this Committee. I take the noble Lord's point about consistency, however.
Lord Addington: Has the Disability Rights Commission looked at this and taken it as a model? If we can work in to one model in this area, life would become a lot simpler when talking about regulations covering, for instance, new vehicles.
Lord Whitty: I take the noble Lord's point, but it is slightly beyond the scope of this Bill. It may well be appropriate for the commission to look at more consistency of definition. In the first instance, however, it is a matter for the commission and not for this particular legislation, although we note the point.
My noble friend Lord Islwyn raised--to use what I have recently been advised is the technical term--the "twirly" problem; namely, those pensioners who turn up at 8.59 or 9.28 a.m., depending on the time at which the concession can commence, and are told that they are too early. Pensioners being what they are, they tend to get up a little earlier than the rest of us, who are usually rushing for our buses!. However, I agree that this is a serious problem. Pensioners have made representations about whether the minimum scheme should provide for a time earlier than 9.30 a.m. Probably, in relation to the extension to the disabled, the issue arises even more acutely, especially for those disabled people who are in work.
We shall have to consider this. No doubt we shall return to it in Committee. In any event, it is of course open to individual local authorities to go further than this basic minimum. We are providing here a basic minimum scheme which local authorities can already improve upon. I commend the amendment as it stands, but I suspect that we shall hear more on this issue.
(""disabled person" means a person who--
(a) is blind, that is, so blind as to be unable to perform any work for which sight is essential,
(b) is partially sighted, that is, with sight impaired to such an extent that he cannot reasonably accurately estimate the size and speed of movement of vehicular traffic,
(c) is deaf,
(d) is without speech,
(e) has a disability, or has suffered an injury, which seriously impairs his ability to walk,
(f) is without the use of both arms (whether by reason of the absence of those limbs or for any other reason),
(g) has a learning disability, that is, a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning, or
(h) would, if he applied for the grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his application refused pursuant to section 92 of that Act (physical fitness),").
Page 81, line 46, at end insert ("and any disabled person)").
Page 84, line 11, leave out subsection (2) and insert--
("( ) Section 240 (travel concessions on journeys in and around Greater London) is amended as follows.
( ) In subsections (1) and (2), for "any persons eligible to receive them in accordance with subsection (5) below" substitute "such of the persons eligible to receive them in accordance with subsection (5) below as are specified in the arrangements".
( ) In subsection (5), for paragraph (c) substitute--
"(c) who are partially sighted, that is, whose sight is impaired to such an extent that they cannot reasonably accurately estimate the size and speed of movement of vehicular traffic;
(d) who are deaf;
(e) who are without speech;
(f) who have a disability, or have suffered an injury, which seriously impairs their ability to walk;
(g) who are without the use of both arms (whether by reason of the absence of those limbs or for any other reason);
(h) who have a learning disability, that is, a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or
(i) who, if they applied for the grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, would have their applications refused pursuant to section 92 of that Act (physical fitness).
( ) In section 241(1) (reserve free travel scheme), after "provided for" insert "all".").
Page 84, line 19, leave out from ("to") to ("specified") in line 20 and insert ("them to include the concession").
Page 84, line 26, leave out ("After subsection (7)") and insert ("In subsection (7), for "the categories of such residents mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c)" substitute "a category specified in any one of the paragraphs".
( ) After that subsection").
Page 84, line 27, leave out from beginning to ("a") in line 28 and insert ("The travel concession which must be included is").
Page 84, leave out lines 42 to 44.
Page 85, line 6, leave out from first ("to") to end of line 9 and insert ("an eligible London resident of a travel concession permit relating to the travel concession specified in section 242(8) above."").