Memorandum by Strathclyde Passenger Transport
Executive (IT 98)
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
1. Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive
is a member of the Passenger Transport Executive Group and wishes
therefore to associate itself with the collective submission which
is separately being made to the Select Committee on behalf of
the seven Passenger Transport Authorities and Executives.
2. This separate submission is made because,
in addition to being within the scope of the UK White Paper (Cm
3950 page 8 and paragraph 4.71-2), Strathclyde Passenger Transport
also operates within the devolved policy sphere covered by the
parallel Scottish White Paper Travel Choices for Scotland
(Cm 4010) and which will ultimately become part of the responsibility
of the Scottish Parliament and Executive.
3. While acknowledging that Cm 4010 and these
latter dimensions are a matter for the Scottish Select Committee,
Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive has some concerns arising
out of the interface between UK policy as laid out in Cm 3950
and the specifically Scottish elements contained in Cm 4010. Noting
that transport policy for Scotland should be "consistent
with the principles in this paper" (Cm 3950, page 8), and
that "there will continue to be a need for a common UK transport
policy in key respects" (Cm 4010, page 5), the Executive
considers that there are matters which may be appropriately raised
in response to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs
Committee's invitation of submissions of evidence.
4. In reaching this view, the Executive has
been assisted by a helpful letter dated 4 September from Transport
Division 2 of the Scottish Office. This states:
In drafting the Scottish Transport White Paper
we did not attempt to go into the level of detail that there is
in the UK White Paper. That would have merely produced another
very large document for Scotland, with significant overlapping
text with the UK White Paper. What we tried to do was to create
an intelligible, self-standing document that could be fairly easily
read from cover to cover to give an accurate impression of all
the key aspects of the Government's transport policies for Scotland.
In some cases the UK White Paper makes it clear that a policy
does not apply to Scotland. In a few others, the Scottish White
Paper proposes a policy that is somewhat different from what is
in the UK White Paper. In other cases, the reader should assume
that the Government are, in Scotland, committed to policies based
on the same details that are contained in the UK White Paper.
5. In this context, specific concerns which
Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive wishes to raise with
the Select Committee are as follows.
6. The Executive fully shares in the views expressed
in the paper submitted on behalf of all PTAs and PTEs about the
difficulties of relying in the first instance solely on the voluntary
co-operation of the bus industry in delivering improved and integrated
local public transport through the mechanism of a quality partnership.
In Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive's own experience,
the number of changes to bus service registrations has increased
from an average of 4.8 per working day in 1996-97 to 5.9
in 1997-98. On current experience the average in 1998-99 may be
higher still. Far from assisting in the White Paper's objective
of achieving greater service stability (Cm 3950, paragraph 3.65),
present practice within the bus industry appears to be working
increasingly against this aim, at least in the west of Scotland.
7. Because this is an area in which the Scottish
White Paper is less explicit than the UK document, the Executive
sought clarification from the Scottish Office of the extent to
which Ministerial commitments to legislate to limit bus operators'
freedom to alter registered services would also apply in Scotland.
Similarly, it also asked whether the undertaking given in paragraph
3.53 of Cm 3950, that operators would be required to participate
in joint ticketing and travelcard schemes, also extended to Scotland.
8. The Scottish Office letter referred to in
paragraph 4 above confirmed that these commitments did indeed
also apply to Scotland. However, it indicated that legislation
on these questions would be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.
Quite apart from the inevitable delay before the Scottish Parliament
is in a position to legislate on devolved matters, there is also
the question of the extent to which Ministers are presently able
to commit a future Scottish Parliament and Executive to specific
9. Furthermore, as the joint submission from
the PTAs and PTEs emphasises, some key aspects of bus policy (and
in particular the stress which is placed on Quality Partnerships
and Quality Contracts) are conditioned by competition law and
policy. This could raise particularly acute problems in Scotland,
since although most elements of transport policy will fall within
the competence of the Scottish Parliament, competition policy
will remain a reserved matter, subject to the Westminster Parliament.
10. Unless there was some mechanism to ensure
that the two Parliaments moved forward together on those aspects
of bus policy which interfaced with competition policy, the Executive
would therefore question whether or when the proposals in the
two White Papers to amend the existing arrangements for the provision
of registered bus services can in fact be delivered in Scotland.
11. Consequently, it might be appropriate for
the Government to legislate on these matters on a UK basis prior
to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament. This would leave
the latter with the ability subsequently to modify the application
of bus policy in Scotland, but within the context of a clearly
established UK framework which had given effect to the intentions
of both DETR and Scottish Office Ministers.
12. Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive
welcomes the provisions within the White Papers for the devolution
to the Scottish Executive of matters relating to internal Scottish
passenger railway services and overnight Anglo-Scottish sleeper
services, together with the ability to influence other cross-border
13. Consistent with its previous evidence to
the Select Committee on the proposed Strategic Rail Authority
and Railway Regulation, the Executive considers it essential that,
in the exercise of its specific functions, the Strategic Rail
Authority should not seek to duplicate or override the role of
other statutory bodies with separate but equally legitimate strategic
objectives and responsibilities which relate to railway services,
such as the Scottish Executive and the Passenger Transport Authorities
14. This proposition should be self-evident.
However, the final sentence of paragraph 24 of Cm 4024"Such
powers and rights of consultation will not however compromise
the SRA's duties to plan the operation and development of the
rail network on a strategic, GB-wide, basis"could
be interpreted as giving a primacy to the role of SRA which would
be inconsistent both with the general principles of subsidiarity
and the specific statutory duties and responsibilities of other
15. Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive
is also concerned that any legislative delay in implementing the
White Paper proposals for the devolution of railway functions
to the Scottish Executive could compromise the effective delivery
of the Government's proposals for integrated transport in Scotland,
by delaying the establishment of appropriate Scottish administrative
machinery and possibly by skewing the momentum of transport policy
development in Scotland as a result of the initial absence of
specific devolved powers and responsibilities for the railway
element of the Scottish domestic transport network.
16. In addition it is concerned that, until
the Government is able to give effect to the relevant undertakings
which were offered during the Committee stage of the Scotland
Bill (Hansard, 31 March 1998, column 1063) it will continue
to be necessary for any private legislation relating to railways
in Scotland to be promoted under the terms of the Private Legislation
Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1936 and therefore to remain a matter
for the UK Parliament. Again, this will inhibit effective devolution
of railway matters to the Scottish Parliament and Executive.
17. These issues are part of a wider concern
which the Executive has about the apparent lack of a clearly defined
timescale for giving effect to significant elements of the White
18. The Government's earlier consultation document,
Developing an Integrated Transport Policy, laid great stress
on the immediacy of the policy issues that had to be addressed
in this sphere, an immediacy which is reinforced by wider concerns
about sustainability and the global expectations generated by
the Kyoto conference.
19. While accepting that much can be achieved
within existing legislative provision and by voluntary action,
these mechanisms have been insufficient in the past significantly
to influence trends in transport use and behaviour which the Government
acknowledges to be unsustainable.
20. The Executive's general concerns about the
need for a more specific implementation programme to give effect
to the White Paper proposals are reflected in the joint submission
from the PTA and PTEs. As noted above, however, (paragraphs 8,
11, 15 and 16), these concerns are reinforced by the need to bring
the various policy commitments which require legislation within
a framework of timing and process which is consistent with Scottish
21. In the Executive's view, it would therefore
be extremely regrettable if the implementation of the Government's
new approach to transport policy, and of guiding principles which
Cm 3950 identifies as having relevance throughout the United Kingdom,
was further delayed in Scotland because of any additional legislative
hiatus arising from the devolution process.
24 September 1998