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Clause 232


Amendments made: No. 330, in page 138, line 11, at end insert--
'(4) Section (Review of access charges by Regulator) (and Schedule (Review of access charges by Regulator)) and section 225 (and Schedule 25) come into force on the day on which this Act is passed.'.
No. 331, in page 138, line 11, at end insert--
'(5) In section (Amendments of pension protection provisions), subsections (1) and (3) to (5), and subsections (2) and (8) so far as relating to subsections (3) to (5), shall be treated as having come into force on 10th May 2000.'.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]

Clause 236


Amendment made: No. 122, in page 139, line 12, after second "Parts" insert--
'and section (Vehicles subject to regulation as private hire vehicles)'.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]
Amendment made: No. 418, in page 139, line 12, after second "Parts", insert--
'and section (School crossing patrols)'.--[Mr. Michael J. Foster.]
Amendment made: No. 332, in page 139, line 19, leave out "Section 218 extends" and insert--
'Sections 218 and (Taxation of transfers), paragraph 13A of Schedule 13 and Schedule (Transfers: Tax) extend'.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]

Schedule 27

Repeals and Revocations

Amendments made: No. 280, in page 267, column 3, leave out line 34.
No. 281, in page 267, line 54, at end insert--
'1966 c. 28.Docks and Harbours Act 1966.Section 47.'.

10 May 2000 : Column 972

No. 282, in page 269, line 43, at end insert--
'1981 c. 56.
Transport Act 1981.
In Schedule 4, paragraph 1(3).'.

No. 283, in page 269, line 51 column 3, leave out "39(1)" and insert "39".
No. 284, in page 269, line 52, at end insert--
'Section 41.
Section 42.'.

No. 333, in page 270, line 39, column 3, at end insert--
'In section 13(7), the words "the Secretary of State and".'.
No. 285, in page 275, column 3, leave out lines 22 and 23.
No. 334, in page 275, line 25, column 3, at end insert--
'in paragraph 10(6)(b), the words "of the Board" (in both places), and
in paragraph 11(10), in the definition of "relevant employer", the word "or" at the end of paragraph (b) and, in paragraph (c), the words ", other than a company which is wholly owned by the Franchising Director".'.
No. 335, in page 275, line 28, at end insert--
'S.I. 1994/1432.Railway Pensions (Protection and Designation of Schemes) Order 1994.In article 9(2), the words ", except to the extent specified in paragraph (3)," and the word "relevant" (in both places). Article 13. Article 14.'.

No. 286, in page 276, line 31, at end insert--
'2000 c. 00.Freedom of Information Act 2000.In Schedule 1, in Part VI, the entry relating to the British Railways Board.'.

No. 123, in page 276, line 31, at end insert--

'Part V

1985 c. 67.Transport Act 1985.In Schedule 7, paragraph 21(10).'.

--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]
Order for Third Reading read.--[Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.]

9.11 pm

Mr. Raynsford: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

First, I am sure that I speak on behalf of the whole House in thanking all those hon. Members who served on the Standing Committee which considered this important Bill. Their efforts over a long period, from mid-January to early April, and again in the past 48 hours, have provided the House with the opportunity to consider on Report a Bill that has received very careful and detailed scrutiny. I pay special tribute to the hon. Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale), who chaired the proceedings of the Standing Committee in an exceptionally able way.

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The Transport Bill is an historic piece of legislation which will be seen as a landmark in transport policy for years to come. It is all about improving this country's transport system. The Bill takes a comprehensive, integrated approach to transport and puts in place new and effective measures to tackle problems, local and national. It will go a long way to reversing the past years of decline, and will help all concerned to work together to give Britain a transport system fit for the demands of the 21st century, and one of which we can be proud.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde): I take this opportunity to thank Ministers for responding so positively to the concerns that I raised about the Strathclyde passenger transport authority. I refer in particular to clauses 185 and 217. There is still a problem where Scottish Ministers and the Strategic Rail Authority are concerned, but I should like to write to the Minister about it. In the meantime, I offer my thanks to him and his colleagues.

Mr. Raynsford: I am very grateful for my hon. Friend's comments. Of course we will consider carefully any further representations that he makes.

Our proposals to establish a public-private partnership for National Air Traffic Services have not been entirely free from controversy. However, I believe that the whole House agrees that change is essential if our air traffic control system is to continue to meet ever-increasing demands on our airspace without prejudicing safety.

The operational capability of NATS is recognised as world class; the service already manages some of the world's most congested airspace. The number of flights that NATS handles continues to increase each year, however, and the public-private partnership is essential to bring in the funding and investment, as well as the project management skills, necessary to allow NATS to manage the increased volumes and densities safely and effectively.

We believe that the public-private partnership will provide the United Kingdom with the world's best air traffic services in terms of safety, efficiency and capacity to meet increasing demand. Safety, quite rightly, is at the front of everyone's minds. As my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister emphasised yesterday, there is no question of safety being compromised under the PPP. As he stressed, safety and national security are subject to fundamental and emphatic safeguards.

The PPP will free NATS' investment and management decisions from Government financing constraints, and introduce new funding and new project and financial management skills to deliver significant improvements to UK air traffic services. For these reasons, we believe that this innovative PPP is the best possible option for NATS, for the country and for airline users.

The Bill is also about providing better local transport, particularly buses. The Bill gives local authorities important new powers and duties.

Mr. Bill Rammell (Harlow): Like other Members, I have consistently pressed Ministers on the O-licence operator anomaly, which is that such drivers are not given

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medical and police checks by local authorities. Will the Minister confirm that new clause 2 deals with that anomaly?

Mr. Raynsford: I am pleased to give my hon. Friend that assurance, and I congratulate him on his important role in campaigning for that change.

Local authorities will have important new powers and duties. They will be required to draw up local transport plans that examine all aspects of transport in their areas. They must also prepare a bus strategy. The Bill contains new powers on bus quality partnerships, quality contracts, integrated ticketing and timetable information. Those measures will help to give passengers a quality bus service that is reliable and easy to use. We are also fulfilling our pledge to make sure that local authorities give pensioners a cheap bus fare scheme that is at least as generous as half-fare, with a free bus pass.

We are determined to tackle the problems of road congestion and pollution, which are the scourge of so many of our towns. The Bill gives local authorities powers to introduce road user charging or a levy on parking at the workplace. Those powers are already available to London's mayor and boroughs.

Every penny of the net revenues raised from new charges will be retained locally and ring-fenced for at least 10 years for spending on improvements to local transport. Local authorities will also be able to ask the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales to introduce charges on trunk roads, if that would complement their own schemes. The Secretary of State and the Assembly will also be able to charge on large trunk road bridges and tunnels of at least 600 m where that will help to achieve integrated transport objectives or allow expensive structures to be built. Revenues from those charges will also be dedicated to spending on transport for at least 10 years.

The Bill establishes the Strategic Rail Authority and provides for more effective regulation of the railway industry. The SRA will put railways at the centre of an integrated transport system, with proper public accountability and investment, and that puts the passenger's interest at the top of the agenda. The SRA's mission will be to promote use and development of the rail network, and to contribute to the development of an integrated transport system. It will give the industry the long-term strategic focus to plan for growth. The shadow SRA has already set to work on strategic planning. The Bill plugs the loopholes in the previous Government's shambolic rail legislation and provides tougher enforcement powers to protect the passenger.

The Government believe that Britain's stability and steady growth cannot be sustained without a safe, modern and efficient transport system. Our plans for transport are ambitious but straightforward: we intend to transform our transport system to make it rival any in Europe, and no one should doubt that commitment.

We have put in place the right policy framework. The Bill will provide the necessary powers, and investment is coming on-stream. Private investment by the rail industry has doubled since 1996-97. Some 1,300 extra services are being run daily to meet demand. Bus quality partnerships in 130 towns and cities are increasing bus usage by 10 to 20 per cent. Our new statutory provisions will make it possible to build on those successes. Bus industry

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investment has doubled and is running at £380 million a year. Again, our measures will help ensure that that trend continues.

An extra £280 million for transport spending this year was announced in the Budget, and in the summer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Transport will publish a 10-year transport plan. The plan will set out the transport outcomes that we want to see over the next 10 years, together with the investment strategy for both the public and private sectors that is needed to deliver them.

The House tonight completes its consideration of an historic Bill that will play a crucial role in ensuring that the United Kingdom has the safe, modern, effective integrated transport system that it needs and deserves. I commend the Bill to the House.

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