Local Transport Bill [HL] - continued          House of Commons

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Clause 99: Joint local-ITA charging schemes

233.     This clause inserts a new section 165A in the TA 2000. This new section provides that a joint local-ITA charging scheme can be made only in respect of roads for which any of the charging authorities is the traffic authority, and if at least one of the roads is within the integrated transport area of the relevant ITA.

234.     The new section 165A also provides that a joint local-ITA charging scheme can be made only if it directly or indirectly facilitates the achievement of the local transport policies of the charging authorities, including the local transport policies of the ITA.

Clause 100: Joint local-London charging schemes to implement policies of ITAs

235.     This clause amends section 166 of the TA 2000 so that a joint local-London charging scheme that has effect partly within an integrated transport area may be made only if it directly or indirectly facilitates the achievement of the local transport policies of the charging authorities, including the local transport policies of the ITA, and the policies and proposals set out in the Mayor's transport strategy. 21 As with the equivalent provision in section 165 as amended by clause 98, the last of these three requirements applies even though, in a joint local-London scheme, the ITA is (by definition) not a charging authority for the scheme. Where the charging scheme has effect wholly outside of the ITA area then it can be made under section 166 only if it directly or indirectly facilitates the achievement of the local transport policies of the local traffic authority.

21 A joint local-London charging scheme is a scheme that is made jointly by a non-metropolitan local traffic authority and a London traffic authority. The Mayor's transport strategy is the transport strategy prepared and published by the Mayor of London under section 142 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

Clause 101: Joint ITA-London charging schemes

236.     This clause inserts a new section 166A in the TA 2000. The new section specifies that a joint ITA-London charging scheme can be made only if:

  • all of the roads included within the scheme have one of the charging authorities as their traffic authority;

  • the scheme includes roads in relation to which a London traffic authority may impose a charge under Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999; and

  • at least one of the roads included within the scheme is within the integrated transport area of the relevant ITA.

237.     The new section 166A also provides that a local charging scheme may be made jointly by one or more local traffic authorities, an ITA and one or more London traffic authorities only if it directly or indirectly facilitates the achievement of the local transport policies of the local traffic authorities by which the scheme is made, the local transport policies of the ITA, and the policies and proposals set out in the Mayor's transport strategy.

Clause 102: Consequential amendments

238.     This clause introduces Schedule 5, which makes consequential amendments resulting from the introduction of powers to allow ITAs to be party to a joint charging scheme. This includes provision for revenues from a scheme to be apportioned to the ITA.

Clause 103: Abolition of requirement for confirmation of English schemes

239.     This clause amends section 169 of the TA 2000, so as to remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to approve a local charging scheme in England.

240.     These amendments preserve the existing requirement in the TA 2000 for local charging schemes in Wales to be approved by the Welsh Ministers.

Clause 104: Abolition of power to require consultation or inquiries for English schemes

241.     This clause amends section 170 of the TA 2000. Its effect is to remove the power for the Secretary of State to hold an inquiry in relation to a proposed local scheme in England or to require a local authority to consult on a proposed charging scheme. It does not affect the existing powers, also contained in section 170, for local authorities to decide for themselves to consult on or hold inquiries into such schemes.

242.     The amendments also preserve the existing provisions in the TA 2000 for the Welsh Ministers to hold an inquiry into a local charging scheme in Wales, or to require a local authority to consult on such a scheme.

Clause 105: Charges

243.     This clause amends section 171(5) of the TA 2000 and paragraph 10(4) of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999, which specify a number of examples of how a charging scheme can impose different charges for different cases.

244.     The amendments provide that, in addition to the cases already specified in each provision, local authorities may vary charges according to the methods or means of recording, administering, collecting or paying the charge. This could, for example, allow different rates to be applied where a road user chooses to have his charges recorded automatically by means of different technologies, or to pay by different means (such as a pre-pay account or direct debit).

Clause 106: Supplementary provision as to charging schemes

245.     Subsection (1) amends section 172 of the TA 2000. It allows the appropriate national authority by means of regulations to require schemes to provide that road users may choose to pay charges in a specific manner, and (where the road user so chooses) to require the charging authority to collect charges in a specified manner. It also enables the appropriate national authority to regulate any arrangements made by the charging authority with other schemes or with other third parties for charges to be paid and collected. Regulations made under this clause could, for example, make provisions so that a road user could register with one charging scheme, install any appropriate equipment and make arrangements for payment in a particular way. The road user could then choose for these arrangements also to apply to one or more additional charging schemes, so that all his payments were processed in that fashion.

246.     Subsection (7) makes equivalent provision in Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999, in relation to London.

247.     Subsections (3), (5) and (6) amend section 172 of the TA 2000 and Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 so as to provide that a road in London may be made subject to charges by more than one charging authority at a time, provided the Greater London Authority has given its consent.

Clause 107: Suspension of charging schemes

248.     This clause inserts a new section 172A into the TA 2000, to allow for a charging authority to suspend the operation of a charging scheme, in whole or in part, where there is an emergency or to allow for a temporary event to take place. Subsection (2)(a) provides that the maximum possible duration of suspension in an emergency is 30 days. Where the suspension is to allow for a temporary event to take place, subsection (2)(b) means that the suspension can only be for the duration of the event and any time to set up before, and clear up after, the event. Subsection (3) details the respects in which a scheme may be partially suspended. Subsections (4) and (5) require that notice of any suspension must be published and detail what is required. Under subsection (6) the duration of a suspension in an emergency must be reviewed and may be altered.

Clause 108: Interference with functioning of equipment

249.     Subsection (1) amends section 173 of the TA 2000 to make it an offence to interfere with the functioning of any equipment used for, or in connection with, a charging scheme. Subsection (2) amends section 174 to allow the appropriate national authority to make regulations permitting the examination of a vehicle to determine whether the functioning of the equipment has been interfered with.

250.     Subsections (3) to (5) amend paragraphs 25 and 26 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 to make similar provisions in relation to London.

Clause 109: Use of equipment for charging schemes

251.     Subsection (2) amends section 176 of the TA 2000 to allow the appropriate national authority in England and Wales to regulate the manner in which equipment installed as part of a charging scheme is used. This supplements the existing power to make regulations to approve standards for such equipment. Regulations made under the new section 176(2)(b) could, for example:

  • specify standard data formats so that equipment installed or provided by one charging scheme is compatible with similar equipment installed or provided by another;

  • specify unique numbering systems for items of equipment, to avoid duplication of identification numbers between different schemes; or

  • set common standards for data encryption and security.

252.     The effect of subsection (3) is to prevent the use of equipment in connection with a charging scheme other than in accordance with regulations made under the new section 176(2)(b).

253.     Subsections (4) to (8) amend paragraph 29 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999. The amendments to paragraph 29(1) allow the Greater London Authority to make directions relating to the use of equipment in connection with charging schemes made under that Act. The insertion of paragraph 29(3A) and (3B) allows the Secretary of State to give notice to the Greater London Authority that its directions regarding the use of equipment in connection with a charging scheme in London are incompatible with regulations made under the new section 176(2)(b) of the TA 2000, and that this incompatibility is detrimental to persons resident in England outside Greater London. It also provides that, where such notice has been given, the equipment may no longer be used in connection with a charging scheme except with the permission of the Secretary of State.

Clause 110: Power of national authority to require information from charging authorities

254.     Subsection (1) inserts a new section 177A in the TA 2000. The new section allows the appropriate national authority in England and Wales to require information from a local traffic authority or an ITA relating to an existing or proposed charging scheme. This information can be required in a specified period, and must be information that the authority have in their possession or can be expected to obtain.

255.     Subsection (2) inserts a new paragraph 34B in Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999. This new paragraph allows the Secretary of State to require information to be provided, under the same conditions, by Transport for London, a London borough council or the Greater London Authority.

Clause 111: Information: England and Wales

256.     Subsections (1) to (5) amend section 194 of the TA 2000.

257.     Section 194(1) currently allows the disclosure of information to charging authorities only in relation to existing schemes. The effect of the amendment to section 194(1) which is made by subsection (2) is to allow information obtained by Ministers, Government Departments, Welsh Ministers or a local authority also to be disclosed to a local traffic authority or ITA in relation to a proposed charging scheme. Subsection (3) makes a corresponding amendment to the power in section 194(2) for local traffic authorities and ITAs to use in relation to a proposed charging scheme information it has obtained from its exercise of other functions.

258.     Subsection (5) allows the Secretary of State or the Welsh Ministers to charge a reasonable fee for supplying information under section 194 of the TA 2000. Where the traffic authority or ITA has asked the Secretary of State to obtain information from registration authorities overseas, with a view to disclosing that information under subsections (1) and (3), the Secretary of State may charge a reasonable fee for obtaining that information or for seeking to obtain it.

259.     Subsections (6) to (9) make equivalent provision in paragraph 34A of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999.

Clause 112: Information: Scotland

260.     Subsection (1) allows the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee in respect of the cost of supplying information to a Scottish charging authority in relation to a scheme that is made under Part 3 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 or any person with whom the authority has entered into arrangements under section 61(b) of that Act.

261.      Subsection (2) limits the information to which subsection (1) refers to information obtained by the Secretary of State in the exercise of any function that relates to reserved matters (within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998).

Clause 113: London charging schemes: 10 year plan for share

262.     This clause amends paragraphs 19 to 24 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 so that the approval of the Secretary of State is no longer required for charging authorities' ten year general plans and four year programmes for the application their share of revenues from a London charging scheme.

Clause 114: Other amendments relating to schemes under Part 3 of TA 2000

263.     This clause introduces Schedule 6, which makes amendments to Schedule 12 to the TA 2000 (financial provisions relating to road user charging and workplace parking levy schemes) and to Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 (road user charging).

264.     Paragraph 8 of Schedule 12 is amended and paragraph 9 is repealed. The effect is that all the net proceeds of all local charging schemes are to be used for local transport purposes, rather than enabling net proceeds in some circumstances to be applied as specified by the appropriate national authority.

265.     Paragraphs 10 and 11 are amended to require a detailed programme for the application of the net proceeds of a charging scheme to be produced every five years from the date on which the scheme comes into force, rather than linking the timing of the production of the detailed programme to the timing of the production of the local transport plan.

266.     Paragraph 10(3) is amended so as to remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to approve a charging authority's general plans and specific programmes for the application of the net proceeds of a charging scheme in England before the relevant scheme order can come into force. This amendment does not have effect in relation to charging schemes in Wales, thus preserving the existing requirement for approval of such plans and programmes by the Welsh Ministers.

267.     Paragraph 12 is amended to remove the Secretary of State's power to make regulations determining the application of proceeds by London traffic authorities from a joint London-local scheme. Instead, the proceeds will be applied in the same way as they would be in a scheme made under Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999.

268.     Paragraph 13 is amended so that all proceeds of a trunk road charging scheme made by virtue of section 167(2)(b) of the TA 2000 are available only for application by the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers for the purpose of directly or indirectly facilitating the achievement of any policies or proposals relating to transport.

269.     Paragraphs 16 and 17 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 are amended to the effect that all the net proceeds of all London charging schemes are to be used for relevant transport purposes, rather than enabling net proceeds in some circumstances to be applied as specified by the appropriate national authority.

270.     Paragraph 18 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 is amended to allow the Secretary of State to share in revenues from a charging scheme in London which includes a trunk road.

Part 7: Miscellaneous provisions

Clauses 115 and 116: Trunk road charging schemes in Wales

Clause 115: Powers of the National Assembly for Wales

271.     Section 94 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 provides that a provision of an Assembly Measure is within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales if it relates to (or is incidental or consequential on provision that relates to) one or more of the matters specified in Schedule 5 to that Act. The list of twenty fields in which the Assembly currently exercises functions is set out in Part 1 of Schedule 5, and each field will be divided into matters. Assembly Measures may include any provision that could be made by Act of Parliament, subject to specific restrictions set out in Part 2 of Schedule 5.

272.     Clause 115 amends Schedule 5 to insert a matter into field 10 (highways and transport). This matter will allow the Assembly to pass an Assembly Measure containing provision for and in connection with the making, operation and enforcement of schemes that impose charges in respect of the use or keeping of motor vehicles on Welsh trunk roads (which are defined as those roads for which the Welsh Ministers are the traffic authority). The new matter does not enable such an Assembly Measure to make provision about traffic signs, apart from provision about the placing and maintenance of such signs.

273.     Any Assembly Measure would be able to make provision about the application of the proceeds of a charging scheme, which must be for transport-related purposes. A Memorandum was also published alongside the Bill that explains the policy intent in more detail.

Clause 116: Information

274.     Clause 116 replicates the provisions of section 194 of the TA 2000 (as amended by clause 111 of this Bill) in respect of a trunk road charging scheme or proposed such scheme which is made by or under an Assembly Measure.

275.     The clause allows information obtained by Ministers, Government Departments, local authorities or other statutory bodies to be disclosed to the Welsh Ministers in relation to a trunk road charging scheme or proposed such scheme. Subsection (2) allows any information that has been or could be disclosed to the Welsh Ministers under subsection (1) to be disclosed to any person with whom the Welsh Ministers have entered into charging scheme arrangements. Subsection (3) provides that such information must only be used in connection with Welsh trunk road charging schemes.

276.     Subsection (4) allows the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee for supplying information under subsection (1) or (2). Subsection (5) provides that where the Welsh Ministers have asked the Secretary of State to obtain information from registration authorities overseas, with a view to disclosing that information under subsection (1) or (2), the Secretary of State may charge a reasonable fee for obtaining that information or for seeking to obtain it.

Clause 117: Vehicles authorised to be used under operator's licence

277.     Section 5(6) of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 makes it unlawful for an operator to use a vehicle which is not specified in that operator's licence unless notice of the vehicle, together with payment of the prescribed fee, has been made, within one month, to the traffic commissioner. This clause amends that subsection, and makes a consequential amendment to subsection (7), to provide for situations where no such fee is prescribed.

278.     The clause also amends section 263 of the TA 2000, which would substitute section 5(6) of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 but has not yet been brought into force. The clause:

    a)     inserts a new subsection (6A) to define the period within which an operator must provide information to the traffic commissioner about any new vehicle to be specified on their operator's licence. This will enable the Secretary of State to prescribe a period of up to one month beginning with the day on which the vehicle was first in the lawful possession of the operator, or (if later) the day when the relevant operator's licence came into force ; and

    b)     makes a consequential amendment to the substituted section 5(6) to provide for situations where a fee in not required to be paid .

Clause 118: Vehicles used without operator's licence: power to return detained vehicles

279.     Clause 118 replaces paragraph 8 of Schedule 1A to the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 to bring it in line with paragraph 8 of the new Schedule 2A to the PPVA 1981 which is inserted by clause 42.

Clause 119: Disclosure of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles

280.     This clause inserts section 49A into the Road Safety Act 2006. The new section allows the Secretary of State to disclose information, derived from a register of vehicles maintained in a country or territory outside the UK, to the list of people and for the purposes specified at subsection (3). The effect of subsection (4) is to allow the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee in respect of the cost of obtaining, or seeking to obtain, the information and for supplying information. Subsection (5) provides that this section does not affect any other power of the Secretary of State to disclose information.

Clause 120: Use of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles

281.     This clause inserts a new section 49B into the Road Safety Act 2006. The new section allows the Secretary of State to use the information to which clause 119 applies for the purposes set out in subsection (2). The information can be used to:

  • carry out vehicle identity checks (allowed by virtue of the regulations made under section 22A(2) of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994);

  • to check records of examinations of goods and other vehicles as maintained under section 45(6B) or 49(3A) of the Road Traffic Act 1988;

  • to promote compliance with test certificates under section 47 or 53 of the Road Traffic Act 1988; and

  • to trace non-resident parents (within the meaning of the Child Support (Information, Evidence and Disclosure) Regulations 1992).

FINANCIAL EFFECTS

282.     Any additional net costs to central government arising from the provisions of the Bill are expected to be modest in scale, and capable of being met from within overall Departmental Expenditure Limits.

283.     The Bill would provide various new or amended powers for local authorities. If those authorities consider that exercising these powers is the best way to address their local transport priorities, the extent of any cost implications (positive or negative) will depend on the nature of their specific proposals.

PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER

284.     Provisions in the Bill are not expected to have an appreciable impact on staffing requirements within central government.

285.     As with financial effects (discussed above), the extent of any manpower implications for local authorities will depend on whether, and if so how, they propose to exercise any of the powers contained in the Bill.

EUROPEAN CONVENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

286.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement before Second Reading about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act).

287.     The Secretary of State for Transport, the Right Honourable Ruth Kelly MP, has made the following statement:

    "In my view the provisions of the Local Transport Bill are compatible with the Convention rights."

Quality contracts schemes

288.     One area where Convention rights may be engaged is in respect of quality contracts schemes. This is because where a quality contracts scheme is in place it is for the local authority to determine what local bus services should be provided in the area to which the scheme relates. Once a scheme has been made local services can only be provided in that area under a quality contract made under that scheme (with the exception of any services expressly excluded from the scheme). Article 1 of Protocol 1 (right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions) is engaged to the extent that such a scheme suspends the de-regulated bus market in that area for the period of the scheme.

289.     The TA 2000 already empowers local authorities to make quality contracts schemes. The current legislation requires the local transport authority, before making a quality contracts scheme, to be satisfied that the scheme is the "only practicable way" to implement the policies set out in the bus strategy (made by virtue of section 110 of the TA 2000) and that the scheme will implement the policies in a way which is economic, efficient and effective. The amendments to that test contained in this Bill would replace the "only practicable way" test with a new set of public interest criteria. The local transport authority would have to be satisfied that the scheme would:

    a)     result in an increase in the use of bus services in the area to which the scheme related;

    b)     bring benefits to people using services covered by the scheme by improving the quality of those services;

    c)     contribute to the implementation of the local transport policies of that authority in a way which was economic, efficient and effective.

290.     The new provisions would also require the local authority to be satisfied that any adverse effect on operators was proportionate to the benefits of the scheme to members of the public. The Secretary of State is satisfied that the changes to the test for making a quality contracts scheme should ensure that one can only be made where there would be clear and tangible benefits for people living and working in the area, and that any adverse effects on operators would be proportionate to the improvement in the well-being of members of the public.

291.     Under the existing legislation, local authority proposals to make a quality contracts scheme in England must be approved by the Secretary of State and, in Wales, by the Welsh Ministers. Provisions in the Bill would change the procedure in England only, by removing the approval role of the Secretary of State, and providing instead that such schemes would have to be approved by a new approvals board, consisting of a traffic commissioner and two other persons drawn from a panel appointed by the Secretary of State. The approvals board would have the power to hold inquiries into the making of a scheme, and the provisions require that any such inquiry would have to be held in public.

292.     A right of appeal against a decision of the approvals board is provided to the Transport Tribunal (in accordance with Schedule 4 to the TA 1985) for any person consulted on the making of a quality contracts scheme (see section 125(3) of the TA 2000). A further right of appeal from decisions of the Transport Tribunal would lie to the Court of Appeal on points of law. The Secretary of State is therefore satisfied that the replacement, in England, of the approval role of the Secretary of State with the approvals board structure will ensure that there continues to be an independent and impartial assessment of proposed schemes, and that anyone aggrieved by a decision of the approvals board will have the right to a full and fair determination by an impartial tribunal.

 
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Prepared: 1 February 2008