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Lord Teviot: My Lords, in a few moments I shall withdraw them. I shall read every word that my noble friend has said, but there is one point which I hope I made clear to him and, if not, then I do so now. It is that I was aware that new vehicles are the only ones concerned in the regulations. However, I was talking about heritage vehicles and replicas. I do not believe that the Minister commented on the definition in Amendment No. 174B. He did not mention it. However, I am sure that the point can be sorted out.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, perhaps I may help my noble friend about replica vehicles. I had some trouble with the point myself today because one can have a new replica vehicle. It is a new vehicle built

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to look like a replica, and if it is built to an old design, it will fall within a pre-1999 class. We have covered the point because in that case the class, or the new vehicle, would not be caught if it is a replica vehicle. It is a little late at night to consider all this.

Lord Teviot: My Lords, in view of that, the best thing I can do is to withdraw the amendment and sit down. I am grateful to the Minister.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 132:

Page 35, line 27, leave out ("49") and insert ("48").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 132A and 133 not moved.]

Clause 47 [Accessibility certificates]:

Lord Addington moved Amendment No. 134:

Page 35, line 30, at end insert ("after 1st January 1998").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I feel that from the end of the previous discussion which I have just heard, the comments may have contained the answers to many of my questions. Both amendments concern a time limit for existing vehicles—not new vehicles—to have full access for disabled people. Amendment No. 134 was inspired by Age Concern, which was worried about rural areas and people not being able to use bus services as a result of the deregulation of older buses which are now in operation. However, if I heard him correctly, the Minister will not be looking favourably at any particular time limit. The same is true in relation to the proposal dealing with the rail service. I ask the Minister, however, as I shall move this amendment formally, whether he can give me an idea as to roughly when we can expect to have some sort of regulation and roughly when we can expect to find a general level of access to the services that are available. I beg to move.

Lord Teviot: My Lords, I am sorry to tell the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that I am afraid I am unable to support his amendment as the date proposed is too early. The Department of Transport, as I hope my noble friend will confirm, proposes 1st January 1999 as the earliest specifiable date for a bus or coach. Further categories will fall into place after that date. For example, there is no accessible version of the minibus and midibus up to, say, a capacity of 30 passengers. Time has to be allowed for a suitable vehicle to be designed, tested and brought into production. As I hope the noble Lord will realise, this cannot be done in the next two-and-a-half years. These buses are particularly popular across the country, especially since deregulation in 1986.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I support these amendments. I can see the purpose behind them. It would be helpful if the Minister could give an answer (this is obviously a probing amendment) as to the sort of timetable that is envisaged and when he thinks these various adaptations and changes will come into effect.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, the last questions posed by the noble Lord, Lord Carter, and indeed by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, are quite difficult to answer in a definitive way. As my noble friend Lord Teviot has just explained, one must not set

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unrealistic timetables in this regard because clearly they will be impossible to meet and still allow services in the countryside to continue. We certainly could not possibly envisage imposing the kind of timeframe proposed in Amendment No. 134 in the case of compliance with PSV accessibility regulations.

As I explained in Committee, although we are well advanced in the development of accessible PSVs, there remain some classes, most notably minibuses and coaches, where we do not yet have viable access solutions. We are committed to working with the industry on that, but it will take time to ensure that the solutions that are adopted can provide effective and sustainable transport services.

Manufacturers and operators would be unable to achieve the deadline which this amendment would impose. To stay in business, operators would have to resort to applications for special authorisations to continue to operate their vehicle fleets. That would impose an unreasonable burden on them and on the administrators. At the same time, the amendment would have failed to achieve its purpose of securing a fully accessible fleet.

I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that we are wholly committed to moving these provisions along as quickly as possible. But we also have to recognise the operational and economic issues. Losing bus and coach services would undermine public transport across the country; no one would have the services they want, and disabled people would not have secured the access to those services that we all want them to achieve.

I now turn to the noble Lord's other amendment, Amendment No. 155, which relates to rail vehicles. We have made it clear that the timetable for compliance with rail vehicle accessibility regulations will have to recognise the operating life of the vehicles, as well as the aspirations of disabled people. The intention behind the amendment is that all rail vehicles should meet the requirements of accessibility before the end of 1997. That is simply unreasonable. It would involve expensive modification and, more importantly, the premature scrapping of existing vehicles.

Even if the rail operators could afford to make the change within that timeframe, it is unlikely that manufacturers could meet the demand. Orders for rail vehicles are often delivered over a two to three-year period. But operators would have to be sure about the requirements of the accessibility regulations before they could place their orders. So the timeframe for compliance imposed by this amendment would effectively be reduced to perhaps a year or 18 months. That is simply unachievable and would be likely to result in the withdrawal of services across the country. I know that nobody wants that.

I do not want to be a bit of damp squib at this time of the evening, but there are some problems in this field. While solutions are available in some parts of the field, the problem is that difficulties remain. Therefore I am afraid that I am unable to advise the House to accept the noble Lord's amendment. I am sure that he will withdraw it. Equally, I should not like to hazard a guess as to the possible dates when this operation would begin. It is dependent on how successfully we can reach

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conclusions on technical solutions to some of the problems. I hope that, with that explanation and assurance, the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

10 p.m.

Lord Addington: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for being so candid in his answer. Basically he is saying that we cannot do it so fast because the resources are not available. At 10 o'clock at night, when we are not able to put extra effort into this point for various reasons, many of them very practical, I will not press the matter. I thank the noble Lord for his answer; at least we know where we stand. I hope the pressure groups which inspired me to table the amendment will pay attention to what has been said and come forward at the next stage with an answer. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 135 not moved.]

Clause 48 [Approval certificates]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 136 and 137:

Page 36, line 15, after ("examining") insert ("(if he thinks fit)").
Page 36, line 16, leave out ("if he thinks fit").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have spoken to these amendments. With the leave of the House I will move them en bloc. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 50 [Forgery of certificates and false statements]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendments Nos. 138 to 143:

Page 37, line 7, leave out subsection (1) and insert:
("(1) In this section "relevant document" means—
(a) a certificate of exemption issued under section 30 or 31;
(b) a notice of a kind mentioned in section 30(9) (b) or 31(8) (b);
(c) an accessibility certificate; or
(d) an approval certificate.").
Page 37, line 10, leave out ("certificate to which this section applies") and insert ("relevant document").
Page 37, line 11, leave out ("such a certificate") and insert ("a relevant document").
Page 37, line 12, leave out ("such a certificate") and insert ("a relevant document").
Page 37, line 14, leave out ("such a certificate") and insert ("a relevant document").
Page 37, line 21, leave out ("a certificate to which this section applies") and insert ("an accessibility certificate or an approval certificate").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have spoken to these amendments. With the leave of the House I shall move them en bloc. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 52 [Fees]:

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