Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Hamwee: We welcome the amendments. They go a long way to meet points made by my honourable friends in another place, in particular those dealing with instructions, and so on. We had proposed that "guidance" be changed to "direction". However, we

1 Jul 1999 : Column 547

appreciate that the Government have moved. We were also concerned about the matter which is now reflected in Amendment No. 279XA.

Perhaps the Minister can help me. We welcome the strengthening of the provisions. I listened to his explanation which I shall read carefully. Nevertheless, the franchising director still does not have to take any notice in view of the provisions of Clause 161(6) which is not amended by this group of amendments. The subsection states:

    "If the Franchising Director decides not to implement any guidance" --it may not be termed that now--

    "whether generally or in a particular case, he shall give the Authority notification of the decision and his reasons for it". Can the Minister confirm that there is still a block on the implementation of the authority's instructions?

Lord Whitty: Clause 161 makes clear that the franchising director has to consider that the mayor's instructions would cause adverse impact on the rest of the rail network. He would have to act reasonably. But it is for the franchising director to decide whether there would be an adverse impact on the remainder of the network.

Baroness Hamwee: That is Clause 161(5). If the Minister says that Clause 161(6) has to be read in the light of Clause 161(5) then it would be useful to have confirmation. I appreciate that it is somewhat late. I also appreciate the importance of the clause, so I would not press the Minister to give an answer if he feels he needs some time to consider it. I should welcome clarification.

Lord Whitty: I may need to clarify the point in writing. However, my reading of the Bill is that Clause 161(6) refers to the franchising director deciding not to implement under the terms of the immediately preceding clause. If there is anything different to communicate, I shall let the noble Baroness know.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful. It is an important point. If the Minister revises his view, we should find an opportunity to read that on to the record. This relationship is important.

Lord Whitty: I commend the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 277KA:

Page 85, line 4, after ("provision") insert (", addition and variation")

The noble Baroness said: In moving the amendment, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 277KB, 277TA and 278B. The amendment provides that in connection with the instructions given with regard to the provision of railway services Clause 161 shall apply also to the addition and variation of any railway services and to services that operate and serve stations predominantly within the Greater London area but also those extending for up to 15 miles outside it and to Stansted and Luton airports, given the importance of those two London

1 Jul 1999 : Column 548

airports to London and the operation of transport services between them and London. The other two London airports are not referred to specifically because they are within the 15 mile radius.

Amendment No. 277TA takes us back to Clause 161(5) which the Minister and I have just been discussing. The franchising director is not to give effect to instructions if he believes, among other matters, that implementing them will have an adverse effect on the provision of services or railway passengers outside Greater London.

We are proposing that he should only be able to exercise his power under this provision if implementation would have a significant--that is the new term--adverse effect. For example, if the service were to stop at an extra station adding perhaps another two minutes onto a passenger's journey, we do not believe that the franchising director should be able to use his power to intervene. We also believe that the term could usefully be included in Clause 161(5)(c) under which he can refuse to give effect to instructions if he believes they will increase the amount of payments to which this subsection refers. We propose that this should only be the case if they were to increase insignificantly.

We have taken note of the Minister's comments in another place. My recollection is that she noted the use of the term "significant" when my honourable friends raised issues around these points. I hope that the Minister will either be able to accept these words or something like them, or assure us that they are implicit in any event within the wording of the section. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: In the light of what we have passed already, these amendments are unnecessary or could unbalance the relationship which we are trying to achieve by the former batch of amendments. Amendment No. 277KA indicates that the mayor can issue guidance to the franchising director in respect of the addition and variation of railway services in London as well as the provision. The addition is unnecessary because the term "provision" includes "addition or variation". If the noble Baroness is interested, I can give her precedent for that interpretation in transport legislation.

Amendment No. 277KB extends the area in respect of which the mayor can give guidance to the franchising directors, so that would also cover services up to 15 miles outside and to Stansted and Luton Airports. Clause 161 already provides for the mayor to issue guidance which affects services outside London as long as the guidance does not fall foul of the constraints in subsection (5) of the clause.

One of the constraints requires that the franchising director will not implement the mayor's guidance if that would have an adverse impact on rail services outside London. Amendment No. 277TA would require the adverse impact to be "significant" in order for the franchising director not to implement it.

It may be helpful if I set out how a franchising director will decide whether the mayor's guidance will have adverse impact; and it is important to differentiate here between the mayor's strategy and his or her guidance to the franchising director. Where the mayor's strategy, which of course covers all major transport, is inconsistent

1 Jul 1999 : Column 549

with the national policy in a way which is detrimental to any area outside Greater London, then the Secretary of State will have a reserve power. The franchising director is not involved.

Turning to subsection (5), there has been some debate to which the noble Baroness referred as to how the term "adverse impact" should be defined. It was suggested that if the mayor were to use the guidance it would be open to the franchising director to regard an additional stop between Waterloo and Basingstoke as having an adverse impact.

It might or it might not. Clause 161 makes clear that it is for the franchising director to decide what constitutes an adverse impact, but he is under an obligation to take a reasonable approach. If the impact were trivial he would not be taking a reasonable approach. However, it is conceivable that an additional stop could have an adverse effect on other services and if we inserted an undefined term, "significant", it could reduce the flexibility of the franchising director. We do not regard that as particularly helpful.

Amendment No. 278B would mean that the franchising director could refuse to implement the mayor's directions only if to do so would significantly increase the payments from his budget to franchise operators. I fear that the noble Baroness may have misunderstood the purpose of subsection (5)(c). We made clear in the White Paper that the mayor will have to pay for any additional rail services or facilities he or she secures through guidance to the franchising director. Subsection (5)(c) is designed to achieve that. It may be that there are cases where the effect on the franchising director's budget is so small that it can be disregarded. Again, we believe it right that the franchising director should have that flexibility. The amendment would mean that taxpayers outside London were footing the bill for London rail services ordered by the mayor. I am sure that that was not the intention of the amendment. I hope that in the light of those concerns the noble Baroness will not pursue her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: I prefer an undefined "significantly" to an unstated "reasonably". The Minister's answer deserves reading properly. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 277KB not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 277L to 277T:

Page 85, line 5, after ("giving") insert ("instructions or")
Page 85, line 6, after ("the") insert ("instructions or")
Page 85, line 8, leave out ("so as") and insert ("in the manner best calculated")
Page 85, line 9, after ("any") insert ("instructions or")
Page 85, line 11, after ("any") insert ("instructions or")
Page 85, line 12, at end insert ("implementing the instructions or guidance will")
Page 85, line 13, leave out ("the guidance conflicts") and insert ("prevent or seriously hinder him from complying")
Page 85, line 16, leave out ("implementing the guidance will")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 277TA not moved.]

1 Jul 1999 : Column 550

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page