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Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 288:

Page 233, line 51, leave out ("the Secretary of State and").

The noble Lord said: This is a very small amendment. Schedule 13 deals with penalty fares on London buses and tubes. The amendment basically rewrites the whole of the London Transport Regional Transport Penalty Fares Act 1992. We shall shortly debate a more substantial amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty.

As I understand it, the powers are to be transferred mainly to Transport for London and to the mayor. The penalty fares are set at a certain level--£5 on local buses and £10 on the Underground. Paragraph 5(2) states that,

3.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty: This provision does not give the Secretary of State powers, but the reason why there is a requirement to consult is so that there can be consistency about penalty fare levels on all relevant modes of transport. That is particularly the case where a number of stations are served both by London Transport and by the operating companies. At those stations there could be some confusion were the two forms of penalty charge to be completely out of line with each other. At the end of the day, the decision lies with the mayor, but the mayor needs to take that into account, and therefore needs to consult the Secretary of State on those matters.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: Given that explanation, although I am not entirely happy that it is necessary to consult the Secretary of State, it is not an important enough point to pursue to the end. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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The Earl of Clancarty moved Amendment No. 288A:

Page 234, line 18, at end insert--

("Penalty Fares Appeals Service

.--(1) Subject to sub-paragraph (2) below, the Authority shall establish a body, separate from either Transport for London, or from any person providing a transport service to which this Schedule applies, to be known as the London Penalty Fares Appeals Service.
(2) Any body established by, or with the consent of the Rail Regulator to consider appeals against penalty fares issued on the national railways under Section 130 of the Railways Act 1993 may be appointed by the Authority in fulfilment of its duties under sub-section (1) above.
(3) Any person who has been issued with a penalty fare pursuant to paragraph 3 or 4 above, whose representations to the person providing the service in relation to which the penalty fare was issued has failed to result in that penalty fare being set aside, may appeal to the body, appointed under either sub-paragraph (1) or (2) above, for a determination.
(4) The Authority may, after consultation with Transport for London and the London Transport Users Committee, give guidance to the body appointed under either sub-paragraph (1) or (2) above as to the criteria it should adopt for the judging of appeals against penalty fares issued in accordance with the provisions of this schedule.
(5) The costs of the service provided under this paragraph shall be borne by Transport for London.
(6) Except as provided for in sub-paragraph (4) above, the London Transport Users Committee shall not consider penalty fares appeals except in so far as they give rise to questions as to the procedure followed by the body appointed under sub-paragraph (1) or (2) above in relation to the consideration of an individual appeal.").

The noble Earl said: First, I should like to apologise for not having spoken at Second Reading. The intention of this amendment is to establish an independent appeals body for penalty fares. This is an important amendment, and I am happy that it has the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood. There is currently considerable concern, shared both by passengers and the London Regional Passengers Committee, over the judgments made by London Transport, particularly concerning penalty fares applied by London Underground, and 82 per cent of representations on the London Underground to the LRPC are about penalty fares.

Sub-paragraph (4) asks for what I believe should be the bare minimum of guidance and consultation over the criteria by which appeals are judged. I understand the desire of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, to catch those intending to defraud, which she stated when the 1992 legislation was introduced. But London Underground's present effectively unregulated penalty fares regime is draconian. There needs to be a fair and sensitive balance--300,000 penalty fares were issued last year on the Underground. That is an absurd figure and includes, I believe, many bona fide passengers who are caught out for a wide variety of reasons, including the complexities of the fares and differing ticketing systems, such as the carnet system for which London Underground makes no allowance for inadvertent errors.

In particular, the option of buying an excess or add-on ticket should be restored, since there is no reason whatsoever why a passenger who has a ticket showing evidence of his or her starting-point and who offers to pay the excess fare should not be allowed to do so, rather than have to traipse up and down the escalators

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to buy a second ticket for the same journey. For many, the £10 penalty paid on the tube at their destination point is not an expression of guilt; it is simply more convenient to do so rather than to raise an objection. Ten pounds for most waged people is not a lot of money, although for an unemployed person it is. The major problem, then, becomes the inflexibility of the conditions of travel, including for instance the inability to change one's mind about a journey once one is in the system in order to carry out a longer journey.

The main point to be made here is that London Underground is acting autocratically. A wider consultation process is needed--something that London Underground is resisting. Ideally, Transport for London, the authority, the London Transport Users Committee, the Rail Regulator and other operators from whom TfL can learn--including Nexus, for example, which runs the Tyne and Wear Metro and whose penalty fares regime is "exemplary" according to the Rail Regulator--should all be sitting down in the same room. The Rail Regulator is keen to encourage best practice sharing of penalty fare schemes.

Whatever criteria are agreed upon, they do not invalidate the important principle also that the appeals body should be independent. It is worth quoting the Rail Regulator's view on this principle as expressed in the 1995 consultation document on penalty fares:

    "The normal requirement of criminal law provides for an appeals mechanism, independent of the prosecution, against conviction. In the case of penalty fares, the operator fulfils the role of both prosecutor and judge. In the Regulator's view, this makes it all the more important to ensure that an appeals mechanism is in place which operates impartially and independently". I entirely agree with that and beg to move the amendment.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I am happy to support the noble Earl's amendment. He has pursued the matter by most methods open to a Member of this House and, as a result, has received interesting answers from government Ministers. It is obvious that one point we must deal with on penalty fares is the way in which the fare and penalty fare structures operate. However, an equally important element that we are dealing with at present is appeals. The current system of appeals laid down in the Bill is not satisfactory. I support the noble Earl's amendment and look forward to hearing what the Government have to say on the issue.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: As mentioned, I achieved this legislation in 1992 when I took it through as a Private Member's Bill for London Transport. At that time there was a desperate need to try to make up some of the vast amount of lost revenue. Sadly, the revenue is still being lost and, if I am to believe the Evening Standard, there is an even greater loss now than years ago.

It is important for us to maintain a tough but fair stance on penalty fares. All those who legitimately pay their fares do so at a higher cost because of the great loss being carried. The time has gone when people used to pocket the excess fares when the passenger arrived at the end of the journey. That used to be a great fraud in

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the past. People used to set up arrangements to close the ticket office at one station in order for their friend to collect all the money at the next, then they would share it later. That was well known at the time. However, all that is a thing of the past.

Now the remaining issue is the appeals system. As a general principle, it is not right in any field and it does not accord with our sense of justice that people should have the right to be both judge and jury in any situation. For that reason I support the noble Earl's amendment.

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