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The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, we have dealt with Amendments Nos. 461 to 468.

Clause 211 [Travel concessions on journeys in and around Greater London]:

[Amendments Nos.468A and 469 not moved.]

Schedule 13 [Penalty fares]:

The Earl of Clancarty moved Amendment No. 469A:

Page 258, line 18, after (“ticket") insert (“for all or part of the journey undertaken").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I wish to speak to the group of amendments, Amendments Nos. 469A to 469E. The

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intention is to reinstate the possibility for a passenger to pay an excess fare in circumstances when he or she started their journey with a valid ticket.

Amendment No. 469F deals with the particular issue of setting up the penalty fares tribunal. I am glad that the Minister has come part way to meeting us on the matter. On the basis that it would be better to amend the Government's amendment, I shall comment on this in more detail when we discuss Amendment No. 470A and my amendments to it.

In terms of the criteria by which penalty fares are issued in the first place, I believe that the great majority, probably more than 90 per cent, of the current problems on both the Underground and buses with respect to penalty fares could be solved if the ability to pay an excess fare were reinstated.

I have introduced the amendments to raise the matter. Excess fares are a key to the whole issue of penalty fares. I have already given what I believe are good reasons at an earlier stage why they should be reinstated. It also has to be said that if excess fares still existed, we would not have had some of the higher profile incidents which occurred during the summer and sparked off the considerable media coverage, including leaders in both the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard. For example, Kenneth Clarke would not have been given the penalty fare and Sister Virtus Okwaraoha--London buses never doubted that she was a bona fide passenger--would not have been prosecuted as she was. Nor, importantly, would she have been given a penalty fare, but allowed simply to pay the excess.

The Daily Telegraph put it very well in its editorial on 27th July this year:

    “Unable to sort out hardened bilkers from [the] rest, the Underground finds it simplest to punish everyone found with a ticket that does not match the journey, irrespective of intent".

It is clear that a significant number of those passengers given over 300,000 penalty fares on the Underground in the last year alone are bona fide travellers who are paying a tax for more flexible travel. They do so in circumstances where they are made to feel like criminals. It is a dangerous road that we take when we effectively start to criminalise bona fide passengers.

In more general terms, we should be encouraging public transport as a friendly, pleasant experience, not a hostile environment where every traveller is potentially under suspicion. As I said at an earlier stage, I understand the desire to catch the real fare dodgers, but I think things have swung too far in one direction. There now needs to be a more moderate and sophisticated approach. I beg to move.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, the amendment in the name of my noble friend, Amendment No. 471, is grouped with those brought forward by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty. Amendment No. 471 responded to what we perceived to be a government reluctance to see the matter of penalty fares appeals services put on the face of the Bill. Therefore, the amendment suggests that the

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Secretary of State should, by order, be able to bring such an appeals service into effect. However, in the next group of amendments the Government make possible the creation of such a penalty appeals service. In those circumstances, our amendment is probably de trop.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, the noble Earl raises an extremely important issue. Clearly, it is necessary to have some form of appeal system. I have come unstuck with a penalty fare through no fault of my own. I look forward to Amendments Nos. 470A and 570A tabled by the Minister.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as the noble Earl said, we had discussions with several Members of the House to discuss their concerns about the existing penalty fares legislation. I have tabled the amendments in the next group to meet some of the concerns relating to the appeals procedure. I accept that there are problems about the operation of the appeals procedure and that there is a grievance among some of the travelling public that must be accepted and dealt with. But I do not accept that we should change the system of excess fares. The proposals contained in Amendments Nos. 469A to 469E would undermine the cornerstone of the existing legislation; namely, the requirement that to travel one must have a valid ticket for the whole of the journey that is undertaken. We should not forget that that principle is designed to ensure that the revenue, which will be ploughed back into public transport, is not lost to the transport operator.

The penalty fares system is intended to protect the revenue and ensure that there is a deterrent to people who travel with no or inadequate tickets but without the consequences of criminality and the long administrative and legal proceedings which predated the penalty fares system in London Transport and elsewhere on the public transport network. London Transport has acknowledged that the operation of the penalty fares system can be improved. Noble Lords may well be aware of the review of tube penalty fares conducted by LT and the LRPC, during which London Transport took very seriously the need to ensure that the scheme was operated with a better customer focus. London Transport has already started to implement some of the review's main findings.

It will be open to the mayor, once in place, to issue guidance to TfL on how the scheme should be operated. It will also be open to the mayor to reintroduce excess fares facilities, as would be required by one of the amendments tabled by the noble Earl, should he or she so wish. However, I believe that we have taken steps to improve the situation in relation to appeals, to which we shall turn in a moment, but the operation of the system itself should be left to the mayor and the mayor's dealing with TfL rather than

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prescribed on the face of the Bill in a way that severely undermines the existing system. I hope that the noble Earl does not press his amendments.

The Earl of Clancarty: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his remarks. Excess fares were abolished when penalty fares were introduced, yet this interpretation of the law was never considered in debate in either the Commons or Lords when the London legislation was originally introduced. Excess fares were never mentioned, let alone their abolition discussed. It is also clear from both debates that there was no intention in the legislation to penalise bona fide travellers. If the problem started with this legislation, it should be solved by amending it in some way, or London Transport's interpretation of the legislation is seriously wrong and perhaps should even be challenged. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 469B to 469F not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 470:

Page 261, line 2, after (“1962") insert (“or paragraph 24A of Schedule 9 to this Act").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 470A:

Page 261, line 11, at end insert--


8A.--(1) If requested to do so by the Mayor, the Secretary of State shall by regulations make provision enabling a person required to pay a penalty fare to appeal against that requirement.
(2) Regulations under this paragraph may include provision--
(a) for appeals to be heard and determined by independent adjudicators,
(b) for the appointment of such adjudicators,
(c) for requiring Transport for London to reconsider, before an appeal is determined, whether the appellant should be required to pay the penalty fare, and
(d) for the adjudicator's directions in relation to an appeal to be binding upon Transport for London and the appellant.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment relates to the appeals system. The Government have listened very carefully to the concerns of noble Lords in that regard. The amendment would require the Secretary of State to make regulations to establish an independent penalty fares appeals body if so requested by the mayor. We are aware of considerable public interest in this area. We believe it is very likely, without pre-judging the outcome of the election, that any mayor would also recognise the considerable public concern over this matter and would make such a request once he or she has taken stock of the penalty fares procedures.

However, I do not believe it appropriate for us to pre-judge the mayor's consideration of this issue. Therefore, I put the amendment in its present form so that the mayor can make the request. The Secretary of State then has to enact that request. It is better to leave

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it for the mayor in that sense rather than move in the way the noble Earl prefers, in moving an amendment to this amendment, requiring the Secretary of State to lay down the procedure immediately. The mayor will proceed in the context of having made an assessment of the penalty fares system in total. That is where the matter should be left. This amendment makes it absolutely clear that should the mayor wish to go down that road, the Secretary of State is then obliged to enact proceedings which will meet the noble Earl's point. I beg to move.

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