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Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, is aware of concerns that have been expressed on behalf of those who provide tourist bus services on the river under contracts drawn up, I believe, with the PLA, which will run until 2002. The operators are concerned that under this new clause all the property will move to TfL. They do not know whether the ticketing kiosks form part of the jetties and quays, and so forth. The operators have used their own funds to provide those ticketing kiosks. Furthermore, they have wider concerns that in the future they will be dealing with an authority whose sole concern is that of public transport, whereas previously their Ministry, as it were, has been the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Different contractual arrangements apply between themselves and the PLA than are likely to obtain with TfL or its subsidiary--or whatever London River Services will be called when it becomes a subsidiary of TfL rather than, as it is now, a subsidiary of London Transport.

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I should like to put some questions to the Minister. First, has he consulted on this matter with Janet Anderson MP, who is the Minister responsible for this area at the DCMS? Secondly, how does he think such tourist services will be run, possibly in competition with public transport services, in the interim period between the creation of TfL and the possible--some seem to think inevitable--creation of a strategy for the River Thames? Once such a strategy is created, it will bear in mind the needs of tourists and the services for tourists provided on the river. The providers of tourism services fear that they will be put into direct competition with public service providers working off the same jetties and along the same routes and that they will therefore have their current contractual arrangements in effect spoilt.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am aware of the general concern which the noble Baroness and her noble friend Lord Thurso have raised but I am not sure that I am able to give a reply to all of those details. I can assure the noble Baroness that there is no sinister purpose behind the clause. We are merely transferring from the PLA to London Transport, and thereafter to Transport for London, all the contractual and other liabilities associated with piers. That is common sense. The reason that some operators are concerned is that they are engaged in ongoing negotiations with the new pier owners, London River Services, itself a subsidiary of London Transport. Ongoing negotiations will, of course, continue. I have no wish to become involved in the details of those negotiations. Nothing changes in terms of the nature of those negotiations--simply the ownership of the infrastructure. I cannot answer the noble Baroness's specific point about infrastructure that has been separately provided. I am confident that the property and legal position will not change.

As far as concerns the broader point, the Government are supportive of the excellent strides that London River Services has made during the short period it has been in existence. We are fully supportive of its objectives, which include the tourism objective. My department has worked closely with the DCMS on this matter and will continue to do so. I therefore believe that it is an unfounded fear that the tourism dimension would disappear with these new arrangements. I undertake to write to the noble Baroness on her other points.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 227 [Designation of first GLA roads]:

Earl Attlee had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 476:

Page 125, line 34, at end insert--
(“(4) No order may be made under this section in respect of any road unless a draft of such proposed order has been circulated to all local authorities within Greater London for a consultation period of at least nine months' duration, and the responses of such authorities to such draft order have been received and considered, and no order may be made designating a road as a GLA road with effect from a date prior to the end of such period of consultation and consideration.

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(5) No order may be made under this section in respect of a road within the City if before the end of the consultation period referred to in subsection (4) above the Common Council have objected that such proposed order would adversely affect either--
(a) the integrity of any traffic management scheme within the City of London operated by or on behalf of the Common Council on the day before the Greater London Authority Act 1999 received Royal Assent, or
(b) the ability of the Common Council to ensure, or to assist and facilitate those responsible for ensuring, the security of the City of London and the people and businesses resident within it."").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I shall not be moving this amendment or Amendment No. 479 as the issue will be better covered in the Government's group of amendments. However, I shall be speaking to Amendment No. 477 when it is called.

[Amendment No.476 not moved.]

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 477:

Page 125, line 34, at end insert--
(“( ) The Secretary of State shall not make any order under this section in respect of any highway or proposed highway for which a London borough council or the Common Council is the highway authority, unless he has given 2 months' notice of the proposed order to the highway authority and considered any representations made."").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 478. The amendment focuses a consultation requirement on the Secretary of State before he makes an order under Clause 227, which designates which roads will be GLA roads. It is clearly in the public interest for there to be a reasonable consultation period before this action is taken. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, perhaps I may clarify one point. The noble Earl has not moved Amendment No. 476. Can he say which other amendments in the group he does not intend to move?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, Amendment No. 476, which I did not move, was the ring of steel amendment. The Minister has made concessions and I therefore thought it would be better not to move that amendment and wait until we discuss the Minister's amendment. I have moved Amendment No. 477 and spoken to Amendment No. 478, which deal with Clause 227. I hope that that is helpful to the Minister.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, are we therefore abandoning the other grouped amendments? It is difficult to know what is happening.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the purpose of Amendment No. 477 is to require a two-month consultation period with the boroughs when the Secretary of State designates the first GLA roads. That seems a somewhat arbitrary timetable for consultation. Most of the designation of the roads is pretty much agreed.

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If there are problems, it may well take less or more than two months to sort them out. It is also the case that we should not be in a situation where one London borough could exercise a right of veto over the total strategic position. As I understand the noble Earl's amendment, it would give London boroughs individually a veto over these proposals.

Amendment No. 478 would allow the designation of a road as a GLA road only if it is of strategic importance in determining the mayor's integrated transport strategy. It would prevent the Secretary of State including side roads off the GLA road network within the definition. We shall deal with the issue of side roads later, but what is proposed does not seem appropriate. I believe the amendment is therefore redundant in any case. The whole designation and description of Greater London strategic roads is that they are part of a strategic transport policy. However, there may be side roads which would not obviously be strategic were it not for the fact that they were part of a one way system or linkage system. One can think of an example not very far from your Lordships' House--around Victoria Station. It is designated a strategic road although, if one studies a map, it might not look strategic. The amendment, I believe, could lead to some misunderstanding. I hope that the noble Earl will not pursue it.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. I apologise if I slightly threw him by not moving the first amendment in the group. It will be interesting to see what happens when we focus the debate. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 478 not moved.]

Clause 228 [Orders by the authority changing what are GLA roads]:

[Amendment Nos. 479 and 480 not moved.]

Clause 229 [Certification, lists and maps of GLA roads]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 480A:

Page 127, line 4, leave out (“list of, and a map showing,") and insert (“record of").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 480B to 480F. This group of amendments seeks to give Transport for London greater flexibility in the way it maintains the definitive record of which roads are GLA roads. As the Bill stands, Transport for London would have to prepare and maintain both a list of, and a map showing, the highways and proposed highways which are GLA roads.

However, when the Secretary of State defines the first GLA roads, the Bill does not specify how the roads are to be identified. The Secretary of State could choose to define the network by means of a list or a map, or a combination of both methods. We think it right that Transport for London should have the same freedom to keep the definitive record of the network in the form it thinks appropriate. I beg to move.

21 Oct 1999 : Column 1312

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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