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Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 181, line 44, at end insert--
("(4) Subject to subsection (6) below, any charging scheme established pursuant to this section shall cease to take effect and may not be revived if at any time after 12 months from the commencement of the charging scheme there is not in existence a

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scheme to improve transport arrangements (including schemes to assist the movement of pedestrians) within Greater London ("an improvement scheme") in the operation or establishment of which the net proceeds of the charging scheme (within the meaning given it in Schedule 22) are applied.
(5) For the purposes of subsection (4), an improvement scheme shall be regarded as coming into existence on the commencement of works to give effect to the improvement scheme and shall be regarded as terminating when the improved arrangements in question first become available for use by the public.
(6) Subsection (4) above shall not apply at any time if, in the preceding four years ended on the day in question, a ballot of the residents of the area to which the charging scheme applies resulted in a vote in favour of the continuation of the charging scheme by a majority notwithstanding that there might be no improvement scheme in place.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, just as Clauses 290 and 291 are different although they both deal with the same thing, so Amendments Nos. 72 and 73 differ. They differ in respect of one word. The first deals with the issue of charges--congestion charging--and the other deals with the question of licences: that is, licences for workplace parking.

We have discussed these issues fairly fully at previous stages, but it is worth noting two things. First, although I suspect that the noble Lord the Minister may not be prepared to listen to me tonight and accept the amendments, I hope that he will agree that in drafting the amendments we at least have listened to his remarks made at Report stage. He said then that we had not given either the mayor or Londoners the opportunity to consider the future of these two charging schemes. They are two putative charging schemes, because they do not come into effect until the mayor decides to introduce them.

It is important to remember that, together with the fact that the terms upon which they are introduced include restrictions which appear in Schedules 22 and 23, which say that they can be introduced only if they are used to further the mayor's transport aims and strategies. That is the way the Bill stands so far as the introduction of the schemes is concerned. These are local schemes, but it is worth noting in parenthesis that one hears that they are beginning to attract some note in other parts of the country outside London. Indeed, it is understood that one or two leaders of other authorities are beginning to speculate on what they might or might not do if they were given the opportunity to consider similar schemes. The leader of Birmingham City Council was speculating this morning that he might have some difficulty with a workplace licensing scheme until he had managed to improve public transport quite considerably. That is a perfectly valid position for him to take. I say nothing about the politics of the situation.

I do not expect the noble Lord the Minister to comment on this. After all, he cannot comment on provisions that might be introduced in legislation at some point in the future. We have to accept that. However, it looks as though there may be national legislation which may result in this sort of scheme being adopted on a wider basis. If that were to happen, what has been decided in relation to London could be taken into account at that point and, if need be, amended as a consequence of that national situation.

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However, I come back to the main point that I was seeking to enunciate at Report stage, which is that this Bill is a Bill for London. It is a Bill about London and for Londoners. If the mayor in due time introduces schemes either for congestion charging or for workplace licensing he will be doing that for and on behalf of Londoners, because he is satisfied that he can persuade Londoners that this is a worthwhile thing to do. I think all that is perfectly reasonable. The question he will have to ask himself when he comes to make that decision is whether the limited time for which he has certainty of revenue is sufficient.

As the Bill is drafted, he has certainty only for 10 years, or at least that is what it appears that the Government intend. After that, it is a lottery. You can see the sticky fingers of the Treasury itching already, almost going red with rubbing, at the thought that they might be able to get hold of these sums of money. I have to say that this will be a considerable disincentive to anyone who actually has to take the odium of deciding to introduce these charges.

I am absolutely clear in my own mind--I have the support of noble friends behind me--that we are discussing a Bill about London and for Londoners. As I have said already, if that is the case, we should accept these amendments. They actually take into account the points which were raised about the possible long-term future of such schemes and the possibility that the mayor, on behalf of London, or, as the noble Lord the Minister was hinting at Report stage and as we have put it ourselves, the people of London themselves should have the opportunity to decide to continue with such schemes so that the revenue is available to Londoners and for London even if there is not a scheme of transport improvement immediately available on which to spend the money.

This is provided for on the basis of a motion, which could be put on to a ballot paper within the area of the scheme or indeed across the whole of London if that was required, at an election prior to there being no future schemes available on which to spend the money within the original terms of reference set out in the schedule. There would be no particular extra cost involved in that, because the four-year time-scale permits a London election to come within that time and any mayor worth his salt will be able to see this situation coming and therefore provide for it at a normal election.

I think that has answered the criticism of the amendments that were put forward at Report stage. We have listened to that criticism, and I think these present amendments are such that the Government really ought to accept them. I say that in the knowledge that a national scheme may come along at some point in the future. If it does, and if these schemes have to be altered in the light of such a national scheme, that is fair enough; that is the way the system works. However, at the moment we are talking about

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London. In that context, these amendments are good and I am pleased to propose them in the interests of London and Londoners at large. I beg to move.

7.30 p.m.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, we have grave doubts about these amendments. One of the implications of the second part of the noble Lord's proposed additional text will be to limit the length of time during which an improvement scheme may be paid for by a system of charging. That seems a strange idea, particularly when one considers how consistently we have argued that that timespan should be lengthened and not shortened.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I appreciate that the noble Lord has listened to a number of arguments that I put at the previous stage. However, his solution to the points I made has been to table an even more complicated system whereby he has set down what could be rather subjective criteria to decide whether to fund further value-for-money transport schemes and then to provide an override so that the whole of London would have the chance to end such schemes.

We have put in place a far simpler approach. The schemes will be totally hypothecated for 10 years. While I note the noble Lord's graphic description of the Treasury, I should say that the Treasury has been imaginative and forthcoming in its support of this novel approach. Furthermore, I have the full support of my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A system has been put in place that will review the schemes after 10 years. Whether further value-for-money transport schemes will be made available will be one criterion; indeed the total financing situation of the GLA may be a criterion. We are looking for a review in financial and transport situations that we cannot fully envisage at this point. It seems sensible to review for the reasons I have argued at previous stages of the Bill. However, it is not sensible to set down on the face of the Bill the criteria against which that review will take place.

I believe we all agree that after 10 years there are almost certain to be additional value-for-money transport infrastructure projects in London. We accept that; nevertheless, there should be a review of the process, and 10 years seems a sensible period for that. However, we do not wish to set down in concrete terms the details of that review. When the mayor enters office, he or she will have the assurance that any scheme introduced under these clauses either on workplace parking or on road user charges will run for 10 years and that the money will be hypothecated for 10 years. It may be that after the review in 10 years' time that situation will continue, or that, if the review should so indicate, the situation could continue on a different financing basis.

However, it is necessary not to be so prescriptive on the face of the Bill. The noble Lord has admonished the Government for being too prescriptive about what will happen next year and therefore I ask him not to be

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prescriptive about what will happen in 10 years' time. Clearly my remarks relate to London and nowhere else, but it may be the case that experience gained elsewhere may influence London in 10 years' time. I hope that the noble Lord will not pursue the amendments.

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