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Local Transport Bill [HL]


 

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These notes refer to the Local Transport Bill [HL] as introduced in the House of Lords on 7th November 2007 [HL Bill 1]

LOCAL TRANSPORT BILL [HL]


EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1.     These Explanatory Notes relate to the Local Transport Bill [HL] as introduced in the House of Lords on 7th November 2007. They have been prepared by the Department for Transport in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.

SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND

3.     The provisions in the Bill are intended to support the Government's strategy to tackle increasing road congestion and to improve the quality of local bus services. The policy context and related background were set out in the consultation document Strengthening Local Delivery: the draft Local Transport Bill, published in May 2007. The Government's response to the consultation is published alongside the Bill, and copies are available from the Department for Transport and at www.dft.gov.uk/localtransportbill.

4.     The Bill contains provisions to amend the legal frameworks relating to:

  • the responsibilities of local authorities in relation to local transport policies and plans;

  • the operation of local bus services and related matters, including provisions relating to traffic commissioners;

  • the constitution and functions of Passenger Transport Authorities ("PTAs"), which are renamed as Integrated Transport Authorities ("ITAs");

  • the establishment and operation of local and London road user charging schemes (commonly referred to as "local road pricing schemes").5.It also contains provision to grant a new framework power to the National Assembly for Wales in the transport field.

Local bus services

Legal background

6.     The current legal framework within which local bus services are operated in England and Wales (outside Greater London) is set out in the Transport Act 1985 ("the TA 1985"). In brief, the effect of the provisions contained in this Act was to deregulate the bus industry outside London.

    *     Local bus services are services provided on public service vehicles, on which passengers may travel for distances of less than 15 miles.

Quality partnership and quality contracts schemes

7.     Part 2 of the Transport Act 2000 ("the TA 2000") includes provisions relating to "quality partnership schemes" and "quality contracts schemes". A quality partnership scheme is a scheme under which:

  • a local authority provides specified facilities in their area. Such facilities might include bus lanes or other bus priority measures, or enhanced facilities for passengers at bus stops and bus stations; and

  • operators of local services who wish to use such facilities must undertake to provide those services to a particular standard.

8.     A quality contracts scheme is a scheme under which:

  • the authority determines what local services should be provided in the area to which the scheme relates and any additional facilities or services which should be provided in that area; and

  • local services may only be provided in that area in accordance with quality contracts entered into by a local authority with a bus operator following a competitive tendering process. A scheme may comprise one or more contracts relating to services that form part of the overall scheme.

9.     A quality contracts scheme therefore has the effect of closing down the deregulated market established under the TA 1985 in the area to which it applies, for the duration of the scheme (maximum of 10 years).

Voluntary partnership agreements

10.     A number of local authorities have entered into agreements with bus operators independently of the statutory provisions contained in the TA 2000. Such voluntary agreements are used as a means of improving the quality of bus services in a particular area, but without the restrictions which are imposed by the statutory schemes. The majority are bilateral agreements between one authority and one operator. Many have been in place since before the TA 2000 provisions on quality partnership schemes were brought into force, while others have been made subsequently in preference to using the statutory route described above.

The Bill

11.     The Bill includes measures to:

  • create a statutory post of "senior traffic commissioner" and increase flexibility in the deployment of traffic commissioners in England and Wales;

  • reform provisions in the TA 2000 relating to quality partnership and quality contracts schemes;

  • provide a competition test relating to voluntary partnership agreements;

  • strengthen the enforcement powers of the traffic commissioners;

  • amend existing legislative provisions relating to the community transport sector;

  • enable the establishment of a statutory body to represent the interests of bus passengers; and

  • amend a number of other legislative provisions that relate to local public passenger transport services.

    *     The traffic commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of State under section 4 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 ("the PPVA 1981"). There is currently a traffic commissioner for each traffic area in Great Britain. Each traffic commissioner has responsibilities relating to the goods vehicle and public service vehicle sectors and the registration of local bus services.

Local transport functions

Legal background

12.     At present, responsibility for setting overall strategies for transport services for a particular area in England (outside London and the six metropolitan counties) is the responsibility of the county council or unitary authority, which is also the local highways authority and local traffic authority for that area. Under section 108 of the TA 2000, these local transport authorities are required to develop policies relating to local transport facilities and services, and to prepare and publish a local transport plan.

13.     In the metropolitan counties outside London (West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Tyne & Wear) these responsibilities are split. The metropolitan counties have been designated as "passenger transport areas" and a PTA has been established in relation to each of those areas, with responsibility for planning local transport services (jointly with metropolitan district councils) and for procuring public transport services. The metropolitan district councils have responsibility for the local road network as local traffic authorities and local highways authorities.

14.     Across England (outside London) the Secretary of State, acting through the Highways Agency, is the highways authority and traffic authority for the strategic road network.

The Bill

15.     The Bill amends provisions in Part 2 of the TA 2000 concerning local transport policies and plans. These changes will apply in all local authority areas outside London. The Bill expands the existing duty on local transport authorities to develop policies relating to transport, so that these policies must cover all aspects of transport, rather than the currently more limited requirement relating only to transport facilities and services, and must take the protection and improvement of the environment into account. The Bill also provides that in the six metropolitan counties this duty will lie solely with the Integrated Transport Authority (see below). The Bill also amends the arrangements for preparing and publishing the local transport plans which contain those policies, and removes the need for local transport authorities to prepare a separate bus strategy.

16.      The Bill also proposes a means for making changes to existing constitutional arrangements for the discharge of statutory transport functions in local authority areas ("governance"). It changes the name "Passenger Transport Authority" ("PTA") to "Integrated Transport Authority" ("ITA"), and enables changes to be made to the constitutions and functions of the renamed ITAs. It also includes provisions relating to the establishment of new ITAs, and provision enabling changes to be made to the boundaries of existing integrated transport areas.

Local charging schemes

Legal background

17.     Part 3 of the TA 2000 includes provisions relating to local charging schemes in England and Wales. These provisions set out the conditions under which a local authority outside Greater London can set up a charging scheme in relation to roads for which they are the local traffic authority. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 ("the GLA Act 1999") included powers for Transport for London, the London boroughs and the Common Council to establish charging schemes in their areas. The GLA Act 1999 provides the vires for the London Congestion Charge. The Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 includes provisions relating to charging schemes in Scotland.

    *     A local traffic authority is a traffic authority, other than the Secretary of State, which has functions under Part 10 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

    *     The Common Council is the Common Council of the City of London.

The Bill

18.     Provisions in the Bill allow ITAs to make a charging scheme jointly with local traffic authorities, provide that local charging authorities will no longer require the approval of the Secretary of State for their schemes, and make a number of other miscellaneous amendments to the provisions of the GLA Act 1999 and the TA 2000.

OVERVIEW OF STRUCTURE

19.     The Bill is organised in eight Parts and seven Schedules.

20.     Part 1 contains provisions relating to traffic commissioners.

21.     Part 2 amends Part 2 of the TA 2000, in particular the duties on local transport authorities to develop transport policies and prepare and publish local transport plans and bus strategies.

22.     Part 3 contains provisions relating to local bus services, amending in particular Part 2 of, and Schedule 10 to, the TA 2000.

23.     Part 4 contains a number of general provisions relating to passenger transport, amending various sections of the Transport Act 1968 ("TA 1968"), the PPVA 1981, the TA 1985, the TA 2000 and other enactments.

24.     Part 5 makes provision relating to Integrated Transport Authorities ("ITAs").

25.     Part 6 amends provisions relating to local and London charging schemes in Part 3 of, and Schedule 12 to, the TA 2000 and Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999.

26.     Part 7 contains miscellaneous provisions relating to the powers of the National Assembly for Wales, an amendment to existing provision about the detention of goods vehicles used without an operator's licence, and the disclosure and use of information about foreign-registered vehicles.

27.     Part 8 contains supplementary provisions.

28.     Schedule 1 substitutes references to "local transport policies" (as defined by a new provision inserted by Part 2) in place of certain references in the TA 2000 to local transport plans or bus strategies.

29.     Schedule 2 amends existing provisions in Schedule 10 to the TA 2000, which applies a competition test to the exercise of certain functions by local transport authorities. It also inserts a new competition test, applying to voluntary partnership agreements and certain other agreements, and makes specific provision for investigation and enforcement action to be taken by the Office of Fair Trading in relation to such agreements.

30.     Schedule 3 contains provisions to put in place a new enforcement regime for certain public service vehicles operated without a valid operator's licence.

31.     Schedule 4 contains amendments to various enactments, consequential on the provisions in Part 5 under which passenger transport areas and metropolitan county passenger transport authorities are to be known as integrated transport areas and ITAs respectively.

32.     Schedule 5 contains minor and consequential amendments to the TA 2000, relating to provisions in Part 5 that introduce the name "ITA", and in Part 6 that allow ITAs to make local charging schemes jointly with local traffic authorities.

33.     Schedule 6 amends Schedule 12 to the TA 2000, which contains financial provisions relating to charging schemes under Part 3 of that Act, and Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999.

34.     Schedule 7 contains repeals relating to Parts 2 to 6 of the Bill.

TERRITORIAL EXTENT

35.     Provisions in the Bill extend to England and Wales only, with the exception of certain provisions which also extend, in whole or in part, to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

36.     The provisions extending to Scotland are:

  • clauses 1 to 6, which amend provisions in the PPVA 1981 relating to traffic areas and traffic commissioners, and create a statutory post of senior traffic commissioner. Its application to Scotland is limited to matters which are not devolved;

  • clause 41 and Schedule 3, which facilitate the detention of certain public service vehicles (PSVs) used without valid PSV operators' licences;

  • clauses 46 and 47(1) to (7), which enable the holders of private hire vehicle (PHV) licences to operate local bus services. These provisions are drafted so as to extend this provision to holders of PHV licences in Scotland;

  • clauses 48 to 52, which make provision relating to permits issued under sections 19 and 22 of the TA 1985 (which exempt the operators of particular community services from certain licensing requirements);

  • clause 59(1) and (2), which makes provision relating to the payment by local councils of subsidy to secure passenger transport services;

  • clause 63, which provides for remuneration to be paid to members of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. In relation to Scotland, the provision applies only to matters that are not devolved;

  • clause 65, which provides a power for the Secretary of State to confer certain non-rail functions on the Rail Passengers' Council;

  • clause 106, which provides a power for the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee for the provision of information obtained by the Secretary of State in the exercise of any function that relates to reserved matters to charging authorities in relation to a charging scheme made under Part 3 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001;

  • clause 109, which inserts a new matter into Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006;

  • clause 111, which amends existing provision relating to the detention of certain goods vehicles;

  • clauses 112 and 113, which make provision about the disclosure and use of information obtained by the Secretary of State in relation to foreign registered vehicles;

  • clauses 115 (interpretation), 116 (extent), 117 (commencement) and 118 (short title); and

  • the repeals in Part 3 of Schedule 7 (repeals) relating to sections 22 and 23 of the TA 1985, and clause 114 so far as relating to those repeals.

37.     This Bill does not contain provisions that trigger the Sewel Convention in Scotland. Because the Sewel Convention provides that Westminster will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, if there are amendments relating to such matters which trigger the Convention, the consent of the Scottish Parliament will be sought for them.

38.     The provisions extending to Northern Ireland are:

  • clause 109, which inserts a new matter into Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006;

  • clause 112 and 113, which relate to the disclosure of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles; and

  • clauses 115 (interpretation), 116 (extent), 117 (commencement) and 118 (short title).

TERRITORIAL APPLICATION: WALES

39.     The Bill confers a number of new or expanded powers on the Welsh Ministers, in line with changes being made to certain powers of the Secretary of State in relation to England. In addition, one provision, which relates to the application of revenues from local charging schemes, would replace an existing power for the Welsh Ministers to make regulations with provision on the face of the TA 2000.

40.     Table 1 below lists the clauses which affect the existing powers of, or confer new powers on, the Welsh Ministers.

Table 1: Clauses which affect the existing powers of, or confer new powers on, the Welsh Ministers

Clause(s)Subject of clauseEffect on the powers of the Welsh Ministers
Part 3: clause 17Regulations about certain quality partnership schemesA new power for the Welsh Ministers to make regulations in respect of quality partnership schemes which specify frequencies, timings or fares.
Part 3: clause 25Making of a quality contracts schemeThe power for the Welsh Ministers by order to vary a time period stipulated in section 127 of the TA 2000 is extended to other time periods.
Part 3: clause 30Approval of continuation of a quality contracts schemeNew provisions to allow the continuation of a quality contracts scheme beyond its initial ten year period. For schemes in Wales, the Welsh Ministers will have the power to approve the continuation (except where the continuation is exempt because it meets specified conditions) and to make regulations to prescribe additional circumstances in which a scheme will be an exempt proposal.
Part 3: clause 33Variation or revocation of quality contracts schemeCertain variations of quality contracts schemes are exempted from the requirement to be approved by the Welsh Ministers.
Part 3: clause 35Regulations about quality contracts schemesThe existing order-making powers of the Welsh Ministers in section 133 of the TA 2000 are extended so that regulations may additionally make provision with respect to the continuation of quality contracts schemes.
Part 3: clause 36Power to make transitional provision about schemesA power for the Welsh Ministers to make provision about the letting of subsidy contracts in the transitional period between the making and implementation of a quality contracts scheme.
Part 3: clause 37Guidance about quality contracts schemesA power for the Welsh Ministers to issue guidance to local authorities about the performance of their functions in respect of quality contracts schemes.
Part 4: clause 55Additional sanctions for failures by bus operatorsA power for the Welsh Ministers to prescribe additional forms of orders that a traffic commissioner may make under section 155(1A) of the TA 2000.
Part 4: clause 60Subsidy to secure passenger transport services in WalesExtension of existing power for the Welsh Ministers to subsidise public passenger transport services to cover standards of service.
Part 6: clause 99ChargesCharging schemes (including those made by the Welsh Ministers under section 167 of the TA 2000) may impose different charges for different means of recording, administering, collecting or paying the charge.
Part 6: clause 100Manner of payment of charges in a charging schemeA new power for the Welsh Ministers to make regulations regulating the manner in which, in certain circumstances, persons may pay road user charges.
Part 6: clause 101Suspension of charging schemesCharging schemes made by the Welsh Ministers under TA 2000 may be suspended in an emergency or for a temporary event.
Part 6: clause 102Interference with functioning of equipmentAn extension to the existing power for the Welsh Ministers, by regulations, to make certain provisions relating to examination of, or entry into, a motor vehicle for certain purposes.
Part 6: clause 103Use of equipment for charging schemesA new power for the Welsh Ministers to regulate the manner in which equipment installed as part of a charging scheme is used, supplementing the existing power for them to make regulations to approve standards for such equipment.
Part 6: clause 104Power to require informationA new power for the Welsh Ministers to direct a local traffic authority in Wales to provide specified information relating to the performance or proposed performance of their functions under Chapter 1 of Part 3 of the TA 2000.
Part 6: clause 105InformationA new power for the Welsh Ministers to charge a reasonable fee for the supply of information under section 194(1) and (3) of the TA 2000.
Part 6: clause 108 and Schedule 6Application of revenues from charging schemesThe existing power for the Welsh Ministers to make regulations relating to the use of net proceeds from local charging schemes in Wales (other than during the initial period of an early relevant scheme) is replaced with a requirement that all such net proceeds may only be used to facilitate the achievement of the charging authority's local transport policies.

41.     Table 2 below summarises the provisions in the Bill which have different effect in Wales, as compared to their effect in England (outside London). Table 2 does not repeat measures set out in Table 1.

Table 2: Measures which have different effect in Wales, as compared to England (outside London)

Clause(s)Subject of clauseEffect in Wales
Part 2Transport policiesThe provisions leave existing arrangements in Wales unchanged, except clause 10 (bus strategies no longer required) applies also in Wales.
Part 3: clauses 20 to 25 and 32Approval of quality contracts schemes and continuation of such schemes, and related appealsThese clauses preserve the existing provisions whereby (i) a scheme in Wales must be approved by the Welsh Ministers; and (ii) there is no right of appeal to the Transport Tribunal in relation to the Welsh Ministers' decisions to approve or reject a scheme.
Part 4: clause 57Revival of certain powers of PTEsThere are no PTEs in Wales, and so the provisions do not have any application there.
Part 4: clause 58Subsidy to secure passenger transport services in integrated transport areasThere are no integrated transport areas in Wales, and so the provisions do not have any application there.
Part 4: clause 64Public Transport Users' Committee for EnglandThis clause has no effect in Wales, where separate arrangements for passenger representation apply.
Part 4: clause 65Power to confer non-rail functions on the Rail Passengers' CouncilThe power is limited to functions relating to local bus services and scheduled coach services to the extent that they operate within England. It has no effect in Wales, where separate arrangements for passenger representation apply.
Part 5Integrated Transport Authorities etc.There are no ITAs in Wales, and so the provisions do not have any application there.
Part 6: clauses 90 to 96Involvement of Integrated Transport Authorities in charging schemesThere are no ITAs in Wales, and so the provisions do not have any application there.
Part 6: clause 97Removal of requirement for Secretary of State confirmation of charging schemes in EnglandThe clause preserves the existing provision that the order by which a local charging scheme in Wales is made must be approved by the Welsh Ministers.
Part 6: clause 98Amendment to powers relating to inquiries into local charging schemesThe clause preserves the existing provisions allowing the Welsh Ministers to require a local charging authority to consult on, or to allow the Welsh Ministers to hold an inquiry into, a local charging scheme.
Part 6: clause 108 and paragraph 4 of Schedule 6Financial provisions relating to road user charging schemesThe amendments to paragraph 10(3) of Schedule 12 to the TA 2000 preserve, in Wales, the existing requirement for the Welsh Ministers to approve a local traffic authority's plans for the application of revenues from a local charging scheme.
 
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