Local Transport Bill [HL] - continued          House of Lords

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POWERS FOR THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES

42.     Clause 109 grants a new framework power to the National Assembly for Wales by inserting a matter into field 10 (highways and transport) of Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006. This is discussed further at the appropriate place under "Commentary" below. The existing power for information obtained by any Minister of the Crown, government department, local authority or other statutory body to be disclosed to charging authorities under Part 3 of the TA 2000 is extended to allow information to be disclosed to the Welsh Ministers in relation to charging schemes established pursuant to an Assembly Measure under Part 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (see clause 110).

APPLICATION: LONDON

43.     In relation to many of the matters covered in the Bill, separate provision is made for London by other enactments, including the GLA Act 1999. The following table lists the provisions in the Bill which have application in London.

Table 3: Measures which have application in London

ClauseSubject of clause
Part 1The traffic commissioners.
Part 3: clause 40 and Schedule 2Competition scrutiny of functions and agreements relating to buses.
Part 4: clause 41 and Schedule 3Detention of certain public service vehicles used without valid operator's licence.
Part 4: clauses 46 and 47Use of private hire vehicles to provide local services outside London, power for Transport for London to extend the provisions to Greater London and power for Transport for London to make certain regulations in relation to taxis and hire cars.
Part 4: clauses 48 to 52Vehicles used under permits issued under sections 19 and 22 of the TA 1985.
Part 4: clause 53Attachment of conditions to related licences (applies in London to a limited extent).
Part 6: clauses 94 to 96Involvement of ITAs in charging schemes. These provisions cater for the possibility of a future ITA being established in the vicinity of London, and the local traffic authority and/or the ITA seeking to make a charging scheme jointly with one or more charging authorities in London.
Part 6: clause 99Charges.
Part 6: clause 100Supplementary provision as to charging schemes.
Part 6: clause 102Interference with functioning of equipment.
Part 6: clause 103Use of equipment for charging schemes.
Part 6: clause 104Power of national authority to require information from charging authorities.
Part 6: clause 105Information: England and Wales.
Part 6: clause 107London charging schemes: 10 year plan for share.
Part 6: clause 108Application and apportionment of net proceeds of a London charging scheme.
Part 7: clause 111Vehicles used without operators' licence: power to return detained vehicles
Part 7: clause 112Disclosure of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles.

COMMENTARY

Part 1: The traffic commissioners

Clause 1: Traffic areas

44.     Section 3(2) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 ("PPVA 1981") empowers the Secretary of State by order to vary the extent or number of traffic areas. Clause 1 inserts new subsections (2A), (2B) and (2C) into section 3 of the PPVA 1981.

45.     These new subsections provide that an order made under section 3(2) may include amendments or modifications to any enactment needed to give full effect to any changes to traffic areas in England and Wales.

Clause 2: Traffic commissioners

46.     Subsection (2) substitutes subsections (1) and (2) of section 4 of the PPVA 1981. The effect is to abolish the existing requirement for a traffic commissioner to be appointed for each traffic area. Instead, the Secretary of State may appoint such number of traffic commissioners for England and Wales as is considered appropriate. However, a single commissioner for the Scottish Traffic Area is retained. New section 4(2) continues the existing provision for traffic commissioners to be appointed by the Secretary of State and provides for them to be known as "traffic commissioners".

47.     Subsection (4) inserts new section 4(3A) and (3B) into the PPVA 1981 to define the jurisdiction of traffic commissioners. Traffic commissioners in England and Wales are granted full jurisdiction in respect of all their statutory functions throughout England and Wales, and also in relation to "reserved matters" (within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998) in the Scottish traffic area. The Scottish Commissioner is granted full jurisdiction in respect of all devolved and reserved statutory functions in the Scottish traffic area, and also in relation to reserved matters in England and Wales.

Clause 3: The senior traffic commissioner

48.     The Secretary of State has designated one of the traffic commissioners as senior traffic commissioner. The post currently has no statutory basis and the post holder no statutory powers. Subsection (1) inserts new sections 4A to 4C into the PPVA 1981 to put this post on a statutory footing.

49.     New section 4B confers powers on the senior traffic commissioner to deploy other traffic commissioners. The effect is that the senior traffic commissioner can require any traffic commissioner or deputy in England and Wales to carry out any function at any place within that jurisdiction, and also to carry out reserved functions in Scotland. The senior traffic commissioner can also require the traffic commissioner for the Scottish Traffic Area, and his deputies, to carry out any reserved function in any place in England and Wales.

50.     New section 4C empowers the senior traffic commissioner, following consultation, to issue guidance and general directions to traffic commissioners about the exercise of any of their functions. Traffic commissioners would be required to act under the general directions of, and to have regard to any such guidance given by, the senior traffic commissioner. This replaces the previous requirement for traffic commissioners to act under the general directions of the Secretary of State (whose power to give such directions is removed). The power of the senior traffic commissioner to issue guidance and directions to the Scottish traffic commissioner extends only to reserved matters.

51.     Subsection (6) of new section 4C empowers the Secretary of State to issue guidance to the senior traffic commissioner on the exercise of his functions, and subsection (7) requires the senior traffic commissioner to have regard to any such guidance.

52.     The clause also provides for additional remuneration to be paid to the senior traffic commissioner, and includes a transitional provision so that the person designated as senior traffic commissioner prior to the creation of the new statutory post will become the first holder of that office.

Clause 4: Amendments of Schedule 2 to the PPVA 1981

53.     This clause amends Schedule 2 to the PPVA 1981, which includes provisions about the terms of service of traffic commissioners, appointment and terms of office of deputy traffic commissioners, and pensions and remuneration.

54.      The circumstances in which the Secretary of State can dismiss a traffic commissioner are amended. Currently a traffic commissioner can be dismissed for "inability or misbehaviour". Under the new provisions the Secretary of State could dismiss a traffic commissioner for misbehaviour or because that traffic commissioner is unable, unwilling or unfit to perform the functions of a traffic commissioner to a satisfactory standard.

55.     The clause inserts new provisions relating to the appointment and terms of office of deputy traffic commissioners in England and Wales. The effect is to empower the Secretary of State to appoint such number of deputy traffic commissioners in England and Wales as she thinks fit. Deputy traffic commissioners for England and Wales may be deployed by the senior traffic commissioner to exercise any of their functions in any place in England and Wales, and to exercise functions in relation to reserved matters in the Scottish Traffic Area.

56.     The existing powers in paragraphs 3 to 5 of Schedule 2 relating to the appointment and terms of office of deputy traffic commissioners will in future apply in Scotland only, and deputies appointed to the Scottish Traffic Area can exercise their functions in that area only.

Clause 5: Transitional provision for existing traffic commissioners etc

57.     This clause contains transitional provisions which will apply to traffic commissioners and deputy traffic commissioners in England and Wales who are in post when these provisions come into force. In particular, traffic commissioners already in post will remain on their existing terms and conditions of employment, except that they will be subject to the revised terms on dismissal in the amended paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to the PPVA 1981 (see clause 4 above). Similar provisions are made for any existing traffic commissioner for the Scottish Traffic Area. As the appointment and terms of office for any deputy traffic commissioner for the Scottish Traffic Area are not affected by these provisions, no transitional arrangements are required.

Clause 6: Consequential amendments

58.     This clause empowers the Secretary of State, in secondary legislation, to make any necessary, consequential changes to other legislation (primary and secondary) to give full effect to the new provisions about traffic commissioners. This will be necessary in particular to reflect the new jurisdiction of traffic commissioners and the removal of the link in England and Wales between particular commissioners and specific traffic areas. The power is limited, in so far as it extends to Scotland, to reserved matters. Orders made under this provision will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Part 2: Transport policies

Clause 7: Local transport policies

59.     This clause, together with Schedule 1, inserts the new term "local transport policies" into Parts 2 and 3 of the TA 2000. This is defined as the policies developed under section 108(1)(a) of the TA 2000. Section 108(1)(a), as proposed to be amended by clause 8 of the Bill, will require each local transport authority to develop policies "for the promotion and encouragement of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport to, from and within their area".

60.     This clause extends to England and Wales.

Clause 8: Nature of duty to develop transport policies

61.     This clause amends section 108 of the TA 2000. Subsection (2) omits the words "facilities and services" from the duty in section 108(1)(a), as described in relation to clause 7 above. Subsection (3) makes consequential changes following on from subsection (2).

62.     Subsection (4) inserts new subsections (2ZA) to (2ZC) in section 108 of the TA 2000. These subsections create new duties on all local transport authorities: first, to take account of any policies announced by the Government which relate to the protection or improvement of the environment and, secondly, to have regard to any guidance on this subject which the Secretary of State may issue.

Clause 9: Local transport plans

63.     This clause amends the duty in sections 108 and 109 of the TA2000 for local transport authorities to produce a local transport plan ("LTP"). Subsection (1) provides an LTP in England must be one or more documents containing local transport policies plus proposals for implementing those policies. Subsection (3) replaces the obligation on local transport authorities to replace their LTPs every five years with a power to replace them as they think fit. Subsection (4) inserts new subsections (2A) and (2B) into the TA 2000 which list those authorities which (i) local transport authorities other than ITAs, and (ii) ITAs, must consult in drawing up their LTP and keeping it under review.

Clause 10: Bus strategies no longer required

64.     This clause repeals the requirement under the TA 2000 for local transport authorities - including ITAs - to prepare a bus strategy. Following on from this, subsections (8) to (11) make consequential amendments to the TA 1968 and the TA 1985.

Clause 11: Development of policies by ITA no longer joint duty with district councils

65.     The provisions in clause 11 remove the previous joint duty on PTAs and metropolitan district councils in a PTA area to produce a local transport plan under section 108(1)(a), and place the duty in future solely with the ITA (see clauses 8 and 10). The duty in section 108(1)(b) to carry out functions so as to implement those policies continues to apply to metropolitan district councils, who will also in this respect be subject to the new duty in section 108(2ZB) to have regard to the protection or improvement of the environment.

Part 3: Bus Services

Clauses 12 to 17: Quality partnership schemes

66.     Clauses 12 to 17 amend provisions on quality partnership schemes in sections 114 to 123 of the TA 2000. As section 114 stands, before making such a scheme, the local transport authority must be satisfied that it will benefit the users of local bus services by improving the quality of such services, or will reduce or limit traffic congestion, noise or air pollution. These clauses extend to England and Wales.

    *     A quality partnership scheme is a scheme made by a local transport authority under which that authority provides particular facilities at specific locations along the routes used by local bus services, and operators of local services who wish to use those facilities agree to provide services of a particular standard.

Clause 12: Quality partnership schemes

67.     Clause 12 amends section 114 of the TA 2000. Section 114(6)(b) of the TA 2000 currently excludes requirements as to frequency or timing of services from the description of a "standard of service". The effect of subsection (5) is to amend section 114(6)(b) so that such requirements may explicitly be included in a quality partnership scheme. Subsection (6) inserts new subsections (6A) and (6B) into section 114. The effect of subsection (6A) is to stipulate that requirements as to maximum fares may be specified in a scheme. Subsection (6B) provides that a scheme may include requirements as to frequencies, timings and maximum fares only if there are no "admissible objections" from relevant bus operators (see also clause 17 below). The effect of the amendment in subsection (7) (which inserts a new subsection (6C) into section 114) is to enable both facilities and service standards to be phased in on predetermined dates over a period of time, rather than the current procedure under which all facilities and standards must be available when the scheme takes effect.

68.     Subsection (4) inserts new subsections (3A) to (3D) into section 114 of the TA 2000. The purpose of these provisions is to enable a local transport authority, in appropriate circumstances, to specify in a quality partnership scheme any restrictions which are to be imposed on the registration of certain local services. Such restrictions can be imposed only where the local authority considers that the provision of additional local services in the area of a quality partnership scheme may be detrimental to the provision of services under that scheme. Any scheme which includes restrictions on the registration of local services must also specify the criteria to be used by traffic commissioners when deciding whether or not to accept an application to register a local service (See also clause 42).

Clause 13: Notice and consultation requirements

69.     Clause 13 amends section 115 of the TA 2000 (notice and consultation requirements) to require any notice which is given about proposals to make a scheme to include details of any proposed restrictions on the registration of local services, and the criteria against which any applications to register such services will be judged (see paragraph 68 above).

Clauses 14 to 16: Provisions relating to phased implementation of schemes

70.     These clauses make consequential amendments to sections 116 to 118 of the TA 2000 to provide for the phased implementation of quality partnership schemes and the ability to postpone any part of a scheme, not just the whole of it.

Clause 17: Regulations about schemes which specify frequencies, timings or fares

71.     This clause amends section 122 of the TA 2000, which makes provision for regulations about quality partnership schemes. The purpose of the amendments is to enable regulations to make specific provisions in respect of quality partnership schemes that include requirements as to frequencies, timings or maximum fares.

72.     Subsection (2) inserts a new section 122(1)(aa), which enables regulations to make provision with respect to the "content or operation" of such schemes, in addition to "procedure to be followed when making, varying or revoking a quality partnership scheme" (which is provided by the existing section 122(1)(a)). This is to allow regulations to cover matters such as those mentioned in new section 122(3), discussed below.

73.     Subsection (3) inserts new subsections (3) to (5) into section 122. These new subsections provide that, as regards schemes which include requirements as to frequencies, timings or maximum fares, regulations made under section 122(1)(a) and (aa) may in particular make provision for a number of specified matters.

74.     The provisions would enable such regulations, for example, to:

  • specify certain circumstances (such as de minimis conditions) in which changes to requirements as to frequencies, timings or maximum fares could proceed without needing to meet the requirements in section 114(6B) about admissible objections (new subsection (3)(a));

  • specify that, where schemes include requirements as to frequencies, timings or maximum fares, they must also include provision about how and when such requirements may or must be set, reviewed and revised (new subsection (3)(b), read with subsection (4));

  • specify that requirements as to frequencies, timings or maximum fares may be revised only if there are no "admissible objections" from "relevant operators" (new subsection (3)(c));

  • disapply the above requirements in prescribed circumstances where a scheme is subject to postponement under section 117 (new subsection (3)(d));

  • define the terms "admissible objection" and "relevant operator" for the purposes of section 114(6B) and section 122(3) (new subsection (3)(e) and (f)); and

  • make provision for a third party to determine whether an objection is an "admissible objection" within the meaning set out in regulations (new subsection (3)(g)).

75.     The effect of new section 122(5) is to ensure that, where requirements as to frequencies, timings or maximum fares are revised in accordance with provision made in accordance with the new section 122(3)(b) described above, the provisions of section 120 of the TA 2000 (variation or revocation of schemes), which include requirements as to notice and consultation, do not apply.

Clauses 18 to 39: Quality contracts schemes

76.     These clauses amend, and insert new provisions in relation to, sections 124 to 134 of the TA 2000, which provide for the making of quality contracts schemes in England and Wales. A quality contracts scheme is a scheme under which the local authority determines the local bus network for the area to which the scheme relates. Where such a scheme is in place local bus services in that area can only be provided under quality contracts (with the exception of services specifically excluded from the scheme by virtue of section 127(4) of the TA 2000). A quality contract is a contract under which the authority grants a particular operator the exclusive right to operate certain services following a competitive tender.

77.     The effect of the amendments is to replace the existing requirement that a quality contracts scheme must be the "only practicable way" of implementing the policies in the local authority's bus strategy with a new set of criteria.

    *     Section 110 of the TA 2000 provides that a bus strategy must be included within a local transport authority's local transport plan. Clause 10 specifies that a bus strategy is no longer required.

78.     The provisions also abolish the requirement for quality contracts schemes in England to be approved by the Secretary of State; they establish a new type of board to carry out that function. A separate board is to be assembled for each application. There is a right of appeal against decisions of a board to the Transport Tribunal. The amendments also include a number of smaller changes to allow schemes to be implemented in stages, to extend the maximum duration of quality contracts, and generally to allow greater flexibility. A new section is also inserted into the TA 2000 to provide protection of terms and conditions for employees who transfer to a new employer following the making of a quality contract.

79.     These clauses extend to England and Wales, although - as noted below - some provisions apply only in relation to schemes in England.

Clause 18: Quality contracts schemes

80.     This clause amends section 124 of the TA 2000, which has already been amended by section 39 of the Railways Act 2005 (quality contracts schemes in connection with modification of rail services). Those amendments have not been materially affected by the further amendments in this clause.

81.     The new section 124(1)(a) to (e) (substituted by subsection (2)) set out the new criteria which the local authority must be satisfied are met before making a quality contracts scheme:

  • The scheme must increase the use of local bus services, and bring benefits to people using them through the provision of services of a higher quality.

    *     Increase, in this context, is defined in the new section 124(9B), inserted by subsection (5), to include a reference to reducing, arresting or reversing decline in the use of bus services.

  • The scheme must contribute to the implementation of the authority's local transport policies, rather than just those policies set out in their bus strategy (as now). By virtue of clause 10, local transport authorities in England and Wales will no longer be required to prepare bus strategies; moreover, not all local transport authorities in England are currently required to prepare local transport plans (or bus strategies), by virtue of the Local Authorities' Plans and Strategies (Disapplication) (England) Order 2005 (SI 2005/157). However, all local transport authorities (including ITAs) will be required to "develop policies for the promotion and encouragement of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport to, from and within their area" (section 108(1)(a) of the TA 2000 as amended by clause 8). The requirement that a quality contracts scheme must contribute to the implementation of "local transport policies" is therefore applicable in every case. The effect would be to enable a scheme to be made for purposes not limited to matters currently included in the authority's bus strategy. For example, such purposes might relate to the introduction of a demand management scheme (such as a local charging scheme made under Part 3 of the TA 2000), or to the provision of better integration with rail or light rail services.

    *     Local transport policies are defined in the new section 108(5) of the TA 2000, inserted by clause 7.

  • The scheme must also (as now) implement the policies in a way that is economic, efficient and effective.

  • Any adverse effects of the scheme on operators will be proportionate generally to the well-being of persons living or working in the area.

Clause 19: Notice and consultation requirements

82.     This clause amends section 125 of the TA 2000 (notice and consultation requirements). Subsection (1) of section 125 is amended so as to require an authority which is proposing to make a quality contracts scheme to issue a consultation document. The document must include a statement by the authority of the reasons why they are satisfied that the criteria set out in the new section 124(1) will be met, and a statement on funding.

 
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Prepared: 8 November 2007