Local Transport Bill [HL] - continued          House of Lords

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Clauses 48 to 52: Vehicles used under permits

129.     These clauses amend sections 19 to 23 of the TA 1985, which enable certain voluntary bodies to operate public service vehicles without a PSV operator's licence (which would otherwise be required under section 12 of the PPVA 1981).

130.     Section 19 of the TA 1985 enables permits to be granted to educational, religious, social welfare and other bodies. The effect of a permit is that the body does not need a PSV operator's licence to operate services for members of the body. Members of the general public may not be carried on such services. Section 22 of the same Act enables permits to be granted, under certain conditions, for the provision of local services for the general public.

131.     Permits for "small buses" (as defined in section 19(1) of the TA 1985) may be granted either by the traffic commissioners or by bodies designated by order under section 19(7) of that Act. Bodies so designated include local authorities and a number of national non-Governmental organisations.

132.     These clauses extend to Great Britain.

Clauses 48 and 49: Permits in relation to use of vehicles by educational and other bodies

133.     The effect of clause 48 is to remove the current restriction which prevents the use of PSVs with fewer than nine seats under a permit issued under section 19 of the TA 1985. It also makes a small change to the order-making power for designated bodies so that an order may require them to keep records of permits as well as make returns. Clause 49 makes consequential changes to sections 20 and 21 of the TA 1985.

Clause 50: Relaxation of rules relating to community bus services

134.     This clause amends sections 22 and 23 of the TA 1985. The effect of subsections (1) and (2) is to enable large buses (defined as those capable of carrying in excess of 16 passengers) to be used to provide community transport services. The effect of subsections (3) and (4) is to remove the current prohibition on the drivers of such services from being paid.

Clause 51: Power to limit permits under section 19 or 22 of TA 1985 to 5 years

135.     Under the TA 1985, permits granted under section 19 or 22 remain in force indefinitely until surrendered or revoked. The effect of this clause (which inserts a new section 23A into the TA 1985) is to enable a date to be specified in regulations after which all such permits will be granted for a specified period, not exceeding 5 years. Such regulations may also provide for all permits granted before that date, and which were therefore issued on an indefinite basis, to be revoked. Holders of such permits would be able to apply for new time-limited permits to replace those revoked.

Clause 52: Traffic commissioners to keep records about such permits

136.     This clause amends section 126 of the TA 1985 (application of sections 52 and 56 (records of licences) of the PPVA 1981) to require traffic commissioners to keep records both of permits granted by them and copies of permits submitted to them by designated bodies. It amends provisions already requiring them to keep records of other documents issued under the TA 1985.

Clauses 53 to 56: Services not operated as registered etc.

137.     The effect of these clauses is to strengthen the enforcement powers of the traffic commissioners with particular reference to punctuality of registered local bus services. These clauses extend to England and Wales.

Clause 53: Attachment of conditions to related licences

138.     This clause amends section 26 of the TA 1985 (conditions attached to PSV operator's licence) which empowers a traffic commissioner to attach conditions to the licences of operators who engage in certain conduct, such as failing to comply with certain requirements applying to local bus services or failing to take the necessary steps to maintain their vehicles in a fit and serviceable condition. Such conditions may prohibit the operator from using vehicles to provide specified local services, or prevent him from providing any local services.

    *     The requirements applying to local bus services (outside London) include that a local service has been registered under section 6 of the TA 1985, that the registered particulars (including the route and timetable) have been complied with, and that the standards required under a quality partnership scheme have been complied with.

139.     The amendments in subsections (1) to (6) of this clause would enable a traffic commissioner to attach such conditions to any other licence held by that operator (by directing the traffic commissioner for the traffic area in which that licence is held to do so), or to the licence of another operator that is connected with the operator in default (for example, a subsidiary of the same holding company). A traffic commissioner who is given a direction by another commissioner must attach the condition unless he considers there is a good reason not to do so. The amendments also enable a condition to be attached either indefinitely or for a specified period of time.

140.     Subsections (7) to (9) amend subsections (5) and (6) of section 26 of the TA 1985, which allow a traffic commissioner to attach a condition to a licence to restrict the vehicles which a PSV operator may use under that licence to particular vehicles specified in a condition. This provision applies to PSV operators generally, not just to operators of local services. These amendments also enable such conditions to be attached to licences held in other traffic areas by the same operator and to licences of other subsidiary companies.

Clause 54: Powers of traffic commissioners where services not operated as registered

141.     This clause introduces a new power under which, where a traffic commissioner considers that action taken, or not taken, by a local traffic authority might have affected bus punctuality, he can investigate that performance and recommend remedial measures to both the operator and the traffic authority to try to improve punctuality.

142.     The clause inserts new sections 27A and 27B into the TA 1985 to give new powers to the traffic commissioners to investigate poor punctuality. In particular a commissioner may require a local traffic authority to provide any specified information connected with any aspect of their network management duty under Part 2 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and to attend any inquiry he holds into an operator's performance. (Section 27 of the TA 1985 requires the traffic commissioner to hold an inquiry, if so requested by the operator, before attaching any conditions to the operator's licence under section 26 of that Act.) The commissioner may prepare a report setting out such remedial measures (for implementation by either operators or the local traffic authority) as he considers necessary to improve performance. The new section 27A(6) enables him to send the report to relevant persons and authorities (in particular the appropriate national authority) and, if he sees fit, to publish the report.

    *     The appropriate national authority is the Secretary of State (in England) or the Welsh Ministers (in Wales).

Clause 55: Additional sanctions for failures by bus operators

143.     This clause amends section 155 of the TA 2000, which enables the traffic commissioner to impose financial penalties on operators who fail to operate local services satisfactorily. The amendments would empower the traffic commissioner, either as an alternative or in addition to a fine, to make an order requiring the operator to spend a specified sum of money on improving specified local services, or requiring the operator to compensate the passengers on such services. Compensation may take the form of free or reduced price travel for a period of time.

Clause 56: Operational data

144.     This clause amends section 155 of the TA 2000 to enable a traffic commissioner to impose sanctions for a failure to comply with requirements about the provision of information in accordance with regulations made under section 6 of the TA 1985. It also amends the regulation-making powers in section 6 of the TA 1985 (registration of local services) so that regulations requiring operators to keep records or provide information may impose restrictions to prevent the misuse of such records or information. The regulations may make failure to observe the restrictions a criminal offence with a maximum penalty not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

Clause 57: Revival of certain powers of PTEs

145.     This clause amends section 10(1) of the TA 1968, which specifies the powers of PTEs. The section originally included powers for PTEs to carry passengers by road (paragraph (i)) and to let passenger vehicles on hire (paragraph (viii)). These two powers were disapplied (along with section 24(2) of the TA 1968) by orders made under section 60(5) of the TA 1985.

146.     Clause 57 would revive the power in an amended paragraph (viii) for the specific purpose of enabling PTEs to purchase buses to hire out to operators who provide local services by contract, either in pursuance of section 9A of the TA 1968 (see note on clause 58 below) or under a quality contract. The clause revokes the existing orders so far as they disapply paragraph (viii) of section 10(1) of the TA 1968. It also repeals paragraph (i) of section 10(1) of the TA 1968, section 24 of the TA 1968 and provisions in section 60 of the TA 1985 which are now spent.

147.     This clause extends to England and Wales, but since there are no passenger transport areas in Wales, it has no application there.

Clause 58: Subsidy to secure passenger transport services in integrated transport areas

148.     This clause amends section 9A of the TA 1968, which sets out the general functions of Passenger Transport Authorities (to be renamed "Integrated Transport Authorities" by the Bill) and Passenger Transport Executives ("PTEs"). Section 9A(4) empowers a PTE to enter into agreements in order to secure the provision of passenger transport services where the service would not otherwise be provided. The effect of this clause is to empower a PTE to enter into such agreements also in cases where the service would not otherwise be provided "to a particular standard". Subsection (3) inserts a definition of "standard", which includes the frequency or timing of the service, the days or times of day when the service may be provided, and the vehicles used to provide the service.

149.     This clause extends to England and Wales, but since there are no passenger transport areas in Wales, it has no application there.

Clause 59: Subsidy to secure passenger transport services in other areas

150.     This clause amends section 63 of the TA 1985 to empower authorities other than PTEs in the way described above under clause 58. It extends to England and Wales.

Clause 60: Subsidy to secure passenger transport services in Wales

151.     This clause amends section 7 of the Transport (Wales) Act 2006, which enables the Welsh Ministers to secure the provision of any public passenger transport service which they consider appropriate for the purpose of meeting any public transport requirements within Wales which would not otherwise be met. It empowers the Welsh Ministers in the way described under clause 58 above.

Clause 61: Extension of maximum length of subsidised services agreements

152.     This clause amends section 90(1) of the TA 1985 to increase the maximum length of a service subsidy agreement which is made in accordance with section 89 of that Act from five to eight years. It extends to England and Wales.

Clause 62: Removal of certain disabilities and requirements for consent

153.     This clause repeals various provisions in Part 4 of the TA 1985 which relate to public transport companies and their directors.

    *     A public transport company is defined in section 72 of the TA 1985.

154.     Subsection (2) repeals the provisions in section 74 of the TA 1985 which require a director of a public transport company who is a councillor of the authority that owns the company to obtain dispensation from the Secretary of State (in England) or Welsh Ministers (in Wales) in order to take part in, or vote on, matters relating to the activities of the company.

155.     Subsection (3) repeals sections 75(3), 79(3) and 79(7), and some words in section 79(8), of the TA 1985 so as to remove the requirement for local authorities to seek consent of the Secretary of State before exercising the powers contained within these sections. These are powers to dispose of public transport companies owned by the authorities, or shares or significant assets of the companies, as well as the power to provide financial backing for the establishment and operations of public transport companies.

156.     The repeal of these requirements extends to England and Wales.

Clause 63: The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee: remuneration

157.     The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee ("DPTAC") was established under section 125 of the TA 1985 to consider any matter relating to the needs of disabled persons in connection with public passenger transport and to give advice to the Secretary of State on such matters where appropriate.

158.     The original terms of the TA 1985 restricted payments to DPTAC members to travelling and other allowances and payments to defray other expenses incurred in connection with DPTAC functions.

159.     Subsection (2) of clause 63 amends paragraph 2 of Schedule 5 to the TA 1985 to enable DPTAC to remunerate its members for carrying out Committee work.

160.     DPTAC is a cross-border public authority within the meaning of section 88(5) of the Scotland Act 1998. Subsection (3) of clause 63 ensures that DPTAC members are not remunerated for performing functions relating to devolved matters.

Clause 64: The Public Transport Users' Committee for England

161.     This clause inserts two new sections into the TA 1985. The new provisions are inserted after section 125 of the Act, which already provides for the establishment of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee.

162.     New section 125A empowers the Secretary of State by order to establish a body to be known as the Public Transport Users' Committee for England. Section 125A(3) provides that the order may make provision about the status and membership of the Committee and prescribe other details about its proceedings and conduct of business.

163.     New section 125B sets out the functions of the Committee. In particular it provides that the Committee may consider and make recommendations to the Secretary of State about any matter relating to such public passenger transport services or facilities in England as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State. This will enable the Secretary of State to determine the scope of the powers of the Committee by prescribing the services and facilities, or the description of services and facilities, in relation to which the Committee is to exercise its functions.

164.     Orders made under these sections are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Clause 65: Power to confer non-rail functions on the Rail Passengers' Council

165.     This clause inserts a new section 19A into the Railways Act 2005. Section 19A(1) empowers the Secretary of State by order to confer functions on the Rail Passengers' Council relating to local bus services or domestic coach services to the extent that they operate in England. Subsection (2) enables such amendments to be made to provisions of any Act as may be needed as a consequence of making such provision. Subsection (4)(b) empowers the Secretary of State to alter the number of members which can be appointed by the Secretary of State to the Rail Passengers' Council so as to enable members to be appointed to represent bus and coach passengers. This will not affect members appointed by the Scottish Ministers, the Welsh Ministers or the London Assembly.

166.     Subsection (5) provides that the power does not extend to altering the functions of the Rail Passengers' Council so far as they relate to the provision of railway passenger services or station services.

167.     Orders made under the new section are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Part 5: Integrated Transport Authorities etc.

168.     The provisions in this Part extend to England and Wales, but, because they relate to passenger transport areas, in practice they have effect only in relation to areas in England.

Clause 66: Change of name of passenger transport areas and PTAs

169.     This clause provides for the passenger transport areas created under the Transport Act 1968 - that is, the six metropolitan counties in England - to be known in future as "integrated transport areas". It also provides for the Passenger Transport Authorities established under the Local Government Act 1985 (one for each passenger transport area) to be known as "Integrated Transport Authorities" ("ITAs"). The clause also provides that any reference to "passenger transport area" or "Passenger Transport Authority" in existing legislation should be read respectively as a reference to "integrated transport area" or "Integrated Transport Authority".

Clause 67: Power to establish a new ITA

170.     This clause provides that, subject to certain conditions, the Secretary of State can make orders establishing new integrated transport areas in England and creating ITAs for those areas. Subsections (2) and (3) provide that the Secretary of State can make an order to establish an ITA only where a scheme has been published under the provisions of clauses 68 and 69 or a direction under clause 69 to prepare and publish a scheme has not been complied with. Subsection (8) provides that where an order is made creating a new ITA, it must provide that a majority of the ITA's members must be chosen from amongst the elected members of the local authorities that make up the integrated transport area.

Clause 68: Authorities' review: new ITA

171.     This clause provides that any two or more of the types of authorities listed in subsection (1) may review the effectiveness and efficiency of transport within a geographical area the extent of which complies with subsections (2) and (3). The effect of this is that the area under review must consist of two or more local authority districts. If that review concludes that the establishment of an integrated transport area and ITA would improve the exercise of statutory transport functions in the area and the effectiveness and efficiency of transport in the area, then those authorities must publish a scheme for the establishment of the area and an ITA for it. Subsection (5) provides that the area of the proposed integrated transport area can be all or part of the area covered by the review or can also cover one or more additional counties or districts not covered by the review, as long as the authorities listed in subsection (6) have given their consent.

Clause 69: Secretary of State's power to direct a review: new ITA

172.     This clause provides that the Secretary of State can direct any two or more of the authorities listed in subsection (2) to carry out a review of the effectiveness and efficiency of transport in the whole or part of their combined areas. Subsection (4) provides that such a direction may also require the authorities to produce a scheme to establish a new ITA. Subsection (6) lists the types of issues which a direction may require to be covered by a review and any scheme.

Clause 70: Authorities' review of arrangements

173.     This clause provides that any one or more of the types of authorities listed in subsection (2) may review the effectiveness and efficiency of transport within one or more existing integrated transport areas. If that review concludes that the exercise of statutory transport functions in those areas would be improved by the making of an order under clauses 72 to 78, changing the way in which statutory transport functions in that area are exercised, then those authorities must publish a scheme proposing how this should be done.

Clause 71: Secretary of State's power to direct a review of arrangements

174.     This clause provides that the Secretary of State can direct any combination of the following to carry out a review:

  • existing ITAs;

  • county or district councils in an existing integrated transport area; or

  • county or district councils which are not yet in an integrated transport area but could be included in one by virtue of a boundary change (see clause 77).

175.      The Secretary of State can direct that the review should consist of any of the matters covered by clauses 72 to 78, namely:

  • the constitutional arrangements (for example the membership) of the ITA;

  • the delegation of functions from herself or individual local authorities to an ITA (or to a local transport authority for areas where there is no longer an ITA);

  • conferring on an ITA a power to give directions to local authorities on the exercise of their highways and traffic authority powers; and

  • changing the boundaries of, or dissolving, an integrated transport area.

176.     Subsection (6) provides that such a direction can also require the directed body or bodies to prepare and publish a scheme containing proposals which would require the making of an order by the Secretary of State to enable them to be implemented (for instance setting out how many representatives each authority in a transport area would have on the ITA).

177.     Subsection (8) sets out certain requirements which the direction can also impose, including the timetable for the review and scheme, and certain issues which must be addressed in each of them (for instance, what would be the membership of the ITA).

Clause 72: Constitutional arrangements

178.     This clause allows the Secretary of State to make an order about the constitutional arrangements of an individual ITA.

179.     Subsection (2) defines what is meant by "constitutional arrangements". An order could, for instance, cover the membership of that ITA, executive arrangements within an ITA or the functions of any "executive body" of the ITA. (Under the existing legislation, each PTA has a Passenger Transport Executive, which is the executive body responsible for implementing the policies of the PTA.)

180.     Subsection (3) provides that where an order is made in relation to the constitution of an existing ITA and that order includes provision about the ITA's membership, it must provide that a majority of the ITA's members must be appointed from amongst the elected members of the local authorities for the integrated transport area (e.g. councillors of metropolitan district councils).

181.     Subsection (5) defines what is meant by "executive arrangements" within the ITA, for instance the establishment of an executive and the arrangements by which that executive can exercise the powers of the ITA. These provisions mirror the provision made for local authorities by Part II of the Local Government Act 2000.

182.     Subsection (7) provides that an order cannot provide that anyone other than the ITA has responsibility for agreeing its budget, so this function could not be delegated to an executive of the ITA.

Clause 73: Delegation of functions of the Secretary of State

183.     This clause provides that the Secretary of State can make an order delegating any of the Secretary of State's own functions (for instance in relation to strategic roads or rail), to:

  • an ITA; or

  • where an existing ITA is being dissolved or its boundary being contracted, a designated local transport authority.

184.     However, the clause does not allow the delegation of the Secretary of State's powers to make secondary legislation or to set fees and charges.

 
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Prepared: 8 November 2007