Local Transport Bill [HL] - continued          House of Lords

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Clause 106: Information: Scotland

244.     Subsection (1) allows the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee in respect of the cost of supplying information to a Scottish charging authority in relation to a scheme that is made under Part 3 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 or any person with whom the authority has entered into arrangements under section 61(b) of that Act.

245.      Subsection (2) limits the information to which subsection (1) refers to information obtained by the Secretary of State in the exercise of any function that relates to reserved matters (within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998).

Clause 107: London charging schemes: 10 year plan for share

246.     This clause amends paragraphs 19 to 24 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 so that the approval of the Secretary of State is no longer required for charging authorities' ten year general plans and four year programmes for the application their share of revenues from a London charging scheme.

Clause 108: Other amendments relating to schemes under Part 3 of TA 2000

247.     This clause introduces Schedule 6, which makes amendments to Schedule 12 to the TA 2000 (financial provisions relating to road user charging and workplace parking levy schemes) and to Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 (road user charging).

248.     Paragraph 8 of Schedule 12 is amended and paragraph 9 is repealed. The effect is that all the net proceeds of all local charging schemes are to be used for local transport purposes, rather than enabling net proceeds in some circumstances to be applied as specified by the appropriate national authority.

249.     Paragraphs 10 and 11 are amended to require a detailed programme for the application of the net proceeds of a charging scheme to be produced every five years from the date on which the scheme comes into force, rather than linking the timing of the production of the detailed programme to the timing of the production of the local transport plan.

250.     Paragraph 10(3) is amended so as to remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to approve a charging authority's general plans and specific programmes for the application of the net proceeds of a charging scheme in England before the relevant scheme order can come into force. This amendment does not have effect in relation to charging schemes in Wales, thus preserving the existing requirement for approval of such plans and programmes by the Welsh Ministers.

251.     Paragraph 12 is amended to remove the Secretary of State's power to make regulations determining the application of proceeds by London traffic authorities from a joint London-local scheme. Instead, the proceeds will be applied in the same way as they would be in a scheme made under Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999.

252.     Paragraph 13 is amended so that all proceeds of a trunk road charging scheme made by virtue of section 167(2)(b) of the TA 2000 are available only for application by the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers for the purpose of directly or indirectly facilitating the achievement of any policies or proposals relating to transport.

253.     Paragraphs 16 and 17 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 are amended to the effect that all the net proceeds of all London charging schemes are to be used for relevant transport purposes, rather than enabling net proceeds in some circumstances to be applied as specified by the appropriate national authority.

254.     Paragraph 18 of Schedule 23 to the GLA Act 1999 is amended to allow the Secretary of State to share in revenues from a charging scheme in London which includes a trunk road.

Part 7: Miscellaneous provisions

Clauses 109 and 110: Trunk road charging schemes in Wales

Clause 109: Powers of the National Assembly for Wales

255.     Section 94 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 provides that a provision of an Assembly Measure is within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales if it relates to (or is incidental or consequential on provision that relates to) one or more of the matters specified in Schedule 5 to that Act. The list of twenty fields in which the Assembly currently exercises functions is set out in Part 1 of Schedule 5, and each field will be divided into matters. Assembly Measures may include any provision that could be made by Act of Parliament, subject to specific restrictions set out in Part 2 of Schedule 5.

256.     Clause 109 amends Schedule 5 to insert a matter into field 10 (highways and transport). This matter will allow the Assembly to pass an Assembly Measure containing provision for and in connection with the making, operation and enforcement of schemes that impose charges in respect of the use or keeping of motor vehicles on Welsh trunk roads (which are defined as those roads for which the Welsh Ministers are the traffic authority). The new matter does not enable such an Assembly Measure to make provision about traffic signs, apart from provision about the placing and maintenance of such signs.

257.     Any Assembly Measure would be able to make provision about the purposes for which the proceeds of charges are to be applied. A Memorandum was also published alongside the Bill that explains the policy intent in more detail.

Clause 110: Information

258.     Clause 110 replicates the provisions of section 194 of the TA 2000 (as amended by clause 105 of this Bill) in respect of a trunk road charging scheme or proposed such scheme which is made by or under an Assembly Measure.

259.     The clause allows information obtained by Ministers, Government Departments, local authorities or other statutory bodies to be disclosed to the Welsh Ministers in relation to a trunk road charging scheme or proposed such scheme. Subsection (2) allows any information that has been or could be disclosed to the Welsh Ministers under subsection (1) to be disclosed to any person with whom the Welsh Ministers have entered into charging scheme arrangements. Subsection (3) provides that such information must only be used in connection with Welsh trunk road charging schemes.

260.     Subsection (5) allows the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee for supplying information under subsection (1) or (2). Where the Welsh Ministers have asked the Secretary of State to obtain information from registration authorities overseas, with a view to disclosing that information under subsection (1) or (2), the Secretary of State may charge a reasonable fee for obtaining that information or for seeking to obtain it.

Clause 111: Vehicles used without operator's licence: power to return detained vehicles

261.     Clause 111 amends paragraph 8 of Schedule 1A to the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 to bring it in line with paragraph 8 of new Schedule 2A to the PPVA 1981 (as inserted by clause 41).

Clause 112: Disclosure of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles

262.     This clause inserts section 49A into the Road Safety Act 2006. The new section allows the Secretary of State to disclose information, derived from a register of vehicles maintained in a country or territory outside the UK, to the list of people and for the purposes specified at subsection (3). The effect of subsection (4) is to allow the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee in respect of the cost of obtaining, or seeking to obtain, the information and for supplying information. Subsection (5) provides that this section does not affect any other power of the Secretary of State to disclose information.

Clause 113: Use of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles

263.     This clause inserts a new section 49B into the Road Safety Act 2006. The new section allows the Secretary of State to use the information to which clause 112 applies for the purposes set out in subsection (2). The information can be used to:

  • carry out vehicle identity checks (allowed by virtue of the regulations made under section 22A(2) of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994);

  • to check records of examinations of goods and other vehicles as maintained under section 45(6B) or 49(3A) of the Road Traffic Act 1988;

  • to promote compliance with test certificates under section 47 or 53 of the Road Traffic Act 1988; and

  • to trace non-resident parents (within the meaning of the Child Support (Information, Evidence and Disclosure) Regulations 1992).

FINANCIAL EFFECTS

264.     Any additional net costs to central government arising from the provisions of the Bill are expected to be modest in scale, and capable of being met from within overall Departmental Expenditure Limits.

265.     The Bill would provide various new or amended powers for local authorities. If those authorities consider that exercising these powers is the best way to address their local transport priorities, the extent of any cost implications (positive or negative) will depend on the nature of their specific proposals.

PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER

266.     Provisions in the Bill are not expected to have an appreciable impact on staffing requirements within central government.

267.     As with financial effects (discussed above), the extent of any manpower implications for local authorities will depend on whether, and if so how, they propose to exercise any of the powers contained in the Bill.

EUROPEAN CONVENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

268.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement before Second Reading about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act).

269.     Lord Bassam of Brighton has made the following statement:

    "In my view the provisions of the Local Transport Bill are compatible with the Convention rights."

Quality Contracts Schemes

270.     One area where Convention rights may be engaged is in respect of quality contracts schemes. This is because where a quality contracts scheme is in place it is for the local authority to determine what local bus services should be provided in the area to which the scheme relates. Once a scheme has been made local services can only be provided in that area under a quality contract made under that scheme (with the exception of any services expressly excluded from the scheme). Article 1 of Protocol 1 (right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions) is engaged to the extent that such a scheme suspends the de-regulated bus market in that area for the period of the scheme.

271.     The TA 2000 already empowers local authorities to make quality contracts schemes. The current legislation requires the local transport authority, before making a quality contracts scheme, to be satisfied that the scheme is the "only practicable way" to implement the policies set out in the bus strategy (made by virtue of section 110 of the TA 2000) and that the scheme will implement the policies in a way which is economic, efficient and effective. The amendments to that test contained in this Bill would replace the "only practicable way" test with a new set of public interest criteria. The local transport authority would have to be satisfied that the scheme would:

    a)     result in an increase in the use of bus services in the area to which the scheme related;

    b)     bring benefits to people using services covered by the scheme by improving the quality of those services;

    c)     contribute to the implementation of the local transport policies of that authority in a way which was economic, efficient and effective.

272.     The new provisions would also require the local authority to be satisfied that the effect on operators was proportionate to the benefits of the scheme to members of the public. The Department is satisfied that the changes to the test for making a quality contracts scheme should ensure that one can only be made where there would be clear and tangible benefits for people living and working in the area, and that any adverse effects on operators would be proportionate to the improvement in the well-being of members of the public.

273.     Under the existing legislation, local authority proposals to make a quality contracts scheme in England must be approved by the Secretary of State and, in Wales, by the Welsh Ministers. Provisions in the Bill would change the procedure in England only, by removing the approval role of the Secretary of State, and providing instead that such schemes would have to be approved by a new approvals board, consisting of a traffic commissioner and two other persons drawn from a panel appointed by the Secretary of State. The approvals board would have the power to hold inquiries into the making of a scheme, and the provisions require that any such inquiry would have to be held in public.

274.     A right of appeal against a decision of the approvals board is provided to the Transport Tribunal (in accordance with Schedule 4 to the TA 1985) for any person consulted on the making of a quality contracts scheme (see section 125(3) of the TA 2000). A further right of appeal from decisions of the Transport Tribunal would lie to the Court of Appeal on points of law. The Department is therefore satisfied that the replacement, in England, of the approval role of the Secretary of State with the approvals board structure will ensure that there continues to be an independent and impartial assessment of proposed schemes, and that anyone aggrieved by a decision of the approvals board will have the right to a full and fair determination by an impartial tribunal.

Detention of certain vehicles used without a licence

275.     Another area when Convention rights may potentially be engaged is in respect of the clause which would introduce provisions under which certain illegally operated public service vehicles could be detained. Clause 41, and Schedule 3 which it would give effect to, contain enabling powers under which a regime could be established to enable certain illegally operated public service vehicles to be detained, removed and disposed of. These powers, when exercised through the making of regulations, would create an enforcement regime which is similar to that already in place for illegally operated goods vehicles.

276.     The powers will only be available where an authorised person has reason to believe that a public service vehicle adapted to carry more than eight passengers is being, or has been, used on a road in contravention of section 12(1) of the PPVA 1981. That section prohibits such a vehicle from being used on a road for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward except under an operator's licence granted under that Act. Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention is potentially engaged to the extent that the operator (or owner, where different) of a public service vehicle may be deprived of his possessions under these powers.

277.     It is in the public interest to ensure that public service vehicles used on the highway for the carriage of fare-paying passengers are properly licensed. Where people purport to provide a public service without meeting the legal requirements, it is appropriate for the state to have powers to take action against them in the interests of public safety. The regime proposed is proportionate to the potential dangers to public health arising from the use of unlicensed vehicles to provide local bus services.

278.     To the extent that this power affects the civil rights of a bus operator by depriving him of, or restricting the use of, his possessions, Article 6 (right to a fair trial) is potentially engaged. Paragraph 9 of new Schedule 2A to the PPVA 1981, as would be inserted by Schedule 3 to the Bill, would require any regulations made under these powers to make provision for the owner of a detained vehicle to apply to the traffic commissioner for the return of the vehicle. Such regulations must also provide for an appeal to the Transport Tribunal against the determination of a traffic commissioner. Any decision of the Transport Tribunal may be challenged on appeal to the Court of Appeal.

279.     All other provisions in the Bill are also judged to be compliant with the Convention. In particular, there are no provisions in this Bill whose effect would be to deprive a person of the right to peaceful enjoyment of their property (with the exception of the provisions relating to the detention of illegally operated vehicles which are described above). Where provisions in the Bill empower traffic commissioners to act in a way which might restrict the way in which bus operators can use their property, there are sound "public interest" reasons for the powers. Furthermore, in all such cases a right of appeal to the Transport Tribunal against decisions of traffic commissioners is provided, with a further right of appeal to the Court of Appeal on points of law. The Department is therefore satisfied that a person adversely affected by the exercise of these powers will have the right to a full and fair determination by an impartial tribunal.

TRANSPOSITION NOTES

280.     The Bill does not transpose any European Directive, and so there are no Transposition Notes published alongside it.

COMMENCEMENT DATES

281.     The following provisions would come into force on enactment:

  • clause 66(10), which relates to the change of name of Passenger Transport Authorities and passenger transport areas;

  • the provisions in Part 8 (Supplementary Provisions), other than clause 114 and Schedule 7 (Repeals); and

  • any power under or by virtue of the Bill to make regulations or an order.

282.     Clauses 109 and 110 would come into force two months after the Bill is enacted.

283.     Any repeal would come into force in the same way as the provisions of the Bill to which the repeal relates.

284.     Other provisions would come into force on such day or days as the Secretary of State, or the Welsh Ministers in the case of the provisions mentioned in clause 117, may by order made by statutory instrument appoint.

GLOSSARY

Existing Acts referred to in these Explanatory Notes

Abbreviation used in these NotesShort Title of Act
The TA 1968Transport Act 1968 (c. 73)
The PPVA 1981Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 (c. 14)
The TA 1985Transport Act 1985 (c. 67)
The GLA Act 1999Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c. 29)
The TA 2000Transport Act 2000 (c. 38)
 
 
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Prepared: 8 November 2007