HC Deb 18 April 1962 vol 658 cc573-5
Mr. Hay

I beg to move, in page 62, line 39, to leave out from "that" to the end of line 40 and to insert: the relevant provisions of those subsections should not apply in relation to the proceedings specified in the certificate". In many ways this Amendment relates to the situation that we have just been discussing in connection with the Amendment to Clause 58. Subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 59 set out the procedures under which the traffic commissioners will deal with applications from the London Board for road service licences for bus services outside the London Passenger Transport area.

Subsection (3), to which this Amendment relates, sets out the occasions when the procedures do not apply. Paragraph (c) exempts from the procedures those cases in which the Minister certi- fies to the traffic commissioners that there are exceptional circumstances which make it desirable that a licence should be granted, or that the conditions of a licence previously issued should be varied. It was intended that the exceptions under paragraph (c) should, amongst other things, cover the provisions of Clause 8 (1, c) which gives the board power to carry, with the consent of the Minister, beyond the 10-mile belt round the London Passenger Transport area boundary. Under the procedures of Clause 8 (1, c) the Minister can empower the board to operate bus services outside these limits, but only if he is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances which make it desirable for the Board to so operate.

The Minister's consent to the operation of these services is a prerequisite to the application for a licence. I must emphasise, as I explained in connection with the previous Amendment, that consent does not amount to an actual authority to operate services. This has to be obtained through the normal road transport licensing machinery, and it is important that the Minister should not take away from the traffic commissioners their statutory discretion to grant or refuse a licence. But Clause 59 (3, c) as it stands imparts a somewhat wrong flavour because, by using the words desirable that the licence should be granted it could be read as fettering the discretion of the traffic commissioners. The Minister would not be just giving the board consent to apply for the licence; he would be giving a very broad hint to the commissioners that the Board ought to be given a licence regardless of what the commissioners might think are the merits of the case.

The purpose of the Amendment is primarily to substitute words which we consider to be more appropriate for these circumstances than those which I have quoted. There is no other change in this context, because the provisions will still exempt the London Board from the special procedures outlined in the earlier part of Clause 59. The board will still require the Minister's consent to apply for a licence, and discretion to grant or refuse a licence remains with the traffic commissioners.

Amendment agreed to.