§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Report received.
§ Clause 2 [Provision of passenger transport services for Greater London]:
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 2, line 7, after ("of") insert ("integrated").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, a similar amendment was brought forward at Committee, and on this occasion I am grateful for the cross-party support given to this first amendment. The principal criticism by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, at the Committee stage was about the meaning of the word "integrated". He said that it had not been explained by anybody, and means different things to different people. As I said that I would, I have consulted the Oxford English Dictionary and I find that it says:
To combine or form parts into a whole".
§ The concept of this is so simple that it should not be confusing to anyone.
§ An integrated transport system is one which passengers can readily recognise and use as a whole, and not a collection of separate elements, separate fares, separate tickets and separate stopping arrangements, or with other various artificial barriers. In Greater London the aim must surely be an efficient and effective public transport system which is totally integrated—and I make no apology for using the word "integrated"; I think we know what it means. That is, that bus, Underground and British Rail services should be complementary to each other in a totally unified system. As far as the passenger is concerned, it should be one coherent system with quick and pleasant interchanges and with the avoidance of complex, time-consuming ticketing.
§ But the Bill as drafted is deficient in various ways. LRT and British Rail will each report to the Secretary of State, but each will have different objectives. There will be no inbuilt incentive for LRT and BR to cooperate; in fact, there are various provisions in the Bill which may act to the very contrary. There has been no commitment by the Government that sufficient funds will be made available to provide for the physical interchange facilities which up to now have been generously funded by the Greater London Council. The idea of an integrated service will be endangered by the encouragement for more private independent operators, each naturally out to maximise profits, because that is why they will be trying to run an independent service. The proposals are little different from the present unsatisfactory arrangements—merely the setting up of a committee to see what can be achieved in co-operation.
§ There is a considerable difference between cooperation and integration. I quoted in Committee the position of Tyne and Wear's Metro system, with its complete integration of rail and bus services. I think it will be agreed that the Tyne and Wear Metro system is something far more than just co-operation. The GLC has made strides in various directions. The travel cards on London Transport buses and Tubes represent a fully integrated system with common ticketing. As I have already mentioned, the GLC has invested heavily in interchange developments. I think it will be agreed that the provision of good facilities at important interchanges is an encouragement for the greater public use of public transport. Various examples could be given, but may I mention just one to show what can be achieved? At Finsbury Park an interchange is under construction. There will be a joint Under-ground/British Rail ticket office to replace the two 784 separate offices, and a new London Transport bus station is to be built. The three operators are involved. The siting involves three London boroughs, and the GLC, as the highway authority, is providing the necessary finance and is co-ordinating the project.
London Regional Transport will not have these same wide powers, and without some provision for integration a scheme such as this could well not get off the ground. My noble friends and I cannot accept that it is wrong, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, suggested, to put this in the Bill as a duty to be placed on London Regional Transport. To paraphrase what will be the effect if the amendment is approved, as I hope it will be, Clause 2(1) will mean that the general duty of LRT shall be,
in accordance with principles from time to time approved by the Secretary of State …to provide or secure the provision of integrated public passenger transport services".
§ Parliament should make it absolutely clear that this is what it wants, and the Secretary of State shall then keep to this when determining the principles on which LRT shall carry out its duties. I beg to move.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, I should like briefly to support this amendment, which stands in the names of my noble friend Lord Attlee and myself as well as of the noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. I do not wish to make another Second Reading speech, but I think that this word "integration" goes to the heart of a lot of what we on this side of the House feel about London Transport for the future. We are, after all, trying to produce a system of public passenger transport in London which will be attractive to the consumer. It will not be attractive to the consumer if it goes down the road of disintegration, as I described it at an earlier stage.
The ability to travel by public transport in this strange maze which is Greater London and to know that, if you have to change from bus to Tube to train, facilities will be readily available and ticketing systems will be comprehensible as well as comprehensive, is an important factor, I believe, in improving people's trust in the public transport system and in getting them out of their motor cars and on to the buses and trains. For that reason I believe this word "integrated" is extremely important when we are describing the sort of public transport system that we want to see for our capital city. I have great pleasure in supporting the amendment.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, we had a lengthy exchange on this very same amendment at Committee stage, when I thought I made the Government's position quite clear. The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, indicated that he would go away and seek further advice on the meaning of the word "integration". He has today given us the benefit of his inquiries.
The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, said during the Committee stage, if I remember correctly, that when Ministers do not have a very good reason they resort to semantics. I do not want to do that this afternoon, because that is exactly how our discussion could end—in a rather fruitless discussion on the use of this word. I have given this a very good deal of consideration, and have talked with colleagues on it. 785 My view remains that we would achieve nothing useful by inserting the word "integrated" into Clause 2.
Perhaps it would be helpful if we spent just a moment or two looking more positively at what the Bill already provides. Then, I think, we would probably agree—I hope we would—that there is really very little between us. The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said that there is no incentive in the Bill for London Regional Transport to (I use his word) integrate; but London Regional Transport has a clear statutory duty under Clause 2(3) to co-operate with British Rail, and in Clause 3(3) we make it clear that the duty still applies even if LRT makes Clause 3(2) agreements with private operators. LRT has a duty under Clause 8 to determine the general level of fares and services and the general structure of routes throughout its operations, including those being carried out under the Clause 3(2) agreements. So there will be co-ordination of all the services under LRT's control. In addition, there are to be the new liaison arrangements which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will himself oversee. This is to promote specific measures to co-ordinate LRT's services with those of British Rail.
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, mentioned travel cards. There is no reason at all why LRT should not continue the travel card scheme. It has obviously been very successful and has brought great benefits to travellers and London Transport alike. There is nothing in the Bill that disturbs that kind of arrangement. I say again that there is no reason why the managerial separation of bus and Underground operations should affect this in any way, or even hinder co-ordination between their respective services. I might perhaps make the point that London Transport was never itself under a statutory duty to provide integrated services. It was in fact the GLC, with its wider responsibilities, which was charged with that duty. It really would make no sense to require LRT to integrate services outside its control. For example, it has no control over roads and no control over traffic management systems, and so how, indeed, could it integrate these in its own systems?
I have tried very hard to explain it, and I see integration meaning co-ordination, which is already required under Clause 8 for the services which LRT does control. We come later, of course, to an amendment to discuss LRT's relationship with matters such as the town planning and traffic and parking policies.
We set a good deal of importance on the liaison arrangements which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will be setting up. We believe that they will enable much progress to be made in getting British Rail and LRT working closely together for the benefit of the travelling public. As the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, so correctly reminded us, it is the travelling public with whom we are concerned here, not with either the subsidiary companies of LRT or, indeed, with LRT as a corporate entity itself. I said during the Committee stage that we expect LRT to give early consideration to better co-ordination of time-tabling, improved through-ticketing schemes and better interchange facilities between the two systems. We have provided additional enabling powers in Schedule 2 to assist LRT in this.
786 I hesitate, as we start today's proceedings on the Bill, to use an expression such as "absurd", but I think I could fairly say that, in my view anyway, it really is absurd, in view of all that I have reminded your Lordships of, to suggest that the Bill will lead to a break-up of LRT or to disintegration or fragmentation, as some noble Lords have suggested. I do not believe that this amendment is at all necessary to avert a danger which I do not see and which I do not see emerging. I hope that noble Lords opposite will aceept the reality of the situation and will withdraw the amendment.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, it is certainly my intention to recognise the reality of the situation and to stand firm by this amendment because of that. The noble Lord says that nothing useful can be achieved by putting this clause into the Bill. I should like to echo what was said and I am certain it is echoed by my noble friends who have supported the amendment: the whole purpose of this amendment is to protect the interest of the travelling public. That is what we want an integrated service for: we want it not because of a bureaucratic idea but in the interests of the travelling public. And it is not sufficient to say that efforts will be made to co-operate with British Rail in the new liaison arrangements.
There is a difference—and I think the Oxford Dictionary definition makes this quite clear—between co-operation and integration. That is why I deferred any action at Committee stage in order to get a check upon that position. It is true, as the noble Lord the Minister says, that the GLC was charged with the duty of integration, and not London Transport. It is just because of that position that we want the Secretary of State to have to observe that the duty of London Regional Transport is to carry out integration and that in determining his principles from time to time, as the Act will lay down, he will observe that duty and therefore his principles will be based upon that.
For the life of me—and I am certain that other noble Lords will agree—I just cannot understand why the Government are so troubled about putting in the word "integrated". It shows a frame of mind and it is a frame of mind about London's transport that we want to put right. I ask the House to declare its view upon it.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?
§ There Lordships divided: Contents, 87; Not-Contents, 113.
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Amherst,E.||Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.|
|Attlee, E. [Teller.]||Collison, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.|
|Banks, L.||Darling of Hillsborough, L.|
|Beswick, L.||David, B.|
|Birk, B.||Denington, B.|
|Brockway, L.||Diamond, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Elwyn-Jones, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Ennals, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Milford, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Mulley, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Nicol, B.|
|Foot, L.||Oram, L.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Peart, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Hale, L.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Rea, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Roberthall. L.|
|Hooson, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Seear, B.|
|Hunt, L.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Serota, B.|
|Jacobson, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Soper, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Stallard, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Kaldor, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Stone, L.|
|Leatherland, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Listowel, E.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Underhill, L.|
|Longford, E.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Lovell-Davis, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|McIntosh of Haringey, L.||White, B.|
|Mackie of Benshie, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|McNair, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Mayhew, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Halsbury, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Hayter, L.|
|Avon, E.||Hemphill, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Henley, L.|
|Bellwin, L.||Hives, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Hood, V.|
|Berkeley, B.||Hornsby-Smith, B.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Ilchester, E.|
|Caccia, L.||Kitchener, E.|
|Caithness, E.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Camegy of Lour, B.||Lawrence, L.|
|Cayzer, L.||Long, V.|
|Chesham, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||McAlpine of West Green, L.|
|Cockfield, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Coleraine, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore. L.||Marsh, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.|
|Daventry, V.||Merrivale, L.|
|De La Wan, E.||Mersey, V.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Molson, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Morris, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Mottistone, L.|
|Eden of Winton. L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Munster, E.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Northchurch, B.|
|Elton, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Onslow, E.|
|Ferrier, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Pender, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.|
|Gowrie, E.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Renton, L.|
|Grey of Naunton, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Romney, E.|
|Rugby, L.||Taylor of Hadfield, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, E.||Terrington, L.|
|St. Davids, V.||Teviot, L.|
|Saint Oswald, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Saltoun, Ly.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Sandys, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Sempill, Ly.||Trenchard, V.|
|Stamp, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Strathcarron, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Strathclyde, L.||Vickers. B.|
|Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.||Ward of Whitley, V.|
|Suffield, L.||Wise, L.|
|Swansea, L.||Young, B.|
|Swinton, E. [Teller.]|
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Lord Somers
had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 2:Page 2, line 8, at end insert ("and this general duty shall include the duty to meet the needs of those with disabilities.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have four amendments down for this stage which all deal with the same point. But I see that that point is dealt with in other amendments and therefore I shall not move mine. I shall not waste the time of the House by moving mine and will speak to the other amendments when they are called.
§ [Amendment No. 2 not moved.]
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 2, line 13, at end insert—
( ) all the benefits (financial and otherwise) accruing from the provision of public passenger transport services.").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment contains a very important principle. At the Committee stage there was one amendment in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and another amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Carmichael and myself; both of them sought to insert into the Bill a provision of the 1969 Transport (London) Act:
the provision of such … transport services as best meets the needs for the time being".
§ I am grateful that on this occasion there is again cross-party support for this amendment.
§ There was at the Committee stage what I and other noble Lords regarded as a rather pointless argument about the meaning of the words "for the time being". Secondly, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, repeated the Secretary of State's comment that to include a duty to meet needs would mean that LRT would have to meet every single need. We thought at the time that that was hardly a wise statement to make, and that the Government's attitude was—to use the noble Lord's own phrase—very much removed from reality.
§ The present amendment does not refer at all to "the time being" or to "needs". It does not seek to interfere at all with the wording of the Bill. What it seeks is to add a further sub-paragraph to the two matters in the Bill to which LRT shall have due regard in carrying out their duty. The present drafting of this entire clause makes meeting transport needs a secondary requirement, being subject to the Secretary of State's 789 financial requirements. Ministers have emphasised that LRT will be under the control of the Secretary of State and, therefore, subject to considerable Treasury control and, without some legal restraints being written into the Bill, the tendency will be to meet only minimum requirements.
§ The amendment will mean that LRT must have due regard to all benefits—not merely financial—and it also introduces the principle of social cost benefit to the provision of transport services. As stressed in Committee, we must of course pay attention to the financial aspects, but if the sole criteria are to be the financial objectives it must inevitably follow that there will be a minimum service. A department analysis has shown that with adequate revenue support this could be justified in lower fares, a better service with increased users and journeys, less traffic, some relief from congestion, less demand for parking and fewer accidents.
I should like to quote just four short extracts from the report of London Transport—not the GLC—for 1983, which reads:
The Executive has adopted the technique of Social Cost Benefit Analysis to measure the achievement of the overall objective and has received support for this approach from the Greater London Council".
It goes on:
Social Cost Benefit Analysis takes account of the effects on both users and non-users of public transport—such as road congestion, accidents, waiting and journey times and car and lorry running costs—as well as the direct financial impact on London Transport".
The results strongly suggest that higher levels of financial support would be justified. The Executive uses Social Cost Benefit Analysis for the evaluation of all major strategic decisions, such as the overall fares and service levels".
The report goes on to say, dealing with fares and marketing:
In social cost benefit terms, for every £1 lost through a fares reduction it is estimated that the benefits, in terms of lower fares, extra travel and reduced road congestion, were worth £2.30".
§ The amendment will help to define what we want from a public transport service for London, and we should take into consideration not only the financial aspects but also the social cost benefits. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, I must say that I was happier with the amendments that we had down on the Committee stage. It seems to me that a proper interpretation of those amendments would have come nearer to saying what needed to be said, as against what this will perhaps achieve. Nevertheless, it is an honest attempt to try to achieve in the Bill a proper balance between needs and finance. When one says that, the Government tend to say, "You are exaggerating needs. You are trying to get money out of a bottomless pit", and on this side there is a suspicion that, as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has said, if the Bill is left as it is, finance will be so powerful and the Treasury will have such a big stick that the genuine needs of London Transport will be seriously undermined.
So I hope that the Government will accept that this amendment tries to achieve a better balance between the two, as it were, extreme views, which I think are not held on either side of the House. In fact, I believe 790 that there is on all sides a desire to have a proper balance. It is merely that we do not believe that the Bill as it is at present written really achieves that balance. Therefore, I support this amendment.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, I was tempted when I first saw the amendment to think that this was one of the few unfamiliar amendments on the Marshalled List, but in fact we are really treading some rather well-trodden ground. We have had discussions about planning and other requirements that are to be placed on London Regional Transport, and the extent to which they should be required to estimate the benefits to users of their services.
If I understood the noble Lord correctly, one of his concerns is that London Regional Transport should seek to obtain the greatest possible benefit for the travelling public within the resources available to them. If that is what he said, then I do not think there is anything between us. LRT exist in order to provide public passenger transport services for Greater London. They must meet any financial objectives set by the Secretary of State. However, subject to those objectives, their aim will be to put their resources to the best use. The Secretary of State's operating guidelines to the new chairman and hoard will undoubtedly follow those guidelines.
We do not need to include a provision of this kind in the Bill. There is no doubt that London Regional Transport will employ, as we said at the earlier stages of the Bill, some kind of cost benefit analysis when assessing the value that they can expect from grants or any other expenditure. We discussed whether we should include the words "social cost benefit" or any other wording in front of "cost benefit analysis". The use of such techniques is normally more appropriate for obtaining comparative information. London Regional Transport will certainly be bound to consider the other benefits of providing particular services in particular ways, because that is exactly their business.
Frankly, I wonder whether we need to include in the Bill a provision of this kind. However, the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has received support from the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. The noble Lord said that he is not very happy about this amendment; he preferred the earlier versions. The best I could do—I say this without entering into any commitment but in order to help noble Lords—would be to take the matter away to see whether it would be possible to include in the clause a reference to benefits. If we think that we can, we shall discuss with both noble Lords how this might be achieved, and will bring forward at Third Reading an appropriate amendment.
However, I am very uneasy about an amendment of this nature. Whichever way we wrote it, it could be interpreted as requiring LRT to act outside their terms of reference; for example, as the strategic planning authority. They cannot be expected to do that. There is a limit, therefore, to what benefits they may be able to take into account. If we wrote something into the Bill, we might be giving to LRT terms of reference which would be right outside their original role, for the purpose of which this Bill is before your Lordships. Therefore, I have to say that it is entirely up to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, as to whether he accepts the offer, which is made totally without commitment 791 and, perhaps I should say, with a certain marked reserve.
§ Baroness Denington
My Lords, I have listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, has said. He is quite right: this amendment has been put down because we are most concerned that the terms of reference of London Regional Transport will debar it from considering the needs of London as a whole in the way that any transport authority ought to be allowed to consider those needs. London Regional Transport will be a transport authority. It will have to concentrate upon that job. That is the purpose of the Bill.
But London Transport, as it now is, is under the GLC. It is under the regional authority, all of whose members are elected and appointed with the duty of considering the needs of London as a whole. Some of them are also members of the transport committee. Although. therefore, transport matters are considered by them in the transport committee, they also sit as members representing the planning and social needs of London as a whole. It is this kind of situation with which the amendment is trying to deal. It is trying to enable the Minister to enable London Regional Transport to have this included in their terms of reference so that they do not consider financially only what is good for London Regional Transport but what is necessary in order to provide for the wider transport needs of London as the capital city of this country.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, I never look a gift horse in the mouth. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, and to my noble friend Lady Denington for their support. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, wonders whether there is any need for a provision of this kind to be included in the Bill. I would draw the noble Lord's attention to the relevant subsection. It reads:(2) In carrying out that duty London Regional Transport shall have due regard to—
The amendment would add:
- (a) the transport needs for the time being of Greater London; and
- (b) efficiency, economy and safety of operation".(c) all the benefits (financial and otherwise) accruing from the provision of public passenger transport services".The amendment would therefore add a very important additional matter to which regard would have to be paid by LRT when carrying out their duties.
The noble Lord has very kindly offered to have a look, without commitment, at this point. However, he said that he is very uneasy about it. Perhaps I ought to point out to him that many other Members of this House will be very uneasy about the Bill if something of this kind is not included. The next stage will be Third Reading, our last opportunity to put into the Bill something which is absolutely essential. If the noble Lord is prepared to have a look, without any commitment, at whether the Bill should contain something about benefits other than financial benefits, I should be prepared to withdraw the amendment and put my faith in his persuasion of his honourable friends that it is necessary to put something of this kind in the Bill.
792 I do not want to go over all the debates at the Committee stage. However, some of us recall the great amount of time that was spent upon trying to get consideration of social benefits included in the 1983 Act. Our attempts were resisted every time by the Government. We believe it to be essential that something of this kind should be included in this Bill. If I can take it that, without commitment, the Minister is saying that he is prepared to have a look at whether or not it will be possible to include something relating to benefits other than financial benefits, I shall be prepared to withdraw the amendment. The Minister is not indicating that he is prepared to do so. As this is such a vital issue and a matter of principle, I must therefore ask the House to divide.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 85; Not-Contents, 110.793
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Airedale, L.||Kaldor, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Leatherland, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Listowel, E.|
|Aylestone, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Banks, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Beswick, L.||Longford, E.|
|Birk, B.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Mayhew, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Monson, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Oram, L.|
|Collison, L.||Peart, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Denington, B.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Roberthall, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Robson of Kiddington, B.|
|Ennals, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Seear, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal. B.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Foot, L.||Serota, B.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Shackleton, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Hale, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Stone, L.|
|Hooson, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Tordoff, L.[Teller.]|
|Hunt, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Jacobson, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Jeger, B.||White, B.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Bellwin, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Belstead, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Berkeley, B.|
|Avon, E.||Caccia, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Caithness, E.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mersey, V.|
|Cayzer, L.||Molson, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Morris, L.|
|Cockfield, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Munster, E.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Northchurch, B.|
|Craigavon, V.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Cullen of Ash bourne, L.||On-Ewing, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Pender, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Renton, L.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Romney, E.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Rugby, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Saint Brides, L.|
|Elton, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Saltoun, Ly.|
|Fortescue, E.||Sandys, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Shannon, E.|
|Gowrie, E.||Somers, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Grey of Naunton, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Hemphill, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Henley, L.||Swinton, E. [Teller.]|
|Hives, L.||Taylor of Hadfield, L.|
|Hood, V.||Terrington, L.|
|Hornsby-Smith, B.||Teviot, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Kitchener, E.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Lawrence, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Long, V.||Trumpington, B.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|McAlpine of West Green, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Mancroft, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Margadale, L.||Young, B.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4.56 p.m.
Lord Ennals moved Amendment No. 3A:
Page 2, line 13, at end insert—
( ) the particular needs of members of the public who are disabled.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I understand that it is with the agreement of and will be to the advantage of the House that we should discuss Amendment No. 3A together with Amendments Nos. 6, 7 and 8.
Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 40, at end insert—
(" (7) The reference in subsection (2)(a) above to the transport needs of Greater London is a reference to the needs of Greater London with respect to public passenger transport services for persons travelling within, to or from Greater London, including persons who are disabled.").
As amendments to Amendment No. 6:
Amendment No. 7: At end insert ("and, where necessary, the provision of special transport for those persons.").794
Amendment No. 8: At end insert ("and, where necessary, including the provision of special transport facilities for people with particular disabilities.")
§ It is perfectly clear from the debate at Committee stage and from the number of amendments tabled today that there is a great deal of concern felt that the new authority to be established shall meet the needs of disabled people properly, fully and effectively. Concern is felt that there should be no question of disabled people in the area covered by the London Regional Transport Authority being disenfranchised from the point of view of transport. There has been a great deal of interest among noble Lords, and many amendments have been tabled for today's debate.
§ Secondly, it is clear that there is a great deal of concern felt by disabled people themselves. Their organisations have no doubt been in touch with many of your Lordships, as they have been in touch with me, the Joint Committee for the Disabled has rendered an invaluable service in bringing together many of the organisations representing particular groups of disabled people. They include those suffering from spina bifida, polio, rheumatism and arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, and limbless ex-servicemen. One can see from the list how many organisations have been brought together in order to examine this particular set of proposals.
§ The encouraging point is that the Government themselves are concerned. I want to say how pleased I am that the Government decided to table Amendment No. 6. I wish to express my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, that he was prepared to table Amendment No. 6—at least, it stands in his name, although I have no doubt that it was negotiated by the noble Earl, Lord Avon.
§ He said on the last stage—and it was for that reason I withdrew the amendment—that he would look very carefully at this question. I must say how much I appreciate the fact that this has been done and that Amendment No. 6 has been tabled. One has to say—I suppose this is a little unfair—that although it is a step forward it is a step that is not far enough forward. That is why there are other amendments which appear to it. I refer especially to the amendment standing in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox—no doubt she will be speaking to it together with other noble Lords who support her—and to the amendment which I tabled separately and which is virtually the same. It was purely a matter of timing that mine appeared separately.
The argument that I put forward—and do so very strongly—for taking this a stage further is that it is simply not enough to "have due regard to". Clause 2(2) states:
In carrying out that duty London Regional Transport shall have due regard to".
§ Amendment No. 6 adds what LRT shall have regard to and this includes persons who are disabled. It is perfectly possible that the authority we are setting up—and nobody here is a member of that authority; nor can anyone speak for it because it does not exist—may well say that other factors such as efficiency, economy, and others, which are set out in subsection (2)(b) are overriding factors and that although it has looked most carefully it has not been 795 able to come forward with particular proposals that will meet the needs of disabled people in London.
§ We are probably talking about a quarter of a million people who are affected in the London Regional Transport area. It is important not only that the transport authority should be able itself to take these matters into consideration, but that it should be able to take action to provide special transport facilities, as I propose in Amendment No. 8, for people with particular disabilities. As the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, said, there should be provision of special transport for these people.
It is important to recognise that there is a need for special transport, and there is already, but although it is heavily financed by the Greater London Council it is not provided by London Transport. Door-to-door travel for most severely disabled people who certainly cannot travel on the bus or Underground services is a service which must be London-wide. If it is not, it will not meet the needs of disabled people; nor, for that matter, will it be cost effective. One has to ask: who will fund dial-a-ride when the GLC disappears? We are told that local authorities now finance only 5 per cent. of the cost of dial-a-ride schemes and that the GLC finances approximately 95 per cent. A GLC report in November 1983 stated:
The financial support for the eleven dial-a-ride services … agreed so far by the Council for 1983–84 is £74,965 on capital and £454,178 on revenue".
§ I understand that for this next year the GLC expect to spend a total of f 1.5 million on capital expenditure on the expansion of the dial-a-ride schemes with the aim that eventually they will cover the whole of the Greater London area. I believe that is what most people want to see happen. The question of how it is financed is absolutely crucial. What now remains is to ensure that London Regional Transport is explicitly given the duty to provide for the special needs of people with particular disabilities; not just to take these into consideration, but to provide services.
I recognise, of course, that it would be impracticable to make all buses and the whole of the existing Underground system accessible to people in wheelchairs, much as one would like to do that; the financial demands would be heavy. That is why it is so important to support special services such as dial-a-ride schemes and subsidised taxi services. But that is not enough, if I may say so to the noble Earl, Lord Avon. He very kindly sent me a copy of the letter that he wrote on 1st June to the noble Lord, Lord Banks, who will no doubt be speaking later, in which he said:
The amendment which we now propose"—
I refer to Amendment No. 6—
will make explicit that LRT's general duty extends to disabled people, and will treat disabled people in the same way as other people".
§ If that is all that the Government are doing—I do not believe it is, and I feel certain that the noble Earl will explain that it is not—it certainly would not be satisfactory.
§ What I very much hope will come out of this debate is the acceptance by the Government of the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox. If that is accepted I can assure Ministers and your 796 Lordships that I will withdraw Amendment No. 3A, standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Underhill and myself, and will also withdraw Amendment No. 8. Therefore, I very much hope that with the persuasion which was very effectively shown by the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, in Committee, and which I am sure she will show today, the Minister will decide to accept the amendment tabled in her name. I beg to move.
§ Lord Banks
My Lords, the House will no doubt recall that in Committee I moved an amendment which was in the precise terms of Amendment No. 2 in the Marshalled List today in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Somers. The difficulty of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, when faced with this amendment was that the duty placed on London Regional Transport in the Bill is to provide transport services and,have due regard to… the transport needs… of Greater London; and efficiency, economy and safety of operation".It is not a commitment to meet all transport needs. Therefore, to say that the needs of disabled people must be met while those of able-bodied people need not be met but should only be given "due regard" would perhaps be seen as not quite fair.
We may or may not agree with the terms of the duty laid upon London Regional Transport that it should merely give "due regard" to transport needs, but I am sure we are right to seek to make it clear that the needs to be given "due regard" include those of disabled people. The Minister offered to discuss the possibility of agreement on an amendment with that purpose and so I withdrew my amendment. In the event, there was no discussion. I think the Recess and the postal strike put paid to that. However, the Minister tabled Amendment No. 6 and he circulated it beforehand. I welcome this recognition by the Government that the needs to be given "due regard" by London Regional Transport in providing transport service:, should include the needs of disabled persons. That was the point we wanted to establish and I am grateful to the noble Earl for his co-operation in achieving it.
I would have preferred a specific commitment to meet the needs of disabled persons; but, as I have explained, I see the difficulty of including that without including a specific commitment to meet the needs of the able-bodied. Through this amendment we are making sure that the needs of the disabled are to be given "due regard" equally with those of everyone else. Of course, the needs of the disabled are not the same as the needs of everyone else. Therefore, it might well be that in giving due regard to those needs one would have to do more than one would expect to do for the ordinary traveller. That, I think, is implicit in what we now have. So I think that this is an important point again.
But we are left with one very important concern, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has referred. That is the position of special transport for the disabled, such as the dial-a-ride and subsidised taxi services, which we discussed in Committee and to which the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has referred this afternoon. I share the concern that these are not specifically covered by the new clause. We want to make it clear that LRT should be involved in this field in the same way as the GLC now is. For that reason, while 797 welcoming this Government amendment, I support Amendment No. 7 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox. I hope the Government will be prepared to accept it and/or to introduce a further amendment to achieve the end which that amendment seeks.
So far as Amendment No. 3A is concerned, I think that that is really another way of achieving the same result as Amendment No. 6, but perhaps it is a better and neater way of doing so. However, I do not suppose that the Government will move beyond Amendment No. 6.
To sum up, I think that Amendment No. 3A is probably a better way of expressing what is in Amendment No. 6. Nevertheless, I welcome Amendment No. 6 as a step forward. I support Amendment No. 7, and I hope that it, or something very like it, will be accepted by the Government.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Lord Somers
My Lords, I support this amendment very strongly. I think that possibly some of us who are perfectly able to transport ourselves from one place to another are a little bit apt to forget what it is like to be entirely at the mercy of other people if one wants to move about. There is no public transport at the moment that is suitable for wheelchairs. Buses are not suitable, and even trains are not suitable, as the height of the platform very often varies. The Underground is quite impossible. One cannot imagine a wheelchair getting down the escalator.
What are we to do if we are in a wheelchair? The only hope is the service mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, of dial-a-ride. It seems to me that that is an essential service to keep going. One may say that the number of disabled in comparison with those who are not is very small—they are a small minority—but that does not reduce the need to give them full consideration.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I have to be careful as this is the Report stage, but I think that now I shall in a way be speaking to my Amendment No. 6 and explaining what it is about, which I think will ease the discussion of the House when we come to Amendment No. 7. I am grateful to noble Lords for what they have said about the Government's amendment.
I undertook at Committee stage to look again at the very real concern that disabled people should be referred to explicitly in the Bill. I was greatly impressed by the debate on that occasion, and we have considered very carefully the points which were made. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Banks. I was abroad last week, and it was not possible to have a discussion on the timings of draftsmanship. The amendment would not have been technically compatible with the rest of Clause 2, but we believe that we have been able to propose our own amendment, and I hope that the House will accept it. It makes it absolutely clear that LRT's general duty extends to disabled people, and this point is important in relation to some of the other amendments which we are discussing today.
I should like to say something first about the meaning of the term "public passenger transport 798 services". LRT will have a duty under Clause 2(1) to provide them or secure their provision. In addition to covering those people who can use the buses and the Underground with difficulty in the normal way, it covers those people who are slightly disabled or who have some difficulty in using the buses and the Underground. But—and I think this is a key point—I would like to make it clear to your Lordships that the term also applies to those who need wheelchairs and ramps in order to travel; in other words those who cannot use the usual public transport services at all. So LRT will have a general duty to have due regard to the needs of all those people, including those who depend on special services such as dial-a-ride.
I hope I have made that point clearly. I can then assure the House that I believe that amendments like Amendments Nos. 3A, 7 and 8 are unnecessary if our amendment is agreed to. The Government are quite satisfied—and I hope I may convince the House to be, too—that Amendment No. 6, backed up by provisions of Clause 34, which requires LRT to include in its annual report to the Secretary of State a specific statement of the action it has taken in relation to public transport provision for disabled people, will ensure not only that needs of disabled people are not overlooked but, much more positively, that LRT will have a clear remit to work towards developing and improving those services.
I can well understand that noble Lords who spoke on this point in Committee were concerned not only that public transport in London should be made more generally and readily available to as many disabled people as possible, but that there should be some undertaking beyond that to ensure provision for more severely disabled people who need special provision like such as dial-a-ride services. The Government's intention is clearly that both of these aims should be pursued. We have made it clear that the Government amendment as drafted will cover those services like dial-a-ride which are specifically provided for disabled people, as well as the general run of public transport provision. We believe that it is right that these are seen as complementary parts of transport provision for severely disabled people who need service—literally—from door to door.
As the House is aware, firm undertakings have already been given in another place that in addition to specific references to disabled people not in the Bill, LRT will, as well, be given clear and specific directions by the Secretary of State to work to improve the provision of transport services for disabled people.
My amendment, which may perhaps have looked slightly innocuous, I believe the House will agree with me after that, is fairly wide-sweeping. I hope, therefore, that I have satisfied the movers of Amendments Nos. 3A, 7 and 8—if not, I am sure they will let me know—that the Government consider that they have met, and are reading now clearly on to the record of Hansard, the points which have been mentioned.
§ Baroness Lane-Fox
My Lords, I am extremely grateful to my noble friend the Minister for what we have just heard. This explanation goes very much further than I had been led to believe from his original amendment. However, I would say this. Many people 799 in the Federation of Dial-a-Ride are concerned and feel extremely sensitive in that many of the organisations have just started. They have the vehicles: they do not want the volunteer committees or the vehicles to get rusted up by lack of provision now. They wish to see written clearly in the Bill, or somewhere, the actual fact that the provision of special vehicles will not be overlooked by the Government in exactly the way that my noble friend explained. I suggest at the moment it is not spelt out clearly enough for them to be satisfied.
I am wondering whether, with his flexible and clever way of getting round these difficulties, my noble friend can think of a way, for instance, to satisfy Sir Peter Baldwin, the late Permanent Secretary at the Department of Transport. He spoke to me this very morning. He was in office while such strides began to be made by the department in absorbing the full portent of our transport needs. At present he is chairman of dial-a-ride at Westminster, which is one of his many jobs in his retirement. He tells me that he considers this amendment to be vital to the practical future of the scheme. I know that my noble friend will realise how practically he deals with such subjects, and I am wondering whether those weighty words will have any effect on what he has just told me. I should be very grateful if he would reply to me on that.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, this is Report stage, and I should not really be popping up and down. However, with the leave of the House, I should like to make some points. If it is the case that Sir Peter Baldwin has said this, all I can do is to ask his successor whether he agrees. To be more serious, I have tried to say that I thought this matter was covered. If my noble friend Lady Lane-Fox, on reading my words, feels that it is not, I shall go back myself to make sure that it is. If it is not, I shall return with something at the next stage.
§ Baroness Macleod of Borve
My Lords, I should like to support what has been stated by the noble Lord, Lord Somers. I doubt whether those in your Lordships' 'House and elsewhere who are able bodied have any idea of the number of people unable for many years to get anywhere around our capital city. Being housebound, they cannot savour all the delights enjoyed by many people in our capital city. I have not been able to travel by Underground or bus for 30 years. I do not think that I have missed anything because I drive a fast car, or I drive a car fast, which is a different thing. In my view, these people will suddenly have a new lease of life. By putting forward this one amendment, the Government have brought forward a wonderfully imaginative proposal. I should like them to know to what extent the lives of many people will be enhanced by it.
§ Earl Attlee
My Lords, I wish to brief. I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Avon, for explaining his Amendment No. 6. It may interest the House to know that we have recently started in Barnet a Dial-a-Ride service. We have been promised a grant by the GLC to cover the adaptation of two vehicles, the appointment of two full-time drivers and co-ordinator. 800 Unfortunately, we have now heard that it is likely that we shall only be allowed to lease vehicles, and when the GLC is no more, we do not know what will happen. Our worry is that unless something specific goes into the Bill, the hard work of dedicated volunteers will come to nothing. There is a need for something, not specifically related to Dial-a-Ride or the black cab scheme, which shows that the new organisation will support and help Dial-a-Ride and other systems.
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
My Lords, I should like to add a few brief words to support what has already been stated. There is, in fact, little that I can say. To be realistic, I believe, like the noble Lord, Lord Banks, that the Government amendment gives us as much as we can possibly expect from public transport. I was delighted to hear the explanation of the noble Earl, Lord Avon. I welcome it most warmly and thank him for producing it.
I appreciate what he said about it including the special services. However, if they are to be included, I do not see why this cannot be spelt out in the Bill. They are so vital for those who cannot use public transport but who would be able to use properly adapted public transport systems. As we know, however, public transport is not door to door. Those who have difficulty walking or propelling themselves any considerable distance may not live near this ideally, we hope, accessible metro. There is a need therefore to provide special services at either end just as the able bodied Londoner needs a mix of the Underground and the bus perhaps to reach a destination. This is why I welcome Amendments Nos. 7 and 8. I find Amendment No. 7 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, particularly attractive in view of its impressive all-party support.
I should like to ask the Minister a question which he may not be able to answer now. I would, however, be grateful if he could write to me with the answer. What arrangements are being made by the Government to secure the funding of the existing Dial-a-Ride scheme in London? I understand that the GLC is unable to permit any funding after 31st March. I should be grateful to hear the answer to that question at some stage. I warmly welcome the Government amendment but I feel that it is essential also to have Amendment No. 7. If, by any chance, the services did founder one day, then disabled people, who have escaped from the four walls of their homes, would be once more left stranded, and this would be a very severe step backwards.
§ Lord Ennals
My Lords, having been the mover of the original amendment, may I say, like the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, that I welcome enormously the statement that was made by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, when he said that Dial-a-Ride schemes, and I presume that this also means the black cab schemes, could be financed under the terms of the proposed amendment and also under Amendment No. 6, which will obviously be approved. Clause 34(3)(b) states:for the purpose of securing, provision for disabled persons in the public transport services and facilities provided for Greater London (whether by London Regional Transport or any subsidiary of theirs or by any other person)".801 What I find difficult to understand is why, if the noble Earl is able to give the confident assurance as a Minister that an authority which has yet to be established will, in fact, do what Amendment No. 7 asks should be done, he cannot accept the amendment. I agree entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth) and also with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. If it is the case, reassuring as it is to all of us, that a ministerial statement says that the Bill and this amendment will ensure Dial-a-Ride schemes, which have still to be developed across the whole of London, then why cannot the amendment be accepted? If the amendment was accepted, this would affect not only Dial-a-Ride but also the people whom Dial-a-Ride serves and also those served by the black cab scheme, who sometimes will pay £ I for what may be a £6 journey.
The noble Earl, despite all his generosity, skill and kindness, did not say why he was not accepting the noble Baroness's amendment. If he was able to to do that, or to say that the wording was not entirely satisfactory, as he did last time, and that he would come back at the next stage to see if something similar could be written into the Bill, that would be one thing. I feel, however, that ministerial assurances, whether given by one party in government or another, do not cover other ministers following elections. When it has not happened, it is not good enough to say that the Minister stated this five years ago. If it is to happen—the whole purpose of the amendment and the debate is to see that it does happen—then we have to write in the provision that it should happen. I hope that the noble Earl, when he replies to what has been a short but positive debate, will give that sort of assurance, so that we do not need to divide the House.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, by leave of the House, I believe that I have now spoken to Amendments Nos. 3A, 6, 7 and 8. The point that I tried to make in my opening remarks was that we actually cover in this amendment what the noble Baroness wants in Amendment No. 7. I was hoping that she would study what I have stated to see whether she agrees that this covers what she wants, in which case she would be happy. Alternatively, if I find that I have not covered everything that she stated in her remarks, I shall have another word with her to see what we can produce by the next stage of the Bill.
§ Lord Ennals
My Lords, under those circumstances, if there are to be these further discussions to try to improve and, I hope, perfect the Government's amendment, then it would be churlish of me to press my amendment. But I must give the noble Earl warning that if at Third Reading we have not reached a satisfactory situation it may be that the matter must be taken again. I hope that that will not be the case. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.31 p.m.
Lord Ennals moved Amendment No. 3B:
Page 2, line 26, at end insert—
("( ) It shall be the duty of London Regional Transport to submit to the Secretary of State for his approval written proposals for the provision of transport services for Greater London for disabled members of the public who are unable to travel by bus or underground railway.")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I can move this amendment with great rapidity. It follows from what I have just said in relation to the earlier amendment. We are stating here, or seeking to state, that,
It shall be the duty of London Regional Transport to submit to the Secretary of State for his approval written proposals for the provision of transport services for Greater London for disabled members of the public who are unable to travel by bus or underground railway.
§ That means two things. It means that it places upon the London Regional Transport Authority a responsibility to work out the best ways in which they think the needs of disabled people unable to travel by bus and underground railway can be met, and that they should submit them to the Secretary of State. It seems right that the Secretary of State should be involved in satisfying himself that the needs of disabled people are met.
§ This follows on naturally from the previous amendment. It may be that, in looking at Amendment No. 7, which we have proceeded beyond, the noble Earl will think that this one could be looked at as well, because the natural consequence of anything that says that London Regional Transport shall do something is that they should submit a proposal as to how they are going to do it. I beg to move.
§ Lord Banks
My Lords, very briefly, I should like to support the idea behind this amendment—namely, that there should be some obligation on London Regional Transport to give specific consideration to, and to produce proposals in relation to, transport services for those who are unable to use buses and the underground railway. Something which would make certain that there will be some step forward is important.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I think this is a slightly more particular amendment than the one we have just had. As the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, said, at Committee stage we discussed the general question to which this amendment relates—that is, whether it is right for LRT to be under a statutory duty to provide services for severely disabled people, those who are not able to use the normal bus and Underground services. I might point out that this amendment would not actually require LRT to provide the services; it would merely require them to submit to the Secretary of State proposals for their provision. However, I have no doubt of the noble Lord's intention in tabling the amendment.
I hope I made it clear in Committee that we did not believe it appropriate to impose a duty on LRT either to prepare proposals or, in point of fact, to give effect to them. As I said on that occasion, it is the local authorities who should have the responsibility for identifying the need for such services and for organising and financing them as part of a more general provision which they make to help severely disabled people. It is not a duty which the Government believe we should place on a body charged with providing public transport services for the capital.
I fully accept that LRT may be able to assist with technical and other expertise; indeed, I hope they will do so. We have already given an assurance that LRT's vehicles and infrastructure will he developed with the 803 needs of disabled people in mind. That would help to extend the access which disabled people will have to LRT services, but we believe it to be another matter entirely to place LRT under a statutory duty to prepare, and submit to the Secretary of State, written proposals for the provision of special transport facilities for severely disabled people. We believe that services such as Dial-a-Ride, which, as the House well knows, we welcome, fall properly within the responsibility of local authorities in a general context; and we believe that that is where they should remain.
My Lords, I apologise if I have been rather in and out of this amendment, but my speaking note arrived only about three minutes ago. I should welcome the noble Lord's comments on my remarks.
§ Lord Ennals
My Lords, I ask the permission of the House to enable the noble Earl to find his notes. The point that is really difficult—it will be touched on in two other amendments, which no doubt we will discuss briefly—is that, if the London Transport Authority do not have upon them any obligation (I believe that is what the noble Earl said) I do not know how we can be satisfied that the needs will be met. This is why at a later stage I shall propose that there should be a company which will help to deal with the fact that often people cross local boundaries. That comes under Amendment No. 12A.
The noble Earl said that local authorities would finance these things. But in their journeys people move from one borough to another and criss-cross London to visit their relatives or go wherever their journeys take them. As I indicated when I spoke on the last amendment, at present only 5 per cent. of Dial-a-Ride is paid for by borough authorities. It is paid for as to 95 per cent. by the GLC, which will not exist if the Government have their way. Many of those boroughs will not be able to raise extra money if the Government have their way on rate capping. So we are still creating a position of uncertainty.
I honestly think the noble Earl has to go further and give an assurance which will really satisfy people who are dependent on Dial-a-Ride that the resources will be found. It is not good enough for him simply to say that the local authorities will be able to pay the money. If they cannot pay the money and do not pay the money, then Dial-a-Ride does not continue and does not expand. It is this point I am trying to get over to the noble Earl.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, by leave of the House, may I just say that I hope that when the noble Lord reads what I said about the previous amendment he will find it more reassuring than what he has just said.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Underhill had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 4:
Page 2, line 33, leave out from beginning to ("to") in line 34 and insert ("In carrying out their duty under subsection (1) London Regional Transport shall have due regard").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, although this is in a somewhat different context, the arguments will cover much of the ground which we dealt with in referring to social cost benefits. After discussion with my colleagues who kindly put their names to the amendment, I beg leave not to move it.
§ [Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 not moved.]
§ The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 6:
§ [Printed earlier: col. 793.]
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment, and I beg to move.
§ The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)
My Lords, there are two amendments to this amendment, and before this amendment is discussed we must take the two amendments. The first is Amendment No. 7.
§ [Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 not moved.]
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 3 [General Powers]:
§ [Amendment No. 9 not moved.]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 4, line 15, at end insert ("provided always that the financial consideration attaching to any transfer of property shall in no case be less than the greater of market value and modern equivalent asset replacement cost.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am conscious of the desire of your Lordships' House that we should not repeat arguments which have already been gone into at some length in Committee. This amendment attacks the same problem as Amendments Nos. 28, 44, 79 and 80 which were moved in Committee. But I venture to suggest to the Government and to the House that this amendment meets the principal objections put forward by the Government to the previous amendments and is, at the very least, a step forward towards something which I believe that most Members of your Lordships' House would wish to achieve.
The issue which we are considering here arises in Clause 3 and concerns the power given to London Regional Transport to enter into agreements with companies or persons:
for the purpose of carrying on any activities which London Regional Transport have power to carry on".
As part of that possibility, Clause 3(5) provides that:
London Regional Transport may…enter into arrangements…for the transfer…of any property, rights or liabilities of London Regional Transport".
The issue that we discussed in Committee was: how are we to secure that when property is transferred the benefits of the property are secured in the public interest? I am not raising here the issue as between taxpayers and ratepayers. I believe that that led to a good deal of sterile argument in Committee which ought not to be repeated now. But I suggest that the amendment which I am now moving secures, first, that there should be a proper value placed upon the
property which is being transferred. We suggest that this proper value should be:
no…less than the greater of market value and modern equivalent asset replacement cost".
In Amendment No. 23—which we are not considering now but to which I do need to refer in order to complete my argument—it is proposed that the benefit of that payment should be retained by London Regional Transport as a central reserve and the balance should only be used:
to defray gross charges to capital account".
§ I think that the intention is fairly obvious. We are trying to overcome the argument which was put forward by the Government in Committee about windfall benefits being frittered away. We need not repeat the "oil in Osterley" argument which took place then.
§ But the intention here is to secure first, that there is a proper price—that is the purport of Amendment No. 10—and secondly, that that proper price is only used so that the benefit defrays capital costs and therefore remains for the benefit of London Regional Transport and of course the travelling public who use it.
§ I hope that the Government will feel that there is something new in this amendment to which they ought to give serious consideration and which does the best that can be done—within the possibilities of the framing of amendments other than by Parliamentary draftsmen—to solve the problems which were raised by Government Ministers in Committee. I beg to move.
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, I understand the noble Lord's fears that Clause 3(5), without the protection of the amendment, would permit LRT to dispose of assets too cheaply, with a resulting loss to the public purse. Critics of this part of the Bill—although the noble Lord did not use these words today—have described it in terms of asset-stripping for the benefit of LRT's competitors, and have talked of hidden subsidies to the private sector.
Such criticisms overlook a salient feature of the way in which LRT will work—indeed, in which any public company works. LRT's assets will, for the great part, be vested in their subsidiaries. These assets will form part of the capital structure of the subsidiaries, and if the assets are sold for less than they are worth, the subsidiaries will incur liabilities unmatched by income. They would quickly go bankrupt under such circumstances and I can assure your Lordships that we have no intention of seeing that happen.
We do not envisage that Clause 3(2) agreements will normally involve disposals of LRT property. The agreements are not necessarily long-term in relation to a particular operator, and LRT will need to be able to recover their property if they wished to resume providing the service themselves, or to enter an agreement with a different operator. Using property is an obvious possibility, but buying it is a different matter entirely.
Nevertheless, the amendment is unduly restrictive. There may be circumstances where it will actually benefit the taxpayer, the ratepayer and the traveller for some assets to be transferred at less than book value. Suppose, for example, that a contractor came along 806 who offered to run all the services in a particular area for less subsidy than LRT's subsidiaries required themselves. And suppose that that contractor made it a condition of the deal that some assets—say a bus garage or some buses—were transferred to him at below the market rate. The calculation of advantage for LRT would be a complex one, but there might just be cases in which the capital losses were more than offset by the savings on LRT's revenue account. This amendment would prevent such flexibility to no one's benefit and I hope therefore that the noble Lord will not wish to proceed with it.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, to an extent, in the opening of his speech the noble Lord the Minister put up an Aunt Sally. I did not use the words "asset-stripping" and I did not use the words "asset-stripping" quite deliberately because I was not so foolish as to think that London Regional Transport would deliberately engage in any transfer of property which would cause its subsidiaries to go bankrupt. I do not think that that was at all the issue in the amendment and it was certainly not my intention that it should be the issue.
The problem here is that the word "transfer" itself is imprecise. If we were using the words, "sale of properties" we would all know what that meant and we would all know that proper compensation ought to be paid for the sale of properties. But if the word "transfer" also means a licence for the use of a bus garage—as the noble Lord suggested—then I quite see that a deal which balances the benefits of a lower cost transport system against the disbenefits of a less than economic rental or purchase price for the particular property, might require something other than the full modern replacement asset cost as the appropriate payment for the property.
It is a complicated issue and I shall have to read the noble Lord's words carefully before considering what my position may be at Third Reading. In the meantime. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 4 [Duty to establish companies to run London bus and Underground services]:
§ 5.49 p.m.
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 5, line 8, leave out from beginning to ("submit") in line 11 and insert ("London Regional Transport may").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 11, and it may be for the convenience of your Lordships if we also deal with Amendment No. 12, because both amendments cover the same principle.
Amendment No. 12: Page 5, line 15, leave out from beginning to ("submit") in line 17, and insert ("London Regional Transport may").
§ These amendments are similar to the amendments proposed at the Committee stage and I must briefly explain their purpose and then deal with the arguments which were put up against them at the Committee stage. Clause 4 requires that LRT must submit proposals to the Secretary of State for the formation of separate subsidiaries to run the bus and 807 Underground services. The effect of these amendments is to remove the compulsion on LRT to submit the proposals.
§ The amendments will still leave power to LRT to set up the separate companies if they should so desire. In other words, the amendments propose that these decisions should be left to management. It is a commercial type of decision and should not he a matter for direction by the Secretary of State. Surely this is the type of decision for the board which will be established to run LRT.
§ Looking at the arguments put against the amendment by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, he said that separate companies would, as Companies Act companies, remain under LRT control, LRT would appoint the board, and LRT would be able to control all major decisions. But the noble Earl did not deal with the point that I made. The Minister of State said in Standing Committee that LRT would have a majority shareholding in both organisations. I said at the Committee stage that if there is to be a majority shareholding, there must surely be minority shareholders. That is logical. I asked who would they be, and I ask again who will they be, because the explanation was not given to me. If there are minority shareholders this must indicate that it is envisaged that at some stage there will be some disposal of either the subsidiaries or parts of the subsidiaries to the private sector.
Is the basic reason for the separation not just to secure efficient accounting but to be a prelude to disposal? It is true that the noble Earl said on 14th May, at column 1242:
It is true that once the bus and Underground subsidiaries are established under Clause 4 it will be possible for LRT to sell an interest in them, or to sell parts of them. But that is not the object of setting up these subsidiaries".
§ I must remind the House of what my noble friend Lord Ennals said on an amendment with which he was concerned. He said that statements of Ministers can be accepted today, but statements of Ministers may not apply to another Secretary of State. Therefore, it could be that setting up the separate subsidiaries could be used as a prelude to disposal.
I would ask the noble Earl what is meant by what he said at column 1242:
We regard Clause 4 as an essential element in our restructuring of London Transport, and we expect to see the operating subsidiaries established next year".
§ Why is the establishment of separate subsidiary companies considered to be so vital? Surely it is possible to achieve proper accounting without that.
§ I find it difficult to believe that it is not possible to obtain the required information without actual physical separation. The noble Earl made the statement that London Transport has already created six bus districts and four railway divisions, but that is very different from actual separation by forming separate subsidiary companies.
§ We reached this item at about 10 o'clock at night at Committee stage. There was strong feeling in the Committee on this matter, but in view of that late hour we did not divide the Committee; but I intimated that possibly we would come back to this matter on 808 Report. I would leave the House and the noble Earl, who I presume will reply again, with this question: why is it not to be left to a managerial decision of this board? We are told that the Secretary of State will appoint the board partly because of their managerial capacity. Why not leave this matter to them?
§ The amendments, if your Lordships approve them, are not taking away the power to have separate subsidiaries if the board considers that desirable on managerial or commercial common sense grounds. What we criticise is that in advance of even setting up the board the Secretary of State, by this clause of the Bill, has given a mandatory direction to the board that they must set up these separate companies within a certain period. That seems to be taking away from a competent board a decision which ought to be theirs. I hope that the Government will see that aspect and will accept these amendments. I beg to move.
§ Lord Tordoff
Again, my Lords, I added my name to this amendment, along with my noble friend Lord Attlee. I cannot embellish much on what the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has said. It seems to me that the Government have made a management decision here. They have pre-empted the decision of London Regional Transport. What we do not know are the bases on which that management decision has been made. The Government have given no clear indication as to why this decision should be made at this stage of the game, before London Regional Transport has been set up. They are saying to London Regional Transport before it is created, "You must split the bus and the other undertakings".
Surely the time to do that is after the new transport authority has had a chance to look at what it has within its bailiwick and to come to some sensible decision. If it is necessary to split up this amalgam there may be other ways of cutting the cake; but the Government have given no clear indication of the criteria on which this decision has been made by them which, as I say, preempts London Regional Transport's management decision. I support the amendment.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, may I try to answer some of the questions and set the noble Lords' minds at rest. The effect of these amendments would be to relieve LRT of the duty to bring forward proposals for setting up operating subsidiaries for their bus and Underground services. LRT would simply be left with a discretion to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has suggested that we should rely on LRT's managerial judgment in this matter. May I first confirm that we shall be anxious to back LRT's managerial judgment wherever we can. But I hope he will recognise that the Government must be able to provide for what they regard as the best initial structure, and then allow LRT to develop it.
I explained at Committee stage that the Government made their intentions quite clear in this respect when they said in the White Paper published last July that the London Transport Executive would be,reconstituted on the pattern of a small holding company, with its bus and underground operations established as separate subsidiaries".809 We proposed that LRT should,be responsible for the strategic control of their operating subsidiaries and for securing the cost-effective provision of bus and underground services from these and other operators".This is our firm policy.
I explained at Committee stage the view of my honourable friend the Minister of State that there was no way in which realistic targets could be set for the different parts of LRT unless the information was to hand from the subsidiary parts. In subsections (1) and (2) of this clause we seek to ensure that bus and Underground subsidiaries have separately identifiable costs and income. We believe that it is good commercial practice that their performance should be accountable in that way.
The creation of subsidiary companies under this clause would surely be a logical development of what is already taking place in London Transport's organization, They have already created separate businesses for their bus and railway operations, and as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, mentioned they have gone on further to create bus districts and railway divisions. All we are trying to do is to take this process a step further.
I recognise the force of the point which the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, made, but we have a difficult course to steer between devolution and integration. But we are confident that we have successfully done so. The separate subsidiaries will, as Companies Act companies, remain under LRT's control. LRT will have the power of appointment to the boards of the subsidiaries and will be able to control all major decisions. At the same time, LRT's general duty will continue to apply to the services which LRT in effect provide through their subsidiaries. We regard Clause 4 as an essential element in our restructuring of London Transport, and we hope to see the operating subsidiaries established on 1st April next year.
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, asked specifically about the minority shareholders. At the moment we would envisage this company at the outset being probably with the LRT as the sole shareholder, but if there were one, there could perhaps be local authorities and/or perhaps joint users and perhaps owners of, say, a garage or other facilities. But, my Lords, we are not anticipating that any more than we are anticipating—which I think the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, did give me credit for rejecting the previous time—any form of privatisation of the subsidiaries. I do not think the noble Lord and I are going to agree on this, but that is our position.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, we have to keep in mind that the respective subsections of this clause start with the words,Before the end of such period as the Secretary of State may specify".He will give the directive for a separate company to be set up for buses and a separate company to be set up for the Underground. It does seem amazing, as the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, endorsed, that in advance of setting up the board this important managerial decision is taken. The noble Lord referred to this being made clear in the White Paper, but was there not made clear to the Government the sound criticism of the 810 proposal in the White Paper? But the Government just went ahead as if nobody had criticised it.
To take a decision of this kind, a whole restructuring—because that is what it means—in advance of a board being set up seems to be taking a decision out of the hands of a competent board which the Secretary of State himself will appoint. We have debated this in the Committee stage. He will appoint all the members of the board, yet he is not prepared to trust them as to whether or not they should have this decision. He said that the targets will require information. As I said in my opening remarks, I cannot believe that with the structure which London Transport Executive has now it is not possible to get the information. The board of LRT will be in authority and the information can be obtained.
The noble Earl had to admit at the Committee stage that with the travel card now there would have to be a certain estimation of revenue because with it you can travel by bus, you can travel by rail, and it is a further step away from what I think the House wants—a move towards integration.
We did not divide the House at ten o'clock last time, but there is a principle here. I do not want to keep dividing the House, but I would like the House to make its view clear as to whether noble Lords believe it is a decision that ought to be taken away from the board or whether we should leave it to the managerial competence of the board to make this very important decision.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 11) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 82; Not-Contents, 102.811
|DIVISION NO. 3|
|Airedale, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hanworth. V.|
|Attlee, E.||Hatch of Lusby, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Hayter, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Hooson, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Bernstein. L.||Hughes, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Hunt, L.|
|Birk, B.||Irving of Dartford, L.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Jacobson, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Jacques, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Jeger, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||John-Mackie, L.|
|Collison, L.||Kaldor, L.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|David, B.||Lawrence, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Leatherland, L.|
|Denington, B.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Longford, E.|
|Ennals, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Mayhew, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Mishcon, L.|
|Foot, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Mulley, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Nathan, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.[Teller.]||Nicol, B.|
|Grimond, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Hale, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Prys-Davies, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Rochester, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Seear, B.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Sefton of Garston, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Serota, B.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Shackleton, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Stallard, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Stewart of Alvechurch, B.||White, B.|
|Stewart of Fulham, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Stoddart of Swindon, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Abinger, L.||McAlpine of West Green, L.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Avon, E.||Mancroft, L.|
|Bauer, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Marshall of Leeds, L.|
|Bellwin, L.||Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Molson, L.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Morris, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Mottistone, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Munster, E.|
|Cockfield, L.||Norwich, Bp.|
|Coleraine, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Pender, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Rankeillour, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Renton, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Rodney, L.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Romney, E.|
|Eccles, V.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||St. Davids, V.|
|Elton, L.||Saltoun, Ly.|
|Fortescue, E.||Shannon, E.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Swinton, E. [Teller.]|
|Taylor of Hadfield, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Teviot, L.|
|Hanson, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Hemphill, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Henley, L.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Hives, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Hood, V.||Trumpington, B.|
|Hornsby-Smith, B.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Vickers, B.|
|Kitchener, E.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Westbury, L.|
|Long, V.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ [Amendment No. 12 not moved.]
§ 6.12 p.m.
Lord Ennals moved Amendment No. 12A:
Page 5, line 20, at end insert—
("( ) Before the end of such period as the Secretary of State may specify for the purposes of this subsection, London Regional Transport shall submit to the Secretary of State for his approval written proposals for the formation by them of a company for the
purpose of providing passenger transport for disabled members of the public who are unable to travel by bus or by underground railway.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, following the last speech of the noble Earl and the Division that took place, I shall have no difficulty in securing the passage of the first of these two amendments. He was taking a very strong line indeed in answer to my noble friend Lord Underhill that it was his objective that the Government should set out the structure that they wanted to see; they were not prepared to leave the discretion to the London Transport authority and the decision would be taken in advance. Therefore it follows naturally and logically from this that he will accept Amendment No. 12A. We are back to the problem of those disabled people who are unable to travel by bus or by Underground railway.
I should have said that it has been agreed through the usual channels that Amendment No. 18A should be taken at the same time, since it covers issues that are similar.
Amendment No. 18A: Page 11, line 5, at end insert—
(c) in making payments to any other person or company providing services for disabled members of the public who are unable to travel by bus or by underground railway.").
§ Amendment No. 12A would require London Regional Transport to submit written proposals to the Secretary of State for the formation by it of a company to provide transport services for disabled members of the public. Once again this would allow for the provision of a service similar to that provided by the Dial-a-Ride scheme, though it would no doubt embrace the whole area covered by London Regional Transport. The example I give from my own experience of the organisation that might be established is that of Motability. When it was decided some years ago to phase out the tricycles for the disabled, the decision was taken to establish an organisation called Motability which, with the sponsorship and backing of the Government and some financial assistance, provides vehicles linked with the mobility allowance. It seems to me that that was a good pattern for an organisation and it has done marvels for disabled people. This is a clear way in which London Regional Transport could carry out its obligations.
Amendment No. 18A concerns the making of payments. The wording is:
to any other person or company providing services for disabled members of the public who are unable to travel by bus or by underground railway".
This amendment would enable London Regional Transport to give grants to people providing services for disabled members of the public. Naturally we are concerned about the status, as I mentioned earlier, of the GLC black cab scheme, following the introduction of the new transport board. I welcome the involvement of the Department of Transport in the development of the new CR6 taxi and we look forward to its arrival on the market.
§ However, for the vast majority of disabled people the cost of a taxi is way out of their financial reach and at present the GLC black cab scheme enables disabled people who are members of the scheme to travel at a cost of 1 for a journey that may be worth up to £6; but the taxi-driver is refunded with the difference. Once 813 again it is important that such a scheme is continued and organised centrally. Taxi drivers may understandably feel very disinclined to take disabled passengers if they have to apply for a refund from individual local authorities, if there is no one central authority in existence. I hope that there will be a central authority; that is the purpose of Amendment No. 12A. But if there is no central authority, the London Regional Transport authority should be given the powers to make payments for these people who are unable to use the normal facilities provided by London Transport.
§ I hope that as a result of these two amendments the Minister will give his thinking on how he sees both Dial-a-Ride and the GLC black cab scheme being organised and financed. As I said, the Minister was so very clear on the last amendment that it was the job of the Government to set the pattern clearly, so much so that he determined to insist it remained in the Bill in spite of the arguments of my noble friend Lord Underhill. I should like the Minister to explain his thinking about how the organisation and financing will be set up for disabled people unable to use the normal facilities of London Transport.
§ Lord Somers
My Lords, I should like to support this. I do not want to go through once again all the various difficulties that lie before the disabled, but I should like to remind the noble Earl—though I do not think he needs it—that disabled people literally have no alternative. If they do not have these special services, then they are fixed and stay at home. That is all there is to it. I sincerely hope that the noble Earl may see fit to accept this.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, when he introduced his amendment. I can see that he is drawing on an impeccable precedent, and I rather expected to have my leg pulled in that way. Perhaps he would not be altogether surprised if I said that I still cannot recommend it to the House.
In this case the amendment would anticipate decisions yet to be taken on the organisations concerning services for severely disabled people. It would commit LRT to a form of organisation which might, in the event, prove not to be the most useful.
I appreciate what the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said and I hope he will take some comfort from the words that I shall give him. It is not necessary to take firm decisions at this stage on this issue. I can assure the House that the Bill contains all the powers that are needed for LRT to co-operate in providing services for the severely disabled. LRT's general power under paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to carry passengers applies to carrying severely disabled people, and its power under Clause 3(1) to establish companies also applies to the organisation of services for them. Moreover, the Secretary of State has power in Clause 32(7) to require LRT to set up a company for the purpose. I do not dispute in any way the value which attaches to services such as Dial-a-Ride, and I believe that I made this evident in my earlier remarks.
As far as concerns the second amendment to which the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, spoke—and I am grateful to him for explaining it—our view is simply that the 814 amendment is not required. As I have said on earlier amendments, the effect of our amendment to Clause 2 is to confirm that the LRT's general duty extends to disabled people. It will be for the LRT to determine what provision they consider they ought to secure for disabled people, including the severely disabled, having due regard to their needs.
Any such provision is likely to be secured as a result of LRT entering into a Clause 3(2) agreement with another operator or company., It will therefore be covered by the provision already made in Clause 12(2)(h), which enables LRT to apply grant for the purpose. Indeed, they are required to apply grant in so far as it appears appropriate to do so in discharging their general duty. I believe that LRT will therefore already have the powers to do what the amendment would require. For instance, they would be able to support such schemes as the GLC Taxicard scheme for the disabled which the GLC has recently extended London-wide.
I hope that with those explanations of these two amendments (which the noble Lord will appreciate we have not had very much time to look at) he will feel that to some extent we cover what he is asking for.
§ Lord Ennals
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for the extent to which he accepted the arguments that I put forward. I, myself, feel that to set up a very clear pattern in advance would not be wise. I will therefore stop pulling his leg and now come back to agreeing with my noble friend Lord Underhill, whose support I always wish to have and always will have. I think it still remains to be seen what is the best method. I think that by now, if the noble Earl did not realise before, he does perceive that there are some major problems of financing and of organisation; and I think that as a result of this brief exchange, even, and of the reply that he gave—and, if I may say so with a little more leg pulling, I think the chap who writes his briefs on this subject is certainly better than the chap who writes his briefs on some of the other subjects—there will be a greater understanding by the London Transport Authority when it comes into existence that it has got to tackle these problems very seriously. With the assurance that has been given by the noble Earl, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 6 [Obligation to invite tenders]:
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 6, line 25, at end insert—
(" ( ) In subsection (I) above "other persons" shall include the present employees of London Regional Transport.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, whenever words such as those in the amendment are inserted—words which suggest that "other persons" should include the present employees of London Regional Transport—there is a tendency, particularly in your Lordships' House, in another place and perhaps even wider, towards a polarisation of attitudes. Immediately, direct works are looked upon either with starry eyes or with very deep suspicion. I think that both these attitudes are quite doctrinaire. There is a place within such an organisation, or within a 815 subsidiary of it, particulary an organisation as vast and as long-established as London Transport and with the experience of London Transport for having groups of people who carry out specialised work for them.
§ This was the historic origin of many of the direct works organisations; but it is actually more than that now. Because of modern accounting systems, London Transport Builders—just to instance one group of London Transport employees who work for the organisation—have been set up and have constituted one of the so-called profit centres within London Transport. It is now required to tender in the face of private competition for a range of work which would previously have been allocated to it internally and administratively.
§ I understand that a considerable amount of basic work has been done on this profit centre. A schedule of rates for work for London Transport Builders has been established, and a basis of pricing for outside tendering has also been established along with a sophisticated accounting system. These are things that we should surely welcome and recognise as safeguards for the taxpayer and the ratepayer within the organisation of London Transport Builders. A fully independent trading account system has not yet been established; but this is coming. I know that there has been a number of instances where they have tendered higher than the lowest tender, and in some cases a fair amount higher. These are teething troubles. I would think that gradually, as more experience is gained—not in their work but in their pricing and in costings—London Transport Builders will be able to compete very successfully (not exclusively, but very successfully) with outside bodies.
What I am concerned about is that in a large and complicated organisation like London Transport there should be, in addition to the purely administrative and organisational arms of the business, a technical and practical arm to enable it to keep pace with the rest of the world. The House may allow me to make a slight amendment to something I said earlier on the same subject, in column 1596 of the Official Report of 17th May, when I said that,
people will tell you that they [London Transport] sell 150 yews of mistakes all over the world".
§ I should say that it is actually London Transport themselves who are proud of the fact that, having been in business for so long, and having made so many mistakes, they can tell the rest of the world about these mistakes. Until fairly recently, until their capitalisation was cut back, and until the rest of the world began to spend many more millions on public transport than is the case in this country, London Transport were way ahead of the world. As they put it jocularly, but very truly, they said that they sold mistakes and said, "Please, do not do this!"
§ I should hate to think that they would not be able to continue to benefit the rest of the world, not from their mistakes (because the mistakes were a small part of it) but through the very great work that they have done in the past and hopefully will continue to do in the future. For instance, I should like to see London Transport being allowed to maintain a small tunnelling force all the time; a constant tunnelling force which could be easily built up and perhaps augmented when 816 necessary, but learning all the time and using the new techniques all the time.
§ I think that this amendment would be an improvement to the Bill. With all the safeguards in it that I have tried to indicate to the Minister, I hope that he will feel that an amendment such as this, or approximately such as this, with the intention behind it that I have tried to explain, is acceptable. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, for his further explanation, and indeed for his little talk on how to sell our mistakes. We debated this (admittedly at rather a late hour) the other day. I am sorry if my answer on that occasion did not wholly satisfy the noble Lord. I am afraid that, even with his further remarks, I remain in some doubt. Let me try to explain why. We fully accept that any LRT employees should be able to tender in response to invitations made by LRT; but the fact is that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent them from doing so. Indeed, it has already become accepted practice for employees to be invited to tender in addition to outside companies. It is, we believe, in LRT's interest to act this way since it allows them to compare the cost of having a job done in-house against the cost of contracting out. This seems a basic principle which does not need to be given statutory force.
If the noble Lord had cited examples of where the absence of the statutory requirement had given rise to practical difficulties, we might wish to reconsider but we are not aware of any such problems. Clause 6 of the Bill as drafted follows Section 8 of the Transport Act 1983, which currently applies to passenger transport executives as well as to London Transport. We see no need to depart from the tendering arrangements as they have already applied under the 1983 Act.
I do not know whether that will satisfy the noble Lord, but perhaps I could also say that we have worries in that to accept the amendment would only cast doubt on the position which applies to passenger transport executives or indeed in other spheres where no specific requirement of this kind is made. As the noble Lord will understand, we agree that what he suggests should happen but do not think that his amendment is necessary.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that very full explanation. There was just the possibility that, by including the amendment as I moved it, it would have given encouragement to employees of London Transport. However, I am very glad that the Minister has made the position so clear and that it is on record. I am very pleased to be able to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.33 p.m.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 6, line 44, at end insert ("provided that such tender would be carried out in accordance with recognised wages and other conditions of service.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an extremely important amendment. It is vital that if there is to be 817 proper competition, as the Government wish within the tendering process, the basis of the competition should be correct and equal. It is well known that the direct labour organizations—or those which are the offspring of London Transport—provide training, good and reasonable employment and working conditions, and, perhaps rather importantly, they keep people for a fairly long time within their organisation. They tend to have fewer people moving in and out of the organisation and therefore they have a greater stability.
§ Sometimes, because of the better conditions they offer compared with many private concerns—not all, by any means, but many of the private contractors —they are hampered by the costs involved when competing with these outside contractors who do little training. This, of course, is true of private industry as well; some seem to do all the training and take on all the apprentices while others come along and cream them off.
§ As well as the training aspect and the better conditions, many outside groups use "labour only" contracts. They have the very minimum health and safety provisions for their employees; there is no necessity for them to guarantee the payment of national insurance for their employees, and there have been many instances in which firms have collapsed owing a great deal of money in national insurance contributions, which of course reverted back to their employees who found themselves short of the necessary qualifications, perhaps for unemployment benefit and ultimately for a pension. In addition, personal accident insurance was not taken out by the employers for their employees and frequently the standard of work was not as high as it would be now.
§ I emphasise that I am not by any means saying that this applies to all private employers or even to the majority; I am concerned about a rather small number of private employers who periodically manage to acquire contracts with public bodies. I feel it is vitally important that the minimum on which we should insist from these organisations, as I have suggested in the amendment, is fair conditions for their employees so that direct labour or direct works can compete on the same basis.
I believe that the fairly innocuous words,
provided that such tender would be carried out in accordance with recognised wages and other conditions of service".
will not at all harm the vast number of good employers but would be a great safeguard for the employees of some of the much less scrupulous ones. I beg to move.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, although I have not got my name on this amendment I do support it. The problems to which the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, has alluded are ones which worry a great many people as privatisation becomes more and more a fact of life these days. A concern that one hears raised on many occasions, when local authorities are privatising their dustbin service, when health authorities are privatising laundry services and so on, is that this should not be a charter for the cowboys. I am sure that the Government would not wish that to be the case, but I do think that something needs to be written into the Bill.
818 I am not sure that the Government will not say that the phrase "recognised wages" is perhaps too widely drawn, but if they are not happy with the wording perhaps they could give some assurance that they themselves will come up with some appropriate wording. I am sure that it is not in the Government's interests to give the impression that they want these situations to arise other than with the greatest care not only on wages, as the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, has said, but in matters of health, safety, training and all the other general conditions of work. This is a very genuine worry for people even if they are on neither side of the dogmatic divide.
As noble Lords will be aware, on these Benches we do not take a dogmatic view on privatisation or nationalisation; we try to take a more pragmatic view than is taken in other parties, particularly in another place. Nevertheless, it is necessary to ensure in those cases where parts of enterprises are being privatised that the competition is fair and that the cowboys are not allowed to undermine the sensible practices of people who may be forced to tender at a higher level because they are doing the sort of things that are good industrial practice and are providing reasonable wages.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I appreciated a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said, and indeed I appreciated what the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, said. I should like to try to allay their worries and say that we do indeed agree with fair competition and would not wish the kind of cowboy operations which the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, described to come into operation.
First, perhaps I should emphasise to the House that, as I said on an earlier occasion, Clause 6 is not a blanket provision. It already provides a discretion for LRT to decide when it is appropriate to invite tenders. Having done so, LRT are not then required simply to accept the lowest tender. The two tests provided in the clause are that acceptance of a tender should result in the relevant activity being carried out satisfactorily and more cheaply—in other words, LRT are required to satisfy themselves that accepting a particular tender will fully present value for money and will not result in handing over to a cowboy operator, as the two noble Lords feared.
It would make for unnecessary complexity, believe, to require LRT to take account of recognised wages and conditions of service. Indeed, I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, for his explanation of what it did actually mean because I think it is a fairly wide-drawn phrase and his explanation was very useful.
However, I am not at all convinced that it would be helpful and our main objection is that we believe the amendment would tend to frustrate rather than encourage competition. For that reason we would prefer the noble Lord not to press it. I fully appreciate the worry behind the speeches of both noble Lords, and I should like to assure them that the Government in no way wish to encourage cowboy operators. We believe that Clause 6 is drawn in such a way that LRT would be able to prevent this.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
My Lords, I can understand what the Minister has said in explanation and I have great personal faith in his good intentions, but I am not sure that, as time goes on such intentions are always interpreted in quite the way that was intended when put forward by a Minister at such a time as this. It is perfectly possible for a job to be done satisfactorily and more cheaply by "cowboys". I am not saying they are incompetent but all the other things I have suggested such as health and safety, and so on, may not perhaps be carried out and therefore that would be unfair competition, although the standard of work might he perfectly reasonable. In fact, it could very well be that, because they do not pay all those expenses there is something in an envelope on a Friday night for the workers—as happened not very far away from this Palace some years ago. That became quite a notorious case. Therefore it is perfectly possible to get a good job and a cheap job and, hence, unfair competition, because all the basic things are not done.
I feel rather unhappy about this and I hope that the Minister, before the next stage, will look at this again and perhaps at the next stage will be able to tell us if there is any way in which the wording can be tightened up to allow the intention to be shown in the Bill. I know that it is a terribly difficult thing to write intentions into a Bill but I am sure that the Minister has sufficient ingenuity to be able to do that. In that hope, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 7 [Planning of passenger transport services for Greater London]:
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 15:
Page 7, line 32, at end insert—
( ) any agreements which London Regional Transport have made or propose to make with the Railways Board under any section of this Act with respect to the provision of integrated level and structure of fares, common ticketing facilities and co-ordinated route planning by London Regional Transport and the Board for public passenger transport services provided by them both within Greater London and other arrangements.")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I think it would be helpful if I dealt with Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 together.
Amendment No. 16: Page 7, line 32, at end insert—
( ) arrangements London Regional Transport have made or propose to make with the local authorites in the area to which the statement relates so as to integrate their services with the town planning, traffic and parking policies of the local authority concerned.")
§ I would point out that Clause 7 imposes a duty on LRT to prepare from time to time statements setting out their policies and the action taken or proposed to be taken to implement those policies. I think there is general agreement that these statements could be extremely helpful. Subsection (2), to which these amendments relate, lists three matters with which in particular the statement shall deal. If I may paraphrase, these are the policies and plans of LRT's subsidiaries and any major changes or developments and arrangements made between London Regional 820 Transport and the Railways Board to secure co-operation. Also included are details of arrangments made with BR or other persons in the provision of transport services.
§ In the two amendments which I am putting forward are other matters with which any statement should deal. Amendment No. 15 seeks to include details of agreements made with BR with respect to the integrated level and structure of fares, common ticketing facilities and co-ordinated route planning. Your Lordships will recall that on a previous amendment all these were considered to be desirable things. They are important, and they are matters which ought to be included in the statement of policy so that we can see what progress is being made and what plans are proposed for the future.
§ Amendment No. 16 proposes to include in the statement details of arrangements made or proposed to be made with local authorities in the area so that LRT shall integrate their services—I am sorry to use the word "integrate" but I think we have proved that it is really the only word that can be used—with the town planning, traffic and parking policies of the particular local authority. I think it will be agreed that these are very important matters of public policy.
§ It will be recalled that at the Committee stage I also submitted a third amendment, which proposed that the statement should set out the financial position of LRT, together with its financial prospects and a summary of the financial position. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, expressed some sympathy at the time with the aims of the amendment and asked for a withdrawal so that consideration could be given to bringing forward an amendment at Report stage. That was most encouraging and I wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, because he will be proposing his Amendment No. 17, which carries out that promise which he made at Committee stage.
However, the arguments put forward against the other two amendments were rather strange. With regard to what is now Amendment No. 15 the noble Lord said that it was better to avoid putting in a statute provision,
for details which ought to be matters either for common sense of the parties concerned or for specific directions to the LRT Board, if necessary".—[Official Report, 14/5/84; col. 1257.]
§ If one worked on the basis of leaving out things that are "common sense", I think it might make rather a mess of a lot of legislation which we feel we have to have. I note the different attitude taken on these directions to the direction being given, in advance of the Bill being passed, to set up subsidiaries. That is the very thing we discussed on the previous amendment.
§ The second objection which was put forward by the Minister was to the effect that the amendments proposed matters which were not defined in the Bill. I find it very difficult to appreciate that the questions we had in mind are not defined anywhere in the Bill. The integrated level and structure of fares, common ticketing facilities and co-ordinated route-planning seem to be fairly obvious things which do not require interpretation, but if they are considered proper to be put into the statement, I cannot believe it is beyond the wit of the parliamentary draftsmen to put in an interpretation clause, saying exactly what these items refer to. These are all important questions.821
The argument against Amendment No. 16 which was put forward on Committee stage, frankly, I found even less understandable. The noble Lord said at col. 1258:
We do not believe that it would be sensible to impose this requirement on LRT when they are formulating their Clause 7 statement.
§ The Minister argued that the Bill contains provisions that the LRT shall consult with local authorities and others during the preparation of the statement, but he claimed that it was unrealistic to set out in that statement the ways in which planned services may have to take account of their knowledge of local authorities' development plans.
It must be stressed that, if London Transport were to continue under GLC general policy, those matters would be considered by the GLC; they would be generally available to the public and also open to public scrutiny. But then the Minister said a rather amazing thing. He said that this would entail weighing down the statement—and I give his words—
with a great deal of detail, of interest to a very few,".
I cannot believe that matters dealing with the integration of services, town planning and the traffic and parking policies of a particular local authority are of interest to a very few. I should like to feel that the Minister, having been so kind in taking back the amendments I proposed last time and bringing forward a new amendment this time, would see the point and would either accept the two amendments I am now proposing, or bring those forward in a different form at the Third Reading stage. I beg to move.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for taking these two amendments together. I have to say at the outset that, while I have some sympathy with the spirit of the first, hake not been able to find in what he has said to your Lordships just now, anything different from what he said during our earlier consideration of this matter, apart from his critical comments upon the arguments I advanced during that stage. I fear that I have no new arguments to offer, so I will reiterate with a few embellishments those which I advanced before.
This Bill provides for close co-ordination between both LRT and British Rail. One purpose of requiring this close co-operation is to improve-just the kind of things that form the subject matter of both amendments—such things as common ticketing facilities and the avoidance of costly duplication of services. It is this sort of issue which my right honourable friend the Secretary' of State has in mind as among some of the first matters to be discussed through the liaison arrangements which he himself is to oversee.
Nevertheless, as I said when we discussed these matters before, we do not feel able to accept the amendments. We have serious doubts about the drafting. If I said that it is difficult to frame in legislation some of the concepts mentioned in the amendments, the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, would say—I think he did say—that it cannot be beyond the imagination of the parliamentary draftsmen. But for example what does "integrated level of fares" mean? It does not seem to make perfect or readily 822 understandable sense. In any case, do we really want that? Surely, "common ticketing facilities" is easier to understand and appreciate; and it is this itself which implies the need for co-ordination of fares structure. It does not necessarily imply the need for an integrated level of fares. Again, the phrase "co-ordinated route planning" offers similar difficulties and problems. I think that this would lead to argument about the precise meaning, as I said on an earlier occasion.
I made the further point in Committee that the more we try to mention specific matters in Clause 7, or indeed anywhere, the more uncertain it becomes whether the matters which are not mentioned are still relevant for inclusion. This is a constant difficulty. It is for this reason that I do not believe it would be helpful to add to the matters that we have already referred to in the clause.
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, was kind enough to comment—perhaps a little in advance of our consideration of Amendment No. l7, which I shall move quite shortly—that we have made that concession. We have, I believe, met the undertaking that we gave. As regards the second amendment in this small group, I thought that, when we discussed it before, I had made it fairly clear that we had some sympathy with the spirit of the amendment. We agreed, for example, that in formulating their policies and their longer term plans London Regional Transport should be aware of the plans of the local authorities concerned. That is why this clause requires consultation with local authorities.
It was also agreed in another place that London Regional Transport should have regard to the development plans of the local authorities, and the Bill has been amended to take this into account. We further provide in Clause 43 for LRT to consult with local authorities over changes in bus services. As I said before, if we burden the Clause 7 statement with a good deal of detail, it will not be helpful. The Clause 7 statement is essentially a broad statement of strategy and policy objectives. It is not a detailed account of all LRT's actions over the period in question. I invite your Lordships to recall that we have spent a long time discussing those clauses which deal with planning. The more detailed matters of which the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, spoke this evening will be in the annual business plan under Clause 29 of the Bill. This provides for an annual progress report on all LRT's business and on the extent to which they are on course for their longer-term strategy.
Finally, there is a more specific objection on our part to the terms of these amendments, particularly in so far as they refer to arrangements to integrate LRT's services with the policies of local authorities. We have already discussed the general question of integration earlier this afternoon and I explained then some of our reservations. But in this case Amendment No. 16 refers to the town planning, traffic and parking policies of the local authorities. It will be for the Secretary of State to ensure that a co-ordinated transport policy will be developed for Greater London, in which the boroughs and the transport operators will be free to carry out their activities within clearly established guidelines.
I do not believe that it would be right to give London Regional Transport that role. They will have to take 823 account, as necessary, of the individual plans of the local authorities. But, as I have said, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will lay down the strategic guidelines to ensure that roads, traffic management and public transport in London are developed within a common framework. I have added slightly to what I said at the earlier stage. That is the explanation of why we feel, first, that these amendments are unnecessary and, secondly, that they will do nothing to advance the objectives of London Regional Transport. I invite the noble Lord to withdraw both amendments.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lord, I am sorry that the Minister takes that general view on these amendments, but I shall not argue the point. I could explain exactly what is meant by "integrated level and structure of fares". Such a simple explanation could easily be put into the Bill. The only comment I would make, before begging leave to withdraw, is that when I listened to the Minister it occurred to me that the Secretary of State will be a very busy man. He will take the place of all the authorities, he will take over all the consideration given by the Greater London Council committees, and he will be in the hands of the department, and of the Treasury, as to what he is to do. I am sorry that the Minister takes that view, because these are commonsense proposals. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 16 not moved.]
§ 6.58 p.m.
Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 17:
Page 7, line 32, at end insert—
("( ) Any statement prepared under this section shall deal with the financial prospects of London Regional Transport and any subsidiaries of theirs for the period to which the statement relates, having regard to any financial objectives determined for them by the Secretary of State under section 16 of this Act which, at the time when that statement is prepared. apply in relation to that period or any part of it.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I can be fairly brief here, because we have mentioned this amendment earlier. It is our response to the amendment which the noble Lord. Lord Underhill, moved at Committee stage. I said at that time that we had no objection to the spirit of his amendment and we agreed that the Clause 7 statement should contain some financial information. Indeed, we would think it strange if it did not do so.
§ This amendment requires London Regional Transport's statement to deal with the financial prospects of LRT and any of their subsidiaries for the period to which the statement relates, having regard to any financial objectives set by the Secretary of State. It is true that the wording of our amendment differs somewhat from the noble Lord's earlier amendment. We refer to London Regional Transport's financial prospects, rather than their financial position, and I suggest that our amendment is more in keeping with the nature of the Clause 7 statement which is, as I have just said, intended as a strategy document. LRT's financial position will of course be set out each year in 824 their annual report and statement of accounts. I do not think there is any difference of substance between us and I hope that the noble Lord will find that this amendment fully meets his points. I beg to move.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, I refrained from rising because, having jumped the gun. I had already thanked the Minister for this amendment. But I readily do so again and I think that this is a very helpful amendment.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 18:
Page 7, line 35, at end insert—
("( ) the National Bus Company and its appropriate subsidiaries;").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will remember that at the Committee stage I moved a number of amendments specifically to incorporate into the Bill the National Bus Company. At this stage I have not repeated all those amendments but have tried to focus on what I believe to be the most important aspects of the relationship between the National Bus Company and London Regional Transport.
§ The reason why I withdrew the amendments is that at that time we had not gone into the long argument about integration and planning. During the Committee stage (at col. 1175 of Hansard) the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, was good enough to refer to the difficulties he had encountered throughout his long experience of this matter, with, as he said, Green Line buses criss-crossing London, and lacking coordination with the remainder of the transportation system. The noble Lord was good enough to suggest that this matter ought to be referred to specifically in the Bill.
As I have already said, I have restricted myself to mentioning the National Bus Company only in relation to Clause 7, which refers to the duty of London Regional Transport to prepare statements of the policies they intend to pursue and the actions they propose to take in carrying out those policies. Subsection (3) states:
In preparing any statement under this section London Regional Transport shall consult with—(a) the railways board; (b) the local authorities concerned; (c) the Passengers' Committee; and (d) such other persons (if any) as London Regional Transport may think fit".
§ It seems to me that the National Bus Company, in particular the London Country services of that company, do not come under just any other category. They are a very substantial and specific part of the total transport system of Greater London and the hinterland of Greater London. There should be integration with London Transport (I shall withdraw the word "integration" because I see a frown on the noble Lord the Minister's face and instead will say "co-ordinated") and proper consultation between these two large organizations. The Minister referred at the Committee stage to the size of the NBC undertaking, to the very large number of bus miles that it undertakes and to the fact that it carries a very large number of passengers—not so many, by a factor of five 825 or so, compared with London Transport but nevertheless a very substantial slice of the total passenger movements in the south-east of England and across the borders of the Greater London area. I believe it to be important that the National Bus Company should be mentioned in this context. There should be a definite obligation for the NBC to be consulted before these plans are drawn up, otherwise, as sure as night follows day, there will be a mismatch.
§ Now that I have restricted myself to this specific point, I hope the Minister will be able to give an undertaking. I suggested at the Committee stage that the National Bus Company would be somewhat shaken by some of the things which were said then. It is my impression, from discussions that I have had with the NBC, that they were somewhat shaken—"alarmed" is perhaps too strong a word— by the way in which these amendments were dealt with at the Committee stage. I beg to move.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, we discussed at the Committee stage a very large group of amendments relating to the National Bus Company. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, for his opening remarks on this point. I appreciate that he feels fairly strongly about the matter—hence this amendment. I shall try again to reassure the noble Lord that the omission of a specific reference to the National Bus Company from the Bill implied no adverse comment on the company or their operations or, indeed, their management. The noble Lord knows better than anybody else in your Lordships' House that I, too, know the chief executive and the chairman. The noble Lord has, I feel, slightly exaggerated the feelings of the management of the NBC about this matter. Our view is that the NBC should not be singled out for special reference from among other operators who may be either providing services on LRT's behalf, under agreement, or independently of LRT under road service licences.
It is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said in Committee, that the NBC is a public operator for which the Secretary of State has responsibility. Nevertheless, we believe that it is right that the NBC should compete on equal terms with other private operators for services in the Greater London area, whether or not these are under LRT's control. We cannot accept that this arrangement would provide the mismatch which the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, seems to feel would follow. In practice, LRT will have as many powers under the Bill to enter into agreements with the NBC, and specifically with the London Country subsidiary, as London Transport have at present. I have no doubt in my mind that they will use these powers to the full. I have no doubt in my mind, either, that the NBC will co-operate over providing services for LRT.
Turning specifically to the amendment, I must say that, given the remarks I have just made about our general approach in the Bill, we do not believe that it would be appropriate to add the NBC or their subsidiaries to the list of bodies which LRT are required to consult, particularly over their strategy statements. They really do not come into the same kind of category as local authorities, or the passengers' committee, or British Rail. I am sure that LRT will be 826 in close contact with them, in so far as they have operating agreements with each other.
Clause 7 provides for LRT to consult other people, as appropriate. It must be virtually certain that in practice the NBC will be consulted. But we do not believe that a statutory requirement for the NBC to be consulted would sit at all happily with the general principles which I have outlined. I do not think I can add anything further in terms of setting out the general and specific objections to this amendment, which I invite the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, to withdraw.
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, the Minister said he felt sure that the London Transport Executive and all those involved would be in full agreement with and would have full cognisance of what the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, had said and what the amendment calls for. Since that is the case, one would have hoped that the Government would incorporate it in the Bill. That would have been the sensible course to take. Clause 7 is vital, since it relates to the planning of passenger transport services for Greater London. One sees immediately the need to consult British Rail. British Rail trains pour into the great London railway terminals. However, those of us who have lived in London for the majority of our lives know that there are other great termini. The bus termini are just as important. Therefore it seems to me to be right and proper that, as the Bill states, London Regional Transport should consult the Railways Board. Of course, it should consult also with local authorities and with the passengers' committee, and with such other persons as London Regional Transport may think fit.
I believe that it was in that particular respect that the noble Lord the Minister endorsed everything that the amendment said and expressed the hope that, because of the good sense of the amendment, London Regional Transport will have such consultations. This is surely not a massively destructive amendment. It ought to be accepted by the Minister on the same grounds and for the same sensible reasons as those which the Government have incorporated in the Bill, in saying that London Regional Transport should consult with British Rail. That would make it a neat, good and tidy job. I ask the Government most sincerely to include the amendment in this clause.
§ Earl Attlee
My Lords, I support fully what my noble friend Lord Tordoff has said, but I should like to add one suggestion. The new organisation has to discuss matters with various bodies, including British Rail. Does not the Minister feel that there is a chance that LRT will discount the importance of the National Bus Company because the Government have persistently refused to include them? I feel also that the general public may well say, "The National Bus Company and all its subsidiaries cannot be very much, because the Government have not included them in the Bill".
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, may I say from these Benches that we support the amendment as being common sense. Although this is Report stage, perhaps I may ask the Minister a question. Does he see no difference between the position of a nationalised 827 industry, which is what LRT will be, and a nationalised public undertaking such as the National Bus Company? Surely we ought to look at that point. The Secretary of State is responsible for both. Are the Government not ignoring completely the position of the network of the National Bus Company? Surely it is common sense that they must be consulted. I hope that the Minister will see the logic of this.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 18) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 52; Not-Contents, 73.828
|DIVISION NO. 4|
|Airedale, L.||Kaldor, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Bernstein, L.||Meston, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Birk, B.||Mishcon, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L||Mulley, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos. L.||Nicol, B.|
|Collison, L.||Oram, L.|
|David, B.||Phillips, B.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Denington, B.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs. B.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Falkland, V.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Stone, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Jeger, B.||White, B.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Abinger, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Airey of Abingdon, B.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Avon, E.|
|Halsbury, E.||Bauer, L.|
|Hanson, L.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Bellwin, L.|
|Henley, L.||Belstead, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Bessborough, E.|
|Hood, V.||Birdwood, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Brabazon of Tara, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Broadhridge, L.|
|Kitchener, E.||Brougham and Vaux, L.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Bruce-Gardyne, L.|
|Lawrence, L.||Caithness, E.|
|Long, V.||Campbell of Alloway, L.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Carnegy of Lour, B.|
|McAlpine of West Green, L.||Colwyn, L.|
|Mancroft, L.||Constantine of Stanmore, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Marshall of Leeds, L.||Craigavon, V.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Davidson, V.|
|Mersey, V.||Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Morris, L.||Eccles, V.|
|Mottistone, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Mountevans, L.||Elton, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Pender, L.||Swinton, E. [Teller.]|
|Rankeillour, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Renton, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Rodney, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Romney, E.||Trumpington, B.|
|Saint Oswald, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Sandford, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Skelmersdale, L.||Wards of Willey, V.|
|Strathclyde, L.||Westbury, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ [Amendment No. 18A not moved.]
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, it has been agreed through the usual channels that we should discontinue consideration of this Bill now. I therefore beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned, and that we should not return to this Bill until ten minutes past eight. I beg to move.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.