§ Sir John Hannam
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance and what general authority to grant railway operating licences he has given to the Rail Regulator under the Railways Act 1993.
§ Mr. Freeman
My right hon. Friend issued guidance and a general authority to the Rail Regulator on 31 March to come into effect on 1 April at the same time as the relevant provisions of the Railways Act 1993 came into force. Copies have been placed in the Library.
Section 4(5)(a) of the Act imposes a duty on the regulator in exercising his functions under part I of the Act, until 31 December 1996, to take into account guidance given to him from time to time by the Secretary of State. Guidance has been given to the regulator to exercise his functions in a way that will facilitate the achievement of the Government's rail privatisation objective of securing as soon as is reasonably practicable that rail services are provided by the private sector. The guidance given is in respect of moderation of competition, the form of access agreements, the structure and level of access charges, access to British Rail's freight only light maintenance depots, the achievement by Railtrack of its financial regime and the terms and conditions of licences.
The general authority is given to the regulator under section 8(1)(b) of the Act. Broadly, it authorises the regulator to grant licences to private sector operators and to subsidiaries of the BR board but not to any other public sector operator. It sets out the conditions such licences must, may or must not contain.