HC Deb 17 June 2002 vol 387 cc72-4W
John Barrett

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many representations were received in response to the consultation discussion paper on the blue badge scheme by the Disabled Person's Advisory Committee; [61915]

(2) what recommendations were made to the Government by the Disabled Person's Transport Advisory Committee following its study into the blue badge scheme; and if he will make a statement; [61919]

(3) how many people were (a) charged and (b) convicted of fraud as a result of misuse of blue badge disability vehicle stickers in each year since 1995; [61913]

(4) when he expects to announce his conclusions on the operation of the blue badge scheme, following the investigation carried out by the Disabled Person's Transport Advisory Committee. [61916]

Mr. Jamieson

A total of 307 responses were received to the discussion paper on the blue badge scheme which was issued in December 2001. The Disabled Persons Transport Committee (DPTAC) were asked to look at those responses and they submitted their recommendations to Ministers at the beginning of May. We are currently considering their report and would plan to publish it when we announce a decision on the future shape of the Scheme during this summer. We will then be looking at the mechanics of implementation and consulting again on firm proposals.

General practitioners have never had the power to issue blue badges. They may be consulted as part of the assessment process but the final decision on eligibility is made by the issuing authority against the criteria listed in The Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (England) Regulations 2000 [SI 2000/682]. The role of GPs in this procedure is being considered as part of the current review of the Scheme and I would not want to pre-empt our full consideration of DPTAC's report at this stage.

No records are kept centrally by my Department on the number of charges and convictions for misuse of disabled persons' parking cards, there is no legal requirement for local authorities to collate such data.

Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to reduce(a) abuse of the Blue Badge Scheme and (b) the use of disabled parking bays by unqualified users. [61343]

Mr. Jamieson

The Blue Badge Scheme only applies to on-street parking. Local authorities, who are responsible for administering the scheme, have a wide variety of powers available to tackle abuse.

In terms of the badge: it is an offence under section 117 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the badge itself to be misused by a non-disabled person, the maximum fine on conviction being £1,000. Local authorities have powers to withdraw a badge if the holder constantly misuses it or allows it to be misused by others.

In respect of disabled persons parking bays: it is an offence under section 47 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to park a vehicle which is not displaying a badge in a designated disabled persons' parking bay.

The issues of abuse and misuse of badges are a major part of a review of the scheme that we are currently undertaking. We have already held a wide ranging consultation and the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC, our statutory advisers on the transport needs of disabled people) have considered the responses and have put forward recommendations to Ministers. We are currently considering their report and we hope to be able to make a decision on the way forward during the summer.

In the meantime, it is open to anybody to bring instances of abuse to the attention of the police, traffic wardens or the appropriate local authority and we will continue to work with these bodies and with organisations representing disabled people to minimise the potential for abuse and misuse.