Lord Whitty (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions; Labour)
My Lords, I am willing to talk to anyone who is concerned about the issue. We have to take a decision on the amendment today. Passing it might make the situation worse for disabled passengers and travellers and for the general public. We have consulted our statutory advisers, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. It shares our view that the amendment would not achieve what we all want. Your Lordships should take DPTAC's view seriously. It is keen for accessible taxis to be available at stations. We have agreed to explore with the shadow Strategic Rail Authority the scope for ensuring that train operating companies include a requirement on the proportion of accessible vehicles in any contract. That would be an interim measure in advance of the introduction of the DDA taxi regulations, which will address the issues more fully, and the other provisions that would enable the Secretary of State to require the application of such requirements in exclusive contracts with minicab companies.
The amendment has further defects. It would impose a different duty from that proposed by the DDA. There is also an assumption that the regulator will be responsible for disability issues, whereas that responsibility rests with the Strategic Rail Authority.