Passenger Transport Policies in County Areas

Part of Orders of the Day — Transport Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th May 1978.

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Photo of John Horam John Horam , Gateshead West 12:00 am, 17th May 1978

This is a complicated batch of amendments. I shall make two points about the Government amendments. They are essentially in response to criticism by the Opposition in Standing Committee. It was well-grounded criticism that Schedule 1 was extremely complicated. I accept that. The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) made the point in Committee that the numbering was a little odd. We have taken his views and comments into account. I can assure the Opposition that there is no change of substance in any of the amendments. They simply re-order the words so as to shorten the schedule and, I hope, to clarify it.

Amendment No. 6 is the most remarkable of all the amendments because it simply changes "6A" to "5". That is a consequential amendment. Amendment No. 34 alters the explanatory parenthesis in Clause 5 consequent upon amendments to the schedule. Amendment No. 35 represents an important change around because it imports into Clause 5 exemptions on advertising in the case of informal car-sharing arrangements and sets them out in a different and clearer form. It adds the cases where advertising can take place to the existing number of cases. As the Opposition know, the extra two places are in workplaces and in clubs. Putting the provisions into Clause 5 enables us to drop various parts of Schedule 1, and we do that in Amendments Nos. 52 and 54. Amendments Nos. 51, 55 and 57 are consequential upon that change.

That leaves Amendments Nos. 47 and 48. The object—the main part of Schedule 1—is to legalise car sharing with payment, first, between neighbours, the sort of informal arrangement that we have been talking about, and, secondly, sharing for social purposes, but to retain existing restrictions which prevent this from being done commercially, so as to protect public transport. In Committee I gave examples of taxis plying up and down a bus queue and taking separate fare-paying passengers.

This is simply a change in form to put it in a rather clearer way. In the Bill as it stands we had in effect a general ban and then a long list of specific exemptions. Now we have turned it round and we state the ban solely in relation to commercial activities. Thus private and social activities are entirely free.

Amendment No. 47 states this change and Amendment No. 48 drops the exemptions that are now in the Bill. That is a considerable shortening of Schedule 1, and I hope that it is much easier to understand.