The Transport Bill removes the remaining restrictions on the advertising of car sharing. I plan to bring the relevant provisions into force in October. Notes for guidance are being prepared and I am holding discussions with local authorities, companies and voluntary organisations. I am intending to encourage motorists to take full advantage of the new opportunities.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that car-sharing has the potential to play a most useful part in reducing wasteful congestion and the use of fuel? Does he agree that the use of public expenditure in this way could be extremely cost-effective? Will he, therefore, consider using all possible means of advertising, including television?
We shall certainly consider whatever means we can to encourage car-sharing, for the reasons that my hon. Friend has given. In London, for example, in the peak hours about 130,000 cars are coming into London, carrying only 176,000 people. I think that that shows the kind of potential that car-sharing has. There is great potential in the rural areas, as well.
Will my right hon. Friend consider examining and, perhaps introducing, the scheme which operates in Istanbul using vehicles known as dolmus? A dolmus is a vehicle which is like a taxi, which picks up people on the way down a pre-ordained route and puts them down on that route—
It does not fill up just once. It is like a bus, but it is a taxi. It is more flexible than a bus. The charge is about a quarter of the price of a taxi. It is very useful in some parts of the world. It could be a very useful innovation in the United Kingdom.
I welcome my hon. Friend's example. I think that the general point that he makes is very good—that we should look at new ways of serving the travelling public. I believe that car-sharing is one way and the Government are certainly prepared to look at other new, alternative, ways, because I believe that the criterion should be the service to the travelling public. That is what matters, above all.
Is the Minister still satisfied that those people offering their cars for car-sharing will not have to pay an extra premium on their insurance and, indeed, that the passengers in the car, if involved in an incident, are not likely to be denied a claim for damages because it is considered that it is "hire and reward" scheme?
I am convinced on both of the points that the hon. Gentleman raises. In case there is any doubt, I think that the message should go forth that insurance policies cover car-sharing. That was one of the things—and I pay tribute to them—that the previous Government cleared up. Therefore, the obstacles in the way of car-sharing have now been removed. I believe that this can make a very useful contribution to urban and rural mobility.