Transport Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 9th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Swinfen Lord Swinfen Conservative 6:00 pm, 9th November 2000

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate on this group of amendments. I was interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, said about Cambridge and Eastbourne. I am delighted that the situation there appears to have been resolved. However, that does not stop such a situation occurring at other stations in the future.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said that banning exclusive contracts could mean that there would not necessarily be a certain supply of vehicles at stations to collect passengers. However, there is not a certain supply of vehicles to collect passengers at the moment. Last night my wife arrived at Canterbury East station and waited for half an hour. Still no taxi came, and no mini cab would have come either because it happened to be a busy time of the evening. Nothing in life is that certain.

The noble Lord also said that the exclusive contract, particularly in relation to cab firms, would mean that fares could be controlled. Fares for taxis are already controlled by the licensing authorities. So far as I am aware, that includes out-of-area fares. However, controlling fares is not always so easy with regard to minicab firms.

I know that at present not all taxis are accessible. However, more are becoming available as vehicles are replaced by those which are accessiblle. That is the not the case with regard to minicabs or ordinary hire vehicles. There is no way that the Minister can guarantee that in future minicabs will be accessible; nor can he guarantee what will appear in exclusive contracts, either for taxis or minicab firms.

I am always very happy, as the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, suggested, to meet with the noble Lord, Lord Whitty. I enjoy his company and at times he talks a lot of sense. However, I am afraid that I still disagree with him about this group of amendments. He said that they contained technical difficulties. If this amendment is accepted, it will go to the other place where they will have an opportunity to correct any technical difficulties. I am sorry but I am not entirely satisfied with the Minister's reply and I should like to test the opinion of the House.