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Bus Services Bill [HL] - Report (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 24th October 2016.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 5:45 pm, 24th October 2016

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for tabling his amendment. On the final point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, I say that training is incumbent on every element of this Bill. Where we can improve training, that should be the focus of how we move forward in this area.

Administration of service permits are intended to be used to allow commercial services that do not operate under a franchise contract to operate in a franchised area. They are most likely to be used for cross-boundary services, but an operator can also apply for them to provide other services that a franchised network of services does not cover. Under the Bill, the franchising authority, rather than the traffic commissioner, will be responsible for dealing with applications for service permits, and new Section 123R of the Transport Act 2000 enables that franchising authority to attach conditions to service permits in certain circumstances.

I totally agree with the noble Lord’s objective that there should be a sanction for operators who do not comply with such conditions. The Bill already achieves this by enabling local authorities to revoke or suspend a service permit if the holder has failed to comply with a permit condition. This can be found in the new Section 123S to the Transport Act 2000, on page 26 of the Bill.

The amendment would also add a power for the traffic commissioner to cancel the registration of a service if the operator has failed to comply with its service permit. Under new Section 123J of the Transport Act 2000, no services that operate within a franchised area are registered with the traffic commissioner, including those operated under service permits, so this addition would have no practical effect. For services of this nature in a franchised area, the permit effectively replaces the registration and the local authority has the powers that it needs to deal with the issue that the noble Lord raises.

I hope that the explanation I have given about the provisions already in the Bill reassures the noble Lord that the intent of his amendment, which I agree with, is already captured in Clause 4, and that he will be content to withdraw his amendment on that basis.