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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 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) 6:00 pm, 24th October 2016

My Lords, in moving government Amendment 102, I shall speak also to government Amendments 103 and 105 to 109, and to Amendment 104, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones.

An important element of the Bill concerns the availability of journey planning information about bus services. This clause will facilitate the provision to passengers of information about timetables, fares, routes, tickets and live information about bus arrival times. The focus is on the provision of information that will be helpful to passengers in making informed decisions about their journey.

Amendments 102, 103, 106 and 108 seek to address the concerns specifically raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. The committee recommended that the new Section 141A should be amended to specify in the Bill the following: the purpose for which the information can be used; the persons or description of persons to whom the information is to be disclosed; and a duty on the Secretary of State to consult before making regulations. Amendment 102 specifies that the information required is that which the Secretary of State sees as necessary to make information about local bus services available to users or potential users of those services, or in order to facilitate the registration of local bus services. As a consequence, Amendment 103 is necessary to accommodate the new text in this part of the clause. Amendment 106 specifies the persons or description of persons to whom the information is to be disclosed. Amendment 108 requires the Secretary of State to consult persons representing the interests of operators, users of local services and local transport authorities whose areas are in England.

Government Amendments 105, 107 and 109 seek to clarify the intention of the Bill. Amendment 105 clarifies that live information includes information about the location of the vehicle, as well as information about its expected arrival time. This is to reflect recent comments made by some stakeholders that, in some instances, making the raw data on the location of the vehicle available may be a better option than requiring expected arrival times. Amendment 107 clarifies the ability for the regulations to specify that where the information provided in connection with an application for a registration is to be disclosed to a traffic commissioner, it can include applications to vary or cancel a service and not only applications to register a service. Amendment 109 reflects the fact that the Bill provides for bus registration powers to be delegated from the traffic commissioner to the local authority where an enhanced partnership is in place. It clarifies that references to the traffic commissioners are to be read as including references to any local transport authority which has been delegated the registration function under the enhanced partnership provisions.

Finally, I turn to Amendment 104, proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, which would allow information that may be prescribed to include information about the environmental impact of bus operations and vehicles. I am sympathetic to her desire to ensure that operators and local authorities are aware of the impact of local bus services on the environment. Let me assure noble Lords that other parts of the Bill will give local authorities greater powers to influence the type of vehicles used by operators when providing services, and I have tabled Amendments 4, 15 and 64 to clarify that franchises and enhanced partnerships may include requirements about emissions, fuel and power plant. However, I do not believe that information on the environmental impact of bus operations and vehicles is crucial for journey planning purposes, which is what this clause is concerned with. Indeed, the type of vehicle used can vary from journey to journey, so the environmental performance of a particular journey if different modes and different vehicles are used can vary accordingly. I hope that, with this explanation, the noble Baroness will not wish to press her amendment.

Again, these amendments underline how the Government have sought during the course of the Bill to reflect some of the concerns of the House and indeed those of the Delegated Powers Committee, which have also been incorporated into the government amendments. I beg to move.