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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:47 pm on 24th October 2016.

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Photo of Lord Berkeley Lord Berkeley Labour 6:47 pm, 24th October 2016

My Lords, I very much support this amendment. My noble friend has set out very clearly why it is necessary. It is useful to reflect on the continuing difference in the way road and rail accidents and injuries are considered. I recall a few years ago when the Government were forming Highways England—I think that is the name of it now—several of us tabling an amendment which stated that the Office of Rail and Road, as it became, should be responsible for road safety. It was soundly rejected by the Government because it would have shown up just how unsafe the roads were, are and probably will be in the future.

I think my noble friend said that were 64 fatal bus collisions; I cannot remember whether it was last year or in a year. That compares with none on the railways, or maybe one in some years. Yet nobody even seems to think the subject worth collecting statistics on. She mentioned £2 million for every fatality, which is a figure that has long been used in the transport industry, be it in rail or road. It usually means that if the cause of the fatality can be identified and avoided from happening again for less than £2 million, you would spend the money on it, and if it was more than that you might not. If the value is the same, one’s only conclusion can be that the Government think that the value of a bus passenger’s life is less than the value of a rail passenger’s life when they die in a bus accident. This is a very dangerous situation to get into. We are not going to have an Office of Rail and Road looking after road safety tonight, but this amendment is a very good start to a debate that will probably go on for many years. I fully support it.