Clause 3

Part of Concessionary Bus Travel Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 5th June 2007.

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 12:00 pm, 5th June 2007

The amendment proposes that, two years after the commencement of the Act, a review be carried out of the reimbursement of operators by local authorities. Of course, I accept the principle that policies should be properly evaluated, and we will naturally review how the national bus concession is working after implementation in April 2008. However, the amendment looks at just one particular aspect and is not necessary.

There is already a procedure in place by which operators can appeal to the Secretary of State if they consider that they are being unfairly reimbursed for carrying concessionaires. Any formal review of reimbursement arrangements would conclude that a wide variety of such arrangements was in place, and that would reflect the different discretionary concessions and local circumstances around the country. I therefore see no real need for the amendment.

Under existing arrangements, authorities must balance their desire to secure value for money from their dealings with operators against the risk of appeal should their arrangements leave operators worse off. Although there is inevitable variety in the way in which those principles are applied, they remain the most appropriate and fair. Indeed, we have already set up a reimbursement task group involving local authorities and bus operators to look at improving the existing process.

The hon. Member for Wimbledon asked for an explanation of what “no better, no worse off” meant. Let me add to the points that I have made by saying that it is about taking account of the fares that would have been received, plus any extra costs from carrying new eligible passengers. That refers to both capital and revenue.