Clause 1

Part of Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 22nd April 2008.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport) 10:45 am, 22nd April 2008

I was not going to question the clause because much of what is proposed in relation to traffic commissioners is largely uncontroversial. To a great extent, the issues that we have are ones of consultation and detail. However, on re-reading my notes and some of the Bill this morning, it seemed to me that section 32 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 allows the Secretary of State to vary the extent or number of traffic areas. Clause 1 provides for new subsections to be inserted. Those subsections allow that any order made under the clause may include modifications and amendments to enactment, or indeed to allow the effect of full change to traffic areas.

As I understand it, the Government’s intent with clause 1 is to give the Secretary of State powers—or to reinforce the powers—to vary, limit or abolish traffic areas. I want to establish that that will be the effect of the clause. The Bill, we believe wrongly, de-aligns traffic commissioners from traffic areas. I will explore later, in much more detail, why we think that there is some benefit for local people in having traffic commissioners attached to local areas. I accept that, previously, there was the contention that there were not enough resources in local areas, but that does not necessarily undermine the argument that traffic commissioners should be aligned to traffic areas.

Will the Minister clarify whether the clause exists so that, later in the Bill, she can de-align traffic commissioners from traffic areas, or for another reason?