Clause 12

Part of – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 24th April 2008.

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Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (Yorkshire and the Humber), Minister of State (Department for Transport) 10:00 am, 24th April 2008

I was coming to that point, to give some reassurance to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley and other Committee members. First, it is important to remember that councils will be statutory consultees. Secondly, every council will be represented on the authority. The opportunities are available. When we issue guidance—we shall come to clauses on governance later—we will expect local authorities and the integrated transport authorities to consult widely with the constituent councils in their area.

If a vast number of councils in an area do not agree with the approach being taken, we do not expect it to be forced on them; however, we must recognise that there might be situations in which, for example, one council refuses to endorse the implementation of a bus lane strategy throughout the area. As I said, many people who serve on passenger transport authorities say that it can be incredibly frustrating to try to put together good, integrated transport policies and not be able to. That is a difficult situation. It is a problem that often stands in the way of delivering good public transport, and we believe that the approach that we are adopting will assist the process and enable better delivery of transport in our major cities.

The safeguards—for instance, ensuring that consultees are statutory and that every PTA has a representative from each council—will effectively prevent a small minority of councils from imposing their will on a majority. We want a level of agreement, but we must take into account that there are difficulties at the moment that we cannot ignore if we want to enable integrated transport authorities to deliver good public transport in their area and good integrated transport strategies.

Amendment No. 7 would create a duty for integrated transport authorities to consult metropolitan district councils about their proposals, but as I said, clause 9 already imposes a requirement for the ITA to consult individual authorities when preparing or reviewing its local transport plan. That is already provided for.

Amendment No. 8 would enable a majority of metropolitan district councils opposed to a local transport plan to prevent it from having effect, but as I said, the current membership of passenger transport authorities is drawn from metropolitan district  councils. They are designed to be representative of their areas and ensure that the views of individual authorities are properly represented when a local transport plan is being drawn up, and that will continue after the creation of integrated transport authorities. A majority, at the very least, of the members of each ITA must be elected representatives of the authorities in that area.

We must get the balance right between acknowledging the problems faced in some areas by PTEs and assisting them in implementing proper ITAs, and at the same time giving the reassurance that I hope I have given by explaining the process that will be gone through and the fact that councils will be statutory consultees. There will be representatives from every council on the ITA. In later guidance, to which right hon. and hon. Members might like to contribute, we will set out some of the ways in which we believe it is possible to reach maximum agreement in order for ITAs to proceed effectively.

I hope that my comments reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley and I ask him to consider withdrawing the amendment.