Clause 31

Part of Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 6th May 2008.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport) 11:45 am, 6th May 2008

Clause 31 provides the same approvals process that we have discussed previously. As I understand it, it is stating that the approvals process can apply to extensions as well unless they are deemed to be exempt extensions. That and the strong independent process of approval are vital and I am wary of circumstances in which they may be bypassed.

The clause sets out circumstances in which such an exemption would apply but the rules are somewhat complicated. If the Government believe that they are formulating an approvals process that does the job it is intended to do, can the Minister tell us why should there be exemptions from the process? It does not seem that there is any particular reason or benefit to the public validity of an approval or an extension that certain ones can suddenly become exempt from the process.

The approvals board is designed to be independent. It is a qualified group of individuals with the power to make decisions in the best interest of local people. That is the purpose of the board and that is what it should be allowed to do. I am, therefore, looking to the Minister to give us some clear indications of circumstances in which such exemptions might apply.