Clause 54

Part of Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:33 pm on 6th May 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) 5:33 pm, 6th May 2008

I turn to the second part of the amendment, which would place a limit on the annual turnover of a community bus operator. It has always been a requirement of the permit regimes for the voluntary sector that buses are not operated with a view to profit, either directly or indirectly. I understand that the bodies that currently operate under section 22 permits are very small, and that the services that they operate are, almost by definition, ones that would not be of interest to a commercial operator.

We hope that such services will expand; members of the Committee have already made points about the rural bus sector. Such services provide the community transport sector with a lot of opportunities to expand, but I do not imagine that it will be in a position to compete with commercial operators, nor do I believe that it would want to. That part of the amendment is, therefore, not necessary either, because it is already covered in the permit regime. I hope that has answered the questions asked by the hon. Member for Wimbledon.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about cowboys, and I draw his attention to section 22(3) of the 1985 Act, which states:

“A traffic commissioner shall not grant a community bus permit unless he is satisfied that there will be adequate facilities or arrangements for maintaining in a fit and serviceable condition any vehicle used under the permit.”

I hope that I have illustrated that although I understand the hon. Gentleman’s points about safety and not-for-profit restrictions, those matters are adequately covered under the current system.