Clause 60

Part of Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 6th May 2008.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Manchester, Blackley 6:15 pm, 6th May 2008

In my quest to make the Whips’ lives that much easier, I thought that it would be worthwhile to ask some questions and make some statements on this clause to save us having a debate on new clause 10. The purpose of the previous three or four clauses that we have debate is to increase the enforcement powers of the traffic commissioners and to help them to deal with bus services that do not comply with registration requirements. Clause 60 deals with the prevention of the misuse of records and the need to make them available for inspection. It seems to me that both aims are quite worthy; I agree with them and support the clause.

If, however, we really want to check rogue and cowboy operators, both large and small, it would be worth while ensuring that bus companies have real-time, global positioning system information available, and requiring them to keep that information on a historical basis. We have only to talk to drivers, certainly of the larger bus companies in Greater Manchester, such as Stagecoach and FirstGroup, and they will explain very quickly that if they are running behind schedule, they will either miss out stops or take  shortcuts, and that they will not comply with their registration. However, the records will show that they left on time and arrived on time. They will not show that they did not travel along the right route.

The only way for commissioners or any inspection body ever to get that right is for accurate GPS information to be made available in real time and kept for historical inspection purposes. That is the purpose of new clause 10, but it might save time if, in considering clause 60, my right hon. Friend would recognise that problem and agree that there are more effective forms of record keeping.