Clause 50

Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 6th May 2008.

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Carrying of passengers in wheelchairs in vehicles providing local services

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee

I have raised this matter with the Minister before. She gave me an encouraging reply, but I should like it to be placed on the record again, particularly as clause 50 relates to the carrying of passengers in wheelchairs in vehicles providing local services, and clause 51 contains supplementary provisions. I should declare an interest as chairman of the all-party historic vehicles group, but I should like the Minister again to confirm that nothing in clause 50 or clause 51 can be used to prevent historic vehicles from carrying members of the public as part of a balanced passenger transport division. That is particularly important for tourist areas where historic vehicles—some of them are not even powered by the internal combustion engine; some are steam vehicles—are still used to carry passengers. It would be an over-the-top, heavy-handed approach if they were caught by this provision.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (Yorkshire and the Humber), Minister of State (Department for Transport)

As the right hon. Gentleman set out, clause 50 will apply certain duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles who provide local bus services, known as taxi buses, using a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. The duties include helping a person in a wheelchair to get in and out of a taxi, carrying them in safety and comfort and not making an additional charge for doing so. The clause signals the Government’s clear commitment to delivering more accessible taxis and to making it easier for disabled passengers to use public transport. This discussion refers back to our earlier discussion in which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned historic vehicles. I can assure him that this provision will not affect that. The clauses are about duties on drivers. As I said, accessibility regulations fall under part V of the DDA and relate to vehicle standards. They would be covered in that way.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.