Clause 107

Local Transport Bill [ Lords ] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 8th May 2008.

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Suspension of charging schemes

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee

I beg to move amendment No. 265, in clause 107, page 84, line 4, at end insert—

‘(d) any specified motor vehicle.’.

The thinking behind the amendment is as follows. I told the Committee of my interest as chairman of the all-party historic vehicles group. Across Britain, many historic rally events take place on a regular basis. In some towns and cities, they have a heritage festival to celebrate their long association with transport. Coventry does that and it would not surprise me if Birmingham did it as well. Fundraising charitable organisations often have charity parades involving historic or classic vehicles for fundraising purposes.

The Bill gives power to authorities to suspend charging schemes for special occasions. It allows for part of a charging scheme to be suspended—the authority could choose to suspend two or three streets down which a rally was taking place. It also gives permission to exempt any class of motor vehicle. What it does not do is to give power to suspend the scheme for any specified motor vehicle. It may well be that there are vehicles of different classes in a classic parade or rally.

In every such case that I have been made aware of there is a requirement by the organisers that the vehicles must be pre-booked into the rally. The organisers will have a list of registration numbers of those cars genuinely taking part in the charitable event. It would therefore make sense to give the operators of the scheme a power to exempt only those cars that are taking part in the rally or parade.

I accept that the permission to hold the rally could be achieved by suspending the scheme, but it may well be that those running the scheme would argue that that would lead to substantial loss of revenue and they do not particularly want to make the area free to all for a particular day. They could equally argue that if the scheme was suspended for a historic rally—an occasion  when older vehicles are going to be on the road—there may be massive congestion because everyone else who wanted to go shopping would know that the scheme was being suspended and may decide to go into the town or city on the day of the suspension. It would be common sense to allow the operators of a scheme to be able to say, “We are not going to lose much revenue, we have the list of the 50 vehicles taking part in the event. It is a good cause, it is supported by the local population, we will exempt the following vehicles”, and then publish the list of vehicles so exempt.

That is what my amendment would do. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a wrecking amendment. It is a helpful amendment, because it would allow the charging of everyday vehicles to continue on the dates when the rally or festival was taking place. I would be interested to hear what the Minister has to say.

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 has said, his amendment would mean that where a charging authority operating a scheme is partially suspending a scheme, it could do so in respect of specific vehicles. As currently drafted, the clause allows for the partial suspension of a scheme in the event of an emergency or to facilitate a temporary event—for example, a parade, or carnival—to take place. That means, as he said, certain roads within the charging scheme could temporarily have the charge suspended to allow traffic to be diverted down them so as to avoid a road closed for an event such as a marathon.

Where, for example, an historic vehicle rally was being held within the charging area it would already be open to the charging authority, using the power in clause 107, to suspend charging on the roads that the rally would use and for the duration of the rally. Under the Transport Act 2000, it is already open to any local charging scheme to provide for exemptions or to reduce rates of charging which could be applied to defined events. A scheme could be drafted to exclude from the charging scheme vehicles taking part in a rally or charitable event. It would be possible, if vehicles were officially in the rally, for specific vehicles to be exempted from the charging scheme. I hope that is helpful.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee

I think I have got what I want. I would like to reflect on what the Minister has said when I can see her words in the Official Report . I thank her and on that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 107 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 108 and109 ordered to stand part of the Bill.