Extension of grant-making powers
(1) Section 106 of the TA 1985 (grants for transport facilities and services) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1)(a) after disabled, insert , elderly, in full-time education or unemployed.
(3) In subsection (2) after services, insert or such services that facilitate travel by those members of the public referred to in subsection (1)(a) above.
(4) In subsection (2)(b) after services, insert or such services that facilitate travel by those members of the public referred to in subsection (1)(a) above.
(5) Omit subsection (3)..[Graham Stringer.]
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
I shall be brief. The new clause would extend the powers of transport authorities to give both capital and revenue grants to disabled people and other voluntary groups that help disadvantaged groups. I look forward to the response of my right hon. Friend the Minister.
As my hon. Friend says, the new clause would amend a specific power intended to be used to facilitate expenditure by local authorities or PTEs on equipment or facilities to make it easier for disabled persons to travel. The new clause would extend the provision so that such grants could be used to provide facilities or equipment needed by elderly people, those in full-time education and the unemployed.
I appreciate that the needs of disabled people may require specially adapted vehicles, special equipment on vehicles and other facilities of that kind to enable them to travel by public transport. However, I do not know why there would be a similar need for elderly people who do not have disabilities. There would certainly not be such a need for unemployed people or those in education.
The existing provision in the Bill and existing legislation allow and encourage local transport authorities to provide much needed support for disabled persons. If that were widened, there would be a danger of that support being diluted and funding being put to other uses, which would not necessarily be relevant to genuine need.
I hope that, in view of those reservations, I have persuaded my hon. Friend to withdraw his new clause.