Schedule 8 - Regulation of the use of roads and railways

Deregulation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 11th March 2014.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 8:55 am, 11th March 2014

I beg to move amendment 11, in schedule 8, page 111, line 21, at end insert—

‘(8) If an exemption order is made the Secretary of State shall produce a report detailing the nature of the exemption, including the conditions or restrictions made as part of that order, and publish it on the Department’s website and in any way the Secretary of State sees fit.”.’.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 12, in schedule 8, page 111, line 13, leave out paragraphs 23 to 26.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Schedule 8 is a long and complex schedule, of which I hope briefly to discuss parts 1 to 5 in the stand part debate. Amendments 11 and 12 are in my name and in the names of my hon. Friends the Members for Chesterfield and for Dunfermline and West Fife.

The amendments would introduce further transparency into the process of issuing exemption orders under part 6 of schedule 8, and they probe the Government’s intentions in that part. The amendments concern the Government’s power to introduce accessibility standards for rail vehicles, which was established by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 under the previous Conservative Government. Labour introduced the first set of rail vehicle accessibility regulations—known as RVARs—in 1998, which have subsequently been updated to reflect changing technology. All new rolling stock must be compliant with the RVARs and all vehicles that fall under their scope will have to be compliant by 1 January 2020.

Some heritage systems use vehicles that can never be made fully compliant, such as the excellent steam engines at Beamish, and some operators, such as London Underground, use older rolling stock and it will take time to make them compliant. In such circumstances, the Secretary of State can issue an exemption order through a statutory instrument under powers in section 183 of the Equality Act 2010. Since 2008, mainline rail vehicles have been regulated by a separate European technical specification for interoperability for persons with reduced mobility—known as the PRM TSI. However, RVARs continue to apply to rail vehicles that operate on self-contained systems, such as light rail, underground railways and heritage railways. RVAR exemption orders are made by statutory instrument, even though that is not the case for road vehicles or for mainline rail vehicles under European standards. I hope that that helps to describe the difference between the PRM TSI and the RVARs.

The Government’s proposals would remove the requirement for exemption orders to be made by statutory instrument, which would reduce the time that it takes to issue an exemption. We do not object in principle to the  change, given the advantage in reducing the time it takes to issue an exemption, but we are concerned that the Secretary of State’s power to limit exemptions could be undermined. The amendments seek to ensure that the Secretary of State still has full freedom to impose conditions on exemption orders, such as on length, rather than just issuing blanket exemptions.

I regret to say that the Government do not have a good record with disabled people. It was only in July last year that they decided, after three years’ consultation, to perform a U-turn and not abolish the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. The DPTAC is an expert advisory panel made up mainly of disabled people. The hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), who was the relevant Minister at the time, described it as

“a creature from a different era”,

before later admitting that

“abolition would not lead to any discernible improvement in economy and accountability.”—[Official Report, 12 June 2013; Vol. 564, c. 10WS.]

In short, he recognised that the DPTAC was good value for money and that abolishing it would not increase accountability.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people lost their disability living allowance. For many, DLA was the passport to a Motability car or to door-to-door services such as Taxicard. DLA allowed thousands of disabled people to get out and about, even when local public transport was not easily accessible. I recently met with a constituent who is isolated in her home, unable to leave because she cannot pay for her transport costs without the DLA. All that is at a time when Ministers have been trying to encourage, and sometimes force, disabled people back into work.

Some 11.5 million people in this country—19% of the population—are currently classified as disabled. The majority of people will experience disability at some point in their lifetime. As some put it, we are all only temporarily able-bodied. Department for Work and Pensions figures show that more than one in five people with a disability have experienced difficulty using transport, yet the Government’s complacency about improving access to transport for disabled people is startling.

Fewer than one fifth of rail stations have full step-free access via lifts or ramps. When the Transport Committee suggested last year that the Department for Transport involve disability organisations and charities in prioritising stations for improvements in the future Access for All programme, Ministers dismissed the views of disabled people by saying that those organisations’ involvement would “add little value”. Does the Minister really believe that the views of disabled people and their ability to access public transport, which is essential for them to be able to engage in society, to go out and work and deliver economic value, add little value? What disregard for disabled people that shows.

The same cross-party Committee recommended that the Department for Transport complete its review of the inclusive mobility guidance this year, but Ministers said that they did not have time. That seems strange when we do not have a pressing legislative agenda in the  House. When the Department was urged to make the Transport Direct website accessible to disabled people, Ministers said that it was too difficult. I must mention the Government’s refusal to provide the assisted digital provision they have so long promised for those with difficulties using digital services. That is impacting on many disabled people.

I will not go into detail on the disgraceful lack of universal broadband provision, but I will dwell for a moment on the fact that a website designed to help disabled people find accessible transport is not accessible to disabled people. What kind of logic or support for the capabilities of disabled people does that show? It is shambolic and typical of a Government who marginalise disabled people. While Ministers tell disabled people to get back into work, the Government and transport providers are failing to provide accessible transport and infrastructure to help them do so.

Once again, we are looking at a supposedly deregulatory measure that, while not appearing to do much harm, does not do much good either. That is a common theme of the Bill. This is another measure to make life easier for Ministers.

Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 9:15 am, 11th March 2014

The point that my hon. Friend is making is important. We all want to see more done to support disabled people in work, and transport infrastructure is an incredibly important part of that. It is another example of the Government saying to disabled people, “We expect more of you”, while placing greater barriers in the way.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

I thank my hon. Friend for that. He exactly sums up the Government’s approach. His point is particularly important when we are seeking to increase economic output, which relies on the contribution of those with disabilities. In the context of our amendment, as we live longer, more and more of us will be living with some kind of disability. Therefore it is essential to adapt the public transport system and ensure that it fits the needs of disabled people. The Government seem unable to recognise that. I look forward to hearing the Minister address that point.

This is another clause which makes life easier for Ministers but does not give very much benefit to British citizens. We do not object to the clause in principle, but we seek some reassurance that the Secretary of State’s power to issue exemptions is not undermined or eroded. Amendment 12 is a probing amendment to draw the Minister on this point. It would remove part 6 of schedule 8 entirely, effectively reversing the deletion of section 183 of the 2010 Act. Why does the Minister think it necessary to delete that section? What reassurance can he give that removing this wording will not affect the Secretary of State’s power to add tough conditions to any exemption orders? If the Minister can reassure me on these matters I will not press amendment 12.

Amendment 11 requires the Secretary of State to produce a report detailing the nature of any exemptions issued, including the conditions or restrictions made as part of that order, and to publicise them. Currently, there are no requirements to publish any details when exemptions are issued. Only the statutory instrument is published. I am sure that Members will agree that statutory instruments are not particularly accessible  documents. An annual report is published online, but it is not easily identifiable on the Government’s website. We have already seen that there are challenges particularly for disabled people in using some of the Government’s websites.

How will the shift from statutory instruments to an administrative regime make the documents more accessible and the process more open for a wider range of UK citizens? I do not say that they will not be, but I seek some reassurance from the Minister that this has been considered. Given the Government’s record with disabled people, I am not convinced that they have thought through the potential impact of this part of the schedule. In 2005 Labour updated the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to make it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people using public transport or transport facilities. We introduced minimum accessibility standards for all new carriages and light rail. We introduced a requirement for rail operators to develop a disabled person’s protection policy. So we are proud of our record in government.

We support removing unnecessary regulation on businesses and individuals, but the proposal seems to be more about making life easier for Ministers, potentially at the expense of disabled people. So we support legislation that protects the vulnerable from Government and from big business. Labour has put accessibility and social inclusion at the heart of our transport agenda, and amendment 11 is designed to bring some transparency and openness to the process of exemption orders. I intend to press the amendment to a vote.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

Mr Chope, may I start by seeking your guidance? Will there be a separate debate about schedule 8 or should I make comments about it now?

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

No, there will be separate debate about schedule 8, which is a much wider schedule than other schedules.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

Thank you for clarifying that. I shall focus on the Opposition amendments then.

We started the Committee in a consensual manner. Indeed, the Opposition had no points to make at all on one of the clauses, so happy were they with what we proposed. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central has taken the debate into a political arena, for example, on the subject of DLA. I do not know whether she was happy that people were left on DLA for years and years without being reassessed, but I believe that the Government are right to take the action that we have. She rightly referred to the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. In her criticism of what the Government propose, she seems to have overlooked the fact that the advisory committee supports the Government’s proposals. She is in a difficult position when she rightly refers to the committee as a responsible, well-informed organisation, but then criticises the Government’s proposals that DPTAC in fact supports. I hope she will reflect further on what she has said.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

The proposals, frankly, do nothing to improve transport for disabled people. The fact that they are supported does not improve the Government’s reputation on support for disabled people.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

I note the hon. Lady’s comments. I am happy to have the principal organisation representing disabled people supporting the Government’s proposals. She may also not be aware that a recent survey of passengers found that the UK had the most accessible rail system in Europe. That does not mean that we cannot improve on it, but those surveys found that we have the best in Europe. Her party’s current position is that Labour have signed up to the coalition Government’s spending plans, so if she intends to spend more on this issue, I hope she will set out precisely where the funding will come from.

The hon. Lady referred to the annual report, which she says is hard to find. It is called, “Annual Report Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations Exemption Orders”, which I agree is a mouthful, but I suspect that if people type it into Google, they will find the report. It sets out in detail what has happened to exemptions: the number granted, carried forward and rejected. It is a good source of information. With some justification, she referred to the statutory instrument. There is an associated explanatory memorandum. The Government’s intention is that, as we move to a more administrative system, work will be done to ensure that most people will be able to understand a given explanation without technical knowledge of the detail of accessibility. That is entirely in keeping with the agenda of openness and clarity we as a Government want to see. I hope she is reassured that the powers to limit exemptions are unchanged.

The Government recognise that Parliament and members of the public wish to know when the Secretary of State for Transport has used his powers to grant exemptions from the rail vehicle accessibility regulations. Amendment 11 is unnecessary because transparency is already provided through two routes, both of which will continue. The Equality Act 2010 already requires the Secretary of State for Transport to make an annual report to Parliament on the use of exemption powers, to which I have just referred. That requirement to make an annual report is unaffected by the Government’s proposals and will remain. The Secretary of State for Transport will continue to report annually to Parliament on his use of exemption powers, whether granted by statutory instrument or administratively. The annual report for 2013 is being prepared, but those for past years are available on the Department for Transport website and in the Library. Parliament can call Ministers to account if it feels that the powers have been used excessively or inappropriately. Further, the Department already publishes on its website details of applications received for exemptions, the outcome of consultation on the merits of those applications and their outcomes, including the exemption order if granted. I assure the Committee that such openness will continue. To require the Secretary of State to make a further report available online is excessive and will give rise to additional administrative cost, which runs counter to one of the Bill’s purposes.

Amendment 12, which would continue to make exemptions by statutory instrument subject to either the draft affirmative or negative procedures, is disproportionate now that only about a quarter of rail vehicles are subject to that regime. It is disproportionate to require exemptions in relation to trams, airport people movers, the underground and even brand new vehicles  on heritage lines to be made by statutory instrument when equivalent exemptions for the far more numerous trains that operate throughout the country are made administratively. Similar exemptions for buses and coaches are handled administratively, too.

The crucial consideration is whether the applicant’s reasons for exemption are valid and the impact that that would have on disabled people’s ability to travel on those vehicles. This is a good point at which to underline the other measures the Government are implementing to improve accessibility, such as the £450 million dedicated to improving station accessibility under Access for All. Legal deadlines for full accessibility are between 2015 and 2020 for buses and 2020 for trains.

The Government are supportive of accessibility in relation to transport. We want our transport system to be fully accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Notwithstanding what the hon. Lady said about the Government’s lack of commitment to accessibility, I hope that she recognises that the rail system developed over many decades on a regional basis, with trains and platforms at different heights, and it is extremely costly and time-consuming to turn the network from having disparate accessibility to being fully accessible at all points for those trying to access train and other transport services.

The crucial consideration is whether the applicant’s reasons for exemption are valid and the impact that it would have on the ability of disabled people to travel on those vehicles. That is why we will continue to consult the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, our statutory advisers on disabled people’s transport needs, and others, such as the rail safety regulator and passenger bodies, as appropriate. Indeed the Equality Act 2010 mandates that we consult DPTAC and that will remain the case when exemptions are granted administratively.

In previous debates on individual exemptions, Members both here and in the other place stated how highly they regard DPTAC’s advice to the Secretary of State, which we publish online. Further, as I stated in my opening remarks, DPTAC was strongly in favour of our proposal, as were other industry and disability organisations, provided that DPTAC continued to be consulted. In the responses we received, 15 out of 17 supported the changes we are making. Proceeding with our proposal and rejecting the amendment will mean that applicants for exemption receive a decision sooner, which will reduce uncertainty for them and administrative burdens on Government without lessening protection for disabled passengers or transparency on use of exemption powers. I urge the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 9:30 am, 11th March 2014

I note that the Minister, while addressing some of my concerns, did not respond on the need for greater transparency. He seemed to say that the speed of making an exemption order outweighed the other considerations, particularly when combined with the increased burden on Ministers of having to be accountable for the exemptions being made.

The Minister suggested that by referring to DLA I had somehow politicised the debate. DLA is not a political issue inasmuch as everyone agrees that the disabled should have support to allow them to contribute more equally in society. What has made it political is the  way in which the Government have withdrawn it. I have seen delays for many of my constituents in waiting for their new assessments and the situation has placed intolerable burdens on them, but I will not discuss DLA any further.

I am happy not to press amendment 12, but transparency is of such importance that I will press amendment 11.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 11.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question proposed, That the schedule be the Eighth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

The schedule will reduce burdens relating to the use of roads and railways. It has six parts. Part 1, which relates to permit schemes, removes the current requirement for the Secretary of State for Transport to approve permit schemes that cover both street works and works carried out by the local authority. Local highways authorities will be able to prepare and approve their own schemes. That is consistent with the principles of localism and removes an unnecessary administrative layer.

The changes allow an authority to give effect to a permit scheme in its area by order. Such an order will be a local council order, not a statutory instrument. The authority will also be able to vary or revoke a permit schedule by order. The measure changes only the approval mechanism for schemes and does not affect the development or operation of schemes themselves. Authorities will still have to comply with regulations and statutory guidance.

The change in the approval process will be cost-neutral to utilities, as fees remain governed by regulation. It will remove the burden on authorities to provide prescribed documents and information to the Secretary of State and the burden on the Secretary of State to assess and provide formal approval before a scheme can come into force. It will also improve transparency on scheme effectiveness and retain the power for the Secretary of State to direct authorities to vary or revoke failing schemes.

Part two of the schedule is on road humps. It will make amendments to the Highways Act 1980 to remove the Secretary of State’s power to construct road humps, which is redundant as in practice the construction of road humps is undertaken by local authorities. The provisions will also remove prescriptive consultation requirements for proposed road humps from primary  legislation, allowing them to be prescribed in secondary legislation. The powers for Welsh Ministers are retained under the schedule.

Part 2 also removes prescriptive consultation requirements from the primary legislation and allows for them to be prescribed in secondary legislation. That change brings road humps into line with the consultation regime used for many other types of traffic management. The changes will also permit the revocation in due course of a redundant set of regulations covering local inquiries into proposed road hump schemes.

Part 3 covers pedestrian crossings and will remove the requirement for local authorities to notify the Secretary of State for Transport of any plans to install, alter or remove pedestrian crossings. Requiring local authorities to notify central Government when installing a pedestrian crossing on a local road network does not fit with the current climate, in which responsibility for the provision of traffic management rests with local authorities. Authorities do not have to notify when installing other facilities such as traffic signal junctions or toucan crossings, so the schedule will bring pedestrian crossings into line with provisions for other traffic management measures.

With regard to the devolved Administrations, in Scotland, the requirement has already been repealed by section 44 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005. The repeal in the schedule will also have effect in Wales. We have discussed it with the Welsh Government and they agree that the change makes no alteration to devolved aspects of the law in Wales. The requirements to consult the local police chief and give public notice of proposed changes to crossings will remain. As good practice, we recommend that local authorities consult all those likely to be affected by the traffic management proposals.

Part 4 covers a particular aspect of off-road motoring and redresses an omission in the Road Safety Act 2006, which introduced the offence of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, but omitted to exempt participants in authorised off-road motoring events. Those participants are already outside the scope of the offences in sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, relating to causing death by dangerous driving, dangerous driving, and careless and inconsiderate driving, provided that they drive in accordance with the appropriate authorisation for the event. However, currently participants could be prosecuted for the offence in section 2B of the 1998 Act of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving. This change brings that offence into line with other driving offences. Competitive driving at speed is an inescapable part of some motor sport events and the Government do not want legislation to interfere with legitimate sporting events. The measure benefits participants in authorised off-road motoring events while driving in off-road areas to which the public has access.

Part 5 covers testing vehicles and broadens the Secretary of State’s powers in relation to the roadworthiness testing of goods vehicles and public service vehicles, or PSVs, which are essentially buses and coaches carrying fare-paying passengers. The broadening of the Secretary of State’s powers consists of an expansion of regulation-making powers and a new power to designate premises. The intention is to allow for the shift towards testing at private sector testing stations to continue and to simplify the charging arrangements for those businesses. The latter in particular will ease the administrative cost burdens currently faced by testing stations in accounting  for test application fees due and payable to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. That may hasten the shift to private sector premises testing by encouraging more potential testing stations to become designated.

The amendment in paragraph 20 of part 5 would allow the Secretary of State to designate premises at which goods vehicle examinations may take place. That is consistent with existing powers of designation in relation to PSVs, which are contained in the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981. There is a need to designate such premises to ensure that testing only takes place at premises that are suitable and equipped.

The amendments in paragraphs 21 and 22 expand on what the Secretary of State may do in regulations in respect of roadworthiness testing charges for PSVs and goods vehicles respectively. The regulations can provide for charges to be paid by those occupying designated testing premises for testing services provided by the Secretary of State, as well as for the issue of test certificates or test refusal notifications, the issue of duplicate or copy certificates or the correction of errors in such certificates. The regulations may in addition provide for those charges to be paid on account. Where forms for certificates or notifications are supplied by the Secretary of State, the regulations may require a charge for those. The regulations can also provide for the keeping of test certificate registers and records, the inspection of such registers in prescribed circumstances and the providing of returns and information to the Secretary of State.

In the short term, examination functions at private sector testing stations will continue to be carried out by examiners appointed by the Secretary of State. It is consistent with the aim of the Bill to provide the Secretary of State with relevant powers, to ensure that he can put in place the most appropriate arrangements to fulfil road safety duties and policy objectives.

Committee members will be aware that part 6 relates to the vehicle accessibility regulations. On that point, it might help the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central to know that no comments at all were made during the consultation about the lack of transparency, so what she identified as a problem does not seem to have hit anyone else who took part in the consultation.

Part 6 would amend the Equality Act 2010, so that exemptions from rail vehicle accessibility regulations are made administratively, rather than by statutory instrument. We have made much progress in making rail vehicles more accessible to disabled people since accessibility standards were first introduced in 1998. More than 7,800 rail vehicles now meet modern accessibility requirements. However, it is occasionally not appropriate or proportionate for those standards to apply fully, so the Secretary of State retains the right to exempt specified vehicles from all, or parts, of them. Originally, all such exemptions were made by statutory instrument. However, in 2008, the domestic rail vehicle accessibility regime covering mainline trains was replaced by one covering the whole of Europe, under which exemptions are issued administratively. That left a rump of vehicles—just over a quarter of those originally covered—still subject to the domestic regime, which retained the use of statutory instruments for exemptions. Such vehicles include trams,  underground and metro vehicles, airport people-movers and even brand new vehicles for use on heritage railways, such as the Bluebell railway.

Part 6 seeks to remove that inconsistency by amending the Equality Act 2010 and allowing exemptions from our domestic rail vehicle accessibility regime also to be made administratively. Section 183 of that Act also contains a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations on exemption orders—for example, on the information to be supplied with an application for an exemption order. This power is also being removed.

The intention of removing the power is not to change the information to be supplied with an application. Instead, we believe that setting out our requirements on the Government’s website is a more flexible approach than setting them out in regulations. As I said earlier, the intention is to make them more accessible to the wider public than is currently the case.

The practical effect of these amendments will be to shorten the period between when an application is made and the outcome is given, so reducing uncertainty for the rail industry. It will also reduce the resources required within the Government to handle each application. The changes will not reduce in any way the strength of argument that an applicant will need to make to justify an exemption. No exemptions will be granted in future that would not have been granted under the existing arrangements.

Appropriate consultation with interested parties, including the statutory advisors on DPTAC, will continue to take place on the merits of each application. The final decision on whether to grant an exemption will remain with Ministers, and the Department for Transport will continue to report annually to Parliament on the use of the exemption powers over the previous year. This will allow Parliament to call Ministers to account if they believe that the powers have been used excessively or inappropriately.

I note that both the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Joint Select Committee felt that little had changed since this reform was first proposed in 2004, and that statutory instruments should continue to be used to make exemptions. However, we believe that making trains subject instead to a European accessibility regime in 2008 did change the situation significantly. This reduced the scope of the domestic regime by almost three quarters.

I am sure the Committee will recognise that it is disproportionate that, if sought, exemptions for the hundreds of trains serving Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham airport stations would be subject to an administrative process, while any for the 17 small vehicles shuttling passengers between terminals would remain subject to a process involving statutory instruments, or that Parliament’s approval would be needed if any exemptions are sought for new vehicles on the Bluebell and Wensleydale steam railways, but not if any are sought for the mainline trains taking visitors to those operators’ termini at East Grinstead and Northallerton.

Given the overwhelming support from stakeholders that this proposal received, we continue to believe that this reform is sensible. Clause 24 and schedule 8 make a  number of changes to the regulations relating to the use of roads and railways. These are sensible measures and I therefore commend clause 24 to the Committee.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) 9:45 am, 11th March 2014

As we indicated, we do not oppose parts 1 to 5 of schedule 8, but I have a few questions for the Minister before we can move on. The first part of the schedule alters the Secretary of State’s powers over local highways authorities’ ability to introduce permit schemes. It will remove the Secretary of State entirely from the introduction of a new localised scheme. This part of the clause states that the Secretary of State will retain powers to make regulations covering permit schemes, including powers to make regulations covering the fee structure of permits. Labour support localism, and decentralising permit schemes was an initiative introduced in the Traffic Management Act 2004 by a previous Labour Government, so we support the clause as an extension of our original Act.

Part 2 represents an extension of localism. The power to construct speed humps is removed from the Secretary of State and given to the relevant local authorities. That is reasonable and we support that. Part 3 removes the requirement for councils to inform the Secretary of State about the installation or removal of pedestrian crossings. The construction of few other aspects of road furniture currently necessitate approval by the Secretary of State, so it is sensible for there to be no difference here. It has been shown that in most cases approval is not sought anyway, so in practice this piece of deregulation will have little effect.

Part 4 of the schedule exempts off-road motoring events from driving laws, in line with other motoring events such as Formula 1. In theory this is a straightforward measure allowing a simpler set of regulations to cover a broader range of motorsport. In practice, it concerns matters as serious as death by dangerous driving, so it may be worth a little more of this Committee’s time. These two related areas of sports have been deemed close enough to be brought under the same piece of legislation, but why were they not so treated to begin with? Will the Minister assure us that, as far as he has assessed, safety will not be adversely impacted?

Part 5 of the schedule extends the current power of the Secretary of the State to charge fees in connection with the annual roadworthiness tests of lorries, buses and coaches. It allows the Secretary of State to designate which centres may conduct the set tests, and then sets out the way in which the fee may be collected. It is a simple piece of regulation, but how is it deregulatory? Aside from those small questions and points, we have no objection to the first five parts of this schedule. It is regrettable that the Government did not accept our amendments on the other parts, but we do not oppose the first five parts.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

I welcome the Opposition’s support for some of the parts that we have debated this morning. Part 2 means that the Secretary of State has no responsibility for road humps, which I suspect he greatly welcomes. Anyone with responsibility for road humps has a difficult job on their hands, so I am sure that he is happy to pass on that responsibility. Part 4 is one of the areas about which the Opposition spokeswoman had concerns, and she highlighted the concern around safety. I can certainly reassure her that if, for instance, a driver taking part in  an event commits an act that leads to the serious injury or death of one of the spectators, if there had been intent on the driver’s part and they had done something deliberately, there is other legislation that would allow that driver to be prosecuted, such as the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. So it does not give any driver carte blanche to do whatever they want when they are taking part in a motorised event on our roads.

The hon. Lady asked whether this was a new addition to the legislation. I hope that inspiration will come shortly on that point, but if it does not, I will write to her to set out the position. She also asked why the proposal in part 5 is deregulatory. It is deregulatory because it enables simplification of the regulatory environment for business by the removal of administrative burdens, primarily for those businesses that operate ATFs at which DVSA examiners carry out annual roadworthiness tests of HGVs and PSVs, and it is likely to lead to reductions in the overall cost of the testing regime. That is why we believe this to be a deregulatory measure that it is appropriate to include in the Deregulation Bill.

I will not rehearse the arguments that we have already had on part 6, other than to remind the hon. Lady that DPTAC, which she prayed in aid previously, supports the Government’s proposals, and no one in the consultation raised any concerns about the lack of transparency. The amendments that she has tabled simply add to the regulatory burden, which we are trying to reduce.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 8 accordingly agreed to.