Air Travel Trust

Part of Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 21 March 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Shadow Minister (Transport) 2:00, 21 March 2017

I beg to move amendment 23, in clause 19, page 14, line 5, after “unless” insert “a full impact assessment and consultation is published and a”

This amendment requires the Government to undertake a full impact assessment and consultation before bringing forward regulations to create any new air travel trusts through an affirmative resolution.

The clause relates to the Air Travel Trust, which is the legal vehicle that holds the money that is then used to refund consumers under ATOL protection. It would give the Secretary of State the power to define separate trust arrangements to reflect different market models, prefiguring some of the changes in the holiday package market, referred to by the Minister.

Amendment 23, following a theme, would require the Government to undertake a full and proper review and public consultation before bringing in any of the changes that would be enabled under the powers in clause 19.

Unlike clause 18, as discussed with the previous amendment, clause 19 does not seem directly relevant to harmonising EU and UK regulations. Instead, it is a dormant power that the Government will hold in order to make considerable changes to ATOL, in particular to the Air Travel Trust. That is where Brexit perhaps does come in, because were such changes to happen, they would most likely be in the event of leaving the European Union.

During one of our evidence sessions, we heard from Richard Moriarty of the CAA, a trustee of the current Air Travel Trust. He recognised the possible merit of separating up the trust to reflect variations of products and changes in the market, so I do not rule out further reforms having potential merit. The point is that we are simply not there yet, and I think it would be wrong of the Government to use this Bill as a way of giving themselves the power to make wholesale changes without due consultation. Granted, the Minister has made it clear in a letter to the shadow Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, that changes will be made only by affirmative resolution—I welcome that—but the Bill still does not allow for any further consultation as part of the measure.

The impact assessment that the Government have undertaken for the Bill explicitly states that it

“does not consider proposals for ATOL reform, beyond what is required in” the package travel directive. It would therefore be rather inappropriate for Ministers to go beyond that without providing assurances at this stage that proper consultation and scrutiny will take place if they are minded to go beyond the changes currently envisaged.

During the evidence session, Mr Moriarty of the CAA said that he hoped that the Government would

“follow the practice that they have followed today”—

I think he meant through the Bill—

“consult with” regulators,

“consult the industry, do the impact assessment, and so on.”––[Official Report, Vehicle Technology and Aviation Public Bill Committee, 14 March 2017; c. 65, Q150.]

This amendment is purely saying that. It is fair and reasonable and guarantees scrutiny of further changes that may come down the track in relation to ATOL protection.