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Integrated Transport Authorities

Volume 476: debated on Tuesday 3 June 2008

3. What assessment her Department has made of the effects on local government accountability of extending voting rights to all members of integrated transport authorities. (207973)

The Local Transport Bill allows local authorities to devise proposals on the membership of integrated transport authorities in their areas. However, a majority of each ITA’s members must be elected councillors. Authorities would also be able to propose whether non-elected ITA members have voting rights.

Does the Minister accept that the only way to ensure real democratic accountability and to avoid the possibility of the political gerrymandering of ITAs is to deprive non-elected members of any voting rights?

I do not think that that is the way forward. Under the Bill, ITAs determine locally whether they want to have people other than elected members on the authorities and, if so, whether they have voting rights. We believe that that is the right approach to enable, for example, passenger or other representation on ITAs. I have discussed that with passenger transport executives, and the hon. Gentleman should take a slightly broader approach.

Will my right hon. Friend press on strongly with her plans for integrated transport authorities? They are exciting real enthusiasm in Selby with the prospect of MetroCards, which could enable travel across the whole of west Yorkshire.

I thank my hon. Friend for that encouragement. I know that he, unlike the Opposition, has been a great supporter of what we are trying to do in the Local Transport Bill, particularly to enable greater improvements to our bus services. I thank him for his support.