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Traffic Commissioners

Volume 694: debated on Wednesday 25 July 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the current level of qualified support staff available to the Traffic Commissioners is sufficient for them to maintain a satisfactory service both to themselves and to reputable operators. [HL4972]

The centralisation of operator licensing in Leeds has involved a significant amount of change and several recruitment exercises to fill support staff roles. The central unit is currently running at below normal levels of qualified support staff pending completion of the recruitment process which is expected to finish in August 2007. This has affected service standards to the industry which are currently 11 per cent below target at 74 per cent. It is expected that the Central Licensing Unit will be meeting the target by the end of September 2007. Traffic Commissioners are content with the plans in place to recruit and train staff and the level of service being provided to them during this period of major change.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will review the arrangements by which the Traffic Commissioners determine whether an applicant is satisfactory before a new licence is granted. [HL4973]

Traffic Commissioners are appointed as independently responsible for licensing operators of lorries, buses and coaches and the quality and reliability of bus services. Their unique role combines both regulatory and quasi-judicial activity.

These arrangements are kept under review as part of the overall policy development process to ensure that the bus and lorry industry are properly regulated.

In addition, in May this year the European Commission published a draft regulation on the common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with to pursue the occupation of road transport operator. This proposes a number of changes to the existing rules on fitness to hold an operator’s licence. The Department for Transport will undertake a full public consultation exercise on the new proposals in due course.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consider amending the duties and responsibilities of the Traffic Commissioners by amending the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 when drafting forthcoming legislation. [HL4975]

The proposals in the draft Local Transport Bill expand the Traffic Commissioners’ remit in the bus sector. The consultation document, published in May, explained that we are considering whether further modifications to the Traffic Commissioner system might help to ensure effective delivery of these functions. If appropriate, we will consult separately on any specific proposals.