Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 27 November 2008

Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill




Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill

27 November 2008

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson) 
Mr Roy Beggs 
Mr Trevor Clarke 
Mr Tommy Gallagher 
Mr Ian McCrea 
Mr Alastair Ross 


The Chairperson (Mr McGlone):

Members have been provided with a first draft of the Committee’s report on the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill, which must be agreed and finalised in time to be submitted to the Business Office on 12 December. The report contains a section on membership and powers, an executive summary, recommendations and an introduction. I pay tribute to the Committee staff for compiling the report; they have been very helpful in taking the Bill to this stage.

If Members have issues with the layout, content or wording of the report, they should make staff aware of their concerns, either today or on any other occasion between now and next week’s meeting.

The formal clause-by-clause analysis of the Bill was completed last week, but, due to amendments to take on board recommendations made by the Committee, we need to revisit a couple of clauses today. The Committee will also need to reconsider schedule 1, because incorrect wording was used last week.

Clause 50 (Large goods vehicles)

Schedule 4 (Large goods vehicles)

The Chairperson:

We will first reconsider clause 50 and schedule 4. At last week’s meeting, the Department told the Committee that the provision requiring consignment notes for larger vehicles has never been enacted in GB, and no policy rationale for it could be found. Consequently, the Department proposed to amend the Bill by removing clause 50 and schedule 4 and inserting a power to make secondary legislation elsewhere in the Bill to introduce consignment notes in future, if necessary.

The Department has since been advised by the Office of Legislative Counsel that the same result could be achieved by retaining clause 50 and amending schedule 4. Do members agree to those changes?

Mr Beggs:

Should we not consider the amendment to schedule 4?

Mr McGlone:

Yes; I should have mentioned that. The amendments are in the appendix to the correspondence that was received on 25 November.

Mr T Clarke:

Is the amendment to clause 50 there?

The Chairperson:


Mr T Clarke:

I cannot find it in the documents.

The Chairperson:

Clause 50 has not been amended; it has been reinstated as it was in the Bill.

Mr T Clarke:

Therefore clause 50 still refers to “large goods vehicles”.

The Committee Clerk:

The clause still refers to large good vehicles so that if it is decided in future to introduce consignment notes, there is provision for that; however, the amendment to schedule 4 will mean that it is not built in.

Mr T Clarke:

The problem that I had with that originally was that the Bill is supposed to cover all vehicles that need a goods vehicle licence. However, clause 50 differentiates between large vehicles and small vehicles. There is provision to enable the eventual introduction of consignment notes for large vehicles but not for smaller vehicles.

The Committee Clerk:

That is true. At the moment, however, such a provision is not being introduced.

Mr T Clarke:

I have been against the 3·5 tonne limit from the beginning, but if the Bill aims to make all goods vehicles subject to the same legislation, why is there a differentiation between large vehicles and small vehicles? It is either all or nothing.

The Chairperson:

I honestly do not know; the departmental officials are not here to explain it to us today. I cannot answer for them and would not attempt to; no doubt they have a reason for proposing those changes. Do members feel that the officials should appear before the Committee again to give another explanation of the matter?

Mr T Clarke:

I am certainly not accepting the proposals.

The Chairperson:

We will invite the departmental officials back to address the Committee. That may mean falling behind time or having a special meeting on Tuesday. Are members content to have a special meeting of 15 or 20 minutes?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

We will leave that issue until Tuesday. Are members available on Tuesday and happy to have a half-hour meeting? The staff can check, or we could perhaps meet on Thursday.

The Committee Clerk:

The full report must be agreed by then.

The Chairperson:

We will need a separate meeting in that case.

The Department has agreed that the powers to introduce consignment notes will be subject to draft affirmative procedures, as requested by the Committee. Guidance is being sought from the Office of Legislative Counsel about whether that will involve a reference to clause 50 or schedule 4, which must also be explained on Tuesday.

Clause 57 (Regulations)

The Chairperson:

The insertion of clause 1(2)(d), clause 12(12), clause 50 and schedule 4 into clause 57(9) requires that the powers in those clauses be subject to draft affirmative procedures, which is what the Committee requested.

Clause 1(2)(d) deals with exemptions; clause 12(12) introduces a professional competence requirement for restricted licences; and clause 50 and schedule 4 specify requirement notes for large vehicles, which the Committee has already touched upon.

Is the Committee agreed that clause 57, as amended by the Department, be accepted?

Mr T Clarke:

No. The Committee is accepting a differentiation between large goods vehicles and goods vehicles. Under the Bill, a vehicle of up to 3·5 tonnes is, to all intents and purposes, a goods vehicle. Therefore why make a distinction in the definition of goods vehicles and large goods vehicles?

The Chairperson:

We will park the issue to Tuesday. However, we must move on that matter one way or another and, as Alex said, we must have the full report agreed by next week.

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