Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 11 September 2008

Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill

COMMITTEE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT

(Hansard)

Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill

11 September 2008 

Members present for all or part of the proceedings: 
Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson) 
Mr Cathal Boylan (Deputy Chairperson) 
Mr Billy Armstrong 
Mr Trevor Clarke 
Mr Samuel Gardiner 
Mr Ian McCrea 
Mr Daithí McKay 
Mr Alastair Ross 
Mr Peter Weir

The Chairperson:
The next item of business is an update on the Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Bill. It has been some time since the Committee dealt with the Bill. The Committee Clerk will talk members through the various stages.

The Committee Clerk:
The Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill Committee is now at the Committee Stage.

The Committee’s most recent piece of work on the Bill was to ask the Assembly to extend time to 12 December 2008. That was agreed; however, the Committee does not have to use all of that time. If its work is complete, it can report earlier.

Under the Committee’s instruction, a public notice was issued, inviting written comments. Three responses were received, and those are included in members’ documents. The Chairperson may want to take members through those, or give them time to consider them today. They are not long.

The Committee must now decide what, if any, oral evidence it wants to take. If the Committee believes that sufficient evidence has been received on the relevant issues, it may decide to take no more. Alternatively, it may consider that further issues arise from the oral evidence, which it may want to tease out in more detail. Furthermore, it may decide to hear evidence from other bodies — people who have not responded but from whom the Committee wants to hear.

Once that evidence has been received, Committee staff will collate the issues that arise from all of the written and oral correspondence and map those against clauses in the Bill. The clause-by-clause analysis will then begin.

The Department will receive, and respond to, that document and, at that stage, the Committee will decide whether to propose amendments to, or make recommendations on, the legislation. That will bring the Committee to the pre-report stage. The purpose today is, therefore, to decide on the evidence.

The Chairperson:
When we initially discussed this some members — certainly Mr Armstrong and Mr Clarke — raised issues around the question of agricultural and horticultural vehicles. I think that it is important to hear from those people.

Mr T Clarke:
They expressed concern on that issue in their submissions. Therefore, we must listen to them.

The Chairperson:
The third written submission we received is from Ms Beverley Bell, traffic commissioner for the North West Traffic Area in England. She offers to make a presentation to the Committee. I am not so sure about that — how do members feel about inviting her to appear as a witness?

For the sake of clarity, do members accept her submission, which arrived after the 11 July closing date?

Committee Members:
Yes.

The Chairperson:
Do we wish to hear from her? No enthusiasm is evident.

Therefore, we will take evidence from the Ulster Farmers Union and the Horticulture Forum for Northern Ireland. Is there anyone else from whom we want to hear? No?

I advise members that the Committee had agreed to treat the paper from the Federation of Passenger Transport as a submission in respect of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill. However, the Committee staff contacted Mrs Karen Magill, chief executive of the federation, who advised that it would not be appropriate to treat its paper as a submission.

We have already taken pre-legislative evidence from two stakeholders — the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA). Is there any other organisation, group or Government agency from which we must take evidence? No?

Mr Boylan:
There is the issue of planning permission for three-and-a-half-ton vehicles operating from home. Do we need someone to advise us on that?

Mr Clarke:
That would be helpful, Chairperson.

The Chairperson:
I agree.

Mr Boylan:
Should we hear from someone in the Planning Service?

The Chairperson:
It should probably be the appropriate person dealing with that issue in the Department. What about hearing from enforcement officers, who are at the coalface? We can have the Department bring their respective officials in relation to planning issues. We will hear from enforcement officers, then. Is that agreed?

Members indicated assent.

Mr Clarke:
We need a definitive answer, because we could not get a straight answer from the Roads Service witnesses on the obligations of persons operating from residential properties. We must have a definitive answer from the Planning Service on whether such operators must apply for permission to run businesses from home addresses.

The Chairperson:
As a reminder to myself, in relation to the McAnulty case, aside from maybe notifying Mr McAnulty when the officials will be attending the Committee meeting, we should also notify Mrs Magill in order to keep her informed of developments.

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