Clause 175

Part of Equality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:15 am ar 2 Gorffennaf 2009.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 9:15, 2 Gorffennaf 2009

This, I hope, will not take too long. Again, it relates to our friends in the Department for Transport. Given what the Solicitor-General said about timing, the issue may well fall within that category as well. In April, the Department for Transport issued a consultation on rail services for disabled people under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Specifically, the consultation is about improving the accessibility of light rail vehicles—those used on metro, underground and tram systems and other prescribed modes of guided transport.

I ask about the matter again to see how it interacts with what is being proposed in the regulations under the clause. The Government are carrying out their consultation. There are European standards on heavy rail vehicles—what we commonly call trains—and the appropriate stations. To ensure that the new regulations do not impose a double regulatory burden, the Government are consulting  on light rail vehicles and are also considering two draft regulations. I am sure that the Solicitor-General is not terribly familiar with them, because they are a bit convoluted. The Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non-Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2009 is not the most catchy and snappy of titles.

The regulations are quite technical. Ministers occasionally bring out rail vehicle accessibility regulations, both general and specific, and, anorak that I am, I faithfully get them from the Vote Office and read them to ensure that they are in order. Although they always have been, it is worth checking such things.

I want to check that the provisions that the Government mention here, which are to continue to have the right technical specifications in place but to have a less onerous regulatory system, are to be introduced on or before 31 December. Will the Solicitor-General update the Committee on how the consultation is proceeding? Moreover, will she tell us whether the proposed changes are purely regulatory and whether the way the DDA has been transferred into the Bill will have any impact on them? Will anything need to be done on Report or can these regulations be added to the existing powers and then transferred across into the Bill?