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Key amendments to Bus Services Bill thrown out by Commons

20 March 2017

New clause 7 of the Bus Services Bill, which would have required bus operators to put in place and enforce policies for priority wheelchair spaces on buses has been defeated at Commons Committee Stage.

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The Lords made several key amendments to the Bus Services Bill, which take account of issues raised in the Paulley Supreme court decision concerning wheelchair access to buses. Clause 7 read:

Priority wheelchair spaces (NC7)

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make such provision as appears to the Secretary of State to be appropriate for the purpose of facilitating travel by wheelchair users on local services.

(2) The regulations may in particular require operators of local services to put in place and enforce a policy for priority wheelchair spaces.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) a policy for priority wheelchair spaces is one under which—

(a) a wheelchair user has priority use of any wheelchair space on a public service vehicle unless it is not reasonable for other passengers to vacate the space;

(b) other passengers are required to vacate the space for the wheelchair user if it is reasonable for them to do so; and

(c) a passenger who unreasonably refuses to vacate the space may, if necessary, be required to leave the vehicle.

(4) The power conferred by subsection (1) includes power to amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify—

(a) an Act passed before or in the same Session as this Act; or

(b) an instrument made under an Act before the regulations come into force.

(5) Regulations under this section must be made by statutory instrument.

(6) A statutory instrument which contains (whether alone or with other provision) regulations under this section may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause enables the Secretary of State to make regulations to require bus operators to put in place and enforce policies for priority wheelchair spaces.

Disability Rights UK welcomed this proposal to enforce the occupation of wheelchair spaces by wheelchair users, where another passenger is behaving unreasonably, because it gave the driver powers to expel a passenger.

This is something we have proposed, since 2014, in our response to the Bus Conduct regulations consultation.

The defeat of this clause reinforces the uncertain position that wheelchair users face when attempting to travel by bus.