Requests for wheel clamping areas may be made by local highway authorities to my right hon. Friend. We issued a guidance note on selection criteria in May 1987. Responsibility for operational matters rests with the police.
Does my hon. Friend agree that wheel clamping should be reserved primarily for deterring motorists from parking in no-parking areas, and that clamping motor cars parked in residential areas without permits or at parking meters after the clock has run out is an inappropriate use of clamps which should have low priority?
Most people will agree that what is important is that when a car should not be parked in a certain place an effective deterrent is needed—clamping is certainly that. The other matters are rather more operational and I shall make sure that they are considered in the appropriate places.
While, in general, wheel clamps seem to waste an enormous amount of police time and slow down traffic even more than would have happened if the vehicles were not clamped, will my hon. Friend consider putting massive wheel clamps on coaches on Westminster bridge which discharge their passengers into the centre of the road and are likely sooner or later to cause a serious accident?
The House notes my right hon. Friend's persistence in this matter. It would be appropriate if the Department encouraged the relevant authorities to get together to try to solve the problem before there is a serious accident.
Is the Minister aware that the low level of enforceability of parking restrictions in London is a matter of massive concern to hon. Members and Londoners generally? What does he think about the proposal that local authorities should take over responsibility for the traffic warden system? If we could decriminalise parking in London, the fines that could be levied by the local authority run traffic warden system could go direct to paying for the cost of the system, in which case we could perhaps get somewhere with enforcing parking restrictions in London.
The hon. Gentleman is good at encouraging us to suck eggs. The important part of this question and the answers to it is that the privatisation of wheel clamping and towing away has led to a higher degree of deterrence, which is to be welcomed. I know that the hon. Gentleman is against the privatisation or contracting out of anything——