New Clause 12 — Street works: reinstatement and remedial works

Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 27th October 2008.

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'(1) The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (c. 22) is amended as follows.

(2) In section 48 (streets, street works and undertakers) after subsection (3) (meaning of "street works") insert—

"(3A) For the purposes of subsection (3), the works that are street works by virtue of being works required for or incidental to street works of any particular kind include—

(a) reinstatement of the street, and

(b) where an undertaker has failed to comply with his duties under this Part with respect to reinstatement of the street, any remedial works.".

(3) In section 50 (street works licences) after subsection (1) (power to grant a licence to do certain works) insert—

"(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1), the works that are required for or incidental to works falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection include—

(a) reinstatement of the street, and

(b) where an undertaker has failed to comply with his duties under this Part with respect to reinstatement of the street, any remedial works.".'.— [Paul Clark.]

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Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government new clause 23— Financial penalty deposits: powers of vehicle examiners in Scotland.

Government amendments Nos. 104, 112, 119, 120, 141 to 143, 146, 147, 155, 314, 159, 162 and 315.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark PPS (Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I will deal first with new clause 12. Government policy is to encourage efficient and effective working in the highway, with works properly co-ordinated by the highways authority. Key to that is the need for the authority to be given notice of works on its highways to be carried out by undertakers, whether they are placing, maintaining or removing apparatus in or below the highways or of consequential works—for instance, carrying out a permanent reinstatement as a separate phase or works to remedy a failure to complete a reinstatement to the correct standard in the first place. That is known as "remedial works". All occupy the highway and impact on our crowded roads.

Following a judgment by the divisional court last November, there is a lack of legal certainty about what works are required for, or incidental to, placing, maintaining or removing apparatus and what fall within the definition of street works. The amendment is intended to confirm the existing view and practice that street works include reinstatement or remedial works and to remove the uncertainty.

The purpose of amendment No. 159 is to bring amendments to the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 into force automatically two months after Royal Assent rather than by commencement order. This means that any uncertainty about the definition of street works can be removed as quickly as possible.

Amendment No. 162 amends the long title of the Bill, so as to reflect the subject matter of new clause 12.

New clause 23 amends the definition of conditional offers in section 90F of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, so that it refers also to conditional offers made by the Department of Transport's vehicle examiners in Scotland. It is needed to ensure that the provisions inserted by the Road Safety Act 2006 into the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 will work as originally intended. Unfortunately, when the Road Safety Act 2006 was drafted, the definition of "conditional offer" in this context was not amended to include conditional offers issued by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency's vehicle examiners in Scotland. Unless that deficiency is corrected, only police constables will be able to require the payment of deposits in respect of conditional offers in Scotland, which is not the way in which the legislation was intended to work.

Amendments Nos. 314 and 315 are minor consequential amendments to the extent clause and to the Bill's long title.

Amendments Nos. 104, 112, 141 to 143, 146 and 147 are aimed at dealing with a relatively technical issue, and I shall do my best to explain them clearly to the House.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark PPS (Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I rather think I should. It would be wrong of me not to explain the amendments.

The Bill includes a number of powers to make secondary legislation to amend other legislation, including primary legislation where necessary, as a consequence of provisions made either by the Bill or by secondary legislation made by virtue of the Bill. In effect, those powers aid proper implementation of the Bill by ensuring that other relevant legislation can be amended to make it consistent. For the present debate, the relevant powers are contained in clauses 1 and 6, about the traffic commissioners, and clauses 68 and 69, about passenger representation. Each of those powers is limited to making consequential, incidental, supplementary or transitional provision, or savings. In other words—

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark PPS (Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

No. In other words, any secondary legislation amending legislation under those powers must be directly related to the implementation of provisions contained in the Bill itself. Each of the powers that I have referred to is expressed to include power to amend

"any enactment (whenever passed or made)".

That wording makes it clear that each power can be used to make consequential and other amendments to enactments passed or made both before or after the Act that contains the power. However, it leaves open some ambiguity as to whether the powers can be used to make consequential and other amendments to the Act that contains the power itself—that is, the Bill we are considering—or to the amendments to other Acts, such as the Transport Act 2000, that the Bill will make. It is important for the Bill to be clear on that point, and the purpose of the amendments is simply to provide that clarity.

Amendment No. 155 also relates to a power in the Bill for the Secretary of State to make secondary legislation. Clause 86 allows the Secretary of State to make secondary legislation containing consequential, transitional or supplementary provisions. Those would support the changes to transport governance arrangements in individual areas of the country that he could make under clauses 78 to 84.

As I explained to hon. Members earlier, the Bill allows flexibility for different governance arrangements to be put in place in different areas, and for changes to be made to existing arrangements. Depending on what those changes are, it may also be necessary for the orders that give statutory effect to those revised arrangements to make incidental or consequential changes to other legislation. For example, and to help the House, if an ITA decides that it wants to make changes to the structure and functions of its executive body—its passenger transport executive—it will probably be necessary to make consequential changes to the Transport Act 1968, in which the structure and functions of PTEs are set out.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee

If I may, I shall move the Minister ahead a little. If, by 9 o'clock, we have not reached new clause 1, which relates to tolls on the Humber bridge—a matter of extreme importance on Humberside—will he agree to meet on that matter a delegation comprising me and some of his hon. Friends? Perhaps he will mention that en passant.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark PPS (Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

En passant, in connection with the amendments, that is one thing that has been reflected on in the House in relation to my discussions about the Bill with Members over the past three weeks. I am more than happy to be able to meet a cross-party delegation to discuss the Humber bridge.

I shall return to the point I was making, because I know that hon. Members will want to avoid losing the thread of what those powers require. They involve making different orders to reflect different governance arrangements. Were we to need to make, say, eight different orders covering eight different parts of the country, making eight sets of textual changes to various pieces of existing legislation, that would make matters extremely complex and difficult for legislators to understand in the future. Given that, we think it would be simpler for the Bill also to allow for modification of legislation, where that is more appropriate. Hence the proposal before us.

Finally, amendments Nos. 119 and 120 relate to quality partnership schemes that include requirements on frequencies, timings or maximum fares. Under clause 13, such requirements may be included only where there are no "admissible objections" from "relevant operators". The Government have published for consultation draft regulations and guidance setting out in detail how it is proposed that those terms should be defined.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Manchester, Blackley

Yet again, I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. Will that guidance stop repeat and vexatious appeals against a decision?

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark PPS (Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

That is one of the intentions and we made it clear that we would want to see it happen. Our purpose is to ensure that we get in place the structures and requirements to deliver decent bus services throughout our towns and cities.

Having reviewed the provision further, the Welsh Assembly Government have indicated that they wish to preserve the flexibility for the Welsh Ministers to appoint—and hence to pay—persons other than those who might be appointed for those purposes in England. Accordingly, they would like the Bill to include a power for the Welsh Ministers not only to appoint such persons, but to pay them for their services. The new clauses and amendments constitute a direct response to that request, and confer on the Welsh Ministers a power equivalent to the one that clause 18, as amended in Committee, confers on the Secretary of State.

It being Nine o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of business to be concluded at that hour, pursuant to Order [26 March].

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