Transport Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 9th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 5:00 pm, 9th November 2000

My Lords, despite the familiarity that we have developed during the course of the Bill, it was slightly odd to be cast in the role of the noble Lord's father!

The noble Lord is right to some extent. We all have the same objectives. But there is a difference between what is provided in legislation and how that piece of legislation goes towards forming the bigger picture. We do not duplicate in legislation--legislation is long and complex enough for us not to rewrite in each piece of legislation parts of other legislation.

As was stated by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis, to write in the word "environmental" at this point in the Bill would be an attempt to bring other legislation into it; and, as the noble Baroness said, every local authority is already required to fulfil the statutory obligations placed on it, in, for example, the Local Government Act 2000 or Part IV of the Environment Act 1985. That piece of the legislative jigsaw is provided by provisions in those Acts, and there is no need for duplication.

Clearly, we need to bring all these matters together. The guidance that we shall provide for this Bill, as we do for other Acts, will achieve that. The administrative procedure is such that it tries to pull those things together. Indeed, one could argue that the whole raison d'etre of my department is to bring together transport, environment and planning considerations. I am all in favour of consistency, but I am not in favour of the duplication of legislation.

Amendment No. 4 also relates to consistency--in this case between the local transport plan and the relevant development plan. Again, I am seized of the importance of consistency between the two planning regimes. Indeed, it was this Government who recognised the importance of the linkage between land use, planning and the provision of a truly integrated transport system. I take issue with the noble Lord in terms of what is now the regime. Everyone who is familiar with transport knows that previously these matters were followed up after all the planning decisions had been taken. Now, under planning policy guidance--in particular under Clause 112--that is all brought together in the way we expect planning authorities to operate.

Again, the guidance that we provide for those planning operations, and for local transport plans, very much emphasises this point. Simply to insert the word "environmental" at this point in the Bill is not an effective way of doing so. To go further would lead to duplication. Consistency is provided by fitting together the different pieces of legislation and following that through with appropriate guidance. We are clearly of one view as regards the ends; I hope that the noble Lord will take at least some of my points in relation to the means.