Transport Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 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 6:15 pm, 9th November 2000

My Lords, I accept that the future prosperity of the bus industry, as well as the contribution that it makes to transport, particularly in our urban areas, depends on buses having unimpeded access through bus lanes and through the streets. We therefore provided an extension of local authorities' powers to allow them to enforce non-endorsable moving traffic offences. That included the issue of local authorities enforcing the yellow box junctions about which an amendment was tabled on Report.

But we are talking here about camera enforcement in an area which has not previously been subject to camera enforcement.

We believe that local authority enforcement represents a significant step change in the enforcement of road regulations law by bodies other than the police and that such an enforcement of bus lanes will make a significant difference. However, at this point we would not wish to take the further step of extending that to the more complex question of camera enforcement at yellow box junctions.

We know of only one limited experiment in which cameras were used by the Metropolitan Police to enforce yellow box junctions at Euston Road. We do not believe that that provides a basis for moving local authority camera enforcement into areas proposed by the noble Lord. In any event, as I pointed out at the Report stage, the amendments are defective. Amendment No. 9 defines a box junction by reference to a traffic order but the Traffic Signs Regulation and General Directions 1994 revoke the earlier requirement for box junction markings to be backed by an order. The amendment also attempts to define box junctions in primary legislation. Noble Lords have tried to do so by reference to the use of road markings described in specific diagrams in secondary legislation which is due to be superseded by a revised statutory instrument next year.

Primary legislation needs to be a little more flexible than that. We have all kinds of problems with previous road traffic legislation which has proved to be inflexible to the changing nature of roads. Therefore, it is not sensible to include these specific provisions in primary legislation.

I understand where the noble Lord is coming from. Perhaps at some point we will go down that road, but we do not have the experience that would enable us to do so immediately, nor is there the definition in the amendment. Allowing enforcement of bus lanes as proposed in the Bill is already a big step forward. I hope that the noble Lord will not pursue the amendment.