Transport Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 9th November 2000.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Scott of Needham Market Baroness Scott of Needham Market Liberal Democrat 8:00 pm, 9th November 2000

My Lords, I thank the Minister for bringing forward the amendments in response to the amendments I brought forward on Report. I am particularly pleased to see legal identity being given to home zones and quiet lanes. I welcome the flexibility which the proposed new clauses give to local authorities in this important area of road safety. However, the devil, as always, will be in the detail. Much will hinge on the regulations and guidance. Will the Minister say when that will be forthcoming?

I would appreciate some clarification of subsection (6) of the proposed new clause in Amendment No. 28, which states,

"procedures for confirmation (whether by the appropriate national authority or any other body)".

I feared that this might mean that the Secretary of State's approval would be required for each individual scheme.

I am rather disappointed that the issue of precedence has not been covered in the Government's amendments. On Report, the Minister said that he would redraft my amendments to meet his quibbles. I suppose that I am quibbling at his use of the word "quibble" because precedence is fundamental to the concept of home zones. That is certainly the experience of our Continental neighbours. We were keen to see the enabling powers put on the face of the Bill and are therefore disappointed to note that they are not included in the amendment. Earlier this evening when we discussed a workplace parking levy, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh--rightly, in our view--said that the purpose of workplace charging was to give local authorities a tool and that it had been included in the Bill in response to the demands of local authorities. After consultation has taken place and after representations are made, if it becomes clear that there is a demand on the part of local authorities for powers to change the precedence, will the Government consider including that matter in guidance in the future?

I particularly welcome the rural road hierarchy and the commitment to a 12-month review and the publication of the results of that review. I was interested to note that the Bill refers to a link between speed limits and accidents. That measure will be welcomed by many rural dwellers for whom that matter is a constant concern. Does the Minister see lower speed limits on minor rural roads as a desirable outcome of the review? Once the review is completed, will primary legislation be required to change the hierarchy, or can that be done by statutory instrument?