I beg to move amendment No. 127, in
page 13, line 29, at end insert—
' ''car club'' means an organisation whose aims include the reduction of traffic congestion, trading to provide vehicles to its members at an hourly rate for their occasional use.'.
With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 14A—Provision of parking spaces for car clubs—
'(1) It is the duty of a local traffic authority to make such arrangements as they consider appropriate to facilitate the operation of car clubs in order to secure the reduction of road congestion.
(2) A local traffic authority shall require every organisation seeking to operate as a car club to register their constitution, rules and membership numbers and may at their discretion approve such an organisation as a registered car club.
(3) The arrangements in subsection (1) shall include the provision of parking spaces for which they do not make a charge for the sole use of registered car clubs.'.
Amendment No. 127 would include the definition of a car club in the list of definitions, and new clause 14A would provide authorities with the power to take into account the needs of car clubs. Car clubs are a relatively new concept, and they are growing apace in Europe and the United States. Members get rid of their car to join a club and research suggests that about 1.5 per cent. of drivers will become car club members and that membership reduces the number of miles they do by car by between 50 per cent. and 70 per cent.
For each car club in existence about four to 10 privately owned cars are removed from the streets, easing the pressure on parking. Members increase their use of public transport and that helps to alleviate social exclusion. There are many arguments in favour of car clubs. I do not intend to make them now; I simply wish to point out that, if they were introduced in this country, they would require legislation.
I have a lot of sympathy with the notion of car clubs, of pooling cars and of all sorts of other ways of getting everything but drivers driving on their own round our towns, cities and countryside—especially to and from work. I am not entirely sure of the legality—legality is the wrong word, but it will do at this hour—of simply throwing a definition into a list of definitions that refers to everything in the clause. The clause is a glossary for part 2, and I am not sure that throwing in a definition of car clubs would define a statutory duty. That is by the by, but it seems inappropriate.
Local authorities can already deal with most of the subsequent provisions in new clause 14A, because they have the power to designate parking spaces on highways through sections 32 and 45 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Such spaces may be provided for a particular class of vehicle—for example, residents' parking bays. I do not believe that there is any difficulty in using the 1984 Act to achieve what the hon. Gentleman wants through the new clause.
promote car clubs in a very positive way. Curiously enough, they are supported not only by people living in communities where there are problems, but by the vehicle industry.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I do not know whether he is referring to a club in the north-west, but I was going more appropriately to cite one in Edinburgh; appropriate not only because the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross moved the amendment, but because of the right hon. Member who happens to be the MP for Edinburgh, Central. We are supporting a car plus car club advisory service in Edinburgh with a £60,000 per annum grant. Given that those powers exist in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, it is for local authorities, in the context of devolution mentioned by the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, to determine whether they want to designate parking bays in such a fashion and whether they want—through their local transport plan submissions—to facilitate such schemes on the roads, through parking or otherwise. As I say, I have sympathy with the schemes but it is not for central Government to impose on local government such powers, not least when they already exist, should the local authority want to use them. In the spirit of fully supporting the sentiment of the amendments, but not their position, whether that is cheeky or otherwise, I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.
I am grateful to the Minister for his answer. I will not attempt to repeat the onomatopoeic name of the car club that he came up with in Edinburgh, as that is a long way south of my constituency. I am grateful for his explanation. Those who brought the matter to my attention had felt that there might be need for legislation. I was looking for a convenient peg on which to hang a small debate. We have had the small debate. The peg was clearly not the right one, but it served its purpose.
I ask only that if anybody who is interested in promoting car clubs approaches the Minister's Department for help, it will be kind enough to afford them whatever help they need. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would do that anyway. In that spirit, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 4.