Schedule 4 - Schedule 3a to the New Roads and

Traffic Management Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 3rd February 2004.

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Question proposed, That the schedule be the Fourth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I refer to page 62 of the Bill. Why is the copy of the notice that must be given restricted under paragraph 2(4) to the sewer authority rather than to other equivalent authorities?

Paragraph 2(4)(e) states:

''any person who has apparatus in that part of the highway''.

How will it be possible in all circumstances to identify the person who has apparatus in that part of the highway?

Paragraph 2(6) states that

''Section 55 does not apply where, by virtue of a notice under this section, a person is required to notify the street authority of proposed street works.''

Will the Minister explain the thinking behind that? This is quite serious. I know that the Minister is keen to make progress, as I am. However, we are talking about regulations that create criminal offences, and as a conscientious Committee, the least that we can do is to ask a few questions about them. In that context, I ask the Minister to explain why, in paragraph 4(7) of the schedule, a direction

''shall cease to have effect if the works referred to in paragraphs 3(1)(a) to (c) to which it relates are not completed within such period as may be prescribed.''

I did not understand that and wondered whether other hon. Members understood it, so I ask the Minister to enlighten the Committee.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I ask the hon. Gentleman not to worry about the progress that I am making. We are in control of that, and will make progress as we see fit—whether the hon. Gentleman is with us is a matter for him.

The schedule is important—it discusses restrictions on works following substantial street works and nothing in it is otiose or over the top. The matters to which the hon. Gentleman refers mainly relate to the 1991 Act, and are clearly laid out. If the hon. Gentleman slows down a bit, I am sure that he will follow them clearly. In addition to the persons listed in paragraph 2(4)(a) to (e). Paragraph 4(f) allows the Secretary of State to prescribe any person in that regard. An authority will know which utilities have apparatus in a particular street, as it can inspect the records of any utility active in the area, as we have just discussed.

There are, and always have been, peculiarities in the law governing public sewers, because of the nature of public sewers. Any person who has apparatus in that part of a highway needs to be fully notified—that is a matter of fairness. The direction restricting further works is entirely appropriate, as laid out in the schedule.

As ever, the schedule should to be seen not in isolation—that is playing silly little word games—but in the context of all the prevailing clauses in part 4. It is easy to pull out little words and little paragraphs, but they should be related first to the changes that we have made in part 4 of the Bill, and secondly to the relevant sections of the 1991 Act. I have sought to do that as we have considered the clauses. Everything in the schedule is entirely appropriate, as I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and other members of the Committee will agree.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clauses 51 and 52 ordered to stand part of the Bill.