Clause 62 - Builders' skips: charge for occupation

Traffic Management Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:30 pm on 3rd February 2004.

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Photo of Mr Nigel Beard Mr Nigel Beard Labour, Bexleyheath and Crayford

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment No. 201, in

page 34, leave out lines 19 and 20.

Amendment No. 194, in

page 34, line 18, at end insert

'giving recognition to the particular circumstances of terraced housing'.

Government amendments Nos. 63 and 64.

Amendment No. 195, in

clause 64, page 37, line 15, at end insert

'giving recognition to the particular circumstances of terraced housing'.

Amendment No. 202, in

page 37, leave out lines 16 and 17.

Government amendments No. 65 and 66.

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

I shall not speak to my amendment, thereby allowing the Minister explain the reasoning behind the Government amendments.

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

The Government amendments are tidying-up amendments. People always baulk when a Minister says that, but these really are what I claim them to be. Clause 63(5) states that certain provisions in clause 62, which apply to the establishment of charging for overrunning schemes for skips in the highway would also apply to the lane rental charging schemes for skips under clause 63. Those include the provision in clause 62(5) that regulations under that section can require the owner of a skip to give a highway authority an estimate of how long the skip is expected to remain on the street, and that the authority will be deemed to have accepted that estimate as a reasonable one unless it indicates otherwise. Authorities need that information to calculate whether skips have overrun their permitted duration. However, it is not needed for lane rental. The only information needed to calculate charges for that is when a skip was placed in a road and when it was removed.

The reference in clause 63(5) to subsection (5) is a mistake, which Government amendment No. 64 removes. Government amendment No. 66 has the same effect, except that it removes an equivalent reference in clause 65(6) to subsection (7), which relates to charges for placing scaffolding and other building materials on the highway. Those are simply minor, cross-referencing points.

Government amendments Nos. 63 and 65 remove a couple of inconsistencies in clauses 62 and 64, which respectively cover charges for skips and for scaffolding and building materials, when agreed durations are overrun. Amendment No. 63 places in clause 62 a similar provision to that in clause 64(9), which explains that regulations can set different overrun charges for different circumstances—for example, they can be higher or lower depending on how much of a road is affected by an obstruction. Amendment No. 65 places in clause 64 similar wording to that in clause 62(7), which makes it clear that the regulations can state what method should be used to calculate, for example, how long a skip has occupied a street.

Those are not substantial policy changes that have crept in through devious means because we changed out mind when the Bill was published. They simply cross-reference minor points in other clauses. I commend all of the Government amendments to the Committee.

Photo of John Mann John Mann Labour, Bassetlaw

The two amendments that I tabled are merely probing amendments. I seek the Minister's assurance that the legislation will not end up being a cash cow, with which local authorities can keep raising money, while having a disproportionate impact on

communities in terraced housing. It will have a big impact on all current and former mining areas, in which getting work done on one's house means having a skip on the road because there is nowhere else for it to go.

I seek assurance that local authorities will not be able use the legislation deliberately or inadvertently in a way that will have a disproportionate impact on people who live in what is by far the lowest value housing and who, I suggest, are in the least well-off sections of society.

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

As both sections 140A and 171A make clear in the principal Act, the Secretary of State can set out the framework for charging regimes in regulations. Among other things, that framework could apply the charging system to certain types of roads only, or, as provided for in clause 62(8), it could set different levels of charges, or none at all, in particular circumstances. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks about terraced housing.

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

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 63, in

page 35, line 3, leave out from 'skip' to end of line 6 and insert—

'(8) The regulations may prescribe different rates of charge according to—

(a) the extent to which the skip occupies the highway;

(b) the place and time of the occupation;

(c) such other factors as appear to the Secretary of State to be relevant.'.—[Mr. McNulty.]

Clause 62, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.