New clause 15 - Network management duty

Traffic Management Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 10th February 2004.

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'(1) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State or the Assembly to achieve, as far as may be reasonably practicable, the following objectives:

(a) securing the safe and expeditious movement of traffic on the relevant road network; and

(b) facilitating the safe and expeditious movement of traffic on road networks for which another authority is the traffic authority.

(2) In this clause, ''relevant road'' means a road in England for which the Secretary of State is the traffic authority or a road in Wales for which the Assembly is the traffic authority.'.—[Brian White.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Brian White Mr Brian White Labour, North East Milton Keynes

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Anne Begg Anne Begg Labour, Aberdeen South

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 16—Annual report to parliament—

'A report on the scale, activities and effectiveness of the work of traffic officers shall be presented on an annual basis to Parliament by the Secretary of State.'.

Photo of Mr Brian White Mr Brian White Labour, North East Milton Keynes

New clause 15 is a re-run of a matter we have discussed several times in the Committee, so I will not go into details. The proposal was intended to be complementary to the amendment on local government and the use of safe roads.

New clause 16 arises from my experience on the Public Administration Committee. Hon. Members are quite good at going through the process, but we are not so good at reporting back to Parliament and carrying out post-legislative scrutiny. As we produce Bills, it is incumbent on us to work out how their implementation will be reported to Parliament and how we will judge their effectiveness.

Some Departments are better than others and I would not say the Department for Transport was the worst, but there are important concepts to consider. It is a matter of how we judge the implementation of legislation; the proposal is intended to ensure that Parliament carries out proper scrutiny of our work when the Bill is enacted. It could apply to many Acts, but as I am a member of this Committee, I propose the new clause to be added to this Bill.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

The hon. Gentleman moved new clause 15 with admiral brevity and much perspicacity. I have pleasure in supporting new clause 16; we need Ministers to report on whether the proposal is working. Busting congestion is important and it should be measurable; we need to know how things are getting on.

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

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East moved the new clause with brevity and perspicacity. We will not get involved in the re-run of new clause 15, as my hon. Friend was not keen to repeat previous discussions on the matter.

New clause 16 is otiose. It asks for an annual report from the Highways Agency about the effectiveness of the traffic officer activities outlined in part 1 of the Bill. There is already a duty on the Highways Agency to lay an annual report before the Secretary of State and Parliament, and the Committee can have the assurance that any subsequent annual report produced after the Bill receives Royal Assent will include all the proposed

new activities for the Highways Agency, including those involving traffic officers, that are included in the Bill.

In that context, I set new clause 15 to one side and say that new clause 16 is otiose, because the entirely fair point that it raises is already covered by the existing duties on the Highways Agency, which will be encompassed in that annual report.

Photo of Mr Brian White Mr Brian White Labour, North East Milton Keynes

I accept what the Minister says, but will he accept that the relationship between the Executive and Parliament needs to be strengthened and that one way to do that is to try to ensure that future legislation contains appropriate reporting mechanisms? In view of his comments, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.