New Clause 6 - Maximum speed limits on dual or treble carriageways

Traffic Management Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 10th February 2004.

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'The maximum speed limits on dual or treble carriageway roads with grade-separated interchanges shall not be below 60 mph unless authorised by the Secretary of State.'.—[Mr. Redwood.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

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 the following:

New clause 28—Maximum speed limits on motorways—

'The maximum speed on a motorway shall be 80 mph and 60 mph in bad weather.'.

New clause 31—Motorways (maximum speed-limit)—

'The maximum speed-limit on any motorway in the absence of any other speed-restrictions is hereby raised to 80 miles per hour.'.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

On a point of order, Miss Begg. I do not know whether, like me, you can hear the rather annoying, distracting racket outside the building. In a number of court cases when noise disrupts proceedings, a judge orders the workmen to stop making the noise while the court is in session. As we are the high court of Parliament, can we not do likewise?

Photo of Anne Begg Anne Begg Labour, Aberdeen South

I think that it is probably across the river and under the bridge, and I think that that would be a bit unreasonable. We will just have to shout a little louder to be heard.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

It just shows how wise we would have been had we accepted an earlier amendment that stopped such works during the working day to avoid conflict with such a dreadful noise. I am sure that we could extend the amendment to include water as well as road highways. However, I digress from new clause 6.

As I read my drafting of the clause again, I am amazed at its modesty and understatement and at the degree of trust that it places, for the time being, in the Secretary of State. It just shows how accommodating I am trying to be in order to find a common answer to the vexing problem of traffic congestion. There are a number of well-designed arterial trunk roads in our country with dual or treble carriageways that have relatively safe junctions handled by a separation of the traffic flows rather than traffic signals and conflict between the traffic flows. It seems bizarre that there is no common standard for speed on those roads.

On some dual and treble carriageways, speed limits vary from 70 mph to 60 mph to 50 mph to 40 mph, and sometimes go up again for no apparent reason when one gets nearer to the centre of the town or city. That means that the driver spends quite a lot of time looking away from the immediate carriageway ahead to be sure to spot the different speed limits in force on relatively short sections of the carriageway. The driver then regularly has to divert his or her gaze to the speedometer to ensure that he or she has adjusted to the new lower speed limit, even though it would normally be safe to travel at 60 mph throughout in usual conditions.

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

In Milton Keynes, most of the grid roads have national speed limits and therefore the amendments are particularly appropriate to my borough. However, does the right hon. Gentleman accept that one of the issues is the speed at which people leave the carriageways and go into estates? Although there may appear to be no reasons for such speed limits on the roads, reasons off the road are not necessarily apparent to drivers.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 4:00 pm, 10th February 2004

I do not think that the grid roads in Milton Keynes are defined as large roads with graded separated interchanges. They clearly do not have graded separated interchanges. On the number of roads that do have graded separated interchanges, there could obviously be a lower speed control immediately as the driver left the highway, as is normal.