‘(2ZD) Where, due to exceptional local circumstances, a local transport authority wishes to implement policies which are in whole or in part at variance with the duties mentioned in subsection (2ZB) they shall be entitled to proceed without regard to the guidelines after issuing a public statement of “special local circumstances” setting out the factors which the local transport authority regard as being of sufficient importance to override the duties mentioned in subsection (2ZB).’.
I am well aware of the political maxim, “The later the hour, you don’t win arguments, you lose friends,” so my remarks will be somewhat shorter than they would have been had I been called a couple of hours ago. The amendment is reasonable, and I hope that it appeals to reasonable opinion across the Committee. It almost speaks for itself but I shall make a number of points about why I think it should be added to the Bill.
In effect, the amendment would alter clause 8 by giving a local authority in exceptional local circumstances the right to deviate and not to abide by the duties in (2ZB). Clause 8 states:
“Each local transport authority whose area is in England must...in developing policies in accordance with subsection 1(a), and...in carrying out their functions in accordance with subsection (1)(b), comply with the duties set out in subsection in (2ZB).”
Those duties are to
“take into account any policies announced by Her Majesty’s Government with respect to the protection or improvement of the environment, and...to have regard to any guidance issued for the purposes of this paragraph by the Secretary of State”.
It is not a wrecking amendment. It says that in exceptional local circumstances, where the transport authority feels that there is a good reason to deviate from the national guidelines set out by the Secretary of State, it would be able to do so, but only after making a declaration in those terms. As I understand it, that declaration would be open to legal challenge if it was made frivolously. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for Derby, North wish me to give way, or was he just drinking water?