Clause 8

Part of Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 22nd April 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee 6:00 pm, 22nd April 2008

I thought that I was being hailed, Lady Winterton.

May I give the Committee an example? It is not beyond the realms of possibility that at some point the Government may say that each town and city should have a low emission zone, and that cars that cannot comply with a certain level of emissions should either be banned from entering the city centre or the owner should face a charge. Let me take the Committee back a few years when the town of Corby depended almost exclusively on its steelworks. When the steelworks collapsed, not only did the majority of employed people in that town lose their job, they also faced immediate negative equity. One could purchase a freehold house in Corby at the time of the collapse for £1,000. Imagine if a similar tragedy happened to a local community and the Government said that a low emission zone must come in and everyone who had an older car suddenly found that they could not go into the city centre or that they had to pay an additional fee. That would be a huge blow to people who had already been kicked in the teeth by losing their job and having negative equity in their property.

In those circumstances, the local council might say, “For the moment we have exceptional local circumstances and we do not wish to impose this particular policy.” I defy anyone to say that that would be an unreasonable decision in such circumstances. The key word in the amendment is “exceptional”. I hope that the Minister can see the sense of saying that where a local issue is so important that it is regarded as exceptional by the local transport authority, the authority should be allowed, in those circumstances, to deviate from guidance that would otherwise be regarded as quite acceptable and the norm. All my amendment seeks to do is to make that provision clear in the Bill.