Clause 119

Local Transport Bill [ Lords ] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 8 May 2008.

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Disclosure of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Chair, Procedure Committee

I want to ask the Minister about the operation of the provision—its enforcement. We all agree that where a vehicle is foreign registered, its driver should obey our laws, even if the laws in the country of origin are different. For example, many German drivers are used to driving at very high speeds on their autobahns. Even in France they have a top speed limit of about 80 mph. While they are over here, at least under the present Government, they ought to adhere to our limit, which is currently 70 mph.

However, even if that information is shuffled around, what improvement results from the enforcement process? That is my concern. Let us say that a driver comes over to the UK from Cyprus and brings his vehicle with him. He exceeds the speed limit and the vehicle is photographed by a number of speed cameras. He parks in parking bays and does not put money in parking meters. He receives ticket after ticket. When he leaves this country, taking his vehicle with him, how will those ticketable offences be pursued?

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (Yorkshire and the Humber), Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The clause was inserted because, during our consultation process leading up to the Bill, we received a number of representations from public authorities pressing the Government to allow them to receive information about the owners and keepers of foreign-registered vehicles. Many councils, especially those in London, have significant problems with foreign-registered vehicles committing parking, congestion charge and other traffic offences. The clause will allow local authorities, Transport for London, the police and others to seek and receive information from the Secretary of State to enable penalty notices to be issued to keepers of foreign-registered vehicles.

It is right to say that, although the provision will let local councils and others obtain information about foreign-registered vehicles and send a penalty charge notice, it does not guarantee that such data can be obtained in all instances, nor does it guarantee payment from evaders driving foreign-registered vehicles. However, the experience of Transport for London shows that, of cases where it is possible to obtain information about foreign-registered vehicles, 38 per cent. of outstanding charges are collected. It is not the answer to all the problems, as the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire has probably spotted, but it is at least a step along the way. We have drafted such a measure in response to requests from several public bodies that would find it extremely useful.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 119 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 120 and 121 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 7 agreed to.

Clauses 122 and 123 ordered to stand part of the Bill.