Clause 5 - Enforcement of traffic regulation orders and notices

London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:15 am on 19 May 2011.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: amendment 6, in clause 5, page 8, line 40, leave out ‘Secretary of State’ and insert ‘Mayor of London’.

Amendment 7, in clause 5, page 9, line 4, leave out ‘Secretary of State’ and insert ‘Mayor of London’.

Amendment 8, in clause 5, page 9, line 6, leave out ‘Secretary of State’ and insert ‘Mayor of London’.

Amendment 9, in clause 5, page 9, line 7, leave out ‘Secretary of State’ and insert ‘Mayor of London’.

Amendment 2, in clause 5, page 9, line 16, at end insert—

‘(3) Before setting the level of any charges, the Authority must consult the relevant local authorities.’.

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Again, the amendment deals with two issues: the responsibility for setting and administering the penalty charges for breach of the Olympic route network and the obligation to consult the relevant authorities, given that, as we heard from Hugh Sumner and others at our evidence session, parts of the ORN will support venues outside London.

Clause 5 will enable the Olympic Delivery Authority to set the penalty charges for traffic contraventions during the games, and proposes that final approval of the level of charges for the violation of Olympic traffic regulations should lie with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The purpose of our amendments is to argue that those final powers and responsibilities should lie with the Mayor of London instead. That is one way in which Labour believes that the clause could be improved.

The case is one of consistency and the proximity of accountability. Significant powers have been devolved to the Mayor in recent years, including housing, economic regeneration and, most recently by the coalition Government, full responsibility for the Olympic legacy. It therefore seems inconsistent that final approval of the level of charges for violating Olympic traffic regulations should lie with the Secretary of State rather than the Mayor of London.

We now have devolved government for London. Under the previous Government, in 1999, the Mayor was given further responsibilities. Through Transport for London, the Mayor was given the power to impose congestion charges, emission charges and a workplace parking levy. We also decided that the Mayor should have the power to appoint and set the budget of the Metropolitan  Police Authority and to set the budget for the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Government for London, which had previously been out of step with other western capitals, was clearly important, and it has turned out to be popular with Londoners and economically vital to securing London’s place as a competitive centre for business and commerce.

I make no judgment about the respective merits of either incumbent in handling transport issues, but the amendment would establish the important principle that ultimately, the elected Mayor of London should have the final say in approving the charges proposed by the Olympic Delivery Authority. The fines have the potential to be controversial in London and for Londoners, so it is only right that London’s elected representative should determine at what level they are set for the relatively short period in which they will apply.

The second part of our amendment relates specifically to the ODA’s duty to consult the relevant authorities, particularly in relation to the Olympic route network that will operate outside London. Having made those points, I commend the amendment to the Committee, in the interests of consistency with the other powers that now reside with the Mayor.

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

I thank the right hon. Lady for the amendment. As she is a former Minister for London, I understand why she tabled it.

I will deal with the amendments in reverse order. Amendment 2 requires the ODA to consult the relevant local authorities outside London before it sets the level of penalty charges, and the ODA has already done so. Indeed, that was a key part of its consultation. Having considered the matter last night, it is possible to do what the right hon. Lady seeks. As she will know, having been in this position herself, the Secretary of State is able to give binding direction to the ODA under the 2006 Act. We could, if she so wishes, write into the regulations a binding commitment—a direction—that  the ODA must consult all relevant local authorities. We could give such instructions, which would meet the intention of her amendment.

On amendments 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, the 2006 Act made provision for setting penalty charges for games-related contraventions in London. The Secretary of State was given that power because there are venues outside London, and it was deemed sensible and practical to have one single body responsible for all the regulations, rather than having two separate bodies, with one inside London and one outside. Given our conversation beforehand, and the way in which the right hon. Lady has set out the issue, I accept that it is important to her and I am keen to preserve the sensible, co-operative and consensual nature of our discussion. I do not have a direct answer as to how it might be doable this morning, but if she is happy for me to do so, I will give the matter some thought. I suspect it will be difficult to make the Mayor responsible for contraventions outside London, but we can consider whether we could have a sort of double lock so that the Mayor is responsible inside London. I cannot promise the right hon. Lady that that is possible, but if she will give us time to consider the matter, I will make sure that my civil servants come back to her with an answer before Report.

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

In relation to the obligation to consult, the Minister’s proposal is acceptable and, as he rightly says, uses the existing powers of the 2006 Act. We are grateful that he is willing to give further consideration to meeting the point about consistency with the Mayor’s other powers, and we are happy for him to take further advice and return to the matter on Report. In light of that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6, 7, 8 and 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose.