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Transport (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th October 2019.

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Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

Amendments 138 and 139 relate to the creation, in the bill, of an unclear situation on LEZ enforcement. The bill does not make driving in an LEZ a criminal offence, but it introduces a vague power for ministers to create criminal offences by regulation. I am genuinely concerned about the ambiguity that that creates. If it is the Government’s intention to create a criminal offence, that should surely be in the bill. I would therefore be grateful if the cabinet secretary could clarify the intent behind those enabling powers, and what he envisages them being used for.

Likewise, I am keen to know why a decision was not taken to make driving in an LEZ a criminal offence from the outset.

Amendment 126 calls for regulations setting or changing penalty charges related to LEZs to be subject to the affirmative procedure, and my amendment 176 calls for regulations setting out who might be liable for LEZ charges to be subject to the affirmative procedure.

Those are two important details, with significant consequences for drivers, and the decisions made in those regulations must be subject to adequate scrutiny. For that reason, I believe that they should have to be agreed by Parliament, under the affirmative procedure.

I welcome amendment 151 from Jamie Greene, which calls for regulations on traffic signs to be used in LEZs. The need for consistency in signage was a key issue highlighted to the REC Committee throughout the progress of the bill, and there is widespread agreement that that would be key to raising public awareness and encouraging compliance. I am happy to support amendment 151, which would ensure that that is the case.

I move amendment 138.