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London Local Authorities Bill [Lords]

As amended in the Committee, considered.

Clause 25


Amendment made: No. 1, in page 28, line 1, leave out "(7)" and insert "(6A)".--[Ms Buck.]

Clause 41

Appeals under Part V

Amendments made: No. 2, in page 44, line 26, leave out "this section" and insert "subsection (1) above".
No. 3, in page 44, line 31, at end insert--
'(3) An appeal by either party against the decision of the magistrates' court under this section may be made to the Crown Court.'.
No. 4, in page 44, line 32, after first "court" insert--
'or to the Crown Court'.--[Ms Buck.]

Clause 43

Seizure under Part V

Amendment made: No. 5, in page 45, line 4, after "street" insert--
'to which this Part of this Act applies'.--[Ms Buck.]

Clause 44

Designating resolutions under Part V

Amendments made: No. 6, in page 46, line 25, leave out "designating".
No. 7, in page 46, line 27, leave out from second "a" to "shall" in line 28 and insert "resolution, the resolution".
No. 8, in page 46, line 32, leave out "under this section".--[Ms Buck.]

Clause 48

Bus lanes

Amendments made: No. 9, in page 48, line 40, at beginning insert--
'Section 4 (Penalty charge notices under Part II) of and'.
No. 10, in page 48, line 42, leave out "is" and insert "are".--[Ms Buck.]

Schedule 2

Amendments to Schedule 1 (Enforcement Notices, etc., under Part II (Bus Lanes) of this Act) to the London Local Authorities Act 1996

Amendments made: No. 11, in page 63, line 2, after "TO" insert--
No. 12, in page 63, line 3, at end insert--
'A1. In subsection (2) of section 4, after "with respect to a vehicle" the words ", by the owner of the vehicle," are inserted.'.
No. 13, in page 63, line 12, leave out "thereto".
No. 14, in page 63, line 12, after "notice" insert "or".

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No. 15, in page 63, line 20, leave out "4" and insert "(4)".
No. 16, in page 63, line 21, leave out from "out" to end of line 22.
No. 17, in page 63, line 22, at end insert--
'(e) after sub-paragraph (4)(b) insert ";or";
(f) the following sub-paragraph is substituted for sub-paragraph (4)(c)--
"(c) that at the time the alleged breach of such order or regulations took place the person who was in control of the vehicle was in control of the vehicle without the consent or the owner.";'.
No. 18, in page 63, line 23, leave out "(4)(c),".
No. 19, in page 63, line 33, after "11" insert "of Schedule 1".--[Ms Buck.]
Order for Third Reading read.

6.44 pm

Ms Karen Buck (Regent's Park and Kensington, North): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

May I spend a few minutes explaining a little about the Bill? I shall seek to be brief.

Although the Bill is technically promoted by Westminster city council, the Association of London Government has played a key role in promoting and steering the legislation through on behalf of all the boroughs, except the London borough of Barnet, which, for its own reasons, chose not to participate in the promotion of the Bill. However, Barnet has since written to the ALG to say that, when a further Bill is promoted, it would like the provisions of the current Bill to be applied to Barnet. As a result, I can say that the Bill is unanimously supported by the London boroughs.

The Bill has been given full and proper consideration in both Houses. In the House of Lords, there was a debate on Second Reading--which is uncommon for private Bills these days. Because there were petitions against the Bill, it was considered by a Select Committee. The Bill was also considered in detail by the Unopposed Bills Committee in the House of Lords. Reports on the Bill were submitted by the Home Office and by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. In this House, petitions were again deposited against the Bill, so it was considered in detail by a Select Committee. The Bill was unopposed on Second Reading. The Bill has therefore received intensive scrutiny from both Houses.

The Bill is what is generally known as a general powers Bill, in the sense that it deals with a number of subjects. Its provisions have been through a variety of different guises. Since the Bill's inception in 1996, a number of clauses have been dropped from the Bill following objections that have been taken on board and carefully considered by the promoters.

It was thought at one point that the Bill could deal with issues such as prostitutes' cards in London telephone boxes and laws relating to alcohol licensing and the licensing of buskers. In short, the Bill could simply have been summarised as the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" Bill, which would have been, had I been in a position to sponsor it, the summit of my parliamentary career. Alas,

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the provisions concerning cards in telephone boxes never came to pass, although the Government will soon introduce proposals on that.

The provisions that remain deal with parking, public health, licensing, busking, bus lane offences and some miscellaneous matters. I will go through them in the order in which they appear in the Bill.

Part II deals with parking. Under the Road Traffic Act 1991, except in certain areas such as the Whitehall security area and red routes, the London boroughs exercise powers of parking enforcement and control. The councils have already added to their parking powers by virtue of the London Local Authorities Act 1995.

The parking provisions in part II include provisions enabling the councils to serve penalty charge notices on offenders on the basis of evidence provided by cameras; enabling them to serve penalty charge notices where a parking attendant has been prevented from doing so; enabling the service of penalty charge notices to take place by fax or e-mail; and giving the councils powers of entry into vehicles that have been impounded where they contain things that may cause danger. There are a number of other technical provisions.

Part III deals with public health. It enhances the powers of councils' environmental health departments by extending various parts of the existing statutory waste collection regime. It also enables the local authorities to require owners of certain private courtyards and, if necessary, adjoining owners to keep the area clear of refuse.

In the main, the provisions of part IV are technical and consist of a number of amendments to the existing statutory licensing regime in subject areas such as public entertainment, cinemas and theatres.

Part V is concerned with the licensing of buskers. As some of my hon. Friends have raised concerns about part V, I shall spend a few minutes explaining the thinking behind it. First, I should point out that the Bill does not in any way seek to abolish busking in London. As a great fan of busking, I am pleased that that is the case. In fact, I think that the Bill will enhance the ability of buskers to perform and the opportunity for their music and entertainment to be enjoyed by Londoners, while dealing with a small area of nuisance. Part V enables each council to introduce a licensing regime to control busking on the highway and on open spaces controlled by them. The Bill does not, therefore, apply to the London underground, for which separate provision is, I believe, being made.

It should be noted that there are safeguards in the Bill governing the circumstances under which the councils may apply part V. Clause 33 provides that the council may pass a resolution if it wishes to apply the licensing regime to any part of its area. The crucial safeguard is contained in subsection (2), which provides:

there is a problem as a result of busking, including

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The second important point to note is that councils can target certain areas and apply the licensing regime to those areas. Westminster city council has said that there are at present only two areas where there is sufficient concern to adopt the licensing provisions: Leicester square and certain parts of Covent Garden.

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