Tenth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation
Thursday 22 March 2001
[Sir David Madel in the Chair]
Draft Greater London Road Traffic (Various Provisions) Order 2001
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Keith Hill): I beg to move,
That the Committee has considered the draft Greater London Road Traffic (Various Provisions) Order 2001.
You will understand, Sir David, when I say that is a great personal pleasure to serve under your wise chairmanship again.
I need to state immediately that, in my view, the provisions of the order are compatible with the European convention on human rights.
The Greater London Authority Act 1999 set up an authority called Transport for London as one of the functional bodies of the new Greater London Authority. The functions of Transport for London include those of highway and traffic authority for the network comprising the main traffic routes in London-[Interruption.]
The Chairman: Order. There is a Division in the House, so we will suspend for a quarter of an hour.
Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.
Mr. Hill: As I have already dealt with the most contentious part of the order, I am tempted to conclude my remarks. However, I am certain that the Committee is longing for greater clarification of these fascinating measures.
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold): Will the Minister repeat what he has already said for the benefit of hon. Members who, like me, were detained elsewhere?
Mr. Hill: I shall summarise it. I was describing Transport for London's responsibilities under legislation for the main traffic routes in London. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 calls the network GLA roads.
Parliament has already agreed to provisions to allow Transport for London to operate a decriminalised parking regime on GLA roads in due course. Those provisions are contained in amendments to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and the Road Traffic Act 1991 that were effected by sections 281 to 287 of the 1999 Act.
The principal purpose of the draft order is to fill a lacuna in the 1999 Act by applying the legislation relating to the removal, storage and disposal of illegally parked vehicles to Transport for London. The draft order also provides an opportunity to remove two awkwardnesses in the drafting of the 1999 Act.
The GLA road network comprises 550 km of London's red routes and other important streets. The London borough councils are responsible for almost all the remaining 13,000 km of public roads and streets within Greater London. The London borough councils already have the power to operate decriminalised parking enforcement on their own roads through the designation of special parking areas under section 76 of the Road Traffic Act 1991. However, most GLA roads were formerly part of the red route network, and together with short lengths of side road connecting with them, they were excluded from special parking areas; enforcement is currently dealt with by the police and traffic wardens.
Under a decriminalised regime, Transport for London can bring the GLA road network within special parking areas and operate a decriminalised enforcement system, thus taking over the enforcement function from the police on those roads. Once Transport for London has the same decriminalised parking enforcement powers as the borough councils, it will be possible to develop a coherent enforcement strategy that brings together all the relevant parties. Transport for London is currently working in partnership with the police, London borough councils, the Association of London Government and the bus operators on an action plan to deliver better traffic enforcement. The mayor's transport strategy, which is currently out to consultation, proposes the implementation of the enforcement action plan by the end of 2002.
Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the order make amendments to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, with the object of conferring on Transport for London in relation to GLA roads the same powers that the London borough councils have with regard to the removal, storage and disposal of illegally parked vehicles in relation to their roads.
Other borough parking enforcement powers are contained in various London Local Authorities Acts that it would be desirable for Transport for London to have before it can begin to operate decriminalised parking enforcement on its roads. A separate orderwhich will be subject to negative resolutionis being prepared to give Transport for London those additional powers.
We have recently made a negative resolution order to give borough powers to Transport for London for the decriminalised enforcement of bus lanes. The Transport for London (Bus Lanes) Order 2001 comes into force on 1 April. From that date, Transport for London will have the power to enforce bus lanes using cameras. I understand that it intends to start enforcement on Monday 2 April. There will be a single penalty of £80, which will be reduced to £40 for early payment, for all bus lane offences in London detected by camera. It will allow limited police resources to be concentrated on safety-related enforcement such as speed and red-light offences. The revenue from penalties will be reinvested by Transport for London in the transport and enforcement system, although the primary purpose of bus lane enforcement is to achieve a substantial improvement in compliance with bus priority measures and hence improve the speed and reliability of bus services.
Article 7 makes a consequential amendment to the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1986. Those regulations make detailed provision on the procedure for removing illegally parked vehicles from roads; they were made under the legislation applied by articles 4, 5 and 6.
I turn now to the remaining articles in the order that clarifyI use that word advisedlythe drafting of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. Article 3 amends section 124A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, inserted by section 272 of the 1999 Act. Section 124A enables my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to designate roads or proposed roads as GLA side roads. He has already exercised that power in a series of orders applying to each London borough and to the City of London. Section 124A(6) also enables the Secretary of State by order to make provisions for, or in connection with, applying in relation to GLA side roads, certain legislation relating to GLA roads. In exercise of that power, he has made the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (GLA Side Roads Amendment) Order 2000.
By virtue of section 142(4) of the 1984 Act, as inserted by section 292(4) of the 1999 Act, references in the 1984 Act to GLA roads include reference to GLA side roads. However, the provisions of section 142(4) are not appropriate to section 124A, as it makes references to GLA roads in a context in which that expression is clearly not intended to include references to GLA side roads. Article 3 of the order clarifies the drafting of section 124A by making it clear that references to GLA roads in that section are not to be taken as referring to GLA side roads.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: Would the Minister explain in plain English the difference between section 124A and the restrictions contained therein and the changes that he seeks?
Mr. Hill: I am glad that the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) asked me that. I shall try to explain the provision a little more clearly.
Article 3 amends section 124A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, as inserted by section 272 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. Section 124A provides for the Secretary of State to designate GLA side roads by order. As I said, he has already exercised that power in a series of orders that apply to each London borough and the City of London. However, by virtue of section 292(4) of the GLA Act, every reference to GLA roads in the Act automatically includes GLA side roads. Section 124A defines GLA side roads as roads that have a junction with a GLA road or a junction with another road that has a junction with a GLA road. If those two references to GLA roads automatically include GLA side roads, as provided in section 229(4), any road that has a junction with a GLA road or a GLA side road, or a junction with another road that has a junction with a GLA road or a GLA side road could be designated as a GLA side road.
I can sum it up for the hon. Member for Cotswold. In theory, almost every road in London could be designated by order as a GLA side road. To clarify the position, article 3 makes it clear that the references to GLA roads in section 124A are not to be taken as including a reference to GLA side roads. That explanation should receive the Committee's acclamation.
Mr. Michael Moore (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale): Would that apply to the street in the Minister's constituency where I live when in London, namely Park Hill?
Mr. Hill: No. I am awareindeed, I am honouredthat the hon. Gentleman should have chosen to reside in a particularly salubrious part of my constituency, but as that road does not abut a GLA road, it is not a GLA side road.
Article 8 amends the definition of the definition of ``London authority'' in section 82(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1991, as amended by section 287(2) of the 1999 Act. The purpose of the amendment is to remove a discrepancy between that definition and section 45(7) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The existing definition of London authority provides only for Transport for London to be the local authority for a parking place on a GLA road or GLA side road. However, section 45(7) provides that the local authority responsible for a parking place on a GLA road or side road may be either a London borough council, the Common Council or Transport for London. That is because parking places on roads that are now GLA roads were originally designated by a London borough council. The definition in section 82(1) of the 1991 Act is amended to take account of that. Section 287(2) cannot be commenced until that amendment is made.
To sum up, the order provides Transport for London with powers that are necessary to allow it to undertake parking enforcement, and it clarifies two matters relating to the drafting of the GLA Act 1999.