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Mr. Kidney: The Secretary of State has already given an assurance that the Highways Agency is not seeking to replace the existing market in the recovery of broken-down vehicles, so will the hon. Gentleman join me in a constructive suggestion? The Highways Agency has already taken part in a working party with the police to sort out a protocol about where their boundaries lie. Would it not be helpful if it did the same with the breakdown and recovery services to sort out their boundaries?
Mr. Green: That would have been sensible and the Government should have arranged for it to happenthe Highways Agency is, after all, an agency of the Department for Transportbefore bringing the Bill before the House. I have already mentioned that various bodies, including the organisations that provide rescue services and distinguished groups such as the Transport Committee, have objected to the lack of consultation over the Bill. Indeed, the Select Committee wanted a draft Bill. Where there is a huge interaction between existing private sector and voluntary bodies and the state, consultation over a draft Bill would have been an extremely sensible way to proceed. It might have resulted in a less contentious, less badly drafted and less inadequate Bill. Sadly, that did not happen. I entirely agree that it would be sensible, but I wish that Ministers had thought of it some months ago before putting the Bill before the House.
I believe, as I suspect the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney) does, that the RAC's concerns are valid, and there are others that Ministers should have considered before introducing this part of the Bill. In particular, the Secretary of State failed to explain what is meant by the further special powers in the Bill, which may be given to traffic officers and enforced through summary offences. He is asking the House to legislate in the dark. The Transport Committee drew attention to those important powers, and the Secretary of State is being slightly insulting to the House in introducing legislation with wide potential implications without a word of explanation during his Second Reading speech.
The second key section of the Bill deals with the powers of local authorities. Many submissions have been made suggesting that those powers, combined with the paramount duty imposed on local authorities to keep traffic flowing, will have implications for both road safety and the environment. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides will wish to pick up on that, and it will be interesting to hear how the roads Ministerthe Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon.
I want to deal with the problem of using a combination of cameras and traffic wardens to enforce increasing amounts of traffic law. The Minister made the perfectly true and very sensible point that it was a previous Conservative Government and an extremely successful roads Ministermy hon. Friend the Member for Christchurchwho introduced speed cameras. I was fascinated to hear that my hon. Friend's prediction that 2 million extra offences would eventually be caught by speed cameras has finally been proved correct after 12 years. What is interesting, however, is that following that increase of 2 million over 12 years, the Government predict an increase over one year from 2 million to 3 million. The Minister may try to maintain that all speed cameras are in the right place and are all about safety and have nothing to do with raising revenue for the Government. Frankly, that will not wash.
Mrs. Dunwoody: Does the hon. Gentleman disagree with the criteria used for the placing of speed cameras, which are set up only where there have been at least four injuries within a one-year period? Does he think that they are not acceptable?
Mr. Green: The criteria are sensible, but there is a lot of evidence that the cameras are not in the right place. [Interruption.] The roads Minister is saying that there is no evidence, but I refer him to a written answer that he gave me. I asked him about the siting of cameras on the five most dangerous roads in this country, and his answer showed that there were no speed cameras on three of them. There is certainly a large amount of prima facie evidence that cameras are not in the right place. We are saying that we need a proper national audit of how many cameras there are and where they are. One of the most extraordinary written answers that the roads Minister has been forced to give me over the past couple of weeks is that the Government do not know how many cameras there are. Presumably he does not know where they are either, so when the Government claim that every camera is in the right place and that their siting is all about road safety rather than about raising revenue for the Chancellor, they simply cannot be telling the truth.
Mr. Green: I have just given an example, if the hon. Gentleman cared to listen. I pointed out the answer given by the Under-Secretary, which suggested that of the five most dangerous roads in the country, three do not have a single camera.
Mr. Redwood: My hon. Friend has given good examples of dangerous roads where cameras should be placed, and I could take the Secretary of State to many roads that are relatively safe but which have cameras to collect money from people who judge that they can go faster than the recommended or compulsory speed limit. Examples include the A316 and M4 into London, which have money-raising cameras on straight stretches of dual or treble carriageway, where there is little danger and no accidents.
Mr. Green: My right hon. Friend is right, and I know that many hon. Members on both sides of the House have similar examples. Since I have started raising the issue of speed cameras, where they are sited and whether we need a national audit of them, my e-mail has rarely stopped pinging with further examples.
Mr. Green: The hon. Gentleman appears not to be listening to the debate. My right hon. Friend has just given several examples. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is a great reader of the News of the World, but he may have seen its report this Sunday on the removal of a camera.
Mr. Green: We have just been offered three examples. Increasing numbers of respectable citizens reckon that cameras are not used for the proper purpose of making our roads safer and less congested, but are designed to take more and more money out of the pockets of motorists and put it into the pockets of the Chancellor. The problem with the Bill, and the increasing reliance on cameras to police the new range of offences that will result, is that it will reinforce that cynicism.
Mr. Simon Thomas: The hon. Gentleman is giving the most explicit explanation that I have heard from the Conservatives of their opposition to the current use of speed cameras. Does he agree that speed cameras are placed on roads with a combination of a history of serious accidents and evidence of motorists speedingI think that the figure is 25 per cent.according to the