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Lord Jenkin of Roding moved Amendment No. 225:

Before Clause 75, insert the following new clause:

("Vehicle exhaust emissions

.—(1) An authorised officer of a local authority may test a motor vehicle on a road in the local authority area in which he is authorised for the purpose of ascertaining whether the requirements imposed by law as to the prevention or reduction of the emission of smoke, fumes, or vapour are complied with as respects the vehicle.
(2) The authorised officer must produce his authority to act for the purposes of this section if required to do so.
(3) The authorised officer may operate the vehicle for the purpose of testing it.
(4) If there is a defect in the vehicle by reason of which the vehicle does not comply with any construction and use requirements applicable to the vehicle relating to the prevention or reduction of the emission of smoke, fumes or vapour, the authorised officer may serve on the owner of the vehicle a notice requiring him to—
(a) pay a penalty charge to the local authority, and
(b) produce to the local authority within 56 days a certificate signed by a person having power to carry out examinations at a vehicle testing station under section 45 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 confirming that in his opinion the vehicle complies with the relevant construction and use requirements.

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(5) The owner of a vehicle served with a notice under subsection (4) above shall have the right of appeal against the service of the notice to the local authority in the first instance and thereafter, to an adjudicator appointed by the local authority.
(6) The amount of the penalty charge payable under subsection (4) (b) above shall be set at a level which would allow the local authority to recover the reasonable costs of the enforcement of the provisions of this section.
(7) Before enforcing the provisions of this section, a local authority shall make and thereafter maintain and have regard to a code of practice approved by the Secretary of State.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I believe that it will be for the convenience of all noble Lords if we discuss Amendments Nos. 226 and 227 at the same time. It will be within the recollection of the House that, four weeks ago exactly to the day, I moved the same group of amendments dealing with vehicle emissions. I was greatly encouraged by the support which I received from all parts of the House. Indeed, these amendments are in the names of Members from all parts of the House. Since then my noble friend on the Front Bench has been kind enough to receive a delegation from the London Boroughs Association. We had what I hope was a useful and productive discussion.

Perhaps I may remind the House that the amendments deal with three particular situations where there is pollution of the atmosphere by vehicles and equipment. The first amendment gives power to local authorities to carry out kerbside testing of vehicles which have polluting exhausts. If they are found to be offending under the construction and use regulations, the local authorities have power to take the vehicles off the road. They have powers to fine and to require the owners to take remedial action. These powers exist at the moment in one form or another with the Vehicles Inspectorate and the police. But I believe that it is everybody's experience that the powers are very infrequently used. Enforcement is the real problem here and the key is to give local authorities the necessary powers to test but not to stop, because I believe that that would not be right. The only people who should stop a vehicle are the uniformed police. That is the first power.

The second provision is to give powers to local authorities to deal with machinery and equipment. Examples of these are tar boilers, cement mixers, air compressors and so on, which are used, for instance, in the construction industry. Local authorities have powers to deal with them if that machinery or equipment pollutes on a building site, because the machine can be closed down but, if the contractor just moves the machinery out into the street, then the only people who can deal with it are the police. It is quite unrealistic to expect the police, with all the pressures on them, to deal with equipment of that kind and in those circumstances.

The third power which aroused a certain amount of interest in your Lordships' House when I moved the amendment in Committee is the power as regards stationary vehicles. One sees them all the time, vehicles such as coaches, buses and lorries, standing for hours with their engines switched on and their exhausts puffing into the atmosphere. There is a need for a power to allow local authorities to have the engines switched off.

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The origin of these powers lay in the London Local Authorities Bill, promoted by the London Boroughs Association. That Bill is currently before the House and contains much more detailed legislation than I have included in these amendments. I did not want to weary the House with 25 pages of detailed legislation which I suspect few of your Lordships would want to read.

There has been a great deal of consultation on this matter by the London Boroughs Association and the Association of London Authorities. When the Government published their document Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge, they actually welcomed the proposals which were being put forward by the London boroughs. The Government said that they welcomed the initiative,

    "in bringing forward proposals in the London Local Authorities Bill to extend kerbside emission testing powers to London local authorities".

They went on to say,

    "The proposals may present an opportunity to increase the level of roadside emissions testing in London, supplementing testing already carried out by the Vehicle Inspectorate, and may provide a blueprint for future initiatives elsewhere in the country".

So what is being proposed here is something which in principle the Government have already accepted. However, when we came to discuss the amendments, my noble friend made some general welcoming noises about the first of the three amendments concerning the roadside testing of vehicles, but, having now studied what he said, the reasons do not appear convincing. He was much less enthusiastic about the other two amendments.

This has all been discussed against the background of two very important factors. The first is the Government's very welcome intention to legislate by introducing provisions in another place into this Bill to deal with their strategic air pollution policy along the lines of the amendment which was moved by the noble Lords, Lord Lewis of Newnham and Lord Nathan. I believe that there was a very general welcome in all parts of the House. We look forward to seeing that legislation when the Bill returns from the other place. It will provide a comprehensive new policy to combat air pollution.

My noble friend also undertook to introduce general powers in the Bill for a national strategic plan and to have local air quality management powers for local authorities. It is already clear that it is local authorities which will have to play a very important role in this. So we are to have legislation.

The second point is that, since we debated these matters in this House on 9th February, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Dr. Brian Mawhinney, has announced what his press release was pleased to call,

    "A major new programme of action to cut vehicle pollution in city streets".

It achieved wide publicity and was widely welcomed by the press and the other media when he made that announcement. The press release continues,

    "In a five-pronged initiative he announced new resources for a major national blitz of polluting vehicles across 23 cities and towns over the next two months; the speeding up of tighter MOT test emission standards; a prosecutions crackdown on offending vehicles

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    with fines of up to £2,500; automatic prosecution for motorists and operators who exceed limits by neglecting vehicle maintenance; and an urgent study into the possibility of roadside checks for engines burning too much oil".

That is only one of the particular problems, but it is an important one.

We are to have a national strategy. We are to have local air quality initiatives with local authorities involved. There is to be a blitz on polluting vehicles and we have had a warm welcome from the Government for the provisions in the London Bill, saying that they welcome local authorities having powers to test.

But we need to have those powers in this Bill. Why should these provisions be confined to London? Why should we have to wait for the vagaries of the London Local Authorities Bill in order for them to become law? Why should the provisions not be equally applicable to other parts of the country?

When we debated these matters earlier the Committee wanted to see these provisions in this Bill. When we met my noble friend we were given a number of answers. I do not wish to be in the least unkind to him because he was very helpful. At a time when he was extremely busy he and his officials gave us a great deal of their time. But my noble friend did not appear to me to be convincing.

Much of this work has been done. There has already been a great deal of consultation. Two factors have figured in the petitions against the private Bill—first, the power to stop by local authorities, which is not in my amendments and not in these proposals. The second objection has been to the proposition that these measures should apply only to London and not nationally. The London local authorities cannot promote national legislation, but we have it here in front of us.

The obstacles which my noble friend has put up can be overcome. Those of us who have had responsibilities in these matters are very familiar with being put under this kind of pressure by colleagues in either House. He should tell his officials to get on with it. There is no reason why they cannot now produce the clauses which are all there in draft. They have been very widely discussed with all the relevant interests. This afternoon we hope that my noble friend will say that these provisions should be added to this Bill in another place. If we miss this opportunity, how long shall we have to wait before we can propose these measures again? I ask my noble friend to give that assurance.

There are two other points. As regards stationary vehicles, my noble friend said that it was difficult because there are already powers if the vehicle makes a noise, but emissions would be very difficult to prove. That is not right. We are not going to have to prove the emissions. All that we shall have to prove is that the vehicle is sitting there with its engine on for no good reason. The local authority can then say, "Would you mind turning that off because you are polluting the atmosphere?" Therefore, I do not think that the parallel with the noise power has any relevance.

On the question of stationary equipment, it is absurd that local authorities can deal with such problems on a building site but not if the machinery is on the road.

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Again, it is not enough to say that the police can deal with it. I hope that the police are doing more important crime prevention work than stopping tar boilers puffing out black smoke. I think that the House is entitled to ask that these provisions should be introduced in another place in this Bill—not necessarily these new clauses, but provisions along their lines. I beg to move.

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