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Motorcycles: Parking Places

2.59 p.m.

Viscount Addison asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, discussions with motorcycle groups have identified the provision of adequate and secure parking as one of their principal concerns. The Government certainly agree that local authorities and employers should have regard to their needs in this respect. What further advice might be offered on the subject is something that we shall consider in the preparation of the forthcoming White Paper on integrated transport policy.

Viscount Addison: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is she aware that there is no strategy for public transport which has resulted in a reduction of congestion on the roads? Is the noble Baroness also aware that, because of that, the number of commuter scooters and motorcycles is an attractive sight to those who use public transport because the costs involved compare favourably with the cost of public transport? Bearing that in mind, and given the fact that 93,000 motorcycles and motor scooters were sold last year, is it not imperative that more leverage should be placed on local authorities--I was pleased to hear what the Minister said--and that something should be put in place to ensure that they do provide more adequate and secure parking for motorcycles and motor scooters?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the Government are committed to developing a sustainable and integrated public transport policy. With regard to the modal shift from one means of transport to another, research is a good idea and has been commissioned. It is useful to note that the Driving Standards Agency has surveyed candidates taking the test for motorcycle licences in order to gain some evidence. It was found that 75 per cent. of the sample had access to a car, which they also used daily or several times a week; that 33 per cent. travelled to work by motorcycle more than once a week; that some would otherwise have driven; but that most would have walked or used public transport. Regarding secure parking, local authorities have powers to provide designated parking spaces on highways for motorcycles. The Government encourage them to use those powers.

Lord St. John of Bletso: My Lords, is the Minister aware that there was a 36 per cent. rise last year in motorcycle sales and a 39 per cent. rise in moped sales? I say this in my capacity as one of your Lordships who is a motorcycle commuter. Does the Minister agree that the number of parking spaces in London for motorcycle riders is totally insufficient?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, with regard to London, I can tell the noble Lord that the document Traffic Management and Parking Guidance for

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London, published on 27th February, states that it expects boroughs which have not yet done so to undertake a fundamental review of their existing parking regimes. Among other things, the review process is expected to assess the need for any coach, cycle or motorcycle parking. The document goes on to point out that the Secretary of State recommends that local authorities should bear in mind the needs of cyclists and motorcyclists when planning and designing.

Lord Naseby: My Lords, the noble Baroness mentioned the Driving Standards Agency. Can she tell the House whether that agency will be looking at the driving standards of dispatch riders in London and other central city areas?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, they would be included in any review of standards.

Lord Merlyn-Rees: My Lords, regarding guidelines, can my noble friend say whether, where a great big motorbike driven by a chap dressed in leathers attempts to sneak past two cars, thereby frightening the living daylights out of an old man, breaking the car wing mirrors and then making off without saying a word, an addendum could be added to the guidance stating that, in such circumstances, the biker should: "Stop, be kind and apologise"?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, my noble friend's question had a ring of experience about it. I am quite sure that all those who are involved with motorcycle riding, including Members of your Lordships' House, would also want to continue to pursue safety as the main theme, both for riders and other road users. I am quite sure that the picture of large, aggressive motorcyclists driving dangerously is one which is most serious but must not be taken to include all motorcyclists.

Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Addison told the House that 93,000 motorcycles and scooters are sold each year. However, does the Minister agree that there are no secure parking spaces when 52,000 motorcycles are stolen each year, according to the figures of the Metropolitan Police stolen vehicles unit? Therefore, what are the Government proposing to do to ensure that we have secure parking spaces in London, especially as regards street furniture so that motorcycles can be chained and secured? Further, can the Minister say when the White Paper on integrated transport policy will be published?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, secure parking is a key concern. We acknowledge the problem of theft, although the rate has fallen in recent years. The Government have declared that they will change the law when an opportunity arises to put beyond doubt the ability of local authorities to provide devices on the highways to which motorcycles can be attached.

The Government also endorse the initiative of ACPO on the secured car parks initiative for off-street car parks and encourage all operators to aspire to the standards that that has established. Local authorities have the power to

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require that off-street parking in car parks that they do not own provide motorcycle parking spaces. However, should that result in a loss of revenue for those who own the car park, compensation must be paid by the local authority.

The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, although my point does not directly relate to the Question on the Order Paper--

Noble Lords: Oh!

The Viscount of Falkland: --it has, nevertheless, been raised. I should first declare an interest as chairman of the Despatch Association, which is one of the two main bodies that represent dispatch riders. I can tell the House that there is now a national vocational qualification for dispatch riders which is more and more widely being taken. Is the Minister aware that, on every occasion I address groups of dispatch riders, I tell them that every time they frighten one of my noble friends--or, indeed, other noble Lords--by knocking wing mirrors, it makes my life exceedingly difficult and that, therefore, I am expecting a vast improvement in that area?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I endorse the view that, complementary to compulsory basic training, it is important to encourage the pursuit of safety. I am quite sure that the noble Viscount did not wish to imply that it was acceptable to knock car wing mirrors of people who are not Members of this House. However, as I said, I endorse what he said about the importance of safety. That is especially so for dispatch riders, many of whom are very young.

Succession to the Crown Bill [H.L.]

3.6 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): My Lords, last Friday my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn, when replying to the Second Reading debate on the Succession to the Crown Bill, said:

    "Her Majesty had no objection to the Government's view that in determining the line of succession to the throne daughters and sons should be treated in the same way".

The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, immediately raised a point of order and said that,

    "it was not normal to make known the views of the monarch on legislation before the House".--[Official Report, 27/2/98; col. 916.]

No doubt the noble Lord had in mind the passage in Erskine May, which says:

    "Her Majesty cannot be supposed to have a private opinion, apart from that of her responsible advisers; and any attempt to use her name in debate to influence the judgment of Parliament is immediately checked and censured".

I was not present during that part of the debate when my noble friend advised the House of the view of Her Majesty. However, I recognised that the matter was of some importance and, therefore, took advice on it. The advice that I have received is that, on a Bill which is so fundamentally personal to the sovereign and to her family, it would have been unhelpful to the House for

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the Government not to have made her view known to your Lordships. The procedure must always be applied with common sense and with due consideration of the circumstances. I am bound to say that the advice I received was both sensible and correct.

Her Majesty's views would very soon have became apparent through other channels. Indeed, there was an alleged mention of them in the Daily Telegraph of the day immediately before the debate. It might have been thought discourteous to your Lordships, when debating such a measure, not to have learnt of them first. Even though the advice that I was tendered was that no impropriety had occurred, I thought it might help the House, in view of the interventions made on Friday, to have the position clarified publicly at the earliest opportunity. That is what I have sought to do.

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