Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: Perhaps I may alter the order in which we spoke last time. I wish to add my comments before anything else to those of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon. We all expect a great deal from the White Paper and many of the points he looks for I also seek in the White Paper.

I turn to the amendments. Amendment No. 4 might have a rather bizarre effect in that it might require the Secretary of State to restrict traffic, whether or not it has an adverse impact. That may not be entirely what was intended. I would be happy to be corrected on that, but it is my impression that that would be the effect of the Bill.

Moving to Amendment No. 5 on the same part of Clause 2 put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, again it is a curious amendment. It suggests that traffic is in itself beneficial. I do not think that anyone would deny that transport can be beneficial. The whole argument is based upon an assumption that there are

19 Jun 1998 : Column 1811

ways of moving goods and people around which can be made less damaging than our present considerable use of motorised transport on roads to get ourselves and our goods around. It is a curious amendment, asking us to consider the beneficial effects of traffic. Most people would be hard put to judge any effects of traffic per se as beneficial. Traffic is vehicles moving along a road, which has no beneficial effect. But it has a large number of dis-benefits. I shall not go into them because we discussed them at some length in the course of the Second Reading of the Bill.

For those reasons, both the first two amendments which we are considering in this group are odd, to say the least, and do not quite express what the mover wished them to express.

Lord Elton: Before the noble Baroness sits down, can she explain how there could be traffic without transport or transport without traffic?

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I am happy to respond to that. Transport causes traffic. The question that we all face, not just in this country and not just at government level but all across Europe, at both government and local level, is how we reduce the adverse impact of traffic, which is caused by the need to transport ourselves and our goods, on the locality and the environment. That is what we are discussing. To do as the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, suggests in asking us to consider the beneficial effects of traffic does not make sense, even if I desired to accept the amendment--which I do not. But it is not the right way of expressing the point that the noble Lord is trying to get across.

Lord Swinfen: Pedestrian traffic does not require any transport at all. I wish to support Amendment No. 4. The word "adverse" in line 19 is otiose as in line nine the Secretary of State has to have the aim of reducing the adverse environmental, social and economic impacts.

I also wish to support my noble friend Lord Brabazon, in particular on paragraph (b) of Amendment No. 5 which concerns:

    "effects in reducing social exclusion".

I am thinking of where I live, which is in the country, one-and-a-half miles from any public transport, and the difficulties that families near me would have if they were not allowed to use their own private cars on various occasions. Coming back from the shops with a load of shopping and two small children, walking one-and-a-half-miles along busy roads, would for some women be absolutely intolerable and highly dangerous.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The purpose of the list in Clause 2(3) is to explain what is meant by the adverse impacts of traffic. So it is difficult to see the need for Amendment No. 4 which would delete the word "adverse".

Amendment No. 5 would require the Secretary of State to consider the beneficial impact of road traffic as well as the adverse impacts listed in Clause 2(3).

19 Jun 1998 : Column 1812

Amendment No. 7 would add the needs of business, commerce and industry to the list of needs to which the Secretary of State would have to have regard in Clause 2(4). We fully accept that in preparing our report we will need to take into account all the factors listed in Amendments Nos. 5 and 7 in one way or another. I can assure the Committee that the Government will consider all the relevant impacts of road traffic, including the impacts on industry and commerce, in considering how to comply with the requirements of the Bill.

However, we do not think it sensible to specify all those factors on the face of the Bill. The list of factors that we may need to take into account is very large and it is neither sensible nor practicable to specify them all. In the light of this reply the Government therefore wish to resist the group of amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, was absolutely right when he indicated that he did not expect me to pre-empt the White Paper.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood, for her contribution to the debate on the difference between traffic and transport. If all the people in buses on Oxford Street were to transfer to private cars, there would be even more in the way of traffic and environmental effects.

The noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, referred to people living in the country. Of course, he is right. He brought back some of my memories of walking with small children and carrier bags in the country.

Lord Rowallan: I join in support of both amendments by my noble friend Lord Attlee. I feel that leaving out the word "adverse" would be beneficial, despite what my noble friend Lord Swinfen said about it being mentioned earlier in the Bill.

I feel that we must not be too restrictive. Some of the impact--especially when we begin to produce yet more cleaner fuels such as diesel for freight lorries--will be beneficial. Of course, all emissions are more likely to be dirty rather than clean, but we can make them cleaner. I therefore support my noble friend Lord Attlee in the removal of the word "adverse". There is a chance that some of the matters listed will actually be less than adverse and may even be slightly beneficial. Let us therefore remove the restriction.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Purely as a matter of drafting, the word "adverse" is required. As the Minister pointed out, it refers back to subsection (1) and merely explains the word "adverse" as it appears there. At line 19, it does not have any of the adverse effects feared by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and his supporters.

Lord Elis-Thomas: As always, I am grateful to my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale for coming to my rescue. I agree entirely with his definition of "adverse" and its use in the Bill.

Perhaps I can add to the assurances clearly given by the Minister and try to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, that there is no suggestion in the Bill that people should not be allowed to use private cars in the circumstances he described. I too live in a relatively

19 Jun 1998 : Column 1813

rural area; I occasionally shop at Tesco and use a car which I share. The impact of the Bill relates to the framework of public transport. It is not about forcing individual choices; it is about enabling people to have a better choice. Through the procedures in the Bill clear targets are available for the private and public sectors and government in developing public transport movements.

My noble friend Lady Thomas described the amendments as "rather odd". I do not say that they are odd, but their effect may be adverse to what is intended. For that reason, I do not feel able to accept them.

Amendment No. 7 relates to the needs of business, commerce and industry. As Members of the Committee will recollect, I spent part of my time this week trying to persuade the Government of the importance of the needs of business, commerce and industry in relation to the Government of Wales Bill presently passing through this Chamber.

The Bill before us, in common with government legislation, will take account of the needs of business, commerce and industry. We had a clear assurance from the Minister on those lines. It may be argued that because the provision is in this Bill and not in the Road Traffic Act 1997, to which the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, referred, local authorities will have no need to consider the factors affecting business, commerce and industry if we are looking at the two pieces of legislation in parallel. That is not what we wish to achieve. The assurance we received from the Minister of the inclusion of the positive aspects set out in the report is certainly one that I can accept.

I agree entirely with one aspect raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, in relation to Amendment No. 5. I refer to the issue of, not hypothecation, but of the intention to spend green taxes positively so that those who are paying those taxes feel that they are receiving back benefit. A great deal of interest has been shown throughout Europe in the success of the landfill tax in the UK. Part of that is because it is clear that the revenue generated is used for environmental purposes.

I look forward this weekend, along with other Members of this Chamber and of the other place of all parties, to attending the environmental conference in Denmark, which precurses the conference of environmental Ministers. I shall be pleased to tell them that in this Chamber, on this day, we have been progressing a piece of voluntary environmental legislation which may have a positive impact on the reduction of environmental problems caused by the expansion of road traffic. However, we are seeking to do it voluntarily, in a way that encourages the motorist to use other forms of transport and, in particular, in a way that encourages--I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, said in relation to the carrot and the stick--motorists, as taxpayers paying green taxes, to do so with a willing heart. They will see the improvement taking place in other modes of transport and the general environmental improvement that arises as part of that.

For all those convoluted reasons, without saying anything further that may be regarded as adverse to Members of the Committee opposite, I ask the noble Earl to consider withdrawing the amendment.

19 Jun 1998 : Column 1814

12.45 p.m.

Earl Attlee: I am grateful for the comments regarding our addition to subsection (4) in Amendment No. 7. If provision for the mobility needs of persons with disabilities and adequate taxi services is necessary in subsection (4), why is the provision for the needs of business and so forth not necessary? However, we can return to that point.

I listened carefully to what Members of the Committee had to say in response to my amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, described a possibly unintended effect and I shall take expert advice in that regard. I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Swinfen for his support but feel that the inclusion of the word "adverse" in line 9 is necessary.

As to the comments of the Minister, surely it is obvious that most of the impacts are adverse. However, the time is not right to pursue those points further today. We may return to them at a later stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page