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Lord Avebury: The point that the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, is making is that this is the legislative opportunity. If we miss the cue, there is not likely to be another chance for several years.

Lord Whitty: If everyone were agreed that this was the way to go, and if the difficulties that I have spelt out and the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, hinted at could be overcome, there would be a strong argument for legislating for London now--although, strictly speaking, there is no reason why this provision should apply only in London. Given that there are uncertainties and difficulties with the implementation of such a scheme, I do not believe that we are on firm enough ground to legislate at this stage.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I thank those who have supported the amendment. They brought forward very good points and I wish to reply. My noble friend said that those in a black cab can close the glass screen; they are not too worried about the driver. That is true, but there are between 40,000 and 80,000 minicabs in London which do not have the glass screens. I hope that the day never comes when we have to have them, as in New York, for the safety of the driver. That protection would be of no benefit for the driver of a private hire car vehicle, unless it were a luxurious limousine.

I understand the point on subsection (3). Perhaps it is too onerous and there is some other way of doing it. I believe that if taxi drivers had the right to say, "Mine is a non-smoking cab", the majority of people would abide by it and consider it law. The cases that arose would not be so many as to cause the degree of difficulty that the Minister suggested. The taxi trade is distressed that, having been told that it had a commitment from the Minister in the other place, Glenda Jackson, to an immediate consultation exercise, it has heard nothing since. I am pleased to hear the Minister mention today that consultation papers are being prepared, but the summer is too late for London. We are dealing with this matter now. Therefore I shall come back to it. We now have a legislative opportunity. Lord Winchilsea was mentioned: when I took a minicab Bill through this House he strongly opposed it at Third Reading. It was about 10 years before we got the minicab legislation, and the last time, when it became law, he was strongly supportive and everyone had come around to thinking how necessary it was.

I would hate to think that we might wait years before this provision was passed. If the proposal introduced a prohibitive ban, I could understand the objection. But not all taxis would be obliged to be non-smoking, so the case is quite different and we should come back to the matter. Between now and Report stage, I hope to persuade the Minister that he could find a way round the problem and bring forward a permissive amendment

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which would allow the provision to be brought in for London easily without new primary legislation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 296 not moved.]

Clause 206 [Introductory]:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 296ZA:

Page 109, line 30, at end insert ("outside the City of London").

The noble Earl said: On behalf of my noble friend Lady Miller of Hendon, I wish to move Amendment No. 296ZA and it may be convenient if I speak to Amendments Nos. 297YA, 297ZA, 297XGA and 297XGB.

Among other things, Clause 206 amends Section 1 of the Highways Act 1980 and inserts a new subsection, so that TfL will be the highways authority for all GLA roads. Amendment No. 296ZA prevents TfL's authority from extending into the City. Thus it retains the spirit of Section 10(9) of the 1980 Act which provides that no highway within the City shall be a trunk road.

No doubt the Minister will describe the amendment as a wrecking one because there is no consequential amendment to make any other person the highways authority. However, all I seek is some understanding as to why TfL powers will extend into the City. The other amendments in the group cover the same points. I beg to move.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My noble friends on the Front Bench, supported by many behind, have been carrying on this debate during the Committee stage and have earned my undying admiration. I thought it right to leave them to it; they have done it extremely well.

However, at Second Reading I mentioned the concerns of the City of London about the Bill's effect, in Clause 206 in particular, on the powers which the City has hitherto had and under which the authorities introduced the ring of steel. The Committee will remember that following the bomb outrages in the City, particularly following the second Bishopsgate bomb, profound concern was expressed, not least by the representatives of some of the overseas banks and financial institutions in London, that unless the authorities took pretty drastic action to protect them from the outrages they would have to reconsider carefully where they maintained their European base. I do not need to labour the point about the City. As a financial centre, in many aspects of the financial world the City is pre-eminent.

That threat was real and, accordingly, using its traffic powers contained in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the City Corporation introduced as an extreme emergency the ring of steel. It was so christened, notwithstanding that all the physical features that created it were made of red and white plastic. But the ring was manned and then enforced strictly. Every vehicle that could not account for itself was stopped and investigated. Nowadays, the ring is not manned; instead there is a sophisticated system using television and other electronic devices which have enabled security to be maintained.

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The powers that the City authorities use are not specific to the City, but the fact is that the City retains its own dedicated police force and has its own local authority provided through the City Corporation by the Common Council. Those facts have undoubtedly facilitated the introduction of what became known as the "ring of steel". However, under this Bill without the amendment, once the GLA is established, Transport for London will become the highway authority for GLA routes. They will include the arterial routes passing through the City which my noble friend Lord Attlee mentioned. Those have always been excluded from administration by other authorities. The Bill would mean that the City Corporation would no longer be able to proceed with any traffic management scheme unless Transport for London were agreeable. The initial introduction of the ring of steel was quite controversial for the reason that it was felt to be giving in to the threat of terrorism. However, within almost days it was recognised that it was an extremely valuable feature, widely appreciated. Within a few weeks, it was recognised that the environmental impact of steering large quantities of traffic away from the City of London was appreciable. Therefore, there is no doubt that it is a good thing.

The question must now be asked whether that would be able to continue under the Bill. An organisation like TfL, with its close links with the mayor of London, with the assembly may well find it much more difficult to introduce a controversial measure of this nature at short notice, whereas the City Corporation was able to do so. It earned great praise for its initiative.

The City is untypical. It is primarily a place for doing business rather than living in and it has its own arrangements for local authority and police services. In those circumstances, it seems to me that it is highly desirable that the Bill should be amended. The amendment is a probing one and if arrangements could be made under the Bill, that kind of operation could remain within the sole control of the City of London.

There are other aspects, which no doubt will feature in future debates on amendments, about the extent of GLA roads. How far down side roads will TfL's powers extend? It has been suggested that those powers may extend as far as 100 yards, or even 200 yards, down side roads as a necessary concomitant of designating roads which are the responsibility of the GLA. It means that in the City of London pretty well every road would become the responsibility of the GLA and TfL and the City Corporation would have almost no jurisdiction. Anyone who walks, drives or bicycles round the City of London recognises it as a mesh of roads, courtyards, lanes, places and so on. If the powers extended 100 yards or 200 yards down each side road the traffic powers of the City Corporation would be rendered totally nugatory.

Therefore, for those reasons I believe that there is a strong case for excluding the City from these powers. There has never been a strategic authority with power over the City's roads, and there are some fairly powerful arguments as to why this Bill should not now introduce one. Having said that, I have no doubt that the City Corporation and the traffic committees that deal with

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these matters will want to consult very widely with the GLA and TfL before any of these powers are exercised. But in the last resort I believe that the City should retain these powers, and this amendment allows it to do so. Under the Bill it cannot do so. I have every wish to support the amendment as strongly as I can.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Tope: I support the intentions behind the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, has explained fully the importance of this matter to the City and all Londoners. Whether or not this amendment is the right way to deal with it I do not know. I await with interest what the Minister says. That it is a very important issue I have no doubt. I hope, therefore, that if the Government are not about to accept the amendment they will at least address the concerns that have been raised so well by the mover of the amendment and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, in supporting it.

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