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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I said that I disagreed with the noble Baroness but agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, whom I took rather gratefully to be on my side on this point. I accept that others have misgivings about the matter. I am happy to look at those misgivings in relation to what the committee will say in due course.
I turn to the point on ratification raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. I think that we are all agreed that we are not in a position to ratify the adapted treaty yet. At Istanbul on 19th November, the then Foreign Secretary said:
In answer to the questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, at the Prague summit last week the UK and other NATO allies pressed for swift fulfilment of the outstanding Istanbul commitments by Russia. We said that we thought that that would create the conditions for allies and other states parties to move forward on ratification of the Act. If the noble Lord would like me to go into detail on what has and has not been complied with, I am happy to do so, but perhaps it would be helpful to do that privately later.
The noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, asked about Chechnya, which is of course different again from Moldova and Georgia, because we recognise the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and the right of and obligation on the Russian Government to
Interesting questions were raised about Cyprus and Gibraltar. Extension of the legislation to overseas territories would have to be done by Order in Council, as it was in relation to the 1991 Act. The noble Lord, Lord Blaker, was right to say that that is how it was done in relation to that Act. Gibraltar would be subject to inspections generally, but NATO allies do not inspect each other's territories, so the fears expressed by the noble Lord in respect of Spain can be safely allayed.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am sorry. I understood the noble Baroness to have raised the question of Chechnya in relation to the other territories that caused her concern: Moldova and Georgia. I am sorry if I misunderstood her point.
I hope that your Lordships agree that the Bill is necessary for the UK to be able to ratify the treaty. I assure your Lordships that it will not be brought into force until the time is right and I look forward to debating it further in Committee.
Lord Burnham: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I am sure that my noble friends will be grateful, as I am, for the offer of discussions with her officials on the detailed comparison of the Bills, but there is no substitute for hard copy.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Indeed, my Lords, there is no substitute for hard copy, and I should be happy to provide briefing papers in advance of such a meeting. I make that offer in the spirit that there is a general view that the Bill is necessary, that there are no major points of controversy between us, and that it is a matter of sorting out the exact implications of the Bill.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 23rd October be approved [39th Report, Session 200102, from the Joint Committee].
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the draft order has been laid in consequence of Section 44 of the Police Reform Act 2002. Its approval is important as part of advancing our measures under the reform agenda to ensure that the police can focus efficiently and effectively on their core functions.
Section 44 removes existing restrictions on the power of traffic wardens to stop vehicles. The provision relates solely to traffic wardens employed by police authoritiesnot, for example, local authority parking wardens. Along with the Act's provisions for community support officers and accredited community safety officers, it will come into effect on 2nd December.
Although the Act enables community support officers and accredited community safety officers to perform certain functions, traffic wardens can exercise their powers for functions prescribed by the Secretary of State only in a functions of traffic wardens order. The draft order before us amends the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order 1970, as amended, to enable them, from 2nd December, to use their extended power for two specified purposes.
Article 2 of the draft order provides that for those purposes, references to a constable in Sections 67(3) and 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 include references to a traffic warden. Those sections deal with the power to stop vehicles specifically for testing purposes and the general power to stop vehicles. Currently, traffic wardens' powers to stop vehicles are limited strictly to the regulation of traffic.
Prior to the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, was kind enough to raise with me the issue of whether, by these or amending regulations, traffic wardens would be given power to stop cyclists who, for example, rode on the pavement or the wrong way down a one-way street. Because the noble Lord raised the matter with me previously, I have been able to take advice on the issue and I am advised that that power, which he wants traffic wardens to have, is already given to them in their power to stop vehicles for the regulation of traffic. So I am advised that that power already exists.
Article 3(2) of the order prescribes two functions for which traffic wardens can use the powers. Under the Police Reform Act 2002, community support officers and accredited community safety officers, who may, for example, be local authority employees, will also be able to fulfil those functions. First, traffic wardens will be able to stop vehicles for road-worthiness and emissions tests under the provisions of Section 67(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Secondly, traffic wardens will be able to escort abnormal loads authorised by the Secretary of State under Section 44(1)(d) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. At present, they cannot do that because they do not have the general power to stop other vehicles, which may be required.
For the conduct of tests, at present only a constable in uniform can stop vehicles. The police are not always able to assist in that way and we recognise that police involvement in such checks may not be seen to be the most effective use of police resources. That
The movement of abnormal loads is controlled by orders made under Section 44 of the 1988 Act. Under those orders, hauliers moving abnormal loads have to notify each force whose areas they pass through. The force then decides whether or not an escort is necessary; there are no statutory obligations. The police have been pressing to be relieved of that non-core function and the Association of Chief Police Officers issued new guidance last year to reduce their involvement. It has been reduced by more than 20 per cent with no reported problems. In some cases, however, the exercise of police powers to direct and stop traffic is needed. It may be necessary, for example, to instruct other vehicles to stop or to move aside while a load passes, or to instruct a load to go the wrong way round a roundabout.
Traffic wardens already have the power to direct traffic; enabling them to stop vehicles will enable them to undertake escorting duties or to work in teams to facilitate the movement of abnormal loads that would otherwise require an escort. That will help to reduce police involvement in the escorting of abnormal loads. It will also provide a more guaranteed service for hauliers, who at present have to wait until each force whose area they pass through can provide an escort.
As I mentioned, provisions in the Police Reform Act 2002 will make it possible for community support officers and accredited community safety officers to have a limited power to stop and direct traffic for the purposes of escorting. It will be for individual chief officers to decide whom to appoint as community support officers, whom to accredit and for what purposes to use them.
The Department for Transport and ACPO are also currently working with the haulage industry on the best arrangements for the management of abnormal loads on the roads, including the possibility of self-escorting. Any new arrangements will take full account of training needs, health and safety issues and good operational practice in relation to such issues as relations with other agencies and road users.
The final part of the draft order removes the existing prohibition on traffic wardens directing traffic from a moving vehicle. This is no longer appropriate if traffic wardens are used for escorting duties. The draft order extends the potential roles in which traffic wardens can be used. By so doing, it supports our other measures, such as the introduction of community support officers and accredited community safety officers to provide chief officers of police with a means to help reduce the burden on the police of work unrelated to crime and public order. This frees up police time for their core functions, facilitates the enforcement of other legislation, promotes road safety and provides a better service to other interests. Such outcomes are an essential part of our police reform programme. I commend the order to the House.
Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, we have no objection to the order. For clarification, how do the functions of community support officers and ACSOs differ from those of traffic wardens? Do they have the power to stop vehicles, or is it solely limited to directing heavy loads?
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