London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Tuesday 18 February 2003
20. The Government Departmental reports have been
submitted by the first Secretary of State and the Office of the
Deputy Prime Minister against Clause 33, enforcement of control
as to advertisements. The Deputy Prime Minister, again, against
Clause 27, fixed penalty notices and other associated clauses
relating to fixed penalty notices, together with a supplementary
report. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs again against Clause 27 and associated clauses and again
backed up with a supplementary report. Also, the Secretary of
State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reported against
Clause 12 which is one of the clauses which we intend to ask leave
to have deleted from the Bill.
21. I have mentioned the Secretary of State for Culture,
Media and Sport, there was also a report from the Secretary of
State for the Department of Health, again it is Clause 14 and
again that is another clause which we intend to drop.
22. Penultimately a report from the Home Department
against a number of clauses. Clause 16, again, intending to drop
that one; Clause 19 which remains in the Bill; Clause 23, although
the paragraph relating to that clause in the report seems to support
rather than object to the Clause; Clause 24 registration of door
supervisors, again another clause which is to be dropped and Clause
32 powers of parks constables which we will be dealing with tomorrow.
23. Finally there was a report from the Department
of Trade and Industry in respect of the clause relating to the
sale of spray paints to minors and I can confirm that the concerns
raised by the DTI will be met and they will not be appearing before
you on that particular issue.
24. My Lord, without further ado, I shall move on
to the clauses.
25. Clause 1 deals with citation and commencement
and needs no further explanation.
26. Clause 2 deals with interpretation. I would draw
your attention to the definition of borough council and you will
note in particular the deletion of the reference to the London
Borough of Hillingdon, which I have explained already. There is
a new definition of operational land which is a term used in more
than one place in the Bill.
27. Clause 3 makes the provision for the appointed
day. Two clauses, namely Clauses 17, multiple dog walking, and
18, sale of spray paints, are subject to the appointed day provision.
This enables councils to choose when those particular provisions
come into force in their area rather rely upon the automatic commencement
which is provided in Clause 1. All the other clauses in the Bill
will come into effect two months after Royal Assent. Clause 3
sets out the procedure which has to be followed by the council
in appointing the day on which either Clause 17 or 18 will come
into effect. An amendment is proposed which will require the council
to give notice of the appointed day in the London Gazette
and is one of many amendments very helpfully suggested by your
Counsel. I would like to place on record my thanks generally for
all the help which he has provided for the promotion of this Bill.
28. Part 2 deals with abandoned vehicles. There are
no petitions lodged against any of the clauses in this part nor
has there been any departmental report and any drafting points
or points of principle which have been raised by Mr Saunders have
been ironed out with the amendments which are now proposed. I
hope that the mischief which these clauses attempt to address
is one with which your Lordships are familiar. The number of cars
which are abandoned on the highway and in other places which are
accessible to the public has increased dramatically over recent
years and this is for a number of reasons. They include the seemingly
ever increasing turnover in car ownership and perhaps more importantly
the rapid decline in the value of scrap metal, in many cases due
to the fact that the car has no value at all. The owner simply
decides to leave the car by the roadside and forget about it rather
than drive it to a scrap dealer who may be asked to be paid to
take it off the owner's hands. There is also, of course, the ever
increasing problem of car theft and joy riding where quite often
the ultimate result is that the car is abandoned and burnt out.
29. Powers for local councils to deal with abandoned
vehicles are mainly to be found in the Refusal Disposal (Amenity)
Act 1978. That Act enables local authorities to remove vehicles
from the highway and other open spaces and ultimately destroy
them if after certain steps have been taken they are unable to
trace the owner or the owner does not claim the vehicle and pay
the council's costs of removal and storage.
30. One of the main difficulties in the 1978 Act
was the fact that before removing a vehicle from the highway the
local authority had to place a notice on the vehicle at least
seven days in advance of the removal. Clause 4 of the Bill is
intended to alter that period to 24 hours. The Government has
now made this alteration themselves and said the clause is therefore
no longer required.
31. Dealing next with Clause 5. At present the 1978
Act together with regulations provide that the Authority to whom
the vehicle is delivered, which in the case of the London Boroughs
is the Waste Disposal Authority, has to take certain steps before
disposing of the vehicle. At present the Authority can dispose
of the vehicle at any time after its removal if no current licence
was displayed on the vehicle at the time of its removal. Where
a current licence is displayed on a vehicle the Authority cannot
dispose of it until the licence has expired or in any other case
after they have taken the steps prescribed by regulations made
by the Secretary of State in trying to determining the owner of
32. Clause 5 alters the provisions by enabling the
Authority to dispose of the vehicle immediately if no current
licence is displayed, no registration mark is fixed, an illegible
registration mark is fixed or if there is no registered keeper
known at DVLA. In any other case the Authority would simply have
to attempt to obtain the name of the registered keeper from DVLA
or if there is no registration mark on the vehicle make such inquiries
as appear to them to be practical to ascertain the identity of
the owner of the vehicle and then serve a notice on the owner
giving seven days for him to remove the vehicle. The effect of
all these amendments will curtail the period during which vehicles
are stored and simplify the procedure for ascertaining who is
responsible for it.
33. Clause 6 makes the provision about the level
of fees which the Council may charge for the removal, storage
and disposal of vehicles. The effect of the clause is to ensure
that the charges are set at the same level as the charges which
are made for the removal, storage and disposal of vehicles which
have been illegally parked and towed away.
34. Clause 7: the London Borough Councils have now
become very familiar with the definition of "owner"
in respect of vehicles under the parking regime and, indeed, decriminalised
bus lanes regime. The effect of Clause 7 is to alter the 1978
Act to provide the same definition. The owner of a vehicle is
presumed to be the registered keeper whose name is kept at DVLA.
That presumption is, of course, rebuttable by the registered keeper.
There is an addition apart to this clause which tidies up the
amendments which are required to be made to the 1978 Act.
35. Clause 8, Powers of Entry. This clause enables
the local authorities to enter abandoned vehicles and remove any
objects from them, and is particularly useful where the vehicle
is to be disposed of. The clause is precedented in a previous
London Local Authorities Act where the councils are given powers
to enter vehicles for the purpose of removing objects from them
when they have been towed away after they have been found to be
illegally parked. It is particularly useful where perishable goods
are involved. The additions apart in the clause, again, makes
particular provision for the disposal of perishable items.
36. Clause 9, Disclosure of Information. This clause
enables the councils to disclose to other London borough councils
and, also, to Transport for London details of the ownership of
a vehicle which has been obtained from DVLA. Your Lordships will
remember this clause is mirrored in the TfL Bill. The details
can only be disclosed if it is necessary for the purposes of the
enforcement of any of the provisions set out in subsection 2,
namely the enforcement of law relating to abandoned vehicles,
parking bus lane contraventions and other decriminalised road
traffic offences which are being dealt with separately in the
London Local Authorities and Transport for London Bill currently
before this House.
37. Clause 9A is a new clause and appears in the
additions apart on page 4 at the front of the Bill. This new clause
makes provision for cases where, on the day the Bill comes into
force, a vehicle has already been removed by the council under
the 1978 Act. It provides that the 1978 Act shall continue to
apply as respects the way in which the vehicle should be dealt
38. CHAIRMAN: Is that the end of Part II?
39. MR LEWIS: My Lords, that is the end of Part II.