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Lord Bradshaw: I note what the Minister says. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 56 agreed to.

Clause 57 [Strategic roads in London]:

Lord Bradshaw moved Amendment No. 113:

    Page 31, line 32, at end insert—

"( ) Before exercising any of the powers conferred on him under this section, the Secretary of State shall first publish guidance setting out under what criteria he will designate a road as a strategic road under this section."

The noble Lord said: We now turn to Part 5, which covers strategic roads in London and the initial designation by the Secretary of State.

I am anxious that in London—this issue has been raised before—we ensure that the Secretary of State sets out guidance to ensure that we know which roads form the strategic road network. We have referred several times today to forthcoming guidance. As the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, has said several times and has been reiterated by other Members of the Committee, it is difficult to guess what will be in the guidance when it comes. In many cases, it will arrive some time after the Bill is published.

It is most important that the Secretary of State himself publishes guidance. In future amendments, we will turn to the issue of whether the Mayor of London, because he presides over a number of borough highway authorities, will be able to issue guidance in turn to those authorities, so that there is a hierarchy of guidance and some coherence of control over the strategic road network. I beg to move.

Lord Rotherwick: I support the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, on Amendments Nos. 113 and 114. As he said, the aim is to gain further clarification of the criteria that will be used to determine whether roads should be designated as strategic roads and, most importantly, the relationship between Transport for London and local authorities on the strategic issue.

We are grateful for having been given yesterday a briefing on the development of strategic roads in London. As I understand it—I have probably got it wrong, because I am not very good at these things—a steering group has been established to advise the Minister but, as yet, it has not considered the definition and/or the criteria for strategic roads.

As I also understand it, a consultation exercise is to take place after the mayoral elections in June that will last for another 12 weeks. I am bemused that the steering group has yet to consider the specific criteria, but must do so in the next four to six weeks and report back to the Minister. Maybe that is what they are doing, which is great news for us all because then the Minister can then come back to tell us what are the criteria. Can the Minister enlighten us on where the steering group is? Maybe it has moved on since yesterday and is about to consider the specific criteria, because I also understand that it now has the information that it needs to do that. If so, when will it be able to issue the guidance on the criteria to the Minister? Is my understanding of the timetable correct? Notwithstanding that, can the Minister also

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answer the second point, to which I alluded earlier, concerning the relationship between Transport for London and local authorities?

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: Briefly, I support the amendments. It is important that there are clear criteria. If there are no criteria, selection of the roads would appear to be arbitrary. The criteria must be sufficiently broadly defined so that the unique nature of London's roads, which we discussed in Committee on Tuesday, is properly recognised and so that the purpose of strategic roads can be implemented to the full.

Lord Berkeley: I also support the amendments. I have one question for my noble friend. Presumably, a strategic road is also a street. As we have been talking about traffic, which includes cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, strategic cycle routes could also be included in that network. TfL has produced an interesting and useful book on the strategic cycle network for London. I should be interested in hearing my noble friend's views on that.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Before I speak to the amendment, I reiterate that there is a briefing paper on the table on the development of strategic roads in London which has been provided to assist the Committee in its consideration of Clauses 57 to 60.

Amendment No. 113 amends Clause 57 so that before the Secretary of State uses his power to designate certain roads in London as strategic, he first issues guidance on the criteria for designating a road as such. Similarly, Amendment No. 114 amends Clause 58 so that the Greater London Authority must issue guidance on the criteria before designating a road as strategic. It is not intended that guidance will be issued on the initial designation of which roads will be strategic as the question of what will be considered strategic will be covered in the consultation document to be published prior to the Secretary of State exercising the power.

The noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, mentioned that consultation, which is now taking place. Comments received will be taken into account before the Secretary of State makes his final decision on which roads should become strategic under Clause 57. The steering group has met twice already; the third meeting, which will be held shortly, will define a network. After June, when the work on that is finished, we will consult—not necessarily immediately after the election, but shortly after.

Lord Rotherwick: Can the Minister tell us when the criteria will be published? I understand that the consultation will be conducted in June, so obviously the criteria must be set by then.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: As I believe I said, there is no intention to publish criteria separately.

Lord Rotherwick: It would help enormously if we could understand what are the criteria. I think that that is what the noble Lord is asking for and it is

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important that we should see them. Is there no chance of the Minister writing to us later with the criteria, in the light of our discussion?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: The consultation will provide a list of possible routes and will seek views on those roads. Given the way the process is going, it will go out to consultation on the routes. A decision will then be made by the Secretary of State in the light of the feedback he gets from that consultation.

Lord Bradshaw: I thank the Minister for that reply. I think he now fully understands where we are coming from, and the fact that there is a need for this guidance. Since speaking earlier, I have obtained the paper issued yesterday, of which I was not aware. We await the publication of the guidance. I hesitate to repeat the word "shortly" because it has very unfortunate connotations. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 57 agreed to.

Clause 58 [Orders of the Greater London Authority changing what are strategic roads]:

Lord Bradshaw had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 114:

    Page 32, line 13, at end insert—

"( ) Before exercising any of the powers conferred on it under this section, the Greater London Authority shall first publish guidance setting out under what criteria it will designate a road as a strategic road under this section."

The noble Lord said: We can deal fairly quickly with Clause 58, which requires the Greater London Authority, Transport for London or the Mayor to publish guidance to set out the criteria for a road that is strategic. However, that can hardly be done until the national guidance is available. Under the previous amendment, we heard that that guidance will be available shortly. Therefore, in the light of that, it was somewhat premature to put down this amendment.

[Amendment No. 114 not moved.]

Clause 58 agreed to.

Clause 59 [London borough council exercising powers under Highways Act 1980 so as to affect strategic roads]:

Lord Bradshaw moved Amendment No. 115:

    Page 33, line 3, at end insert—

"( ) Under this section, the Greater London Authority shall not refuse consent to a London borough council that wishes to carry out works that may affect a road designated as a strategic road under section 57 or 58 of this Act unless it has first published criteria setting out on what grounds it will withhold such consent."

The noble Lord said: I beg to move.

Lord Rotherwick: I understand that Transport for London would have the power to refuse to allow any local authority works to take place on a strategic road where, for example, two adjacent boroughs were planning to undertake works on a major route at the same time. The Government have said that the aim of this provision is to try to ensure the more effective planning of works rather than to prevent them taking place. However, that is not made clear in the wording

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of the Bill and I feel that it is only fair, in following good governance, transparency and accountability, that Transport for London should have to publish the grounds on which it withholds consent.

As drafted, the Bill only requires the borough to notify Transport for London or a neighbouring borough of any works it is planning. That may affect strategic roads. Given that the provisions of the Bill seek to reduce congestion through the more effective planning of works, it seems sensible to place a similar requirement on Transport for London to notify the borough of any works it is planning to undertake on the Transport for London road network that may affect the new strategic road network. This would help to ensure that boroughs could undertake advance planning to overcome any traffic displacement resulting from Transport for London's own planned works.

There have been examples of situations where severe congestion has been caused on borough roads as a result of works on the Transport for London road network. One such example occurred in 2000 following the closure of two lanes on the A2 to allow works on a railway bridge at New Cross Gate. Those works were not preceded by any warning to the local authorities concerned. They caused severe congestion on the surrounding road network.

In light of the arguments for good governance, transparency, accountability and practicality, I support these amendments.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I rise only because of the last remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick. He referred to the case of the closure of lanes on the A2 at New Cross Gate. The matter was set out in the Association of London Government briefing which has been sent to a number of noble Lords. Unfortunately, it is very wide of the mark. I have been informed that Transport for London was told on 21 March 2001 that they had received notification from Railtrack that the New Cross Gate bridge had a zero-weight loading on the two outside traffic lanes. Someone from Transport for London briefed the head of Lewisham Transportation on 18 April 2001. Traffic counts were carried out by Lewisham Council, letters were sent out to local MPs, ward members, Lewisham officers and 5,000 residents in the same month. Some 30 advance warning signs were erected and a Lewisham Direct team was then appointed as a contractor by Transport for London to install barrier restrictions on the bridge.

It is a pity that the ALG is putting out information that is quite clearly wrong and misleading. I am afraid that I oppose these amendments on the basis that they are far too restrictive. They would make it impossible for the concept of the strategic network to function properly.

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