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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the two noble Lords who have spoken in this short debate. Perhaps I may interpret the amendment not specifically in terms of any particular day, but in terms of the significance of the bus network and bus provision throughout the year. I hear what the noble Lord says about the salience of buses, particularly today, but, as we all recognise, buses have a very significant role to play in public transport in London. That is why, as my noble friend indicated, there has been a very substantial increase in the number of buses and bus journeys, which we all recognise as a reflection of a more efficient transport system in London initiated over recent years.
As we explained in Grand Committee, the Government's view is that the issues specific to London are best set out in the national guidance. We shall consult on that guidance shortly, but it may help if I give a flavour of the relevant part. The guidance is intended to set out our view of what constitutes the objective to facilitate the expeditious movement of traffic on the road network for which another body is the traffic authority. It refers to joint working arrangements and ensuring that policies are consistent, which I think is the burden of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw.
In London TfL has responsibility for activities such as bus services on some roads, as the noble Lord indicated, without having direct control over those roads. As he said, for that to work effectively across London, TfL will clearly need assistance from the boroughs and vice versa. We see part of TfL's role as London's strategic transport authority as identifying reasonable and practicable outcomes from borough activities to support the Mayor's transport strategy and TfL's policies for meeting the network management duty. Examples would include ensuring so far as possible that bus services were uninterrupted throughout the year, and that enforcement was undertaken to prevent unnecessary congestion.
It seems reasonable for boroughs to take into account both the objectives of the Mayor's transport strategy and the outcomes identified by TfL in their approach to their duty. It also seems reasonable for the boroughs to look to meet those outcomes when considering the arrangements that they need to put in place to meet the duty. This should all be reflected in boroughs' local improvement plans. Under the Greater London Authority Act 1999, local improvement plans are subject to the Mayor's approval.
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Subject to consultation it is our intention to include these principles in the network management duty guidance to which local traffic authorities must have regard. We recognise the point that the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, made that this is particularly significant in the capital city with regard to effective bus operation which is such a crucial part of transport provision. I hope he will recognise that we have addressed this issue as a matter of great significance and that on the basis of the points that I have made about how we intend to tackle this issue, he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
"( ) The guidance shall cover, among other matters, the respective responsibility of a local traffic authority, the police and fire service to attend to spillages of diesel fuel and render the road safe again for the passage of motorcycles and other vehicles."
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to ensure that diesel spills are cleared up by the authorities so that they do not pose a threat to road users, especially motorcycle riders and bicyclists. The problem of diesel spillage is a major concern to motorcycle riders. Indeed, Northamptonshire police launched in February of this year a year-long series of innovative initiatives, codenamed Operation Biker, to cut deaths of motorcyclists. So serious is the problem of diesel spillage that one of these initiatives is a diesel spillage campaign aimed at lorry drivers and other diesel vehicle drivers.
There are some awful statistics, enough to make a seasoned motorcyclist like myself give up his efficient mode of transport. On average more than 3,500 people are killed on British roads each yearthe equivalent of 10 each day. However, new findings show that motorbike riders represent 22 per cent of this figure, even though motorcycles account for only 4 per cent of road traffic.
Nationally in 2003 about 28,000 riders were killed or seriously injured. A rider is 35 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than any other class of road user, albeit the vast majority of motorcycle collisions occur in perfect riding conditions; that is, in daylight with dry road conditions. Surely the Government can demonstrate their concern for these vulnerable road users. By accepting this amendment they would demonstrate their concern. I beg to move.
Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, the need for which was amply demonstrated in the answers given to me yesterday by the Minister in response to my Starred Question regarding road casualties.
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, as we have heard, Amendment No. 18 would require that the
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guidance on the network management duty must include information on the respective responsibilities of traffic authorities, the police and fire service in dealing with diesel spillages. We have deliberately not singled out on the face of the Bill specific issues like this to be included in the guidance in order to avoid giving some more prominence than others. Part 2 of the Bill specifically deals with network management by local traffic authorities, thus any guidance under Clause 18 would not be binding upon the police or fire services.
That said, we are aware of the importance of tackling diesel spillage. I will aim to demonstrate that the issue is already covered and therefore this specific amendment is unnecessary. Guidance on dealing with diesel spillages and similar accidents is already available in Section 14 "Weather and Other Emergencies" of the Code of Practice for Maintenance Management published by the Institution of Highways and Transportation in 2001, and in the Highways Agency's Trunk Road Maintenance Manual. The existing provision in the Bill covering the network management duty guidance already allows us to build upon this. We have gone to great lengths to understand and reflect the needs of all road users, particularly those on two wheels, in the development of this policy.
We are about to go to public consultation on the draft of network management duty guidance. The department would be very happy to receive comments from the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, and the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, as part of that process. The guidance has been prepared with the help of the advisory group for Part 2, as mentioned previously, made up of representatives of all the major road user groups, including the Motorcycle Action Group and the British Motorcyclists' Federation. The advisory group is happy with the content of this draft.
The draft guidance recognises that both police and local authorities have responsibilities for the management of traffic on the road network. It also states that the best outcome will be achieved by authorities and police working together to establish which activities should be carried out by each organisation, and which are best carried out together.
On the specific question of diesel spills, these are covered in the advice to local traffic authorities on the management of incidents. This points to the need for local authorities to work closely with the emergency services to support them both in the management of the incident and the active management of its effects on the road network. Of course, this would include restoring the road to a safe condition. It talks of the need for local traffic authorities to have robust processes and procedures for dealing with the types of incident that occur frequently on the network. Authorities are also reminded of Section 14 of the code of practice in the network management duty guidance. I hope that with those assurances the noble Lord will accept that this amendment, however well intentioned and however important, is unnecessary and I ask that he withdraw it.
Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, for his kind support. I also thank the
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Minister for his comments. However, I do not believe that I was asking for too much in asking the Government to accept my amendment. After all, I believe that the guidance to local authorities states, "may publish guidelines". Therefore, there is no compulsion to publish guidelines. I do not accept the Minister's comment that motorcyclists should not be given more prominence than other road users. I have amply demonstrated that they should be given more prominence than other road users due to the horrific statistics. As I said, motorcyclists represent 22 per cent of those killed on British roads each year. Surely that more than amply demonstrates why more prominence should be given to the section of road users comprising motorcyclists.
In addition, the examples that I gave today and in Grand Committee show that the present system is not working. I have no reason to believe that any change that the Minister proposes would alter that fact. However, I shall read carefully what the Minister has said. It is more than likely that I shall return to the issue at Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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