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Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, we welcome the amendment as a means of cracking down on those who regularly flout their agreed duration period. It is vital, however, that these changes and all others that are made in the Bill are communicated in an easy-to-understand way to all interested parties. Will the Minister explain to the House how his department plans to ensure that everybody knows about the changes?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, certainly it is not conceivable that penalties could be visited on our fellow citizens without them being aware of the nature of the offence and the difficulty that they might be causing. I find it difficult to think that people who occupy the public road with building materials as wide as a skip or as extensive as scaffolding would not be aware that an authority would take an interest in keeping such a road free from disruption. Consequently, we will not have a great deal of difficulty in publicising the obvious fact that activity of that kind is liable to produce unwelcome attention from the authority and a possible penalty.
"(18A) The regulations may make provision about their application to a series of deposits of things.
(18B) And they may, in particular, provide that a series of deposits of things is to be treated as a single deposit of things
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(a) beginning at the time the first in the series was deposited, and
(b) ending at the time the last in the series was removed.
(18C) The regulations may make provision corresponding to that mentioned in subsections (18A) and (18B) in relation to the erection of relevant structures and the making of excavations."
The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I shall speak briefly to both the amendments standing in my name. I am concerned that much of the civilian enforcement includes traffic signs that are designed to be used not only to control the movement of traffic but also for road safety. For this reason, and for the purpose of road safety, contravention of the signs must also be subject to criminal prosecution. The assumption that a civil violation of a no-right-turn sign, for example, that results in a collision causing injury will always result in a prosecution for driving without due care is na-ve in the extreme and does nothing to enhance the misused provision of Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act.
In order to ensure that enforcement can be carried out at each level, I have tabled these two amendments, which together widen the Bill in such a way that eases the lot of the enforcer. I beg to move.
I have one concern about the clause, on which the Minister may be able to help me. The noble Viscount's amendment would offer protection to the motorist, who might otherwise have to pay double for one offence. I hope that the Minister will be able to disabuse me of that view and explain with clarity that I have got it wrong. The noble Viscount raises an important point, and I look forward to the Minister's reply.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, far be it from me to accuse the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, of having got things wrong. He may have interpreted matters in a different way from the intent and the reality of the Bill, but not got anything wrong. That is also the case with my noble friend Lord Simon, who has helpfully tabled the amendments, giving me the chance to clarify the issues. We do not believe that the two amendments are necessary, but I shall try to establish the case for thatand I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.
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Clause 69 enables the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales to make regulations for the imposition of penalty charges for or in connection with the imposition of penalty charges in respect of road traffic contraventions that are subject to civil enforcement. The contraventions that are subject to civil enforcement are specified in Clause 70 and are set out in detail in Schedule 7. To be subject to civil enforcement, the contraventions must be committed in an area that is a civil enforcement area for those contraventions by virtue of Clause 71 and Schedule 8.
By virtue of subsection (3) of Clause 69, regulations enabling civil enforcement of contraventions by means of penalty charges must include provision either prohibiting criminal proceedings in respect of those contraventions or securing that a penalty charge is not required to be paid, or is refunded where the conduct concerned is the subject of criminal proceedings or a fixed penalty notice issued by the police.
I assure my noble friend Lord Simon and the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, that there is no question of someone incurring both a civil penalty charge and a criminal fine for the same act. On that understanding I hope that my noble friend will be prepared to withdraw his amendments.
Viscount Simon: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, for his contribution. I listened carefully to what my noble friend the Minister said in response to my amendments. I am not sure that I understood fully what he said, so I shall read his remarks carefully. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"( ) The Secretary of State may not make regulations under this section unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing them has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House."
The noble Viscount said: My Lords, we come to what might be called the traffic warden section of the Bill. Your Lordships will realise, having listened to the Committee stage, that this is an area that concerns me. I will accept the criticism that I have a bee in my bonnet but that is because I have been bombarded by many people who have concerns. I am concerned about the powers of civil enforcement officers. In the past, I have been concerned about the way in which they have carried out their work. They seem to have been given incentives that make them behave in a way that is not in the best interests of the service, parking or the local authority. I have been heartened by the area that I know best, which is Westminster, where I live. Westminster Council has taken very much into account the concerns raised over this matter and has announced its intention to alter its guidelines.
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I understand that various pilots on these new powers are going on in London and that regulations to extend them beyond London are not expected for some time. It would be helpful if the Minister could outline exactly which moving traffic contraventions can or cannot be included. I understand that speeding will not be included. I think that I am correct in saying that contraventions of box junctions will be included, but that the Minster considers that these will largely be dealt with by camera evidence.
My amendment makes these regulations affirmative because I think that Parliament should have the ability to discuss any extension. Appeals are another matter that I shall come on to later. This is an area where there is general public concern and it would be helpful if the Minister could briefly outline how he sees the powers being used and how they might roll out over the country. It would be extremely helpful to those who have concerns. I beg to move.
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