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The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 119 is a technical amendment to substitute "carriageway" for "road" in Clause 82(2). The carriageway is that part of a road over which there is a right of way for passage of vehicles. Together the carriageway and the footway form a highway. The amendment ensures consistent terminology as between subsections (1) and (2) of the clause. I beg to move.
Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, will the Minister clarify, for those noble Lords who do not have a copy of the Highways Act 1980 to hand, the definition of "carriageway", and how it differs from the use of "road" for the purpose of these Acts?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as I thought I made clear, the pedestrian part of the footway added to the carriageway make the highway. The carriageway is that part of the road over which there is a right of passage of vehicles. In technical terms, the road is for vehiclesthis is a reflection of the vernacularbut we are with precision here identifying the combination of footway and carriagewaythe one for pedestrians, the other for vehicles, which together form the highway.
The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to the other amendments in this group. Clause 83 would re-enact Section 14 of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003 prohibiting parking at dropped footways in London. My noble friend Lord Berkeley proposed in Grand Committee that this clause should apply nationwide. He also suggested how it could be improved in other ways. After further consideration of the matter, we have decided that the prohibition in Clause 83 should apply to special enforcement areas outside London. Before we commence the provision of the clause in areas outside London, we would first want to have
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some experience of the effect in London of the corresponding provision found in the 2003 Act. In particular, we would want to be assured that use of the powers had positive benefits and has proved workable in practice.
Subject to the proviso about its commencement outside London, the amendment will apply Clause 83 to special enforcement areas in England and Wales generally. Amendments Nos. 128, 132 and 133 are consequential on the application of Clause 83 being extended to England and Wales generally. We have also had discussions with representatives of the London Cycling Campaign, and the National Cycling Strategy Board to try to improve Clause 83. We are persuaded that there is merit in extending Clause 83 to prohibit parking where the kerb has been lowered to assist cyclists using a cycle track to enter or leave the carriageway, or to assist cyclists as well as pedestrians to cross the carriageway. This is the motivation and thinking behind Amendments Nos. 123 and 125.
We also agree that parking should equally be prohibited at locations where the carriageway has been raised to meet the level of the footway to assist pedestrians and cyclists to cross. This is the purpose of Amendment No. 127.
With these amendments we are making improvements to Clause 83, as we undertook to do in Grand Committee, as well as extending its application to special enforcement areas outside London. I beg to move.
(a) the footway, cycle track or verge"
Page 52, line 5, leave out "road" and insert "carriageway"
Page 52, line 5, at end insert
"( ) assisting cyclists entering or leaving the carriageway,"
Page 52, line 6, leave out from "vehicles" to end and insert "entering or leaving the carriageway across the footway, cycle track or verge;"
Page 52, line 6, at end insert "or
(b) the carriageway has, for a purpose within paragraph (a)(i) to (iii), been raised to meet the level of the footway, cycle track or verge."
Page 52, line 8, leave out from "parked" to end of line 14 and insert "wholly within a designated parking place or any other part of the carriageway where parking is specifically authorised. A "designated parking place" means a parking place designated by order under section 6, 9, 32(1)(b) or 45 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27)."
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the intention is simple. We seek a clear, straightforward and safe system of speed limits that retain the confidence of the motorist. This amendment would introduce the concept of variable speed limits due to weather conditions on motorways. Raising the maximum speed limit to 80 miles per hour would ensure the most expeditious, effective and efficient use of our motorway network.
We all believe that low speed limits need to be imposed where pedestrians are concentrated, such as around schools, in densely residential areas and near the homes of the elderly. These are important speed limits that should be stringently enforcedand quite right too.
Speed limits are not enforced on our motorways. It is quite usual to witness drivers overtaking one in the far lane at 85 miles per hour. Drivers do not consider themselves to be criminals for doing so, and the police use their discretion by choosing not to prosecute thousands of motorists. This, as my noble friend Lord Goschen pointed out in Grand Committee, demonstrates a seeming de facto agreement between the police and motorists that in good weather the speed limit is actually around 85 miles per hour.
This is deeply unsatisfactory. Most motorists and the public at large need to know what the law is, have confidence in it and believe that it will be enforced. Edmund King, the executive director of the RAC Foundation, has argued that there should be a review of speed limits. Driving at 80 miles per hour in a modern car on a good road surface at the correct distance from the car in front is perfectly safe. The safety features, braking, steering and suspension systems in modern cars are radically different from those that prevailed in the days when the 70 miles per hour limit was introduced. At that time, 70 miles per hour represented the peak of a car's performance.
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Indeed, I believe that it was introduced as a temporary measure due to the oil crisis of the time. This is no longer the case and we need to recognise that.
It is also the case that in a number of European countries the motorway speed limit is considerably higher. Has the Minister been lucky enough to have driven along a French or even an Italian motorway? He will have noticed that while driving at 112 kilometres per hour, which is 85 miles per hour, cars speed past him quite safely in the outer lane. Surely when the Government are keen to import so much else from Europe, it is odd to refuse to look at established practices in countries that have operated motorway systems effectively for far longer than us.
As the noble Lord, Lord Davies, pointed out in Grand Committee, the last government review of motorway speed limits concluded that increasing the speed of cars on motorways would lead to higher levels of air pollution. We need to bear in mind that traffic contributes to only one quarter of airborne pollution, the majority of which is produced by the large diesel engines of buses and heavy goods vehicles. We are told that the pollution from buses is 120 to 150 times worse than that from cars.
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