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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am sorry that I was unable to reassure the noble Lord at the previous stage of the Bill that we are tackling the issue of diesel spillage. I recognise that it is a serious issue, particularly in respect of the safety of motorcyclists and others.
As I mentioned at previous stages of the Bill, there are already regulations aimed at preventing diesel escaping in the first place. It is an offence to spill any oily substance on a carriageway if it is likely to cause danger. The Department for Transport has been tasked with considering the possibility of raising both the profile of the existing regulations and their enforcement.
Turning to the issue of who is responsible for the removal of spills, this clearly falls to the local traffic authority. Guidance on dealing with diesel spillages and similar accidents is already covered in the code of practice for maintenance management, and the network management duty guidance reinforces this in its advice to local traffic authorities on the management of incidents.
In additionI hope this is a direct response to one of the noble Lord's stronger pointsthe department is involved in drawing up engineering guidelines for powered two-wheelers, which will include the concerns of motorcyclists, when advising on the planning, designing, implementing and maintenance of the road network. So the action we are taking is not inconsiderable. As I sought to assure the House on the previous occasion, we recognise the issue raised by the noble Lord as a matter of considerable importance.
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I hope that the noble Lord recognises the seriousness with which the Government view the safety of motorcyclists. He will be delighted to know that we will soon be launching a motorcycling strategy with a view to improving conditions for all motorcyclists. With that in mind, the department convened an advisory group on motorcycling that included representatives of the Motorcycling Action Group and the British Motorcyclists Federation. They have been working on a report that will contain recommendations to Government on the issues of most concern. We are expecting it to be published next month. Ministers will give it careful consideration when developing the strategy.
I respect the points the noble Lord made about the accident rate for motorcyclists. Only a short while ago in response to a Question in the House I indicated how concerned we were about the rise in deaths and serious injuries among motorcyclists. That is why we are concerned to take the measures I have outlined. But there is a salient point in relation to the amendment. The noble Lord said that motorcyclists represented 22 per cent of those killed when they comprised only 4 per cent of the traffic. Those are chilling statistics that we take extremely seriously, as we do the upturn in motorcycle casualties, which is a worry to us all.
However, diesel and oil spillages were present in less than 1 per cent of all injury accidents involving two-wheeled vehicles last year. Although I hope I have convinced the noble Lord, I am sure that he is aware that my colleagues and I have the issues of motorcycle safety very much in mind. We need to pursue the matters with vigour. The amendment relating to spillages is not justified by the figures, but we are taking on board the representations that the noble Lord has made so forcefully again today. We will keep the issue under review. I want to reassure him that motorcycle safety is an important feature of the Government's perspective on road safety.
Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his kind assurances and for the information he gave us about the report due for publication next month. Perhaps my reading skills are not up to it, but I have a copy of the code of practice for maintenance management and we could not find any reference to diesel spills.
Furthermore, both the times I have come off my motorcycle on diesel spills, neither of those occasions were included in the accident statistics. It would be misleading to think that the accidents caused to motorcyclists due to diesel spills are just 1 per cent; perhaps the figure is much larger because they are not recorded. Notwithstanding that, I am grateful to the Minister for his assurances and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Viscount said: My Lords, we move from the dangerous position of two wheels to the safety of four wheels. My amendment is purely for tidying up because
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your Lordships deleted Clauses 20 to 30 on Report. We needed to table the amendment because it removes the definitions of "intervention notice" and "intervention order" from the current Clause 20 as they are no longer needed in the Bill. I hope that the amendment is helpful to the Government. I beg to move.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. Like me he is careful of the Danaans when bearing gifts. Of course the noble Viscount has an unexceptionable and unarguable case that once Clauses 20 to 30 were excised from the Billtemporarily I trust, like my noble friendthe amendment should be carried. As he will recognise, although we do not accept the reason why it has become unarguable, we accept the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 33 inserts a new Section 56A into the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. That will provide a new power for street authorities to direct undertakers that in certain circumstances they cannot place new apparatus in a particular street. Subsection (5) already allows the Secretary of State to make provision in regulations for a system of appeals against such directions and the procedure for appeals. Upon reflection, we believe that it would be sensible to make it clear that the regulations can also make provision as to the persons who may determine such appeals, which is what Amendment No. 3 does. I beg to move.
Viscount Astor: My Lords, the amendment clarifies that regulations made by the Secretary of State to allow appeals against directions preventing the placement of new apparatus by undertakersin particular, for roads as set out in Clause 33may also make provision as to the persons who may determine such appeals. We welcome the amendment and thank the Government for tabling it.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 7, 24 and 28, which replace references to the "serving" of notices with the "giving" of notices. Elsewhere the Bill refers to the giving of notices and for consistency we consider it best to refer to one term.
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Amendments Nos. 23 and 27 are also grouped with Amendment No. 4. They correct references in two of the schedules for fixed penalty offences. Both Schedules 3 and 6 incorrectly refer to "section". The amendments correct the errors so that they refer to "paragraph", which is the appropriate terminology when referring to schedules. I beg to move.
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