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Lord Harrison: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Does he accept that there has been a considerable increase in motorway advertisements, as evidenced by firms specialising in the practice of putting such adverts forward; and that local authorities are failing to regulate such firms, so that they are now flouting planning permission, as evidenced by the BBC "Farming Today" programme recently? RoSPA has expressed concern that a near-miss may turn into a serious accident because such adverts distract drivers on motorways. Is it not time that we did something about that?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, as I have said, such advertisements, if they are fixedthat is, on trailers in fieldsgenerally require planning permission. We have extremely well funded, democratic and independent local government, and it is their job, at their discretion, to police the system.
Lord Sheldon: My Lords, will my noble friend take into account the position on the M6, where a number of lorries were pretending to be on their way to somewhere and holding advertisements? Then there were trailers doing the same thing, and finally the ordinary placard advertisements are on the M6. Now, we are seeing adverts to show us how to create advertisements for use on motorways.
That is the situation on the M6, and if we are not careful we will end up with the situation of some other countriesand particularly certain parts of Italy
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with a continuous stream of such adverts. The suggestion made by my noble friend must be carried out in full.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I did not quite catch the gist of that. If my noble friend is talking about the M6 motorway, if the adverts are moving and they are not covered, no planning permission is required. If they are on the highway, the highway authority will remove them. If they are in the fields, they can be there perfectly legally, with planning permission and with the permission of the owner of the field. There is a procedure to follow here. If it is not followed, it is up to the discretion of local authorities, who are well funded and well qualified to do it, to take the necessary action.
Lord Renton: My Lords, for the first time I am supporting the noble Lord, Lord Harrison. Is the Minister aware that roadside advertisements spoil the scenery and distract the attention of drivers who may be driving at great speed?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, that may be the case, but there is one in particular that has been in sight for a long time, which advises drivers where the nearest railway station is, so that they can continue their journey.
Baroness Scott of Needham Market: My Lords, does not the increasing scale of the problem suggest that relying on individual local authorities to deal with each problem individually is not a complete solution? Will the Government consider an approach to the manufacturers of such signs to see whether some sort of code of conduct can be drawn up to deal with the problem at source?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, if I remember rightly, the noble Baroness is a member of a county council. I find that an astonishing question from a member of a local authority. It is not the Government's job; we are not the nanny government.
We have a perfectly satisfactory law, and as I said there is free guidance. The discretion is with the local authorities. Complaints can be made and, if planning permission is required and not given, they can take action. It is not a matter for central government.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I accept what my noble friend said, but does he agree that the Health and Safety Executive has a duty to encourage safety at work? As this is clearly a matter of road safety, will he encourage the Health and Safety Executive to take action and encourage the planning authorities when they are seen to be wanting in this regard?
Lord Rooker: Yes, my Lords, representations about particular sites by the Health and Safety Executive or by RoSPA are made to the authority where a particular advert is sited and action will be taken. It certainly should be taken.
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, does the Minister recognise that there is a problem when local authorities
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give themselves planning permission for roadside signs in order to make money from them? That is not an objective system. Will his new regulations, when they come in, do something about that?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, it is only an updating of the current regulations, which are some 13 years old. They are not a massive telephone directory; there will be an amount of deregulation involved as well. This Question is about the side of motorways, and I do not think that local authorities would be involved too much in giving themselves planning permission there.
We know what we are talking about: we are talking about trailers masquerading as advertisement signs in fields. By and large, they require planning permission if they are not moving, if they are not advertising for charity, or if they are not advertising a function that has a date, such as a farmers' market next week. The latter is perfectly OK, as you do not need planning permission if there is a date limitation. If they need planning permission, it should be applied for.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, the process to select the physical integrator for the future aircraft carrier project is ongoing, and we anticipate announcing the outcome shortly.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I very much hope that an announcement for such a high-profile project will be made to Parliament first, and not to the media after we have risen. What will the role of the physical integrator be? How will it relate to the existing members of the alliance? Will it be risk-sharing or just taking a fee?
Lord Bach: My Lords, it is anticipated that each of the two new aircraft carriers will be the equivalent of building approximately seven to eight Type 45 destroyers, which demonstrates how large they will be. Building and physically integrating the vessels is one of the biggest challenges facing the project. The role of the physical integrator is to help to strengthen that aspect of the project. We expect whoever is appointed to work with all potential shipyardsfour have been namedmanufacturing facilities and alliance participants to draw up a cost-effective strategy covering the manufacturing element of the programme. Among the core requirements are likely to be innovation, the prioritisation of design
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activities, block integration and management of the ship-build strategy. The role of the physical integrator will not be limited to those tasks.
Lord Bach: No, my Lords. Our planned dates remain 2012 and 2015. We are determined to reach the right decision on who should be the physical integrator. It is more important to get it right than to rush it.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, if the service date is to be 2012in the NAO report it was left blankwhat role will the physical integrator take in risk management? Without firm targets on when the ships are to be in service, the risk management might well go out of control, as has happened in so many other projects.
Lord Bach: My Lords, under the alliance structure that we are setting up for this very large procurement, risk management and risks and rewards will be undertaken and accepted by all those who belong to the alliance. That will of course include the physical integrator, alongside the Ministry of Defence, BAe Systems and Thales. Anyone else who is a member of the alliance will be in the same position. I want to make it absolutely clear that the physical integrator will be part of the alliance.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, reluctant as I am to put the Minister on the spot at a sensitive time, may I none the less ask for reassurance on the importance of the issue not only for the Royal Navy but for the future of the shipbuilding industry in different and sometimes rival parts of the country?
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