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Lord Davies of Oldham: I hope that I can be more helpful to the noble Earl than he suggested I was on the previous amendment. We do not think the amendment necessary. After all, police have been removing vehicles under the Act for more than 20 years and have not felt the lack of regulations relating to their contractual arrangements. We would not wish to introduce a new regulatory burden without a proven need, and do not see that need. That is not to say that the present arrangements are perfect; the noble Earl will identify areas where they fall down. However, we recognise that we must take into account a wide range of interested parties, including drivers whose vehicles might be removed, their insurers and the operators who might remove the vehicles.

I assure the noble Earl that a working party of the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the insurance industry, the operators and the Highways Agency is engaged in conversation and consultation, with regular meetings and recently a most successful workshop on the issue. I am happy to take the opportunity to update the report that my noble friend Lord Rooker gave on the matter. Active work is going on and the issue is being addressed.

Earl Attlee: I am grateful for the Minister's response. We do not have time to pursue the matter now, but I may return to it at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 156:


"REGULATIONS CONTROLLING DISPLAY OF ADVERTISEMENTS
(1) Section 220 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (c. 8) (regulations controlling display of advertisements) is amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (3), insert—
"(3A) A local planning authority must exercise its powers so as to ensure compliance with the provisions of these regulations in its area with respect to advertising that can be seen by drivers on a special road (motorway) or a trunk road.""

The noble Earl said: I have no notes on this amendment, which concerns advertising on motorways. We have debated the subject before. Most noble Lords believe that it is a serious problem because it distracts motorists from their driving. There is a risk that they will see an advertising hoarding for a very interesting product and try to write down a telephone number. It is an obvious danger. I shall be interested to hear what the Minister has to say. I beg to move.

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: I support the amendment.

9.45 pm

Baroness Crawley: Yes, there is a problem, and yes, we are working on it, in the words of my noble friend
 
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Lord Rooker. We will, however, resist the amendment because we wish local authorities' enforcement powers to remain discretionary. A duty to enforce in all cases, which the amendment would bring about, irrespective of the nature and circumstances of the breach, would be an additional and unwarranted burden on local authorities.

The Government do not consider that the matter should be subject to specific regulations, but that does not mean to say that we are not concerned about the proliferation of advertisements alongside motorways and we are working on initiatives to ensure that where such breaches occur, adverts are quickly removed; for instance, we have written to all local planning authorities reminding them strongly of their powers to act in such cases and urging them to do so. We intend to contact those companies and advertisers which are displaying advertisements on those sites, setting out the regulations and asking them to remove unlawful adverts, and we are looking at other measures that we may introduce to help local authorities deal with the problem and eradicate unlawful motorway advertising. I hope that that is enough to satisfy the noble Earl.

Lord Berkeley: That is all very well, but the problem has been going on for years. When we have local authorities where some of the members probably own land adjacent to motorways and they can get £1,000 per month for having a trailer with a sign on it, being sent a letter by the department saying, "I hope that you'll take that away", is not going to solve the problem. We need much stronger action. I will be interested to see the result of the current initiative but we will return to it again and again to say, "Please remove it", when the farmers who are claiming poverty are receiving £1,000 per trailer per month, which is a good piece of revenue.

Earl Attlee: I am a little grateful for the Minister's response. We often say that it is a helpful response; the right description would be a hopeful response. In which cases would it be appropriate for local authorities not to intervene to have an advertising hoarding removed?

Baroness Crawley: I am presuming that there are advertisements that would be lawful, as my briefing says that we are requiring local authorities, companies and advertisers to remove unlawful advertisements—which ones exactly, I cannot say at the moment. I will inquire further and write to the noble Earl.

Earl Attlee: I was about to suggest to the Minister that she wrote to me. It is important that the farmers do not become used to this useful source of income. Once they have become used to it and many of them start jumping on the bandwagon it will be difficult to stop it. It almost goes back to my point about the CD radios—we would never agree to it in legislation. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount Simon moved Amendment No. 137:
 
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"DISPLAY OF PROOF OF THIRD PARTY INSURANCE
(1) Any vehicle used or kept on a public road must display proof of valid third party insurance, in addition to a valid vehicle tax disc.
(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the display of proof of valid third party insurance."

The noble Viscount said: We are debating important issues to do with road safety and connected matters. It is significant that they require additional time and energy by the police service. That time and energy would be wasted if the prosecution procedure faltered for want of adequate and appropriate representation in the courts. I move this amendment in the knowledge that it has the full backing of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. It will allow a more streamlined process to deal with some traffic prosecutions while allowing the CPS to concentrate its efforts on the more serious traffic offenders. I beg to move.

Baroness Crawley: While I do not doubt the good intentions behind the amendment tabled by my noble friend, I have to disappoint him. The Government consider that any individual exercising a right of audience before a magistrate should be required to demonstrate their competence to do so. I believe that the amendment is intended to allow a police officer to appear as prosecuting advocate in road traffic cases in order to speed up the case. However, the amendment is not clear about who would be eligible to exercise the right of audience, nor about what would constitute a minor road traffic case. If the case were more complicated than originally thought, the consequence of the amendment might be to introduce an unnecessary delay in the proceedings. Judges have discretion to allow police officers an audience before them. If a road traffic case is straightforward, I expect that a judge would chose to exercise that discretion. For that reason, I ask my noble friend to withdraw the amendment.

Viscount Simon: I understand what my noble friend said about the imperfections of the amendment. I will seek further advice and may come back on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 158 and 159 not moved.]

Lord Swinfen moved Amendment No. 160:


"CAUSING OR PERMITTING A CHILD UNDER 16 TO RIDE A CYCLE ON A ROAD WITHOUT PROTECTIVE HEADGEAR
(1) Except as provided by regulations, it is an offence for any person to whom this section applies to cause or permit a child under the age of 16 years to ride a cycle on a road unless the child is wearing protective headgear, of such description as may be specified in regulations, in such manner as may be so specified.
(2) Subsection (1) applies to the following persons—
(a) any person who—
 
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(i) for the purposes of Part I of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (c. 12), has responsibility for the child;
(ii) for the purposes of Part II of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 (c. 37), has parental responsibilities (within the meaning given by section 1(3) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (c. 36) in relation to, or has charge or care of the child;
(iii) for the purposes of article 5 of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (S.I. 1995/755 (N.I. 2)), has parental responsibilities in relation to the child;
(iv) (in relation to Northern Ireland) has care of the child or is, otherwise than by virtue of article 5 of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, legally obliged to maintain the child.
(b) any owner of the cycle, if the owner is above the age of 15 years;
(c) any person other than its owner who has custody of or is in possession of the cycle immediately before the child rides it if that person is above the age of 15 years;
(d) where the child is employed, his employer and any other person to whose orders the child is subject in the course of his employment.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) above is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.
(4) In this section—
"regulations" means regulations under section (Regulations in relation to section (Causing or permitting a child under 16 to ride a cycle on road without protective headgear)); and
"road has"—
(a) in England and Wales the meaning given by section 192(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988;
(b) in Scotland the meaning given by section 15(1) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (c. 54); and
(c) in Northern Ireland the meaning given by article 1(2) of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (1995/2994).
(5) In this section and section (Regulations in relation to section (Causing or permitting a child under 16 to ride a cycle on road without protective headgear)) "cycle" means a monocycle, a bicycle, a tricycle, or a cycle having four or more wheels, not being in any case a motor vehicle."

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 160 tabled in my name and in that of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 161. Dealing with Amendment No. 161 first, it enables the Secretary of State to make regulations as to the working of the new section inserted into the Bill by Amendment No. 160.

The Bill is designed to reduce casualties on our roads. These amendments are aimed at reducing deaths and serious injury to cyclists under the age of 16. It is estimated that 90,000 road-related and 100,000 off-road cycling accidents occur every year in the United Kingdom. Of them, some 53 per cent—that is 100,000—involve children under the age of 16. This causes considerable distress to children and their families and great expense to the National Health Service.
 
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Properly worn cycle helmets have been shown to reduce head injury by up to 87 per cent. Protecting the brain is vital. Even a minor head injury can have distressing consequences, particularly in a child, including nausea, headaches, dizziness, memory problems and extreme tiredness. A more serious head injury can have devastating and permanent consequences, including death. According to Department of Trade and Industry leisure and home accident data published in 2002, an estimated 90,000 children aged 15 and under attend hospital for cycling-related injuries. Of these, nearly a third—26,000—will have sustained a head injury.

Motorcyclists have had to wear a helmet since the 1970s. It has been compulsory for young horse and pony riders to wear a hard hat since 1992. Professional cyclists now have to wear a helmet while racing. That came in in May last year. I understand that the British Medical Association is supporting this amendment, as do charities which look after people who have suffered a brain injury, including Headway, Break and the Child Brain Injury Trust. I beg to move.


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