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Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, we on these Benches very much support this amendment. I need add nothing to what the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, said. It seems an anomaly that the relevant measure does not apply where the speed limit is 30 miles an hour in urban areas.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, I added my name to this amendment. I was minded not to run my Committee stage amendment with regard to repeater signs for a 40 miles an hour speed limit. The rule ought to be that a repeater sign should be nearly in view so that you do not have to drive very far before you see a speed limit sign. Of course, the 30 miles an hour speed limit sign is the most important sign because the 30 miles an hour speed limit is designed to avoid pedestrian accidents.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I support the amendment. What happens with regard to 20 miles an
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hour speed limits? Repeater signs should be in place for 20 miles an hour speed limits as that speed limit is even more important than the 30 miles an hour speed limit. This is an anomaly. I suppose that it goes back to the days of gas lamps when the distance between gas lamps indicated the speed limit. If my noble friend cannot accept the amendment, I hope that he will come back with an appropriate measure at Third Reading.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the measure does not go back to gas lamps but it goes back a very long way indeed. The 30 miles per hour speed limit is the limit which obtains in urban areas. Everyone knows that it is by far the most significant of our speed limits until one gets on to a fast road. Wherever roads have street lighting it is fairly clear that it is an urban area where the 30 miles an hour speed limit obtains. That applies throughout the country. Repeater signs are in place where the 20 miles per hour limit applies because that is a new concept regarding restricted areas and people have to learn about new restrictions to promote safety on particular roads, especially near schools where the 20 miles an hour limit obtains.
On our national roads the 60 miles per hour speed limit applies. On our roads with lighting, which are clearly urban roads, the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. That is printed in the Highway Code. There is no hope of anyone becoming a competent driver unless they know that the speed they must drive at in an urban area is 30 miles an hour and below. I hear what the noble Lord says regarding the need to enforce that with more rigour. We certainly want to enforce it. That is why we are continuing our safety campaign with regard to speed. However, in view of the fact that 30 miles an hour speed limits are so prevalent, we would have to have repeater sign after repeater sign after repeater sign in every urban road and street in Britain. Does it make sense to do that when no driver can come before a court and say, "I exceeded the 30 miles per hour limit because I did not think that I was in a 30 miles per hour area"? Such defences are thrown out. These days, of course, the sanction is imposed automatically and does not go through the court. The noble Lord is asking for an enormous amount of additional street clutter and for more expenditure impositions to be placed on local authorities for the sake of a measure that constitutes almost the first principle of the Highway Code. If drivers do not know the first principle of the Highway Code, they do not obtain their licence. Although I recognise what noble Lords have said about the advantage of repeating things, wherever roads are lit and there is an initial 30 miles per hour speed limit sign, that is the limit which obtains.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I agreed with much of what he said, but does he not understand that part of the problem is that the 40 miles an hour speed limits are quite infrequent? Therefore, it can be difficult to know whether you should be driving at 40 miles an hour or 30 miles an hour. The danger is that you drive at 30 miles an hour and cause a nuisance because you should be driving a
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little faster. A difficulty is created by the fact that there are no repeater signs at regular intervals for the 40 miles an hour speed limit.
Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I hear what the noble Lord says but I do not agree with him. I could take him to Kidlington by the Thames Valley Police headquarters where there is an urban road, lit on both sides, and furnished with a speed camera. However, the speed limit is 40 miles an hour. A little further on it changes to 30 miles an hour. There are anomalies all over the place. Local authorities want to be able to delineate those areas where 30 miles an hour is the speed limit. I am talking about long stretches of road, much of it outside London, where these conditions apply. The Minister is being somewhat obstinate on this matter. I seek something that many local authorities want. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
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