HC Deb 01 June 1960 vol 624 cc1512-4
Mr. Renton

I beg to move, in page 4, to leave out lines 32 to 34 and to insert: An order under this subsection shall be made by statutory instrument, and—

  1. (a) in the case of an order made before the first day of October, nineteen hundred and sixty, shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament;
  2. (b) in any other case, shall not be made unless a draft thereof has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament.
This Amendment is in pursuance of an undertaking given in Committee. I think that I bound the Government to do what is proposed by the Amendment.

In its present form, the Bill provides that all orders made by the Secretary of State under this subsection, which are orders prescribing the functions to be carried out by traffic wardens, shall be subject to annulment by negative Resolution of this House. In Committee, hon. Members were very understanding. They realised that if we transferred completely to the affirmative Resolution procedure there might be an unfortunate delay in getting the traffic wardens into operation. Nevertheless, even though the affirmative Resolution procedure might be desirable in the long run, they conceded that, because we are likely to go into a fairly long Parliamentary recess and would not wish to hold things up until Parliament reassembles, for the first order at any rate the negative Resolution procedure could be accepted.

The effect of the Amendment is that an order made before 1st October this year will be subject to annulment in pursuance of the negative Resolution procedure and after that the affirmative Resolution procedure will apply.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Benn

We are extremely grateful for this Amendment. This is a point of considerable substance, but there is no need to rehearse all the points raised in Committee about it. We are extremely anxious that the traffic warden system, to which this applies, should be brought in at every stage with full understanding, co-operation, discussion and debate. I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman, whose Department is responsible for the police, is very anxious for this as well.

We raised this in Committee, and several of my hon. Friends made suggestions about combining the need for speed in getting the wardens into operation by Christmas with opportunities for discussion afterwards. The Amendment does not go quite as far as we would have liked, but it provides us with as much Parliamentary control as we can reasonably hope for. It proves that the old argument about affirmative and negative Resolutions is not merely an

"but shall be so framed as to secure that a local authority thereby empowered to make designation orders shall not make such an order designating parking places on, or otherwise making provision with respect to, a highway for which they are not the highway authority except with the consent of that authority".
I am glad to see the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) here, because this Amendment is intended to meet a point which he raised with us in Committee. Clause 5 deals with orders designating parts of streets, as parking places where payment may be made by means of parking meters, outside the London traffic area. Subsection (7) of the Clause gives the Minister power to devolve upon local authorities the power of making designation orders at some time in the future. Subsection (8) adds that if the Minister does exercise this power he may make certain conditions and exceptions in devolving it, and also that he may modify what I called in Committee, and call again, the parking meter procedure code, contained in the Tenth Schedule to the Road Traffic Act, 1960.

This code sets out the various steps that must be complied with as and when a parking meter is applied for and put in practice. In Committee, the right hon. Member for South Shields drew attention to the fact that under subsection (8) it is possible for the Minister to modify the code, and one of the points in the code is that the local authority which is making a designation order may not be a highway authority, and that in that case, so says the code in the Tenth Schedule, it must operate only argument between the Government and the Opposition of the day but is one of substance, particularly in a matter of this kind, where it is possible for the Government to be convinced of the desirability of giving Parliament the opportunity to discuss things. We believe that the Amendment, though it looks like a procedural one, will help float the traffic warden scheme happily and successfully.

Amendment agreed to.