HC Deb 25 July 1963 vol 681 cc1825-7

Lords Amendment: In page 11, line 45, at end insert: and with any other council, being a London borough council or the Common Council, within whose area any road affected by the proposed order lies or whose area appears to the Greater London Council likely to be affected by that order.

Mr. Galbraith

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment will oblige the G.L.C., before making a traffic order under Clause 10, to consult with the council of the borough in whose area is the road affected by the order, and the council of any other borough likely to be affected by the order. This matter has been discussed at considerable length both in this House and in another place.

As the House will be aware, the Government originally saw serious objections to placing the G.L.C. under an inflexible statutory obligation to consult borough councils. In essence, these objections were that such a procedure would be unnecessarily low, undesirably rigid and possibly dangerous, because it would prevent the G.L.C. quickly changing schemes which went wrong and caused traffic difficulties.

On reflection, however, the Government have concluded that these objections apply to experimental orders made, by virtue of Clause 11, under Section 28 of the Road Traffic Act, 1962, but not to, or not seriously to, "permanent" orders made under Clause 10. It seems to us to be reasonable that before the G.L.C. introduces a scheme "permanently", in so far as any order is permanent, it should, as the Minister does now, ascertain the formal views of the boroughs directly concerned. A "permanent" traffic scheme could affect, over a long period, local amenities, or cause hardship to, say, some shopkeepers or seriously inconvenience residents. We have thought it right, therefore, that the local authorities' formal view about these things should be taken fully into account by the G.L.C. in deciding whether to make a traffic scheme permanent or not. For this reason this Amendment was introduced in another place, and I commend it to the House.

5.30 p.m.

Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)

I wish to say how pleased I am that the Government have decided to accept this Amendment. I referred to this in Committee and I objected then because it seemed to me that these great and powerful authorities which we were forming were liable to have traffic regulations forced upon them without consultation. That seemed to me wrong and I am pleased that the Government have accepted the Amendment.

Mr. Mellish

May I come to the defence of the Ministry of Transport, although that is a rare thing for me to do? On looking back over the years we can recognise why the Ministry took the line which it did in this matter. Frustration of genuine and sincere planning by the Ministry of Transport for purely local and parochial reasons makes it easy to understand why the Ministry took this line. One could quote instance after instance where local authorities did their damnedest to stop a bollard in the centre of the street from being moved because of some sentimental reason, and the Ministry had to be dictatorial.

In a democracy it is difficult to know where the power of a Minister should start and stop. But it is right that there should be consultation and I hope that the message will go out from this House that we expect the new Greater London boroughs genuinely to co-operate, and to understand that traffic does not travel only in one particular borough but flows into the areas of other boroughs. If we are to get the traffic moving, the borough authorities must understand and appreciate the point of view of other people. It is right that there should be consultation. I wish well for the Greater London Council and hope that we shall get such consultation.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.