§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
I beg to move amendment No. 120, in page 39, line 10, leave out Clause 57.
The effect of the amendment is to delete clause 57. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has gained credit this evening for slashing away at the Bill and I wish to get in on the act with this amendment.
Clause 57 provides that it shall be an offence to use any vehicle, moveable board or structure to display advertisements without the consent of the district or islands council. It carries a maximum penalty of £50 for contravention. At the end of our debate in Committee, during which several hon. Members made wide-ranging criticisms of the provisions, I undertook to reconsider the principle of the clause. The clause was criticised on two main grounds—that it would require consent to be given for such small items as newspaper boards displayed outside shops, and that the use of vehicles as display advertisements should not be a criminal offence.
Since the Committee stage the Government have consulted COSLA and, as a result, we have concluded that there is no need for formal control over moveable boards or placards. The problem with vehicles used to display advertisements goes rather wider, since advertisers may sometimes use stationary vehicles to display advertisements where they have been refused permission to display them or have not made an application under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertising) Regulations 1961. In Committee I said that the regulations would not normally apply to advertisements displayed on vehicles and that their application should be restricted to fixed advertisements. However, we are considering whether it would be appropriate to make stationary vehicles used primarily to display advertisements subject to the regulations. We shall consult interested parties about the proposal as part of a revision of the advertisement regulations during the next few months.
In those circumstances, given the review that we shall undertake, and after careful consideration of the cogent arguments advanced in Committee by hon. Members on both sides, we propose that the clause should be omitted from the Bill.
§ Mr. Dewar
Perhaps I might allow myself the luxury of saying how much pleasure that announcement has given me, because, of all the clauses in the Bill, I found clause 57 peculiarly irritating. I do not know whether in a few years the Solicitor-General will have a reputation as a great reforming Minister, but I shall always have a soft spot for him as the man who came away with the great truth that formal control over moveable boards and placards is not strictly necessary. Anything that is based upon that great precept should be welcomed by the House. The clause was nonsense, and I am glad to see the back of it.
§ Amendment agreed to.