HC Deb 08 July 1991 vol 194 cc697-8

Lords amendment: No. 35, in page 49, line 34, leave out from second "affect" to end of line 39 and insert "a priority route".

Mr. Chope

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, we may take Lords amendments Nos. 36, 126 and 140.

Mr. Chope

The amendments concern the quick procedures available to the London authorities under clause 54 and under paragraph 5 of schedule 5 to the Local Government Act 1985 to notify the traffic director of their proposals for minor, unforeseen road improvements on priority routes or designated roads.

Ms. Ruddock

I support the amendments. The Opposition tabled similar amendments in Committee, but they were rejected by the Government. We are especially delighted that the Government have now seen fit to accept our argument and the argument made in the other place, which is that the measures were originally too widely drawn. It is now clear that local authorities should notify the traffic director of their plans only if those plans affect priority routes. The restriction in the power of the traffic director to intervene in borough's road plans is very much appreciated by the local authorities that would be affected by the powers of the traffic director. The authorities, especially through the Association of London Authorities, have repeatedly expressed their concern about the way in which that person will operate. I am pleased to support the amendments, which will make life easier for those who will have to try to co-operate on transport planning in the city with the newly created traffic director as a consequence of the Bill.

Mr. Corbyn

I, too, welcome the small reduction in the potential powers of the traffic dictator for London. The Minister is smiling, so he must remember that those words were used often in Committee. The amendments introduce a minor change in an especially unpleasant piece of centralised government being imposed on the people of London. London lacks an elected local authority. Almost all the local authorities in the areas most affected by heavy traffic in inner London are poll tax-capped or restricted in some way. We now have a traffic director who is given enormous powers over traffic movements through those boroughs. That is fundamentally undemocratic.

Although I welcome the fact that the director's powers have been slightly curtailed in that he cannot now deal with every road that he may think fit to be affected by the introduction of a priority route scheme or a red route, we should put on record the fact that the traffic director is a wholly unwanted being. Instead, the people of London want an elected, democratic local authority which can make decisions in the interests of the people of London as a whole. They do not want a traffic dictator whose sole aim is to force yet more traffic through unwilling inner-London suburbs into an already overcrowded centre.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

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