HC Deb 22 May 1991 vol 191 cc1004-5
Mr. Freeman

I beg to move amendment No. 43, in page 32, line 5, leave out 'which consists of or includes a carriageway'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 44 to 46 and 82 to 85.

Mr. Freeman

The hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon) will be glad to know that this is the last amendment with which I shall deal personally tonight.

My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) was particularly interested in the amendment, as were a number of my hon. Friends. They were worried that the Bill did not seem to provide for circumstances related to footways, cycle tracks and pedestrian ways—in which the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) was interested. They were concerned about what would happen when the highway authority had prepared not only the road but the footway and cycle track. I pay tribute to the high standard of maintenance of the roads and footways of Wandsworth, with which I was immensely impressed. The borough was also extremely helpful and courteous in giving me advice.

My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea raised a fair point in Committee. We have sought to remove any doubt on the subject. We want the 12-month restriction, subject to the road having to be dug up in an emergency, to protect the work done on carriageways, footways and cycle tracks. The amendment also suggests that we should provide, in regulations, definitions of major works. We believe that the definition originally contained in the Bill was too prescriptive and we want to consult further on that. If, within the 12-month period, consent to dig up the carriageway, footway, cycle tracks or pedestrian tracks is withheld unreasonably, we believe that there should be a procedure for arbitration.

Ms. Walley

We are grateful that there has been a further concession to cyclists and we welcome the progress that has been made.

Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)

As a cyclist, I am particularly interested in what the Minister had to say. He bragged about what had been done in Wandsworth, but he should look at Westminster. I am a cyclist and I find all the holes. It is high time that the Government got stuck into Westminster. My local authority does a first-class job on its roads, but down here when I am on my cycle morning and night it is murder. I want the Minister to look at Westminster. It is no good bragging about another local authority—let us deal with Westminster, right on the job.

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)

If my hon. Friend the Minister intends to take up the comments of the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes), will he insert a new clause in the Bill to protect the pedestrians of Wandsworth from the hon. Member for Ashfield on his bike, should he ever come across the river? If the hon. Gentleman sticks to his boat and looks from afar at the roads in Wandsworth, I am sure that he will endorse the glowing and worthy tribute that my hon. Friend paid to the council and workmen of Wandsworth for what they have achieved.

I endorse what has been said by the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) and for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) and thank my hon. Friend the Minister for his consideration in the consultation period between Committee stage and this stage, and the work that he has done to find solutions to the problems raised. I am also grateful to him for the progress that he has made on other parts of the Bill—and he should take it as read that those sentiments apply to any future progress he may make.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 44, in page 32, leave out lines 9 to 17 and insert— 'For this purpose substantial road works means works for road purposes, or such works together with other works, of such description as may be prescribed.'.

No. 45, in page 33, line 2, leave out '(which shall not be unreasonably withheld)'.

No. 46, in page 33, line 9, at end insert— '() The consent of the street authority under subsection (5)(b) shall not be unreasonably withheld; and any question whether the withholding of consent is unreasonable shall be settled by arbitration.'—[Mr. Freeman.]

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