§ 2.50 p.m.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD CHESHAM)
My Lords, although this No. 2 Order has the same effect as the No. 1 Order which your Lordships readily agreed to in May of last year, I thought it as well to add a word or two of explanation. The provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 1956, empower my right honourable friend to make orders to designate parking places on the highway for which charges can be made only in the Metropolitan Police District and the City of London. To extend such designation schemes to other places outside London requires an Order to empower the local authority concerned to apply to the Minister to make a designation order. The No. 1 Order gave that power to ten county boroughs who asked for it, and the Order before your Lordships to-day will extend that power to a further 15 authorities.
The position, my Lords, is, frankly, a little complicated. The Order before your Lordships to-day, for which I seek your approval, does not permit any authority to embark on a parking meter or any other form of parking scheme on the highway for which charges can be made. It only grants to them power to prepare a scheme and submit it to my right honourable friend for another Order if he approves it. That Order, my Lords, is subject to the Negative Resolution procedure but is, of course, preceded by a statutory procedure for consultation and inquiry.
Apart from the fact that this Order has been before the Special Orders Committee of the House, who have not thought fit to draw attention to any feature of it, I do not think I need say any more now. I beg to move that the Order be approved.
§ Moved, That the Parking Places (Extension outside London No. 2) Order, 1960, be approved.— (Lord Chesham.)
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, I rise not to oppose this Order but to ask the noble Lord a question. In the year 1956, which is a long time ago, all of us in your Lordships' House had 709 some prejudice— some more than others— about parking places and parking meters. As the noble Lord has quite rightly said, the procedure under the Act has become a little complicated. The noble Lord is asking for an Order to enable certain local authorities to prepare a scheme and to ask the Minister if they may designate certain parking places. If the House grants this Order and the Minister accedes, then the local authorities will have to have another Order.
As we are going to have hundreds of these Orders in future, now that familiarity has bred a certain amount of contempt and we may have a lot of parking meters, may I make a suggestion? It might shorten the procedure and be for everybody's convenience, administratively and otherwise, if the noble Lord could on some future occasion come before your Lordships' House with an omnibus Order to do away with the type of Order for which he is now seeking your Lordships' approval. I think I should be right in saying that that suggestion would not in any way detract from the authority of the Minister or of Parliament. Before parking places on the highway could be designated— the parking places for which charges are made and where parking meters are established— an Order would be required and would be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure in either House of Parliament. I would submit that it might be to everybody's convenience if my suggestion could be adopted.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, before my noble friend replies, could I ask him two questions with regard to this permissive Order? As I understand it, these fifteen urban district councils and boroughs have asked for these powers. Am I right in assuming that they will ask for designation orders to be made by the Minister and that Parliament will not have any say in the matter? Also, when these various authorities ask for powers, would it be possible for the Ministry to stress that there should be a certain amount of flexibility in the designation orders? I have particularly in mind the question of the standard period, which I have mentioned before, the excess charges and also the excess charge period.
710 It seems to me that there must be a trend with regard to these future designation orders that there is a standard time, a standard charge, a standard excess charge and no flexibility. Although we are not debating it to-day, there was laid before Parliament on July 6 the Parking Places (Holborn) (No. 1) Order. That Order provides for exactly the same charges and excess charge periods as apply to St. Marylebone and Westminster. It may be proved, however, that the times chosen for the standard periods are wrong. It is for that reason I rise to-day to ask for flexibility, and whether there is some way whereby Her. Majesty's Government can request local authorities not always to ask for a two-hour excess period, and also whether the charge for that excess period will always be 10s.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I do not wish to overburden my noble friend with questions, but I should be grateful if in his answer he could reassure me on one point. I am sure that he is as well aware as I am that local authorities are not always wise in their decisions as to where to place parking meters— placing them so that they will not obstruct the flow of traffic. If he could reassure me that any local government plan will have thorough inspection by either the Minister or one of his officials before it comes into force, I should be most grateful.
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, some interesting points have arisen. May I deal first with that made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth? If I may say so, I think what he said is very much in point. I think we may have a good many of these Orders, and we now know a great deal more about parking meters than we did in 1956. He is perfectly right about that. Of course, at the moment we are bound by what is laid down in the Act— that is, the statutory procedure— and, if I may say so with all humility and respect, your Lordships had a little to do with this standard procedure in 1956, and I think rightly, because parking meters were then a far more unknown quantity than they are now. If it is thought that it should be made a little easier— perhaps, as the noble Lord suggested, by means of an omnibus Order— I should like to take that suggestion to my right honourable friend and look at it.
711 My noble friend Lord Merrivale asked whether designation orders, when they come— which is, of course, not under this Order— will be subject to the control of Parliament. Of course they will. They will be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure. So far as the noble Lord's other points are concerned, he is really going a little too fast for us to-day, because he is raising points which affect the orders which to-day's Order would give the authorities power to seek. Of course, it would not be right for us to begin discussing the Holborn (No. 1) Order to-day: we have another Order before us. I am sure that points such as he raised will be looked at. There is not, so far as I know, anything rigid about the periods which may be fixed by an authority, and it will be for the authority concerned to prepare their scheme in what seem to them to be the most suitable terms for the circumstances of their particular area. Then, of course— and this should satisfy my noble friend Lord Somers— the scheme has to be submitted to the Minister for his approval before the designation order can be made.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
Might I ask the noble Lord a question arising out of what he said? The Member for Bristol, South-East raised this matter in another place, and as I understand the reply given by the Parliamentary Secretary, Parliament would not have a say in the matter once the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Bill became an Act.
§ LORD CHESHAM
No, my Lords, that is not quite right. That Bill, as and when it becomes an Act, contains provision whereby at some stage in the future, with the approval of Parliament, the Minister may devolve upon local authorities the power to make designation orders. To that extent it might affect the matter, but that is rather well in the future and I do not think affects us to-day, although perhaps it is well to mention it.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.