HL Deb 31 July 1962 vol 243 cc199-206

After Clause 22, insert the following new clause:

Experimental traffic schemes

(".—(1) For the purpose of carrying out an experimental scheme of traffic control the authority hereinafter specified may by order under this section (in this section referred to as an experimental traffic order) make the like provision—

  1. (a) as respects any road outside the London Traffic Area, as may be made by an order under section twenty-six of the principal Act (including any provision which may be so made only if the order is made or confirmed by the appropriate Minister);
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  3. (b) as respects traffic on roads within the London Traffic Area, as may be made by regulations under section thirty-four of that Act.

(2) The authority having power to make an experimental traffic order—

  1. (a) as respects roads which are neither trunk roads nor roads in the London Traffic Area, shall be the local authority;
  2. (b) as respects roads in the London Traffic Area which are neither trunk roads nor roads in the metropolitan police district or the City of London, shall be either the local authority or the appropriate Minister;
  3. (c) as respects any other roads, shall be the appropriate Minister;
and the appropriate Minister may, after giving the local authority notice of his intention to do so, by order vary or revoke any experimental traffic order made by the local authority.

(3)An experimental traffic order shall not continue in force for longer than the following period, that is to say,—

  1. (a) if it is made by a local authority, a period of three months;
  2. (b) if it is made by the appropriate Minister, a period of eighteen months;
but the appropriate Minister may on the application of a local authority direct that an experimental traffic order made by the authority shall continue in force for such further period as may be specified in the direction, being a period ending not later than eighteen months after the order came into force.

(4) An experimental traffic order—

  1. (a) may provide for the modification or suspension, while the order is in force, of any provision previously made by or under any enactment, being a provision that could have been made by the order; and
  2. (b) shall, to the extent that it is inconsistent with any provision subsequently made by or under any enactment cease to have effect.

(5) A local authority, before making an experimental traffic order, shall consult with the chief officer of police and give such public notice as the appropriate Minister may direct; and where the order would make or vary—

  1. (a) any provision prohibiting or restricting the loading or unloading of vehicles or preventing such reasonable access to any premises as may reasonably be required for vehicles of any class or description; or
  2. (b) any provision prescribing routes to be followed or roads not to be used, or not to be used in a specified direction, by any vehicles or the places where any vehicles may or may not wait, or the stopping places for any vehicles being a provision applying to vehicles used by any person in providing a service of stage carriages or express carriages;
the length of the notice shall be not less than twenty-one days; and the appropriate Minister, before making any experimental traffic order, shall give public notice of his intention to do so.

(6) Where a local authority proposes to make an experimental traffic order making or varying any such provision as is mentioned in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of the preceding subsection and, before the expiry of the notice given under that subsection, an objection to the making or variation of that provision is made to the local authority—

  1. (a) if the provision is such as is mentioned in the said paragraph (a), by any person;
  2. (b) if the provision is such as is mentioned in the said paragraph (b), by the person providing the said service:
and the objection is not withdrawn, the local authority shall not make the order except with the consent of the appropriate Minister; and no experimental traffic order shall, without that consent, be made by a local authority as respects traffic on any road within the London Traffic Area.

(7) No appeal shall lie to the Minister from the traffic commissioners—

  1. (a) under subsection (8) of section one hundred and thirty-five or section one hundred and forty-three of the principal Act, in the case of a decision of those commissioners with respect to a road service licence; or
  2. (b) under subsection (4) or subsection (6) of section one hundred and forty-one of that Act, in the case of a decision with respect to the approval of a route for a road service;
if and so far as it is certified by the commissioners that the decision was necessary to secure conformity with an experimental traffic order prescribing the routes to be followed, or roads which are not to be used, by vehicles affected by the decision, the places in roads where such vehicles may or may not wait, or the stopping places for such vehicles.

(8) If a person acts in contravention of or fails to comply with an experimental traffic order he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding, in the case of an offence committed in respect of a motor vehicle by a failure to comply with a requirement to proceed or not to proceed in a specified direction or along a specified part of the carriageway, fifty pounds and, in any other case, twenty pounds.

(9) Section twenty-one of this Act shall apply in relation to an experimental traffic order made by the Minister as respects a road in the London Traffic Area as it applies in relation to regulations under section thirty-four of the principal Act made before the end of the period mentioned in the said section twenty-one.

(10) Any power of the appropriate Minister to make an order under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument.

(11) In this section—

  1. (a) "local authority" as the same meaning as in paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of section twenty-six of the principal Act; and
  2. (b) "road", in relation to the London Traffic Area, includes any street as defined in subsection (9) of section thirty-four of that Act.")


My Lords, we come now to an Amendment which is extremely formidable to look at, but fortunately the explanation does not have to be quite so large. With this Amendment go also consequentially Amendments Nos. 24, 25, 26 and 58. The new clause makes provision for there to be experimental traffic schemes in all parts of the country, instead of just in the Metropolitan Police District and the City of London as at present. I know your Lordships agree, because it has often been urged that we are running into heavy troubles with congestion, particularly in urban areas, and obviously there is going to be an increasing need for schemes of more efficient traffic control in urban areas, not only in London, where a good deal has already been done, but throughout the country as well. Often it is not obvious at the outset which of a number of alternatives is the right solution to any given scheme, particularly one-way traffic schemes, and experience in London has shown that a quick trial may be necessary, followed by a reversion to normal for a period in which the results of the trial can be analysed. On the other hand, it may be urgently necessary to switch from one trial plan to another in order to avoid some difficulty which may not have been foreseen or, indeed, may not even have been foreseeable. The kind of snag which has cropped up in London is the need to ban more right turns, the need to make more waiting restrictions, and the need to make some minor variation in the route, possibly on amenity grounds.

In London there are already special powers, but they do not exist outside. Until 1957 experiments used to be carried out under Section 21 of the Town and Police Clauses Act, 1847; but in 1957 the Court of Appeal decided that it was ultra vires Section 21 to do so, and since then any experiments, if they were done at all, have been done on a somewhat unofficial basis. I think it becomes necessary now, in the interests of urban congestion and increasing traffic flow, to give local authorities outside London powers to conduct the same kind of experiments as those which exist within the Metropolitan and City Police districts. I do not think it is good enough to expect them to use permanent powers and then cancel the scheme if it is not successful, because that would in many cases entail considerable delay and possibly public inquiry in certain circumstances, and again in other cases the order would require confirmation by the Minister, who has to allow 28 days for objection and so on. It would be much too cumbersome to expect them to do it that way.

The new clause enables a local authority to carry out an experimental scheme, which has to be limited to three months unless the Minister prolongs it to a maximum of eighteen months, with no preliminary procedure except consulting the police and giving such public notice as the Minister may direct, and in certain circumstances to obtain the Minister's consent. The only point is that exceptions have had to be made in the clause in order to safeguard three particular interests: hauliers, bus operators and those to whose premises access may be prevented by some such experimental scheme. To achieve that there is provision that if an experimental scheme either restricts loading or unloading or denies reasonable access or makes it neceessary to alter a bus route or a bus stop, then the period of notice to be given must not be less than 21 days, and if objections are made in a case involving loading or unloading or access from anyone, or, in a case involving bus routes or bus stops, from the bus operator, and are not withdrawn, then the Minister's consent must be obtained in England and Wales, and the consent of the Secretary of State obtained in Scotland. The local authorities' associations, I understand, have welcomed the new provisions, and I think they are going to prove to be very necessary as well as very desirable. I believe your Lordships will probably welcome them. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Chesham)


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord just one question in this matter? No doubt he is aware of the considerable concern about the heavy lorry route through Highgate. Would it be possible under this clause, say if the local authority in Edinburgh says, "For convenience we will put our heavy lorries through what is basically a residential district", for the persons in that district to have an opportunity to make an appeal against this experiment? Because one well knows that if an experiment is conducted and it achieves a freer flow of traffic, in spite of what may be done to the local amenities it is likely to be continued. I hope that if that case should arise where a heavy lorry route or another type of route is used for an experimental period, the local people will have an opportunity of some appeal before their amenities are completely destroyed.

6.0 p.m.


My Lords, in saying a word on this point, I have to declare an interest, because I live in Highgate Village. On the question of appeal, can the noble Lord say whether the proposed new clause will provide conditions any different from those which operate in the metropolis now, because I understand that in the case of Highgate there is no formal appeal and no public inquiry? The noble Lord made it clear that the local authority can initiate schemes of this kind, subject, of course, to the Minister's approval, and if at the expiry of three months the Minister so thinks, such schemes can go on for as long as eighteen months. If the Minister himself initiates the scheme, it can go on for eighteen months.

There are conditions under which a period of eighteen months would drastically change the whole life of a neighbourhood, and it would be impossible to revert to the former position, if it were found that the experiment was not satisfactory. Therefore I wonder whether the period of the experiment should not be very much shorter. Surely it does not take eighteen months to find out whether a scheme is likely to be beneficial or not. I should have thought that a week or two would have been enough. The noble Lord mentioned the local authorities but I understand from the local authorities themselves that in connection with the Highgate scheme they were not approached at all: the Minister had no word with them about it. In fact, at the very moment the Hornsey Borough Council decided to approach the Minister to go on with a scheme first mooted in 1948 they received notification about this new scheme of the Minister. Is this proposed new clause different? Obviously here the local authorities are going to be consulted, whereas in the case I mentioned they were not. Finally, the noble Lord mentioned safeguards for property owners, the road haulage people and bus companies. Apparently the only people whose interests are not to be safeguarded are the most important: the people who live in the area and the travelling public. It seems to me most remarkable that we should be asked to consider a new clause in which safeguards are provided for the interests of the three classes I have mentioned and none at all for the interests of the public.


My Lords, I should have thought that the answer was apparent from the actual terms of the Amendment. It appears from subsection (6) (a) that any person can object to provisions mentioned in subsection (5) (a) but in the case of subsection 5 (b) objection is limited to bus operators. Where there is a valid objection in either case, protection lies in appeal to the Minister from the local authority. This is the object of these rather elaborate provisions. They do not provide for a public inquiry, but the defence of that is simply that this is an experimental procedure. If it were going to be a permanent feature of traffic, a public inquiry would be necessary in the ordinary way. The noble Lord said that eighteen months is a long time. But, of course, that is the maximum period. I do not think that one must assume that the maximum would be employed; indeed, those who have had experience would normally assume the contrary. In certain cases the Minister would want to see the effect of traffic at certain times of the year, because it might be altogether different in different places.


My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware that in connection with the Highgate scheme the Minister has been talking about am experimental period of seven years?


That, at any rate, could not be done under this section.


My Lords, I must admit at once that I have not fully studied this new clause which it is proposed to insert, but I want to associate myself strongly with the protest that is being made against the Minister's making orders that can be quite ruinous to the localities concerned and, even in a short period, dislocate their life altogether. Since this clause has been passed by another place, I am sure that it will also be passed with little delay by your Lordships' House to-night, but I think that it is entirely appropriate that we should say that we are frightened, not about experiments made by the local authorities but about experiments made by the Minister without consulting any of the local authorities concerned and without consulting his own colleagues in the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. I regard the whole scheme for Highgate as a perfectly disgraceful scheme, which should never have been put forward and which is wholly shocking to anybody who has ever looked into any of the planning problems of London. I hope very much that nothing of the sort will be attempted under this new clause, even experimentally.

On Question, Motion agreed to.