§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]
§ Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 10:
§ Traffic regulation in Greater London
§ 10.—(1) Subject to subsections (4) to (7) of this section, the Greater London Council (hereafter in this section referred to as "the Council") may by order make provision for controlling vehicular and other traffic (including foot passengers) on roads in Greater London, being—
- (a) roads other than trunk roads; or
- (b) trunk roads with respect to which the Minister of Transport has consented to the making of the order in question,
§ (4) Before making any order under subsection (I) of this section otherwise than in pursuance of a direction given by the Minister of Transport under subsection (7) there of, the Council shall consult with the appropriate commissioner of police
§ (8) The Greater London Council as well as the Minister of Transport shall have power to make an order under section 11(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1962 (which relates to speed limits on roads other than restricted roads) as respects any road in Greater London other than a trunk road.
§ LORD SHEPHERD moved, in subsection (1), to omit all words from and including "being", down to the end of paragraph (b). The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Lindgren, I beg leave to move this Amendment. The purpose of this Amendment is to delete from Clause 10 of the Bill the reference to trunk roads. In effect, this would mean that the Greater London Council would be responsible for all roads within their area. The position at the present is that the Minister retains the control, the authority, for trunk roads; the Greater London Council will be responsible for metropolitan roads; and the boroughs will be responsible for the local classification. The Royal Commission, as the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, will be aware, recommended that the traffic authority (which in this case is the Greater London Council) should also be the highway authority. Therefore, we have the fact that, in this Bill, the Government have departed from those general recommendations by having, in effect, three different road authorities.
§ Last night I spoke of the need for a strategic plan to take into account the development within the Greater London area and the development outside. On that occasion I stressed that what I conceived as a plan was something not necessarily fixed but something which should be flexible. The noble Lord, Lord Chesham, in his reply, referred to the five-year plan of the London County Council. He also said that it would perhaps not be appropriate to require the Greater London Council to adopt a blueprint or plan for the Greater London area, because, 1477 as he said, it would not be possible for the Greater London Council as a traffic authority to plan what in five years' time might he required as a one-way street or something else. I would refer the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, to the point I made (and I recognised this difficulty) when I described the need for strategic and tactical planning. Tactical planning obviously would be something that would have to be adapted perhaps month by month or season by season. Certainly I did not advocate that there should be a fixed plan to such an extent that no changes were possible.
§ At present within the London County Council area, the central part of London, we have no trunk roads. The main and arterial roads in the centre come within the orbit of the boroughs, with the London County Council as the improvement authority. The trunk roads that will come within the definition of Clause 10 are trunk roads that are in the boroughs of the counties that are now going to be brought into the Greater London area. The extraordinary position within the Greater London area is that we will have some of the main trunk roads under the Minister which, as soon as they enter the present London County Council area, immediately come under the Greater London Council. I frankly do not understand this.
§ I do not see why, at this stage (taking into account the fact that the road is the same; it carries the same type of vehicle) there should be a clear division between the Minister's responsibility and that of the Greater London Council. I quite recognise that the Minister has undertaken that consideration will be given to the transfer of these trunk roads to the Greater London Council. But this is no firm promise; it is an indication of what is in the Minister's mind and is subject to correction. If the Minister maintains the trunk roads in the Greater London area and the Greater London Council does so in the central part, the present London County Council area, we may have the strange position of the Minister of Transport widening and developing the trunk roads in the existing county areas with the Greater London authority perhaps doing nothing. We will then have the case of wide roads up to one point entering into a narrower type.
§ This type of development, if it can be called development, can be seen on 1478 many of our main roads in different parts of the country, not only in London, and they depend on the authority who is responsible for the roads. This type of sudden narrowing is a very grave risk to traffic and a cause of accidents. Above all—and this is what we are interested in to-day, if we want a fast, free flow of traffic—it is essential that the character of the road remains the same. I would suggest that there is no likelihood of a uniform development of trunk roads with this division of responsibility. I would suggest you have a choice here: trunk roads and arterial roads in the area should either come within the Minister's responsibility or that of the Greater London Council. I would suggest with all sincerity that there is no case for a division.
§ I could amplify this by an illustration. I would suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, that he should look at the development in Holland, where there are really wonderful roads. There you will find that the main roads, even though they drive right through the main cities, are the responsibility of one authority. There is no division. When one sees the fine motorways in Holland and elsewhere in Europe, I would suggest one appreciates there is an overwhelming case for us to adopt the same system in London; that is, one authority. The Committee must make up their mind whether it should be the Minister of Transport or the Greater London Council.
§ I would now raise with the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, the question as to the cost of these roads. At the present moment the Minister, I believe, makes a 100 per cent. grant in relation to trunk roads in the counties. If the Minister agrees to handing over to the Greater London Council the existing trunk roads within the area, is the burden to be placed upon the ratepayer in the Greater London area—or are these roads still to continue to receive the 100 per cent. grant which the authorities now receive for this type of road? I would suggest, in fairness to the taxpayer of London, that there is a very big case for this class of road to be a national cost. These are, in fact, national roads. They are the roads on which the traffic, commercial and private, seems to centre. As I have said, all roads seem to lead to London.1479
§ I would suggest that, if these roads are to be developed to carry the kind of heavy traffic they are carrying to-day and will undoubtedly carry in the future, the cost of this development should be borne by the nation as a whole. I would agree that, in the Bill, it would be possible for trunk roads to become metropolitan roads; that is, if the Minister agrees. But supposing we wish to turn an existing metropolitan road—a road that is classed as a class 1 road and is at present, within the Bill, to be the responsibility of the Greater London Council—into a trunk road. Supposing that road has to be developed to take the type of heavy national traffic that existing trunk roads carry. Will it be possible, with the Minister's consent, to transfer that class of road into the category of trunk road in order that the full grant will become available to the Greater London Council? As I see it, such a provision is not within the Bill. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, knows more about this particular section than I do. I have had to look at the Bill broadly. But I have not been able to detect whether it would be possible to turn a metropolitan road into a trunk road in order to receive the full grant.
§ I would beg the Government to remember the words I spoke last evening, even though we lost our case in the Division: the Greater London Council, if it is to produce a strategic plan and to develop, must have within its control those roads which are suitable and can be developed to carry the heavy traffic which we know will grow up in London. I beg to move the Amendment.
Page 10, line 44, leave out from ("London") to the end of line 3 on page 11.—(Lord Shepherd.)
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I was very relieved to hear the noble Lord stress, towards the end of his speech, his understanding of the true position of trunk roads as roads of overall national importance, because that is the whole point. It is part of the inherent concept of trunk roads that they are of national rather than of local importance—and I use "local" there in quite a wide sense—and, therefore, it has always been accepted that the Minister should not only build and maintain them, but also 1480 control their use by traffic. The Minister has power to regulate the traffic of trunk roads elsewhere in England and Wales, wherever it may be, and, quite frankly, in general, I still do not see any special reason why he should not have that control in London.
If, as he says, the noble Lord fears that there will be some kind of different approach on the planning of future roads between the Minister and the G.L.C., I can give him an assurance here and now that the Minister would certainly consult the G.L.C. before he carried out any trunk road improvements. That is the kind of consultation which goes on with the L.C.C. at present on co-ordinating plans. The A.2 is an example of that; and it is taking place in regard to other proposals. I assure the noble Lord that it is not a question of two independent authorities not working together in these matters. These roads are at the moment, as he said, constructed and maintained 100 per cent. at Government expense. Merely as a technicality, I would observe that it is not a question of 100 per cent. grant aid; it is paying for the work, because they are the Minister's roads.
§ LORD CHESHAM
Yes; the authority builds them. It is a slight technicality, because it is not just a question of changing rates of grant. That is why I have made what is rather a small point. If in the normal way trunk roads were de-graded (if that is the right word) to become metropolitan roads, the grant would become, in common with that for other metropolitan roads, 75 per cent. If the argument is that they should attract a grant of 100 per cent. from the Minister, then I think perhaps the argument might also be that they ought to remain trunk roads. I do not think it is right that in the case of trunk roads the G.L.C. should, even theoretically, be able, for instance, to prohibit their use by a class of vehicle for which perhaps they may well have been designed.
I think it will help—I hope the noble Lord will not mind—if in assessing this problem I go a little further into the actual detail of what we are talking about in this problem of trunk roads. As drafted, the Bill proposes no alteration 1481 in the pattern; and it is that pattern with which I am concerned. At the moment there are about 130 miles of trunk roads, all of which are in fact, as the noble Lord said, outside the present L.C.C. area. But they are, of course, within the proposed area of the G.L.C. I am thinking of roads like the North Circular Road, the Cromwell Road extension, Western Avenue, Eastern Avenue, and so on. For the moment they will remain the responsibility of the Minister; but it is by no means the Minister's intention that this pattern should necessarily remain unchanged. When the results of the survey are available, there will be a review as to how the pattern of trunk roads should relate to the metropolitan roads, which will be the responsibility of the G.L.C. That review will, therefore, have to be carried out in conjunction with the G.L.C., which will naturally be closely involved with it. They will have to consider the question of the financial responsibility mentioned by the noble Lord.
The sort of pattern which the Minister feels may well emerge is that there should be trunk roads into and as far as the North Circular Road and South Circular Road, when it comes into being. It is also possible that it may be felt better that the trunk road should terminate further out—at what, for instance, will be the North and South Orbital Roads. That might be a better pattern when we get a little nearer having them. I suppose we might even end up by not having any trunk roads in the area at all, although I should regard that as unlikely. All in all, it seems better not to try to settle now once and for all where the trunk roads should go, because changes, either one way or another, that the noble Lord asked me about, can be made under Section 7 of the Highways Act, 1959. That power is not in this Bill, because it is in that Act.
The noble Lord told us that what was in the Bill was contrary to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. According to the copy of the Report that. I have here, that is not quite correct: because on trunk roads in the area they have this to say under conclusion (6) on page 119:The Minister of Transport should settle after consultation from time to time whether any or if so which roads should remain or become trunk roads.1482 That is exactly how the Bill has been drafted. In view of what I have said, I hope noble Lords will think that to leave the Bill alone is the best way to proceed.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
May I refer the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, to paragraph 779 of the Report of the Royal Commission? My case is that the Royal Commission recommended that there should be one highway authority and one traffic authority. In paragraph 779 they say:We have no doubt that all these matters should be the responsibility of the Council for Greater London, and that these powers should apply to all streets and roads whether main roads or otherwise, the Council being free to use Boroughs as its agents for the execution of works of this nature. We can see no other solution.They go on:If it is not adopted, the alternative seems to be for central government to assume dictatorial powers.In a later paragraph, dealing with planning and housing, they say quite clearly that the responsibility for constructing, improving, maintaining, lighting et cetera should be with the same authority as for traffic. I submit, as I said yesterday, that the Government have adopted not one authority, but three authorities: the Minister for the trunk roads, the Greater London Council for those metropolitan roads defined in Schedule 7, and the boroughs.
The noble Lord, Lord Chesham, said that I need have no fears that there will not be conformity between the Minister's development of the trunk roads within the Greater London area and that of the Greater London Council. I hope that will be the case. But the evidence is in the Report of the Royal Commission where there was—I will not say a dispute, but a difference of opinion in regard to the Hammersmith flyover. That was a case where the Minister wished to proceed with the development of a trunk road system, and the local borough council were not prepared to proceed because they felt that the cost would be too high and too heavy upon the local ratepayers. If the Royal Commission are correct the London County Council did not feel that they were in a position to press the Hammersmith borough to proceed with the work. How many years did we have to wait until the Minister was able to go ahead with the Hammersmith flyover? 1483 This is a fact, and I am glad the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, can give us the assurance that there will not be similar delay in the future. But we have had this evidence, and there is other evidence throughout the country of what happens when the Minister does not see eye to eye with the local authority, or the other way round.
I still believe—and to me this is a matter of principle—that if we are going to develop these main strategic roads through London, they should be under the control and under the developing power of one authority. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, is right, although I had a little doubt—or I may have taken his words wrongly. I understood that it was the Minister's intention to hand over these trunk roads in the existing counties to the Greater London Council. I thought that in his speech the Minister gave an indication that that might not be the case. He said that he might retain the trunk roads to the North Circular Road. That would still be well within the Greater London area. True, in the case of the South Orbital Road, that again would be well inside the Greater London area. If the area which the noble Lord gave this evening covers the North Circular Road, it is clear he does not intend to hand these trunk roads over to the Greater London Council. If I am wrong, perhaps he will correct me; but that was my understanding. I think this would be utterly wrong. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, has anything further to say.
§ LORD MOLSON
I cannot think that the provisions of this Bill should make any fundamental change in what has been the generally accepted principle of the administration of roads in this country. Ever since the Act of the '30s introduced by Mr. Hore-Belisha there are certain roads which are regarded as being of great national importance, and there are trunk roads which are the responsibility of the Minister. It has been generally accepted by Ministers of Transport, of both political Parties, that there are other roads which are more suitably administered by, and which are the responsibility of, the local authorities. All that is being done in this Bill is to apply the same principle in the case of the new authority that is being created. 1484 Of course there are certain difficulties which arise where a road comes from one part of the country into a built-up area, and there is a change in its responsibility. That is a problem which has been with us for the last 25 years. The fact that the Minister exercises final authority by being able to withhold the grant results, in the last resort, in his being able to insist that the policy of the local authority is acceptable to him. I suggest that there is no fundamental change in this respect; that it has worked reasonably satisfactorily in the past, and that it should continue to do so under the provisions of this Bill.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I am grateful to my noble friend for what he has said. I have only a short word more to say, because I think the noble Lord would agree that we do not want to get into a prolonged argument as to the precise meaning of the Royal Commission's Report on this Amendment. Apart from the fact that the South and North Orbital roads come outside the Greater London Council area—this is just for the record—
§ LORD CHESHAM
The point I wanted to make is that the noble Lord must be sure about the differentiation he is trying to make between traffic authority and highway authority in these recommendations. The Royal Commission recommended that there should he in the area an overall traffic authority: that the same authority should be the highway authority for what we now call metropolitan roads, and that the highway authority should be the borough in which it lay. I think the noble Lord must agree that that is so. They then added a further recommendation about trunk roads, which I read out. Therefore, I think I am right when I say that this Bill is drafted strictly in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
Could the noble Lord tell us the distinction between a "circular road" and 1485 an "orbital road"? As this is language which has cropped up since I left the Ministry of Transport a long time ago, I do not know the difference.
§ LORD CHESHAM
They are the names of different road schemes. It is as easy as that. I do not know whether the noble Lord wishes to go into the etymology and derivation of words, but he knows, I presume, where the North Circular is.
§ LORD CHESHAM
The South and the North Orbital Roads are planned roads in a great are round London, further out than the Circular roads. I do not know quite how to differentiate, except that an orbit is usually taken to be rather wider than a perimeter. At the moment, there, is a gentleman up there who could tell us more about that.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Will it be possible, with the consent of the Minister, for a metropolitan road to be converted to a trunk road because it is a national road? If it becomes a trunk road and the Minister retains his powers, then it would receive the full grant.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I thought I had answered that point, but perhaps I did not make myself clear. As I understand it, the Section 7 power in the Act to which I referred would enable the Minister to do that; and, naturally, he would do it by agreement. If he then took it over, he would have to pay 100 per cent. for it.
§ LORD CROOK
I thought I knew what an orbital road was, but now I am not very certain. As I understood it, the North and South Circular Roads were roads used by people to get around London without going through the middle. As I understood the original conception, I thought the orbital roads were roads which would never permit traffic to come into this city, but would take it around. As I understood it, the orbital road would go right round London. It might even feed the Dart-ford-Purfleet tunnel and so on. Is that the kind of thing? I think it is rather important to know, because some of the arguments which my noble friend has 1486 advanced on the chargeability and the relationship might turn on that definition.
§ LORD CHESHAM
It would not, because it is not intended to be a definition; it is the name of an actual planned road scheme. It is to take the traffic around London, without going through swiftly and efficiently. There is no magic in this word "orbital". It just happens to be the name which was given to that road: it is not a classification or category of road. It might have been called the Outer Circle or some other appropriate name; but it was thought appropriate to call it the North and South Orbital road. There is no more magic to it than that.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
I do not want to go into this fascinating discussion on whether a circle is a circle or an orbit an ellipse, or what kind of thing it is. I want to ask a simple question of the Minister. Speaking as a Londoner, and in view of what the noble Lord has said about the responsibility for road planning and for deciding the trace of new roads in the London area, what happens if the inhabitants of a certain London borough object to the surgical operation needed for a trunk road to be taken through their neighbourhood? Where there is a conflict between local interests and the Ministry of Transport how is the matter discussed, and who decides?
§ LORD CHESHAM
It is a hypothetical question because the noble Lord heard what I have been saying about trunk roads: that the question of bringing roads through London is extremely unlikely to arise.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
The trunk roads entering the Greater London area must deliver their traffic somewhere. There must be roads sufficient to carry that traffic to its destination. Those roads may involve considerable building of new roads or straightening of roads in London. What happens when the local inhabitants 1487 do not want to be disturbed for a major road to be driven through their area?
§ Resolved in the negative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The purpose of this Amendment is to obtain an explanation from the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, as to the effect of the words in Clause 10, page 11, lines 23 and 24. They read:and shall be exercisable by order made by statutory instrument instead of by regulations".I have made one or two inquiries in many quarters of this House, and also taken expert opinion, and I have been told that there is in fact no difference between a statutory instrument and a regulation. If that is the case, I wonder whether there is some subtle meaning in this expression in the Bill. Perhaps the noble Lord will inform us, in regard to a statutory instrument, whether it will be dealt with by Affirmative or Negative Resolution.
§ that they will find a trunk road coming through. It may be a question of the improvement of a metropolitan road, which is the responsibility of the Greater London Council. It would then be for the borough to make representations to the G.L.C.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 109) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 13; Not-Contents, 58.1487
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Longford, E.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Champion, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Summerskill, B.|
|Chorley, L.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.||Walston, L.|
|Crook, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Lothian, M.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Luke, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Exeter, M.||Margesson, V|
|Allerton, L.||Falmouth, V.||Mills, V.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Ferrers, E.||Milverton, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Fortescue, E.||Molson, L.|
|Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Fraser of North Cape, L.||Newton, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Perth, E.|
|Boston, L.||Hanworth, V.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Carrington, L.||Hastings, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Chesham, L.||Hawke, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Colgrain, L.||Hertford, M.||Sandys, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Home, E.||Somers, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Howe, E.||Strang, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Ilford, L.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Craven, E.||Jellicoe, E.||Suffield, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Jessel, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Denham, L.||Lambert, V.||Wolverton, L.|
|Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Lloyd, L.|
§ Perhaps the noble Lord could give us this information. I beg to move.
Page 11, line 23, leave out ("statutory instrument instead of").—(Lord Shepherd.)
§ LORD CHESHAM
I will endeavour to do just that. I had imagined from the electrifying effect this Amendment would have on the drafting of the Bill that it had been put down in a search for information rather than anything else. First of all, I will say this. In case there is some curious meaning in this context attached to statutory instruments which I too have not apprehended, I will double check the matter to see there is not one. But I know of no magic or curious connotation of the words in this respect. The position at the moment is that the Minister exercises most of his powers as a traffic authority in London by making 1489 regulations which are laid before Parliament and are subject to Negative Resolution. Incidentally, I do not know that I can say for certain there has never been a Prayer against one, but I know there has not been one recently.
The Minister is handing over his powers to the G.L.C. who will be making their traffic arrangements by order, subject to the reserve powers that the Minister has. These orders will not be laid before Parliament, because I think it is always implicit that when a Minister hands over powers to a local authority there must be some diminution of Parliamentary control, and they will be making orders which will not be laid. That will leave the Minister with not very much to do under Section 34. He will want to make orders for three things, for the regulation of traffic on trunk roads in Greater London; for use in connection with his reserve powers, his last resort power to vary or revoke the G.L.C. orders; and, thirdly, for securing the object of a direction From him with which the G.L.C. has failed to comply.
I do not think there are any logical grounds for laying before Parliament the ordinary day-to-day orders with regard to traffic matters on the trunk roads, which are very similar to those on the other roads made by the G.L.C. which are not laid. It is hardly necessary to lay the second power, to vary or revoke, because it is exactly the same as obtains in the rest of the country for which it is not laid. And the third one, making an order if the G.L.C. should fail to comply, is really purely ancillary as an absolutely last ditch power. It is very unlikely that the G.L.C. would refuse downright to comply, but if they did he would need this purely ancillary power to back up the direction he had given. The intention of this clause is purely that the Minister can "do his stuff", as it were, by order and not have to lay regulations. If there is something peculiar about the drafting, I will certainly have it looked at again, but I know of nothing.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I will leave it like that this evening. Perhaps the noble Lord will look at it. It looks peculiar to me, and I was wondering whether there was an ulterior motive. The noble Lord shakes his head. Naturally I accept that, but perhaps he would look 1490 at the drafting. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD CHAMPION moved to add to subsection (4):
And the London Borough Council oar Councils concerned or as the case may be, the Common Council.
§ The noble Lord said: Subsection (4) of Clause 10 of the Bill makes provision for consultation by the G.L.C. with the Commissioner of Police before that Council makes an order dealing with the regulation of traffic inside Greater London. We think that is understandable, because the Commissioner of Police has powers under the London Hackney Carriage Act, 1850, to appoint cab ranks. The actual physical control of traffic in London must inevitably fall to the police. It will be their job to enforce the various measures which have to be taken.
§ Perhaps what is not quite so understandable is the omission in the subsection of a mention of the Metropolitan Traffic Commissioner, who, under the 1960 Road Traffic Act, has power to fix bus stopping places. We have not mentioned him in our Amendment, but it seemed a little strange to single out the Commissioner of Police for mention in this particular subsection and not the Metropolitan Traffic Commissioner. Certainly I think the fixing of bus stops is extremely important in this connection. You might in fact do very much more to stop traffic by a bad siting of your bus stops than by a bad siting of your cab ranks. So it seems to me, at any rate, as though the Metropolitan Traffic Commissioner ought to have been brought into this subsection, if indeed there is any necessity to bring in the Commissioner of Police.
§ No express provision, however—and this is the main point of our Amendment—is made for consultation with the councils which are directly concerned, namely the London borough councils. Under the set-up projected in the Bill the 32 borough councils are able to be much more important bodies than the metropolitan borough councils have been hitherto. Throughout the whole of the progress of this Bill and the debates both here and in another place, that has been part of the justification for this Bill. Their decisions will be taken on local matters a little nearer the ground than was the case under the London County Council 1491 and the Middlesex County Council. The local electors will be stimulated, the Government say, by that fact into taking a much deeper interest in the local government of London. They say that local democracy will function very much better as a result of this Bill. If that is so, then this matter of traffic regulation should clearly be not directly within their jurisdiction but something upon which these borough councils should have a say.
§ If, for example, the Greater London Council feels that the unloading or loading of goods in a street within the area of a London borough council ought to be banned in the interests of an improved flow of traffic during prescribed hours, obviously the local people ought to be consulted before such a ban is imposed. They should be consulted as to the effect on local traders and everyone else who would be affected by such a ban during such hours as the Greater London Council might decide. If, to use another example, the Greater London Council feels that the only way in which to get traffic moving in a certain area is to cause the removal of a street market, this surely is a decision which should be taken only after the most careful consultation with the councils concerned. I am sure the noble Lord will know many street markets in London and will know instances where, if that street market were removed, the traffic might flow a little better, and the Greater London Council might consider from now on bringing about the removal of that street market in order that traffic might flow more smoothly in that particular area. But surely the local people who benefit from that market, or the councillors who represent them, should be consulted before any such decision is taken. I am sure that many other noble Lords who know London very much better than I do can cite many other cases in which the new London borough councils should be consulted.
§ In answer to a similar Amendment moved in another place, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport urged that these consultations would be held in any case; that this is more or less common form, that it is always done; that measures of this sort are never brought into being without such consultation; that no county council would ever dream of making such an 1492 order without first of all consulting the local people. If that applies to the borough councils, surely it must apply also to the Commissioner of Police, who is specially singled out in this subsection of Clause 10. Under the Statute, the Commissioner of Police would have to be consulted. It seems to us to be odd to single him out and to leave out the important borough councils who are directly representative of the people living in the area. I beg to move.
Page 11, line 45, at end insert—
("And the London Borough Council or Councils concerned or as the case may be, the Common Council.")—(Lord Champion.)
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I am only too delighted to have the opportunity to explain the points which the noble Lord has raised and about which he tells us he has doubts which have given rise to the Amendment he has moved. The Amendment is to impose, as he told us, the necessity for a requirement to consult formally with the borough councils or the Common Council as the case may be. First of all, I want to explain to the noble Lord what are the objections to the statutory obligation, which becomes an inflexible obligation to consult in all cases in this way. A formal consultation, by its very nature, may well require consideration by the council or by a committee of a council exercising the power that the council has delegated to it, and this is bound to take time. It is likely to take more time than ever, perhaps, in the summer when the council is in recess, and it could even take several months unless the chairman of a committee has been authorised by delegation from the council to consider any traffic matters which the Greater London Council might have to consult about․but one cannot necessarily rely on the fact that such will be the case. Sometimes it is necessary to consult on these matters and to do it fairly quickly, as I think the noble Lord will agree. There are a lot of minor things in which quick consultation is the essence of success in getting the traffic moving. It creates difficulties there, because if one is going to have a formal consultation with a council it is necessary that the consultation shall be about a specific proposal, and that proposal must be worked out in considerable detail.
1493 I do not want to take up the time of the Committee and perhaps weary the noble Lord, Lord Champion. I have here some judgments of cases which very much affect this question of consultation, land unless it is held at a pretty advanced stage there is a possible risk, although it may be remote, that the legal interpretation of the order might be open to challenge in the court. That is a slightly legalistic, but nevertheless valid, point that I ought to make. There is another point. If, having consulted on the scheme, there are some trivial changes, it probably means that the consultation has to be carried out all over again. There may be hundreds of almost trivial and certainly uncontentious cases in the courts, and this formal necessity for consultation is likely to impose a very time-consuming burden if it is a statutory necessity. As I have said, it can involve serious delay, and I think the Minister's own experience of having formally to consult the London and Home Counties Advisory Committee has shown in the past how serious these drawbacks can be. Parliament, in fact, released him from that obligation in 1960. His advice will certainly be that the Greater London Council should not be burdened with the statutory obligation to consult.
In the case of the police it is some-what different, because it is no good making an order unless that order can be enforced, and it is the police who have the job of enforcing. As the noble Lord told us, they themselves have some statutory responsibilities for traffic regulation in London, and they are of course, in close, continuous and day-to-day contact with traffic schemes and all kinds of traffic problems. Basically, apart from the necessity to keep them in the picture, the difference from the enforcement point of view is that in that case you are not having to consult a collective body which meets periodically; the police are there for consultation 24 hours a day, and the requirement could be met by quick contact. Up till now, what the Minister, as traffic authority for the London Traffic Area, has done, is invariably to consult the local authorities concerned before making traffic regulations. There is no statutory obligation on him to do so, but he has done, and it works.
1494 If you do it that way, all the cases I mentioned—and they are going to be many—which do not justify formal consultation by the whole Council or perhaps even by a Committee, have been worked out to everyone's benefit by discussion between an official of the Ministry and the Chairman of the Committee, often at quite short notice. I am sure that the G.L.C. will, in practice, consult the borough councils and any other affected bodies just as fully as the Minister has done up to now. I do not think that they can hope to live a successful life unless they adopt that practice. I think that unless they work together with the boroughs, life is going to be very difficult indeed.
Supposing that the G.L.C. adopt an intransigence about this and do not consult, and the practice it sets up is not satisfactory. Then the Minister has powers under Clauses 10 and 11 to direct the G.L.C. as to procedure. He could perfectly well, and most likely would, use those powers to require the Council to consult specified bodies, and he can also include provisions about the manner of consultation, or timing, or anything else about it. I realise the feelings of borough councils in this matter. If they consider that their views are not being properly taken into account by the G.L.C. even after consultation—and even formal consultation does not necessarily mean that they are fully taken into account; I think the noble Lord would agree with that—then they can make representations to the Minister that they were not being properly consulted and had not been properly brought in; and if those representations were good, he could, as I say, use his powers to direct that consultation should be properly carried out. In brief, we think that that aspect of the Minister's reserve powers actually gives the boroughs better protection than a statutory obligation to consult such as the noble Lord suggests. I honestly think that is the better way to do it.
§ LORD WOLVERTON
May I ask the Minister this question? If there is feeling in the local area, will the G.L.C. hold a local inquiry or not before they make an order? This causes quite a lot of feeling locally. I have some experience of this as I have been on the roads and bridges committee of West Suffolk for some time. There we often 1495 have the problem that the borough asks for one-way streets. We are under the jurisdiction of the county council, and I think we have to get authority from the Ministry. Often the initiative comes from the borough council, and we then hold an unofficial local inquiry at which the local people make representations to a sub-committee of the roads and bridges committee. I took the chair at one myself the other day, at Sudbury; it lasted all day. We reported back our feelings to the roads and bridges committee, and we made some modifications with a view to helping the local people. This was put up to the full council, because the matter has to be passed by the full council, and then to the Minister for his confirmation. This is a much bigger thing than the matter I am referring to, but I think there ought to be some local inquiry if people feel aggrieved about a proposed Order.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
I feel that the principle behind my noble friend's Amendment is absolutely correct, and that there should be consultation with the local authorities. But I must say that I was impressed by the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, about certain matters being too minor to go through the whole paraphernalia which is necessitated by formal consultation, and also in particular with regard to the need, in certain cases, for speed. I imagine that Christmas traffic regulations might come under the sort of thing he has in mind. Would it not be possible to fulfil the main objectives of my noble friend Lord Champion, but at the same time to overcome the real difficulties that the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, has pointed out, by giving power to the Greater London Council to initiate schemes of the sort laid down here on a temporary basis for, say, three months, after which, if they wish to proceed with them on a permanent basis, then they will have to consult? That would mean that if they decide that they are in fact going to be permanent, they could still act quickly in case of an emergency. If it is obviously a trivial matter, the consultation will not take any time at all during that three months, whereas if it is a more serious matter arousing a good deal of local feeling, there would be ample time in which it could be done. 1496 I do not know whether that would meet with the approval of my noble friend or not. It seems a common-sense way of doing it.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
I think that my noble friend Lord Walston has hit upon an idea that may be useful to the Minister and to my noble friend Lord Champion. I appreciate the point that if it is an unimportant and temporary matter it may not be a case for making it obligatory on the Greater London Council to consult the borough, council. On the other hand, if the case I that my noble friend Lord Champion mentioned is involved, the possible abolition of an open air market in the interests of getting a traffic improvement in the area of that market, that is a matter of importance. The Lewisham Borough Council has such a case in mind, at the clock tower. It is a highly controversial matter, and I should not like to presume to guess who is right or wrong. However, that is Lewisham's business. There is nobody to consult except the local traders, which they have done, and they have had an opportunity of expressing their views.
These local markets raise a big question. You get a case such as the Ministry of Transport is landed with—I think two of them: one was at Archway Road in Highgate, for the use of heavy road haulage traffic going to the docks. There was trouble in Islington. As a matter of fact, a row is now going on about making the Rotherhithe and Blackwall Tunnels, before the improvement of Blackwall Tunnel, both one-way routes. In two cases, at least, the Minister has had to give way. The noble Lord opposite who spoke of urgent local inquiries is, I think, going too far, because they can be longwinded affairs and can involve undue delay.
The Minister says that in practice the borough council will be looked after by the Ministry if they complain that the Greater London Council has not adequately consulted them, or if they come to a conclusion which differs from the opinion of the borough council. That seems a long-winded way round to get at the same result. These borough councils, the metropolitan boroughs particularly, like to have a statutory right to be consulted about important things. They are a little offended if they do not get it.
1497 My noble friend Lord Walston raised the point that if between now and Report we could get some revision of this clause, whereby unimportant things are distinguished from important things, or temporary, seasonal things are distinguished from permanent things, that might solve the problem. I do not ask the Parliamentary Secretary to commit himself as to what he will do at this stage—I know the difficulties of giving hard and fast commitments in advance on what is a complicated matter—but if he would undertake to have the matter looked into between now and Report, without prejudice to our right to raise it on Report, to see whether he could bring up a clause which might substantially meet the points raised by my noble friend Lord Champion, at the same time taking into account the points raised by Lord Walston, my noble friend Lord Champion might perhaps be willing to ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD CHESHAM
Naturally, I am willing to look at that one. I do not want to adopt a dogmatic attitude about it at all. I agree with the noble Lord in what he said about local inquiries. It is possible for one to be held if that is desirable, but any statutory procedure on that would he going too far and would be even more cumbersome. So far I have not been convinced that I should alter my view. Lord Morrison of Lambeth picked on the Highgate affair, a very good example of how informal consultation actually worked. Representations were made—there is no obligation on the Minister to consult—and, having looked at it as an experimental measure, a good deal of change was made. So there is nothing wrong with putting that forward as an example of the possibilities of informal consultation; in other words that the thing does work. That is all that I am trying to claim: that it works perfectly well. I still have very considerable reservations about the question of a statutory obligation to consult, but I should be glad to look into the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, between now and the later stage, although, as Lord Morrison of Lambeth kindly appreciated, I can enter into no commitment at the present time.
§ LORD CHAMPION
We recognised when we put down this Amendment that there was bound to be a question of the 1498 balance of advantage as between speed of action and democratic consultation. I think the Minister has made a number of excellent points on this subject, but I do not propose to answer them all. I should like to comment on the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Walston. As my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth said, clearly one could not permit an order to be operative for three months in the case of a street market. The job would already have been done; you would remove the market and the order would be operative. Therefore, the suggestion for the three months' operation of an order, and then perhaps its ending after consultation, would clearly not work. It seemed to have some merit, as between the truly important and perhaps the unimportant, from the point of view of local interest, and so on. The points of local interest could be cleared up by the unofficial consultation which at present takes place—that is, before the initial order is made.
I see the difficulty which was raised about having a statutory right to consultation, which will mean the convening of meetings, ensuring that the matter is on the agenda, reference to the appropriate committee, bringing it back again to the Council for a ratification, et cetera. Nevertheless, we feel—and I hope the Minister will consider this between now and Report—that the local people must come into the matter of having their amenities and their way of life badly interfered with, as could happen by the introduction of a badly considered order. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, could move the next Amendment after the dinner adjournment. I think the hour is convenient.
§ Moved, That the Committee be adjourned during pleasure.—(Lord Chesham.)1499
§ LORD HASTINGS
On the Motion to adjourn this Committee, I should like to make a statement. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, stated earlier this afternoon that I had misled the Committee on an earlier occasion, and I should therefore like to take the first opportunity to put the record straight. I said that the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee had specifically asked for London elections to be advanced from the autumn of 1964, as proposed in the Government White Paper, to the spring of 1964. On this point I now find that I was misinformed, and therefore have no hesitation in offering my profound apologies to the noble Lord and also, of cow-se, to all your Lordships for unwittingly misleading the Committee.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
I am very much obliged to the noble Lord for that statement. It was a mistake, and an unfortunate one, but Parliament is always good to a noble Lord, or to a right honourable Gentleman in another place, who will confess that he has made a mistake and apologises. But what can you do about it, except thank him very much for taking that course—which is a perfectly proper Parliamentary course? Therefore the noble Lord can be sure that I will not pursue it any further. It worried me because I could not imagine that the Standing Joint Committee would do it, and I had appropriate inquiries made. It was not only bad from the point of view of myself and other noble Lords who had raised the point, but rather rough on the reputation of the Standing Joint Committee. If it had been true, I thought that they had gone haywire—which would be a pity because they have a Labour majority. I am grateful to the noble Lord, both for myself and on behalf of the members of the Metropolitan Joint Committee, for his statement. But, if I were he, when he gets back to that funny Ministry of his I should, so to speak, put somebody across my knee, whoever it was, and give a good spanking. If civil servants go wrong you must knock them about!
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The Sitting was suspended at half-past seven and resumed at twenty-five minutes before nine o'clock.]1500
LORD SHEPHERD moved in subsection (8) to leave out "as well as the Minister of Transport". The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment, to obtain an explanation from the Minister. In Clause 10(8), it is provided:
The Greater London Council as well as the Minister of Transport shall have power to make an order
in regard to speed limits. Of course, the Minister has this power under other legislation, and I question whether it is necessary for it to be re-emphasised in this Bill. Therefore I have two questions I should like to put to the Minister. The first is whether the Minister will regard the particular power he has under the 1962 Act as in the category of a reserve power—in other words, that, having granted the Greater London Council power to make orders as regards speed limits on certain types of road, which power the Minister also has, the responsibility will in the main rest with the Greater London Council, and the Minister will exercise his power only where he feels it is absolutely necessary and, perhaps, where the Greater London Council may have failed to use their power. That is the first point.
§ The second point is this. I wonder whether the power that the Minister has could not in fact be included in the provisions in subsection (2), which would then bring it within the reserve power—in other words, it would be clearly defined. I hope the Minister can give us some information in this matter. I think he recognises the feeling on this side of the Committee, and perhaps in other quarters of it, that we should give as much responsibility as we can to the Greater London Council, the Minister not exactly sleeping but merely using the powers in the last resort. I beg to move.
Page 12, line 25, leave out the said words.—(Lord Shepherd.)
§ LORD CHESHAM
I am very happy to give the noble Lord the assurance that he seeks. In point of fact, the words which he has moved to leave out make no difference to the Bill at all. They are included merely for clarification, and the Minister derives no power whatsoever in this matter from the Bill. So, from the point of view of the Bill, it makes little difference whether they are put in or left out. If they are left out, 1501 the Bill is less clear than if they are left in. The Minister's power in this matter derives, in fact, not from this Bill at all but from Section 11 of the Road Traffic Act, 1962. That applies to limits other than 30 m.p.h. limits, and mostly, of course, to 40 m.p.h. limits.
The idea is—and I am happy to give the noble Lord the assurance he seeks—that this is intended to be entirely a reserve power, in exactly the same way as it is used in the rest of the country. The Bill has been deliberately drafted, and this wording has been used, to make sure that the position on speed limits in London is exactly the same as that in the rest of England and Wales. It would not be quite appropriate to put it in subsection (2), as the noble Lord queried, because there is this difference—and it is something which your Lordships have often brought forward and recommended. It is that there should be a uniformity of application of speed limits on various roads; and we agree that it is most important that there should be this uniformity of application. It is not a question of a uniformity of powers for its own sake, but it is vital in road traffic to-day that speed limits should be properly applied and respected. As the noble Lord knows, a review is going on at the present time over the whole of the country to try to make certain that this is so. I have to admit that, even with the reserve power, it is not yet so, but we hope it will be, because it is most important in regard to the application of the new penalties, and that they should be fairly and properly enforced. So I am able to give him the assurance that this is a reserve power in the interests of seeing that the speed limits are applied with the same criterion all over the country.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I am grateful to the noble Lord. In the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 10 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ LORD CHAMPION
We have in this Bill mention of trunk roads, metropolitan roads and a variety of other reads; and to-night we have heard about orbital and circular roads. I should like to know the meaning of the term "special 1502 road", which appears in subsection (2)(c). I do not know that it is used anywhere else in the Bill and, frankly, I do not know what a special road is. I think the Committee ought to know and I should be grateful to the Minister if he would be kind enough to explain this to us.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I am pleased to be able to do this. I thought I had made it clear that orbital and circular roads were names and not classifications. "Special road" is an accepted term arising from elsewhere and it means a road on which a particular type of traffic is restricted. I suppose, briefly, it means a motorway. Special roads are restricted to various forms of traffic. As the noble Lord may know, some forms of traffic are barred on motorways.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
I was glad that my noble friend raised this point; I was going to raise it myself. The Ministry of Transport are getting a lot of descriptive names which people do not understand. They will need to publish a glossary. In earlier days the classifications were "I", "II" and "unclassified", and people knew what these terms meant. Now there are circular roads, orbital roads, special roads, and in London there are to be metropolitan roads, borough roads and special roads. It is all getting rather complicated. Is the purpose of the Ministry to invent these terms so that nobody will understand what they are getting at? Do they want to mystify everybody? It seems like it. If we do not know or do not understand—and we are used to politics and public administration—what about the poor ordinary citizen outside? He must be positively mystified.
I wish that the Parliamentary Secretary would pass a friendly hint to the Minister, if he dare, and ask whether he can get away from these numerous descriptions of roads so that the citizen, who after alt has to pay for them, can understand more easily what it is all about. I confess that I did not understand what some of these numerous things meant. And why "orbital"?—it sounds like a space flight. That is something orbital, I think. They must have borrowed it from some suggestion of going into the 1503 universe and thought they might apply it to the roads. Surely simplification of these terms is worth thinking about. I should have thought that a special road could be called a restricted road—that is what it means. But life is getting more complicated.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I take note of what the noble Lord says. I have explained twice that the North Orbital Road and the North Circular Road are names and not classifications of road. I think, perhaps, I ought to recommend to my right honourable friend, whom I am not in the least afraid of approaching, that possibly we ought to call one of them Morrison Avenue and the other one Chesham Street.
§ Clause 10 agreed to.
§ Clause 11 [Experimental traffic schemes.]
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (LORD HASTINGS)
This Amendment is consequential upon the removal from Clause 9(3) of the statutory obligation on the Greater London Council to appoint a director of traffic. That simply means rephrasing this subsection in the way set out in the Amendment. I beg to move.Page 13, line 14, leave out from ("whereby") to ("or") in line 17, and insert ("a specified officer, or some person authorised in that behalf by a specified officer, of the Council, if it appears to that officer").—(Lord Hastings.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 12 agreed to.
§ Clause 13 [Parking accommodation in Greater London.]
§ 8.46 p.m.
LORD CONESFORD moved, after subsection (4), to insert:
(5) The powers of the Minister of Transport and the Council under the said section 85 shall not be exercised in the area of a London Borough or the City without either the consent of the Council of such London Borough or the Common Council as the case may be, unless such exercise has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, we now come to Clause 13 which from subsection (2) onwards deals with parking meters on the highways. I think we all know that, properly used, parking-meter schemes can make a useful contribution to solving the problems of London; but we also know that, wrongly used, they can inflict very great injury on residents and, indeed, in other cases, on traders.
§ It is perhaps useful to remind ourselves how great a change in the ordinary law of the land such parking-meter schemes involve. The normal position, in the absence of any parking-meter scheme, is that the householder in a residential street has the right to the uninterrupted access to his house from the highway. Vehicles can come to his front door, including even, occasionally, his own vehicle. In most cases, if he is the freeholder, he owns the subsoil of the road; and if he is the lessee he is entitled to the rights of his lessor in the subsoil. On the other hand, the rights of the public on the highway are simply to pass and repass on the highway and not to use it as a parking place or as a garage. If, however, a parking-meter scheme comes into force the whole position is altered. The householder can be deprived of direct access to his home, and strangers to London can occupy the space in front of his house the whole time. The Statute allows that; and, of course, I do not question it, in a proper case. But clearly, I think, the whole Committee will agree that the strongest safeguards are required to see that such schemes are imposed in the right places and not imposed in the wrong places.
§ My contention—and I think, perhaps, noble Lords in all quarters may agree with me—is that the best judges of whether a parking-meter scheme should he imposed in London is the authority of the London borough of the area concerned. The London borough is directly conscious of the interests of its own inhabitants, whether residents or traders. If the London borough desires the parking-meter scheme, then in a proper case let it have it if the Greater London Council or the Minister approves. But I submit, with some confidence, to the Committee that such a scheme should not be imposed on the London borough, either by the Minister or by the Greater 1505 London Council, against the wishes of the borough.
§ This is a startling change in the ordinary legal position. It can be done under the Statute, but if it is wrongly done, in the wrong place, it can completely remove the amenities of a residential street; it can inflict great harm on traders; it can transform a place in London in which it is pleasant to live, and make it a mere convenience or a deposit ground for the cars of people who come into London daily. I made a considerable point, in my speech on Second Reading, of the extraordinary folly in the management of traffic and planning powers in London and so using those powers that a place in which it was pleasant to live became a place in which it was unpleasant to live; and I am glad to say that my noble friend Lord Hastings, in replying to the first day's debate on the opening of the second day's debate on Second Reading, assured us that Her Majesty's Government were in complete agreement, and they desired that the places in London in which it was pleasant to live should remain so. Indeed, they would be very foolish if that were not the case, because there is not a single problem before the Government which would not be made more difficult to solve unless such a principle were observed.
§ That is the object of my Amendment. It does not alter the position where the London borough itself desires the parking meter schemes but it does ensure that a parking meter scheme, which can do immense injury to the residents and others if it is imposed upon them against their will, shall not be imposed in any part of London against the wishes of the borough, unless the Minister obtains an Affirmative Resolution of each House of Parliament. That is the scheme, and the object is to preserve the use of parking meter schemes where they can make a good contribution but to prevent their use in cases where they can lower the value and the amenities of a London street, spoil a part of London as a place for the enjoyment of its inhabitants and generally injure the public interest. I beg to move.
Page 17, line 35, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Conesford.)
§ LORD SALTER
I should like to support the Amendment moved by my noble friend. I do not propose either to duplicate or emphasise his general argument, which seemed to me not only persuasive, but conclusive. However, I should like to add one or two general considerations. The first is this. The object of this Bill, after all, is to make local government more efficient and to qualify it to carry heavier responsibilities. We all hope that that object will be achieved. Many of us, I think, have felt for a long time that the tasks put upon the central Government, upon Whitehall, have been regrettably heavy, and that it would be a good thing if some of the responsibility could be transferred to local authorities. Indeed, the only justification for some of the powers given to the central Government has been—if there is a justification—that the local government system as it existed could not carry out those duties. Here is a case (if you take this in relation to Section 85) where actually more power is being given to the Ministry of Transport of the central Government as compared with the local government system. I think it is regrettable. I think the movement ought to be in the other direction.
The other consideration is this. Within the sphere of central Government itself, the responsibilities, interests and objectives of the Ministry of Transport are, of course, often in conflict with hose of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. I think many of us feel that when this conflict arises the balance has been tipped too much in favour of the Ministry of Transport. Traffic has tended to run roughshod through the interests of amenities and the planning of housing. Here again, I think, is a reason for doing anything we can to transfer some of the power and responsibility from the sphere of central Government to local government, and within the central Government to tip the balance a little more in favour of the Ministry responsible for the preservation of our amenities as compared with the authority responsible for accelerating traffic.
§ LORD ILFORD
I desire to add only one or two very brief observations in support of the Amendment which has been moved by my noble and learned friend. He based the case for his 1507 Amendment upon a statement of the law which is sometimes forgotten and, I think, sometimes overlooked. He pointed out that the frontager is in fact the freeholder of the subsoil of the road, and is regarded as having dedicated the surface of the road as a public highway. My understanding of the law of highways is that my noble and learned friend is quite right in his statement of what happened. But, of course, the situation has been obscured by innumerable statutory enactments which give some public authorities the right to take up the surface of the road and remake it and, indeed, place upon them an obligation to maintain the road. Other statutory bodies have the right to break up the surface of the road and to lay mains of all sorts, and so the ownership of the frontager has come to be obscured.
People do not appreciate that, after all, the frontager on the road is the owner of the road itself, and all that has happened has been that the surface of the road has been dedicated as a public highway. My noble and learned friend said, I think rightly, that the rights of frontagers ought not to be further invaded without at least the safeguard of the approval of the local authority in the neighbourhood where the property is situated. I think that must be a point of view which will appeal to all your Lordships. If, in fact, the rights of the frontager have been already considerably invaded by public enactment, this is a new invasion. It may be a very necessary and desirable invasion, but it is not an invasion which ought to be made lightly and without the consent of at least the public authority who are responsible for the particular road.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ LORD MOLSON
I find myself in almost complete agreement with the ideas underlying the speeches made by my noble and learned friends Lord Conesford and Lord Salter, but I am bound to say that I feel great doubt about the wisdom of this particular Amendment. In so far as noble Lords have urged that greater attention should be given to the preservation of the amenities of London, and that something more should be done to try to prevent the peace and tranquillity 1508 of dwellers in London from being steadily eroded by increasing motor traffic, I am entirely in agreement with them. But when they propose an Amendment which is going to impose restrictions upon parking-meter schemes, I ask myself what benefit the residents are going to derive from the carrying out of this Amendment.
it is not that a parking-meter scheme endangers the privacy of an area of London; it is not a question that if there are no parking meters provided, there are going to be no cars parking. Quite the contrary. The whole purpose of the parking-meter schemes was to try to prevent cars from being parked for the whole day on the Queen's highway, which is, in fact, an abuse of the use of the highway. The value of the parking-meter schemes—and I think public opinion on the whole has supported them, and certainly there has been a great decline in the opposition to them from even the motoring community itself—has been that motorists are able to park for a reasonable period of time at a certain charge, but not to occupy a particular part of the road from early in the morning when they arrive from the country until late at night when they depart.
Therefore, I am unable to support this Amendment, because I do not feel that it would have the effect which my noble friends have in mind. It would merely mean that the congestion which existed before parking-meter schemes would again be restored and there would be some people who would abuse the right of parking by staying there all day. Therefore, while I have in almost all respects dealing with traffic a great deal of sympathy with those who are trying to restore the amenities of London, I could not, as at present advised, support this Amendment because I cannot feel it would have the effect they have in mind.
§ LORD STONHAM
It seems to me, listening to the noble Lord, Lord Molson, that he missed the whole point, as I understand it, of this Amendment. This Amendment is not on whether or not there should be parking meters, but whether or not they may be imposed on a local authority. That is the whole question that has to be decided. I should have thought that this was a most reasonable and sensible Amendment if we really believe in local government, and one 1509 which the Committee and, I hope, the Government will support.
I do not know, in fact, who makes some of the decisions with regard to parking-meter schemes which so obviously have gone wrong, whether it is the local authority or Lord Chesham's Department; but certainly I should have thought that in most cases the local authority, if they feel particularly strongly about parking meters in a particular place, would be the ones in whose judgment I would place the greatest reliance. Perhaps the noble Lord could tell me who is responsible for the parking meters on Victoria Embankment which are almost universally deserted by possible users in the middle of the day; and also for the parking meters in the Borough of Shoreditch, which are almost completely deserted and cannot possibly earn their keep. I do not say that they were imposed on the local authorities, but certainly they were quite mistaken to put them there. It seems to me that this is a most reasonable Amendment which I hope the House will support.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
With all deference to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I think he has misunderstood the purpose of the Amendment. He said that the purpose of the Amendment was, as I understand it, to enable the local authority to be the final deciders as to meters or no meters. The purpose of the Amendment was to make London a pleasanter place 10 live in, and the real question is whether leaving the decision to the local authority would do that or not; and I, like my noble friend Lord Molson, am very uncertain. I am not opposed to this Amendment if my noble friend Lord Conesford thinks it would do good and the Government think it would do good. By all means let us try it. I myself live in a street which has not got parking meters, and I have to wage a war of attrition, and have done for years, to be able to leave my car anywhere near my house. Therefore I do not think the absence of parking meters is a cure for all our ills.
§ LORD CHESHAM
Perhaps this would be a convenient moment for me to come in on this matter, because there are one or two points that I think I should very definitely make. The first point is that this Amendment is concerned basically with the reserve—I emphasise "reserve"—power that the Minister has which it is intended to pass on 1510 to the Greater London Council. I listened with interest and a good deal of sympathy to what was put forward by my noble friends Lord Conesford and Lord Salter, and I certainly should think it wrong to argue a number of the points of principle which they raised.
In view of what has been said, I must be a little detailed in explaining exactly what the position is, because I must show that the fears which the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, in particular expressed are in fact exaggerated fears in regard to the operation of parking-meter schemes as they are brought in. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, very briefly that in no case yet has the Minister used his reserve powers. All parking-meter schemes that have been brought in have been brought in by the local authority. My right honourable friend, I admit, has made suggestions here and there, which have been adopted in some cases and not, in others. But what I am saying is that in no case has my right honourable friend imposed a parking-meter scheme on anybody. In every case it has been brought in by the local authority.
§ LORD SALTER
The noble Lord will agree that a suggestion made by somebody known to have the power to enforce is rather different from a suggestion made by somebody who has not that power.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I quite agree. It must be true. But a suggestion made depends very much on the spirit in which it is put forward. If you have a pistol and are known to have a pistol, you can still make a perfectly normal suggestion without pointing it. The suggestion falls into a different lie if you pull out the pistol and point it. I think that is also a distinction worth making.
I think that in its application to the Minister this Amendment is not all that far remote in principle from No. 103 which my noble friend Lord Conesford put down before. That, too, was concerned with the exercise of the Minister's reserve powers of traffic regulations, as this is in another context. I do not want to weary the Committee, and my noble friend in particular, by repeating the arguments I then made. My noble friend said that this solution for the earlier problem perhaps went a little far, and I am going to try to show that in my view it goes a little too far in this case as well.
§ LORD CONESFORD
It may be that my noble friend is going to deal with this, but I should like to know whether he says that my Amendment, if adopted, would not be effective in preventing these parking schemes from being set up without the leave of the London borough.
§ LORD CHESHAM
Perhaps my noble friend will not mind waiting until I have developed my argument. In its application to the Greater London Council this Amendment puts a further sanction, as the noble Lord explained to us, on their reserve powers the same as it does on the Minister's reserve powers. We must consider for a moment what is the normal operation of Clause 85 in Greater London. The normal operation of that is the making of parking-meter designation orders in the appropriate zones, or rather it will be the normal operation by the Greater London Council on the application of the London borough councils or the Common Council if it is a City one. That is exactly the same as the present position. My right honourable friend the Minister of Transport makes the order on the application of the borough councils.
May I ask a further question? Has the application been made, or has there been any case of its being asked for, by the Commissioner of Police?
If I may repeat my question to the noble Lord, has there been any known case of the Commissioner of Police asking for parking meters?
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ LORD CHESHAM
If the Commissioner of Police wishes to ask for parking meters he will approach the council concerned and endeavour to persuade them to apply for an order. That will be the procedure. The borough council or the Common Council applying for the order have to advertise the proposals, and the Greater London Council will be in the position of having to take into account any objections which are made to it.
It seems to me that, under this Amendment, if the Greater London Council wanted to make any alterations to a 1512 borough council's proposal, either as a result of the consideration of the objections or for any other reason, such as that they thought perhaps it was wrong in some respect, they would have to seek and obtain the consent of the borough council concerned, or if they could not get that they would have to obtain the approval of Parliament by an Affirmative Resolution of each House. That is surely taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, if anything ever was. I should have thought it would entirely weaken the Schedule 10 procedure which in this Bill is the one under which they would proceed, because the requirement that there is on the Greater London Council to take objections into consideration surely implies that the Greater London Council will strike a fair balance between the applicant authority's proposals, on the one hand, and objectors, on the other. If, in short, they are to refer the objections for the consent of the council that put forward the order the council are being put in the position of being judge and jury in their own cause, and the Greater London Council has really no decisive factor left to it. In other words, it should remain in exactly the same position as the Minister is now.
Under Section 85(5) as it is applied to Greater London by Clause 13, the G.L.C. will be able—this is what worries the noble Lord—to make a designation order without application to a borough, if they consider it necessary to do so. That is exactly the same reserve power as the Minister has to-day. They would operate that power only if, after consultation, they had failed to persuade a borough council to apply for an order in respect to the area in question; and it is almost impossible—at any rate, most unlikely—that they could ever operate that power with the consent of the borough council concerned, because if they had failed to persuade them to apply for one off their own bat, the borough surely would not then give consent to the use of the reserve power. That is my whole point, or rather the major part of the point of the noble Lord's Amendment.
Therefore, the noble Lord's Amendment really makes any reserve power to the G.L.C. completely negative, unless of course they come to Parliament for an Affirmative Resolution of each House. 1513 But may I ask your Lordships to consider this: before they did that, they themselves would have to go through the process of advertising the proposed scheme and of considering any objections to it. I do not see, though, how in the circumstances the G.L.C. can take an irresponsible attitude in this matter. As I have just said, they would have to advertise their proposals and consider objections, among which, no doubt, would be that of the borough council concerned, and they would themselves have to set up and administer any parking-meter scheme that was organised in that way until they could hand it over to the borough council with, if they ever got it, that council's consent.
If, by some quite remote chance, the G.L.C. acted less responsibly than one would expect, there are still available the Minister's reserve powers under Clause 13(2), which in effect gives Parliament some indirect control. One of the main reasons for the Minister's having those reserved powers is that he will be able to use them to intervene on behalf of a borough council, should he feel it is right to do so, in just the kind of circumstances as my noble friend envisages to be a great worry. I think that in fact if we were to accept this Amendment, the protection which the boroughs would have against some—I think the word used was "overbearing"—action by the Greater London Council is actually less than by leaving the Bill as it is. I hope that my noble friend will see the force of what I have said and, therefore, will not wish to pursue the Amendment.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I know the noble Lord has gone through a careful explanation; but, frankly, as he went on the weaker and weaker the case appeared, at least to those on this side of the Committee. Are the facts not just two? First of all, the Minister to-night has admitted that he has not so far had to use the powers he already has. He has used threats—at least he has given reasonable notice to local authorities of what is wanted, of what the Minister himself would like to see done, and some of the 1514 local authorities have conceded, under pressure.
But that is not the strongest case against the Government. The strongest case is found in the very words used by the Government. They wish to create these new strong borough councils; they wish to see local authorities strong. We know that the amenities within the borough can be seriously affected by traffic and parking. The meter system, whether it is right or wrong, is part of the parking system. It is absolutely right, if one accepts the Government case for making local authorities strong and responsible, that before an order is imposed on them they should have the right to accept or refuse it; and if there is any difficulty in the matter and the Minister wishes to impose that regulation, then they should come to Parliament.
I freely admit that this is a restriction on the Greater London Council. I would always stand up for the Greater London Council in this respect, but the borough authorities must not be overlooked. They have a responsibility to their own local community, so do not at this stage deny them the opportunity at least to object if an order is being made to which they are opposed.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
First of all, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that I think he has accurately understood the underlying idea behind my Amendment. I have so frequently supported my noble friend Lord Molson, and he has so frequently supported me, that I am sorry that he has so completely misunderstood me tonight. I think it must have been because I failed to make myself clear. I agree with him, as I said in moving this Amendment, that these schemes have a useful part to play; and this fact can be quite as obvious to the London borough as to anybody else. They are much better able to judge both whether in one case it would be a good thing, and whether, in another, it would be a bad thing. I do not object to their having to get the approval of either the Greater London Council or the Minister—that may be right. It may be right that where they want such an order, and where there is some slight amendment which is rightly desired by the Greater London Council, my Amendment 1515 in its present form may not be absolutely in the best form for providing the right remedy.
But the position I want to meet is the very different position where the local authority—that is to say the London borough—does not want such a scheme at all. I say that where the London borough does not want such a scheme at all in its area it should not be compelled to have it by anybody below Parliament. If Parliament wishes to make it have it, well and good; but nobody else—because they are the best judge—should have that power.
My noble friend Lord Salisbury spoke of his street, which I know very well: it is not far from mine. He and I both have the experience that we can have the roads in front of our houses almost perpetually blocked by other people's cars although there is no parking-meter scheme. But let me tell him, if it interests him at all, that he is not at the moment completely without a legal remedy. There is such a thing as a law of obstruction and a law of nuisance: but, if there were a parking-meter scheme, those remedies would not be open to him. Now I admit that my Amendment may be imperfect, and it may want modification; but in contrast to the present position I say that my Amendment is good. It makes it reasonably clear on the face of the Statute that it is the metropolitan borough and nobody else who shall, in the ordinary case, decide whether or not to apply for such an order. I propose to press that to a Division.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I should like to say one word in view of what my noble friend Lord Conesford has said. In his first speech he made great play of the importance to the inhabitants of London of having a pleasant life. That was a great argument in favour of the boroughs: that the borough authorities would be, as it were, a sort of "nanny" to the inhabitants of those boroughs; that they would see that they did not suffer any actual inconvenience where that could be avoided. It is not so, in fact. They do not do anything of the kind. The house of my noble friend Lord Conesford, my house and the houses of hundreds of thousands of people all over London are inconvenienced in spite of the fact that they ought to be looked after by the boroughs. Nothing that he has said now 1516 makes any difference to me on that particular point.
He says that I ought to know about the law of obstruction. I challenge him to say whether, if I brought an action against somebody for obstruction by leaving a car outside my house, I should be likely to win it. I do not think in the least I should. Therefore, if he is telling me that the purpose of this Amendment is to strengthen the boroughs as against the central authorities, I accept that; but if the argument is that it is going to be any improvement for us who live in London, I do not believe that to be true.
§ LORD CONESFORD
May I just answer my noble friend? I had a car left for three weeks outside my house. Actually, in the end, I got the police to prosecute by deciding to set down a Motion for debate in this House. The prosecution was successful, and I have been less troubled since. I shall advise my noble friend privately.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But will the noble Lord advise the many other thousands of people in London to adopt that course? They cannot.
§ LORD CONESFORD
Indeed they can. On another occasion I shall be very happy to bring to the attention of Members of the House how very negligent the police are in allowing people to leave their cars for months on end about the streets of London, and doing absolutely nothing about it. I shall be happy to do that. But all I would say to my noble friend—because I agree with him—is that, even though a borough authority does not, perhaps, protect us as much as it would like and as much as it might, in many cases it is very much more eager to protect the amenities of its citizens than is the Minister of Transport.
§ LORD CHESHAM
If I may be allowed another word, there is just one point to which I should like to address myself. A good deal has been made of the desirability of the boroughs concerned—the noble Lord has just said it—running their own affairs in this matter. As I tried to explain—perhaps I did not do it very well—the power to do these things is somewhere about 95 per cent. in the hands of the borough as it is. We are talking of reserve powers, and I was a little surprised that noble Lords opposite, who all along have 1517 been arguing in favour of the greater concentration of power in the hands of a single authority, should have vociferously cried "Hear, hear" to the suggestion that this particular power should be decentralised.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
Does not the noble Lord realise that this is proof of our objective impartiality between the Greater London Council and the boroughs? This is to our credit.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I must still be allowed my own opinion on the matter. That is how it struck me. Frankly, it still does. It seems to me, if I apprehend things correctly, that what my noble friend Lord Conesford has principally in mind is that the potential villain of this piece is the Minister of Transport. That is what I understood him to say.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I am sorry that you are so anxious to find a villain. What I am anxious to try to point out to the Committee (and I think many members of the Committee have grasped my point, however badly expressed) is this: that this legalised power of taking away the rights of frontages and obstructing the streets is a very exceptional thing under the law and that it should therefore be sparingly used and should only be used where those best able to judge—namely, the London borough—says that it ought to be used. I am not looking for a villain; I am saying they are the best judge. What I do say is that I leave the reserve power in this way: that if some miracle, some utterly exceptional case, occurs in
§ which the Minister is convinced that, notwithstanding the view of the local authority, this very exceptional power ought to be given, then I think he should ask Parliament for it.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I see that point, but I am bound to say that if we are to have this Amendment we are creating a position whereby the reserve power can be used only subject to the consent of the borough council. If you are going to ask a borough council to consent to something, it would only be if they had already refused to do it, because it would be used in no other circumstances, and this Amendment, to my mind, makes nonsense in that respect. It means, in fact, that this reserve power can be used only by an Affirmative Resolution of Parliament, and I think that is going too far in the circumstances—that is all.
§ LORD CHAMPION
; The noble Lord has just twitted the Opposition with supporting this Amendment or appearing to do so. He said that throughout the whole of this Bill we have done certain things. His memory is very short. Does he not remember that just before the adjournment of the Committee we moved an Amendment which would cause borough councils to be brought into consultation in the matter of traffic orders under traffic regulations? I think it is unfair.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 114A) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 24; Not-Contents, 40.1517
|Airedale, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Glentanar, L.||Salter, L. [Teller.]|
|Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Grenfell, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Champion, L.||Henderson, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Colville of Cuirass, V.||Ilford, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Conesford, L. [Teller.]||Longford, E.||Summerskill, B.|
|Crook, L.||Lucan, E.||Terrington, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Mersey, V.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Denham, L.||Lothian, M.|
|Albemarle, E.||Dundee, E.||McCorquodale of Newton, L|
|Allerton, L.||Falmouth, V.||Margesson, V.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Ferrers, E.||Mills, V.|
|Blackford, L.||Fortescue, E.||Milverton, L.|
|Boston, L.||Fraser of North Cape, L.||Molson, L.|
|Chelmer, L.||Furness, V.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Newton, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Hanworth, V.||Poulett, E.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hastings, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Colgrain, L.||Hertford, M.||Sandys, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Ingleby, V.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Jessel, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Resolved in the negative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.|
LORD CHAMPION moved, after subsection (2), to insert:
( ) Notwithstanding anything contained in sections 64 to 101 and Part VI of the Highways Act 1959, before any London Borough or the Common Council carry out any works in pursuance of the powers granted by the said sections and Part, they shall first obtain the consent in writing of the Greater London Council.
§ The noble Lord said: I think I ought to warn your Lordships straight away that this is a deadly dull subject, certainly having nothing of the liveliness of the last debate, because it is on the highly technical matter of the relationship between the new borough councils and the new Greater London Council, affecting particularly the power of the borough councils to close roads either for works or for certain improvements. As I understand it, Clause 16(2) extends the Highways Acts of 1959 and 1961 to the Greater London Council area, and would enable the borough councils and the Common Council to carry out improvements to stop up and divert roads for which they will become highway authorities under this Bill. If the Greater London Council is to function efficiently as the authority for traffic management in its area, it is essential that the Council should be aware of such projects and that their consent to them should be given in writing; otherwise, such works and the stopping up of roads could not be co-ordinated with the requirements of traffic management generally, related as it must be to metropolitan road improvements. For example, a borough council might propose to stop up a street for local traffic purposes which the Greater London Council might require for a one-way traffic scheme, or a number of local improvements might have a direct bearing on traffic on a metropolitan road and affect the question of its improvement. At present, I am advised that no metropolitan borough council may carry out a street improvement scheme without the consent of the London County Council.
§ This Amendment was put down in another place but, owing to the operation of the guillotine, it was never discussed, so up to now we have been unable to discover the Government's attitude to this matter. It might be argued that the provisions of the Highways Act, 1959, are 1520 sufficient for the purposes that we have in mind here. Section 137 of that Act provides for the preparation of half-yearly programmes of repair and improvement to roads, but under that section these programmes would be insufficient to enable the Greater London Council to safeguard the position of the traffic management authority, whose principal interest would be to ensure that the permanent effects—and I emphasise the word "permanent" here—of the boroughs' improvements should not militate against the proper flow of traffic on metropolitan and other roads.
§ Section 137 of the 1959 Act affects only the programming of road improvements, and could be wasteful of the boroughs' efforts in preparing schemes which the Greater London Council may veto or delay, perhaps indefinitely, if such a scheme were considered undesirable on traffic or traffic management grounds. The Amendment we are here proposing would obviate that, and I hope the Minister will find his way to accepting it, because it has been suggested to us by people who are very knowledgeable in this matter of the flow of traffic and the relationship which ought to exist between councils and the authority which has to do the work. I beg to move.
Page 21, line 47, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Champion.)
§ LORD CHESHAM
I quite see what is in the noble Lord's mind in moving his Amendment, and I am pleased to be able to reveal to him our thinking on this matter. I am sure he will not mind if I draw this differentiation once again. I think he made it clear (but I do not want there to be any misapprehension about it) that of course any of the activities on the part of the borough to which he refers as possibly being detrimental would be on the highways side only. That would be in connection with the highways side of their work, and not the traffic side, because the Greater London Council are the traffic authority for the whole lot.
As the noble Lord told us, the Amendment follows the lines of the requirement which there is at present on the metropolitan boroughs to get the consent of the London County Council to any works of that kind which they carry out on the roads. This would 1521 extend what is a special London arrangement to the whole of Greater London. As I see it, the Amendment runs counter to the recommendation—which is really quite a clear-cut one—of the Royal Commission, that there should be one overall authority responsible for through routes, and that of other roads should be the responsibility of the London boroughs. The noble Lord is as familiar with that recommendation as I am by now. I think he would agree that there will be many road schemes in the boroughs which will be of no conceivable interest to the G.L.C., and I think that the boroughs would feel a little badly about an obligation to obtain the G.L.C.'s consent to them.
At the same time, I am not trying to say that the noble Lord has not got force in his argument, because he has, and they will certainly have an interest, the amount of which I cannot specify, in the work on the borough roads. I think that interest can, in fact, be met because if certain road works have to be carried out as part of a traffic scheme, the G.L.C. then have the power to require a borough to carry out works which do not involve the actual widening of the highways; but they do involve such matters as altering the kerb line, the erection of bollards and that kind of thing, and they have default powers to do the work themselves if necessary.
I do not quite agree with the noble Lord about the requirement that there is to submit the six months' programme of proposed road works to the G.L.C. I think that will have a higher value than he put on it and they will be able to know in advance. I am sure that I am right in thinking that they are in fact going to have a more or less continuous consultation, and there should be no problems in that respect. When you look at the kind of work that can be carried out by the boroughs under the sections of the Highways Act that the Amendment specifies, I should not have thought that the likelihood of an overall or large-scale harmful effect on the trunk interest seems high enough to justify an overall and complete statutory supervision of the kind that the noble Lord seeks. I should have thought they would have been on terms of sensible co-operation, and the boroughs would normally find out the value of the 1522 schemes that they had in mind before the schemes were started.
There is one thing, though, that occurs to me, and I think the noble Lord will probably agree that this is perhaps one of the most important matters. It is the possibility that there might be difficulties created by a borough building a new junction on to a metropolitan road or increasing the flow of traffic at a particular point. I think there could be harm there. I think that it is possible that that situation could be dealt with on the lines of the obligation which is placed on local highway authorities in Section 26 of the Highways Act to obtain the consent of the Minister before constructing a new highway which will connect to a new trunk road
In view of what the noble Lord has said, I think I ought to consider, which I will do, whether that requirement could, and should, be extended to the London boroughs and the G.L.C. in respect of the metropolitan roads. In my view, if I may say so, that the Amendment as a whole goes too far, but I think, in the major respect, that I ought to consider, which I will do, whether there ought to be action in that particular way.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I said, "on the lines". At the moment the consent of the Minister has to be obtained when you make a new entrance into a trunk road. In this case, the G.L.C. would be the authority for the metropolitan road and it would, therefore, be the consent of the G.L.C.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I hope the Minister will consider that. Here, the Minister has acceded that there may be a case of an increased flow because of an opening but, as noble Lords know, you can also increase the flow of traffic by the stopping of a local road some half-mile or three-quarters-of-a-mile away. As the noble Lord knows, like water, it will find its way. If you put a stop on it traffic will find another way, and therefore if a borough did put a stop on a particular road for one reason or another—perhaps quite a valid reason—it might well create a different trend of traffic and extra congestion; and 1523 obviously in such a case the Greater London Council should be aware of it in order that they could make the necessary arrangements. I think the noble Lord should consider a little further than merely putting a junction on a road. The Greater London Council should be aware of any change of arrangements made within a borough that might materially affect the movement of traffic on a metropolitan road.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I thought I had dealt with that point. Perhaps I did not make it clear. A road can be stopped up, and traffic diverted, only on traffic grounds: only the G.L.C., as the traffic authority, can do it. I said that the borough council would have to give notice ahead of their proposed road works, so that if they proposed to close a road the G.L.C. would know in advance and the matter could be discussed between them.
§ LORD CHAMPION
The noble Lord has clearly met some of our points. I would agree with him that in some of these roads the G.L.C. would have no conceivable interest whatever. But there must be some of those borough roads where anything the borough council proposes to do, either by way of immediate works or by eventual improvement, might affect the traffic engineering problem of the Greater London Council. All we were suggesting was that the borough council should obtain from the G.L.C. consent in writing, and I should not have thought this would mean any great delay or anything of that sort, but would be a useful measure in order to ensure that money is not spent wastefully. But it is my intention to read very carefully what the noble Lord has said to us and, if necessary, return to this on Report stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 16 agreed to.
§ Clause 17:
§ Metropolitan roads
17.—(1) The following shall be metropolitan roads, that is to say—
(a) subject to subsection (2) of this section, the highways specified in Schedule 7 to this Act;
§ 9.59 p.m.
- "(i) any highway in Greater London classified by the Minister of Transport under the Ministry of Transport Act 1919 in Class I or any class declared by him to be not inferior to that class for the purposes of the Highways Act 1959;
- (ii) route number B.304 from the junction with A.3212 at Chelsea Embankment to the junction with A.3220 at Battersea Bridge Road;
but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision, none of the following bridges, that is to say, Blackfriars Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Tower Bridge, and no highway carried by any of those bridges, shall be, or become, such a road.
§ The noble Lord said: I nearly lost my notes. That would have been a disaster, because, like the last one, this Amendment is pretty technical, and therefore I prefer to stick fairly closely to my note.
§ This Amendment seeks to define metropolitan roads as all the existing Class I roads and including, as I shall explain later, the Albert Bridge, but excepting the bridges mentioned in the Amendment. If I may deal first of all with the inclusion of the Albert Bridge under sub-paragraph (ii), I have to say that this bridge is on route B.304, and it presents structural problems of considerable difficulty which would justify the Greater London Council having it under its supervision. I cannot pretend to have any particular knowledge of that bridge, or of the difficulties which the experts foresee and envisage, so I must leave that aspect of it to some of my noble friends who do know this bridge and would have some immediate and perhaps local knowledge of it.
A similar Amendment was moved in another place. On that occasion Mr. Hay, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, explained the government selection of 60 per cent. of the Class I roads and 4 per cent. of the Class II roads to be metropolitan roads under the Greater London Council. He said, in column 167 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee:
I believe that it is better that the metropolitan roads should be selected on the basis of being the roads which axe mainly used by through traffic. That is the criterion that we have adopted in constructing the Seventh Schedule. We have taken as metropolitan roads the roads which are mainly used by
through-traffic and have left to the boroughs all the other roads which are principally used by domestic local traffic.
So he set up two definitions: the first is through-roads as metropolitan roads, and domestic local traffic as borough roads. It seems to us that one can talk of "through" traffic only after defining the area through which the traffic passes. Clearly the Government are not considering "through" traffic in Greater London, because only 3 per cent. of the traffic entering the area passes right through from one side to the other; but if the Government mean traffic through new boroughs, then there is much more "through" traffic than the selection of the metropolitan roads would suggest.
§ The following have been given to me as examples of "through" traffic for which no metropolitan road is provided. There is much traffic from Sydenham, Penge and Beckenham into central London through Camberwell, but the roads used by this traffic are not proposed to be metropolitan roads. To use a metropolitan road this traffic would have to go round through either Tulse Hill or Lewisham, which is absurd. The second example is that there are through routes from Wandsworth into the South Bank area. Two of them are to be metropolitan roads but the shortest, Battersea Park Road, is not. One of the main roads from the North, via Finchley Road, suddenly ceases to be a metropolitan road at Marylebone Road; but, quite clearly, through-traffic continues down Baker Street and back through Gloucester Place.
§ On the analogy of Class I roads in the country as a whole the classification by the Ministry of Transport of roads as Class I roads in London is intended to mark those roads which carry traffic from one borough to another, often through an intermediate borough, while the lesser roads in London carry the "domestic local traffic" referred to by Mr. Hay in Standing Committee. Even the selection of the existing Class I network is bound to be arbitrary unless through-traffic is defined in relation to a specific area, and unless a minimum percentage of through-traffic is laid down as a qualifying standard and the figures of a complete traffic survey are available.1526
§ Last night, and again to-day, the Parliamentary Secretary told us much about the traffic survey now taking place, and pending the completion of that vast survey it is surely better to use the present Class I roads, which are re-classified from time to time, as a basis for the new metropolitan roads rather than those set out in Schedule 7 to the Bill. He said to-day that the survey might change the pattern of trunk roads. Surely the same thing is bound to apply to these metropolitan and other roads in the Greater London area. We had intended to deal with Schedule 7 later, but I imagine that the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, when he comes to reply, will have to make some reference to this, and this might cause us not to move the Amendment to delete Schedule 7. I beg to move.
Page 22, line 22, leave out from (" section ") to the end of line 23 and insert the said new words.—(Lord Champion.)
§ LORD CHESHAM
I do not know whether I am right or not, but I read this Amendment in conjunction with Nos. 117 and 123, to which the noble Lord has referred, because I could not see how they could be successfully considered in isolation; and true enough, I shall in a moment talk about Schedule 7 and the reasons for it. If this Amendment were to be accepted, we should, as the noble Lord explained, get as metropolitan roads all Class I roads in Greater London, whenever they were classified as such before or after 1965. I am quite prepared to understand that a small error might have crept in, but by the drafting we could also get most of the rest of the roads in London, including Class III roads. I feel that that was probably not intended. I will make nothing of that point. If it was unintentional it could be cleared up.
The second Amendment, which I think must be considered at any rate with this one, deletes from the clause the provisions for altering the selection of metropolitan roads, on application by any London authority to the Minister, who then of course has to consider the representations of the other authorities affected before he comes to a decision. Since there would then be no way of altering the selection once made—I imagine that what noble Lords opposite wish is that it be an almost once-for-all selection over 1527 a wide scale—the only way that a change could be made would be by way of a change of the classification of the road. That is the only way it could be handed over to a borough. If it were to be declassified, I do not imagine that the borough would welcome that much, because it would automatically mean that the grant available for that road was reduced from 75 per cent. to 60 per cent. Therefore, I should have thought the chances of a borough being pleased to accept any road on this basis would have been rather small.
Perhaps I may make the point that I do not think that noble Lords opposite ought to pin too much faith on classification in their argument, because roads have been classified since 1920, which is now 43 years, and the currency of classification has in some ways become a little debased. There have been a lot of changes in function and loadings of roads, and their classification is not always kept up to date. If we start them again now—in a way that is what we are trying to do—the picture would be rather different. But we made a first shot and, as I shall show in a moment, there are means and opportunity for modifying it.
What the noble Lord has put forward is all very well, but my right honourable friend believes that he has interpreted the views of the Royal Commission more correctly than have noble Lords opposite in framing their proposals; that the more limited selection that we are proposing in the Bill will mean that the G.L.C. is the effective highway authority for all the important through roads, leaving the responsibility in the boroughs for all other roads which, even when they are carrying heavy traffic, are more local in character.
I think it is important not to confuse mere weight of traffic—I am rather echoing my honourable friend's words in another place—on a road with the value of the through traffic. There is in our proposals a simple and effective procedure for altering the selection of metropolitan roads which I have already mentioned, and which the new authorities can use when they come into office, and as traffic conditions change. Indeed, it would be highly suitable for dealing with the kind of case which the noble Lord, Lord Champion, mentioned to us. It would be perfectly possible if there was something wrong there for it to be put 1528 right under the procedure in the Bill. The roads adopted by the Minister in his selection under the Bill follow the definition of the Royal Commission that they should be "routes used by through traffic". They are roads forming a continuous network comprising a continuation of the trunk road radials into the centre of London, the routes to the river crossings, the important ring and cross routes, and the main routes to the docks.
In Schedule 7 there are some 500 miles of class I roads dealt with, as compared with the total of just over 800 miles in London as a whole. Also there are some 30 miles of class II and class III roads. It may be surprising to find them in there, but they are roads which in fact have not been reclassified over the years although they are carrying an increasing volume of through traffic. Among them in fact is the Albert Bridge, which I think we are all agreed should be the responsibility of the Greater London Council.
The main difference, therefore, between our proposals and those of noble Lords opposite is how to treat these 300 miles of class I roads that we do not propose should be metropolitan. We do not want the Greater London Council to be responsible, for two reasons. One is that the Royal Commission were not in favour of using the existing classification of roads in London as a means of settling which roads should be the responsibility of the Greater London Council. They recommended that it should be the responsibility of the Minister, as recommendation 4, on page 119, said, to determine, after consultation from time to time, which roads or streets should be metropolitan ones. It is in the light of that recommendation that the Bill has been drafted as it has.
Although class I roads have been given that classification because they are important for through traffic, we have to recognise that there are different degrees of importance for through traffic among roads of that class. There are certainly some which, on balance, are more appropriate to be under the authority of the borough and not the Greater London Council. The powers that the Greater London Council has, amongst others, include powers of direction in regard to planning applications which affect metropolitan roads. That is bound to create a certain amount of extra work and delay 1529 and on that ground there is no reason for them to consider planning applications where their road interest is insufficient for them to do so.
The Minister's selection is not intended to be final, as the selection would be if the Amendment were to be accepted. There have already been a few changes in the composition of the Schedule as a result of the representations made. In fact, I shall later move an Amendment which is the latest of them. Other changes can quite easily be made later under the procedure in Clause 17(2) and (3). I think that our proposals are very much closer, if I may say so, to the recommendation of the Royal Commission. Therefore, I hope your Lordships will keep the Bill as it is and not accept this Amendment.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Could the noble Lord say on what sort of criteria the Government made their decision as to which roads should appear in Schedule 7 and which roads would remain within the borough? My understanding of the Royal Commission Report was that the through roads—that is, the roads which carry traffic from one borough to another, or from the outskirts to the centre—should themselves be metropolitan roads. My understanding as that there are many roads which come within the classification which I have mentioned; roads which obviously, subject to improvement, could well be developed to increase the free flow of traffic from one borough to another, from one side of London to the centre. And yet, so far as I know, we have no idea on what basis the Government have made up their mind.
The Government, with the London County Council, are spending £600,000 on a survey. This information is vitally necessary. In fact, I believe that it is one of the first surveys, if not the first, undertaken for many years. This obviously will produce information upon which the strategic planning of the Greater London Council can be carried out. I think it is quite wrong to lay down in this Bill this fixed definition of what roads are metropolitan and what are not. As I said earlier, yesterday and again to-day, in my judgment all the roads of the London area should, in the initial stage, be placed under the Greater London Council. That was rejected. My noble friend has therefore moved this 1530 Amendment, which I support. It does not go so far as I personally should like in these early stages; but at least it would say (and this is the point) that the Class I roads, which are, in the main, the better-class roads carrying the heavy through traffic, should in their total come under the Greater London Council.
Is it, perhaps, that the Government have given 40 per cent. of these roads to the boroughs as a sort of little offering to them for taking over all the second-class and third-class roads? I wonder whether that is not the case. It may be. The noble Lord shakes his head, but, so far as I know, he has not given any definite reason as to how this division was made. He has talked about through traffic and such like, but he has not said whether this division is based upon the amount of traffic that is following through at the present time or whether future development has been taken into account. I should have thought that that latter part was perhaps the most important for the future. In my view, those roads on which the development will take place should from the very beginning be under the Greater London Council. I will support my friend if he decides to take this Amendment to a Division.
§ LORD CROOK
I would support my noble friend. I had intended to say something about the Albert Bridge, but this is a very late hour and I do not want to keep the Committee if in fact I followed correctly what the Minister said. He used, I think, the words, "We are all in agreement about the Albert Bridge." Perhaps he can just say what it is we are all in agreement about. I must say that I remember when Lambeth Bridge was built, very like the Albert Bridge, and when, in the Great War, we had the "break-step" rule for the troops laid down. We also had the "break-step" rule for the Albert Bridge. We have very real structural difficulties there, and I know the L.C.C. have been concerned about them. I do not want to make a speech about the Albert Bridge, but route B.304, which is mentioned in the Amendment, is the Albert Bridge approach. When the Minister says. "We are all in agreement about the Albert Bridge", if he would tell us what we are in agreement about I might not need to make the speech I might otherwise have had to make.
§ LORD CHESHAM
If the noble Lord did not understand, let me say—we were in agreement that the Albert Bridge should be the responsibility of the Greater London Council.
§ LORD CHAMPION
It was mentioned in the Amendment because it used to be a Class II road. That is the reason for its inclusion here. I must say I cannot accept the noble Lord's explanation as being satisfactory. It is true the roads were classified as Class I a very long
§ LORD SHEPHERD had given notice of Amendment to leave out subsections (2) and (3). The noble Lord said: Before I move this Amendment, I wonder whether I may have some assistance from the Government. I do not move that the debate be now adjourned in any sense of mischief, but I am sure the Committee will appreciate that some of us have been four days in Committee and are getting to feel the weight of it. As an example, I found that the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, was speaking to an Amendment which was on the Order Paper and which, in fact, proved to be a little bit of nonsense and I had not intended to move it. But he spoke of it and rather used it as a case against us a few1532
§ time ago, but it would not have mattered if some little further delay in classification had taken place until such time as we have the results of the survey now going on so assiduously; and the report will not be very long delayed. However as the noble Lord regards the Amendment as unsatisfactory, I hope we shall divide.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 116) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 13; Not-Contents, 51.1531
|Champion, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Summerskill, B.|
|Crook, L.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.||Walston, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Shackleton, L.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L.|
|Listowel, E.||Shepherd, L.|
|Longford, E.||Stonham, L. [Teller.]|
|Ailwyn, L.||Denham, L.||Jessel, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Dundee, E.||Lothian, M.|
|Allerton, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Luke, L.|
|Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Exeter, M.||Margesson, V.|
|Bessborough, E.||Falmouth, V.||Merrivale, L.|
|Boston, L.||Ferrers, E.||Mersey, V.|
|Chelmer, L.||Fortescue, E.||Mills, V.|
|Chesham, L.||Fraser of North Cape, L.||Molson, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Furness, V.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Glentanar, L.||Newton, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Perth, E.|
|Colyton, L.||Grenfell, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Conesford, L.||Hastings, L.||Salter, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Hertford, M.||Sandford, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Ilford, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Ingleby, V.||Wolverton, L.|
|Resolved in the negative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.|
§ moments ago, and I am afraid I was not alive to it in order to deal with it. That is an illustration of what some of my noble friends are now going through. We have not got all that amount to do in the way of Amendments, but some of them are quite serious Amendments. With the time available next week and the added time the Government have provided by the arrangements that have been made, I should not have thought it unreasonable to suggest that the Government should agree that this Committee stage should be now adjourned. We will certainly do what we can to see that this particular part is dealt with as expeditiously as possible on Monday.1533
EARL ST ALDWYN
As your Lordships know, I had hoped that we should finish this Schedule to-day. If I may say so, there has been a general feeling throughout the Committee to get on with the Bill, but it has been delayed by one thing or another. I wonder whether noble Lords would consider carrying on, say, for another 20 minutes. I appreciate that noble Lords have trains to catch, and that many of these cease to run at 11 o'clock. I do not know whether noble Lords opposite would be prepared to carry on for another 20 minutes and take a little more out of this List before Monday. I appreciate that we have a little extra time on Monday, but I would ask noble Lords to agree to this.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth, to my great surprise, has suggested that we should take the advice of the Government Chief Whip. Wonders never cease! I suppose I have not much option but to take that advice. But ten minutes to eleven is ten minutes to eleven.
§ Clause 17 agreed to.
§ Clause 18 [Delegation or transfer of functions with respect to metropolitan roads]:
§ 10.33 p.m.
LORD ILFORD moved to leave out subsection (1) and insert—
("(1) Where the council of any London borough or the Common Council by notice given to the Greater London Council before 1st October, 1964, or before 1st July in any subsequent year so require the Greater London Council shall as from 1st April in the calendar year next following that in which the notice is given delegate to the council which has given such notice the functions of the Greater London Council with respect to the maintenance and improvement of, and other dealing with—
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment is concerned solely with questions of maintenance and upkeep of the metropolitan roads. It has nothing to do with road planning or road policy. Your Lordships will recall the arrangements which the Bill makes about the maintenance of metropolitan roads. The trunk roads remain with the Minister, and nothing turns upon them. The metropolitan roads are the responsibility of the Greater London Council, and all other roads become the responsibility of the London boroughs. The London boroughs will thus be responsible for a length of roads which will very much exceed the length of metropolitan roads within their areas. That means That the boroughs Will inevitably have to establish and maintain a large and strong works department, equipped with the heavy plant needed for modern road construction and able to employ the specialist personnel required.
§ No one disputes that the Greater London Council should be responsible for planning and for the design of the metropolitan roads. This Amendment is concerned solely, as I have said, with the question of finding the most convenient and economical method of maintaining these roads. Clause 18 of the Bill, which deals with this matter, provides that the Greater London Council may agree to delegate or may require the London boroughs to maintain the metropolitan roads within their areas. But the boroughs have no power to require the Greater London Council to delegate to them the metropolitan roads, although they will possess, as I say, a works department within the borough which will be well able to undertake the maintenance, both of the borough roads and of the metropolitan roads.
§ This Amendment proposes that the London boroughs should be able to claim from the Greater London Council delegation of their responsibility to maintain the metropolitan roads. There is nothing novel in that proposal. The Amendment will place the London boroughs in substantially the same relationship to the Greater London Council which the county districts bear to the county councils in the provinces. Most of the county districts outside London can claim from the county council the maintenance improvement and upkeep of the county roads within their 1535 boundaries without any agreement on the part of the county council. This arrangement has been accepted for many years and, so far as I am aware, works in a satisfactory manner.
§ The practical importance of this proposal is perhaps more substantial than might appear at first sight. The boroughs must in any case maintain a strong works department, well able, as I say, to maintain the metropolitan roads as well as the roads within their own boroughs. We ought not to encourage the duplication of these works departments. I do not suggest that the Greater London Council, when it comes into being, will necessarily adopt an extravagant or uneconomic mode of administration. I have no doubt that in most cases it will delegate the maintenance of the metropolitan roads to the London boroughs. But these things happen somehow in local government, and we ought to guard against them now in this Bill.
§ The arrangement which I propose works well in the country outside London, and there seems to be no reason why it should not work equally well in London. I do not anticipate that the noble Lord is likely to accept this Amendment, but I hope he will be able at least to give me some encouragement that at a later stage something of this kind will be considered. This is something which the present boroughs are anxious that their successors should have, and I hope that the noble Lord will be able to give some prospect that they may be able to get something like it. I beg to move.
Page 23, line 32, leave out subsection (1) and insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Ilford.)
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
I hope the Parliamentary Secretary's brief is marked, "This Amendment should be resisted." I do not think that this is a wise Amendment. The Bill as it is leaves the door open for free negotiation between the two sides of local authorities, and I think it is best left there. They can negotiate on the basis of equality and try to come to a free decision. I forget whether the Minister in the background can arbitrate between them, but I should be surprised if he cannot. I should expect it in the circumstances.
1536 But this Amendment, on the other hand, puts it the other way way round: that if the borough claims delegation, it must have it. I do not think that is fair as between the Greater London authority and the London boroughs. But, as I read, the Amendment, if they claim, they get it, and the only way in which the Minister comes in is that they get it… upon such terms as may from time to time be agreed between them or, in default of agreement, as may be determined by the Minister of Transport.So the Minister comes into it only as upon the terms on which they shall have the delegation.
I think it is not a fair Amendment. I think the Bill as it is is more fair because the two authorities can argue and begin on a basis of equality. The other thing I do not like too much, and which a lot of local authorities will not like, is this term "delegation". It means that if they delegate the Greater London Council is going to be "top dog" about finance all the time. There has been a lot of delegation in Middlesex about education, and it has led to a great deal of conflict between the county council and the county districts. I think if the borough is able to do the job, the thing is to transfer to them clear, and they then carry the financial responsibility, subject to such grants as are forthcoming to them from the Minister of Transport. For these reasons, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will find it right and expedient that he should resist this Amendment, which I think it would be unwise for the House to adopt.
§ LORD CHESHAM
Swaying slightly on my feet with amazement, I am, of course, in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth. I know that the boroughs have large maintenance organisations existing and they want to be sure that they are not wasted and, in particular, duplicated by the possibility of the G.L.C. setting up a large works organisation of their own. The Government agree that in practice the G.L.C. ought to delegate this maintenance work and, in fact, they will be encouraged to do so. The Minister will normally delegate maintenance work on trunk roads to the boroughs and not to the G.L.C., but it is one thing to say that it is desirable in practice but another matter to impose the requirements on the G.L.C. to delegate that maintenance. In 1537 practice, I do not believe they are going to set up this large maintenance organisation of their own, because their 550 miles of metropolitan road is scattered widely over the whole area and it would not seem at all anything like an economic proposition.
I do not think it is right to compare the position in certain counties like Middlesex, Essex and Kent, who maintain, though not perhaps all, the county roads in their respective areas, because they have a greater mileage themselves over a relatively smaller area than the G.L.C. And, apart from Middlesex, in any case they have the onus of looking after all the classified roads in their rural areas as well, so they can justify their larger organisation.
I think your Lordships ought to know that it is my right honourable friend's general intention that the county highway depots and equipment in Greater London should be transferred in due course, by order made under Clause 87 of this Bill, to the boroughs, and not to the G.L.C. To impose this requirement to delegate maintenance on the G.L.C. is, I think, going too far, when we consider that a body of this kind, when it has this responsibility as a highway authority, should be compelled to delegate. In particular, I think it must be wrong in principle for the G.L.C. to be left with the legal responsibility as highway authority while being compelled to delegate, and thus be forced to rely on the boroughs for maintenance and improvement. It does not happen anywhere else under the Highways Act, 1959. The Minister as highway authority for trunk roads retains his discretion throughout about delegation, and so do county councils for classified roads. I do not see why the G.L.C. should be different. The noble Lord, Lord Ilford, mentioned claiming authorities in the country as being a good example to how it works. There is a vital difference, and that is that the claiming authority when the claim is successful becomes also the highway authority, which is a definite contrast to what would be the position of the G.L.C. compelled to delegate only the maintenance.
There is one other point. Apart from the maintenance off ordinary highways, there are questions of special structures in the metropolitan network, such as 1538 Thames tunnels and bridges. It would be sensible for the G.L.C. to retain the maintenance of those itself, as the L.C.C. now does. They have a very expert team of inspectors who look after this work. They have no large works department for this because it is done by contract. But they have this expertise which it would be wrong to be compelled to delegate. In view of what I have said about the undesirability, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, will feel a little happier about the position, and not wish to press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD HASTINGS
This Amendment is consequential on the removal of the Surveyor from the Greater London Council's statutory list of chief officers. I would only explain that the Amendment was moved in another place and they did not pass the consequential one. I beg to move.
Page 24, dine 21, leave out ("their surveyor") and insert ("some officer of the Council").(Lord Hastings.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.
§ Schedule 5 agreed to.
§ Schedule 6 [Amendment as from 1st April, 1965, in Highways Act 1959]:
§ LORD CHAMPION
Having regard to the lateness of the hour, I do not propose to make the two-hour speech I had prepared on this important Amendment. I will reduce it considerably and try to squeeze it into a very few words. Section 10(1) of the 1959 Highways Act deals with delegation by the Minister of Transport of certain authority with respect to trunk roads. One of the councils to which this delegation may take place is, of course, the County of London; that is, the L.C.C. The words "including the County of London" which appear in that section of that Act are to be repealed by Clause 17 of this Bill, and it follows, therefore, that unless the Amendment is accepted the Greater London Council will be the only highway authority in the country to whom the Minister would, be 1539 unable to delegate functions respecting trunk roads. This would be a Gilbertian situation, and I cannot imagine that the Government would wish this to take place as a result of the Bill now before us. I beg to move.
Page 142, line 22, after the words ("In section 10(1)") insert ("for the words '(including the County of London)' there shall be substituted the words 'with the Greater London Council and'").—(Lord Champion.)
§ LORD CHESHAM
When I have got something I can accept I get overanxious; and I can accept this, my Lords. The real point as we see it, the value of acceptance, is to use the expert facilities which the Greater London Council will inherit from the London County Council in regard to structures. The work of the inspectorate which we have just been talking about will be very valuable in connection with complicated fly-overs like the one to be built at Brent Cross, and I think we ought to have that expertise available. We should use this power of delegation only in special circumstances, and it is not intended to be regarded as fostering a desire of the Greater London Council to build up a vast maintenance organisation to do this work. It would be used only in special circumstances when their special expertise could be put to good use, and it is expertise which the boroughs could not be expected to have. If they had it we should probably use theirs.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I am bound to thank the noble Lord for accepting this 1540 Amendment. I read in the "Day by Day" under "The Stars" column that this was my day to make friends and influence people. I am glad to say that the stars have proved correct.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 144, column 27, leave out from ("road") to second ("the") in line 28.—(Lord Chesham.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.