§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Aberdare.)
§ Clause 1 [Liability of vehicle owner in respect of certain fixed penalty offences]:
THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS) moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 20, at end insert ("at any time within the period of 6 months beginning on the day on which the fixed penalty notice was given or affixed as mentioned in subsection (1)(a) above").
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Foot, at the Committee stage made a powerful and compelling speech about the desirability of placing a time limit on the period during which one could serve notice under Clause 1, and indeed also under Clause 2. This Amendment therefore goes very closely with Amendment No. 4. It appears to me, upon examination, that my defence of the Bill earlier was not all that it might have been and that the noble Lord had a great deal which could be said in his favour. We do not think there is likely to be any practical difficulty experienced by the police or by the local authority in getting the necessary information within six months. On the other hand, the imposition of a time limit would prevent an offence under the 56 new provisions of this Bill from being prosecuted or caused some time after the substantive event would have been entirely out of time. Therefore we think that the argument put by the noble Lord has a great deal in its favour and we have put down these two Amendments in the hope that he will be satisfied and that he may feel the Bill has been thereby improved. I beg to move the first Amendment.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, for getting us out of this difficulty. The Amendment allows a period approaching six months for the notice to be given. In all the circumstances I think that is acceptable, and the point I was trying to make has been met very well in this Amendment. I hope that it will be acceptable to the House as a whole.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I should not like to introduce a discordant note, but as this is the first Amendment may I ask whether we are taking this Bill rather too quickly? I went to the Printed Paper Office last Thursday afternoon to see whether any Government Amendments to the Bill had arrived. None had arrived. The postal services being what they are, there was not much likelihood that anything would arrive by post to-day. On arrival at the House to-day I saw for the first time Government Amendments in the Marshalled List. Is it really necessary at this time of the year to take Bills so quickly that this situation arises?
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, we are in some difficulty. Some of these Amendments went down very late. I think I am right in saying that two weeks elapsed between the end of the Committee stage and the beginning of the Report stage which is a fairly normal interval. 57 Postal delays have in some cases delayed the putting down of Amendments.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 2, line 3, leave out from ("shall") to first ("to") in line 7 and insert ("provide that, unless the fixed penalty is paid before the expiry of the appropriate period, the person on whom the notice is served is required, before the expiry of that period").
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I am sorry that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, is not in his place, because this Amendment, and with it Amendment No. 5, is an attempt, which we shall now never know whether it is satisfactory or not, to meet what the noble and learned Lord had in mind. He criticised the use of the word "require" in this subsection on the grounds that it left some doubt as to whether it would be an offence to fail to pay the fixed penalty, although the provisions of the Bill did not go on to make it so, and it is not an offence under the original law of Section 80 of the 1967 Act. So we have changed the wording and the Amendment makes it plain that the requirement we talk about in this subsection relates only to the furnishing of a statutory statement, and then only if the recipient of the notice chooses not to exercise the option of paying the fixed penalty, or seeing that somebody else pays it. This is a technical point but it is a good one and I am glad to move an Amendment to meet it. I beg to move.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, I am sure that if my noble and learned friend, Lord Stow Hill, were here he would be glad to welcome this Amendment. I thank the noble Viscount for having virtually adopted the words of my noble and learned friend.
§ VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 2, line 27, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—
("(b) he either furnishes a statutory statement of facts to that effect in compliance with the notice or satisfies the court that he has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with it.")
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, on the Committee stage I undertook to 58 consider an Amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Foot, put down relating to the situation where a person who does not comply with a notice to provide a statutory statement is prosecuted for the original offence rather than for failure to comply, and then we have the conclusive proof provision in Clause 1(5). The noble Lord was concerned that in such a case use could not be made of the provision in Clause 1(4) of the reasonable excuse for not complying with the notice. What we are doing here is to enable a person who is charged with a fixed penalty offence and who was not the owner of the vehicle at the relevant time but who has failed to furnish the statutory statement of facts to that effect to escape the conclusive presumption if he shows he had reasonable excuse for failing to furnish a statutory statement. I hope that this is what the noble Lord, Lord Foot, had in mind; at any rate we are trying hard to meet him on this point. I hope it will appeal to him and also to the House. Amendment No. 6 is the equivalent provision for Clause 2.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, again I can only thank the noble Viscount for having considered this point. The Amendment does not go so far as I should have liked it to go—I should have liked to get rid of the conclusive presumption altogether—but I agree that this is a substantial improvement over what we had before, in that it allows the person who fails to receive a notice to offer that as an excuse, whether he is prosecuted under subsection (4) or subsection (5). To that extent it meets the point I was trying to make. I am most grateful to the Government for having looked at this matter again.
§ Clause 2 [Liability of vehicle owner in respect of excess parking charges]:
Page 3, line 32, at end insert ("at any time within the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which the notice of the incurring of the excess charge was given or affixed as mentioned in subsection (1)(b) above").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
Page 3, line 40, leave out from ("shall") to first ("to") in line 1 on page 4 and insert ("provide that, unless the excess charge is paid before the expiry of the appropriate period, the person on whom the notice is served is required, before the expiry of that period").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ Amendment moved—
Page 4, line 19, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—
(" (b) he either furnishes a statutory statement of facts to that effect in compliance with the notice or satisfies the court that he has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with it.").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ Clause 5 [Provisions supplementary to sections 1 and 4 and Schedule 1]:
§ 4.37 p.m.
LORD AIREDALE moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 8, line 18, leave out from ("the") to end of line 20 and insert ("alleged offender and").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it was the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, who first drew attention to the cumbersome nature of the words on page 8, line 18, of the Bill which I here seek to leave out. It seems to me that those words simply boil down to the "alleged offender", and those are the words I seek to put into the Bill. I do not think this is a matter about which one can argue; I suppose I am either right or wrong about this. I apologise for an unsuccessful piece of attempted draftsmanship on my feet in Committee. I hope I have been more successful now that I have had time to consider the matter. I beg to move.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, this is one of those matters where, whether one drafts on one's feet or seated, one is in grave danger of getting it wrong. I am afraid that the very technical advice that I have about this matter suggests clearly—and I shall attempt briefly to give it to the House—that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, is still not 60 correct. The difficulty is that, looking at Clause 5(1), we are dealing with the definition of "driver", and it refers to a driver,in relation to an alleged offence specified in a notice under section 1 above".If one looks at Clause 1 above one finds one is really dealing with Clause 1(2), because we have a notice under that clause to be served on a person who appears to bethe owner of the vehicle at the time the offence specified in the fixed penalty notice is alleged to have been committed.So we are not talking about the fixed penalty notice; we are talking about a notice relating to a fixed penalty notice.
Therefore if one is at one stage removed from an offence and an offender, to define the "driver" in Clause 5(1) by reference to the actual offence, which is what the noble Lord is doing, is wrong, because one is not talking about a notice relating to that offence but a notice at one stage removed. I am sorry; this is very technical and the drafting of this definition has not been easy, not least because there is not a definition in relation to Section 80 of the 1967 Act. But my best advice—and this point has been most carefully looked at again since the noble Lord raised it—is that the definition in the clause is the right one, even if it looks clumsy. I am prepared to consider this matter again, but the noble Lord's Amendment is not correct because he has missed the second stage effect that I have described. We shall look at the point again. I know it is a complicated piece of drafting. We do not wish it to be so, but, above all, we wish it to be accurate. At the moment, even if the wording does not look very well, I am satisfied that the definition has the effect desired and will catch the people we are trying to catch.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I am very much obliged for that encouraging reply. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 6 [Prohibition on stopping of vehicles at urban junctions]:
§ 4.40 p.m.
LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 11, line 27, after ("is") insert ("either").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 together, because they are on exactly the same point. The purpose of these Amendments is to permit vehicles to stop or remain at rest within the stopping-ban area where it is reasonable for the driver to do so in order to give way to other persons using the road. I, too, like the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, is not in his place because this really arose on an Amendment he moved on Committee stage which would permit vehicles to stop or remain at rest within the stopping-ban area in order to show reasonable consideration for other road users.
§ That Amendment was resisted on the grounds inter alia that provision is already made in the clause to allow stopping in the banned area to avoid an accident. But your Lordships' view was that some additional provision was necessary to cover situations where there was not an accident potential, but where courtesy on the road and good driver behaviour would require a driver to give way to others. Accordingly, the Government agreed to reconsider the matter, and we are now prepared to accept the principle behind the original Amendment. However, the wording of that Amendment is not quite acceptable, as it is thought to be imprecise in legal terms and would pose problems of interpretation. The Amendments now proposed incorporate the concept of the earlier one and will permit vehicles to stop at junctions when it is reasonable for them to do so to give way to other vehicles or to pedestrians in their path. The form of wording is more specific and should not pose undue enforcement problems. My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend, I beg to move.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, again I have to thank the Government for accepting virtually the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill. It was obviously a very sensible thing to do and sensible of the Government to take it up. I am grateful to the noble Lord.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend 62 Lord Aberdare, I beg to move Amendment No. 9.
Page 11, line 28, at end insert ("or reasonable for him to do so in order to give way to other persons using the road").—(Lord Mowbray and Stourton.)
§ On Question, Amendment a greed to.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON moved Amendment No. 10:
After Clause 6 insert the following new clause:
.—(1) Any person who, without lawful authority, drives, draws or parks any motor vehicle of any description, or any part thereof, on a footway shall be liable on sum nary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50.
(2) In subsection (1) above, "lawful authority" includes the power of a local authority by order to exempt persons from the provisions of subsection (1) above in respect of the driving, drawing or parking of any motor vehicle of any description, or any part thereof, on any footway, or any part thereof, within the area of that local authority.
(3) The term "footway" in this section means a way comprised in a highway, which also comprises of a carriageway, being a way over which the public has a right of way on foot only.
§ The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I am beholden to move again the Amendment I moved in the Committee stage, but in a rather different form: first, because my Amendment received such very wide support in the debate in your Lordships' House, and also, since then, I have received expressions of regret from a number of sources that the Amendment was not carried, and that it was defeated by so small a majority. Having heard from noble Lords who have considered the Amendments moved on the Committee stage and which have received such favourable treatment, I have every hope that Her Majesty's Government will accord me the same favourable treatment, because I feel sure that the changes I have made in my Amendment are such as to commend themselves to the noble Lords the Front Bench.
§ In my first Amendment, I merely pleaded that the existing law, which as I understand it is uncertain, should be made clear and that it should be made illegal for vehicles to park or to move on the footway. I believe my Amendment was largely defeated because there were certain noble Lords who felt that 63 there were exceptional circumstances which were not dealt with in it. I hope, therefore, that by redefining the term "lawful authority" as giving power to the local authority, where they consider it justified, to declare that certain persons and areas are exempt from the first subsection of my Amendment, this will meet the case of the exceptional circumstances such as were mentioned in their speeches by the noble Lords, Lord Foot, Lord Platt and the noble Baroness, Lady Northchurch.
I have read again with great care the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, in opposition to my Amendment in the Committee stage. I think he gave really very scant respect to the argument that I was putting forward when he said:
I think that the assertion that the pavements are for the people and the roads for the vehicles, although a nice-sounding phrase with popular appeal, is not really a just one". [OFFICIAL REPORT, 3.12.73, col. 358]
This is not a matter of nice-sounding phrases which are trying to appeal to popular sentiment. We are trying in this Amendment—that is, myself and those who agree with me—to establish the law that the footway is the prerogative of the pedestrian. That seems to me not to be a matter for lighthearted treatment, but one for very serious consideration. After all, I cannot see what use the footways are if they are not that part of the highway reserved for the pedestrian. It ought to be only the exceptional circumstances which permit motorcars and other vehicles to move on to the footway.
§ The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, made a great appeal to the importance of local authorities. He said that they already have the powers if they would only use them, and that it is up to us to see that the local authorities exercised those powers. My Lords, I do not think that this is the right way round, because if the local authority says: "This street is one where vehicles may not go on to the footway," then the presumption is that all other footways are ones on which vehicles can go. That seems to me to be a quite improper invasion of the rights of the pedestrian. I am pleading that this should be done the other way round: that the law should be established that the footway is the 64 prerogative of the pedestrian, and that where there are exceptional circumstances, then the local authority may order that that particular area is exempt.
§ The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, said that as with many other matters concerning transport, this is an issue which should be dealt with locally because local authorities understand the local problems. To that I say, "Hear, hear!" If therefore there are areas where, for convenience or safety, it is considered that the ban on going on to the footway should be lifted, then let the local authorities say so. That is the effect of my Amendment.
§ The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, said that I was moving a sweeping juggernaut of an Amendment to deal with a comparatively small problem. This, my Lords, in my submission is not a comparatively small problem: it is a growing problem, one which is contributing to danger and inconvenience. Nor is this a juggernaut of an Amendment because all that it is doing is trying to make quite clear what we understand the law to be at the present time and then to make such powers of exception so that in local circumstances those conditions may be met. It is for that reason that I move my Amendment.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, I hope that the Government will have reconsidered their attitude in this matter. On the last occasion, the noble Lord, Lord Somers (he is not here at the moment, but I always have a high regard for what he says), said that in cases where the road is very narrow, it is much safer for a car to be at least halfway on the pavement. My Lords, I think the noble Lord must have meant safer for the motorists. I do not think he could possibly have meant safer for pedestrians. After all, those on the footway include the old, children, and mothers with prams who may have to go out into the roadway with small children to get round a car which is using the footway; and particularly of course there is the danger to the blind. The House may remember that at the Committee stage the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, said that it was a matter of her own personal knowledge that in Westminster—and she expected that it applied in other places 65 as well—the blind who are used to counting the steps they take in a journey they know are frequently not only frightened but hurt by stumbling into a motor car on the footway.
"Parking" is a convenient expresssion, but it ought not to be overlooked that a car cannot park on a footway without its first being driven on the footway. I would respectfully submit that, although no doubt a pedestrian who has to cross the carriageway runs a certain risk of being injured by a motor car, he is entitled to protection when he is on the footway and ought not to be run down from behind by a motor car which is driven on the footway. The Amendment now proposed by the right reverend Prelate will, I hope the Government think, largely meet the difficulties expressed on the previous occasion, and, as I say, I hope very much they may be prepared to accept it.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ LORD AVEBURY
My Lords, I should have been inclined to support the Amendment proposed by the right reverend Prelate if he had confined it to the urban areas, where this matter is a very serious problem and interference with pedestrians, especially the particular class of pedestrians to which the noble and learned Lord has referred, could be very severe indeed. But if the definition of "footway" contained in subsection (3) in the Amendment extends to rural areas, this Amendment goes far more widely than one would like. For example, unless a local authority exercised the powers which the right reverend Prelate mentioned, this would stop people from picnicking on grass verges off the main road, which many people like to do during the course of the summer.
It would also conflict with one of the provisions of the Highways Act 1959. I am afraid I cannot quote the precise section, but there is contained in that Act means of dealing with unauthorised parking in encampments by gipsies within the boundaries of a highway. The maximum fine for doing that is £20; whereas the right reverend Prelate is proposing to levy a maximum fine of £50 for a parallel offence. As I see it, this could be a very dangerous clause for use by those local authorities who are already harassing gipsies, contrary to 66 advice which has been given by Her Majesty's Government that until a countrywide network of sites is provided they should not be needlessly pushed from one place to another. Local authorities could welcome the powers contained in this clause as a means of pushing and shoving gipsies out of their area and into a neighbouring county, where again they would be fined £50, instead of £20 as provided in the Highways Act 1959. I hope that the Government, none the less, see their way to accepting the spirit of the right reverend Prelate's Amendment and would undertake to bring forward a similar new clause in another place, but confined entirely to urban areas.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I hope that I do not have to declare a personal interest in talking about footways. But since on the last occasion I was, I think, the only person, other than Members on the Government Front Bench, to speak against the right reverend Prelate's Amendment, perhaps I may say a word or two, because I am now a convert to his point of view, and if he carries this Amendment to a Division on this occasion he and I will find ourselves in the same Lobby. I should like to explain to the House briefly why I have come to that conclusion. I wondered on a previous occasion, like my noble friend Lord Avebury, about what would be the position out in the countryside if somebody drives off the road on to a footway where the motor car is doing no harm; it is probably a safety measure to get the vehicle either partially or wholly off the highway. I wondered whether that action was something that would be prevented by this Amendment.
I balanced that against the considerations which apply in urban areas, and listened with great care to what the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, said about this matter on that occasion: that the local authorities of urban areas at the present time already have the powers they require. I think it is an unanswerable argument to that which we have heard from the right reverend Prelate to-day: that if the local authorities were to prohibit vehicles going on to the pavement in certain areas that would automatically seem to suggest there was authority to do it at places where it is not specifically prohibited. This is a matter of balance 67 It is a matter of trying to see where the least harm or the most good is going to be done. I am satisfied that, on balance, probably the best course is to establish the principle which the right reverend Prelate wants to establish—that is, that footpaths are for pedestrians, and highways are primarily for carriages and motor cars. Let us start from that position and then, if desired, move on from having established that principle to provide exceptions in appropriate cases. I am satisfied and convinced by the argument that the balance of advantage lies with the Amendment and, as I say, if it is pressed to a Division I shall go into the Lobby with the right reverend Prelate.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I would support the right reverend Prelate in this Amendment. I am particularly thinking of the vicious way in which in urban areas and cities lorries and cars, irrespective of the rebuilding of pavements, do damage. I assume that "footways" includes pavements that have been set and paid for by local citizens out of the rates. I have seen near my home a pavement laid down new at the beginning of the week, and in the middle of the week, or at the end of it, perhaps 25 per cent, of the brand new flags have cracked because a group of heavy transport lorries has been in the habit of drawing up there—sometimes much to the worry and trouble of young mothers wheeling prams on that part of the footway and having to squeeze past these huge lorries. Nobody seems to have taken much notice of it. In other words, the god motor-car and the god lorry dominate; and we have even allowed local by-laws to wink at this part of the law. There is harassment of the ordinary citizen by this parking in many so-called shoddy streets. The streets that often suffer are side streets in cities where, on both sides, irrespective of the rights of the ratepayers and of the rent payers, lorries and cars "shack up" the entire street; and if drivers do not think the street is wide enough they will overlap the pavement sometimes to the extent of 36 inches (I take the old-fashioned measure and not the metre) or more.
So far as the country is concerned, common sense is shown, perhaps particularly on market days. There the law comes into play, and on market days in 68 great country areas (and nearly every noble Lord will know the country fairs and market days in special market towns) the local authority and the police come to an easy modus vivendi on this issue. Therefore, I do not think we want to make heavy weather of it. But if the right reverend Prelate decides to go into the Lobby, certainly I shall be pleased to support him on this Amendment.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I also should like to support the right reverend Prelate on this straightforward Amendment. I was heartened to receive to-day, literally just before we came into the House, a letter making reference to this particular Amendment. One sometimes wonders who listens to "Today in Parliament" on the radio. The writer of this letter is somebody who does. He writes as a blind person who is very concerned about the ever-increasing problem caused by the parking of motor vehicles on footways. That point was raised during the debate originally. The writer of the letter then goes on to say:With the present cut of 50 per cent, in street lighting the problem will be made much more acute as those with failing vision will be in the same predicament as the blind have been all along, and as this problem has so many facets, many of which are not immediately obvious to those who enjoy perfect sight, I should very much welcome the opportunity of discussing the matter with you.Obviously that was not possible before this debate, but it emphasises one group in particular who need our strong consideration.
I am afraid that I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, about the difference between the urban areas and the countryside. I myself lived in the countryside for many years, and one of the terrible hazards of walking in the country is that you face the oncoming traffic and literally have to flatten yourself against the hedges almost every other moment. In other words, the problems of the countryside are becoming very much more the problems of the urban dweller. There is no justifiable reason why those who have a car cannot find somewhere to park it. If there is nowhere close by to park, I suggest that they might have to park it a little way off and walk. One remembers the little Cornish villages which, very sensibly, have insisted upon a car park at the top of the village, sometimes nearly a mile away; but it has 69 meant that one can walk through the streets in safety and with comfort. I will not repeat how I have suffered personally from heavy commercial vehicles. Only this morning I counted a few for the benefit of the noble Lord who will be replying, and there were rather more than he would like to see, taking up almost the whole of a very narrow pavement. I understand, too, from somebody concerned with cars that this is also detrimental to the car, so perhaps indirectly we should be doing the car driver a service if we made this a part of the Bill.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, this point is obviously one of great interest as we are discussing it again. Many speakers have expressed their interest, and the right reverend Prelate has put his case again with great eloquence. I sympathise completely with what he is trying to do but I would say one personal thing in my own defence. He attributed a statement to me, and the words were as said; but they were taken out of context. I should like to emphasise that.
What is the effect of this Amendment? It is almost the same as the one we discussed a fortnight ago, with which your Lordships did not agree. The right reverend Prelate has now given us a subsection which appears to do one of two things. One is that it appears to allow the local authorities to solve the problem by having signs saying, "You may park on the pavement here." We think this would lead to trouble, particularly because it would be difficult for local authorities to decide which pavements could be parked on. It would give too much encouragement for such pavements to become a permanent parking place. The other alternative which the right reverend Prelate mentioned to-day was to exempt certain categories of people such as we discussed last time—doctors, police, and occasionally, perhaps, residents, if that were thought suitable. Again, obviously this would cause trouble, because vehicle badges would be issued to various people, and what would happen if the person concerned was not in fact driving that car at the time?
I think I should give a full answer again in order to impress upon your Lordships 70 that this is in fact a much wider problem than the one we are discussing. There are many roads in many areas where it would be unreasonable to have a total ban on parking on the pavements because of the narrowness of the road compared with the width of the verges and pavements. There are many cases where it is sensible and reasonable, for the safe flow of traffic, to allow partial parking on the pavement. These decisions as to where such parking might be allowed aught to be local matters, depending upon local circumstances.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, mentioned blind people. The fact that there may be an institute for the blind or a home for the elderly, and the need to ensure adequate provision for mothers with prams near a maternity home, for invalid chairs and schoolchildren, are all, obviously, matters which should be considered by local authorities, and they should ban parking in such places. As I have said before, they have adequate powers to do this, either in individual problem streets or, if the local inhabitants see fit, over whole areas. And that would meet the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips. There is nothing to stop a local authority from banning such parking in whole areas if they consider that to be the right decision. All local authorities have to do if they want a full 24-hour ban is to paint double yellow lines on both sides of the road: a vehicle parking on the pavement can then be turned away by the police. It is as simple as that. If a person parks on a double yellow line the police will tow the vehicle away. Local authorities already have that power.
The Government are concerned to avoid cluttering up the already overburdened Statute Book with new provisions to deal with problems for which adequate powers have already been provided. Of course we recognise that in some cases the remedies that exist may not be popular with all concerned. During the Committee stage noble Lords referred to places such as Radnor Walk, and we had other places mentioned where the residents were concerned about this matter. But some of the residents of Radnor Walk, for example, might not be pleased if they found they could not park there at night.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I wonder whether I may interrupt the noble Lord for a moment, so that I may thoroughly understand his point. I got the impression from the original debate that if the car was half on and half off the pavement the driver was not committing an offence. When we spoke about Chelsea last time the noble Lord referred to the fact that after a certain time at night these particular lines did not count. I want to be quite clear about this: is there any time in the day when parking a heavy commercial vehicle half on and half off the pavement is not an offence?
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, perhaps I may answer the first part of that question and deal with the effect of the yellow lines. Where there is a yellow line, it forbids any parking on that area during daylight; and I think that I said last time that the highway is defined not as being just the road but extending from one hedge or wall to the other hedge or wall on the other side. During the yellow-line period cars may be parked after 6.30 p.m, and before 8 a.m. Where there are double yellow lines it is never permissible to park a car in the roadway or on the pavement or verge alongside it.
May I deal now with the other points raised by the noble Baroness, and also by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek? I think that our memories must be getting very bad because only this year we passed the Heavy Commercial Vehicles (Controls and Regulations) Act—some people refer to it as the "Hugh Dykes Bill". This Act makes it an absolute offence for heavy commercial vehicles of any sort to park on pavements, So lorries have no business to be on pavements, unless—and this is the point—a uniformed constable has given permission; and such permission is given, as your Lordships know, only if there is good cause and reason. We have had long debates on the subject of heavy commercial vehicles, and I beg your Lordships once and for all not to keep bringing in this complete red herring of heavy commercial vehicles, because the law is already 100 per cent, on your side in this matter.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I grant that point on the question of heavy commercial vehicles, but that in no way disposes of the argument that parking of cars on footways should not 72 go on. Despite the double yellow lines, there may be a legitimate case for a lorry or a car to stay there. I do not want to penalise them for doing so, but I do not want cars on the footway, never mind heavy vehicles.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, where we do not want cars on the pavements—and I accept there are many occasions—the local authority has to put double yellow lines. This forbids parking on the roads or on that part of the pavement adjacent to the roads, and this can be done now; many local authorities do it. If this morning there were cars and vehicles cluttering up the double yellow lines near where the noble Baroness lives, she has only to call the local "Bobby"; he then takes the registration numbers of the vehicles, and as they are committing an offence they can be booked and fined.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I am afraid the Minister is being interrupted rather a lot, but surely the double yellow line has this defect: that if one uses it in order to stop vehicles from parking on the pavement, one may also stop them parking on the road, at the side of the road. If one has a situation where it is all right for a vehicle to park by the side of the road but not on the pavement, one cannot do that by a double yellow line.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, the double yellow line is an area considered by local authorities, with or without police advice, to be absolutely dangerous at any time as a place for vehicles to stop. Therefore it is an offence to do so. Certainly one may be able to go to court and explain one's case, and it will be understood; but it is an offence to park on that road where there is a double yellow line. The police know this. Whether an offender has an excuse is another matter.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting, may I say that I do not think he has understood my noble friend's point. My noble friend's point was that if the local authority decides to use the double yellow line for the purpose of preventing people from parking on the pavement, then by doing so they automatically prohibit anyone from parking in that road on the highway, which they may not 73 want to do at all. That was the point my noble friend was making and which the noble Lord has not taken.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, it is not necessary in that case. Parts of the road may have only single yellow lines, in which case during the hours of daylight people may park in that road. One can get permission from the authorities to park first on the pavement, and parking would still be allowed on the road. If one allows the one thing in certain circumstances, then one would have to allow it in the road. But I do not see why noble Lords cannot understand that the double yellow line is a total ban. Further up the road, where it is safe, one may be allowed to park a vehicle. If I may go away from this point—
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that question, I am sure he has misunderstood the point which is being put to him. I live in a street which has no lines at all. I do not want the local authority to put double yellow lines in my street to prevent me from parking my car outside my house, but I do not want anybody to park their car on the pavement outside my house. Surely that is the whole point in this connection. I am sure the noble Lord is wrong in his idea about this matter. I do not want to go into the whole argument, but clearly the noble Lord is wrong about the double yellow lines acting in this way.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, in the case that the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has raised, a local authority can totally ban parking on any footpath and still allow parking in the road outside his house. That is a possibility also. I have said previously that local authorities have the power to introduce total bans on any parking on footpaths.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, by law; they have this power already. They can do various permutations. I think the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, had a point when he drew the attention of your Lordships to the effect of the national ban proposed in the country areas. This ban would prevent parking on the verges of any country roads, 74 however narrow and winding, and however bad the view ahead because of high hedges or trees.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, can that possibly be right? There are many ordinary country roads where the highway consists of the carriageway and only the carriageway. The verge is not the footway at all. Anybody can go on the footway.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, I am advised that the highway includes the area from hedge to hedge. I shall willingly apologise to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, if I am wrong about that, but my advice is to that effect. I believe it would be quite a shock to a driver if he came round a bend and found a vehicle parked on the road when it could have been on the verge, or on the footpath. The law will force the driver to stay on the road. If the authorities are allowed to exempt country roads of this kind, we should remember that we are talking about exemptions for hundreds of miles of roads in some areas, all to be littered with some form of signs yet to be designed, presumably saying, "Parking to be allowed here". Country roads are not by any means the only places where real problems are caused. Noble Lords must know as well as I that there are many council estates which have wide pavements, partly grassed, and narrow roads in which it can be very difficult to pass because of vehicles on both sides of the road and also parked on the footways. The same applies to roads in residential areas in the suburbs of our towns and cities. Where else can residents park their cars? Alternatively, what is one to say to these people where an ambulance or fire engine cannot get to an emergency because there is a ban on parking? This is what makes the police so concerned about the proposed clause of the right reverend Prelate.
My Lords, I apologise for speaking for rather a long time, but we feel that we cannot accept the principle that vehicles should never go on the pavement, any more than we can accept that pedestrians should never go on the highway. I beg the right reverend Prelate not to repeat that I regard highways primarily for pedestrians and pavements primarily for vehicles. Obviously I do 75 nothing of the sort. I accept that primarily the highway is for vehicles and the footway for pedestrians. I have answered the point on juggernauts and lorries. I have repeated already that the footpath is legally a part of the highway; but in those areas where parking on the pavement is undesirable or dangerous, I repeat that it is up to the local authorities to use the powers already in their possession to ban it. But whether or not a ban would be right can only be settled locally. We must leave this to the properly elected authorities to do. I beg noble Lords to consider the effect of this Amendment and to listen to the reasoned argument I have put forward. A lot of the arguments raised to-day do not help the wider view.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I apologise to the Minister and others for my late arrival. I am not clear from what my noble friend has said precisely how he thinks the local authority can stop parking on the pavements. Of course, I understand what he says, that it can be done by a double yellow line; what I do not understand is how it can be done by any other method, unless he agrees to some amendment, not necessarily identical with what the right reverend Prelate suggested, but some amendment to alter the powers. Let me take the case of Radnor Walk because it was mentioned last time. In the absence of a double yellow line, what would be the method by which the local authority, should it be so minded, could stop parking on the pavement? He has said it could do it by some other method than the double yellow line. I want to know what that method is; some notice would be required, presumably. I will yield to the noble Lord at any moment if he wishes to interrupt and tell me the answer, but for the moment I am very much impressed by the problem put by the noble Lord, Lord Champion, who says that he does not want a double yellow line. If necessary, in the particular case I have in mind I think it might possibly be a good thing. But what the House has not been told is what would be the method of stopping it in the absence of the double yellow line.
76 The other point I wish to put to my noble friend is this. I am inclined to agree—and although I did not have the advantage of hearing the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, I think it is possible that he also agrees—that this Amendment may not be perfect. But what is quite certain, it seems to me, is that, if the Government had any sympathy with the objects of the right reverend Prelate, it would not be beyond their ingenuity to provide a perfect Amendment. It might be necessary to provide for exceptions, such as ambulances, fire engines and all sorts of emergencies, but these things are not beyond the possibility of legal provision. But it seems to me the noble Lord is giving a blank negative; nothing whatever is to be done for the pedestrian. If the amenities of a street in Chelsea or anywhere else are to be ruined, not by occasional parking but by habitual parking, the occupancy of the footway as a parking lot, which is what it amounts to, I cannot think that is a tolerable arrangement. I genuinely want to find out; I do not want unreasonably to oppose the Government. It seems to me that the right reverend Prelate and others have given every chance to the Government to provide a rational method of stopping a notorious abuse. I do not know what line the right reverend Prelate is going to take, but I am bound to say that if the alternative is either to do absolutely nothing and let this abuse continue or to pass this Amendment, leaving it open to the Government either at a subsequent stage of this Bill here or in another place to get the precise Amendment they desire, I am bound to say that I hope the right reverend Prelate will not abandon his Amendment.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, with the leave of the House, may I answer my noble friend Lord Conesford? He asked under what powers local authorities could act. Section 1 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967 gives local authorities outside Greater London all the powers they need, and Section 6 gives the traffic regulation powers for Greater London. To repeat the point again, local authorities can act by using the single yellow line or by using the double yellow line, or they can have a sign which says simply that parking on the road is allowed but not parking 77 on the pavement. They have three different regulators.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lords who have taken part in this debate and again expressed almost unanimous opinion in favour of what I am trying to achieve by this Amendment. I was particularly interested in the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I certainly have no desire to harass gypsies or to prevent innocent people from parking on a wide verge and having a picnic. I would have imagined that the argument of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, was a correct one: that the verge is not a footway as the provision in my Amendment imagines it to be. If that is the case, surely some small Amendment to this wording could meet the point of the noble Lord, because I would certainly wish that it should be so.
As regards the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, I have pleaded and I have given the Government every opportunity to relax or to try to meet in some degree what is the major nuisance, the growing danger, and he has declined in any way to meet the points that I have been putting. I believe he has still not seen the point which the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, made about double lines. If the double yellow lines are used in order to prevent parking on the footway, they also prevent parking of any kind. We do not want to prevent parking of any kind in some streets, but we do want to prevent people from parking half or wholly on the footway—it is as simple as that. The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, has pleaded again and again to give the local authorities power, and in that I am entirely with him, and that is why my Amendment gives to the local authorities power in certain exceptional conditions to allow parking on the footway.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, if I may intervene again, has the right reverend Prelate missed what I was just saying? The local authorities,
§ quite apart from the yellow lines, have power to put up a sign which allows parking on the road but absolutely forbids parking on any part of the pavement.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
Yes, my Lords, but there is also the argument put by the noble Lord, Lord Foot: that if local authorities exempt certain areas from parking on the footway then they are giving the impression to the general public that they may park on any other footway which is not so excluded. My argument is that the matter should be the other way round, that justice and reasonableness demand that it should be made clear that it is illegal to park on the footway. From what the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, has been saying, he is suggesting that the Government approve of parking on the footway and that there are only certain places where this should be forbidden. I take issue with him in saying that the Government should assert the law that the footway is not a suitable place for motor cars to park but that there are certain areas, certain exceptional places, where it could be permitted. The noble Lord said that I was pleading that motor cars should never go on the footway. I was not pleading for that. I was pleading that in my Amendment, with its addition, power should be given to the local authority to make exceptions, but that the principle of law should be established that the footway is not legally a place where motor cars may park.
When I came to the House I very much hoped that I should not have to divide the House, because I was hoping that I should find some sympathetic response to a matter which in debate has received almost universal approval in your Lordships' House. I have received none of that encouragement, and therefore I much regret that I have no alternative but again to divide the House on this matter.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 10) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 68; Not-Contents, 49.79
|Airedale, L.||Balogh, L.||Blackett, L.|
|Amory, V.||Barnby, L.||Blyton, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Beswick, L.||Brayley, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Birk, B.||Bristol, Bp.|
|Brockway, L.||Hayter, L.||Monck, V.|
|Champion, L.||Hirshfield, L.||Peddie, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Howe, E.||Phillips, B. [Teller.]|
|Cole, L.||Hoy, L.||Popplewell, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Hurcomb, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Hylton, L.||Roberthall, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Diamond, L.||Jacques, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Foot, L.||Janner, L.||Segal, L.|
|Fulton, L.||Jessel, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Killearn, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Gardiner, L.||Leatherland, L.||Slater, L.|
|Garnsworthy, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Snow, L.|
|George-Brown, L.||London, Bp. [Teller.]||Stocks, B.|
|Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Longford, E.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Grenfell, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Hacking, L.||Maelor, L.||White, B.|
|Hale, L.||Maybray-King, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Meston, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Goschen, V.||Platt, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Gowrie, E.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Beaumont, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Hailes, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor)||Sandford, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Carrington, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Mansfield, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Merrivale, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Middleton, L.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Craigavon, V.||Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Sudeley, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Monson, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Mountevans, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, B.||Northchurch, B.||Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Falkland, V.||Onslow, E.|
|Ferrers, E.||Orr-Ewing, L.||Wolverton, L.|
On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.