§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Read a third time, with the amendments.
§ Clause 14 [Exclusion of security of tenure in case of premises used for vehicle testing business]:169
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Bellwin) moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 16, line 38, at end insert—
("(3) In this section "tenancy" has the same meaning as in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, and the reference in subsection (1) above to a tenancy granted by the Secretary of State shall be construed accordingly.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, you will recall I have already made it clear that I think it most unlikely we will ever need the provisions of this clause, given the Government's intention to transfer testing to an independent non-profit-making body—LRVTA. But I am sure noble Lords will agree that it is right to provide a proper framework for control of the new testing system; and Clause 14 is part of that framework. It disapplies the security-of-tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 which would otherwise apply to premises used for a vehicle-testing business, as defined in this Bill. It thus ensures that the Secretary of State would be able to regain possession of testing stations quickly and without fuss if an approved testing authority were to be in breach of the provisions of its lease; or, at the end of the lease, if the Secretary of State then wished to appoint a new authority to carry out the work.
§ That is the aim of the clause. We have found, however, that the clause as drafted may not wholly achieve that aim. It would disapply the provisions of the 1954 Act in relation to a tenancy granted by the Secretary of State, but not in relation to a sub-tenancy where the Secretary of State is a lessee himself and has granted a sub-tenancy to an approved testing authority. This is a matter of some practical importance, because there are number of test stations where the Secretary of State is the lessee and could only grant a sub-tenancy. To ensure these stations are covered by Clause 14 an amendment is needed. We propose to do this by including in Clause 14 the same definition of a tenancy as is contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act. This makes it clear that "tenancy" also means "sub-tenancy". I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 29 [Further provisions with respect to fixed penalty allences and notices.]:
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 30, line 41, after ("Act") insert ("and may so provide for any offence in Schedule 2 to this Act to become a fixed penalty offence in England and Wales").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, at the Report stage, I proposed an amendment, supported by my noble friend Lord Mishcon, which aimed at giving motorists in England and Wales precisely the same fixed penalty options as would apply in Scotland. That particular amendment proposed that chief officers of police in England and Wales should be enabled to issue fixed penalty notices for the offences mentioned in Schedule 2 which, of course, are confined to Scotland. The arguments which the noble Earl, Lord Avon, used against that was that this would turn chief officers into procurators-fiscal, that there would be no merit in splitting off from the mainstream of fixed penalty offences, some of which must not be dealt with at the roadside; and the noble Earl also explained the reasons for the selection of the particular offences listed for Scotland in Schedule 2.170
§ I think it will be agreed that my noble friend Lord Mishcon somewhat demolished that part of the argument about the selection of the offences in Schedule 2; and all the points that he made are clearly set out in cols. 936 and 937 of the Official Report of 14th October last. Those which he quoted were examples of offences which could be just as competently dealt with by a constable at the roadside in England and Wales as by a constable in Scotland.
§ Clause 29(2) provides that the Secretary of State may by order make changes in the list of fixed penalty offences. The amendment provides that, in pursuance of that subsection, the Secretary of State may provide for any of the offences mentioned in Schedule 2 to become a fixed penalty offence in England and Wales. It will he noted that the argument I am putting forward does not instruct the Secretary of State; the matter is left solely for him to determine. Neither does the amendment specify any particular offences mentioned in Schedule 2 which should be transferred to Schedule 1.
§ There seems to be no reason why the Government should not accept this modest amendment. Its purposes would be to enable appropriate offences to be added to those which a constable in England and Wales may consider at the roadside in the same way as could a constable in Scotland. That would assist in saving court time, which has been stressed by many noble Lords in the House. If the Minister should say that the meaning of subsection (2) is that the Secretary of State would have this power, then I would say, "Why not add this amendment so as to make it quite clear that Parliament is willing that the Secretary of State shall have this power to move any offence that he thinks fit from Schedule 2 to Schedule 1, so that this would be applicable in England and Wales?". I beg to move.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has put both sides of the coin to such an extent that there is little that I have to say. I should say first of all that this amendment adds nothing to the powers contained in Clause 29. Subsection (2) would already allow the Secretary of State to make an order to provide for most of the offences in Schedule 2 to become fixed penalty offences in England and Wales. I say "most", because he could not, of course, make offences under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1970 apply in England and Wales. Therefore, I have to say that the amendment is defective in this second issue.
But may I say why we have not included these penalties which the noble Lord wants. I know that the noble Lord believes that the fixed penalty option should be available to motorists in England and Wales in respect of Schedule 2; but I think we need to look at why they were not originally recommended for inclusion in Schedule 1. This schedule was drawn up after considerable thought, looking at the individual merits of each offence. The noble Lord has said himself that some of the offences are of a nature where a decision should not be made by a police constable at the roadside because of the varying circumstances in which they can occur. In addition, there are some which are so infrequently prosecuted that there would be no impact at all on the burden of the courts, the 171 reduction of which is one of the main objectives of these provisions. There are others which would not be appropriate; for instance, if failure to produce a document is involved.
Dealing with such an offence by fixed penalty could mean that the document remains unproduced, which clearly is not desirable. Nevertheless, there are a few, including those which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, pointed out during our debate last week, which may at first sight seem suitable for fixed penalty treatment. But, as I have said, there is nothing in this Bill which rules them out of the fixed penalty system in England and Wales if a future Secretary of State, having gained experience of the present system, considered it appropriate to make an order to include one of them.
As I have said, there has been considerable thought into the drawing up of Schedule 1 and I very much hope, after what I have said, that the noble Lord will let it ride as it is at the moment.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, it would be most appropriate in a Transport Bill to let anything ride that wants to. But, I must say this: although the noble Earl has been as clear, lucid and eloquent as he always is—and certainly as courteous as he always is—I do not follow his argument and I do not think your Lordships will, either.
Two schedules have been drawn up. One schedule is applicable to the United Kingdom apart from Scotland and Northern Ireland, because Northern Ireland has to have a separate order of its own. The second schedule applies to Scotland. The noble Lord, on the last occasion, made it perfectly clear that the reason for the difference between Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 was that the procurator fiscal sits there in all his glory in Scotland and, with all the facilities that he has available and all the skill that undoubtedly he has at his command, he sifts out those serious offences from the not so serious which are contained in Schedule 2 and decides in his wisdom whether or not to issue a penalty notice.
I expected, as no doubt your Lordships did, that when looking at Schedule 2, I would find very good reason why England and Wales, and eventually Northern Ireland, will not have the benefit of these offences being available readily under this Bill, without waiting for any further order, as offences which can be dealt with by the penalty notice. If there is not a case for that, then of course the tidy way of dealing with this matter is to see to it that these offences, which can easily and most usefully be dealt with by a police officer on the spot, are in Schedule 1 available immediately for this experiment which is to be carried out. The noble Lord referred to it as an experiment, but I thought quite honestly that it was part of permanent legislation and was intended to be such.
At the risk of wearying your Lordships at a late hour—as six o'clock undoubtedly is for a Third Reading of a Bill—may I repeat some of the offences that I have dealt with. My noble friend and I could have moved everyone of these for translation from Schedule 2 into Schedule 1. We thought if we did your Lordships would he so angry with us that it was far better to deal with it as a general proposition. We hoped optimistically that the noble Earl the Minister 172 would say, "Right, I will translate, and thank you for giving us the power to do that right away without troubling anybody with an order". However, unfortunately, the Government are not so amenable this evening.
Perhaps I may quote a few of these cases. The first one is the unlawful carrying of passengers on a bicycle. Who better than a police constable, there by the roadside, to see whether first of all there is an unlawful carrying of passengers on a bicycle; and, secondly, whether it is a serious unlawful carrying of passengers on a bicycle? Secondly, failure by pedestrians to comply with directions of a constable regulating vehicular traffic. He is there on the spot, he sees the pedestrians, he has waved his arms to stop them and they have not stopped. Who better than the police constable to decide there and then whether it is proper to issue a penalty notice?
Thirdly, holding or getting on to a moving vehicle to be carried. Who better than the police officer on the spot to decide whether somebody is holding on to a vehicle when he should not do so, whether it is serious and whether a penalty notice should be issued? Precisely the same remarks would apply to holding on to a moving vehicle to be towed.
My pièce de réesistance—my crowning point—is the last offence, which is causing or permitting a dog to be on a designated road without a lead. If that really needs the vigilant eye of the procurator fiscal in order to read the folder which deals with this very serious matter—well, it has been decided that in regard to Scotland, he has to do it, but nevertheless he can issue the penalty notice. My Lords, is it seriously argued that this offence should not be translated right away without the necessity and the delay of' an order into Schedule 1?
My noble friends and I have not put down every one of these offences where there could have been a debate on each. What we have done is to say: "Do not worry about an order. Enough time and expense is taken on Government administration as it is. Let us do something simple and in this Act give the power to the Minister not without an order to find a new offence to be put into Schedule 1 which is not in Schedule 2; but if Scotland has it in Schedule 2 and a penalty notice can be issued, let the Minister, if it is in Schedule 1 translate it to Schedule 1 in an appropriate case"—I have tried to give six examples—"without having to go to the bother of an order". That is what the amendment means, that is what it says, and that is the amendment, if I may respectfully say so, that the Government should in reason, logic and common sense accept.
§ Lord Tanlaw
My Lords, we too would like to support the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. I believe that the Government have changed their argument. I was quite convinced when the noble Earl put forward the case about the procurator fiscal during Report stage; and I am slightly confused now as to what is the reason for the noble Earl's answer of not accepting the basic argument by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. I have possibly misunderstood and stand to be corrected, but it seems to me that there has been a slight change of view. Perhaps the noble Earl will correct me.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I think that I should have said at the Report stage what I said earlier on at this stage. This is a basic point. This amendment adds nothing to the powers contained in Clause 29(2). This would already allow the Secretary of State to make an order to provide for most of the offences in Schedule 2 to become fixed penalty offences in England and Wales. So this amendment adds nothing to Clause 29(2), and that is really the long and the short of it. There is already the power of the Secretary of State to do what the noble Lord wants. If the noble Lord has not these specific offences down in his amendment, then all we do at the moment is get rid of the order-making power.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, may I say with great respect that he has not clearly informed the House what the position is under this amendment. I know that he wants to be fair. This amendment enables the Secretary of State to make this transfer from Schedule 2 to Schedule 1 without an order. Therefore he can do it simply, without the expense of it and without the trouble of it, when it is in Schedule 2 and he wants to move it over to Schedule 1. I would have thought, with respect, he could have accepted that position.
§ The Lord Advocate (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)
My Lords, would the noble Lord be kind enough to say what the meaning of the word "so" is in his amendment? The amendment reads:and may so provide …".
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, if the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate wishes me to delete the word "so" and then will accept the amendment, I readily agree to do it.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, I think my noble friend has supplemented quite effectively the points I made when I moved this amendment. It is not the sort of issue upon which we would want to divide the House. There is commonsense in the amendment and if the inclusion of one or two words makes it unacceptable, as we are discussing a clause put in by the Government therefore it becomes a Lords amendment, I believe there is still time and opportunity for the Government to take a look at this when the Lords' amendments go to the other place. I would hope they will take a careful look at what has been said by my noble friend and see whether they cannot put in this commonsense addition when the amendment goes to the other place. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 32 [Punishment without prosecution in cases within section 31]:
Lord Mackay of Clashfern moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 34, line 46, after ("summons") insert ("or, in Scotland, complaint").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to move this Amendment No. 3 and speak at the same time to 174 Amendment No. 14. These are two simple drafting amendments in the same terms. Their purpose is to include the Scottish terminology in these provisions. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 51 [Guidance on application of Part III]:
§ 6.33 p.m.
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 60, line 28, at end insert ("with the objective so far as possible of working towards uniformity").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment concerns the absence of uniformity in operating the fixed penalty system. This question of uniformity in operating the system in the various police forces has been discussed in some detail both at Committee and Report stages in your Lordships' House. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, might be very pleased to know that what he describes as "sending up the football results" will not be given again this evening; but I would remind your Lordships that all the facts and figures which I gave both at the Committee and Report stages were taken from the official Government statistics, showing the complete inconsistency and disparities in the treatment of fixed penalty notices in the different police forces.
At the Report stage the Government moved some way towards meeting the criticism which was brought forward at the Committee stage, but that is not satisfactory because the clause provides that guidance should be given to chief officers in respect of the operation of Part III of the Act. There is need—and this is what the amendment seeks to do—to specify quite clearly what is the objective of the guidance; and that is what is proposed in this amendment. At the Committee stage the amendment was criticised because it contained the phrase:
on the same basis and in respect of the same fixed penalty offences".
At the Report stage we amended it so that it read:
with the objective of ensuring uniform police practice".
That was still considered as tying down the position far too much, but the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said, in column 940 on 14th October 1982:
The guidance to chief officers will be directed to drawing their attention to the need as far as possible to work towards uniformity".
That is not in the Government's new clause. The amendment meets this deficiency and seeks to add at the end of the clause:
with the objective so far as possible of working towards uniformity".
§ We gave very careful consideration to the wording to be added, and we thought we could do no better than use the actual words used by the Minister in your Lordships' House. Therefore, the addition of these words would leave no doubt whatever as to the purpose of the guidance, and as they are the words that the Minister used I shall be most surprised if the Government do not accept them on this occasion. I beg to move.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, if I may add just a few words to what my noble friend had said, the plea for uniformity was not merely for uniformity for 175 uniformity's sake. It was to produce what the noble Lord the Minister, in his very kindly correspondence with me, said was an important matter from the Government's point of view. We were told that many motorists had failed to pay their penalties under the penalty notices which at present exist because they had not understood the complexity of the language used in the form. Therefore, the point was advanced in support of the Government's case, even though we felt that was a very merciful view to take of motorists' failure to pay their penalties. Nevertheless, we wanted to advance the case for uniformity with the Government, for the very reason they gave—in order that the simplicity of language so far as possible should be uniformly used. Therefore, I would add this further point to those put by my noble friend in the hope that the Government can accept this amendment now.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, we have had a good many discussions on this issue since the Bill began its stages in this House. I found the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, very persuasive and I have long sought in my own way to persuade the noble Lord that our intentions in essence matched his own. I am glad to be able to say that his latest proposal will cause us no difficulty, and the Government are content to accept this amendment.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 53 [Immobilisation of vehicles illegally parked]:
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 63, line 4, after ("approved") insert ("in regulations made").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, first may I thank the noble Earl and the Government for accepting the previous amendment. I hope we may have similar accord on other amendments which will come later. In moving this amendment, with the leave of the House, I should like to speak to Amendment No. 12. This amendment deals with the clause making provision for immobilisation devices which, in common parlance, I will call wheel clamps. On Report, a similar amendment was tabled and on that occasion the noble Earl explained the Government's intentions. In column 966 on 14th October, he said:
The approval order would be a formal document issued on the authority of the Secretary of State. It would not he subject to parliamentary proceedings".
§ In withdrawing the amendment on that occasion, I said I would consider what the noble Earl had said, with a view possibly to returning to the matter on Third Reading. I recognise that there are differences in your Lordships' House on the whole question of wheel clamps. There are those who want to have them. There are those—my noble friend is one—who say, "We do not want them". Others, like myself, were, I think, in the majority and the Government have gone a long way towards accepting our view that we were prepared to experiment and try out wheel clamps and the Government have made suitable amendments at the Report stage. Therefore, it is important that we should carry the maximum number of people in the change proposed for the exercise of these immobilisation devices.176
§ The definition given in subsection (9) does not explain what would be the real nature of any device. It could be many things and I could think of items which I would not support if they were to be introduced as wheel clamps. All we seek in this amendment is that Parliament shall be given the opportunity, if it so desired, of considering the devices that may be approved by the Secretary of State. On this occasion the amendment does not ask for the affirmative procedure. I would point out that the consequential Amendment No. 12 would provide for the order to be by statutory instrument, and that may be annulled under the negative procedure. This seems to be a simple opportunity for the Government to accede. If Parliament so wishes, let it discuss a regulation setting out the nature of the device approved by the Secretary of State, so that the matter may have parliamentary scrutiny. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said, this is a small tidying-up point to Clause 53. The amendments would require the ministerial approval of immobilisation devices to be expressed in regulations, subject to parliamentary approval, as the noble Lord said. The procedure for approval as the Bill stands, without these amendments, is that before any type of device can be used, it must be assessed and approved by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. That approval will be given in an order printed by Her Majesty's Stationery Office and made available to the public. The procedure is the same as the one used for breath testing equipment for many years.
In considering immobilisation devices for approval, the most important considerations will be to see that the device is safe from the point of view of the motorist and passers by, and that it will not damage the vehicle. I do not believe that it is necessary to require regulations approved by Parliament to ensure that. Nor is it necessary to have regulations in order to inform the public that a particular device has been approved.
I think it most unlikely that the police would have considered the use of unsafe equipment, or risked damaging vehicles with unsuitable equipment. As a double safeguard, we have agreed that there should be a ministerial check on the equipment to be used. To introduce a further parliamentary check would, we believe, serve no useful purpose and create a possibility of delay and frustration, if a new device became available which was a self-evident improvement on earlier models, but could not be brought into use until time had been found to draft regulations and submit them to Parliament. These devices are likely to be very simple in design, and it would. I believe, be unnecessarily cumbersome to tie their approval to this procedure. That is the way I would like to see it. I think that the noble Lord will disagree with me, but that is our point.
§ Lord Tanlaw
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down. I agree from these Benches that these devices are the modern equivalent of the stocks and we feel that they must be used by the law. I would ask the noble Earl whether these regulations will make it possible for British manufacturers to be able to submit designs and manufactures of these devices, which I 177 understand are of an imported nature with foreign patents. So I hope that if these devices are to become part of our lives, they will, at least, be the British modern equivalent of the stocks, rather than a foreign modern equivalent of the stocks.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I understand that the police are looking at a number of different devices, some manufactured in the United Kingdom and others manufactured abroad. No final decisions have been taken, but I am sure that the police will bear in mind that, on several occasions, this House has looked towards the British equivalent.
§ Lord Swinfen
My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend can tell us if the owner of a vehicle which is damaged by one of these devices will be able to obtain compensation from the police.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I think that we went through these issues in an earlier debate. As this is now Third Reading, I think that we should stay on the narrow issue.
§ On Question, amendment negatived.
§ Clause 54 [Exemptions front section 53]:
The Earl of Avon moved Amendments Nos. 6 and 7:
Page 63, line 33, at end insert ("or (as the case may be) since the end of any unexpired time in respect of another vehicle available on the relevant parking meter at the time of parking.
Page 64, line 37, leave out ("reference in subsection (2)(c)") and insert ("references in subsiction (2)")
The noble Earl said: My Lords, perhaps I may speak to Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 and move them together at the end. The need for these amendments arises from a possibility raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, on report. The noble Lord asked whether
an immediate clamping device could be put on a vehicle "—[Official Report, 14/10/82; col. 971.]
§ when a motorist finds that there is spare time, paid for by some other person, on the meter when he parks. I was able to reassure the noble Lord that there is no question of immediate clamping in such cases, as the vehicle would not be illegally parked and would not be within the scope of Clause 53(1).
§ However, the noble Lord's intervention has caused us to think further about the precise point at which such a motorist's exemption from clamping runs out. His case cannot be said to fall within Clause 54(2)(b). If there was no obligation to pay an initial charge at the time of parking, and if he did not himself pay an initial charge the two hours cannot be measured from a nonexistent starting point. The words which this amendment adds to Clause 54(2)(d) will make it clear that in such cases the two hour exemption runs from the expiry of the charge previously paid in respect of another vehicle, which was available on the parking meter when the second motorist arrived. If he decides he is likely to need rather more time than is available on the meter, he is, of course, entitled to put money in, and the two hour exemption will then run from the expiry of the extra time he has purchased. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, for raising the query 178 which has led to this clarifying amendment. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, may I convey my gratitude to the noble Earl the Minister for the very kind things he has said. Every time I read the Act—when this Bill has become an Act—on the statute book, I shall remember when I come to this section the very small contribution that I was able to make in your Lordships' House.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 61 [Speed limits.]:
Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 73, line 39, at end insert—
("() After 1st November 1982, wherever a trunk or principal road is provided with such a system of lighting as is mentioned in subsection (1) above the details shall he recorded in a central registry under the control of the Secretary of State.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment follows on Amendment No. 34BB at a previous stage of the Bill. May I remind your Lordships that that amendment concerned Clause 54, as it was then, dealing with speed limits on a number of roads which may be altered by virtue of lighting engineering works and lighting installations. Despite a number of amendments to clarify the position, my noble friend has always maintained that any amendment allowing for the clarification of future problems—that is, problems that may occur up to and including this month—would leave the way open for very similar problems to those that have occurred in the past to accrue in the next 20 or so years. It is the intention of this amendment, therefore, to ensure that the Government's wish to draw a line as at the enactment of this Bill on all past regulations, and those speed limits which obtain currently, whether they are 30, 40, 50, 60 or indeed 70 m.p.h. on certain categories of roads which may be lit or unlit now, shall not be prejudiced by its enactment.
§ In order that there should he a clear definition of when the change occurs, I have suggested that a register be kept, either locally or centrally, which will establish when lighting alterations occur that may affect the speed limits on roads upon which such lighting installations take place in the future. Then there can be no argument as to what was the intention of the law, in the unhappy event of a prosecution. This would, therefore, simplify the matter, enabling everybody concerned to understand the position that they might then find themselves in. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I fully appreciate the concern expressed by my noble friend that Clause 61 will mean that any trunk or classified road, other than a motorway, will become restricted automatically when street lighting is installed. However, this will not, in practice, be the position in every case and, indeed, the number of roads where this might occur is likely to be quite small. First, so far as trunk roads are concerned, these are the responsibility of the Secretary of State and I can repeat the assurance that I have already given to your Lordships that he will comply with his own criteria for setting speed limits to ensure that appropriate limits are in operation when lighting is 179 installed. Other roads are the responsibility of individual local highway authorities, but not all these will attract automatically the 30 m.p.h. limit when street lighting is installed. An unlit road which has a local speed limit imposed by order—say 40 or 50 mph—will not attract the 30 m.p.h. limit automatically if street lighting is installed, because the speed limit imposed by the order will prevail.
This, then, leaves only the unlit roads which are subject to the national limit only—60 m.p.h. on single carriageways and 70 m.p.h. on dual carriageways, If these had lighting installed—and the new lighting programme is such that their numbers are not large—they would become subject to the 30 m.p.h. limit, unless the highway authority took action to raise that limit.
I cannot of course give the same absolute assurance in respect of local authority roads as I could for trunk roads, that the necessary adjustments to speed limits will always be made on those roads when lighting is installed. However, we shall be issuing advice to local authorities about the effects of Clause 61. This will include a recommendation that wherever new lighting is to be installed on a road, the consequences in relation to the appropriatness of the speed limit which will apply after lighting should always be carefully examined and the limit adjusted as necessary in the light of that review. In cases where a national limit-60 or 70 m.p.h.—would be replaced by the 30 m.p.h. limit, the presumption should be that the former limit would be retained unless there were some positive reason why a lower limit should be imposed. In other cases, where an intermediate limit imposed by order would prevent the 30 m.p.h. limit being imposed automatically, authorities will still be advised to consider whether that limit would remain appropriate after lighting.
As to the practicalities of my noble friend's amendment, I think its wider implications rather than its potential effect make us hesitate. The setting up and keeping of a register of street lighting installations for the purpose of establishing the restricted or nonrestricted status of trunk and principal roads would involve the use of additional resources by both central and local government. At first, such a register might be a fairly simple thing to keep, but in time it would inevitably grow in complexity, because of the need to record the de-trunking or de-principalling of roads when that occurs, and retrospectively the dates of lighting installations on roads which are later categorised as trunk or principal roads. The justification for setting up such a register as is suggested here would need to be very strong—stronger, in fact, than we can appreciate at the moment, particularly in face of the probable demand it would make on public expenditure.
I acknowledge that the success of what the Government are trying to achieve through this clause depends to some extent on the performance of local authorities. We are relying on them, when street lighting attracts, or would attract, restricted road status, to take the necessary steps to ensure that appropriate speed limits are in force after lighting. We do so at present of course in relation to unclassified roads and we are now extending this to non-trunk classified roads. The 180 number of roads affected currently is not large and the task should be well within the capability of all authorities. We have no reason to suppose that they will not, in conjunction with lighting operations, take such steps as are necessary to adjust the speed limits on those roads. Nevertheless, we intend to keep a careful eye on the way in which the restricted roads provision, as amended by Clause 61, works in practice. If it is seen not to be satisfactory, we shall certainly look again at the problem and consider what further measures might be taken, including, if necessary, further legislative amendment. We shall of course keep in mind my noble friend's idea of a register. I hope what I have said and the assurance I have given will persuade my noble friend not to press his amendment.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, I have to thank my noble friend for that explanation, and I am quite happy to tell your Lordships that I have no intention of pressing the amendment to a Division. I am also happy to accept the Government's assurance with regard to those matters which lie totally in their hands—in other words, the trunk roads. I have some hesitation, however, about placing reliance upon my noble friend's hope that other local highway authorities will follow the same practice. I hope, therefore, that the advice which will be given is written in such terms as to prevent highway authorities from falling into the ever-present trap of succumbing to the demand of local pressure groups to reduce speed limits. It has been proved by the department that they are not effective so far as road safety is concerned.
I say without any malice to my noble friend that the Government might have thought about this matter when Clause 44, as it was then, of the Bill was first drafted. Although a great number of roads may not be involved, there is a loophole which I think should have been plugged at an earlier stage. I take note of what my noble friend says with regard to keeping an eye on the matter. Even though events may not prove the need for further legislation, the gap which exists in the Bill will I hope be demonstrated to be sufficient for further powers to be taken in future legislation, so closing the gap. With those remarks, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 62 [Approval of radar speed measuring devices]:
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 74, line 1, leave out from beginning to ("evidence") in line 5 and insert ("There shall be inserted after section 78A of the 1967 Act the following section—
Approval 78B. On the prosecution of a person for any speeding of radar speed measuring devices. offence
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the first of three amendments which relate to the Government's new Clause 62 dealing with the approval of radar speed measuring devices. Noble Lords will recall that the Government's new amendment was introduced at the Report stage in preference to a much more detailed amendment submitted by my noble friend Lord Mishcon and I.
§ Amendment No. 9 is confined to an important technical point which affects a principle. The Govern- 181 ment's clause sets out words to he inserted in Section 78A of the 1967 Act. However, our reading of the situation is that that section, with subsequent amendments, excludes special roads—that is, motorways. In our view, this Government provision in Clause 62 should apply to all roads and to all speeding offences where this type of equipment is used as evidence. The amendment deals with this point by providing that instead of the Government's provision, which later on we hope to amend, being inserted in Section 78A, there should be a separate subsection after Section 78A. This means that the exclusion of special roads such as motorways would not apply. In other words, this provision would then apply to all roads and to all speeding offences where radar equipment is used. I think that our facts are correct. If not, the noble Lord the Minister will no doubt tell me. I beg to move.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I am happy to confirm that the noble Lord is right in his analysis. We wish the equipment, although there is not too much of it in use at present on motorways, to be embraced in the provisions of the Act, as it will be. The noble Lord was very observant and quite right to put the Government right, and I shall be happy to accept this amendment.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ 6.58 p.m.
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 74, line 9, at end insert ("in regulations conforming to a performance standard specified in those regulations").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, we are doing exceptionally well tonight. I am hoping we may succeed a third time by the amendment which I am now going to move. Amendment No. 10 deals with the main point of the Government amendment which was introduced at the Report stage. The Government, as I frankly acknowledged and for which both I and other noble Lords expressed gratitude, moved considerably between their attitude at the Committee stage and the Report stage. The very detailed amendment which my noble friend and I submitted at Report was criticised on various counts. One was that every time a design changed and a new procedure was approved new regulations would be required. That criticism is completely avoided by Amendment No. 10 which is now before the House.
The Government amendment, Clause 62, is inadequate. I must ask the noble Lord what is meant by "a type approved by the Secretary of State". At col. 992 of the Report stage the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said:
What we propose is that the branch"—
that is, the Scientific and Research Development Branch of the Home Office,
will examine all the radar devices currently in use and advise the Secretary of State as to the appropriateness of approving the equipment; the need to issue guidance on operating procedures and training will also be considered".
§ Therefore, one could have the situation that this could lead to approval of all the radar measuring devices at 182 present in use, despite the widespread criticism there is of some equipment; criticism made not only by motoring organisations but made also by the decisions of various courts and by noble Lords in all parts of your Lordships' House.
I am not going to quote what the noble Lord said in the last debate, at Report stage, but most speakers in that debate (and remember, we were not taking party lines on these road safety measures) wanted a more detailed definition of what precisely is to be approved. The general tenor seemed to be in line with the spirit of my detailed amendment (which many thought was too detailed), which was that there must be a standard to which equipment should conform. The present amendment before your Lordships avoids the criticism made of the amendment at Report stage—that it spelt out too much detail. It simply asks for additional words to be added so that the important phrase will read,
of a type approved by the Secretary of State in regulations conforming to a performance standard specified in those regulations.
§ The amendment would do two things. First, whatever is approved by the Secretary of State must be set out in regulations so that, if desired, there could be parliamentary consideration. Secondly, that there must be laid down a performance standard to which this type of equipment must conform. On this occasion the amendment is not attempting to lay down whether the standards should be prepared by Home Office scientists, the TRRL or the British Standards Institution. That is a matter left solely for consideration and decision by the Secretary of State. What it does say quite clearly is that there must be a performance standard. The wording of the amendment is such that there will be no necessity to have new regulations from time to time, because the regulations will lay down a standard. That is the important thing—it will not name any particular equipment. It will lay down a standard to which different equipment which it is desired to use must conform.
§ Should it be argued that it is difficult to produce a standard—and I do not wish to thrust any particular standard on the House—I my hand a document laying down proposed police traffic radar performance standards for the state of Florida. The introduction to this document states that these specifications and performance standards are based on a modified version of the proposed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's performance standards for speed-measuring radar, which was published in the United States' Federal Register in January 1981. I gather that it was prepared by a body which is equivalent to our own BSI. We all know that the BSI has produced documents (and I mentioned this in our last debate) on the various types of standards and how they can be prepared. Therefore all the information is available if one wants it. There should be no doubt whatever in preparing a standard.
§ I would like to make one or two points absolutely clear, because this was stressed by noble Lords at Report stage. I believe the whole House is united in wanting to help the police. As I said at Report stage, the police must have the best possible equipment. The amendment is directed to three heads: (1) helping the 183 police to have the best equipment; (2) ensuring that there is equitable and fair treatment of motorists; (3) a very important point, avoiding strain between police and motorists because of widespread doubts as to the effectiveness and accuracy of the equipment now in use.
§ I have no wish to question—and would challenge anyone who endeavoured to do so—the integrity of the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Elton. But as he said on Report, he has to work on advice given to him. Similarly, I have to work on advice given to me. The advice on which I am working has been given by persons very experienced in this field and by the engineers of the motoring organisations. On that evidence, one would not accept all the statements made in your Lordships' House justifying the present equipment. It was said that the prospect of achieving a design breakthrough banning interference altogether is remote. Yet I have here documents of which I have read the appropriate parts, (I am not going to claim I have read them all and would be challenged if I dared to say so) again from the United States of America; from the National Bureau of Standards, the Law Enforcement Standards Laboratory, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Federal Communications Commission—which I am told is equivalent to our own Home Office in these matters. These documents make it quite clear that as far back as 1977 there was available equipment which was not susceptible to radio interference. I must just accept the evidence given to me.
§ Often, because of their absence of technical knowledge, many motorists are not in a position to challenge evidence about equipment when they are caught for speeding offences. Where technical knowledge has been available to the defence, in a large number of cases the prosecutions have been dismissed or withdrawn. It was mentioned in our debate at Report stage that there is not a large list, but there is a substantial list where prosecutions have been dismissed or have been withdrawn. For instance, I know that a substantial number of cases in Avon, Somerset and Nottinghamshire were withdrawn on those grounds. I am sure everyone will agree that this is most unsatisfactory. We want to have thorough reliance on any equipment, and we want to have the best equipment for the police to use.
At Report stage I referred to the awareness of certain documents of which I requested confirmation. One was said to be a memo from the Association of Chief Police Officers which stated that the Home Office quite clearly wanted to bring pressure on the police to adopt a British standard. I hope that is correct because the amendment I am moving proposes this; that there should be a performance standard. I hope that your Lordships will appreciate that this amendment is put forward not as carping criticism and not from any campaigning outlook. We want the police to have the best equipment. We want it to be effective equipment—and it must be equipment upon which everyone in the country can place some reliance. Therefore, we want the simple words added at the end of the Government's own clause:
in regulations conforming to a performance standard specified in those regulations.
§ This is such an important matter, involving only a few important words, that I hope the Government will make it a hat trick and accept this amendment. I beg to move.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has led us with great elegance on to fairly well-trodden ground on which both his footprints and mine are already clearly marked. I fear therefore that I may have to repeat a little of what I said before. The amendment falls into two halves. First, there is the reference to a performance standard; secondly, there is the link with regulations. As I understand it, although "performance standard" is a term of the art understood by engineers, it has no legal meaning as such. It is, presumably, derived from the references to the British Standards Institution which were included in the noble Lord's previous amendment. Having persuaded him to drop that reference, I fear that I may seem to he ungrateful if I point out that without the reference to a performance standard, the amendment makes no sense. It would mean that a standard would have to be defined, and its items listed. Then, if we were to follow the noble Lord's wishes, we would have to turn this list into regulations, and I have two fundamental doubts about this.
First, if and when the scientists decided that the performance standards needed to be changed and, say, certain minimum standards raised, we would have to allow time to make regulations before passing on to the public the benefits of that conclusion. That seems to me to be an unnecessary use of parliamentary time.
Secondly, we do have a perfectly good system already which was introduced with the advent of the breath testing equipment which we use. Because of public interest in the equipment and the innovation in the law which it represented when it was introduced, it was felt necessary to have the Home Secretary approve it. The equipment and the change in law was extremely controversial at the time. Yet Parliament did not think it necessary then to have the approval done by regulations. The system has worked perfectly well ever since. Our scientists evaluate the equipment put to them by manufacturers and advise the Secretary of State on its suitability. I think I should say that the work of our scientists in this field is of a very high order and held in great esteem abroad as well as in this country. It is upon their evaluation and advice that the Secretary of State bases his approval, or, as the case may be, his refusal to approve, items of equipment, and if he does decide on their advice that approval should be given he signs an order known as an approval order; this is printed by Her Majesty's Stationery Office and available on sale to the public. The latest one put out costs 20p.
In any case where a driver wishes to be sure that the equipment he was tested on was approved by the Secretary of State or where he suspects that it was not, he can require the prosecution to give evidence to that effect, which it will do by producing the approval order for that equipment. This system has worked perfectly well since 1968. It is flexible, but it gives the required degree of oversight. No helpful innovation is slowed down by it.
185 As to the innovations in Florida, I regret that my knowledge of what has been proposed there is not up to that of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, but if it is of service to him I will be happy to see that it is put before the scientists who will be doing these evaluations. Their advice, I think, is as valid as any given to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, and indeed it is British. I would strongly urge that what is rightly regarded as an appropriate procedure for the extremely complex breath testing equipment, which I think has gone through six marks since it was developed, should also be accepted as appropriate for this equipment. I must ask your Lordships to resist this amendment.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, the House will have listened, as it always does, with the greatest of care to what the noble Lord the Minister has said. In addition to being, I hope, courteous, I wish I could follow with an expression of confidence in what he has said. First of all, to make a comparison with the breath testing equipment is really not to provide a correct analogy at all. One knows perfectly well that that breath testing equipment, first of all, is a colour changing equipment and therafter is a measurement of content of alcohol if an analysis is taken. That does not need the same absolute precision that corroborative evidence in regard to speeding offences requires.
If your Lordships would look at the very words of the present Bill to which my noble friend referred you would find that all that is provided for here is that the instrument in question shall be "of a type" which is specified. So when the noble Lord says this is going to satisfy everybody because if objection is taken on behalf of any defendant all the prosecution has to do is to produce an order of the Home Secretary—I think it is the Secretary of State for Transport not the Secretary of State for Home Affairs—
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, if the noble Lord is asking who would authorise, I understand it would be the Home Secretary.
§ Lord Mishcon
I am much obliged; I was right the first time. It could only be evidence brought before the court that it was of a type. It would not be the evidence which I think this House requires, which is that it shall be of a standard which has been approved by the Secretary of State. This is merely of a type which has been approved.
The noble Lord the Minister said by way of objection to the present amendment that there is no language known to the law which can define the words used in this amendment with precision. If that be an argument of the Government, may I say that there is no precise definition known to the law of the word "type". Indeed, I cannot think of a more general, vague term to cast before any court at all.
So this amendment seeks to do something which must be sensible. The noble Lord the Minister, in language which was so well chosen, spoke about walking down a road which has been well trodden. May I invite him to walk a little further down that road, which is all that is required of him in order to meet the valid point that this amendment makes. It is this: do not just have it as a "type" but as a "standard" which is set down in regulations. That standard, one 186 imagines, will be there for a very long time before it requires to be altered by any subsequent regulation. That was the only other objection the Minister had to this amendment.
It is a question of principle which is involved. It is a question of whether this House in doing its duty really tries to solve the problem that has been thrown up in the courts and with motoring associations and with the police, too. Are we going to try and solve it properly by laying down a standard, or are we going to play with it by merely talking about approval of a type of instrument by the Secretary of State. I invite the House, as does my noble friend, to grasp the nettle and see that this problem is solved now that we have another Transport Bill before us. The number of Transport Bills we have had is such that one rather imagines that a Government in drawing up future legislative programmes are going to require a lot of persuasion before we have a chance of legislating on this important matter again.
§ Lord Tanlaw
My Lords, I think the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, in moving this amendment has given so much trouble and research to it that I am quite persuaded that the term "performance standard" is a reassurance to a motorist who will be convicted by this equipment. I give just one example. Will this equipment show the same speed in all weather conditions? Electronics are particularly susceptible to weather conditions. A performance standard of the kind mentioned in the amendment would be a reassurance to a motorist that the device used is going to register the same numbers regardless of the time of year or the weather.
I do not go along with the Minister in comparing this with the very stringent laboratory tests that have no doubt been taken with the breathalyser. This is a different type of equipment; it is used out of doors, having to work in much more difficult conditions electronically, and having to provide a much more difficult answer than would chemical analysis. I do not think that argument can hold up a lot of reassurance for motorists who are going to be penalised under this Bill. I am very happy with what the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said, and I believe the terms of this amendment are constructive and reassuring to motorists who are perhaps going to be penalised under this clause.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, perhaps I might say to my noble friend that I am a little unhappy about the word "type". In the Navy, for example, radio transmitters are called types. We used to talk about the type 691; they probably have more modern ones now. The type 691 was approved as a type for introduction into the naval service. I had a small hand in that happening. But it did not mean to say that every type 691 radio transmitter was effective all the time; they broke down and had to be repaired. Therefore, the use of the word "type", as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, indicated, is not wholly satisfactory in meeting the requirement that the particular equipment in use at the time should be effective and, as proposed in the amendment, up to the standard required.
187 As we are talking about a clause which was a Government amendment and which is, therefore, able to be amended further in another place, as I understand the rules, I hope that the Government might give thought, even if they do not like this amendment, to proceeding further with a slightly better wording than exists at the moment.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, I should like to make a few comments. During previous stages of the Bill I have expressed doubts about this method of testing speed. With the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, I share certain misgivings. However, I do not feel that those misgivings will disappear by accepting the amendment. I would be very reluctant to have the detailed regulations put before Parliament to be discussed by parliamentarians who, with the greatest respect to all of them, might have scant knowledge of the technical matters put before them.
I rest very solidly on the work done by Home Office laboratories. I have mentioned this fact before in your Lordships' House, in particular with regard to those instruments developed for breath and for other analysis. I know exactly what I mean by a performance standard. I think it is more an engineering term than a legal term. My noble friend should accept that it is better that Home Office scientists should prescribe what the instrument shall do and then work towards it rather than—I shall he a little frivolous, if I may—scan the Exchange & Mart for a few odd instruments of a like type and say: "We shall check these to see if they meet the criteria". That would be the wrong way to go about it. If my noble friend says that "performance standard" has no lawful form, I think he will at least understand what all of us mean by "lawful form".
There is one other matter that worries me and that is the "type". It also worries the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. If the objections voiced by the noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Mishcon and, indeed, my noble friend Lord Mottistone, have value—I think they have—the easiest course for the Government is to remove some of the words from line 8 on page 74 when the Bill goes to another place. The words at present read:unless the device is of a type approved by the Secretary of State".If we remove the words,of a type",we rest with,unless the device is approved by the Secretary of State".That is quite simple and narrows everything down. We end up with instruments that are approved, not just some loose fringe area of them.
I believe that developments in fields of this nature are so fast that Parliament could not keep up with the changes that would be required if we had regulations. My noble friend the Minister has gone a long way towards meeting the major criticisms. The general debate that has followed should appraise police forces of Parliament's doubts and fears. If they cannot take a hint from that, I doubt very much whether we could ever write anything in any Bill which would achieve that object. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, will not press the matter further on this occasion.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, if the noble Lord does press the amendment, I shall vote with the Government, but I hope that the Government will heed the arguments that have been put forward. I am not at all impressed with the matter being left to the Home office experts without guidance on a scale that might be envisaged in the words of the amendment. I shall explain why I am not entirely happy. The example I am about to give is not completely analogous but it is enough to disturb one's confidence. I remember a situation where application was made to erect a building that had to house inflammable materials. In one area it was left in the hands of the local people without the sort of guidance that ought to have been coming from the top. The answer was given that the building should have a concrete roof of a certain thickness, that the doors and shelving must be made of steel. That advice seemed very logical and sound. The plans were prepared and the building erected according to that general guidance.
A short time later a similar building had to be erected in an area not more than nine or 10 miles away. When the plans were submitted showing a concrete roof, steel doors and shelves the applicants were told, "No, the building must have a very flimsy roof with shelves made of wood and the doors of ordinary asbestos". It was considered less dangerous to allow any possible explosion to disperse rather than seek to contain it in a rigid fashion.
I do not know which was right, but I do know that it is difficult to follow exactly where one stands. The same thing could apply to motorists. They are disturbed at this modern way of one man being able to use a piece of electronic equipment. If the words that the noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Mishcon have in mind are intended to give a clearer guidance on what is wanted and are likely to give a little more satisfaction to people who will be victims, I should have thought it would be worth having another look at the wording, and if not accept the amendment, at least go some way towards meeting the spirit behind the amendment.
§ Lord Wilson of Langside
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, expressed reservations about the amendment on the ground that he had, in turn, reservations about the possibility of matters coming before your Lordships' House and the other place on which parliamentarians would not have a full understanding. The noble Lord shakes his head. Perhaps I misunderstood him and, if so, it is my fault. I was merely about to say that if that were the consequence of this amendment being accepted it would not be the first time that such a situation had arisen: where we had to reach a judgment with such advice—technical and otherwise—as might come to us. As has already been said, although it is not necessary to repeat it, there is no comparison between the situation under this clause and that of drunken driving or driving with an excessive amount of alcohol in one's blood and the use of the breathalyser. For my part, having listened to the debate, I would certainly hope that the Government would accept this amendment.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, it is not usual for a Minister to speak twice on Third Reading, but I have had many challenges thrown down, many questions asked and the Opposition Front Bench have contrived to have two speeches already, so your Lordships may think it fair to allow me to speak again.
I start with the question of the breath-testing machine to get that out of the way. First, it is of course already referred to in the Transport Act. The breath-testing equipment to which I refer is not the simple device to which I think the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, refers, but the very sophisticated evidential machinery which is highly accurate, scientifically complex and satisfactorily supervised by our scientists, who, I think, stand second to none in the world.
To return to the more central matter of type approval, I fear that I may not have explained sufficiently to my noble friends and others what is implicit in this. I believe that it achieves what my noble friends what to achieve, because each individual instrument will be issued with a certificate of conformity to the type and the type—that is, the platonic ideal, which, if you like, all these have to match—will be that approved to perform in the way which is regarded as satisfactory—in other words, to the standards which we regard as satisfactory. So the effect of the word "type" and the effect of the word "standard" in this context are identical.
That said, it still may be—
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, before my noble friend turns to another matter, perhaps I can ask him one question. He said that each piece of equipment will have a certificate. Who will issue the certificate? Will it be given by my noble friend's scientists? Will they look at all the equipment? Or will it be given by the makers and so be taken for granted that it will go on working properly?
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, the individual pieces of equipment will be tested by the scientists and they will then have a certificate of conformity to the type which is regarded as satisfactory by the Home Secretary because that piece of equipment performs to a standard which your Lordships would accept. That standard is that it will tell with a degree of accuracy and with a lack of deviation which would be satisfactory for a court.
The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, who has spent many years in a moister clime, is afraid that on a really wet day the equipment might not work. My scientists—if I may so call them without any degree of anything, except pride—are aware that it rains very heavily sometimes and that policemen go out in the rain to check the speed of vehicles. In addition to that, every instrument already has its calibration checked every day before it is used and any time that it may be put in doubt. I would expect that to be one of the things that would be required under the method that I propose.
I turn now to the question of the parliamentary process. With the greatest respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, even if we go along with him in all that he said about the expertise of parliamentarians and its effect, the fact 190 remains that if it was suddenly discovered that regulations were required not to approve but to withdraw approval from a device, that also would have to go through the parliamentary process and there would be a very awkward time when a mistake could not be rectified and the machinery in use would be in question. That is what we all want to avoid. We also want to avoid diversity of standards. We want to be certain that everything is sufficient to testify or not to the judgment of a constable as to the speed of a vehicle.
I can assure my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls that whatever the vagaries of the case he mentioned—and I shall be interested to hear of them afterwards because of my own interest in fire services as well, but I do not want to broaden the debate—we shall not have a situation when one gets into Northamptonshire on the MI and be able to say "Let us put our foot down because they are using variety X of speed-testing equipment and that has a 25 per cent. accuracy deviation". I believe that what I propose is workable and practical. I am sorry if the terminology that I have used has confused your Lordships. I believe that we have the right solution and I hope that your Lordships will give it a whirl and not accept this amendment.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, other noble Lords and I have stated that the Minister has gone a long way from his original stance on this matter, and that is very much appreciated. I am grateful to other noble Lords who have supported the spirit of the amendment. On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, I have seen regulations on constuction and use as regards motor-cars which, believe me, are very complicated. Yet these are available for the procedure of annulment. Therefore, I have no doubt that if Members of this House and of the other place can cope with that, they could cope with a regulation of this kind.
The Minister has elaborated some additional words. I am certain that it will be very helpful if those additional words were looked at and added to the Government's own clause. I shall not say what the words should be; I think that one has to think about this. Frankly, this is not the sort of issue on which I would wish to divide the House. I should like to think that the Government would recognise that they still have one other opportunity, because the Government's clause is an amendment to the Bill when it left the other place. Therefore, the Lords amendments have to be considered in the other place and it is possible, from my understanding of procedure, that it can be amended in the other place.
Not one noble Lord has said that the Government's words are absolutely satisfactory. It may be that there is a defect in the amendment which I have proposed, but I would like to think that the Government would say, "We agree that it is not the sort of thing upon which we ought to vote because many people outside have not listened to a single word that we have said". It is a non-party issue. Heaven knows which way they would vote because there are no Whips on. Therefore, I would much prefer the Government to say that many views have been expressed by people who want something different.
191 At the end of his remarks the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said that a piece of equipment would be approved. This is something that noble Lords and I want to avoid. We want a performance standard to be laid down so that any piece of equipment should conform to it. The equipment is then set against that standard. That seems to me to be the sensible thing to do. On Report a number of noble Lords emphasised this far better than I am. This is what our amendment would try to achieve.
I am prepared to accept that the words in my amendment may not have proper meaning, but other noble Lords have said that the Government need to have some elaboration. It would be very helpful to the House if the Minister—and I am not asking him to make a commitment—could take this last opportunity before the Lords' amendments go to the Commons to look at what has been said by various noble Lords today. I believe that that would be very helpful. I hope that that will be the attitude taken because, despite my unwillingness to test the House, a principle is involved here in that we want to have a proper understanding between the motorist who is booked for a speeding offence and the police. At the moment, there is considerable dissatisfaction with the equipment being used. It may be that the equipment is all right. But there is a feeling among the public that this equipment is not properly evaluated.
That is the principle here and I hope the Government will feel that they can accept my suggestion. I make it quite clear. We ask that they do it without any commitment; that they have an open mind, with no commitment to make a change. Let them look at it to see whether it is possible to make a change. Before I beg leave to withdraw the amendment, I should like the Government to make that statement.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, the noble Lord places me in the procedural difficulty of matching three Opposition Front Bench speeches. I would merely say that everything your Lordships have said on both sides of the House will be studied, as always with the greatest of care in the department and by my right honourable friend.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.40 p.m.
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 74, line 9, at end insert—
("() The device shall be operated in accordance with an operating standard specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the third amendment dealing with Clause 62 and the radar speed equipment. This amendment does not rest upon what happened to the previous amendment, because there has been so much criticism about the need for the proper operation of equipment. At the Committee stage the Minister emphasised that in one of the court cases to which I referred the judge had stressed that the equipment has to he properly operated. I readily accept that we not only want a proper standard for the equipment but it has to be properly operated.192
§ Therefore, this amendment asks that in dealing with prosecutions the device must be such that it is operated in accordance with an operating standard again specified in regulations made by the Secreary of State. This again would seem to be simple. Everybody agrees that there must be good operating standards. The Minister has said that careful attention is being given to this, and the simple thing to do would be to put this subsection in to supplement the Government's own clause. I beg to move.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, may I come in at this juncture to speak to this amendment. It also gives me the opportunity to assure the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, that I meant no discourtesy whatsoever to eminent scientists. What I was worried about was that if we go too far down the road of requiring so much to be brought before Parliament we might he in danger of getting a technical specification written into regulations which so few of us would he able to deal with in a parliamentary process. That is all I meant.
So far as this amendment is concerned, again because I have in previous stages expressed sympathy for the general tenor of what is included here, I have to say that in general terms I accept the principle behind Lord Underhill's amendment, but for exactly the same reasons as I suggested when we discussed his previous amendment I do not think this is wholly practicable. Certainly if we get as far as the Home Office approving a piece of equipment, it follows that the method of operation will also be included in such certification, and I suppose it would be up to a defendant to prove that the equipment was not operated in conformity with the manufacturer's standard.
I cannot see that setting out an operating procedure in a regulation is necessarily going to ensure that the regulation is carried out. I have greater faith than my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls in the work done by the Home Office laboratories. Certainly in connection with the new screening device, prior to the use of an evidential breath-testing device in the instructions given to the police as to the operation of that instrument, how often it should be checked, tested, and so on, they even went so far as to say that unless the screening device is used regularly the equipment would have to be withdrawn from service because it would not fall within the bands acceptable. In certain areas of the country that device is not used because it does not conform to the standards. I think much the same could he said with regard to the operating instructions.
I feel that we ought now to accept what has been proposed as a fairly major step towards removing the doubts most of us have had at one time and to see what transpires over the next two or three years. I should not like to go further with this particular amendment at this stage.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, I too do not really support this amendment. I would hope that my noble friend would be able to assure me that when the device is of a type approved by the Secretary of State that will automatically include operating instructions going with it, because one would imagine that they are 193 always supplied. In any case, the key point in this amendment is that they shall be operated correctly. My concern is that the operator himself may not be properly trained in the use of the equipment, and I should like to have seen something about training of the police in this amendment if I were to support it. It has not got that, and therefore I do not support it. But I should like a bit of reassurance from my noble friend about the operating procedure automatically being of a type that is approved, and about proper arrangements to train the police to use them as part of the way in which he would hope to handle it.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, if I repeat a small section of my earlier argument your Lordships will forgive me if I do so briefly. It is simply to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that we again have the term "operating standard" standing free, as it were, of British Standards which makes the amendment in that sense weaker than the noble Lord would wish.
What in general terms we propose to do would be to consider the best operating practice while we are studying the equipment and recommend that best practice to the police in our guidance. This is very simple, and above all flexible. Consider if you will the position that would arise if the performance standard were defined in regulations as the noble Lord wishes, and our scientists discovered that a particular procedure in the standard was in fact producing misleading results. If the standard is defined in regulations it can only be changed by regulations. We could not instruct the police informally to change a particular procedure, because although this would be in the public interest any test carried out in this manner would be unlawful. This would mean that a person checked in the "reformed" manner, if I can call it that, could claim to a court that the check was not properly carried out, and the evidence would therefore fall. This is exactly the kind of legal morass which we have only just taken steps to pull ourselves out of in the context of drunken driving.
I do not think we want to get into it again with radar. To avoid this situation the police would have to stop using the equipment until the new regulation was made. I cannot see that this would be in the public interest. By contrast, using our own approval method, any change in recommended practice would be communicated to the police immediately by telex and followed by Home Office circular without any legal complications or delay ensuing.
Exactly where the instructions that might be issued with the equipment when it was first taken into service would fit into that I cannot exactly tell my noble friend Lord Mottistone, but I have the point about instructions with equipment firmly on board from the last stage, and I shall have it very much in mind when we are devising the way in which this is to be done. I appreciate that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, is trying to serve the public by proposing regulations for operating procedures, but I fear that what in fact would result would have the opposite effect. Therefore, regretfully but firmly, I must ask your Lordships not to support this amendment.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, the Minister has given some cogent reasons why this particular amendment 194 should not be accepted. I accept that he is as sincere as I am, or anybody else in this House is, in trying to get this provision right. On the basis of what he has said, I beg to leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 73 [Regulations and orders]:
§ [Amendment No. 12 not moved.]
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 79, line 30, after ("Act;") insert—
(" (aa) an order to which section 55(6) of this Act applies;").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the last amendment in my name on this Bill. Subsection (6) of Clause 55, to which this amendment refers, provides that an order continuing an experimental order for the use of the immobilisation devices—that is the wheel clamps—shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been approved by each House of Parliament.
§ The amendment seeks to provide that before making such an order, the Secretary of State shall consult with representative organisations as he may think fit. An amendment in somewhat similar form was tabled on Report and, after hearing the noble Earl, Lord Avon, on the matter, I said I would consider the issue again to see what might be done. I have done that and I still feel that this is a necessary inclusion. I wonder whether the noble Earl has also reflected on it and if he feels disposed to accept it.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, as I indicated to the noble Lord, the Government would in any case have expected to consult on the outcome of the experimental use of wheel clamps before presenting to Parliament any draft order continuing the experiment in force. We are happy to accept the amendment, which will make such consultation a statutory requirement.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 3 [Statutory statements]:
Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 91, line 44, after ("summons") insert ("or, in Scotland, complaint").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, my noble friend spoke to this. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Lord Bellwin
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. We have spent many hours discussing many amendments—over 250, I believe—to a Bill which covers a number of very different subjects in the transport field. I should like to take this opportunity to thank, first and foremost, my noble friend Lord Avon who has played such a large and effective part in taking the Bill through the House. I am deeply grateful to him. I thank also my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate and my noble friend Lord Elton for the valuable parts they have played; it is a great comfort to have colleagues of such calibre.
I wish also to thank the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for the major role he has again played in this, the third 195 Transport Bill I have brought before this House. His persistence and persuasiveness is always tempered with courtesy. A challenge it may be, but it is never less than a pleasure to debate with him. Once more he has been ably and, if I may say so, as always, eloquently supported by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, a dynamic duo indeed. His advocacy is invariably formidable and impressive and he too is very hard to deny—but we did our best! May I also mention my noble friend Lord Lucas, who has again demonstrated his considerable expertise in the transport sector. The more I have him on my side, the better I feel. Needless to say, I am grateful to the many other noble Lords who have made valuable contributions.
It has been some little time since we considered Part I of the Bill which paves the way for the introduction of private capital into the National Bus Company's express and coach holiday businesses, and into certain property developments and improvements. It is part of the Government's continuing programme for involving the private sector in the activities of the nationalised industries.
National Express is already the market leader in the provision of scheduled inter-city coach services. It is a commercial business, which the Government believe could and should flourish in the private sector, drawing on market finance and not on the taxpayer for its investment capital. The same is true of the smaller coach tour business, National Holidays. As regards property, the NBC has particularly welcomed the opportunities which privatisation will give them to upgrade their passenger facilities and realise the full potential of their property assets.
I understand very well that the Opposition have a basic philosophical difficulty with the policy underlying Part I. Nonetheless, we have had some useful debates. I recall particularly the wise contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Byers; and, on a variety of practical matters, from my noble friend Lord Teviot. Your Lordships have shown that even where there are such fundamental differences in approach, it is possible in this House to have a sensible exchange of views.
I know from our very useful debates on Part II of the Bill that there is very little between the Government and noble Lords opposite. The overriding concern of us all has been to ensure that under any new private sector testing scheme, the testing of lorries and buses is carried out safely and impartially. The clauses which make up Part II of the Bill set out to ensure that a private sector testing scheme will operate with the consistency, smoothness and high standards which are so valued in the present testing system. These are the aims we have in mind and I know that they are shared by noble Lords on all sides of the House.
As your Lordships will recall, we have announced our intention of transferring the testing system to Lloyds Register Vehicle Testing Authority. LRVTA will be able to maintain the high safety standards and impartiality to which the industry and everyone in this House rightly attaches importance; they will also be well placed to develop the system and offer an improved service to the vehicle operators.
Noble Lords will appreciate that there is a mass of detail concerning the day to day running of the system 196 that needs to be agreed with Lloyds Register before we can conclude a final agreement. Work is proceeding, however, and I hope to be able to come to the House with further news before long. I know that a number of noble Lords—I have in mind particularly the noble Lords, Lord Mishcon and Lord Underhill, and my noble friend Lord Lucas, felt that as the Government had decided the best course would be to transfer testing to a single non-profit-making organisation, then the Bill should be amended to rule out any other option.
The Government are confident that our negotiations with Lloyds Register will prove successful and that the resulting testing system will be an excellent one; but that is not to say the path we have chosen is the only possible route available. It would be short-sighted indeed to decide now on one particular solution and embody this in legislation which would leave no room in the future for flexibility, development natural growth and change. The House will be aware, however, that the Government are not asking for a carte blanche here; the appointment of the testing authority, whether it be LRVTA or any other body, is subject to the approval of Parliament.
There has also been some feeling that a ban on any connection between the body appointed to carry out testing and the motor trade should be written into the legislation. The proposal that LRVTA should take over testing, of course, meets the substance of this point. They will have no connection with the manufacture, sale or repair of commercial vehicles. Nevertheless, it is the Government's view that it would be wrong to rule out for ever and a day any possibility of the involvement of any body with commercial interests. The Bill has been specifically designed to provide a structure within which any commercial interests can be safely controlled. If it were decided that some commercial interest could safely be allowed—I stress again that Parliament itself will take that decision—there are powers in Clause 8 to impose conditions on the way in which the testing business was managed.
As I said earlier, there has never been much between us on this part of the Bill. I am only sorry that our customary generosity did not allow us to accept some amendments of noble Lords opposite, and, for that matter, of my noble friends. The Government believe the future of the testing of buses and lorries lies firmly in the private sector. The clauses in Part II of the Bill seek to achieve this by providing a basis for introducing new management and new approaches, which the Government believe will improve the system and benefit the industry. But they go further and also provide for proper controls on how the new powers may be used. And I repeat again, the final say rests with Parliament itself.
The proposals in Part III of the Bill to improve and extend the fixed penalty system for road traffic offences are not a party issue. Our objectives—to achieve an efficient system which will save police and court time and also be acceptable to the motorist—are, I am sure, shared on all sides of the House, although it would be fair to say that there has not always been agreement that what the Government are proposing is the best way of achieving them. However, the Government were able to respond positively to suggestions in 197 another place and in your Lordships' House itself, and I hope that it will be felt that we have proceeded in a way that tried to meet the point of achieving the very best.
Finally, I turn to what in the event has proved to be the topic provoking perhaps most interest or discussion; that is, the introduction for an experimental period of immobilisation devices or wheel clamps. Here, too, we have had very constructive debate and helpful suggestions. As a result we have been able to improve the clause, I believe to the satisfaction of the whole House, for which I thank all who have contributed their views to our discussion, not least the noble Baroness, Lady Denington. It made a pleasant change to have her as a supporter on this point.
We have also introduced a number of new items into the Bill. I should mention my noble friend Lord Mottistone, at whose initiative we have included a provision on motorcycle visors, and the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for the measure relating to builders' skips. I think that the Bill will bring worthwhile improvements on a number of important fronts across the transport sector. It is not a Bill that we seek to defend in terms of party dogma, but rather as a series of sound, practical measures, which I hope will be welcomed by everyone with a genuine interest in the subject of transport. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Bellwin.)
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, first, I should like to echo the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, and say how much on this side of the House we have appreciated the able, effective and very courteous way in which the team of Ministers have handled the Bill in all its stages. As the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, has said, this is the third occasion on which he and I—I was going to say during the short period of office of the Government—have handled transport Bills. We understand that another one is threatened for next year, so presumably we shall go through this kind of procedure again.
I am very grateful to the noble Lord for the always courteous way in which he handled affairs, and I am grateful, too, to the team of Ministers who so ably assisted him. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate have emulated the courteous way in which the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, handled matters. So long as it does not hurt his position, I should also like to echo what has been said about the noble Earl, Lord Avon, who had to bear part of the brunt of the Bill when the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, was not here, and we are grateful to the noble Earl for that. I should also like to thank my own colleague Lord Mishcon for his splendid help and unstinting co-operation at all stages of the Bill.
The Government have acted somewhat like Jekyll and Hyde over the Bill. In Parts I and II they acted as hard politicians, not deviating one jot, but in regard to the other Parts they showed that they were prepared to listen and so have greatly improved the Bill. I shall like first to say a few words about the unhappy Part. As the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, has said, Part I of the Bill could provide for the eventual disposal of all the subsidiaries of the National Bus Company, because the powers are there. The Government have said that 198 they intend to confine the use of the powers to National Express Coaches, National Holidays, and the property company; but the powers are there if it is wished to use them in the future.
It might be asked, why did we not put down any amendments at today's Third Reading? The reason is very simple. At Committee and Report stages we put forward amendments of every possible version to try to improve Part I of the Bill. We wanted to leave out National Express; we wanted to ensure that the National Bus Company would retain 50 per cent. minimum holding, or alternatively, a 26 per cent. holding, which would give it considerable control. We made efforts to try to secure that nothing would be done to impair the integration of services available to the travelling public. All those things we tried to do, but they were swept aside, as were amendments that endeavoured to limit the very sweeping powers of the Secretary of State in giving instructions to the National Bus Company. The National Bus Company is a very successful undertaking, so is National Express Coaches, and it is significant that when a company in public ownership is successful that is when the Government want to mutilate it and destroy it; and that has happened in this case.
Part II of the Bill deals with the transfer of the testing of heavy goods vehicles and passenger service vehicles to the private sector. Again, we put forward no amendments today because we had exhausted all possibilities. We tried in every way possible either to improve the Government's proposals, or to safeguard the future. Naturally, we hope that the transfer to Lloyd's will be efficient, but if it is not, there is nothing in the Bill to guarantee that there will be one, single organisation to take over the testing, which is what we wanted. I say "we" wanted, but I point out that on that occasion the Opposition were speaking not on behalf of, but with the full support of, the operators in the industry, who wanted to continue with the present system. I do not at this hour want to go through the whole history of the matter.
The Government say that they introduced this particular part of the Bill in order to achieve flexibility. But why was it necessary to have complicated machinery of eight clauses to deal with the testing of heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles, with which all the operators are already thoroughly satisfied? The Government are destroying the system which the operators wish to continue.
So in Parts I and II of the Bill the Government are clearly carrying out their doctrinaire policy, and I point out that no one will find a word about it in the Tory election manifesto. They had no mandate at all from the electors for either or both of these measures. Now perhaps I may turn to happier times, because in regard to Parts III and IV of the Bill the Government showed that they were willing to listen, and considerable improvements were made. For that we are very grateful to the Ministers. I believe that with regard to Parts III and IV the Bill will go back to the other place a far better Bill than it was when it came to your Lordships House. Valuable contributions were made not only from the Opposition, but from all parts of the House. That, if as a relatively new Member I may say so, showed the House of Lords at its best, discussing 199 matters of great importance, but prepared to give and take.
Where there were Divisions, it was interesting to see how the House divided. Sometimes it did not divide, it split in all directions. On one occasion we proved our openness on an issue, with my noble friend Lord Mishcon and I disagreeing from the Opposition Front Bench, putting forward two different viewpoints, showing that these were matters on which there was no party Whip at all, but matters which we wished the House to consider.
I am grateful—I shall not say for the concessions, because that would sound wrong. I am grateful that the Ministers have seen that a number of matters needed improving and have accepted comments that were made to them. I believe that Parts III and IV of the Bill have been greatly improved to everyone's benefit.
Before closing I should like to refer to three matters. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate said that he would look at the possibility of giving guidance to the courts, so that a Scots motorist who did not have his licence when in England and Wales would not face a penalty larger than would be the case had a constable been able to issue a fixed penalty notice at the roadside. Another matter—and I understand from the noble Earl, Lord Avon, that this has already been set in motion—concerns consultation with the Metropolitan Police in particular with regard to the use of police records when dealing with persistent offenders and using wheel clamps, which I think is what everybody desires.
My last point is on fixed penalties. Here again I am asking for another concession from the Government. We have reached a hat trick today; it has been very comforting. In view of the strong representations made by noble Lords from all parts of the House concerning various aspects of fixed penalties procedure, I wonder whether the Minister can give an assurance that there will be undertaken or can promise to consider, a careful review of the operation of the procedure, say within a period of two or three years. If something could be extended in this regard, it would be very helpful. I believe that your Lordships have made many improvements, but it would be comforting to know that after a certain period the whole procedure would be reviewed. Having said that, I should like to add finally that I think we have had useful debates on the Bill. It is a pity that we were not given concessions in regard to Parts I and II to match the very happy atmosphere that there was in relation to Parts III and IV.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Lord Tanlaw
My Lords, I want very briefly to endorse the words spoken by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, which were certainly the same as mine. This has been my first Transport Bill as a Liberal transport spokesman, so I have been running in during this period, partly with the assistance of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, with some of the joint amendments. From these Benches I should like to say that I very much welcome the attitude of noble Lords opposite and the way in which they listened to what we had to say, and indeed accepted some of our amendments. I had only one slight disappointment, 200 but I think that perhaps there is a chance that the Government will improve on it in their next Transport Bill. I hope that the cyclist will be given a better run for his money. If there are to be miscellaneous provisions in a future Bill, as I hope there will be, I look forward—this is a new era—to seeing their intentions in this respect.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, on reaching this stage of the Bill may I thank all four of my noble friends who have piloted this Bill through your Lordships' House for their very great help, and where I have not previously expressed personal thanks for the discussions and conversations which have taken place I do so now. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, I welcome very much Part I of this Bill and look forward to an expansion of the National Bus Company's operation. So far as Part II is concerned, I must confess to having some few reservations, and I shall look forward to seeing the complete plans of the Lloyd's authority in due course. I hope that the industry which the testing system serves—it is not in fact the other way round—will indeed be satisfied and share the Government's confidence.
Much of Parts III and IV of the Bill has been concerned with (if perhaps I may so describe them) the more mundane matters, which involve relationships between the officers of the law and the motorist. I still wonder whether in fact we are not piling too much responsibility on the police in an area which, to say the least, is most delicate. When one hears from all sides of the House the number of cases which go before magistrates' courts which arise from motoring offences, one becomes extremely worried, and to add further responsibilities seems to me to be something of a pity.
I am particularly sorry—and your Lordships will appreciate it—that Clause 42 has been removed from the Bill. During the short time Clause 42 was part of the Bill it received wide publicity and acceptance. I therefore hope that the Government will take note of the views of your Lordships' House and of the public, and will take the earliest opportunity to review the fixed penalty system as regards speeding offences. Because, if I may remind the House, there has been no argument that speeding falls into a number of groups. There are those speeding offences which are very serious, those which are serious and those which are certainly less serious; and yet no provision has been made.
How the Magistrates' Association can contend that the inclusion of the then Clause 42 would have added to their work is beyond me. Indeed, if one looks at the table of offences and at the number of offences for speeding one sees that there are, I think it is, 348,000 alone that might have been dealt with by a fixed penalty and which therefore might never have gone to court, so the magistrates would have been relieved of that burden. Having said that, the Secretary of State has powers under Clause 29 to review, and whether my noble friend Lord Avon describes the present time as being premature for the fining of the law, I suggest that he and his colleagues keep very much before them the opportunity of fining the law particularly in that respect.
201 I thought there was to be no Transport Bill next year. I recall coming back in 1981 from a summer holiday to deal with the most contentious of subjects, such as road humps. This year it has been clamping devices. I thought that next year we were to have a sabbatical. I shall look forward to hearing from my noble friend just what is proposed for next year. I hope that we shall get it a little earlier in the Session, so that we do not have the enormous rush and the great burden that we have had this summer, and the unhappy business of having a Summer Recess and then having to pick up the threads of the very important parts of this Bill right at the end of the Session, which has not made the work of your Lordships' House or, indeed, of my noble friends any easier.
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.