HL Deb 15 July 1986 vol 478 cc865-6

7.40 p.m.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I beg to move that the Functions of Traffic Wardens (Amendment) Order 1986 be approved.

This is the fourth draft Functions of Traffic Wardens Order to be laid before the House since traffic wardens' duties were put on a statutory footing in 1960. It amends the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order 1970, and is subject to affirmative resolution in both Houses.

The order is different from the previous three orders in that it does not extend the functions of traffic wardens nor provide for new powers or functions. The order arises from the need to enable traffic wardens to issue fixed penalty notices under Part III of the Transport Act 1982 when it is implemented on 1st October of this year. When Part III is brought into force the legislation mentioned in the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order 1970, as amended, which enables traffic wardens to issue fixed penalty notices at the moment, will be repealed. The order we have before us amends the 1970 order only in so far as it removes the reference to the repeal legislation and replaces it with a reference to the Transport Act 1982. The order therefore does no more than allow traffic wardens to go on doing what they do now, but under different legislation.

As the need for this order has arisen because of the implementation of Part III of the Transport Act 1982 it may be helpful to your Lordships' House if I say something very brief about that. As your Lordships know, there have for some years been problems in administering the present parking ticket system, particularly in London, where about half of all parking tickets issued are never paid. Part III is intended to remedy this unacceptable situation by providing that tickets unpaid within a specified period will, unless a court hearing has been requested, automatically be increased by 50 per cent. and registered for enforcement as a fine imposed by the courts. Thus, a £12 unpaid parking ticket will become an £ 18 fine, backed up with all the usual fine enforcement powers and machinery available to the courts.

In addition to these enforcement powers Part III also provides for an extended fixed penalty system. From October fixed penalty notices may be issued for a wide range of traffic offences including, for the first time, moving traffic offences including those for which a driver's licence may be endorsed. The provisions under Part III should relieve the courts of several hundred thousand minor traffic cases each year, although there is likely to be some mitigated effect in extra fine enforcement work. Also, there should be time savings for police officers because they will no longer have to prepare cases and attend court for prosecutions which are, in the context of the whole range of police officers' duties, for fairly minor offences.

As I said a moment ago, the parking ticket under the new system will be £12 as it is now. This will also be the penalty for other traffic offences, including moving ones, which do not require the endorsement of the driving licence. The fixed penalty for offences for which a driver's licence will be endorsed will be £24. The same procedure for enforcing payment exists for these fixed penalties as for parking tickets; that is, an unpaid fixed penalty will, unless a court hearing has been requested, be increased by 50 per cent. and enforced as a fine.

This is, in brief, the new fixed penalty system but though it has important implications for the work of the police service and the courts, its implications for traffic wardens are small. They will not be empowered to deal with the majority of offences under the new system; in particular, they will not be empowered to deal with moving traffic offences for which a driver's licence will be endorsed. Their functions and powers will remain the same as at present.

I hope that this explanation has set the draft order in context. Your Lordships' will appreciate from what I have said that the order is simply a consequence of bringing Part III of the Transport Act 1982 into effect. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 30th June be approved. [29th Report from the Joint Committee]—(Viscount Davidson.)

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount for explaining this order because tracing through the previous 1970 order and the two Acts—the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and the Transport Act 1982—is complicated. I was becoming worried at one stage, when the noble Viscount was detailing the powers under the new fixed penalty schemes and referring to speeding offences. I was glad that he made it clear at the end of his explanation that these do not apply to the duties of wardens and that, in fact, wardens have no extra duties except that they will now be able to issue fixed penalty notices. That will be of great help in law enforcement relating to parking and other offences and will be complementary to the powers of the police. Therefore, I am happy to welcome the order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.