HL Deb 13 June 1988 vol 498 cc14-5

3.16 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

This is the first of three Bills on the Order Paper in my name. If I may, I shall speak to all three together, and then move the other two formally, together with the consequential Motion in connection with the third. I should like to offer my compliments and thanks—and I trust also those of the House—to the Law Commission, the Scottish Law Commission and the draftsman who have made such an excellent job of this enormous task of consolidation.

The last major consolidation of the Road Traffic Acts was in the Road Traffic Act 1972, which has been considerably amended by primary and especially by subordinate legislation. Part III of the Transport Act 1982 set up a new procedure for punishing certain road traffic offences by fixed penalty. Provisions relating to prosecution and punishment of offences were consolidated in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

The structure of the Road Traffic Bill corresponds to that of the 1972 Act, each part covering similar subject matter to that of its predecessor, but the consolidation has provided an opportunity to shorten the length of sections, and to simply the language and make it consistent.

The consolidation differs in structure from the previous consolidations in its treatment of the provisions about the prosecution and punishment of offences. These have been consolidated, with the provisions about fixed penalties, in the second Bill under my name, the Road Traffic Offenders Bill.

Thirdly, there is the Road Traffic (Consequential Provisions) Bill, which is ancillary to the two main Bills. It deals with a number of technical and transitional matters, including repeals and consequential amendments, and it re-enacts or amends some provisions which have not been brought into force.

The consolidation gives effect to two Bills of the present Session, the Criminal Justice Bill, and the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Rear Seat Belts by Children) Bill, neither of which has been enacted. 'Any changes which may be made in those Bills will have to be reflected by amendment to the draft consolidation Bills.

The Law Commissions have, in accordance with usual practice, issued a report on the consolidation in which they make a number of recommendations for minor technical amendments to remove anomalies and inconsistencies which came to light during the consolidation exercise so that the law can be stated in a clear and straightforward fashion.

There is a special Motion on the Order Paper relating to this consolidation. The Road Traffic (Consequential Provisions) Bill is an essential part of the consolidation, but is not, in the strict sense, a Consolidation Bill. It is most conveniently dealt with, along with the other two Bills, by the Joint Committee, but the rules of the House require that the House must refer it to the Joint Committee specifically. The other Bills will go through to the Joint Committee in the ordinary course.

I beg to move that the first of the three Bills be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a second time, and referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.