HL Deb 21 June 1990 vol 520 cc1112-5

7.34 p.m.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee. —(Lord Brougham and Vaux.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD GRANTCHESTER in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Sections substituted for Sections 14 and 15 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984]:

Lord Brougham and Vaux

moved Amendment No. 1: Page 4, line 39, leave out ("and (3)") and insert (", (3) and (4A)"). The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 1, I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendments Nos. 2 to 8. In the course of my remarks at Second Reading last week I undertook to bring forward amendments in relation to temporary traffic orders affecting footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and byways open to all traffic. These amendments fulfil that promise. They concern the proposed new Section 15 to be inserted in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 by virtue of Clause 1 of the Bill.

Section 15 provides for the permitted duration of temporary orders and notices. As currently drafted, the Bill stipulates a standard period of 18 months for all orders or combinations of notice and order. There is provision for a longer period to enable essential works to be completed, or to allow traditional time when an equivalent permanent order is to be made.

Following representations in another place from the Ramblers' Association and the British Horse Society, it was agreed that a shorter period than 18 months would be appropriate where temporary orders would affect walkers, horse-riders and cyclists, who may be rather more inconvenienced than motorised traffic by temporary closures and diversions. The effect of the amendments, therefore, is to introduce a six-month time limit for such orders instead of 18 months.

The amendments provide that the Secretary of State may extend the six-month period at the request of the order-making authority. That allows, as now, for some flexibility where circumstances may justify a longer restriction. If he refuses a request, the authority may not frustrate it and bring forward a further order until a period of three months has elapsed. Again, that is a formulation which exists at present in Section 15.

Finally, definitions are provided for footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and byways open to all traffic by reference to existing statutes, including those in Scotland where appropriate. The objective behind the amendments has been agreed by the parties who had initially expressed their anxieties about longer restrictions. I hope they will commend them selves to the Committee. I beg to move.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

From these Benches may I say that we are pleased that the not exactly hiccough but slight hesitation that might have occurred because of some dissatisfaction has been sorted out so amicably outside the House. I am sure that this owes a great deal to the conciliatory attitude that the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, has not just in this matter but in others.

One needs to get consensus in these matters. When he refers to the interests of the ramblers, the local authorities and other parties, then obviously, in a measure designed to be beneficial to the whole community, it is a good thing that the Committee is assured, as we are, by the noble Lord that satisfaction has been reached outside the House. From these Benches we are pleased to wish the Bill continued speed.

Lord Tordoff

I indicated at Second Reading that I was not prepared to let the noble Lord just take these things through on the nod. However, having heard his explanation, I am perfectly happy that he is doing good things for ramblers, who are good people, and therefore that these amendments should be supported.

The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne

I need say very little except to give the Government's full support to my noble friend's amendments. The Committee will be grateful for his clear words of explanation. As my noble friend Lord Davidson remarked last week in the course of Second Reading, it is incumbent on local authorities to minimise the obstruction of rights of way. Non-vehicular traffic is particularly inconvenienced by closures and diversions. The Government have accepted that a shorter period is appropriate in the circumstances described by my noble friend. Agreement to that effect was reached in correspondence between my honourable friend the Minister for Roads and Traffic and the Ramblers' Association and the British Horse Society, following exchanges in another place.

I am satisfied that my noble friend's amendments fully reflect the terms of the agreement. I commend them to the Committee.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

I am most grateful to the Minister.

I apologise to the Committee if I sound stuffed up; I have a streaming cold. As a sponsor of the Bill in this Chamber, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Graham of Edmonton and Lord Tordoff, for their kind remarks about it. I am sure that my honourable friend in another place will appreciate everyone's remarks.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

moved Amendments Nos. 2 to 8: Page 4, line 41, after ("months") insert ("or, if the order is one to which subsection (1A) below applies, six months"). Page 4, line 42, at end insert: ("(1A) This subsection applies to an order in respect of a footpath, bridleway, cycle track or byway open to all traffic."). Page 4, line 43, after ("time-limit") insert ("of eighteen months"). Page 4, line 50, after ("time-limit") insert ("of eighteen months"). Page 5, line 18, at end insert: ("(4A) The Secretary of State may, at the request of an authority that has made an order subject to the time-limit of six months in subsection (1) above, from time to time direct that the order shall continue in force for a further period from the date on which it would otherwise cease to be in force. (4B) Where the Secretary of State refuses a request under subsection (4A) above in respect of an order no further order to which that subsection applies shall be made in respect of any length of road to which the previous order related unless the Secretary of State has consented to the making of the further order or at least three months have expired since the date on which the previous order ceased to be in force."). Page 5, line 32, leave out ("or (3) above") and insert (", (3) or (4A) above and subject to subsection (4B) above"). Page 5, line 42, at end insert: ("(7) In the application of this section to England and Wales—

  1. (a) "footpath" does not include a highway over which the public have a right of way on foot only which is at the side of a public road;
  2. (b) "cycle track" has the same meaning as in the Highways Act 1980; and
  3. (c) "byway open to all traffic" means a highway over which the public have a right of way for vehicular and all other kinds of traffic but which is used by the public mainly for the purpose for which footpaths and bridleways are used.
(8) In the application of this section to Scotland "footpath" and "cycle track" have the same meaning as in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984."). The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee, I should like to move Amendments Nos. 2 to 8 en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until five past eight.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.42 to 8.5 p.m.]