HL Deb 24 March 1993 vol 544 cc331-3

3.2 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether it has yet been decided how parking attendants, employed by local government councils to work in public streets and squares, will be paid; and what view has been expressed by Her Majesty's Government.

The Minister of State, Department of Transport (The Earl of Caithness)

My Lords, it will be for the individual local councils to determine how their parking attendants should be paid. We have not issued any guidance on this.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his reply. Does he agree that payment related to numbers of parking tickets issued would be short-sighted and open to abuse? The best results are fewer offences following conscientious patrolling. How many councils are employing, or are intending to employ, this new kind of official who is different from a traffic warden? Is Westminster Council one of them?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, the answer to my noble friend's final question is, yes, Westminster Council will employ the new attendants. Some 11 councils in London employ the new attendants and all the boroughs in London will take over this responsibility by the middle of next year. I believe that any method of payment has potential for abuse but proper enforcement is very much part of the law.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford

My Lords, one of the powers of these new traffic attendants is that if they come across a vehicle, which presumably is illegally parked, and they discover that the owner of the vehicle has not paid a number of parking fines that have been levied on that vehicle, they have the power to clamp that vehicle and have it towed away against the background of the non-payment of fines. Is the noble Earl aware that one of the big problems in London is the number of diplomatic corps cars which have parking tickets attached although the fines are never paid? Does that mean that one of the new attendants will be empowered to clamp the American Ambassador's car because parking tickets have not been paid?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am sure the American Ambassador would never put himself in that position.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, will Her Majesty's Government consider making it impossible for someone to obtain a licence for his vehicle unless all parking fines have been paid?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, that is an interesting question, but it is rather wide of the Question on the Order Paper.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will agree with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, that any suggestion that there should be payment by results would be a bad step as it would increase the tension between the new attendants and the public. The Minister said that Westminster will employ the new attendants. Will he tell the House whether Camden will accept the new system? Camden and Westminster are adjoining authorities and those authorities apply different time restrictions on their meters. In one authority the meters may cease to operate at half past six while in the other meters may cease to operate at half past eight. I see grave problems arising from that position. Can the Minister make any suggestions about co-ordinating meter times in those adjoining boroughs?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I can confirm that Camden is one of the boroughs that employs parking attendants. However, I am sure the noble Lord would agree that it is up to all of us as motorists to study the meters and determine what hours we can legally park.

Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that one of the most important aspects of enforcement is that it should be consistent? Is he further aware that it is by no means consistent in London? I speak from bitter experience.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, my noble friend will be pleased to know that she will have certain advantages under the Road Traffic Act 1991 because if she feels aggrieved, as she obviously has done in the past, she can make representations to the relevant local authority. If she is not satisfied with that, she can make an appeal to the independent parking adjudicator.

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