HL Deb 11 July 1995 vol 565 cc1559-60

141A After Clause 75, in subsection (5A), after ("constable"), insert ("or traffic warden").

Lord Jenkin of Roding

My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 141A as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 141. I recognise that we discussed this amendment at some length—or at least I did—during discussion of the previous amendment. I move it merely to ask my noble friend a question. Amendment No. 261 amends the Road Traffic Regulation Act. My noble friend referred to that as being the proper context in which to discuss a shift of duty between the police and traffic wardens. The question of what is appropriate is clearly one that would require some argument—he will recollect that he said that—but, the police having done a great deal over recent years to civilianise many of their functions, to their considerable advantage, is there a proposal to review the balance of duties between the police and traffic wardens which might encompass the possibility of traffic wardens being given the power to supplement the power of local authorities to test vehicles? If he can answer that question to my satisfaction, I shall be very happy to withdraw my amendment.

Moved, That Amendment No. 141A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 141, be agreed to.—(Lord Jenkin of Roding.)

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I should be delighted to answer that question to my noble friend's satisfaction but I am afraid that I am unable to do so. What I can tell him—I know this from the days when I had the advantage of being at the Home Office—is that these are matters of great importance and great sensitivity. In many respects the police are anxious not to give up their powers. Many people do not want the police to give up their powers, because they find—I referred to this earlier on—that many women's groups are worried at the possibility of other people stopping cars. My noble friend said that he spoke to the amendment at some length. I thought that I spoke at some length, too. I rather hoped that I had been able to answer some of the questions he put. The fact is that if one is going to give these powers to others one has to say what will happen when people do not comply with the power to stop vehicles that the traffic warden has had given to him. What will happen when someone does not allow his vehicle to be inspected and tested? Those are the kinds of difficulties that may be involved. If my noble friend asks, as he does on the spur of the moment, whether considerations about this are going on at present, I am bound to tell him that I cannot provide the answer. But I have no doubt that, in the immortal words of the government service, these matters are always under active consideration.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

My Lords, I have used that phrase so many times myself that I know precisely what it means. I hope that this can be given active consideration. If one asked the question, "If women's organisations really want to see atmospheric pollution and traffic pollution reduced, would they be prepared to see traffic wardens having the power to stop?", I think that the Government might get a realistic answer. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 141A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 141, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Motion agreed to.