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Transport Bill

Volume 955: debated on Monday 31 July 1978

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Lords amendments considered.

Clause 5

Community Bus Services

Lords amendment: no. 1, in page 6, line 32, at end insert—

("(2A) A community bus service may extend to the provision of excursions and tours as defined by section 159 of the 1968 Act.")

3.34 p.m.

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

I understand that with this amendment we are also to take Lords amendments nos. 2, 3, 4, 7 and 25.

May I first explain this group of amendments? Amendment no. 1 allows community minibus services to be used for excursions and tours. Amendments nos. 2 and 4 are essentially paving amendments for the next Lords amendment, which is amendment no. 5 and which we are taking separately.

Amendments nos. 2 and 4, and ultimately amendment no. 5, allow community minibuses to be used for private hire. In practice, private hire and excursions and tours amount to more or less the same thing. The differences are mainly technical. I propose to make the substance of the case for Lords amendment no. 5 on this group of amendments. Therefore, I hope that we shall be able to deal with Lords amendment no. 5 fairly speedily later. This will lead to a more logical debate.

Amendment no. 7 is consequential and amendments nos. 3 and 25 deal with entirely separate subjects, to which I shall come later.

The main issue which is the substance of most amendments in this group and of Lords amendment no. 5 which follows separately, relates to the finances of the community bus service. Even with the economies that come from the use of volunteer drivers, experience has shown that revenue from the basic stage services, which it is the main purpose of the community bus to provide, is not enough to meet all the costs of running the vehicle, in particular the capital cost and depreciation. Subsidy from the county council will be needed and we have provided the necessary powers in clause 1(5). But that subsidy should be kept within reasonable limits, and existing community bus services have kept their overall deficit down by operating occasional excursions and tours for local people and by a certain amount of contract hire—for example to take the Women's Institute on an outing. The revenue they get from these two sources helps to subsidise the less remunerative but essential stage services, and these outings are in themselves a valuable means of enhancing the quality of life for isolated rural communities.

To this end, we make it clear for the avoidance of doubt that a community bus service can extend to the provision of excursions and tours. That is the purpose of amendment no. 1. In the new clause that we shall come to on use of community buses for contract work and the paving amendments nos. 2 and 4 we provide for the traffic commissioners in granting a road service licence or permit for a community bus service to authorise the use of the community bus as a contract carriage. That allows the second part of the additional usage. Without these provisions, the community bus would still have needed PSV licences for driver and vehicle alike to do excursions and tours or contract work and this would have undermined the licensing relaxation which is at the heart of what we are doing in this part of the Bill.

The other amendments to clause 5 and the amendments to clause 7 and schedule 2 are purely technical and provide for the avoidance of doubt that the vehicle disc referred to in subsection (5) of clause 5 has to be issued by the traffic commissioners and by no one else, and that regulations made under section 160 of the 1960 Act can cover the procedure governing applications for and issue of the disc. The disc is the visible sign that the use of the community bus is properly authorised by the traffic commissioners, and it is particularly important that there should be no doubt about its authenticity if the community bus is also to be allowed to operate for private hire.

These provisions are fully in accordance with the principle we have followed throughout of allowing as much flexibility as possible while maintaining adequate safeguards to prevent abuse and ensure that the appropriate safety standards are maintained. All the safeguarding provisions in clause 5 will apply equally to the use of the community bus for private hire under clause 6 and there are additional controls which allow the traffic commissioners, if necessary, to restrict the scope of private hire and which prevent the organisers from employing an additional vehicle solely for private hire work. Finally, the traffic commissioners must be satisfied before authorising the community bus to do private hire work that this
"is reasonable in all the circumstances with a view to financial support of the community bus service".
The essential point contained in this group of amendments is that a community bus service can augment its income, and in many cases the authorities are willing to do this by taking people on excursions and tours and by undertaking a certain amount of private contract hire. This is a sensible spelling out of what was always implicit in our intentions in respect of the community bus.

What discussions has the Minister had with the Confederation of Road Passenger Transport on this matter?

We have had discussions with the confederation on this subject. If the hon. Gentleman is not aware of those discussions, certainly one of his hon. Friends is aware of that fact. I think that we have consulted fairly fully on this matter—if not at the first stage, certainly at this stage. I hope that the House will agree to the Lords amendment.

I am grateful for what the Minister has said and I agree that we should also consider Lords amendment no. 5 while dealing with this group of amendments. Amendment no. 5 was taken with this group in another place. We are dealing essentially with two separate functions of the community bus services, though they have very much the same motivation.

We welcome the proposals. I accept that it was intended that excursions and tours should be covered by the Bill and the amendments now express that intention clearly in the Bill.

Licensing provisions in transport are potentially complicated. That will be a familiar argument to those who served on the Standing Committee, but, bearing in mind the considerable ramifications of the Bill, I suggest that after our consideration, we shall not have heard the last of it. So vague are some of its provisions that there will be considerable discussion and dispute about them.

The important aspect of the provisions relating to excursions and tours is the recognition that there is very little money in this form of transport. All of us who take an interest in transport, particularly rural transport and community bus services to transport minority groups, small populations and so on from one place to another, appreciate that in virtually every case there is very little money in it.

The amendments recognise that fact and keep public subsidy to a minimum. My hon. Friends and I very much approve of that.

I recognise, without turning round, the well-known and not so dulcet tones of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow). It is always a comforting thought to know that there is such a voice behind one and I hope that it augurs well for our later discussions.

Public subsidy will be cut to a minimum and if the proposals in the Bill had been a little more adventurous, we could have hoped more positively that there need be no public subsidy at all. However, we welcome the provisions because they go in the right direction.

The uses to which the provisions relating to excursions and tours will be put are commendable in every way. We are dealing with outings of the Women's Institute, a village community or part of an urban community. These are very suitable uses of the Bill's provisions and in some ways it is surprising that we have had to wait until 1978—many years into the use of the motor car and public transport generally—before getting such simple provisions stipulated and we are able to meet what has seemed a blatantly obvious need for many years.

We welcome also the greater flexibility in transport particularly in country areas, that is provided by the amendments. We have been championing this for some time and all of us who are engaged in transport matters have been round the various courses for two years in the Transport (Financial Provisions) Bill in the last Session and in this Bill during the current Session. Throughout our discussions, my hon. Friends and I have championed greater flexibility and since these provisions help to that end, we agree with them.

3.45 p.m.

Amendment no. 5 deals with contract hire and we welcome that for much the same sort of reasons. In an intervention during the Minister' speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) asked about consultations with the Confederation of British Road Passenger Transport. We are dealing with potentially complicated matters and I wonder to what extent it is reasonable to expect us—as front-men to the Minister—to appreciate these aspects, particularly when they creep into a Bill—or charge into a Bill—at the Report stage in another place. That is a very late time for such provisions to be inserted, commendable as they may be.

The confederation is the most prominent body dealing with these matters in this country and it has voiced concern. It would have been better if we had considered this matter during the 20 elaborate sittings of the Standing Committee rather than having it bounced at us at this late stage. The Committee stage might have stretched to 21 sittings, but I am sure that the Minister would not have minded that.

Considerable changes in the normal licensing pattern are involved. This was raised in another place and has been taken up by the confederation with the Under-Secretary and the Secretary of State who were kind enough to see representatives of the confederation. The Under-Secretary has dealt with the detail of this matter because his has been the principal responsibility.

The relaxation of the PSV requirements in some cases and the sole reliance upon the road service licence is a departure about which the confederation is extremely concerned. It has put forward proposals which are, to say the least, complicated. I see the Minister nodding his head in sympathetic agreement. I hope that he will intervene in the debate to tell us that he has heard from the confederation about the proposals and that he will watch the development of these departures in the licensing system. The PSV requirements have been important for many years and their relaxation is not unimportant. That provision should have been put into the Bill at an earlier stage.

The vexed subject of the traffic commissioners has concerned us all, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne, during each stage of the Bill. The commissioners are singled out, in regard to contract hire, as the main body to protect the Government's overriding policy, which we believe needs questioning and occasional relaxation, of an overwhelming protection of public bus services. The traffic commissioners, being the retired generals they may be, have been chosen to perform this task. The safeguards that have been provided are consistent with the Government's overall policy, but, again, the commissioners are brought in as the body which will not only grant the road service licences, but will supply the safeguards. Amendment no. 5 deals with the various safeguards that the commissioners may recommend if they wish.

I do not know whether I am up the right tree on my next subject, but I believe that I am. With the safeguards expressly included in the Bill by way of a new clause and applying to contract carriage, I am slightly confused about why they do not also apply to excursions and tours. There is a very narrow borderline. In many cases, a contract carriage will be an excursion or tour.

All the safeguards are to be implemented by our mighty traffic commissioners on a regional basis. If they are to do that for contract carriage, why cannot they do it for excursions and tours? Surely exactly the same criteria apply to excursions and tours as to contract carriage. The excursion tour or contract carriage will be for the financial support of a service. In other words, they will minimise public subsidy. The commissioners have to be satisfied
"with a view to the financial support of the service".
It is to be wondered whether the commissioners necessarily form the most satisfactory body to conduct the licensing. From public service vehicles that operate on the boundaries of one council into the boundaries of another, from county to county or nationally, we come to the small bus that is operated, for example, by a village or a community. The commissioners operate regionally and they know the mighty pattern of public transport in the regions, but are they best fitted to decide whether "X" village is to have a bus service and to implement the safeguards? We are left wondering how the system will work out and whether this is yet another example of verbiage being poured into the Bill that at the end of the day will not make the least difference.

The commissioners operate regionally and they are rather remote from the small operators. In practice how can they decide other than that the scheme that is put before them is for the financial support of the service? Indeed, it is possible to say that the service will not be profitable anyway and that it is bound to be in need of financial support. I hazard a guess that many services will need public subsidy in spite of the provisions contained in the Bill and in spite of the fact that they are running excursions and operating contract hire where they can.

The various words of wisdom spoken by my hon. Friends in Committee about the commissioners are relevant to the amendments. Is there a case for local authorities to take over the powers that we are discussing? The cost of going to the commissioners if there is a dispute is such that it would put the unfortunate scheme out of business before it began. That is apart from the remoteness of the commissioners and the fact that they operate regionally.

The local authorities must be considered seriously as being the most suitable licensing authorities to deal with these matters. I feel that I have been speaking long enough to put forward the basic arguments of the Opposition.

I am flattered to hear encouraging cries from my hon. Friends but to delay the House any longer would not be fit.

The proposals before us are welcome as far as they go. They are not radical They do not embrace a wide enough spectrum. They do not deal with certain problems that have been tryingly obvious for many years. For example, they do not bear on commercially operated minibus services that might be operated by local garage owners. They might have minibuses that are used for school transport in the mornings and they might be available to be used for outings later in the day. The Opposition have always had an open mind and, dare I say, a radical attitude to the problems of transport in the rural, specialised and needy areas. It seems that the Government are coming towards us, and we welcome them. May they keep on coming until they achieve a realistic policy.

Order. It has already become clear that the House wishes also to discuss amendment no. 5. At a later stage I shall call amendment no. 5 formally.

If there is criticism from the Opposition that the amendments do not go far enough, there is a case for the House to consider the other side of the coin before it turns its attention to undertakings such as community buses. Some of the propositions contained in the amendments contain obvious dangers.

I shall read a letter that I received from the Association of District Councils. The letter is headed
"Transport Bill: the use of community buses for excursions and tours".
These are technical amendments and I seek some assurances from my hon. Friend on matters of safety. He assured us in Committee that such matters were ever in his mind, but the Association writes:
"I am writing to you in the hope that you will he prepared to express when the House receives the Transport Bill from the Lords in its amended form the Association's concern about the possible ramifications of the amendment adopted in that House which allowed community bus services to be extended to cover the provision of excursions and tours.
The ADC's primary concern is to ensure the safety of passengers, particularly as regards the competence of the driver. We believe that it would be dangerous to invite the possible serious consequences following the use on such services of a driver who does not meet the high standards of fitness normally associated with PSV licensed drivers, who would normally be used on licensed excursions and tours. This danger would be especially apparent where, for example, (i) regular volunteer drivers are not available and an inexperienced substitute is inveigled into taking over, or (ii), an unfamiliar vehicle is substituted for the regular one just prior to a journey with, say, manual rather than automatic gearbox. Passengers and others could be put at risk in these circumstances. There have been several well reported cases of deaths arising out of minibus accidents so far this year and although we are not aware of the inquest results in any of these cases, we would urge extreme caution as many drivers will undoubtedly have a higher opinion of their ability to control a heavily loaded minibus than is justified. The EEC rules on drivers hours would not apply and there is a possibility of a driver, having worked all day, then taking out a minibus that he could drive all night."
I have quoted the letter in full because it raises some serious matters. I hope that my hon. Friend will assure the House that these serious matters are fully noted.

In Committee the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) was even further to the right in his opinions than his Front-Bench colleagues. The amendments seek to broaden the main provisions that we discussed in Committee. It may be a slight broadening, but some of us do not know what the ramifications will be. In my area there are complaints about the bus services. I receive letters complaining about infrequent services and buses not appearing. Opposition Members say "All hail to the amendments and the general provision. Everybody can flood on to the market and the drain on the general taxpayer's pocket can be stopped."

I could run a bus service in my constituency without being an entrepreneur of any great expertise. I would lay on minibus services to neighbouring villages. I would provide coach services to bring in steel workers from the villages in the morning and I would have one or two contracts with the county council to take children to school. I would have some other occupation for the rest of the day, or I would sit with my feet up and enjoy a nice little income.

What would happen to the service in my village? What would happen to all those who live in the village who wish to go into town to do their shopping? What would happen to the old people who want to go into town to get their prescriptions? It is a fact that we have fewer post offices. We have gone down that road so far that people are getting very bad services.

4.0 p.m.

The Government have referred to measures that they are taking to try to improve the situation—for example, by giving grants to county councils. Many of those county councils—my own in particular—have submitted plans for subsidies to bus services. They are mainly Conservative-controlled councils. But, having received money from the Government, they have not paid it out in grants. They have said "What good boys are we. We were elected on the promise that we would keep down the rates. That is what we are doing." Therefore, they are using the money that we have made available for grants for transport services for other purposes.

I am concerned that we should provide as good a service as possible to the people. Because of the changing pattern of rural life, fortunately more people now have cars. But there are fewer people in rural areas, and many still cannot afford cars. Therefore, they need to take advantage of what services are available. The hon. Member for Eastbourne, who has a rural constituency, nods. He knows that village shops and post offices are closing. People now need to get into the towns more than ever before for all kinds of specialist services, many of which are not available in rural areas.

Many transport services are uneconomic. One of my hon. Friends told me about a bus service which served one particular village—a service which was uneconomic and made a loss. Some good people got together, had meetings in the village hall, and arranged to put on a minibus service. They found two retired gentleman to run it. Everyone was delighted. The community was going into action to serve itself. The local bus company opted out of providing the service. All went well to begin with, but what is often entered into with enthusiasm at the first flush is not always sustained. After they had been running the service for a few months and it got round to the winter and it was a question of getting up early in the morning, taking vehicles out on the ice and snow and coming home late at night—I have no criticism of these people—they said "After all, we are retired. We cannot keep it up. We have bitten off more than we can chew." So that service came to an end. Did the bus company come back with a service? No, it did not. There was bitterness and ill feeling in the village because what had been a marvellous concept had not worked out.

Therefore, I am less than enthusiastic about the ramifications of some of the main ideas in the Bill. Although the amendments, in so far as they are technical, make the achieving of these objects easier, I still have my doubts. Therefore, I ask my hon. Friend, in reply, to make specific reference to the safety standards that will operate in these areas. Does he consider that the legislation with the amendments is sufficiently tight? Despite the wide gulf that separates the hon. Member for Eastbourne and me in these matters, I hope that he will not express the view that we should tamper with the safety aspects. I am glad to see him nod. Those who take vehicles out should have the appropriate licences and skills. As the ADC memorandum stated, there should be no possibility that, after a hard day's work, a person will take out a vehicle and finish up driving it all night. Otherwise, the riposte will come back to this House as a result of tragedies.

I nail my colours to the mast. We live in a changing society. However, I do not believe that the amendment will achieve a great extension of services to people in rural areas. I think that there will be a creaming off of the better areas, thus rendering it more difficult for the nationalised bus undertakings and other companies to provide any kind of comprehensive service covering whole areas. We may find ourselves going down that path. Therefore, I urge the House to watch the implications of this measure.

I do not apologise for taking up the time of the House. It would be an ill day if this important measure went through without someone perhaps putting a contrary view by pointing to the implications not only for bus services, but for railway services.

One of the misfortunes which afflicts Speakers of the House of Commons is the tradition that they do not attend our debates upstairs.

I was about to pay tribute to the Secretary of State, the Under-Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) before paying tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) and Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris), because the debate upstairs was characterised by great vigour of expression upon either side.

I express my ready agreement with the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe that, whatever we may do to liberalise the licensing laws, one precondition should be that standards of safety for buses and standards of skill for bus drivers are not only maintained but, if possible extended. Therefore, I find myself somewhat unusually in wholehearted and enthusiastic agreement with the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe.

We need to note at the outset of the debate the virtue and merit of another place. We heard the Under-Secretary of State no less, in the presence of the Secretary of State, actually recommend that the House should agree with the amendments suggested by another place.

I am delighted to see the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) in his place. He will not, to our sad loss, be in his place much longer, but he is in his place today. That is why it gives me particular pleasure to pay tribute to another place—a place to which the hon. Member for Handsworth has not always given the warmest praise in the past, as he would always recognise.

One of the marvels of the past four and a half years has been the way in which the Treasury Bench has in some respects moved under the influence of my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield towards the concept of a free market in the provision of transport. No one who reads the Transport Bill—the House will know what an impartial reader of the Bill I am—could fail to recognise in clause 5 a substantial measure of liberalisation. No one could fail to see in this clause, which permits a community bus to operate in circumstances in which today it cannot, the mind and the heart or part of the mind and part of the heart of my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Cold- field. He is entitled to claim part authorship of clause 5 and more than part authorship of the amendments from another place which have been commended to us by the Under-Secretary of State. Why do we so warmly welcome the amendments? It is because they liberalise still further the reluctant steps taken by the Transport Department.

In preparation for this debate, and possibly in common with the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe, yesterday I made a journey on a community bus—the first that I have made. The bus service is well known both to the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State. It is called the Cuckmere Community Bus, but on the Sabbath it is called the Rambler bus.

I caught the bus in company with my two sons at Friston Pond. I made the journey to the "Horse and Groom" at Polegate. The cost of that journey for two minors and their aged father was 50p. Others were also travelling upon the bus. It was not like a Southdown bus on a Sunday. This bus was half full. It was a dreadful day. It was pouring with rain in Sussex, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister will be able to testify—and as will the Secretary of State, who was staying at West Wittering. That is in West Sussex, whereas I was in East Sussex, so I was closer to the Prime Minister than the Secretary of State.

I have no doubt that it was raining.

The purpose of my recounting to the House my first expedition in a community bus is to illustrate that these bus services in rural areas are of the greatest value and importance to the travelling citizen. I hope that our acceptance of the amendments will mark the start of a recognition by the House of the need to follow the lead which the Government have set in clause 5 for a progressive and radical liberalisation of our licensing laws.

When the Under-Secretary of State advised the House to accept the amendments, I had the impression that he was doing so with a certain amount of reluctance. We know his views. He is one of the brightest stars upon the Treasury Bench, but he has to glance over his shoulder and look below the Gangway. I exclude from the term "below the Gangway" the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe and the successor to Lord Glenamara, the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans). There are Luddites below the Gangway. There are those who do not recognise that the liberalisation of the licensing laws is the greatest service that the House can render.

How far would the hon. Member go with the liberalisation of the licensing laws? I am sure that many of his hon. Friends would not favour the abolition of the licensing system for certain types of business.

I nail my colours firmly to the mast. I answer directly the question put to me by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr Atkins). I should happily abolish the traffic commissioners and all their works with one exception. I should allow their residue, or a new body, to insist that nobody and no company could operate a public transport system unless two crucial criteria were met—that he or she who drove the bus had the necessary qualifications and that the bus itself complied with the strictest safety standards.

I am pleased to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) has arrived, because I have sat at his feet on these matters. He and I believe that the best interests of the travelling public will be served if there is a free market in the provision of bus services, subject only to those two crucial safety elements.

4.15 p.m.

Would the hon. Member apply the abolition of the licences to other types of vehicle?

It would be out of order for me to deal with lorries. We are now dealing with buses. I have enunciated my views about licensing for buses. I would allow anybody to run a bus provided that the driver was capable of driving and that the vehicle complied with the strictest safety regulations. No one could accuse me of having fudged the answer to that question.

What would my hon. Friend do about buses running along narrow country lanes?

One of the marvels of mankind is that the magic of the market place will operate even in country lanes. We should allow motor cars to pick up passengers. We should allow—as we have in Cuckmere—volunteer drivers to serve communities, such as those now working for the WRVS and other voluntary organisations who would be only too pleased to drive villagers into the market town. That is to be permitted to a limited extent under the Bill. In a small way, it was permitted in the Minibus Act. If we could go further along that road. we should be able to provide citizens in rural areas with the means which they lack today of getting to towns and larger villages. That is why the Bill is so important. That is why the amendments are so important. They show that the two Ministers have overcome the protests from below the Gangway and recognised that liberalisation is required.

In the past 30 years there has been a dramatic increase in the regulatim and control of bus services. That experiment has failed. The Bill, and the acceptance by the Government of the amendments, are a modest recognition of that failure. That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster was right to welcome the amendments.

We have a further hope. We hope that the partial recognition of the need for liberalisation will be extended. We hope that those of us who are on the libertarian and radical wing of the Tory Party will be able to carry with us to further triumphs the Ministers who sit on the Treasury Bench—although sadly, only for the three days that remain in the Session.

It is remarkable to hear these antediluvian arguments. which I thought had been killed on both sides of the House, about the free play of market forces in transport. There may well be need for that free play in many aspects of economic life, but in transport it is a certain way to destroy regular stage services.

The history of transport, before nationalisation and since, seems to indicate this, because the small operators existing with the free market forces have been mopped up by the bigger operators in the interests of economy. As the public service transport services have become increasingly more expensive and because they have been expected to run regular services, even at times when there is not a great demand for them but as a great service to the community, and because these extraordinary expenses cause public transport to be a greater economic problem than any other sphere of economic activity, it has been necessary to rationalise transport services. Because of this, the smaller operators, operating under free market conditions, have had to give up and their businesses have been taken over by bigger concerns.

This concentration has gone on. Eventually, the great majority of this country's bus services have come under the public sector, because private enterprise could not run those services at a profit.

The problem is that if one goes back to the early stages and allows a private operator who has retired, perhaps, or who has another income, to operate a service during a period when he can take the cream of the traffic, during the rush hour, for instance, or perhaps for special excursions or for contract hire, eventually it means the erosion of the regular services which are provided for the whole community throughout the day.

There is a great danger in this. We must remember that some of the losses of the public transport services are mopped up because they can provide vehicles for excursions and for contract hire. It is for that reason that I support the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis). We are not very doctrinaire about this. We accept the fact that community buses should be allowed contract and excursion work. However, we are asking the Minister to ensure that the losses which are reduced in their undertaking will not increase the losses of the public service vehicle undertakings. This can easily happen.

We know, for instance, that it may well be that public service operators have provided excursions and buses which on the way to the destination would have gone to some of the outlying villages and picked up and deposited at the end of the excursion. The services which they operate from the little market town may be eroded if there are operators in the hamlets who run bus services independently. If because of the excursion and contract work of the community buses, similar work is reduced by the public service transport operator, this may mean an increase in his losses. It may well also mean a reduction in the services, and sometimes the total annihilation and destruction of the services, as has happened in the past.

This has happened, of course, quite naturally when people have clubbed together in using a car to take them to a certain destination either for work or for pleasure.

Would not the annihilation of a loss-making service actually produce a net saving, or, indeed, a profit for the other operator? Therefore, would not the hon. Member compensate someone else?

The fact is that if an operator loses this trade, his losses are increased. If the losses are increased, either a greater subsidy is required—let us remember that the community buses are subsidised—or the operator reduces his services. If this should undermine his position so much that he has to cease the services, the communities will be worse off than previously because people will have to wait for certain hours on certain days before they can travel where they wish to travel. This is a great inconvenience. Already many rural areas have worse public transport services than they had 100 years ago. This is because the annihilation of those services has followed the increasing cost of transport, which has occurred through excessive competition under free market forces.

I have spoken for longer than I intended. However, I hope that the Minister will ensure that the extra powers that are being given to the community bus services will not erode the public service undertakings that are doing a job under difficult conditions.

After listening to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), I must say that one of the things that I shall miss when I am no longer a Member of the House is not hearing the most engaging and rather charming way in which he puts over the most extraordinary Right-wing opinions. When listening to the hon. Member, I was rather reminded of a remark of Hugh Dalton, who once said that there were some supporters of extreme private enterprise who did not believe in traffic lights because they interfered with the law of supply and demand.

Certainly the hon. Member's attitude seemed to be a logical extension of that when he was answering his hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain). I should not have thought that the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe was regarded as having very much in common with those of us below the Gangway on the Labour Benches. He raised a perfectly reasonable question about the social implications of the misuse of roads. The hon. Member for Eastbourne brushed him off in just the same way as he would brush us off.

I am tempted to divide the House on this amendment. It seems to me that the Government have engaged in a bit of sleight of hand. They have slipped in a rather important provision or, rather, have allowed the Lords to slip it in and have acquiesced in it. I confess that I was not paying particular attention to what was going on in the other place. I do not know whether these amendments were carried against the Government or were accepted by the Government in the other place. It is whispered to me that this is a Government amendment—which makes it even worse. It is not even as if the Government had accepted the amendment from another source because they feared that they would be defeated if they did not accept it. We shall certainly need to know certain answers before we can allow this to go through without some sort of challenge.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) made mention of one question. It is all very well for a number of people, in a first flush of social enthusiasm, to provide a service which apparently fills the gap in the public service provisions, but that enthusiasm may wane when the difficulties of winter or, perhaps, the tedium of sustained effort, or perhaps financial difficulty, render it more difficult. If in the meantime, as a result of temporary competition, the public service—which is being rather painfully maintained, perhaps, in circumstances in which, because of dispersal of population over wide areas, it is difficult to make it economically viable—is forced into further retrenchment of services, one ends up in a worse situation after all.

I wish that those who believe in a competitive private enterprise would tell us what happens when the various competitors have been knocked out of the ring. We know that through the weakness of Labour Governments or through strong periods of Conservative government private operators have been allowed to enter the field. Charter air operators have had the picking of the airways. It is interesting to observe that Sir Freddie Laker, who after all appears to be one of the heroes of the Tory Party, has conceded that there are limits to the usefulness of the type of operations in which he himself is—at present, at any rate—a pretty conspicuous operator.

4.30 p.m.

Will my hon. Friend tell us a little more about what is intended in terms of the remit of the traffic commissioners? Is it expected to be a condition of licensing that a new operator will guarantee use of the service for a set period of years? Is that the sort of thing that the traffic commissioners will be expected to demand of an applicant before granting a licence? If not, may we know what is meant in clause A(2) by the use of the phrase
"on a regular basis for the purposes of the service"?

I am sure that in his anxiety to be wholly evenhanded between the operators who are subsidised by the State and those who make their own way the hon. Gentleman would not wish to impose on anyone conditions more onerous than would apply to the public transport system.

No, I do not think I would. but I should like to know how long the service would operate. I should like to know whether it was going to be merely a flash in the pan. As regards public transport services, they have to bear the heat and burden of the day of non-viable routes. This is only natural, because we expect that rural areas should be provided with services which are taken for granted in the towns. It is perfectly reasonable that we should demand to see the colour of the money of those coming forward with these proposals.

No, I will not at the moment. I am addressing my remarks to the Minister. The hon. Gentleman is another Poujade. He can make his own speech in a moment. He need not get so excited. He need not wave his arms quite so excitedly. I am addressing my remarks to the Manifesto group who form the Department of Transport.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hansworth (Mr. Lee) is supposed to be addressing his remarks to you and not to any other body.

I think that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) has allowed his enthusiasm to run away with him. The Chair belongs to no group.

I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That was a piece of pedantry: the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) knew full well what I meant. My remarks are addressed for the hearing of the Minister and the Under-Secretary, if they are minded to address themselves to the subject.

Subsection (3) of new clause A says:
"The licence or permit shall not be granted with an authorisation under subsection (1) unless the commissioners are satisfied that it is reasonable in all the circumstances with a view to financial support of the service."
That seems to be an unexceptionable term, if only one knew what it meant. It seems to be tantamount to saying "How long is a piece of string?" May we have some more precise indication of what is intended? There is not a large body of authoritative case law in this aspect of the work of the traffic commissioners. The minibus service is a fairly recent innovation and, therefore, to some extent we at large in matters of traffic commissioners' case law.

There is limitation as to the number of persons involved. It must be at least six and not more than 16. To some extent this invariably provides some indication of the size of vehicle. It would have been helpful if there had been some indication with regard to physical size, having regard to the fact that many roads in rural areas, even to this day, are not very wide. As the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe said in his intervention in the speech of the hon. Member for Eastbourne, safety arises not only in the sense of the competence of the operator and the vehicle's roadworthiness. The size and the use of the vehicle on roads which are inappropriate because of the narrowness of carriageway are factors which have a bearing on road safety and on the question of accident prevention and hazards.

Unless I receive some very good answers to these questions, the Lords amendment will not go through with quite the murmur of unanimity that I think the Minister expected.

I had not intended to intervene, but it has been made necessary for me to do so by the curious reluctance of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) to give way and let me make one or two simple points and I hope that the House will not mind if I detain it for a few moments.

What worries me about the hon. Gentleman's attitude to these matters is that he enters the Chamber in the most orthodox of garbs and propounds the most unorthodox of opinions. He has been doing so for a long time. I do not know who will take his place in this no doubt necessary role.

The hon. Gentleman seems to have some extraordinary ideas on the subject of competition and the position which should be accorded to the public sector above all. He has some very odd ideas as to what actually has happened in some areas of rural bus services. If it is of interest to him—it may not be, but it should certainly educate him—I could take him to a part of the country not 50 miles from here where over 15 years ago the public service operator abandoned the loss-making service and left a number of local communities with no bus service. There was no question of the operator being forced by the traffic commissioners to continue the service. There was no power in the traffic commissioners to force the operator to do any such thing. It would be ludicrous to suggest that they had any such power.

As I was the local councillor at the time and the villagers wanted a bus service, we broke a few rules and we hired a bus. We were persecuted by the inspectors, so we used the church bus for a while. That was persecuted by the inspectors. Then a very public-spirited local citizen obtained for himself a public service vehicle licence and a bus and ran a community bus service, in effect, over a considerable mileage of the routes which had been abandoned by the public service operator. I am happy to say that that service is still running. I do not know how the gentleman concerned, who is a busy consultant psychiatrist at one of the local hospitals, manages to do this. It is a considerable testimony to what can be done by the private sector and by voluntary effort coming in and picking up the bits when a public service operator has completely abandoned local communities.

I do not want anything to happen under the Bill or under the Lords amendments which will be likely to make such an event more difficult in the future. What concerns me about certain provisions in the amendment and about certain provisions in the Bill is that if competition is to be intensified against the marginal operator—the private operator who has come in to pick up a service and who has been running it on a shoestring for a long time, perfectly safely, but not necessarily very profitably—that will not necessarily be to the public advantage. Therefore, I hope that whatever happens the private sector will not be subjected to unfair competition.

I do not know whether the hon. Member was present at the time I made my speech. He is now making exactly the point that I made, except that he is now making it for the smaller entrepreneur whereas I was making it for the larger bus companies. This is what we all fear.

It is always a matter of pleasure and surprise to me to find myself agreeing with people whose views I do not know. I am correspondingly delighted to find that the hon. Member would have carried me with him in my absence. I think that there is room for unease on this question and I shall be interested to. hear what the Minister has to say about it.

By leave of the House. may I speak again? It is not the usual custom for a Minister to wind up a debate on a Lords amendment as well as to open it, but in view of what has been said on both sides of the House I think that I should say a few words.

First, I respond to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis), who asked for an assurance about safety. I agree with him absolutely that safety standards must not slip. That is a view which has been advanced by hon. Members on both sides throughout our debates on community minibus services.

Community minibuses will in fact be more restricted in the journeys which they may undertake than are minibuses operating under permits under the Minibus Act. We shall ensure that the essential safety requirements will be plainly set out in the regulations to be made for these buses. The drivers will have to be over 21 years of age and have a current full, not provisional, driving licence. The vehicles themselves will have to meet the safety elements of the existing public service vehicle regulations. Moreover, we shall be producing a booklet giving advice on the setting up of community minibus schemes, and in that booklet we shall recommend the organisers to enlist the professional assistance of their local bus operators in selecting suitable drivers.

I was asked by the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) as well as by my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) and Preston, North (Mr. Atkins) for an assurance about the effect of community minibuses on existing stage services. We come here to the whole point of putting the operation of community minibuses under the aegis of the traffic commissioners. Much to the chagrin of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), this essential safeguard remains, and the traffic commissioners, in deciding whether to grant a permit or licence for a community minibus, will have regard to the effect of the community minibus on the operations of any existing operators, whether they be large subsidiaries of the National Bus Company or small, marginal operators such as those to which the hon. Member for Woking referred.

If there is likely to be any creaming-off effect on those other services, the traffic commissioners will take that into account and may in certain circumstances not grant a permit. That is why the hon. Member for Eastbourne wants to abolish them, but my view, which, I think, has support on both sides of the House—the hon. Gentleman's view has the support of only a very restricted part of the House, if I may say so, without being unfair— is that we should keep the traffic commissioners.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hands-worth asked precisely what was meant by the words in subsection (3)—
"unless the commissioners are satisfied that it is reasonable in all the circumstances with a view to financial support of the service."
The point is that many of these community minibus schemes, although they may have volunteer drivers, will not be able to support themselves exclusively out of their fares on their normal stage carriage operations, and they may therefore from time to time hire themselves out to, say, an old-age pensioners' club or a Women's Institute for the purpose of excursions. This will add to their income and make the service more readily viable.

To the extent that minibus schemes are able to do that, the service will be more likely to pay its way and there will accordingly be a smaller subsidy demanded from the county council, and it is likely that more minibus schemes will be brought into being if a smaller subsidy is required for any particular service.

The traffic commissioners will therefore look into the finances of the community minibus in question and decide whether they should allow it to indulge in such excursions or private contract service to help meet its costs, which will be minimised in any event by the use of volunteer drivers.

One cannot be more specific in the legislation than that. The traffic commissioners will look at the particular circumstances of community minibuses in deciding whether to allow that additional facility.

What about the length of time to which a would-be operator would commit himself?

I think that the traffic commissioners will have a general remit to keep the service under review, and if they feel that this aspect is in any way being abused they will, I am sure, take that into account

Next, I was asked about the size of minibuses. I inaugurated a new minibus service at the end of last year in a part of Devon. If my lion. Friend the Member for Handsworth knows that part of the country, he will be aware how narrow are the roads and how high are the hedges. The minibus in question, which was of the maximum size, negotiated those roads quite satisfactorily. Therefore, if a minibus can manage roads of that character, other such buses will, I am sure, successfully negotiate most roads in the country

I believe that the sort of minibus which we are talking about is well tailored to the type of road we find in the more remote parts. I hope, indeed, that manufacturers of community minibuses will be able to standardise now and adopt a pattern which will enable their buses to be produced rather more cheaply so that community minibus operators or county councils, as the case may be, can buy them more cheaply.

4.45 p.m.

The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris) asked me for an assurance about the way we propose to bring in the provisions regarding private hire. He pointed out that the Confederation of British Road Passenger Transport had advocated a rather different way of approaching this matter, a way which would have meant that we did not have this debate at all because we would not need these Lords amendments but could proceed under existing legislation. However, we felt that it was more straightforward to make quite explicit what the Government intended instead of achieving our objective by encouraging operators to put themselves outside the existing restrictions on private hire and thus become subject to the road service licensing provisions, which was the alternative way that the confederation put forward.

We believe that ours is the better way, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall watch developments—I think that that was his phrase—and if we turn out to be wrong we can certainly look at the matter again, or some future Government can look at it again. At the moment I think it right to make explicit what we intend and to operate in an open way rather than encourage people to break regulations and thus come under a different technical part of the Bill.

I believe that these provisions are balanced, and certainly, as I judge the tenor of the debate today, they seem to accord with the general spirit on both Front and Back Benches on both sides. They represent a balanced approach to the serious problems which we have in remote rural areas, and I am sure that they will therefore commend themselves to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

We come now to Lords amendments nos, 2, 3 and 4, to be moved formally. In addition there is also Lords amendment no. 5, which Mr. Speaker indicated should be dealt with in the same grouping. Have I the leave of the House to put the Question on all four altogether?

Lords amendments nos. 2 to 5 agreed to.

Clause 6

Car-Sharing For Social And Other Purposes

Lords amendment: No. 6, in page 8. line 43, after ("Act") insert

(",in sections 270 or 271 of and Schedule 5 to the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892")

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This is a purely technical amendment. The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which regulates private hire vehicles in England and Wales, does not extend to Scotland. Thus, by inserting a reference to a Scottish Act, which has been used in certain cases to control private hire vehicles, we ensure that the provisions of this clause can be applied to Scotland as well as to England and Wales.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I may have misheard what you or Mr. Speaker said, but what happens regarding Lords amendments nos. 7 and 25?

We shall reach those in due course. Perhaps I may explain the matter. They are grouped and will be moved formally at the appropriate point when their number is reached on the Amendment Paper.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendment no. 7 agreed to.

Clause 8

Lorries

Lords amendment: No. 8 in page 9, line 30, after ("of") insert (",and Schedule 4 to,")

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The purpose here is simply to put in a cross-reference. It is a piece of editorialising.

Question put and agreed to.

New Clause B

Drivers' Hours (Eec Rules)

Lords amendment: No. 9, in page 9, line 44, at end insert new Clause B—

("B. In section 96 of the 1968 Act (restrictions on drivers' hours), after subsection (11A) (added by the European Communities Act 1972, with a view to penalising contraventions of the applicable Community rules), there shall be inserted—
"(11B) But a person shall not be liable to be convicted under subsection (11A) if—
  • (a) he proves the matters specified in paragraph (i) of subsection (11); or
  • (b) being charged as the offender's employer or a person to whose orders the offender was subject, he proves the matters specified in paragraph (ii) of that subsection.".")
  • I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

    The amendment makes available to drivers and employers operating within the scope of the EEC rules on drivers' hours the same statutory defences against contravention of those rules as are available to drivers and employers operating entirely under part VI of the Transport Act 1968. Thus the clause inserted by the amendment has the effect of bringing the enforcement provisions of the EEC on regulated work into line with those for work regulated by domestic regulation under the Act of 1968.

    We brought forward this amendment in the Lords following representations from the Freight Transport Association. I think that it meets the approval of the trade unions and the employers.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) made an important point earlier when he paid credit to the other House and its value in relation to the Bill. The whole House owes a debt of gratitude to my noble Friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth for moving the amendment. Although one would have liked the Government to make it, we must give them credit for having accepted it.

    We think that a very important point of principle has been recognised in the amendment, simply because the statutory defences which have been recognised in our transport legislation for over 40 years would have ceased to apply where vehicles were being driven under the new Community rules if the amendment had not been made.

    Here I would add a word of criticism. The Government have known full well that the whole question of the implementation of the drivers' hours legislation, which we shall talk about later tonight, would give rise to a whole series of anomalies. On Second Reading I criticised the way in which the Bill had been drafted and the considerable lack of thought, in view of the enormous amount of time there had been before the Bill came before the House. Although we give the Government credit for having accepted the amendment, they should have foreseen the situation that has arisen.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not being discourteous to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) when I say that the amendment is tightly drafted. There is talk in the rules of "unforeseen circumstances" and certain accommodations that can be made. I shall express some views on the general subject of the complexity of licensing and the response of the Government and the Opposition. If the debate is to be allowed to run wide, I hope that all hon. Members taking part will be able to range widely. However, it seems to me that we are discussing a matter that is fairly restricted.

    With all respect to the hon. Gentleman, the Chair must see how hon. Members develop their arguments. As long as they keep within the rules of order and within the scope of the amendment, all will be well. Otherwise, the Chair will intervene.

    I have no wish to extend this debate much wider. I think that we shall have the opportunity later this evening, perhaps much later, to go into these matters in much greater detail. I wanted only to make the point that an important question of principle had been decided, that in my view the Government should have taken the initiative and that it should not have been left to an outside body to see the inevitable consequences of their legislation.

    Having said that, on behalf of the Opposition I welcome the amendment and am very pleased that the Government have accepted it.

    I bear your ruling in mind, Mr. Speaker.

    The criticism we have just heard from the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) about the late stage at which the amendment was made comes ill from a member of a party that is a part-felon on the matter of how we come to be involved in these extremely complicated regulations dealing with drivers' hours and what is and what is not permitted. The whole sin in the present position is the Common Market legislation, and the Opposition Front Bench must take its share of the blame for getting us into this ball game.

    Important as the concessions are—and I do not wish to oppose them—we come on to dangerous ground when we allow excuses such as unavoidable delay in completing a journey due to unforeseen circumstances. That paints matters with a broad brush in an area where the law is specific.

    We often face the necessity for such an amendment because the EEC regulaticns are so embracing. For an employer charged with causing or permitting his driver to breach the rules, the breach arises because the driver has carried out periods of driving on duty otherwise than in his employment of which he—the employer—was not aware or could not reasonably have become aware.

    How far down the line do we go with that argument? It seems unexceptionable at first thought, but if somebody is responsible under regulations covering what somebody in his employment does, he has some responsibility in the matter—whether it is in a nationalised undertaking, the Civil Service or anywhere else. For example, it is part of the doctrine of the House that if the sin is committed in a Minister's Department the Minister accepts responsibility.

    That is the doctrine of the House. If I were an employer of somebody charged with serving the public, and if he were fiddling the public or conning them, I should take it as part of my responsibility.

    I have no rooted objection to the proposal, but the question of dealing with drivers' hours and the legislation must be a full-time job. It is no longer sufficient to be interested in transport generally. Employers need to understand the ramifications of drivers' hours and conditions and everything emanating from the Common Market. I should imagine that each firm or nationalised enterprise will need a full-time adviser on the domestic legislation and the EEC regulations.

    The procedure is unsatisfactory. I do not see how any employer or employee can have the necessary knowledge to allow him to work in the unsatisfactory position into which we have got ourselves on legislation concerning drivers' hours and what drivers are permitted to do.

    It ill becomes the Opposition Front Bench to offer criticisms. When Conservative Members wax lyrical about the Government's deficiencies, they should think of where they stood on the Common Market and all its works. Criticism should come only from those who took a stand similar to mine and that of some of my hon. Friends and some notable exceptions on the Opposition Benches. The Opposition must share the burden of blame with my right hon. and hon. Friends. I am harsher with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary than I am with other Ministers, because my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend played a murky part in their eagerness to get us into the Common Market.

    I endorse all that my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) has said. Absolute offences are a part of the law that one frequently encounters. One tends to regard this as the type of offence connected with the food and drug regulations whereby, for various reasons, if a breach is committed that is sufficient for the purposes of a conviction and, whatever the mitigation, the offence is made out.

    I infer from the blurb which has been obligingly provided that a different defence may be available for a breach of the European Community drivers' regulations as opposed to a breach of the domestic law. If I am wrong about that, the Minister will no doubt put me right. It is odd that there should be two criteria by which proof of a criminal offence may be supported depending on whether the legislation is of a domestic kind emanating from this House or imposed on us by our Common Market masters.

    5.0 p.m.

    The defences seem to be somewhat loose. It may be that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. One would like to see what a court would regard as "unforeseeable circumstances". That phrase is as difficult to define as it is to define "reasonableness". The terms "reasonable man" or "reasonable circumstance" or "reasonable defence" are among the most tautologous phrases that a lawyer can use. We use them, I suppose, because we give up the attempt to define what is often almost indefinable. This is an invitation to vagueness, to an evasion of the law, to a whittling down of its impact.

    I should be interested to know how an employer who properly plans his work programme will avail himself of the defence which allows him to say that he was not aware or could not have been aware that the journey was not likely to have been achieved except by a breach of the hours limitation. It may well be that where a genuinely meritorious instance occurs there is a case for the court imposing a conditional or absolute discharge. That is a not infrequent device resorted to in cases where an offence has been made out but where it is clear that it is not made out in a moral sense.

    I share the concern that has already been expressed about the intention of the Government, bearing in mind the wide and imprecise nature of the offences. I find it all the more unsatisfactory when such offences are made referable to Common Market law rather than domestic law. I know that the Secretary of State is a Common Marketeer and may be inhibited from making an objective assessment of the situation. I am hoping for the best.

    The Prime Minister is much given to quoting poets. I shall misquote slightly. Kipling it was who wrote:

    "If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,".
    It seems that certain hon. Members have revised that slightly so that it now reads:
    "If you can keep your seat when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,".
    There is a constant attempt to blame the European Community for all our problems. That carries little weight with many Opposition Members and members of the public.

    I feel sorry for the Secretary of State. He is faced with overt hostility from such Cabinet colleagues as his right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for the Environment. Their hostility to the European Community is known because they never stop promoting it. No one should be surprised if, as a result, the Secretary of State for Transport finds it difficult if not impossible to negotiate happily with the Community. We are always giving the impression that the majority of the members of the Government have as their overriding priority the destruction of the EEC and the damnification of all its works. No wonder they do not help as much as they might.

    By leave of the House, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee), may I say that we are providing the same defence for the EEC regulation offence as is already available for Transport Act offences. The Opposition, when in Gov- ernment, did not include the offences as amendments to the Transport Act in the European Communities Act 1972.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause 9

    Control Of Off-Street Parking

    Lords amendment: No. 10, in page 10, line 1, leave out clause 9.

    I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

    With this we may also discuss the Government amendment to Lords amendment no. 10, in page 10, line 34, at end insert—

    "(3A) Any such Order shall also require councils—

  • (a) to consult organisations representative of the disabled before deciding to propose tie designation of a controlled area under the Order; and
  • (b) if representations are received from such organisations about the proposal, to send to the Secretary of State (together with copies of representations received from other organisations consulted) a statement of how parking requirements of the disabled arising from implementation of the proposal are met by existing facilities or, if in the opinion of the council they are not already so met, how it is intended to meet them.".—
  • and Lords amendment no. 23, in page 17, line 29, leave out from beginning to ("and") in line 32.

    I do not intend to rehearse the familiar arguments about parking control. We have been over them many times and I do not believe that this is an appropriate time to run a well-worn course. There were many clear differences of opinion in another place. The Government held one view about the proposals then included in the Bill and a majority of noble Lords held another.

    I have to say—and I say it with reluctance and no disrespect to the other House—that I have found no new, inspiring or persuasive ideas in what was said in the debate in the other place. There was no distilled wisdom, no profound insight, no fresh interpretation and no exciting vision. In other words, having read the remarks of the noble Lords, I was neither wiser nor better informed than I had been after listening to the debates in this place.

    I confess, although this may be an inadequate reason of itself to be moving disagreement with the Lords, that I would prefer not to capitulate to the rather routine arguments of Lord O'Hagan when I had resisted the blandishments of the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler). I always do my best to be generous towards him, even amenable. I have a great regard for him, as I must have after the long time we have spent together in the House of Commons. It always hurts me to hurt him in any matter. If I was obliged to hurt the hon. Gentleman, as I am afraid I did when I opposed his proposals on this matter, how far short I would fall of the high standards of this place and the affections it generates if I were now to say that, where the hon. Gentleman failed, Lord O'Hagan should succeed? It is for that reason, if no other, that I must ask the House to accept my advice.

    These are old and familiar arguments. We have been discussing the question of parking and its appropriate place in traffic management for over 20 years. I remember, when I was a young, inarticulate and shy member of the Marylebone council, joining in supporting the large and formidable majority in favour of introducing parking meters into the streets of Marylebone. I did so because Mr. Harold Watkinson, now Lord Watkinson, who was then Minister of Transport, indicated—he was the first Minister of Transport to do so—the need for new restrictions on on-street parking. I think that he first advocated on-street parking and meters over 22 years ago.

    Then Mr. Ernest Marples made clear, as Minister of Transport, that he was a supporter of the strict control of parking. I should like to take this opportunity, the first in a transport debate since his death, to pay tribute to the important and valuable, work done by Lord Marples at a time when we were coming to terms with the motor car for the first time. I make it clear that that was street parking as an important part of traffic management.

    Is not the simple point that street parking is on ground in public ownership whereas off-street parking is not? Is not that the crux of the argument?

    Indeed, it is not, unless we are concerned only with the question of the invasion of property rights. Although that is a question that we may want to discuss from time to time, we are not considering it now. We are discussing the proper management of parking to ensure better traffic management, and better traffic management sometimes involves less road building, which itself encroaches on private property. So we want to look at this matter in traffic management terms.

    I mentioned Lord Watkinson and Lord Marples for one purpose. In the other place, it was argued that to move in this direction was only the thin edge of the wedge. If there is a wedge and it has a thin end, that wedge and the thin end were evident 22 years ago, when the idea of restricting parking, whether on or off the streets, was accepted as a necessary part of traffic management. So I do not think that there should be so little confidence in the power of this House, or, for that matter, the power of another, to decide when to call it a day and not to proceed with very important measures.

    I do not want to rehearse the arguments again. I will say only that, in the first place, one cannot have effective management of traffic in towns unless one has management of parking as well, and that, secondly, it is desirable—and I have not changed my view of this—that there should be a large measure of local option in this matter.

    Looking back at the Second Report of the Select Committee on Expenditure for the 1972–73 Session, I was struck by the evidence given by the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), who was then Secretary of State for the Environment. His evidence is recorded in the minutes of evidence in Volume 2. It was given on 22nd June in that Session. The right hon. Gentleman was asked whether he thought local authorities should be permitted to control private off-street car parking, and he replied:
    "They already have it in London, and I think that elsewhere they would need to have that power."
    That was the right hon. Gentleman's view when he carried responsibility for car parking under the last Conservative Government.

    I am sorry to have had to bring that evidence to the attention of the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield, because I am afraid that he is somewhat embarrassed by the revelation, but that was the position six years ago, and apart from remarks made by the hon. Gentleman in our debates on this Bill there has been no suggestion that a Conservative Government, were one ever to be elected, would not feel it necessary to move in this direction. I have much greater faith in local democracy, both in the common sense of local authorities and in the power of the electorate to turn them out if they do not behave in a sensible manner. I have much too much faith in them to believe that it is wrong to give them the opportunity to decide what is best for their own localities.

    5.15 p.m.

    I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his reference to the common sense of local authorities, and I agree with him. The only point at issue between us is that this is restricted to county councils. Why do we not bring in councils at borough level to a much greater extent?

    My hon. Friend made that important point, with which I have great sympathy, in previous stages of our discussion of this Bill. The simple answer is that the Bill would not be the appropriate place for us to change the present division of powers between the two tiers of local government. As my hon. Friend knows, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has been considering what might best be done. He has been in some discussion with me and other ministerial colleagues on the matter, but, as long as the distribution of powers remains as it is, it is appropriate in this Bill—it is the only quick way of doing it—to give this power to the counties. But I take my hon. Friend's point, and I think that there is much validity in it.

    I wish for these reasons to restore the clause as it was previously drafted, except that I am proposing an important amendment to it. As I have said, I found it difficult to see any new ideas in the debate in the House of Lords, but in Committee there concern was expressed that car park licensing might affect the mobility of the disabled, who are depen- dent on the use of cars to get them into town centres. I recognise that the disablcd, both drivers and passengers, are particularly vulnerable to traffic restraint measures, and I am anxious that when authorities use their licensing powers they give proper consideration to the special needs of the disabled.

    Accordingly, the clause as reintroduced contains a new subsection which requires an authority, when initiating a licensing scheme, to consult organisations representing the disabled, and if such organisations object to the scheme the authority must, in forwarding its objections to me, inform me what it already has done in order to meet the needs of the disabled or what it proposes to do. I shall then have an opportunity to consider whether the provisions are adequate, and if they do not appear to be so there are opportunities for me to intervene and require the draft regulations to be amended. That is one respect in which I hope the House will feel that I am making a concession, and one of a kind that is wholly appropriate. I have no sense that I am doing it under duress.

    Perhaps I may try further to mollify some of the anxieties. In deciding to reintroduce the clause, I have carefully considered the argument put forward in both Houses and by the interests involved that a public inquiry should be mandatory at the draft regulation stage. I have concluded that there is no case for such a radical departure from traffic regulation practice—that will not be news to the House. Moreover, my discretion as to whether to hold a public inquiry is an inherent feature of a scheme already extensively debated and sanctioned by Parliament.

    However, my Department will issue guidance which will make it clear that the power should be used only to relieve the most congested urban centres where local authorities are already using their existing powers to control parking to the full. In other words, this power will not be perversely exercised. I do not believe that it would be, but this is a safeguard which I think that the House will welcome, and I give my undertaking in that respect. If any authority proposed to use the powers in other circumstances, I would consider very carefully whether there was a need for me to intervene.

    Has the Secretary of State taken into account the fact that before planning permission was given to erect the building, the local authority insisted on a car park being incorporated in part of the building? Would that be considered to be conclusive evidence not to restrict what the owner had put in at the request of the local authority?

    With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I think that he is referring to proposals, which are not included in the Bill. for the restriction of non-residential car parking. I think that that is what he has in mind. That would not be appropriate to this legislation. But if there are privately operated public car parks in buildings which have been constructed. the sort of consideration that he has in mind would be brought to bear. But we are not considering any question other than regulations, and there is no question of taking away planning permission that has already been given. I hope that on reflection the hon. Gentleman will feel that the proposals I am making today are worthy of his support because they do not encroach on that ground.

    I think that the House as a whole, having debated the Bill and knowing that we shall amend it in relation to the disabled and having given the reassurances that I have put on the record, will be prepared to agree with the Government and disagree with the Lords amendment in this respect.

    Touched as I am by the Secretary of State's tribute. I should tell him that if his only reason for rejecting the Lords amendment is the fear of offending me he should not allow that to stand in his way. That was about the best argument that he made.

    We welcome the concession for the disabled. This is an argument that we have put forward consistently since the clause was first introduced. I pay tribute particularly to Peter Large for the work that he has done on this matter. The concession has been very much at the eleventh hour, but nevertheless it is welcome. However. it does not meet our case in opposing this clause. We still believe that the clause should go in its entirety, and we shall vote on that.

    The only thing that can be said about the Secretary of State's argument is that each time he uses it. we on this side of the House gain more support. The House of Lords is a case in point. Baroness Stedman dutifully repeated his arguments in the other place and the clause was promptly thrown out. The Secretary of State may say that he is not very surprised about that, but I think that he should study the voting lists in the House of Lords.

    The clause was defeated, not just by the Conservative peers but with the support of the Liberal peers. The significance of that was not only that the Liberals in the Commons voted in favour of the clause, but that the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) apparently went through the Bill line by line with the Government when it was presented. It is true that we had to explain to him what one or two of the measures actually meant, but the Bill had the official seal of approval of the Liberal Party. In spite of this, the Liberals in the Lords voted against it.

    There were some very Prominent names among those Liberals. There were Lord Wade, former deputy leader of the Liberal Party; Lord Mackie of Benshie, former chairman of the Scottish Liberal Party; and Lord Beaumont of Whitley, former chairman and president of the Liberal Party and many more besides. So we shall wait with interest to see what the Liberals do when we divide on this matter later this evening. I suspect that they will either abstain or retain their first position. thus enabling them to go to the country with their slogan of "Vote Liberal and we shall give you the biggest permutation of contradictory votes known to man".

    When will the hon. Member tell us that he will bring forward a sensible transport policy for dealing with traffic in the inner urban areas? When he does that we shall listen to him with great interest.

    I am most interested in what the hon. Member has said. I shall refer him to the transport policy that we have. produced which is rather more than the Liberals have produced. When he has studied our policy, I am sure that he will give us his support.

    Why does the Secretary of State get so uptight about this clause? The Secretary of State has not been conspicuously successful in getting his decisions past his Cabinet colleagues. His support for any cause is normally the kiss of death for that cause—Blennerhassett, seat belts, excess fares. On all these he has been overruled. But if it kills him, he will get this clause on to the statute book.

    What then is his case essentially? It is that he is doing nothing wrong. He is simply giving the local authorities a permissive power to control private car parks. His argument is that, because it is permissive, nobody should worry.

    That is an extraordinary assumption. The first question to be answered is whether the powers are necessary. This House does not and should not give permissive powers unless it is convinced that those powers should be given. If the powers are unnecessary then there is no case—whether they are permissive or not is irrelevant. To judge whether they are necessary, we look at experience with them.

    That means looking at the situation in London. London is the only city which is, in the Secretary of State's words, "free to enjoy them". At present the GLC has powers to control the hours of opening, scale of charges and the length of stay of a motorist in a private car park. The case is that those powers have been so successfully exercised that every local authority should have them.

    To some it might seem a slight flaw in the Secretary of State's argument that the GLC, in fact, does not exercise the powers and has given them up deliberately. It is prepared to see the powers scrapped altogether. The reason that the Conservative-controlled GLC has scrapped these controls is that when Mr. Daly and the Labour-controlled GLC exercised them there was a public outcry. The public protested at the indiscriminate nature of the controls and there was no evidence that they had any good effect, least of all in forcing people on to public transport which was their presumed aim.

    Therefore, London hardly provides much support for the Secretary of State. The only comparative scheme was in Nottingham in 1975–76. Very elaborate controls were set up to prevent motorists entering the city and the result was extensively reported in three reports by the Government's own Transport and Road Research Laboratory. The laboratory reported:
    "the scheme largely failed to achieve its two main objectives…reduced bus journey times between residential zones and the City Centre by less than one minute…no significant changes were observed in the means of travel."
    In other words, it was a failure, and what is more it was a failure which cost the ratepayers £280,000.

    Above all, the fact is that these two schemes were both rejected by the public —the consumer or the transport user. In London, the chief author of the Labour scheme was Mr. Jim Daly and in Nottingham the chief author was Mr. Frank Higgins. Both schemes were rejected by the local transport users, yet what have the Government done? They have appointed both men to the Central Transport Consultative Committee to represent transport users nationally. That is the reward that they have been given. Mr. Higgins is the paid chairman and last month Mr. Daly was appointed to the committee—happily in an unpaid capacity.

    It is stupid party political-appointments of that kind which give quangos a bad name in this country. There is no evidence to support the extension of powers. All the evidence points the other way. There is even a financial price to be paid by the taxpayer and the ratepayer. Clearly, if hours of opening are limited in the privately operated car parks, these car parks will sustain loss and compensation will be paid out of public funds. The Government accept that this is so.

    That brings me to the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis). His case on Report was that there was something deeply sinister about the attitude that the Conservative Party was taking. He said then:
    "I remember seeing somewhere that National Car Parks is a considerable contributor to Conservative funds. I am open to correction about that, but if that is the case, we begin to understand where the Opposition's interests lie."—[Official Report, 17th May, 1978; Vol. 950, c. 497.]
    It is as well that we do not look to the hon. Member for reliable information in this House. The fact is that National Car Parks does not contribute to Conservative Party funds and does not make any contribution to any political party. Such information was available to the hon. Member simply by lifting a telephone. But he chose not to check and I am sure that he is about to withdraw his comments.

    It is not a question of withdrawing my comments. I asked a question. The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) has just made my case. Had he had the knowledge, he could have said on Report that my comments were not true. The significant thing is that my comments fit in with the analysis, and he thought that they were true. In the private sector the money-making consideration overrides any thought of sensible planning in our cities and towns.

    The hon. Member's response is altogether typical of him. He has been proved wrong but he has not the courage to admit that he was incorrect. He is simply prepared to smear and not to withdraw that smear. We choose to give him our award of "investigative booby of the year."

    The last Labour manifesto contained the pledge to make the nation less dependent upon the private car. That remains the policy of the Labour Party today. This was set out in the statement of the party's national executive committee last month. To achieve this, the party wants stringent traffic management schemes. It welcomes the plan to license privately operated car parks, but sees it as only a first stage. The next stage will be to control private non-residential parking.

    Powers will then be taken to control office car parks, and virtually everybody parking in an office car park will need a permit to be bought at local authority offices. A new body of inspectors will then be formed to check that permits are being displayed. That is the brave new world which the national executive of the Labour Party has in mind.

    5.30 p.m.

    It might be thought that at least the Secretary of State for Transport would not support such a scheme. Nobody pretends that the right hon. Gentleman is the darling of the Labour Party executive. But not a bit of it. He, too, wants this scheme. Basically, the right hon. Gentleman is saying that this measure is stage 1 of his parking controls, and that stage 2 will mean controls on office car parks.

    That brings me to a central conflict in the Secretary of State's case. He claims the support of bodies of all kinds. I pointed out in May that not all his support stands up to scrutiny. In Standing Committee, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport claimed the support of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. A check with Miss Shelagh Roberts, the transport and planning chairman of the AMA, proved this to be totally untrue—in other words, that statement was totally without foundation.

    The Government have not sought to deny the opposition to this proposal expressed by the motoring organisations, such as the RAC and AA. Nobody pretends that mass rallies are taking place throughout the country in favour of these controls. The humbug of the Government's case lies in the suggestion that they care a jot what the public think. Their proposals for private non-residential parking have been condemned—the local authorities do not want them, nor do the police or the public. However, has this affected the Government's attitude? The answer is in the negative. The Government want to push these proposals through. This will not happen before an election, but if Labour wins that is precisely what they will do, whether or not public opinion is with them.

    Happily, that election will prevent the Labour Party from putting into effect stage 2. Today the House has an oppotunity to defeat stage 1, and I urge it to take it. The case has not been made out and the powers should not be given.

    The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) tried to raise the bogy that this was one stage towards controlling private non-residential parking. He suggested that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport wanted to go all the way but, for various reasons, was unable to go that far. The subject of private non-residential parking is a wholly different matter. It will rest on its own merits if and when it is raised in this House. Public non-residential parking can be discussed on its own merits today.

    The hon. Gentleman said that there was no mass rally in favour of the Government's proposal. I am certain from my contacts that there is no mass rally against the proposal.

    In other words, this proposal is not causing immense interest outside the House.

    The hon. Gentleman also suggested that my right hon. Friend did not care a jot what the public were or were not saying about this matter. The essence of what my right hon. Friend is doing is to give authority to locally elected councillors—in other words, to the democratically elected people on the spot—to exercise the power if they so wish. What can be more responsive to public opinion than that? That is the spirit in which my right hon. Friend is approaching the matter.

    I am puzzled by the fact that the hon. Gentleman is prepared to deny to local authorities the possibility of regulating public off-street parking. It is an astonishing proposition that whatever may be the local circumstances, whatever the people on the spot think, the hon. Gentleman knows best—and certainly the suggestion that Whitehall or whatever body the hon. Gentleman claims to speak on behalf of—the RAC, the AA or Miss Shelagh Roberts—know what is best for every county authority throughout the country. with local councillors being denied the opportunity to exercise any powers in this respect.

    The hon. Gentleman's view is that the evidence points the other way. He believes that there is no local pressure for this move, and cited the Greater London Council. We all know that there has been an unfortunate change of control in that council. However, the situation will be put right in the not too distant future.

    The hon. Gentleman's opposition to these proposals is dogmatic and nondemocratic. In my view, the control which is now possible for local councilors can be an essential tool in local traffic management schemes in respect of essential planning at local level. I fully support my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

    It was nerhaps a Freudian coincidence that the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) was called to speak after my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler). who referred to the possibility of having to apply to one's local authority for a parking permit in the event of another Labour Government. I was restrained from intervening in my hon. Friend's speech, but I am constrained to add that it might be only a matter of time before the matter were dealt with, not by the local authority, but by that red dragon of a Welsh computer in Swansea.

    What possible relevance have vehicle excise duty and driving licences, the two areas of responsibility in Swansea, to the matter under discussion?

    I suppose the answer o that question is, none, except in Socialist logic. As the computer exists, the Government will have to find work for it to do. We must have in mind the views of our constituents and what concerns them about traffic problems. I am sure that Members receive more letters about the Swansea computer than about car parking problems.

    This is a comparatively simple matter of political attitudes. When the Secretary of State for Transport ponders the question why the Conservative Party is yet again pursuing this subject, I believe that I can answer the question for him. It has to do with attitudes towards legislation. The Labour Party's attitude to legislation is "When in doubt, do it": the Conservative Party's attitude is "When in doubt, don't". As we have seen from the GLC example, it is a waste of everybady's time for Parliament to legislate to give power to local authorities, for local authorities to find those powers unusable, and ultimately for those powers to be repealed.

    Politeness prevents my trying to deduce the Liberal Party's attitude towards legislation. bearing in mind what was said a little earlier about the actions of Liberal peers in another place. Perhaps the Liberal attitude could he best summarised as "When in doubt, let us see whether there are votes in it and let us do whatever we think is likely to be the most popular". That is no way to run a transport policy or anything else.

    The suggestion that this proposal would be a first step towards the acquisition of powers by local authorities to take over private property for purposes of traffic management is a real threat. People would do well to be aware of that danger.

    The Secretary of State for Transport, in answering a question by his hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis), said that these powers would not be devolved downwards to district councils. I know that the Chair would rule me out of order if I were to refer to the recent speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) on the subject of English devolution. but I believe that there is every justification for the view that the kind of powers envisaged in the clause are more sensibly held in the hands of district councils than of county councils. The New Forest district council, in my constituency, is perhaps some way ahead of the thinking of many other local authorities on this matter. Two years ago, it passed a resolution that called, effectively, for English devolution. It proposed the devolution from this place of powers to elected regional councils, in effect the abolition of county councils and devolution down to district councils of many matters among which, I am sure, traffic management and off-street parking would be included.

    The Secretary of State referred to the power of local people to turn out a local authority that introduces unpopular schemes of traffic management. The bus lanes in Southampton were not very popular and the swing against the Labour Party in the last local elections in Southampton was, by general consent, so large as to require an explanation and the traffic management schemes introduced by the former Labour council were not irrelevant.

    If the House is seriously interested in looking at the overall question of traffic management, doing it in this piecemeal fashion is unsatisfactory. Many of my constituents feel that traffic management schemes and parking arrangements should be organised so that facilities are made available for local people rather than for people coming in from outside, though that may be easier to say than to administer.

    The Lymington harbour commissioners have managed to reserve moorings in the Lymington river for people who live within six miles of Lymington. Many of my constituents would like to see places in the public car parks run by the district councils reserved for people living in or near the areas concerned, but such powers are not inherent in the Bill.

    Finally, dare I mention the subject of caravans about which the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) and I have had discussions with the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment? Problems are caused by these vehicles and certain popular areas have particular problems. In some of the scenic tourist areas of this country, there may be a case for restricting the entry of certain vehicles into certain places at certain times unless booked and reserved accommodation is available.

    All this is very much wider than anything proposed in the Bill. I suspect the motives of the Government in seeking to reinsert this clause in the Bill, and I have no hesitation in supporting my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield.

    The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) does worse when he writes his speeches than when he speaks off the cuff. He sought to attribute to me malice and various ill motives, but he should have read all of what I said in the speech about which he complained. I said:

    "I say merely that I should not be surprised to see that National Car Parks contributes to Conservative Party funds."—[Official Report. 17th May 1978; Vol. 950, c. 497.]
    Is it ill mannered of me to say that?

    Why do I come to that conclusion? The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield said a lot of harsh things about the Liberal Members and the Secretary of State and what he is seeking to do in this clause. The hon. Gentleman said that there could be no argument about this matter. Plainly there is an argument or we would not be having one. He resolutely refuses to see that there can be any case for regulations to help with the management of the problem in our towns and cities.

    5.45 p.m.

    My only criticism of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is that he is going to the wrong level. The people who own the car parks and best know the needs of an area are the district councils at the lower tier of management. My right hon. Friend said in reply to my intervention that the Government had sought to deal with the matter from a philosophical point of view in other legislation concerning these matters and had decided that the powers should be given to the county councils.

    On Humberside we have a huge, semi-regional area, split by the Humber estuary. It may be that county councillors considering these matters may not have visited places such as Hull, Beverley, Brigg or Scunthorpe for a considerable time. I could not say when I was last in Beverley and county councillors on the south bank of the Humber have a considerable journey to get to some other parts of the region. We would do better to allow the local authority at, say, Beverley to decide what to do with its car parks rather than hand over the decision to county councillors. In the same way, I do not suppose that those in Beverley or Bridlington will know the needs of Scunthorpe particularly well.

    The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield waxed passionately on the main argument of whether there is a need for this provision. There is a philosophical divide between us. The Opposition say that nothing should stand in the way of the entrepreneur and that if he provides the car park he should decide what hours it should be open and so on because he has come into the free market economy and decided a rate for the job that the market will bear.

    I understand that argument, but there is a converse argument. I refer again to what the hon. Member for Sutton Cold-field said about there being no argument in this matter. Of course there is an argument. For example, we have free car parking in Scunthorpe. No entrepreneur comes into Scunthorpe to provide car parks because all the parks in the town are free. I am not saying that that is necessarily the right approach. At present we have sufficient space, but the commercial functions of the town ate to be extended and perhaps there will be a shortage of space at some time. A more sensible approach at that time might be to say that we want people to come in to use the shops and offices and to use the car parks on a short-term rather than a long-term basis.

    The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) gave the game away when he said that in seaside towns, where there are shortages of parking places, people might start parking caravans in areas where they are not wanted. The hon. Gentleman seems to support the case that is being made by my right hon. and hon. Friends.

    I was at Bristol for some time and there was a large departmental store that besides encompassing departments dealing with shoes, handbags, linen and other goods had two or three floors devoted to car parking. At the end of the financial year the store found that the car park had made the greatest profit.

    Let us pursue the argument. Let us act on the basis of the free market economy. Let us do away with the haberdashery department, the shoe department and everything else and turn the building into a complete car park. If we did that, we should make more profit. What would happen? The reason for people going into the centre of Bristol would diminish until the centre was devoted entirely to car parking and there would be no reason for people to go to the centre.

    I am arguing in stark terms that when we consider traffic management in any area there is a variety of circumstances to bear in mind. It may be that there is a wish to attract the long-term parker. It may be that the short-term parker is wanted, bearing in mind the services that have been provided in the area.

    The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington observed that there may be parking provisions in seaside towns and that motorists may want to park in the centre of the shopping district, or they may want to bring in their caravans as well when there is provision elsewhere.

    The hon. Gentleman has twice suggested that I said something that in fact I never said. I was not talking about bringing caravans into seaside areas but general traffic management. I merely mentioned caravans en passant not necessarily in seaside areas but in areas of outstanding natural beauty where there are no powers for local authorities or the Forestry Commission, for example, to control their entry in certain areas at certain times of the year. If we are to have a thorough review of traffic management, there are far more important problems to discuss than the particular one that the hon. Gentleman has in mind.

    I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's correction. He is concerned about areas of outstanding natural beauty. I do not think that he detracts from my argument. I misunderstood him, but I can understand his concern. I know that in many seaside towns there are many caravans. I shall give the hon. Gentleman his argument if he gives me mine. It may be the policy of the local council not to have caravans in certain areas. That is an additional reason that adds to the argument. It seems that the hon. Gentleman did not include it and that I misunderstood him. However, he argued on the basis of scenic beauty and he reinforces my argument.

    The Opposition have it entirely wrong. Mention has been made of the late Ernest Marples. It is true that ever since the war Ministers of Transport, whether Conservative or Labour, have been involved in controversy. We all remember the slogan "Marples must go". There was a similar campaign involving my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) when she was transport Minister.

    The attitude of many when they returned from the war was that they had been fighting for the freedom to live their lives as they thought fit. They demanded a better standard of living so that they could own a car. They considered that part of the freedom for which they had been fighting was the right to take their car into city centres and to park it where they wished.

    It took a long time for it to be accepted that if all motorists took their cars into our main cities or small towns and no parking provision was made they would merely sit in enormous traffic jams. At that stage public opinion caught up with what successive Ministers of Transport had been trying to do.

    Whenever any restriction was introduced, whether it be for off-street car parking or anything else, there was always an enormous amount of fuss and uproar. My right hon. Friend has been painted as a villian but he has said that if the local people, who know something of the problems, wish to use their powers, they are powers that he thinks it right they should have. It may be that many local authorities will not need to use the powers now, but I have the feeling that they will need to do so in future.

    My only reservation is that the powers are vested in the county councils and not in the lower tier of local government where those who know their districts could best make their own decisions.

    I wish to get one or two things straight. The Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler), made great play of the voting of the Liberal peers in another place. I have in front of me the speech of Viscount Simon, which makes it clear why the Liberal Lords voted as they did. If the hon. Gentleman takes the trouble to read the debate, he will see that one reason that caused them to vote as they did was that no provision had been made for the disabled. Their other complaint concerned appeals against decisions. Lord Simon said that the Liberal peers would vote against clause 9 in the hope that those matters would be put right and that a new clause would be introduced. The right hon. Gentleman has done just that by introducing the amendments.

    The clause is a minimum measure when we consider what is needed to deal with the problems of inner urban traffic. In London we had the Labour-controlled GLC removing parking meters. Immediately the Labour Party was out of office, the Tory-controlled GLC started to replace the meters. Heaven knows what the cost has been to the ratepayers and taxpayers, but it must have been hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    The lady chairman of the Tory GLC transport committee made the ridiculous statement that she would speed up London buses by removing more and more conductors and providing more and more one-man buses. Any hon. Member who travels on buses will know that the last thing anybody wants to do is to get on a double-decker bus in London which has the driver taking the fares and no conductor. That is a recipe for making the slowest progress possible. At times it can take half an hour in the morning to get from Millbank to Piccadilly Circus. Day in and day out, there are traffic jams along the Embankment. On a Friday evening it takes over an hour to get to Putney. In those circumstances, surely hon. Members on both sides of the House must realise that something has to be done.

    London has the worst traffic record of any city in the western world. That was commented upon recently. We have before us a minor measure to deal with a situation which has to be tackled far more seriously. The aim is to provide further means of regulating traffic in urban areas. It does not seek to do very much. I cannot understand why such a fuss is being made. I should like to see the Secretary of State going much further. We cannot continue to put up with the present situation.

    What evidence does the hon. Gentleman have for believing that the controls that we are discussing will do any good whatsoever? If he has come to the conclusion that they will not do any good—presumably that is what he is saying—why does he intend to vote for them?

    I am not saying that. I am trying to point out that on the ground of political expediency the two main parties have not attempted seriously to tackle the problems over the past 20 years. Both parties are frightened to death of upsetting motorists, and I happen to be a motorist. The parties do not take the necessary steps to deal with inner urban traffic problems. However, at long last it appears that the general public are willing to use public transport again. It is clear that they are going back on to the railways. There has been increasing use of trains in recent months.

    To do nothing to tackle the problem seems to me to abrogate the responsibility. That is why I cannot go along with the Opposition, who wish to kick out a minor measure. It is a democratic measure because it will be left to the local authorities to decide whether they wish to take up the powers, and I am a believer in local democracy.

    6.0 p.m.

    I do not understand what the Opposition find frightening in this proposal. It seems innocuous enough. Powers are to be devolved to the county councils. If anything could emasculate the car parking regulation system, it is to give those powers to the shire counties. They will do practically nothing. They are already road oriented and are likely to remain so for many years.

    The position as regards the metropolitan areas will be different. But, again, I do not know what the Opposition are frightened about. They speak with great confidence about the transport chairmen in London and Nottingham being thrown out at local elections because of their traffic management policies. Nevertheless, they still think that there is danger. Apparently they cannot trust county councillors, whether Conservative or Labour.

    It seems sensible and logical that metropolitan areas, which have power to control traffic and to provide public transport with subsidies, should have these car parking powers as well. It seems more democratic that those who elect local councillors should be able to express their views through those councillors. I am confident that councillors in cities will be responsive to the demands of the inhabitants that something should be done to reduce the terrible congestion that takes place in cities.

    Something was said about a brave new world and Labour wanting to go into it. It would seem that the Opposition do not want that. That is the direction in which most of the world has moved. Throughout the world, traffic regulation powers are in the hands of local authorities. They are much greater powers than we are giving in the Bill.

    Los Angeles and Tokyo—fast-flying cities—are able to stop traffic going into the cities if they so wish. Tokyo has regulations to stop all cars going into the city. The same applies to Los Angeles. There are other cities in a similar position. For example, the laws on pollution in some countries are very stringent. Why are we so backward? It seems that the Opposition are bent on picking out the nits, especially with the approach of a General Election.

    There is nothing revolutionary in this proposal. It is perfectly logical. However, I wish that the district councils were to be responsible. Indeed, as has been said, it seems ridiculous that, in the county of Avon, Bristol rather than the rural areas should have this power. It is probably the worst example in the country. But there are many similar examples of the powers of the county council overriding the expert local knowledge of the district councils.

    It is a great pity that we use transport as a means of party conflict in this Chamber. The result is great human suffering. Indeed, there is greater loss of life because of it. Most people are killed on the roads in urban areas, not on the motorways. The situation is so bad that we need to increase the powers where they will be more effective. It is a great pity that we cannot be non-partisan on this matter. This problem cries out for a solution. The Government are providing part of the solution but no more, and certainly it is not very revolutionary.

    I sympathise with what the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins) said about a certain amount of non-partisanship in transport matters. I believe that we have established a reasonable rapport on transport matters. The hon. Gentleman might agree that most hon. Members—even the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis)—are on speaking terms with the Opposition. Indeed, we hear a lot from the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe, but that does not prevent this great non-partisan feeling. This is not a question of trying to be non-partisan all the time. We disagree with this proposal.

    The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) talked about being in fear of the motorist. However, many motorists have a case to be put. When the Government are being unfair to those motorists, somebody should criticise the Government for being unfair.

    As the Secretary of State said, we have been round this course on a number of occasions. We all have sympathy with that view. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) and others of my hon. Friends have put the main points of the argument. Therefore, I shall come straight to what I believe to be the most important point in these discussions. This point, which was made by the Secretary of State, mirrors our constructive opposition. The result of our vigorous opposition to the clause is plain to see. The Secretary of State said—and the point should be underlined—that this power should be used only for relief of congestion in urban areas and that the fear of the power being used in unnecessary places all over the country was clearly removed. Indeed. I understand that the Department will issue guidance to authorities on this matter.

    Again, in response to another concern, the Secretary of State said that he would consider intervention if there were any abuse. That is the clear construction that we put on his words. If the clause becomes part of the Bill—this is a tribute to the Opposition as much as to the wisdom of the Secretary of State in taking note of what we have said—it will apply to our major metropolitan and urban areas.

    If the hon. Gentleman accepts that it is appropriate to have such a power in congested inner urban areas, why does he rule out holiday areas where there is congestion at certain times of the year and where the problem may be just as acute?

    I do not accept anything. Indeed, that was not the purport of what I was saying. I was not accepting that this should go anywhere. My earlier remarks, which admittedly were rather speedily made, should have left no one in any doubt about that. In the spirit of non-partisanship which has been mentioned, at least wholehearted opposition results in some give. We know where we are. I should not be in favour of this proposal at all. Indeed, I made that clear in some detail on Report.

    The importance of the inquiry procedure is mirrored by what happened in London. Between 4,000 and 5,000 representations were made against the London scheme by the then Labour-controlled GLC. The result of those representations was absolutely nil. There was no inquiry, let alone intervention by the Secretary of State. Therefore, it is important that he should now say that he will consider intervention if there is any abuse.

    Finally, I offer an olive branch, if possible, or a reaching across in the generous spirit that we have on transport matters in the direction of none other than the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe. We have heard a lot from him and have disagreed with him. As this Session and Parliament fade away, however, and as the voices which are heard—not least the hon. Member's—on transport matters go elsewhere into the country, his words about the district councils having much greater voice and assuming these powers are words with which many hon. Members on both sides of the House can agree.

    I hope that the hon. Member for Preston, North will approve of the way that I end my speech. I am a friend of local government reorganisation, in particular the 1972 provisions. This matter has to be looked at, and who better to advocate it than an honorary vice-president of the Association of District Councils, otherwise known as the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe?

    I shall detain the House only briefly. I am suspicious when I hear that the Secretary of State wants to give powers to authorities whether they intend to use them or not. Generally, when Ministers give powers they look towards a day when they will be used. Therefore, if this power is given, a measure of control is provided which does not exist at present. I do not wish to see that power given, for the simple reason that it might be used.

    My county council has not been writing letters to me in the past month begging me to support the Secretary of State in clause 9, which gives the powers to regulate car parks. It has not said that it needs this power to control the traffic in Reading or Newbury. The county council seems satisfied with the powers that it possesses.

    How many county councils have asked the Secretary of State for these powers which he now so generously offers to them? Have a majority of county councils asked for the powers? Will he give a figure? Is what he is proposing tonight the first part of a package which will ultimately include privately owned car parks? That is the doubt that lies in the minds of many of my hon. Friends. They feel that this is the first prong of a fork which ultimately will give authorities the power to limit the ability of motorists to drive their cars where they choose.

    The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) talked about parking meters and the GLC. He explained how, when Labour was in control, parking meters were taken away and how now the Conservatives are in control and parking meters are coming back. Parking meters provide parking places for cars. If they are there, cars can come in to the city. If they are not, cars cannot come in. An authority can take to itself the ability to limit the freedom of people who, having bought their cars with the intention of using them, having paid all the required taxes, may not use their vehicles because a local authority decides that they shall not do so.

    Whether the Secretary of State likes it or not, he knows that by these regulations that he has fought so hard to retain he intends to give a power that will limit the right of individuals to use their cars. Since I do not believe that those regulations are required and I wish to retain as much freedom for the individual as possible, I do not support the Secretary of State but I support the Lords.

    I agreed with the Secretary of State in only one of his remarks. He said that these were old and familiar arguments. I agree. The House has gone over this ground on many occasions recently. However, that does not make the argument less effective.

    I am surprised by the continuing obstinacy of the Secretary of State in persisting with a proposal which is unwanted by anybody except members of the Labour Party. Apparently it is also now wanted by the Liberal Party. We have heard a clear statement from a spokesman of the Liberal Party that the Liberals are in favour of the proposition. However, they criticise it because it does not go far enough. The spokesman, by implication, criticised the Liberal transport spokesman for not having had the percipience of the Liberals in the House of Lords who voted against the proposal.

    6.15 p.m.

    The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) explained that by saying that the Liberals voted against it in the Lords on two grounds—that there was no appeals procedure and that it did not make proper provision for the disabled. There is still no appeals procedure. The Government have not moved an amendment to provide that procedure, and yet the hon. Member for Isle of Wight still feels able to support the proposition.

    The Secretary of State has not been obstinate about the disabled. We welcome his amendment which allows submissions to be made on behalf of the disabled in areas where it is proposed to license privately operated public car parks. Without a mandatory appeals procedure, however, that is not satisfactory. If he wishes, the Secretary of State need not have an appeals procedure, even if organisations for the disabled feel that alternative and convenient facilities are not available. The Government's proposal for the disabled is not as satisfactory as it might seem.

    At the last minute there is an amendment which seems to be welcomed, but it seems to apply to all parts of the country except Greater London. I am sure that the House does not wish me to present a Committee argument about clause 9. I hope, however, that the Secretary of State will say whether I am correct to say that representations can be made on behalf of the disabled anywhere in the United Kingdom except Greater London. That is the way in which the Bill appears to have been drafted. If I am right, how does the Secretary of State propose to deal with it? It is unacceptable that a Bill should go on to the statute book in that form.

    I agree with the last point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson). This is an unwanted power. It limits the freedom of the consumer to choose his mode of transport. It is a Socialist proposal. Those who say that we should have a non-partisan agreement on these matters should be clear that that is a Socialist proposal. For that reason, we shall vote against it.

    The power exists in only one area—the Greater London area. Only the Socialist-controlled GLC chose to exercise the power. Thank heavens, as soon as there was a change of control the Conservatives decided to abandon the proposals. No other local authority is clamouring for this power. A Socialist Government intend to introduce it so that—heaven forbid—if Labour controls London again it will be used. It is a Socialist measure which will be waiting for Socialist administrations to place more controls on motorists.

    If it is a Socialist proposal, it is one that has been adopted by many Conservative Governments throughout the world. Is it not time that the British Tories caught up?

    We are concerned about the way in which we run our affairs in this country. We are faced with a Socialist measure which will place more controls on the motorist. The proposal is superfluous. It could be damaging and will contribute nothing to traffic management schemes, about which the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight spoke.

    Supporters of the proposition have said that we have made strides forward in traffic management schemes in the last two decades. Much has been achieved without this type of power. Massive planning powers are available to local authorities. The motorists of this country would be filled with incredulity at the proposition that there are not enough powers already to achieve the results that we all want to achieve in terms of traffic management.

    The hon. Member says that Socialists are seeking to curb the freedom of the motorist. Why does he not use the same argument on planning matters? Local authorities decide that certain areas shall be used for car parks or for shopping. The hon. Member appears to be prepared to accept Socialism in that area but not in this.

    Let me make the point briefly. I suspect that the House wishes to conic to a decision on this matter fairly soon, so I hope that the hon. Member will forgive me if I do not give way again. The point I am making is simply that there is a massive panoply of powers that already exist and are available to local authorities. This further power is not needed. All we are providing is yet another weapon in the Socialist armoury for more controls in the future to deprive the transport user, the consumer, of his freedom to choose the most efficient mode of transport.

    Let us very quickly look at the book. We do not have to gaze into the crystal Let us see how the GLC exercised its powers and what it would have done if it had had time to implement these proposals. When Labour was in control, pursuing a quite blatantly anti-motorist policy, what did the GLC do? The GLC sought to remove many of the very parking meters that the Secretary of State was saying that he helped to introduce 20 years ago. It took about 4,000 parking meters. It closed some of the car parks so that motorists could not get into them before 11 o'clock in the mornine.

    It was a deliberate policy to try to reduce the depedence of the motorist on his car and to shift people over to public transport. It was a quite clear policy of restricting the motorist. It was a blatant anti-motorist policy, although the Secretary of State may choose to deny this.

    The GLC achieved those cuts in the freedom of the motorist with its previous powers. It did not have time to implement its powers of control as defined in the clause. How much more power would the GLC exercise if it went on to the further stage, which the Secretary of State supports—and the Liberal Party, apparently—of control of private nonresidential parking, which includes all the office blocks as well?

    This is the thin edge of the wedge. There is no doubt that if we proceed with this proposal the Labour Party, in its manifesto—one hopes that it will be many years before it has a chance to implement it—would seek to take it a further step forward. The Secretary of State made it clear that the only reason why he has not got even more extreme proposals this Session is that it was a crowded Session. He has explained his commitment—he made it absolutely clear—to the introduction of further restrictions on car parking and on the motorist.

    I conclude by simply saying that there is no inquiry procedure either for discruntled motorists or for the person who has provided car parks under existing planning rules. Basically we have an undemocratic system in which the Secretary of State can impose his will. All I can say further on that score is that when the GLC introduced its proposals there were 4.600 complainants against them. Yet the Secretary of State did not feel it right to have an appeal. Frankly, if 4,600 people complain and he still does not feel that an appeal is justified, the people, and motorists in particular, cannot look to him for any defence of their interests.

    I suspect that that is one of the reasons why this proposal is so widely opposed. It is opposed by the Automobile Association and by the Royal Automobile Club. It is now unwanted by the GLC. The British Road Federation and others have all opposed it. The House of Lords has now opposed it and has given us this opportunity to reject it once and for all. I forgot the Liberal Party. The Liberals are for it and against it, so we do not know exaclty where they stand. But let this House make clear where it stands. Let us reject this proposal and let us agree with the Lords in their amendment.

    By leave of the House. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to reply.

    On the specific point about which the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) asked me. as to how the amendment affected London, we did not think it right to attempt to amend the 1969 Act in this respect. But, of course, I have discretion to call in a scheme, and certainly I would propose to act in London in the spirit of the amendment, because I agree entirely that the amendment with regard to the disabled is an important one. I pay tribute to all those who played some part in bringing it forward. Assuming always that the House intends to pass that amendment this evening, certainly it would condition the way in which I acted. I shall act in the spirit of it—I give that undertaking to the House—in dealing with further applications under the 1969 Act as it affects London.

    It is a very curious anomaly that we now have a law which applies—I accept what the Secretary of State is saying—everywhere outside London but, because of administrative difficulties, apparently, we are not able to apply it to London. That is unsatisfactory and it deserves a little more explanation than the Secretary of State is giving.

    If the hon. Gentleman thought about what he was seeking to do this evening, he would find that he is seeking to perpetuate an anomaly—that we have one law affecting parking in London and we do not have such a law affecting other harts of the country. He is seeking to maintain that position. whereas I am seeking in the Bill to remedy it. It is very perverse of the hon Member to argue precisely the contrary and to say that in this case we should have conformity in London with the counties, although he does not want to have conformity and the same opportunities for the counties as London. If the hon. Member would like to think about it for a little while, perhaps he will send me a note later in the evening to confirm that I am right.

    I have made the undertaking plain to the House. I do not think that the hon. Member for Faversham should be too ungenerous, because that is rather out of keeping with his character as I understand it. I have said that in seeking to make sure that the provisions of the 1969 Act as they affect London are taken proper care of, I shall act in the spirit of the amendment. However, it would not be right or practical, in a Bill of this kind, to introduce an amendment related to London itself.

    I was tempted by many of the points made to cover ground with which we were familiar, but I think everyone has agreed that we have travelled this road before and we have stopped in this place on many occasions. I do not honestly believe that most of the arguments were new. There is an honest difference of opinion. I should like to believe that we could approach these matters in a non-partisan spirit, because I think that ideology which is suitable for some circumstances is very unrelated to problems of traffic manage

    Division No. 321]

    AYES

    [6.28 p.m.

    Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Forrester, JohnMitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)
    Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Molloy, William
    Bagier, Gordon A. T.George, BruceMorris, Rt Hon Charles R.
    Blenkinsop, ArthurGolding, JohnMorton, George
    Booth, Rt Hon AlbertGrant, John (Islington C)Noble, Mike
    Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Hamilton, James (Bothwell)O'Halloran, Michael
    Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Orbach, Maurice
    Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)Harrison, Rt Hon WalterOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
    Campbell, IanHoram, JohnOwen, Rt Hon Dr David
    Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)Palmer, Arthur
    Coleman, DonaldHunter, AdamPark, George
    Conlan, BernardJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Penhaligon, David
    Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)John, BrynmorPrice, C. (Lewisham W)
    Corbett, RobinJohnson, Walter (Derby S)Rees, Rt Hon Meriyn (Leeds S)
    Cowans, HarryJones, Alec (Rhondda)Robinson, Geoffrey
    Crawshaw, RichardKaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRodgers, Gaorge (Chorley)
    Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)Lamond, JamesRodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
    Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Latham, Arthur (Paddington)Rooker, J. W.
    Davidson, ArthurLee, JohnRoper, John
    Deakins, EricLestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
    Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Litterick, TomRowlands, Ted
    Dell, Rt Hon EdmundLoyden, EddieRyman, John
    Dormand, J. D.Luard, EvanSever, John
    Duffy, A. E. P.Lyon, Alexander (York)Silverman, Julius
    Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethMcCartney, HughSpearing, Nigel
    Eadie, AlexMcKay, Allen (Penistone)Spriggs, Leslie
    Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorStallard, A. W.
    Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Steel, Rt Hon David
    English, MichaelMadden, MaxStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
    Evans, loan (Aberdare)Marks, KennethStoddart, David
    Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
    Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Meacher, MichaelThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
    Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Mellish, Rt Hon RobertTinn, James
    Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMillan, Rt Hon BruceTomlinson, John

    ment. The more we seek to bring partisanship into matters of this kind, the more in the long run we shall bring the House into disrepute.

    There are matters of political philosophy and ideology which we should dispute, but not when it comes to deciding which parking shall be regulated and which parking shall not be regulated. This is a matter of judgment. I am prepared to say that circumstances may show that local authorities do not wish to exercise the powers which I hope the House will give them tonight. That is a matter of their judgment, and they are entitled to it. The Opposition are entitled to their judgment about when such powers should be exercised.

    However, I believe that this is a constructive measure, essential to traffic management in urban areas and helpful both to those who use a private car and to those who use public transport, and to the very many people, among whom I include myself, who use both a private car and public transport from time to time as appropriate.

    Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

    The House divided: Ayes 116, Noes 109.

    Wainwright, Edwin (Deanne V)Willey, Rt Hon FrederickWoof, Robert
    Walker, Terry (Kingswood)William, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
    Ward, MichaelWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Watkinson, JohnWilliams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)Ma. Jim Marshall and
    Weetch, KenWilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)Mr. Tod Graham.
    Whitehead, PhillipWise, Mrs Audrey

    NOES

    Alison, MichaelHarrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Page, Richard (Workington)
    Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelPercival, Ian
    Bain, Mrs MargaretHeseltine, MichaelPeyton, Rt Hon John
    Banks, RobertHiggins, Terence L.Pym, Rt Hon Francis
    Bell, RonaldHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Raison, Timothy
    Bendall, VivianHunt, David (Wirral)Rhodes James, R.
    Berry, Hon AnthonyHunt, John (Ravensbourne)Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
    Biggs-Davison, JohnHutchison, Michael ClarkRidley, Hon Nicholas
    Blaker, PeterJames, DavidRifkind, Malcolm
    Bottomley, PeterJenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd)Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
    Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Jessel, TobyRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
    Brittan, LeonKellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
    Buck, AntonyKimball, MarcusSainsbury, Tim
    Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Knight, Mrs JillSt. John-Stevas, Norman
    Clark, William (Croydon S)Le Marchant, SpencerScott-Hopkins, James
    Clegg, WalterLuce, RichardShaw, Michael (Scarborough)
    Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)MacCormick, lainSilvester, Fred
    Costain, A. P.Macfarlane, NeilSims, Roger
    Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)MacGregor, JohnSkeet, T. H. H.
    Dean, Paul (N Somerset)MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)Speed, Keith
    Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMarshall, Michael (Arundel)Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
    Durant, TonyMarten, NeilSpicer, Michael (S Worcester)
    Dykes, HughMather, CarolStanbrook, Ivor
    Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnMawby, RayStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
    Fairgrieve, RussellMaxwell-Hyslop, RobinTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
    Fell, AnthonyMeyer, Sir AnthonyTebbit, Norman
    Fisher, Sir NigelMoate, RogerTemple-Morris, Peter
    Forman, NigelMolyneaux, JamesThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
    Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)More, Jasper (Ludlow)Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
    Fry, PeterMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Viggers, Peter
    Gardiner, George (Reigate)Neave, AireyWeatherill, Bernard
    Goodhart, PhilipNelson, AnthonyWinterton, Nicholas
    Goodhew, VictorNeubert, MichaelYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
    Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)Normanton, Tom
    Gray, HamishNott, JohnTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Grieve, PercyOnslow, CranleyMr. John Stradling Thomas and
    Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Page, John (Harrow West)Mr. Jim Lester.
    Hampson, Dr KeithPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)

    Question accordingly agreed to.

    Amendment made to the words so restored to the Bill: in page 10, line 34, at end insert—

    (3A) Any such Order shall also require councils—

  • (a) to consult organisations representative of the disabled before deciding to propose the designation of a controlled area under the Order; and
  • (b) if representations are received from such organisations about the proposal, to send to the Secretary of State (together with copies of representations received from other organisations consulted) a statement of how parking requirements of the disabled arising from implementation of the proposal are met by existing facilities or, if in the opinion of the council they are not already so met, how it is intended to meet them.'.—[Mr. William Rodgers.]