My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
Moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—( The Earl of Kinnoull.)
On Question, Motion agreed to.
House in Committee accordingly.
[The LORD JACQUES in the Chair.]
Clause 1 [ Construction of road humps by highway authorities]:
moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 3, after ("highway") insert ("whether or not").
The noble Lord said: The appropriate local authority is the highway authority for all highways, whether or not they are maintained at the public expense. This amendment is aimed at bringing into the provisions of the Bill private roads that may come within the scope of the highway authority. There will be situations where it may be highly desirable for a private road to be brought within the scope of this Bill. That is the object of the amendment.
We on this side of the Committee are concerned about whether or not amendments that may be approved by this Committee may delay the passage of the Bill through the other place. We regard this Bill as being a useful one, as an aid to road safety; and it would be regrettable if any amendments that I or any one else might move were to imperil the position of the Bill. On this matter, I should welcome a statement by the Minister. So far as are concerned the amendments which are in my name and some other amendments, these could be dealt with by guidelines or the necessary regulations, even though I feel sure that our amendments would improve the Bill.
It would be helpful, therefore, if the Minister would indicate the extent to which there will be consultations in preparing the necessary regulations to be put forward arising from the Bill. We on this side would be prepared to consider the position of our amendments if the Minister were able to reply accordingly in order that we do not imperil the Bill, which we should like to see on the statute book, if possible, this Session. I beg to move.
I should like to answer the specific point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. This amendment seeks an extension of the powers of a highway authority to construct, maintain and remove humps by enabling them to apply them to highways which are not maintainable at public expense as well as to highways which are maintainable at public expense. Highways not maintainable at public expense are private roads where public rights over them have been established, usually by usage. If humps, are to be used on such roads then the scope of this Bill will have to be extended.I make no criticism of the intention of this amendment. There may be highways, being private roads, where an authority would wish to install humps. But before extending the Bill to include such roads I think it is important that representatives of local authorities should be given the opportunity of expressing their views. We do not know whether they want this extended power and, if they do, how far they want it to go. Also, consideration must be given to whether legislative provision should be made to enable the authority to recover from the persons who may benefit the whole or part of the cost of installation, maintenance and removal of humps; and how such cost should be apportioned between those who benefit. There was no possibility of carrying out consultations with local authorities on these questions if this Bill was to have any chance of being enacted this Session. My right honourable friend the Minister for Transport has recognised the possible need for a widening of the powers of this Bill to include highways not maintainable at public expense and has said that this will be taken up with the local authority after the Bill is enacted. I hope that that will satisfy the noble Lord on that point. He also mentioned the point about regulations. I should like to confirm to him and to underline to the Committee that before regulations are made the fullest possible consultations will be undertaken with all groups concerned. Making it a matter of regulations rather than that of amendments to the Bill enables the fullest consultations to be made. The noble Lord mentioned the timing of this Bill. Those who were present at the Second Reading will recall that this Bill is under pressure. There is a timing problem with this Bill as it is a Private Member's Bill and time for consideration of Private Member's Bills in the Commons for this Session has run out. I cannot at present give any guarantee that time will be made available for consideration of any amendments passed by the Committee today. Thus it is in all probability a matter of passing this Bill unamended or risking the strong possibility that it will not receive Royal Assent this Session and will therefore be lost. This is a situation which would cause us some concern if, on study, any amendments that had been put down appeared to us likely to make a real improvement in the Bill. However, they do not give rise to this impression. Some, frankly, would be detrimental to the Bill's objectives, if indeed they did not render it ineffective. Some relate to matters which are entirely germane to road hump installations but which can and, in our view, more appropriately should be dealt with in the regulations that will be made under the Bill. Therefore we would ask the Committee to give this Bill an unamended passage. That would add a small but worthwhile and most adequately safeguarded tool to the range of instruments which highway authorities can use in making our roads safer.
I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for his general welcome to the Bill and for his brevity in moving the first amendment, in view of the fact that there are 23 amendments to follow. I should also like to thank my noble friend Lord Avon for answering Lord Underhill's amendment very fully and for giving us his advice regarding the passage of this Bill if it is amended.
I should like to thank the noble Lord, the Minister, for his explanation and also for his replies on the other points that I have raised. In view of what the Minister has said about the merits of this amendment and of the fact that consultations with the local authority associations on this important matter will take place should the Bill become law, I will withdraw the amendment. I also do this for the reason that the Minister has given: that an amendment of this kind could imperil the passage of this Bill. We have no wish to do that. When we come to other amendments of mine I may take similar action. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 4, after ("authority") insert ("provided that it can be shown that no other measures for which legislation already exists, to control the speed of vehicles, or for connected purposes, are adequate for the highway in question;").
The noble Lord said: I should prefer to make my more general observations regarding what the Minister has said as we move a little further along the Committee stage. This amendment is more of a probing amendment in that in the Road Traffic Act of 1967 there are already a number of powers available to highway authorities regarding the roads. From Sections 16 to 78 prohibition in certain roads for certain classes of vehicles, pedestrian crossings, patrol crossings, play streets, bollards and speed limits are dealt with. I want to make quite sure that before any authority makes proposals to introduce road humps, it is made obligatory upon them to take due regard of earlier regulations.
In this connection, we are not arguing at this moment in time as to the rightness or otherwise of road humps—that having been largely settled by virtue of the House of Lords giving the Bill a Second Reading. We now come to finding out exactly what is going to happen, by whom and when. It seems a perfectly reasonable point to raise with my noble friend Lord Kinnoull that highway authorities should pay regard to those powers already available to them. I beg to move.
This amendment would amount to the rendering ineffective of highway authorities powers to construct humps in accordance with the requirements of regulations when these are made. I think I can set the minds of members of the Committee at rest on this point. The highway authorities will not want to put a road hump where there is already a speed restriction without having a full cost-effective survey to see whether the hump is necessary in addition to whatever is there at the moment. What we do not want to do—and what the noble Lord's amendment does—is to restrict the highway authority from doing what they think is best. I think that is as far as I can go.Highway authorities can construct new highways; they can divert existing ones; they can induce drivers to slow down by narrowing roads, staggering junctions, constructing roundabouts and artificial bends. All this they can do; or, as the noble Lord is suggesting, it might have been already done. Now we are adding this extra facility of building a hump. I hope that will satisfy my noble friend.
Before my noble friend Lord Kinnoull comments, my noble friend has not answered my question: Why should not the authority show that these other measures (to which we both have referred) have already been taken into account? All the amendment asks for is that they should show that it has been taken into account.
My noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth asked me to comment. As he said, this is a probing amendment. I am looking at the same brief as my noble friend Lord Avon—and this is a very serious matter—and frankly I think my noble friend, speaking on behalf of the Government, has answered the question. Is there anything particular to which my noble friend Lord Lucas would like me to reply?
I am quite happy to take two Members on for the price of one brief. I do not mind that at all! I asked a very simple question to which I have had no answer. However, I do not want to delay the Committee. I will look very carefully at that which has been said; but in no way am I going to allow myself purely and simply to withdraw this amendment at this time, other than with the proviso that if I am not satisfied with what has been said or with what conversations may take place, I may reintroduce it at the Report stage. Upon that basis, I ask the Committee's leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[ Amendment No. 3 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 1, line 9, leave out ("or depression which is in or").
The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, it would be right if I put before the Committee my more general observations as this amendment is crucial. Frankly, I am not very concerned with the passage of this Bill in this Session. I ask the Committee to recall that it is a Private Member's Bill. It was introduced in the other House on 27th June 1979—some 16 months ago. It had a formal Second Reading—there was no debate whatsoever—some six months later, in December. It went to Standing Committee on 25th June 1980. Third Reading was in July this year, and it came to us on 23rd July. As long ago as 4th July—I should have thought, perhaps by 25th June—it was very well-known to the Government's business managers and to the Opposition that time was running out.
I am not prepared, however well-meaning a Bill may be, to allow it to arrive on the statute book on the promises, half-promises or assurances that all will be well on the day. That denies the role of your Lordships' House, and of this Committee in particular, which is to review and to revise. This is a revising Chamber. My noble friend Lord Avon has said that there were no consultations with the local authority associations and I ask him: At no time since June 1979? He said that the fullest consultation on the regulations will take place; and on later amendments we shall come to discuss the regulations.
My noble friend Lord Avon said that no guarantee can be given on finding time in this Session. My noble friend Lord Ferrers said this to me earlier in the summer about another Bill, and on that occasion your Lordships decided in Committee that that was no reason for abrogating our responsibilities. I ask your Lordships this evening to follow that same course, because I do not believe that this Bill can go back to the other place and then have the Royal Assent unamended. I should tell your Lordships that I propose to divide, certainly on this amendment and possibly on two others. I think that I am perfectly entitled so to do, and I believe it will be to the benefit of the Bill.
This amendment, which is to page 1, lines 9 and 10, seeks to remove the words
'or depression which is in or".
Simply put, the Bill, as it is now written, provides for the construction of humps or depressions. I do not know anything about depressions. Your Lordships have been told nothing whatsoever about them. So far as I am aware, no experiments have been carried out on public roads. I do not know what happens within the fence of the laboratory at Bracknell.
It was the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, who specifically asked on Second Reading: What is a depression"? It was my noble friend Lord Long who said that he would write to the noble Viscount. I do not know whether or not he did. Certainly, no information about depressions has come to me. It would be absolutely wrong to give an authority power to construct something about which we know nothing. There can be no argument about it. I am not very interested at this stage in whether it is argued that the regulations will make this clear. A "depression" means only one thing; that is, a space beneath the level of the road. In anybody's book, however it is devised, this is patently dangerous in inclement weather at about this time of year.
Those of your Lordships who have followed this Bill very carefully will have seen in the TRRL Report, to which my noble friend Lord Kinnoull made such reference on Second Reading, that there is a picture of a drainage system which is blocked with rubbish. That is what will happen in a depression and there will be leaves, bits of wood, tin cans, bottles and so on. We cannot allow a highway authority this power. Whether or not they use it is not the question. It would be quite wrong if either of my noble friends, in giving support to the Bill in its present form, seeks to give an assurance that that point will be taken care of. That is the purport of this amendment, which I now beg to move.
If I may say just a few words before the noble Earl speaks, I should like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, said. It would be a pity to lose the Bill but, as the noble Lord rightly pointed out, for some reason the Bill took about 17 months to get to us here and I cannot feel that it is of very great importance. This is a matter which has been in the experimental stage for years, and I do not believe that many accidents will be avoided by this measure.As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, reminded the Committee, I asked on Second Reading whether the experiments that had been carried out included depressions, as well as what are more normally called humps, but I have not had a reply to that, I do not know what the answer is, but it may be that the noble Earl will be able to tell us. However, I consider that depressions are far more dangerous for traffic than humps, even with the best warnings in advance, and I should hate to ride on any road where one was liable to find depressions of this kind. It may interest your Lordships to know that a very long time ago, probably before any others of your Lordships were riding about in motor cars, I drove in France in the year 1910 when the motor car was fairly new invention. In France, they were apt to put little depressions at the beginning of the villages, so as to force motor cars—which, anyway, would not have gone at more than 25 m.p.h.—to slow down. They were very uncomfortable things to drive across, even at a very slow speed. The wily French soon discovered that it was necessary only to put up a notice saying that there was one of these depressions, and that they did not have to go to the trouble of making a depression, because everybody slowed down. But that is by the way. We live in a more sophisticated age today, and I certainly believe that we should look very carefully at the question of these depressions. Noble Lords say that they want to get this Bill on to the statute book, but, surely, what we want to get on to the statute book is the right Bill and if it takes a little longer to get it right we should face that. May I suggest that if we can get the amendments correct and if we do, unhappily, lose this Bill, the Government, who now appear to embrace the Bill—although they did not originally do so—should introduce a Bill in the early part of next Session, when, traditionally, we are rather short of work, get it through this House and send it as a Government Bill to the House of Commons. I see no reason why they should not get that Bill by the end of the year, if they really want it, but certainly by very early in the New Year. So I hope that your Lordships will support this amendment.
I beg to say just two words. If it were possible to avoid the attention of an appellate court, which is at present under heavy newspaper attack for its insistence upon the precise meaning of words in a statute, I should have thought that it was a fairly graphic example to say that a "hump" means a "depression". That is precisely what the Bill says. It is not a serious defect. I should not vote for an amendment. I realise that if an amendment is made there seems to be no way of avoiding a purely formal return of the Bill to the Commons; I am not sure whether it can be avoided. It would be rather a pity for there to be what is quite clearly a misuse of words. I grant that the word "depressions" is in the Long Title, but it is not found in this clause, except in so far as it says that a road hump means a hump or a depression. And it does not.
As I read the Long Title of the Bill, this is specifically an artificial hump or depression. So it is one or the other, and if this Bill is passed one gathers that local authorities will be empowered to build either a hump or a depression or, indeed, both. My noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth very ably drew your Lordships' attention to the fact that some of us have had many years of experience of driving on our roads and feel that depressions—I call them ditches—are particularly dangerous.I feel that your Lordships' House should not allow anything that is positively dangerous to be constructed on a road. My reason for believing it to be dangerous is that while humps, if they are correctly lit, which is highly unlikely, can possibly be seen, dumps, ditches or depressions would be almost impossible to see. They would be filled with water. As my noble friend has said, they might be filled with refuse. Furthermore, they would restrict the speed of vehicles, as of course humps would also do. But four-wheeled vehicles are not the only users of those roads. Motor cyclists and bicyclists also use our roads. Furthermore, certain vehicles have to be in a hurry. For instance, ambulances have to rush very ill people to hospital in order to save their lives. They could be faced either with going a long way round a road in which there are humps and dumps or with going at a very slow pace over those humps and dumps. Police vehicles might well also wish to go quickly down a road in answer to a 999 call either because a burglar is in a house or because there is need for some other type of police assistance. The police have to be able to get to their destination as fast as possible. Fire engines also have to get quickly to the scene of a fire. In accident cases, every second lost might well cost a life if the ambulance and the people concerned had to go round a road, because of the humps and dumps, and use another one. I do not believe that I have said sufficient to convince your Lordships that either the humps or the dumps—but specifically the dumps, the ditches, the depressions—are potentially extremely dangerous. A motor cyclist would probably fall off his bike and break his neck or spine. Bicyclists could not possibly cycle over them. They might be able to bicycle over a hump so long as it was not wet, or so long as there were no autumn leaves upon it, or so long as it was not covered by ice or snow. But if ice or snow were on top of a hump, they would not go over it. And they certainly would not see a dump because it would be iced over. I believe that this clause of the Bill, which would allow local authorities to create depressions as well as humps, is a very had feature of it, and I certainly support my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth.
There is one particular difference between humps and depressions which has not yet been mentioned. A hump is bound to slow down a driver for reasons of safety or comfort, but the way to get over a depression is to drive over it as fast as possible. The higher the speed the greater the safety. No depressions, please.
I doubt whether this is going to be strictly true. I believe that a depression is going to be associated so closely with a hump that, as the Member for the Isle of Ely said in Standing Committee in another place, why not use the material out of the depression with which to construct the hump alongside? I join with my noble friend in supporting the amendment. I join with him both in his general observations and in particular with regard to the depressions. As for the general point, I am quite certain that the Minister never wanted to be put into the unenviable position of saying to this House, "If you dare to amend the Bill, it will be lost". That is a message which this House hates to hear.Having looked at the amendments on the Marshalled List I feel quite sure that the Bill can be improved. As my noble friend has said, if the Government want a Bill of this kind they can introduce it early in the next Session, having had the benefit of being over the course in this preliminary canter. If they want it, they can have it within a few months, even if they do not have it at the end of this Session. With regard to the depressions themselves, I believe that we are talking about busy roads in which from time to time vehicles are going to come to rest with their driving wheels actually in a depression, or else they will be so close to a depression that they will be going at a very slow speed when they enter it. If there is ice and snow on the road, how is the vehicle going to escape from the depression? As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, has said, the first place in which ice and snow are going to congregate is in a depression. As I think the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, also said, even if efforts are made to drain the depressions, those drains are going to get blocked, principally by dead leaves being blown along the surface of the road, congregating in the depressions and blocking the drain. I feel sure that we would do far better, to begin with, to concentrate on humps, to see how we get on with them and then perhaps to consider depressions. But not in this Bill.
After all the work that this House has been through during the past 10 days, this may seem to many of us to be rather an unimportant Bill. But to the motorist it is far from unimportant. It is a very vital matter. In this case because the interpretation of a "hump" can mean a depression I think we shall find that we are up against a great deal of opposition from road users. They include motor cyclists and bicyclists. It is possible for a motor cycle which has a very short wheel base and for a bicycle, which also has a very short wheel base, to jack-knife. In other words, by hitting a depression the front wheel turns in one direction, while the back wheel goes straight on. To my knowledge, a cyclist leading a group of cyclists recently hit one of these things. He has been in hospital for a short while because of being severely bruised. He fell off his machine. Nothing justifies depressions of this nature. They will only cause further danger to the road user. I thoroughly support all that has been said by my noble friends who are supporting this amendment.
I too support my noble friends. I am not quite certain in my own mind how far down the strata of local authorities these powers will go, because I know very well that according to the size and the importance of the roads they are the responsibility of different authorities; but it appears to me that, however valuable these humps are—and I have seen them in many places, such as at the approaches to farms, to hospitals and to schools—if the authority rests without reference to any higher authority with wider experience of the roadways, local pressure in a village could easily press for humps or depressions in the high street, with scant regard to the pile-up of traffic that will ensue through the rest of the county.In particular, I feel that with a climate like ours, when so often we switch on the radio in the morning and we are told that well known streets in metropolitan boroughs are flooded, if a depression is flooded it will be obscured, and with no knowledge of its existence it seems to me to be a highly dangerous method to use in a country which has the type of rainfall and winters that we have. In these depressions will collect twigs and leaves and so will add to, and not lessen, the danger on the roads.
Perhaps I may say that I do not feel depressed about the debate on the depressions, but I do understand my noble friend's hackles rising when faced with a time limit, and when one is told that the Bill will not go on to the statute book if there is an amendment. I have had the honour of serving in this House for over 20 years and my noble friend has served for many years, but we all know that these occasions arise; but I think there is a difference between a Bill which is giving exact powers and an enabling Bill such as this.I know that my noble friend is an anti-bumper and an anti-depressor, but I feel that he has drawn somewhat of a red herring before the Committee in suggesting that the word "depression" in this Bill is highly evocative, dangerous and wrong. In the first place, as the noble Lord knows, it is already in legislation in Section 17 of the 1974 Act, which of course is experimental to this Bill. Secondly, as my noble friend knows, there have been no tests on depressions—and I apologise to the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, for not having written to him personally to tell him that. Therefore there is no likelihood at all at the present time of a depression coming within the terms of the regulations to be discussed. The Minister has said that in another place. Therefore, if this amendment is accepted, what we are taking out of the Bill is the future right of highway authorities to be able to use the depression as a form of slowing down traffic. I hope that all those who have spoken will consider that and will remember that this is an enabling Bill, and that if this clause goes through unchanged it will not give the power to highway authorities automatically to bring in depressions as well as humps. Indeed, it will not even give them the power to bring in humps, because there is another vital stage to be discussed later: the consultation period for discussions to take place between all the bodies concerned, and indeed the regulations stage. I hope my noble friend will consider this when he comes to decide the issue, because we are dealing with a small enabling safety Bill which is due to give, one hopes, the highway authorities yet another arm to protect the citizens of this country. It is a strange thing that where there is an accident on the railways and two people are unfortunately killed, that appears on the front page of the newspapers, or again, if there is an aircraft accident; but one hardly ever reads on the front page anything about the 7,000-odd people who are killed on the roads every year. I hope my noble friend will reconsider this amendment.
Before the noble Earl sits down, I wonder whether he could explain a little further what he was saying about depressions. He said that the highway authorities would not construct depressions until they had been tested and found to be satisfactory. That is not what the Bill says. There is no provision in the Bill that says they must be satisfactorily tested, and if in fact nothing is going to be done until they have been satisfactorily tested and until there have been extensive consultations and regulations brought forward, this would appear to be yet another reason why there is no great hurry to get the Bill on to the statute hook. They will not be ready to do anything for another six months, by which time the Bill could be properly amended.
If I may just reply to the noble Viscount, as I tried to explain, depressions are already in legislation under Section 17 of the 1974 Act, so that this has just been plucked out of existing legislation and put into this Bill. What the Minister has said is that until the highway authority has those regulations approved by both Houses of Parliament and unless depressions are within the regulations, they will not be able to use them. Does that answer the noble Viscount's question?
It helps a little.
A number of speeches made by noble Lords have dealt with the general principles of the Bill and have not been confined to this amendment. As I understand it, the whole purpose of the Bill is to restrict travel and speed on some of these roads. That is the whole purpose of the Bill and is the discussion that we had on Second Reading.I have just been looking quickly through the Second Reading debate and, except for the question raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, I think the only person who referred to depressions was myself. I was concerned that if there are to be depressions and humps the regulations should clearly define the signs so that people may be fully aware whether they are going to face a depression or a hump. That should be made quite clear, and therefore the regulations will be very important. Apart from the point just made by the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, that the regulations will be the important thing, there are considerable safeguards. In the first place, the highway authority must decide that it is going to construct a depression which may also constitute a hump. Then there are the questions in regard to signs and all the information which has to be included in the regulations. Under the Bill the chief officer of the police must be called in to consultation and he will have a view on this. Other persons will be called into consultation and there should be an amendment to define who they shall be. I am quite sure that there will be consultations before the Minister decides who is to be consulted when the regulations are drawn up. Then there must be publicity given to the proposal, representations can be made, objections must be listened to, and finally there can be a local inquiry. Therefore, there are considerable safeguards in the Bill, and I believe some of the points that have been made may be over-emphasising the matter. We do want to control. I, as a motorist for 40 years and as captain of a cycling club many years ago, can appreciate the whole situation. We do want to restrict people on some of these roads. I refer to the short-cut people, the people who rush round short-cuts and then impede the traffic coming along the main road. We want to control people, and I believe the purpose of the Bill is to endeavour to do that.
May I ask my noble friend about one point which I am not sure about. The object of these humps or depressions, as I understand it, is to slow traffic up, and that is understandable in the interests of safety. But it has been suggested by one of my noble friends that if it is Lord Underhill's suggestion that they should be clearly marked, whether it is a hump or a depression, if it is a hump you would brake and if it is a depression you would accelerate. I would like my noble friend to give me an answer to that point.
I think the Committee is getting into a bit of a muddle. There are two separate things, depressions and humps. This particular amendment deals with depressions. There have been no depressions made; there have been no experiments with depressions. "Depressions" is in this Bill, and I will quote the Minister's assurance: the Minister has not as yet experimented with depressions and unless and until he has done so there will be no question whatever of his legalising by means of regulations the construction of depressions by local highway authorities. The possiblity should however remain. Here your Lordships may disagree. The Minister should retain the freedom he has at present to experiment with depressions as well as with humps, and lie should be able, should he do this and find that depressions, rightly used, can be even more satisfactory than humps, to prescribe the requirements compliance with which would authorise local authorities to construct them.I would now like to speak away from the brief, and say that I agree with all those speakers who think depressions are a "dead duck" even before they have been experimented with, but by leaving them in this Bill they can be so experimented with. On some general points which have been raised, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, took me up on saying that no consultations have been held: this was, of course, no consultations on one specific point in Amendment No. 1. There have been consultations on humps. Many noble Lords will have seen them. There have been experiments lasting well over a year. Your Lordships have probably had your attention drawn to the Transport and Road Research Laboratory's findings on humps. On the whole, the local residents, the motor cars, the motor cycles, the bicycles and the pedestrians all liked humps. But I will not go on with humps, because there are a lot more amendments to come on them. I would like to answer one question that the noble Baroness put about who looks after humps. They will be looked after only by the highway authorities. From the Benches of the Liberal Party it was hinted that this perhaps was not a good Bin. We actually think it is quite a good Bill. I am, as the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, mentioned, embarrassed to have to bring it forward in the way it is being brought forward, but we think it is a good Bill and a worthwhile Bill to have on the Statute Book now. I am sorry also that such exception has been taken to this little Bill popping up in the middle of all the Goliaths we are having at the moment. I should have thought that it might have amused everybody. I hope the point my noble friend made on depressions and the facts I have put forward on depressions will enable the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, to withdraw this amendment.
Before the noble Earl concludes, he did say that all the people who used these humps are in agreement with them? I understood him to say that.
I said the majority; I hope I did not say all.
Is the noble Earl aware that in Abbotshury Road in Kensington they were laid down and swiftly taken up again?
The noble Baroness is incorrect there. There was some interesting drafting—I do not think "error" is the right word—in the previous Bill, which said that all humps put down for experiment may only be in position for one year, so at the end of one year all humps had to be dug up again.
I do not wish to delay the Committee too long, because I am going to ask the Committee to decide whether this amendment should be included. There can be no justification for a piece of blanket legislation: none whatsoever. It is quite wrong to extract from the 1974 Act Section 17—I have it here, and both my noble friends are, of course, quite right—that "experimental period" does apply to depressions as well. However we are not talking about that now; we are not talking about experimental periods. We are talking about a piece of legislation. I do not think we can allow a piece of blanket legislation, however it may be guarded by regulations in other parts of the Bill. It may well be that those amendments which are down later in the name of myself and my noble friends may not be acceptable to the Committee, in which case I believe that a number of the safeguards go.I am not at all happy about this question of consultation, because my noble friend Lord Kinnoull cited at Second Reading a number of bodies he said had been consulted and he included in that the RHA. The RHA categorically tell me that they have not been consulted. They had one letter from the proposer of this Bill in another place. This may or may not be consultation. I have grave doubts myself about the system of consultation we employ in this country.
I have not got the reference to what I said at Second Reading, and of course I accept what my noble friend says. What I am quite sure of is that the local authorities, the highway authorities, the county councils and the GLC have been consulted on this
|Airedale, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Onslow, E.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Jacques, L.||Pritchard, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Jeffreys, L.||Romney, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Lauderdale, E.||Salisbury, M.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Listowel, E.||Selsdon, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L. [Teller.]||Simon, V. [Teller.]|
|Fortescue, E.||Southwell, Bp.|
|Gainford, L.||McAlpine of Moffat, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Swansea, L.|
|Granville, of Eye, L.||Mancroft, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Marley, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Hawke, L.||Mottistone, L.||Wilson of Radcliffe, L.|
|Hornsby-Smith, B.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Howe, E.||Newall, L.|
Bill and do support it. I really think my noble friend, with great respect, is being grossly misleading when he says that we are giving blanket legislation if we include this small part which he wishes to amend. As the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has explained, this is an enabling Bill. It is not a specific point to give the highway authorities the right to use depressions if they so wish. That comes out of the consultations and regulations.
I do not want to keep on with this because I am going to ask the Committee to divide anyway, but I want to clear up this question of consultation. During the Second Reading debate on this Bill on 23rd July, at col. 478, the noble Viscount, Lord Long, said:
The Road Haulage Association told me on Thursday afternoon that they have not been consulted about the Bill, that they do not like the Bill, they consider it to be dangerous from the point of view of accidents to their lorries, their loads and the people w ho travel in them and the people who travel along the roads. So I cannot accept that. I could pick up a number of points about the main platform of the Government legislation about road safety, red herrings and so on. I see no point in doing that, and I propose to press the amendment standing in my name."My noble friend Lord Lucas and the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, were worried over the matter of consultations and whether there was provision in the Bill for consultations. The answer to that question is: Yes, representations have been made from local government, the Institute of Motor Cycling, the Road Haulage Association, the AA, the RAC, and main road hauliers. They have all been consulted about this Bill."
On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 39; Not-Contents, 79.
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Alport, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hatch of Lusby, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Henley, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Avon, E.||Holderness, L.||Segal, L.|
|Balogh, L.||Hunt of Tanworth, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Kilbracken, L.||Soames, L. (L. President.)|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Kilmarnock, L.||Spens, L.|
|Caithness, E. [Teller.]||Kimberley, E.||Stamp, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Kinnoull, E. [Teller.]||Stedman, B.|
|Chelwood, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Stone, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Long, V.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Collison, L.||Longford, E.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Lyell, L.||Strauss, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Mills, V.||Sudeley, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Morris, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Mountevans, L.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.|
|Denham, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Noel-Baker, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Orkney, E.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Orr-Ewing, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Elton, L.||Paget of Northampton, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Peart, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Pender, L.||White, B.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Reigate, L.||Willis, L.|
|Gormanston, V.||Ritchie-Calder, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 [ Requirements as to the construction of road humps]:
[ Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 3, line 9, at end insert—
("( ) minimum distances between such signs and road humps").
The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 7. There is very little to say about this amendment. I should have thought that it was so obvious that one must have an adequate minimum distance between the sign and the road hump to give the motorist a proper opportunity to slow down in time—indeed, so important that it deserved special mention in the clause. I beg to move.
On the surface I quite agree that what the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, says makes complete sense. However, when looking at it in more detail the amendment seeks to treat traffic warning signs for road humps differently from all other traffic warning signs.The Traffic Signs Regulations 1975 do not prescribe matters such as the size of sign which should be used in different situations, nor where, in relation to the hazard it is giving warning of, the sign should be placed. Guidance on these matters is provided by the department in the Traffic Signs Manual, which is available to all local authorities. The reason why it is left to guidance rather than prescription is quite simply that the wide variations in the characteristics of roads makes it impossible to lay down hard and fast rules; what would be adequate at one site might be quite inadequate at another. That is equally likely to be the case with road hump signs. In view of that, I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
I readily appreciate that there might be differences according to different circumstances, but I should have thought that one could arrive at a minimum distance and say that in no case would it be reasonable to have a sign less than a minimum distance before the hazard that the sign was warning about. However that may be, I do not propose to press the amendment. While we are discussing signs perhaps I could be told at some stage whether there is an international sign for road humps and, if so, will it be adopted? If the international sign has not yet been decided upon perhaps the suggestion made by a Member in Standing Committee in another place could be adopted; namely, the suggestion of having a camel as a sign for a road hump. In the meanwhile I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
I am sure that what the noble Lord has said will be read with interest later. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has had experience of jumping over humps in Holland, was it not? I do not know whether there were any signs there?
I cannot recall.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 3, line 17, at end insert—
("( ) Regulations so made shall prohibit the construction of road humps on any motorway or trunk road or principal road.").
The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 8. In moving this amendment I am trying to find out whether the words are merely an absolute copy of the 1974 Act or whether perhaps there is some design lying at the back of somebody's mind to put a road hump or a depression—whichever it may be—in some major kind of road. The amendment seeks to remove the possibility of a hump being built on a motorway or trunk or principal road. In dealing with this matter one must recall that essentially the Bill, when it was introduced by my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, suggested that we were concerned only with urban roads.
Therefore, I am wondering why the Bill cannot say that in simple terms. It might be as well to say at this time that in June last year, when the Bill was introduced in another place, it seemed to have been an extraction from the 1974 Act, without any due regard to the events that have followed it. Again I come back to the question of not disagreeing with the introducer of the Bill in this House because of the pressures of time. It appears to me that we are just copying the 1974 Act, resting entirely on the regulations. Perhaps my noble friend can tell me what was intended?
I do not think that there is very much doubt that we all agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, that there is no contemplation of putting these humps in the middle of motorways. It is more than unlikely that Ministers would contemplate providing for the construction of humps on motorways, trunk or principal roads, and it is likely that they would at any rate consider confining hump installations to 30 miles per hour speed limit roads. This is a matter for consideration in the context of regulations on which—and I hope that this will make my noble friend Lord Lucas happy—representative organisations will have an opportunity of commenting, as, indeed, the Bill provides.The intention is that all locational, physical, and (with one exception, and that is the police who are consulted anyway) consultational requirements affecting actual hump installations should be embodied in regulations. That has two advantages. First, regulations can be more speedily amended than main legislation. While the first regulations to be made would be based on the experimental trials which have already been carried out, it could well be that wider experience with humps could suggest, as could further experiments should they prove desirable, modifications in the initial requirements. These could be effected more easily if the requirements were embodied in regulations than here in the main legislation. The second advantage is that fuller consultation with interested outside bodies, for which many noble Lords have been calling, is normally possible with draft regulations than with main legislation; and that would certainly be the case with the first "road hump" regulations. To limit the scope of the regulations by imposing requirement details in the Bill would deny interested organisations the opportunity of expressing views on them. An express requirement, either in the Bill or in subsequent regulations, that humps should be installed only in residential areas, or only where the accident rate is high or where a 30 mile per hour speed limit is frequently violated is, in any event, of questionable value. One would have to define "residential area" and "high accident rate" and I do not know how one would do that with precision. I might also remark that an accident rate high in some circumstances may be low in terms of actual accident numbers and vice versa. So far as violations of a 30 mile per hour speed limit ate concerned, the absence of frequent violations would not necessarily mean absence of danger, nor that the installation of humps would not be desirable. We feel that these two amendments are better used as regulations and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, will feel able to consider that matter.
May I add that although my noble friend said that he considered that the prime use of humps would be in urban areas, I think that there is one other example; namely, possibly country parks, where they could be used.
Before I reply to the noble Lord the Minister, may I ask whether he was speaking to Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 at the same time?
I apologise; I did rather bring them together, Yes.
In that case perhaps it would be best if spoke at this stage to Amendment No. 9. The two amendments are broadly related, although it is not as regards Amendment No. 8 that I feel so strongly—I rather received the answer which I anticipated. Amendment No. 9 deals with the residential area or the 30 mile per hour limit. I think that the argument here is based on the title of the report: Speed Control Humps on Residential Roads. It seems that this is the whole basis of the Bill. If that is so, I think that we should take out of the 1974 Act the wider powers and restrict it to what is intended.I do not believe that we can leave this to regulation. I understand that regulations that are laid before Parliament are subject to acceptance or rejection; there is no modification. So one is left with regulations being devised as a result of consultation with interested parties. We have not even come to the interested parties, and if on this issue my noble friend on the Front Bench stonewalls as hard as he has so far, those people for whom I believe consultation is necessary and should be named are unlikely to get a shout, particularly if their experience in the future is to be the same as that in the past. I think it is absolutely necessary that a highway authority palpably demonstrates that there is excessive speed. To demonstrate excessive speed is quite simple; one takes a census down the road where the speed limit sign is exhibited. One measures the speed of motorists with the benefit of a radar or other contraption, and those who break the speed limit are currently brought before the courts and charged. I can see no reason why an excess of speed cannot be demonstrated. I do not believe that the accident rates quoted in the report are as accurate as they should be. It really cannot be said that the proof of the necessity is to be based on these five experiments, one of which was in a street used as a play area. If one looks at the report one sees that one of the streets—the picture shown in the report is presumably in order to support their argument—has parking on both sides of the road and, indeed, on the pavements. Regulations are already in force to make the traffic-way safer. If the experience referred to in this report is to form the basis of regulations under this Bill, it is just an absolute fallacy. I have already referred to the powers that highway authorities and local authorities have in closing off streets which are to be used as play areas. I do not think that it is good enough to rest on that kind of argument. Nothing in the report to which I have referred, the one we debated on Second Reading—the TRRL Report 878—has paid any regard whatever to accident rates in the surrounding areas. It is suggested that they may have increased, but this may be due to a number of assumptions; there has been no measurement. We are just shifting the problem around. Therefore, I believe that one should restrict the areas which this Bill will cover to those areas which the Minister, in his response to Amendment No. 8, has defined; that is the urban area, probably residential, however that may be defined. After all, if definitions of words such as "depressions", which are so loose, are to be accepted, I should have thought that we could find something within the regulations to define an urban or a residential area. Therefore, I believe we should ensure that proper records of speed and of contraventions of the law and accident rates are established before we give powers to any authority under this Bill.
I think that my noble friend has expressed no faith in the subsequent regulations. Indeed, I think he expressed himself in that way on the previous amendment, on which we divided, and I am sorry that he feels like that. The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, went vividly through all the protections which will subsequently flow after this small enabling Bill, hopefully, goes on to the statute book. My noble friend referred to the report; indeed, he even poured scorn on this experimental report. But that is not the basis of the regulations. The basis will be consultation with the police and with the 75 different organisations which are concerned with roads, and consultations on every safety factor of which one can think. I think my noble friend is wrong if he does not believe that the regulations will be the bones of the safety precautions under the Bill.I understood my noble friend to say that the amendment as it stands is really defective; it is far too loose; it does not specify what is residential or, indeed, what is excessive speed. So it could not in any event be accepted in its present form. I do not say that lightly; I have the same problem myself. I know that my noble friend is an ardent expert on traffic and road traffic and has been for many years. I hope that he will have a little more faith in the consultations and, indeed, in what the regulations themselves will produce.
Before my noble friend sits down, I should certainly have a good deal more faith if a little more faith was displayed by himself and the Government in attending to the Bill without having this pressure of time put upon us. I think that that shows a remarkable lack of faith.
Also, before the noble Lord sits down—and he has obviously firmly sat down by now—although he was asking for an act of faith, surely this is an occasion where consultation in the past has not been entirely satisfactory. Perhaps he could expand on that to show why we should show such faith.
It is not an act of faith; it is an act of realism. I do not know whether my noble friend was with us at the earlier stages, but we are discussing a small enabling Bill to give a framework for subsequent regulations to be brought forward, and then to be approved by both Houses of Parliament. It is the detail of the regulations that we shall, of course, discuss in great depth. I sympathise with my noble friend about the pressure of time, but, as I said before, he has been in this House for many years and he knows the problems of another place. He knows that if we send Bills back at this stage—particularly a Private Member's Bill—they stand absolutely no chance. I hope that he will take into account that this is a road safety measure.
Just for the record, I think that the noble Earl, by mistake, said that these regulations would be subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament. They are, in fact, Negative Resolutions.
I apologise; they are Negative Resolutions. But, even so, both Houses of Parliament would have an opportunity to debate the regulations and, indeed, could refuse the regulations. Of course, they can be amended very simply.
I would oppose Amendment No. 9 on its merits, not only because of the time factor, but because it is far too restrictive. It is not giving the highway authority leeway to take other matters into consideration, it is not simply a question of the speed limit or accidents. From looking through the laboratory report, I understand that in some cases it is to restrict the flow of vehicles.There is also the question of preventing unnecessary nuisance to people residing in the area, perhaps to schools or hospitals, and I referred to these points in my remarks during the Second Reading debate. Therefore, there are other factors, apart from those which are just included in this amendment, which a highway authority might want to consider. This would restrict them to looking only at certain points. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said that there was nothing in the report. Incidentally, I have read all the four local reports as well as the main report. But in Table 7 of Report 878 it is said:
There is reference to the number of persons injured in the surrounding areas and there is a table. Maybe the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, will recognise that point."From the accumulated data for the surrounding roads there was no statistically significant overall change in the number of persons injured."
The report continues:
It then states:"However, at the sites in Oxford and Glasgow there was an increase in injury on the surrounding roads leading to a numerical increase in the total casualties."
It is apparent from Table No. 7 that the total injuries expected per year without humps were 130 and the actual injuries with humps were 143. These are in the surrounding roads. I do not know whether this is statistically significant. I am not a statistician. However, the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, would be surprised if that did not make some impact on me."In Oxford the traffic which continued to use the estate had been diverted onto Sandy Lane and Balfour Road. Of these two roads, although there was a slight increase in accidents it was not statistically significant."
My main point is to indicate that consideration had been given to this matter whereas the noble Lord said that there was no reference in the report to this factor.
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has said that there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration, and indeed there are. If we fail to incorporate into the Bill something like the amendment, we shall be in danger that Parliament will be using the ministerial regulations as a comfortable cushion on which to sit back. It will be saying "Let us not concern ourselves with these tiresome factors. Leave it all to the Minister to make the regulations. He will be sensible. He will understand. He will produce sensible regulations."I do not believe that that is Parliament's function. In a matter of this sort, it is the duty of Parliament to limit the Minister in his ministerial powers by concentrating his mind upon the factors that Parliament has decided that the Minister shall take into account when he makes the regulations. I am afraid that this evening we are using the Minister's regulations and powers as a comfortable cushion on which to sit back and not troubling our minds with this tiresome problem.
I briefly support my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth and Lord Airedale. The regulations as printed are extremely loose. For instance, Clause 3(2)(d) empowers the Minister to make regulations to
That is so wide that the Minister might one day decide to put a hump or a dump down the MI. It would enable him to do so. The amendment of my noble friend Lord Lucas would at least empower the Minister to put humps and dumps only in roads that are subject to a speed limit under 30 m.p.h. We must have some regulations, but I have no faith, as the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, seems to think we should have, in the Minister's regulations. I think that every "i" should be dotted and every "t" crossed."make different provision for highways of different descriptions or for different circumstances."
I am unhappy about the amendment for the following reason—namely, that I am aware of one stretch of road that is not in an urban area and not, therefore, subject to the 30 m.p.h. speed limit that is narrow, twisting and flanked by high hedges on either side. Along this road comes a constant stream of children on ponies. They are on their way to a stretch of common land upon which they can canter. Friends who live nearby live in constant fear that a child or, for that matter, an adult horseman will be killed or seriously injured by cars that invariably take this narrow stretch of road much too fast. They are only too eager for humps to be put on this stretch of road if that is possible.
I have only one short point to make. We still seem to be unduly suspicious of humps as regards the Minister and his regulations. I do not think that there is anything different in our Bill on humps between regulations and ministerial responsibility vis-à-vis the highway authorities and, for example, one-way streets or anything else.
I take up Lord Monson's point. I think he says—I trust that he will correct me if I misheard him—that the road to which he referred is an open stretch of road that is not subject to a speed limit. He described it as narrow and spoke of the traffic that goes down it. He has said exactly that of which I am fearful. There are powers to restrict the speed of traffic—namely, the speed limit. However, it is rather more difficult to get a speed limit introduced under the existing regulations, under the existing law, that it will be to get a hump constructed if the Bill becomes an Act. That is exactly what I foresee for some particular reason, and youngsters riding horses represent a very good reason. A particular reason has been advanced. A wish has been expressed that humps should be introduced. The parents of the children would like it. I expect that they would. That is why the Bill goes too far. It allows exactly that type of thing to happen.Highway authorities will be under the most enormous pressure from pressure groups to have humps. The residents will claim a need because there is a
|Broadbridge, L.||Howe, E. [Teller.]||St. Davids, V.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L. [Teller.]||Salisbury, M.|
|Cathcart, E.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Shannon, E.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Mancroft, L.||Spens, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Mottistone, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Newall, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Granville of Eye, L.||Redesdale, L.||Tweeddale, M.|
|Hornsby-Smith, B.||Reigate, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Ardwick, L.||Denham, L.||Holderness, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Inchcape, E.|
|Avon, E.||Drumalbyn, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Balogh, L.||Ferrers, E.||Kinnoull, E. [Teller.]|
|Blyton, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Gaitskell, B.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Glendevon, L.||Long, V.|
|Chelwood, L.||Gormanston, V.||Longford, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Gregson, L.||Lyell, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||McCluskey, L.|
|Craigton, L. [Teller.]||Mishcon, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Hale, L.||Monson, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Hatch of Lusby, L.||Morris, L.|
nursing home along the road, because there is a school along the road, because there is a riding school along the road or because the milk lorry comes out of a farm entrance. There will be 101 things. How will they resist that pressure? They will not be able to hide behind anything. There will be blanket legislation subject only to regulations of which we know nothing. I do not know how far I shall get. I apologise to the Committee for arguing these points with perhaps little hope of getting my noble friends Lord Kinnoull and Lord Avon to agree with me. I hope that they will forgive me if I keep trying.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 3, line 17, at end insert—
("( ) Regulations so made shall only permit the construction of road humps on roads where there is a 30 m.p.h. or lower speed limit in a residential area and if there is evidence of substantial numbers of drivers exceeding such a speed limit and a high accident rate.").
The noble Lord said: I think that we have discussed the amendment sufficiently I merely beg to move.
On Question, Whet her the said amendment (No. 9) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 27; Not-Contents, 62.
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Mountevans, L.||Sandys, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Orkney, E.||Segal, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Orr-Ewing, L.||Stamp, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Peart, L.||Stone, L.||White, B.|
|Pender, L.||Sudeley, L.||Wilson of Radcliffe, L.|
|Pitt of Hampstead, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Ross of Marnock, L.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.||Young, B.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
[ Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 3, line 17, at end insert—
("( ) Regulations so made shall require consultation with the owners or occupiers of properties adjoining other roads in the vicinity to which traffic might be diverted from roads in which it is proposed to construct road humps.").
The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to provide that the consultations which are to take place are held not only with interested bodies—those which readily come to mind such as the local authorities, the AA, the RAC, the haulage associations, and so on—but also with the people living in houses, or owning houses or properties or farms, or whatever it may be, in the adjoining roads in the vicinity to which traffic might be diverted.
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, drew attention to the fact that the Bill is designed not only to reduce the speed of traffic but also to alter the flow of traffic. In those experiments of which we had details at Second Reading—and we have referred to them again this evening—we find that the direction of flow can be quite appreciably altered. In other words, what is my trouble today, by virtue of having humps, is somebody else's trouble tomorrow. Whether the road is used as a short cut or for any other purpose, if by virtue of humps traffic is to be diverted somewhere else, then people who live or have their being in the road through which that newly diverted traffic is likely to flow should have some kind of say in the consultation procedure before the humps are constructed. I beg to move.
As is fairly well known from the one or two temporary road humps that have been put in towns, the flow of traffic down those roads is considerably reduced because they are there, and therefore the traffic that normally uses a particular road goes elsewhere, into adjoining roads. It is therefore most important that the people who live in adjoining roads should be asked by the local authority whether they have any objection to the humps in the road, hearing in mind that the traffic down their road will probably increase by at least 50 to 70 per cent. I support my noble friend.
I certainly agree with what the noble Baroness has been saying about this. Once again we feel that this is not the right place to insert an amendment of this nature. When talking about other one-way streets and other ideas, one does not, for instance, actually put in the legislation that you should consult people, owner-occupiers of properties surrounding them. This is not a matter to put in the legislation. It is something that obviously, when the regulations are drawn up, might well be commented on. More especially, of course, it is for the local authorities themselves to take into account what the local people feel: and when the highway authorities and the local authorities consult together that surely is the moment when this will be taken into account.I would like now to speak about the cost-effectiveness of these humps, because I think we have spoken to this, and it might help members of this Committee not to feel that humps are going to spring up everywhere in two minutes' time, because they will not. Techniques are now highly developed for evaluating the cost effectiveness of small physical improvements aimed at reducing road accidents. An increasing number of local highway authorities practice them, and with increasing efficiency. What happens is that the authority investigates local accident situations in depth to identify the factors contributing to the accident, and then from these the measure that would eliminate these factors. They then estimate the cost of the remedies—these could be anything; they could be humps; they could be anything—and the cost of the accident the remedies would prevent. If the remedies are cost effective, not just absolutely but competitively, in terms of a cost-effectiveness of other accident reduction measures competing for a share of limited resources, they are installed and then monitored to establish whether they are as effective as expected. What can be achieved by the use of these techniques is illustrated by the fact that an efficient accident prevention unit can on average save 50 per cent. of the cost of their small safety schemes in the first year after completion, while the pacemaker authorities are now saving an average of 100 per cent., or the whole cost of these schemes, in the first year. What the authority looks for is a particular measure or measures tailored to the actual local situation that will eliminate the factor or factors contributing to accidents. If, however, investigation of the local accident problems suggests that the best and most effective cost-effective solution is to install road humps, the present lack of power until we pass this Bill rules them out. This is how we would hope the power would be used if the Bill is passed. I have slightly gone off the subject of this amendment, but I hope the noble Lord will forgive me.
Before the noble Lord sits down on this particular point, he is exhibiting rather touching faith in the cost effectiveness. I can quote a number of examples where so-called road improvements have been put in and there has been an immediate increase in the number of accidents.
I was a little surprised that my noble friend should suddenly come on to expenditure and cost effectiveness. I will want to come back a little bit on that when we reach Amendment 18, but on the question of cost benefit analysis the surprising thing is that in the TRRL Report there is no mention whatever about making an analysis or a study of these. At least, seeming that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, is whizzing through the index, may I say that I have not seen it; let me put it that way, I have not recognised it.It has been suggested to me that there are very few headings where road humps are likely to benefit. The benefits are for the residents of the road, because they like less noise and less traffic; and the residents who would like lower vehicle speed; and possibly in the hump roads lower accidents and accident costs. On the other side of it, there are the other residents who do not like the traffic being moved over to them. There is the cost of delay both for persons in private cars and light vehicles. There is the higher accident rate in other roads and junctions to which I have referred—the actual cost of humping and signing—and we have heard nothing really about this at all. Also, against the benefit we have the extra depreciation of vehicles, and we have this extraordinary figure of the number of drivers who do not like them. I include in that those people who do not know. There is just marginally a number who prefer them. Unless there is a positive effort to consult adjoining people, I do not believe they will be consulted. I think a notice is likely to go up at one end of the road; some will see it, and some will not. That will be that. I can see that on this amendment, I am obviously not going to get very far and I think that, having made those comments, it would be better if I asked leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 3, line 17, at end insert—
("( ) Regulations so made shall impose the same requirement to advertise in respect of proposals to construct road humps as in respect of proposals to impose speed limits and to consider objections thereto prior to authorisation of such proposals.").
The noble Lord said: This amendment is really rather more important. Now that we have dispensed with the restrictions on which road humps may or may not be built, or depressions be dug, we have to make sure that we do not allow this Bill to short-cut the other provisions in other legislation, notably the 1967 Road Traffic Act. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Monson, demonstrated that where there are no very strict regulations with regard to speed or other means of diverting traffic or slowing traffic, humps could be used. What we are suggesting here is that in the proposal for road humps —because it can be used in diverse ways for diverse purposes and the Bill specifically provides for this—there should be much the same provision as there is for the imposition of speed limits. The full procedure is laid down in a local authorities traffic orders procedure in England and Wales, Regulation 69, Statutory Instrument 1969 No. 463, but briefly it does require that the Minister's consent must be obtained; it must apply to a principal road; it must apply a limit of less than 30 miles an hour to any road; or vary or revoke it within 12 months.
Before making a speed limit order the local authority must consult the chief officer of police, the highway authority, and one or more organisations representing persons who use the roads concerned. After these consultations, the local authority must give public notice of its intention in the local press and in the London Gazette, and by means of notices posted at or near each end of the road itself, and 28 days have to be given for objections and public inquiries. In the Bill we have nearly all this, with the marked exclusion of the London Gazette. It does mean, therefore, that if, for example, I was in the habit of travelling between two places but was away for some time, perhaps on holiday, or in hospital, or for any other reason was not using that particular route—which might become a usual route on a main road, the kind of road about which the noble Lord, Lord Monson, was speaking—I would know nothing about that and it would be necessary for my attention to be drawn to it. Would my traffic manager have seen it in the London Gazette? If he was a prudent traffic manager, a man used to routeing vehicles, travellers, light vans or delivery vans, he would be watching for this sort of thing, but he may not see it, so there would be no opportunity for an objection. Earlier I gave an example of my fear of the Bill being used to circumvent the speed regulations. I think this is a justifiable requirement for those reasons and if it were included in the Bill there would be some safeguard to protect interested people.
Out of the two Divisions there have been so far, I have lost by about half, if I may put it that way, and I am convinced there are two main reasons for that. One is time, while the other is the rather emotive subject of road safety. Nobody is keener than I on road safety, and my noble friend Lord Kinnoull acknowledged that. If the Bill does not reach the statute book within a matter of months, work on humps and depressions will still be able to go on under the 1974 regulations. There is, however, another reason. It is a perfectly legitimate tactic to use a Minister to provide all one's arguments and for one then to support him, but I must remind the Committee that this is not a Government Bill. It is a Private Member's Bill supported by the Government, and the Government could find the time. After all, another Road Transport Bill is due out next year and while I do not know them all, it will deal with a variety of subjects. Having debated this issue, if we have the kind of consultations I imagine will occur as a result of the assurances that have been given, there is no reason why a short clause could not be introduced in next year's Bill.
I urge noble Lords not to let weigh too heavily on their shoulders the question of time or the influence the Government may have on what is, after all, a Private Member's Bill, one which in my submission has been so badly drawn as to give rise so far to two hours of debate in which, frankly, we have got nowhere at all because of the absolutely stonewalling attitude of both my noble friend and the Government, based on time and this emotive road safety weapon which is still available to highway authorities under the 1974 Act. I bee to move.
The amendment appears to envisage the possibility of a road hump being used on a road where not even a speed limit is imposed, which brings us back to the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, of a narrow country road used by ponies on which vehicles were travelling much too fast and not even a speed limit was imposed. The noble Lord, perhaps naturally, thought that that might be a suitable case for a road hump. I suggest we need an assurance—whether we can have it now from the Minister, I do not know—that in no case where the highway authority has either attempted to get permission for a speed limit and has failed, or has not even gone to the length of putting up a speed limit sign, will there be any question of road humps and that such humps will never be constructed on any stretch of road where a speed limit is not imposed, bearing in mind that the whole point of road humps is to reduce vehicle speed.
Would the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, agree that it is almost impossible in practice to enforce a speed limit on a secondary road in a rural area? There simply are not enough policemen to go round, which is why these humps are called, in the United States and elsewhere, sleeping policemen?
I agree absolutely, but I am saying that the motorist must be given a chance to obey a speed limit before being confronted with a road hump. The first thing for the highway authority to do before contemplating erecting a road hump is to get a speed limit sign put up.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, drew attention to a country road down which children rode and he thought there should be some means of preventing traffic from going too fast. We are discussing a Bill under which it w ill be possible for the Government to authorise, through local authorities, the building of humps and depressions. I have been riding for most of my life, and if I come to a big depression in the road my horse would probably break its fetlock.
I wonder if it would be possible for a reply to be given to an interjection made from the Liberal Benches in reference to the preliminary statement on Clause 1 given by the Minister. We were told that regulations on the clause with which we are dealing must be approved by both Houses of Parliament. The interjection was to the effect that the Liberal speaker had not found anything in the Bill which said that; not only that, but there was no provision stating that they had to be submitted to either House. We are not talking about the regulations which may be made locally about how one builds a road hump and so on; the amendment refers to regulations of some importance, and I cannot find anything which gives a specific authority or even says that they must be submitted to either House. A lot is said about how the Minister will make regulations, but so far as I know there is nothing specifically giving him power to make regulations.What is more, we are not told who the Minister is. Everybody will say, "We all know we are talking about highways and therefore we are talking about the Minister of Transport", but there is nothing in the Bill which says that. When I left the other place about a dozen years ago the word "environment" meant to me charming little rural scenes and so on. Now the Minister for the Environment deals with anything from brothels to poisons, a whole mass of things, and I should have thought it was necessary to say who the Minister is who will be dealing with these matters, bearing in mind that there is hardly a Member of your Lordships' House who does not ask perhaps once a week, when drafting Questions, "Who deals with this or that?" This Bill really does have some resemblance to Dr. Johnson's leg of mutton, and I do not believe that it contains enough clarity ever to be enforced—
Will the noble Lord remind us about this leg of mutton?
Well, that leg of mutton is so well known that I apologise for having introduced it as an ancient observation. But Sam Johnson had the habit of making this point clear—and it had every defect that a leg of mutton could have, including being ill-dressed, ill-cooked and ill-served, and I think that there was another defect. No doubt the noble Lord knows.We ought to have some assurance, either from the mover of the Bill or from the Minister, who said that these powers are derived from some other statute or from some other source, which does not appear to be referred to. I am not in sympathy with the main tenor of the amendments being put against the Bill. I think that it is probably a well-intended and very useful Bill. The other place has taken 18 months to discuss this small measure, while the House of Lords has been winning very considerable public reputation in the last six months or so by the way it has day by day considered and amended complicated and massive measures, even at the cost of great personal inconvenience. Now we have this Bill before us. I know that there have been consultations, which from my point of view have been perfectly sufficient to justify a legible and enforceable Bill. I paid great attention to what the noble Baroness said. We ought to have an assurance that the Bill is viable. The noble Lord ought to be prepared to say whether he thinks that regulations can be made under the Bill, within the terms of what we were told were the preventive and protective clauses which were to be provided.
May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hale, that he need never apologise for taking part in a Committee stage, since his long experience and wisdom are always much appreciated. With regard to the question that he raised, if he looks at Clause 5(3) of the Bill, he will see that the regulations are subject to annulment procedure. The noble Lord will well remember that the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 requires regulations to be laid before each House of Parliament, and any Member of either House can put down a Prayer. I think that perhaps answers the point.
Perhaps I can now come back to the amendment and reply a little more directly to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth. The amendment seeks to insert into the Bill an obligation to include in the regulations made under it such advertising and objection-considering requirements as there are in respect of proposals to impose speed limits. But there are no main legislation requirements as to the advertising of proposals to impose speed limits or the consideration of objections to them.Under Section 84C of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967 the Minister may—not shall—make regulations imposing such requirements. He is under no obligation to do so, though in fact he has. He could, with the consent of Parliament, amend these regulations. He could in theory, subject again to parliamentary approval, repeal them. Thus this amendment would tie him by Act of Parliament to introducing in regulations made under this clause provisions that he himself may make under another Act. This, it seems to me, would be a rather odd arrangement, perhaps particularly since Clause 4 of this Bill already provides for the advertising of "humping" proposals, and a conflict could arise between the two sets of requirements. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, mentioned the London Gazette. These requirements are laid down in regulations, just as publication requirements for "hump" requirements would be. Certainly we would consider introducing similar requirements and regulations under this Bill. Before sitting down may I point out to the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, that this Bill will not in any way legalise the construction of depressions, nor will it legalise humps until regulations are so made. I hope that following that reply the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, may feel able to withdraw his amendment.
May I at some time have an answer to my question: is it contemplated ever to have a road hump on a stretch of road that has no speed restriction?
I apologise for not replying to that point; I did make a note of it. I wanted to take it in the context of time and time wasted, which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, seems to think we might be doing. This is not time wasted. Everything here will be considered by the department, and all comments will be taken into account. As my noble friend Lord Kinnoull has been stressing, this is an enabling Bill. When the regulations come to be made surely will be the time to try to include that regulation.
I think that it was the noble Lord, Lord Hale, who asked me a specific question. He asked, did I think that regulations could now be made that would be satisfactory—
I would not be at all surprised at anything that I said, but what I was asking was whether the noble Lord was satisfied that the Bill already gave effective power to make the regulations, whether good or bad, and whether there was effective protective power in the Bill providing for some parliamentary control over the principal regulative activities. We were specifically told—I do not want to keep hammering it in; if it was a mistake, it was a mistake, but of course it was a major mistake. I was very much touched by the noble Earl's kind blandishments, because nowadays such things are said only rarely. I still cannot understand—it should be so simple to explain—from where the power comes. The clause to which the noble Earl refers mentions regulations made under this clause. It is extremely difficult to think that this is the sort of Bill that the Government would like to have examined by the courts.
I think that the answer to the specific question that the noble Lord, Lord Hale, raised is: No, I do not think so, because far too much water has passed under too many bridges tonight. There can be no going back now, unless in the next Transport Bill, or by some other method, there is an opportunity to reintroduce the sense of those amendments, which by virtue of this time element have been dismissed out of hand. There is no doubt about this, that the Committee has been told, "You will deny a weapon in the armoury of road safety if you agree to one amendment." That is why my two noble friends adopt the stance they do adopt, and I do not blame them for so doing.But I do not believe that regulations are going to be framed which are going to meet the totally proper objections of myself and my noble friends, and some of the groups and organisations which have not been consulted about the general principle of this Bill, which has been taken
|Airedale, L.||Kilmarnock, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L. [Teller.]||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Simon, V.|
|de Clifford, L.||Spens, L.|
|Sranville of Eye, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Newall, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Hornsby-Smith, B.||Orr-Ewing, L.||Tweedale, M.|
|Howe, E. [Teller.]||Pitt of Hampstead, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Inglewood, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Alport, L.||Colville of Culross, V.||Glendevon, L.|
|Auckland, L. [Teller.]||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Gregson, L.|
|Avon, E.||Denham, L.||Hale, L.|
|Boardman, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Holderness, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Ferrers, E.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Gaitskell, B.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Chelwood, L.||Gibson-Watt, L.||Kinnoull, E. [Teller.]|
right out of the 1974 Act and dumped here—I do not know why. It is absolutely ludicrous. It is 18 months—or, to be absolutely accurate, 16 months; in June 1979—since this Bill should have been around, and here we are, in an overspill period, being asked to refuse any amendment at all because otherwise it will not get on to the statute book this time. If these were Blennerhassett regulations and drink, I would go along with that kind of thinking, because there would be real danger. There is no real danger here which cannot be taken care of experimentally in the next 12 months, while we consider this matter properly.
I have to confess to my noble friend on the Front Bench that I did not fully understand what he was saying with regard to the regulations. I am not going to ask him to repeat it—I will read it most carefully—but what I am going to ask your Lordships to do is to provide some dampening effect within this enabling Bill, which is drawn so widely, with no let or hindrance by your Lordships, this revising Chamber. I am going to ask your Lordships again tonight—and this will be the last time I shall ask this Committee—to accept my amendment, which will provide a dampening effect. It may possibly cause the Bill to fail, and we can get to it next year, with time and far more experience on our hands.
On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 13) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 22; Not-Contents, 41.
|Long, V.||Pender, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Longford E.||Phillips, B.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|McCluskey, L.||St. Davids, V.||Underhill, L.|
|Mountevans, L.||Sandys, L.||Wilson of Radcliffe, L.|
|Noel-Baker, L.||Stamp, L.||Young, B.|
|Orkney, E.||Sudeley, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 [ Consultation and local inquiries]:
[ Amendment No. 14 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 15:
Page 3, line 22, at end insert—
("( ) organizations representing motor vehicle users; and").
The noble Lord said: I beg to move this amendment merely to inquire of my two noble friends whether they can give me an assurance that, in these consultations, the organisations that will be called in will include all those who normally look after motor vehicle users' interests; that is, not only the AA and the RAC, which are normally associated with motor vehicle users, but also the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association, the Confederation of British Passenger Transport Operators and people of that nature, because all are likely to use the kind of roads which may have humps in them. If your Lordships should wonder why the Confederation of British Passenger Transport Operators are included in my list, it is of course because they so frequently operate the school buses which go down residential roads in urban areas to pick up the children and take them to school. I just seek an assurance. I beg to move.
I am happy to give my noble friend the assurance that all responsible bodies representing motor vehicle users will be consulted. I presume that I can speak to Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 because they cover the same point. Unless my noble friend on the Front Bench corrects me, such bodies as I have mentioned will be consulted.
May I refer to one particular organisation which my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth did not put in: that is, the Institute of Road Safety Officers, in which I declare an interest for I am its president. That is a body which I think wilt be very helpful.
I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for that intervention. If I am wrong I will write to him before the next stage. But I am sure that, as a responsible body, they will be among those consulted.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[ Amendment No. 16 not moved.]
Clause 4 agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 17:
After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:
. A highway authority which constructs a road hump shall be responsible to compensate any road user in respect of personal injury or damage caused thereby unless it is proved that such injury or damage was caused by the negligent behaviour of the road user.").
The noble Earl said: I spoke at a Trafalgar Day dinner a day or so ago and my voice virtually disappeared. I apologise for that. I think Amendment No. 17 is quite a sensible one. This is something which should receive consideration. So often, a road user has his vehicle damaged, for instance, on a road newly made up by a local authority and his windscreen is shattered by a stone. I know it is often the case that the injured motorist—injured in the sense that his vehicle is damaged—tries to get compensation from the local authority. That is done; whether he succeeds I do not know.
There is great likelihood of a driver crossing humps and endeavouring to take them at a speed of about 10 miles an hour, which is possibly the comfortable speed at which to do so, having damage eventually caused to his vehicle. The tyres or the shock absorbers, or somethin of that nature will suffer considerable damage over a period of time. Not only that, but the hump itself will probably suffer some damage caused by the many vehicles crossing it. It will lose some of its dimension in all directions. That is seen on the M40, on a stretch of grooved concrete which, when it was first opened, was excellent; but year after year more and more repairs must be done to make the grooves deeper.
It is a fact that humps cause damage and that the damage will be accelerated over time. I do not care whether it is a hump or a trench, there are so many potholes in the roads already that a trench will not do much more damage than that caused by a pothole. I think we should pay some attention to the possibility, if it can be proved, of a motorist driving over a hump and having damage caused to his car through no fault of his own. I hope that that will be considered. Wear and tear and the fact that it is no fault of his should be considered as a reasonable request for compensation. I beg to move.
I think that if one looks at this from the point of view of the local authority one will see the danger that it is creating. It would create a liability for any authority that constructed a road hump to pay compensation for any damage or injury allegedly attributable to that hump save in the improbable event that the authority could prove that the damage or liability was unconnected with the hump, or if connected with the hump, was attributable to the road user's negligence. The hump is to be deemed guilty unless its innocence can be proved.I am not forgetful that genuine fears have been expressed of the causing of damage to vehicles by humps. But, in so far as we have been able to trace the origins of such fears, they appear to stem from experience with humps on private roads. Of these, we know that some—and we suspect many—are quite different in conformation from those with which the TRRL experimented and to which the requirements as to hump construction will be related. I would point out here that, in the experimental periods with the humps reported on in Laboratory Note 878, only four allegations were made of damage attributable to the humps, and all these were of efforts which could equally be attributed to general wear and tear. In brief, experience with the experimental humps suggests that, if humps are properly located, constructed and signposted, any damage resulting from their presence will be the consequence of the driver's negligence. A driver who despite warning signs drives at speed over such humps may possibly damage his vehicle, but no more reason is seen for compensating him than a driver who damages his vehicle by going off the road at a bend or driving it into a road barrier. The Committee may perhaps be wondering what the position would be if an authority constructed humps otherwise than in accordance with the requirements laid down in regulations and damage or injury occurred at these. In such circumstances, the authority would be liable without any provision to that effect in the Bill. The Bill would legalise only humps constructed in accordance with the requirements laid down regulations, which, I repeat, will be based on the humps thoroughly tested by the laboratory. Any humps on public highway which were not so constructed would be unlawful obstructions of the highway, and the constructor would be liable in respect of any damage or injury attributable to them. I hope bearing these points in mind that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
I thank the noble Earl for his reply. I was going to say that the TRRL had referred to the damage done to vehicles which travelled over humps for a period of months. I was reading about a person who had driven over humps for many months and now his vehicle needs new shock absorbers. That could be attributed to general vehicle wear and tear or to the humps. There is just a possibility that might happen. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 18:
After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:
. Expenditure to be incurred by any highway authority on the construction of road humps in any financial year shall not exceed 0·1 per cent. of its total expenditure on road maintenance.").
The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment. It is designed to elicit from my noble friend on the Front Bench the Government's view regarding expenditure. I wish to speak about expenditure. We have not heard very much about the likely cost of this Bill in the event of its becoming an Act of Parliament. We have had a small amount of information from the report to which both my noble friend Lord Kinnoull and I referred at Second Reading. On the basis of that information, the average for the five sites with a varying number of humps, at £500 per hump, works out at £3,700 per site. I do not know what response the passing of this Bill is likely to evoke in what I can only call "hump hopefuls", those residing in areas such as we have heard about in the report. So we are suggesting that the highway authority should not spend more than 0·1 per cent. of its road maintenance expenditure on road humps.
My noble friend and I are very conscious that generally the roads are deteriorating. I do not wish to start any hare running up and down a motorway, round "Spaghetti Junction" or anything like that. One just has to go on the ordinary trunk, main and principal roads in the urban and country areas to see this deterioration. I am told that this is largely because funds are not so readily available. The British Road Federation tell me that as a blanket figure expenditure on road maintenance has dropped by over 11 per cent. in the past six years.
One particular area—Humberside—spent in 1977–78 £7 million-odd on roads. Their anticipated expenditure for 1980–81 is about £9½, million. In real terms this is in all probability a decrease. On the assumption that they did in fact spend that amount, 0·1 per cent. would allow £10,000 for humps. That would allow them, on these rough and ready costings which I have dragged out of the report, to have about three sites. I can see an area perhaps like Humberside—certainly Kensington and others come to mind—where they would like more than three.
This is going to cost a lot of money. First of all, we ought to have some idea from the Minister how we are getting on with road maintenance. By virtue of potholes general deterioration can be caused, with a significant flow of traffic diversion, speed restriction, and damage to motor vehicles. What is anticipated in this regard, and is guidance likely to be given to highway authorities on the amounts they might spend? If I can have some help on that I shall be most grateful. I beg to move.
This is an area which requires some slight crystal-ball gazing. I can do little but agree with my noble friend on his various suggestions. I am not able to comment on the standard or state of road maintenance. There is no evidence to suggest—as the noble Lord himself said—that local authorities will rush to install a multitude of humps. They will be, after all, only one more weapon in their armoury in the battle against road accidents, and would be used only if they were the most appropriate solution to a particular road safety problem. It may be that humps will be installed only where their cost could be quickly recouped in accident costs saved. Here I should like to refer him to the cost-effectiveness remarks I made earlier.We would certainly expect local authorities to install humps no less than other accident prevention measures in accordance with the results of evaulation of their likely cost-effectiveness. Techniques for such evaluations are now highly developed and widely used by local authorities. The restraint proposed would be very difficult and impracticable to do. Local authorities must be free to determine their own expenditure priorities, as my noble friend is aware. He asked whether trials were still going on. There are three further sites at the moment: Lytham, Ventnor and Winchester. The Ventnor one is interesting because it is on the seafront, which might be something which is worthwhile for a local authority to consider. I hope I have made the position clearer and that my noble friend will be content.
We all agree that we do not want local authorities spending vast sums of money on this, and they will not do it in view of the present financial stringencies. I was very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, for giving us these figures. I was wondering what the 0·1 per cent. would be and he has given us the answer. To say that in a county highway authority the House of Lords is going to climb down to three sites is surely asking too much to be put in a Bill. An authority may consider, because of its problems, that it wants five sites; but under this amendment that would be impossible. I am certain that we are going to have economy on this, but to try to tie it down this way is something to which this Committee cannot possibly agree.
I said this was a probing amendment. I wanted to find out something about costs. I also wanted to wag a warning finger at highway authorities and priorities of money. This is perfectly permissible within the context of this Bill. Regrettably I found out very little about the cost of installing humps. We are still left with the TRRL figures. I do not think that this is important because it depends what they make of them, how many humps there are and how long they are, et cetera. I think that we have been able to draw attention to the cost factor adequately and the other priorities that there are regarding road safety measures and road maintenance. With the leave of the Committee, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 5 [ Regulations]:
moved Amendment No. 19:
Page 4, line 9, leave out from ("with") to end of line 10 and insert ("any organisations which appear to him to represent persons likely to be affected").
The noble Lord said: Clause 5 deals with the making of regulations and subsection (2) deals with the necessary consultation. Subsection (2) is about as sparse as it possibly could be. It merely states that:
"the Minister shall consult with such representative organisations as he thinks fit."
I am quite sure that that would enable the Minister, if he chose, to say "I will consult either the RAC or the AA, but I shall not bother to consult both of them because they both cover the same ground."
That would be a very unwise situation. I should think that in a matter of this kind the Minister will need as much help as he can get in the framing of his regulations.
With this amendment, the Minister would be bound to consult both the AA and the RAC, as well as the Road Haulage Association and the other organisations which were mentioned when we were discussing Amendments Nos. 15 and 16. I should have thought it was most highly desirable that the Minister should be bound to consult with all these organisations when he was attempting to frame his regulations. I beg to move.
I have to advise your Lordships that if this amendment is agreed, I shall not be able to call No. 20.
It is, indeed, highly desirable and, as the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, may well recall from other previous Bills of this nature, this is just a standard form of words that is used. I am able to give an assurance to the noble Lord that it will be the normal practice in making regulations to spread the consultation net as widely as possible, to include all representative organisations and bodies who might have an interest in them.In the case of regulations to be made under this Bill, this would undoubtedly include organisations representing the users of motor vehicles, but it would also include representatives of all other road users who are equally entitled to the views that they put forward. I hope that that covers the point which the noble Lord has made. I am a little surprised that he has not spotted the similarity of the words used in this Bill to those in previous legislation.
The Chair has said that Amendment No. 20, which is in my name, cannot be called if No. 19 is carried, and I accept that. In fact, I would not be moving No. 20, because of the assurance given by the Minister. If I had not had that assurance, I would wish to move No. 20, because I believe that consultations with associations of local authorities are just as important as consultations with road users. But I have the assurance of the Minister, which I am sure noble Lords will also accept.
I can say to the noble Earl that I am advised by learned counsel that the wording of my amendment is just as much standard form as the words in the Bill. There is more than one standard form for these things. From the speech of the noble Earl, I feel quite sure that if we were in normal times this amendment would be accepted, but because of the oddities of our procedures I have to accept his assurance, and I do so. It is always better to have it in the Bill, but things being as they are I have to accept the noble Earl's assurance, and I do. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[ Amendment No. 20 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 21:
Page 4, line 10, at end insert ("and with organisations representing the users of motor vehicles.").
The noble Lord said: Perhaps I may ask my noble friend Lord Kinnoull whether the assurances that he has given to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, and those he gave in reference to Amendments Nos. 15 and 16, will also apply here in the case of Amendment No. 21. On the assumption that he will give that assurance, I again have to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, about the way in which we are conducting this business and also register profound disapproval. I beg to move.
I am happy to give my noble friend that assurance.
Following upon the last remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, it would be appreciated if the RAC and the AA, which are the two big motoring organisations looking after the interests of motorists—particularly the RAC—could be put down in writing in some way at the top of the list.
The AA comes first alphabetically.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 [ Citation, repeal, commencement and extent.]:
moved Amendment No. 22:
Page 4, line 34, at end insert ("or for different parts of England, Wales or Scotland.").
The noble Lord said: This amendment is designed to permit different policies to be adopted if considered desirable in England, Wales and Scotland, or in different parts of the country, thus preventing unnecessary authorisation of the construction of humps or depressions in all parts of Great Britain. Blanket operation is not really necessary and some authorities may prefer not to have the power and to apply separately as required. There are certainly different conditions prevailing up and down the country and it should be for those authorities who want power to take it. Those authorities who would prefer to leave the matter for some time, because of economic or other conditions, should so be allowed. As the Bill already provides for regulations to be made under various clauses for different purposes, I should have thought this might also be helpful to the authorities concerned. I beg to move.
I think that when I have finished speaking, my noble friend will agree that this is probably already happening. The Bill as drafted would give my right honourable friends all the bringing into force powers that might be desirable. The power for highway authorities to install humps will be incapable of implementation until regulations have been made, and my right honourable friends might, therefore, decide that there was no point in bringing Clause 1, or even perhaps the whole Act, into force until they were ready to make regulations. The power to bring different provisions into force on different days might be useful, if for some reason Ministers wished to undertake further experiments with humps before they were ready to make regulations. In that event, they could by order bring Clause 2 into force so as to conduct the experiments under it. But no circumstance can be envisaged in which they would want to have the Act or some parts of it in force in some parts of the country, but not in others. The regulations, when made, would of course apply throughout the country. I hope that that answers my noble friend sufficiently.
There is a complication here, which the noble Earl may have momentarily overlooked. Since subsection (3) repeals Section 17 of the Road Traffic Act, that section can be repealed only when the whole Act comes into force. You cannot bring the Act into force in pieces, because at what stage is Section 17 of the Road Traffic Act repealed? It was stated earlier that, while the regulations were being considered and consultation was going on, Section 17 could still be operating and new experimental sites could be worked. So it seems to me, with great respect, that the Act must be brought into force at one time.
While my noble friend is looking up the answer, I think I am right in saying that when this Bill passes and becomes an Act, as I hope it will, Clause 7(3) will come into force. What would then take its place is Clause 2 of the Bill which will give special powers to the Minister to carry on experimental work.
This has put a somewhat different dimension upon the point under discussion. It would be best if we all had a look at what has been said, decided whether we were entirely happy about it and had another talk about it at the next stage. There are some blurred edges, but we do not want to keep pressing this because we are not going to get very much farther. With the idea, therefore, that we might discuss this again at Report, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[ Amendment No. 23 not moved.]
Clause 7 agreed to.
[ Amendment No. 24 not moved.]
House resumed: Bill reported without amendment.