House Of Lords
Monday, 20th October, 1980.
The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.
Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Southwell.
Public Service Pensions: Cost Of Indexation
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the latest forecast of the cost of fully indexing public service pensions in the current financial year.
My Lords, I regret that figures are available only for the 12 months from the date of the pensions increase, and not by financial year. On this basis, the cost of the increase on 24th November will be about £367 million for the following year. I will publish in the Official Report a table listing separately the costs for each of the main public service pension schemes.
My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the Centre for Policy Studies believes that the true cost to the taxpayer of inflation-proofing pensions for the 3½ million people in the whole of the public sector—obviously, that is not just civil servants—may be as high as £2,000 million? Does my noble friend not think that this country cannot indefinitely afford fully to index pensions in the public sector, when so few industrial companies can possibly match those conditions without becoming uncompetitive?
My Lords, my noble friend will, of course, be aware that we have set up a committee under Sir Bernard Scott to look into the full cost of the indexing of public pensions and, more particularly, what should be paid towards them by public servants. As he said, there is a very broad category of armed forces, Civil Service, teachers, National Health Service, police, fire, local government and overseas pensioners involved. As to the figure of £2,000 million, that was, I think, the total cost of public service pensions up to November 1979. That was increased in November 1979 and, obviously, there will be an increase in November 1980. But that is not the cost of the increase; it is the total cost of the public service pensions.
My Lords, can the noble Lord estimate what might be the cost of indexing pensions, if there were a cut-off of pensions in excess of £10,000 a year?
Not without notice, my Lords. I could not give that figure.
My Lords, would the noble Lord agree that indexing is not adequately taken into account in comparability studies?
My Lords, this is what we have asked Sir Bernard Scott to advise us on. We are talking specifically about the contribution that is paid towards this by the Civil Service. It was, I think, gauged at 3·6 per cent. by the Government Actuary, and we have asked Sir Bernard Scott to advise us whether he and his committee agree that this is a proper figure or whether it ought to be changed.
My Lords, as the Leader of the House has indicated that he will be giving a fuller report—probably by Written Answer—in relation to various costs, will be consider letting us know what percentage of each wage bill the indexing of public service pensions represents in the current financial year? Would the Leader of the House also agree that the Government Actuary, who went into this very closely, has given a figure which has been taken fully into account by the Pay Research Unit, and that the indexing of pensions in the Civil Service has been fully paid for?
My Lords, paid for according to what the Government Actuary's figure was, which was taken into account by the Pay Research Unit. What Sir Bernard Scott will do is to make recommendations to us as to whether his committee thinks that this is the right figure.
My Lords, would my noble friend consider the policy for the future, because, as one understands it, Sir Bernard Scott will find out whether the formula is correct and accurate? If the adjustment is not 3·6 per cent., and is 5 or 6 per cent., would it not be worth the Government considering whether we should buy out of this by offering the Civil Service an extra percentage on their salary, and then asking them to accept exactly the same pensions as everyone else does in industry and in the wealth-creating sector? Is this not one formula which might commend itself, because something must be done to get the public sector borrowing requirement down, as the Government know only too well?
My Lords, all I can commit myself and my colleagues to today is that we will give full consideration to Sir Bernard Scott's report. Of course, my noble friend will realise that the figure for public service pensions is tied to the figure of increase for retirement pensions generally at present.
My Lords, would the Leader of the House also agree that if there is any buying out to be done, it will have to apply to Members of another place?
My Lords, in so far as Members of another place have index-linked pensions, that is so. I never talked about buying out.
My Lords, does the noble Lord indicate to us by that last answer that there is a suggestion of buying us out of your Lordships' House?
Following is the table referred to:
|Public Service Group||Cost of the November 1980 pensions increase in the following year|
|National Health Services||43|
|Police and Fire||28|
Energy: Economic Pricing
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take steps, by instructions to the power supply industries concerned, to reduce the electricity and gas charges to British industry to levels comparable with corresponding charges in France and Germany in order that it may compete in both domestic and overseas markets on fair terms with its continental trade rivals.
No, my Lords. Government policy is based on the economic pricing of energy—a principle which has been endorsed by all European Community member states. This means relating energy prices to the longer term costs of production and market conditions prevailing in the country concerned. Where there is evidence that other states are not observing this principle and thereby subsidising energy costs, the Government will not hesitate to back up our industries with representations to the European Commission.
My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that the concept of economic pricing has never been fully ventilated and that the calculations in support of this concept have never been produced, at any rate to this House? Is the noble Earl further aware that it is undoubtedly true, if the Financial Times report of 6th August last can be believed, as well as earlier reports of The Times, that other European countries which are our competitors are being subsidised and are getting their fuel at a far lower price than our own, even though it may be calculated on the basis of the economic concept to which the noble Earl has referred? Is the noble Earl also aware that in today's Times there appears a report emanating from Mr. MacGregor that in the case of the steel industry our competitors are being subsidised at the rate of £8 per tonne for every hit of steel which is being produced? In view of the fact that Her Majesty's Government now control fuel prices in respect of gas and electricity, do not they think that it is high time that British industry should be given some relief?
My Lords, if I may work backwards through the noble Lord's list of supplementaries and take first the issue of the steel industry which is affected by electricity prices, I think that the noble Lord and the House will find that price comparisons are extremely difficult because they are influenced by what are the main sources of raw material for electricity generation which exist in the different countries. It would be extremely difficult to provide absolute standardisation in that way because some countries are more fortunate than others in their raw materials. The noble Lord and the House will be aware that the CBI are collecting factual data and will be presenting their findings to the Government so that they are able to challenge the Government's overall view, which is that our overall energy costs are comparable with those of our European competitors.
My Lords, is not the noble Earl aware that thanks to the British Gas Council having paid far too low a price for the gas available from the southern fields of the North Sea they have not been properly developed? Although the public benefited from lower gas prices in the sense which the noble Lord opposite would like to see, the fact is that less gas has been produced. Now that arrangements are being made to redevelop and extend those gas fields, a much higher price has had to be paid to make it worth while.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for reminding the House that the situation with regard to energy costs both in this country and in the Community is very fluid and that circumstances change. There is evidence that British industry did operate under a competitive disadvantage, but as higher energy costs work through and contracts are revised in the Community industries, the noble Earl and the House will find that the competitive disadvantage is rapidly narrowing.
My Lords, the noble Earl said, quite rightly, that some countries are more fortunate than others in their sources of supplies for the production of energy, so may I ask him whether we are not the most fortunate of all the European countries?
My Lords, with respect to the noble Viscount, I think he is confusing the issue of being fortunate in terms of supply and of being fortunate in terms of cost. This country is fortunate in having a supply of dear-cost energy. It cannot afford to undercut the dearness of that cost. It is not fortunate in having sources of cheap energy available to it today, such as hydro-electric energy.
My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that the course which should be taken by him is to produce his own calculations? Is he also aware that the figures which have been published not only in The Times but in the Financial Times have been supplied by industries with a very high reputation, which are not in the habit of bandying about estimated figures? Will be give the House an undertaking that, as and when he has received the estimated figures from the CBI, he will come out with an unequivocal statement as to where he agrees with the figures produced and where he disagrees, and why?
My Lords, neither I nor anybody else in the Government have in any way attempted to conceal the fact that British industry operates under a competitive disadvantage over energy pricing in certain key sectors where our competitors are on the North American continent. But the noble Lord's Question was linked to the issue of the European Community. There, as I have said, with the proviso that we are waiting to see what the CBI says as well, our information is that that competitive disadvantage is uneven and is narrowing very fast.
My Lords, would not my noble friend agree, reverting to the good fortune of this country to which the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, referred, that our greatest good fortune is to have a sound Government with a resolute Prime Minister?
My Lords, there is a great deal of truth in that.
Interest Rates And The Economy
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have yet assessed the effects of persistently high interest rates on the economy as a whole and whether they will publish a forecast, covering the next six months, showing the consequences of their continuance during this period on output, productivity, unemployment and bankruptcies.
My Lords, forecasts under the Industry Act will be published in November. A substantial and lasting reduction in the rate of inflation is central to the Government's policies. Only in this way can we restore the economy to health and pave the way for substantial growth in both output and employment. The present level of interest rates is a necessary part of that policy: but interest rates will be reduced as soon as it is possible to do so consistent with attainment of the Government's monetary policy.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that his Answer is, of course, thoroughly unsatisfactory and that he has not in fact answered the Question that I tabled, which asked—if I may repeat it—whether the Government had assessed the effect on various factors in the British economy of high interest rates? The Answer, as I gather from him, is that they have made no such assessment. Therefore may I ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that the Treasury model computer has facilities whereby, by feeding in alternative data as to interest rates, the effects on various aspects of the British economy enumerated in my Question can be assessed? Will the noble Lord give the House an undertaking that the Government will investigate this aspect of the matter in order that the country may more accurately assess the disastrous results of the Government's own policy, determined by the Treasury Ministers, of maintaining interest rates at an arbitrary and high level?
My Lords, the Answer given to the noble Lord was a clear, comprehensive reply to the Question that he asked. The Industry Act 1975, which was passed by the previous Administration, provided a programme for the publication of information relating to the major factors affecting the development of the economy. The next such forecast under the Industry Act is due to be published next month, and I should have thought that the right thing to do would be to await the publication of those forecasts.
My Lords, arising out of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, included unemployment in his "shopping list", may I ask the Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have consulted the Treasury model as to what would be the likely effect on unemployment of each 1 per cent. reduction in MLR?
My Lords, the noble Lord includes a large number of items in his shopping list. It has not been the practice, either of this Government or indeed of the previous Government, to publish forecasts of unemployment. Working assumptions are included in the Government Actuary's Report on the National Insurance Fund, but I repeat that it has not been the custom of previous Governments or of this Government to publish forecasts of unemployment.
My Lords, would not my noble friend agree that one of the essential differences between money and any other commodity is that everybody needs it to a greater or lesser extent, no matter what the price? Furthermore, will be not agree that getting control of the demand for money mainly by the price will not reduce supply significantly?
My Lords, I do not entirely accept my noble friend's analysis. The main weapon for controlling the level of the money supply is the rate of interest, and there is no evidence that any other method is as effective. As noble Lords opposite show such interest in the level of unemployment—a level which we greatly deplore—may I draw their attention to the fact that in the year ending in August earnings increased by 21·6 per cent. against an increase in prices of 15·9 per cent., and it is that very great excess of the increase of earnings over the increase in prices which is so largely responsible for the present level of unemployment. I should have thought that it was in the interests of everybody to draw the attention of wage bargainers on both sides of industry to these undisputed facts and to the effect they have on the level of employment.
My Lords, will the noble Lord the Minister be good enough to educate a very innocent layman? He has repeated this afternoon what he said last week to my noble friend Lord Beswick and my noble friend Lord Kaldor: the Government's policy is to restrict the money supply through interest rates. Does he not agree that his Government's own figures show that the money supply has been running way above the projected level? Is it not therefore logical that the interest rates should have been raised before now; and is it any other reason than political cowardice that they have not been so raised?
My Lords, if the noble Lord is now advocating a further rise in interest rates he would seem to be somewhat out of step with the rest of his noble friends.
My Lords, does not the Industry Act 1975, as amended by your Lordships' House, provide for the use of the Treasury model and the Treasury computer in producing the information which my noble friend has said is coming in a few weeks' time; and will that information therefore not be what is required by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington?
My Lords, what my noble friend says about the Treasury computer is of course entirely correct.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the figures which he gave regarding earnings are a direct result of Government policy? When there is a free-for-all the workers are part of the "all". Furthermore, is he aware that, after 17 months of the present Government's policy, we have a decline in industrial output of 8 per cent., 2 million unemployed and still have inflation at 16 per cent.?
No, my Lords, they are not the direct result of the Government's policy—in fact the contrary. In almost every speech I have made in your Lordships' House I have drawn attention to the connection which exists between excessive pay settlements and the level of unemployment, and nobody regrets more than I do that what I have made so clear to the House on so many occasions has in fact come to pass.
My Lords, while sharing the admiration expressed by his noble friends behind him at the Minister's ability to answer questions which were not asked, may I ask whether he will be good enough just to answer the simple question as to whether he believes that output has been lowered as a result of high interest rates and, if output has been lowered, does not that presuppose that the volume of money supply will also have to be reduced? May I further ask him whether, in the new figures in two or three weeks' time, we shall see an even lower target of money supply?
My Lords, what we shall see in a few weeks' time must obviously await upon a few weeks' time. So far as the level of output is concerned, a whole range of factors has entered into this. There is, first, the world recession; secondly, there has been the effect of the high level of pay settlements and, thirdly, the Government's policy to reduce and ultimately eliminate inflation means a transitional cost in the terms of loss of output, but that loss will be minimised to the extent that people are prepared to show realism, as increasingly they are in wage bargaining.
My Lords, can my noble friend ask the Treasury model computer what would be the effect on the inflation of this country if the public sector settlements had been comparable to those in the private sector; and is not one of our gravest disadvantages that we have a larger public sector than any other of our competitor countries in the world?
I think, with respect to my noble friend—and I entirely appreciate the point he is making—that we are now entering the realm of speculation. The most important thing—and I have said this before—is that we should tackle the problems with which we are now faced, and this does demand a much lower level of pay settlements in the public as well as in the private sector.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord to answer my question? According to his own logic, why have the Government not increased the interest rates in order to keep down the supply of money?
My Lords, there is every evidence, including not least the fall in the rate of inflation, that monetary conditions are in fact sufficiently tight, and in those circumstances the Government regard the present level of MLR as the appropriate level.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that in the course of his previous answer, when he was dealing with what he described as the three factors making for an increase in unemployment, he did not mention the high interest rates once? Are we to infer from that that the noble Lord really believes that high interest rates have had no impact at all upon the level of output, unemployment, bankruptcy?
My Lords, I said quite clearly and specifically that the measures that it was essential to take to reduce and eliminate inflation had a transitional cost and those measures include the present level of interest rates. But the burden imposed on industry by interest rates is only a fraction of the burden imposed upon industry by excessive wage settlements.
The Civil Service Pay Machinery: Review
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made with their review of the machinery for determining pay in the Civil Service.
My Lords, I outlined to the Council of Civil Service Unions on 1st August a number of changes which the Government wish to make to the Civil Service pay research system. Discussions on these are continuing. Meanwhile the Government have made clear that in 1981 the cash limit will be the main determinant of the Civil Service pay settlement.
My Lords, while I thank my noble friend for that extremely interesting reply, can he carry it a little further, and indicate when the substantial reforms which were advocated in this House in the recent debate on the PRU system are likely to be put into operation, and whether he is aware of the urgency of this, in view of the excessive settlements which it has produced in recent years?
My Lords, we are at the moment in conversation with the unions concerned. We have put forward to them a number of proposals, some of which were included in the most interesting debate which was initiated by my noble friend some months back. As to the high settlements of late, I am sure that the noble Lord in using these words has borne in mind the fact that three years ago there was a very low settlement in the public sector in general and the Civil Service in particular, as that was the third year of incomes policy when it was laid down that there should be a 5 per cent. increase only. There has been an inevitable catching-up process in the last two years. If you take it over the last three or four years, the levels of public service and private sector wage settlements have been very similar indeed.
My Lords, is my noble friend aware—I am sure he is—that it is the percentage rise in a particular year in Civil Service pay which tends to be the trend-setter throughout the public sector, and to some extent in the private sector, and is he therefore aware of the very heavy responsibility which lies on him to secure that, whatever system is used in place of the old PRU, settlements produced are moderate in percentage terms?
My Lords, I do not think I really dissent from what my noble friend is getting at, but I must dissent when he says that it is the trend-setter. Indeed, pay research is, has to be and can only be having a pay settlement in the Civil Service alongside what has already happened in the private sector, and indeed outside the Civil Service generally. So I would not say that it was a trend-setter. On the other hand, in the present economic situation, the Government are determined that they should have major control this year over the levels of settlement, and it is for that reason that we have said that cash limits will be the major determinant.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for answering this with such zeal and defending the Civil Service. Their settlements have not been excessive. They have followed what has happened elsewhere, and if there have been high settlements it is because they have followed high settlements in private industry.
My Lords, I am afraid I am not quite aware of what the noble Lord is asking me in that statement.
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—( Lord Belstead.)
On Question, Motion agreed to.
House in Committee accordingly.
[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
[ Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 not moved.]
Clause 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 [ Training of persons employed by programme contractors]:
moved Amendment No. 65:
Page 21, line 22, leave out from ("as") to the end of line 25 and insert ("as will enable the Authority to ensure that each programme contractor contributes to an ITV Training Scheme which will make adequate provision for training opportunities for all persons employed by them. The training to be conducted separately or jointly by the ITV contractors as considered to be appropriate and to include all grades of employment in programme production, technical services and management with equality of opportunity for entry into training available to all employees regardless of age or sex. To this end a Training Board to be set up by the Authority which will be funded by the levy of special payments by the contractors to the Authority.").
The noble Lord said: This amendment has been tabled to improve training provision. Throughout the debate on the Committee stage there has been a recurrent theme that television will expand and that the production of programmes for showing on television will expand considerably during the next 10 years. Our main concern is to maintain a high quality of television programmes. To achieve this, properly trained staff are essential, refresher courses are essential, having all grades of employment open to women is essential. Also, as television has always been a young man's business, as these young men become older there should be opportunities, if they wish to take them, for them to be retrained into other work in television which is not perhaps so demanding of the energies and stamina of youth.
Some independent television companies have undertaken training schemes from time to time, and there is some mobility between people trained by the BBC and those who have learned their business in ITV. With the ability of ITV to pay people more and spend more money than the BBC—and this disparity is increasing rather than diminishing—there is a tendancy for those who possess some of the many skills that go to make up television production to join the BBC for initial training and then in due course to look to the richer pastures of employment in ITV. That is natural, but it should not be used as an excuse for ITV neglecting to create a comprehensive training scheme, some of which will be based on a national training school, like the National Film School, and some of which will be based on in-house training among the ITV contractors themselves.
Statistics are hard to come by, but in their place it is perhaps reasonable to quote once again the report of the Annan Commission, which represents the most thorough investigation into broadcasting ever conducted in this country. The Annan Report states that, from evidence received, BBC training schemes are numerous and varied, and there is a great deal of praise for the way in which the BBC has conducted training of broadcasters. On the other hand, the report stated:
"We have received considerable criticism of the lack of training provided by the ITV contractors, and the Independent Television Contractors' Association accepted that the companies' record of training has been patchy."
We feel that a stronger obligation to remedy this needs to be placed on the ITV contractors through the authority, and that is why this amendment reintroduces the more specific aspects of the new clause originally tabled in another place, and strengthens the hand of the authority to require something more than promises of patchwork during the next licence period. I beg to move.
Originally I had some very slight doubts about the need for Clause 25 because it seemed to me that there was some danger that we were making use of statute where exhortation would be quite sufficient. In spite of what the noble Lord said, I believe there is plenty of evidence that today the training done by the contractors and, where group training is necessary, by the training committee of the Independent Television Contractors' Association, is excellent. The noble Lord quoted Lord Annan. Surely it is worth while remembering that Lord Annan took great care to come to no conclusion other than the conclusion that the ITA should take power to see that training was done; and that is specifically what is said in the clause as it stands. Having considered the matter, I concluded that Clause 25 was, in effect, a clause that simply gave the authority a reserve power and required it to report; and so I came to the conclusion that I could readily go along with it.Not so this amendment. It really is just another example of going along that slippery socialist path to authoritarianism and bureaucracy, is it not? A brand new training board is to be set up. I know the noble Lord did not refer to this, but I will refer him to the last three lines of the amendment. It is to cover all skills and not only programming. I see that the authority is enjoined to have regard even to the Sex Discrimination Act. I wonder which sex the noble Lord thinks needs protection in this industry. I know the sex that I think needs protecting, but I dare say that he and I would take a different view on that. Why not let us leave this to management? These 13 contractors are all competent businessmen. They are running a service company; it might as well be the provision of electricity or water or transport. As competent businesses they must and do have regard for what any company has to do, which is to provide for good training. I suggest that it would be much better if we were to let the authority get on with its present job. Its job, by and large, is to advise on and ultimately to monitor the product. Do not let us get into the situation where we have to teach our grandchildren how to suck eggs and where we have to load on to the authority a job for which it was not constructed and for which, to my certain knowledge, it has no taste. So unless the noble Lord has discussed this brand new Quango with the authority and with some of the contractors and made it his business to find out what are the present shortcomings, I suggest that he should consider very carefully whether he should not withdraw his amendment.
Is it possible that we could debate the amendment by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, at the same time or would that not be for the convenience of the noble Baroness?
Certainly. Obviously there is an overlap between the two amendments. I was waiting to see what happened to Amendment No. 65 before deciding how I would handle Amendment No. 66. However, I think it would be very much for the convenience of the Committee if we took the two together. When it comes to voting we can consider how we will deal with the amendments.
If this is the case, possibly the noble Lord, Lord Aylestone, who was about to speak, might like to listen first, as I would, to the noble Baroness, if she felt that she would like to speak now. Then perhaps we could take into account what the noble Baroness says before others of us speak, if that suited the noble Baroness.
I am very grateful to the Minister for making this suggestion. I think it is much the best way to handle these two very similar amendments. I had two major reasons for putting down my amendment. In dealing with the first one, which is the general case for strengthening training in the television industry, I shall be responding, if that is the right word, to the points put forward by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr. I must say I was astonished that the noble Earl took the line that the establishment of an ITB was a socialist measure, since the ITBs were established by a Conservative Government under the Industrial Training Act 1964.
Will the noble Baroness give way? What I said was socialist thinking was that we should go down the road of establishing yet another training authority, yet another piece of bureaucracy with which to load the contractors. I made no reference to the authority itself, as it is now.
I think the Committee will agree that the purpose of the Conservative Act of 1964 was inter- ventionist, to extend training within the industry, but interventionist in a way that I myself would very much approve, although it came from a Conservative Government, in that it laid the duty for extending training primarily on those conducting industry, that is, the employers and the trade unions, with collaboration from the educational authority. That was the principle of the ITB, and would indeed be the principle embodied in this clause.In my amendment I did not go for a further ITB because I realised that the kind of intervention which has been made by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, would be made, and that we should be distracted away from discussing the main content and the main intention into a discussion of the merits and demerits of training boards. I was particularly anxious that this should not happen, in order that we could deal with the heart of the matter, which is the need for improved training and a greater degree of training inside the television industry in general. Then there is the specific point about training in relation to women and ethnic minorities, which is the second part of what I wish to say. The noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, has said that one could leave it to the authorities themselves to train. I believe we are at a stage in this country when we cannot safely leave training to the employers to be done without any external impetus or intervention. The latest figures show that in manufacturing industry the percentage of people being trained is falling, not going up. All the evidence shows that in the future the opportunities, and indeed the fate of the economy, depend on the provision of a sufficient number of trained people, and trained especially in the new technologies. Broadcasting covers a wide range of new technologies, and therefore it is in a quite exceptional position to provide training in that very area on which the future development of this country depends—the use of new technologies. A good deal of training is taking place at present. However, manufacturing industry is training people for jobs which, sooner or later, will become obsolete. We need to focus training on the new and developing industries, of which broadcasting is essentially one. So, there is an interest, far beyond the interests of the broadcasting authority, in seeing that training is well done and extensively done within this industry. With all due regard to what the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, has said, our evidence has been, over decades, that employers, left entirely to themselves, in too many cases do not provide the numbers of trained personnel that are required. The evidence today is—and I was reading yet another report on it only this morning—that the best way to deal with the skill shortage in this country is for individual employers to do more training. But the evidence also is that they are not doing it. So, I point out to the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, that all the evidence of recent history is that it is not safe just to leave it to the employers to get on with it. As regards the attack that it requires another Quango, I must say that although I am not defending Clause 25, I do wonder when we shall stop using the term "Quango" as a term of abuse. For my part I would far rather see Quangos dealing with many of these matters than giving still more work to the depart merits of Government who are not qualified to do it—and that comment, I know, will not endear me to the Box. However, I believe that to be the case: Long live the Quangos! That is the case for having more training and having intervention to produce training and, therefore, for having reference to training strongly underlined in the legislation. That is why I would not leave Clause 25 as it stands, but would strengthen it along the lines of my amendment rather than along the lines of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. My second point has to do with the requirement to include in the annual report details about what has been done with reference to training for women and ethnic minorities. The noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, implied—if I understood his meaning aright—that the sex which needed protection in the broadcasting industry was the male sex; otherwise I can see very little point in his intervention in that regard. As a matter of fact, the Sex Discrimination Act deals equally with men and women, and if men do need protection in this regard then they would be covered by the proposed clause just as much as women would be covered. However, I do not think that the evidence is really on the side of the noble Earl, Lord Dc La Warr, and I am invited to say by the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, that the Equal Opportunities Commission is definitely behind Amendment No. 66. The noble Baroness has referred me to an article based on research which I think must have been written especially with the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, in mind. It states:
that, indeed, is true. It goes on:"It is quite easy for women to get jobs in television"—
that might, perhaps, have been better put—"quite easy, that is, if they want to type television letters, serve television tea, do the legwork for television research"—
It goes on to describe in detail the findings of that investigation. In fact, the survey on which it is based—at least, I think that it is the survey on which it is based, but it may be another survey—has made the point that of 160 ACTT categories in television, 60 per cent. of women are found in three: production assistants, continuity girls, and production secretaries. The remaining 157 categories, therefore, are very poorly represented so far as the female sex is concerned. When it comes to top management in television, despite the very distinguished chairman of the IBA, only 1·3 per cent. of top management are women. That really suggests that the Sex Discrimination Act, left to itself, is not bringing about a revolution inside the broadcasting industry or seeing that jobs are distributed on merit, regardless of sex. It is in order to ensure that that takes place that this amendment is being put forward. I have also included in the amendment reference to ethnic minorities. I have no comparable figures for the employment of ethnic minorities in broadcasting, and it would be up to the broadcasting industry to refute the suggestion that it is highly improbable that they will be found in very large numbers in the higher categories inside broadcasting. It may even be—perhaps I may make a suggestion, which may be quite improper, as regards something which could be done in another place—that the select committee which is looking into the situation of racial minorities in this country might well inquire into what is going on inside the broadcasting industry which would provide the information, which it presently lacks, to put teeth so far as ethnic minorities are concerned into the amendment. Why training? Am I asking for something quite new in saying that special attention should be paid to the training of women and ethnic minorities and that that should be incorporated into the annual report? In both the Race Relations Act 1976 and Section 47 of the Sex Discrimination Act it is made clear that positive discrimination in favour of underrepresented groups is permitted—it is not required, but it is permitted. They are the most constructive Acts for change, especially Section 47. It is hardly being used at all although both pieces of legislation have been on the statute book for three years. We are really saying that Section 47 should be implemented in relation to the broadcasting industry so that the great imbalance between the sexes inside the industry can be removed."or perform general handmaiden duties around television studios. It is, on the contrary, extremely hard for a woman to get a place on a technical training scheme or to rise above a certain point in the programme-making or managerial hierarchies in television."
Before the noble Baroness sits down I should like to raise just one question. I shall not deal with the sex discrimination side but she has made some very valuable points about the need for training in industry. Has she seen fit to have discussions with the authority to see what they think about it, with all their knowledge about what goes on as regards the affairs of the 13 contractors?
I have not had discussions with the authorities, but I have had discussions with a number of their employees.
I expected that, and I did not ask the question without reason.
In order to avoid any doubt may I once again declare that I have an interest in breakfast television; namely, as chairman of one of the companies. Incidentally, I should like to bear out the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, because out of the 64 directors of the eight groups who have applied for the breakfast time television only four are women.I have listened with the greatest interest to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, and that spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. But, with the greatest possible respect, I cannot entirely agree with them. Their amendments would give responsibility for training to just those agencies—the ITCA contractors—who have so conspicuously failed to make adequate provision for training in the past. The ITCA contractors should certainly have a say in what kind of skills are needed and what kind of jobs should be done, but the scheme should not be administered by them. Any would-be television contractor must declare an interest in training. No industry or profession can be without a training scheme. The consequence of not having one is to have no orderly career structure and no coherent way of ensuring a flow of competent personnel through the various jobs needed to make the industry work. Yet, in the 25 years of its existence, Independent Television has never had adequate training programmes. Cynics—or rather honest observers—could note that it never needed them because it could always poach staff from the BBC, a subject on which the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, has already touched. An industry as prosperous as Independent Television should not have to do that. Such training schemes as do exist are not adequate. They are misrepresented by companies which administer them, and regarded with derision by those who attend them. Health and safety and catering courses are, of course, important, but do they really count as "technical training"?—except when contract renewal time comes around. Should engineering staff really have to attend evening courses in their own time and pay for them out of their own pocket in order to learn skills necessary in the jobs which they are already doing? No one—employees or management—is happy with the present state of affairs, but there is little enthusiasm for an ITCA-sponsored and administered training centre. This wariness is understandable. A purpose-built centre would be expensive. It would duplicate facilities already available and in use at polytechnics, the National Film School, the London International Film School, the Royal College of Art and on the premises of equipment manufacturers. It would do nothing to train freelance technicians, the very people to whom the fourth channel—after all, the Bill which we are discussing is largely concerned with providing that channel with its juridical framework—will be turning for a very substantial contribution to its programming. It seems to me regrettable that legislation should be necessary at all. No sensible person on either side of the Committee likes to see legal obligations replace self-regulation. But, if there has to be compulsion, let us make sure that the law does its job properly; that means ITCA involvement, but not ITCA administration. I believe that Clause 25 is adequate in its safeguards, particularly when one looks at the provisions contained in subsection (2), and I should therefore like to endorse Clause 25 as it stands.
I should rather speak to Clause 25 than to the amendment, but if I refer to the contents of Clause 25 it will perhaps be better understood. Clause 25 of the Bill is quite acceptable to me and, I would hope, acceptable to the Independent Broadcasting Authority, because in the new contract period it requires to undertake, and to see that the programme contractors undertake, adequate training schemes. The noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, who has told us of her interest, is in fact aware—as every other chairman or chairperson will be—that the IBA will be required to state quite clearly what its intentions are in the field of training with effect from the date that the new contract companies come on the air.However, it would be quite wrong to say that nothing has been done in the field of training in programmes—that is, on the programme side in the first place—because, in fact, my noble friend on the Front Bench mentioned that something has been done. In fact, a great deal has been done. Most of it has been done by the larger contractors who have been training their own staffs. As the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has said, it is difficult to say that companies, when choosing female employees, have been very selective as to in what area they put them. If any of them has any experience in programme control or programme production, he or she is accepted without any great difficulty at all. But we are more concerned here with the training of them. I have said that the larger companies have already done a great deal of this training and will, of course, under this clause, be required to do considerably more. For example, Thames Television has for years been training people on the programme side. In about 1967 a fund of about £500,000 in total was set up, and has never been fully used, to do a number of things including the training of personnel in certain companies. The Thames training was part of that. In addition, they provided money for films, archives and so on, which is nothing whatever to do with this clause. On the technical side, I am amazed to hear anyone say that nothing has been done as regards technical training—purely engineering technical training. At present, without waiting for this Bill, the Independent Broadcasting Authority at its engineering headquarters at Crawley Court near Winchester carries out a considerable amount of training. Furthermore, when a man, or a woman for that matter, reaches the stage to go from that training to become a broadcasting engineer, he or she is moved over to a course which takes place continually at the Harmon Engineering Training College, which is owned and funded by the Independent Broadcasting Authority in Seaton in South Devon. If it is necessary to move a person from that establishment, he or she is moved to the polytechnic at Newcastle. This does not involve just a few hours in the evening; this is full-time training, with accommodation and salary paid for by the IBA, to do nothing than engineering training. Therefore, although I accept that more can be done on the programming side, it is quite wrong to say that nothing is being done on the training side. May I remind noble Lords of Oracle, which is a product of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, and Ceefax, which is a product of the BBC engineering department. So they work on in that direction as technical knowledge is improved. I would welcome Clause 25, but I believe that the two amendments are quite unnecessary in order to set up yet another body to do something that the IBA is doing and intends to do much better.
I should like to think that Clause 25 as it stands would be quite adequate; in fact, that it would be unnecessary for us in this day and age again to bring into any of these clauses the amendments which refer specifically to sex, race or ethnic origins. However, unfortunately—as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, pointed out quite clearly—it is absolutely necessary. When my noble friend Lord Aylestone referred to programme training—and I shall not comment on it because I do not know enough about what is being done at the moment—and that women should have the opportunity, if they have the experience, of programme control or programme production, he was hitting at the nub of the problem. The noble Baroness was saying that women do not have the opportunity to reach the stage when they can take further opportunities of training. I hope that the Committee will come to some agreement as to the form of the structure, but I also hope that the Committee will agree to include either the words of my noble friend on the Front Bench or the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, which specifically spell out this point of equality of opportunity for women as well as men and for men as well as women. The advantage of the amendment of the noble Baroness over that of my noble friend is that she includes the ethnic and race origins.We must be realistic about this and not take it for granted that because we have passed the Sex Discrimination Act and the Equal Pay Act, there has, in fact, been the improvement that we should all have liked to see. We still have a long way to go and it seems a pity, when this Bill is now going through Parliament, not to use this vehicle to underline what is still necessary and on which we still have to make a great deal of progress.
I should like to support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, because I think that this clause needs rather more teeth, and I speak with some practical experience. The truth is that with all the goodwill in the world, in the last 10 or 15 years in independent television and independent radio the position of women, and of what we call politely the ethnic minorities, has not really improved all that much. If you go into the BBC or the ITV companies, you will find that women are relegated—if that is the word—to the position of personal assistants and to secretaries, and their opportunities for progress and promotion are enormously limited. This is not because there is no goodwill on the part of those who run the boards. I can see noble Lords smiling and perhaps thinking that I am putting a personal or prejudiced case. I am putting this case because I believe that we must take a positive approach.The noble Baronesses who have spoken are putting a point not on behalf of themselves but on behalf of television and the industry. If only we can have the right sort of training schemes that will give to women and to some of those in the ethnic minorities the opportunities that are now dominated by men, we shall release into television a great fount of talent and ability which is now being held back. That to me is the most important point of all. Those who attend the board meetings of television or radio companies are nice, well-meaning people. However, they have to run a day-to-day business. At the end of the day, when they have to appoint a programme controller or executive producer, they will go to somebody within the business who has experience. That will inevitably nowadays be a man, if we have a proper training scheme and some positive monitoring of that scheme so that women and ethnic minorities have a proper opportunity, the time may well come when we shall not be operating on what I call the old boys' network—that is, that when there is a vacancy a person rings up his friend in another television company or radio company and says, "My God, we need another programme controller. Who have you got?". If we have a proper training scheme with teeth in it, the opportunity may well arise when women and those from the ethnic minorities, who have enormous talent, flair and ability, will be able to release that talent, flair and ability at all levels into television and radio. That is why I enthusiastically support the amendment.
I am sorry that I was not present at the beginning of the debate. I give general support to the idea of stricter and wider standards in training. I started off with the idea that Clause 25 was in itself adequate. I had a slight doubt about the amendments. I thought that they tried to spell out in too much detail what should be done. That, surely, should be left to the authority. I should like to see the clause amended to take into account the phrases in the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, about sex and ethnic origin and about special stress being given to women and those from ethnic minorities having equal opportunities.
I too must apologise for not being present at the beginning of the debate, having been detained, unfortunately, by professional obligations. It seems that however welcome Clause 25 may be, it lacks a certain amount of particularity. Therefore, I welcome the alternative amendments that have been advanced, both of which spell out the particular nature of the problem and the way in which it can be dealt with with a good deal more particularity.Although I cannot claim to possess the particular statistics, it is fair to say that training has been a somewhat neglected area in independent television. I submit that there is a strong case for a statutory requirement for a scheme of training, otherwise there is good reason to fear that this matter will be given, as it has in the past, very low priority. The great advantage of this statutory requirement is that it will oblige the companies—the duty being imposed on the authority to ensure that there is an appropriate scheme—to take appropriate action. It is clear from the amendment of my noble friend Lord Donaldson that there are three types of training that need to be covered. First, there is management. Secondly, there are technical services such as audio and visual engineering. Lastly, there is the area of production. Speaking as the chairman of the National Film School, I think I can say that the school provides at least a possible resource for the third of these elements. It is now widely recognised—this is due, I venture to think, to the achievements of the film school since it was established—that film training is a professional matter. I suggest that the school can provide a powerful and informed voice on the needs in this area. The school will be most interested in giving whatever help it can to the companies, and will willingly advise them on the most effective way in which training schemes might be set up and conducted. I suggest that both amendments are helpful because they make specific provision for the financing of any such programmes of training. Of course, finance is at the root of any kind of training. I marginally prefer the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, It has the advantage that it refers specifically to persons not actually in the employment of the companies but in prospect of employment with the contractors. It is important that the clause should not be drawn so narrowly—this is an objection, I venture to think, to the drafting of the original clause—as to make it appear that the scheme is so narrow that training has to be given only to in-house people. I accept that that may not be its true construction and that it can properly be construed more widely. There is the problem of supporting training which is calculated to train those who have the prospect of obtaining employment within independent television. For these reasons I warmly support both or either of the two amendments, though perhaps I come down marginally in favour of the second of the two.
Having listened to this short debate, I find myself in a great deal of agreement with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, concerning the desirability of improving training arrangements. However, I part company with the noble Lord and his noble friend Lord Donaldson, and the noble Baroness. Lady Seear, in their view that Clause 25 will not achieve the result that is desired.In essence, the noble Baroness said that we cannot afford to be inactive about training. The clause was specifically written into the Bill on Report in another place in reponse to precisely that point of view by laying a statutory responsibility for training on the television contractors and the local radio contractors. The Independent Broadcasting Authority, after all, is a regulatory body responsible for regulating the quantity and the quality of training through the contracts for which the authority is primarily responsible, whereas both these amendments appear to be laying duties upon the IBA in respect of employees for which the IBA is not directly responsible as an employer. In contrast to the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, I feel that it is not particularity but flexibility which is needed, if one can preserve that while still achieving what I think we all desire; namely, an improvement in training in the field of broadcasting. I feel strongly that to go any further in laying down detailed guidelines about the way that training should be provided in the independent sector could undermine the flexibility that is provided by Clause 25 without necessarily improving the arrangements that are made for training. For example, in a number of instances it may be more appropriate for the television contracting companies to take advantage of external courses. Indeed, it was the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, himself who spoke of the work which is done by the National Film School and the contribution which that school can make to training in this field. Already other bodies such as schools of journalism for instance, could also provide training which would contribute to the totality of training in broadcasting. In saying that I am not trying to assert that joint training schemes are not desirable. Indeed, I know that the Independent Television Companies Association will be arranging just this kind of co-ordination. It is only to say that these schemes are not in every case the best means to the end, about which once again I assert we all agree, that there should be proper arrangements for training in the independent sector of broadcasting. Looking at the amendments, it is my impression that the noble Baroness's amendment goes somewhat further in making provision for the structure and the nature of training than does the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby. Here it is important to be clear about what independent television is already trying to do to promote training. First, in the current round the IBA is asking all applicants for contracts for a statement of their training plans. The IBA is making clear in the contract particulars that proper staff training arrangements are necessary with the proper financial and staff resources to match. But that is by no means the end of the story. The training committee of the Independent Television Companies Association has recently submitted a report to the IBA, and perhaps noble Lords who have spoken will forgive me if I say that perhaps my noble friend Lord De La Warr's question about whether consultations had taken place was not an unreasonable question to ask, because I have not yet this afternoon heard any of your Lordships mentioning this particular report which has come from ITCA. The ITCA training committee concluded—and this is in a report which has gone through the ITCA's council to the Independent Broadcasting Authority—that because of the federal nature of independent television, consisting of 15 companies with many individual operating practices, much training must of necessity be on an in-house basis. Bearing that in mind, one of the first things which the training committee of ITCA has set itself to do is to try to reach agreement with the unions, to which the noble Baroness's amendment specifically refers. I should like to report to the Committee that agreement has recently been reached between ITCA, the Industrial Relations Secretariat, the Electrical Trade Union and the National Association of Theatrical, Television and Kine Employees about apprenticeship schemes. Talks are continuing with other unions. The ITCA training committee next turned its attention—and this is a point which the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, particularly made in his speech and to which of course both amendments are directed—to the case for central training in addition to in-house training. The committee has considered the possibility of the independent television industry setting up its own training establishment. Although it is true that no decision has yet been taken about this, the ITCA committee I know is continuing to assess how the needs of the industry can be met by what is now available both as regards in-house training and external training. Thirdly, I understand that the ITCA training committee has appointed a training adviser on 29th September—a lady, I am delighted to report to the Committee—who will have overall responsibility for advising the ITCA committee on the ways in which training within the industry may usefully be co-ordinated. A particularly important function will be to advise individual companies on training matters, and to help assess and suggest solutions. In case your Lordships may wonder why I have gone into quite so much detail about what a non-government body (the ITCA committee) is doing, may I say that I take these amendments just as seriously as noble Lords and the noble Baroness who have moved them and I thought it was right that the Government should look at some of the small print as to what the ITCA committee is doing. May I move to one further point before I finish. I am not for one moment trying to suggest that these amendments are amendments which should not commend themselves to the Committee on a technical point, but I must remind the Committee that—I am sure by an oversight—the amendment proposed by the noble Lord is silent about the need for training in independent local radio. Also, I am sure by an oversight, the noble Baroness's amendment positively removes the requirement by ripping out Clause 25 and putting in the new clause instead. As noble Lords will be aware, the independent local radio network, which is expanding quickly at the moment, is arguably perhaps in more need of training than the television world, because you have more new staff coming from a lot of different sources into the local radio world. I should just like to remind the Committee that the IBA news release of 30th September included information about the allocating of part of what is known as the secondary rental for last year to postgraduate bursaries at the National Centre for Orchestral Studies and the founding of a new radio lectureship at the School of Journalism Studies at the University College, Cardiff. Clause 25 at present applies to independent local radio, and I am sure that whatever we have in the Bill it should continue to do so. Quite apart from the omission of independent local radio I want to express the hope that your Lordships would perhaps think again before voting on these amendments, for one simple reason: the Independent Television Companies Association training adviser has, as I have said to the Committee, literally only just been appointed, on 29th September. The requirements of the fourth channel are still not passed into law. Provided the progress which has been going on in recent months is maintained—and clearly the IBA and the companies are agreed that it should—it will become possible in the near future for the ITCA to develop further their training plans. Incidentally, if they did not do so there are those reserve powers in Clause 25 for the regulating body, the IBA. Do not let us superimpose on to that process a layer of rules, beaurocracy and further expense which these amendments, desirable though they are in many cases, would undoubtedly require.
May I thank the Minister for his very encouraging response to the debate. On the whole, I still feel that the establishment of a training board would be the most effective way of ensuring that adequate and effective training takes place. For my part, I shall read his reply with great interest and decide whether I wish to proceed with my amendment further at Report stage. If, however, the noble Baroness should decide to press on with her amendment this afternoon, I would certainly support her.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 66:
Leave out Clause 25 and insert the following new clause:—
"( Training scheme
.—(1) In accordance with the general powers of the Authority in the Main Act and in the particular section 3(1)( b) it shall be the duty of the Authority from the commencement of the next period of contract to set up or require to be set up by the ITV contractors a permanent and satisfactory training scheme
covering all production and technical grades in television which will be open without discrimination on account of race, sex or ethnic origin to all selected persons in the employment or in prospect of employment by the ITV contractors.
(2) The training scheme referred to in subsection (1) above shall be administered and conducted on a permanent basis and contributed to financially with regard to personnel to be trained by each and every ITV contractor as is considered to be appropriate by the Authority; and shall be of a standard approved by the trade unions and professional organisations representative of persons employed in ITV and in particular those of writers, technicians, producers, directors and journalists.
(3) A report on the nature and progress of the training scheme shall be included in each annual report submitted to Parliament by the Authority; and the report shall include the
|Airedale, L.||Hampton, L.||Seear, B. [Teller.]|
|Amulree, L.||Hanworth, V.||Segal, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hatch of Lusby, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Avebury, L.||Henderson, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Banks, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Jacques, L.||Simon, V.|
|Birk, B. [Teller.]||Janner, L.||Southwell, Bp.|
|Blyton, L.||Jeger, B.||Stedman, B.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Kilmarnock, L.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Brockway, L.||Kirkhill, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Leatherland, L.||Stone, L.|
|Byers, L.||Listowel, E.||Strauss, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Collison, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Mais, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Pargiter, L.||White, B.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Peart, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Willis, L.|
|Granville of Eye, L.||Reilly, L.||Wilson of Radcliffe, L.|
|Hale, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||De La Warr, E.||Hayter, L.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Denham, L. [Teller.]||Henley, L.|
|Alport, L.||Derwent, L.||Holderness, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Donegall, M.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Auckland, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Ilchester, E.|
|Avon, E.||Dudley, B.||Inchyra, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Duncan-Sandys, L.||Jeffreys, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Effingham, E.||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Belstead, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Bernstein, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Boardman, L.||Elton, L.||Long, V.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Evans of Hungershall, L.||Loudoun, C.|
|Bradford, E.||Exeter, M.||Luke, L.|
|Caccia, L.||Ferrers, E.||Lyell, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||McAlpine of Moffat, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Gainford, L.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Chelwood, L.||Gore-Booth, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Clancarty, E.||Gormanston, V.||Mancroft, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Gowrie, E.||Mansfield, E.|
|Cockfield, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Marley, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Morris, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Halsbury, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Hawke, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
numbers employed in each area classified by race, sex and ethnic origin.").
The noble Baroness said: I should like to thank the noble Minister for his very detailed reply. I accept the point about independent local broadcasting. This is a matter that could be put right on Report. The noble Minister is persuasive, but I am not persuaded. I will therefore divide the Committee.
On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 66) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 65; Not-Contents, 98.
|Netherthorpe, L.||Romney, E.||Strathcona and Mount Roval, L.|
|Northchurch, B.||St. Davids, V.||Sudeley, L.|
|Nugent of Guildford, L.||Sandford, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Nunburnholme, L.||Sandys, L. [Teller.]||Trefgarne, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Seafield, E.||Trumpington, B.|
|Orkney, E.||Soames, L. (L. President.)||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Orr-Ewing, L.||Spens, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Porritt, L.||Strabolgi, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Reigate, L.||Strathcarron, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Richardson, L.||Strathclyde, L.||Windlesham, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
Clause 25 agreed to.
Clauses 26 and 27 agreed to.
Clause 28 [ Pensions etc. of members of Authority]:
moved Amendment No. 67:
Page 22, line 21, at end insert—
("( ) For the purposes of "relevant expenditure" under paragraph 2(5) of Schedule 1 of the main Act the Authority shall disallow programme costs incurred in the broadcasting of sporting and other public events when such expenditure represents the costs of acquisition of rights to so broadcast these events or the cost of presenting a broadcast of an event simultaneously broadcast by the BBC.").
The noble Lord said: This amendment was prompted by an intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, over the proposed culling by the BBC of the Scottish Orchestra, a subject which we discussed in April of this year. He asked at the time for the rationalisation of the showing of sporting activities, something which my noble friends certainly support, and he wanted to table an amendment along those lines but he is unfortunately ill. So we have tabled this amendment, whch I do not think would be entirely satisfactory even if it were agreed to, because it places the whole onus on the IBA, whereas obviously the onus regarding not squabbling about sporting activities is just as much on the BBC as on the IBA; but we did not see how we could put the duty on the BBC in this Bill.
We want to have a general discussion and I want to know whether other noble Lords agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, that there is a certain amount of waste not by carefully alternating the showing of sporting events by the BBC and IBA and, by a certain amount of bidding between the two, sometimes by both being shown together at perhaps the same or equally valuable times. It seems there is a point of substance here. I am not happy that my amendment meets it, but I am anxious to ensure that the point is discussed. There is no doubt that the authority has over the years taken the initiative in suggesting to the BBC that it is wasteful of resources for there to be duplication in the showing of sporting events and that both parties could perfectly well discharge their duties to the public by agreeing to some form of alternation. I do not think there has been much progress in this context. In a sense the BBC were there first, so any change tends to mean the BBC giving up something which they need not necessarily do, and therefore this is not an easy problem. However, it is a real problem, and this is a probing amendment in order at least to see what the Government think, and if any other Members of the Committee have comments to make on it I shall be pleased to hear them. I beg to move.
The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, has posed a very difficult problem indeed, because in his amendment he refers to
Having looked at the main Act, I find there are only three sub-paragraphs to paragraph (2) and try as I might, I cannot find the relevant provision there referred to. If the noble Lord could help me, it would aid my understanding enormously."the purposes of 'relevant expenditure' under paragraph 2(5) of Schedule I of the main Act".
My face should be red if it is my mistake. I do not have the main Act with me—it is in my office—but I will look at it and try to explain. I do not think that alters the obvious intention of the amendment, which is that if the IBA or a contracting company bids against the BBC in order to do the same as the BBC is doing, that would not be relevant expenditure in assessing the levy. That is the intention, and if there is a technical mistake, I apologise.
If the objective of my noble friend is to continue with what the IBA has been trying to do for many years—namely, to reach what is known as the alternation of programmes—then the amendment would not achieve that objective. The IBA has always favoured alternation, by which I mean this year perhaps the Grand National for the BBC, next year for the IBA, this year The Derby for the BBC, next year for the IBA, but certainly not both of them broadcasting the same event at the same time. There are exceptions where it is required, even by Government, to do it; I have forgotten the instruction of a long time ago governing that.However, I am more concerned about the amendment, because under it if, for example, the BBC should offer the Lawn Tennis Association £½ million to broadcast the whole of Wimbledon fortnight, that would be regarded as a legitimate cost of their programming. But if the IBA were to do that and pay that same £½ million, quite separately from the BBC and on a separate date, and broadcast that solely without the BBC broadcasting it, it would not be considered under the amendment a legitimate programme cost. It would therefore be added to their below the line costs, which means they would not get levy relief on that cost. It would therefore impose on the IBA a charge that is not imposed in any way on the BBC, and would be quite unfair. If the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, is to reach alternation—this is the position so far as my memory serves, and I do not think there has been any change—then one is knocking at an open door if one is trying to persuade the IBA to alternate with the BBC on major programmes.
The drafting of the amendment is defective, but I do not think that need detain us. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, said his primary purpose was to probe, and perhaps the best contribution I can make to the discussion is to say that the Home Secretary under Section 23 of the 1973 Act has power to make regulations to prevent the making of exclusive arrangements for the broad- casting of sporting or other events of national interest. While no regulations have ever been made under that section, its existence indicates the concern which was felt by Parliament when the 1973 Act was going through about the making of exclusive arrangements. That section would be incompatible in principle with the amendment, essentially for the reason given by the noble Lord, Lord Aylestone.As I understand it, in effect, the amendment would penalise financially by increasing its levy liability any programme contractor which broadcast a sporting or other public event which was simultaneously broadcast by the BBC. On the other hand, the BBC could with impunity cover an event also featured on Independent Television or radio even where an independent contractor had been the first in the field with arrangements to cover it, and I do not think that can be fair. I do not like to ask for trouble by revealing to any of your Lordships who may temporarily have forgotten it that Section 23 of the 1973 Act exists, because the obvious question is: why do Governments not get on with making some regulations under it? I shall not carry my argument any further forward except to say that the previous Government took quite a strong view about Government becoming involved in programme content in this sort of way. I am therefore listening carefully to what is being said in this debate but of one thing I am certain, and that is—if the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson will forgive me—that this amendment will not do.
I am grateful to the Minister and other noble Lords who have spoken on this subject. I said in my opening remarks that it dealt with one side of the problem only and therefore might not be satisfactory, and I certainly have no intention of pressing it. I wanted above all to show that there was in the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, a real point which had not been met by the negotiations of the IBA and BBC. I shall not judge between them. My noble friend Lord Aylestone makes the strong suggestion that the IBA door is wide open for discussion of this kind. I hope the BBC will note that, if anybody there reads the Official Report of this Committee stage, but in any case I hope that perhaps the noble Lord will look at this point later and see whether some encouragement could be given to it. With those few words I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 28 agreed to.
[ Amendment No. 68 not moved.]
Clause 29 [ Computation of profits of programme contractors]:
moved Amendment No. 69:
Page 22, line 27, at beginning insert—
("In main Schedule 2 after paragraph 4 there shall be inserted the following paragraph—
"4A. No advertisements may be transmitted during such times as are designated as Childrens' Viewing Time by the Authority."").
The noble Lord said: This, too, is purely a probing amendment. It seems to me a mistake to advertise children's toys during a programme for the entertainment or instruction of children. I do not think that there is a fundamental principle involved here, but certainly so far as my 11 grandchildren are concerned, I should far prefer them to look at the "telly" for their entertainment and not in order to get ideas as to how they can spend their parents' money. As I say, I do not think that this involves a matter of principle, but I think that it a question that needs airing, and I am trying to air it.
It seems to me that however one may accept the principle of breaking into programmes with advertisements—a principle that I find very tiresome—it is quite unnecessary that this should be done during the actual showing of children programmes, and I want to know what the noble Lord and other Members of the Committee feel about it. As I say, this is not a matter of principle, but a matter that needs discussion. I beg to move.
I have listened to what my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge has said, but I hope that the Committee will not accept this amendment. I must declare an interest here, as I work as an adviser to a public relations company which is part of an advertising group. On the other hand, I am speaking entirely for myself: no one has asked me to speak. Audience research shows that only just over 29 per cent. of the total viewing of four to nine year-olds and just over 23 per cent. of viewing by 10 to 15 year-olds takes place during the period 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Indeed audience research also shows that other programmes, in particular those between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., or later, attract much larger child audiences. If what my noble friend believes is true, then he would have to forbid children from viewing at any time, or alternatively to stop all TV advertising in case it is seen by a child.The Advertising Standards Authority has a Code of Advertising Practice which lays down that no advertisement may take advantage of children's natural credulity and loyalty, nor should it urge children to buy, nor ask their parents to buy. There are of course many other rules along the same lines. The IBA also has a rule that does not allow any children's programme of up to 30 minutes to be interrupted for advertising. It is true of course that children are dependent on their parents to supply their needs, and of course they make many demands on them. This is surely a part of the process of growing up. Research carried out by the Children's Research Unit shows that children's demands may be stimulated by many sources, but the greatest influence is probably that of other children from the same age group. Indeed, advertising is only one of a number of sources of information. There are many others, such as children's comics and shop displays. I submit that it is surely better for children to be exposed to advertising and to learn how to distinguish between the messages whilst they have only pocket money to spend and are still under the control of their parents, than to be suddenly confronted with it, in all innocence, at a later age. Without having something to judge, it is difficult to see how the faculty for judgment can develop. Indeed, television commercials are regarded by many parents as a valuable way of teaching children consumer skills, and how to manage their own pocket money. Research shows that, in general, parents consider that the entertainment and information value of TV commercials far outweigh any potential harmful effects. On the practical side there is the question of how the children's programmes are to be financed without advertising revenue. Children's time, on the whole, is cheaper, as there are of course fewer viewers. Many commercials are aimed at mothers who will be watching at the same time; for example, commercials for breakfast cereals. If there is to be no advertising on children's programmes, then advertisers will be driven to compete for other slots at higher cost. That will of course drive up the price of the product. My noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge mentioned toy manufacturers. It will be particularly difficult for toy manufacturers, who are having a hard time at present with the recession, and there are already heavy redundancies in the toy industry. There is no evidence that advertising between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. detracts from children's enjoyment of programmes at this time; nor that it is harmful to them. All in all, this amendment is of course well meaning, but it is not necessary from the child's point of view, and from the economic standpoint it will be positively damaging to ITV, and indirectly to British industry. I hope that the Committee will not accept it.
I feel very much inclined to support what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, although of course I accept to a degree the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. However, I think it most important that any advertisements during children's programmes should exclude advertisements for tobacco and alcoholic drinks—
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but they already do.
Well, if that is the case, I need not make that point. However, I am not altogether sure about the question of the advertising of toys. Looking back on my own childhood I can only think that such advertising would have made me very conscious of all the toys that I should have liked to have but could not have. I am not sure that that is a very good thing in terms of satisfaction of children, but that is purely a personal opinion, and I may be wrong there.I feel that the interruption of other programmes by advertisements is a matter that should be very carefully watched. For one thing I am not sure that it does the advertisers any good at all. If, for instance, I were listening to a concert, and during the interval there were a whole lot of advertisements, I should want to go out of the room and not look at the advertisements. I am not altogether sure how far television advertising really does benefit the advertisers; that I am not prepared to say. But I think it important that the programmes should not be interrupted too much.
In considering the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, I think that it is right to bear in mind that, in carrying out its functions, the Independent Broadcasting Authority is advised by a statutory advertising advisory committee, on which medical experts and consumers are strongly represented.Advertising and children was of course one of the subjects which engaged the Annan Committee's attention, and that committee made a recommendation which closely resembles the present amendment but which is not nearly so attractive as the present amendment, because the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, is much more flexible in its effect. What Annan in effect said was that there should be no advertising within children's programmes, or between two programmes for children, and that the authority should ensure that advertisements promoting products or services of a particular interest to children should not be shown before 9 o'clock in the evening. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, reminded us in his speech that if one started setting a line where advertising could not take place during the evening one would probably be labouring under a misapprehension that there would be no children watching, for a start, and, secondly, one would be reducing the amount of advertising time. If I may say so, I think that the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, is very much more attractive in its effect than what Annan recommended, because it is more flexible. I also suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, framed the amendment in the way that he did because the noble Lord's grandchildren must be so young that there would be no question of their staying up until 9 o'clock at night. The Annan Committee's recommendation was considered by the last Government in their White Paper on Broadcasting, and the previous Government were not persuaded of the need for such a restriction, which would be bound, I think they felt, to be arbitrary; and they considered that it would be best left to the discretion of the IBA. I am bound to say that the present Government agree with the previous Administration, and for that reason we would not want to suport the amendment; but that is not to say that the Government are not sympathetic to the sentiment which lies behind this amendment. We share the concern that children should be protected so far as possible from harmful influences, though that does not necessarily mean that children should not be exposed to any advertising. But in our view there are enough powers at the disposal of the Independent Broadcasting Authority to ensure that there is sufficient control in the advertising field. I was particularly interested to be provided by my right honourable friend's department with the IBA's Code of Advertising Standards of Practice. In Appendix I, which is called "Advertising and Children", I note that among a whole list of things which advertisements may not do so far as children are concerned there is one rule which meets exactly the point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Somers. The IBA's Code or Advertising says:
There is one other point which occurs to me on this, if I may, and that is this. In all seriousness, whatever one may think of advertising it does sometimes provide a break in programme content, and in days some time past, when I used to try to teach children who were of a fairly young age, I was always told by those who were more experienced than I was in teaching that no child or pupil at school would listen for longer than a period of 20 minutes. Whether it was that they would not listen to anything which was delivered for longer than 20 minutes or whether it was that they would not listen to me for longer than 20 minutes, nobody ever vouchsafed: but there is in all seriousness something to be said for having advertising during a period of children's programmes providing the regulating authority has really taken to heart the rules which must be conformed with so far as those advertisements are concerned. It is on those grounds that I would prefer to see the arrangements left as they are, and therefore for the noble Lord perhaps not to press this amendment."No advertisement is allowed which leads children to believe that if they do not own the product advertised they will be inferior in some way to other children or that they are liable to be held in contempt or ridicule for not owning it".
I am not going to press the amendment, but there are one or two failures of argument which I think should be pointed out. In the first place, it is certainly desirable in presenting anything to children that they should have breaks, but those breaks do not have to be advertising breaks; so that argument seems to me to be of no interest whatever. Secondly, my noble friend behind me, Lord Strabolgi, said that it is frightfully important that children should learn to resist advertising by seeing it occasionally, and at the same time he said that there was no point in my amendment because they would see it at other times; so that seemed to contradict itself.
I must interrupt my noble friend. I am sorry I have to do so because he did not interrupt me. I never said they had to learn to resist advertising: I said they had to learn how to make judgments.
The argument remains exactly the same. I am not going to press this amendment. I did not refer to the fact that the previous Government, my Government, had decided not to do this. I did of course know it, and decided to raise the matter again in spite of it, with nobody objecting, because I think it needed to be discussed further. But having said that, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 29 agreed to.
Clause 30 [ Interpretation, etc.]:
moved Amendment No. 70:
Page 23, line 17, leave out ("means") and insert ("and" the IBA "mean").
The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 2, which was the first amendment I moved in dealing with the amendments on Welsh broadcasting. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 71:
Page 23, line 22, at end insert—
("for reception in Wales "means for reception wholly or mainly in Wales;").
The noble Lord said: This amendment, too, is consequential on Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 72:
Page 23, line 32, at end insert—
(" "the Welsh Authority" means the Welsh Fourth Channel Authority;").
The noble Lord said: This, too, is consequential, and goes with the two previous amendments consequential on Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 30, as amended, agreed to.
Remaining clause agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 73:
Before Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule:
PROVISIONS AS TO THE WELSH FOURTH CHANNEL AUTHORITY
Appointment and removal of members
1. Paragraph 1(5) to (7) of main Schedule I shall apply in relation to the Chairman and other members of the Welsh Authority as it applies in relation to members of the IBA.
Remuneration of members
2. Paragraph 2 of main Schedule 1 shall apply in relation to the Chairman and other members of the Welsh Authority as it applies in relation to the Chairman and other members of the IBA, but with the omission of the reference to the Deputy Chairman in paragraph 2(1).
Incorporation and capacity of Welsh Authority
3. Paragraph 3 of main Schedule 1 shall apply to the Welsh Authority as it applies to the IBA, the reference in paragraph 3(3) to the main Act being read for this purpose as a reference to this Act.
Quorum of Welsh Authority
4. The quorum of the Welsh Authority shall be two or such number not less than two as that Authority may from time to time determine.
Duty of members to disclose interest in contracts
5. Paragraph 5 of main Schedule 1 shall apply in relation to the Welsh Authority as it applies in relation to the IBA.
Power of Welsh Authority to regulate own procedure
6. Subject to paragraph 4 above and to paragraph 5 of main Schedule 1 as applied by paragraph 5 above, the Welsh Authority may regulate their own procedure.
Officers and employees of Welsh Authority
7. Paragraph 7 of main Schedule 1 shall apply in relation to the Welsh Authority as it applies in relation to the IBA.
Machinery for settling terms and conditions of employment of Welsh Authority's staff, etc.
8. Subsections (1) and (2) of main section 32 shall apply in relation to the Welsh Authority as they apply in relation to the IBA.
Authentication of Welsh Authority's seal, and presumption of authenticity of documents issued by them
9. Paragraphs 8 and 9 of main Schedule 1 shall apply in relation to the Welsh Authority as they apply in relation to the IBA, but with the omission of the reference to the Deputy Chairman in paragraph 8 (a).
Disqualification of members of Welsh Authority for House of Commons
10. In Part II of Schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (bodies of which all members are disqualified under that Act) there shall be inserted at the appropriate place in alphabetical order—
"The Welsh Fourth Channel Authority." ").
The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
I should not like the opportunity to pass without thanking the noble Lord for tabling this amendment and the previous ones which he moved formally in furtherance of the Government's undertaking to implement their pledge about the fourth channel in Wales. I do not want to ask any questions of detail about the schedule, which I understand is acceptable in all the proper quarters in Wales. There may, however, be one point which is of interest to the Committee at this time: namely, that a meeting was called in Cardiff about 10 days ago of all those interested in broadcasting, employed by the BBC in Wales and by HTV. As a result of that meeting, an Association of Welsh Broadcasters was established on 7th October. These are people of very considerable experience in broadcasting in Wales, and they represented not only those who were in favour of the fourth channel proposal but also those who are critical of it. The upshot of the meeting and the establishment of the association was that they showed a unanimous determination to make the fourth channel in Wales a great success. I think this is something the Government and the Committee will be glad to hear, and will welcome.
Indeed, speaking on behalf of the Government, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the information he has given to the Committee, and I welcome the words of the noble Lord.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 74:
Before Schedule 1, insert the following new Schedule—
MODIFICATIONS OF MAIN ACT ETC. IN RELATION TO THE FOURTH CHANNEL IN WALES
Main section 2
1.—(1) So much of main section 2(1) as relates to the quality of the matter transmitted shall not apply.
(2) Main section 2(2) shall not apply.
Main section 4
1.—(1) So much of main section 2(1) as relates to the quality of the matter transmitted shall not apply.
(2) Main section 2(2) shall not apply.
2.—(1) References in main section 4 to programmes broadcast by the Authority shall be read as references to programmes provided by the Welsh Authority for broadcasting on the Fourth Channel in Wales.
(2) In main section 4(1)—
(3) In main section 4(2), as substituted by section 21—
(4) In main section 4(3), the first reference to the Authority shall be read as a reference to the Welsh Authority.
(5) In main section 4(4), omit "whether in an advertisement or not".
(6) In main section 4(5), the first reference to the Authority shall be read as a reference to the Welsh Authority, and in paragraph ( b) "whether in an advertisement or not" shall be omitted.
(7) In main section 4(6)
Main sections 5 and 7
3. In main sections 5 and 7—
Main section 33
4. In Main section 33—
Independent Broadcasting Authority Act 1978 s. 2(1)
5. In section 2(1) of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act 1978, as amended by section 21—
The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential upon Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Schedules 1 to 3 agreed to.
Schedule 4 [ Transitional provisions]:
moved Amendment No. 75:
Page 30, line 9, leave out ("a period of eight years") and insert ("the relevant maximum period").
The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential upon Amendment No. 52 to which your Lordships have already agreed. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 76:
Page 30, line 11, at end insert—
("4. In relation to contracts for the provision of teletext transmissions for a period beginning on or before 1st January 1982—
(a) subsections (1A) and (1AA) of main section 12 (as amended by section 23) shall not apply; and (b) subsection (1B) shall have effect as if the words "other than the first "were omitted.").
The noble Lord said: This is consequential upon Amendment No. 60, to which your Lordships have already agreed. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.
Remaining schedule agreed to.
moved Amendments Nos. 77 and 78:
In the Title:
Line 5, after ("Authority;") insert ("to make provision as to the arrangements for the broadcasting of television programmes for reception in Wales, with power to make different provision as to those arrangements by order;").
Line 6, leave out from ("Commission") to ("and") in line 9.
The noble Lord said: With the permission of the Committee, I should like to move these two amendments en bloc. These two amendments to the Long Title of the Bill are consequential upon the changes and the provision made by the
Bill for Welsh language broadcasting. They are therefore consequential also upon Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
On Question, amendments agreed to.
House resumed: Bill reported with the amendments.
Highways (Road Humps) Bill
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]: