Motion to Consider
My Lords, I beg to move that the draft order laid before the House on 22 February 2016 now be considered. The statutory instrument before us is made under Section 104 of the Scotland Act 1998 and in consequence of the Disabled Persons’ Parking Badges (Scotland) Act 2014, which I shall refer to as the 2014 Act and which makes provision about badges for display on motor vehicles used by disabled persons. These are commonly referred to as blue badges.
One of the main aims of the 2014 Act is to help tackle blue badge misuse by providing additional powers to local authorities and the police to enforce the blue badge scheme in Scotland. The 2014 Act strengthens enforcement powers, including the ability to cancel or confiscate a badge in certain circumstances, and provides for security features of the blue badge format to be approved administratively by the Scottish Ministers. While eligibility for badges, scheme administration and enforcement measures vary between Scotland, England and Wales, there is overall agreement between each of the Administrations and their respective local authorities to work together on the common parts of the blue badge scheme. This has seen the creation of a shared database, used by local authorities for the production of badges, which allows local authorities to enforce the scheme across Great Britain.
The Disabled Persons’ Parking Badges (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2016, which I shall refer to as the draft Section 104 order, will ensure consistency throughout Great Britain with regard to the validity of blue badges issued in Scotland and give full effect to the 2014 Act. This will produce certain practical results so that, for example, a badge issued by a local authority in Scotland will, for the purposes of the law in England and Wales, be in valid form if it meets the new requirements being provided for in Section 1 of the Act. This will also ensure that enforcement officers are able to confiscate badges which are being misused and have been cancelled by a local authority in another area of Great Britain.
I will now seek to set out for the Committee what the order seeks to achieve and why it is felt to be an appropriate and sensible use of the powers under the Scotland Act 1998. Section 104 of the 1998 Act provides for subordinate legislation to be made by the UK Government which contains provisions that are necessary or expedient in consequence of any provision made by, or under, an Act of the Scottish Parliament. In this case, provision is required in consequence of provision made by the 2014 Act, which received Royal Assent on 24 September 2014.
The order extends to the law of England and Wales the effect of certain amendments made in Scots law by the 2014 Act. The amendments in question are amendments to Section 21 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, which provides for disabled people and their carers to be issued with badges entitling them to certain parking concessions. Section 1 of the 2014 Act changes the rules about the form that a badge issued in Scotland must take if it is to be recognised as a valid badge. Badges issued in Scotland are recognised in England and Wales. Article 3 of the order therefore reproduces in the law of England and Wales the effect of Section 1 of the 2014 Act, so that on both sides of the Scottish-English border the same rules will apply for the purpose of determining whether a badge issued in Scotland is in valid form. I should add that the same applies in respect of Wales.
By virtue of Section 2 of the 2014 Act, Scottish local authorities are able to cancel badges which they have issued in certain circumstances. A badge which has been cancelled by the Scottish local authority that issued it should not be recognised as a valid badge in England and Wales. Accordingly, Article 3(3) of the order extends the effect of Section 2 of the 2014 Act so that the cancellation of a badge by a Scottish local authority is effective in the law of England and Wales.
Article 4 of the order fixes a cross-reference in subsection (8C) of Section 21 of the 1970 Act. That subsection glosses references to local authorities elsewhere in Section 21 so that they fall to be read as including the Secretary of State. The gloss is stated not to apply in relation to specified subsections. One of the subsections specified is subsection (4BB) which, in the law of England and Wales, was inserted by Section 94 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and defines the expression “enforcement officer”. This is the subsection (4BB) to which subsection (8C) is intended to refer. As a matter of Scots law, however, a different subsection (4BB) was inserted by Section 73 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001. It does not define the expression “enforcement officer” for the purposes of Scots law. Instead, the Scottish definition of “enforcement officer” is to be found in the version of subsection (8A) inserted by Section 5(4) of the 2014 Act. Article 4 of the order amends subsection (8A) so that it does not gloss the reference to a local authority which appears in the definition of “enforcement officer” in both the law of Scotland and of England and Wales.
The need for and content of the draft Section 104 order has been agreed between the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments. The Department for Transport, which has responsibility for the legislation which this order affects, has been consulted throughout the drafting of the order. All provisions contained in this order have the approval of the Department for Transport and of the Scottish Government.
The statutory instrument before the Committee demonstrates this Government’s continued commitment to working with the Scottish Government to make the devolution settlement work. I hope that your Lordships agree that the order is an appropriate and sensible use of the powers in the Scotland Act 1998, and in particular of Section 104. I commend the order to the Committee.
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen of Elie. He showed off his legal skills in presenting the order. I think that I got left behind at the fifth subsection of the seventh Act that he mentioned, but I think that I managed to catch up. If I were a suspicious person, I would think that he was trying to lead me up the highways and byways, but I have studied this order carefully and I do not think that even he is up to mischief with it.
As the Minister has explained, the Scottish Parliament passed a Disabled Persons’ Parking Badges (Scotland) Act and the order will ensure that there is consistency across Great Britain for the badges issued in Scotland. It will mean that the badges issued by Scottish local authorities are recognised in England and Wales. We supported the objectives of the Act when it went through the Holyrood Parliament and we support this measure today. We are committed to making towns and cities more accessible for the disabled in Scotland and more widely, as was shown recently by our amendment in relation to parking on pavements made to the current Scotland Bill. We know that this issue causes real problems for those with disabilities. We again record our gratitude to the Government for accepting our argument and bringing forward the changes necessary to ensure that the Scottish Parliament can act on this issue.
This order tries to establish consistency throughout the three countries. The noble and learned Lord mentioned that, on the common parts of the legislation, the three countries were working together. Are there any differing parts of the legislation left? To get consistency would need careful wording to make sure that there are no discrepancies or loopholes left.
Paragraph 8.6 of the Explanatory Memorandum points to the Scottish Government’s engagement with multiagency groups,
“to bring forward new and focussed ways to educate badge holders”.
My colleagues in the Scottish Parliament have raised this issue and I will ask the Minister about it today. Do the UK Government intend to carry out the same multiagency work and will they be issuing guidance to local authorities in England and Wales about this order?
There is nothing minor about legislation affecting people in the disabled community, and this order did not have any real public consultation. I wonder if the assumption there was that it had broad support; let me hasten to add that it would be a reasonable assumption. On the other hand, it is known that the Great British public, and the Scottish public, can always offer up something. Can the Minister say who was consulted by the Department for Transport and what advice they offered? Perhaps the Minister would consider committing to placing a copy of the evidence in both Libraries.
However, in the great scheme of things these are minor quibbles. We support the order, but I would be grateful if the noble and learned Lord could address some of my specific points. If there is anything new there that has not been covered, it would of course be acceptable to receive that in writing.
I am obliged to the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, for his observations with regard to the order.
As regards the commonality of the scheme, the only differences which would potentially exist would be on entitlement to badges, which is a matter for each jurisdiction to determine, and the form of the badges themselves, which may differ. What the order will ensure, by way of the 2014 Act, is the enforceability of orders made with respect to those badges. That is what I have to say on commonality.
On the matter of consultation and guidance, I am advised that the UK and Scottish Governments worked closely together with regard to the provisions in the order. It is intended that the department—well, something is intended. Perhaps the noble Lord would allow me a moment.
I am advised that steps will be taken to ensure that the Department for Communities and Local Government is properly sighted on the order so that it may then make an appropriate decision as to whether guidance should be issued. I apologise for the delay on that point.
I am also advised that, as with all Section 104 orders, relevant departments and Ministers were consulted and gave their consent to the making of the order. I do not have further detail as to what was said by or on behalf of the Department for Transport, but perhaps I can arrange to write on that point.
Unless there is any further point that I have not covered, I will leave the matter there.
Committee adjourned at 6.03 pm.