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20 mph Speed Limit: Impact on Road Users

Volume 749: debated on Wednesday 8 May 2024

1. What recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the impact of the 20 mph speed limit on residential roads and pedestrian streets in Wales on road users. (902647)

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport on the impact of the 20 mph speed limit on residential roads and pedestrian streets in Wales on road users. (902652)

9. What recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the impact of the 20 mph speed limit on residential roads and pedestrian streets in Wales on road users. (902655)

Mr Rosindell is not here, but will the Secretary of State answer his question, as it is the lead?

Before I do so, Mr Speaker, may I fully support your ruling and send my deepest condolences to the relatives of all those who have died in prison?

May I make it absolutely clear that I, Conservative MPs, Senedd Members and councillors are supportive of a 20 mph speed limit in certain areas, such as outside schools, hospitals, old people’s homes or anywhere where there are vulnerable pedestrians? But the blanket 20 mph speed limit has had a detrimental effect on road users, users of public transport and businesses across Wales, and I call on the Welsh Labour Government to think again.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Clearly, there is a strong case for 20 mph limits outside schools, in shopping areas and in other areas where there is huge pedestrian activity, but a blanket ban is outrageous. Has he any detail as to the cost to the Welsh economy of this extremely damaging move, and, indeed, the cost of implementing it across Wales in such a blanket fashion?

My understanding is that the vast majority of 30 mph roads are now 20 mph. I have seen a figure suggesting that it is around 96%—[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, it is a blanket ban on 30 mph roads and that is exactly what the Welsh Labour Government put out there. I can give my hon. Friend an indication of the costs, because the Welsh Government’s own impact assessment suggested that this would cause a £4.5 billion hit to the Welsh economy and, on top of that, taxpayers have had to pay £30 million for 20 mph road signs.

This is really concerning and I note that almost half a million people—a record number—signed a petition on the Senedd’s move, because they were so concerned about the impact that the measure will have. It cost £33 million to implement and now it is estimated that an extra £5 million is needed to unwind the changes. What conversations is my right hon. Friend having with the Welsh Government to ensure that we do not see such policies again?

We certainly do not want policies such as this. There is an anti-motorist agenda with the Welsh Labour Government that includes not only 20 mph speed limits, but legislation bringing in tolls on the M4 and a ban on any major new road projects being built. We have even had Monmouthshire Labour Council suggesting that it might want to campaign to bring back Severn bridge tolls. The lesson is that if people support motorists and support the right to drive a car they should vote Conservative at the next general election.

On this illogical decision to pursue a 20 mph limit, does the Minister agree that there is a lesson to be learned for a Government—in Wales or elsewhere—trying to pursue something that the general public quite clearly do not want at all?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. He raises a very good point, because this was clearly done against the wishes of almost half a million people—a record number of people—who signed a petition on this matter. The most recent announcement by the Welsh Government, which raises the possibility of their doing a screeching U-turn on the policy, suggests to me that they might be more interested in deflecting national press attention from the scandal involving the Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff Bay.

If you will indulge me, Mr Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the 25th anniversary this week of Welsh devolution—delivered by a Labour Government. It has helped to nurture a confident, modern and outward-looking Wales, and Labour Members are proud of it.

Not a single one of the hon. Members who have raised questions on this issue lives in Wales, and the speed limit is not blanket, as the Secretary of State well knows. It is a bit like the Conservative councillor in Sunderland who set up anti-20 mph Facebook groups while campaigning for the limit in his own area. Meanwhile, a mother whose 11-year-old son was hit by a car near his school in Flintshire said that the 20 mph speed limit likely saved his life. Does the Secretary of State agree that her intervention represents an important endorsement of the Welsh Labour Government’s policy to protect lives, especially children’s lives?

I, too, acknowledge the 25th anniversary of devolution. We were promised that it would deliver better schools, hospitals and public standards. What we actually have are the longest waiting lists and the worst educational standards in the United Kingdom, and a First Minister who is willing to take a £200,000 donation from a twice-convicted criminal. That is the record of 25 years of Labour-run Government in Wales.

I said straightaway that I am in favour of 20 mph limits outside schools, hospitals and other places where there are vulnerable pedestrians. I do not like the blanket ban that has been imposed as part of the anti-motorist agenda of the Welsh Labour Government.

It is rich of Government Members to chunter about donations. How much of Mr Frank Hester’s millions is bankrolling the Conservatives’ general election campaign? This is a man who said that a black woman MP in this House “should be shot”.

On roads, does the Secretary of State agree with his own association deputy chairman, writing in ConservativeHome this week, that politics in Wales is a “cul-de-sac” for the Tory party? The Welsh public do not like divisive politics, and they do not like Wales being constantly talked down by the Tories. Is that why they have not won a domestic election in Wales for over a century?

I remind the hon. Lady that we just got more votes than the Labour party in my constituency of Monmouth in the police and crime commissioner elections. What people in Wales want is public services, waiting lists and education standards that match what is being delivered by this Conservative Government in England, and standards in public life that reflect what we expect from Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom. That is not what we are getting under the Welsh Labour Government.