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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Committee has received views from all parts of the country ever since its establishment at the end of last year. It has received about 10,000 responses to its invitation to people anywhere in the country to express their views about what should be done to commemorate the late princess. By far the most popular single response from the population of the country as a whole was that a memorial should be in the form of a garden and that it should be situated at Kensington Gardens.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I declare an interest in that I live in the area. Has this commission, or whatever it is, absolute power? Is there no form of permission, constraint, planning permission or anything of that kind? It seems rather odd that the wishes of the whole country--I have declared my interest--should be imposed on the residents of part of it.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have already made it clear in my replies this afternoon and last week that the committee does not have absolute power. Any proposal would have to be dealt with as a proposal on Crown land under circular 18 of 1984 which requires that,
There is plenty of consideration of this matter and the public have been consulted all along. Any member of the public, wherever he or she lives, may go to the visitor centre at the Albert Memorial and express a view.
(a) by 54 per cent. of cars on motorways and 70 per cent. of cars on urban roads,
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, police enforcement is at an all time high. A total of 761,400 speed limit offences were dealt with by prosecution or fixed penalty in 1996. Chief officers of police target their resources on locations where they can most effectively reduce road casualties and where excessive speed contributes to dangerous driving conditions.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I very much welcome my noble friend's answer to that question. It is obvious that he is aware of the connection between excessive speed and the seriousness of any accident. However, I am sure he is concerned at the figures mentioned in a report two years ago. Has he considered handing over some of the basic enforcement to local authorities, which could then find the money to put the videos in the police cameras--apparently the police cannot afford to do so--use the revenue to offset some of the costs and spend the remainder on public transport investment plans?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I think there are two questions here. One concerns the handing over of the enforcement of the criminal law in this area to local authorities, which I think generally would not be a good idea. The second concerns hypothecation of the revenues from those who have been unfortunate enough to be caught on camera while speeding. This is a deeply complex area which is presently under consideration.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, further to the point the noble Lord has just made, will the Minister confirm--he may well not wish to do so--that only one in seven speed cameras is operating at any one time? Is there not therefore a good case for allowing the police to keep at least some of the revenue from the fines to enable them to make more of the cameras operative? Does not the noble Lord agree that as regards motorways and dual carriageways, the 70 miles an hour limit as presently enforced is just about right?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I think the 70 miles an hour limit as presently enforced--or evaded, as the case may be--seems to be about right when I travel on the M.40 myself. As regards film in the cameras, it is not known to the approaching driver whether a camera contains film. Therefore a camera with no film existentially has quite a useful role to play.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that I, and I am sure a number of other people, will be puzzled by the fact that 91 per cent. of articulated lorries on dual carriageways and 70 per cent. of articulated lorries on single carriageways exceed the speed limit, because there is a law in force which obliges that kind of lorry to have a speed limiter? Why and how is it that if the speed limiters are installed and in working order those lorries exceed the speed limit? Are not the police enforcing the law as regards the installation and maintenance of speed limiters?
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, does the Minister accept that there is a good deal of dispute as to whether speeding should continue to be a criminal offence? Are the Government giving consideration to that matter? Will they consider enabling local police services to fine speeding motorists on the spot?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, speeding is an offence. It ought still to be a criminal offence. An enormous number of people lose their lives or are seriously injured as a direct result of speeding. It is not a case of allowing the police to impose fixed penalties; such penalties can already be imposed. Someone can be fined up to £40 on a fixed penalty, with three penalty points; 12 points means that a driver is liable to be disqualified. The police already have those powers.
The Earl of Erroll: My Lords, will the Minister consider the needs of those people who want to get moving and do things in life and not only the desires of those who are happy to dawdle along achieving less?
Lord Randall of St. Budeaux: My Lords, on the question of speed limits, will my noble friend tell the House what steps the Government are taking with regard to high-speed driving in villages? Will they give consideration to introducing low speed limits such as 15 or 20 mph, as exist in the United States?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, consideration is being given to lower speed limits of 20 miles an hour. However, they are quite difficult to enforce, and there is need for a whole spectrum of speed calming measures in small villages, where many people believe that even 30 miles an hour is too fast. The noble Lord is right. In 1996, for example, no less than 65 per cent. of accidents happened on roads where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour.
Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m., my noble friend Lady Jay of Paddington will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on health expenditure.
Regarding the Summer Recess, it may be for the convenience of the House if I announce that, subject as always to the progress of business, the House will rise on Friday 31st July. The House will sit at 11 a.m. on that day and will return on Monday 5th October. I am grateful to the Opposition Chief Whip and the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip for agreeing the business through the usual channels in such a way that sitting into August will not be necessary. However, I repeat that this is subject, as always, to the progress of business.
Perhaps I may take this opportunity to remind your Lordships that the staff of the House have a significant amount of building refurbishment and other work to complete in the Summer Recess. Unfortunately, there will be a certain level of disruption and noise. Black Rod has asked me to assure the House that everything possible will be done to keep the disruption to a minimum.
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