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Lord Dixon-Smith: Perhaps I may speak to Amendment No. 123, grouped with this one. The intention of that amendment is exactly the same, although one might have to think about it in order to see that.

Clause 110 opens with the words,

Clause 109 simply deals with bus planning; Clauses 107 and 108 refer to transport planning; and Clause 110 deals with consultation. If the noble Baroness will forgive me, it is a matter of preference for the wording. Amendment No. 123 would be a tidier way of ensuring that the consultation process is applied to the whole of the transport planning process, not merely to buses. It seems to me that the case has been well made and I do not want to take up the Committee's time further on this matter.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: We on these Benches would have no problem in agreeing to that amendment. It is the issue of consultation that is important, rather than the exact wording.

I feel that over the past year or so I have been consulted to within an inch of my life on all manner of things. The problem is that the approach of all kinds of public bodies, and indeed the private sector, to consultation is bringing the process into disrepute. That is mainly because they say that they are "consulting" when they are "informing". People become irritated. They feel that even if they take the time and trouble to tick boxes and send back forms, no one will listen to what they have said, and it will make no difference anyway. Genuine consultation is quite different. We seek the Government's thoughts on how local authorities should be consulting.

At present, there is good practice in local authorities, but it is rather sparse and extremely patchy. For example, as part of the local transport planning process in my authority, we have created local action plans for all communities of over 3,000 people. These have created genuine and meaningful action plans to which people can relate, and they feel that this makes a difference to their lives. We have learnt a great deal from talking to people. It is easy to assume that we know best.

It is important to understand that local authorities are particularly well placed in this regard, through the work that they do as local education authorities or as

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providers of social services, and through their links with health services. Therefore, we seek a requirement for consultation on local transport plans on the face of the Bill, so that this is not merely a subject for guidance.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My hopes were raised for a moment by the opening words of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont. He said that there is no difficulty nowadays in discovering what people want and need, and in being able to tell the difference. I thought that that was a plug for my trade of survey research, which has certainly shown over many years that it is possible, by suitably probing research, not merely number-crunching, to give people realistic options and alternatives, and to allow them to add to those and to respond to them in a way that corresponds to the sensible points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Scott. Alas, the noble Lord then seemed to return to a plug for Liberal Democrat local forums; and I am much less secure about those as a method for discovering what people want and need.

Clearly, local authorities should have regard to the transport needs of people working or living in their area. Effective participation is a theme not just for transport but for the whole of the Government's policy for modern local government. The White Papers, Modern Local Government--In Touch with the People in relation to England, and Local voices--Modernising Local Government in Wales, require local authorities to make consultation part of their culture. The best value regime introduces a customer focus for the provision of local services, requiring authorities to consult and then respond to the results. But we believe that the requirements for consultation and participation in local transport plans are best dealt with by guidance rather than on the face of the Bill.

Perhaps I should explain our approach to the issue of consultation and participation in the preparation, development and implementation of local transport plans. I believe all noble Lords agree that local transport planning needs to be an inclusive process. Authorities should actively involve local people, business, transport operators, users, health and education providers and environmental organisations in drawing up their local transport plans. Full and effective public consultation and participation is an integral part of their duties under best value. We attach a high priority to effective public involvement in local transport policy, and it will be a key factor in our consideration of local transport plans.

The need for authorities to achieve effective participation is made very clear in the existing guidance on non-statutory plans. It sets out the importance of public participation in establishing a genuinely inclusive approach which is vital if authorities are to achieve the support necessary to deliver change. It recognises that local people have the knowledge and insight into existing problems and ideas for their resolution. The Commission for Integrated Transport, of which the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, is a member--he was the only one of the

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signatories to this amendment who did not speak to it--said in its report on the guidance on provisional local transport plans:

    "The [Commission for Integrated Transport] considers that the guidance on public participation is helpful and thorough, while leaving local authorities sufficient freedom to choose the best methods".

I could not have put it better myself. The commission wanted to see revised guidance to reflect the need for authorities to demonstrate public involvement during the development of the strategy within LTPs, and the onus on local authorities to demonstrate that they had successfully reached all key sections of the population and how proposals had been amended in the light of public comment. The latest guidance to local authorities in England reflects those views. The Good Practice Guide on the Development of Local Transport Plans which accompanied this guidance also includes examples of effective participation, establishing partnerships and possible tools for consultation.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am becoming slightly confused. Clause 110 deals specifically with consultation on Clause 109 which is concerned with bus plans. They are also included in the guidance and are part of the transport plan. The noble Lord said that if the requirement for consultation was in the document there was no need for it to be on the face of the Bill. My question to the Minister is: at the next stage will he accept an amendment to remove Clause 110 altogether to make it consistent with transport planning?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I make two observations in response to the noble Lord: first, he should wait until I come to Amendment No. 123, to which I have not begun to respond; secondly, when the noble Lord reads my response and his version of it he will discover considerable differences.

Lord Dixon-Smith: As I understood it, we were discussing consultation, not one particular amendment vis a vis another.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I like to respond to amendments in the Marshalled List. I believe that that is a courtesy owed by government to those who have devised the amendments. If noble Lords want to broaden the subject matter into a general discussion of streetworks and roadworks, that is fine with me. However, it is my duty to respond to the amendments that are before the Committee. We consider that the requirements for consultation and participation are best dealt with by guidance rather than on the face of the Bill.

I turn next to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. The requirements of Clause 110 relate specifically to the development of bus strategies rather than local transport plans as a whole. They are quite practical and ensure that other local authorities, bus operators and organisations that appear to represent users are consulted on the strategy. However, for local transport plans--this is where

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guidance comes in--we want to see wider consultation. The effect of Amendment No. 123, taken together with the other amendments tabled by noble Lords opposite to remove the requirement for local authorities to have regard to guidance, would be to restrict the extra consultation on plans.

We recognise the need for effective consultation and participation. I am more than happy to make the commitment that future statutory guidance issued under Clause 111 will be equally clear. We intend to have effective participation in local transport plans and provide a commitment to statutory guidance to cover the issue. I suggest that that is preferable to the options offered by these two amendments.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: We have had a very full answer from the noble Lord. I look forward to reading the complete flavour of the noble Lord's response in Hansard. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 108 agreed to.

5.15 p.m.

[Amendment No. 120 not moved.]

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 121:

    After Clause 108, insert the following new clause--


(" . The Secretary of State shall, within 5 years of the coming into effect of this Act, publish revised guidance for the making of local speed limit orders in the context of a speed management strategy forming part of a local transport plan.").

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 121 is a new departure compared with the amendments that the Committee has been considering. The amendment seeks to add to the Bill a mechanism whereby the Government can carry out a major plank of their road safety strategy when they are ready to do so, or at any rate within five years from the date of implementation of the Act.

The Government's road safety strategy clearly indicates that they believe it necessary and desirable for local authorities to be able to classify the roads in their districts and apply different speed limits to them, preferably on the basis of particular areas rather than one road, or part of a road, at a time. The Government made clear in their strategy that a legislative framework was required to enable them to give guidance to local authorities as to how to apply various speed limits in different ways. Obviously, speed is closely connected to safety and what might be called a better way of life. Speed is also a frightening element of traffic movement for pedestrians and cyclists. I believe that in the country horse-riders are one of the most vulnerable groups. This amendment is part of an attempt to enable local authorities to provide safer roads within their areas by considering

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strategic, long-distance routes and those suitable for heavy traffic in a different way from minor roads in villages or small towns.

I am grateful to the department for the assistance provided to me in framing the amendment. I hope that I have done it correctly. No doubt what is good about it stems from the department's advice and what is bad about it stems from my failure to understand the exact way in which to insert an amendment into a Bill. I hope that the amendment will find favour with the Minister. I beg to move.

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