Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Thirty-Third Report



ANNEX 3

TRANSPORT BILL

Supplementary memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

INTRODUCTION

1.  In its 20th Report, Session 1999-2000, the Committee reported on the delegated powers contained in the Transport Bill, including those introduced to the Bill as Government amendments during Grand Committee considerations in the House of Lords. In its 30th Report for the same session, the Committee further reported on the delegated powers contained in the Government amendments tabled for Report Stage.

2.  The Government envisages tabling a few further amendments at Third Reading in the House of Lords, to fulfil previous commitments. Two of these contain delegated powers:

(i)  type approval: individual exemptions (paras 3-5)

a new clause to enable the Secretary of State to make provisions so that exemptions may be granted from various requirements for certification of vehicles or vehicle parts, subject to conditions;

(ii)  quiet lanes and home zones (paras 6-10)

a new clause enabling local authorities to designate roads as 'quiet lanes' or 'home zones', whereby those roads could be used for purposes other than passage and could be subject to special speed limits.

TYPE APPROVAL: INDIVIDUAL EXEMPTIONS

3.  The new clause is essentially intended to, in special circumstances, revise the law under which special vehicles - such as prototypes, or vehicles used to carry large and unusual loads - may be used on a road. It provides for vehicles, or vehicle parts, to be exempted by the Secretary of State by order from the various certification requirements that would otherwise apply. These exemptions can be made subject to particular conditions, for example as to where or how the exempted vehicle may be used.

4.  The Secretary of State already has powers to make regulations to exempt vehicles or vehicle parts from the certification requirements. In that respect, the Government amendment makes no substantially new provision. It is envisaged that this regulation-making power would be used to make general provisions; it permits flexibility in the light of changing circumstances (such as technical developments). The Government amendment also provides an order-making power, which is limited by subsection (7) of the new clause to individual cases i.e. specified vehicles or vehicles of specified persons, again in the interests of flexibility. The new clause would introduce similar provisions for the variation of Type Approval requirements to those which apply to variations of Construction and Use Regulations under Section 44 of the same act.

5.  Regulations made by the Secretary of State under this Clause would continue to be subject to the negative procedure in both Houses of Parliament.

QUIET LANES AND HOME ZONES

6.  The new clause creates a power for local traffic authorities in England and Wales to designate roads as quiet lanes and home zones. In that connection, it creates three powers for the appropriate national authority, i.e. the Secretary of State in England and the National Assembly in Wales:

(i)  to make regulations authorising local traffic authorities to make use orders and speed orders in relation to quiet lanes and home zones. The scope of such orders is described in the new clause;

(ii)  to make regulations specifying procedures for making, varying and revoking designations, use orders and speed orders;

(iii)  to issue guidance in relation to designations.

7.  The purpose of use orders would be to give legal status to activities other than passage which a local authority might wish to encourage, particularly in a home zone, for example children's play or simply standing and talking. The new clause provides that these activities must not extend to wilful obstruction of the lawful use of the road by others, or to denial of reasonable access to premises.

8.  Speed orders would authorise the local authority to take measures to reduce the speed of motor vehicles, bicycles or both to below a level specified in the order. Local authorities already have powers to introduce traffic calming measures, to impose speed limits of, for example, 20mph provided that certain conditions are met, and to impose lower speed limits with the consent of the appropriate national authority. The measures authorised by a speed order could include measures which are not available under traffic calming powers, but no such measures are envisaged at present. The most likely use for speed orders, in the Secretary of State's view, is in connection with proposals for speed limits below 20mph. If the Secretary of State were willing to agree to such limits, it would probably be on the basis of measures set out in such orders.

9.  The Secretary of State's present views as to procedure regulations and guidance in England are as follows:

  • He does not intend, at least initially, to prescribe procedures for designation or to issue formal guidance on the subject. He might however do so in future if a degree of uniformity seemed desirable, for example if quiet lanes or home zones meeting a certain standard were going to be indicated by a special road sign.
  • He intends that use orders and speed orders should be subject to a procedure similar to that for Traffic Regulation Orders with the added provision, at least initially, that they should require confirmation by him. This added requirement might be removed by further regulations in due course, at least for schemes meeting certain standards. These standards would be developed in the light of experience and set out in the further regulations.

10.  Regulations made by the Secretary of State under this clause would be subject to the negative procedure in both Houses of Parliament.

6 November 2000


 
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