London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Tuesday 18 February 2003
120. MR LEWIS: It is an offence of criminal damage.
121. CHAIRMAN: Particularly on the underground.
122. MR LEWIS: That is criminal damage, yes. It is
interesting that somewhere else in the GLA Report there is also
a recommendation to the courts, if the GLA can make such recommendations,
saying please take this a bit more seriously. One of the problems
is that the courts tend to deal with these offences rather leniently.
123. CHAIRMAN: Right. We have done 18. Clause 19
124. MR LEWIS: 19. This is the first Clause where
we have a Report. I just wonder if it might be an opportune moment
if the representative from the Home Office introduces himself
and gives his name.
125. MR SANDERSON: Mark Sanderson, principle officer,
126. MR LEWIS: While we are at it I will introduce
Michael Miles from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
I will introduce him properly when I come to his evidence.
127. CHAIRMAN: Right.
128. MR LEWIS: My Lord, in your black ringbinder
there are a few documents behind tab number 1 which are intended
to be used in relation to this Clause. Mr Miles has also brought
along some more photographs for you to look at as well, and another
document with some figures, which I apologise for bringing so
late. There is nothing complicated in you will need much analysis.
129. My Lord, this clause makes certain amendments
to section 12 of the London Local Authorities Act 1995, which
I briefly alluded to when discussing the previous clause. In your
bundle there are a number of documents in section A which relate
to clause 19. First 1(a) is a typed version of section 12 of the
1995 Act and how it would look if clause 19 were passed.
130. Section 12 provides the councils with two distinct
powers. First is to enable the council to enter property and remove
graffiti if they have been requested to do so by the property
owner. In such cases they are also able to make a charge to the
property owner. That is cases where they have been asked to do
131. The second power in subsections (1)-(6) of section
12 enables the Council to serve a notice on the property owner
requiring him to remove the graffiti. The notice will state that
if it is not done within a certain period, 28 days, then the Council
will be able to enter the property and remove it themselves; but
on doing so they would not be able to charge the property owner.
132. There are two main purposes behind clause 19.
First of all, it removes the restriction on the ability to charge,
which I have just described. The second effect is to extend the
provision so as to include, for the avoidance of doubt, plant
and apparatus, which will therefore bring in things such as telephone
boxes, electrical switching gear and other street furniture which
is not currently covered.
133. The latter of these two, i.e. the extension
to apparatus and plant, has not met with opposition from the Department.
So, subject to what I will say later about the transport operators,
I will move over that particular part. In respect of charging,
however, the Home Office have reported by saying that the clause
would impose a burden on the victim of the crime.
134. The Promoters recognise this philosophical argument,
but they wish to put their arguments to your Lordships through
the evidence of Mr Miles.
135. First, though, I would like to draw your attention
to an important amendment which goes a long way we hope to meeting
the concerns of the Department.
136. If you look at clause 12 which is proposed to
be amended, document 1A, you will see a new subsection (6A) is
introduced. This will have the effect of excluding residential
property from the charging provision. The councils recognise that
there is a distinction to be drawn between commercial and residential
property owners in this regard.
137. Secondly, you will note that on the same page
a new subsection (6D) ensures that councils will draw up a code
of practice on the way in which charging provisions will be used.
138. Your Lordships will be interested to note that
the London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies, who undoubtedly
represent a large number of local residents in London, withdrew
their petition against this clause after being informed that these
amendments were to be made.
139. Before I turn to Mr Miles I should briefly mention
the new clause 19A on page 10 of the Additions Apart to the Bill.
These recognise the special status of post boxes, and give the
Royal Mail, as I believe they are called these days, additional
notice periods in respect of their post boxes, and also other
universal postal providers when they come on board. Also clause
19B on the next page, which provides additional protection to
the railway and waterway undertakers. This is the point Lord Elton
raised. You might be surprised to see additional protection has
been given to railway undertakers when so much graffiti is found
on their land and on their apparatus and plant.