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Lord Berkeley: I am pleased by what he said about rail freight, but it is worrying that none of the rail freight operators to whom I have spoken has yet been consulted. If the plan is being made in a vacuum, somebody will find that something is wrong. I hope that some urgent consultation will take place with those who may be asked to provide the service.
Lord Higgins: One should not believe everything, or perhaps anything at all, that one sees in various press reports on certain subjects. However, a dispute seems to have taken place. If it has been resolved, that is so much the better. If the noble Lord finds out anything further, he will no doubt write to us ahead of the Report stage.
The noble Baroness said: Amendments Nos. 54 to 58 address timing. How long will certain provisions apply? Amendment No. 54 proposes that orders made cease to have effect immediately after the end of the London Olympics period. The London Olympics period is defined at the beginning of the Bill as the period from four weeks before the Games to the end of the Games.
Amendment No. 55 proposes that no order should take effect earlier than 1 January 2012. Amendments Nos. 56 and 57 would apply similarly to provisions regarding street lighting and cleaning. Amendment No. 58 relates to road closures. None of those dates is a magic date. These are probing amendments which seek to clarify how the provisions might apply. They are, however, important, because for the local and highways authorities concernedI am thinking particularly about the London boroughs, but they are
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not exclusively affectedto operate efficiently, they need to know when the ODA intends to step in. They need to plan their works programmes; they need to know when their responsibilities will be superseded. Will that be next month? Will it be next year?
We have been talking in benign terms about co-operation and partnerships, and getting the work done in a practical and pragmatic way. Certainty is required. I know that the London boroughs are concerned to know when these provisions will bite and when they will cease to bite. I beg to move.
The Olympic route network is an essential part of the Games; it was essential to our successful bid. It will comprise the key routes between Olympic venues and sites and allow for targeted traffic regulation measures to keep traffic moving on them.
I shall express what may sound like a pious aspiration, but it nevertheless reflects how we intend to work. We will not introduce this operation any earlier than absolutely required and it will cease at the end of the Games. That does not alter the fact that we envisage a test run in 2011. It will take place over a restricted period, but in such a complex matter as London traffic, we need to stage a test run. Those tests will be restricted to certain days of the week. We are all too conscious of the need to keep the inconvenience that might be caused to Londoners to the absolute minimum.
Amendment No. 54 would duplicate provisions already in the Bill. Under Clause 40(6), Clauses 10 to 18 of the Bill will cease to have effect at the end of the London Olympics period. So that is quite definitive and the amendment is unnecessary.
Amendment No. 55, on the other hand, will prevent the Olympic route network being established any earlier than 1 January 2012. I hear what the noble Baroness says. That is not her attempt at defining how things should be; it is a probing amendment to see what our thoughts are on this. The network will need to exist during the period of the games, we may need to implement parts of it for test events that will take place earlier than 2012 and certain parts will come into operation before the games. In addition to the games themselves, a cultural programme occurs before the games which will also need effective transport infrastructure.
I can assure the Committee that orders to establish the Olympic route network will only be laid when it is absolutely necessary for the network to be in place.
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Clause 11(4)(c) allows for parliamentary scrutiny of the establishment of the Olympic route network and the list of roads that will comprise it. If we use the Olympic transport provisions before 2012, we shall do so with a light touch and as proportionately as possible. Parliament will have the chance to evaluate that position and give assent to any necessary orders.
Amendment No. 56 relates to Clause 13 which is designed to allow the ODA to have a degree of control over the exercise of functions by local traffic, highway and street authorities where the exercise of those functions is likely to affect the games transport. There is no intention here to restrict the general development or maintenance of the roads, or to prevent normal traffic regulation on the roads, but we do need to let the ODA take a snapshot of the roads at a certain point in time, probably just before the commencement of the games, and to prevent that snapshot from being altered, so that it can work up its final plans with certainty. In other words, it will need to define what is necessary and that will have some impact. We do not intend to commence Clause 13 until it is absolutely necessary. We are very aware of the obvious fact that the noble Baroness made in her contribution that it could prove burdensome.
Amendment No. 56 will cause Clause 13 not to begin until 1 January 2012. That is possibly too early. We may not actually be taking on anything of a nature directly related to the function of the games until later than that. The noble Baroness will just have to trust us that closer to the Games we shall know when we need to implement this clause. Our feeling is that if we accept the amendment, we would find that unnecessarily binding and potentially too early. I ask her to withdraw it because our expectation is that we may not need to act quite so early.
Amendment No. 57 relates to Clause 15(1) which raises the maximum fine for offences committed in respect of traffic regulation orders made over roads designated as part of the Olympic route network. As I have already said, the network will be in place only when necessary. The provisions in Clause 15 are an integral part of the route network, so that we can enforce the necessary arrangements for that route. I do not believe that we can limit the imposition of fines for infringements of traffic regulations on the network to the period of the games. If the network were to be used before the games period for test events, which I have indicated might take place earlier, or for the cultural programme, we might need to use those traffic regulation orders. The provisions in Clause 15 are a key part of that.
Amendment No. 58 limits road closures made in connection with the games to the London Olympic period defined in Clause 1. As with the creation of the Olympic route network, I do not believe that we should limit the use of the powers in Clause 16 to the Olympic period because we may need both tests. We may also need changes to the route structure for the cultural events around the games.
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Transport in London is difficult enough when no one interferes with it. It will be increasingly difficult during the Olympic period because considerable nterference will be necessary. Some of that interference will leave a long-term legacy of great advantage to Londoners. Because it creates difficulties, we want to keep the period of interference to the minimum. I shall therefore resist the blandishments of the generous timetable in one of the noble Baroness's amendmentsI am not even prepared to accept that.
Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful to the Minister. It is not just disruption which is on the minds of the boroughs. They want to be clear about when the powers will start to be used because they would have to notify the ODA about the use of their highways, street and traffic powers; they would have to seek the ODA's approval for their own traffic regulation orders. That could be for many years before the start of the games.
I am much clearer now about what is in the mind of the inchoate, interim ODA and the Government. The boroughs should talk to the Government direct about this, but they have been concerned. If any further clarification is needed, I hope that it can be given to a reasonable extent. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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