London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Tuesday 18 February 2003
360. CHAIRMAN: Parking is a major problem, wherever
361. LORD TORDOFF: Do you have a figure for what
it is at the moment?
362. MR LEWIS: I do not have a figure I am afraid.
(Mr Kerrigan) The figure for last year was
about £40,000 and £38,500 in the year 2000/2001 for
littering fines. That was nationally.
363. CHAIRMAN: The whole country. What was it for
(Mr Kerrigan) For dog fouling it was a little
bit less, round £30,000.
364. CHAIRMAN: Nowadays that is completely insignificant
over the whole country.
365. LORD TORDOFF: There is not a lot of enforcement
366. MR LEWIS: It is fair to say that the fixed penalty
regime is not being used to its full extent, no. I am reminded
it is discretionary, there may be differences between boroughs
and between councils as well.
367. CHAIRMAN: On the basis of those figures the
vast majority of councils are doing absolutely nothing at all
at the moment.
368. MR BLACKWELL: Speaking for Westminster, we do
prosecute instead of issuing notices so in terms of total numbers
it is far more than the figure that has been put forward.
369. CHAIRMAN: That puts a different slant on it.
370. LORD TORDOFF: Do you have any figures for prosecutions?
371. MR BLACKWELL: In Westminster off the top of
my head probably something in terms of litter 40 to 50 a year.
In term of dog fouling zero I think.
372. LORD TORDOFF: That puts it in context.
(Mr Jones) In answer to the question that
was put to us, it is our intention to provide a financial incentive
reward for local authorities to start enforcing the offences and
giving out fixed penalties for leaving litter and dog mess. There
are very substantial differences in the way that we are seeking
to achieve that from those which are set out in the London Local
373. We are not convinced that there are significant
differences between the position in London and else where and
therefore because our policy conflicts with that which is outlined
in the Bill we have submitted reports indicating that we do not
support Clauses 26, 27, 28 and 29 and the schedule that goes with
374. We consider that this is an area which needs
very careful consideration, my Lords, because in this case the
local authorities are responsible for investigating what is taking
place and then they can give out a fixed penalty.
375. One of the issues which is of interest to us
in our consultation in relation to giving local authorities the
power to increase the level of fixed penalty is to provide sufficient
safeguards against local authorities using their powers in some
ways, some sort of tax raising power, that is not our intention.
This is something that we think could potentially be sensitive
and needs to be considered very carefully, and that is what we
are doing. We are consulting widely on the proposals.
376. In the clause which we have in the Local Government
Bill there are significant differences from those set out in the
London local authorities as regards how the money from fixed penalties
should be spent. The explanation that was given was broadly correct
in terms of the differences there in that initially in the absence
of any regulation on the subject matter the local authorities
will only be able to use their fixed penalties to finance their
statutory litter and dog fouling functions. We also have the power
to make regulations which can add to those functions so that local
authorities can spend their receipts from fixed penalties more
377. We envisage that high performing local authorities
will be given more scope in which to spend their fixed penalty
receipts than other local authorities. We envisage if the poor
performers are given some additional areas in which they may finance
using fixed penalty receipts they will be related to improving
their local environment.
378. One of the thoughts which occurred to us in
relation to the London Local Authority Bill is that it talks about
improving the amenity of the area, which to us does not exclusively
mean environmental matters, it may be that expression may be interpreted
more widely than matters which are, in our view, similar to litter
and dog mess. It could be said that providing recreational facilities
could improve the amenity of the area.
379. If local authorities are given the power, which
is set out in the local authorities, to spend their money they
will be able to spend it very widely in a way we envisage that
will provide certainly more clarity as to how local authorities
should be able to spend their money. For that reason we are not
happy with that element of the Bill.