Parking (Code of Practice) Bill: Appeals against parking charges

Mike Wood: I want to speak, very briefly, about new clause 1 and amendment 6. I congratulate my right hon. Friend Sir Greg Knight on the progress that his Bill has made, and particularly congratulate him on the new clause and amendment, which clarify the possibilities for a truly independent appeals procedure.

Landowners clearly have a right to decide on reasonable and fair terms for the way in which their land is used, but, as we know from our constituency postbags and email inboxes, in too many cases those terms do not seem fair. The processes for contesting unfairly issued parking tickets are expensive and drawn out, and motorists who are willing to contest a ticket through the courts take a disproportionate risk in the form of a dramatic escalation from the original fine as well as, of course, the legal costs. While we would not wish to prejudge the outcome of the parking code, one possibility that should be considered is the handling of appeals by a single independent person, and the measures allowing that person to be appointed and the funds to come from fees collected from the private operators covered by the scheme are therefore sensible.

 

Greg Knight Conservative, East Yorkshire

Will my hon. Friend also give himself credit? It was partly as a result of the representations that he and others made that I decided to table the new clause and amendments.

 

Mike Wood: I thank my right hon. Friend for that generous intervention, but I fear that it may be a little too generous. The work that he and his team, and Ministers, have done has been key to the Bill.

I will certainly support both my right hon. Friend’s amendments and the Bill’s Third Reading, but I am afraid that I do not find myself able to support amendment 8, tabled by my hon. Friend Sir Christopher Chope. I think that we have a responsibility to ensure as far as possible that the provisions in our legislation are enforceable, and I therefore question the wisdom of legislative provisions requiring best endeavours on the part of the Government, although I have no doubt whatsoever that Ministers will at all times exercise such best endeavours. I am particularly reassured by the undertakings given by my right hon. Friend to harry Ministers if that becomes necessary, and I am in absolutely no doubt that he is perfectly capable of making Ministers’ lives a misery, just as he has promised.