Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 19 February 2015
Committee on Transport and Communications: Select Sub-Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
Vehicle Clamping Bill 2014: Committee Stage
This meeting will be carried live on UPC channel 207, eVision channel 504 and Sky channel 574. I remind members to turn off their mobile telephones. Apologies have been received from Deputy Michael McCarthy, and Deputy Catherine Murphy is deputising for Deputy Tom Fleming.
The meeting has been convened to consider the Vehicle Clamping Bill 2014. The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the regulation of the immobilisation of vehicles and related activities in certain places and in this regard to confer functions on the National Transport Authority and to amend the Transport Act 1950, section 101B of the Road Traffic Act 1961, the Fishery Harbour Centres Act 1968, the Harbours Act 1996 and the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001 and to provide for related matters.
The Bill proposes to establish a regulatory regime in respect of clamping activities in both statutory - public - and non-statutory - private - places for the first time. It provides that the National Transport Authority will regulate such activities in addition to supervising a new two-tier appeals process. The Bill seeks, among other things, to introduce a separate complaints procedure, to set a default maximum clamp release fee in non-statutory places, to provide for a code of practice and to allow for the making of clamping and signage regulations. I welcome the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Donohoe, and his officials to this meeting. A small number of related proposed amendments have been grouped for the purposes of debate.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 11, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:"(6) The NTA shall make regulations prohibiting clamping activities in the following locations:(a) a designated parking place for visitors and patients at Health Service Executive funded hospitals and voluntary public hospitals;(7) (a) For the purposes of this section, "parking place" has the same meaning specified in the Act of 1961.
(b) a designated parking place within a residential development with the exception of cases where clamping activity is required to facilitate the free flow of vehicular traffic.(b) For the purposes of this section, "residential development" means any development on land containing two or more residential dwelling places or two or more buildings intended to be used as dwelling places.".
I flagged this amendment during the Second Stage debate. I do not think I was the only Deputy to do so. A related amendment is also being proposed. I am trying to draw attention to where problems might arise. This will probably be the only opportunity we will get within the lifetime of this Government to deal with these issues. The first part of this amendment relates to the use of clamping as a method of enforcement in hospitals. I have specified "Health Service Executive funded hospitals and voluntary public hospitals", as opposed to private hospitals, in the amendment. I would not have a problem with it being extended to private hospitals if the Minister were willing to accept such a proposal. It is an inappropriate type of sanction that can cause great distress.
The second part of the amendment relates to parking in a public place that is in a housing estate, within the meaning of the term under the Road Traffic Act 1961. This is an attempt to deal with a practice that started to emerge some time ago and is fairly well established at this stage, whereby the clamping of cars is used as a sanction if there is an issue with the collection of a management company charge. If a person does not have the badge that is issued by a management company because the management company fee has not been paid, his or her car will be clamped. This can also happen to visitors who would not have a badge. Essentially, this is causing serious problems. Other remedies that are not related to road traffic issues should be found to enable the non-payment of a debt to be pursued. If clamping is a mechanism to make sure traffic flows freely, it is brought into disrepute by being used inappropriately. This is the kind of thing that emerges at the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, of which I am a member. There is a kind of crossover between the two committees. This is the only opportunity we have to do something about it. I hope the Minister will be able to take these amendments on board.
I have raised the issue of clamping in hospitals with the Minister previously. People in the Blanchardstown area have particular experience of it. Many people who have been to the hospital as patients or visitors and have had to stay longer than expected, perhaps because they were not in a position to leave, have come out of the hospital to find their cars clamped. This has happened quite regularly. It is one of the most despicable things I have seen. We should be able to legislate to provide for a mechanism that would stop this from happening. People could be allowed to make their case at a later stage. Many people who are still quite sick when they are discharged from hospital need to get out of the hospital to go home, but they cannot do so because their cars have been clamped. We should facilitate them in getting home quickly, while enabling any issues that arise to be taken up at a later stage. A fine could be imposed or something like that could be done. Someone who was delayed in the hospital would be able to appeal it. The practice to which I refer has become fairly widespread in public and private hospitals. I wonder if there is any way it can be addressed. I know the Minister was not keen to address it the last time. This is a very big issue for many people.
I apologise to the committee for being a few minutes late and keeping everybody waiting. I thank Deputies Murphy and Ellis for the amendments they have proposed. I will explain why I cannot accept the amendments, which seek to prohibit or place limits on clamping in hospitals and residential developments. When we debated this Bill on Second Stage last month, I explained in some detail that it is neither about parking policy nor about where clamping should or should not be carried out. This was a deliberate approach from the outset of the legislative process. It is entirely a matter for the owners and management of car parking areas to decide how they want to control parking in their car parks. This Bill should not and will not interfere with such decisions.
Perhaps I will refine that a little. This Bill is not about parking policy itself. That is a matter for local authorities or for people who own certain lands. This Bill is about regulating the activity of clamping, as opposed to determining the parking policy of a third party. It sets out provisions that must be complied with if clamping is used as a means of parking control. The bodies responsible for traffic management or parking controls, including local authorities, State agencies, hospitals and the owners of private lands, will continue to determine traffic management policies for their areas of operation and the means of parking control within them. This is the way it should be. I do not believe it would be appropriate for primary legislation to determine what kind of parking controls should be applied on hospital grounds.
I have experience of many hospitals across the city of Dublin. I have direct experience of Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown. I know what it is like to worry about having to find change in one's pocket to put into a parking meter when one is visiting somebody who is ill or sick. When one goes in to see a patient, one has to be aware of how quickly one will have to leave. One might not have enough change with one. I fully understand all of those issues. Personally speaking, I would like hospitals to find a different way of dealing with parking issues, other than having to clamp. The role of this Bill is not to deal with that policy, however. I fully respect and accept that the owners of land and those who regulate the parking in such areas have the right to set that policy. This is recognised in other legislation. This Bill deals with the activity of clamping itself.
Deputy Murphy made a point about the banning of clamping in residential developments. She might clarify that reference for me.
I assume the Deputy is referring to multi-unit apartment complexes. Am I correct in that?
Let us tease out that issue. Again, these are issues that deal with parking policy itself rather than the activity of clamping. It is beyond the scope of the Bill to legislate for practices within the property management sector. I understand that there are already two pieces of relatively recent legislation governing the sector - the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011, which established a property services regulatory authority to control and regulate property service providers, and the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, which seeks to facilitate the fair and effective management of bodies responsible for the management of the common area within both the existing and new multi-unit apartment developments. Such bodies are referred to in that Act as owner manager committees, OMCs, and these Acts are sponsored by the Department of Justice and Equality. If there is an issue in the property management sector regarding the recovery of unpaid management fees through clamping, this is a matter that should be addressed through those Acts.
The Minister is saying this is about clamping and not whether vehicles are being clamped on private property, a matter that is for the hospital or whatever. One could almost say that the scope of this Bill covers the public and private sectors in the sense that the Minister is setting the rules for the private sector when it comes to clamping. Those in that sector could claim they were operating on private property. If the Minister is making that argument for hospitals he could certainly make the argument for regulating clamping. While the Minister said he does not envisage any role in terms of dealing with the hospitals, at the very least his Department should write to all those concerned and inform the local authorities that this is unacceptable. One of the most reprehensible things I have come across is to see sick people coming out from hospital and finding their car is clamped. I do not think we should rest the matter at that. We are debating the Vehicle Clamping Bill and the Minister has stated his position but I do not necessarily accept it. Therefore, we should inform all the hospitals and the local authorities that there needs to be a better way of dealing with this issue and give some direction and state that the Minister is dissatisfied with what is happening.
It is a pity it is not about parking policy because we lack an overall framework. If an overall clamping framework was in place, where one could look at whether the sanctions are appropriate that would be a better approach. We know already that clamping is outlawed in England, Scotland and Wales as a particular sanction. I had a briefing with the Department and understand part of the reason the issue is not as straightforward here is that we have a written Constitution which protects private property, but that private property section in the Constitution is also tampered by a related section that deals with the balance of rights for the common good. While it is a nuisance going to Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown as a visitor it is more than a nuisance if one is a patient queueing for an X-ray or other procedures and has to leave the queue to go out to feed a parking meter. I can supply the name and address of a person who was caught in this situation and who would be happy for me to pass it on. A constituent of mine, whose wife was in the hospital in question was so stressed when his car was clamped that he had a heart attack and ended up as a patient in the hospital. The stress endured by people due to this sanction is wrong. I contrast it with St. James's Hospital, where a barrier system is in operation for collecting revenue which deals with the issue of all day parking of vehicles, which can be an issue. At Beaumont Hospital, a private company has pay parking which generates huge income. If we are going to permit vehicle clamping, some ground rules should be set for those who are allowed to have businesses in that respect. Hospitals have plenty of mechanisms for income generation through parking without the use of clamping, which is particularly offensive at hospitals.
I heard what the Minister said about the Multi-Unit Developments Act. In suburban areas there are traditional housing estates where there is no duplex or apartment block that would have a management company. Some of them are being wound down in the context of taking estates in charge. Often people cannot afford to pay their mortgage and are struggling to pay all the other charges, such as property tax and the myriad expenses to keep a roof over their head. To find that this is a punitive method for collecting a management company fee, where a court would take a lesser view, is unfair. If a clamper is taking away cars from a clearway or cars that cause an obstruction I do not have a problem with it being used as a sanction. However, there are places where it should not be used as a sanction. That is the reason I tabled the amendments. I am disappointed the Minister is saying he cannot accept them. There is no other available opportunity to address this issue.
I agree with the Minister who said that responsibility lies with the owners of institutions and landowners to provide a parking policy and a parking framework. Deputy Catherine Murphy mentioned Beaumont Hospital, with which I am familiar. There is, as she said, a multi-storey carpark in the hospital which has been there for 15 years. In recent years there have been discussions between Dublin City Council and the hospital with regard to a transport plan for the hospital and as a result, three bus routes go to the hospitals. This provides an alternative for people who want to get to the hospital to use public transport. Also the hospital has provided a taxi rank. This enables a person who has had treatment in the hospital to get a taxi home rather than have their car parked indefinitely in a multi-storey carpark with the charge accruing. Hospitals should seek to prove alternatives to multi-storey car parking for patients and particularly to allow access for public transport.
I shall pose a question. Let us use Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown as an example. The National Sports Campus around the corner from it has a significant number of employers near it. It and a number of other bodies in the area are actively interested in the development of a bus rapid transit route which would connect it up with the city centre. Let us assume a person went to Connolly Hospital and parked the car there and hopped on a bus for the National Sports Campus but that is not a good example as the person could walk to the National Sports Campus. Let us assume the person parked a car in Connolly Hospital and went off to do something else, as happens regularly in other parking locations across the city.
In doing that, this person has deprived a sick person of a parking space. Does the Deputy believe the hospital is entitled to clamp that person's vehicle? Does she think it should have the ability to clamp it?
I am putting the question to the Deputy, because we are having a discussion here. I heard what the Deputy had to say and I am asking her whether she believes that under no circumstances should a hospital have the ability to clamp somebody's vehicle. What is to happen therefore if somebody's car is parked on a road and is blocking access into the car park?
If a car is causing obstruction, I have no problem with it being removed. If a car is parked on a public road leading to a hospital and breaking the rules of the road, there are sanctions that can be used, including clamping. In St. James's Hospital, the Luas runs through the grounds and people often parked along there, which is why paid parking was put in the hospital grounds. It uses a barrier method and is quite expensive. The point I am making is that there are sanctions other than clamping that could be used to prohibit people from parking inappropriately in the grounds of the hospital and that car parking should be designed with that in mind.
I believe clamping should not be permitted on hospital grounds. It is interesting that this issue does not seem to have presented as a significant problem for the United Kingdom, our nearest neighbour, with its population of 57 million. We have a relatively small population in comparison and I believe that hospital traffic can be managed in a way that manages obstructions without putting punitive pressure on people who are, in the main, either patients or visitors to the hospital.
I would like to respond to the question put by the Minister. The good thing about Connolly Hospital is that it has a massive car park and that there is only one small section where a blockage might be created. There is a bus service to the hospital, but it is not that regular. If a person parked in front of the accident and emergency unit, some mechanism would be required to move that car, but it could be moved to a designated area and the owner found and dealt with. There are ways of dealing with inappropriate parking, without making life a total misery for visitors. However, the majority of clamping taking place within the car park, of cars that are not causing any obstruction. That is the problem. I cannot count the number of times I have come out to the car park and seen cars clamped. There is a small parking section at the accident and emergency unit, but people have been clamped there also.
In general, we need a new attitude in regard to clamping in hospital grounds. A message needs to come from the Department of Transport saying the current approach is not acceptable. The Minister should send the message to each hospital that they must move away from the idea of clamping. There are other ways to deal with the issue.
It should be clear. I do not like seeing people's cars being clamped at hospitals. I accept the Deputy's point. I have personal experience of visiting hospitals, thank God not as a patient, but I have had to visit people in unexpected circumstances. One arrives at the hospital mentioned, for example, and if one has not got change for the machine there is no place to get it without running in to the shop in the hospital, which poses the risk of being clamped. I accept that. I too want those running hospitals to find other ways of dealing with the issue and most of them are doing this.
Beaumont Hospital was cited as an example. However, my response to the issues raised is to ask whether I believe there is any circumstance in which clamping is acceptable. I can think of one circumstance where clamping is acceptable - where a person abuses a parking spot. People should not be allowed to do that to the detriment of somebody who genuinely needs that spot. If we accept there is an occasion when clamping should be allowed by the people running the hospital, who want to permit as much access as possible to the hospital, we must accept it is wrong to ban clamping in primary legislation. That is the approach I am taking here.
I have complete sympathy with the Deputies and the points they have made, because I appreciate the stress involved. However, this is a matter of how the people running the hospital deal with inappropriate parking as opposed to us deciding there are no circumstance in which clamping is allowable.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 14, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:“(v) any vehicle parked within the grounds of a hospital which could be removed without causing undue disruption to traffic, access or the work of emergency services,”.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 15, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:“(8) (a) The NTA shall make regulations stipulating that, in every instance where a charge imposed in accordance with this section is paid before the stipulated deadline, where applicable, the total charge payable shall be reduced by half.(b) The regulations stipulated in paragraph (a) shall apply to charges issued in respect of wrongfully parked vehicles at statutory clamping places and nonstatutory clamping places.”.
Originally, the committee of which I was a member was responsible for the environment, local government, arts, heritage, the Gaeltacht, transport, tourism and sport but it was reformed as part of Dáil reform and the transport and tourism elements were removed. That committee had some debate on the issue of parking and some pre-legislative scrutiny was carried out as a consequence. Therefore, this Bill had a double opportunity for pre-legislative scrutiny. One of the issues I raised in that committee had the widespread support of the committee and the Chairman at the time included it in a press statement.
I suggested that we would provide for an arrangement like they do in other jurisdictions, where they reduce the administration and, where fixed penalties are applied and people pay them early, say within 14 days, the penalty is reduced. It does not have to be halved. This has the benefit of reducing the amount of administration involved but, at the same time, does not remove the sanction.
Often, when private contractors are employed to administer the system, there is a dual process. Similar to the proposed clamping arrangements, the clampers will look at it and then the people dealing with the sanction will look at it. The local authority might also look at it. From my experience a sizable amount of routine problems arise with paid parking and sanctions. This would be a way of gaining a greater level of acceptance and improving the situation from an administrative point of view yet still retaining the sanction. The same kind of sanction is in place in Belfast. It works very well. There was a trial run and it was then formally adopted. This is how it is generally done. As I say, it is not something that is just picked out of the air. It is available in other places.
Section 14 provides the National Transport Authority with power to set maximum charges which may be imposed for the release of a clamp or in respect of vehicle relocation in non-statutory clamping places. This proposed amendment seeks to incentivise early payment of such charges, but it is not appropriate in these circumstances and I will therefore not be accepting this amendment.
In the first instance, I wish to remind Deputies that the Bill aims to give transparent safeguards to motorists when it comes to clamping, particularly in respect of charges, signage, complaints and appeals. Under section 14, the NTA will set the maximum clamp release and vehicle relocation charges that may be levied in non-statutory clamping places such as private car parks and car parks associated with shopping centres, retail parks, sports stadia and so forth. It will do this following consideration of any representations received from interested third parties and it may also set different maximum charges for different areas and different times of the day.
Payment of a clamp-release charge is tied in with the release of the vehicle itself. Discounts for early payment are not appropriate. People generally want the clamp released as quickly as possible and will pay the release charge quickly to secure its release. The early release of the clamp and therefore release of the vehicle is the incentive for early payment of the clamp release charge. The period following payment of the charge within which the clamp must be removed will also be specified in regulations by the NTA. The concept of an incentivised early payment is captured in section 30 Bill when it comes to certain offences. Section 30 allows the NTA to operate a fixed payment notice system as an alternative to bringing payments to the courts. The specified fixed charge is €250, but if this is not paid within 28 days it rises by 50% during the subsequent 28 day period.
I will not labour the point. Clearly what I am aiming at is not specifically in respect of clamping but paid parking. This Bill is probably the only available opportunity to do this in the time remaining for this Government. There is no miscellaneous section in the Bill. This is what I was aiming to do. It makes a considerable amount of sense to introduce something like this. The Minister is telling me that there is no available opportunity to do it. I will not labour the point or press the amendment.
I did consider and examine this matter. One of the things that struck me is that the NTA will be setting regulations on this area. It will be using its power in the way it deems appropriate. It struck me as counterproductive to introduce this in primary legislation as that would exclude what the NTA may do. If we were to bring this in and say that the total charge payable shall be reduced by half, it is feasible that it might then have an impact on the actual parking fine that people may be looking to levy in the first place.
If we were to bring in via primary legislation a provision stating that a clamping operator must reduce by half the charge levied if payment happens within a certain number of days, it may lead to inflation and an increase in the initial parking charges. I therefore considered it was not right to provide for it in primary legislation. The NTA will be able to set the maximum clamp release charge. It will introduce a code of practice with regard to how regulators should operate and the appeals system. I want to leave the flexibility with the NTA to look at how that will be done rather than mandating something it must do in respect of a charges structure in primary legislation. Otherwise there could be an unintended consequence.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 16, line 15, to delete “and” where it secondly occurs.
Amendment No. 5 arises out of points raised with me on Second Stage in the Dáil. Deputy Murphy, in the Dáil, raised the difficulty of getting through to a company for an answer. Deputy Daly made the point that she believes that the only time she can get to speak to someone in a clamping company is when it is looking for credit card details. The general theme that many Deputies did raise is the issue of trying to get answers or a response from clamping companies when someone has a query or a complaint. I am seeking to respond to this issue in amendments Nos. 4 and 5.
Section 17 deals with the complaints procedure that the NTA may set up for members of the public. Amendment No. 5 adds a further category to the list of issues in subsection (1) about which complaints may be made, namely, complaints on the time it takes parking controllers and clamping operators to respond to complaints or other communications from the public. This is an important addition to the Bill and I thank Deputies for raising the point. It is unacceptable that a person would telephone a clamping company and not get a response. In this amendment, I am giving the NTA the power to regulate this area.
Amendment No. 4 is a consequence of amendment No. 5 and facilitates the addition of a new provision. I am adding this to the list of categories in subsection (1) and this therefore adds to the list of areas the NTA can regulate.
It specifically looks at the issue of response times for people who are in contact with the authority. We had a discussion earlier on why this Bill is not dealing with the policy but rather the activity. However, as a direct consequence of my deciding to regulate the activity we can do things like this. I hope and I am confident this will deal with an issue of hindrance and annoyance to people who are dealing with clamping companies.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 16, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:“(c) unnecessary delay on the part of parking controllers or clamping operators in responding to complaints or other communication from members of the public, and”.
I move amendment No. 6:
In page 22, to delete lines 29 to 40, and in page 23, to delete lines 1 to 4 and substitute the following:“(e) a prosecution in respect of the alleged offence will not be instituted during the periods specified in the notice under paragraphs (b) and (c) and, if a payment specified in the notice is made during the appropriate period so specified in relation to the payment, accompanied by the notice, duly completed, no prosecution in respect of the alleged offence will be instituted.(2) Where notice is given under subsection (1)—(a) the person to whom the notice applies may, during the period specified in the notice, make to the NTA at the address specified in the notice a payment specified in the notice accompanied by the notice, duly completed, at the appropriate time so specified in relation to the payment,
(b) the NTA may receive the payment, issue a receipt for it and retain the money so paid, and any payment so received shall not be recoverable in any circumstances by the person who made it,
(c) a prosecution in respect of the alleged offence to which the notice relates will not be instituted during the periods specified in the notice under paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (1) and, if a payment so specified is made during the appropriate period so specified in relation to the payment, accompanied by the notice, duly completed, no prosecution in respect of the alleged offence will be instituted.”.
This is a technical amendment made on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel. It brings the wording of the section into line with existing fixed payment notice provisions in road traffic legislation. The intent and meaning of these provisions have not changed in any fundamental way. The Parliamentary Counsel has merely improved the wording of sections 30(1)(e) and 30(2). I would be happy to go through each of the technical adjustments made by the Parliamentary Counsel if Deputies so wish, but they are simply variations on the following: replacing the word "the" with "a" or substituting the word "completed" for "made".
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 26, between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 35 of the Road Traffic Act 1994
32.Section 35(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1994 is amended by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (l):“(l) specifying, or authorising specified road authorities by resolution to specify, the places in which vehicles may be parked either indefinitely or for any period not exceeding a specified period; and to provide for the ability of specified road authorities to either wholly or partially review, amend or abolish such resolutions at any time.”.”.
I appreciate the Minister has said already that the intent of the Bill is purely in respect of the regulation of clampers and clamping. Given the absence of impending legislation in this area, there is a lack of opportunity to deal with something that I believe is a problem. It may not be so much a problem for cities, or perhaps it is, but certainly I have felt frustrated about it for many years. Local authority by-laws are used to regulate parking in towns. They make the by-laws and put them out for public consultation. Considerable effort and expense, including administrative, consultation and advertising expense, is undertaken when doing that. Then, after six months, the authority may discover that it must amend an element of the laws. However, it is not possible to amend it piecemeal; whole sections of by-laws are then requires to be amended. The local authority must make amendments for an entire town rather than simply making amendments for a section of a town. It is not possible to have only one section amended; the authority is obliged to open it all up again.
The process of making by-laws for the first time is not without its challenges. Opening it up all again can lead to opening up areas that the authority never intended to reopen, some of which may have been contentious initially. Making provision in law for the local authorities to deal with it in this way, if they so wish, makes sense from the point of view of the ease of making by-laws. It would allow local authorities to carry out reviews and those reviews could respond to specific elements. The authorities could contain what they need to do. That is what is intended. I accept the point that I know the Minister will make.He will say that this is not what this Bill in this intended for. It would require the Minister to insert a miscellaneous section were he willing to accept it.
I may be about to surprise Deputy Murphy with my response. I am not going to accept her amendment because we believe, having checked up on this matter, that the provision relating to the appeal or amendment of a set of regulations, either wholly or partially - this is the point Deputy Murphy was making - already exists. I take the Deputy's point. Let us suppose a local authority brings in a by-law and it has a particular area or issue that it wishes to deal with. Deputy Murphy is suggesting the authority would have to look at the entire issue all over again and for various reasons that might not always be feasible. In the course of our work preparing a response to Deputy Murphy's point we encountered section 22(3) of the Interpretation Act 2005, which provides: "A power conferred by an enactment to make a statutory instrument shall be read as including a power, exercisable in the like manner and subject to the like consent and conditions (if any), to repeal or amend a statutory instrument made under that power and (where required) to make another statutory instrument in place of the one so repealed." The key point is the reference to amending a statutory instrument. The advice that we have received from the Parliamentary Counsel is that further legislative provisions are not required for this purpose because provision already exists.
I would need to have a good legal hat on to interpret that. If that is the case, and I take it that it is, then it is welcome. Is it possible to communicate it to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in order that the Department could, in turn, communicate it to the local authorities? That would be helpful and would provide the scope such that each local authority would not have to seek legal advice on the matter.
I will do that. One additional point struck me while getting ready for this. There may be a policy reason why it makes sense. We need to be careful about amending part of a by-law or regulation. I offer one example. Let us consider this purely in a transport setting. One of the things that we know about transport or parking policy is that if we change something in one area, it always has a consequence somewhere else. A relevant example might be a parking by-law. If we change something in one part of a town, it almost always has a consequence in another part of the town. I imagine Deputy Murphy recognises that with parking in particular. This is why from a policy point of view it may make sense to only proceed with this in terms of looking at an entire by-law. If we try to do something in isolation it may have consequences that we have not anticipated. That being said, our understanding as a result of preparing a response to this amendment is that the power exists.
I will certainly pass on the request to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.
I would like to give notice that I propose to table an amendment inserting an additional section to the Bill to provide for the expenses of the NTA in carrying out the functions conferred on it by this Bill even though any expenditure incurred by the NTA in carrying out its regulatory functions under the Bill will be relatively modest and will be found in my Department's Vote. The Parliamentary Counsel considers it prudent to include a specific expenses section in the Bill and I am liaising with the counsel on the text but I expect the provision to be along similar lines to that used in comparable legislation.