Dr James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) (Con):
To be clear, the power to set specific speed limits, such as 20 mph zones outside schools, or 40 mph or 50 mph zones as preferred for reasons of safety, quite rightly already lies with local authorities and the Welsh Assembly Government. As it stands, the Wales Bill proposes transferring powers over national speed limits. Those include 30 mph speed limits in built-up areas and 60 mph limits in non-built-up areas, and of course a 70 mph limit on dual carriageways and motorways. In my mind, those are etched on the brains of all of us via the Highway Code, and, in the absence of any signage, they are usually clear, based on the type of road.
We all live on a small island, and more than 200 roads straddle the England and Wales border. In the case of many smaller roads, the border is not, at present, marked by any signage at all. In some cases, the border cuts across housing estate roads, or even runs lengthwise along roads and splits them in half. Roads across the UK are essentially subject to the same safety criteria as vehicles. Taking all that into account, it is clear to me that the prospect of additional different national speed limits in England and Wales simply would be neither desirable nor realistic.
The hon. Gentleman describes the complexity of the border in some areas, but does he have no confidence in the Welsh Assembly to administer different speed limits sensibly?
It is perfectly possible that it can be done, but I just do not see the point. It would create extra confusion, and there would be a plethora of signs at the border where currently there is none. There would also have to be a huge information exercise, which would, in many cases, fail to get to the users of those roads.
Welsh devolution was meant to improve the lives of people, but it is very difficult to see how the devolution of a national speed limit, among other items in the Bill, would bring that about. It surely needs to be accepted that this is a matter most sensibly overseen at UK level. I respectfully urge the Government to reconsider.