Infrastructure Bill (Roads Reform Elements)
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr John Hayes): In June 2014, following the introduction of the Infrastructure Bill, which contains legislative proposals on transforming the Highways Agency into a Government-owned strategic highways company, the Government published a suite of documents that set out further details of the key elements that together will form a cohesive and robust governance framework for the new company.
These documents explained how the governance regime for the new company would allow it the autonomy and flexibility to operate, manage and enhance the network on a day-to-day basis and deliver more efficiently, while ensuring it acts transparently, remains accountable to Government, road users and taxpayers, and continues to run the network in the public interest.
Today, I am publishing a new document, “Transparency for Roads”, setting out the respective roles of the new monitor and watchdog, who will monitor and improve the performance and efficiency of the company and represent the interests of road users. As a result of this, the management of the strategic road network will be more transparent and accountable than it has ever been before.
These roles will be performed by the Office of Rail Regulation and Passenger Focus respectively, the latter of which expects to change its name to Transport Focus to better reflect its intended wider remit. To ensure that its continued role in rail, as well as its proposed expanded role in roads is understood by passengers and road users, Transport Focus will work under two sub-brands “Transport Focus—Passengers” and “Transport Focus—Road Users”.
Following further refinement, I am also publishing updated versions of:
“Transforming our strategic roads—a summary”, an introduction to roads reform that summarises the reasons for change, what this involves, how the new regime will work and the benefits the change will deliver for road users and the nation as a whole—with additional information about roles and responsibilities in the system of governance for the new company, and how this system will ensure the company fulfils important obligations on issues such as safety, the environment and co-operation with others; and
“Strategic Highways Company: draft Licence”, which indicates the manner in which the Secretary of State proposes to issue binding statutory directions and guidance to the new company, setting objectives and conditions around how the company must act—updated to reflect further development work carried out over the summer, particularly with regard to safety and the environment, as well as co-operation, asset management and research, and the processes for setting and varying a road investment strategy.
These take into account proposed Government amendments tabled to the Infrastructure Bill to ensure that, in setting or varying the RIS, the Secretary of State has regard to road user safety and the environment, and that appropriate consultation takes place, and also to strengthen role of the monitor, giving it the ability to carry out independent enforcement activity if the company fails to deliver.
Taken together with the measures in part 1 of the Infrastructure Bill, the proposed governance regime will provide a strong, certain framework for managing our roads. It will strengthen accountability, drive efficiency, increase transparency and create far more certain conditions for investment, enabling the supply chain to gear up for the Government’s ambitious plans for the future. This will support the economy, promote jobs and skills and ultimately transform the quality of our national infrastructure and the quality of service for road users. We look to move to the new model with minimal disruption.
As the Bill remains subject to parliamentary approval, these documents remain subject to change.
A copy of each of these documents will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be made available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/roads-reform
Further information on the Infrastructure Bill is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/infrastructure-bill
The statement is available here on the parliamentary website.