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Mr. Denham: I shall deal with the points raised by the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker). I am somewhat perplexed by his determination to divide the House on new clause 8, as it attempts to give to police authorities a discretion that they already enjoy. Perhaps the intention

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was different, but it seems the oddest thing to divide the House on. However, that is the hon. Gentleman's privilege, of course.

I turn now to the questions of training. It is the responsibility of the chief officer to ensure that people such as accredited officers and CSOs have had the necessary levels of training. As I explained in general terms to the Committee, the training authority Centrex will help to advise on the necessary levels of training, taking into account the competencies required for each of the CSO skills.

The Committee debated the question of standardisation. I have made it clear that the Government recognise that there is a choice to be made. It is undeniable that we are introducing a new element into the policing of our communities and streets. The question is this: do we attempt, before a single CSO has been employed or a single organisation accredited, to predict exactly which set of powers and responsibilities will be right, or do we allow the greater flexibility—what is essentially a menu approach—represented by schedules 4 and 5?

Both options can be argued, but I believe that we shall do better to allow that flexibility at the start. We should allow chief officers, after the necessary consultations, to design schemes that meet the problems of policing, antisocial behaviour and traffic management in their areas.

I believe that, over time, the tendency will be towards some consensus on how best to meet the needs of particular communities. I am sure that professional best practice will take us in that direction. The hon. Member for Lewes raises an important point, but he wants us to leap ahead to a time in the future when there is no doubt about the most appropriate menu of powers. I honestly do not think that we have reached that point yet, and I believe that we will have to live with a little variation between

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areas until we have been able to establish how best to deploy and use CSOs and accredited community safety officers.

Mrs. Brooke rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. If the hon. Lady is seeking to catch my eye, I advise her that perhaps it would have been more orderly for her to have done so earlier. I can of course call her, but the Minister has already replied to the debate.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 7

Minor and Consequential Amendments

Amendments made: No. 60, in page 164, line 5, leave out "(4)(b)".
No. 61, in page 164, line 43, at end insert—

'Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978

7A In Article 8(2) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/ 1908 (N.I. 27)) (limitations on rehabilitation under Order etc.), after sub-paragraph (b) there shall be inserted—

"(bb) in any proceedings on an application for an order under Article 6 or 6A of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (S.I. 1998/ 2839 (N.I. 20)) or in any appeal against the making of such an order;".'.—[Mr. Denham.]

Schedule 8


Amendment made: No. 108, in page 170, line 32, at end insert—
'Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997 (c. 42) Section 5.'.
[Mr. Denham.]

Further consideration adjourned.—[Joan Ryan.]

Bill, as amended in the Standing Committee, to be further considered tomorrow.

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9 Jul 2002 : Column 819

Mersey Tunnels Bill (By Order)

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North and Sefton, East): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice and guidance on a matter. In the edition of the Liverpool Echo published yesterday, 8 July, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) is quoted as saying, about the Bill:

Would not the use of guerrilla warfare tactics in a debate such as this be distinctly unparliamentary?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): If I see anything in the nature of what the hon. Gentleman and I might consider to be guerrilla tactics, I am sure that the powers of the Chair will be adequate to deal with them.

7.37 pm

Mrs. Claire Curtis-Thomas (Crosby): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As a Merseyside MP, I am proud to be sponsoring the Mersey Tunnels Bill on behalf of the Merseyside passenger transport authority. The proposals for this Bill were the subject of widespread consultation on Merseyside, in line with Cabinet Office guidance, and the House will wish to know that a formal statement from the promoters is available in the Vote Office.

For the benefit of hon. Members who may not be familiar with the role of PTAs, there are seven of them in Great Britain—Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Strathclyde, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire. They are comprised of locally elected councillors nominated by the district, city and borough councils in the former metropolitan counties. All the PTAs are currently led by Labour party supporters.

Passenger transport authorities are accountable to the local electorate and set the transport policy framework for their respective areas. The policies are then implemented by the full-time staff of the passenger transport executives. The PTEs were the creation of a Labour Government under the Transport Act 1968, a piece of legislation masterminded by my late and noble Friend, Baroness Castle.

All PTAs and PTEs are required to ensure the quality and availability of public transport services in their area. That includes giving financial support for the local rail network, funding socially necessary bus services, managing local concessionary fare schemes and providing public transport information. They have played a truly extraordinary role in improving public transport in our great metropolitan areas outside London, and deserve far more recognition than they currently receive.

On Merseyside, the PTA, which is promoting the Bill, and the PTE have been fused together to operate under one banner—Merseytravel. That body is the principal architect of the Merseyside local transport plan, drawn up in partnership with other public and private sector interests in the area, in line with the Government's 1998 White Paper and the subsequent Transport Act 2000. Merseytravel has been awarded the status of a centre of

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excellence by the Government in both integrated transport and integrated transport planning—an accolade of which I am extremely proud.

The Bill fits exactly into the context of the Merseyside local transport plan, which is a serious attempt to create a holistic solution to the current and anticipated needs of both Merseyside and the wider travel-to-work area. The plan was drawn up after full and thorough consultation with the five district councils on Merseyside and—importantly—with neighbouring authorities, such as the Cheshire and Lancashire county councils.

It is a further mark of Merseytravel's success that the Government are in the process of transferring from the Strategic Rail Authority to Merseytravel the full panoply of powers over the local rail network. That change, too, is endorsed by Cheshire and Lancashire county councils. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport has played a leading role in making that change, which will give a unique degree of local control of the heavy rail network to the community that it serves.

The five local authorities represented on the Merseyside PTA are Knowsley borough council, Liverpool city council, Sefton borough council—in my constituency—St. Helens borough council and Wirral borough council. My right hon. and hon. Friends should know that two of those authorities are currently held by Labour; two are hung, but Labour councillors are in leading roles; and one is led by the Liberal Democrats. All five support the Bill.

Merseytravel itself has a majority of Labour councillors, so I point out to my hon. Friends that the Bill is being promoted by a Labour-controlled authority, established by Labour, carrying out the policies of the Labour Government.

As well as carrying out the normal duties of a PTA and a PTE, Merseytravel owns and manages the famous Mersey ferries and the two Mersey road tunnels that run under the river between Liverpool and Wirral. The Queensway tunnel, between Liverpool and Birkenhead, opened in 1934, nearly 60 years ago. The twin bores of the Kingsway tunnel, between Liverpool and Wallasey, opened in 1971 and 1974.

The Mersey tunnels are an important strategic transport asset for Merseyside. They are the only estuarial crossing in Britain to be found at the heart of a conurbation.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mrs. Curtis–Thomas: Perhaps my hon. Friend would bear with me.

The tunnels provide an important route for commerce, and commuting and leisure travel between the Wirral and Liverpool and for journeys further afield.

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