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31 Mar 2003 : Column 692continued
Government amendments Nos. 19, 24 and 25 concern the make-up of the police authority and the organisations that it would have to consult. I would like to explain briefly the reasons for the amendments, which have all been tabled as a result of commitments made in Standing Committee in response to amendments or comments. Government amendment No. 24 will mean that the Secretary of State, when appointing members of the authority, will have to ensure that the membership includes someone who has "knowledge and experience" of employees of the railway industry. We have slightly embellished the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) in Committee. Paragraph 2(2) of
Government amendment No. 19 adds employees of railway companies and their representatives to the list of organisations that the authority shall consult about the policing of railways. The list of organisations in clause 59 is not exhaustive, and we expect the authority to consult widely and comprehensively on the arrangements for policing the railways. With that introduction, I commend the Government amendments and new clauses to the House.
Will the Minister comment on one aspect of the Bill that the Government have chosen not to amend? He will appreciate that we had a lengthy debate on jurisdiction in Committee, and I wish to place on record the fact that we welcome the provisions dealing with that. The Minister explained why the provisions are needed, and we support their main thrust. However, the Government have consistently omitted four little words, "in the vicinity of", from them. The British Transport police have strongly and vociferously argued that the omission of those words restricts the jurisdiction that they have traditionally enjoyed. That goes to the heart of this part of the Bill, and we regret that the Government have failed to address that point. We are seriously concerned that the British Transport police will not enjoy the jurisdiction that they have enjoyed in the past. Operating "in the vicinity of" means that they have the right to act in connection with railway lines, trains and railway stations. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to share with the House the reason why the Government feel that it is inappropriate to use those words.
I welcome new clause 7, and thank the Under-Secretary of State for Transport for his helpful letter of 10 March which, at five pages, vies with some of my remarks in Committee. I am sure that it will not have escaped the attention of the Minister of State that the British Transport police have serious concerns about pension provisions, which he and the Government have so far failed to address. As the Bill is about to leave the House, do they wish to address that later? I understand that some of the provisions may be addressed, for
I take this opportunity to speak to the new clauses and amendments tabled by my hon. Friends and me, specifically, new clause 1. Subject to the Minister's reply, we may decide not to press the motion to a Division. It has been argued forcefully to us that a code of practice is required, in which the Secretary of State could set out
Sir John was appointed in May 2002 by the Secretary of State for Transport, jointly with the Home Secretary, and submitted his report on 13 September last year. At paragraph 13, he refers to the fact that the powers available to police officers at airports under the Aviation Security Act 1982 should be simplified. We suggest not only that the powers should be simplified, but that there should be a crossover. The hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) probably sees a need for such a crossover at seaports as well.
In preparation for the Committee and remaining stages, the point was fortified by notes from the British Transport police, which recognise that the Wheeler report successfully identifies shortcomings in the current security arrangements at airports throughout the United Kingdom. The report refers to the need for
We hope that the British Transport police authority will have regard to the Mayor of London's transport strategy in exercising its functions. We await the Minister's comments on our amendment No. 36 which relates to that point. Similarly, our amendment No. 37 to clause 47 would provide that, when setting policy objectives, the authority would
The British Transport police are extremely efficient; the force has always been good but it is now very professional. I welcome the efforts of the new chief constable, who has wrought remarkable changes.
In my constituency, I have recently been impressed not only with the work that the BT police are doing to deal with straightforward vandalism on the line and in stations but also by the way in which they have increasingly understood the connection between vandalism and groups of people who have no involvement in their environment. In particular areas, the BT police have done remarkable work in encouraging local authorities and like-minded officials to identify station properties or stores that might be at risk, and in ensuring that local schools understand the
I have a simple question for my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport. Is it possible for the new regulations to take account of the changing role of the transport police? Sometimes we get things disastrously wrong. I was recently at Crewe station when, owing to the operating companies' inability to work together and give one another coherent information, vast numbers of people, including football crowds, were rushing from one platform to another at considerable risk to the women and children who were going shopping. No one had any clear line of information for the police, and four officers were trying to deal with about 500 people.