Railways and Transport Safety Bill

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Clause 12

Regulations and orders

Amendment proposed: No.23, in

    clause 12, page 7, line 12, leave out 'and orders'.—[Mr. Spellar.]

    Question put, That the amendment be made:—

    The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 6.

    Division No. 1]

    AYES
    Cairns, David
    Gapes, Mike
    Jamieson, Mr. David
    Lazarowicz, Mr. Mark
    Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
    Perham, Linda
    Ryan, Joan
    Spellar, Mr. John

    NOES
    Bacon, Mr. Richard
    Brake, Tom
    Foster, Mr. Don
    McIntosh, Miss Anne
    Murrison, Dr. Andrew
    Randall, Mr. John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No.24, in

    clause 12, page 7, line 17, leave out 'and orders'.—[Mr. Spellar.]

    Question put, That the amendment be made:—

    The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 6.

    Division No. 2]

    AYES
    Cairns, David
    Gapes, Mike
    Jamieson, Mr. David
    Lazarowicz, Mr. Mark
    Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
    Perham, Linda
    Ryan, Joan
    Spellar, Mr. John

    NOES
    Bacon, Mr. Richard
    Brake, Tom
    Foster, Mr. Don
    McIntosh, Miss Anne
    Murrison, Dr. Andrew
    Randall, Mr. John

Column Number: 100

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No.25, in

    clause 12, page 7, line 17, at end insert—

    '( ) Regulations under section 1(2) shall not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.'.—[Mr. Spellar.]

    Question put, That the amendment be made:—

    The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 6.

    Division No. 3]

    AYES
    Cairns, David
    Gapes, Mike
    Jamieson, Mr. David
    Lazarowicz, Mr. Mark
    Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
    Perham, Linda
    Ryan, Joan
    Spellar, Mr. John

    NOES
    Bacon, Mr. Richard
    Brake, Tom
    Foster, Mr. Don
    McIntosh, Miss Anne
    Murrison, Dr. Andrew
    Randall, Mr. John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No.26, in

    clause 12, page 7, line 18, at beginning insert 'Other'.—[Mr. Spellar.]

    Question put, That the amendment be made:—

    The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 6.

    Division No. 4]

    AYES
    Cairns, David
    Gapes, Mike
    Jamieson, Mr. David
    Lazarowicz, Mr. Mark
    Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
    Perham, Linda
    Ryan, Joan
    Spellar, Mr. John

    NOES
    Bacon, Mr. Richard
    Brake, Tom
    Foster, Mr. Don
    McIntosh, Miss Anne
    Murrison, Dr. Andrew
    Randall, Mr. John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

11 am

Miss McIntosh: Now that the typographical errors are behind us, may I elicit from the Minister an undertaking that clause 12(3) means that the affirmative procedure will be used in each case? It is not specified that the regulations made under clause 12 relating to the clauses we have discussed will be brought forward shortly after Royal Assent. Will he confirm that the regulations will be customarily made by statutory instrument, as for the other two accident investigation branches set up under the maritime and aviation provisions?

It is curious to note that under clause 12(1) the regulations

    ''(b) may make different provision for different cases or circumstances, and

Column Number: 101

    (c) may include transitional, consequential or incidental provision.''

Will the Minister specify what ''transitional'' means? Would such transitional regulations be repealed? Will he also state what ''consequential'' means? Is the making of regulations consequential on the report? His elucidation would help us to understand clause 12. Will he reassure us that it contains no typographical errors?

Mr. Spellar: As we have already made clear in previous debates, the affirmative resolution would be used for regulations under clause 1(2). As hon. Members will recall, that allowed the Secretary of State to amend the definition of ''railway'' or ''railway property''. We have discussed the fact that it is a Henry VIII power allowing secondary legislation to amend primary legislation. Other regulations under this part of the Bill will be made by statutory instrument, as with the maritime and aviation branch regulations.

The regulations will set out detailed working arrangements for the branch in the same way as for the civil aviation and maritime branches. The equivalent regulations are made through the negative resolution procedure. As Lord Cullen recommended that the RAIB should be modelled on the AAIB, we see no reason why the RAIB regulations should not be made in the same manner. We intend to publish regulations soon after Royal Assent.

Miss McIntosh: We are still no nearer to defining the meaning of ''transitional''. If the regulations are modelled on those governing the marine accident investigation branch, which have existed for some considerable time, but not for as long as those that govern the aviation accident investigation branch, why should the Government need to have transitional provisions?

The Minister will know that, in most circumstances, the Opposition have a strong, almost religious, belief that all regulations should be passed under affirmative resolution procedure. However, as the Minister just reminded the Committee, the regulations under the two Acts that set up the marine and aviation equivalents were passed under statutory instrument, which weakens the argument. Will the Minister confirm that ''transitional'' regulations will be used only in the rarest of circumstances in cases where the regulations relating to transport bodies already exist? After all, he admitted that those bodies work extremely well under those regulations. I do not understand why we need transitional regulations.

Mr. Spellar: I wondered what the religion of the Conservative party was, now that the Church of England has deserted them.

The reason for transitional provisions is to allow a smooth transition to the new system. They will be used only where needed. The consequential provision is to allow regulations to deal with minor matters, where

Column Number: 102

required, as a result of making the RAIB regulations. The clause is designed for good order and smooth transition.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 13

Extent

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Miss McIntosh: Subsection (1) states:

    ''This Part extends to the whole of the United Kingdom.''

Subsection (2) states:

    ''In the application of this Part in relation to Scotland any reference to a tramway shall be disregarded.''

That raises two questions. First, I envisage a situation in which the clause would be dropped, especially in relation to cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow that were sufficiently large to carry a tramway and used to have trams, and bearing in mind that the Government's adviser on integrated transport, Mr. Begg, comes from the Scottish capital. I do not know how the Government would deal with a Scottish city that wanted to apply to have a tramway.

Secondly, we had an interesting but bemusing discussion with the Under-Secretary, to which I shall return as soon as possible in the time left to us. I am still hesitant about the difference between a tram and a trolley bus. I would have accepted the Under-Secretary's explanation readily had he said simply that trolley buses do not exist in the United Kingdom. Such a factual statement would be acceptable. However, if trolley buses do exist in this country and are involved in a serious accident or incident that falls under the provisions of the Bill, they will be investigated by the police, which I take to be the British Transport police.

I therefore believe that a number of issues are at fault in part 1, which cannot now be amended. There are several uncertainties, such as what constitutes a trolley bus—do they exist in this country?—what constitutes a tram, and whether Scotland is to have a tramway. It is regrettable that it is not clear who the investigating authority will be for trolley buses.

Mr. Foster: On a point of order, Mr. Hurst. I am a little confused about the implications of new clause 5, which will follow our deliberations on clause 13. Subsection (1) states:

    ''This Part extends to the whole of the United Kingdom.''

Exceptions to that provision are given in subsections (2) and (3). New clause 5 would exclude that part of the channel tunnel that is currently part of the United Kingdom. If it were successful, would we find ourselves in some difficulty?

The Chairman: I think that that problem would find its resolution on Report.

Column Number: 103

Mr. Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith): I do not want to pursue the philosophical question of the essential nature and concept of a trolley bus, which the hon. Member for Vale of York referred to, but I would like to say something about Scotland being excluded from the clause's provisions. Unlike the hon. Lady, I have some knowledge of Edinburgh and of Scottish legislation, so I know why tramways are being excluded. The tramways are a matter that is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Executive, whereas railways are a matter for this Parliament. However, I wonder whether the clause is too restrictive.

As the Minister made clear in Tuesday's debate, it was always envisaged that the rail accident investigation branch would have discretionary powers to investigate accidents on tramways. The relevant Scottish authorities might not have the expertise to carry out an investigation into an accident that occurred on a Scottish tramway, and they might wish to ask the United Kingdom rail accident investigation branch to investigate. So far as I can see, the exclusion in clause 13(2), which deletes references to tramways in Scotland, means that the rail accident investigation branch, which is given its powers under clause 6, would not be able to investigate such an accident, even if it were invited to by the Scottish authorities. I am sure that that is not intended; I may have read the clause incorrectly. Will the Minister confirm whether the rail accident investigation branch would have the power to investigate an accident on a tramway in Scotland if it were asked to do so by the Scottish authorities?

 
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Prepared 6 February 2003