Railways and Transport Safety Bill

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Mr. Jamieson: Witchcraft?

Miss McIntosh: Which ship, boat or recreational craft will be deemed to be a danger to other shipping under the clause?

The clause refers to the creation of an offence and power is given to the Secretary of State to legislate by order. I notice that some 23 statutory instruments are mentioned on today's Order Paper. We are passing far too many laws by secondary legislation that is not subject to the same scrutiny by the House—even less so under the new hours. We would prefer to see more regulations included in the Bill and far fewer of the statutory instruments that the Government have a tendency to use.

Mr. Jamieson: It may help the Committee if I clarify some of the points made by the hon. Lady. We dealt with the exemptions in part 4 when we debated clause 77, so the limitations have already been defined. The clause allows the Secretary of State to define the craft to which part 4 applies—jet-skis, for example. Our ambition is to listen and consult on the issue. From time to time in the Department we receive correspondence from hon. Members and the public about certain vessels on the sea and jet-skis have been a problem in recent years. Such views are listened to and taken into consideration.

The hon. Lady asked what other craft might be involved. I am informed that the provision could apply to an oil rig and that the Russians have developed a craft that is a cross between a plane and a boat. As I said, future proofing ensures that, when appropriate,

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the Government can respond with provisions that take account of new vessels.

Miss McIntosh: I am most grateful. I had not realised that an oil rig could be considered a vessel, but one can see why the provisions would be required when it is being towed out to sea by another vessel.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 104 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 105

Railways in London: transfers

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington): I beg to move amendment No. 93, in

    clause 105, page 46, line 19, at end insert—

    '( ) This section shall only take effect after consultation with organisations with responsibility for, or an interest in, London's transport and in particular the London Transport Users Committee which shall be renamed London's Transport Users Committee.'.

This is a probing amendment to draw the Minister's attention to a matter of concern. The clause is significant. It ensures that the Government are not left in the embarrassing situation of tube assets being lost to the taxpayer if one of the public-private partnership consortiums becomes insolvent. We shall return to that matter during the clause stand part debate.

It is important that a range of organisations are consulted on clause 105. One assumes that organisations such as Transport for London have been consulted on the clause, but others such as the London Transport Users Committee may not have been.

9.15 am

Amendment No. 93 serves a dual purpose. Its second purpose is to flag up to the Minister concerns that the London Transport Users Committee has about its remit and role. LTUC's remit is to represent all transport users in London, which includes pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers, train passengers and so on. However, its remit also includes car drivers; there is a dilemma as to whether on an issue such as congestion charges the organisation can represent the interests of both car drivers and pedestrians. For that reason, the organisation would like a small change to its name, which is reflected by our amendment. The simple insertion of a comma into the name of the organisation—

Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge): I would not like the hon. Gentleman to make a mistake: the amendment would insert an apostrophe and an ''s''.

Tom Brake: I thank the hon. Gentleman. The amendment would indeed insert an apostrophe. The move from the position of Whip to the Back Benches has clearly sharpened the hon. Gentleman's mind. The Committee welcomes that.

Miss McIntosh: It is a drafting error.

Tom Brake: The hon. Lady will see that the amendment would insert an apostrophe, and that it is only my notes that are in error.

London Transport Users Committee believes that the simple insertion of an apostrophe would clarify its

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role. It would also make it clear to those who wanted to approach the organisation that it was interested in the generality of transport issues, and not just London transport. Making it clear that it is London's transport users committee would also put the focus principally on transport, and it would be hard to argue that cars are a form of transport according to the way in which the organisation represents transport users. I would like to hear the Minister's views on the amendment. Will he consider meeting the organisation to discuss its remit to see whether it could be more focused on public transport and the needs of pedestrians, cyclist, bus passengers and so on in London, and to discuss whether it could make the extent of its remit clear to those seeking its support?

Miss McIntosh: This is an opportunity for the Minister to tell us the role he envisages for the London Transport Users Committee. I shall raise some serious issues later during the clause stand part debate, but I would like the Minister to confirm that the Government expect LTUC to be consulted.

Mr. Spellar: two issues are contained in amendment No. 93: one is whether the London Transport Users Committee should be consulted on clause 105; the other is the role and remit of that committee.

Nothing in clause 105 changes the role or remit of the committee. Should the organisation want to approach us later to change its role and remit, it would be sensible for the Government to examine that. However, we are aware—particularly at present—that there is a significant cross-over between the role of road transport with regard to both buses and cars in London. I am surprised that the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) wishes to differentiate to such an extent between various users of road space: they have common interests and we should not try to set up a conflict of interests between them.

The clause is designed to deal with a situation that was not envisaged when the Greater London Authority Act 1999 was passed. At that time, it was anticipated that there would be a seamless transition with regard to the London underground. Unfortunately, that has been slightly frustrated by a series of legal actions by the Mayor and Transport for London, which have had no positive outcomes. They have led to considerable delay and cost to Londoners. I hope that we can now move towards a sensible transition from London Transport to Transport for London for the London Underground and that these schemes can be implemented and can start to deliver benefits for London.

The clause is designed to facilitate that change—and I must say that one consults about policy and not about detailed changes of the implementation of policy.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath): The Minister talked about a seamless transfer of the London underground to Transport for London and the importance of consultation. I wish him to say whether the Government had discussions with Transport for London, particularly about arrangements in relation to British Transport police.

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Mr. Spellar: We had a number of discussions with Transport for London: it was able to contain its enthusiasm for some of our measures. We have also been engaged in regular discussions with Transport for London about British Transport police. The Home Office has been conducting discussions and consultations regarding both relations with and operations of British Transport police and the Metropolitan police within London's transport network, and I have no doubt that there will be further discussions on that.

Mr. Foster: I am sure that the Minister will not have this information at his fingertips, but I would be grateful if he would write to me to inform me of the dates when meetings took place between his Department and Transport for London in respect of the aspects of the Bill that relate to the British Transport police.

Mr. Spellar: I will write to the hon. Gentleman about that.

Tom Brake: I thank the Minister for his response, and in particular for his commitment to meet the London Transport Users Committee if it would like to discuss its remit. I am sure that it would welcome the opportunity to do that. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Spellar: I beg to move amendment No. 83, in

    clause 105, page 46, line 37, leave out 'or class of right,' and insert

    ', class of right, provision or class of provision,'.

Clause 105 will ensure that the operation of London Underground's contracts is not affected when they are transferred from one body to another. An unforeseen consequence of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 is that certain provisions given in respect of London Underground's contracts might fall away when contracts are transferred either to Transport for London or subsequently, and it was not the intention that they should do so. An example of that would be guarantees given by London Regional Transport in respect of London Underground's obligations under public-private partnership contracts.

The clause remedies that unforeseen problem by allowing London Transport and Transport for London to exempt contracts that they wish to transfer from those parts of the 1999 Act that cause the problems. It benefits all parties if guarantees and protections already agreed in the contracts can be relied on.

However, as currently drafted, the clause would only allow the relevant 1999 Act provisions to be disapplied in respect of a contract as a whole, or in relation to a specified contractual right. Some of the contracts contain complex arrangements for which it will be necessary to disapply only some of the relevant provisions, and there was doubt about whether the existing drafting could be construed as allowing that. The amendment simply refines the clause to ensure that that can take place.

 
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