Railways and Transport Safety Bill

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Mr. Spellar: It is surprising that the hon. Lady complained about knives on the guillotine and then filibustered.

Mr. Foster: The Minister is gathering his notes. In view of the hon. Lady's interest in whether London Underground will operate in Brussels and elsewhere, he might be interested to learn that I recently visited Sweden—as Committee members know—and that Connex, which is, by a roundabout route, part of one of the consortiums that is bidding for the London Underground, is currently operating the underground in Stockholm.

Mr. Spellar: On the other hand, it is remarkably difficult for other countries' companies to operate in France. Several European countries are taking a keen interest in that.

Mr. Foster: I must disabuse the Minister. I am sure that he will be delighted to know that when the Secretary of State for Defence recently made a statement about the new aircraft carriers he repeatedly pointed out that one of the companies, British Maritime Industries from Bath—

The Chairman: Order. It is clear that the Minister will not respond to that.

Mr. Spellar: I was not aware that that was a transport company or that it operated in the railways sector.

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It is right that the provisions of the clause extend to Scotland because the Greater London Authority Act 1999 extended to England, Wales and Scotland. It is my understanding that that was the practice for all London legislation before devolution. However, the Mayor has assured me that he has no further territorial ambitions.

The hon. Member for Uxbridge referred to the Mayor dispensing whisky and brandy in the Corridor during the passage of the 1999 Act. We hope that he did not go on to a party afterwards because that might have subsequently appeared in the London Evening Standard.

We have had a series of expeditions around the clause, and I now wish to get back to what it is intended to do, which is to ensure that the insolvency regime that will be in place post-transfer, and which is envisaged in the PPP contracts, will also operate pre-transfer. The explanatory notes state that the clause will not require any additional public expenditure than that which is envisaged in London Regional Transport's and London Underground's contracts.

This is a straightforward business-like way to deal with an immediate problem.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 105, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 106 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 7

Repeals

Question proposed, That this schedule be the Seventh schedule to the Bill.

Miss McIntosh: I seek an assurance that the Government will not delete any further provisions from the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

I did not see the words ''of police'' when I read section 76(2)(a) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, but I assume that the Minister will confirm that that is the only change to that Act.

We have already debated whether, if oral swabs were to be added to the specimens taken for the tests under the alcohol provisions for both rail and sea, there would need to be a further amendment. From my understanding of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, that could be done by statutory instrument. I am confused about why we have had to wait since 1988 for primary legislation; the Minister, however, might argue that it was 2002. Is the Minister saying that if road traffic provisions have to be amended to include the taking of specimens by other means than are currently used, that would be done by statutory instrument? Would we have to wait for primary legislation? I wish for oral swabs to be considered acceptable in certain circumstances.

10.15 am

Mr. Jamieson: The schedule does no more or less than repeal those provisions of the existing legislation that are no longer required in light of the Bill. The

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regulations under parts 4 and 5 would allow the maritime and aviation testing regimes to match any changes made to the road drink-driving test regime. The hon. Lady has raised the matter of different testing arrangements many times and we have handled it throughout the Bill. The legislation would be brought in through statutory instrument, if it were appropriate.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 7 agreed to.

Clause 107

Money

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

Miss McIntosh: I am most grateful for this opportunity to seek clarification from the Minister. Paragraph 159 of the explanatory notes tells us:

    ''The railways in London measures will not require any additional public expenditure''.

However, part 7 is presumably general and refers to the whole of the Bill. When does the Minister expect the money resolution to come forward? I notice that there is a money resolution on the Marine Safety Bill on the Order Paper for Thursday this week. What will the timing be? Is the Minister able to give us an estimate of what the total cost will be for all parts of the Bill? Surely, at this stage he must be in a position to share that information with the Committee.

Mr. Jamieson: The clause confirms that any new expenditure incurred by the Government as a result of the Bill would be paid for out of money provided to the Department by Parliament. As we have seen on many occasions during our deliberations, the explanatory notes outline the relatively small costs that the Government expect will result from the Bill. The hon. Lady has consistently asked about extra expenditure. As we have said, it is difficult to assess the precise figures at this stage, but it is anticipated that the extra expenditure will be small.

During our deliberations last Thursday we said that it would be unlikely that large numbers of pilots would be suspected of being under the influence on aeroplanes. It is, therefore, unlikely that a large number of tests would take place; I anticipate that there would be very few. That also applies to many other parts of the Bill. To assess the costs at this stage is difficult, but we know that they will be small.

Mr. Foster: I do not want to detain the Minister, but will he explain the Government's current thinking in relation to issues that we debated earlier in our proceedings? For example, we know that the Health and Safety Executive does not completely meet its costs from the current charging regime—there is a deficit. Do the Government anticipate that, under the new levy, all the costs will be covered and that there will no longer be a deficit to be made up by the Department? Is it anticipated that the total income from the police services agreement will meet the police budget in full? There are currently gaps in some areas and I wondered what was anticipated in relation to the overall costs of the Bill.

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Mr. Jamieson: The anticipation is that the costs in both cases will nearly be matched by any levies, but we do not necessarily expect full cost recovery in the case of the HSE.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 107 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 108

Commencement

Amendment made: No. 42, in

    clause 108, page 47, leave out from line 41 to end of line 2 on page 48.—[Mr. Jamieson.]

Amendment proposed: No. 92, in

    clause 108, page 48, line 10, at end insert—

    '( ) Section 105 (and the relevant entry in Schedule 7) shall come into force on the passing of this Act.'.—[Mr. Spellar.]

Miss McIntosh: Clearly, for reasons that the Minister will probably soon share with the Committee, the Government wish to expedite the enforcement of clause 105. We had hoped that the Government would be able to tell the Committee when the other clauses would come into effect, especially whether the Government were minded to expedite provisions relating to aviation offences. If the provisions relating to blood alcohol levels are acceptable at the conclusion of the Bill's proceedings and are enacted, when will the Government introduce a Bill relating to offences committed by disruptive aviation passengers who are the worse for wear, rather than pilots, crew and other personnel? When will those provisions reach the statute book to join this Bill?

Mr. Randall: I should like to take this opportunity to clarify the amendment, which has a pair of brackets at the beginning with nothing inside them. Is that a normal procedure, or should there be an ''8'' inside?

Mr. Spellar: Some of the points that were made by the hon. Member for Vale of York were more relevant to the clause stand part debate than to the amendment. However, a Bill dealing with air passenger offences is already being considered by the House and I believe that it has Government support—my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is nodding.

To answer the question about the empty brackets, I understand that that is normal drafting procedure, which I hope reassures the hon. Member for Uxbridge.

The amendment follows on from clause 105. I have explained on several occasions why we believe that it is necessary to enforce those provisions as soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent.

Amendment agreed to.

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

Miss McIntosh: I am grateful to the Minister for informing us about the Aviation (Offences) Bill. I recall participating in the early stages of the proceedings with the Under-Secretary. That was an enjoyable experience. I learned much from those preparations.

There is much agreement in Committee about the provisions of the Bill that cover alcohol testing for

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pilots, and we support them. The Under-Secretary said that the Government do not imagine that many pilots will fall into the categories referred to in the provisions. However, he said that some devices would need to be adapted for the tests, so presumably there will be a short period of preparation for that. The Bill sets out to give precedence to alcohol testing, and creates new aviation and maritime offences for air and sea pilots and other personnel in safety-critical positions.

It is regrettable that the Government did not see fit to include provisions relating to aviation offences, air rage, and disruptive passengers intoxicated with drink or drugs in the Bill. We are in danger of creating two categories of offences. Perhaps the Minister was told that his Department could not have as big a Bill as it wished, but that is not the best reason for excluding offences that relate to passengers. Such offences could also apply in a maritime sense; there might be disruptive passengers on a disco riverboat or chain ferry. However, one feels most vulnerable as an air passenger. We are disappointed that the Government did not make one package and include disruptive passengers on planes and ships in the Bill. It would have been a much neater way of proceeding. Now, there will be a category of offence relating to those working in safety-critical functions, even though passengers could feel equally jeopardised by disruptive passengers.

 
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