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Lord Henley: My Lords, I am grateful that the noble Lord recognises the major expansion of higher and further education under a Conservative Government that has taken place over 17 years. As regards whether a major public inquiry is necessary to examine the role of the university air squadrons, the university officer training corps or the university royal naval units, that is another matter. But we will continue to support those we have and on some occasions we will establish new ones. We established six new university royal naval units in various universities in September last year. We will continue to keep the position under review.

Viscount Allenby of Megiddo: My Lords, with the closure of the junior training establishments which provided so many good young men and women straight from school into the regular forces, does the noble Lord agree that the role of the cadets is vital today? Will he confirm that all initiatives which are proposed by the cadet organisations will be supported by the Government?

Lord Henley: My Lords, that depends very much on what initiatives they are. The role of the cadets is very, very important but one should not overstress that role in terms of recruiting. It could very easily damage their role in terms of what they do in the community if they were thought purely to be a recruiting organisation. We recognise their value in terms of recruiting but they are not principally a recruiting organisation.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, in response to the question of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, about stability, I understood the Minister to say that there was a certain stability but that there were still areas where cost savings might or might not be achieved. In view of the fact that there is apparent stability for the rest of the Armed Forces, can we hear from the noble Lord exactly what cost savings the Government are studying—and where—in the cadet force, as well as a response to the other matters mentioned by the noble and gallant Lord?

Lord Henley: My Lords, to give just one or two examples, I can confirm that the headquarters of the air cadets and the headquarters of the university air squadrons are being co-located at RAF Cranwell and that that will bring significant savings of something of the

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order of £600,000. We think that there are other aspects of the organisation, particularly of the army cadet force and the air training corps, where rationalisation could be achieved without affecting the service provided to the cadets, and we will continue, as I said, to pursue those.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords—

Noble Lords: Next Question!


3.2 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that further regulation is needed to restrict the clamping of motor vehicles by private persons.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, the Government believe that the activities of some wheelclamping companies are not acceptable. But any remedy to this problem of unscrupulous clampers should not interfere with sensible measures to control parking on private land. The Government see the need to protect both the landowner and the motorist. We are looking for a solution which is cost-effective and which will work.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for her reply. Did she note a case last month in which civil proceedings were successful in Newcastle, but only through the determination and the persistence of the victim? Should not more now be done in England and Wales to prevent pirates from operating on waste or unsupervised land, and holding their victims to ransom for large sums? This of course does not affect the need to get permission to park on private land. Will the Government now announce a clampdown on cowboy clampers?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, first of all, we recognise that to seek redress through civil courts can take a long time and we are seeking solutions which will offer clamped motorists a more speedy solution to their problem. I should also say that only last week my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor warmly welcomed the publication of Lord Justice Woolf's interim report, which will of course speed up the process. We think that will help. But I repeat what I said at the beginning, we recognise that this is a problem. We want a solution but it must be enforceable and cost-effective; and at the end of the day it must work.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that it is high time to deprivatise the whole of this clamping racket?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am not sure if deprivatising the whole of it is the answer; but your Lordships will know that there has been a good deal of debate over the private security industry—perhaps more than there has been over the wheelclamping industry. I am not sure that the two industries are entirely comparable although I agree that there is some overlap. The important thing is to find a solution which works for wheelclamping

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and which is cost-effective and enforceable. Where wheelclamping is handled responsibly, it prevents the tiresome habit of parking which sometimes blocks important pathways—for example, pathways into hospitals and schools and other places. But what we want is a sense of balance. Where the cowboys are operating, we want to establish an effective system to do something about that.

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: My Lords, will my noble friend tell the House what conclusions were drawn from the consultative paper issued last year?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I can tell my noble friend that it was inconclusive. I am afraid that there was no consensus. There was a good deal of useful information but I am afraid there is no real consensus on this issue. There is a landowning interest; there is a proper business and commercial interest; and there is the interest, as I have already said, of schools and hospitals. However, there is also the interest of getting rid of the tiresome business of cowboy operators in the field. What we are looking for is a solution that will work and will do something about that.

Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, quite apart from the cowboys, is an owner of private land entitled to detain vehicles and clamp them? How long is he allowed to keep them, and is he entitled to levy fines before they are released?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, as the law stands at the moment, someone on private land can put up a notice and can suggest that anyone who parks on that land will suffer the consequence of his vehicle being clamped and in order to retrieve the vehicle a fee will need to be paid. One of the problems—I suspect this was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy—is that some people are operating without putting up notices spelling out the consequences of certain actions, and sometimes they are operating without even the permission of the owners of the land. Some people are operating as clampers freely on anyone's piece of land. An owner of private land can use clamping as a deterrent against people parking on the land.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that the present legal situation, which was not designed for this at all, is rather confused and is highly unsatisfactory? Is it the understanding—is this right—that the Government are considering the formulation and the introduction of some new legal regime; some new regulations? If they are, can they consider including in that a provision to make it an offence for anyone to clamp a car on private land, or any vehicle on private land, that displays a disabled person's orange badge?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, my noble friend is right; the law is under consideration on this matter and it is inadequate. As my noble friend probably knows, many of the cases which underpin the law of trespass in civil law are of some antiquity and are based on straying animals rather than wrongfully parked vehicles. The relevant legal principles cannot therefore always be stated. My noble friend also mentioned orange badges. The consultation

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exercise acknowledged the need to consider the position of orange badge holders. We have not moved from that view—we are looking into that, too.

Business of the House: Debates, 21st June

3.8 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the debate on the Motion in the name of the Lord Dean of Beswick set down for tomorrow shall be limited to three hours and that in the name of Baroness Turner of Camden set down for the same day to two-and- a-half hours.—(Viscount Cranborne.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Land Registers (Scotland) Bill

Read a third time, and passed.

Activity Centres (Young Persons' Safety) Bill

Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, in moving the Third Reading of this Bill I pay my compliments to the Bill's sponsor in another place, Mr. David Jamieson, the Honourable Member for Devonport, Plymouth for the persistent way he has pursued the subject until finally he received the full support of the Government and of the whole House in another place. I also wish to express my thanks to the Minister in this House for the kind and considerate way that he dealt with the Bill in facilitating its passage through this House.

When the Bill becomes law shortly it will provide safer facilities for young people up to the age of 17 who wish to indulge in sports activities out of doors and may well go a long way to preventing a recurrence of the terrible tragedy in Lyme Bay in which four young people were drowned while canoeing.

Again, I thank everyone concerned. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(Lord Dean of Beswick.)

On Question, Bill read a third time.

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