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Viscount Simon: My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, has said that he is confused by some of the definitions in the Air Quality Regulations. I am not a philologist, a mathematician or even a statistician. They are double Dutch to me. So I am delighted that he brought the subject up.
In respect of the Air Quality Regulations, one of the things that I am sorry to see is that particulates are being measured to PM 1 0 whereas they should perhaps be measured down to PM 2 ½, which would be better for health. In that respect your Lordships might be aware of the smokey vehicle hotline to which one can report commercial vehicles with badly smoking exhausts. It does a commendable job.
I am tempted to say that the regulations in respect of road traffic vehicle emissions represent a step forward in our efforts to reduce pollution and force polluting vehicles off the road, but the regulations could be described as fine-taking rather than enforcement. I make no apology for repeating some of the things that my noble friend Lord Mishcon mentioned because I, too, have had words with the AA.
As the regulations stand, no discretion is allowed the responsible driver who can show that a vehicle failing an emission test has been properly maintained. So at the moment the irresponsible driver of a polluting vehicle pays the same penalty. Further, there will be no requirement in law for offending motorists to take the vehicle off the road or get the fault fixed. The responsible driver will effect repairs. The irresponsible one will continue to pollute the atmosphere.
Perhaps my noble friend the Minister would consider a system of vehicle rectification at a later stage, as applies in other cases of vehicle defects, which would give the motorist, say, 14 days in which to present a new MOT certificate to the local authority and pay a reduced fine. After that period, a punitive fine could be enforced. That method would ensure that motorists would effect suitable repairs and adjustments and at the same time that the local authority would cover its costs. If it is possible to do something along those lines, I hope that consideration will be given to it. Perhaps my noble friend will assure the House that the pilot scheme will, in addition to the methods he has already mentioned, be monitored in respect of cost-effectiveness, public and police reaction, police resources and the age and type of offending vehicles.
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed in the most constructive way to our consideration of the regulations. I should perhaps point out that the regulations do not of themselves create any new offence. They are basically to do with a more robust enforcement regime. In that sense, the powers contained within the regulations complement existing powers.
I think that I draw from the contributions the fact that there may be four basic areas of concern: first, remediation and enforcement; secondly, the nature of the pilot study; thirdly, what I will call the innocent victim; and, fourthly, the position of local authorities and the support that they are receiving. I shall deal with the points in a different order. We have already made provision in the revenue settlement for local authorities to ensure that they have the revenue contribution to deal with the problem. We are making specific contributions on the capital side for the necessary equipment. Local authorities should be able to carry this through.
With the innocent victim, we get down to the degree of discretion. I am afraid that I am old-fashioned and pragmatic in that I fall back on ideas of common sense. Local authorities have a degree of discretion. If the vehicle has been properly serviced in line with the manufacturer's instructions and regularly--and I wish that all manufacturers would insist upon emissions being part of the servicing regime--I believe that an individual has nothing to fear.
In any event, there are clear warning signs that something is going wrong with emissions. I refer to poor reliability, difficulty in starting and high fuel consumption, to say nothing of the fundamental point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, about there being a great deal of smoke. The warning signs exist and people should respond appropriately.
As regards enforcement, there is a fine but no remediation is required. I believe that most motorists who find themselves in this position are responsible motorists. Once they become aware that they fall into the category of making unlawful emissions they will seek remedial treatment. If they do not they will run the real risk of being stopped again, when action will be taken.
As regards commercial vehicles--I refer to heavy goods vehicles and those in the PSV category--the vehicle inspectorate can take action up to and including taking the vehicle off the road. A real sanction is therefore available. I am slightly tempted by the idea of my noble friend Lord Mishcon that a little bit of paper should be issued to them and we may wish to reflect on that later.
That is one issue which may arise as a result of the pilot study. Indeed, we are carrying out the pilot study in order to have the opportunity of reflecting and considering all the ways in which to proceed. The pilot study will produce important data on non-compliance and how difficult a problem it is. That should be welcomed. It will also provide us with data on the extent to which the fixed penalty route is the appropriate way forward by identifying the rate at which people pay the penalty. It will also provide invaluable data on the extent to which people are exceeding the emissions limit. Therefore, we will have a good quantifiable set of data on vehicle emissions.
When I examined the issue I was attracted by the arguments that we have heard tonight; carrying out a test to ascertain the improvement which such an approach would bring about on local air quality. However, having discussed the matter at a technical level, I am aware of the difficulty of isolating out among a number of complex variables the single variable of vehicle emissions and the contribution which they alone in a complex set of variables make to local air quality. I am afraid that at the moment that is beyond our scope.
We are proposing these regulations in the spirit of moving forward in improving air quality. I hope that the House will believe that through the pilot studies we have chosen a way forward which will enable our proposals to be tested and important data to be collected. If the pilot studies prove that to be the case we can move forward with confidence. I commend the regulations to the House.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the first two orders relate to Europol and the third relates to the OSPAR Commission on marine pollution. The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments considered all three orders in its 14th report and had no comments.
In July 1995, EU member states signed a draft convention based on Article K3 of the Treaty on European Union on the establishment of a European police office, the Europol Convention. The convention was subsequently published as a command paper and laid before Parliament on 8th December 1995. It was ratified a year later on 10th November 1996. I must stress that under the convention Europol staff will have no operational powers. They will focus on the exchange and analysis of intelligence relating to serious international crime. A single national unit in each member state will be responsible for providing Europol with relevant intelligence and for acting as the link to law enforcement agencies in the member state. The National Criminal Intelligence Service will undertake this role in the UK. The national units will remain under national control. The director of Europol will be its legal representative and he will report to a management board comprising representatives from all member states.
The convention also makes detailed provision for the protection of data held by Europol and will establish an independent joint supervisory board drawn from national data protection supervisory bodies. However, before Europol's practical work can begin, in addition to all member states ratifying the convention, under Article 45(4) of the convention it is also necessary for a number of implementing regulations to have entered into force. Among those is the ratification by all members of the protocol on the privileges and immunities of Europol, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th October. The protocol is ancillary to a Community treaty and therefore comes within the terms of Section 1(3) of the European Communities Act 1972.
It is therefore proposed that the first draft order before the House--that relating to the definition of treaties--should be made under Section 1(3) of the 1972 Act specifying the protocol as a Community treaty. That order provides the basis for the second order, which relates to the privileges and immunities of Europol provided by the protocol, which will be made under Section 2(2) of the 1972 Act.
The UK fully supports the establishment of Europol and is committed to creating an organisation which will work effectively and add real value to the existing European police and customs co-operation. We were the first member state to ratify the convention and we see considerable advantage in being among the first to ratify this protocol. In doing so, we will demonstrate our commitment to Europol, send a wider message about the importance that we attach to effective inter- governmental co-operation against international crime under the third pillar of the EU and allow the United Kingdom to comply with the relevant recommendation of the EU high level group on organised crime, which was endorsed by the Amsterdam European Council.
It is important to emphasise that the privileges and immunities which will be given to Europol staff by the second order are comparable with those routinely afforded to staff of international organisations based in the UK. I also draw attention to Article 8 of the protocol which confines that immunity from legal process for Europol staff to acts which are in the exercise of their official functions and to Article 12 which obliges Europol to observe national laws and to waive immunities where possible in cases where immunity would impede the course of justice.
I should also re-emphasise that Europol will not be an operational police force. Its role will be to bring together and develop intelligence in support of the law enforcement agencies of the member states. It is essentially a supporting role. Europol staff will not undertake investigations, arrests and other executive policing functions.
I appreciate that there are some who would like Europol to take on a wider role in the future. But that is not the current view of Her Majesty's Government. However, were the role of Europol to be developed in any way beyond that presently set out in Article 3 of the Europol Convention, then Article 17 of the Protocol would provide that there must first be a review of the current proposed privileges and immunities. That would ensure that the protocol continues to be appropriate for the tasks which Europol staff are undertaking.
I turn now to the order relating to the OSPAR Commission. The order allows the London-based secretariat of the OSPAR Commission and its staff to benefit from the privileges and immunities they previously enjoyed while working in the United Kingdom for the Oslo and Paris Commissions. OSPAR is not an acronym but is a merger of "Oslo" and "Paris". It took me a long time to work that out.
The secretariat currently administers the 1972 Oslo Convention and the 1974 Paris Convention. The contracting parties to those two conventions considered that those conventions no longer adequately controlled some of the many sources of marine pollution. They decided, therefore, to merge them into a single convention under which all sources of pollution which might affect the maritime area could be addressed. As a result, the convention for the protection of the marine environment of the North East Atlantic was concluded in Paris on 22nd November 1992. The Government ratified that convention on 15th July 1997.
The 1992 convention established the OSPAR Commission which consists of representatives of each of the contracting parties. It established also a permanent secretariat headed by an executive secretary. I am pleased to report that the commission agreed that the new secretariat should continue to be based in London and, to that end, the Government have negotiated a draft headquarters agreement with that commission.
This order is therefore specifically about the privileges and immunities to be accorded under the draft order which are necessary to fulfil our obligations under the draft headquarters agreement. Apart from allowing the secretariat the facility to employ part-time staff and extending the period of first importation of personal
We consider that the privileges and immunities being granted are no more than is necessary to enable the secretariat to operate effectively in the UK and, indeed, are broadly similar to those accorded to other international organisations. They are granted in accordance with the limitations imposed by the International Organisations Act 1968 as amended, under whose provisions the order is made.
This order needs to be formally made at the meeting of the Privy Council on 17th December 1997--that is, this week--so that the headquarters agreement, which will enter into force on signature, can be signed shortly thereafter, enabling both the order and the agreement to come into force and allow the secretariat to administer the new convention. It is for that reason that the order is before the House today. I beg to move.