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Lord Brett: I thank the Minister for his detailed response. He is better at "Treasuryspeak" than anyone else I know. But it is "Treasuryspeak". I am grateful only for his final two sentences; they at least offer the opportunity for further consideration. The difficulty is that even if everything the Minister said is absolutely true, it is not believed by those most affected. They are not prepared to accept that a Minister in the year 2000-01 will give assurances which in 2006 may see a strategic partnership agreement torn up, changed; Faulkner's world will have arrived and we will have a whole different series of ownerships--not only within London Transport but, with dilution, we could have it within the strategic partnership.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have not made myself clear. I am not talking about assurances that I have given; I am talking about a trust deed which is the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority pension scheme. It is not open to any new management of

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NATS to change it; it is up to the Civil Aviation Authority pension scheme trustees--and they will be in the future as they are now. These are not assurances; these are facts.

Lord Swinfen: Surely the noble Lord is aware that trust deeds can be changed.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The trust deed will be in the same hands as it is now.

Lord Swinfen: But that does not mean that it cannot be changed.

Lord Brett: There are two points: one is the contributions that will be made by the strategic partner; the second point--which is of greater substance--is that the very trustees in whom we are placing faith because of the facts presented by the Minister are the people who want to see it on the face of the Bill. That somewhat undermines the verbal assurances--facts or otherwise--in the minds of the 5,000 people that we need to make a success of a novel PPP. I shall happily take the opportunity, first, to read Hansard; secondly, to consult my ex-colleagues in the NATS area; and, thirdly, to take up discussions on this issue with the Minister before Report stage. However, on the basis of the robust answers this evening, I feel that, unless the issue can be resolved in the meantime, it will have to be put to a Division at Report stage.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I was extremely interested to hear the most recent intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Brett, because it embodied, in great detail and with great fervour, some of the doubts that were creeping into my mind as I listened to the Minister. I understood what he was saying--at least I think I understood it--about the trust deed. I still do not see why that prohibits any mention on the face of the Bill of employees' pension rights. I shall withdraw my amendment for the time being, but I shall be extremely interested to see the results of the conferencing between the Minister and his colleagues.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, will be very welcome.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 96 not moved.]

Schedule 7 agreed to.

Clause 65 [Interpretation]:

[Amendments Nos. 97 and 98 not moved.]

Clause 65 agreed to.

Clause 66 [Air navigation: directions]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 99:

    Page 44, line 6, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 99, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 100 and 103. Amendment No. 99 seeks to leave out subsection

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(2) of Clause 66. Subsection (2) deprives anyone injured by the CAA's failure to carry out any duty imposed on it by the Secretary of State of any right of action against the CAA. The amendment seeks to restore such a right of action. It is a basic right that those injured by the failures of a public body should be compensated. If the Secretary of State considers a matter important enough to give a direction, it is important enough for those injured by the CAA's failure to comply to have a remedy. It is in any event difficult to see the difference between failure to carry out a duty and an act of omission in the course of performing navigation functions.

Amendment No. 100 seeks to amend Clause 68. Clause 67 already gives the Secretary of State power to give directions to the CAA in relation to its air navigation functions. Subsections (2)(a) and (b) go further in allowing him to require in those directions that the CAA comes back to the Secretary of State for further directions. The amendment removes that further right. These additional powers give too much control. Once the Secretary of State has told the CAA how it is to exercise its air navigation functions, he should leave the CAA to get on with it and not give himself--the Secretary of State--the power to interfere in this way.

The final amendment in this group, Amendment No. 103, seeks to amend Clause 71. Clause 67 gives the CAA a wide-ranging power to require production of information and documents from those providing air traffic services, whether they are licence holders and therefore subject to regulation by the CAA or not. The amendment exempts commercially confidential or price-sensitive information. Providers of services should not be forced to provide information which could afford competitors an unfair advantage if it fell into their hands. The exemptions in subsection (3) do not give sufficient protection. It will sometimes be fair to compel production of information or documents in the context of legal action, which in most cases will either have been instituted by the provider or against it as a result of default by the provider, but it would not be fair to do so at the instance of a public body where there has been no default by the provider. I beg to move.

10.15 p.m.

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Amendment No. 99 seeks to remove Clause 66(2) which provides that, should the CAA fail to perform a duty placed on it by a direction issued under Clause 66(1), it is not liable to suit. This reflects the current provision in Section 72(3) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982.

While a direction may place a duty on the CAA, and Clause 103(1) requires that the CAA must give effect to that direction, it will remain with the CAA to decide how best to implement that duty. In such circumstances, it is not too hard to imagine a situation where the CAA could take a course of action which, while satisfactory to the Secretary of State, could be perceived by an individual or organisation as failing to meet that duty. Clearly it would be undesirable for the

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CAA to be at risk of legal action each time it took policy decisions in response to directions it has received from the Secretary of State.

Amendment No. 100 seeks to remove the ability of the Secretary of State to require the CAA to seek the approval of the Secretary of State on any specified matters or in any specified circumstances.

We are uncomfortable with the idea of removing lines 4 to 9 of Clause 68. We do expect to replace the current directions to the CAA in respect of airspace policy. These require that in certain specific circumstances the CAA must consult with, and obtain the approval of, the Secretary of State. We do foresee a continuing requirement for the involvement of the Secretary of State.

It is clearly essential that the CAA should have access to the information it requires to enable it properly to carry out its air navigation functions. Amendment No. 103 would prevent the CAA requiring the supply of information for this important purpose where such information is commercially confidential or price sensitive.

The clause as drafted means that no one can be compelled to produce documents or to supply information which he could not be compelled to produce in civil court proceedings. I am sure that the Committee will agree that that is as it should be. However, aside from that, the CAA should have access to the information it needs, which may well include information falling within the two categories specified in this amendment. We do not believe that it should be unnecessarily hampered in its exercise of statutory functions and duties. It is for this reason that we do not believe the amendment to be appropriate or acceptable.

In the circumstances, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: Once again I am grateful for the Minister's response to what are in essence fairly detailed amendments to the Bill. He has given me some reassurance. As always, I shall look forward to reading what he has said. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 66 agreed to.

Clause 67 agreed to.

Clause 68 [Directions: further provision]:

[Amendment No. 100 not moved.]

Clause 68 agreed to.

Clause 69 agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 101:

    After Clause 69, insert the following new clause--


(" . The Secretary of State may make regulations allowing an airport operator to apply penalties to the operators of air services when those services deviate from approved corridors or routes for take-off or landing.").

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The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 101. I begin my remarks with a quotation:

    "We propose to take powers to enable airports to enforce mitigation measures, for example by taking action against non-compliant airlines, and to enable local authorities to enforce noise mitigation agreements".

The quotation continues:

    "This will require legislation and we will consult on the details. In the interim, there is nothing to stop airports from entering into noise mitigation agreements with their local authorities".

That is a quotation from paragraph 4.221 of the government White Paper A New Deal for Transport: Better For Everyone published in 1998. Two years later, I believe that we now have the legislative opportunity in the Bill before us to do something about this matter.

This amendment was proposed in another place by my honourable friend Mr Graham Brady MP and a number of other Members of Parliament from all sides of the House with constituencies in the Manchester area. They have held discussions with Ministers. I believe that those Ministers were reasonably in favour of the proposal, but again were looking for an opportunity for legislative time.

When aircraft take off from busy airports, they are expected to follow noise-preferential routes until they reach a certain altitude, and then to go in the direction of their destination. The purpose of that is to mitigate noise problems and to attempt to minimise the area affected by noise.

Section 38(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 provides that,

    "an aerodrome authority may for, the purpose of encouraging the use of quieter aircraft and of diminishing inconvenience from aircraft noise, fix its charges by reference, among other things, to any fact or matter relevant to ... the extent or nature of any inconvenience resulting from such noise".

The problem is that there is some legal doubt as to whether that allows for the type of measure that I propose.

Perhaps I may again draw on the experience of Manchester airport. Some airlines are very good, and some are very bad. I shall not name names; suffice it to say that over 20 per cent of the aircraft of one airline on the list that I received from Manchester deviate from the NPR. Other examples are given of 15, 16 or 17 per cent deviation from the NPR. That is unacceptable. I sympathise particularly with the airports. Although the aeroplanes make the noise, it is always the airport that gets the blame.

So airports want the power--I do not believe that any responsible airline would object--as was recognised in the White Paper, to enforce some kind of fining mechanism or penalty for airliners that deviate too often from the NPRs.

I have deliberately framed the amendment so as to give the Secretary of State a great deal of flexibility in framing the regulations. I am sure I shall be told that it is incorrectly drafted. I shall probably be told also that I am attempting to insert it at the wrong place in the Bill.

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However, this Transport Bill has been a long time coming, and I do not know when there will be another. This idea has been around for over two years, since the White Paper was published. It offers an ideal opportunity to include the power in the new clause. As I said, my proposal would provide the Secretary of State with a good deal of flexibility. I believe it would be welcomed by airports, and not least by those who are resident around them.

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