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Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: That was an extremely full and interesting response. I am delighted to hear in particular of the possibility that the old Oxford-Cambridge line may be reinstated in all its glory. I remember it well.

What the Minister said deserves careful study. It makes me regret all the more that the idea of a Strategic Rail Authority was not brought into legislation some years ago because we might then have avoided some of the nonsenses which arose out of a purely commercial attitude to land, which was exhibited by the BRB. But we cannot look behind us; we must look ahead. For the moment, and probably for good, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment Nos. 318 and 319 not moved.]

Clause 217 agreed to.

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Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 320:

    After Clause 217, insert the following new clause--

("Review of British Transport Police functions

.--(1) The Authority shall review and, within a period of two years from the day on which this Act is passed, publish a report on the discharge of police functions on railways and on the London Underground.
(2) In carrying out a review under this section the Authority shall consult Transport for London and any other body which appears to the Authority to have an interest in the provision and use of railway services and the London Underground.").

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this amendment is to seek a review of policing on the mainline railways and the London Underground and to determine how the needs of policing may be met most efficiently in future.

In a way, this is a left-over from the rail privatisation process when the matter of policing of the rail system was left in limbo. In the future, one might, for example, consider the continuation of a national force, such as the British Transport Police is today, or the transfer of responsibilities to local forces with the present funding of £93 million being used to meet the cost. Alternatively, some rail services may prefer to use private security officers for the tasks of monitoring such matters as bad behaviour at railway stations or painting on railway property and so on.

There will also be a need to take into account the recommendation of Professor Uff following the inquiry into the Southall rail accident because he said that it was unacceptable that a technical accident investigation should be directed or controlled by the British Transport Police because there was a lack of expertise and depended on outside advice. Most of the deficiencies which he found in parts of that investigation were caused by those inadequacies.

The matter of the future of the British Transport Police should not be allowed just to drift along. It should be addressed now so that when a suitable legislative opportunity arises--perhaps associated with other police legislation--some properly thought-out proposals for the railway and Underground policing are ready to be put into action. I beg to move.

Lord Berkeley: I support this amendment. I was not expecting to but in the past week I have been deluged with information from freight train operators saying that a large number of incidents have taken place in which their drivers were bricked; that is, having bricks thrown at the cab through the open window.

There have been incidents in Merseyside, Tyneside and many other parts of the country. Like everybody else, train drivers have a right to be able to go about their work without risk of injury. The latest incident was an attack by 20 youths with bricks in Tyneside. Luckily, the driver was not hurt. When he reached his destination he reported the incident to the British Transport Police and asked for an escort on the way

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back. The alleged reply was, "You haven't been hurt so you won't get an escort". I cannot believe that was true.

It is indicative that whereas before the police had to deal with contained areas of this potential problem, it is almost as if the complete route network will be affected in future by vandalism. We all know that as train speeds increase, the consequences of vandalism could be very serious. The review is important. In the mean time I would support anything we can do to ensure that the police have enough resources to carry out these duties.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey : I recognise the problems which have given rise to the amendment. I have three basic answers. First, the British Transport Police Committee already produces a report every year on BTP policing of the railways and London Underground. Although it is produced by the committee rather than the SRA, it follows the format that Home Office police forces use. It includes details of BTP's main activities and developments, and statistics on the force, including crime figures for the area. The Committee will continue to produce the report when the British Transport Police move to the SRA from the British Railways Board.

Secondly, the police committee invites Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to undertake a primary inspection of the force every three years with a detailed assessment of the police's operational and organisational performance by an independent expert body. That report is published. A copy is sent to railway businesses and other interested parties. That is in line with Home Office forces and will continue under the SRA.

Finally, the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, referred to the need for an independent national police authority. I can confirm that we have announced our intention to create an independent national police authority when a legislative opportunity arises. It is likely to be given many of the duties now required of a Home Office police authority, including consulting the community regarding policing and preparing an annual report on how that policing has been carried out. We shall consider again at that time the position on inspections of the force.

It is probable that those requirements will be placed on the BTP authority in the legislation to bring them into line with Home Office forces. That is the correct place for such statutory requirements. I hope that that convinces the noble Baroness that we are very much concerned with the issues to which she referred in moving the amendment.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for his support and, more particularly, the Minister for an interesting response. I am sure that my noble friend will read it and consider what to do. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 19 agreed to.

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Clause 218 [Power to make bye-laws.]:

[Amendment No. 321 not moved.]

Clause 218 agreed to.

Schedule 20 agreed to.

Clause 219 agreed to.

Schedule 21 agreed to.

Clauses 220 and 221 agreed to.

1.30 a.m.

Clause 222 [Regulator's power to require provision etc. of railway facilities]:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 322:

    Page 133, line 1, leave out ("a period") and insert ("such reasonable period as is").

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 322, with the leave of the Committee I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 323 to 329.

New Section 16D leaves it to the regulator to specify the period within which representations under Clause 222 are to be made. Amendments Nos. 322 and 323 introduce an objective rather than a subjective test. It is extremely important that any person at risk of receiving a direction should have adequate time to make representations. There should be some protection against the regulator imposing an unrealistic timetable.

Subsection (7) gives the regulator a wide-ranging power in connection with an application for a direction to provide, improve or develop railway facilities to require,

    "the person specified in the application, the applicant, or any other person",

to provide information. Amendments Nos. 324 and 325 remove that power in relation to "any other person". The power given to the regulator is far too wide. It is appropriate that the applicant and any person the target of the direction should be open to such a requirement, but not the whole wide world.

Amendment No. 326 requires the regulator to use the information obtained under subsection (7) only in connection with the proposed direction and to compensate any person providing information for its wrongful disclosure. As the Bill is drafted there is no restriction on the purpose for which information obtained can be used, and no penalty for improper disclosure. Information may be commercially and price sensitive and should be properly protected. As with unlawful disclosures of information that must be provided under other sections of the Act, compensation should be available for any person suffering loss as a result of such disclosure.

Subsection (2) enables the regulator to require the applicant for a direction to reward or make payment to the recipient of the direction. Amendment No. 327 limits such power to cases where the regulator is satisfied that the recipient will not otherwise be adequately rewarded, as set out in new Section 16E.

It is right that no one who is forced by a direction to provide, improve or develop a railway facility should lose as a result. The Bill however requires the consent

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of the authority to any application for a direction and runs a serious risk of creating an investment bottleneck as a result. An applicant should only have the burden of reward or payment to the recipient of a direction imposed on him if the person directed is not otherwise going to receive adequate reward. Otherwise applications will not be made and the investment bottleneck will worsen.

Finally, subsection (5) gives the regulator complete discretion to determine the amount of compensation paid to the recipient of a direction on its variation or revocation. Amendments Nos. 328 and 329 specify that the amount of compensation represents the actual loss to the recipient. Any other basis for compensation would be unfair, either to the recipient of the direction or the applicant. In those circumstances there is no case whatever for leaving the amount to the discretion of the regulator. I beg to move.

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