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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, it is useful to have the candid admission that this is a wrecking amendment; or at least wrecking with regard to Chapter II of Part III of the Bill. One would be hard put to have a wrecking amendment for the whole Bill. I think that in the 18th century the Scots objected very strongly to being called North Britain. Now it looks as if the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, wishes England to be thought of as South Britain, or South Scotland even; and for us slavishly to follow the example of the Scottish Parliament. As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay,

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rightly said--I am in danger of taking on a Scots accent, but I shall try to avoid it--this is devolution. Indeed, that is what it is about. My understanding is that Scottish local authorities have expressed little interest in bringing forward workplace parking schemes in contrast with this country--may I call England "this country"?--where 26 local authorities have already joined our Charging Development Partnership. The Bill empowers local authorities outside London to bring forward a scheme in their area. It gives local authorities the discretion they want. It gives them the powers for which they have been asking. It is entirely appropriate that where that is the case we should continue to give them the discretion they want. They do not have to bring forward schemes, but if they want to--and it appears that they do want to--it is right that we should keep Chapter II of Part III of the Bill.

The analogy with the speed limit legislation is entirely false. Speed limits are a matter for GB legislation. It is not a devolved matter and could not be. It would be extremely confusing if there were different general speed limits in different parts of the country. On the other hand, workplace parking schemes are entirely different. We believe that it is right to continue with this proposal, as is the wish of local authorities in England.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Mackay for his support in this matter. I am also, surprisingly perhaps, grateful for the reply of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, although I do not agree with it. I would not suggest that England should slavishly follow anyone--if one may refer to "England" rather than "the United Kingdom". I still think of myself as being British and I find the distinction difficult. This is devolution. I can understand that some English local authorities might well be seduced by what appears to be an attractive idea, but it has some fairly severe downsides.

I did not mention the question of the speed limit legislation specifically to draw a parallel with it, but merely to emphasise that there are points at which consultation and the views of other parts of the United Kingdom have to be taken into account. In all government administration and in all politics one needs to be well aware of the perspective of what one is doing. The question is whether this idea, which is deemed appropriate elsewhere, might be deemed appropriate here also. The Minister has not given a sufficient answer to whether this part of the Bill is as all-singingly, all-dancingly good as he would like it to be.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, before the noble Lord decides what he wants to do with his amendment--he is clearly gearing himself up for a Division--will he reflect on the fact that not once in the course of the consideration of the Bill has he divided the House against workplace parking levies?

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his intervention. When I tabled this

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amendment I specifically asked the Public Bill Office whether it was in order so to do. Having been told that I could--I would have accepted it if the Public Bill Office said that I could not--I have. We have discussed other amendments which sought to amend this part of the Bill.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for giving way. This is quite a new factor. When the Scottish Parliament--run by the Labour Party, which I believe is a fully paid-up branch of the British Labour Party--makes a decision that runs counter to the Bill, surely my noble friend is right to ask whether the Labour Party should not follow suit down here.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. I thought that I had covered that point by implication when I referred to the perspective one should take when dealing with these matters. I had better not waste any more words. I wish to test the view of the House on the matter.

6.59 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 12) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 40; Not-Contents, 105.

Division No. 2


Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Attlee, E.
Biffen, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elton, L.
Flather, B.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Hanham, B. [Teller]
Henley, L. [Teller]
Howe, E.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Laird, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Swinfen, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Wakeham, L.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Greaves, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jenkins of Putney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McNally, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Monson, L.
Nicol, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Puttnam, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

9 Nov 2000 : Column 1739

7.9 p.m.

Clause 207 [Manner of exercise of functions]:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 13:

    Clause 207, page 124, line 17, at end insert--

("( ) The Authority may further its purposes, in accordance with any strategies it has formulated with respect to them, by means of competitions and tenders for the purpose of encouraging innovation and otherwise, provided that such competitions and tenders, where they relate to matters of material importance to the Authority's exercise of its functions, are conducted in accordance with rules that have first been approved by the Secretary of State.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, on Report, I moved Amendment No. 313, which suggested that the maximum gross train weight of a cement tanker vehicle should be 48 tonnes. The Minister who replied to the amendment, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, thought that I was seeking to maintain the weight advantage enjoyed by intermodal operators in the age of the 44 tonner. I made it clear that I would be in very deep trouble if the Minister accepted my amendment. His reply covered all the points for that debate. However, it is evident that the Minister's onerous duties prevented him from avidly reading the specialist trade press, which covered the background to my

9 Nov 2000 : Column 1740

amendment. If he had done so, he would have realised that my amendment covered the SRA's recent intermodal competition.

On Report, the Minister graciously and generously agreed to write to me on all the questions that I posed to him when moving my amendment, and before this stage of the Bill. Unfortunately, I have yet to receive a letter from the Minister. On one hand, I have to say that I am extremely surprised that the Minister's officials have let him down in this way. But, on the other hand, it is perhaps not so surprising, as the questions were certainly not part of a fishing expedition. It may be that the Minister will give us some of the answers when he comes to reply. That would be helpful, but I think that your Lordships would have preferred to study his letter carefully as it would have been drafted.

Perhaps it would help the House if I ran over the questions again. First, I asked whether it was correct that the winner of the competition was selected without ensuring that the safety case could be made to the relevant authorities. Secondly, I asked the Minister whether he was confident that the cement tanker trailer was robust enough for road, let alone rail use. Thirdly, I asked about the status of the Mega 3 rail wagon; in particular, whether it is registered with Railtrack, how many of the wagons are in existence and whether there are any technical difficulties with the wagon.

On Report, I mentioned that I had received some worrying briefing material about the competition. Experienced Members of your Lordships' House are well aware of the need for caution in such situations. It is disturbing that I have not yet received a letter. It is clear that credible competitions of this kind will involve substantial sums of public money. It would therefore be appropriate for the Secretary of State to exercise some form of control. If he did not, the SRA would determine the need for the competition, its rules, the size and number of the prizes and then judge who was the winner. This would not compare well with the principles of, say, public procurement. Can the Minister give me an assurance that this did not occur in the inter-modal competition?

I believe that it is important to make it clear that I see no problem with holding competitions per se; we need only to insert the appropriate controls. My amendment seeks to do just that. I beg to move.

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