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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville moved Amendment No. 5:

"( ) After section 48A of the 1964 Act (environmental duties of harbour authorities) there shall be inserted—
( ) In the exercise of any function under section 15 of this Act, the appropriate Minister must have regard to the desirability of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development."."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, enshrining the objective of sustainable development within legislation is an increasingly common goal, and this amendment would do so by requiring the Secretary of State to have regard to that objective when considering applications for harbour revision orders. I appreciate what the Minister said about sustainable development and the answer that he gave to the earlier grouping.

Section 48A of the Harbours Act 1964 gives harbour authorities a duty to have regard to the conservation of the natural beauty of the countryside and of flora, fauna and geological or physiographical features of special interest. They also have a duty to take into account any effect their proposals may have on the aforementioned features. However, no similar duty applies to the Secretary of State when considering applications for harbour revision orders. This amendment was intended to address that. I support the drive to put sustainable development objectives at the heart of legislation.

During the consideration of the Marine Wildlife Conservation Bill, supported by Mr John Randall MP, marine industry interests supported the inclusion of a clause that would require any functions under that Bill to be exercised with regard to the objective of sustainable development. If it is deemed appropriate for a Bill relating to marine nature conservation to have regard to sustainable development, it might be regarded as appropriate to require decisions concerning marine development also to have regard to the same concept. I beg to move.

2 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, this amendment would place on the Secretary of State a duty to have regard to the desirability of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in exercising any function under Section 15 of the Harbours Act 1964.

Let me explain what Section 15 is about. The usual procedure for making harbour orders requires someone to apply for one, usually the harbour authority. However, Section 15 allows the Secretary of State to make a harbour order on his own initiative, not, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, has just said, in response to an application. A Section 15 order is for strictly limited purposes and is not used to authorise port development. The power is occasionally used, for example, to reconstitute a harbour authority. The duty proposed in this amendment does not fit within Section 15 of the 1964 Act and, because it should not be in that place, is seriously defective.

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If the issue here is sustainable development, the Government's ports policy paper, Modern Ports, is quite clear. It states:

    "The Government and the devolved administrations will work with the industry, its users and other interests, to achieve four key objectives".

The fourth of those objectives is,

    "to maintain a balanced policy on development which aims to make the best use of existing and former operational land, secures high environmental standards, but supports sustainable projects for which there is a clear need",

So sustainable development is certainly a policy consideration in relation to the consents required for any harbour development. This is important to our obligations under the environmental impact assessment and habitats directives, and more generally. The amendment is wrong and it should be withdrawn.

Lord Roper: My Lords, on these Benches general sympathy is expressed for any amendment which includes the words "sustainable development". Therefore, when we saw Amendment No. 5, we had a natural sympathy for it. Having listened to the explanation from the Minister, however, we do not feel it would be appropriate to add our support were the matter to be pressed to a vote.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, there is little I can add to what has been said by my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey. The promoters feel that this amendment falls outside the scope of the Bill, as did the earlier one, and therefore should not be considered for this piece of legislation. I hope that the noble Lord will agree to withdraw it.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister and to the noble Lords, Lord Roper and Lord Faulkner, for their responses to the amendment which again was of a probing nature. The probe has produced an extremely clear response, in particular from the Minister. Again, in line with the assurances given prior to these debates, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville moved Amendment No. 6:

    After Clause 2, insert the following new clause—

"Rules in connection with objections
(1) Schedule 3 to the 1964 Act shall be amended as follows.
(2) After paragraph 18 there shall be inserted—
"Rules in connection with objections
18A (1) The Secretary of State may make rules as to—
(a) the making of objections to an application for orders under section 14 or 16 or the making of orders under section 15;
(b) the information to be comprised within or submitted with an objection;
(c) the submission by the person making the application of written representations or information in relation to objections;

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(d) the submission of further written representations or information;
(e) such other matters relating to the consideration of objections as appear to the Secretary of State to be appropriate.
(2) The Secretary of State shall not make a determination under paragraph 19 to make an order without first taking into consideration the grounds of any objection in respect of which rules under this section have been complied with.""

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment, entitled "Rules in connection with objections", seeks to cast light into an area where clarity has not always been easy to obtain. It would ensure that the Secretary of State publishes rules to clarify how objections to harbour revision orders and harbour empowerment orders are to be made and how they may be dealt with. Perhaps I may interpolate at this point the fact that, in line with the Bill, the opportunity for these matters to be settled by written representations underlines the need to make certain that there are rules which those submitting representations in writing can follow.

The RSPB has advised me that it has experienced problems on, for example, recent orders for Dibden Bay in Hampshire and Shellhaven in Essex, with a lack of written procedures to follow in the event of an objection. This simple amendment would make things clearer for everyone and could deliver benefits for harbour authorities as well as for conservation organisations such as the RSPB. Of course it may be that the Secretary of State can already make such rules under the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992, although some clarification would be welcome. If that is the case, I would be grateful for any undertaking that the Minister can give that the Government intend to develop such rules with respect to harbour revision orders and harbour empowerment orders made under the Harbours Act 1964. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, unlike the amendments that we have been considering so far, this amendment does fit in with the Long Title of the Bill. However, it is unnecessary. The amendment proposes to empower the Secretary of State to make rules not for the conduct of any public inquiry into a harbour order, but in relation to the making of objections and representations. I acknowledge that it is modelled on a provision in Section 10 of the Transport and Works Act 1992, but the Bill itself already contains all the rules needed for the making of objections. Indeed, the text of the Bill is modelled on the very rules that have been made under Section 10 of the Transport and Works Act.

I do not see what other rules are required for the making of objections and representations. The House would not wish to be unduly prescriptive about the way that ordinary citizens go about making their case. The provisions in the Bill are entirely sufficient without this amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, spoke of the relevance of inquiry rules. He suggested that the Bill might make provision for inquiry rules for harbour orders. There are such rules for planning cases and for Transport and Works Act orders, but not at present for harbour orders. This has never caused any

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difficulty. In several recent cases there has also been a planning application or a Transport and Works Act order, and those rules have been adopted for the inquiry as a whole. In other cases the planning rules have been adopted by analogy.

If there are any real difficulties we would like to hear about them. We would be willing to discuss with the industry and other interests whether there should be harbour rules and what they should say. But there is no need to amend the Bill to give the power to make them. The power is already found in Section 9 of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992.

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