Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 482:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 483 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 484 to 488:

    Page 86, line 39, column 2, at beginning insert—

    "Section 4(2) and (3)."

Page 86, line 41, column 2, at end insert "except so far as extending to Northern Ireland"

    Page 87, line 11, at end insert—

    "Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (S.I. 1998/1504 (N.I. 9)) In Schedule 1, paragraph 1(e)."

Page 87, line 12, column 1, leave out "The"

    Page 87, line 23, column 2, at end insert "except so far as extending to Scotland"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 126 agreed to.

Baroness Noakes moved Amendment No. 489:

    After Clause 126, insert the following new clause—

(1) The Secretary of State shall publish each year a review of the operation of this Act.
(2) The review shall cover the following matters—
(a) conviction rates in respect of the offences contained in the Act, including trends in conviction rates;

19 May 2003 : Column 680

(b) practical difficulties encountered in interpreting the offences contained in the Act and their related defences;
(c) sentencing experience in respect of the offences contained in the Act in comparison with the maximum sentences by the Act;
(d) any cases where prosecutions have proceeded in circumstances which were not envisaged when the Act was passed.
(3) A copy of the review shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament."

The noble Baroness said: In view of the late hour, I shall give the short version of my instructions for the amendment. I shall save my speech for the Report stage. The amendment introduces an annual reporting requirement covering the matters laid out in subsection (2) of the new clause that I seek to add. I shall not go through those details. They pick up on many of the issues we have discussed during the passage of the Bill. They are matters of concern in the existing law and of the way in which the law is emerging in the Bill. The principles behind the amendment are soundly based. I hope that the Government will be prepared to look kindly on it. However, for the sake of brevity today I am prepared to leave my remarks at that. I beg to move.

Lord Skelmersdale: My noble friend Lady Noakes will know as well as I do that governments bitterly resist this kind of amendment. However, in this case—and she may like to consider this before Report—one of the reasons for the Bill is that under the current law conviction rates for various sexual offences are abysmal. We have been talking about that for days and days, if not weeks and weeks. That is a very good reason why Parliament should know whether the Act—as it will become—is or is not working.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This is a major piece of legislation. We are very keen to monitor its implementation in order to ensure that it achieves better protection for the general public, and particularly for children and the vulnerable. Apart from that monitoring, it is also important to monitor whether it has been implemented in a non-discriminatory manner. That will require a proper evaluation of its impact and not just the monitoring of statistics. We will ensure that that takes place.

The amendment proposes a statutory obligation. We believe that the Act must be fully operational before its success can be tested in any meaningful way. The scale and focus of any research would then need to be determined by statistics that have been produced, any feedback that may have been received during the bedding-in period and the resources available at that point in time.

I draw attention to the sentencing guidelines council which is being set up under the Criminal Justice Bill. We hope that the council will be in place by the time the Bill is in force and providing relevant new sentencing guidelines. The council must keep those sentencing guidelines under review. We have every intention of ensuring that this new legislation works in practice. We will be anxious to address any shortcomings that might possibly be identified.

19 May 2003 : Column 681

However, how we carry out any future research monitoring will be a matter of procedure, on which at this stage I do not think it is appropriate for us to draw.

I question whether it is necessary for this Bill to be singled out for special mention in the way that the noble Baroness proposes. But, as is clear from what I have said, I entirely agree that monitoring the legislation's implementation, how it is working, whether it is working and the form in which it is working, is very important. That was the shortened version of the reply.

Baroness Noakes: I shall confine my remarks to saying that I was heartened by the noble and learned Lord's response. I did not expect him to accept the amendment lock, stock and barrel at this stage. I look forward to discussing it again with him on Report. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 127 [Extent, saving etc.]:

19 May 2003 : Column 682

[Amendments Nos. 490 and 491 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 492 to 494:

    Page 66, line 10, leave out paragraph (a).

    Page 66, line 11, leave out "8,"

    Page 66, line 11, leave out "54" and insert "53"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 495 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 496:

    Page 66, line 13, leave out paragraphs (d) to (f) and insert "and

( ) this Part."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 497 not moved.]

Clause 127, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 128 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

House adjourned at eleven minutes past two o'clock.

19 May 2003 : Column GC1

Official Report of the Grand Committee on the

Railways and Transport Safety Bill [HL]

(First Day) Monday, 19th May 2003.

The Committee met at half past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Haskel) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Haskel): Before I put the Question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee stage. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all noble Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. The one difference is that the House has agreed that there shall be no Divisions in the Grand Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. The Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung and will resume after 10 minutes. Perhaps I may also remind your Lordships that there is no need to touch the microphones. When any noble Lord wants to speak, the engineer sitting in the corner will switch the microphones on and off.

There is a Division in the House, so we shall adjourn for 10 minutes.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 3.31 to 3.41 p.m.]

Title postponed.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Meaning of "railway accident" and "railway incident"]:

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 1:

    Page 2, line 14, at end insert—

"( ) Regulations under subsection (2) shall not be made until a draft has been laid before both Houses of Parliament and approved by resolution of each House."

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 1, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 14 and 44.

Amendment No. 1 is largely a probing amendment because I realised that Clause 1 is affected by the regulations in Clause 13. I want to ask, first, about

19 May 2003 : Column GC2

consultation. What is happening and what stage has the process reached? I want also to ask: when will the regulations be made and when will drafts be available?

It is important that the regulations are made under the affirmative resolution procedure because in the department's paper to the Select Committee on Delegated Powers it states:

    "With the development of new rail innovations, such as Cardiff's proposed 'ULTRA' rail based transport system".

I have no idea what that system is; whether it is a railway or not a railway. However, it indicates that the definitions will become increasingly difficult.

The department goes on to state that,

    "it may be appropriate to widen the meaning of 'railway' to include such modes within the investigative remit of RAIB".

This is therefore an important subject and it would be helpful it the Minister could give us some illumination.

With regard to the other two amendments in the group, Amendment No. 14 concerns the regulations that the Secretary of State may make about the conduct of investigations by the rail accident investigation branch. These include important provisions regarding the function of the chief inspector, or the branch itself, and would also allow the chief inspector to appoint other people to take part in an investigation. Perhaps the Minister could clarify who such a person could be and when the power will be exercised. Given the importance of these regulations, we feel that they should be approved by both Houses.

Amendment No. 44 concerns the Secretary of State's right to make regulations with regard to the alcohol limit of non-professionals. No doubt this will arise in debates as we move through the Bill, but it seemed to me to be an important change. I am therefore interested to hear why the Government chose to draft the clause as it stands. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page