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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am sorry to hear that from the Liberal Democrat Party.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: We must adjourn for 10 minutes for a Division in the House.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 6.10 to 6.20 p.m.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I was about to answer the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, about councillors being the funders on police authorities. Yes, of course they are the funders, but they represent the council tax payers—in other words, the punters. I am trying to persuade the Liberal Democrats, who should be in favour of democracy, that the British Transport Police authority should have a greater representation of punters and a lesser representation of professionals. I hope that the noble Lord will agree that our balance is better than the one that he suggests.

As to the reference to London in Amendment No. 19, I can give the assurance required. It is inconceivable that there will not be someone with specialised experience and knowledge of transport in London on the British Transport Police authority.

As to Amendment No. 20, which refers to the chairman and deputy chairman, we can make analogies with all kinds of organisations. I would not have made an analogy with the National Portrait Gallery. Analogies with police authorities are more appropriate. Normally, police authorities are appointed by different bodies, not only by the Secretary of State. The entire British Transport Police authority will be appointed by the Secretary of State. An analogy can be made with appointees appointing their own chairman and deputy chairman, but it is nothing like as good as analogies with the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service, which are both national police authorities appointed by the Secretary of State, who also appoints their chairmen and vice chairmen.

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The point that I made at Second Reading about the chairman being known in advance is still valid, but I would find it slightly more difficult after the first appointment to argue against subsequently having the chairman appointed by members of the committee. I am not saying that I would fail to make that argument—I can see a separate argument— but that point has not been made in the amendment.

Lord Clinton-Davis: When this matter was debated when we were in opposition, the then government did nothing about it. Is my noble friend aware of that?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not know whether that is a plea for the Government to be consistent or for the Opposition to be consistent. I choose to take it as a plea for the Conservative Party to be consistent.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: Before my noble friend withdraws the amendment, I do not know whether, during the short time available for the Division, the Minister went into the tea-room, but he appears to want to have his cake and eat it. When it suits him, he creates analogies with local police authorities; at other times, he does not.

Both my noble friend Lord Bradshaw and I have served on police authorities where, as we have heard, local authority members form a majority on the basis that they represent the primary funder, and they appoint their own chairman from within their ranks. There are two reasons for that. The first is a general point of principle, which my noble friend Lord Russell explained very well. There is also a pragmatic reason. It is very important in bodies such as this, which bring together disparate groups of people, that the chair has the respect and support of all the people participating in its activities.

I have had experience of local authorities that have attempted to impose chairs on police authorities for political reasons. It usually ends in tears. Ultimately, the most effective chairs are those that have the support and consensus of the committee. I very much regret that the Minister saw fit to make a petty party-political point out of the issue. I do not indulge in such actions, because we want to ensure the best for the new authority based on the lessons that we have learnt from other police authorities, which are not so very different.

Earl Russell: The Minister's remarks could lead to some misgivings in the world of museums and galleries. He attempted to argue that, because the trustees are ministerial appointees, the chairman separately should also be a ministerial appointee. That is certainly not our present practice. The suggestion will be viewed with considerable alarm by some of my colleagues.

The arguments made by my noble friend Lady Scott are perfectly sound. The right chairman is the person who enjoys the confidence of, and easy relations with, the other trustees; the person who is capable of making them act as a single force; the person who is capable of mediating differences; the person who is good at

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arbitrating. Those qualities are known to the trustees in a way that cannot be known to the Secretary of State.

I have not heard a clear justification for transferring this power to the Secretary of State. I should like to hear one before leaving the issue.

Viscount Astor: Perhaps I may help the Minister by intervening to say that the answers he gave to the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, in regard to Amendment No. 19 certainly satisfy us. The assurance that London will be represented covers any concerns that we have.

As to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, about consistency, it is difficult to enter into that argument. Since we were in power there have been substantial changes both in London and to the railways—in terms of the Mayor of London and so on. As circumstances change, so do one's views.

Lord Berkeley: As regards Amendments Nos. 18 and 19, my noble friend rightly said that the service providers should not have a majority representation. That is reasonable. He went a little way towards accepting that one of the four people referred to in paragraph 2(1)(b) should have knowledge of transport in London. I argue very strongly that there needs to be at least one person with knowledge of freight. Freight service operations are very different from those for passenger services. Many run on branch lines, where there is an acute problem of vandalism.

It is a lot to expect from four people. I hope that my noble friend will accept that there needs to be a wide range of experience among those four people, including experience of freight and London.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I welcome the Minister's assurance on London. His comparison of NCIS and the National Crime Squad with the British Transport Police authority is tenuous, to say the least. Those two national bodies are specific and specialist. They have a clear and distinct remit to provide services for all other police authorities across the country. The British Transport Police authority will be a police authority in its own right, with its own field of operations. It will be very much a police authority like any other. I would like the Government to be more flexible on the issue of its chairman.

6.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: If there is a problem about analogies, I shall first put at rest the mind of the noble Earl, Lord Russell. There is no reason for anything that I say to be heard with any misgiving by the museums and galleries world or by anyone outside transport. When I mentioned the National Portrait Gallery in my response to him, I was saying that I did not believe that there was an analogy there. I did not say that what happens in the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the V&A or anywhere else is wrong. I simply said that there was more than one model as to whether the members of a body should appoint their own chairman and deputy chairman or whether they should be appointed by the Secretary of State.

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I gave as an analogy NCIS and the National Crime Squad. First, they are national bodies as opposed to local police authorities; and, secondly, all the members are appointed by the Secretary of State. So the alleged democratic deficit in the difference between this body and other police authorities is less apparent to me than may be the case if the body were composed of representatives chosen by different bodies outside.

When all the members are appointed by the Secretary of State, it seems that the arguments that I used at Second Reading, to which the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, was good enough to refer—about the chairman being known in advance, not being able to be known by the members of the authority and the ability to have a say in the selection of members of the authority—seem valid. But there is no reason for anyone outside the transport sphere or anywhere else to fear a knock-on effect of the arguments that I use.

Lord Bradshaw: I thank the Minister for his reply and other noble Lords for their interventions. I am not satisfied with the answer. Unless the Minister is prepared to reduce to two the number of people in paragraph 2(1)(a), we are left with one representative from London, which pays 40 per cent of the cost—not a large amount from Government, plus 20 or 25 per cent as is the case with county authorities—and one to represent freight, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. That leaves only two people to represent the interests of people providing railway services.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No, that is not the case. The Bill provides for an authority with a membership of 11 to 17. It provides for 13 specified origins, if you like, but they need not be provided by 13 people. In other words, the industry people, the trade union person or the passenger people could also represent national interests. There is no reason why there should not be an overlap. There is plenty of flexibility. I certainly do not rule out the possibility of someone with knowledge and experience of rail freight.

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