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Lord Triesman: My Lords, I am sure that all Members of your Lordships' House will understand the reasoning that lies behind the amendment and the arguments put in support. We discussed the matter in some detail—admittedly in a somewhat different format—when we looked at the restructuring of the Bill in response to the noble Lord's preference to give greater prominence to some of the NDA duties currently found in Clause 9.

I hope that my reasons will be cogent, but we stand by the position set out by my noble friend Lord Whitty at that time. From their comments, it would seem that noble Lords have read Hansard on the matter, so I shall not repeat all of the arguments made by my noble friend on 15 January. I shall pick out what I believe are the key points.

A clause of this kind would be unusual. We have tried in the Bill to make clear what public bodies are expected to do in the following way: public bodies have functions and the proposed legislation sets out the functions of the NDA—decommissioning and clean-up. The Bill then sets out the duties that flow from those functions and how they should be carried out. The more over-arching statement—the objectives that are the NDA's functions—is set out in Clause 3. That follows a pattern of expression and a structure of legislation that is common for public bodies. In that sense, this one is no different.

The Bill has been structured in such a way for good reasons. Clause 3 sets out those principal functions and Clauses 4, 5 and 6 are intimately related, because they identify the additional functions and provisions relating to the designation process. Once a principal function in respect of a site, installation or facility is identified under Clause 3, additional functions are attached to the designation under Clause 4. The process of designation is carried out and the duties of the NDA follow that.

I ask noble Lords to consider that those clauses be taken as a whole. If a clause on duties is inserted into the group, we are fearful that it may be confusing, despite the undoubted intention to make the matter clear. I hope that noble Lords will accept that point on the location of such a clause. We are left to consider whether the clause proposed should be inserted somewhere else in the Bill—most obviously after all of the provisions on functions, which run to Clause 8 and before Clause 9.

When considering the principal functions set out in Clause 3, it is not clear what the effect would be of the concept of the "principal duties" proposed in Amendment No. 9. For example, is the NDA to pay less heed to the remaining general duties left in Clause 9? As a distinction, that would create an unnecessary source of confusion. It is important that all the duties are treated with equal seriousness, because duties are duties for a public body.

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I understand the motivation of noble Lords opposite who seek greater prominence for what are, in some ways, the key considerations that should govern how the NDA pursues its functions. But I ask noble Lords to reflect on whether the amendment achieves that purpose. It confuses issues which, although important, are matters that the NDA is only able to have regard to, rather than matters which we consider that the NDA should do itself. For example, the NDA is not responsible for setting government policy; it can only, as set out in the Bill, have regard to government policy. That is contrasted with the things which it can, and indeed should and must, do; for example, to promote and ensure the maintenance and development of a skilled workforce and to secure the adoption of good practice. Moving those duties into the "have regard to" category would, in practice, dilute their impact. All that would create greater confusion than is perhaps prudent, and I urge noble Lords to think carefully about that with a view to withdrawing the amendment.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I shall read it very carefully in Hansard because, at present, it does not seem to have given me a clearer indication of why a public body should not have its principal duties laid out in legislation in the way that we have proposed. I heard the Minister describe the process several times and I shall look carefully at the points that he made concerning whether having a principal duty to pay particular regard to something is weaker than having a general duty to do so. I do not believe that it is.

We may wish to return to this matter because, although, as the Minister said, this type of clause would be unusual in legislation, perhaps that is one reason that public bodies sometimes become unfocused—that is, legislation is not sufficiently clear about what their principal duties should be. Just because such a clause would be unusual is no reason not to consider it in this Bill. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [Designations relating to Scotland]:

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 10:


    Page 6, line 23, at end insert—


"( ) gives it responsibilities not falling within subsection (2)(f) for the non-processing treatment or the storage of hazardous material the treatment or storage of which, in the discharge of those responsibilities, may take place in or on a site in Scotland;"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 10, I shall speak also to government Amendments Nos. 19, 20, 24, 25, 29, 30 and 32 in this group. I hope to produce such compelling arguments that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will feel that he does not wish to move his Amendment No. 18 as and when it is reached. As he will have recognised, we are on something of a collision course with the government group of amendments and Amendment No. 18, which is in his name.

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The settlement on devolution as regards nuclear matters set out in the Scotland Act 1998 is complex. Consequently, the provisions in the Bill are similarly complicated. As I mentioned in Grand Committee, the effect of the provisions has been subject to further detailed analysis because we discussed with our Scottish colleagues the significance of the provisions in the Bill. In the light of that analysis, it has proved necessary to propose these amendments to the Bill to ensure that the legislation properly reflects the mutually agreed position of the Secretary of State and Scottish Ministers.

In brief, the main circumstances which were found to be missing from the Bill were: first, the non-processing treatment or storage of hazardous material in Scotland, which is rectified by Amendment No. 10; and, secondly, proposals in the NDA's strategy or annual plan for the non-processing treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous material which would have an effect in or as regards Scotland. Those issues are addressed by Amendments Nos. 24, 25, 29 and 30. They are matters on which we believe Scottish Ministers should rightly be consulted, and the government amendments give effect to that provision.

In addition, Amendments Nos. 19 and 20 provide for the NDA to have regard to policies notified to it by devolved administrations and Amendment No. 32 requires the Secretary of State to consult Scottish Ministers before making directions on the matters which are to be covered by the NDA's annual report.

Noble Lords will recall that in Grand Committee the Government were probed on the arrangements in the Bill for the involvement of Scottish Ministers. The amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, presses that issue further. I can confirm to the House that with the changes proposed by the Government, the Scottish Ministers have the appropriate powers of joint action over devolved matters and consultation over other matters which are reserved but which might impact on their devolved responsibilities. Therefore, the noble Lord will see from that argument, justifying the Government's amendments, why I hope that, in due course, he will not move Amendment No. 18. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his invitation. I shall not tell him my conclusion for a while; it will be nice to keep him in suspense. I was moved to table my amendment because of the way in which Clause 9, particularly subsection (4), is constructed. Clause 9 begins with the words,


    "General duties when carrying out functions".

That refers to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. It states:


    "(1) It shall be the duty of the NDA, in carrying out its functions, to have particular regard to each of the following—


    "(a) relevant Government policy".

Subsection (4) states—I shall not read it all:


    "In this section 'relevant Government policy' means all current policies which—


    (a) relate to the decommissioning of nuclear installations . . . and


    (b) have been published by or on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom or a devolved administration".

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I shall now tell the Minister my conclusion. I believe that some words here do not need to be in the Bill at all. The clause refers to a "relevant government policy" published in the United Kingdom, but surely the devolved administrations are part of the United Kingdom. They are not separate nations; they are not separate states; and it seems to me that they cannot announce a relevant government policy. I certainly accept that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish executive are to a large extent the government of Scotland, but they are not the government for the purposes of this clause, judging by the way in which it is constructed. I am absolutely sure that the Welsh Assembly cannot announce a relevant government policy. It seems to me that we cannot talk about it announcing a relevant government policy.

Those words are completely redundant. We need the clause to read "'relevant Government policy' means all current policies which have been published by or on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom". That would cover the situation, particularly in the light of the other amendments that the Minister has just announced and which I am delighted to see. The Minister will be delighted to hear that I do not intend to press my amendment today because we are dealing with what I would call a battle of semantics. I seriously suggest, particularly in the light of the amendments that he has proposed, that that phrase is not necessary any longer and that the Bill would be better without it. It seems to me that it confuses the situation.


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