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Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for listening so assiduously to previous representations about this issue. I thank him for bringing forward this amendment, which I welcome.

Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, we are happy with these minor drafting changes.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 40:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 34 [Implementation etc. of local highway authority permit schemes]:

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 41:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 35 [Implementation etc. of other permit schemes]:

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendments Nos. 42 and 43:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 44:


"VARIATION AND REVOCATION OF PERMIT SCHEMES
(1) The appropriate national authority may by order vary or revoke any permit scheme which for the time being has effect.
(2) An order under this section—
(a) may relate to one or more permit schemes,
(b) may vary or revoke any order under section 34 or 35, or any order previously made under this section,
(c) may (in accordance with permit regulations) include provisions which disapply or modify enactments to the extent specified in the order."

On Question, amendment agreed to.
 
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Clause 36 [Permit regulations]:

[Amendment No. 45 not moved.]

The Earl of Erroll moved Amendment No. 46:


"( ) Without prejudice to subsection (2)(b), permit regulations shall set out provisions which may be included in a permit scheme prepared by a local highway authority for its area and, if included in one such scheme, must be included in all such schemes."

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I put this amendment forward because trying to standardise these schemes will prevent things from falling through the cracks between them. If we have a myriad of different schemes throughout the country, even if they differ only in minor points, it will be a job creation scheme, because we will have to have different people who understand all the complexities of the possibly very minor differences between schemes in different parts of the country. As things come together and we centralise things more, and information I hope becomes available electronically on the Internet—which I will get on to in my later Amendment No. 55—standardisation is essential, or it will cause chaos. The whole point of this amendment is to ensure a consistent approach across England and Wales.

Interestingly, in Grand Committee the Minister said that it could not be sensible to have dozens of entirely different schemes operating in different parts of the country. This amendment would allow him to carry out that intention, and would assist him in that objective. I cannot see why it is not eminently sensible. I beg to move.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, as drafted, the intention of Amendment No. 46 seems to be to provide that regulations may set out provisions that may be included in a permit scheme prepared by a highway authority. However, the effect of the amendment would be that once one authority has taken advantage of the provision to determine the details of the scheme that it wishes to run, all other authorities wishing to operate a scheme would have to include identical provisions in the schemes that they submitted to the national authority for approval. We are not clear that this is the purpose of the amendment.

The Government agree that it is desirable that there should be some degree of standardisation between different permit schemes, and the relevant working group is considering how far that should extend. When the deliberations of that working group go out to public consultation, I am sure that it will be happy to hear from the noble Earl. It would be best for the primary legislation not to be prescriptive as to how far that consistency should extend. I hope that in the light of my comments the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Erroll: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I was not sure that it was the best way of achieving it, but I thought that I should sow the seeds of the concept in the mind of the Government. I thought that they might like to introduce something to
 
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say that there should be standardisation of these schemes across the country. To have local variations would lead to trouble. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Brougham and Vaux): My Lords, if Amendment No. 47 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 48.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 47:


"(b) for or in connection with the determination, or facilitating the determination, of disputes (including provision with respect to the appointment of persons to determine, or facilitate the determination of, disputes),
(ba) for or in connection with appeals (including provision with respect to the appointment of persons to hear appeals),"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 47, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 49. I also, in passing, hope to make a brief reference to Amendment No. 48, which I hope my noble friend will regard as unnecessary, given the arrangements that we seek to make.

In Committee, there was considerable discussion about what arrangements should be in place to allow for an appeal system as part of the permit scheme. As we explained then, we have asked a working group of local authorities, utilities, and others, to consider what rights of appeal should be allowed for; for instance, an appeal against a refusal of a permit for particular works, or any conditions that are attached to the granting of a permit, and who should hear such appeals. Utilities and local authorities in particular would be most affected by permit schemes. It makes sense to allow them to consider and recommend a sensible appeals system before we make final decisions on the arrangements.

When my noble friend Lord Evans wrote to noble Lords after the Committee stage, he explained that while the Government are not in a position to define exactly what appeal arrangements would be in place, we would be able to explain the principles that underlie them. The aim is to create a system that is not unnecessarily bureaucratic, drawn out, or expensive to operate. At the same time, we must ensure that any grievances are given proper consideration, and that there is recourse from those decisions to a court or to another independent tribunal. There are a variety of possible options, including arbitration, or an appeal to a panel of adjudicators; and the working group is looking at these options.

Amendment No. 47 fleshes out the existing provisions in Clause 36(4)(b) to make clear that the Government are able to make extensive provisions in regulations to allow for dispute resolution and a system of appeals. Amendment No. 49 makes clear that if regulations provide for adjudication, the consent of the Lord Chancellor would be required for the making of the regulations. That is in line with normal practice for making provision for adjudication in legislation. On that basis, I hope that my noble
 
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friend will recognise that we have covered the ground that he is concerned about. I hope that he will not feel the need to press his amendment. I beg to move.

Viscount Astor: My Lords, I thank the Minister for addressing through these amendments the concerns we raised in Grand Committee.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I should also like to thank my noble friend. There has been extremely positive correspondence and discussion on this point and I am most grateful to him and to the Government for proposing government Amendments Nos. 47 and 49. Of course I shall not press my Amendment No. 48.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 48 not moved.]


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