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Lord Lucas: My Lords, not really—not at this stage. If my noble friend Lord Astor chooses to indicate that he would rather I did not divide—by a thumbs down or similar motion—I will of course follow his advice. However, I thought that we had established the principle in Committee and on Report that there would be no retrospection, and now we find that there is this long period between commencement and the issuing of regulations when retrospection will apply. Furthermore, there will be no indication of the extent of the coverage or of the costs when they are incurred.

I thought that we had all agreed that there should be no retrospection, or at least not for more than six months or a year, which is survivable in the context of company accounts. The prospect of five years of retrospection is just not on and what the Minister said did not satisfy my concerns. I appreciate that the amendment is defective, but I hope that it is irritating enough to get the Government to correct it and put something in place that will work in principle. We all agree that utilities should pay their share of the costs. I hope that the amendment will make the Government hurry on the regulations so that they can.
8 Jul 2004 : Column 954

1.32 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 10) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 81; Not-Contents, 126.

Division No. 1


Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cockfield, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Freeman, L.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V. [Teller]
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
James of Holland Park, B.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L. [Teller]
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Mancroft, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Montrose, D.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Prior, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renton, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Trumpington, B.
Ullswater, V.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Windlesham, L.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Amos, B. (Lord President of the Council)
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Bhattacharyya, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blood, B.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Dahrendorf, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Drayson, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L. [Teller]
Falconer of Thoroton, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Falkner of Margravine, B.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Garden, L.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Henig, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Newby, L.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Ouseley, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Roper, L.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sewel, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Triesman, L.
Truscott, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Walmsley, B.
Warner, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Weatherill, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

8 Jul 2004 : Column 955

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 11:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a probing amendment about the inspectors' role in looking at road works. I am seeking a few words of comfort from my noble friend that those who do the roadworks well will get some reward for good behaviour because the inspections cost money. There has been a lot of correspondence between my noble friend and the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, on this subject. I shall not go over it now.

The Government have commented that they see the role of using a stick to punish those companies that do not improve their service. However, they have said little about a corresponding carrot for those who do improve; that is, a reduction in the number or proportion of inspections, and therefore a reduction in cost, if a company's work is shown to be good. It would good to hear from my noble friend whether the percentage of inspections carried out will vary
8 Jul 2004 : Column 956
according to the previous performance of the utility, or maybe even the local authority. It would be good to see whether the Government will accept the principle that the better company should, after a bit, have the proportion of its works inspected reduced, even down to something like 10 per cent. Of course, if the inspections found that its work was getting worse, it would be perfectly reasonable to put the percentage up higher. It would be very nice to hear a few words from my noble friend about the carrot as well the stick. I beg to move.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I appreciate the spirit in which my noble friend proposes to delete an important clause of the Bill. But, despite bringing a nuclear weapon to his aid, I understand that he is seeking to air a concept and a principle that I find attractive.

As the noble Lord will know, it is certainly the case that in other areas where we have regulation it becomes lighter-touch when the performance record of the body to be inspected merits confidence. I think that that is the burden of my noble friend's remarks. I think it is an attractive concept and one that is not unknown to government in a number of areas. I will bear in mind the principle that he is identifying. We have quite a way to go before we reach conclusions on these issues so it is a helpful contribution.

But he will recognise that I defend the clause. It plays an important part in the Bill. If I thought that my noble friend was about to discharge his nuclear weapon then I would be taking great steps to dissuade him or to seek a nuclear bunker to which to retreat after he had done so. I hope that my noble friend will recognise that he has had the chance to articulate an interesting concept and we will look at it carefully.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for that response. It is exactly what I hoped he would say. I had no intention of throwing any nuclear weapons in his direction. I was trying to convert my thoughts into an amendment that fitted into the Bill in order to get some very helpful words of comfort. I am sure he will understand why I chose the simpler option. I am very grateful to him. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 68 [Immobilisation of vehicle where penalty charge payable]:

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