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Viscount Simon: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has spoken for me. I was approached very early this morning by ACPO with exactly the same concerns. The noble Baroness has spoken to them very well and I have nothing further to say, apart from the fact that those are the concerns of ACPO also.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I hope that I will be able to give noble Lords satisfaction. I remind the noble Baroness that it would have been open to Her Majesty's loyal Opposition to agree to all our Bills because they were all very meritorious and needed. I remind her that, in 1992, when this Government were unfortunately in opposition, we were very gracious in agreeing to legislation such as the Charities Bill and the Museums and Galleries Bill. They all went through because they were merited. But the noble Baroness knows that Her Majesty's loyal Opposition are more timorous about what is in the interests of the citizens of this country.
I can assure the noble Baroness that, if we are re-elected, we will certainly seek an appropriate legislative opportunity to bring back what was Clause 18 of the Road Safety Bill. It is clearly right that all emergency service personnel are properly trained if they are authorised to drive at high speed. I am very happy to give that assurance as regards when this Government come back.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I now have the pleasure that I sought precipitately a moment ago. Before doing so, I thank all those who have worked so hard to ensure that the Bill has a safe passage. I pay tribute to the work of those on all sides of this House, including the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and Members on the Cross Benches. I hope that noble Lords will allow me to give my particular thanks to the Bill team, which has
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worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that all of us, including noble Lords opposite, have the sort of support to enable us to make good and judicious decisions on the matter. We all, I am sure, wish this Bill Godspeed. I have therefore great pleasure in begging to move that the Bill do now pass.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, we are also keen to see the end of this Bill; it is the honest experience of those who had been expecting four days in Committee but find ourselves with two days for the passage of the whole Bill.
I echo the Minister's thanks, particularly to the Bill team, which, throughout a difficult time on this Bill, has ensured that all of us have been better informed than perhaps would otherwise have been possible. It has meant that sometimes we have not needed to table amendments that would have taken up the time of the House. Particularly because of the difficulties of timetabling, I wish to put on record my thanks to the Public Bill Office, which has ensured that advance Marshalled Lists have been available and has kept us all sane through difficult times.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I endorse those remarks and add my thanks to the Minister in the other place, who came along to brief us on some matters. I am most grateful, as it made the work that much easier.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I crave the indulgence of the House. Once we get into Committee it will be inappropriate to make general remarks about the Bill. Therefore, this is the only opportunity to do so. I shall not take more than a few moments of the House's time.
These attenuated procedures in which we find ourselves are all very well but they are attenuated. We should realise that there are people outside this place who are very disappointed that the Bill is going through this procedure. As I said at Second Reading, it is a seductive Bill, but it could be much better. There are those outside who wish that the Bill had been stopped so that it could have been brought back and given full, detailed attention. So be it. We made our concerns plain at Second Reading. I thank the Minister for the very full letter that he sent to us all after that stage; it certainly helped with the necessary background information.
I am not sure whether I found it satisfactory that the biggest source of funding for the cost of the Bill, which is still largely uncosted, is savings that are yet to be made. That is a peculiar approach. A number of other matters which we shall not consider today still cause us concern. I have received representations on lightingone of the subjects whose interested parties had hoped the Bill would be given proper considerationand the Outdoor Advertising Association, which is concerned that it might be caught by fly-posting.
We have particular concerns still on the adequacy of resourcing the transfer of responsibility for dogs from the police service to local government, although the Minister has given me an assurance that that transfer has to be made by order and cannot be made without the agreement of the Local Government Association. Therefore, one hopes that the matter will be cleared.
We still have concerns about fly-tipping. The Minister has given assurances that landowners who are in no way involved in fly-tipping have the same defence that exists under Section 59 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, as has always existed. That is all very well, but the landowner can still be left with high costs. If no one has responsibility for clearing up fly-tipping and the landowner likes to keep his land tidy, in the end he is the one who pays the bill, which sometimes can be very hard. A possible alternative, of course, would be for him to dump what is fly-tipped on his land on the roadside verge, at which point the Act would intervene.
There are a number of concerns about the Bill, which means that, good though the Bill is, it ought to have gone through the full procedure. The Government have taken their decision to go the country. We have to live with that. I have intervened at this stage simply because I cannot do so appropriately later. We will do what we can to co-operate with the rest of the procedures today. The Minister was warned that I intended to say something, for which I hope he will forgive me.
Lord Greaves: My Lords, I confess that I had intended saying a few brief things on the first amendment; that is, until I felt that the noble Baroness on the Government Front Bench was glowering at me too much. Then I would have sat down. This is probably a more appropriate time.
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This is not the most momentous Bill before the House in this wash-up. Some people may think that it is not very important and can therefore just be nodded through. In practice, the Bill may have a more direct effect on the lives of ordinary people than many of the far more momentous things that we talk about that might affect some people very greatly. This Bill will affect almost everybody. It is about the quality and the maintenance of their own neighbourhood, their own area, their own countryside and so forth.
It is an important Bill. To that extent I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. It is a real shame that we have been unable to go through it and worry out clause by clause how it will affect people in the streets, villages and so on, but we cannot, and that is all there is to it. Given that we cannot, it is right that the Bill should go through in its present form, particularly with the two or three helpful amendments that the Minister will move.
The more I look at the British constitution and the way in which it works, the more I think that it is not so much pragmatic as a sort of Heath Robinson job held together by antiquated ceremonialI do not include the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, in either of those descriptions.
We have what we have in front of us. I, too, thank the Minister very much for the careful consideration and replies that he has given to all of us who raised perhaps more detailed questions at Second Reading than we might have done, knowing that we might get into this situation.
The only issue on which I still have nagging doubts is the gating provisions and whether, particularly in areas such as Pennine towns and villages, they could be used to block off legitimate access to countryside walks and footpaths. That is the only set of answers given by the Minister that I am not too happy about, and I shall follow that up in correspondence later. Apart from that, we are here to do a job of work which will not take long. So let us get on with it.
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