|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Hamwee: I think I might. Hansard will not record the expression on my face during some of that exchange. This is not the place to have a long exchange about the philosophy underlying freedom of information. I recognise that, in practical terms, the freedom of information provisions can be a burden, but whether it is disproportionate when placed against attempting to ensure an open society is not a discussion for today. If the Government consider that there are problems with the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, it is not appropriate for them to say, "We will try to sort that out and then we might apply it to LOCOG". Rather, they should treat LOCOG as a body that has a public responsibility and that will, no less than the ODA, deal with overseas business and enter into large contracts. They should accept the position that LOCOG and its role will have in the eyes of the public. If the Freedom of Information Act is not going very well, any adjustments to it would apply to LOCOG as much as to anyone else.
The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 47 is grouped with Amendments Nos. 49, 50, 52 and 53. They relate to the Olympic Transport Plan. Amendment No. 47 makes the London Assembly a statutory consultee on the plan. I should repeat the declaration of interest that I made at an earlier stage as a member of the London Assembly and, currently, its chair. It may be that the Minister can satisfy me on this by reading the ODA's mind, or the mind of the Secretary of State, as to heror his, in futuredirection to the ODA and by confirming that the London Assembly would fall within Clause 10(3)(k) as,
Without that, there seems no guarantee or assurance that a particular ODA or Secretary of State will decide to consult the London Assembly. I accept that there has to be a natural limit to any consultation, but, on this matter, the Assembly is in a particular position. It has a responsibility to scrutinise the work of Transport for London and other bodies, including the Metropolitan Police Authority and the fire authority. That means that it will have a particular understanding not just of the strategies listed in Clause 10(4) but of the practicalities. It has an understanding of how London's transport system works in practice and will have something significant to bring to the table on the Olympic Transport Plan. Moreover, as a full-time organisation, unlike the scrutiny bodies of local authorities, the London Assembly can devote a lot of attention to the issue.
Amendment No. 50 would require it to consult a local authority in whose area there is a waterway which may be affected by the plan. It has been pointed out to me that it would be reassuring to hear greater acknowledgement of the role that London's waterways can play in the preparations for the games. They are part of the transport systemor, at any rate, they should beand many of us would encourage their greater use, not just for transporting passengers, but also in transporting materials and waste during the construction work for the games.
The amendment would except publication only to the extent that security reasons precluded it. As the provision is worded, the whole plan might go unpublishedwhich would be ludicrous, I acceptif some small element were to be caught by this provision.
Amendment No. 53 would require the Secretary of State to have regard to the Olympic transport plan in exercising his functions in relation to the Olympic route network. Will the Minister explain how the designation of the route network relates to the transport plan? It should follow from it and be created out of it, but it is not obvious to me, except by reading between the lines, that that causal link exists. I beg to move.
Lord Berkeley: We are in grave danger of discussing this clause several times because I shall oppose the Question whether Clause 10 shall stand part of the Bill later. I shall therefore confine my comments to these amendments, to which the noble Baroness has just
2 Feb 2006 : Column GC202
spoken. I have some sympathy with what she said. The London Assembly clearly has a role to play and it should be included in the list rather than,
Why is Network Rail not on the list? If those preparing the Olympic bid had bothered to talk to Network Rail, they would not have made one or two of the mistakes that were made. After all, Network Rail owns and operates the rail network. I trust that it will be consulted.
The amendment relating to waterways, tabled by the noble Baroness, is terribly important. The use of waterways could be enormous or it could be zerowe will debate the matter later. We need to think carefully about who is on the list and what roles they will play. Clearly the London Assembly, Network Rail and whoever represents the waterwaysthe Port of London Authority, presumably, in regard to the River Thamesought to be consulted and their views listened to.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, invited me to describe more effectively the way in which the Olympic Transport Plan would develop. It will be prepared by the ODA as part of the overall strategy for the delivery of safe, efficient and reliable transportation in connection with the games. As well as being a single repository of the transport plans, it will also contain sufficient technical detail to allow local authorities, transport operators and the IOC to understand thoroughly, and be consulted on, the requirements of Olympic transportation.
As we discussed earlier on Amendment No. 48, Clause 10(3) lists the main persons and bodies likely to be affected by the preparation or revision of the OTP. We accept, of course, that there are others who should also beand will beconsulted about the plan, either in whole or in part, and whose input will be required. But it is impossible to list in Clause 10 every person and body that might be affected in some way by the Olympic Transport Plan and might have a considerable amount to contribute to it. That is why Clause 10(3)(k) requires the ODA to consult "such other persons" as it thinks appropriate before the plan is prepared or revised.
I can assure the Committee that we expect the ODA to consult widely with those likely to be affected by the implementation of the plan. I hear what the noble Baroness says with regard to her amendment on the waterway, but it is difficult to think of an authority concerned with a waterway which would not also be a highway authority. We have clearly identified the highway authorities so we think we have covered that matter. The noble Baroness and my noble friend Lord Berkeley both believe that the waterways of London may have a considerable role to play in the development of the Olympic Games and that this may
2 Feb 2006 : Column GC203
be an opportunity to exploit them more fully than has been the case in recent years, but we do not need an amendment to that effect.
I recognise the role that the noble Baroness plays as chair of the London Assembly. She is right to champion the Assembly's role as part of London's elected government, and it would be surprising if she did not do so on many occasions in Committee. She has already done so and I have no doubt she will continue to do so. I am happy to put on record that the Government fully expect the London Assembly to be one of the organisations that the ODA should consult on its Olympic Transport Plan, in addition to local authorities in whose areas there are waterways to be used for the Olympics.
The Committee will appreciate that the structure for the development of consultation is such that there is no way in which the role of the London Assembly could be ignored, given its significance as the local authority for London. I hope that the noble Baroness will recognise that the premise behind the whole operation of the ODA is that it should consult the bodies upon which it is dependent and from which it knows it will get valuable support in developing its proposals. The London Assembly, of course, is bound to be key to that process.
The trouble, however, is that the moment we start to make a list, we start to produce a potentially unending Bill. My noble friend Lord Berkeley has touched upon only a fragment of his interest in the railways in his short and modest contribution and already he has identified that Network Rail must be on any list, should there be one. He could, of course, refer extensivelyas could other Members of the Committeeto a whole range of extremely valuable interests which the ODA will have to consult, and the only way I can stop him adding to the list is by not having a list at all. That is what I intend to do and I therefore resist the amendments.
We discussed security earlier. It is an extremely important and sensitive part of the preparations for the games. As required by Clause 6, the ODA must, in exercising its functions, have regard to the importance of ensuring the safety of individuals participating in or attending the games and the security of property. This requirement embraces the ODA's transport functions, including the preparation of the Olympic Transport Plan. After all, could one conceivably consider the security of the people of Londonwhether living there or visitingand not the security of transport? It is of very great significance and we are all of one mind in that respect.
Clause 10 sets out that the Olympic Transport Plan must include the construction of systems of, and facilities for, transport, the provision of transport to and from events, and for other purposes connected with the games, along with contingency plans. In all those areas the ODA will need to consider the security implications. That is why, again, if we had a list, the necessary consultation would extend to a whole range of security authorities. The noble Lord, Lord Higgins, berated me a little earlier for the fact that we had
2 Feb 2006 : Column GC204
identified only the Metropolitan Police in the Bill and indicated that it looked like we were cutting out the security services from consultation, which we certainly are not. But, once again, we are stuck with the issue of how inclusive we are meant to be in the Bill when these issues can be satisfactorily resolved only by extensive consultation with the appropriate authorities.
As to Amendment No. 53, the Olympic Transport Plan makes provision for the creation and maintenance of the Olympic route network. This will ensure that the network is developed as an integral part of the Olympic Transport Plan and, in the context of the other parts of the plan, take into account the interdependence and impact that each part of the plan may have with others. We will put all the relevant authorities on notice of what the Olympic route network is intended to be and how traffic is to be controlled on it.
I can assure the Committee that, in exercising his functions under Clause 11(1) to designate a road as part of the Olympic route network, the Secretary of State will have regard to the Olympic Transport Plan. To do otherwise would undermine the plans being put in place by the ODA because roads that form part of the Olympic route network will have a special status in terms of traffic regulations and their enforcement.
At the same time, the reason for making the Secretary of State a party to the designation of a road as part of the Olympic network is to ensure that the powers in Clauses 14 and 15 are restricted only to those roads that are absolutely necessary. The Secretary of State is the guarantor that the necessary restrictions are on only those roads that are necessary. It is important that the Secretary of State makes the decision whether to designate a road as part of the Olympic route network in a balanced and unfettered fashion and without presumption or pressure as to the outcome. That said, I repeat that the Secretary of State will consider the list of roads included in the Olympic Transport Plan or any roads necessary for the purposes of that plan. It is not necessary to impose that duty on the Secretary of State and the amendment is unnecessary.
I emphasise again that it was brought to the Committee's attention that it would be necessary to have due regard to the impact on the rail system of inevitable disturbances and restrictions that would be imposed during the build-up to and conduct of the games. That extends even more so to the road network, for obvious reasons, because the road network into the Olympic area and arenas will be directly used. I give the Committee the obvious assurance that the Secretary of State will take the overview of that position. We recognise that the Olympic route network is essential, but, at the same time, we must ensure that it is not enforced on roads that are not
2 Feb 2006 : Column GC205
necessary to its purpose. I hope that with those assurances the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|