Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
WEDNESDAY 1 NOVEMBER 2000
100. These are regulations imposed on you by?
(Mr Pearce) British Waterways.
101. You have not made a suggestion about legislation
and said that you need new legislation. What are the most important
features of that?
(Mr Edwards) In the 1968 Transport Act, many of the
waterways which we use and cruise at the moment are designated
as remainder because at that time their future was unclear, 32
years ago. That has long been sorted out and they are part of
the integrated network but nonetheless the navigation authority
responsible, British Waterways, is constrained in its management
by this ancient legislation. That needs sorting out too.
102. You say that they are constrained by it.
In what manner are they constrained?
(Mr Edwards) They are not allowed to spend proper
maintenance money. They are required to manage remainder waterways
in a way that is at the absolute minimum cost. We believe that
all the waterways used for boating should be managed in a maintenance
efficient manner so that they are properly invested in and proper
expenditure happens to them all equally.
103. Under the 1968 Act apparently the remainder
waterways can be upgraded.
(Mr Edwards) They can be upgraded but usually that
requires commitment from local authorities or other bodies to
fund that maintenance cost.
104. To be realisticI do not want to
be unkindmost legislation is framed in such a way that
it implies that people have a duty to keep things going and maintain
them at a particular level. As long as there is provision for
them to be improved, that is not exactly an unrealistic provision,
is it? I could point you to a large amount of transport legislation
which is very constraining.
(Mr Edwards) It is difficult because when that legislation
was framed the future of those waterways was as a remainder. They
might have been done away with and the legislation was viewed
with that in mind. Whilst the provisions do allow for ministerial
orders to upgrade those waterways to the different categories,
evidence has shown in recent years that that is extremely difficult
105. You are also saying that that was because
people could not find the money; you did not say it was because
(Mr Edwards) It is because it risks imposing a duty
on some authorities who just happen to benefit from having one
sort of waterway in their area to another. If you wanted to upgrade
the very far western end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the
local authorities there might have to provide funding to support
that upgrading, but local authorities further along the route,
because of historical accident, will not have to because they
regard it as cruiseway.
106. Have you put a submission into the Department
as to what you want changing in the 1968 Act?
(Mr Edwards) We have not but we could certainly do
so if that was felt to be helpful.
107. I think it would be helpful if we could
have a list of all the changes that you want. I would have thought,
if it is important enough to tell us that you want it changed,
you would have told the Department.
(Mr Edwards) We have explained to the Department many
of the changes we want. We have not set them out at this precise
point in time, bearing in mind the recent publication from the
government. We will gladly make a submission in the very near
Chairman: I am very grateful to you, gentlemen.
Thank you very much.