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Lord Molloy: My Lords, would it not be worth while for representatives of the road haulage industry and representatives of the police, who know this subject inside out and know how conditions vary in different parts of the country, to get together to try to resolve this problem? That would be a very good job done for the country.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I take the important point made by the noble Lord. I do not think it would be appropriate to leave out the role of the Vehicle Inspectorate, which is the primary body involved with the police in checking tachographs. Most operators take this issue and their responsibilities extremely seriously, but there is a body of road operators and drivers who do not.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, in 1994-95 there were 2,835 drivers' hours prosecutions. I hope that that figure is of some use to my noble friend. I can also tell him that the number of HGV accidents is falling. However, this is still a serious problem and my noble friend is right to identify the issue of driver fatigue.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, is the Minister aware that some areas of commercial driving do not appear to be covered by restrictions on the number of hours at the wheel? In particular, is he aware that the get-you-home services provided by organisations such as the AA and RAC are not covered by drivers' hours regulations? Will the Minister undertake to investigate that and ensure that some action is taken in that area?
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the noble Lord is correct to say that the drivers of recovery vehicles are outside the scope of the European rules on drivers' hours. However, they are subject to separate UK rules which specify a 10-hour daily driving limit and an 11-hour duty limit. I can tell the noble Lord that those rules are enforced through log books.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, is it not abundantly plain from the Minister's own answers that there have been grave difficulties in enforcing these rules, and that this is consistent with the view I expressed a long time ago that they were not capable of proper enforcement? Is there not a case therefore for urging the Commission to look carefully at these regulations? Finally, where road hauliers have been guilty of serious breaches of these regulations, will the Minister consider the confiscation of their lorries?
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I can tell the noble Lord that serious action is taken against operators and not just drivers. The Vehicle Inspectorate works closely with the police to develop intelligence on where operators are clearly acting well outside the law on this subject. The rules are stringent. The noble Lord is quite right to say that the difficulty comes with enforcement. With the advent of the newer technology involved in the tachographs, we can see significant benefits for enforcement. From January 1996 new vehicles must be fitted with a tachograph which automatically records on the chart any interruption to the power supply. That makes it much more difficult to tamper with it. The Europeans have taken forward considerable research which we have supported in identifying so-called smart card systems which, again, provide further protection against tampering.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. This is the first of two Motions for the purpose of implementing
The second Motion, which I shall move separately, is concerned with the introduction of a register. If the first resolution is agreed by your Lordships, it will in due course be incorporated into The Companion to the Standing Orders in place of the existing guidelines. I believe that a resolution of the House will carry even greater weight with your Lordships than the guidance which has been deemed sufficient until now.
Thus Lords who accept payment or other incentive or reward for providing parliamentary advice or services, or who have any financial interest in a business involved in parliamentary lobbying on behalf of clients, should not speak, vote, lobby or otherwise take advantage of their position as Members of the House on behalf of their clients. This restriction does not extend to matters relating to Lords' outside employment or directorships, where the interest does not arise from membership of the House. Lords should, however, be especially cautious in deciding whether to speak or vote in relation to interests that are direct, pecuniary and shared by few others.
The above guidance cannot cover all eventualities, and therefore the decision ultimately rests with Lords themselves whether it is proper to take part in a debate or a vote in which they have a personal interest.
Lords who have a direct financial interest in a subject on which they speak should declare it, making clear that it is a financial interest. They should also declare any non-financial interest of which their audience should be aware in order to form a balanced judgment of their arguments. Such interests may be indirect or non-pecuniary, for example the interest of a relation or friend, hospitality or gifts received, trusteeship, or unpaid membership of an interested organisation, and they may include past and future interests. This rule also applies where Lords are using their influence as a Member of the House in communication with a Minister, Government Department, local authority or other public body outside the House.
On certain occasions such as Starred Questions and the various stages of a bill following Second Reading, it may be for the convenience of the House that Lords should not take up time by repeating declarations of interest but Lords should make a declaration whenever they are in doubt. The nature of the interest should be made clear notwithstanding that it may be well known to most other Lords present in the Chamber.
Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, before the debate on this matter proceeds, I wonder whether the House will allow me to ask my noble friend the Chairman of Committees whether these two Motions were drafted before the decision taken in another place. While there is no necessity for the two Chambers to work in the same direction on these matters, it is at least desirable that we should take into consideration what has happened elsewhere. We have had no opportunity to consider how these Motions go alongside the proceedings elsewhere. In those circumstances, are we not taking action rather quickly? Does my noble friend still wish to proceed with the Motions?
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, if it is in order for me to do so, and with the leave of the House, I would simply point out that noble Lords in all parts of the House would regard themselves as in charge of their own proceedings quite independently of what might or might not happen in another place. On the question of knowledge about these two Motions, it is the case, as I might have said when we embarked on the debate this afternoon, if there is to be one, that the terms of the Motions have been familiar to your Lordships since the Procedure Committee's reports. So that goes back to July of this year.
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank rose to move as an amendment to the above Motion, in line 30 leave out ("repeating") and insert ("repeated") and in line 31 after ("doubt") insert ("although not less than each day and at each stage of a Bill").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of the amendment is to seek clarification. The substance of it is directed to the purport, the meaning or the significance of the word "repeating" in line 30 of the resolution before the House. I raise this question because of my understanding of the intention of the Griffiths Committee, of which I was a member. It has become clear to me, as I think the Chairman of Committees will himself confirm, that there is a possibility of some different alternative interpretation of what the word "repeating" means within the context of that sentence. My wish is no more than to enable the Chairman of Committees, if he so chooses, to make clear that the meaning of that word in the sentence is precisely what the Griffiths Committee had in mind as expressed in paragraph 34 of its report, published, as the noble Lord said, in the proceedings of the Procedure Committee.
That has been taken to mean, at least in one case and maybe in others, that once a declaration has been made at Second Reading there is no need to repeat it later. I believe that such an interpretation is not what the Griffiths sub-committee had in mind and that is why I referred earlier to paragraph 34. I can well understand that "repeating" within that context could lead some noble Lords to believe that once they had made a declaration at Second Reading, it was not necessary to repeat it later.
As I believe that the House is disposed to accept the recommendations of the Griffiths sub-committee and no doubt the reasoning behind them, I have no wish to detain it with a lengthy explanation of why it is so important that the House understands and accepts the intentions behind the Griffiths recommendations. However, perhaps I may say this. Yesterday afternoon we completed a short and relatively uncontroversial Criminal Injuries Compensation Bill. We completed it on 6th November. The Bill had its Second Reading on 17th July. Plainly, a declaration of interest made in July could not be expected to carry over and run until November. That is the point I want to make and it is one which was very much in the mind of the Griffiths sub-committee. If that is the case with a relatively uncontroversial and short Bill, how much more would it be the case with a complex, controversial and perhaps mainly commercial Bill like the legislation as regards Sunday trading or deregulation and contracting out which we considered two or three years ago, or indeed the environment or the gas Bills which we have discussed this Session.
Some Members do not attend every stage of a Bill; some do not attend every debate on an amendment. A Committee stage may go over one or more days. We should not overlook the fact that in each parliamentary Session as many as 50 new Peers may be introduced. Therefore, a Member may not have been eligible to attend Second Reading before the Committee stage, Report stage or Third Reading is reached.
I have no wish to labour the point; I make it only in case the full implications of the Griffiths Report have not been understood. It isI say this to those Members who may feel that I am repeating myselfa simple point. As I understand it, it is the intention of the Griffiths sub-committee and, I hope, the intention of the House that declarations should occur on every day of a Bill and at every stage of it because only in that way can we be sure that Members will be aware of the need for it.
As I made clear in our debate on Wednesday last week, I have at all stages been in favour of belt and braces. I mean by that that the declaration which a noble Lord may make shall be accompanied by a comprehensive register of interests. I shall not pursue that point further now, but what I have said about clarification of this sentence is relevant to the fact that if we do not have a comprehensive declaration of interest it is even more important that there should be no doubt at all where noble Lords stand on matters of concern to them. If the Chairman of Committees says that I am rightin other words, that his understanding is that paragraph 34 of the Procedure Committee report is incorporated within the Motion before usI shall take matters no further. But it is important to be quite clear about the matter before the House today. I beg to move.
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