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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am aware of the case to which my noble and learned friend referred. I am most grateful to him for his courtesy in informing me of the general background. The Government deprecate any use of CCTV for purposes of public entertainment. I cannot comment in any detail on the case of Mr. Peck at present as it remains the subject of court proceedings.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, will the Minister inform the House whether the Government intend, or have under consideration, the introduction of legislation to protect rights of privacy? Are the Government aware that in a recent criminal justice Bill, I sought to introduce certain amendments which had been outlined by Sir David Calcutt in one of his reports and was told that the then government had the matter under consideration and were going to publish a White Paper? That has not been done. Are the Government prepared to issue such a paper?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am aware of that, having been present on the occasions in question when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, has adverted to that topic. I am equally aware of the promise given by the previous government that a White Paper to
Lord Marsh: My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of a police committee involved in the use of closed-circuit television. Does the noble Lord agree that, while a misuse of tape in the way described cannot be supported, it is perfectly simple to ensure that it does not happen; that it should not happen and that the benefits in terms of the control of terrorism and serious organised crime are very great indeed?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am happy to endorse absolutely what the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, said. CCTV can deter criminals and it does prevent crime. It is surprisingly popular with most members of the public. It is a useful tool from the point of view of the police. The police operate proper controls over the destination of CCTV material. I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, said. One must weigh the benefits against the occasional abuse.
Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, while no one would complain about the use of security cameras--in fact everyone would approve of them--as the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, said, it is not difficult to make proper use of them while at the same time ensuring that the recordings are not abused?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I agree entirely and that is why, as I said earlier in my first Answer to my noble and learned friend, we are entirely willing to listen to arguments in favour of statutory regulation. If we are convinced by those arguments, we shall act.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, we agree absolutely that any abuse of the system is to be abhorred. Does the noble Lord agree however that that is a very rare occurrence? Most CCTV schemes throughout the country are implemented according to the codes of practice. We should wish to encourage that. In view of the great benefits that CCTV has brought to many communities, the way in which it is helping to reduce crime and the way in which it means that people may walk more safely on the streets going about their ordinary everyday business, are the Government committed to continuing to work in partnership with local authorities, local businesses and communities by giving grants at a national level to increase the number of schemes throughout the country?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am most grateful for the support which the noble Baroness has given to my general response. Of course, abuse must be put into perspective. Our judgment is the same as that of the noble Baroness; namely, that public benefit is significantly greater than the occasional abuse for
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, we are currently reviewing, as a matter of urgency, the available options in order to ensure that we tackle the bull bar issue as effectively as possible.
Progress in Europe to amend the external projections directive to address aggressive bull bars has, we regret, been slow, with some member states opposing the Commission's proposal. The Dutch have recently suggested an alternative proposal intended to overcome these objections, although it has not yet been tabled by the Commission.
The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that encouraging reply. Is she aware that the campaign to ban bull bars in Britain has now been in existence for more than two years? We have been waiting patiently for the Commission to produce a directive. Is it not time that we lost our patience and took a national stand on the issue to prevent the injury and damage caused by bull bars?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Earl's long-standing interest in the subject. We share his desire to make rapid progress on the issue. We still believe that the best mechanism is through extending and amending the external projections directive, but if that is not possible we shall consider what national action could be effective if progress is not forthcoming. It is important in reviewing the available options, including national action, that the action should be practicable and not leave us open to legal challenge.
The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that one might expect motorcycling groups to be extremely concerned about bull bars? However, I can say, as secretary of the all-party motorcycling group, that there is very little evidence that motorcyclists particularly fear injury from collision with vehicles which have bull bars. But we place those cars high on the list of vehicles that we must treat with extreme caution; for example, any car with a miniature football shirt in the back or any vehicle with a ladder on the top.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, given the Labour Party's appetite for banning perfectly legal and respectable activities, is it not ironic that when faced with a genuine menace, the Minister is unable to offer any solution other than to wait for an EU directive?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I cannot believe that the noble Earl speaking from the Opposition Front Bench has been listening carefully to what I tried to say this afternoon. Our position is quite clear. It would be most satisfactory if we could achieve concerted action through European measures. If we cannot, the Government are looking seriously at what we can do at a national level.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the party opposite had two years of representation in which to put the matter right and that perhaps it is a great shame that they did not do so? Has she any figures for the number of people who have been killed or injured who would not otherwise have been killed or injured had bull bars not been in use? If there have been such fatalities and other accidents, should we not now act nationally, immediately, irrespective of what comes forth from the European Union?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I do not believe that we should act unilaterally irrespective of what comes forth from the European Union if that were to produce more protection for our pedestrians than limited national action. That is why the Government's view is that we should give the Dutch proposal a fair wind; see if it is accepted; and only if it is not should we take national action. Estimates have been made about the number of injuries. Transport Research Laboratory research undertaken recently estimated that 84 serious injuries and, I believe, between two and three additional deaths were due to bull bars.
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