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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I apologise that an "s" was omitted. All I can say--and I say it with caution as someone who had a Welsh grandfather--is that, living in the north, I can understand why people use the word "good" in error.

The equipment is approximately 10 years old. The timescale for the introduction of new IT equipment to be considered and for the process to be completed is

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2000, when electronic notification could be introduced. It would also be the appropriate time for consideration to be given to any representations for relocation within the Principality.

The function is not to be devolved to the Welsh Assembly but, having worked closely for a long number of years with representatives of the Welsh counties, it would not surprise me if representation were to be made at that stage regarding that. A very wide consultation exercise was carried out with the industries concerned and with a wide range of other interested parties in England and Wales. Perhaps on a separate occasion I would be interested to find out from the noble Lord whether he was successful in the representations that he made.

The Birmingham traffic area office which will administer the Welsh area licences will provide facilities for operators who wish to conduct their business in the Welsh language. The traffic area network agreed in 1998 was a Welsh language scheme with the Welsh Language Board. Every effort has been made to ensure that operators based in Wales are not inconvenienced by this arrangement. There have been no complaints about the impact in terms of routine business. When a traffic commissioner decides to hold a public inquiry, it is always held locally by the traffic commissioner or his deputies. Our proposal for a Welsh traffic area, if it is approved, is for it to be run from Birmingham, which already deals with the larger number of operators based in Wales.

Perhaps I may respond to some of the points touched on by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. An office was located in Cardiff before March 1997 serving South Wales, but it was closed by the previous government. At the same time, the office in Manchester, which served operators in North Wales, Merseyside and the north-west, was also closed. Licensing administration for operators in South Wales was switched to the traffic area office in Birmingham for North Wales and for the north-west to the Leeds office.

I hope that I have answered the points raised by noble Lords. If I have omitted to answer any fine point of detail I will of course write to the noble Lord concerned. I commend the order to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Carriage by Air Acts (Implementation of Protocol No. 4 of Montreal, 1975) Order 1999

Carriage by Air Acts (Application of Provisions) (Fifth Amendment) Order 1999

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton rose to move, That the draft orders laid before the House on 18th March be approved [13th Report from the Joint Committee].

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The noble Baroness said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall move the second and third orders standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The orders are to implement in the United Kingdom the provisions of Montreal Protocol No. 4 in relation to the Warsaw Convention. The protocol allows for the use of more modern data processing methods in the international carriage of cargo by air.

The Warsaw Convention is the international agreement which establishes the legal basis for the liability of air carriers with respect to the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo. It was signed in 1929 and amended in 1955 at The Hague. The convention was further amended by four protocols signed in Montreal in 1975.

A sufficient number of ratifications to bring Montreal Protocol No. 4 into force have now been received and, since the UK has signed and in 1984 ratified the protocol, it is necessary for UK legislation to be updated to reflect its coming into force. To bring the protocol into effect in the UK two separate Orders in Council are needed. The Carriage by Air Acts (Implementation of Protocol No. 4 of Montreal 1975) Order 1999 amends the Carriage by Air Act 1961, introducing a new schedule setting out the convention as amended by Montreal Protocol No. 4 for the purposes of international carriage by air. The Carriage by Air Acts (Application of Provisions) (Fifth Amendment) Order 1999 amends the Carriage by Air Acts (Application of Provisions) Order 1967, amending Schedule 1 to incorporate the provisions of Montreal Protocol No. 4 for domestic carriage by air, save that documentation requirements are not included.

By virtue of the provisions of the 1961 Act, affirmative resolution is needed by both Houses of Parliament. Although the second order can only be made using the powers given by the first, it is proper for both orders to be taken together for the purposes of parliamentary process. A voluntary memorandum has been submitted to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments showing that the making of the orders will be undertaken on a consecutive basis by the Privy Council.

We have notified both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office of our intention to implement Montreal Protocol No. 4 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland so that separate action can be taken in respect of other territories on whose behalf the UK originally ratified the protocol. The department has also consulted widely with airlines and other interested parties. Broadly, airlines welcome the implementation of the protocol since it will allow them to dispense with the costly, paper-based system of data processing.

These orders have been drafted to provide for implementation into UK domestic law of international obligations which we accepted in 1984. I beg to move.

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Moved, That the draft orders laid before the House on 18th March be approved [13th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness--

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, perhaps I should speak now because I believe the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, has the last word.

These are innocuous orders as far as I can make out. However, it reassures one that the process of legal creation is not moving so rapidly that the pace of change is too fast for us to keep up. The Warsaw Convention was signed in 1929; it was amended in 1955; in 1975 the protocol was written in Montreal; it was signed by us at some time in the 1980s; and now--good heavens!--it is being implemented into British law. It seems an excellent idea that one should not have to use 12-page documents to chase, as it were, the progress of every piece of cargo through its movement across national boundaries and that one can rely for legal purposes on one's electronic coverage of that piece of cargo. As I understand it, that is the point of the first of the orders. The second order has the same effect as concerns the carriage of cargo inside the United Kingdom.

The only point I have to make is that, given that we are now in 1999 and we all know what is due to happen on 1st January 2000, I hope that everyone's electronic equipment is in full working order.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her clear explanation of the orders and also to the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood, for saying that I have the last word. I do not really have the last word on this matter--in a way, we have all had the last word. The first order has taken 25 years to come before the House. Not only that, I understand that next month a new convention will be discussed that may well change the order. But if the new convention takes 25 years to come into force, we may not necessarily need to worry about it.

It is a fairly unique order. Nearly half of the pages of the Carriage by Air Acts (Implementation of Protocol No. 4 of Montreal, 1975) Order 1999 are written in French. That must be fairly unique for an order before your Lordships' House. Presumably it goes back to the days--I must be careful what I say because I do not want to offend any of our French friends--when French was, indeed, a diplomatic language. It was used extensively in Warsaw in 1929 and is still, therefore, kept as being an important language--it may be to some, but I shall not go into that.

Having failed French O-level, I shall not ask the Minister to say whether she can give me an absolute guarantee that this is an absolutely true translation of every single paragraph of the English from the French. However, I have two serious questions to ask the Minister, to neither of which do I expect a reply from her tonight. A reply in writing will be perfectly adequate.

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First, the order imposes a fixed limit for cargo, as was set out in 1975. However, I gather that the new convention which, as I said last month is to be discussed, will consider a draft where the limits can be broken if proof of wilful misconduct by the carrier under Article 21A, paragraph 5, is proved. Can the Minister reply to me in writing as to whether Her Majesty's Government support this amendment to the convention as it now stands?

Secondly, the Minister may recall the passage of the Air Carrier Liability Order 1998 which was the subject of some controversy in this House and elsewhere. This is now under judicial review as a result of a case brought by IATA. Indeed, judgment may be given next week. I gather that some of this order depends upon that judgment. How does that judgment, therefore, affect these orders? Again, I do not expect a reply now. A written reply will be perfectly adequate.

Otherwise, I welcome these two orders. They cannot be described, as the Minister stated, as being brought before us in a great rush.

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