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Lord Carter: As I understand it, the effect of this amendment is to increase the Government's income. Therefore, I wholeheartedly support it. Anyone applying for authorisation to market a genetically modified organism already has to pay a fee to cover the Secretary of State's costs in considering the application. It is therefore entirely reasonable, given the amendments that have already been accepted, that a fee provision should be extended to include research undertaken by the Secretary of State.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 9:


After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause--
(" . After section 115 of that Act, insert--
"Map-based register.
MAP-BASED REGISTER
.--(1) Such bodies as are deemed appropriate by the Secretary of State shall be responsible for the keeping of a detailed map-based register of all land on which genetically modified crops are known to be present.
(2) The register shall include land on which genetically modified crops are known to have been present at some point in the past or are likely to be present at some point in the future.
(3) The requirement for inclusion of land on the register shall apply irrespectively of the circumstances in which the genetically modified organisms were released, that is whether legally or illegally, deliberately or accidentally.
(4) The register maintained under this section shall also include instances of contamination by genetically modified DNA and other genetically modified material."").

The noble Baroness said: The effect of regulation of GM crops demands that effective records are kept of the release of such organisms and that the record is available and understandable to all interested parties. This amendment makes provision for a detailed map-based register of all land used for GM crops. Such a register would allow a person to check on whether GM crops had previously been grown on a particular piece of land or in the vicinity of that land. In particular, prospective purchasers would be able to check on land use histories. The register should be publicly available free of charge, perhaps through the Internet.

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Within the context of a properly constituted regulatory framework, the maintenance of a register system would certainly be feasible. Indeed, such a scheme has been proposed by the European Society of Chartered Surveyors; and it has also been endorsed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. A geographically based information source of this nature would be integral to a robust system of traceability of GM crops and foods, which would be necessary to address any environmental and health problems arising from GM crops after their approval, and to protect farmers, food processors and retailers wishing to supply GM-free products. I beg to move.

Lord Carter: This is where I must move into admonitory mode. After introducing this new clause at such a late stage, the noble Baroness cannot expect the Government to have a firm view on the matter. However, as she is aware, there is a public register of information relating to research releases of GMOs, which includes details of the exact location, the area and nature of the release, the date on which the release was made, and so on.

As regards commercial releases, there are no provisions to record the locations in which GM crops will be grown. Given that such crops will not be approved for placing on the market until it can be shown that they will not cause damage to the environment or human health, the Government see no justifiable grounds relating to why such records should be kept. If the noble Baroness believes it will improve her Bill to have the amendment in it, she is free to amend it.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: I note the admonition from the Minister. Although I agreed with him that we would not mention the Greater London Authority Bill, I excluded from that the Employment Relations Bill when, on the day before the Bill arrived, we received a completely new schedule. I am grateful to the noble Lord.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Road Traffic (Enforcement Powers) Bill [H.L.]

1.51 p.m.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Earl Attlee.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Strabolgi) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Power to prohibit driving of vehicle]:

[Amendment No. 1 not moved.]

9 Jul 1999 : Column 1197

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Increase of fine for breach of obligation to hold operator's licence]:

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

Viscount Simon moved Amendment No. 3:


Page 3, line 27, at end insert--
("( ) After subsection (5) of that section, there shall be inserted--
"(6) An operators licence issued under this Act shall not be valid if a person driving a United Kingdom registered goods vehicle under that licence does not hold a valid European Union recognised driving licence."")

The noble Viscount said: The intention of this amendment is simple. It is already an offence under the Motor Vehicles (International) Order 1975 for someone to drive a UK-registered HGV without an EU-recognised driving licence. This is enforced under Section 87 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This amendment would invalidate an operator's licence when it is found that the driver of a UK-registered vehicle does not hold an EU-recognised driving licence. The wording on the Marshalled List spells that out. The effect would be to allow the impounding powers set out in the schedule to be effective in such a circumstance. Therefore, if there were no EU-recognised driving licence, that would lead to the operator's licence being invalidated which leads to the vehicle being impounded. I beg to move.

Earl Attlee: As the noble Viscount intimated, his amendment is somewhat redundant because there are already suitable provisions in the law. I am sure that the Minister will also say that.

However, this touches on an important problem in the road haulage industry: the difference in operating costs between UK operators on the one hand and operators coming from the Continent on the other, and the problems of flagging out. Those problems of flagging out will not disappear and I expect that in the next Session I shall be paying even closer attention to them.

I believe that the amendment is unnecessary and that it slightly widens the scope of the Bill. I hope that the noble Viscount will, in due course, withdraw it.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I understand that at present a foreign resident in Great Britain may not drive an HGV here on a non-European Union driving licence. However, the Bill relates to bringing all hauliers into the operator licensing system. The amendment could have the effect of invalidating operator licences and thus could encourage more hauliers to operate illegally. Therefore, I hope that the noble Viscount will withdraw his amendment.

Viscount Simon: I thank my noble friend for her reply to my amendment and beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

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Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 4:


After Clause 4, insert the following new clause--

OPERATORS LICENCES: GOOD REPUTE

(" . In Schedule 3 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 (Qualifications for Standard Licence), after paragraph 2(b) there is inserted--
"(c) has within the last two years employed one or more drivers that he knew or suspected were illegally claiming unemployment benefits; or
(d) has within the last two years employed one or more drivers that were illegally claiming unemployment benefits and having failed to take suitable measures to ascertain whether or not they were claiming benefits or to remit National Insurance deductions to the Contributions Agency."")

The noble Baroness said: This part of the Bill deals with operators' licences. As the noble Earl explained when he introduced the Bill on Second Reading, the question of good repute is essential to an operator who wants to have a licence to operate. Under Schedule 3 to the Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Act, there are already various ways in which an operator can lose his good repute. Some are discretionary, but under paragraph 2, the traffic commissioners have no discretion if the applicant has more than one conviction for a serious offence or has repeated convictions for road traffic offences.

The amendment seeks to add two other cases in which the operator would automatically lose his good repute. The first is if he has within the past two years employed one or more drivers he knew or suspected of illegally claiming unemployment benefit. The second is that he has not taken suitable measures to ascertain whether they were claiming benefits and has not remitted national insurance reductions to the Contributions Agency.

Obviously, the employment of people who claim unemployment benefit reduces the cost to the operator but increases the cost to the taxpayer of that person's operation. Anything illegal which increases the possibility of unfair competition among operators is to be deplored. I beg to move.


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