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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Gilbert for that point. I can confirm that the members of the Intelligence and Security Committee are entirely happy with their range of powers, duties and responsibilities in this matter. I thank my noble friend for his observations.

Lord McNally: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, the point that I made, and which was followed up by the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, was not mine alone. The conclusion of the Home Affairs Select Committee is as follows,


We agree with that statement.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McNally, for his further point. We are all familiar with that line of argument. It is an important part of the debate and we fully recognise that.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, will the House allow me to add that if that should ever come to pass, the Government would have a lovely, peaceful life because there would be no intelligence?

Greater London Authority Bill

4.11 p.m.

Further considered on Report.

Schedule 16 [Hackney Carriages]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 475ZAA:


Page 267, line 16, at end insert--
(“( ) Transport for London may send to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis or the Commissioner of Police for the City of London--
(a) details of a person to whom Transport for London is considering granting a licence under this section, and
(b) a request for the Commissioner's observations;
and the Commissioner shall respond to the request.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, before I speak to the amendment, it may be appropriate for me to take this opportunity to respond to the concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, at the start of business on Tuesday. He asked that the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee should have an opportunity to consider the

21 Oct 1999 : Column 1306

amendments which the Government have tabled on Report. It is my understanding that the committee met yesterday and concluded that there was no need to draw any of our amendments to the attention of the House. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, has written to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, to confirm that. Further, I should like to express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, and his committee for the speed and efficiency with which they have addressed this matter. We all recognise that there was considerable pressure on the committee. I am also grateful that it has presented us with a clean bill of health.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to thank the Minister and in particular to thank my noble friend, Lord Alexander of Weedon for so rapidly casting his eyes and those of his committee over what was an immense volume of work. I was pleased to receive a note from my noble friend and I am equally grateful for the Minister's assurance. I am delighted that the matter has been cleared speedily and amiably.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I turn now to the amendment before us. Amendment No. 475ZAA is a simple but important safety provision. It provides for criminal record checks on would-be taxi drivers. It ensures in particular that Transport for London can ask the police for a criminal record check; and it requires the police to make such a check.

There is nothing new in this. It is already the practice for checks to be made, in London and elsewhere, and understandably so. It is surely right that people with convictions for crimes of violence or for sexual offences should not be taxi drivers when vulnerable members of the public are travelling alone in their charge.

The London taxi trade is regulated by the Public Carriage Office, which at present is part of the Metropolitan Police. For that reason, a criminal record check is straightforward. In future, the Public Carriage Office will be part of Transport for London, and separate from the police. We therefore need legal provision for those new circumstances. This amendment provides that and I commend it to the House. I beg to move.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for explaining the amendment. Can he clarify one point? What will happen if the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police thinks it inappropriate for an applicant to be granted a licence? Does he rule that the licence will not be granted? I should be grateful to know the position on this matter.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the position will not change. The Public Carriage Office must take account of information received from the police. It will be a

21 Oct 1999 : Column 1307

matter of judgment, but in normal circumstances, if a serious offence was involved, I am sure that the licence would not be issued.

Viscount Buckmaster: My Lords, will the Minister clarify one point for me? What is the difference between a hackney carriage and a minicab?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, hackney carriages can ply for hire and are covered by all the regulations that apply to cabs that have been cleared to ply for hire; a minicab must be requested and cannot ply for hire on the street. It may also be of interest to the noble Viscount to know that minicab drivers are already covered by a provision to allow for criminal record checks.

Viscount Buckmaster: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 475A:


Before Clause 225, insert the following new clause--

PROVISION OF FACILITIES TO BENEFIT USERS OF WATERWAYS

(“ . Transport for London may provide or secure the provision of such amenities and facilities as it considers would benefit persons using any waterway.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 475AA, as an amendment to Amendment No. 475A, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 475A agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 475B:


After Clause 225, insert the following new clause--

LANDING PLACES: TRANSFER OF CERTAIN RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS

(“ .--(1) This section applies where--
(a) a landing place was transferred to London Regional Transport or any of its subsidiaries on or after 31st March 1999 but before this section comes into force, or
(b) after this section comes into force a landing place is transferred to London Regional Transport or any of its subsidiaries pursuant to an agreement made on or after 31st March 1999 but before this section comes into force.
(2) In this section “qualifying landing place"--
(a) means a landing place transferred as mentioned in subsection (1)(a) or (b) above, and
(b) includes any property associated with the landing place and transferred with it.
(3) Any agreement--
(a) made between the transferor of a qualifying landing place and the owner of a vessel, or with a waterman in respect of a vessel not owned by him, and
(b) which concerns the use of the qualifying landing place by the vessel,
shall have effect on and after the relevant date in accordance with subsections (4) to (6) below.

21 Oct 1999 : Column 1308


(4) The agreement shall have effect as if--
(a) the transferee had been a party to the agreement instead of the transferor;
(b) for any reference to the transferor there were substituted a reference to the transferee;
(c) any reference to any officer or member of staff of the transferor were a reference to such person as the transferee may appoint or, in default of appointment, to the officer or member of staff of the transferee who most closely corresponds to the transferor's officer or member of staff;
and this subsection shall apply whether or not the agreement is capable of being assigned or transferred.
(5) An agreement shall only have effect in accordance with subsection (4) above--
(a) to the extent that the agreement concerns the use of the qualifying landing place by the vessel, and
(b) in relation to things falling to be done under the agreement on or after the relevant date.
(6) An agreement shall not have effect in accordance with subsection (4) above to the extent that the transferor and the transferee have made contrary provision.
(7) For the purposes of this section--
“landing place" means any waterside landing place, pier, jetty, pontoon or other similar installation;
“transferee", in relation to a qualifying landing place, means the body (being London Regional Transport or one of its subsidiaries) to which the landing place is or was transferred as mentioned in subsection (1)(a) or (b) above;
“transferor", in relation to qualifying landing place, means the person by whom the landing place is or was transferred to a transferee as mentioned in subsection (1)(a) or (b) above;
“relevant date", in the case of a qualifying landing place, means--
(a) the date when this section comes into force if on that date the landing place has been transferred to a transferee, or
(b) if the landing place has not been so transferred, the date when it is transferred to the transferee;
“waterman" means a person who navigates a vessel used for carrying passengers for reward.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.


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