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Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, the Minister deserves a better answer than the one I was able to give to his reply to my letter. I shall not pursue the matter now because I need to go back to those who brief me. They were clearly unhappy and, from a cursory glance, I do not believe that they will agree with the point the Minister made in his letter that competition between all is fair as regards Customs and Excise.

29 Jun 2000 : Column 1137

I shall not waste any more of your Lordships' time on the amendment. I shall write to the Minister and send him the mailshot from the Post Office which indicates that it has a speedy service. I do not believe that it is a two-track service. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 107 [Conditions of transit of postal packets]:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 41:


    Page 64, line 39, at end insert--


("( ) The detention or disposal by a postal operator of any postal packet on the grounds of a contravention of section 85 or of any terms and conditions applicable to its transmission by post shall not exempt the sender from any proceedings which might have been taken if the packet had been delivered in due course of post.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 41 brings forward into the Bill a provision similar to that which currently exists in Section 11(4) of the Post Office Act 1953. It is intended to ensure that the detention or disposal of a postal packet, on the grounds of a contravention of Clause 85 of the Bill (which prohibits the sending of certain articles by post) or of any of the terms and conditions applicable to its transmission by post, does not exempt the sender from any proceedings which might have been taken if the postal packet had been delivered in the due course of post.

The amendment makes it clear that the fact that the postal packet does not reach its destination because it is detained or destroyed by a postal operator, as is permitted by Clause 107 where the postal operator knows or reasonably suspects the packet is being sent by post in contravention of Clause 85, should not prevent proceedings being brought. This applies to proceedings under this or other legislation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 111 [Exclusion of liability in relation to postal and money orders]:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendments Nos. 42 and 43:


    Page 65, line 44, after first ("a") insert ("reasonable").


    Page 66, line 1, after ("a") insert ("reasonable").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 42 and 43 relate to the provisions in Clause 111, which covers postal and money orders.

Subsection (1) of the clause exempts the Post Office company from any proceedings if it refuses to pay or delays payment of a postal or money order. Following further consideration of this exemption, the Government have concluded that as currently drafted the exemption is too wide. We consider that it should apply only where the Post Office company has a reasonable excuse for refusing to pay or delaying the payment of a postal or money order. Such an excuse would be where there was a suspicion that the postal or money order was stolen. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

29 Jun 2000 : Column 1138

Clause 115 [Extension of existing powers relating to the Post Office]:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 44:


    Page 69, line 2, at end insert--


("(7) After section 74(4) of that Act there shall be inserted--
"(4A) For the purposes of this section equivalents in sterling shall be calculated as the Secretary of State considers appropriate." ").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 45:


    After Clause 117, insert the following new clause--

SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE COUNCIL

(" .--(1) On such day as the Secretary of State may by order appoint ("the relevant day"), all the property, rights and liabilities to which the Post Office Users' National Council was entitled or subject immediately before that day shall become by virtue of this section property, rights and liabilities of the Council.
(2) An order made under subsection (1) may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order at any time before any property, rights or liabilities of the Post Office Users' National Council vest in the Council by virtue of this section.
(3) Paragraphs 1 and 7 of Schedule 3 apply for the purposes of this section as they apply for the purposes of section 62 with such modifications as are necessary (including the substitution for references to the Post Office and the Post Office company of references to the Post Office Users' National Council and the Council respectively).
(4) Where a person employed in the civil service of the state and seconded to the Post Office Users' National Council or a Country Council immediately before the relevant day becomes an employee of the Council on that day, his period of employment in the civil service of the state (including any part of that period spent otherwise than on secondment) counts as a period of employment with the Council for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (and the change of employer does not affect the continuity of the period of employment for those purposes).
(5) Where a person who--
(a) is employed in the civil service of the state and is seconded to the Council, and
(b) immediately before his secondment to the Council was seconded to the Post Office Users' National Council or a Country Council,
becomes an employee of the Council, his period of employment in the civil service of the state (including any part of that period spent otherwise than on secondment) counts as a period of employment with the Council for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (and the change of employer does not affect the continuity of the period of employment for those purposes).
(6) In this section "Country Council" means the Post Office Users' Council for Scotland, the Post Office Users' Council for Wales or the Post Office Users' Council for Northern Ireland.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Disclosure of information]:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 46:


    Page 95, line 43, after ("Act") insert ("(other than section 62 or (Supplementary provisions relating to the Council))").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

29 Jun 2000 : Column 1139

Clause 121 [Orders and regulations]:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 47:


    Page 71, line 6, after ("for") insert ("different cases or descriptions of case or for").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendments in the group modify some of the provisions under which the Secretary of State may make orders in accordance with the Bill. The amendments are mainly technical adjustments to ensure that the powers can be exercised to best effect. In particular, many of the amendments in the group are aimed at ensuring that the use of the powers to make consequential amendments of existing legislation and to make arrangements for the commencement of the Bill can be effectively exercised. I beg to move.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, this group of amendments comes almost at the end of the Marshalled List. I am concerned about Amendment No. 64 to Clause 126. It turns into a negative procedure order any positive amendment procedure order. There are other similar amendments. Orders under this Bill are almost entirely negative procedures and under other earlier Acts they are affirmative procedures. As I understand it, some of the amendments turn them to negative procedures.

I have not had time to study the matter in great detail. Therefore, I am a little unclear as to whether that is the effect of the amendments. If it is, I give notice that I shall return to the subject at Third Reading.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I believe that the point which the noble Lord raises is that it is possible to put together negative and affirmative resolutions and take them together for convenience. If that is done, the specific and rather technical point is that it does not prejudice the ability to use the negative order in the future. I believe that that is the specific point to which the noble Lord refers. However, if I may take the matter away and consider it in detail, I shall write to the noble Lord.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, as I was admittedly unclear on the matter, I believe that we had both better look at Hansard in the morning to decide what each of us said and whether we said the right thing.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendments Nos. 48 to 50:


    Page 71, line 15, at end insert--


("( ) The power of the Secretary of State under paragraph A6(1) of Schedule 8 (including that power as extended by this section) may be exercised by modifying any enactment.").


    Page 71, line 20, at end insert--


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