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Lord Harrison: My Lords, does the Minister support the proposals made in the European Voice last week for the establishment of a European police college to help police throughout the European Union combat cross-border crime, terrorism and other problems arising from the establishment of the single European market?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am sure that that is a matter my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will want to consider.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, the Minister exalts graduation. While it would not be incumbent on me to deplore the value of graduation, which has seen me through a life, does the noble Baroness believe that the practical skills of the policeman on the beat working up through the profession should be given more regard?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the practical skills of the policemen on the beat are invaluable. However, as young policemen are promoted and work their way up through the ranks, there are different needs. While on the beat, they will not have had experience of the investigation of serious crime and will require further training in order to acquire the necessary skills and expertise.

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Robert Maxwell Inquiry: Progress

3 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the report of the inspectors into the affairs of the business dealing of the late Robert Maxwell and Mirror Group Newspapers to be published.

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My Lords, the two independent inspectors, Raymond Turner FCA and Sir John Thomas, were appointed on 8th June 1992 to investigate and report on the affairs and membership of the Mirror Group Newspapers plc. The inspectors have not yet submitted their report to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. A decision on publication will be taken when the report has been received and fully considered.

Her Majesty's Government are hopeful that the inspectors' inquiry will be completed shortly, but the inspectors are independent of government and are,

    "masters of their own procedure".

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am not sure whether anyone will be happy with that Answer. Is it not true that after eight years the inquiry has cost £8 million? As one of the inspectors is now a judge, are the Government satisfied that he is able to give the inspection the top priority that is required? Furthermore, as he is now a judge, is there not a danger that the report might breach the European Convention on Human Rights?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the speed of the inquiry is a matter for Sir John Thomas. There are good reasons which relate to the activities of the Serious Fraud Office and the two cases which have taken place. At no time has the view been held that the amount of work necessary has delayed the inquiry. In fact, it has cost a little less than £8 million; £7.6 million to be precise. When Sir John Thomas was appointed a High Court judge, the then Lord Chancellor was aware of the situation and did not believe that it would make it impossible for Sir John to continue as an inspector.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, does the Minister believe that the Government's resources for considering the report and passing judgment on it are adequate to the task?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I am sure that after all this time adequate resources will be available so that we can consider and publish it as soon as possible.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, does not the delay cause another injustice? Is the Minister aware--this is not intended as a rhetorical question--that the personal integrity of a number of Members of both Houses has

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been a matter of public and private debate for the past eight years? Their only redress--the only way they can defend themselves--lies in the publication of the report. Does the Minister believe that the delay is fair?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it would be naive to think that if the publication of the report were stopped--and that could be the only action which would have an effect--the concerns would go away.

The reasons the report has not been published are, first, the action of the Serious Fraud Office against Kevin Maxwell and others. The first criminal trial began in May 1995 and resulted in acquittals. A second trial was stayed in September 1996. Since then, the inspectors have had difficulty in obtaining evidence from Kevin Maxwell. They certified Kevin Maxwell's refusal to answer one of their questions in October 1998 and court proceedings ensued. At that point, the court decided that Kevin Maxwell had to answer the inspectors' questions, although substantial changes were made in the procedures. Those reasons, and not inaction on the part of the inspectors, have caused the delay.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, it is difficult to understand the reasons. I take the points mentioned by my noble friend today, but is there any need to pursue the matter further? Would it not be as well to publish what has been found so far and then see whether the Government or anyone else have it in mind to do anything about it?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I should have thought that publishing the report before the inquiries have been concluded would be the worst conceivable outcome because it would leave all the doubts and questions unanswered. After all this time, the only thing which will remove the uncertainties and suspicions is the completion and publication of the report.

Lord Razzall: My Lords, significant implications arise from the facts behind the report, in particular the need to protect the interests of pensioners. In view of that, can the Minister indicate that, notwithstanding the failure or inability to publish the report for the reasons set out, the legislation now passing through this House takes into account the inspectors' likely recommendations regarding the protection of pensioners' rights?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it would be foolish of me to anticipate what the inspectors may say about that matter. However, concerns about it have been reflected in legislation.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, where the Minister believes that the inspectors have been guilty of breaches, cannot he intervene informally?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the situation is clear. As was said by Lord Denning in a famous judgment, in this case,

    "the inspectors are masters of their own procedure".

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There is little opportunity in the legislation for the Minister to intervene, and I believe that that is right.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, the Minister did not answer my second question. Are the Government satisfied that the report will not fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, that question should arise when the report is published. I can see no reason why that should be so. The cases which refer to such activities relate to the use of evidence that has been acquired in an investigation rather than to the procedures of the investigation.

Sea Fishing Grants (Charges) Bill

3.6 p.m.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.

Moved, That the order of commitment be discharged.--(Baroness Hayman.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Transport Bill

3.7 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Tradeston, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee (on Recommitment) on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee (on Recommitment).--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee (on Recommitment) accordingly.


Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 109:

    Before Clause 107, insert the following new clause--

("Duties of local transport authorities

. Each local transport authority shall have a duty--
(a) to promote sustainable transport, including especially all forms of public passenger transport, and the conveyance of freight by rail or water, and
(b) to identify and safeguard such land as may be required for the improvement of transport infrastructure, including interchanges between modes.").

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The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 109, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 113. Before doing so, I declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group and an adviser to Adtran.

The amendments relate to the duties of local transport authorities, first, to promote sustainable transport and, secondly, to identify and safeguard land. The first duty goes back to the 1998 White Paper, which devoted 15 pages to sustainable transport. It referred to health, jobs, the environment, integrated transport, climate change, traffic congestion, local air quality, a more inclusive society and various targets. It was a most impressive document, but I am sad that as yet there is no reference to sustainable transport in this part of the Bill which relates to local transport plans and bus strategies.

It is also quite surprising to compare the lack of reference to sustainable transport in this section with that in Clause 206, where one of the functions to be exercised by the Strategic Rail Authority is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. Therefore, I would argue that if it is all right for rail, it is logical that sustainable transport should be referred to in connection with local transport as well.

I also believe that the local transport plans should include reference to freight as well as to passengers. The reason why I am taking a little time to explain this is that in two recent publications by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions there seemed to be a certain lack of reference either to freight or to rail freight. I give two examples.

First, in its guidance on the preparation of local transport plans--as the Committee will know, local authorities must submit them by the end of this month--the department's 150-page book contains one paragraph on rail freight. It recommends that:

    "Authorities should liaise with rail freight companies and their customers".

It does not tell them how to do that; it does not even provide contacts for information, let alone an address for what is now the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority.

The second example is the guidance on methodology for multi-modal studies. This goes quite well with the route studies that have taken place with regard to roads. It seems to me that the guidance should refer to all modes of transport--road, rail and water--and should refer to freight, too. However, in the 80-page document only eight lines relate to rail freight. Again, I quote:

    "It is good to know that encouragement of other modes of freight is likely to focus primarily on rail-borne freight".

That is very interesting but it does not provide much guidance to local authorities and regional agencies which are preparing the multi-modal studies. Therefore, I believe that it is important to have on the face of the Bill a reference in this area to sustainable transport.

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I now turn to paragraph (b) of my amendment, which proposes to,

    "identify and safeguard such land as may be required for the improvement of transport infrastructure, including interchanges between modes".

I believe that it is important to place a duty on local transport authorities to identify land for infrastructure improvements and interchanges. Later in the Bill, we shall come to the question of Rail Property Board land, so I shall not mention that further at present.

Traffic by rail or road is set to increase. The forecast percentage increase for rail is between 75 and 100 per cent over the next 10 years. However, it is clear that there is no land on which to expand these facilities: there is nowhere to park one's car when one wants to get on the train and there will be no intermodal terminals, be they for passengers or freight. It is interesting that a similar section is to be found in the Greater London Authority Act, which we debated a year or so ago. The Minister was kind enough to accept that it was important for the Greater London Authority to be able to own and develop land, and perhaps I may refer the Committee to Schedule 11 to that Act. Paragraph 14 sets out the provision for intermodal interchanges, and paragraph 15 allows the Greater London Authority to develop land. Therefore, there is a precedent which I hope will be useful.

Lastly with regard to land, I believe that we must look at local transport plans as a medium-term planning tool for local transport policy. At the moment, there is no easy way for local authorities to safeguard land for transport. As the Committee will know, the Department of Transport can safeguard alignments for major rail schemes and probably major road schemes. However, I believe that there is also a need for local authorities to be able to safeguard land for those interchanges. They may not have the funds to do so at present and they may not have the permissions. However, at least they can identify the land; otherwise, when they decide that they want to do something or obtain a budget for it, they may find that they cannot develop a park-and-ride scheme or develop an intermodal freight interchange because they do not have the necessary land.

In conclusion with regard to this amendment, I believe that it is absolutely vital that the question of land and sustainable transport is reflected somewhere at the beginning of Part II. I accept that my drafting may not be perfect and the Minister may say that it is in the wrong place. However, I believe that the principles are very important.

Before I sit down, I should like to speak briefly about Amendment No. 113 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, and others. It is encouraging that in the first of their paragraphs they also note that there need to be policies for improving the movement of freight and people by whatever mode, including walking and cycling. My comments apply also to that proposal. I beg to move Amendment No. 109.

10 Jul 2000 : Column 14

3.15 p.m.

Lord Clinton-Davis: I rise to support the view expressed by my noble friend, who for many years sustained me as my number two in transport matters.

If the Minister comes to the view that these matters are implied and that the Government support the ideas behind paragraphs (a) and (b) of Amendment No. 109, so be it. However, I believe that it is incumbent upon him to say why those words are not included on the face of the Bill. At the moment, as I understand it, they are not included. Therefore, I ask the simple question: why not? It seems to me that in every respect--it does not matter whether the right words are used--my noble friend who moved the amendment has sustainable transport as the target of his views. Sustainable transport is the aim of the Government and, therefore, I believe that it should be set up. I do not necessarily believe (and neither does he) that the words used contain the epitome of everything that should be said. However, the basis of his remarks is that they promote sustainable transport, and that is dealt with in paragraph (b).

I do not believe either that the noble Lord opposite will regard his words in Amendment No. 113 as being the last words. I believe that the word "no" should have been expressed more vocally by the noble Lord opposite. But whatever is said, it is clear that a point of view has been expressed which should appear on the face of the Bill. However, I am more inclined to support the view of my noble friend who moved the amendment. I hope that, so far as this matter is concerned, the Minister will be able to reply in a positive way.

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