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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I make it clear that the Government are not setting up the railway safety and standards board; the industry is doing that.

Viscount Astor: Yes, but on the suggestion of the Government. The Government have put forward the suggestion to the industry and the industry has taken it up.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: There was a predecessor organisation. Any responsible industry will have an organisation of that kind. It does not need government urging to do it.

Viscount Astor: I suggest that the Government have not urged the industry to do it. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. The Government have encouraged that process.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am sorry to intervene again but Lord Cullen said that there should be a body of this kind. The Government support Lord Cullen's recommendations.

Viscount Astor: The noble Lord makes my point. Lord Cullen recommended the measure. The

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Government supported it. Therefore, it has been urged on the industry and the industry accepted it. But the point I am making concerns accountability and openness. The body will not be open to public scrutiny. It will be responsible for improving safety and standards. I wish to make sure that the different bodies work together. As I said, the rail accident investigation branch has a responsibility not just to prevent accidents but also to improve the safety of railways. The public have a right to see that that is being done and that it is being done in an open way. We need to give back confidence to the travelling public where it has been lost as a result of the dreadful accidents that have occurred. I believe in openness and I should have thought that the Government would believe in open government. However, I am not sure.

My amendment may not be drafted the right way round but I shall certainly rethink it and come back to it. I hope that when I do the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, will support the principle that the railway safety and standards board should have some accountability so that we can all see what it does and see that it is doing the job that it is supposed to do. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 4:

    Page 2, line 30, leave out "and railway incidents"

The noble Viscount said: This is purely a probing amendment. The aim of the rail accident investigation branch is to prevent railway accidents and railway incidents. I seek a definition of a "railway incident". What is a minor incident? What is a major incident? How does one define an "incident"? Does the industry define an incident in a particular way? Can it be someone behaving badly on a train or does it have to be something happening to the train? I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, with his experience will be able to put forward the industry point of view. The Government should tell us a little more what they define as an incident. It could mean a lot or it could mean a little. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I accept that we do not have a definition in the Bill but we have made a start in Clause 2(4) which states:

    "Regulations under subsection (2) making provision about what is to be treated as an incident may, in particular, include an event or omission which does not cause damage or loss but which might cause damage or loss in different circumstances".

What we are after here are things that might cause accidents in the future. One might call an incident a worrying or dangerous event which has not caused an accident but which could in the future. For that reason we specifically stated in Clause 4 that,

    "the Rail Accident Investigation Branch shall, wherever relevant, aim . . . to prevent railway accidents and railway incidents".

One cannot set all this out on the face of the Bill but there will be regulations under Clause 2(4). It is important that the rail accident investigation branch

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should investigate incidents in order to prevent accidents. That is what Lord Cullen said and we agree with him.

Lord Berkeley: Perhaps I can help my noble friend by giving a couple of examples. I refer to the all too frequent occurrence of people in certain areas lobbing bricks at locomotives. When they miss, it is presumably an incident. When they hit, it is an accident, or it could be. They even hang bricks on ropes at the level of a driver's head in the hope that the train is going too fast to stop. I could give many other examples which I am convinced need to be defined. However, I should be unhappy if the word "incident" were removed.

Viscount Astor: The Minister has been helpful. One hopes that the Government will consult the industry about how the word "incident" will be defined.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Of course.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful for the noble Lord's confirmation. The industry will have to know what constitutes an incident and what does not as it will largely be up to the industry to report incidents when they occur. It is important that there is clarity and everyone knows what is and is not an incident. I am grateful for the Minister's response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: In calling Amendment No. 5, I should point out that there is a mistake in the amendment. The new subsection to be inserted should read:

    "(2) The Rail Accident Investigation Branch shall be consulted on the establishment of any statutory body for the purposes of setting standards for the safety of railways".

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Annual report]:

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 6:

    Page 3, line 3, at end insert—

"(3) Any report published under this section shall be laid before Parliament."

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 6 is fairly self-explanatory. I expect that my noble friend will say that it is not necessary anyway. However, I have been advised that it is a good amendment to table. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Of course I am sympathetic to annual reports. We have already provided for an annual report. We have already gone further than is provided for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch or the Air Accident Investigation Branch. There is no requirement on either of those to produce annual reports but in practice they do. They ensure that they are publicly available. I understand that they are placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament. There is no reason why the rail accident

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investigation branch should act any differently. In fact, the publication of a report is likely to be mandatory under the forthcoming European legislation. It will report on the activities of the RAIB and will include details of safety recommendations made in that year. On the assurance that it will make its annual report public and it will place it in the Libraries of both Houses, and that it will have to do so later this year, I do not think that the amendment needs to be pressed now or later.

Lord Berkeley: I am grateful to my noble friend for yet another reminder of the difference that European regulations will make. As he said, the measure will be put in place anyway. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Investigations]:

Lord Bradshaw moved Amendment No. 7:

    Page 3, line 7, leave out "shall" and insert "may"

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment is to prevent the rail accident investigation branch having to investigate a serious accident of which the cause is absolutely plain and self-explanatory. There is a requirement on the Strategic Rail Authority with regard to franchises to check up on very minor things at stations. It is burdensome in that it is unnecessary, bureaucratic and employs many clerks checking that something is done. However, sometimes such things are ignored. The word "may" would allow a certain amount of discretion.

A foolhardy driver of a road vehicle may jump a red light at a level crossing which is working normally. I can think of a case in Northern Ireland where this happened. There is no need to launch a full-scale investigation into such a self-evident incident. There is a rather prescriptive approach to such matters which I seek to alleviate so that some discretion is allowed both for the person whom the Government will appoint as the head of the RAIB and for the Government themselves in deciding whether to call for an investigation. Obviously, I do not seek to avoid an investigation when a serious accident has occurred for which there is no easy explanation. But where an incident is self-evident, I believe that some discretion ought to be allowed. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: One might sympathise with the noble Lord. The example that he gave is perfectly reasonable, but it reminds me of another accident not long ago, in which a driver fell asleep and left the road, driving down on to a track. It was a most appalling accident. The cause was perfectly plain. But the question was not the cause but what to do about it. Although I accept that there will be occasions when there is nothing to add, in my experience, even negative

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intelligence is useful intelligence. At any rate, I am not sure that I would want to go so far as to substitute "shall" with "may". That might be going too far.

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