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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not want to curtail the debate in any sense, but I agree entirely with what has been said about the desirability of the British Transport Police operating in the vicinity of railway property. I shall not put forward any arguments about that. That is common ground. We can talk about the propriety of sunset clauses and so on, but I hope that I have saved the Committee time by making that clear.

Viscount Astor: Does that mean that the Minister accepts any of the amendments in principle or not? I am slightly confused.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am saying that the powers of the British Transport Police to operate in the vicinity of railway premises, in the same way as pertains for the Ministry of Defence police or the atomic energy police in relation to jurisdiction, will continue.

Lord Bradshaw: I thank the Minister for that reply. I was going to give some examples. The other night there was a football match in Reading and Thames Valley police officers on horses were on station premises and British Transport Police officers, not on horses, were in the streets. That is the kind of thing that happens rather than what is described in the law, although I admit that the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act provides cover for that at the moment.

I wanted to ally Amendment No. 30 with Amendment No. 28. It inserts the words:


because frequently officers in charge at police stations ask for British Transport Police and vice versa for assistance, which is readily given under the mutual assistance arrangements. I trust that that may be tidied up in the legislation.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I shall be brief in view of what my noble friend said in his helpful

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intervention. It is important that the words "in the vicinity" are put into the clause relating to the jurisdiction of the British Transport Police. Curiously enough those words were in the original British Transport Commission Act 1949 in relation to the British Transport Police. Section 53 of that Act is repealed by this Bill so something needs to be put back in so that the position returns to what everyone believed it to be.

The answer to the question posed by the noble Viscount about what happens in the car parks is that they are covered by British Transport Police perfectly legally. But if the words "in the vicinity" were not in place and the force spotted someone on its closed circuit television making off with the noble Viscount's car, it would technically be unable to pursue such a person down the street to arrest him. I welcome unreservedly what my noble friend has said. It seems that we have achieved exactly what we were seeking in relation to this amendment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is proper that I respond now to the last piece of potential disagreement. That is really a matter of propriety. Parliament in its wisdom, when it passed the anti-terrorism Act, said that there would be a sunset clause. The motivation for that was fear of fierce anti-terrorism legislation eroding civil liberties, and Parliament said that it should be looked at again by a committee of Privy Counsellors. As a matter of propriety I believe that we should leave Parliament's wishes untouched; in other words, the committee of Privy Counsellors should look at the matter. As a Privy Counsellor I have no amour propre in this matter. It would not worry me at all if the committee of Privy Counsellors were to be sidelined. I do not believe that it is right for Parliament itself, having wished for the protection for civil liberties of having a committee of Privy Counsellors, to overturn it now in advance of that consideration by the committee of Privy Counsellors.

I can give, as Members of the Committee wish me to, an assurance. To me it is inconceivable that the committee of Privy Counsellors should say that the sunset clause should apply to this provision and that the power of the British Transport Police to operate in the vicinity should not continue. The Government believe, and will say so in advance, that we should take advantage of the opportunity within six months to reactivate the provision. Therefore, not only will it continue but it will continue without a break.

Viscount Astor: Will the Minister explain what he means by reactivating the provision? What are the mechanics of that?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: There is a six-month period provided when Parliament without primary legislation can decide to continue with any provisions of the anti-terrorism Act. That is what we would do.

Earl Russell: I am not clear on the Minister's attitude to Amendment No. 30, which is about the power to respond to a request from another force.

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That is very necessary, as anyone who lives anywhere near the boundary between Middlesex and the City realises very clearly. Almost everyone on foot in the neighbourhood of a railway is either going on to it or off it. If there is no such power there may be confusion.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, but the power is provided for under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act. Therefore it could be continued.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful for the response of the Minister in principle but I believe I differ from him as to the practice. The sunset clause relating to the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act was specific as to the serious powers given by the Act in terms of dealing with terrorism, crime and security. At the time it was particularly relevant to terrorism. I accept that, but those powers luckily have not been useful in terms of terrorism, but in terms of ordinary policing. Therefore it is important that they are not lost. I asked the Minister a question about the six-month period. I think I understood what he said, but I would like to think it through more carefully.

7 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Perhaps I may help by setting out the provisions. Under the sunset clauses, the Secretary of State appoints a committee of Privy Counsellors. The committee must review and report to the Secretary of State within two years of the Act being passed; that is, by December 2003. The review is already under way. The Secretary of State lays a copy of the report before Parliament as soon as possible. The report can operate so that all or parts of the Act should cease to have effect six months after the report is laid before Parliament. But if both Houses of Parliament pass a Motion within that same six-month period, the provisions in question remain on the statute book. Under those circumstances, which I consider highly unlikely, the Government intend, within that six-month period, to propose to both Houses of Parliament a Motion that the provisions should remain on the statute book.

Lord Dixon-Smith: The Minister is refreshing my memory, as I had a hand in the passage of that Bill. I happen to know the chairman of the group that reviewed the passage of the Bill. When I last saw him, he did not thank me for the task. The purpose of the sunset clause was particularly directed at anti-terrorism effects. The Minister is absolutely correct; the provision affects the whole Bill.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act.

Lord Dixon-Smith: Indeed, but the sunset clause affects the whole Bill, so this has to be gone through. The review will almost certainly say that almost all, if not all, of the Bill should remain. I do not think that there will be a difficulty.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful for the Minister's explanation. I think that I understand what he is saying and that his explanation satisfies all our

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concerns. However, I will have to read Hansard carefully to check that it deals with our concerns and those raised by the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I think that it does, but I am not absolutely convinced. Perhaps Members of the Committee who have questions might be allowed to correspond with the noble Lord and his department before the next stage. In the mean time, I thank the Minister for his support and understanding of the genuine concerns of Members on all sides. I am grateful for his response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 29 to 31 not moved.]

Clause 30 agreed to.

Clauses 31 to 70 agreed to.

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 32:


    After Clause 70, insert the following new clause—


"FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
No charges or levies shall be made on organisations in the railway industry for the services of the Authority, which shall be funded from money provided under section 116."

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 58, which is included in the same group. Both amendments relate to funding of the activities of the British Transport Police and the Health and Safety Executive. I understand the Government's transport policy to be that, so far as possible, road, rail, and occasionally other modes of transport should compete on a level playing field.

Amendment No. 32 relates to the British Transport Police. The Committee has already heard that around 40 per cent of its staff are engaged in London Underground, while very few cover rail freight. Quite a few investigate accidents, but we need not go into that. I suggest that much of their work is in dealing with incidents of societal concern very similar to the work of police forces around the country. There are many different police forces. BTP is a national one, with enormous specialist knowledge, which is good. But I understand that, at present, train operators and licence holders pay. Some complain strongly on the basis that their competitors in the road and rail sectors, be it passengers or freight, do not pay.

I believe that that is a particular concern for heritage railway operators. There is a very strong argument that they should be exempt from the Act even if they do not have an agreement. There is an argument for their exemption from paying for the police. I suspect that the British Transport Police would never get to a heritage railway because there are not enough of them around.

As regards equality with road, there is a strong argument for the BTP being funded nationally and not through a levy on trade operators or Network Rail. After all, road service activities are not funded through a levy on the trucking industry or even on the private car, which much of its work addresses these days. My submission on Amendment No. 32 is that BTP should be funded nationally out of general taxation.

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As to Amendment No. 58, the argument is the same for the Health and Safety Executive. The Bill would empower the Government to introduce regulations to impose a levy—it does not state on whom or whether it would be licence holders or everyone involved in the industry—to reimburse the Health and Safety Executive for its charges. At present, the HSE's approach is considered to be fairly unsatisfactory by most of the industry. It charges on a hourly basis. If an assistant who is learning what to do is brought along it charges for two people at the same rate. There are the usual arguments about invoices getting lost and being indecipherable. No one is saying that the present system is good.

There are significant problems in imposing a levy—the first of which is who should pay it and how much should be charged? As regards competition with road, why should railway operators pay for the Health and Safety Executive's work when similar work for roads is paid for out of general taxation? Infrastructure must be separated from operations but the lead agency for rail safety is the Health and Safety Executive and road safety is generally in the hands of the police. The Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and so on carry out only a small amount work on the roads, with the very limited exception of the transport of dangerous goods where the HSE takes a lead. There is no cost recovery from the operators for any of these services, apart from the very small charge that the Environment Agency imposes for cleaning up after the spillage of dangerous goods. We can probably ignore that.

The same applies to the approval of vehicles. A small amount is payable when HGVs are tested and there is a small charge on manufacturers for type approval. The problem for the railway industry is that the HSE spends so much time and effort on approvals that the costs become enormous. There should be an incentive for the HSE to reduce its costs. I have spoken to some officials and I believe that it intends to do so.

Nevertheless, the best comparison is that road services are paid for out of general taxation. The same should apply to the Health and Safety Executive. There should not be a levy on the industry; the services should be paid for out of general taxation. One hopes that that would give the HSE an incentive to do what I think it intends to do—that is, to take a step backwards and upwards to a higher plane of overall supervision of the industry, leaving the railway safety and standards board to carry out all the detailed work. That board will be funded by the industry. Again, there is a question as to whether the heritage railways would have to pay an HSE levy. The argument is the same as before—I am sure that they would not be able to afford it. That, if nothing else, is an argument against the provision.

Due to the rather disparate BTP and HSE roles, I hope that my noble friend will see fit to agree that it would be appropriate, in the interests of fair

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competition with road, that the same type of charging should be made, and that that should be paid for out of general taxation. I beg to move.


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