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Lord Bradshaw: Before the Minister replies I should like to support the sentiments, if not necessarily the words, expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. The placing of a more consistent value on preventing fatalities and injuries across all modes of transport would be advantageous. However, I do not believe that we should impose a duty on the Health and Safety Executive in that regard. I know from my experience in local government that in assessing road schemes a value is placed on the number of lives saved and the number of injuries incurred. I have seen maps with these things plotted on them and I have seen these values calculated. A hierarchy is used to determine the way the limited resources are spent to promote the cause of road safety.

It would be very easy to devise a system which applied widely to other modes of transport and, if necessary, to add premiums for railway or aircraft accidents. I make a plea to the Minister—if not directly supporting the amendments that we are discussing—to adopt a more rational system of accident avoidance and that we spend the money that is available in an objective fashion. I am afraid that money is often wasted on certain headline schemes when many more lives could often be saved by concentrating on more mundane schemes that would probably also be better value for money.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I, too, wish to support the sentiments that lie behind the amendments that we are discussing. It strikes me as absurd if huge sums of money are spent by the railways—on the insistence of the various enforcement agencies—which they cannot afford if that has the effect of forcing up fares which in turn drives people off the railways and on to the roads where the risk of accident is that much higher. I hope very much that that matter will be borne in mind when considering the assessment to which my noble friend Lord Berkeley and the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, referred. The safety statistics with regard to road and rail travel are overwhelmingly in rail's favour. For that to be lost due to people being driven off the railways and on to the roads as they cannot afford rail fares would be perverse in the extreme.

Lord Dixon-Smith: In principle, I accept the matter of relative valuation. Heaven forbid that any Member of the Committee should have a relative die in a road, rail or aviation accident. The cost to the individual is the same. It is a personal tragedy on a huge scale and has an immeasurable economic effect. That would, of course, vary slightly from family to family but in principle it is the same. To have what I call a class distinction between the road regime, the railway regime and the aviation regime seems to me patent nonsense. If we can introduce a more rational framework in that regard, it would be absolutely right to do so if only because—I refer to some of the more

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extreme, expensive regimes that have been discussed—spending that money could save far more lives. That surely would be worthwhile.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Needless to say the impulse behind the amendments is very much welcomed by the Government. If I spend a little longer than I sometimes do in setting out what we are doing, that may be helpful. However, I say immediately that Amendment No. 56 would involve a significant change to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, and an amendment to this Bill is not the place to do that. We would never get it through the ministerial and departmental procedures. It would need a lot of extra consultation and further thought.

But we want the fullest consideration of all relevant aspects when safety decisions are being contemplated. There is evidence that rail safety authorities are starting to look at the wider impact of decisions they take. For example, in its advice to the Secretary of State on the European rail traffic management system, the Health and Safety Executive took into account the effect of modal shift as part of its analysis. So I think that we are moving very much in that direction. Rather than putting a measure such as the one that we are discussing on the face of the Bill we should recognise that part of the role of the rail safety and standards board, which came into being only last month, is to review railway operating standards and the process by which they are developed. I would encourage the rail industry, which comprises the members of the RSSB, to play a full part in this work to ensure that it takes into account everything which it considers relevant. That ought to include modal shift.

I turn to Amendment No. 67. It is true that in the past there has been a different assessment of the value of a fatality in a road accident as opposed to a rail accident. It is also true that public perception is very much as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, described it. If you have lost a loved one, it does not matter whether that occurred in a road, rail or aviation accident. That is the direction in which the Government are moving.

For many years we have published an annual report which sets out the value of preventing a highway fatality. That has to be taken into account by the Highways Agency and local transport authorities when they are considering road safety improvements. The current value is 1.2 million at 2001 prices per fatality saved on the roads. We think that there should be the same standards for rail safety as for road safety. That is the principle that we adopt. The rail industry itself has set a higher figure but, clearly, it is up to that industry to review the figure that it uses.

There is not the same agreement with regard to aviation and shipping. Aviation is the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority and shipping is the responsibility of the International Maritime Organisation. They are responsible for any appraisal value for safety set by individual countries.

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With the assurance that we are moving very much in the direction of the thinking behind these amendments, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, will be reassured by my comments.

Lord Berkeley: I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for that very full response. He must have realised that I had no intention of pressing the amendments. The statements that my noble friend made are desperately important for the industry at this time. I shall study them with great interest. As I say, I am grateful to my noble friend for his comments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 57:


    After Clause 103, insert the following new clause—


"HSE: RESPONSIBILITY FOR ROADS
In section 117(6)(b) of the Railways Act 1993, for "guided" there is substituted "land surface"."

The noble Lord said: This amendment possibly could have been grouped with the previous amendment. However, it was not. It again concerns the Health and Safety Executive. It is very unclear to me what responsibilities the Health and Safety Executive has for different types of transport. I am tempted to discuss guided buses but I shall leave that for Report stage or perhaps discussions with my noble friend the Minister before that stage.

It is clear from what my noble friend has said that he favours compatibility of responsibility between modes of transport. I believe that on the roads during the year eight people have been killed while undertaking maintenance whereas five have been killed while undertaking railway maintenance. In operations—if I can call it that—on the roads about 3,500 people are sadly killed every year as opposed to an average of about 10 on the railways if one excludes suicides, which we can debate.

My view is that the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act requires the executive to have a duty to protect people. I refer to some Written Answers going back over the past year or two. I asked about a report which was published a year or two ago which stated that 40 per cent of London bus journeys involved serious driving faults and 3.2 per cent involved dangerous driving faults. The response from my noble friend Lady Hollis of Heigham was:


    "HSC is not responsible for monitoring the performance of bus drivers, and will not be taking any action on this particular issue. It has no duty to investigate incidents of unsafe driving in passenger service vehicles and buses".—[Official Report, 15/10/02; col. WA45.]

I suggest that either it should be responsible for that or that it should at least make sure that others are.

However, great interest is taken in the matter of signals being ignored on the railway. In April a very comprehensive report was published on an incident that occurred in Southampton. The first half of the report expressed surprise that TPWS had worked, which I thought was rather odd but there we are. It appears that the driver concerned had not followed the correct procedures and had carried on very slowly into

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Southampton station where, horror of horrors, there was a train at the relevant platform. The train coming into the station did not hit the other train as the driver stopped. That was a serious incident but if the Health and Safety Executive examined every incident in which one car nearly hit another, it would be rather overworked.

I wondered whether the Health and Safety Executive was responsible for setting standards of safe driving for passenger service vehicles, buses and trains. But the answer is that it is not because other bodies do that. The Health and Safety Executive does not appear to consider it necessary to supervise that matter.

The Health and Safety Executive has certain responsibilities and duties under the Act to which I referred. It is quite clear from what has been said by Ministers and the HSE that people are at work when they are driving down the motorway, or at least there are enough people defined as being at work with a responsibility to be there. I believe that there should be more clarity in that regard. I refer again to the document, Managing the accidental obstruction of the railway by road vehicles. It is a wonderful book. It states on page 12:


    "There are differing views on whether highway authorities have a similar legal duty"—

under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The document continues:


    "Highway law has its roots in common law and authorities generally have powers rather than duties".

In other words, the authors of the document do not appear to know whether the Health and Safety at Work Act applies to roads. That is very honest but I suggest gently that it would not be a bad idea if that matter was clarified at some stage.

I turn to Amendment No. 68. My noble friend the Minister has kindly covered this matter. The European technical standards for interoperability on the railways will be introduced. I think that we all welcome them. However, I have heard Ministers comment that if the technical standards for interoperability are more stringent than the UK standards we shall not be able to afford them, but that if they are less stringent we shall not be able to accept them as they will be less safe than our standards. Ignoring any rather arrogant approach that we are always better than the rest of Europe, which I am sure was not meant by that comment, there is a serious risk that HSE and others in the industry might try to second-guess everything that the rest of Europe does. That would give us the worst of both worlds as we would have to comply with two sets of standards and no money with which to do it.

I seek some warm words of comfort from my noble friend before I withdraw the amendment. I beg to move.

5.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My noble friend Lord Berkeley is a rational man and a purist. He seems to think that if you have a regime which works in one area

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it can be made to work in another area. I do not know whether I am rational but at least I am pragmatic. My noble friend seeks to make the Health and Safety Executive responsible for roads in the way that it is responsible for rail. Where does the expertise lie? Does it lie with the Health and Safety Executive or with those who are responsible for safety on roads at the moment? Our strategy on road safety, Tomorrow's roads—safer for everyone, sets out the areas where the Government are targeting their activities. It recognises that good road engineering reduces the risk of accidents. Better maintenance, well planned small-scale improvements at accident blackspots and longer-term and more co-ordinated planning and improvement of roads will all help to ensure that road infrastructure is as safe as possible.

But the officials with the expertise in these matters are not in the Health and Safety Executive. They are working for highway authorities, engineering consultants or the Government as the inspectors at the public inquiries into major road improvement schemes.

The Department for Transport works with vehicle manufacturers and dealers to improve further vehicle safety by encouraging the design improvements that help prevent accidents happening in the first place and to reduce the consequences if they do. Again, the expertise in this subject does not lie in the HSE.

My noble friend Lord Berkeley is right to say that some people using the roads are at work but that is a very limited and, as I say, purist interpretation of the responsibilities. I prefer those responsibilities to lie with those who are capable of exercising them. The coda to Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle states that everything shall be with those who are good for it. I shall give the rest some other time.

Amendment No. 68 concerns a complicated area of European law. Technical specification for interoperability—TSIs—apply to individual subsystems only. Thus, compliance with the TSI can only guarantee the safety of each individual subsystem and not the safety of the railway as a whole.

Health and safety dutyholders remain legally responsible for ensuring the safety of the whole railway, including the management of interfaces between the individual subsystems and the safe operation of trains.

If my noble friend Lord Berkeley is asking—as I think he is—whether there is any gap in responsibility, my understanding is that there is not.


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