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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have attacked the limit of three. Let us talk between now and Third Reading about whether anything can be done. I still think that it is difficult to define the circumstances in which the medical defence should be allowed on some commercial ships and not others. I do not wish to see the medical defence extended unless we absolutely have to. I am certainly willing to talk about it.

Viscount Astor: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. He has been enormously helpful throughout

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the Bill. I understand where he is coming from, but of course, as I said, if you follow the logic of his argument, the exemption for fishing vessels is perhaps not needed. I am grateful for his helpful reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 84 [Arrest without warrant]:

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

Clause 95 [Specimens, &c.]:

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 18:

    Page 41, line 28, column 3, at end of paragraph (b) insert—

"(c) an accident occurs owing to the presence of an aircraft in a public place and a constable reasonably suspects that the person was at the time of the accident a person to whom section (93)(1)(a) applied."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the amendment, I thank the Minister for meeting me and specialists from the police and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. The key to this argument is that with the very low level of alcohol limit proposed for air crew it is difficult for police officers to form a suspicion that alcohol may have been a factor in an accident before taking a breath specimen. The limit is much lower than the current level for road alcohol. That is the reason for the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Bill already provides the police with the power to test suspected offenders provided they have reasonable cause. An accident might be a factor taken into account when the officer considers whether he has such cause.

The amendment, as drafted, creates a number of practical difficulties, principally in the reference to the presence of an aircraft in a public place. That would exclude a number of places where aviation accidents could take place, notably runways. I accept that the principle behind the amendment has some force. I cannot make any guarantees. We shall consider further whether we can put down a suitable amendment at Third Reading.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend and I look forward to meeting him before Third Reading. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 104 [Railways safety levy]:

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 19:

    Page 46, line 27, at end insert—

"( ) Regulations under subsection (1) shall take into account the licence fee arrangements operated by the Rail Regulator."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, having clearly lost the battle for the Health and Safety Executive to be funded by the railway industry, this is my second attempt. If there must be changes in the way the Health and Safety Executive charges the railway industry, there are one or two principles that I hope that my

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noble friend will consider. The executive should not charge more money than at present and should not increase the scope of what it charges for.

The proposals from the rail regulator as to how he should fund his operations, payable by the industry, seem to me a good model on which future regulations might be based. Network Rail should pay 50 per cent of the costs, and the rest should be spread across the licence holders based on the historic turnover for the previous financial year; that is passenger and non-passenger stations and light maintenance depot licence holders.

That means that new entrants would be exempt. It is important to encourage new entrants to the industry. My noble friend says that heritage railways would be exempt. This is a probing amendment. I look forward to my noble friend's comments. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I accept the principle that the Health and Safety Executive should talk to the Office of the Rail Regulator when developing proposals to give effect to the railway lobby. It is already doing so and will continue to do so. That is not a problem.

The problem with the amendment is that it gives primacy to those consultations. That means that it would be more difficult for the Health and Safety Executive to speak with the same force to other industry bodies such as the Strategic Rail Authority or other industries with a similar levy regime.

I understand that the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive have a policy to use rail-related turnover in the previous financial year as the best proxy for determining the individual amounts to be paid under a levy. As my noble friend Lord Berkeley said, that lets off new entrants. I understand that that is similar to the arrangements operated by the Office of the Rail Regulator, but final arrangements will be subject to consultation.

The Health and Safety Executive should retain the ability to consider any other schemes it likes and talk to anybody it likes in developing regulations. On the basis that that is already being done and that it is following the ORR's regime, I hope that the amendment will not be pressed.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. Notwithstanding the fact that it may have been done, it is good to have his remarks on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 20:

    Page 47, line 4, at end insert—

"( ) In section 82 of that Act (general provisions)—
(a) in subsection (3)(b) after "which" insert "(unless subsection (4) applies)", and
(b) after subsection (3) insert—

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"(4) The first regulations under section 43A(1) shall not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.""

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 107 [Seat belts: delivery drivers]:

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 21:

    Leave out Clause 107.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this is the seat belt clause. I am grateful to the Minister, who wrote to me explaining the Government's thinking on the issue. He explained that the words that appear in the Road Traffic Act 1988 are not well understood. The Act refers to local rounds, deliveries or collections. In effect, what has happened is that a large number of people delivering over long and short distances feel that they need not wear a seat belt.

Department for Transport surveys show that only 65 per cent of van drivers and 55 per cent of their passengers wear seat belts. If those seat belts were worn at rates something like those for cars—90 per cent-plus—it would save up to 20 lives and 240 serious casualties annually. It is an important matter. We have a greater understanding of the clause since receiving the Minister' letter.

The Minister said that there was an obligation to consult representative organisations, including the Freight Transport Association and the relevant trade unions and operators, on how the system should work and what the maximum distance should be. However, it would be helpful if we heard from the Government on timing. When do they intend to start the consultation? How long do they intend it to go on for? When do they expect to bring forward regulations?

It took a long time to get the wearing of seat belts in the front of cars accepted by everybody in this country, and I suspect that the wearing of seat belts in the back seat of cars—brought in by a Conservative government—has less general acceptance and is not often done. What is the Government's thinking? Do they intend, for example, that those driving large trucks should wear seat belts unless they are doing short-distance deliveries? What about taxi drivers? I understand that they do not wear seat belts. Taxi drivers might do short journeys, but they do not often get out of their taxi. Does the department have any evidence that road safety would improve if taxi drivers wore seat belts? I do not know, so I would be interested to hear.

The general principle is that, now that people in this country wear seat belts, it would not be a great burden to require them to put on a seat belt, even for a very short journey. I was particularly surprised to find that, under current regulations, passengers need not wear a seat belt for a short journey. If a driver and a passenger are making a delivery, there is enough time, while the driver starts the car or the van and puts it into gear, for the passenger to put a seat belt on. Often, delivery vans have no airbags or anything like that. Will the Government consider not giving exemption to passengers? There may be a case for giving it to drivers for short deliveries but not to passengers.

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It would be helpful if the Minister could be more explicit about the Government's thinking. They intend to bring forward regulations that we support in principle, but we need to know more about their thinking. I beg to move.

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