Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Earl Peel: My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, perhaps I may remark on a point raised by the Minister about the imbalance of those appearing on

7 Nov 2003 : Column 1040

the list in Schedule 1. Paragraph 1(c) clearly states that up to two further members can be appointed by the authority. If one selects two further members along with the RSPCA, I would suggest that that balance can be addressed.

Lord Mancroft: My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for those comments. He is of course entirely correct. In these areas there will always be a balance between welfare and conservation. At the moment it is six to two. There is availability for two more organisations to join the authority. I hope they will come forward. I am sure they will. The balance can be achieved.

However, one should also bear in mind that the organisations work collectively. It is not a match. They do not have to balance precisely. Their influence is as a collective authority. I am sure that that balance can be achieved when people get together. It is also worth remembering that the British Deer Society and the Game Conservancy Trust, which are nominated, have welfare as well as conservation obligations. So they could almost be sitting on both sides. It is a step towards balance. It may not be perfect; nothing ever is. There is room for further organisations to join. I hope they will.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Postal Services Act 2000 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2003

11.32 a.m.

Lord Davies of Oldham rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th October be approved [28th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the order predominantly deals with certain postal references in existing primary and secondary legislation, bringing them in line with references and provisions contained within the Postal Services Act 2000. The House will be reassured to learn that the DTI considers these to be the last outstanding legislative change needed to implement the framework for postal services set out in the Postal Services Act 2000. The substance of the draft order is mainly that of a legislative "tidying up" nature.

Your Lordships may recall that a feature inherent in the provisions and the underlying policy surrounding the Postal Services Act 2000 was that the old statutory Post Office corporation should be dissolved, following the transfer of the business, property, rights and liabilities, and so on to the new plc company. Amendments contained within this draft order clear the way towards being able to dissolve the old Post Office corporation as far as concerns a legislative context, therefore completing the implementation of the Postal Services Act 2000.

The 2000 Act provided order-making powers geared to working towards this outcome. It has provision for making a dissolution order, as well as provisions for making orders to amend primary, secondary and local

7 Nov 2003 : Column 1041

legislation consequential on the passing of the Act. There has already been one consequential modifications order during 2001, making necessary amendments to postal references contained in primary and secondary legislation, plus two local consequential modifications orders, the last of which came into force on 10th July 2003, making necessary amendments to local legislation.

I should explain why these outstanding issues have not been dealt with in the 2000 Act itself or in the earlier order. In that regard the purpose of this order is to deal with areas that have been identified as requiring amendment after the earlier items of legislation came into force. I am sure your Lordships will appreciate that the Post Office is an organisation that has been in statute for a considerable period of time and that there is a great deal of legislation that includes references to the Post Office and postal services. Therefore, although regrettable, I hope your Lordships may consider it understandable that some minor references were overlooked on those earlier occasions. The department is confident that this draft order, along with the recently in force second local consequential order, will tidy up all the outstanding postal legislative references in statute. It does not plan to make any further consequential modification orders under the Postal Services Act 2000 after this one, if it receives approval.

As your Lordships will have seen, the draft order is largely technical in its content and attempts to do nothing that has not been done before in the previous orders made under the Postal Services Act 2000 and laid before this House.

Articles 1 and 3 of the order are fairly self-explanatory. Article 1 gives the citation for the draft order. It provides that the draft order shall come into force on the day after the day it is made and that the draft order does not extend to the Channel Islands or to the Isle of Man. Article 3 merely gives effect to Schedules 1 and 2 of the draft order.

Article 2 makes amendments to two Post Office works Acts. The effect is to construe references to the "Post Office" contained in these Acts—including references which have effect as such references—as references to the "Post Office company", which is now of course known as Royal Mail Holdings plc. It also allows for any function executable by the Post Office company under these Acts to be executable by any relevant subsidiary of the Post Office company.

The amendments are merely technical in nature. They update references to the old Post Office corporation, bringing them in line with what is now required under the Postal Services Act 2000 and putting them in the correct context required to facilitate that the relevant parts of the company are able to conduct their business as envisaged. They are similar to amendments contained in Article 2 of the recently in force local consequentials order.

Article 4 consists of transitional and saving provisions made in respect of modifications made in Schedules 1 and 2 to the order. It is prudent that saving is given to cover any permission granted, annulments

7 Nov 2003 : Column 1042

made or confirmations given by virtue of the entry to a "universal service provider" contained in Schedule 4 to the Public Health Act 1961, and also to cover any outstanding offences in relation to the Theft Acts or any repeal the draft order makes of a previous saving to a repeal. Making any amendments to these areas of statute without a saving would not be sensible, as any such changes would have a substantive effect on any issues that were still live at the time this draft order comes into force. I am sure noble Lords are familiar with such common practice in other legislation which we have considered.

Schedule 1 makes certain modifications to a few enactments as a result of provisions contained within the Postal Services Act 2000. These amendments change postal references in these items of legislation to bring them in line with postal references contained in the Postal Services Act 2000. The modifications are similar in nature to those made in the first consequentials order. They deal with interpretations of the term "mail bag" in the two Theft Acts, replacing them with the new definition envisaged of them in the 2000 Act to address the current inconsistency between these items of legislation. It also changes the references made to the "Post Office" in Section 139(3) of the Post Office Act 1969 to make sure that they now relate to a universal service provider as defined in the 2000 Act. That is necessary as the Post Office reference here relates to it in its context as a statutory undertaker performing the universal service. Now that there is potential for more than one universal service provider the reference should no longer be solely to the Post Office company.

Schedule 2 makes certain repeals that again are needed to clear the way forward for dissolution of the old corporation. Some of these repeals are made in conjunction with amendments contained in Schedule 1 and also in conjunction with the saving provisions contained in Article 4 of the draft order.

Finally, I should like to confirm to the House that in my view the provisions of this order are compatible with the convention rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. As I have mentioned before, the order attempts nothing that has not been done before in the previous orders. Accordingly, I commend this draft order to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th October be approved [28th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Davies of Oldham.)

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister's explanation. The order might well be described as a "tidying up process"—a more appropriate description for it than for the European constitution, as the Prime Minister describes it.

As the Minister said, the order is an amendment to the consequential amendments order passed in 2001, which made several drafting amendments to the Postal Services Act 2000. The fact that both the original amendments and those before us are needed is an

7 Nov 2003 : Column 1043

example of "legislate in haste; amend at leisure". In his helpful Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister of State in another place dismisses the new problem as,


    "a handful of further changes that need to be made"

that


    "have come to light".

The amendments relate to relatively recent legislation, such as the Post Office Works Act 1959, the Post Office (Subway) Act 1966 and the Post Office Act 1969. I am told that an essential talent for any lawyer—and, by the same token, a parliamentary draftsman—is to be able to use an index. It is a little surprising that those Acts were overlooked when the original primary and secondary legislation was prepared. Bearing in mind the complexities of cross-referencing in legislation, which I readily recognise, I must also ask why a blanket, catch-all phrase could not have been included in the original Act or the previous set of consequential amendments to cover any reference to the Post Office in any other Act.

I make that suggestion in the hope that there is not a further handful of changes lurking somewhere or, worse, still, a time bomb somewhere in the statute book on which we shall have to expend even further parliamentary time and legal expense. I hope that the Minister is right in claiming that this is the last such order. Subject to those comments, we do not oppose the order.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page