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Lord Bradshaw: I support what the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, has said. There is a very valuable record which is in some danger of being lost. As companies go out of business, it is surprising how quickly people's memories fade. People are dissipated to other places and these records are lost. It is important that the funding is found to make this project come about.
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Lord Crathorne: I support the amendment. As we have heard, railway archives up to the mid-1990s are housed and beautifully kept at Kew. The amendment would secure the archives resulting from privatisation. There is no question that, when companies change hands, the new company says, "What on earth are we going to do with the old records? We have no real use for them." There is a possibility that some of them will end up in the tip. If it is made easy for people to pass on their records to an organisation, that will happen.
The railway industry national archive is a project, about which everyone is very excited, to establish a place for the deposit of the archive of Britain's railway industry. York is an ideal place for that. I visit the railway museum regularly and attend events there. I was there last week with the Duke of York, who thoroughly enjoyed his visit.
A point that was perhaps not fully made by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, is that York has the only academic centre in the world devoted to railway history. That exists nowhere else. The centre is spread between the University of York and the National Railway Museum. I should just like to say what a wonderful, enthusiastic and professional staff the museum has. We are not talking about it today as a visitor attraction, but it is an enormously significant visitor attraction.
The recent history of the railways has, as the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, said, been particularly turbulent. It is important that those records are kept for historians and for the public. At the moment, there is no way that the pubic have any access to those records. I hope that the Minister will look favourably on what, I think, is an excellent amendment.
Lord Berkeley: I, too, support the amendment and agree with all noble Lords who have spoken to it. One reflects, after what my noble friend Lord Faulkner said, that the poor old railways are between a rock and a hard place. The passenger TOCs cannot make a charitable donation, they say, because they receive government money, but then the Government will say that everybody is in the private sector and, therefore, they are not part of public records. What can they do?
I would argue that successive governments have created the structure, for better or for worse, but they have a duty to deal with the consequences of it. I spent several years after the Channel Tunnel was built trying to create an archive, a record or maybe a museum of some of the exciting things that were done during the construction, the financing and the operation of the tunnel. That should be part of this record, unless it was done in France, because who knows what will happen to the finances of that link? They will all get lost, if they have not been already. Certainly, the NRM, when offered it, did not have the resources to take much.
I have one last word on the matter. The biggest problem with such a project is that one does not recognise the historical significance of something until it is too late to collect the stuff that you do not have. You have to take things on trust and perhaps after 10 or 20 years chuck out some of the things. If you leave it until it is all goneConnex has gone, and
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Eurotunnel has moved onit will be too late. So I hope that my noble friend will have something interesting and positive to say about the amendment.
Lord Davies of Oldham: I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Faulkner for moving the amendment and to noble Lords who have contributed to this short debate on a subject that, we all recognise, is very important. The history of the railway is an important dimension of the history of the industrialisation of Britain in a significant way. The railway has formed a great part of the lives of the British people for nearly 200 years. Perhaps it is a little over 200 years, when I think of the very first conception of the railway.
I recognise the force with which the case is made and congratulate noble Lords on their advocacy. They could not present a better cause. They will, however, recognise that the Science Museum is an independent body, incorporated under statute. Its function is to promote the public's enjoyment and understanding of science and technology and the development of those subjects. It has a duty to care for, preserve and add to the objects in its collection. The trustees operate a family of museums. They are responsible for the National Railway Museum in York, about which the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, made such felicitous comments. All of us who have visited that museum regard it as one of the great museum experiences.
The Science Museum receives grant-in-aid from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, but, unlike the British Library, for example, the museum is not a designated place for the deposit of published material, nor is it funded for that purpose. However, under its governing legislation, the museum may receive archival material and other objects from the rail industry and other sources.
The Government believe that the preservation of the archival material relating to our national history is very important. The history of our railways, which have shaped our lives in so many ways, is an important part of that. However, the decision to add objects to the collection is a matter for the trustees of the Science Museum. We believe that they must remain free to determine the scope of their collections and the use of the funds available to them. We are not in a positionnor should we seek to beto constrain the discretion of the trustees to accept or refuse material as they see fit.
I understand that the National Railway Museum is interested in establishing a railway industry national archive. I am aware that creating such an archive would be a matter for the trustees of the Science Museum. There is nothing to prevent the privatised rail companies offering their papers to the trustees, should they choose to do so, nor is there anything to prevent the trustees accepting them. Primary legislation is therefore unnecessary.
The subtext of the amendment is resources. That battle has to be waged in other fora, on other occasions. I am sure that it will be listened to with great sympathy. We all recognise the significance of railway
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history to national history, but it would not be suitable for us to inscribe in primary legislation a significant interference with the discretion and rights of the trustees of the Science Museum. So, although I congratulate my noble friend and others on having taken advantage of the occasion to advance a significant causeI wish them well in their prosecution of it elsewherethis Bill is not the place for such an amendment, and I have to ask my noble friend to withdraw it.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I thank my noble friend Lord Berkeley, the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, and particularly the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, who has joined our Committee to speak so eloquently on the subject. His contribution to life in Yorkshire is well known, and his contribution to tourism, while perhaps not as great as that of the National Railway Museum, is substantial, and I appreciated what he had to say.
I am not sure how the trustees of the Science Museum will respond to my noble friend's reply. The letter that I have had from the chairman of the trustees, the noble Lord, Lord Waldegrave, makes it clear that he wants a partnership which involves the Department for Transport taking an interest in the railway national archive. I agree with my noble friend that this is not the moment to pursue this, but I hope that we can continue the discussions in the future. I am grateful to him for what he said about how he values the importance of railway archives. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"(1A) The Secretary of State may make a scheme making such modifications of the provisions of any licence or licence exemption granted under section 7(3) of the 1993 Act as appear to him to be necessary or expedient in consequence of any provision falling within subsection (1B) by virtue of which
(a) functions are transferred (with or without modifications) from one person to another; or
(b) functions corresponding (with or without modifications) to functions previously conferred on one person become functions of another.
(1B) Those provisions are
(a) section 1 and Schedule 1;
(b) section 2 and Schedule 3;
(c) section 21 and Schedule 6; and
(d) section 47.
(1C) A scheme under subsection (1A) may include provision for things done by or in relation to a person who previously had a function to be treated as done by or in relation to the person on whom that function, or the corresponding function, is conferred by virtue of this Act.
(1D) Where a scheme under subsection (1A) makes a modification of the provisions of a licence or licence exemption, the Secretary of State must
(a) in the case of a modification of the provisions of a licence, notify the licence holder; and
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(b) in the case of a modification of the provisions of a licence exemption granted under section 7(3) of the 1993 Act, give such notice as he considers appropriate for bringing the modification to the attention of persons likely to be affected by it."
The noble Lord said: The amendment enables the Secretary of State to make a scheme to modify existing railway operating licences and licence exemptions granted under the Railway Act 1993, where necessary, in consequence of certain provisions of this Bill.
The purpose of the amendment is to avoid the need for licences to be amended individually or for separate applications to be made for replacement exemptions. Although such changes could be made on a case-by-case basis, that would involve an administrative burden on all parties and the potential for delay. I beg to move.
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