65. Memorandum from the Office
of the Rail Regulator
1. Thank you for your letter of 21 March
2002 about the Committee's role in the development of a human
rights culture among public authorities. I believe the way you
are proposing to advance the aims of the Commission duly recognise
the need to gather information on how existing bodies are already
performing the role of inspecting, auditing or monitoring the
performance of public authorities.
2. You are aware that I am concerned principally
with the regulation of Railtrack's stewardship of the national
rail network. In this respect, Railtrack is not a public authority
but a limited company, albeit currently in railway administration.
However, I understand that while you consider that Railtrack is
not a public authority when conducting private business with the
train operating companies, you are inclined to think that it is
a limited purpose public authority for the purpose of section
6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. You also say that when it is securing
a safe rail network, it is discharging a statutory duty and may
be bound by the positive obligations arising under article 2 of
the European Convention on Human Rights.
3. Until now, we have not used human rights
as one of our assessment criteria and nor have we offered advice
on human rights matters to Railtrack when performing our regulatory
function. Nevertheless, while we do not make explicit reference
to human rights in our regulatory work, it is something we do
consider. For example, we might have to demonstrate that we have
considered the human rights implications in considering the revoking
of an access or licensing exemption, or imposing tougher licence
conditions. Indeed, insofar as I may properly do so, I should
always wish to consider the implications for individuals or groups
if my regulatory actions were either imposing burdens on people
or constraining, legitimately, their freedom of action.
4. Your letter is a timely reminder as to
how we should proceed in the future. We shall be reviewing our
processes in regard to the inclusion of human rights, particularly
in terms of our licensing conditions and in the application of
the Competition Act 1998.
2 May 2002