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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, is there any difference in terms of policy between Mr. Cook and Mr. Ryder on the one hand and their remaining colleagues on the authority on the other, or was it simply the case that personal relations had so broken down that the efficient functioning of the authority could not be guaranteed?
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, does not my noble friend the Minister agree that the issue has been that those two men, valuable though everyone recognises them to be, chose to discuss a leaked document and thus to pre-empt the discussions and consensus view of an authority of 20 people, which by any standards is not very sensible, and that as a result they have perhaps put a rather good consultation process in jeopardy? I am sure that that is the last thing that they would have wanted to do, but it has been the effect.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, my noble friend makes an important point which was indeed material. The way in which some information of the authority was represented not as the collective view of the authority but as individual views, and the fact that information was often injudiciously placed in the public domain, were two of the reasons behind all this. I refer to the conduct of the chairman and the member.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the Government are looking at the possibility of encouraging the private sector to contribute to allow earlier upgrading or replacement of direction signs or provision of other information signs such as variable message signs. However, the display of messages acknowledging business sponsorship on traffic signs is not permitted under current legislation. Even a trial scheme would involve amending the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. It is too early to invite comment on specific detailed proposals.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his reply. If a scheme is adopted, will the logos or advertised names have to be approved to ensure that they will not dangerously distract drivers? Will firms be able to chose their areas? The Middlesbrough area, for example, might be appropriate for the chemical industry, and Northampton for the shoe manufacturers. On the other hand, there could be pitfalls. Yorkshire Water would probably not want to be identified with signs pointing
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I extend my seasonal greetings to the House. There would be strict controls on any such scheme. Any logos on signs would need to be discreet, carefully positioned and such that they would not distract drivers. We recognise that people might have concerns about any such proposals and careful controls will therefore be applied.
Lord Molloy: My Lords, in addition to the interesting points just made, is the department prepared to consider the correct location of road signs so that they are helpful to motorists and pedestrians? Road signs can be very helpful if they are properly located.
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu: My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that many roads signs--I refer to the brown and white tourist signs--are already sponsored? All of them have to be paid for by the tourist attractions on instructions from the local road authorities.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in our view this idea should not be lightly tossed aside but thrown away with great force, as Dorothy Parker once said? Where do we go next? Will Ministers be sponsored? Perhaps we may start with Eurostar sponsoring Mr. Portillo or McDonald's sponsoring Mr. John Selwyn Gummer.
Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the noble Lord tempts me far. I can think of all kinds of companies that may wish to be associated with the success of the Government. Of course, we would not wish to have any conflicts of interest whatsoever. Serious points have been made with regard to these proposals. We do not wish to do anything to undermine road safety.
Viscount Addison: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that some months ago a statutory instrument was passed by the House which was one inch thick and contained coloured photographs and descriptions of how each road sign had to be measured from various distances and roundabouts? Every road sign throughout the country is already specified in terms of size and position.
The purpose of the Motion is to enable the House to take all stages of the Prevention of Terrorism (Additional Powers) Bill today. As noble Lords will be aware, the Bill provides additional powers to the police for the prevention of terrorism. I am happy to say that the purpose of the Bill received considerable support in another place yesterday. There was a considerable measure of agreement that these powers should be granted as swiftly as possible. That being the case, I hope that your Lordships will be content to agree to this Motion without prolonged debate, reserving comment on the substance of the Bill for the proceedings on the Bill itself.
It may be for the convenience of the House if I indicate now that, at the conclusion of the Second Reading debate, it will be proposed that the House do adjourn during pleasure for 20 minutes to give noble Lords an opportunity to ensure that they have copies of the amendments which have been tabled and to ensure that the Committee stage can be begun in an orderly manner. I beg to move.
Moved, That, the Prevention of Terrorism (Additional Powers) Bill having been brought from the Commons, Standing Order 38 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) and Standing Order 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Bill to be taken through all its stages this day before the Motions standing in the names of the Earl of Shrewsbury and the Lord St John of Bletso.-- (Earl Ferrers.)
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Minister and the House will be aware that my friends in another place agreed to a comparable Motion there yesterday. I wish to make it clear from the outset that we, too, are not opposing the Business Motion before the House. I shall not seek to trespass in any way on the Second Reading debate and address the virtues or otherwise of the Bill itself, but I have to say, although we have agreed, and we shall not be opposing the Business Motion, that this is not a happy day for the House.
It can only be under the most exceptional circumstances that we agree to the curtailment of parliamentary debate in this way. Fortunately we are in no position to agree to the extent of curtailment of parliamentary debate that took place in another place yesterday, because there is no possibility--thank God!--of a Guillotine Motion in this House as there was in another place yesterday.
In the event, because of the Guillotine Motion, even the consideration of Clause 1 was not completed in Committee, and the other clauses--it is a substantial Bill of 12 pages--were concluded without debate being possible. That is not possible today. In fact your Lordships will recognise that the, perhaps feeble, attempts I have made to understand the full import of the issues in the Bill, and the feeble result in terms of amendments that I have been able to put down, are nothing like the consideration which the Bill deserves from your Lordships' House, and not merely from the Opposition Front Bench.
There should be much more considered debate of the issues, and that has just not been possible, not only because of the Motion which is before the House, but because of the very short time that has been available since the matter was first raised with my honourable friend Mr. Jack Straw last Thursday, and the public announcement of the Bill by the Home Secretary in another place on Monday. There has just not been time for the degree of consultation with outside interests, and the degree of scrutiny of the Bill by Members of the Opposition, for us to undertake the kind of scrutiny which we believe the Bill and all legislation deserves.
I regret, in particular, that the timetable Motion in another place, which was carried yesterday, included a guillotine on consideration of any amendments from the House of Lords. That may be an academic issue in the sense that it may be that your Lordships will not seek to make any amendments to the Bill, but, nevertheless, the precedent of having your Lordships' amendments subject to a Guillotine Motion in another place is one which, in particular, we would seek to resist and restrict to the most dire emergency.
I noticed, when looking back at the history of such Motions, that when the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, was obliged to introduce the original Prevention of Terrorism Bill in 1974, it was done by a Business Motion which provided for multiple stages to be carried through on one day, but there was no Guillotine Motion. I commend the example which the noble Lord set to another place at that time. I regret the Guillotine Motion, and the Business Motion which we have before the House today.
In the light of the crisis which has been identified and the security briefings which have been given to my honourable friends in another place, there is no alternative but for this Business Motion to be carried. However, it should not be taken as a precedent, and it should not be repeated except in the most extreme circumstances.
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