Anthony Stephen Grabiner, Esquire, QC, having been created Baron Grabiner, of Aldwych in the City of Westminster, for life--Was, in his robes, introduced between the Lord Browne-Wilkinson and the Lord Levy.
Colin Morven Sharman, Esquire, OBE, having been created Baron Sharman, of Redlynch in the County of Wiltshire, for life--Was, in his robes, introduced between the Lord Razzall and the Lord Clement-Jones.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): My Lords, responsibility for enforcement under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 on issues concerning railway safety falls to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the executive arm of the Health and Safety Commission. The HSC's published enforcement policy statement sets out circumstances when the enforcing authorities, including the HSE, should consider prosecution. The enforcing authorities should identify and prosecute, or recommend prosecution of individuals, including company directors and managers, if they consider that a conviction is warranted and can be secured. Health and safety prosecutions may be brought only when there is sufficient evidence to offer a realistic prospect of conviction.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, in replying to my noble friend, I should preface my remarks by saying that I am making a general point; I am not referring to any particular company or incident. Clearly in the health and safety area, it is vitally important that managers and directors take responsibility for the health and safety culture and decisions within their companies. If they are found to be directly responsible for breaches of safety procedures, they should be prosecuted. Under the present procedures, matters are more complex and the number of individual prosecutions is relatively limited. We are reviewing the situation.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, when the Statement about the Ladbroke Grove incident was made in the House on 11th October, I asked what categories of trains carried black-box recorders. At that time the Minister did not know the answer and said that he would write to me. More than two weeks have elapsed and I have not received a reply. So I put again the question. What kinds of trains carry black-box recorders--which were mentioned when the Statement was made--in order to help trace responsibility for accidents?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I apologise on behalf of my noble friend if the noble Lord has not received a reply. The answer to his question is difficult to ascertain. Black boxes are not standard fitments to all trains and one has to gather the information from the companies. I shall ensure that the noble Lord receives a reply as soon as possible.
Lord Marsh: My Lords, does the Minister accept that even though the railways remain one of the safest forms of transport available, no one will ever provide a totally safe railway system? No one will ever provide a totally safe hospital system, a totally safe farming industry, or even a totally safe private home, no matter how much one spends on it. Is it not high time that we stopped this massive speculation, sat back and waited for the report of a sensible inquiry?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I have some sympathy with the noble Lord's final remarks. It is very important that these incidents are investigated and that speculation does not prejudice any inquiries. The inquiries into the Southall and Paddington incidents are continuing. We shall need to assess the conclusions that are reached. It is right to underline the noble
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I have no record of any individual railway company director being prosecuted. Under the present law and procedures, the total number of directors across the board who have been prosecuted for breaches of health and safety regulations is very small. Understandably, most cases are brought against companies, in the railway sector as elsewhere.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I have some sympathy with the trend of the question of the noble Lord, Lord Janner. However, does the Minister agree that there is a danger that the investigation into, and the rectification of, the causes of an accident can be delayed while a prosecution is being pursued?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, that possibility has been taken into account by Ministers and by Lord Cullen. There have been previous instances of delay. That was one of the reasons why we were reviewing the safety aspects of all modes of transport well before the accident took place. We hope to reach conclusions which will take into account the lessons of the current inquiries.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, can the Minister assure the House that when the Secretary of State exercises his functions he will apply the same tests of the ratio of costs versus safety benefits to all modes of transport?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Earl knows that his question is more complex than it at first sounds. We were looking at the whole aspect of transport safety across the modes precisely because some of the calculations and implications differ. It is an assessment issue as well as a procedural issue on which we hope to reach conclusions before too long.
Lord Islwyn: My Lords, as regards rail safety, has the Minister taken note that following the privatisation of British Rail much of its maintenance work, previously carried out by British Rail employees, was handed over to private contractors? I am reliably informed that this led to a good deal of delay and indecision in dealing with safety issues. This applies particularly to rail safety committees. Will the Minister look into the matter?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, advertisements for individual savings account investments are currently regulated either under the Financial Services Act 1986 or are subject to the Banking and Building Society Codes of Conduct. The Financial Services Authority has worked closely with the banking and building society associations to ensure that comparable information is given in all ISA advertisements. The Government welcome this work by the authority in order to protect the financial interests of investors.
I have with me an advert--it is similar to many others--which states in very large bold print that there is a 9 per cent yield, tax free; underneath, in small print, it refers to projected yield; below that, in tiny print, about six lines inform the reader that investment value and income can go down as well as up. Does my noble friend accept that some innocent people--including, perhaps, Members of your Lordships' House--could be persuaded to invest in such an ISA? Does he agree that terrible damage can be done to people who invest without reading the small print? I see the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, nodding. Perfectly reputable advertising agencies will no doubt draft such adverts. He will know that better than I do.
My noble friend's Answer is not good enough if we are to ensure that innocent people are protected. Will he do something more about the matter?
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