|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I do not know whether I can make the noble Baroness content. Perhaps I may explain the problem. We have two different systems, which are controlled by two different pieces of legislation; therefore one cannot simply take a unilateral decision as a country that one will treat them in the same way.
Obviously there are cases where the express operators are competing for the same business. That is why this is an issue for them; they feel that they are competing for the same business but are being treated differently. But the fact is that, under international legislation, they are treated differently and there are different systems.
The second point I would make is that while it may often be felt that a new, modern electronic system for handling information is a backward move--it causes more work and involves more investment and so on--the electronic system is not being imposed as a penalty on people; it is an attempt to deal with a rising amount of extra business and to make certain that it is handled in an efficient and effective way. Clearly there is some disagreement about how it should be done in reaching that point, but the aim of the new electronic system is to improve business, not to make it materially worse. There are a whole series of benefits that should flow to companies by handling it on an electronic basis.
I do not think that I can give an assurance that the two situations will be treated in the same way; they are covered by different pieces of legislation. However, I know that it is the aim of the Customs that, as far as possible, they will treat everyone on a fair basis. Of course, it is not simply those two bodies involved in this matter; the whole of the rest of the freight industry has to be considered and treated on a fair and common basis.
With that assurance and the fact that we shall arrange a meeting as soon as possible to see whether these misunderstandings can be ironed out, I again ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, if I understand correctly what the Minister said on that occasion, even though the Post Office or Parcelforce or whatever will compete head-on with these express postal services, there is no way that the electronic system--I forget whether or not private companies want it--would apply to Parcelforce and the Post
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as I understand it, they are different systems and therefore will be computerised on a different time-scale. I believe that it is not a situation where there will not be computerisation applied to the postal side, which I believe they wish to have.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I have tried very hard on this. It is a very difficult situation. But I am prepared to accept that there will be a meeting as soon as possible, as the Minister said. I hope that this will provide some comfort to the express postal service. I do not think that I can take the matter any further. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
This is a technical drafting amendment which removes an uncertainty that might otherwise arise from the interaction between subsection (10) of Clause 122 of the Bill and Section 6(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. One of the purposes behind subsection (10) is to enable provisions which can, by themselves, be made under the negative resolution procedure to be included in an order with provisions that have to be approved by the affirmative procedure. Such a "combined order" is then subject to the affirmative procedure.
That remains our intention, but we have realised that the words that this amendment seeks to remove are unnecessary and could have, on one interpretation, the unintended and unwanted effect of requiring orders under the Bill following the negative procedure to be laid in draft for 40 days before being made. This was not our intention and, as the subsection otherwise makes clear, such orders were intended to be subject to the normal negative procedure. This amendment removes this uncertainty and clarifies the position. I beg to move.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I questioned this matter--in part anyway--towards the end of the Report stage. As I understand it, subsection (10) provides that the powers to make orders under the clauses specified can be subject to the negative procedure. However, the subsection also allows these powers to be exercised in affirmative orders, so allowing negative procedure powers to be used in combination with affirmative procedure orders under this or previous legislation. As the noble Lord said, a working definition of this may be "combined orders".
I must admit that these are a new animal to me--I assume they are to most of your Lordships--but none the less I would be the first to agree that they are a convenience to Parliament in circumstances where the Government may want to exercise powers subject to both the affirmative and negative procedures together in relation to a related subject. Without this power it would be necessary to make two sets of orders using different routes. That seems to me to be a total nonsense.
In a very useful letter, for which I thank the Minister, he told me that the Government intended the combined orders to be affirmative orders and follow the normal route for affirmative orders in both Houses of Parliament. However, when I asked a totally off-the-cuff question about the penultimate group of amendments at Report stage, in particular Amendment No. 55, I was told that the powers did not permit the,
("(1A) For the purposes of the definition of "letter" in subsection (1) the reference to a communication to be conveyed and delivered otherwise than electronically shall be construed as a reference to a communication to be conveyed and delivered otherwise than--
(a) by means of a telecommunication system (within the meaning of the Telecommunications Act 1984), or
(b) by other means but while in electronic form.").
Page 76, line 18, column 2, at end insert ("and (1A)").
Page 76, line 43, column 2, at end insert ("and (3A)").
Page 81, line 7, after (" 54(4)(a)") insert ("and the chairman of any committee for England established under section 54(4)(c)").
Page 81, line 10, after ("chairman") insert ("of the Council").
Page 81, line 18, after (" 54(4)(a)") insert ("and any committee for England established under section 54(4)(c)").
Page 81, line 23, leave out ("or (c)") and insert ("and a regional committee (other than a committee for England) established under section 54(4)(c)").
Page 81, line 32, at end insert ("(other than a committee for England)").
Page 82, line 13, after (" 54(4)(a)") insert (", the chairman of any committee for England established under section 54(4)(c)").
Page 82, line 17, after (" 54(4)(a)") insert (", chairman of any committee for England established under section 54(4)(c)").
Page 82, line 22, after (" 54(4)(a)") insert (" or of any committee for England established under section 54(4)(c)").