|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
London is in a bizarre situation with the Government's policy. We have a Mayor who has a transport policy that is sometimes in step with everyone else but most of the time seems to be out of step with everyone else. Certainly, I find myself confused as to whether the Mayor is currently in agreement or not in agreement with the proposals of the Government on the hand-over of London Transport and its effects. We shall want to know when the Government finally come to a decision on whether to go ahead, for example, on Crossrail, and what considerations they are taking into account.
So it seems that there is a gap here. It is important that within the British Transport Police authority there will be some overlapping responsibilities in respect of London Underground and British Rail. Therefore, it would be helpful if London knew that it would always be represented. I am sure that the Minister will say that the Secretary of State will ensure that London will be adequately represented, but that is not stated in the Bill. I think that perhaps it should be and I shall be interested to hear the Minister's response.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I support Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 but oppose Amendment No. 20. I have an open mind in regard to Amendment No. 21, but as the noble Viscount has lost faith in it I shall not speak to it.
in view of the fact that Transport for London pays between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of the entire British Transport Police funding, it is entitled to have its representation on the police authority written into the Bill. It is for that reason that I support Amendments Nos. 18 and 19. A huge amount of the work of the British Transport Police is carried out on the London Underground, at main line stations in London and with the railway operating companies in the London area. It is a reasonable request which I hope my noble friend will take seriously.
As to the appointment of the chairman and deputy chairman, I have re-read what my noble friend Lord McIntosh said at Second Reading on 1st May. He made two points. First, that this is to be a new authority and that to appoint a chairman in advance of establishing it makes good sense because the other members of the authority would want to know who the chairman is to be before taking up an appointment. Secondly, he said that the chairman should have some say in the appointment of the other members. That is also sensible. It is for those reasons that I oppose Amendment No. 20 and support Amendments Nos. 18 and 19.
The case for separate status for Transport for London rests in part on the fact that it represents, especially the Underground part of it, a very different kind of transport body from those normally dealt with. The problems of the literally crumbling infrastructure under London are ones which have no parallel in the main railway system. I remember, for example, that when the Jubilee Line was being built the ceiling of the maternity wing of University College Hospital fell in. No one had undertaken an adequate geological survey. The chances of an interaction between the various pieces of the crumbling infrastructure are considerable. Some of the problems of cabling and crowding are not found elsewhere.
Transport for London is also to be responsible for running a system which it has not chosenand which it would not have chosenand is in slight danger of the reverse of the Baldwin position of having responsibility without power, the prerogative of the charwoman through the ages.
As to the appointment of the chairman, there is a Latin proverb, much beloved by our 17th-century predecessors in this place, which might be freely translated as, "When your party wall is on fire, watch out". I therefore declare a non-pecuniary interest as a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. Shortly before the last electiontoo near to the election for a Bill to pass but far enough off for us to hear very clearly the rumbling of the approaching Whitehall steamrollera Bill was introduced to bring in an almost identically worded provision for the chairmen and the trustees of all the major London museums and galleries. We all agreed, almost exactly, with the description of the responsibility of trustees and the appointment of chairmen, to which my noble friend Lord Bradshaw has referred. We all thought that it was an entirely unnecessary centralising proposal. When we reached the Committee stage of that Bill, a formidable forceled by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, as a trustee of the Imperial War Museumproduced a withering fire which I would have not cared to face.
It is curious to find exactly identical wording in two Bills as different as this one and a cultural miscellaneous provisions Bill. Where you find identical wording in two widely separated documents it is good academic training to check for a common source. In 1988 the noble Lord, Lord Carter, discovered that there is a series of model articles for the drafting of Bills. In different Bills we kept seeing the phrase that people were not capable of being trustees or members of funding councils if they were disabled or otherwise incapable of performing their duties. The noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, most elegantly brought forward a series of amendments to delete the words "disabled or otherwise", leaving him to do all the necessary things he needed to do. Finally the noble Lord, Lord Carter, said, "How many more times have we got to do this?" and managed to persuade the Government to alter the model articles.
If this phrase is in the model articles for the drafting of Bills, it will appear many more times and there will be a considerable temptation for an alliance to be forged between all the various critics of the proposal. It is not necessary. Secretaries of State must get it into their heads that they do not have to control everything that they fund; that they cannot control everything that they fund; and that they are mistaken in regarding public money as a kind of barium meal which has to be observed passing through the digestive processes of all those who ingest it.
Lord Dixon-Smith: I cannot follow that little masterpiece. I support the case for London. Although there is nothing in the Bill which excludes it, my point would be answered if the Minister could give an assurance that it will be included.
As to the appointment of the chairman, I have always felt that a body should appoint its own chairman. The Minister would be wise to think so too because if he does not, it will mean that he has failed in his selection of people to serve on the authority in the first place.
The combined effect of Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 would be to increase the number of industry representatives at the expense of passenger representatives on the British Transport Police authority. It is true that, at the moment, four out of nine members of the British Transport Police Committee are industry representatives. In addition, the chair of the British Transport Police Committee is appointed by the Strategic Rail Authority. That means that the industry is in the majority in the British Transport Police Committee. We are trying to get away from that situation because we believe that it is fundamentally important that the British Transport Police should be recognised as a public police service which protects the whole rail community from crimepassengers, staff and of course the rail companies. It has to balance the interests of all those it serves, not only those of the industry.
That is why we have provided for at least four persons who have knowledge and experience of the interests of rail passengers; at least four persons in the industry who have knowledge and experience of providing railway services; a person who has knowledge and experience of railway employeesthat is on the trade union side; a person nominated by the Strategic Rail Authority, who is the only person not appointed by the Secretary of State; and three people who have knowledge of the interests of persons in Scotland, Wales and England. Of course, some members of the authority could qualify on more than one ground by satisfying more than one of the criteria, but that is the kind of balance for which we are looking, one which is more customer-oriented than industry-oriented.
The effect of the amendments would mean returning to a industry-oriented British Transport Police. We do not believe it is desirable that those funding the British Transport Policethat is, the rail industryshould have control over it. We are not saying that they have distorted the British Transport Police in their favour, starved it of funds or anything like that, but if you take the analogy of local police authorities, they are not dominated by their funders.
Lord Bradshaw: Indeed they are. Local police forces always have a majority of councillor membersand the majority of those councillor members have to support the annual budget. The Minister is not right; the funders are in a majority.
A measure of expertise in the industry is necessary. There is a wide spectrum, not only of train operators but of engineering companies and all the other disciplines, from which to choose. It will be extremely difficult to get a body representative of the industry which can satisfy all the criteria the Government wish to impose.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page