HL Deb 02 April 1979 vol 399 cc1782-3

6.35 p.m.

Lord JACQUES rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th March, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this order amends an order by a similar name made in 1967. That 1967 order did two things: it applied the Carriage by Air Act 1961 to carriage by air that is not subject to the Warsaw Convention; that is to say, it applied it to non-international carriage and to the carriage of mail and postal packages. Secondly, it applied the Warsaw Convention to international carriage.

The order before the House is concerned with the first only; that is to say, non-international carriage. The amendment which it makes to the 1967 order is a technical one and is very simple. It seeks to substitute 58,000 International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights for 875,000 gold francs as the limit of the carrier's liability in respect of any passenger killed or injured, and it makes the equivalent substitutions in the case of baggage and cargo. This amendment is desirable because under the amended articles of the International Monetary Fund there is no longer an official link between sterling and gold, but there is a link between sterling and the Drawing Rights. Two Protocols to the Warsaw Convention—which, as I have already explained, is concerned with international carriage—were adopted in Montreal in 1975. They substituted amounts in IMF Special Drawing Rights for amounts in gold francs and the Carriage by Air and Road Bill, which this House recently passed, gives effect to Protocol No. 2.

To give effect to Protocol No. 1 will require another amendment to the Carriage by Air (Application of Provisions) Order 1967, but that amendment will be brought forward when Protocol No. 1 has been ratified by enough States—and enough is 30. However, there is no need for us to wait until there are enough States to apply the new provision to international carriage; we can proceed at once to apply it to non-international carriage. That is what this order seeks to do. The advantage in making that change now is that we can apply to non-international carriage the new procedure for converting into sterling the sums specified in the order.

At the present time the sterling equivalent is specified by order. A new order is made from time to time to keep pace with the change in the value of sterling. The current sterling equivalence order made in January 1978 by reference to the average value of sterling in November 1977 specified 37,726 as the equivalent of 875,000 francs. Under the amended Application of Provisions Order the Treasury will certify the current value using the International Monetary Fund daily rate. This will ensure an accurate and up-to-date result instead of the out-of-date approximation used at present. That is the principal reason why we are going ahead with this amendment affecting non-international carriage, instead of waiting until we can deal with international as well as non-international carriage. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th March, be approved.—(Lord Jacques.)


My Lords, while once again declaring my interest in this matter, I would say that the proposal before the House is eminently admirable and desirable, and I hope that your Lordships will agree to it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.