HL Deb 14 May 1984 vol 451 cc1212-67

8.13 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 2.

[Amendments Nos. 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 not moved. ]

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 16: Page 2, line 32, at end insert— ("( ) Before the end of such period as the Secretary of State may specify for the purpose of this subsection, London Regional Transport shall submit to the Secretary of State for his approval written proposals for the provision of transport services for Greater London for disabled members of the public who are unable to travel by bus or by underground railway.").

The noble Lord said: In the absence of my two noble friends, I beg to move this amendment which stands in their names. I think we ought to hear what the Minister's reply is; this is such a commonsense amendment. It is really asking that the Secretary of State shall fix a time when LRT shall submit to him a proposal for the provision of transport services for the disabled. It is not asked that this should be written in as a duty, but it is such a commonsense amendment that I am sure your Lordships would like to hear the Government's reply on it.

The Earl of Avon

I am grateful to the noble Lord for moving this amendment so that I can put my reply on record. Again, the Government have much sympathy with many of the ideas that lie behind this amendment, and it is vital that public transport services should not be denied to people whose disabil-ities are such that they cannot use ordinary public transport services. But, as I attempted to make clear in our earlier debate on similar subjects, there are two different circumstances we are discussing. The first concerns LRT's own services. It is absolutely right that LRT should be under an obligation to ensure that these services are as suitable as possible for disabled people. This involves attention to small details of design, and so on, with disabled people in mind. I believe that the Department of Transport's record, the assurances that I and the department's Ministers have given and, indeed, those that are already in the Bill, will ensure that the needs of these people are met.

However, the subject of the amendment is different. It is about the needs of people who are so disabled that they cannot use ordinary public transport services. No one would argue that these needs do not exist; of course they do. The question is: who is best placed to identify these needs, to plan the appropriate services for them and to finance them? I think most people would agree that it is not a job for the general public transport operators. They simply do not have the right skills to identify the needs. Furthermore, there is, of course, the question of money.

I believe it is right that such services as we have heard of already, such as Dial-a-Ride, which flourishes in Greater London, are within the responsibility of the local authority. It is they who will be identifying the need for those services, organising them and providing finance for them, which will no doubt have to compete with other ways in which they can help severely disabled people. There is no reason at all why, after the need for such services has been identified, LRT should not assist with providing the technical and mechanical expertise for the actual provision of the services in agreement with the local authorities, as appropriate. Indeed, the Government very much hope that this will happen. I hope your Lordships will agree that it would not be appropriate to place this duty on LRT, and, hence, it would not be appropriate to write into the Bill the duty which is envisaged in this amendment. I hope that the noble Lord will allow this to be put into the record, and if the sponsors of the amendment wish to pursue it further they may of course do so.

Lord Underhill

I am grateful to the noble Earl for his comment. May I say that I recognise the work which the department encourages in connection with the disabled and their travel. However, the experience is that in many areas it is the local public transport system that has been able to provide this. Perhaps I may give one example, taken from Leicester The Leicester City transport department have converted three buses so that wheelchairs can be taken on the buses, but instead of using these for special services the buses actually run as stage services, and persons who are not disabled can use those services as well. Only a public transport service could have provided those facilities.

In the light of what the Minister has said, I should like to express appreciation. I am sure that my noble friends will read his answer carefully, and we shall see whether we return to this at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Banks moved Amendment No. 17:

[Printed earlier.]

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 9 I made it clear that, while I wanted London Regional Transport to have a statutory duty to take into account the needs of the disabled, there would be certain circumstances in which it would be impracticable or unreasonable to meet the needs of disabled people by means of the normal services. This amendment would ensure that, where this was the case, London Regional Transport would be responsible for providing special services for them.

At the present time there are special services—the taxi and Dial-a-Ride schemes which have been referred to earlier today. They have been promoted and partially financed by the GLC. That will no longer be possible if the GLC is abolished. The obvious alternative is to make London Regional Transport responsible.

I believe that there are some 10 schemes of Dial-a-Ride working in London, being operated by different boroughs. The Committee will appreciate the desirability of having a central authority co-ordinating both ordinary and special services, to prevent an impossible burden being placed on the special services by failure to improve availability to the disabled of the ordinary services. A more efficient and cost-effective operation is likely to be obtained where there is one body with overall responsibility for the co-ordination of normal and special services. I understand that in Sweden at one time special Dial-a-Ride-type schemes were operated separately, but that they are now operated as part of the public transport system. It may be that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, will feel that this amendment could be discussed at the same time as Amendment No. 9, as it is closely related, with a view to seeking an agreed amendment or amendments at the Report stage. I beg to move.

The Earl of Avon

I am sorry to have learnt that my noble friend Lady Lane-Fox's batteries caused her trouble, which is why she was a little delayed in reaching us. May I, as Minister in charge of the electricity supply division, offer her my sincere apologies, and if she has any more troubles, I shall try to charge them later.

So far as the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Banks, is concerned, he was kind enough to say that we could consider this along with Amendment No. 9, and that might be the best way forward. The Government's view on responsibility for the provision of special transport in succession to the Greater London Council is, of course, that the boroughs should take this on themselves. But when we have come up with a solution to Amendment No. 9, as I hope we shall, perhaps the noble Lord will then see his way forward on this one.

Lord Banks

I am most grateful to the noble Earl for his co-operation in this matter, and in view of what he said I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 18: Page 2, line 33, leave out from beginning to ("to") in line 34 and insert ("In carrying out their duty under subsection (1) London Regional Transport shall have due regard").

The noble Lord said: This amendment provides for what we regard as an important change of emphasis. The Secretary of State stated in Committee in the other place on 2nd February at col. 238 of the Official Report: The answer is that the financial duty overrides all other duties".

Furthermore, the helpful Notes on Clauses, which I do not think we have mentioned previously, but for which we are grateful to the department, refer to, The primacy of the financial duty over the general duty".

This is putting financial duty above everything else. As we have said in other debates, we must have regard to the financial position.

But the emphasis should be on the necessity to provide public transport services and facilities which meet the needs of the people of London. We are not concerned just with the users. We are concerned even with employers, so that their work forces can get to work properly and efficiently. We are also concerned with the benefits to other road users, the alleviation of congestion, road safety, and reducing the number of accidents.

If the amendment is carried, Clause 2(5) will read: In carrying out their duty under subsection (1) London Regional Transport shall have due regard to their financial duty",

and so on. In other words, we are not ignoring the financial duty, and they must have regard to it. We are saying that there should be due regard to it and that it should not have primacy, as the Notes on Clauses state. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

The purpose of Clause 2(5) is to make it clear, without ambiguity, that the financial duty of LRT, as set out in Clauses 15 and 16, has primacy over their general duty. The effect of the amendment would be to substitute for this a situation in which the relative priorities of the general and financial duties were much less clear.

It must always surely be the clear objective of a public corporation in receipt of public funds to ensure that in carrying out its operations it meets its financial targets. If this were not so, it would in our view be a licence for extravagance and inefficiency. Besides, as I said during our discussion on Amendment No. 7, it is an important part of Government policy that finance determines expenditure, and not the other way round. In these circumstances, it is only right that those managing LRT should be under no doubt about their priorities. This amendment would create such a doubt.

Noble Lords may ask how, if needs are not to be paramount, the Secretary of State can be expected to set a financial constraint for London Regional Transport, and on what basis he might set it. But this is not a new phenomenon. On the contrary, under the 1983 Act the Secretary of State is required to specify the level of subsidy that he considers appropriate for the London Transport Executive, and the GLC are protected from legal challenge only if they determine an amount within this limit. The clear implication is that the Secretary of State can reach a legitimate view of the external finance appropriate for public transport in London. The only difference from this and what is proposed under the Bill is that he will now be able to enforce his view by virtue of his position of authority over LRT as a nationalised industry. But in reaching his decision he will, of course, have access to all LRT's plans, just as the GLC have at present.

It is essential with a nationalised industry that the limit of public subsidy should be set and that the industry concerned should be required to live within it. If this amendment were carried, it would have the effect of putting this essential requirement in doubt. Since the amendment would remove the unambiguous primacy of the financial duties, which is in the Bill as now drafted, in favour of a situation in which the relative priorities were much less clear, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw it.

Lord Tordoff

The noble Lord the Minister talked about the primacy of the financial control, but this amendment does not move the primacy back to the duty. It states that they "shall have due regard". That seems to me to be a reasonable balancing point between these difficult problems of need and finance. We shall be talking a lot about this during the passage of this Bill, but let us try to get the balance right. It seems to me that this amendment gets the balance as nearly right as possible, and that the Minister is pushing the balance much too far in the direction of financial control. I support the amendment.

Lord Underbill

We have had only a few minutes discussion on this amendment, but the more one discusses these amendments, the more one sees the difference of viewpoint as to what public service transport should be. I should like to take one or two of the Minister's points. He said that finance determines expenditure, but surely a sane organisation would ask, "What are the needs? What should we have?" It would then look to see how far it could go towards that, and not just say, "This is what we are going to spend. To hell with the needs and what is wanted!" There is a different outlook.

The Minister also said that London Regional Transport will be in doubt about their priorities. I hope that their priorities will be to provide an efficient—I must not use the word "integrated"— transport system for the people of London, and then see how this can be met. If it means that they will have to cut back a little on what they would like to do because of finance, so be it. But to say that this is the amount that will be spent, irrespective of needs and problems, is to place the wrong emphasis on the question. That is why, in moving the amendment, we are seeking to put the emphasis in the right place.

I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, takes the same view as I do. We are not seeking to ignore the financal duty. Due regard should be paid to it. The Minister's comments are on record. We should like to study them carefully and see what can be done at Report, because the emphasis is important. If the emphasis is wrong, LRT will regard it as its duty solely to examine how to remain within a certain financial straitjacket and therefore to cut and cut, whereas we want effective services to be provided and to know how far we can go towards providing them. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.31 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 19: Page 2, line 37, at end insert— ("( ) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to promote the carrying out by London Regional Transport of their duty under subsection (1) above so as to meet the transport needs for the time being of Greater London.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 19. The purpose of the amendment is to point out that the Secretary of State will have many new powers but not many, or even any, duties. It is possible that the Secretary of State could use his power to make decisions for financial reasons alone. The Minister has made a number of statements. During the debate on the last amendment he said that finance will determine expenditure. The difference between the two sides, possibly, is that we say that finance is extremely important when determining the level of services but that there are other considerations.

If one encapsulates each section of an organisation and makes sure that that section works within strict financial limits and that finance determines the expenditure for that section, inadvertently one could cause a great deal more expenditure in another part of the organisation's activities.

We have already referred to the fact that if the question of finance alone decided whether or not certain services should operate, there would be decreased numbers of home helps, less hospitalisation, and a lower standard of living for many people. In the amendment, therefore, we are laying a duty on the Secretary of State to promote the carrying out by London Regional Transport of their duties under this new subsection of Clause 2. Although expenditure is important, and although it is right that the Secretary of State should have powers, we believe that duties should also be placed upon him. I hope that the Minister will be willing to look at the matter. If he is unable to accept the amendment, I hope that he will consider the insertion of other words which would impose this duty upon the Secretary of State. I beg to move.

Lord Teviot

This amendment is the same as the last one. I do not believe that "financial duty" or "financial objectives" are in any way a constraint. Many years ago I spoke to people who were involved in the management of bus services. They sat up all night discussing how a particular route could be made to pay. They looked at the means of providing a service for a particular need, and they tried to operate that service down certain roads within a certain area in order to accommodate certain people. That is the purpose of the clause. With all due respect to the Opposition, I believe that they are missing the point. The financial duty imposed on LRT is intended to make it work as the best and most viable service.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I have spoken on two separate occasions about the difficulties inherent in the concept of meeting needs. This is essentially what the amendment seeks to alter. May I therefore confine my remarks to the suggestion which the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, made so straight-forwardly: that the purpose of the amendment is to impose an explicit duty upon the Secretary of State to ensure that LRT meet their statutory duties. However, I cannot help thinking that such a provision would be rather confusing. There can be no doubt that the Bill gives my right honourable friend the Secretary of State clear powers to give directions to LRT and to set financial and operational objectives for them. In settling those financial objectives, the financial limit, the Secretary of State has to take account of needs, the plans, and so on, which are put before him by LRT.

The point is that having determined the financial limits, LRT must work and live within them. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is as keen as anybody to ensure that the objectives which he sets, both financial and operational, will be adhered to. He will be answerable to Parliament for those objectives and levels. In setting them he will take into account LRT's statutory duties, as defined in the Bill, but it is by no means clear what would be gained by adding a provision to the Bill on the lines of the amendment. Indeed, I fear that the imposition of a different layer of duty in this way would serve only to blur the quite clear definition of LRT's duties, as laid down in particular in this clause.

I do not believe that I can add anything else. There has to be this primacy of financial responsibility. As my noble friend Lord Teviot said, one has to work within those limitations. We have discussed this problem on a number of occasions. There are a number of other amendments which come under much the same heading. It is a matter of making the budget limitations fit the Bill. We cannot give to an organisation the power to agree that certain duties should be fulfilled and then allow them to be short of money. That is a recipe for disaster; a recipe for the kind of disaster which has overtaken London Transport Executive in the last few years. After that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

At this stage of the Bill the philosophy on both sides of the Committee relating to the financial targets is so different that we shall not gain a great deal from the Minister. I believe that the amendment would have tightened up the Bill and would have made it slightly more important that the Secretary of State should carry out his obligations. Since, however, it is unlikely that there will be much movement, because the philosophy on both sides is so different and because the Minister believes that the problem is largely dealt with in the Bill, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Renton)

If Amendment No. 20 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 21.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 20: Page 2, line 38, leave out subsection (6).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 20. The reason for leaving out this subsection is that it appears that the Secretary of State will have total immunity in the courts. In view of the many decisions in recent years resulting from the actions of Ministers of both parties, it would be interesting to know how the courts would look on such a clause as this, which is almost a let-out clause. The aim of this amendment is to ensure that London Regional Transport's actions can be challenged in the courts if necessary.

At present the drafting ensures that London Regional Transport's actions cannot be legally challenged. Since there is a duty to carry out certain services, it would be unfair if it were not possible for London Regional Transport to be challenged, if they were not providing the services in the way that it appears, from the Bill, that they should be provided.

It would be unfair also on local authorities, who will pay up to two-thirds of the difference between the sum that is raised by the fare box and the approved costs. Yet those local authorities will have no redress should they feel that they want to challenge some decision of London Regional Transport in the courts. The clause is such a catch-all under the circumstances that it should not be accepted in its existing form. I hope that the Minister will be able to explain why the clause is so worded, or be willing to accept some form of amendment later. I beg to move.

Lord Tordoff

It seems to me that Clause 2(6) is rather remarkable. Throughout the whole of our recent debate, we have been pressing for duties to be written into the Bill, and for those which have been negated by the Government, and here we have a blanket clause which states that under no circumstances can decisions of the Secretary of State on the matter of duty be challenged in the courts. I do not need to take the Committee through the Bromley situation. That was regarded by some people as a good thing and by other people as a bad thing. Nevertheless, under the law, it was a perfectly right and proper action for Bromley to take, even if one did not agree with the result. But for the Government to write into the Bill this kind of clause, whereby the Executive is not capable of being challenged in Parliament—except in a very minor way once a year, when these matters come before another place—seems to me to be a very dangerous principle.

The whole question of the relationship between the courts and the Executive is a very important part of our constitution—unwritten though it may be. For the Government to take powers to step outside the courts is extremely dangerous. I have great sympathy with the amendment that has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

As one who was involved in the last legal challenge to the operations of London Transport by your Lordships' House in its judicial capacity, I find it quite extraordinary that the Government should now seek to introduce immunity from legal action in respect of the activities of London Regional Transport. After all, the only difference between LRT and the London Transport Executive and the GLC is that London Regional Transport will not be responsible to the ratepayers of London. But it will be responsible to the Secretary of State and therefore to the taxpayers of this country as a whole.

It was your Lordships in a judicial capacity, who decided that there was a fiduciary duty on London Transport to the ratepayers, (and presumably it applies also to the taxpayers) to carry out their duties with regard to—and the words are here in this Bill—the "efficiency, economy and safety of operation". The Law Lords decided that the word "economy" meant that there were severe restraints to be placed upon the ability of the GLC and the London Transport Executive to provide subsidies for London Transport out of rate income. They did so despite the fact that the electorate of London had—by the same kind of majority which the Government enjoyed at the last general election—decided that it was proper for the Greater London Council to provide that kind of finance.

When the decision was announced in December 1981, there was a strong outcry against it. Many people felt that it was an imposition on the rights of the ratepayers of London, who should make up their own minds about the level of subsidy that ought to apply. There was also strong support for the decision on the ground that it was proper for the courts to impose that kind of limitation on the freedom of action of the London Transport Executive and the Greater London Council.

The paradox is that the outcry came from the Labour Party and its allies, and support for the decision came from the very Government who are now seeking to exempt the London Regional Transport from legal liability of that kind.

I can understand how the Government might wish to restrict legal liability in certain specified cases, but to have the blanket protection provided by sub-section (6) of this clause is totally at variance with the previous attitude of the Government towards democratic responsibility. It is totally at variance with all the political claims made at that time about the fares policy of London Transport. It cannot stand up as a coherent policy over a period of years. I will be extremely interested to hear what possible defence the Government can make, in terms of continuity of policy, for introducing a subsection of this nature into the Bill.

8.47 p.m.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I can well understand the concern that all three noble Lords have expressed on this subject. It is obviously very important that London Regional Transport carry out their general duty and that the rights of individuals and organisations to bring challenges in the courts are not unreasonably limited. But, if I may say so, I suggest that the criticisms which have been expressed in respect of the proposals in the Bill have been somewhat overstated.

We have talked a great deal already about accountability. We have discussed accountability in relation to consultation with local government. What is involved here is accountability through the courts. The substance of Clause 2(6) is exactly the same as the substance of Section 5(6) of the 1969 Act, which applies at present to London Transport. The wording is not precisely the same because the new version omits some superfluous words, but basically it is the same—and it is the substance that really matters.

The provision in Clause 2(6) can be traced back through the 1969 Act to the Act of 1947. There are corresponding exemptions elsewhere for British Rail, the British Waterways Board, the National Bus Company, and the passenger transport executives. These are all in force now. They are a necessary feature of legislation which imposes broadly-expressed general duties on an industry. There is not therefore total immunity, as has been suggested. If I may turn particularly to London Regional Transport, their general duties in Clause 2 are widely drawn because the clause is to be understood as a general formulation of LRT's responsibilities. It is there that the framework is provided within which LRT will conduct their operations and set their objectives.

The central point is that the duties expressed in this general way do not provide criteria against which the courts would be able to reach a judgment in respect of any specific case brought against LRT. This is reinforced by the fact that the general duty set out in this clause is subordinate to LRT's financial duty under Clause 15, which we have already discussed and no doubt will discuss again.

In the absence of Clause 2(6) LRT would be at risk of court action from groups of individuals who felt that, by their standards, LRT were not having due regard to the transport needs of Greater London. I am not totally convinced that analogies drawn from other areas are helpful. Like British Rail and the other operators I have mentioned, LRT provides services which relate to very large numbers of people in very specific ways. I do not believe that arguments on matters of standards of bus services should be pursued through the courts because, basically, these are political matters.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said somewhat forcefully that he could not see why the Government required a blanket exemption. The exemption in this clause is not a blanket exemption. It applies only to LRT's general duties under Clause 2. The other duties of LRT—for example, those concerned with railway safety—are enforceable in the courts. Clause 60(2) imposes a limit on what LRT can do. It ensures that it cannot exercise its powers under the Bill in disregard of any legislation or common law requirement. For example, LRT's buses must comply with the regulations about the fitness of public service vehicles. LRT's railways are subject to legislation dealing with railway safety and LRT will be subject to common law, for example, in relation to negligence.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, again raised the Bromley issue. He is much more familiar with it than I am. Perhaps I may remind him that the Law Lords decided that the fiduciary duty was on the Greater London Council and not, in fact, on the London Transport Executive. It might be helpful to remind the Committee what precisely was at issue. The Borough of Bromley was allowed to bring the case against the GLC but that case was not a challenge to London Transport on the ground that it had not fulfilled its duty under Section 5 of the 1969 Act—the equivalent of Clause 2 of this Bill. The case was concerned with such matters as a local authority's duties to its ratepayers and the requirement for the GLC to have regard, in paying grant, to the "break-even" duty of London Transport under Section 7 of the 1969 Act.

The argument from the cases about local authorities' duties is not relevant to the question of legal review of LRT's general duty. The proposal in Clause 2(6) about LRT is the same as in the equivalent subsection about London Transport. I should make it quite clear that the Secretary of State's functions under the Bill—for example in Clauses 12 to 14—are subject to review in the courts. My noble friend or I will be dealing with that later.

I have taken some little time to give an explanation on our view of this amendment because that was what I was asked to do. That is the explanation and I think that noble Lords opposite will probably agree that it is perfectly reasonable. On that basis, I invite them to withdraw the amendment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The Government cannot get away that easily. Of course the political responsibility is being taken away from London's ratepayers, but the financial obligation on London's ratepayers is still there. Where is the fiduciary duty now? Who is London Regional Transport responsible to? Previously we had political responsibility through the GLC and then we had legal responsibility through the doctrine of fiduciary duty. At a stroke both of those elements of responsibility, or safeguards, which the Government of that time thought were important for the proper running of London Transport as a public service, are being taken away from what will still be a public service. The Government made a political decision to take one of them away, and they won an election. Right, the Opposition accept that. But to take away the legal safeguards at the same time seems to be not only knocking down the ratepayers of London, but kicking them in the teeth when they are down.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I must agree with my noble friend that the Minister made a long statement which I think we shall all read with great interest. It is extremely complicated and it is something that will be brought up later. The issue put forward by my noble friend is still the same; that the local authorities in this case are still paying very large sums and will be doing so in the future but will have absolutely no redress at all. However, as the Minister is unlikely to give a great deal more than he has already given by way of explanation, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

As regards Amendment No. 21, I have to point out that there is a printing error. The figure "47" in the penultimate line should read "48".

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 21: Page 2, line 40, at end insert ("other than a duty to achieve a proper balance between the interests of ratepayers providing funds under sections 13 and 47 of this Act and the interests of transport users.")

The noble Lord said: This again is an addition to Clause 6 and seeks to tie the Secretary of State down to giving people outwith the Secretary of State's own department the power to challenge in the courts a ruling of the Secretary of State.

The Minister suggested on the previous amendment that anyone could frivolously take the Secretary of State to court. However, it is obviously an extremely expensive operation and, therefore, I wonder who he has in mind. What sort of people does he believe, other than a local authority, would feel that they were being unfairly taxed or levied by London Regional Transport, or by the Secretary of State through LRT, without any right of appeal? What people does the Minister believe could challenge the Secretary of State in court? What appeal do the people have generally, should the Secretary of State exceed what they might conceive as being more than his due powers by overcharging or over-levying them for the subsidy of the transport services? I shall be pleased to hear the Minister's reply. I am sure that it will be a very difficult one, which we shall need to study with great care. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

The Committee will probably be well aware that these matters were also debated in Committee in another place, when similar amendments were tabled. Although the amendments were not pressed to a vote, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State made it quite clear that the Government do not believe that it would be appropri-ate, in the statute, to impose a duty on LRT to balance the interests of ratepayers and transport users.

The Bill already provides a mechanism for this. It provides for the level of public subsidy for LRT to be determined annually and to be apportioned—as the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, reminded us—two-thirds to the ratepayer and one-third to the taxpayer. The annual order for the ratepayer levy under Clause 13 will be subject to approval in another place. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to provide for further challenge in the courts.

London Regional Transport will not itself be the financing authority. It is here that the Secretary of State has the responsibility. He has the responsibility for balancing the ratepayer-taxpayer share. In assessing the appropriate level of grant the Secretary of State will have to take all the relevant considerations into account. Again, the interests of both taxpayer and ratepayer will naturally be balanced against the needs of LRT. But it surely cannot be right, or indeed sensible, to impose a statutory duty on LRT. Once it has received its grant, its responsibility will be to see that it is applied in the most efficient manner, having due regard to the matters that it must have regard to under the Bill. I do not think that it would be appropri-ate to place this duty on LRT when it does not have the responsibility for the ultimate financial supply.

I cannot, therefore, recommend the Committee to accept Amendment No. 21, and neither do I believe that it would be right to amend the Bill as is proposed by Amendment No. 62, particularly in view of what I have already said. I cannot believe that it would be appropriate to require LRT to give particular treatment in its statements under Clause 7 to a matter for which it does not carry the responsibility. I hope that the noble Lord will accept this explanation and withdraw his amendment.

9.1 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

This is a moderate version of the previous amendment. It is designed to eliminate the kind of argument which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, used in resisting the previous amendment. I shall be as moderate as I always am in my reaction to what he says. But I have to say to him again that it was the Conservative Party which rejoiced in the decision of the Law Lords that there had to be a legally enforceable balance between the interests of the ratepayers and the taxpayers.

I challenge the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, who was, and is, a member of the Greater London Council and a member of the Conservative minority group which welcomed the decision of the Law Lords at that time. The principle which her party shouted to the high heavens at that time was that the excesses of the Labour-controlled Greater London Council had to be controlled, if necessary, by law. That kind of law cannot be applied to one party alone. It cannot be applied to one part of Government alone. If there is a valid case for saying that the balance of interest between the ratepayers and the transport users ought to be protected by law, that case is stronger now when the ratepayers have no further representation. I challenge the noble Baroness to deny that that was the position of her party at that time and that the position that her party took at that time is in conflict with the Government's resistance to this amendment now.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Far be it from me ever to resist a challenge, but, sadly, I cannot rise to this one as I have my own direct concern with Clause 2. I have been working on that while sitting here and I did not really listen to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, as perhaps I should have done. I shall read his comments in Hansard. If I disagree with them, I shall come back on this matter at a later stage, but my reason for sitting in the Chamber at the moment is that I have another point to pick up on this clause.

Lord Pitt of Hampstead

I cannot understand where we are going. Here we are; the Government have taken power to make the London ratepayers pay two thirds of the subsidy of London Transport. We have had a legal ruling that the party making the subsidy (which was at that time the Greater London Council) should have some regard for the balance between the duties to, and the burdens of, the ratepayers and the transport users. The Government are taking over the power to make this new levy. I should have thought that the same considerations hold good. What this amendment would do is make sure that, since in effect this is being done through the LRT, that authority is obliged to bear that in mind. That is all that this amendment does. What it says is that if the authority does not do that, the court may decide against it. Why is there so much resistance to that? It seems to me quite a reasonable proposition.

Unless there is some particularly difficult reason for objecting to it, I should have thought that this proposal would be acceptable to all members of this Committee. In effect, the interests of the people who are to pay the rates which will subsidise the transport should be balanced against the interests of the people who have to pay directly for the service. That is all the amendment is saying—that the courts should be able to determine whether that has been done. I cannot see any reason why it should be opposed.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

Although the Minister gave a very full explanation, I think he realises that he has far from satisfied this side of the Committee. Again, the explanation was extremely complicated, and it may be interesting to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, speaking on the Question, Whether the clause shall stand part of the Bill, to see, with her experience of the GLC, how well she can interpret the Minister's answer. My noble friend Lord McIntosh, who was very much involved, was not able to accept, nor fully to comprehend, the Minister's answer. In order to look at the Minister's answer and to be able to put down a reasoned amendment at the next stage, I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

The reason why I have been concentrating so carefully on reading this clause and was not able to consider speaking on Lord McIntosh's amendment was that his amendment was a starred one, as the Committee will realise. Therefore it meant that it had come in at quite a late stage. This Bill is complex and requires quite careful consideration. But my reason for studying Clause 2 is that I consider this clause is not satisfactory in that it omits any reference to the power, which I am convinced is essential to enable the transport authority to fulfil its obligations under this Clause 2(2)(b) which is having due regard to the efficiency, economy and safety of operation.

The omission to which I refer is the power to levy a surcharge on the spot on those passengers who are attempting to defraud the authority. The omission of this power will make it very difficult indeed to achieve the efficiency and economy demanded in this clause of the Bill. To enable the authority to eliminate passenger fraud currently costing millions of pounds, a right to levy an on-the-spot fine or surcharge, if the Committee prefers that title, is essential. I drew attention to this point at Second Reading and I had planned to put down an amendment. I have studied this Clause 2 very carefully to see whether the power is already hidden there in some of this wording, but I am now convinced that it is not. The difficulty is to know where to put down such an amendment in the Bill. I would ask the Minister to look further at this point and to consider either adding an appropriate clause to the Bill or amending an existing clause to provide for on-the-spot surcharges, to reduce fraud and thus to help the vastly larger number of passengers who are honestly and correctly paying their fares. We cannot underestimate the millions of pounds that are lost at this moment and which are therefore forcing the honest fare payers to meet higher charges.

Baroness Denington

If I could add to the noble Baroness's comments, I would agree with her that this matter is very necessary. I went into it very deeply when I was on the GLC and chairman of transport and I talked to the Government about it. They do this in Hamburg and of course it saves millions of pounds. It is the one thing that is required. The reply I received from the Government—and I think it would be exactly the same from this Government or any government— was: "In this country we are absolutely opposed to having a personal identity card with a photograph for every citizen, to be carried in a handbag or a pocket". Hamburg have a very small troop of inspectors for the whole city. Let me talk about the Underground because that is really where money is saved. They vary their tactics. Sometimes the authorities concentrate on two or three stations on one line and they check the passengers on the station to see that they have bought a ticket, or they check on the train. The Underground is a walk-on/walk off system with no barriers or anything. There is only one man to every station, upstairs or downstairs. The saving is enormous. This is the answer to London Transport but it cannot be done. In Hamburg the inspectors say, "Where is your ticket?" If the reply is "Oh, I have not got one" then whether the passenger has no ticket or he is overriding, the inspectors say "Right! your name and address". And the passenger must produce an identity card. We do not have identity cards in this country. I can say that I am Sally Ann and that I come from anywhere I like, can I not? Who can say I am not Sally Ann? That is the answer to the noble Baroness. I wish we could adopt the Hamburg system and do it. I personally think it is worth carrying an identity card.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

May I come back to that point? I do not think an identity card is essential as I think that you have the alternative of paying your surcharge immediately, and then no identification of any type would be required. It would only be required in the event of your being unwilling to pay or unable to pay, and presumably that could then be dealt with in the same way as it is now by British Rail, if you do not have a ticket. I regularly see people in court who have come through British Rail.

I know that in this country we have always had a reluctance to accept the "on-the-spot" fine. For some reason the Home Office seems to think that has sinister implications but we certainly have on-the-spot and immediate payments arrangements for things like retrieving your car from the car pound or having the wheel clamp removed from your car. These are instant payments and instant surcharges but they are not fines in the sense of the Home Office matter.

Although the identity card may be the system that is used abroad, I know that there is great resistance to it in this country. I have never been able to understand the reason. I have always thought it a good idea to be able to identify yourself. I know, however, that there is a long tradition of opposition to identity cards. I think that it would not be a prerequisite. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will not be side-tracked too much by that point, and will simply accept the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Denington, on the matter.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I am most grateful to my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes for raising this point. As was mentioned at Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, and by my noble friend Lord Teviot, we had some inkling of what the noble Baroness had in mind. I do not wish to enter into a long debate tonight on identity cards. It is the case that they have been frowned upon in this country. However far we go on the question of fraud in this Bill, we shall not be proposing a requirement in any new clause for personal identity documents.

Equally, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Denington, who described her knowledge of the Hamburg set-up. The noble Baroness also talked about walk-on walk-off services, and said that they could not happen here. I do not know why. I see the new London Regional Transport board of directors coming up with new ideas—ideas that were perhaps thrown out 20 years ago, or some that have never previously been thought about. There are exciting prospects, through the use of modern technology, for helping passengers to move about transport systems.

Since this matter was raised at Second Reading, we have given it a considerable amount of thought. We shall be introducing, at a later stage in our consideration of this Bill, at least one clause, and possibly two, with regard to the question of fraud, which, as my noble friend said, costs so many millions of pounds a year. We believe that there are a variety of ways of achieving this. We shall be putting before your Lordships—I cannot say exactly when, but certainly by Report stage—clauses for your consideration.

Lord Underhill

Before the noble Lord sits down, everyone will appreciate what he has just said. I hope, however, that we shall have notice of these clauses well in advance. They carry very great implications. Everyone agrees that action should be taken to prevent fraud. The figures issued by London Transport over the last 12 months show that a considerable amount has been achieved. However, one has to be careful when looking at surcharges. Often, on grounds of economy, there is no one in the ticket office when I travel from Westminster. On my arrival at Buckhurst Hill I have then to prove what journey I have made. It is not an easy issue. We therefore need to see the text of any amendments very early, and not just 48 hours before their publication in the Marshalled List.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I should like to give the noble Lord the assurance that we have realised that there is a good deal of complexity within the problem. Bearing in mind that there are certain restrictions on the manner in which we conduct our business at Report stage, I would certainly not wish to impose on noble Lords in any part of the Committee a new and complicated clause only a matter of hours before it was to be debated. I shall ensure that adequate notice is given and that a full and proper explanation, as is done with notes on clauses, is issued at the same time.

Lord Teviot

As my name has been mentioned for my contribution on Second Reading, which I made on behalf of my noble friend Lady Gardner, may I say that I agree with everything that has been stated from both sides of the Committee. This is totally a non-party matter. I agree that these clauses have to be considered with the utmost caution and understanding. In regard to the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Denington, about identity cards, which has been refuted, a surcharge would be pointless if a person had no money in his possession and had given a fictitious name and address. If we are not to have identity cards, a person should at least have proof of his identity; or someone who knows that person should be produced. All this seems very extreme, but it is not an easy matter. I am delighted that the Government are to take it up.

The noble Baroness, Lady Denington mentioned Hamburg. I can recall that in Spain in 1952 there was not exactly a surcharge but it was the case that, travelling on the suburban line from Bilbao, an industrial town in the north, when the ticket collector came round, as he always did, you automatically paid double. I cannot think why we have not done that here. It has just been a case of clinging to good, old Anglo Saxon whatnot.

But now is the time for change. Personally, I agree with a lot of what has been said. There is nothing wrong with us having identity cards, but my goodness, that is another subject. However, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, that there is plenty of time for us to reflect on the matter.

Baroness Denington

I am delighted to have what really is an identity card to enable me now, as an old-age pensioner, to travel free on London Transport. It also has a photograph on it.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [General powers]: [Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

9.21 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amend-ment No. 23: Page 3, line 2, at end insert— ("( ) Before exercising its powers under subsection (1), London Regional Transport shall consult the Greater London Council, such bodies as appear to London Regional Transport to represent local authorities in London, and the London Regional Passengers Committee, and if in consequence any of the bodies so consulted seek the appointment of one or more persons as directors of any such company, London Regional Transport shall take such steps as may be necessary to provide such appointment.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 23. The Minister may think that this amendment is asking too much and that it is too far-reaching. For clarity, I should like to read the subsection. It says that: London Regional Transport shall have power to form, promote and assist, or join with any other person in forming, promoting and assisting, a company for the purpose of carrying on any activities which London Regional Transport have power to carry on". Those are very wide powers, as I think the Minister will readily agree.

The amendment would add at the end of that subsection the following words: Before exercising its powers under subsection (1), London Regional Transport shall consult the Greater London Council, such bodies as appear to London Regional Transport to represent local authorities in London, and the London Regional Passengers Committee, and if in consequence any of the bodies so consulted seek the appointment of one or more persons as directors of any such company, London Regional Transport shall take such steps as may be necessary to provide such appointment".

The amendment suggests very considerable powers for the Greater London Council, for the London boroughs, and for certain other bodies. However, the powers that are provided for in the clause under the heading "General powers"; namely, the powers, to form, promote and assist … a company for the purpose of carrying on any activities. are also very wide powers when one considers that the local authorities will pay this large proportion—the two-thirds about which we keep speaking—of London Regional Transport finances and therefore, indirectly, the finances of the companies that are formed.

I do not know whether there is some explanation about the companies, from the beginning, being totally independent of any money from London Regional Transport. The local authorities which are described in the amendment represent the ratepayers and the transport users, and they are paying a great deal of money as well as their fares. The powers for which they are asking may appear rather large, but they are important powers and justifiable powers because of the money that they will be paying.

It may be for the convenience of the Committee if we also speak to Amendment No. 24: Amendment No. 24: Page 3, line 9, at end insert— ("( ) Before exercising its powers under subsection (2), London Regional Transport shall make provision to consider the views of any local authority whose area will be affected by the provision of such services.").

This amendment arises at page 3, line 9. The aim of the amendment is to ensure that local authorities are consulted about agreements made by London Regional Transport with other persons who are going to provide additional services. It ties up with the earlier amendment, except in this case we ask merely that London Regional Transport, consider the views of any local authority whose area will be affected by the provision of… services". This relates to any bodies with which London Regional Transport decides to make an agreement.

Such services could have a very important impact on particular areas of London or on particular groups of residents. For instance, the power to allow a single operator to run a bus through an area could have a considerable impact on residents. There is also the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, earlier in a slightly different context, when he spoke about the importance of the Pimlico Tube. That was a very good example of the fact that the local authority knew the area better than the GLC, even, because the local authority was smaller and closer to the ground in that area of Pimlico than was the GLC. It was willing to take the chance because it knew the needs and the effect that a station at Pimlico would have. I use it quite frequently myself, and I imagine that it is now a very worthwhile station.

Therefore, it is important to find out what local people think and what the local authority in an area thinks. It may be much more aware of the need for services for its particular area than is London Regional Transport, and I think that Pimlico is quite a good example of this. It is paying for the services through its rate fund levy, and it seems reasonable that it should be given power to appoint; but I am absolutely certain that it should be consulted before any agreements are made that may affect its area.

I believe that there is a very strong case for the London boroughs and the GLC (because of the money they spend and their involvement, and because of their investment in so many ways in the transport system) being empowered to appoint people to represent them on any new body that is set up as a consequence of arrangements between the LRT authority and third parties. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

These two amendments again bring us to the question of local authority representation and consultation. Although I do not wish to be forever disappointing your Lordships, I have to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, when he asks whether I think this is asking too much. Yes, I am afraid that I do, and I should like to say exactly why.

We do not think that the matters dealt with in Clause 3 are matters which will greatly concern local authorities, or in which it would be appropriate to involve them. The reason is as follows. How London Regional Transport choose to structure their own undertaking, and whether they do so by means of setting up subsidiary companies under Clause 3, is essentially a matter for the management of LRT. They must be free to decide what makes for an efficient business.

Nor are local authorities likely to be affected by LRT's decisions to enter into Clause 3(2) agreements. These agreements are, in fact, a form of tendering, and it would not be appropriate to require LRT to carry out statutory consultation, whether with local authorities or anyone else, each and every time they wished to buy in passenger services.

The Bill already provides for local authorities to be consulted or informed about matters which will be of direct interest to them. LRT must consult local authorities about their strategy statements under Clause 7 at least every three years. These statements will have to set out LRT's general policies for discharging their general duty, any action taken or proposed during the period covered by the statement for putting those policies into effect, the policies and plans of subsidiaries, and any arrangements made or proposed under Clause 3.

In addition, under Clause 30 LRT must inform local authorities annually of the general level of transport services to be provided by them and their subsidiaries and by operators under Clause 3(2) agreements. At these levels local authorities will have the opportunity to influence the development of policies which are likely to affect the services in their areas. This was the general substance of Lord Carmichael's argument when speaking to both these amendments.

I have deliberately gone through this in some detail because I wanted to demonstrate positively that the Bill takes into account, where appropriate, the interests of local authorities. It follows from what I have already said that we cannot accept that appointments to any subsidiary of LRT set up under Clause 3 should in effect be controlled, or even necessarily influenced, by local authorities outside the provisions I have just outlined. I hope that your Lordships will accept these remarks and will not pursue these amendments.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The Minister will not be surprised to hear that I am somewhat disappointed at his replies. I suggested that Amendment No. 23 was something that we should perhaps need to look at carefully and come up with some other arrangement. While I believe that the present philosophy of the Bill is asking a great deal, nevertheless the local authorities are paying a great deal of money and will be paying a great deal of money under this Bill, and yet they appear to have little or no representation.

What disappoints me about the Minister's reply is that even on Amendment 24, which I would have thought was reasonably modest, the Minister has still stoutly maintained that London Regional Transport should be totally and completely unfettered. He said that local authorities will be consulted or informed—the "informed" was an interesting point—and then he said that in any case they would be fully consulted, or be aware of the three-year strategy of London Regional Transport.

Three years is a long time. To think three years ahead is a long time. Surely things will not be so completely static with London Regional Transport that, if they suddenly come up with ideas half way through, perhaps even imported ones, they will not be implementing them fairly quickly, because the Minister seems to be suggesting all through the Bill that one of the things that is going to be important is haste and more haste, and a great deal of change as quickly as possible.

They will be spending local authority money, and there seems to be no real responsibility in these new companies towards local authorities. Subsection (2) says: London Regional Transport shall have power to enter into and carry out agreements". The local authorities are not going to be consulted at all about even the agreements; and yet the services may be within their area and may be disturbing their own plans in some way. There may be plans for a change of use or an increase in size of a depot, or garage, or something like that, which the local authority would apparently have little power to do a great deal about unless under planning law. If it was merely an increase in activity, that increase in activity would have to be measurably greater than the existing activity, and that is a difficult point to prove. It could be considerably bigger, and it could be a real danger to indigenous plans for the area.

In one area London Regional Transport could have powers to set up with an outside body part protected repair services. They could do so without even consulting the local authority, and yet local authority money would be being used to set up another body that was perhaps competing with existing businesses in the local authority area. They will have power to set up repair shops and garages, unless I have totally misread this clause of the Bill. They could be putting these firms there with considerable local authority money without consultation. As I said, I think that Amendment No. 23 was asking the Minister for too much. He has given us rather less than fair understanding and fair sympathy on Amendment No. 24, which at least he should be willing to take back to consider and give the possibility of a local authority having some view. I hope that he might do this otherwise we might possibly need to negative it.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I do not want to delay the proceedings of your Lordships' Committee, but it would be wrong of me if I were to offer to take this amendment back knowing that we would look at it and still not meet the fundamental point which the noble Lord is asking for; that is, a local authority representation in some form or another.

On Amendment No. 24, whether London Regional Transport provides services through a subsidiary or whether it brings in services from a private operator, the services would still remain under LRT's control; whether it is a garage or a road service, they would be services for LRT. The general duties of LRT remain in force. Local authority involvement here is basically irrelevant on these points. These are the points which the noble Lord has been talking about. I am sorry that I cannot offer to go further. We do not think that this is the right way to proceed and I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I believe that the Minister's reply merits a great deal more examination. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 24 not moved.]

9.37 p.m.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 25: Page 3, line 10, leave out from begining to ("any") in line 16 and insert— ("(3) The duty of London Regional Transport and the Railways Board under section 2(3) of this Act to co-operate for the purpose mentioned in paragraph (a) of that subsection shall extend to any public passenger transport services provided by any person other than a subsidiary of London Regional Transport under an agreement entered into by London Regional Transport by virtue of subsection (2) above; and any such agreement shall include such provision as appears to London Regional Transport to be appropriate—

  1. (a) for securing the proper discharge of their general duty under subsection (1) of that section; and
  2. (b) for the purposes of the co-operation with the Railways Board required of them by subsection (3)(a) of that section.

The noble Lord said: In moving this Government amendment I should perhaps remind the Committee that it is in response to an undertaking given by my honourable friend the Minister of State to a Member in another place at Report stage. This amendment aims to establish more clearly on the face of the Bill that London Regional Transport's duties under Clause 2(1) and (3) continue to apply to any agreement entered into by London Regional Transport with another operator for the provision of public transport services under clause 3(2).

One wondered whether the amendment was strictly necessary, but we came to the conclusion that on balance it was desirable in that it makes it clear beyond any doubt that LRT's duties in Clause 2 continue to apply even when it enters into agreements for others to provide passenger services on its behalf.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 26 not moved.]

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 27: Page 3, line 27, leave out paragraph (c) and insert— (" ( ) agreement for the level of fares and charge in respect of any such services or in respect of other facilities provided in pursuance of the agreement; and")

The noble Lord said: Let me say from the start that I do not intend to detain the Committee on this amendment, and I do not intend to press it to a Division. When we were talking earlier about the National Bus Company I indicated that there were matters arising under this amendment in relation to the company's activities. As it stands, the Bill allows London Regional Transport absolute control over the fares charged by operators whose services cross GLC boundaries. These people, such as London Country Bus Services, depend on revenue support from the adjoining shire counties—counties outside the boundaries of the Greater London area. They could be in a difficult position if they were governed by a London Regional Transport diktat. We accept, again, that had the Bill been started from here it would have been a different authority and would have gone much wider. But we have to deal with the Bill as it is and the route the Government have chosen.

The point I am making is that there could be a serious knock-on effect into the shire counties in relation to the financing of transport services in those areas. We believe that the Bill should stress an agreement between London Regional Transport and, say, London Country Bus Services, operating, as they do, in this totally different system. We believe there ought to be a partnership and not a degree of power being exercised by London Regional Transport, with very little control of them. What we are saying is: let us have agreement rather than compulsion. But having said that, unless the Minister is anxious to make some response at this stage I would beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Teviot

I was about to say a few words in support of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, not wishing to delay the Committee any longer than is necessary. I felt earlier—and I know that I was not at my most explicit—that the whole theme of this Bill is one of extra co-ordination and development of services. Of course, we are not on that particular part of the Bill, but the noble Lord has moved a whole string of important amendments to deal with this. As far as National Bus Company is concerned, the company that deals with it is the London Country Bus Company, which is known to the locals as "the mint with the hole". All that I really want is for that hole not to remain quite such a hole. I want it to be filled in and developed. I think the noble Lord will agree with me that in his first explanatory speech on the moving of the amendment he left his best bit to last. Perhaps, not even at the next stage but when another of these amendments comes up (perhaps on the next day of the Committee, which will be on Thursday) the noble Lord could then give us an answer.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

Since both my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, have spoken to this amendment, I think it might be helpful were I to put on record how we see it. I will explain as briefly as I can what we are trying to do in Clause 3(2) and then go to subsection (3). Subsection (2) gives LRT the power to enter into agreements with private operators under which those operators will provide the services. Thus LRT will, in effect, be buying in services. The subsection can cover services of any kind: cleaning, catering, garaging, fuel supplies and the like. It refers in particular to the provision of public passenger transport services, and the most obvious relevance to the subsection will be for LRT to buy in bus services from private operators.

Subsection (3) as it appears in the Bill goes on to do two things. First, it requires LRT, when they are making an agreement which involves buying in public passenger transport services, to do what is necessary to ensure that they properly discharge their general duty under Clause 2. Then it sets out a number of particular features which may be included in an agreement.

The amendment which is set down—and I have accepted that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, did not intend to press it but was seeking information—does two things. It enables LRT only to agree the level of fares and charges instead of controlling it. It would remove altogether the provision for LRT to control routes and service levels. These changes seem to contradict views which have been expressed elsewhere. Although we would not accept the criticism that has been made that the Bill would lead to a disintegration in the public transport system, the Secretary of State was willing to amend the Bill in another place to make it clearer and to strengthen LRT's co-ordinating responsibility. Indeed, the amendment which we have just discussed and to which your Lordships have agreed does just this. I have been very quick about this point. I think it is more helpful to have it for reading, rather than listening to. I hope that in reply I have made the Government's purpose quite clear.

Lord Tordoff

I am most grateful to both noble Lords who intervened before I sat down. I should very much like to read what the Minister said. My intention was to take this away and think about it in relation to the other amendments relating to the National Bus Company, though I accept that this relates to other matters as well. I am sure that we will have to debate this at a further stage. I am most grateful to both the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, and to the Minister, and I now beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 28: Page 4, line 6, at end insert— (" ( ) The Secretary of State shall not consent to any arrangements under subsection (4) unless such arrangements include provisions whereby local authorities which have directly or indirectly provided funds utilised to acquire such property may receive the benefit of such transfers.")

The noble Lord said: With Amendment No. 28 I propose also to speak to Amendments Nos. 44, 79 and 80.

Amendment No. 44: Clause 4, page 5, line 45, at end insert— (" ( ) The Secretary of State shall not approve a scheme under subsection (7) providing for the transfer of any property from London Regional Transport to a company unless the scheme includes provisions whereby local authorities which have directly or indirectly provided funds utilised to acquire such property may receive the benefit of such transfer.")

Amendment No. 79: Clause 9, page 9, line 31, at end insert— (" ( ) Before transferring any property to any company under subsection (5) London Regional Transport shall notify the Secretary of State of the property to be transferred and the company to which it is to be transferred and on receiving such notification the Secretary of State shall make arrangements with the Greater London Council and the rating authorities for rating areas in Greater London for the benefit of the value or proceeds of any such disposal to be received by them.")

Amendment No. 80: Clause 10, page 10, line 9, at end insert— ("and shall make arrangements with the Greater London Council and rating authorities for rating areas in Greater London for the benefit of the value or proceeds of any disposal of property belonging to London Regional Transport to be received by the Council or the rating authorities as the case may be.")

If, to start with, I mention the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, it is in the hope not that she may respond to any challenge, because I am not making a challenge to her this time, but that she may be disposed to agree with me on this amendment.

The issue here is one of very significant financial proportions. The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, in introducing the Bill for Second Reading, gave a figure of £2 billion for the assets of London Transport. It has been the policy of both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party when in Government and in control of the Greater London Council that, so far as possible, public money going to the support of London Transport should be in the form of assistance with capital expenditure, rather than with revenue expenditure. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, who I am sorry to see is not in his place, when he accepted the transfer of London Transport under the Transport (London) Act 1969, succeded in ensuring that the Government of the day wrote off all the capital debts of London Transport before the Greater London Council would accept responsibility for it. Since that time there have been very substantial inputs year by year, whichever party was in power, with ratepayers and taxpayers, through rate support grant, providing help with capital expenditure. Clause 3(4) provides that, London Regional Transport may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, enter into arrangements

with other companies, which may well be private companies, to exercise any of the powers conferred by Clause 3(1); that is, to carry on any activities which London Transport may have power to carry on. That is, in essence, a form of privatisation and, as such, is fully in accordance with the Government's political policy and, although I do not agree with it, I cannot quarrel with the political intention of the Government and their determination to carry it through in this case, as they have in others.

But there is a very major difference between what the Government have proposed in other cases of privatisation and what is proposed here. The difference is that under the Bill as at present worded, ratepayers and taxpayers, who have contributed through rate support grant, do not have any assurance regarding the financial benefit from the sale or transfer of London Regional Transport assets. As I have said, these are large sums of money—the Government's figure is £2 billion. I put it to the Government that if those assets are to be sold or transferred, the benefit should go to those who contributed to it, whether they are the ratepayers or the taxpayers. This case is different from all of the other privatisation proposals which have been put forward. There is no logical, political, moral or financial reason why with the present Bill there should be this difference compared with any of the other privatisation measures of the Government.

I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, who has supported capital expenditure for London Transport throughout her time on the Greater London Council, would not wish to see that capital expenditure transferred away from the service of Londoners without compensation to the Londoners who paid the rates which made it possible. I am sure that not only will she feel constrained to support me on this but that the Government will see the logic and the reason for this amendment. I beg to move.

9.51 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I think it is a very interesting point that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has made; but I am slightly puzzled when I try to reconcile the fact that the Government wrote off all the debts in the first place, because surely that must have been taxpayers' money that was used to clear the debt when it first went over; so I am not sure that the argument can be followed through to a complete conclusion.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I do not think there is any inconsistency at all. The debt that was written off, thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Plummer, was one which was written off as between taxpayers and ratepayers. In other words, the money was still in the public sector. What subsection (4) provides is that there may be a sale or transfer of assets to the private sector, and it is the interest of both taxpayers and ratepayers in this case that I am seeking to protect. I still ask the noble Baroness for her support and for her confirmation that it was the policy of her party to encourage capital expenditure by taxpayers and ratepayers in London Transport.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

When London Transport was transferred to the care of the GLC in 1969 the Government of the day did not demand compensation for all the money it had invested in the system over the previous 35 years. My noble friend Lady Gardner makes that point without even a note in her hand. In fact the figure was some £244 million, and the Government have never sought compensation. What was sauce for the goose at that time must be sauce for the gander now. I can see no reason to compensate local authorities for the proceeds of sales of assets, towards which they claim to have made a contribution, any more than they compensated central government for the assets which they had bought.

I certainly accept, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has said in his main argument, that local government has invested in London Transport, but I would ask the Committee to recall that so much so-called local expenditure has been substantially reimbursed by central government grants through rate support grant, through transport supplementary grant and indeed through the new bus grant. Much of this Exchequer money is paid against a programme of investment and not against specific items.

The question of who has really paid for what is hardly a sensible one in such circumstances. It would be impossible to operate this kind of amendment in practice, even if it were acceptable in principle. In any case, why now has the question of compensation arisen? As I say, central government never demanded compensation when LT was transferred: nor indeed when any of LT's assets were subsequently sold. Local investment in LT since 1969 should have been nothing more than ordinary good stewardship of the assets entrusted to local authorities by the Government. We now know that the system is shabbier and less efficient than it was in 1970 and local authorities, under the terms of the noble Lord's amendment, are asking for compensation for that. Local authorities have behaved like the foolish men in the parable of the talents and they should be treated accordingly.

If there is to be talk of compensation for investment, then central government should claim the lion's share of it. It does not seek to do so, and it is a reflection of the Government's firm view that financial arrange-ments between ratepayer, taxpayer and fare payer should reflect a proper consideration of equity rather than the narrow expediency of immediate financial gain. I hope that your Lordships will agree that the course proposed by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, in these amendments is not one which we should pursue.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The argument is politically totally unconvincing. It would have some degree of plausibility, if it were not for the fact that subsection (4) refers to the transfer of assets as well as to the sale. In other words, that presumably means transfer without compensation, and that the person or persons to whom the transfer is made is in the public sector. As I said in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, there is a great deal of difference between transfers from one part of the public sector to another and transfers to the private sector.

However, I accept that in technical terms the amendment is defective in that it is difficult to determine from a total capital grant which London Transport in any one year may spend on a number of different projects exactly what proportion of any particular asset has been funded by the ratepayer and the taxpayer. To that extent, I accept that the amendment is defective and ought to be withdrawn at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 29 to 35 not moved.]

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Operating powers of London Regional Transport]:

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 36: Page 70, line 18, after ("may") insert ("manufacture and")

The noble Lord said: It may be to the convenience of the Committee if I speak also to Amendment No. 37: Amendment No. 37: Page 70, line 20, after ("of) insert ("manufacturing or")

We find that there a is difference between sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) of paragraph 9. Under sub-paragraph (1), LRT may manufacture and repair any spare parts and components or other supplementary machinery or equipment for the purpose of the operation or repair of any existing vehicles or other equipment of theirs

whereas sub-paragraph (2) states that they: may repair"—

there is no reference to manufacture— any vehicles or other equipment, whether owned by them or any subsidiary of theirs or by any other person".

The purpose of these amendments is to ascertain the Government's view, because there is to be what is almost compulsory tendering for jobs to be done, and LRT will have to answer each year to the Secretary of State as to what they have done about asking for tenders. But if they can manufacture items for themselves, it seems that they ought to have the same freedom to do it for other persons and that is what we are seeking in these amendments, which would cover the question of vehicles.

It will be recalled that it has been stated time and time again, quite truthfully, that London's conditions are totally different from those in any other part of the country; so much so that until 1967 London had buses specially made for it. It may well be that at some time LRT will consider it desirable to manufacture buses to meet these special conditions.

There are two points in the amendment. One is to ensure that they may manufacture any equipment for other persons, as well as doing it for themselves or their subsidiaries, as is provided in sub-paragraph (1), and the other is the question of vehicles. It will be very useful to ascertain the Government's view upon those two points. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for explaining so clearly the purpose of these amendments and my own reading of them coincides happily with his. We have in the Bill restricted the rather wide powers that the London Transport Executive currently have to manufacture vehicles and spare parts because we believe that LRT's principal role is to run the buses and the trains, not to make them. The present management of the London Transport Executive have accepted the restriction written into the Bill of their present manufacturing powers. Indeed, most of their manufacturing activities are currently very limited, despite their rather wide powers.

The important point is that LRT should be able to manufacture spare parts and components and other equipment needed to support their maintenance and repair activities. Although they will be encouraged to go out to tender for the supply of spare parts and incidental pieces of machinery, there may well be cases where it will be more efficient for LRT to manufacture particular items, either because they can do it more cheaply or because there are no other suppliers. The example I have in mind is escalator chains. These are not readily available elsewhere.

There is nothing sinister about this. If a particular bus is required for a particular purpose, either in London or in the country, for a service operated by LRT or by others, we believe that it would be better were they to seek another manufacturer rather than to engage in that activity themselves.

Lord Underhill

I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation, particularly since the question raised in the amendments was not discussed in the other place. I shall study what the Minister has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 37 not moved.]

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Duty to establish companies to run London bus and underground services]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)

Amendment No. 38. Perhaps it might be convenient to take with it Amendment No. 39.

Lord Underhill

Yes. I shall move Amendment No. 38 and speak to Amendment No. 39.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 38: Page 5, line 2, leave out from beginning to ("submit") in line 5 and insert ("London Regional Transport may")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 38 and, as I have said, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 39.

Amendment No. 39: Page 5, line 9, leave out from beginning to ("submit") in line 11 and insert ("London Regional Transport may")

Clause 4, at which we have now arrived, requires LRT to submit proposals to the Secretary of State for the formation of separate companies for bus and underground services. This means, in effect, that the Secretary of State will insist that separate companies shall be established. Under the Bill, LRT will have a statutory obligation to do so. Amendment No. 38 relates to the separate company for bus services, subsection (1), and Amendment No. 39 relates to the proposal for a separate underground transport system in subsection (2). Each subsection provides that LRT shall submit their proposals, Before the end of such period as the Secretary of State may specify".

Notes on Clauses state that the directions will be given as soon as possible after the appointed day. The Government have clearly made up their mind that proposals shall be submitted and that they will insist upon separate companies for buses and for the underground being established.

These are very important proposals and amendments. The two companies which are to be set up will be limited companies. Presumably they will be given financial objectives and will operate on commercial lines. This shows the importance, in other amendments which have been withdrawn, although we shall consider the Government's replies, of inserting "needs" in the general duties of LRT in place of "have due regard".

The amendments will remove the power of direction by the Secretary of State. They will enable LRT to submit proposals for separate companies, if it wishes to do so. If the Government are sincere in saying that London's transport should be looked at as a managerial operation, this commercial matter ought to be left to LRT's managerial judgment. The Government cannot have it both ways. They cannot say that LRT is to be a managerial body and then come along with the proposals in this clause, which instruct LRT to form separate companies for buses and for underground.

It may not be generally recognised that, at present, London Transport's existing bus services operate within separate divisions. Therefore, we are not opposed to division for operational purposes but we are arguing about the actual instruction that LRT shall form completely separate companies; the instruction that they will be expected to do so. I ask the question: how will setting up two separate companies achieve any more than is achieved with the underground and bus operations of LRT functioning as closely together as they can in an integrated way? I must continue to use the word "integrated" because it is the only word that expresses what we mean.

How much independence can these separate companies have? How far will they act as separate entities, with LRT merely serving as a holding company? The aim of the Bill, as stated by the Government, is to take London's transport away from the political control of the GLC. Why, then, have the Government given all political power to the Secretary of State? Is it now to be necessary to force this separation on LRT?

At Committee stage in another place, the Minister of State said that it was essential that the bus and underground businesses had identifiable costs and incomes. I shall be very surprised if London Transport does not have that system now. But how far will the travel card income be identified? How will through ticketing be identified? I cannot see how the Government will achieve their aim of identifying costs and incomes when those integrated policies are already being pursued.

The clause also contains provisions for the transfer of property to the respective company, but there are instances of joint assets. It would be interesting to ask how that aspect will be handled. The Minister of State referred also to knowing the facts about the cross-subsidisation. How will the separation into limited companies enable that information to be obtained better than at present? It would appear that words are being used which do not really bear out actual practice. Was not the real answer made clear in the statement made by the Minister in Standing Committee B in another place on 9th February (Official Report, col. 343), where she says: Under the Bill the subsidiaries LT Bus and LT Underground would be controlled by LRT, as LRT will have a majority shareholding in both organisations"?

If there is to be a majority shareholding then there must be minority shareholders. That will mean inevitable pressure to cut out unremunerative routes and services. The spokesman for transport in another place said that he was all for private capital being brought into undertakings, but he stressed that there is a distinction between borrowing private capital and making it accountable, as the Government are trying to do to a few shareholders.

This clause, with the Secretary of State's power to direct separation, seems to be a clear prelude to bringing in private shareholdings and the possible disposal of all or part of the two undertakings. Therefore, it is not just a question, in our view, of dividing the bus and underground services into separate companies; it is a prelude to other developments. We cannot see how more efficiency is to be introduced by this particular measure. I beg to move.

10.9 p.m.

The Earl of Avon

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, for explaining his amendments so fully. If I may, I will try to respond by explaining precisely what is behind our thinking in respect of this particular clause. The effect of these amendments would be to relieve LRT of the duty to bring forward proposals for setting up operating subsidiaries for their bus and Underground services. LRT would simply be left with a discretion to do so. The Government made their intentions quite clear in this respect when they said in the White Paper published last July that the London Transport Executive would be, reconstituted on the pattern of a small holding company, with its bus and Underground operations established as separate subsidiaries. They proposed that LRT would, be responsible for the strategic control of their operating subsidiaries and for securing the cost-effective provision of bus and Underground services from these and other operators". As the noble Lord said, it was made clear during earlier proceedings on the Bill in the other place that there was no way in which realistic targets could be set for the different parts of LRT unless the information was to hand from the subsidiary parts. In subsections (1) and (2) we seek to ensure that bus and Underground subsidiaries have separately identifiable costs and incomes. We believe that it is good commercial practice that their performance should be accountable in that way.

The creation of subsidiary companies under this clause will be a logical development of what is already taking place in London Transport's organisation. They have already created separate businesses for their bus and railway operations, and have gone on further to create six bus districts and four railway divisions. We want to take this process a step further. I wish the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, was here because he commented on this earlier.

The separate subsidiaries will, as Companies Act companies, remain under LRT's control. LRT will have the power of appointment to the boards of the subsidiaries and will be able to control all major decisions. At the same time LRT's general duty will continue to apply to the services which LRT in effect provide through their subsidiaries. We regard Clause 4 as an essential element in our restructuring of London Transport, and we expect to see the operating subsidiaries established next year.

The noble Lord mentioned integration. It may be helpful if I elaborate on what my noble friend said earlier about the application of LRT's general duty to the operations of their subsidiaries. LRT's general duty extends to all the passenger services which are provided for LRT, as well as those directly provided by LRT. LRT will choose to provide many services through their subsidiaries. Others will be in effect bought in from private operators under Clause 3(2) agreements. Clause 4 lays down what we regard as an essential feature of the structure of the organisation. But that is all. LRT remain bound by their duty under Clause 2 regardless of the way they choose between direct provision and buying in.

It is true that once the bus and Underground subsidiaries are establishd under Clause 4 it will be possible for LRT to sell an interest in them, or to sell parts of them. But that is not the object of setting up these subsidiaries. I have explained that they are being created for reasons of good management. In any case there are other powers in Clause 9 for setting up companies with a view to disposal. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has said that he does not intend to use those powers to create a major erosion of London Transport as we know it; and he agreed with the need to maintain the London Transport network even though some parts of it were uneconomic.

I have gone into this matter at some length to reply to the noble Lord and I hope he will feel that to some extent it sets his mind at rest. He mentioned the subject of a travel card. London Transport already has to apportion income between bus and Underground business which, as stated, are already run as separate businesses. There is no reason why the formal establishment of subsidiary companies should make that task more difficult. I hope that with that assurance the noble Lord will not feel as worried as he was and will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Tordoff

This, again, turns on the whole question of the fragmentation of transport in Greater London. I, too, feel that there is a real danger that the Government are going down the road of what I would describe as sub-optimisation. Various undertakings are being set up, whether they be privatised eventually—and we shall come to that in a few moments—or whether they be the segregation of undertakings still under the control of London Transport, which will by their very nature try to sub-optimise their own operations. In other words, they will try to become cost effective in relation to their own operations without due regard to the operations of other parts of the London Transport network.

I ask the Government to understand that we are not trying to take a dogmatic view on this matter. But from my experience in industry, I must say that the balance between devolving powers and responsibility and allowing people a totally free rein to become cost effective in their own little sphere, without relation to the totality of the enterprise to which they are committed, is the point that worries me here. So I listen with sympathetic ears to what the noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Carmichael, are saying. I do not want to be dogmatic or divisive at this time of night, but it is a very difficult balance to achieve devolution and integration in any sensible way. The Government may be falling over into what I have described as "sub-optimisation", and it is a very dangerous road to go down.

The Earl of Avon

I appreciate what the noble Lord has said. I do not want to prolong the debate at this hour, but I think we are looking into the future. He may be proved right, or the Government may be proved right, but the Government certainly do not intend to follow the course which the noble Lord is trying to say we are to follow. We do, of course, intend that LRT should be the authority and that it should give London a much better service than it has had in the past. That is our aim, but I appreciate the noble Lord's feeling.

10.18 p.m.

Lord Underhill

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, for his support. He expressed our view clearly. We are very worried about the tendency to fragmentise elements of LRT. The Minister said that the system would relieve LRT of the duty of submitting proposals. I thought that we had faith in the managerial competence of the board and that it would decide whether it was desirable to form separate companies. If so, it would then ask permission. That is what the amendment says. It does not stop all ideas of setting up the companies. It says that if LRT so desires, it may submit proposals to the Secretary of State. We are putting faith in the managerial competence of the board, whereas the Secretary of State is taking a political decision—a political decision which he wanted to take away from the GLC. I cannot see how the mere separation into companies will give more information on costs and income than can be obtained by LRT itself deciding on a proper accountancy procedure with its separate undertakings.

The Minster did not refer at all to the point that I raised. If, as the Minister of State has said, there is to be majority shareholdings in LRT, there must also be minority ones. As soon as outside minority shareholders come in, they will want to know how their money is to be preserved. That will mean that unremunerative routes will be in danger. That is what we are worried about throughout the whole of this Bill. The Government have not fully replied to that point.

Everywhere throughout the Bill there is emphasis on outside private operators coming in at different stages. That is where the fragmentation will grow. It is all very well saying that the Secretary of State has no intention of using these powers to weaken LRT. I have read certain statements of the Secretary of State's view on subsidies, and so on. I had better not criticise what I think he might do. But from some of the speeches I have heard that he has made, I am a little worried about his intentions on this Bill. Even if the present Secretary of State has no such intentions, once something is in the Bill, there is the option there for any other Secretary of State. But I understand that the Government are to ask for the proposal to be submitted as soon as possible after the appointed day. We are not satisfied, but at this time of night I will not seek to divide the House. This is a very, very important issue, I believe crucial to the operations of LRT, once it is set up. I shall read very carefully what the Minister has said and I have no doubt we will come back again in some form at Report stage. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 41: Page 5, line 26, after ("(5)") insert ("Subject to subsection (5A) below")

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 41 I wish at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 43 and 100. Amendment No. 43: Page 5, line 29, at end insert— ("(5A) Before approving any proposals submitted to him under this section either without modifications or with modifications made in accordance with subsection (5) the Secretary of State shall consult the Greater London Council and such local authorities or bodies appearing to him to represent local authorities in London about such proposals or modifications as the case may be.") Amendment No. 100: Page 24, line 12, after ("Transport,") insert ("the Greater London Council and the London borough councils") I shall be very brief, not because the subject is not of importance. The subject is of very great importance but it is again on the question of consultation with those who may be very much concerned with any decision which the London Regional Transport may make to separate companies for bus and Underground services. As I say, I shall not take any length of time over it but it is vitally important. So far, the Minister has never acceded to the request that London Regional Transport should consult with local authorities. I hope that this is a simple enough amendment and that he may on this occasion give us some hope for the rest of the Bill. I beg to move.

The Earl of Avon

As the noble Lord has indicated, we have spent some time discussing the role of local authorities, and here we are concerned with the consultation by the Secretary of State with the local authorities. Like the noble Lord, I do not intend to speak at length. My noble friend has already explained to your Lordships when we think consultation is or is not appropriate and why. The role of the Secretary of State in clauses 4 and 27 stems from his relationship with the London Regional Transport Board. The LRT are answerable to the Secretary of State, not to the local authorities. In any case, the matters dealt with in these clauses are really of no relevance or concern to local authorities. They are not concerned with identifying or seeking to meet needs. They are domestic and organisational matters between the nationalised industries and their sponsoring Ministers.

The Bill does seem to provide for consultation with or information to local authorities, where there are likely to be matters of genuine local interest or where the authorities have a legitimate involvement through some other capacity, for example as a highway or planning authority. That is not the case here. What we are talking about is the structure of LRT's business undertaking, and the transfer of property, rights and liabilities to and between their own subsidiaries, statutory consultations other than with the LRT over such matters would surely be exceedingly cumbersome and probably unnecessary.

I simply do not believe it is realistic or appropriate to require the Secretary of State to have to consult local authorities over such matters. The noble Lord was brief; I have been fairly brief and I hope I may have explained our thinking on this particular amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 42, 43 and 44 not moved.]

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Obligation to invite tenders]:

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 45: Page 6, line 15, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may")

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 45, I wish at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos 47, 48 and 49. Amendment No. 47: Page 6, line 20, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may") Amendment No. 48: Page 6, line 28, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may") Amendment No. 49: Page 6, line 30, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may") Again we move into a very important political area in this Bill. It is a pity it has come on so late at night, but let us press on.

The Bill says that London Regional Transport shall invite tenders. Now let me be quite clear that from these Benches we do not take the view that there shall be no privatisation of anything within the transport area. But for London Transport to be forced to accept tenders if the only criteria are those shown in subsection 6(3) of the Bill (that is lines 34 and 38) is a recipe for the diminution of the quality of service again in relation to the true needs of London Transport. Again, one thinks in terms of the fragmentation of services.

There is a further danger in being forced to tender and to accept the lowest cost tender. What happens, in the medium to long term, if that contractor fails? Who picks up the bits? Who supplies the service when the tenderer, who might have seemed very attractive in the first instance, fails to fulfil his part of the bargain? Presumably London Regional Transport has to step in and pick up those bits. But at what cost? Let us suppose that London Regional Transport feels that the tenderer is likely to fail in the medium term. Under the Bill, it has no choice other than to accept the tender.

To be brief, it is our belief that this clause should be permissive rather than obligatory. It is a matter that we dealt with 12 months ago. I do not suppose that we shall get any more change out of the Government now than we did then. Nevertheless, it is an important, basic political point. One wants to see a situation where it is possible to bring in the private sector in appropriate cases but not that London Regional Transport should be directed by the Secretary of State, which is what the Bill amounts to, and forced into accepting tenders and into privatisation against its wishes and against the needs of the community in London. I beg to move.

Lord Underhill

I should like, in a couple of minutes, to endorse everything that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, has said. We are likewise not opposed to outside tenders when this is considered desirable and appropriate. However, I should like the Minister to comment on the point that I raised when I came previously to the Dispatch Box. Does this not mean that there is no faith in the managerial competence of the board to be appointed for LRT? The board should surely have the freedom to decide whether it wishes to do this. There should be no direction. Otherwise it means that all you are doing is transferring control by what the Secretary of State calls "the bosses over on the South Bank" to complete and utter political control by the Secretary of State without any faith in the board's managerial competence to determine these issues.

The Earl of Avon

I am grateful to noble Lords for the manner in which they have expressed themselves to the amendment. One of our principal concerns in putting this Bill forward is to ensure that LRT and its subsidiaries provide the best possible services for passengers within the resources available to it. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, can have no quarrel with that. This means providing services at the lowest possible cost. The purpose of Clause 6 is to reinforce the attention of LRT and its subsidiaries to cost-effective provision by requiring it to compare its costs with those of outside undertakings.

Clause 6 is very similar to Section 8 of the Transport Act 1983, which applies to London Transport at present. That section has proved to be helpful in encouraging London Transport to compare the costs of its bus and rail maintenance activities, for instance with those of outside organisations. As a result, the executive is now considering contracting out some of the activities in question; others would be retained in-house but carried out on a more cost-effective basis. Savings such as this can only lead to better services for the traveller, and this is, after all, what we are all trying to achieve.

The amendments would seriously weaken the effect of the clause. Instead of keeping up the pressure on LRT and its subsidiaries to seek the most cost-effective solutions wherever possible, LRT and its subsidiaries would be given much more freedom to decide if and when to invite tenders for a particular activity; and it would not have to accept a tender even when the tenderer had demonstrated that he could carry out the activity both satisfactorily and more cheaply. This runs quite counter to all that we are trying to achieve in the Bill, and I am, therefore, rather hesitant to accept the amendment.

I do not believe that the clause is drawn in as draconian a way as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has suggested. In the first place, it leaves with LRT the responsibility to decide what activities are appropriate for tendering. The decision must, of course, be taken in good faith, but there is a genuine discretion. In the second place, LRT and their subsidiaries are not necessarily required in a particular case to accept the cheapest tender, or even to accept any tender, received as a result of a tender invitation. They will be required to accept tenders only where acceptance will represent a positive improvement on the current position. The test is that acceptance of the tender would lead to activities being carried out satisfactorily and more cheaply.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, if a contractor proves inadequate, LRT can always go elsewhere or, in fact, do it themselves. I do not think that the operation of this clause will lead to third rate services or to a charter for cowboy operators. The tests which the clause lays down, both at the stage when tenders may be invited and at the stage when they may be accepted, safeguard against this.

I hope that what I have said has put forward our particular point on this matter. Although I do not expect the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, to agree with me, I hope that he can appreciate my point.

10.31 p.m.

Lord Tordoff

I understand what the noble Earl is saying, but he slightly contradicts himself. He talks about the lowest possible cost, and then he talks about cost-effectiveness; but they are not the same thing. If they are forced to accept tenders at the lowest possible cost, it may not, at the end of the day, prove to be the most cost-effective method. That is the distinction that I am making between what is in the Bill and what is in the amendment.

I must admit that last year when we discussed the Transport Bill 1983 we had a debate on the interpretation of what is in these type of clauses. I think that on this side of the Committee we still believe that the interpretation of what is in this provision forces them to accept tenders even if it is their managerial judgment that it is the wrong thing to do. That is why I referred to the question of the possibility of an organisation, in the medium-term, not coming up with the goods. It may be their judgment that a particular tenderer is not capable of delivering the goods. They may not be able actually to quantify that in convincing the Secretary of State, but nevertheless it is their managerial judgment—as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, says—and that ought to be trusted. Unfortunately, under the terms of Clause 6, as I understand it at the moment, and as we understood the position last year, they will be forced to accept that tender. That is very regrettable, but again looking at the clock and the number of noble Lords in your Lordships' Committee, I think that clearly the only sensible course is to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

The next amendment is Amendment No. 46, and it might be convenient if we also take Amendment No. 51.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 46: Page 6, line 19, at end insert— (" ( ) In subsection (1) above "other persons" shall include the present employees of London Regional Transport.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 46. The purpose of this amendment is that employees of London Regional Transport should be able to submit tenders and be included among those who are entitled to tender for work for London Transport. With this amendment it is also very important to consider Amendment No. 51: Amendment No. 51: Page 6, line 38, at end insert— ("Provided that any such tender would be carried out in accordance with recognised wages and other conditions of service.")

Amendment No. 51 ensures that any such tender, whether put in by London Regional Transport employees or any outside firm, would be carried out in accordance with recognised wages and other conditions of service".

The importance of these amendments is that London Regional Transport employees will be able to tender. Also, they allow a cost comparison for London Regional Transport Executive, who will be able to study what their own staff can provide in terms of cost and also what outsiders can provide. The executive should know the standard of their own staff and the type of products that they can produce, and they should have some understanding of them. Therefore, that would be a yardstick against which they could look at any tenders coming in from the outside, given that there are all the safeguards which, quite correctly, private enterprise firms wish direct works organisations should have as regards accountancy and so on.

I hope that at London Regional Transport Headquarters the staff will not just accept the lowest tenders—because they are not necessarily the best—but from their experience and from those whom they have invited to tender, they will be able to discover the best tender, which may be more than the cheapest tender—obviously, it could not be less than the cheapest tender, but it may be more. The important point is that the London Transport staff organisation should be able to tender as a check or to ensure that the tender from outside is reasonable, and it also gives the staff themselves confidence they they are able to compete with outside competition on the fair basis which I suggested. That is rather important.

The noble Earl, Lord Avon, who answered the earlier question, made reference to cowboy operators. That neatly sums up the objects of Amendment No. 51, which is specifically to exclude outside, or cowboy, operators. Noble Lords will notice that we did not say "trade union conditions", because that would perhaps be asking the Government to go too far. We ask that the tender should be: carried out in accordance with recognised wages and other conditions of service which is a nice compromise and I hope that the Minister will break his duck and in this rather long Bill agree either to accept these amendments or to accept one of them, or perhaps to reword them, but at least agreeing to the spirit of the amendments. I beg to move.

The Earl of Avon

I should like to deal first with Amendment No. 46. I entirely agree with the principle of this amendment, which provides for LRT to include their own employees among the persons from whom they propose to invite tenders under Clause 6. Before the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, gets too excited, my difficulty in accepting the amendment, however, is to what extent it would be right to incorporate in the Bill a requirement to do something which I believe has already become accepted practice. It is now usual for employers, if they are contemplating some form of contracting out, to give their own employees an opportunity to bid for the job on equal terms. This has the advantage of exposing them to outside competition and considering whether they can themselves carry out the same work more efficiently or at less cost.

This clause as drafted in the Bill follows Section 8 of the Transport Act 1983—which currently applies to London Transport as well as the Passenger Transport Executives—and we are not aware that there have been any problems in practice. I hope the noble Lord will appreciate my reluctance to disturb the present arrangement.

As regards Amendment No. 51, this would introduce a further test before LRT were obliged to accept a tender. They would have to be satisfied that the company offered: recognised wages and conditions of service". I listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said and I confess that I still find the reference to: recognised wages and conditions of service", difficult to accept, although of course I understand his purpose behind it. The amendment is similar to one discussed in Committee in another place, which would have required the person submitting the tender to offer pay and working conditions equal to those offered by LRT.

As my honourable friend the Minister for State made clear on that occasion, we must encourage competition in order to obtain the best service. If we put more tests in the way, we shall only hinder progress towards a more efficient and competitive service and better standards for the travelling public.

I cannot see that the noble Lord's proposed amendment will do this. LRT need to satisfy themselves that the result of accepting a tender will be to have the work carried out both satisfactorily and better. They will expect to assure themselves over such things as continuity of supply. Those tests are a sufficient basis of exposure to the competitive forces of the market place. It is surely not necessary or appropriate to attempt comparisons between pay and conditions of service.

If we look at Clause 6, we see that it is not a blanket provision. The duty to invite tenders does not apply indiscriminately across the board. It applies to such activities carried on by LRT or by their subsidiaries, as they determine to be appropriate". So LRT already have discretion to decide when it is appropriate to invite tenders. What we are saying is that once having received tenders in response to such an invitation we are not willing for LRT's duty to accept these tenders to be further weakened.

I said to the noble Lord in the previous amendment that the LRT and their subsidiaries are not necessarily required in a particular case to accept the cheapest tender or even to accept any tender received as a result of a tender invitation. I hope that that will please the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, on one of his points. This is a late hour to go into so much detail, but I hope that, on reflection, the noble Lord will be satisfied with my explanation and not feel that he has to press the amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I listened with interest to the sympathetic consideration that the noble Earl gave to the amendments. However, I was disappointed with his conclusions. They are important points, as he stressed. It is perhaps a bit of a reflection on the whole system that such important points are discussed at such a late hour. With the possibility of raising them at another stage in the proceedings on the Bill, I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 47 to 49 not moved.]

10.42 p.m.

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 50: Page 6, line 35, leave out ("a") and insert ("an equally")

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to leave out, in line 35 of page six, the word "a" and to insert the words "an equally". The clause as drawn is a bit woolly. What is "a satisfactory manner"? Is it the way in which it is being carried on at the moment? Is it better? Is it worse? Certainly it is expected to be at less cost, and that is understandable.

We are back again to the question of cost effectiveness. If people can provide the service which has been provided so far, a service which is acceptable at the moment, and if they can provide it at less cost, then good luck to them. But if the standards of that service are going to be reduced as a result of reducing the cost, then it seems wrong that London Regional Transport should be forced into accepting the tender.

There are provisions later in the Bill in terms of the way in which London Regional Transport has to report to the Secretary of State, and their funding, which really put pressure on London Regional Transport to accept tenders. The noble Earl said in relation to the last amendment that there was a lot of room for refusing to accept tenders. But in practice, when one looks at the financial provisions of the Bill, one is drawn to the conclusion—as we were when debating similar things last year—that the stick is very much in the hands of the Secretary of State, and there is not a lot of room for manoeuvre for the transport authority.

I think that "carried on in a satisfactory manner" is somewhat sloppy wording, and should like to see it at least at the standard that is available at the moment. Therefore, there should be the insertion of the words "an equally", so that it reads, "an equally satisfactory manner".

The Earl of Avon

This seemingly innocent amendment would change the character of the clause considerably, as the noble Lord has indicated. It would make it less flexible and much less useful. The noble Lord used the word "woolly". Let me set out certain situations which might arise, and how this amendment would affect them.

Let us suppose that the traffic on a route is dwindling fast, either because people are moving to a new district or because they are buying cars. There are many reasons why the pattern of travel changes from month to month. In this situation, LRT might decide to invite tenders from somebody else—perhaps a taxi or minibus operator—to run the service. They might decide that, because of the fall in demand, there was no point in running the level of service which prevailed before, and that a lower standard of service would be sufficient to cater for the few people who still want a service. If this amendment is made, LRT will be unable to invite tenders for the service to be provided as cheaply as possible, because the service to be provided by the successful tenderer would not be "equally satisfactory" when compared with the service provided before. And yet the only realistic alternative might be a much smaller service on the route in question. In this instance the amendment cannot be right.

I understand that a similar amendment was moved in another place. Although they sympathise with the thought behind the amendment, the Government believe that to adopt this wording could prove unnecessarily restrictive. Although I may not be as persuasive as my colleague in the other place, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to follow the example in another place and not press his amendment.

Lord Underhill

Before the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, responds, this would appear to me to be one of those very simple amendments, and it would be nice if we could have it accepted by the Government. So far, in six hours' debating we have not yet had anything accepted by the Government. But if the view of the Government is such that (to use the example the noble Earl has given) because of the sparse use of a particular service it might be best to provide an alternative which, while still a service, is less satisfactory, would not the Minister agree that that is one of the first-class examples where there should be consultation with the local authority in the area to see whether that is satisfactory because it is paying two-thirds of the cost?

The Earl of Avon

I take the noble Lord's latter point, and I shall certainly look into it. As far as the former is concerned, I think he will always be jogging happily if he is hoping for an amendment to be accepted here which has been rejected in another place.

Lord Tordoff

I am not sure that I accept that point of view. I should have thought that in this much more rational Chamber, where debates are listened to and ideas are exchanged, there is a far better chance of the Government accepting interesting amendments, whether from this side of the Committee or their own.

The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, is right when he says that in this rather innocent amendment we have, once again, put our finger on this whole question of what the Government are intending by way of a service to the travelling public of London. The fact that the Government's mind is moving towards the reduction of services in those areas that may not be cost-effective is a worrying aspect of the Bill as a whole, and this has been underlined by what the noble Earl has said.

I did not really expect that this amendment would be eagerly accepted by the Government. I should very much like to consider this again, because I think we have probably not finished with this point, and I may well wish to bring it back at another stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 51 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 6 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Briefly, I do not wish to detain the Committee, but while we are discussing privatisation of parts of London Transport it is necessary to make the point—because it was not made on Second Reading, from my reading of the debate (unfortunately, I was not able to be present then)—that this is a different sort of privatisation from the privatisation which has been pursued in other spheres, such as hospital laundry and local authority street cleaning. The whole essence of a public transport system is that it comprises a network of different routes which provide a public service and which are more or less profitable, but some of which are not profitable at all.

Unlike hospital cleaning, if the profitable routes in a public transport network in a city such as London are sold off, inevitably you are increasing the proportion of routes which are less profitable or even unprofitable, you are inevitably decreasing the profitability of the remaining network as a whole, and you are inevitably forcing either an increase in subsidy or an increase in fares. This is the fundamental issue which lies behind Clause 6 and which—and I accept my share of responsibility for it—has not really been dealt with adequately in amendments so far and therefore has not adequately challenged the Government. I think that before we let the Bill leave this House we must find some way of recognising the different sorts of privatisation that there are and the different sorts of argument that have to be made in order to justify them.

The Earl of Avon

I appreciate what the noble Lord has said. I hope very much—and I had to go through these amendments rather quickly—that when they are read in the clear light of Hansard it will be seen that quite a lot of the fears which noble Lords have are not actually justified and I hope that, if the noble Lord does come back on this, we shall be able to satisfy him in this sphere.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Planning of passenger transport services for Greater London]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

With the Committee's agreement, perhaps we might take with Amendment No. 52, Nos. 53, 54, 55, 56, 64, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 75A and 76A, if the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, agrees.

10.54 p.m.

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 52: Page 7, line 7, leave out ("statements") and insert ("plans")

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 52, as the noble Lord the Deputy Chairman is quite correct in saying, I shall speak to the following amendments:

Amendment No. 53: Page 7, line 14, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 54: line 15, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 55: line 18, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 56: line 20, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 64: line 29, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 69: line 37, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 70: line 39, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 72: Page 8, line 6, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 73: line 8, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 74: line 12, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 75A: line 14, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan") Amendment No. 76A: line 25, leave out ("statement") and insert ("plan")

Perhaps I may also apologise to the Committee for putting down Amendments Nos. 75A and 76A so late in the day. They relate to clauses which were put in at a late stage in another place, and to be honest, I had missed them on the first run through the Bill. They do not really affect our discussions. They are relevant to the totality of items that we are dealing with.

I must say that, as a very minor branch line of the usual channels, I find it somewhat worrying that, at 10 minutes to 11 or thereabouts, we find ourselves embarking in Clause 7 on matters which really are of the greatest importance in relation to this Bill and which I fear, at this stage of the night, we cannot truncate. We really have to debate these matters at some length.

Having said that, let us gird our loins and press on. It may appear that the amendments that I have put down here in conjunction with my noble friend Lord Attlee are semantic. But I do assure the Committee that they bear on very important matters. Let us bear in mind that the Bill repeals Sections 1 and 2 of the 1969 Act. The result of that is that, in effect, there will be no transport plan for the whole of Greater London. The new Bill does not transfer the GLC's responsibilities to any other body; that is to say, the overall planning of transport in Greater London—and not just transport but all the associated matters relating to transport.

In the White Paper on public transport in London, the stated objective was that London should be treated no differently from any other area. But the Bill in fact produces a totally different system for London. There is a loss of the planning innovation, which was brought in in the 1983 Act and which we debated at considerable length last year, requiring the annual three-year plans. Those plans, noble Lords will remember, include the social cost-benefit analyses that were to justify the level of proposed subsidy. Now, the Bill requires only a single statement within one year of the appointed date, and thereafter as the Secretary of State sees fit. As I read it, after the first year—I may be wrong and am subject to correction from the Government Front Bench—there is no need for the Secretary of State ever to see fit again to call for a statement.

So the planning arrangements that we debated at very considerable length last year are to be abandoned after less than twelve months. Why, one may ask? It cannot be because they have not worked—again, it is because of the tangle that the Government have got themselves into in bringing this Bill forward. Further, in using the word "statements", it seems to me that the status of what was the plan has been seriously downgraded. That really is at the root of the amendments before us at the moment—the downgrading of the status of plans, the removal of the social cost-benefit analysis, and the fact that the balance of power—I think that this perhaps is the most important part—between the transport authority and the Secretary of State is shifted very firmly in the direction of the Secretary of State. I am sure that the Government will admit that that is true, but it certainly is not a shift of power and a shift of responsibility that we on these Benches would like to see.

Lord Underhill

Despite the lateness of the hour, I should like to indicate from these Benches our support for the amendments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. This is a very important matter and requires considerable discussion, which I am certain we have not time to do tonight.

First, there is a difference between the requirements already on London Transport under the 1983 Act. A great deal of time was spent on the planning aspects of the 1983 Act. Why change now and ask for a statement, in the terms that Ministers have indicated in the other place, and not a plan? The Minister of State in the other place explained that this change was deliberate—not just a mistake in wording—so as to distinguish the requirements under Clause 7, which we are now debating, from the annual preparation of business plans. She made it clear that the provisions of planning under the 1983 Act are dropped as far as the Bill to set up London Regional Transport is concerned. That is a serious matter because the planning requirements now placed on London Regional Transport are very limited compared with those in the 1983 Act, which were laid down for the GLC and London Transport.

I shall just give two or three simple examples. Under the 1983 Act, the plan submitted had to be accompanied by estimates of the cost of the proposals, the estimates of the levels of demand for services, and the estimate of cost-benefits to potential users. There was need also to secure balance between ratepayers and transport users.

These points are left out of Clause 7.

Why have the Government made this descision? It cannot be because they say that all the managerial competence is in London Regional Transport, because they have already tonight turned down amendments by which we should have given managerial competence opportunity to work. We should like to see a plan presented—and a statement is different from a plan. If it is not, then the Government can accept this amendment and perhaps at another stage we can proceed to insert certain other items that ought to be considered in the plan.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

Frankly, I am rather surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, thought it necessary to table these amendments. They are identical to amendments tabled by his colleagues at Committee stage in another place. At that stage, of course, there may have been somewhat more justification for them, since the provisions for the annual business plan did not at that time appear in the Bill. There is one very good and quite sufficient justification, in my view, for the retention of the word "statement" in describing the document to be prepared under this clause. In this way we can distinguish quite clearly between what is required under this clause and the annual business plan which is required under Clause 29. The word "statement" denotes a more formal, higher-level strategic document which charts LRT's future progress over a number of years. It is for that reason that the statement is required to be laid at least one every three years.

The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, asked quite specifically whether any of the statements after the first one would be submitted to the Secretary of State The answer is, Yes, because under subsections (4) and (7) each subsequent statement must be submitted to him. Under subsection (5) LRT must take into account any observations which the Secretary of State makes Further, Clause 29 (on annual business plans) is more like the lower-level, the working document. I think that is a useful distinction to retain in the Bill.

I believe that if there ever was a justification for the particular amendment, with the inclusion of the annual business plan and clarification of the fact that the statement has to be made at least every third year, the justification has disappeared. I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw this series of amendments.

Lord Tordoff

I accept what the noble Lord says, in terms of the three-year period. On re-reading the matter under his guidance, I believe I was wrong in what I said, and I withdraw it. I should like to have another look at the whole question. I am not satisfied that a statement is the same as a plan, or that the planning system is anything like adequate within the Bill as it has been redrafted. Nevertheless, in the circumstances of the hour, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 53 to 58 not moved.]

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 59. Page, 7 line 28, at end insert— ("; and ( ) any agreements which London Regional Transport have made or propose to make with the Railways Board under any section of this Act with respect to the provision of integrated level and structure of fares, common ticketing facilities and co-ordinated route planning by London Regional Transport and the Board for public passenger transport services provided by them both within Greater London and other arrangements.")

The noble Lord said: I wonder whether I can assist the Minister and the Committee by just formally moving Amendment No. 59. The points for which we are asking are quite clear. These are matters which we believe ought to be dealt with in the statement. If I may, I should like to refer to Amendments Nos. 60 and 61 as well, so that we may have the Minister's view on them. If we can have the Minister's views on the record at this late hour, it might be helpful. Amendment No 60: Page 7, line 28, at end insert— (";and ( ) the financial position of London Regional Transport and any subsidiaries of theirs with their financial prospects for the period to which the statement relates and a summary of their financial position if the policies arrangements and actions set out in the statement were implemented.") Amendment No. 61: Page 7, line 28, at end insert— (" ; and ( ) arrangements London Regional Transport have made or propose to make with the local authorities in the area to which the statement relates so as to integrate their services with the town planning, traffic and parking policies of the local authority concerned.")

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

Will the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, correct me if I have misunderstood him? He would like to deal with Amendments Nos. 59, 60 and 61 together; is that so?

Lord Underhill


Lord Lucas of Chilworth

In fact that puts me in rather a difficulty because I intended, during the course of any discussion on these three amendments, to "break the duck", which the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, suggested was about time. I cannot really go very far in helping the noble Lord unless we actually get to the amendments.

Lord Underhill

I thought that I was helping the Minister, and it seems that I have helped him. I am moving Amendment No. 59, and speaking to Amendments Nos. 60 and 61 merely so that the Minister can give his views. When we come to Amendment No. 60 I shall formally move it, and if he accepts it, the Committee will be pleased. When we come to Amendment No. 61 I shall move it, and if he accepts that, too, the Committee will again be very pleased.

11.5 p.m.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

If I may draw the attention of the Committee to Amendment No. 59, there are two main obstacles to our accepting this amendment. The first is that we feel it is better to avoid where possible providing in statute for details which ought to be matters either for the common sense of the parties concerned or for specific directions to the LRT board, if necessary. The more one tries to be specific, the more of a straitjacket you provide for those trying to operate the business. Furthermore, the more you seek to be specific and spell out everything that you expect to see in such a statement, the more this calls into question the things that you have not seen fit to mention.

The second objection is a more technical one. The amendment refers, as it were in passing, to matters which are not defined in the Bill, such as integrated fares structures and common ticketing facilities. It is not easy to provide a legally satisfactory definition of these things. Indeed, there would be much discussion, and no doubt argument, about the precise meaning of the matters described in the amendment. It is better, for this sort of reason, to avoid being too specific and to rely on the more general description of what the Clause 7 statement should contain, as provided for in the Bill as drafted.

If I may turn to Amendment No. 60, as I understand it, the amendment would require the Clause 7 statement to include details of its financial position and prospects over the period dealt with by the statement. It would also deal with the way in which its position and prospects were affected by the policies in the statement. Clearly the Clause 7 statement will have to contain some financial information. It would be of only very limited use if it did not. Indeed, the assumption behind the drafting of the clause was that it was not necessary to provide explicitly for financial information.

This thought is supported by the relationship between the Clause 7 statement on the one hand and the Clause 29 annual business plan on the other. It ought to be possible to relate the contents of the annual business plan to the broad objectives set out in the Clause 7 statement. For this to be possible, the statement would have to contain enough in the way of financial objectives for the comparison to be made.

From what I have said, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, will recognise that I have nothing against the spirit of the amendment as such. I think, however, that it is rather complex. This is where we should like to be helpful and to break the duck. We would be happy to give further consideration to bringing forward an amendment at Report stage, with the object of making quite clear that the Clause 7 statement should contain details of London Regional Transport's financial prospects and of the financial prospects of the subsidiaries.

Turning to the last of the three amendments spoken to, Amendment No. 61—and I am grateful to the noble Lord for having made clear to me his intention, which is appreciated—this amendment would require the Clause 7 statement to deal with the way in which LRT's plans are designed to take account of the planning and traffic management policies of the local authorities. We do not believe that it would be sensible to impose this requirement on LRT when they are formulating their Clause 7 statement.

I accept the point that in formulating their longer term plans and their more detailed operating plans, LRT must be aware of and must keep in touch with the local authorities concerned. Indeed, this is provided for in the Bill. Clause 7(3) requires LRT specifically to consult with the local authorities, among others, during the preparation of their statement. In a more detailed sense, Clause 43 requires LRT to consult the local authorities whenever significant changes in bus services are being planned. And, as I have already mentioned, LRT are to be required to have regard to the development plans of the authorities concerned. It would be quite unrealistic to require LRT to set out in their Clause 7 statement all the ways in which their planned services may have to take account of their knowledge of the local authorities' development plans and traffic management plans. It would weigh down the statement with a great deal of detail, of interest to a very few, much of which, may of course, not be effective.

I believe I have covered the three main points that this series of amendments seeks to elicit.

Lord Underhill

I am grateful to the Minister for falling into line with my suggestion and for putting on record the Government's views on Amendments Nos. 59, 60 and 61. I shall study carefully what the Minister has said about Amendments Nos. 59 and 61. His views will be helpful in considering what should be done at the next stage. I am particularly grateful for the Minister's comments on Amendment No. 60 and for his undertaking to give further consideration to the matter with a view to bringing forward an amendment at Report. It is most encouraging, and I am grateful to him. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 59.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 60, 61 and 62 not moved].

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 63: Page 7, line 28, at end insert— ("; and ( ) the extent to which London Regional Transport consider it necessary for the discharge of their general duty under section 2(1) of this Act for revenue grant to be made to them by the Secretary of State pursuant to section 12(1) of this Act and the benefits expected to accrue from such grants.")

The noble Lord said: this amendment relates to Clause 12(1), which is a very widely drawn statement: —The Secretary of State may, with the consent of the Treasury, make grants … for any purpose and on such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State may think fit".

We are seeking to obtain some qualification of that position in Clause 7, so that there shall be reference to the extent to which LRT consider it necessary, for the discharge of their general duty, to get a revenue grant. It does not seem unreasonable, in this complicated method of financing, that LRT should have to state, in their statement, precisely why it is necessary for his revenue grant to be made to them, and also, very properly, as the balancing part of the argument, what benefits are expected to accrue from the grants. I shall be interested to hear what views the Government have on this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

As I see it, the amendment seeks to transplant the relevant part of the Transport Act 1983, Section 3(3), into the Bill. As noble Lords will remember, the 1983 Act was a highly complex set of provisions adapted to a particular set of circumstances. The main purpose of that enactment was to set up a system in which there was a measure of control by the Secretary of State of revenue subsidies to public transport executives, but that control had to be exercised under a system in which the PTEs (and the LTE) were answerable to a local authority. This was the reason why Section 3(3) enabled the executives to make some assumptions about the revenue support that they would be getting, following the guidance that the Secretary of State was to give them (under Section 3(5)). There is no reason to provide the same form of words in the circumstances of London Regional Transport. Clearly, LRT will make assumptions about the levels of revenue subsidies which they can expect in the years ahead—and the Secretary of State will give them a good indication of what those levels are likely to be.

There is another point. The Bill makes it quite clear that the general duty on LRT is subject to the financial duty. In principle therefore they could discharge their general duty whatever level of financial support was set by the Secretary of State. I do not want to press this point too far; but clearly the Secretary of State will set his levels of financial support on the basis of realistic views about the needs of London. Nevertheless, the amendment as worded is not consistent with the approach that we have taken in the Bill.

The second part of the amendment is about benefits. As I see it, this is, again, a throwback to the 1983 Act. In that Act it was necessary for the Secretary of State to have some common basis on which to judge the competing claims of the passenger transport executives for grant purposes. Therefore, the Act had to lay down in some detail what the information should be. One aspect of this was a statement of benefits accruing from grant. The implication was that there would be some assessment on a cost benefit basis of the provision of grant.

Frankly, I can see there being no doubt that LRT will seek to use the same technique of cost benefit analysis along with other techniques, in assessing the value it will get from grants. There is no reason to tie their hands in this way in the Bill. There are other ways of assessing the value of a grant—and the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, knows this better than I do. They may be more appropriate—especially since there will be a need to make comparisons between both LRT and British Rail. And they may have to use common techniques in doing so. There is no need for this particular amendment and I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw it.

Lord Tordoff

I am most grateful for the answer that I have been given. It explains some of the problems that we had in mind. Clearly, we are anxious to establish a sensible dialogue between the LRT and London Regional Transport. As I indicated, this was very much a probing amendment, and in response to the Minister's reply, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 64 and 65 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved amend-ment No. 66: Page 7, line 33 after ("Committee") insert— (" ( ) the appropriate trade unions;")

The noble Lord said: I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his previous generosity and understanding, and for his wish to get things done by conceding to examine points raised by my noble friend Lord Underhill. I only hope that this point is one that he will be able to easily accommodate. This amendment concerns a fairly standard provision, but one that is vitally important Subsection (3) states that in preparing any statement under Section 7, London Regional Transport should consult with:

  1. "(a) the Railways Board;
  2. (b) the local authorities concerned;
  3. (c) The Passengers' Committee; and
  4. (d) such other persons (if any) as London Regional Transport may think fit".

With this amendment, my noble friends and I are suggesting that LRT should consult also the appropriate trade unions about their long-term plans. We believe that this would be of value.

Obviously, LRT employees will be affected by any plan—probably more so than most other people. The trade unions represent the mass of employees in the organisation. It frequently happens that when trade unions are consulted properly and in good time—long before any ultimatums are made and before there is any suggestion of plans being all cut and dried—they can make important suggestions and valuable contributions, as they have done on thousands of occasions up and down the country in the past. Further, when trade unions know that they have to be consulted, it means that the management, trade unions and employees tend to work more closely together, in a better atmosphere all round; and that surely is what we all strive for. It is late, and I do not want to expand on it, but I believe that this is one of the very important amendments for the future of LRT, and I hope that the Minister will feel able to accede to the spirit, if not the letter, of the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I am sure I understand and I certainly sympathise with the motivation behind the amendment, but I do not believe that it is absolutely necessary. I think that we should rigorously avoid loading the Bill (which is already long and complicated) with provisions that are not absolutely necessary. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, has been kind enough to spell out to the Committee those bodies that LRT must consult in preparing its Clause 7 statement, and I do not think I need repeat them. But LRT is also required to consult such other persons, if any, as it may think fit.

A similar amendment was debated in another place, and in response my right honourable friend said—and I shall encapsulate it in order to take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael: To consult its work force, whether or not it is a trade union, is asine qua non of running a successful enterprise. To specify that duty in legislation is to specify the obvious."—[Official Report, Commons, 14/2/84; col. 455.] In all the discussions that my right honourable friend and my honourable friend have had with the transport industry members of the TUC at no stage were they asked that the trade unions should be included in Clause 7(3). I have sympathy for the spirit of the amendment, but in the light of that explanation I do not think that we need it. I suggest that the noble Lord withdraws the amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I listened to the Minister and although I think that there are points to be raised, I understand what was said in another place and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

The next amendment is No. 67, and if your Lordships agree, perhaps Amendment No. 68 could be discussed with it.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 67: Page 7, line 35, at end insert— ("and shall have regard to any considerations to which the Secretary of State may from time to time draw their attention (including, in particular, considerations of national or regional transport policy) and to the development plan for any district which appears to London Regional Transport to be affected by any policies, proposals or plans which they propose to set out in the statement.")

The noble Lord said: Government Amendment No 67 tabled in my name, which is the first of the two amendments which we are to discuss, fulfils an undertaking given by my right honourable friend in Committee in another place; the Official Report of 14th February refers to it at columns 446 to 450. The Government amendment, in fact, responds to the first two parts of Amendment No. 68 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. Amendment No. 68: Page 7, line 35, at end insert— ("and shall have regard—

  1. (i) to any considerations to which the Secretary of State may from time to time draw their attention, including, in particular, considerations of national or regional transport policy,
  2. (ii) to the Greater London development plan and any proposals for any alteration or addition to that plan;
  3. (iii) to any proposals for a further survey of Greater London under Part II of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971; and
  4. (iv) to any exercise or proposed exercise by a local planning authority of their functions in connection with the development of any part of Greater London or of any area in the vicinity of Greater London.")

The first part is taken on board almost word for word: LRT are required to have regard to any considerations to which the Secretary of State may from time to time draw their attention, including, in particular, considerations of national or regional transport policy.

The second part of the Government amendment requires LRT to take account of the development plans in areas which are affected by LRT's policies. This formulation is, in fact, more general than the one in the Liberal Party's amendment and should apply equally well after abolition of the GLC as before it. It thus has all the merits of this part of the noble Lord's amendment, with the added advantage of longevity.

As regards the third and fourth parts of the noble Lord's Amendment No. 68, we do not believe that we can accept these. Even if there were proposals for a further survey of Greater London under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971—and, so far as I am aware, there are no such plans—it is not clear how such proposals could be taken into account by LRT. A proposal for a survey is neither more nor less than it says. There is no way in which LRT could take it into account until a survey has been earned out and its finding incorporated, where appropriate, into the relevant development plans.

As to the fourth part of the noble Lord's amendment, this would require LRT to have regard to any exercise or proposed exercise by a local planning authority of its development, planning and control functions, but it would not be appropriate to require LRT to have regard to such matters in its general strategy statement. It would also be quite impracticable for LRT to have to take account of every case, no matter how localised, in which a local authority had exercised these powers, and it would be quite impossible for it to take account of every case in which a local authority proposed to exercise its powers but had not yet done so.

I hope that noble Lords will consider that the Government amendment handsomely fulfils the undertakings given by my right honourable friend. It is really as far as the Government can reasonably go towards accepting the noble Lord's amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Tordoff

One begins to think it is Christmas. The noble Lord the Minister is coming up with goodies all round. I accept that he has fulfilled the undertaking that his right honourable friend gave at a late stage in another place. I should very much like to read what he said on the fourth part of Amendment No. 68. I am not sure that I entirely go along with his reasoning there, but I accept that under the third part, proposals for a further survey", are perhaps not very substantive and the results of a survey might make more sense.

I am most grateful to the Government for having taken on board in this way the representations made by my honourable friends in another place. When I first saw the Marshalled List, I thought that one of my—I shall not say "aces"—high cards had been trumped by the Minister. From the terms in which he has moved the amendment, one can only offer thanks from these Benches for his having done so.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 68 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

Amend-ments Nos. 69 and 70 have already been dealt with.

[Amendments Nos. 69 and 70 not moved.]

11.28 p.m.

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 71: Page 8, line 1, leave out subsection (5).

The noble Lord said: I am conscious of the fact that this amendment is really not what we set out to achieve. It is a defective amendment and it is my intention to withdraw it. I do not expect the Minister to go into any great detail. In Clause 7(5) it says: London Regional Transport shall take into account any observations the Secretary of State may make". Can the Minister explain to us what, "take into account", means? It sounds a fairly innocuous phrase. I suspect it means that LRT will do as it is told. Perhaps he could elaborate slightly. As I said, this is not one of my favourite amendments tonight. I am not terribly proud of it, and it is certainly my intention to withdraw it, but perhaps he could just explain that point. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I can see no reason why the Secretary of State should not be able to make observations on the Clause 7 statement when it has been submitted. There is certainly no reason why LRT should not be obliged to take those observations into account in the exercise and performance of its functions. I think the noble Lord specifically asks about the words: The Secretary of State shall take account of

Lord Tordoff

I am sorry. It is the phrase, London Regional Transport Board shall take into account". It is just a question of what is meant by "shall take into account".

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I think that means probably that they have to weigh in the balance what he says and what they think about what he says.

Lord Tordoff

In other words, they know very well that, if they do not take into account, their supplies will be cut off. As I said, this is not a very effective amendment. The noble Lord has been helpful. I think it is a clause that we will want to look at again and maybe come back at Report stage with perhaps some alternative suggestion on this subsection. But, meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 72, 73 and 74 not moved.]

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 75: page 8. line 14, leave out ("three years") and insert ("one year")

The noble Lord said: This is an important amendment, even though it is moved at this late hour. Subsection (6) of this clause provides that the first statement shall be prepared before the end of one year from the appointed day. But the following subsection, subsection (7), says that each subsequent statement shall be made before the end of the period of three years from when the last statement was published. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that, instead of waiting for a period of three years for subsequent statements, there should be a statement each year.

I have the 1983 Act in front of me. As I have said, we have frequently spent a lot of time on the 1983 Act. Emphasis has been laid on an annual plan time and time again by the Minister. It has been considered very important indeed that there should be an annual plan. I must ask: why have we now got this change? To wait three years is too long. It does not enable there to be a response to any changes that there may be in conditions. I know there is to be an annual report, but an annual report is not the same as an annual statement, which we should like to make an annual plan, in effect.

The Government have already had second thoughts, because in the original Bill it was proposed that the subsequent statements should be from time to time. They had not even thought of three years; but because of persuasion they made it three years. I hope we can now persuade them that subsequent statements should be yearly. That is the purpose of this amendment.

Lord Tordoff

I merely want to endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has said. It seems to me that the idea of a rolling plan, which we discussed last year in debates on the 1983 Bill, was a better form of planning. Again, one would like to see "plan" rather than "statement", But it is a perfectly normal procedure these days, in all sorts of business connections, to have a rolling system of planning. I find it very difficult to understand why this has been changed from what seemed to be a quite sensible provision in the Bill last year.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I hope the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, will not take this remark amiss when I say that I really wondered, when I saw the amendment, whether the noble Lord had in fact realised, when he tabled the amendment, that the Bill already contains a requirement in Clause 29 on LRT to produce an annual business plan. He said he realised that there was the annual business plan, because of course we discussed it with the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, only a few moments ago.

That plan will be the by-product of LRT's normal, annual corporate planning process. It will be available publicly and one of its main purposes will be to inform passengers, ratepayers and others how LRT are progressing towards the goals set out in the Clause 7 strategy statement.

The two ideas are therefore very closely linked. The Clause 7 statement is to be a major statement—I do emphasise this: it is to be a major statement—of LRT's policies. It will, by its very nature, involve very extensive consultations. It simply would not be feasible, even if it were desirable, to go through this process every year. The effort would be quite disproportionate.

We return then to the annual corporate plan which, as I have said, will describe how LRT have met the strategies contained in that Clause 7 statement. The regime for planning and consultation laid down in this Bill is far more demanding than for any other nationalised industry. This was quite deliberate. It takes account of the special nature of LRT. I said during the Second Reading debate that LRT, besides its requirements for producing plans under this clause and the Clause 29 annual business plans, will be required to publish information on services and fares under Clause 30, to prepare and lay before Parliament an annual report under Clause 34, to consult with the highways authorities on their bus plans under Clause 43, and to prepare the annual ratepayers' levy order for debate under Clause 13.

I think it would be wholly wrong to require of LRT, in addition to all these things, to prepare its Clause 7 strategy statement on an annual basis, as this amendment would require. That is the reason why I have to resist the amendment.

Lord Underhill

What the Minister says sounds reasonable. However, when we reach Clause 29—not tonight, I hope—we shall have to ask a few questions about what some of the words there mean. London Transport and the PTEs in the six metropolitan authorities have to produce a plan each year covering a strategy plan over a period of three years. If, as the Minister says, this is to be a major statement which it cannot be expected to produce every year, we shall have to keep that in mind when we come to look at amendments on Report. That may be a justifiable reason for including in the statement some of the things the Minister has not accepted shall be included. Frankly, at this late hour, one needs to examine what the noble Lord has said. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 75A not moved.]

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 76: Page 8, line 15, at end insert— (" ( ) Each statement prepared under subsection (1) above shall contain proposals relating to a minimum period of three years.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment asks that the statement or the plan, as we would prefer, that we wanted every year should relate to a period of three years. I shall not make the statement that I had intended on this amendment. However, can I take it that if the Government have their way and subsequent statements are to be issued only every three years, they will cover the period of three years' planning ahead?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

It is inconceivable that LRT could prepare a statement of its strategic plans for the years ahead without those plans covering a period of at least three years. Indeed, if it is to deal with LRT's investment plans, it will doubtless look a good deal further ahead than three years. On the principle that the Bill should not be weighted down with material that is unnecessary, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Underhill

When we want to put something in the Bill, it is always an unnecessary inclusion. When the Government wish to add certain things, it is a sensible amendment, and they clutter up the Bill. I should like the Minister seriously to consider this.

There is nothing in the Bill about the period that this will cover. It is a statement. It might be worthwhile having something in the Bill to cover the actual period that is intended. If it is to be a statement of policy and strategy for a period of years ahead, it should be in the Bill. London Transport and the PTEs, under the 1983 Act, are compelled to have an annual statement laid down and covering three years. That was considered sensible. I shall withdraw my amendment, but I hope that the Minister will consider what seems a sensible proposal that some period should be put into the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 76A not moved.]

Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 77: Page 8, line 25, at end insert— ("and the reference in that subsection to the development plan for any district shall be construed in accordance with section 20 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 78 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 7, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Tordoff

I am fascinated by Clause 7(8)(a), which refers to "the Greater London Council". Subsection (8) says: For the purposes of subsection (3)(b) above, the local authorities concerned are— (a) the Greater London Council". I know that the noble Lord does not want to look ahead, but every time anybody has mentioned the Greater London Council in connection with this Bill there has been the suggestion that it perhaps might not exist when the Bill comes into operation. I raise this as the final point in our deliberations tonight and I wonder whether the Government would care to comment on its inclusion in the Bill.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I hope that I have understood the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, correctly. All I can say is that the Government have every intention, subject to the agreement of both Houses of Parliament, that this Bill will come into effect in a matter of weeks, rather than over the period of time that may be taken as regards any legislation that may be forthcoming. I thought that I had made that reasonably clear in an earlier exchange on this very subject.

Lord Tordoff

I just thought that perhaps the Greater London Council might be pleased to know that the Government are still speaking to them.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Powers of disposal]:

[Amendment No. 79 not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Power of Secretary of State to require exercise of powers of disposal, etc.]:

[Amendment No. 80 not moved.]

Clause 10 agreed to. Clause 11 agreed to.

Lord Denham

I think that we have made very rapid progress in the latter minutes of the evening, and I should like to thank your Lordships for staying so late. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

House adjourned at seventeen minutes before midnight.