HL Deb 02 July 1987 vol 488 cc413-49

House again in Committee.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 20: After Clause 5 insert the following new clause:

("Provision for public local inquiry.

The scheduled works shall not be commenced until—

  1. (a) all environmental and other relevant matters relating to the works have been considered at a public local inquiry; and
  2. (b) the Secretary of State, having considered the report of the inspector of that inquiry, is satisfied that the proposed works, in all the circumstances, afford the best practicable means of minimising the adverse effects on the environment.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 20 which refers to the provision of a public local inquiry. In doing this I am conscious of the fact that if a public inquiry were to be agreed to at this stage it would probably delay the whole procedure beyond the point at which it made sense. Nevertheless, I raise this question in Committee because it seems to me that the consultations which took place in Kent were less than adequate particularly in the early stages.

I know that the Minister, the Select Committee in another place and the Select Committee here have gone out of their way to listen to the objections of local people. When I say "objections" I am talking about the legitimate objections and not those from people who are fundamentally opposed to the Channel Tunnel at any price. I am referring to the people who really are being very much affected by the sort of Channel Tunnel proposed.

In moving the first amendment this evening I said that a rail-only tunnel would have far less environmental impact than the project which is at present before the Committee. I have been to Kent a number of times and I am impressed by the fact that ordinary local individuals are still very worried about the impact on their lives. They do not feel that they have had the opportunity of expressing their own views as well as they might have done. Of course, the big organisations have been able to make their presence felt and they have been able to employ expensive lawyers. That is not the same thing as having a proper public inquiry on the ground.

There came the point at which a public inquiry probably became out of the question if this Bill were to go through in anything like reasonable time. There was a reference earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, to the Sizewell inquiry. I think the whole question of public inquiries for major projects in this country needs to be looked at. We need to be able to establish a timetable for public inquiries so that acceptable projects are not held up by people who use the public inquiry as a way of destroying the project which is being put before them.

I take the opportunity of raising this question because I want the Government to recognise that there is still considerable concern in Kent from individuals. By moving this amendment I seek to achieve some recognition by the Government that they are still sensitive to the feelings of the local people, that they will even now go out of their way to listen to the complaints which still exist and that they will he sympathetic to the pleas of those people.

There is a considerable fear that, once the Bill goes through, there will be a demand for extra land and there will be an extension of the powers which have already been granted. It is because of that sort of situation that I tabled the amendment: in order to provide the Government with the opportunity of expressing concern and allowing the local people to feel that their views are really being considered. I beg to move.

Lord Underhill

I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, moved the amendment in the temperate and considerate way that he did. My immediate reaction is that it is something for which we should press and support. It would be foolish of me to say that I have read every word of our Select Committee's report. I have turned over every page. When I have wanted to, I have read the particular section. I am full of praise for the consideration the committee gave to the vast number of petitions and petitioners who came before it.

I do not know whether there is a member of the Select Committee in the Chamber at the moment. It would be helpful if, after the noble Lord's remarks, a member of the committee could give us some information, because it seems to me that a considerable amount of evidence was taken and a vast number of petitions were heard. It would be helpful to hear the committee's view of the type of evidence it received and the attention that was given to it.

Whatever our views might be—for or against the fixed link—the last thing that we would want is to take any further decisions which might mean a 12-month or two-year delay before a firm decision is taken.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Both Select Committees made great efforts to examine the Channel Tunnel project from every conceivable point of view. I am therefore disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, should suggest another form of public inquiry. I know that the way he moved the amendment does not square with the way that it reads, because he is not suggesting that we should launch ourselves into a huge new public inquiry.

Both committees did a tremendous amount of work. They were accessible to a large number of petitioners, whether large corporate petitioners or individual petitioners. I understand that they took a great deal of evidence from individual petitioners. They made considerable changes to the Bill. I shall give examples of a few things that were done in another place. The committee in another place supplemented the planning provisions contained in the Bill with the substantial and detailed Schedule 3 which establishes a comprehensive role for local authorities over the detailed arrangements for carrying out the project, including matters such as the control of construction vehicles, landscaping, viewing arrangements, overnight accommodation for drivers, the control of spoil disposal and the restoration of working sites. Those are all very much local issues in Kent. The committee did a great many other things as well.

In this place, the Select Committee implemented the alternative road access arrangements to the Folkestone terminal area which were developed over a long period of negotiation and were widely welcomed by local authorities, environmental petitioners and with even due recognition for Mr. Pattinson, who was one of the few people adversely affected by the change. That was another thing that the Select Committe of this place did for the local people. It recommended an amendment to the Bill to which we will come in due course. It is Amendment No. 121 on the Marshalled List. It requires Eurotunnel to adopt an environmentally much more satisfactory alignment of the railway through Holywell Coombe, thus saving a unique glacial deposit.

Furthermore, the committee heard detailed evidence on the sensitive issue of soil disposal, and decided to allow the arrangements contained in the Bill to stand. The Select Committee in another place said: Many of our petitioners argued that a public local inquiry ought to be held in addition to the passage of the Bill and our own proceedings. To judge from public planning inquiries which have been held in other fields, the process can be very long and very expensive. We believe that our own proceedings have enabled the various points of view of those directly affected by the provisions of the Bill to be deployed before us at a length which enabled us to form a judgment with adequate knowledge of what is at stake for our petitioners. As the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, said, the Select Committee took the unprecedented step of holding public inquiries with little formality in Kent. If it is true that consultaions in Kent were inadequate, which I do not accept, those omissions have surely been remedied. The noble Lord rightly discussed the issue of public inquiries in general—the length of time that they take and what should or should not be included. I take the noble Lord's point. I believe that the issue goes much wider than the Bill. A great many ordinary road building programmes, never mind anything the size of Sizewell, might benefit. It is something at which the Government should look. I do not think that the noble Lord is suggesting that we return to a public inquiry on this Bill. I take the point that he has made about how the whole process of public inquiries should be looked at in the future.

I have said a little about what the Select Commmittee of both places have been able to do and why we think that in this case they were just as good as a full public inquiry.

Lord Tordoff

I am grateful for those two interventions. I would have hoped that the Minister might have given a little more reassurance to the people in Kent about what might happen from now on. I believe the Select Committee have done a good job. They have gone out of their way to be as open as they possibly can be. I hope that will be a continuing process and that the ordinary people in Kent who still have genuine worries will have them listened to by the Government, although I do not suppose that there will be any major changes. If genuine proposals come from the local people, I hope that the Government will be prepared to listen to them and make modifications as may be necessary.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Before the noble Lord decides what to do with the amendment, I should say that I did not mention the committee which has been chaired by my honourable friend David Mitchell with which the noble Lord is no doubt familiar. It has done a tremendous amount of work in Kent. There have been a tremendous number of public meetings since before the project was even chosen. The joint consultative committee meets regularly in Kent under my honourable friend's chairmanship. We have set up a complaints administrator, and Eurotunnel has a permanent information centre in Folkstone. Of course large numbers of petitioners from Kent have been heard by both Select Committees. It is a continuing process. The noble Lord was right to ask whether it would continue. I can tell him that it will.

Lord Tordoff

I am grateful to the Minister for that comment. That was my sole purpose in putting down the amendment. I have no intention of dividing the Committee and trying to force a public inquiry because that would be damaging to the whole purpose of the Bill, and that is the furthest thing from my mind.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving the reassurance, which I think people in that part of the world will accept, that the Government recognise that there is a process which will have to continue in the years ahead and not stop at the end of the Select Committee procedure. With that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Sefton of Garston

May I ask a question on Clause 5? This seems to be the most appropriate place to do so. I assume that Part II is the beginning of the authority to construct the works. I assume that there will be a requirement in law for the contractors to have their workmen insured against any accident that may ensue during these works. I am not sure what the situation will be when we start constructing the tunnel. Will the Minister write to me before Monday or as soon as possible to say whether there is any requirement for the concessionaires to carry insurances against any eventuality and, for any risks involved in constructing or operating the tunnel.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

I am sure that there is. I shall write to the noble Lord I hope before Monday.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Acquisition of land for the scheduled works and other authorised works]:

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Belstead) moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 7, line 4, at end insert— ("(1A) The Secretary of State is authorised by this section to acquire by agreement any land which he is not otherwise authorised to acquire and which is required for the construction and maintenance of the Concessionaires' scheduled works and other works in connection with those works or otherwise for any purposes of the construction or operation by the Concessionaires of the tunnel system.")

The noble Lord said: Clause 8(1) authorises the Secretary of State for the Environment to acquire compulsorily any land required for the concessionaires' works within the geographical limits specified on the deposited plans. In accordance with the concession agreement, his expenditure will be reimbursed by the concessionaires and the land will he leased to the concessionaires for the duration of the concession. On the expiry or termination of the concession, the land occupied by the English half of the tunnel system will revert free of charge to the Secretary of State. Clause 9 and Schedule 3 grant planning permission for the concessionaires' development on this land, subject to various decisions being reserved to the local planning authorities.

While the Bill has been before both places, however, detailed design work has shown that some variations in the land used for the project may be desirable. We knew already that at Ashford a small shift in the positioning of the inland clearance depot would assist Eurotunnel to optimise its design. In order to do this Eurotunnel has in fact already purchased additional land by agreement. I emphasise that neither the Bill as it stands nor the amendment confers any planning permission for development on additional land acquired in this way. Eurotunnel will have to apply for permission to the local planning authority under the Town and Country Planning Act in the usual manner.

What then is the effect of the amendment, and why is it necessary? It is simply that the Government's policy, incorporated in the concession agreement, is that the Government, not the concessionaires, shall have the freehold in land required for the construction and operation of the fixed link. This is in case it becomes necessary to appoint new concessionaires and so that the Government are free to grant a new concession in 55 years' time. All the land required for the link will therefore be leased to the concessionaires for as long as is necessary. There is, however, legal doubt as to whether the Secretary of State is permitted to acquire any land by agreement without express parliamentary approval. The purpose of this amendment is purely to remove that doubt, and I commend it to the Committee.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

A small point arises on the Minister's last sentence. I understand that this provision does not affect the future power of a Minister to acquire land without the authority of Parliament; it affects only the area of land near the tunnel. Will the Minister confirm that it does not give any general power to the Minister to take over land without the authority of Parliament?

Lord Belstead

This is any land, but it is for the purposes of the concessionaires.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 21A:

After Clause 9, insert the following new clause: (".—(1) The Railways Board and the highways authority shall consult and co-operate with each other to plan and undertake any traffic management measures affecting the highways in the vicinity of Waterloo Station necessary as a result of extra traffic generated by international trains proceeding to Waterloo by way of the tunnel system, or of the construction and operation of Work No. 21 as specified by Schedule 1 of this Act or of alterations to the private roads within the confines of Waterloo. (2) The objects of any such taffic management measures shall include the minimisation of the nuisance caused by the extra traffic in the vicinity of Waterloo Station. (3) The costs of any such traffic management measues shall not be borne by the highways authority.").

The noble Lord said: We now move to the question of British Rail facilities at Waterloo. As noble Lords may know, a somewhat unhappy situation exists between the local authority and the British Railways Board. A number of amendments have been floated in front of Members of Opposition parties, some of which have been picked up. This is the only one that I feel is worthy of consideration.

British Rail has gone out of its way to ensure that its activities at Waterloo in general are confined within its existing premises. The exhibition on view at Waterloo demonstrates the lengths to which British Rail has gone to try to confine its activities to the terminal within its existing establishment.

I have been worried in particular about the impact of increased traffic going to the international rail terminal, as it will become, on the surrounding road network. Considerable thought has been given to how the traffic flow will take place in the new circumstances. There are bottlenecks already. I am well aware that it is said that the volume of traffic around Waterloo is less than around other terminal railway stations in Greater London. Nevertheless, there are potential bottlenecks, particularly on the roads approaching Waterloo Bridge and, I believe, Westminster Bridge.

We seek to ensure that at least the British Railways Board and local authorities speak to each other and co-operate. Whether within such an amendment it is technically possible to legislate for certain rather extreme local councillors (if I may so put it) to co-operate with the board, I do not know, but at least I seek to ensure that the Bill pressurises them to do so.

This is a difficult amendment to move. I know that at the end of the day I shall withdraw it. However, I believe that there is a continuing problem around the Waterloo area relating to traffic flow. I think that there is a continuing problem in regard to councillors who are not prepared even to accept the possibility of a railway terminal at Waterloo and who therefore are not prepared to contemplate that possibility and discuss matters with the British Railways Board.

I wanted to get on the agenda the opportunity for a short debate in Committee on the necessity for people to listen to each other and try to provide for a traffic flow around the Waterloo area that will not upset the flow of commuter traffic, particularly at peak hours.

Lord Underhill

I support the general tenor of the amendment in the recognition that Amendment No. 92 will be moved by my noble friend Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. As the two amendments are tabled separately, I assume that any consideration of Amendment No. 21A will not affect our position on Amendment No. 92. A different principle is involved in Amendment No. 92, although it deals with the position of Waterloo. The general sentiments of the amendment now before us seem to me to be very wise. If the Government do not like the wording I ask them to bring forward an amendment which deals with the general spirit of this amendment. Whatever happens at Waterloo—whether or not there is any change, as we suggest, in 1992—there is need for consultation and urgent discussions on traffic management plans.

Lord Mulley

I speak from a little personal experience, because I live in this vicinity in Kennington. It is not a hypothetical traffic problem. There is already a substantial traffic problem approaching both Waterloo and Westminster Bridge. I use Lambeth Bridge if possible. I travel on that side and I cannot therefore claim that my personal inconvenience will be as great as for those living in the immediate vicinity of Waterloo Station.

A new estate has been built and many attempts made to improve the inner city in that locality. As members of the Select Committee know, a very active residents' association has made representations. I should like to compliment our Select Committee on giving them a hearing. They felt that they had not been given such a hearing by a committee in another place.

The position was a little difficult technically because it is the Government's Bill, for British Rail to to be called upon and to be cross-examined. The residents are not convinced of the case that Waterloo alone has to be the London terminal for the traffic. There is also the fact that the boat trains will be cancelled at Victoria when the tunnel starts. That will give some respite to Victoria, which I am sure gives great satisfaction to the noble Lord who chaired the Select Committee with such distinction.

I should welcome an improved traffic management system. However, I have seen enough traffic management systems to know that very often they make matters worse rather than better. The traffic experts who devise these one-way traffic systems usually end up creating more chaos than they resolve. I do not therefore have great faith in traffic management measures.

I do not think we can escape from the fact that carrying this load in that vicinity will be an enormous burden on the people whom live and have to travel in the area. There are a great number of such people. They are not convinced as to whether this is the only and the best solution for the nation and London. That fact remains to be demonstrated. If that is the case then one would accept the position. But they are by no means satisfied. An alternative might be a special terminal for the international traffic from the tunnel. One had in mind in 1974 and 1975 the alternative of some place other than one of the existing stations. There is a great feeling that that ought to have been considered.

While I look forward to hearing the Minister on this new clause proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, I very much prefer Amendment No. 92 in the name of my noble friends Lord Underhill and Lord Carmichael. These amendments are not exclusive. What is necessary is a re-assessment of all the traffic problems that the tunnel and the new international traffic will create. I can certainly testify that there are very strong feelings. One may recall the moving speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark on behalf of his parishioners. (I am not sure whether a Bishop has parishioners but it was made on behalf of those within his diocese.) I know that he has taken a great interest in the problems that the tunnel will create. I hope that the Minister can say something that will meet the concern of the people who live in the area. The situation may not be as bad as they suppose but they feel that so far as they are concerned life will come to an end some date in 1993.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Sefton of Garston

This amendment illustrates problems to which I referred but did not mention this afternoon when I moved my amendment for re-commitment to a Select Committee. Of whom does one ask the appropriate questions? It has been suggested that the people around Waterloo were wrong in not having discussions with British Rail. However, there are perfectly logical reasons for that. They do not want the terminal at Waterloo. If they were to start discussing the detail of the terminal at Waterloo they would be committing themselves to that case. That is the way in which they saw the position. Did the noble Lord wish to say something?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

We listened with care to what was said. The point that the noble Lord was making was that the criticism of the committee, in so far as there was one, was directed at the local authority. That is the point. It was not directed at the people around Waterloo.

Lord Sefton of Garston

I do not know what the noble Lord is referring to. I was not referring to any Member of this Committee. I was referring to suggestions made elsewhere that the people of Waterloo were wrong in refusing to have discussions before the issue was settled. They did so refuse, and it was alleged that they should not have done so; that they should have had discussions before the fundamental issue of whether or not there was a terminal at Waterloo was considered. Theirs was a perfectly reasonable attitude to adopt.

On the proposal that there should not be a terminal at Waterloo, why has not British Rail explored the possibility of having the terminal south of London? I travel into London by Tube. It takes me 10 minutes to get from the other side of Clapham Junction to Victoria. It is quite within the bounds of possibility that British Rail could so organise a terminal on the perimeter of the Underground system in London that when one left the terminal one could go anywhere one wanted. For instance, if people from France now wish to get to Heathrow they have to go into Waterloo and then to find their way from Waterloo to Heathrow. If they came into the southern section of the Underground railway—and it can be done—they could go to Heathrow from there.

That underlines the fact that the only evidence about the terminal in London was taken from British Rail. It was judge and jury in its own case and no attempt was made to examine it further on the matter.

Lord Ampthill

I am a little surprised by that last intervention. The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, knows Liverpool a great deal better than London. We are all grateful to hear from him about Liverpool. I do not think his recent suggestion is practical.

The noble Lord, Lord Mulley, is aware of the enormous concern which the Select Committee felt about the situation of the people who live around Waterloo. Their position is fully understood by the committee. We came to the conclusion that Waterloo was the right place. The alternatives, frankly, do not work. What we bitterly regretted was that Lambeth Council failed to have discussions with government or British Rail. I accept entirely what the noble Lord has just said: it felt it was prejudicing the principle and it was opposed to Waterloo being the terminal. However, it does not make sense not to talk. That is why this amendment is not very helpful, because one cannot legislate to make people talk to each other.

Discussions need to take place. All the benefits that the Select Committee achieved were because we managed to get people to talk to each other and we resolved an enormous number of problems as a result. It is tragic that Lambeth Council has declined to speak to either government or British Rail until this Bill is upon the statute book. It has agreed that as soon as that happens it will comply. Therefore the sooner we get it on the statute book perhaps the better.

Lord Sefton of Garston

Where does the noble Lord obtain his evidence that British Rail have seriously studied the possibility of having the terminal for London on the perimeter of the London Underground system?

Lord Ampthill

There is an appendix to the report which goes at great length into all the alternatives. I honestly do not believe that it is practical to choose a greenfield site on the southern outskirts of London—it has to be to the south, as I am sure the noble Lord accepts—which will serve the purpose. We must be able to move people. Some 70 per cent. of those who will use the tunnel will wish to go to London. That is their wish and it is no good frustrating it. I do not believe that we should decant them into an area south of the river where the tube service, let us face it is very poor indeed. Only two lines go south of the river. The system was never developed in the way it was north of the river. I do not believe that what the noble Lord is suggesting is practical.

Lord Sefton of Garston

In other words I take it that the noble Lord does not know whether British Rail have examined it or not.

A noble Lord

That is not true. It is nonsense.

Lord Underhill

Before the Minister replies, perhaps I may say that the interventions we are now having stray very much on to our Amendment No. 92, on which, frankly, we have not been able to put our viewpoint because we do not think it is relevant to the present amendment. I should hate to feel that the discussion on Amendment No. 21A was covering, in a much lighter fashion, the detailed discussion that I hope will take place when we discuss Amendment No. 92.

Lord Tordoff

I totally support that point of view. The amendment we have before us now is totally independent of the amendment to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, on which Lord Sefton might properly say some of the things that he said. In fairness to British Rail, if he had taken the opportunity available of going to the exhibition at Waterloo he would have seen that British Rail had put a considerable amount of time and effort into considering the various possibilities. For all I know he may have seen that exhibition and he may have read the report on this, though from what he has said this evening it sounds as though he has not. Whether one agrees with the conclusions or not is a different matter. This is something we shall deal with when we come to Amendment No. 92. To suggest that British Rail have not considered this matter is unjust.

Lord Sefton of Garston

Let me make it absolutely clear again to see if anybody will deny this. I am not suggesting for one moment that British Rail have not looked at alternatives within their plans. I am suggesting quite clearly—perhaps the Minister can settle this—that apart from the stations they themselves referred to and they themselves established the criteria for looking at—both in the exhibition and in the written communications which I have had from British Rail—they did not consider an alternative outside those limited spheres. If they did, they certainly did not communicate it to me when I asked them. If they did, it certainly was not in their plan and, if they did, it certainly was not at the exhibition at Waterloo. If the Minister knows that they did perhaps he will tell the Committee. I do not believe they did and I believe it is worthy of consideration.

Lord Tordoff

I think it is very unlikely to be Clapham Junction, which is what the noble Lord was suggesting earlier, because no Tube line goes to Clapham Junction.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

I was going to say to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, among others, that this is an entirely separate discussion to the one we shall have later on Amendment No. 92. I assure the Committee that Amendment No. 92 is concerned with a much more specific subject than whether the terminal should or should not be at Waterloo. At least the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, has given me a clue about what his argument will be when we reach that. I shall have the answers for him. I have them now, but I shall not give him them now.

The new clause, the feeling behind which I fully share, seems to be intended to make absolutely sure that effective traffic management measures are undertaken so as to minimise the nuisance caused by road traffic generated by the Channel Tunnel terminal at Waterloo. The Government and British Rail certainly sympathise with this aim. Indeed, British Rail commissioned traffic consultants to examine the impact of the terminal on the local road network and to consider ways in which its adverse effects would be minimised. The consultants concluded that, with a new traffic circulation system within the station, road traffic generated by the terminal would be able to disperse on to the local road network without increasing overall congestion and delay to existing road users. Indeed they consider that in some places the implementation of their proposed circulation system produces an improvement on present day conditions.

As has been mentioned by the chairman of the Select Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, the Select Committee generally accepted the evidence of British Rail's traffic consultants. It recommended, as did the Commons Select Committee, that Lambeth should reopen forthwith discussions with British Rail on these and other issues relating to the Waterloo terminal. British Rail have always been willing to discuss these matters and co-operate with Lambeth. They offered further discussions last January in the light of the Commons Select Committee report, but Lambeth refused. British Rail have made yet another offer in the light of the report of your Lordships' Select Committee and are awaiting the council's response. So British Rail's commitment to consultation and co-operation is beyond doubt.

I also understand that Lambeth made clear during the Committee proceedings that they would be willing to resume discussions with British Rail once the Bill becomes law. So in view of that commitment, and that of British Rail, I see no reason to impose an unnecessary and very unusual statutory obligation on those two authorities requiring them to consult and co-operate with each other.

It seems to me that the sooner this Bill receives Royal Assent the sooner we can all have what we want, which is co-operation between the borough and British Rail. Perhaps we should dispense with the rest of our proceedings and move straight to that, but I do not believe that is quite possible.

I hope that, in the light of what I have said, the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, will feel able to withdraw his proposed new clause, although I have much sympathy with the proposition behind it.

Lord Mountevans

I wonder whether, the Minister having pre-empted me, and before the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, decides whether to withdraw his amendment, I may ask about subsection (3) of the amendment. I am fortunate in that I can always come back on Amendment No. 92, but subsection (3) reads: The costs of any such traffic management measures shall not be borne by the highways authority". It is my understanding that the costs of British Rail's proposals for traffic management, even including the implications of the above-mentioned Work No. 21, would be very small. Can the Minister confirm to me that the costs could be negotiated? I welcome the fact that the Select Committee said that there should be negotiation. There is a head-in-the-sand attitude, be it political or whatever, although it is interesting to notice that a council with a different political view has a totally different attitude as regards the thought of a national bus terminal in Paddington. Perhaps the opposition is not totally political: perhaps it is motivated by the needs and requirements of the citizenry of Lambeth. First, could the costs of such traffic measures mentioned in subsection (3) of the amendment qualify for treatment in the same way as road improvements and new construction will be treated in Kent? Secondly, would they qualify under the annual transport policy and plans and TSG situation?

Lord Galpern

I am more interested in Amendment No. 92. In view of the fact that our chairman took part in the debate I should like to ask the Minister one question. Can he tell the Committee what are the views of members of the Taxi Cab Owners' Association who frequent and use Waterloo Station?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

I am having enough difficulties answering for the Government, let alone answering for the taxi drivers' association. The noble Lord will have to ask them.

I can answer the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, about the costs of these roads, as it concerns the amendment we are discussing. The London boroughs make proposals for road improvements qualifying for the transport supplementary grant in their transport policy and programmes, otherwise known as TPPs, in the same way as county councils outside London. Highway maintenance expenditure and financing costs for capital schemes are also reflected in the appropriate grant related expenditure calculations which could have a beneficial effect on the local authority's entitlement to block grant.

As regards Waterloo, the London Borough of Lambeth has not yet made proposals for road improvements in its TPP. It has not decided to discuss them or even recognise that they might be necessary. If it does, these proposals will be treated sympathetically. It would be quite inappropriate to rule out the possibility of any payment by the highway authority. I hope that that answers the question.

9 p.m.

Viscount Sidmouth

It might be helpful to point out regarding traffic generated by this proposed terminal that Waterloo is essentially a commuter station, congested only for relatively short periods in the morning and afternoon. Any Member of the Committee who cares to go there during the day will see that it is virtually empty. It might be helpful if British Rail bore this in mind, as I am sure it will, in scheduling the international trains at times when the commuter traffic is not at its height.

Lord Tordoff

I understand the intervention of the noble Viscount. We are talking not so much about traffic into Waterloo as about road traffic around Waterloo which is somewhat independent of the commuter traffic. As one who worked for a number of years in a building just across the road from Waterloo Station—namely, the Shell Centre—I know that the ease of crossing York Road is not all that great. Certainly, as the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, has confirmed, the roads leading down to Westminster Bridge are congested for most of the day.

Although the survey may well be correct in saying that Waterloo is less congested than other rail terminals, there are particular points, particular sets of traffic lights, where congestion can occur at almost any time of the day. I have a greater faith than the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, in the virtues of traffic management engineers and specialists. I served on your Lordships' Select Committee on Science and Technology and with other noble Lords saw some quite remarkable schemes for relieving traffic. I refer in particular to Leeds when the old West Riding metropolitan county was operating. A good deal of success comes from studying traffic flows and being able to phase traffic lights and so on. That is what is necessary here. The local council and British Rail have not been able to get their heads together because of what I believe to be stupidity. That is extremely sad.

I am glad that the Minister has given us an assurance on the cost of the traffic management measures. I did not particularly raise that when I moved the amendment but it is important that he should have gone on the record to give that sympathetic response. In addition to being grateful to Members of the Committee for having spent a little time on what is an important matter, I am especially grateful to the Minister for having responded in the way he did. I look forward to the discussions on the later amendment when the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, moves it. I hope that what has been said in the Chamber tonight will be listened to by both British Rail and Lambeth council and that a little common sense might be seen to prevail in the future. With those words, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Lord Teviot moved Amendment No. 22: Before Clause 11, insert the following new clause:

("Train frontier controls.

—. It shall be the duty of the appropriate Minister to exercise his powers under section 11 of this Act so as to secure that in respect of any international service for the carriage of passengers (other than a shuttle service), the controls in relation to the passengers are carried out on the train whilst it is engaged on the international service.")

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I should like at the same time to discuss Amendments Nos. 23, 33 and 34 which are consequential. The Committee will know from earlier debates on the Bill, here and elsewhere, of the strongly held views about the likely effect of the building of the Channel link on the regions. Many have argued, I believe correctly, that the existence of better communications with our principal market will increase the level of economic activity throughout the realm. Others stress the fact that further investment in the South-East will concentrate growth in that region at the expense of the Midlands, the North, Wales and Scotland. As the Bill has proceeded and as the project has taken greater definition, both sides have come to recognise very clearly the importance of showing not only that all the regions of Great Britain are alert to the opportunities created by the tunnel but that they are in a position to grasp those opportunities. This is a project for the whole country.

There has already been much evidence of this in the way orders for the construction of equipment are won in the regions. When the tunnel is built, I understand that the through rail freight services will run direct between those locations and the regions, producing substantial volumes of traffic from points in mainland Europe. British Rail has also made clear its desire to run as many through passenger trains to locations in the regions as can be commercially justified, but only if the necessary customs and immigration procedures can be carried out on the trains. It takes the not unreasonable view that it would have little success attracting passengers to these services if they were required to get out of the trains with their luggage and pass through frontier checks before re-embarking to continue their journeys. It is to that end that my amendment is particularly addressed. However, it seems to me that if effective controls can be devised for passengers on such trains then equally effective controls ought to be capable of being devised for those passengers travelling on the trains to Waterloo itself.

The French and Belgians are going to do it. The normal practice on the Continent is for customs and immigration formalities to be carried out on the trains and facilities on the through trains for these inspections will be provided. I am convinced that the link will revolutionise perceptions about travel to Europe. It should be as simple and speedy to travel to Paris or Brussels as it is to go to Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool. What are incoming tourists or outgoing businessmen seeking export opportunities in Europe to think if they are held up by queues and delays at Waterloo caused by customs and immigration procedures which are unknown in the rest of the Community. We must have a walk-on service.

There is overwhelming support for the concept of on-train examination. Your Lordships' Select Committee, in its excellent report on its examination of this Bill, gave the matter careful consideration in paragraphs 113 to 117. It recognised the real concern that there should be no lowering of the standards of examination to which Customs and immigration staff work.

Equally it is also considered in regard to through trains to the North that, unless British Rail are able to operate through services on these trains the prospects of the tunnel for assisting economic growth in the Regions will be severely damaged".

In conclusion, the committee supported the case for the formalities to be carried out on the through trains, confident that international trains can be so designed over the next six years as to enable the controls to be effectively undertaken.

The case for on-train controls was also strengthened by a report from the Home Affairs Committee in the other place. That committee, concerned as it is with all the problems of immigration and Customs evasion, nevertheless recommended that frontier controls be carried out on board the moving trains, subject to a number of conditions primarily designed to ensure the effectiveness of those controls.

There is therefore great support for this measure. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that at the Second Reading of this Bill my noble friend Lord Brabazon, who is to reply to us, expressed the Government's support for the desirability of on-train controls, particularly for trains travelling beyond London. I realise that there have been long discussions on this question between the various responsible authorities. I realise too that there are problems still to be resolved in order to ensure the effectiveness of these controls, and that there are discussions about the cost.

However, I believe it would be unfortunate if this House were to pass the Bill before it was satisfied on two counts. The first is that there should be every reasonable prospect of ensuring that through-passenger trains will be able to run to the North. To do otherwise would run the risk of shutting out the North from some of the benefits which will flow from the link. Secondly we must not project to our European colleagues—who will, as I have said, be carrying out the examinations on the trains—a seeming reluctance to adopt modern compatible methods of frontier controls which are seen as the standard method of operation within the Community.

I accept that my noble friend may say that he is sympathetic, but that there are still many complexities to be sorted out. Nevertheless I believe that by accepting this amendment he could send an important signal of the Government's resolve to address these problems and reach the solution that they say they desire. I beg to move.

Lord Mountevans

When back in, I think, December 1985 we debated the issue of the feasibility of a fixed Channel link, I trailed this amendment, so it follows that I am delighted to support it. At the time I argued, as the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, has said tonight, that on-train controls were, and indeed remain, the norm in Europe.

On-train controls in Europe, as they would do through the tunnel, make the train an attractive product. They contribute to its marketability. It seems to me that their absence would in fact go a long way towards damaging the whole Eurotunnel concept, which I support as passionately as many others who have spoken tonight, but would also severely dent, if not destroy, British Rail's Eurotunnel prospects of going into the provincial passenger business to and from Europe.

As the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, said, on-train controls have a part to play in achieving the spread of the benefits of the tunnel to those areas beyond London and the South-East. The Committee will know that I work for the British Tourist Authority and we are under a directive to spread traffic to the provinces. No doubt that is why, in a written submission to the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, we basicallly argued strongly for on-train controls. We put forward the European norm argument that I put forward in 1985 and which I have already put forward again tonight. We argued against fixed-point controls, be they at Waterloo or at some unspecified point used by the perhaps 2 million passengers per annum whom we are told, almost as a base case, will be travelling by trains which avoid London.

On Amendment No. 17 the Minister was at pains to assure us that there would be no discrimination between one cross-Channel mode and another. I recall—and I think perhaps that he does too from recent travels—that on-ferry immigration control is already a norm on all but the very shortest Straits of Dover ferry routes. It is certainly practised by the British immigration service on routes into Portsmouth, as I have experienced, and it is practised on routes into Weymouth. If we are not to have discrimination between one mode and another, I trust than on-train immigration, on all except the shuttle trains, will become a reality and not merely a pious hope or good intention.

I appreciate that customs control is a much more complicated subject. When one has travelled overnight in a sleeping car across four frontiers without seeing an immigration or customs officer and without travelling under the privilege of Lord Mountevans's passport but in what one might call a previous context, one feels that the problems are not totally insoluble. If people can travel into Scandinavia, if they can travel from Paris into Eastern Europe, if, as I have, they can travel across the Iron Curtain under certain circumstances without seeing a customs or immigration officer, then the problems of customs control should not be insurmountable. We should be able to solve them without loss of security or revenue.

I return to the subject of the European norm. Being of European descent and married to a lady from another European nation, I feel that it is not one that we should slavishly follow. On the other hand, one needs excellent reasons for turning it down. I therefore hope that the Government—who are after all a government with a big "G" and are governing—will find it practical not only to grant on-train immigration control, which, as it has been granted elsewhere already, in equity they can hardly withhold from the Channel Tunnel trains, but also to ensure that customs control can take place. With those sentiments I commend this amendment to the Committee.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Tordoff

I honestly believe that this is perhaps one of the most important amendments before the Committee in relation to the Bill for a variety of reasons that have already been spelt out. There are a couple of points that I should like to make in order to underline things which have already been said. In particular I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Sefton of Garston, accepts that this is an important amendment in relation to doing what he and I want to do, which is to see this tunnel benefit parts of the country outside the South-East and the Greater London area. Without this amendment trains from the North will not be doing the job that they ought to be doing.

It may be that the Government will wish to give some kind of planned reassurance that all will be well. This amendment needs to be included in the Bill, and it needs to be included in the Bill now in order to signal to the authorities that look after these matters that this Parliament is determined that there will be a modernisation of our customs and immigration facilities in relation to long distance trains. As the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, rightly said, it happens all over Europe. The pretence that this country is somehow totally different and must have an utterly separate system that can only occur at certain places dotted around its shores is nonsense. If the Government are not prepared to accept this amendment either now or at a subsequent stage, I hope that we shall press it upon them with the utmost vigour at our command.

It is true to say that we are also discussing Amendments Nos. 23, 33 and 34, which are linked to this amendment but which nobody has yet mentioned. I honestly urge the Committee, with all the vigour at its command—and I know that we have the support of the Select Committee in this matter—to press the Government to put into the Bill a determination that there will be on-train facilities on all the trains from all over the country; otherwise the whole purpose and value to the Channel Tunnel will be distorted.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, suggested that one of the important issues for areas to the north and west of London is that there should be on-train facilities. I go further and say that one of the strong selling points for the North was that there would be on-train facilities, and that they would rush through.

In their reply at paragraph 19, the Government accepted the principle that there should be on-train inspection and that facilities and formalities should be conducted on-train. Therefore we have a fair unanimity in that the Back-Benchers on the government side, the Cross-Benches, the official Opposition and the Alliance are all strongly in favour of the Government's principled belief in facilities being available on the train. We hope that the Minister will take to heart the fact that we want more than acceptance of principle.

Although a good job may be done in other ways, one of the great bugbears of much of our legislation is that the Treasury wants to have a hand in everything that is going on. I hope that tonight's speeches—very cogent, clear and rational speeches—will give support to the noble Lord so that when he next goes to the Cabinet Committee he can say to his colleagues, "We must do something about this before the Report stage." 1 really believe that at the right time on a particular day, either on Third Reading or Report, we have a good chance of carrying your Lordships with us on this point. I hope that the Minister will take this very seriously. There is so much common sense in it.

Lord Sefton of Garston

I feel that I have been provoked by the mention of Liverpool. I put a plea to the Minister. Having customs on trains is important to a place like Liverpool. British Rail has said that unless there are customs facilities on trains we are not going to get a through service. It may well be that British Rail will conclude that at the moment potential traffic between Liverpool and the Continent is not great enough to warrant that service. I have bitter memories of the attitude of British Rail where commercial justification for projects is involved. I remember being invited to the opening of the container terminal at Seaforth. It was a marvellous terminal. Anyone who wants to see a good container terminal should go to Seaforth. Knowing of the railway line that ran under the overhead railway and serviced all the docks on Seaforth, I looked first for the rail link between the container depot and our national network. It was not there. British Rail had pulled it up, saying there was no immediate justification for that service.

Lord Mountevans

I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Would he not say that that was rather a far-sighted view on the part of British Rail, given the success of the terminal?

Lord Sefton of Garston

I do not know whether it was far-sighted or not, but I know that five years later, after I protested. British Rail put it back in, at considerably greater expense than the cost of taking it out. It was absolutely shortsighted; nothing else. It was unforgivable. And here is British Rail beginning to establish the ground for no service from Liverpool. I made the point this afternoon that one of the difficulties is trying to persuade British Rail to provide these infrastructures in advance so as to encourage development in places like Liverpool where the Government intend to put a lot of investment. That is one of the things we ought to be encouraging. From that point of view I plead with the Minister and the Government not only to accept what the amendment says but also to encourage British Rail to establish these facilities in order to attract investment to places like Liverpool.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

The Government have a great deal of sympathy with the aims of this amendment and so, evidently, does the Committee, on all sides. It seems to me to be a matter of common sense that the efficiency, attractiveness and therefore the profitability of the through rail services should not be compromised by what might so easily be portrayed as cautious or conservative attitudes on the part of our frontier control services—the Customs and Immigration service, not forgetting the Ministry of Agriculture.

It was entirely right, therefore, that the Select Committee should have looked thoroughly at this question. Indeed, it took detailed evidence from a senior customs official and from a chief inspector of the Immigration Service. The committee's starting point, and one accepted by Select Committees looking at this question in the other place was, that the Committee would not wish to see any lowering of the standards to which customs and immigration staff work". Your Lordships' Committee heard about the physical arrangements that would be necessary in order to implement on-train controls. Indeed, customs officers and immigration officials will have to move systematically from one end of the train to another; passengers will be required to identify their baggage and, in all but the most straightforward cases, it will be necessary for passengers to accompany officials to interview rooms, of which there will have to be several on each train, in order to carry out questioning in depth and to make searches of a person's baggage. Such procedures and requirements have cost implications both for the railways and for the frontier services, and there is no way of avoiding these implications if, as I am sure the whole Committee would agree, the effectiveness of our controls is to be maintained.

The Select Committee recorded no disagreement with the view of the Government and British Rail that, for the services from Continental points—principally Paris and Brussels—to Waterloo, airport-style controls would provide a satisfactory and efficient method of control. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, implied rather that the Select Committee had endorsed on-train controls for all services. I see that the noble Lord shakes his head and is putting me right.

No final decisions have been taken about the manner in which controls will be operated for the Waterloo services, though as I have already said the Government's present view is that the controls would be less intrusive and more effective at the terminals, in the same way as they are at airports at the moment. But we shall continue to keep an open mind on this subject and the powers in Clause 11 of this Bill will permit either on-train or off-train controls, whichever option is eventually chosen. Of course the services referred to by other noble Lords this evening, notably those from the far-flung regions of this land —the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, and the noble Lord, Lord Sefton—are those to places beyond London and it is clearly impractical to have terminal facilities at every major city in the United Kingdom. The only alternative to on-train controls would be for passengers to disembark at Olympia or possibly at Ashford.

The Select Committee strongly endorsed the need for on-train controls on these services and the Government responded as follows: The Government agree with the Committee's assessment of the case for on-train controls and thus accepts the desirability of such controls for trains travelling to destinations beyond London. The Government will make every effort to resolve the outstanding practical problems of operating such controls in its continuing discussions with British Rail.". I have already explained that a great deal of detailed design work is needed on the facilities required on the trains. There are capital cost implications and, as we shall see later in connection with another amendment, there is a possible question of payment for the additional costs of the Customs and Immigration officials. It would therefore be premature for the Government to make an unconditional commitment to on-train controls. On the basis that the Government have made as strong a commitment as it is proper or practical to make at this stage, I hope that my noble friend will not choose to press his amendment this evening.

Members of the Committee have compared this country with others. It is simply not true to say that the norm on the Continent is that controls are carried out on board moving trains. Some are—that is agreed. But some take place with the trains stationary in stations and some are at terminals. The controls on the Continent are generally less strict, secure and effective than those in the United Kingdom. This country is different, as frontier controls between countries on the Continent can never be really effective, because the land borders can always be crossed clandestinely. Therefore Continental countries have things that we do not have and do not necessarily want to have in this country; for example, identity cards. So the circumstances are not completely the same in this country and in Continental Europe and that is something which should be taken into account.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

It is good to know that we have the Government's sympathy. But when I hear the word "sympathy" used in relation to an amendment I begin to hope that the proposer of the amendment will be as tiresome as possible, which is what I hope the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will be. That was a deeply disappointing reply. The second phrase which was spine-chilling was "The Government are keeping an open mind". We know what that means after our unfortunate experiences in the past.

I found that a deeply negative reply. I realise that the noble Lord is speaking again for a department other than his own. But as a Member of the Select Committee I found the evidence of the Customs probably the most unpersuasive evidence that we received. It was negative. It implied that everything was immensely difficult in the United Kingdom, that our services were astonishingly successful and that by implication those in the rest of Europe were not. That flies in the face of all the evidence.

Taking drugs as an example we probably manage to intercept somewhere around 10 per cent. of the illicitly imported drugs into this country; in other words, 90 per cent. get through our present customs barriers. The implication that our system at the moment is infinitely superior to everyone else's flies in the face of all the evidence.

We must also accept the fact which the Select Committee pointed out in paragraph 115 of its report. It states: It is estimated that 90 per cent. of passengers will be British or citizens of the European Community and will therefore be checked very quickly. The case for on-train controls north of London, if I may so describe it, is unanswerable. We must accept that if we do not have on-train controls the consequences for travellers going north of London will be very serious. That point was made clear by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. This is one of those happy occasions when he and I are in agreement. I quote from paragraph 116 of the Select Committee's report which states: Unless British Rail are able to operate through services on these trains the prospects of the tunnel for assisting economic growth in the regions will be severely damaged. The Committee therefore fully support British Rail's case for customs and immigration checks to be carried out on these trains". If anything the Government's reply today is less satisfactory than the evidence put before us by their own civil servants. I must say to the Minister that I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will not choose to press this matter tonight but I very much hope that we shall get a better reply at a later stage of the Bill. The Committee should be aware of the consequences of what we are debating and its implications. The implications are that there will be no passenger services to the Continent north of London unless we get the on-train controls. I say that because of the evidence of British Rail which was clear and unmistakable on that point.

The Minister talks about the cost implications as regards British Rail, but the fact of the matter is that British Rail is pressing not only for on-train controls north of London but for on-train controls for all of the services which will use the Channel Tunnel. That was the evidence put before us. As a member of the committee which went into this matter in considerable detail I found what the Minister said tonight extremely depressing. I hope that it was simply a cautious brief from the Customs and Excise; but I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will not accept the bland reassurances which we have received tonight, and that if we do not get something better on Report he will divide the House.

Lord Sefton of Garston

I shall attempt to be more agreeable. I thought that the noble Lord was going to quote further on from paragraph 116 because I thought that the Minister was casting some doubt upon the belief of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, that the committee supported fully the case for on-train Customs. If I am correct, may I refer him to paragraph 116 of the report because that shows that there is no doubt about the committee's attitude. That paragraph states:

The Committee therefore fully support British Rail's case for customs and immigration checks to be carried out on these trains". There is no doubt about that attitude. The members of the committee and everyone who has spoken up to now in the Chamber all support that idea. I hope that the Minister will be more co-operative in giving some warmth to those deprived areas of the rest of the country.

Lord Ampthill

I think there is an element of confusion here. Even among the members of my committee there was an occasional moment or two of confusion! We are speaking about two entirely separate matters. We are speaking of controls on trains for those who are not coming to London and for those who are coming to London.

The amendment would require that passengers wishing to disembark in London —in other words the 70 per cent. who wish to come to London—would also have to be examined on the train. The committee did not take the view that that was a practical proposition. We were adamant that all trains destined for north of London must have controls on the trains. Once that point is made clear, the Minister's reply is not so unsatisfactory as has been suggested. I believe he remains convinced, although the Government will be looking at the matter, that trains coming to Waterloo will probably have to have the Customs and Immigration inspections carried out at Waterloo in a manner similar to those which take place at an airport. I believe the committee felt that that was a reasonable view to hold. However, they were absolutely firmly of the view that all destinations other than London would require that Customs and Immigration controls should he on the train.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I hesitate to disagree with my noble friend who was the chairman of the committee. However, if he will read the Government's response to our recommendation, it does not give unqualified support to the recommendation of the committee and nor did the Minister's speech. If the Minister said now that if an amendment were put down before Report stage which made clear that it would relate to all trains going north of London (if I may use that shorthand) the Government would accept it, 1 think he would reassure many of us and clear up this point.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

May I rise and make clear exactly what I did say to the noble Lords, Lord Tordoff, and Lord Sefton? The noble Lord has misunderstood me and has not read the report of the Select Committee properly. It was clear that the Select Committee appeared to be satisfied with the arrangements at Waterloo but not with the on-train services beyond Waterloo. That was made clear. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet—

Lord Mountevans

Waterloo is a terminal station. How can one have train services beyond Waterloo?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Perhaps I should have said around Waterloo.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

North of London.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

North of London is the safe phrase. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, has put his finger on it. I am certainly prepared to reconsider the view which is obviously held throughout the Committee that I should look again at the situation on trains going beyond London. If the Committee accepts the views of the Select Committee that probably nothing needs to be done on Waterloo trains and I have already said that we have not yet finally made up our minds on that issue I will certainly look again at the situation with regard to trains beyond London.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

If I may say so, that is very fair. Many of us will welcome what the Minister has said. If he is prepared to look at the matter between now and Report stage with regard to trains going north of London, that will reassure many of us.

Speaking entirely for myself, I very much hope that the Government will eventually go further and say, in terms of the general principle involved, that we shall eventually reach a situation where we can have on-train controls on all trains coming to the United Kingdom.

So far as the committe is concerned, we addressed our minds to the situation north of London for one very simple reason; that is, the clear and unmistakable evidence given by British Rail as to what the consequences would be if we do not have on-train controls north of London. We did not spend a great deal of time talking about trains which terminate at Waterloo because the same considerations did not apply; namely, that if there were no on-train controls, there would not be a service. That is what British Rail said about the situation north of London. However, I repeat that I very much hope that we will move to a situation where all trains coming to the United Kingdom have on-train inspection both by customs and immigration.

I do not believe it will lead to deterioriation in the quality of the service. Indeed, the evidence which we took pointed in precisely the opposite direction, because the representative of Customs and Excise agreed with me that often only about 1 per cent. of people going through the green channels at Heathrow and other airports were subject to any form of customs inspection. With on-train controls there would be staff implications for the whole system. All passengers would be checked and therefore the security implications would be better if there were on-train controls rather than off-train.

I repeat what the noble Lord said earlier today. There is no evidence that the customs service in many European countries is any less effective than it is in this country, despite the fact that in the overwhelming majority of cases they have on-train controls.

However, I welcome what the Minister said and I very much hope that he will be able to help us in this matter at Report stage. I think he realises that there is an overwhelming feeling in the Committee about the need to make some change in the Bill on this matter.

Lord Tordoff

I should like to take up a point made by the Minister when he referred to this as being premature. I hope that by the time we reach Report stage he will not regard it as premature. I hope he will co-operate and assist his noble friend or perhaps put forward an amendment himself at Report stage so that we will not have to reopen the whole argument again. With that, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will be able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Teviot

We have had a most interesting and full debate on this subject. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, is quite right; I am capable of being very tiresome. There was a moment earlier (until my noble friend made a second intervention) when perhaps I was going to divide the Committee. However, I was intending to be equally sporting. I was going to inform my noble friend the Deputy Chief Whip, the Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard, to go round to all corners of the House sounding his hunting horn and using my name in expletive to keep everybody here. I can now tell him that that is no longer necessary. Equally, I hope that my noble friend will come up with something positive at a later stage; otherwise I shall divide the House. However, I am quite sure the matter will be resolved.

I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, supported the amendment. I have spoken to subsequent amendments. I was perhaps rather dull when I arrived, but with a moment of this magnitude, I know my limitations and frailties, so when I move such an amendment I have to go frightfully slowly and be well prepared. However, I am now back in the mainstream and enjoying myself.

Regarding trains in and outside of London, at first I thought one was dealing only with trains north of London and in the London area. I shall spend a little time going into why I think it is important that there should be on-train control on trains going into Waterloo. One reason is that in Paris and Brussels you will be able to catch a train to London, just as you will from Brussels to Paris or Paris to Brussels, on equal terms. There is no reason why one should not do that; it would not be very difficult.

Referring to fair competition, I think it is important to remember that rail travel will still be a little slower than air; perhaps that is not a very good point. However, it would be nice to be able to go to Waterloo and book your train to Paris as if you were going from London to Dover or London to Brighton. It is not possible to travel from Waterloo to Brighton; but it is possible to travel to Weymouth or Bournemouth.

There is one part of this country in particular which I know, where the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, now lives but which is not his native heath, so to speak. It is Taunton. The West and the East are not going to be included for through services by reason of the non-electrified lines. We can only run through trains on electrified lines. I am sure that one day it may be very interesting to run a service from Barnstaple, Penzance, or wherever, to Paris of even from Pwllheli, Aberystwyth, or Fishguard. However, that might be in the next century or even beyond.

Equally, on Amendment No. 92 Snowhill tunnel will not be practical for through Continental trains. It is very sad but I do not think that one would have such interesting through services from Sheringham, Cromer, Norwich, or wherever, to go right round by Willesden Junction and Kensington Olympia.

I think we have had a very good run on this amendment, which has taken only 41 minutes on a very important subject; and I rose to speak after 35 minutes. I will come back to this point, but in the meantime I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 [Regulation of the tunnel system: application and enforcement of law, etc.]:

[Amendment No. 23 not moved.]

9.45 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 9, line 41, at end inset— ("(aa) for the transfer to, and the vesting by virtue of the order in, any person or persons specified in the order (referred to below in this section as the transferee), on such terms (if any) as may be provided by the order—

  1. (i) on any substitution of Concessionaires under the Concession or on the expiry or termination of the Concession, of the interest of the former Concessionaires in all movable property and intellectual property rights necessary for the construction or operation of the tunnel system;
  2. (ii) on any such substitution, of all rights and liabilities of the former Concessionaires under the Concession or any Concession lease; and
  3. (iii) on any such substitution which takes place in such circumstances as may be specified in the order, of liabilities of the former Concessionaires (other than liabilities within sub-paragraph (ii) above) of such description as may be so specified;
and for securing effective possession or control by the transferee of any moveable property or rights in which any interest transferred by the order subsists;")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 24 and to speak also to Amendments Nos. 28 and 32. These amendments appear to be extremely long and complicated, but I can assure the Committee that they deal with the rights of the lending banks under the concession agreement if the concessionaires fail and with the rights of the two governments on expiry or termination of the concession. They are complex and technical, but they do not represent new material of substance. They simply spell out in some detail the way in which the Secretary of State can give effect to certain clauses of the concession agreement.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 25: Page 9, line 46, at end insert ("including in particular (without prejudice to the generality of the preceding provision) provision with respect to controls in relation to persons or goods within the system;")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 25 and at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 26, 27, 29 and 30. The first three amendments in this group simply serve to clarify the scope of paragraphs (b) and (d) of subsection (1) of Clause 11. Without the amendment a court might be encouraged to think, because controls within the tunnel system are explicitly covered by Clause 11(1)(d), that the words "construction, operation and use" in Clause 11(1)(b) do not cover controls and are therefore to be construed narrowly. But it is important that Clause 11(1)(b) is construed widely to ensure that the Secretary of State has all the powers he needs to ensure the safe and secure operation of the tunnel system and the people and services using it. The combined effect of these three amendments is to discourage a narrow interpretation of this power.

The last two amendments are purely drafting changes to ensure that the word "modification" is properly defined in relation to the way it is used earlier in the clause. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Renton)

As Amendment No. 28 has already been spoken to, I propose to call Amendments Nos. 26 to 30 en bloc unless any Member has objection.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos. 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30.

Page 10, line 9, leave out from beginning to second ("whether") and insert ("outside the tunnel system").

Page 10, line 11, leave out from ("work") to ("whether") in line 12 and insert ("outside the tunnel system").

Page 10, line 30, after ("(a)") insert ("(aa)").

Page 10, line 36, leave out ("amendment of an enactment") and insert ("in relation to an enactment, any amendment of it").

Page 10, line 38, leave out ("an enactment includes") and insert ("any provision of the law of England includes, in relation to an enactment,").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 31: Page 10, line 44, at end insert ("or imposing penalties otherwise than in respect of criminal offences;").

The noble Lord said: This is a technical amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 11, line 37, at end insert—

("(6) An order made by virtue of subsection (1)(aa) above may provide for any interest or right transferred by the order—
  1. (a) to vest in the transferee free of any security to which it is subject immediately before the order comes into force, other than one created in accordance with the Concession; or
  2. (b) to be treated on vesting in the transferee as subject to a security of such a description, held by such person or persons, as may be provided by or specified in the order.
(7) Where immediately before any substitution of Concessionaires under the Concession or the expiry or termination of the Concession any company which is, or is included among the persons who for the time being are, the Concessionaires is subject to insolvency procedure, an order made by virtue of subsection (1)(aa) above may apply in relation to—
  1. (a) any interest of any liquidator of that company; and
  2. (b) any interest of any person deriving title under any such liquidator or under an administrator or administrative receiver of that company;
in any movable property or intellectual property rights necessary for the construction or operation of the tunnel system, or in relation to any such interest of any description specified in the order, as it applies in relation to an interest of the Concessionaires in any such property or rights.
(8) Where in any proceedings a question arises as to what constitutes for the purposes of subsection (1)(aa) or (7) above an interest in movable property or intellectual property rights necessary for the construction or operation of the tunnel system, the court shall have regard in determining the question to any construction of the corresponding references in the Concession for the time being adopted by the arbitral tribunal. (9) For the purposes of subsection (8) above, the corresponding references in the Concession are the references in Clauses 32.1(3) and 39.2 of the Concession to the interest of the Concessionaires in all movable property and intellectual property rights necessary for the construction or operation of the Fixed Link. (10) For the purposes of this section—
  1. (a) a substitution of Concessionaires under the Concession occurs at any time when any person or persons become the Concessionaires in substitution for any person or persons who were the Concessionaires immediately before that time;
  2. (b) "the former Concessionaires" means, in relation to any such substitution or in relation to the expiry or termination of the Concession, the person or persons who cease to be the Concessionaires on that substitution or on that expiry or termination;
  3. (c) "liabilities" includes duties and obligations;
  4. (d) "company" means a British company or a French company;
  5. (e) "British company" means a company formed and registered under the Companies Act 1985;
  6. (f) "French company" means a body corporate incorporated under the law of France;
  7. (g) a company is subject to insolvency procedure if—
    1. (i) in the case of a British company, it is being wound up, an administration order has been made in relation to it or a receiver or manager of its property has been appointed who is an administrative receiver of the company; or
    2. (ii) in the case of a French company, it is subject to any procedure under the law of France which corresponds to that applicable under the Insolvency Act 1986 in relation to a British company within sub-paragraph (i) above;
  8. (h) "liquidator", "administrator" and "administrative receiver"—
    1. (i) in relation to a British company, mean respectively a person appointed as the liquidator or administrator of the company under any provision of the Insolvency Act 1986 or (as the case may be) an administrative receiver of the company within the meaning of Chapter I of Part III of that Act; or
    2. (ii) in relation to a French company, mean any person charged under the law of France with functions in relation to that company corresponding to those exercisable in relation to a British company by a liquidator, administrator or administrative receiver of the company; and
  9. (i) "security" means any mortgage, charge, lien or other security.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 11 as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 [Provisions supplementary to section 11]:

[Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 not moved.]

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Contract law and arbitration law]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 35:

Page 13, line 7, after first ("notice") insert ("and (b) any Concession agreement other than one so specified shall be taken to be valid and effective at any time on or after the date on which it is expressed to take effect;").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to this with Amendment No. 5. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 36: Page 13, line 9, leave out ("for Concession lease")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 36. With the leave of the Committee, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 37 to 44. They are technical amendments. I could give a longer explanation if the Committee wishes. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos. 37 to 44:

Page 13, line 13, leave out ("or lease")

Page 13, line 14, leave out ("or lease")

Page 13, line 17, leave out ("or lease")

Page 13, line 21, leave out ("or lease")

Page 13, line 22, leave out ("or lease")

Page 13, line 23, leave out ("or lease")

Page 13, line 44, leave out ("or lease")

Page 13, line 50, leave out ("or Concession lease")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 [Supervision by Intergovernmental Commission and Safety Authority]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 45; Page 14, line 40, after ("time") insert ("(or, in a situation which in his opinion is or may be dangerous, at any time)").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 45 and at the same time speak to Amendments Nos. 46, 47, 48, 50 and 102. These are largely technical. I could give a lengthy explanation if the Committee wishes, but the amendments are non-controversial and do not alter the principle of the Bill in any way. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos. 46, 47 and 48:

Page 14, line 44, at end insert— ("(aa) to take in connection with any such inspection, examination or investigation samples of any articles or substances found in any premises, place or vehicle in the tunnel system and of the atmosphere in or in the vicinity of any such premises, place or vehicle; (ab) in the case of any article or substance which is so found and which appears to him to have caused or be likely to cause danger to health or safety, to cause it to be dismantled or subjected to any process or test (but not so as to damage or destroy it unless this is in the circumstances necessary for the performance of any function under the Treaty of the supervisory body by whom he is authorised); (ac) in the case of any such article or substance, to take possession of it and detain it for so long as is necessary for all or any of the following purposes—

  1. (i) to examine it and to do anything which he has power to do under paragraph (ab) above;
  2. (ii) to ensure that it is not tampered with before his examination of it is completed;
  3. (iii) to ensure that it is available for use as evidence in any legal proceedings;").

Page 14, line 46, leave out ("such examination or investigation") and insert ("inspection, examination or investigation with respect to any matter concerning the construction or operation of the tunnel system").

Page 15, line 3, after ("such") insert ("inspection,").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 49: Page 15, line 14, at end insert ("and in respect of safety, it shall be the duty of the Concessionaires to submit to the Safety Authority detailed proposals for the transport of vehicles through the tunnel system, involving both drivers and passengers being segregated from their vehicles and drivers and passengers remaining within their vehicles, so that the Safety Authority may reach a decision as to which affords the most effective safeguards against fire and other accidents and best protects the safety of persons travelling through the tunnel system.").

The noble Lord said: I have reason to believe that this may be the last amendment to be moved tonight. I hope that that proves to be the case. It is an important one. The Committee will recall that on Second Reading considerable concern was expressed from all parts of the Chamber about the segregation or non-segregation of passengers from vehicles.

The amendment seeks to make it a duty on the concessionaires to submit to the safety authority detailed proposals in respect of transport of vehicles involving the segregation of passengers and also detailed proposals where there is non-segregation. This would enable the safety authority to reach a decision on the most effective way to secure the utmost safety. If this is not done, the authority will be in the position of considering only the proposals submitted to it by the concessionaires, which we consider would be wrong.

It may be recalled that in Standing Committee in the other place a similar amendment was defeated by only one vote, demonstrating the concern that exists and that has been expressed in your Lordships' Chamber. I hope therefore that the Government will find it possible to accept the principle that the safety authority should have from the concessionaires detailed plans for segregation and non-segregation so that both may be considered in the interests of safety.

Lord Tordoff

I have some sympathy with the amendment but I am concerend about the wording. It seems to predispose a decision on the part of the safety authority. It is almost self-evident that segregation is likely to be safer than non-segregation. Thus, it does not leave the safety authority any room for decision. It is clear that segregation is likely to be safer.

The question that the safety authority ought to determine is the appropriate level of safety within this system of transport. If, say, an amendment were tabled that airlines should decide whether it was safer to carry passengers or not to carry them, clearly it is safer not to carry passengers. I do not say that in a frivolous way. There is the nub of an important point in the amendment.

In my view the safety authority should be ordered to carry out a thorough assessment of the safety of segregation and non-segregation. However, I do not believe that the amendment as worded covers that point.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

I have no sympathy with the amendment. Who can stand up now and say what terrorists will do in six years' time and how safety should be organised? We have to leave this to the people who know about safety in four and a half or five years' time. Things change every day. We should leave out the amendment. I hope that my noble friend will oppose it.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

I have no doubt that the motivations of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, are admirable. However, like my noble friend Lord Tordoff and the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, I very much hope that the Government will not accept the amendment. As my noble friend the committee chairman will agree, we went into this most thoroughly. I think that all of us were satisfied that the safety authority will look at the matter of segregation as compared with non-segregation with the utmost care. I do not believe that the amendment is phrased in such a way that it would improve the situation.

The matter to which we will come on Monday—the character and composition of the safety authority—is of far greater significance. The public require to be satisfied about the composition of that authority. However, as I have indicated, like my noble friend Lord Tordoff, I do not think that the Government should accept this amendment.

10 p.m.

Lord Hayter

My text is taken from the Select Committee's report at paragraph 129, where it says: It is clear from the evidence that since Eurotunnel's designs for this system are still being developed neither the Authority nor any other authority is in a position to evaluate them". I agree with this amendment that we must know what they are. We cannot adopt the attidude of Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of the matter, leaving some body later on to get to the heart of the problem.

The House of Lords is not very good at fire security. I felt that most emphatically at the State Opening of Parliament. We had 500 people sitting in this Chamber in conditions which no theatre, cinema, aeroplane or railway station would be allowed to offer. Incidentally, the situation was compounded by the fact that that lock would not open. There could have been a serious inquiry if there had been any kind of accident.

Paragraph 5.38 on page xxxiii talks about evacuation from cars. I shall read only one sentence: The internal width of a wagon is 3.75 metres while a good average width"— a nice phrase— for cars is 1.75 metres leaving I metre on each side. Door sizes vary from two door to four door vehicles but with doors open at about 45 degees the clearance is over 0.5 metres". If I may translate that, it is 1 foot 7¾ inches. When this fire takes place, and I open my car door—which happily opens at right angles but I shall stick to the rules and open it only 45 degrees—those Members of the Committee who are also in the same wagon have to get past my open door in 1 foot 7¾ inches. I shall not look anywhere in particular in this Chamber but there are Members of this Committee who could not do that.

Lord Teviot

I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Is he not addressing himself to Amendment No. 51, which relates to the subject of fire, rather than Amendment No. 49? Before he resumes, perhaps I may refer to the fire precautions in this Chamber. I have always felt very safe. I thought at one moment when the noble Lord was speaking that Black Rod was going to give Members of the Committee the benefit of his wisdom. On that point I and I am sure the rest of the Committee are very happy with the fire precautions here. However, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Hayter, is talking about Amendment No. 51 rather than Amendment No. 49.

Lord Hayter

No. The noble Lord can take it that way if he wishes, but I agree with the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. We want to see detailed proposals on the alternative ways of managing the safety of passengers in these trains. For my part, I hope that he will keep this very much in mind and press the amendment to a Division if we have to.

Lord Ampthill

If I may intervene briefly, my noble friend Lord Hayter has not fully appreciated that neither this Committee nor the safety authority is yet in a position to make the necessary judgments about these matters. Therefore, if I may be allowed to use one of the least attractive words in the English language, the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, is otiose.

Lord Mulley

I did not follow the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, when he referred to Amendment No. 51. As I read that amendment, it is concerned only with the composition of the safety authority and not with the prevention of fire, although it is an important amendment. It has been suggested by Members of the Committee that the text of the amendment moved by my noble friend is prejudging the issue. I cannot see how the amendment prejudges the issue. I am sure that the distinguished membership of the safety authority that is proposed would not assume that they had to decide in favour of segregation. But I think this is a matter—

Lord Brougham and Vaux

The noble Lord—

Lord Mulley

I did not interrupt the noble Lord.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

I believe that this amendment originated from the competitors of Eurotunnel. May I suggest that the competitors of Eurotunnel should get their safety much better than it is at the moment?

Lord Mulley

That is a quite scandalous suggestion. I have heard it said in private meetings—I do not quote people who speak in private meetings—that the only reason Eurotunnel is not prepared to consider segregation is because it would add to the cost. That might make the financial viability of the tunnel less satisfactory. I do not believe myself that any reasonable person would sacrifice safety in the interests of cost. As Eurotunnel says in its memorandum, it realises that the tunnel will not be successful unless the public are satisfied that it is entirely safe. It is only reasonable that the safety authority should consider the two alternatives. As has been explained it is not yet in being and the chairman of the Select Committee said it could not form a view, as no one can form a view at this stage.

It would be wise of Eurotunnel not to go too far in designing the proposed vehicles without taking the opinion of the safety authority. I cannot really see why the cost should be so much extra because, if there were no people in the cars or lorries, then the tunnel operators could easily use rather less expensive carriages to convey the vehicles and the passengers could sit in compartments as they do in an ordinary train. I cannot see that if there is an additional cost it should be all that unreasonable. No one would suggest that cost should stand in the way of safety. As far as one understands from the proposed design that has been published, in the case of fire there are real doubts about whether able bodied people would be able to get out, and some people with disability—another question to come before the Committee—would have real problems.

The possibility of fire must be a consideration because Eurotunnel makes this point. It argues that because there are two tunnels if there is a fire in one—these are Eurotunnel's words—the other tunnel would not be affected. The company is obviously and properly considering that this is a hypothetical possibility. The amendment of my noble friend, even though it may be subject to redrafting, concerns the fact that the safety authority should decide that this question is reasonable and proper for the Committee to concern itself with.

Lord Trafford

Surely some of us are being a little ungenerous in not giving credit to the movers of the amendment for their concern with safety. I do not think the question of cost arose in the mover's statement. We should give them credit for that, but it is somewhat ludicrous to suggest that in the next part of the Bill, where we shall discuss the question of a safety authority, at the same time we should tie the authority's hands and feet by saying precisely what it should do now six years before the tunnel is built. Surely we should give credit to those moving the amendment for their concern for safety and at the same time, however conscious we happen to be in this year about safety, leave the actual technical details and the implementation of that safety to those who are subsequently appointed to carry out that function.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My noble friend has put his finger on the point. The amendment is unacceptable because it is based on a misconception of the role of the safety authority. It will not be the authority's function to lay down a priori the design concepts for the project. The Select Committee went into considerable detail on this in paragraph 126. It is for Eurotunnel to put forward the design which it considers best meets the needs of its business, having regard not only to safety but to all the factors that are judged to be relevant.

If the safety authority is satisfied that the physical design, the operating procedures—that is, all aspects of the scheme—meet all the relevant criteria and provide a proper level of protection and safety to users and employees, the safety authority will approve the proposals. It is not the safety authority's function to develop alternative designs and solutions, or to require the concessionaires to do so, if the design submitted meets the safety requirements.

The Select Committee heard evidence from Major Rose, the chief inspecting officer of railways and head of the United Kingdom delegation to the safety authority. He explained that his and his colleagues' minds remained entirely open on the question of segregation. The work done at the time of the previous project in 1974 had shown, prima facie, that non-segregation would not pose an unacceptable risk. However, further detailed studies and tests of the non-segregated design needed to be carried out before a final decision could be made. Those were in progress. If the results of those studies and tests did not satisfy the safety authority, the non-segregated solution would be rejected.

The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, rightly cast doubt on the presumption in the amendment that segregation is necessarily the right solution. There are arguments for and against segregation. It would be less open, for instance, for a terrorist to place a bomb in a car if passengers travelled with their vehicles. Evacuation from a train is easier if passengers are distributed throughout its length and not concentrated in a segregated compartment. It has also been pointed out that the most efficient fire detection system in a car is the car's owner sitting in it. The driver will quickly raise the alarm or deal with the situation if he is in his car. An unattended vehicle, on the other hand, could catch fire unobserved.

Your Lordships' Select Committee was entirely satisfied by the assurances which Major Rose gave, and that the framework for settling the issue was correct. I hope that the Committee this evening will endorse the Select Committee's conclusion, unless of course the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, is prepared to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Underhill

I am amazed that any Member of the Committee should read into this that the noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Carmichael, are taking one side or the other as to whether vehicles should be segregated from their passengers.

Lord Tordoff

I made the suggestion; but simply on the basic premise that it is almost certainly safer to have people segregated than not segregated. The Minister has suggested that that may not be the truth. It is my belief that this probably will be safer. The question the safety authority ought to judge is whether it is safe. In my view that judgment ought to be left to it and not predisposed in the wording of the amendment.

Lord Underhill

The amendment suggests that the safety authority should consider whether segregation is the best method. That surely is what we want it to do. Paragraph 129 of the Select Committee report says: Eurotunnel are developing a system of carrying passengers in their vehicles on the shuttle wagons". In other words, it is already going ahead and preparing a system of no segregation. This comes back to the question which I asked on Clause 1 and to which the Minister is going to endeavour to reply at some stage. Is the safety authority in a position to consider that matter now when really it cannot start doing its work until there is Royal Assent? Yet we are told that Eurotunnel is developing a system of carrying passengers in their vehicles. I am not saying whether segregation is the right system. I know what I debated at Second Reading. I know that when I read some of the provisions of Eurotunnel some of my fears about the lack of segregation were allayed.

I want the safety authority not just to have before it a scheme from Eurotunnel for no segregation, on which it has already done a good deal of work and has prepared plans, when the safety authority cannot do its work until Royal Assent is given. At that stage I want the safety authority to be able to have before it whether segregation is the desirable choice with detailed plans as to how that might be carried out, or on the other hand plans for no segregation.

I have not declared one way or the other. All I know is that Eurotunnel has declared one way, and 1 believe that at the moment that will be the only proposal as to whether that is the best method or not which will be put before the safety authority. I believe that it ought to have before it the Eurotunnel proposal and maybe an alternative proposal for segregation.

At this stage of the evening I would be foolish to do other than say that I shall read carefully what has been said in this debate. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding. Perhaps this has been badly worded or I have badly presented it; I do not know. I shall read carefully what everyone has said, and in the meantime beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

10.15 p.m.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

Before the noble Lord withdraws his amendment, perhaps I may say that in no way did I want to deny anything to do with safety. But the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, knows as well as I do that the National Safety Executive moves with the times. As my noble friend said, there is no way that we can tie somebody's hands and say that this is what they have to do in six years' time. Safety improves with the times. It always does. Car safety has improved over the last five years. No doubt when they start building and designing all these trains safety will be paramount in their minds.

Lord Underhill

I hope I am not wrong but I have assumed that the safety authority will remain in being, and that at any time it can consider any aspect. That is my interpretation of the safety authority. I shall be welcoming, perhaps at Report stage, the Minister's comments on the first question that I put on Clause 1: can the safety authority now consider the Eurotunnel proposals for not segregating passengers from their vehicles when the safety authority cannot take effect, so far as I understand it, until there is Royal Assent?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Perhaps I may answer that point for the noble Lord right now. The safety authority is already established under an exchange of letters that took place when the treaty was signed in February of last year. That exchange was incorporated in the printed version of the treaty, which is Command Paper 9745. The safety authority is already beginning to look at the main issues. Of course it has no formal power yet, such as under Clause 16 of this Bill, because the Bill is not passed and the concession agreement that is signed is not in force until the treaty is ratified. However, it is already established and it is already beginning to look at this kind of thing.

Lord Underhill

I thank the Minister for that reply, which I shall read carefully. It seems to add effect to the principle of this amendment, but nevertheless I shall withdraw it at this stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

The noble Lord, Lord Sefton of Garston, has, in the last 20 minutes, tabled a manuscript amendment as follows: Page 15, line 14, at end insert 'and in respect of safety the proposals for the provision of fire precaution equipment shall be no less than that obtaining in any tunnel in the United Kingdom'.

Lord Sefton of Garston moved a manuscript amendment: Page 15,1ine 14, at end insert "and in respect of safety the proposals for the provision of fire precaution equipment shall be no less than that obtaining in any tunnel in the United Kingdom.

The noble Lord said: I do not think that anybody in this Chamber would disagree with the terms of that amendment. If they do it seems to me that they would be giving licence to certain tunnel operators to reduce their minimum standards. I am not inexperienced in the administration of a tunnel. I happened to be the chairman of the Mersey tunnel for a considerable time, and at one time it was the largest tunnel in the United Kingdom. Therefore I know about fire precautions in that respect.

This tunnel is going to be at least 10 times longer. Therefore it surely is of the essence of safety that we should at least have the minimum—I am not asking for the same; I am not asking for more—that obtains in tunnels in the United Kingdom. In support of my claim I heard somebody say that of course safety would be paramount in the minds of people. Well, safety was not paramount in regard to an awful accident that we had lately. All I am asking is that the same standards that apply in the UK should apply in this tunnel. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

It is unfortunate that the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, passed to me a copy of his amendment only a short time ago. It is most unusual to have amendments put down in your Lordships' House with this kind of notice. It is not a practice which is encouraged by your Lordships' House, as the Companion to the Standing Orders states. Nobody else in the Committee has yet had an opportunity to see the amendment or to consider it.

Nevertheless, I shall reply to it immediately. It is certainly not the intention of the Government that safety standards in the tunnel will be inferior to those of any similar tunnel in the UK. The Mersey tunnel is of course a completely different kettle of fish to the proposed Eurotunnel. There is no similar tunnel in the UK and nor is there likely to be. Every tunnel is different in length, in the kind of traffic it carries, in diameter, etc. Every tunnel must have its own safety standards developed for its own circumstances. That is the job of the safely authority, and its starting point will be the detailed requirements already incorporated in the concession, many of which are unique.

The noble Lord's amendment falls right into the apples and oranges trap; one cannot as easily as that compare one thing with another. I hope that he will be prepared to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Sefton of Garston

Had I prepared an amendment which was detailed and required a tremendous amount of consideration I certainly should not have complied with the Companion to the Standing Orders in this Chamber in moving it in this way. Had I thought for one minute that the amendment I was about to move needed serious thought and examination, of course I should not have done that. But read the amendment. It merely states that at the very least the standards we have in our tunnels in the United Kingdom should apply here—at least. I hope that when this tunnel is built the standards that apply in the Mersey tunnel will be exceeded and there will be more precautions.

Is the Minister in this Chamber, the supreme body of Parliament, telling me that he cannot accept it? He should not be telling me that because it is evident that any lay person in our community would agree that that should be the minimum for the tunnel.

I do not wish to delay noble Lords, but in conclusion I say this, and I say it straight: that was what happened to Townsend Thoresen. It put off what was a common-sense decision. When I heard of the tragedy I said to my wife that I could not understand it; were they telling me that they did not have a television screen on the bridge to ensure that the doors were shut? It seems to me that that was an error of colossal proportion. Here we have a Minister of the Crown telling me that a tunnel of magnificent size, construction and complicated matter will be built, and that he is not prepared to stand in this Chamber and recommend that the Committee suggest to the full House that we should have a minimum standard equivalent to other tunnels in the UK. All I can say is that it is disgraceful.

On Question, amendment negatived.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 50: Page 15, line 44, after ("affect") insert ("health or").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move. I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 45.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Hesketh

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.

House adjourned at twenty-six minutes past ten o'clock.