§ 3.5 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee (on recommitment).—(Lord Brabazon of Tara.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee (on recommitment) accordingly.
§ [The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 51:
After Clause 16, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Composition of Safety Authority.
§ —(1) The Chairman of the Safety Authority shall be appointed jointly by the governments of the United Kingdom and France and shall be a person who is independent of those governments.
§ (2) The members of the Safety Authority to be appointed by the government of the United Kingdom shall include—
- (a) the Chief Fire Officer of the Kent Fire Authority;
- (b) a member of the Health and Safety Executive;
- (c)a mining engineer;
- (d)a person having practical knowledge of explosives;
- (e)a person having practical knowledge of railway safety matters; and
- (f) the Chief Constable of the Kent Police Authority.").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, which proposes to insert a new clause, perhaps I may first refer to paragraph 10 of the Select Committee report which lists five matters which counsel for the Government urged were not relevant to the Select Committee proceedings.
§ Paragraph 11 of the Select Committee report states that counsel suggested that two other matters also be excluded, one being the safety of the tunnel system. The Select Committee strongly rejected that submission and the reports of the daily proceedings illustrate the very detailed consideration which the Select Committee gave to the various matters of safety.
§ The proposed new clause seeks to ensure that the safety authority will have as its UK representatives persons with the relevant experience to deal with the authority's very responsible duties. I think it is agreed in the public mind that the safety of the Channel Tunnel is paramount. Subsection (1) of the new clause proposes that the chairman of the authority shall be appointed jointly by the UK and French 464 Governments and shall be a person independent of those governments.
§ This proposal is in full accord with the view of the Select Committee as set out in paragraph 130 of its report. The Select Committee emphasised that this suggestion in no way reflects upon the capacity or integrity of the members of the authority at present appointed. The chairmanship of the authority is dealt with in paragraphs 21 to 23 of the booklet containing the Government's response to the Select Committee's recommendations. The Government seem to be indicating that on his retirement the chief inspecting officer of railways, who is the present chairman of the authority, will then be of independent status. Therefore, whoever it is decided shall eventually be the chairman, the Government seem to accept the principle of independence as set out in subsection (1).
§ Paragraph 120 of the Select Committee report states that the concession agreement established a safety authority and the Minister confirmed that fact during our Committee considerations last Tuesday. Paragraph 121 of the Select Committee report expressed some unease at these institutional arrangements. Therefore, subsection (2) of the amendment sets out some persons who should be included among the UK members. It is important and generally in line with the view of the Select Committee. I emphasise that the amendment proposes that the UK members should include those on the list set out in the amendment. It is not a exclusive list.
§ Paragraph 120 of the Select Committee report states that the Chief Fire Officer of Kent and a representative of the Health and Safety Executive are present members of the authority. They are included in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the amendment and therefore that will surely meet with the approval of the Government.
§ The Select Committee states in paragraph 121 that it is convinced that because issues of public order and criminal law will inevitably arise, it is essential that the Chief Constable of Kent should be a full member of the authority. That suggestion is included in paragraph (f) in the amendment. I confess that I am somewhat amazed that, although paragraph 20 of the Government's response accepts that questions of public order and criminal law will arise, nevertheless it also states that they are not issues within the remit of the safety authority and it proposes that the chief constable should be a member of the safety authority working group and not of the safety authority itself, as the Select Committee has urged.
§ I hope that the Committee will agree with the Select Committee that the chief constable should be a full member of the safety authority. On the safety authority there is already a person with practical knowledge of railway matters; namely, the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways. Item (e) must therefore meet with the Government's agreement. It would seem that items (c) and (d) are the only proposed items still to be argued.
§ During its proceedings the Select Committee heard evidence from Dr. Herbert Eisner, a Fellow of the Institute of Mining Engineers and a former director of the Explosion and Flame Laboratory, Health and Safety Executive. Dr. Eisner drew attention to the 465 parallel between the ventilation regime in the tunnel and that which applies in the mines. That is justification sufficient for such an appointment to be to the safety authority.
§ The rationale behind the need for an expert on explosives is perhaps more obvious, and I do not believe that there is need to argue the case. A similar amendment was put forward in Committee in the other place, but it did not include the question of the independence of the chairman, or membership of the Chief Constable of Kent on the safety authority. The Government's response on that occasion was disappointing. It was to the effect that the authority could draw on the relevant experience of officers of the department.
§ I urge that points (c) and (d), mining and explosives, are as important as the other matters covered by members of the authority and that such persons should he full members of the authority. As I have explained, I believe that in general the Government seem to support the principles of the new clause. I hope therefore that they will find it possible to accept it. I beg to move.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I am grateful to the noble Lord for having brought this amendment before the Committee. I agree with him that it is an extremely important issue. The safety authority has a crucial role to play. We should perhaps remind ourselves of that role. The authority is essentially a technical body, established by the Channel Fixed Link Treaty to advise and assist the Intergovernmental Commission on all matters concerning safety and the construction and operation of the fixed link.
The treaty confers on the safety authority a specific responsibility and powers in relation to safety matters in the tunnel system. It will exist for the duration of the concession period. It will help if we can bear those points in mind when considering the two parts of the amendment.
First, the amendment would require a single, and presumably permanent, chairman of the safety authority to be appointed jointly by the British and French Governments, who would be independent of the two Governments. We must first recognise that the idea of a single, jointly appointed chairman would be contrary to what the British and French Governments have already agreed in the Channel Fixed Link Treaty. In Article 11(14) the treaty provides that the chairmanship of the safety authority shall be held for a period of one year by the head of each delegation alternatively. If we wanted to change that arrangement, we should have to negotiate an amendment to the treaty and the French Government have told us that they see no need for such a change. I hope to convince the Committee that there is no need for such a change and that it would be positively undesirable.
Let us be frank about this. Although it has not been said in so many words, what the Committee fears is that decisions made by the safety authority on technical grounds will be overruled at a higher level for commercial or party political reasons. The fear has been expressed, although not by the noble Lord, 466 Lord Underhill, this afternon, that the Britis delegation might be overruled by the French.
The Government entirely agree that there must be safeguards against that happening and that the chairman and members should not be put into the position of feeling that they had to resign. There are such safeguards. Those which were already in place have been strengthened following discussion of this subject in Select Committee. I should like to list them. Let us first dispose of the fear that the British delegation might be overruled by the French. The safety authority advises and assists the Intergovernmental Commission. It is the commission which takes the decisions and Article 10(5) of the treaty provides that its decisions:shall be taken by agreement between the heads of the British and French delegations".There can thus be no question of our views being overruled by the French.
Because the safety authority only advises and assists the Intergovernmental Commission, fears have been expressed that the commission might overrule the safety authority. In Article 19(4), the treaty provides that the membership of the commission must include at least two members of the safety authority so that it can be sure of making its voice heard. What if it were to be overruled by the commission? The safety authority can then make its voice heard. Under Article 11(7) of the treaty, the authority has an absolute right to talk directly to Ministers. The Select Committee expressed a proper concern that that might not of itself be enough because—let me be frank again—Ministers might be in cahouts with Eurotunnel; and so the Government have now gone further.
I told this place on 28th April that the Government had given an assurance to the Select Committee as follows:should the safety authority bring to the attention of the Secretary of State a fundamental disagreement on an important issue of public safety between themselves and the Intergovernmental Commission or should the UK delegation to the safety authority notify a similar disagreement between themselves and their French counterparts, the Secretary of State for Transport will report that fact to Parliament".—(Official Report, 28/4/87; col. 1474.]The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said in the Select Committee that that met his concerns and the noble Lord the Chairman agreed.
I can understand that we may have doubts about the Intergovernmental Commission. I understand that we may have doubts about Ministers. I even suggest that we might have doubts about a single chairman, however independent he was, but I cannot accept that we can doubt the integrity of Parliament as a whole. I repeat my assurance that Parliament would be told. That deals with crises.
I also remind the Committee that as a matter of course Parliament will have an opportunity to scrutinise all regulations which it is proposed to make governing safety in the tunnel. The safety authority and the Intergovernmental Commission will draw up the regulations, but they will have to be laid before Parliament under Clause 11 before they can have the force of law.
It has been suggested that we propose to delegate responsibility for safety in the tunnel to a few civil 467 servants and to let them get on with it. As I hope I have shown, that is not so. We are appointing a group of experts to advise us—a bi-national group, because it is a bi-national project. On each side of the Channel the Governments have appointed as head of their team the person best qualified for the post who has the crucial expertise.
In our case, that is the present Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways. As the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said, he is due to retire later this year. It is proposed to retain him as head of the United Kingdom delegation for the safety authority and to appoint his successor as Chief Inspecting Officer as an additional member of the delegation. That will ensure that he can devote sufficient time to his safety authority functions during the crucial design stage. He is an expert. We are speaking of a man who knows more than anyone else in Britain about ensuring that the railways are safe and who for many years has exercised independent responsibilities in approving new railway construction and equipment and in conducting inquiries. His independence is assured, because his views will be made known to Parliament if any attempt is made to overrule him and his colleagues. I think we have it right.
I turn now to the second limb of the amendment, which seeks to prescribe in the Bill the type of people who must be members of the safety authority. I shall first remind the Committee of the composition of the present United Kingdom delegation. As well as the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways, an expert in railway safety, we have nominated the Department of Transport's Chief Highways Engineer, who is a most distinguished civil engineer, a senior representative of the Health and Safety Executive and the Chief Fire Officer of Kent.
In relation to the suggestions contained in the amendment, it would appear that our delegation lacks expertise in mining and explosives and will not benefit from input by the Kent Police Authority. If these important areas were being ignored it would indeed be worrying; but they are not. The safety authority itself must be kept to a manageable size if it is to fulfil its functions efficiently.
But it has always been envisaged that the authority would be the core of a much larger group of experts whose knowledge and experience would be needed. This is why the treaty provides in Article 1(6) that:for the purposes of carrying out its functions, the safety authority may invoke the assistance of the authorities of each government or any body or expert of its choice".Such experts can be invited to attend meetings of the authority itself, but their major input will be to the detailed consideration of technical issues in the authority's five working groups on civil engineering and general equipment, rescue and public safety, rail safety and technology, health and safety at work, and dangerous goods. In this way the safety authority has already arranged for input from the areas of concern which the noble Lord mentions in the amendment.
Knowledge of mining engineering is recognised to be relevant. The member of the Health and Safety Executive therefore will be drawing on expertise from HM Mines and Quarries Inspectorate and from the 468 Explosion and Flame Laboratory at Buxton, both of which form part of the Health and Safety Executive and which are the main experts in this area. Because of this expertise the Health and Safety Executive member is also the UK chairman of the Working Group on Dangerous Goods, which will be considering and ruling on Eurotunnel's proposals for the transport of dangerous substances through the tunnel.
Having mentioned explosives let me dispel one misconception. The safety authority's mandate does not extend to responsibility for the physical security of the tunnel in the sense of prevention of terrorism and the like. The treaty provides in Article 5 for separate arrangements to deal with these matters. These arrangements are being put in place. They are being co-ordinated both between the two governments and with the work of the safety authority. But I hope that Members of the Committee do not expect me to go into detail in public about such matters.
Turning to the matter of the Kent Police the Government accept that they have a crucial part to play. They are already fully involved in discussions between the British and French Governments on matters of public order and law, which of course fall outside the remit of the safety authority. In addition they will need to be involved in the safety authority's consideration of contingency planning and crisis management. In accordance with the undertaking we gave in the Select Committee the Chief Constable of Kent has been invited to nominate a representative to the safety authority working group on rescue and public safety matters. My information is that the police authority regards this as a satisfactory way of making its essential input.
Looking more generally at this limb of the amendment, it seeks, as its proposers explained, to establish certain members of the safety authority on a permanent basis. This is not a sensible approach. It will be necessary to have members of appropriate expertise throughout the construction and operation period, but what is appropriate might change. I assure the Committee that the Government will maintain appropriate expert membership of the British delegation and we shall expect the French Government to do likewise.
I have spoken at some length on this subject because it is very important. It is indeed one of the most important topics that we shall be discussing today. The Government attach the utmost importance to the independence and expertise of the safety authority. However, we believe that the present arrangements provide what is needed. I am sure that there will be a good debate on this amendment, but I hope that I have been at least able to put the Government's view at an early stage.
I am very grateful to my noble friend for explaining so fully and with such care the reasons why he feels that this amendment should not be agreed to. He stated very clearly that the main effect of the amendment is to fly in the face of a treaty which has already been signed.
469 A practical point about the amendment which slightly worries me is this. It provides that the chairman of the safety authority:shall be appointed jointly by the governments of the United Kingdom and France".Let us say for the sake of argument that this amendment is agreed to and that the French determine that they shall not so appoint. Where will that leave us? If Parliament tries to change a treaty that has already been entered into with another country and tries, through an Act of Parliament, to force the Government of another country to change the terms of that treaty, the likelihood is that that country will say, "No, we shall take no note of your Act of Parliament"—and why indeed should they? I believe for that reason that this amendment is flawed.
With regard to the second part of the amendment, my noble friend explained with great care the reason why he dismisses the practical benefit; namely, on the ground that it is unnecessary. A careful sight of the Bill will make it quite clear that there is ample provision, not only intergovernmentally but by the concessionaires within the Bill, to make and enforce all the arrangements for safety. I believe that future users of the tunnel have nothing whatever to fear with regard to the intention of this Government, or the powers of future governments, to ensure their safety.
§ Viscount Cross
I have noted what the Minister has just said. Nevertheless I should like to support the new clause moved by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, and in the name also of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. At the same time I should like to say a few words about safety.
I have heard the proposed Channel Tunnel compared with the tunnels under the Alps. For instance, the railway tunnel through Mont Blanc is a long one and at a great height of 8,000 or 9,000 feet. The vehicles are carried on open railway cars. They are cooled by the mountain air and become cooler as they pass through the tunnel. I suggest that the Channel Tunnel is very different.
One can imagine a case where a Continental camion or car is driven a long distance across Europe, Scotland, the North of England or anywhere else. It is driven hard and arrives very hot at the loading point. Quite unknown to the driver an axle has overheated. A brake lining has been binding. Most vehicles are well maintained, but the engine could be covered with oil and grease. There could be a small petrol leak of which the driver is unaware. He turns off the ignition and owing to something called latent heat, the temperature of the engine rises and halfway through the tunnel there is suddenly self ignition. Let us pray that that never happens. Let us pray that there are never any bodies, but there would be a lot of charred vehicles and nobody would know what had happened. Because that might happen, I suggest that the passengers could be carried on one train and the vehicles on another. Another suggestion is that there might be what could be described as a cooling down period before the vehicles are loaded on to the train.
§ Lord Tordoff
Without wishing to follow the noble Lord who has just spoken—who seemed to be 470 making a speech against any vehicles in any circumstances in or out of the tunnel—I feel some reassurance from what the Minister said on the second half of this amendment.
In relation to the appointment of an independent chairman, we on these Benches feel that the Government's position is rather weak. He made reference to my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich having given some agreement at some stage. My noble friend offers his apologies for not being in his place to hear what I have to say. He has a prior engagement and will be here later. When I spoke to him this morning he gave me the impression that he would support the first part of the amendment to the hilt and that he had in no way changed his mind about the independence of the chairman.
The date of publication of the report, which was ordered to be printed on 6th May, postdates the date of the conversations to which the noble Lord referred. Therefore presumably by the time of publication the committee had not changed its mind on paragraph 130. I see the chairman of that committee nodding. The committee is of the opinion:that many of the concerns expressed in this part of the report might be laid to rest by the appointment of a totally independent Chairman of the Safety Authority".There are clearly still worries, and understandably so, about the safety element. If the public is to be reassured on the safety of the tunnel (which is surely necessary before the financing of the tunnel is completed), then this is a perfectly simple and straightforward way of giving reassurance. That part of the amendment we support.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord Ampthill
I am sure that neither the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, nor the Minister will be surprised that I wholeheartedly support the first part of this amendment. It would be somewhat eccentric if I did not do so as it covers one of the many recommendations that the Select Committee made and in fact is one of only two that the Government have not embraced.
I shall deal briefly with the second part of the amendment. I do not entirely go long with the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, on the designation of "mining engineer" and "person having practical knowledge of explosives". As the Minister himself said, this is essentially a technical body but I do not believe that it is necessary to write into the Bill which particular technician should be appointed because circumstances might change.
The appointment of an independent chairman seemed to the Select Committee to be of immense advantage not only to allay public anxiety, but to give help to the safety authority itself. As I hope we made clear in our report, this was in no way whatever a reflection on Major Rose. We heard evidence from an enormous number of very impressive witnesses but none more so than Major Rose. I hope that nobody expects that because we made the suggestion it was in the slightest degree a reflection on an admirable public servant. We believe that an independent 471 chairman would be of value because, as the Minister has said, this is a technical body and it is sometimes better for a technical body to have an independent chairman who is not a technician. We believe that we want someone with clout, someone who can pick up a telephone, get straight through to the Secretary of State and, after perhaps inquiring about the prospects on his moor or his river, report to him that there is a problem on which, unless the Minister can deal with it expeditiously, it may be necessary to go public.
It is for that reason and that reason alone that I hope the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, will press his amendment.
§ Lord Mulley
I am sure that my noble friend Lord Underhill will, in the interests of meeting what seems to be the wish of many Members of the Committee, wish to have the independence written into the Bill in subsection (1) but will not press the second part of his amendment. If, as I hope, we adopt the amendment, no doubt these words could be taken out at a subsequent stage. As I said at the outset, I have been extremely impressed, as we all have, with the careful way in which the Select Committee went about its business. It would be very wrong if now we were not to take notice of one its important recommendations. I was impressed by what the chairman of that committee has just said to us.
§ Lord Beloff
I have not heard any Members of the Committee who have spoken on this amendment so far answer what seems to me the very valid point made by my noble friend Lord Morris that subsection (1) of the amendment asks that the French Government amend the treaty. That is asking a great deal of this Government and they would be asking a great deal of the French Government. Presumably these issues were thoroughly canvassed when the treaty was negotiated. One might add that, while the concept of an eminent or cloutworthy person independent of government may be a familiar feature in this country in relation to certain aspects of government, it would be rather unfamiliar to the French Government. I have never met an eminent Frenchman whom I would describe as wholly independent of the French Government. I doubt whether such a person exists. Is it then perhaps intended to suggest to the French Government that a person of another nationality be appointed? He could hardly be an American because with the difference in time his ability to ring up the Secretary of State at the right moment would be very hard to calculate.
No doubt there are eminent Dutchmen, Belgians or persons of some other nationality who might fulfil this role, but it is peculiar because one would be asking someone who is a member of neither country to be available to be in touch with both governments.
There is a curious feeling underlying this amendment that perhaps we would be more concerned about safety than the French. I find it very difficult to understand that. I can see that one may think that a partner government may try to take financial advantage here or there, but there is no reason to believe that the French Government are 472 less concerned about the safety of their citizens than are the British Government. On reflection the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, might think that to start renegotiation of the treaty at this stage for this rather elusive purpose is not worth pursuing.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
We have had a good debate on this subject. My noble friends Lord Morris and Lord Beloff have put their fingers on one grave difficulty with this amendment, which is the question of the treaty, which has already been signed. The first paragraphs of Clause 1 state that:the construction and operation of a tunnel rail link…[shall be] in accordance with … the Treaty between the United Kingdom of Great Britain … and the French Republic".I take the point made by my noble friend Lord Beloff about the difficulty of perhaps finding an independent Frenchman. Indeed it is difficult to establish who would be defined as independent by this amendment. It could be that my noble friend is right and that neither a British nor a French man would fit the bill.
My noble friend Lord Cross spoke about safety` in general terms and the possibility of fire in the tunnel. What we are talking about here is the composition of the safety authority, but the safety authority has made it absolutely clear that until it is satisfied with the arrangements in the tunnel it will not let the matter go ahead. It is as simple as that.
I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, for his disagreement, if I may put it that way, with the second part of the amendment on which he is now perhaps not entirely 100 per cent. certain. When I mentioned that his noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich was satisfied with the assurance I gave in a Written Answer about bringing any dispute up before Parliament, I think I was quoting from the Minutes of Evidence page 703. If he reads that carefully, he will see that it gave some reassurance to the noble Lord.
I have already said how grateful we are to the Select Committee for the enormous amount of work that it did. The noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, supported the first part of the amendment. He said that his main reason for doing so was that we needed an independent chairman to allay public anxiety, someone who could pick up the telephone to the Secretary of State and say to him that he would go public if his concerns were not met. That is exactly what we have said would happen if there were any dispute between the safety authority and the Intergovernmental Commission or between the British and French. The matter would be reported to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State would report it to Parliament. I have given that assurance again this afternoon. It would be taken very seriously. It would come straight out into the open in Parliament if there were any disputes or worries on that score.
I hate to disagree with the Select Committee on this matter. It is probably one of the few areas where we disagree. But what I have outlined in my opening speech this afternoon will work and should allay any anxiety about safety. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, for the kind words he said about Major Rose. It is recognised that he is a very great 473 professional in his field. I understand that all members of the Select Committee were impressed with the evidence he gave. He will act in the best interests of the travelling public. Therefore I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, will be satisfied with what has been said this afternoon and will not seek to press the amendment.
§ Lord Underhill
I should like to say at the outset that I am grateful, as I am sure is the whole Committee, for the Minister's detailed reply on this important subject. That does not necessarily mean that I agree with what he has said but he has given considerable attention to the issue. It is strange that while he applauds the comments made by his noble friends Lord Morris and Lord Beloff, I cannot see any reference to the case in the Government's response to the chairmanship of the safety authority proposal of the Select Committee in paragraphs 21, 22 and 23. They make no mention of that, yet it is put forward today as one of the outstanding reasons why the amendment I have proposed cannot be supported.
I said last Thursday that, although I could not claim to have read every word of the evidence of the Select Committee, I had gone over all the pages and where there was anything important I had read it. I read the sections on safety with considerable attention. There is no doubt about the detailed consideration which the Select Committee gave to it. I agree with what has been said about the expertise and competence of Major Rose. However, it will be noticed that no reference has been made to the competence and expertise of Dr. Herbert Eisner, to whom I referred, a Fellow of the Institute of Mining Engineers and a former director of the Explosion and Flame Laboratory of the Health and Safety Executive. No reference has been made to him, as I said in my opening remarks.
In subsection (2) the chief fire officer is already included, and so no one will argue about that. A member of the Health and Safety Executive is already included. Somebody with practical knowledge of railway safety matters is already included. The question of the mining engineer and a person having practical knowledge could if necessary be dealt with by one of the prominent members of the department. That could be covered quite easily and so there should be no argument on that point. Strangely enough there has been no argument about the Chief Constable of the Kent Police Authority being included, a point which I put forward. Therefore, despite what the Minister has said, there would be no disagreement in the Committee on subsection (2).
There is such deep feeling on subsection (1) that if it is necessary to adjust it to meet the position of the chairman—French for one year and then British—that could easily be adapted at Report stage. Despite the assurance the Minister has given, this is a matter at which the public will be looking with great attention. The Select Committee gave the matter much consideration and felt that the chairman, whether appointed for one year or two years, as is provided by the agreement, should be thoroughly independent of the Government. I believe that the public would welcome that. I should like to test the 474 feeling of the Committee. If my amendment is carried the Government can amend subsection (1) at Report stage in order to adjust the position of the annual chairman. This is a question of principle and party politics does not come into it. It is to give the general assurance the public want and to establish a detailed matter of principle which the Select Committee considered was so important that it emphasised it in the report.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Lord Mowbray and Stourton
Before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps he will answer one question. There is a good deal of substance in what he and the noble Lords, Lord Tordoff and Lord Ampthill, the chairman of the Select Committee, said on the amendment. I had considerable sympathy with it. However, knowing the extraordinary amount of hard work that has been put into this, and in the face of what my noble friend has said, how do Members of the Committee supporting the amendment view the fact that, if it were carried, the treaty would have to be renegotiated? Am I not right in thinking that it almost inadvertently becomes a wrecking amendment? I should be grateful to have that explained to me.
§ Lord Ampthill
Perhaps I may intervene before the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, finally makes his decision on what he is going to do. I am not certain that the Minister has been well advised that a renegotiation of the treaty is called for but that is an impression which I am not in a position to support absolutely. I think he has ample opportunity to investigate that aspect of it between now and Report stage.
§ Lord Underhill
. That was an important intervention from the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, who was chairman of the Select Committee. Despite what the Minister has said, nothing in subsection (1) would require renegotiation except the question of a single chairman. There is provision for there to be a British chairman, who would be chairman for one year, and a French chairman, who would be chairman for another year. That is the only change that would need to be made to subsection (1). It could easily be done at Report stage if it were the view of the Committee to support the amendment. There is nothing in subsection (2) that transgresses against what the Minister has said, because it could be adapted accordingly. The Select Committee felt solidly that it wanted to ensure somewhere in the Bill the complete independence of the chairman. If we agree on this the Government can come back at Report stage and can make any amendment they require to deal with the position of the chairman rotating, one year French and one year British.
I am convinced that the first part of the amendment flies in the face of a treaty arrangement already made. Can the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, explain how a statute of the United Kingdom can compel the French Government to do anything?
§ Lord Underhill
This is a point in which no one would expect me to get immersed. I am concerned with principles. The noble Lord, Lord Morris, is emphatic on this point, but why did not the Government refer to this in their response to the Select Committee? They made no reference to it and yet this is now being put forward as one of the main considerations against the amendment.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I can answer that question extremely easily. This amendment goes beyond the recommendations of the Select Committee, which acknowledged that there would have to be alternate French and British chairmen. That is why the government response to the Select Committee did not refer to the difficulties which have been raised by my noble friend.
§ Lord Tordoff
The conclusions in the report are that it is the committee's opinion that there ought to be the appointment of a totally independent chairman of the safety authority; somebody whose name is well known to the public of the United Kingdom or France, since it would alternate between the two countries. But I do not see how that overrules what the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said. If the Government are saying that this committee has no right to discuss the matter because a treaty obligation has been entered into, why have they been wasting our time and the time of our noble friends on the Select Committee?
§ Baroness Seear
May I ask the noble Lord a question regarding the meaning of "independence" in relation to the treaty? If this person is appointed in the way in which judges are appointed, in that they cannot be removed whatever they do except for gross personal misconduct and so on, it would give independence if that was undertaken in the appointment. Would that be in conflict with the treaty?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I am afraid that I cannot answer that point without assistance. What I said was that the Select Committee recognised that there would have to be alternate chairmen between France and Britain. That was something which was recognised. But this amendment goes beyond that. I certainly do not suggest, as the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, said, that we were wasting the time of the committee. That is just one point on it, but I have also given a long explanation of why I think the present arrangements are fully satisfactory.
§ Lord Underhill
The Minister has given his explanation, the chairman of the Select Committee has given his view on the matter, I have given my view and other noble Lords have said that this subsection (1) is important. We ought to see whether the Committee agrees with that principle.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 51) shall be agreed to?476
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 74; Not-Contents, 105.477
|Division No. 1|
|Amherst, E.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Banks, L.||Leatherland, L.|
|Basnett, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Birk, B.||Lockwood, B.|
|Blackburn, Bp.||McNair, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Mais, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Buckmaster, V.||Munster, E.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Carver, L.||Phillips, B.|
|Chitnis, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.[Teller.]|
|Cross, V.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|David, B. [Teller.]||Rea, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Denington, B.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Denning, L.||Scanlon, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Seear, B.|
|Ennals, L.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Serota, B.|
|Ezra, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Gallacher, L.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Simon, V.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Somers, L.|
|Gregson, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Grey, E.||Stedman, B.|
|Hampton, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Hankey, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Erne, E.|
|Allerton, L.||Fortescue, E.|
|Alport, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Arran, E.||Glanusk, L.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Gray of Contin, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Gridley, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Halsbury, E.|
|Bessborough, E.||Hardinge of Penhurst, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Havers, L.|
|Blake, L.||Hesketh, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Home of the Hirsel, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Hood, V.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Hooper, B.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Caithness, E.||Johnston of Rockport, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Killearn, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Kimball, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Cox, B.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Layton, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|De Freyne, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|De La Warr, E.||Mancroft, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Manton, L.|
|Dowding, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Dudley, B.||Marley, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Merrivale, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Mersey, V.|
|Effingham, E.||Morris, L.|
|Elibank, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Slim, V.|
|Nugent of Guildford, L.||Stockton, E.|
|Onslow, E.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Pender, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Penrhyn, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Plummer of St Marylebone, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Porritt, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Portland, D.||Torrington, V.|
|Radnor, E.||Trafford, L.|
|Reay, L.||Tranmire, L.|
|Redesdale, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Reilly, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Renton, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Rodney, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Romney, E.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Saint Brides, L.||Wise, L.|
|St. Davids, V.||Young, B.|
|Shrewsbury, E.||Young of Graffham, L.|
|Sidmouth, V.||Ypres, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Clause 17 [Intergovernmental Commission and Safety Authority: supplementary]:
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos. 52 to 60:
§ Page 15, leave out lines 46 and 47.
§ Page 15, line 49, leave out ("that') and insert ("the Intergovernmental").
§ Page 16, line 3, leave out ("made,").
§ Page 16, line 4, leave out ("the regulations were validly made or (as the case may be) that").
§ Page 16, line 13, leave out subsection (3).
§ Page 16, leave out lines 18 and 19 and insert —("(4) Evidence of any direction issued by the Intergovernmental").
§ Page 16, line 22, leave out ("regulations so made or (as the case may be) of").
§ Page 16, line 26, leave out ("regulations so made or (as the case may be) of)".
§ Page 16, line 28, leave out ("those regulations or (as the case may be) or).
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 52 to 60 inclusive and speak to Amendments Nos. 71, 75 and 79. The Bill, as presently drafted, does not accurately reflect the legal status of regulation of the Intergovernmental Commission. Article 10 of the treaty provides that functions of the commission shall include drawing up or participating in the preparation of regulations applicable to any aspect of the fixed link. The safety authority will assist the commission to draw up any regulations on safety matters. It will then be for the Government to adopt the regulations so drawn up if they wish. The references in the Bill to regulations being made by the commission are misleading. In fact, regulations drawn up by the commission will become law in the United Kingdom only when promulgated by orders under Clause 11. The text of the regulation will be set out in extenso in the order, or in an annex to the order, and Clause 33 provides that the order shall be made by statutory instrument.
§ Consequently the order and the regulation will be admissible in legal proceedings without further proof and it will not be possible to challenge the validity of the regulation. Accordingly, the references to regulations in Clause 17 are superflous and are deleted by the first group of amendments.478
§ Subsection (8) of Clause 20 and subsection (6) of Clause 22 can also be deleted because any inconsistency between a by-law or road traffic order, on the one hand, and the provisions of an order under Clause 11, on the other hand, will be dealt with in the Clause 11 order. There is therefore no need for a separate power to make orders to deal only with inconsistencies. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 18 [Operation by the Concessionaires]:
§ [Amendment No. 61 not moved]
§ Baroness Stedman moved Amendment No. 62:
Page 16, line 44, at end insert—
("(4) No passengers or goods shall be carried for reward through the tunnel system unless the Safety Authority is satisfied that adequate provision has been made by the Concessionaires for—
§ The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 62 seeks to provide for the safe carriage and evacuation of disabled persons from shuttle trains if there is an emergency. Over the years Parliament has taken an enlightened view about providing for the disabled. While the gains have often been slow and modest, gains have been made in areas such as public buildings and public transport. Nowadays there is a greater acceptance in the community that not everyone is wholly fit and able-bodied.
§ The Eurotunnel has been described as the shuttle element of the fixed link and as a new mode of transport for the 21st century. The Government White Paper described the proposals both as challenging and exciting and as the largest civil engineering project in Europe ever undertaken by the private sector. Therefore would it not be sad if such a massive project proceeded without any due provision for the disabled?
§ The information so far published has mentioned no special arrangements for dealing with disabled drivers or passengers, especially those needing to use wheelchairs. The disabled drivers and passengers drive on with their wheelchairs stowed in their cars, as is their normal custom. The peculiar problem of the shuttle, for access and evacuation, is space. There is a lack of space between the vehicles, and at the sides of vehicles, which enables doors to be only partially opened. I believe that 45 degrees is the measurement spoken of. I suggest that in those circumstances access will be restricted even for young and able-bodied people.
§ So far there have been no special proposals for arrangements dealing with disabled drivers or passengers. This is a new scheme; it is not a tried and tested form of transport. In normal conditions it might be possible to erect a wheelchair and evacuate a passenger sitting in it in the one metre clearance on either side of the car. However, if the car door has to be opened more than the suggested 45 degrees it would seriously delay, or more likely block, other passengers seeking to reach exit doors or other 479 wagons, creating even more risk for the disabled person. The exit doors into the tunnel walkway are only 0.6 metres wide. The walkway is only 0.8 metres wide with no guide rails to prevent wheelchairs falling off on to the track in the tunnel. There is no scheme in the world where passengers and petrol vehicles are conveyed together in sealed compartments in tunnels under the sea, at 100 miles an hour.
§ Fire-fighters, mining and tunnelling engineers are concerned about the unnecessary danger of not segregating people from their vehicles. The evacuation of disabled people would be much more difficult if they were hampered by poor light, or perhaps no lighting, or by smoke, fires and panicking passengers. The most sensible solution would be to provide disabled drivers and passengers with at least separate coaches to sit in during transportation. We are to have a safety commission to sort out the problem, but it seems to me that Parliament is being asked to sign a blank cheque before the safety commission has ever been set up. If the provision of the safe evacuation of the able-bodied has not been addressed at this late stage there is a likelihood that the provision for the disabled could be completely overlooked. At a late stage in the development of the scheme we may find that disabled persons are to be prohibited from using the facilities of the tunnel. In my view, that would be unfair discrimination agaist the disabled.
§ The noble Baroness, Lady Masham, travelled down with me this morning, but she is unable to be here until later this afternoon because she is chairing a conference at Queen Elizabeth Hall. However, she has asked me to say that she entirely sympathises with and supports the amendment which we are now discussing. She believes, as do I, that the Bill must recognise the need and afford the necessary protection of the disabled. Quick loading, unloading and profitability cannot take precedence over safety. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Radnor
I should like to support the amendment but it is a little difficult to expect the Channel Tunnel company to cope with disabled people. The reason is that "disability" is an immensely broad word. The noble Baroness pointed out facts about the tunnel which I freely admit filled me with horror, including the width of the passageways, the handrails and so on. However, to ask the concessionaires to continue until they are satisfied that everything has been done is, at this stage, perhaps going a little too fast. I do not want to make comparisons with boats, aeroplanes and so on because I am sure that everyone is aware that they are there. I suggest that later on, unless the amendment is accepted, something similar but of a more experimental nature be brought forward, perhaps suggesting that the Eurotunnel authorities, to use that dreadful expression, use their best endeavours so that little by little we may discover what is and what is not practicable for the disabled. I feel that there must come a point when a person with a certain degree of disability must either decide to go through the tunnel or not to travel at all.
§ Baroness Macleod of Borve
I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, for bringing this subject forward, especially just now. As my noble friend said, disability is not confined to people in wheelchairs. Disability covers those who are blind, and I feel that they might be in great difficulties. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for airing this problem today. I had rather thought that I should be dead before the Chunnel was ready although I should like to have gone through it. On the other hand, if I thought that I should be stuck in the middle somewhere and could not be rescued, I do not think I would even try it. I hope that the Government will accept this idea of finding out whether it is possible for disabled people to be especially looked after under these regulations
§ Baroness Lane-Fox
Everything that need be said to support this amendment has been said, but I should like to back it up. It is my belief that provision made at an early stage for wheelchairs is very much more economic than leaving it to chance. That has been proved to be so in other ventures. Therefore I believe it would be all to the good if the Government would reconsider this.
§ Lord Brougham and Vaux
I appreciate the need to look after the disabled—and as my noble friend Lady Macleod said, this does not just mean those who are in wheelchairs—but Eurotunnel has done a lot of work in identifying the needs of disabled people. It has established several user groups both to assist in the design process and as a means of communication with potential users. A representative of the United Kingdom Access Committee for the Disabled has attended the private vehicles user group. This group met on half a dozen occasions during the formulation of the outline design for the system.
The main features of provision for the disabled are. first, that on entering the Eurotunnel system and paying their tolls the disabled users will be requested to identify themselves to the toll-booth operators. This identification will be encoded on the integral ticket which will be used to guide users through the system. The disabled will be allocated to convenient spots in the system so that they can be easily got out if the need arises.
§ Lord Underhill
I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has just said. I was reading through the report of the Select Committee while the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, was speaking, and I looked again at Appendix 12, which is a memorandum on safety submitted by Eurotunnel. Strangely enough, I cannot see any reference there to the disabled. There is reference to evacuation and there is another section which deals with passenger evacuation. I am certain it would be helpful to the Committee if the Minister could elaborate on what has been said and say definitely whether further arrangements have been made between Eurotunnel and the concessionaires for the carriage of disabled people. No one would disagree that efforts should be made to make special provision for disabled passengers. Obviously before any passengers or goods are carried the problem of safe evacuation must be properly considered.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I am sure we all agree that it would be desirable that disabled people should be able to take advantage of the tunnel system when it comes into being. The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, widened the debate slightly to include segregation. I spoke briefly on that subject and made the point that the safety authority is indeed looking at the question already. The noble Baroness rightly said that your Lordships have always taken a special interest in disabled people. So, too, I would claim, does the Department of Transport, because we have well at heart this cause of safe transport facilities for people with disabilities. That is why this amendment has struck a sympathetic chord.
I hope to be able to convince the Committee, and particularly my noble friends, Lord Radnor, Lady Lane-Fox and Lady Macleod, who I very much hope lives long enough to see the completion of this tunnel. I am sure the whole Committee would agree on that in any case. As my noble friend Lord Brougham and Vaux said, from the outset Eurotunnel has been conscious of the need to ensure proper provision for people with disabilities who will be travelling in vehicles, like all passengers on the shuttle. In their original proposals submitted in October 1985 the concessionaires undertook that:having been informed of the presence of physically handicapped persons, the on-train attendant staff on shuttle trains will suitably locate such persons on their train to facilitate their detrainment in the event of emergency".I hasten to add that the word "detrainment" was not mine. As I understand it, Eurotunnel will invite persons with disabilities to identify themselves at the toll booth and their ticket will be specially marked to enable the train attendants to identify their vehicles so that they can be loaded on the end wagons of each rake— in other words, as near to the doors as possible—from which rapid evacuation of passengers would be possible.
Eurotunnel is working closely with representatives of organisations for disabled people to establish their requirements and see how they can best be met. I have here a copy of a letter from the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (Radar) to Eurotunnel, which says:The measures you have taken to accommodate disabled passengers are extremely encouraging. I am particularly grateful for your suggestion of a meeting later in the year to examine the proposals in detail and I look forward to attending it".So not only are they encouraged so far, but discussions are continuing.
On the more general points of segregation, access and so on, the safety authority will of course be looking very carefully at Eurotunnel's proposals for transporting and evacuating disabled passengers. If the authority is not satisfied that safe arrangements are being made for all passengers, there can be no question of the tunnel being opened to the public.
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, asked why the Select Committee did not look at this, or at least he said that it was not in the memorandum. The answer is that the representatives of disabled bodies did not petition; in other words, I think they are satisfied with the arrangements that are going to be made.
§ Lord Underhill
I am sorry to interrupt the Minister. I was not questioning whether the Select Committee had considered this, but on the safety aspect Appendix 12, the memorandum by Eurotunnel which was submitted to the Select Committee, contained no reference to it.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I take the point, but I have said that Eurotunnel is working extremely hard on the matter at the moment. During the assessment of the four rival fixed-link schemes the Government received a number of representations from groups representing disabled travellers. Shortly after the decision was taken in January 1986 to award the concession to the promoters of the Eurotunnel scheme, the Department of Transport made contact with these groups to ensure that they had direct access to the designers of the tunnel system so that their needs could be met. The Government will continue to satisfy themselves that these essential interests are looked after, but, as I said, my understanding is that they are receiving every consideration from Eurotunnel.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness for having brought this subject forward. I know it is very close to the hearts of many of your Lordships, but I hope the Committee will agree that a great deal is being done at the moment.
§ Lord Tordoff
If a good deal is already being done that falls within the remit of this amendment, why are the Government not throwing their hats in the air and accepting the amendment immediately? Although the Minister has not yet rejected the amendment, my impression is that he has not been exactly enthusiastic about it.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I am not enthusiastic about the amendment because, as in all such cases, it is not always possible to put in a Bill—indeed sometimes things can be made too difficult through being put in a Bill—exactly what everybody would like to see happen. It may cause difficulties and involve one in litigation, and so on. I think that what is being done outside the Bill is the better way.
§ Lord Mulley
Sometimes, listening to the Minister, I wonder why there is a Bill at all, especially when he suggests that if this amendment is incorporated in the Bill someone might take the matter to litigation, or that it may present difficulties to our friends in France. We have a Bill consisting of I do not know how many pages. Surely the development of facilities for disabled persons is a matter of considerable substance and one in which this Chamber has properly taken great interest.
I wonder whether the Minister would care to comment on two points. First, it has been said many times during our proceedings that we have to take a view over a period of at least six years and possibly beyond. The representatives of the disabled may have received all kinds of assurances but if there is no legislative provision, how do we know that those promises will be redeemed by other people in other circumstances in the distant future?
483 Secondly, although I cannot project or forecast the trend of events, I think it not unlikely that if the tunnel proves a great success there will be no alternative way for passengers to cross the Channel. One must face up to the possibility that there may not be the alternative of crossing by ferry. It does not seem reasonable that we should ask disabled people who want to visit the north of France to put up with flying first to Paris.
If the Minister agrees with the tenor of the amendment, why cannot he accept it? If, on advice, he finds the wording not 100 per cent. satisfactory, there will be the opportunity to amend it accordingly during the further stages of the Bill. I hope that the noble Baroness will feel that she should press the amendment.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
I had not intended to speak. But there is a perfectly valid reason why this amendment should not be included in the Bill in its present form. In fact, there are two reasons. First, this type of provision for the disabled in other Transport Acts has been made by way of a code of practice introduced into the Bill to give such effect as is thought right. The second reason concerns the intention about no passengers or goods being carried. Why should goods not be carried if proper provision is not made for disabled persons? I suggest that, in the form in which it is drafted, the whole concept is inappropriate for inclusion in the statute.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
Perhaps I may briefly answer the noble Lord, Lord Mulley. Those are undertakings that have been given by Eurotunnel. It may be some years hence before the tunnel is built. But, as I have said previously, these arrangements are being made right now, and the shuttles are being designed now. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway for pointing out one or two difficulties with this amendment. Another problem is that it may not be possible to carry people with all kinds of disability, as is the case on many forms of transport at the moment. If that were so, it may be difficult to put into legal wording a binding obligation when best endeavours are appropriate. That is the situation at the moment. Eurotunnel is making best endeavours. I hope that the noble Baroness will feel that my observations are sufficient to reassure her.
§ Baroness Stedman
I am grateful to the Minister and to other Members of the Committee who have spoken to this amendment. When drafting amendments from the Opposition Benches it is always unfortunate to be told afterwards that they are defective since one does not have at one's elbow the skill of the parliamentary draftsman. I accept that perhaps my amendment is not plain enough and that the speech in support of it was not clear enough. All kinds of disability are covered; we need to look at the matter.
The Minister has neither rejected nor accepted the amendment. He has made sympathetic noises. We have heard about codes of practice to cover the disabled in relation to other Bills. Is there likely to be 484 a code of practice for the disabled in so far as concerns the operation of the Channel Tunnel? If so, when such code is in being, will it be possible to have further information about co-operation between RADAR and other organisations and about the experience of people with all kinds of disabilities—the walking disabled, people who are blind, deaf or partially sighted and those confined to wheel chairs?
At this stage I should like to think further about the amendment and read what the Minister and other Members of the Committee have said. I shall perhaps come back at Report Stage unless by that time the Minister has become sufficiently sympathetic to have put forward an amendment of his own. With those remarks, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
§ On Question, Whether Clause 18 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
I should like to speak on whether Clause 18 shall stand part of the Bill. It deals in the main with the safety aspect of the operation of the tunnel. Last Thursday I had a discussion outside the Chamber in relation to other tunnels in the United Kingdom. The point was made to me about the responsibility of the authority that operated a tunnel to pay compensation to anybody who had been adversely affected by either its operation or construction. I asked the Minister for a reply to that point by today. I understand that this may not be possible; at any rate I certainly have not yet received a reply. I also asked for information as to the obligation on the concessionaires to insure against all risks in the tunnel.
I do not want to act as I did on Thursday and put down a manuscript amendment. I want to give the Minister time to consider this important issue. The Channel Tunnel is probably the largest project that has ever been undertaken by the private sector. It involves more people at one time than anything undertaken and exposes them to some risks. In my view, if we are to have a tunnel, then the project should be organised, built and run by the Government. We should then know that if anything were to go wrong the Government would stand surety for any damage during the construction or operation.
Such surety falls into two main categories. First, there is the question of any person using the tunnel being adversely affected by its operation. That could amount to damage in the region of millions of pounds. The other point is that if something goes wrong in the construction of the tunnel, then, under certain clauses, the Government should pick up the tab for operating it over a period of time. I think that it is right that this Chamber, and Parliament, should know exactly where the law stands on those two points. It will be no good anyone coming along after the event and saying that the responsibility for compensation should fall on Eurotunnel. Eurotunnel will not have any assets unless one can call the tunnel itself an asset and it may well have broken down by then. Eurotunnel certainly will not have any reserves for the first 10 years.
485 I think that somewhere in this Bill there should be imposed on the concessionaires a duty to insure against such risks. I know that during the building operations under our own law there will be a requirement to insure and to pay workmen's compensation and that kind of thing, but I do not know how far it goes. I was tempted to put down a so-called manuscript amendment designating the fact that these concessionaires should carry out two forms of insurance, first, to insure individuals against any risk and, secondly, to insure the Government and to indemnify them against any costs they may incur in picking up the tab, as described in certain clauses.
I shall not move an amendment now, but I understand that the procedure of the House is that I must raise the matter now in order to table an amendment at a later stage, either at Report stage or on Third Reading. If I cannot do so, I should be obliged if someone would tell me. Can the Minister now give me a reply as to whether there is any requirement for that kind of insurance?
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I shall not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, about his faith in the public versus the private sectors, but I do not think he would expect me to. If he would care to read Annex III to the concession agreement, which is Cmnd. 9769, this sets out the obligations of the concessionaires to take out certain kinds of insurance against the liabilities on the Government.
We also understand that the concessionaires have insurance of the kind to which the noble Lord referred at the beginning. I am obtaining details of these and will write to the noble Lord before the next stage. I hope that is sufficient.
§ Clause 18 agreed to.
Lord Somers moved Amendment No. 63:
After Clause 18, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Rabies prevention measures
§ . The Concessionaires shall not have power to continue their scheduled works after the date on which the United Kingdom portion of any of the tunnels mentioned in section 1(7)(a) of this Act has been linked with the French portion of such tunnels, unless the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is satisfied that adequate protective measures for the prevention of the entry of rabies into the United Kingdom are then in place at all points of disembarkment in the United Kingdom from trains using such tunnels.")
§ The noble Lord said:The purpose of this amendment is sufficiently obvious to eliminate the need for a lengthy explanation. I apologise to the Committee for the fact that the amendment as it stands is incomplete and I shall explain this later on. I think there cannot be very many people who do not recognise that rabies is an extremely serious disease. Happily, we have eliminated it pretty well from our country but I think its seriousness can be realised if we consider that in India, where there is no control at all, about 20,000 people die each year from this disease alone.
§ We do not want to run the risk of allowing it to come into our country again and that is why I have put down this amendment, but it is incomplete for this reason. The Bill provides purely for animals which are imported, but one must remember that 486 rabies can be carried by other animals. The fox is one, rats are another and, surprisingly enough, bats can also carry it. The moment the two tunnels join, those animals can get through from one country to another and France is by no means free of rabies. Therefore I propose at the Report stage to move a similar amendment but with the provision that perhaps a small-mesh wire screen should be erected at each end, at any rate during the construction of the tunnel, so that there will not be the risk of those wild animals getting through.
§ Nonetheless, I feel that the provision for quarantine houses at the points of disembarkment is sufficiently important for us to ask the Government to accept the amendment now and we shall put others later. I think that is all the information I need to give. I beg to move.
§ Lord Ampthill
Perhaps I might correct my noble friend on two very small points of detail. Curiously enough, in Europe rats do not carry rabies. There has been one instance of a bat having rabies. It came on a ship from South America and arrived in Holland. On those two points I think honestly my noble friend can be reassured.
As far as mesh fences are concerned, if he cares to read either the section of the report which is devoted to it or Appendix 13 to the report, he will discover that mesh fences are being constructed all the way round the terminal in France, buried to a depth of at least 1 metre. There will be grids not only for access to the terminal area but also to the tunnels themselves. Beneath those cattle grids will he mesh fences, as my noble friend mentioned, which will be electrified and therefore will cause the instant demise of any animal which penetrates the tunnel. I honestly believe that this amendment is not necessary.
§ Baroness Phillips
I should just like to pick up the points made by the noble Lord in relation to the mesh and electrification. I have, as I am sure have other Members of the Committee, been on a platform in the London Underground, Tottenham Court Road to be precise, and quite recently seen two rats very calmly sitting there in the middle of a highly electrified line. We must dispose of the idea that the rat, if it intends to get through, will not do so. I should like to have some reassurance from the noble Lord on where the information is to be found that these animals do not carry rabies. How do we know that? This little island has been the one place which seems to have been immune from rabies in the whole of Europe and there must be a reason.
§ Lord Ampthill
If I may answer that very small point, the evidence comes in Appendix 13 of our report from Mr. Crowley, who is without question the greatest living expert on this subject.
§ Lord Holderness
So far as bats are concerned, I was surprised to learn that the construction of the tunnel would not necessarily afford a means of travel particularly acceptable to bats, because they have already been known to fly to Kent from the Pas de Calais over the sea.
§ Lord Underhill
It will be recalled that at our Second Reading debate on this Bill the two matters to which considerable attention was given were, first, safety and, secondly, rabies. Frankly, I am satisfied. The noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, the chairman of the Select Committee, referred to Appendix 13, and, speaking for myself, having very carefully read the Eurotunnel memo, which is Appendix 13, I am satisfied with all the steps which Eurotunnel proposes to take.
The only question I would ask is this. Will the protective netting fences, or whatever we call them, be up during the period of construction or will they wait until the tunnel is completed? It seems to me that one of the points covered by the amendment is the importance of animals getting in during the period of construction.
§ Lord Tordoff
If I may echo what the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said, the reason why I put my name to this amendment is not that I was worried about bats—especially being a Member of your Lordships' House—but because of the interim period when the tunnel is partly constructed. The noble Lord, Lord Somers, has an important point in relation to whether the protective measures would be in place at the right time. That is the point on which we seek reassurance from the Minister.
§ Lord Beloff
I feel that, as has been pointed out, Appendix 13 and the other measures proposed to be taken by Eurotunnel are an adequate safeguard against animals finding their own way. However, I remain worried about part of the amendment now before us; that is to say, animals carried to a number of different railway destinations. It is probably very difficult to have adequate provision at all the railway stations at which trains may call in the end. A far simpler method of dealing with this severe risk is to say that no live animals may be transported on vehicles or trains travelling through the tunnel.
The risks which emerge from time to time in this country are nearly always from people with a demented devotion to domestic pets, who try to circumvent the existing regulations. They are occasionally punished. To my mind they are never punished sufficently severely. I think that perhaps the Government ought to grasp the nettle and suggest to Eurotunnel that the regulations bar the transport of domestic animals through any vehicle or train using the tunnel. It would be a great saving and the people who would be penalised are very few. We have far too many cats and dogs in the country anyhow.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I am not certain that everyone might agree with my noble friend Lord Beloff. But he is quite right that the main problem from rabies is due to people smuggling in pets. That risk exists at present whether one comes by sea or by air. I believe that small boats present the greatest danger as regards bringing in animals.
The Government have made abundantly clear on many occasions that they attach the highest priority to ensuring that the fixed link does not increase the risk of rabies entering the United Kingdom. We are very well aware of the public concern about this issue, 488 and I can assure the Committee that nothing will be permitted to jeopardise this country's much prized freedom from rabies. The invitation to the promoters made explicit reference to the need for adequate protective measures, and that aspect of Eurotunnel's proposal was given very careful consideration before it was selected in January 1986.
The Government will impose controls in three important areas. First, the importation of rabies susceptible animals through the Channel Tunnel is dependent upon the Cheriton terminal being authorised by order as an approved port of entry; as yet the concessionaires have not yet applied for approval. Secondly, checks will be carried out by the frontier authorities, in particular Customs, to prevent the illegal importation of animals into this country as is the case at other ports and airports at the present time. Thirdly, stringent requirements will be imposed to prevent wild or stray animals entering or passing through the tunnel. Those are the wire mesh fences to which the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, and others have referred.
As has been said, protection against rabies was considered at length and thoroughly examined by the Select Committee of this House. Having heard the evidence of Mr. Crowley, described by the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, as the greatest living expert on rabies, the committee concluded that the tunnel would not increase the risk of rabies entering the United Kingdom over and above that which exists at present. Mr. Crowley's memorandum outlining the protective measures that the concessionaires consider would need to be taken is set out in full in Appendix 13 to the committee's special report.
The arrangements are now being worked out in detail with the appropriate authorities in the United Kingdom, in particular the Ministry of Agriculture whose approval of the arrangements must he obtained. A senior official of the Ministry has been appointed as a member of the inter-governmental commission to ensure that it gives full attention to this matter. Appropriate protective arrangements must be in place when the first tunnel from England joins up with the tunnel from France. That is the reassurance that the noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Tordoff, were looking for. I can assure the noble Lords and the Committee that they will indeed be in place.
I cannot today describe in detail what measures will be taken by the frontier departments to prevent animals or other contraband being smuggled through the tunnels by workmen during the construction phase; nor can I describe in detail the precise rules and procedures that Eurotunnel's contractors will be required to introduce to ensure that edible waste does not arise in the tunnels. Those details have yet to be worked out but the United Kingdom authorities concerned do not lack the necessary powers under the concession agreement to impose any requirements that they will need to impose. If their powers under existing legislation are insufficient the requirements will be imposed by orders made under Clause 11 of the Bill.
There is no difference between the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and the Government over the need for 489 stringent anti-rabies controls in the fixed link throughout the life of the concession. Nor, I hope, does the noble Lord doubt the Government's determination to ensure that such controls are installed and maintained. I can assure the noble Lord that the Government will not allow extraneous considerations such as the cost to Eurotunnel to influence their requirements.
The question for the Committee this afternoon is whether anything would be gained by including this new clause in the Bill. I have to say that nothing at all would be gained. The Government have given firm assurances that the anti-rabies controls for the fixed link will have to satisfy the Ministry of Agriculture in detail. The new clause therefore is superfluous, but I hope that what I have said and the assurances that I have been able to give this afternoon mean that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Lord Somers
I am most grateful to the noble Lord for the assurances he has given. Before I withdraw the amendment, can the noble Lord tell me whether I am right in thinking that there is sufficient protection during the course of construction of the tunnel? When it is finished there will not be much likelihood of foxes and other animals finding their way through. However, during the construction of the tunnel, there will be a great deal of rough earth and holes where rats could make their homes. It is rather more important at that stage to see that there is adequate protection.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I attempted to cover that point. The important point is that the protection must be in place when the first connection is made and when the first tunnel is joined together.
§ Lord Somers
I am sorry. I did not quite hear what the noble Lord said the first time. In that case I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Mulley moved Amendment No. 64:
After the Clause 18 insert the following new clause:
§ ("Restriction on sale or alcohol and tobacco
§ .—No alcoholic beverages or tobacco products shall be offered for sale in the tunnel system unless arrangements are in force for ensuring that passengers on shuttle trains do not have access to their vehicles during the passage of those trains through that system.").
§ The noble Lord said: I have some recollection of hearing discussions about arrangements for providing certain refreshments for persons on the shuttle trains. Whether or not duty free facilities will still exist in 1993 or whether, technically there will be a land frontier from the time the tunnel operates which, under existing Community regulations, would rule out the possibility of there being duty free products available, it seems to be wholly undesirable that people should go to or from points of sale on the trains or that the products should be provided beforehand in premises where people are waiting to get on the trains or where they make their exits. Unfortunately, history has shown that much of the trouble on ferries and on trains travelling to football 490 matches on the Continent has arisen because of excessive consumption of alcohol by young people.
§ Passage will be fairly swift once passengers board the trains although I do not know what the chaos at busy times will be like while one waits to get one's car on the shuttle. We shall have to wait and find that out. As noble Lords argued earlier, it would he desirable in the interests of safety generally and not just on this rather narrow point that there should he segregation of passengers from their vehicles during the passage through the tunnel. We understand that the safety authority will, if it deems fit, look carefully at that particular question.
§ As the noble Lord said so rightly when discussing the previous amendment, it is one thing to provide by regulations, law, or whatever, that this or that risk shall not be taken but there are always people who ignore it. While I personally have great sympathy with and shall support the amendment to be moved later by my noble friend Lord Ennals concerning the prohibiting of smoking in the tunnel system, I feel that there will be many people who will ignore that. Unfortunately, as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, has said, in the same manner persons devoted to their pets have tried to smuggle them into this country. That is not only a breach of law but is also a great danger to public health.
§ Therefore, it is not simply a question of having regulations. It is also a question of making sure that alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are not available, which would make it a bit more difficult for such people. I can of course see at once that persons might smuggle such products if they intended to break the law. Nevertheless, since they will be sitting in their vehicles and on top of a tank of petrol, I believe it would be much better if smoking were not allowed.
§ In addition, we have the problem of people in caravans. I realise that on our roads at present there are people who sometimes sleep in caravans when they are on the move, although it is against the regulations. I am sure that, similarly, there will be people who decide that they have waited a long time and that they will make a cup of tea while they are crossing the Channel. The consequences of such behaviour could be horrific. If, for whatever reason, segregation is not possible, we should at least try to minimise the dangers of irresponsible actions in defiance of the regulations by making alcohol and tobacco less readily available. I beg to move.
§ Lord Somers
I do not see what the exception in the amendment hopes to achieve when it states:unless arrangements are in force for ensuring that passengers on tunnel trains do not have access to their vehicles during the passage".It is highly unlikely that they will. But in any case, if they have access to alcohol during the passage, they may not be in a fit state to drive when they get there. That seems to me to be the important point.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I find this new clause very unreasonable. As the noble Lord, Lord Somers, has said, there is no connection between the sale of alcohol or tobacco within the tunnel system—and I remind noble Lords that the tunnel system is defined to include the terminals and everything else—and the 491 question of whether passengers should be segregated from their vehicles. No one wishes drivers to be drunk in charge of vehicles in the tunnel system any more than on the roads. Nor will smoking be permitted within the tunnel itself. However, these matters will be dealt with by the application of regulations or by-laws. I do not think that they warrant an insistence on segregation or a ban on sales.
We have discussed the issue of segregation. But the issue of whether or not passengers should be segregated from their vehicles has been considered in great depth by the Select Committee. It accepted that the safety authority would evaluate the measures proposed to it and would not impose specific solutions to a safety problem. At the present stage the safety authority has made clear its view that there is no reason to believe that it would be inherently unsafe to permit passengers to remain with their vehicles on shuttle trains.
If the safety authority ultimately confirms that passengers can travel with their vehicles, the proposed clause would prevent Eurotunnel from providing duty-free facilities for passengers and even from providing a full refreshment service for passengers and workers at terminals. I am not sure whether this amendment is intended to put Eurotunnel at a competitive disadvantage. However, I can assure noble Lords that it will do so. Nobody doubts that there will be occasions when Eurotunnel will have to deny entry to coach-loads of people who are evidently drunk and a danger to safety. It is hardly surprising that we have not decided exactly how to make provision for that. British Rail, for example, can ban alcohol on particular trains.
Clause 11 of the Bill, to which the House has already agreed, is quite wide enough to allow appropriate powers to be taken and regulations to be imposed. The same applies to those who appear liable to flout the smoking rules. I hope that the House will not agree to the amendment. I think it is a back-door method of denying Eurotunnel the possibility of duty-free sales, which would certainly put it at a competitive disadvantage as regards the ferry companies, concerning which we have already heard quite a lot.
§ Lord Mulley
Can the Minister confirm that from the point of view of EC regulations, this will be a sea and not a land crossing? As the Minister well knows, when one crosses from one EC country to another by land, there are no duty-free facilities. I am sure that the countries concerned would be happy to provide them if the EC laws permitted. However, they do not. I should have thought that if the tunnel crossing is a land crossing, the question of duty-free facilities would not arise.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
Whether or not the question of duty-free facilities arises with regard to the tunnel, there are many years to go before the tunnel opens. Whether such duty-free facilities will then exist in Europe, one does not know. However, this amendment would go further and would not allow Eurotunnel to sell alcohol or tobacco in the 492 staff canteen at the inland clearance depot at Ashford. I think that is rather unreasonable.
§ Lord Mulley
If the Minister thinks it is so unreasonable, I shall not press the amendment. However, when he says that refreshments could not be provided, I take it very ill that when he speaks of allowing workers or anyone else to have refreshment, he seems to believe that one cannot be refreshed without alcohol or being able to smoke. I believe that one can refresh oneself adequately without either of those.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 19 [Byelaws of the Concessionaires]:
§ [Amendment No. 65 not moved.]
§ 5 p.m.
Lord Ennals moved Amendment No. 66:
Page 17, line 7, leave out paragraph (d).
The noble Lord said: It may be for the convenience of the House to discuss Amendments Nos. 66 and 69 together. Clearly, Amendment No. 66 is a paving amendment for Amendment No. 69. The effect of the two amendments, as will be seen, is to change what is in the Bill at Clause 19(1), which says:
The Concessionaires may make byelaws … prohibiting the smoking of tobacco in any such premises, place or vehicle".
If this amendment were to be carried, as I hope it will, it would change the word "will" to "shall" so that there was a prohibition on the act of smoking tobacco in any such premises, place or vehicle. This amendment has nothing to do with the duty-free sales. It is simply a question of how people behave in the tunnel in relation to smoking materials. The smoking material which most concerns me is cigarettes, although I have broadened the amendment to include all types of smoking materials.
§ In dealing with the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Mulley, the Minister said that there would be no cigarette smoking in the tunnel itself. I found that a reassuring statement. However, I do not know the basis on which it was made. As things stand now in the Bill, unless I have misunderstood it, the concessionaires may make by-laws but equally they may not make by-laws. If there are some concessionaires who think that they will have the edge on others if they permit smoking, then that may be a particular attraction to the smoking community to travel on the vehicles or in the trains provided by those concessionaires.
§ The Minister said that Clause 19 was wide enough to permit such a prohibition. It is right that it is wide enough to contain the prohibition. However, it does not contain the prohibition. I want to argue that it should be quite firmly stated here and now in the Bill that there shall be no smoking in any of the areas that I have sought to define in Amendment No. 69. I think the reasons are very clear. First, in terms of safety we have all too much knowledge of fires that have been caused in various situations as a result of smoking, whether it is in all sorts and types of homes or whether it is within hostels in which many people have been killed, because someone has carelessly 493 allowed a cigarette to drop on the floor, to burn into a sofa or what-have-you.
§ I suppose that our most striking example was the terrible fire at Bradford City Football Club. The evidence there seemed to be that the fire started from cigarettes that were dropped from the seating, though I do not think that that has been proved. However, that seems to be the most likely cause.
§ The consequences of a fire in the tunnel are absolutely horrendous. If there were a fire, I do not know what would be the method of controlling the air going from one side to the other or what would be the effect in the tunnel of pushing hot air forwards and backwards. However, I suspect that, whether a fire affected vehicles carrying personnel or vehicles carrying freight, it could be far worse than a fire elsewhere. That is why in other parts of the Bill, and in the report of your Lordships' Committee, a great deal of trouble has been taken with safety. But all that this has led to is that the concessionaires may make by-laws.
§ I think that the nearest comparison to the situation in the tunnel is the London Underground. We are all aware of the beneficial effects of the simple decision that there should be no smoking on the London Underground. The result has been that the trains have been cleaner and more pleasant for people to travel in. One of the most remarkable aspects is that although the decision was not backed by law, it was accepted and has been very largely fulfilled. That is quite remarkable. If something is required then people carry out the requirement.
§ There is also the health factor, but I assure your Lordships that I shall not go into the health effects both for the smokers and for those who are close to smokers and who are forced to inhale the smoke from other people's cigarettes or pipes. It is a condition known as secondary smoking. However, we now have the situation, which I think will be of great satisfaction to both sides of the Committee, that the very substantial majority of adults do not smoke.
§ What is most worrying is the number of youngsters, boys and girls still at school and aged 10, 11 or 12, who like smoking. I can well imagine that youngsters starting on their holiday and going on this exciting trip under the Channel to Europe would think it a marvellous opportunity—unless it was against the law—for them to smoke. So I submit that there are very strong arguments indeed for increasing restraints on smoking in trains as elsewhere.
§ Among those who want to see more restraints are a very significant number of smokers who want to give up smoking but who find it difficult when others are doing so. That is one reason why the banning of smoking on the Underground has been of help to people who smoke and want to give it up. Studies suggest that about one-third of those who smoke genuinely want to give it up, but find it more difficult if there are smokers around them.
§ Therefore, I hope that the Minister will feel that this is an amendment that he can accept. His brief may say "Accept nothing". That certainly has been the situation so far. This is in no way a party political matter, but it is a matter of common sense which affects the safety and health of our people. If the 494 hopes are that a very large number of people will go through the tunnel, then I believe that if the law says that they may not smoke it will be as successful as it is on the London Underground.
§ I want to see an obligation on the concessionaires. The important thing is to get this right at the beginning so that the issue does not arise again. I hope that the Minister will not oppose the amendment. I feel certain that if he does and if there is a Division—because I would wish to press the amendment to a vote—there ought to be a free vote so that noble Lords will feel at liberty to vote in the way that motivates them. I beg to move.
§ Lord Tordoff
I have every sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, is seeking to achieve. However, I wonder whether again he does not go a little too far by including any premises in the tunnel system, because that takes us back to the workers' canteen at Ashford. As regards his suggestion that this is not a party political matter and is therefore a common sense matter, that may apply to his party but it certainly does not apply on these Benches.
§ Lord Mountevans
Before the Minister replies I wonder whether he could clarify some thoughts for me. It is my understanding that an aircraft belonging to a British company can be 1,200 miles from any source of safety, and yet it is also my understanding that there is no statutory requirement under British law or under any other law for that aircraft to be subject to any ban on smoking. I wonder whether we really should be looking at this now and whether the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, is not a little late. He should have considered this matter in many other contexts many years ago. I understand that on trans-Pacific sections one can have 400 people on an aircraft. There is no requirement to segregate smokers from non-smokers. There is only the lightest of requirements to ban smoking when the commander of an aircraft deems it suitable to do so, such as on take-off and landing.
Therefore, I ask myself: why is the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, suddenly applying this argument uniquely to the Channel Tunnel operation? I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, that the ban is extremely wide and I think that the noble Lord the Minister dealt with it in answering the previous amendment, when he reminded us of the definition of "system". I believe that I could go through the tunnel, or even considerably further than through the tunnel, without a cigarette, to which I am partial. I believe that the Minister may also have to declare an interest. However, I do not think that this ban is called for or justified. I do not feel it is justified because we are applying safety standards which we do not apply already in far more vulnerable circumstances and also because it would be an invasion of private liberty.
§ Earl Attlee
I think that the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, has been gilding the lily. To equate a terrible fire at a football stadium, where the seats were made of wood and where under the seats there was rubbish from many years ago, with a modern concrete and steel tunnel is really ridiculous. The other point which 495 made me smile was the idea that someone travelling on the Underground, and therefore not smoking for half-an-hour, would be helped to give up smoking. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, and I think that this is tommy-rot. I can go far longer than an hour without smoking, although I might bite my nails, but having gone for one hour will certainly not make me any more likely to give up smoking. I also agree with my noble friend Lord Tordoff that the amendment is drawn far too widely. To stop people who have anything to do with the tunnel from smoking, or even taking alcohol as refreshment, is really stupid. Having said that, I agree for many reasons that it would be very wise to prohibit smoking within the confines of the tunnel, but not for the reasons put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Ennals.
§ Lord Brougham and Vaux
I have great sympathy with the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, and I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said. The trouble is that the system is defined in Clause 1(7), which not only refers to the tunnels but the Channel as well. That means you are going to ban smoking in restaurants, picnic areas and in the offices. The best way would be to make regulations under Clause 11, and such a course of action would enable more severe penalties to apply than would be the case if enforced by by-laws. I consider, therefore, that this amendment is unnecessary and that it would not really work.
§ Baroness Phillips
I should just like to take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, in which he asked, "Why do it now, why not do it before?" That seems a very curious argument. If it is found that something is not entirely satisfactory and cannot immediately be changed there seems to be no reason why it cannot be changed before construction.
It was a pilot who said to me one day that he was not happy with the carriage of alcohol on board an aeroplane. An aeroplane is a contained vehicle, as we know, and alcohol is highly combustible. It seems to me that we should emphasise the safety considerations about tobacco and smoking rather than people being persuaded to give it up, which is really not so important in this context. It is the danger that comes from smoking and cigarettes that is important. One can imagine how horrific an accident could be in an enclosed area like a vehicle going through a tunnel. I think it is certainly no argument to say that because it has not been done before it cannot be done now. No laws would be made at all if we accepted that argument. I feel that is certainly irrelevant and I support my noble friend's amendment.
§ Lord Mountevans
The noble Baroness supports a party which has on numerous occasions, over many years, tried to bring in laws not on the basis of seeking to change what is established but seeking to influence what is to come. I was a little amused by her reference to alcohol, because this amendment relates to tobacco. If you wish to ban smoking outright then 496 you should do it. To start tinkering with a one-off opportunity like this—the Channel Tunnel—seems to be totally the wrong way of doing it.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
This is in danger of becoming a debate between smokers and anti-smokers. I must confess to the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, that I am a smoker but I am probably among the one-third of those mentioned who would like to give it up. I do not think that banning me from smoking within the whole of the tunnel system would help me very much to do that.
The Government certainly agree, as we have made clear on many occasions, that the prospect of a fire within the tunnel or on board a shuttle train, is horrendous. The Government would expect Eurotunnel to take every proper precaution, including the prohibition of smoking within areas of any special fire risk. Where I disagree with the noble Lord's amendment as have other noble Lords and as I said on the previous amendment—is that this would actually ban smoking throughout the tunnel system as defined. That would include, as I also said on the last amendment, the workers' canteen at the inland clearance depot at Ashford. We consider that to be unreasonable. If the noble Lord wishes to attack smoking in that way, fair enough, but I do not see that this Bill should be used to ban smoking in such places.
I should make it absolutely clear that Eurotunnel will be expected to bring forward by-laws dealing with smoking and such by-laws will be subject to approval by the Secretary of State for Transport under Clause 20. If the by-laws Eurotunnel propose are not satisfactory, they will be expected to bring forward revised proposals. I also draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that, during the passage of the Bill, amendments have been made to Clause 19 to improve the enforcement of by-laws. The maximum fine has been raised to level 4 and there are now specific powers to take direct action to restrain offenders.
Nevertheless, I also emphasise that by-laws are only one weapon, and by no means the most important, in the Government's armoury to implement safety requirements and enforce safe behaviour in the tunnel system. In the first instance it will be for the safety authority to consider the safety measures proposed by Eurotunnel, in particular those relating to measures against fire, and to satisfy themselves that those measures are adequate. If not, the authority would clearly refuse to recommend approval of those proposals. However, it is possible that some aspects would be regarded as being of such importance, and proper for action on a bi-national basis, that the safety authority would recommend the drawing up of regulations by the Intergovernmental Commission. The Secretary of State will then have the responsibility of implementing those regulations in the United Kingdom by an order under Clause 11. By-laws, which directly involve the concessionaires, will undoubtedly have a very important role to play, but they are only part of the story.
In other words, the noble Lord's amendments accurately identify an area of great importance in 497 ensuring the safety of users of the tunnel. But to lay down in this Bill what by-laws should say, first, overlooks the question of precisely where the ban should apply and, secondly, does not take into account the complementary roles foreseen for by-laws on the one hand and Clause 11 orders implementing recommendations of the Intergovernmental Commission and the safety authority on the other.
A number of points were made in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, mentioned smoking on aircraft. So far as I know there are no laws to prevent smoking on aircraft, but, of course, smoking is banned from the moment one leaves the terminal building to the time the aircraft has taken off and reached a safe height. That can be at least half an hour in certain cases; in other words, the same length of time as it will take to get through the tunnel itself.
Speaking personally, if I may, it is more effective to ban smoking only when you really need to ban it—such as while an aircraft is taking off or during the passage of a train through a tunnel system—than to have a blanket ban over a much wider area. If a lorry driver is banned from smoking in the cab of his lorry at the inland clearance depot at Ashford, he is going to think twice about obeying that instruction. He might think twice about obeying that instruction when he arrives on board the shuttle. If the ban is limited to the places where it is really necessary I feel there is a much better chance of enforcing it—and I speak as a smoker myself.
If the noble Lord intends to press this matter to a Division I hope that the Committee will not support him, because I believe that the way we are going to deal with it is better than a blanket ban.
§ Lord Ennals
I am most grateful to all who have taken part in this discussion and I am glad that the Minister rose when he did. As he rightly said, it was becoming a discussion between the smokers who wanted their rights protected and the non-smokers. That is not at all the way in which 1 think it should be done. I agree with those, including the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, and the Minister himself, who have said, that I have drawn my amendment too widely. There are a number of situations which would be covered by my amendment which I do not think should be covered. There are more of them than simply workers' canteens. What I want to establish is that it is not just to be left to the concessionaires to decide whether there should be a limitation on smoking, whether it is in the tunnel alone or during some other part of the journey. I believe that this Parliament should decide that. When the Minister was speaking I felt from what he said that it was quite unlikely that the concessionaires would make by-laws to be restrictive in terms of smoking.
I shall in a moment reply to one or two of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, but perhaps it might be helpful if I first indicated what I intend to do at the end of this debate, unless something new happens. I wish to press this amendment with the absolute assurance on my part—no doubt also on the part of the Minister, and I should be very happy to collaborate with him—that 498 on Report we would narrow it down and confine it to what we think is right.
The issue is whether we are satisfied that the concessionaires will make by-laws about any aspect of smoking in any part of the premises, the tunnel and so forth. There will be no problem in getting the requirement right if the amendment is carried. I offer all possible help in ensuring that we have a proposal which will be agreed right across the board in Committee.
I shall touch on three points made by the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans. He referred first to aircraft. The Minister has dealt with that. As he said, before boarding an aircraft there is an absolute ban upon smoking. I have never seen anyone seek to break that ban. If there were merely a by-law people might take the risk and decide that they wanted a puff before they boarded the aircraft. The instructions are rather like those relating to seat belts. People carry out those instructions. That is an argument I used in another place when finally getting through part of the compulsory seat belt Bill.
The noble Lord's second point was that the proposal is a bit late. Someone else might say that it is a little early. It is the right time. This is the time when the Committee is considering what requirements should be laid down. If I am a little late, when should I have started? I ask the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, when I should have proposed the amendment. I have had no other opportunity to do so, so it is not a bit late. If he means that I should have sought to ban smoking from aircraft and all sorts of other places, well, that may happen in the future. I do not know, but I am not trying to do it on this Bill. I think I am doing it at the right time. The noble Lord said that I was suddenly applying the ban to the tunnel. As I have said, this is my only opportunity. I fear that if the Committee does not accept the amendment now, it may be our last legislative opportunity.
I repeat my assurance that, unless the Minister tells me that on Report he will include something to make a smoking ban compulsory, I shall press the principle of this amendment to a vote. I shall then work with the Minister and others to ensure that the provision is narrowed down to what is reasonable and proper. I stand by my moving of the amendment.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 66) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 49; Not-Contents, 118.499
|Division No. 2|
|Amherst, E.||Dean of Beswick, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Denington, B.|
|Aylestone, L.||Elwyn-Jones, L,|
|Beloff, L.||Ennals, L. [Teller.]|
|Birk, B.||Ewart-Biggs, B.|
|Blackburn, Bp.||Galpern, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Graham of Edmonton, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Hatch of Lusby, L.|
|David, B.||Hayter, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Heycock, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Kilbracken, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
|Listowel, E.||Scanlon, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Lovell-Davis, L.||Simon, V.|
|Mais, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Masham of Ilton, B.||Stedman, B.|
|Moran, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Morton of Shuna, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Mulley, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Nicol, B.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Oram, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Phillips, B. [Teller.]|
|Addington, L.||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Allerton, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Alport, L.||Layton, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Arran, E.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Attlee, E.||Mancroft, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Marley, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Melville, V.|
|Bessborough, E.||Merrivale, L.|
|Blake, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Blyth, L.||Morris, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Munster, E.|
|Brockway, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Newall, L.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Pender, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Portland, D.|
|Cornwallis, L.||Radnor, E.|
|Cox, B.||Reay, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Redesdale, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Renton, L.|
|Cross, V.||Rodney, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Romney, E.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Saint Brides, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||St. Davids, V.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Salisbury, M.|
|Dundee, E.||Sandford, L.|
|Elibank, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Shannon, E.|
|Erne, E.||Sharples, B.|
|Erroll of Hale, L.||Shrewsbury, E.|
|Fortescue, E.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Simon of Glaisdale, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Glanusk, L.||Somers, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Stockton, E.|
|Greenway, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Halisham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Terrington, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Teviot, L.|
|Hardinge of Penhurst, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Trafford, L.|
|Havers, L.||Tranmire, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Hood, V.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Hooper, B.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Young of Graffham, L.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Ypres, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.500
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ [Amendment No. 67 not moved.]
§ Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 68:
Page 17, line 31, at end insert ("; and
(iii) for providing a number of crewmen as shall be approved by the Secretary of State in each shuttle train for the purpose of supervising the matters set out in this section. Such crewmen shall have adequate powers of enforcement of such by-laws as shall be approved by the Secretary of State.").
§ The noble Lord said: As has been mentioned on the previous amendment, Clause 19 makes provision whereby the concessionaires may make a number of by-laws. If my mathematics are correct there are some nine issues mentioned on which the concessionaires may make by-laws.
§ I was very encouraged in the memorandum from Eurotunnel, in Appendix 12 dealing with safety, that in paragraph 4.2.5 they envisaged that each shuttle would carry at least six crewmen who, apart from the driver, will patrol the shuttle train to ensure compliance with safety regulations. That seems to be a very commonsense suggestion.
§ In this amendment we are proposing that this subject ought to be one on which the concessionaires may make by-laws. If the Eurotunnel project has in mind to provide for crewmen we ought to give them the power to make such by-laws. We are not laying down the number; it should be as agreed by the Secretary of State. However, we also say that some powers of enforcement must be given to these crewmen. It is no good saying that crewmen will patrol the shuttle to see that the regulations are being carried out unless they have some powers of enforcement. Again, the amendment does not say what the powers should be, but simply that they should have adequate powers of enforcement and that these should be approved by the Secretary of State. The amendment is therefore giving power to the Secretary of State as regards both the number of crewmen on each shuttle train and the enforcement procedures which we suggest should be laid down. I beg to move.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has explained his amendment very clearly. I hope that I shall be able to answer the points that he has raised.
I shall deal first with the second point on enforcement. Clause 19 already makes the necessary provision for enforcing by-laws. By-laws made under paragraph (g) would empower a crewman to demand the offender's name and address. This could be followed up by prosecutions in the usual way, including fines of up to £1,000 which is Level 4. Subsection (5)—a measure inserted by the Select Committee—makes provision for on-the-spot physical action to be taken, if that is necessary, to compel compliance and remove a source of danger.
On the number of crewmen appointed for the purpose of enforcing by-laws, I suggest that the amendment is defective. Clause 19 is concerned with the concessionaire's by-laws. One does not use by-laws to impose requirements on the body whose by-laws they are. In strict terms it is at the discretion of the concessionaires what by-laws they should 501 propose. The Secretary of State could not compel concessionaires to make a by-law giving him the right to determine crew numbers.
The power to determine crew numbers lies elsewhere; namely, in the concession agreement. Paragraph 51 of Annex I requires the concessionaires to submit for approval by the Intergovernmental Commission their proposed safety arrangements, including operating rules and emergency procedures. If the commission on the advice of the safety authority decides that the number of crewmen proposed by Eurotunnel is inadequate, it will insist on the necessary increase being made. Eurotunnel would be in breach of the agreement with all that that entails in terms of penalties for default if they fail to comply.
In short, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, will agree that the matters he raises in his amendment are adequately covered already and that he will be able to withdraw this amendment.
§ Lord Underhill
I am grateful to the Minister. I hope that other noble Lords will agree with me that this shows the value of putting down amendments. We now have a quite definitive statement from the Minister of measures which I can acknowledge and support.
What the Minister says about the safety authority confirms the need for Amendment No. 51 on the composition of the safety authority to which we may return at the Report stage. However, in view of the Minister's assurances and the helpful reply he has given, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 69 not moved.]
Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 70:
Page 17, leave out line 39.
§ The noble Lord said:I beg to move Amendment No. 70. This deletes an inappropriate provision. When the Bill was originally drafted it was uncertain what the relationship between the concessionaires' by-laws and other tunnel system law would be. The effect of the provision as it stands would be that in the event of an inconsistency between a by-law and other legislation, whether existing or future, the by-law would have precedence. However, it is now clear that the Government will not be relying exclusively on by-laws in relation to important matters such as safety.
§ Before the tunnel opens—and indeed in many respects as soon as possible after the passage of the Bill—the Government will have to consider, in co-operation as necessary with the French Government, through the Intergovernmental Commission and the safety authority, all aspects of the law applying to the tunnel system and to make such orders as are necessary under Clause 11 of the Bill or under existing legislation, such as the Health and Safety at Work Acts. There is therefore no need to interfere with the normal arrangements that by-laws cannot override the general law made by Parliament. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.502
§ Clause 20[Confirmation, variation and revocation of byelaws by Secretary of State.]:
Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 71:
Page 19, line 17, leave out subsection (8)
§ The noble Lord said: I spoke to this amendment when I dealt with Amendment No. 52. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 72
After Clause 20, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Computability of fire safety procedures and equipment
§ . The Secretary of State shall make arrangements with his counterpart in the government of France for ensuring that —
- (a) the English and French fire safety procedures and equipment within the tunnel system are compatible: and
- (b) a standard system is adopted for communication between English and French fire fighters in that system.")
§ The noble Lord said: It may be argued by some members of the Committee that this provision is such common sense that there is no need for it in the Bill. The Minister is too young to remember the fire service during the war. I was in the fire service for some five years and was one of those who supported the institution of the National Fire Service. Until then there was no common training or procedures, but with the advent of the National Fire Service every single crewman knew exactly what his job was in an emergency and acted accordingly.
§ We are saying that arrangements must be made between the Governments of the United Kingdom and France to ensure, first, that fire safety procedures and equipment within the tunnel system are compatible and, secondly, that a standard system is adopted for communication between English and French fire fighters. It may be thought that this suggestion is such common sense that it need not be included, but because it is common sense it ought to be in the Bill to make certain that it is done.
§ I noticed that this was one of six amendments grouped together for discussion in another place in Standing Committee. But reading the Official Report of that debate I can find no reference to this amendment and can see no ministerial comment. I do not make any critical comments of the other place, but that seems quite usual in view of the large number of different subjects that they seem to group for one debate.
§ This is common sense, it is something we ought to ensure and I beg to move.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
The noble Lord was kind enough to say that I was too young to remember the fire service in the war. However, my father served in the fire service throughout the war. I do not know whether he was a colleague of the noble Lord. I appreciate his motives in moving the new clause. It makes sense to ensure that safety equipment is compatible throughout the tunnel system and there should be a standard communication system for fire fighting teams, whatever their nationality. I hope that the noble Lord will accept my assurance that the new clause is unnecessary.
503 As I explained in relation to the last amendment on the numbers of trained crew, Eurotunnel is required under paragraph 51 of Annex 1 of the concession agreement to submit its proposed safety arrangements for approval by the Intergovernmental Commission. I have no doubt that the safety authority, which will advise the commission on these matters, would not recommend approval of these arrangements if they did not include provision for the matters covered by the new clause. Indeed the Chief Fire Officer of Kent County Council, as a member of the UK delegation to the authority, will be well placed to ensure that the safety arrangements will be completely satisfactory in these respects
The Committee may also be interested to know that we expect the proposed protocol on frontier controls, policing and emergency services to contain provisions covering much of the ground suggested in the new clause. That is entirely appropriate in developing an international framework and it serves to underline the fact that national legislative provision is unnecessary and inappropriate.
I hope with those assurances that the noble Lord will be able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Underhill
Once again I am grateful to the Minister for his welcome assurances. I note the importance that he gives to the position of the Chief Fire Officer of the County of Kent on the safety authority. That is one of the points that we emphasised on Amendment No. 1. With those assurances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.45 p.m.
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 73:
After Clause 20, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Fire services for tunnel system
§ .—(1) Fire services in respect of the English part of the tunnel system shall be provided exclusively by the Kent Fire Authority.
§ (2) No passengers or goods shall be carried for reward through the tunnel system until the Chief Fire Officer for the time being of the Kent Fire Authority has certified that there has been installed in the tunnel system—
- (a)a 25 millimetre dual water main
- (b)a sprinkler system;
- (c)induction systems for foam and inert gas;
- (d)general fire fighting equipment; and
- (e)facilities and equipment for lifting and removing railway engines and carriages,
§ (3) Without prejudice to subsection (2) above, no passengers or goods shall be carried for reward through the tunnel system until the Chief Fire Officer for the time being of the Kent Fire Authority has certified that the facilities for fire fighting in the tunnel system are such that the standard of fire cover to be provided by his Authority will be satisfactory.")
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment again deals with fire services for the tunnel system. The Minister may again say that these matters will be brought before the safety authority and that therefore we can be satisfied. But the purpose of the amendment is threefold. First, the amendment places the responsibility for providing fire services for the English part of the tunnel system clearly on the Kent Fire Authority. That is not the position as far as I 504 understand it in the present proposals. The present arrangements contained in the Bill allow for Eurotunnel to provide its own fire service but with the ability to call on the Kent Fire Brigade in circumstances where it considers that it cannot handle a particular incident. This puts the onus on Eurotunnel to decide whether an incident has gone beyond it capability to control.
§ The delay caused by the time taken to make this decision could have serious repercussions in terms of additional injury and even loss of life. Placing the responsibility for handling all fires on the Kent Fire Authority would remove the middle tier of decision-making and at the same time place at the disposal of the tunnel system the full and immediate resources of the county authority. In view of the concentration of traffic in the tunnel which has been forecast and which we hope will be achieved, the new clause would seem to be a prudent strengthening of the emergency procedures.
§ Secondly, the new clause sets minimum standards for the provision of fire fighting infrastructure and equipment in the tunnel and gives the responsibility for checking its installation once again to the Chief Fire Officer of the Kent Fire Authority. I am advised that the requirements set out in the clause at paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) represent the minimum facilities for this type of proposed development and as such could be included in the Bill without controversy.
§ Thirdly, the chief fire officer is empowered to insist on a standard of fire cover which is the equivalent of a similar category of installation on land. This again removes some of the onus of responsibility for setting standards from the safety authority. Although the memo from Eurotunnel in Appendix 12, which has been referred to, includes a detailed Section 5.2 on fire, in its report the Select Committee made only a limited reference to it in paragraphs 128 and 129 and mainly concentrated on the question of segregation, which I am not dealing with in this amendment.
§ A similar amendment was moved in Standing Committee in another place, but part of that amendment, which dealt with the times of attendance of appliances, has been left out of the amendment before the Committee now. I consider that those points in the amendment in another place were completely unsatisfactory. I did not regard the reply from the Minister in the other place as satisfactory. I hope that the Minister will be able to give some assurances, even if he cannot accept all the points made in subsection (2), that there needs to be more authority given to the Chief Fire Officer of the Kent Fire Authority than is proposed in the Bill, which places a lot of onus on the Eurotunnel officers and not on the Kent Fire Brigade. I beg to move.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
At first glance there are a number of perfectly reasonable features in the amendment, though I am doubtful whether they should appear on the face of the Bill. These are matters for the Intergovernmental Commission and the safety authority. As the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said, that is one of the many reasons why membership of the authority has to be satisfactory to reassure the public.
505 I should be grateful for help from the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, on how the discussions are going between the concessionaires and the Kent Fire Service. Inevitably when the committee was sitting these discussions were taking place. It would be helpful if he could give us an indication of the state of play.
The noble Lord may recall that one of the issues which we raised in the committee was the paradoxical position, at first glance, that the safety arrangements at international airports require the presence of full-time dedicated fire fighters, if I may so describe them. What arrangements have now been made among the Kent Fire Service, the concessionaires and the Home Office on this?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I agree with everything that has been said about the importance of ensuring the highest standard of preparedness for any fire and rescue emergency in the tunnel system. That means having the right numbers of men, with the right skills and the right equipment, standing by in the right places ready to respond promptly to whatever situations arise.
I agree also that the fixed link presents some unique problems for the fire and rescue services, in particular the sheer length of the underground tunnels. However, the Government do not accept that the organisational arrangements for providing fire and rescue cover need to he wholly different, in terms of basic approach, from those of other large installations involving special technical problems or large numbers of people. I have in mind such obvious examples as airports, oil refineries, chemical works and the London Underground.
In all these places, the first line of defence is provided by staff—including specialist fire-fighting staff—of the organisation concerned, trained to use equipment installed in readiness on the premises. The role of the public fire brigade is to be available and ready to deal with any situation likely to be beyond the capacity of the in-house team. In such an event the county brigade assumes overall command. This system has been shown elsewhere to work well in terms of combining effective cover with an efficient use of resources. The Government believe that this is the right approach also for the fixed link.
The proposition that fire cover in the English part of the tunnel system should be provided exclusively by the Kent fire authority would be inefficient because it would involve replacing Eurotunnel employees—some of whom would combine fire fighting and rescue responsibilities with other duties—with full time local authority firemen. And paradoxically, it would debar Eurotunnel from supplementing the Kent fire authority's resources with additional manpower of its own.
Nevertheless, the role of the Kent fire brigade, if there is a major emergency, will be crucial, and close co-operation will be necessary from the start of the construction of the fixed link on emergency procedures, facilities and training. But such co-operation, as we have already heard, cannot be limited to the English side of the Channel. Fire fighting is a bilateral matter. It is one of the very 506 important responsibilities of the Intergovernmental Commission and the safety authority. All the arrangements proposed by Eurotunnel for dealing with fire and other emergencies must be approved by the commission, acting on the advice of the safety authority.
The chief fire officer for Kent, as a member of the safety authority, will be in a very good position to ensure that the arrangements are completely satisfactory from the Kent brigade's point of view. I have no doubt that the advice of the chief fire officer on all matters pertaining to fire and rescue services will be given the very greatest weight in the safety authority's deliberations.
I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, how the Kent fire authority was getting on in discussions with Eurotunnel. I am afraid that I have not heard any more since the Select Committee was sitting but I shall certainly find out and write to him before the next stage of the Bill.
The Government's approach, as I have outlined it, was explained in detail to the Select Committees in both Houses. They were satisfied that it was correct, and I cannot recommend the inclusion in the Bill of the new clause.
Finally, perhaps I may say a few words about the detailed arrangements incorporated in subsection (2). The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, said, quite rightly, that it was entirely inappropriate to lay down such arbitrarily chosen details as these in the Bill. I looked with some surprise at one measure. Eurotunnel will have to consider the specification of the water supply. Whether it will suggest that two one-inch pipes are sufficient is not for me to say. It will then be for the safety authority to consider those proposals.
I hope that I have managed to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, that the new clause is not necessary; otherwise I must urge my noble friends to oppose it.
§ Lord Underhill
There is certainly no intention of asking the Committee to divide on this issue and I readily accept, as the Minister says, that it may have been unfortunate that we put in detail the five points under subsection (2). I agree that these matters ought to be determined by the chief officer of the Kent brigade along with the safety authority.
In his first few words the Minister stressed the importance of having the right number of personnel and the right appliances at the right time. That is the principle behind the amendment. Most of the larger airports have specialist men standing by. Only a short time would elapse before the normal local authority supplementary services could be brought in. It would not take very long. However, it is a different factor if members of the Kent fire brigade are standing by on the English side of the tunnel and there is a serious incident 10 miles into the tunnel. An appliance will not reach there in five minutes. That is why we detailed the latter part of the amendment which was discussed in another place and which referred to the first appliance arriving after five minutes and the second after eight minutes. From my knowledge of fire appliances, that is nonsense.
507 We wanted to ensure that the chief officer of the Kent fire brigade would be the authority and would make the decisions. I shall study carefully what the Minister has said. Part of what the Minister told us will be helpful and I should be grateful if, when he writes to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, he will send a copy of the letter to me. It is important to know precisely how far these discussions are going. If, at any stage, there is difficulty and the Kent chief fire officer feels that things are not moving in the right direction, I hope that the Minister will take the appropriate action.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
Perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Underhill—not that I disagree in any way with what he has said. I would specifically draw the Minister's attention to page 700 of the minutes of evidence. Not only is there the question of the Kent fire service being represented on the safety authority; one of Her Majesty's inspectors of fire services is also an alternate member of the authority, which I think is highly desirable. On the other hand, the Minister will note the cross examination on page 700 of the new Chief Inspector of Fire Services, Mr. Doyle. This related to one very important safety question. A serious incident occurred between Manchester and Yorkshire when a petrol train caught fire. Eighteen months after the request of the chief fire officers' association to have a meeting at the Home Office on this question nothing had happened. I hope that episodes of this kind do not take place again because they do not exactly enhance public confidence in the way in which our fire services are administered. I make no criticism of the new Chief Inspector of Fire Services who has been in his post for a relatively short period. It is however a disquieting episode. The Government produced a report on the matter and most of my colleagues were rather concerned when they read it. No doubt the noble Lord will take that into account when he sends the letter to the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, my noble friend Lord Tordoff and myself.
§ Lord Underhill
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for that intervention. It was extremely helpful and it illustrates how Parliament must be particularly careful to ensure that it secures the fullest possible information on safety measures at various stages. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, concluded with an important point. The public must be satisfied. If there is one issue on which the public is concerned, it is the safety of the tunnel. That came out clearly during the Second Reading debate. I am grateful for what has been said during today's debate. I shall give serious thought to those remarks and see whether or not we should come back with something at the Report stage. That may be doubtful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.508
§ 6 p.m.
Lord Mulley moved Amendment No. 74:
After Clause 20 insert the following new clause:
§ ("Facilities for evacuation of tunnel system
§ No passengers or goods shall be carried for reward through the tunnel system until the Secretary of State is satisfied that it is possible safely to evacuate persons from the tunnel system in the event of a severe fire incident occurring in that system.")
§ The noble Lord said: I am sure that, in his usual way, the Minister will say that this is an unnecessary addition to the Bill although many people have said in the course of our debates that things can change. On the one hand it is said that many things can happen in the next six years; on the other, until various safety and other considerations are evaluated by the safety authority and the Intergovernmental Commission, we cannot be sure what the final system will be. That indeed is a reasonable point of view. However, as my noble friend Lord Underhill has said on a number of occasions, and particularly clearly in his last speech, there is public concern about safety in the tunnel and about the risks that may arise in the event of a severe fire incident.
§ Eurotunnel themselves properly and understandably accept that this risk must be there, because in their memorandum they say that one of the advantages of their system is that there are two tunnels and if there is a fire in one tunnel then it will not spread to the other. Therefore, clearly they must accept, as any reasonable person must, that there is a risk.
§ Since so many things can happen after the Bill leaves this House and so many things will be done without any reference to Parliament, I think it not unreasonable before the tunnel is opened for public business that the Secretary of State, who must ultimately bear the responsibility, should give a certificate to the extent that so far as can reasonably be ascertained there is a safe system of evacuation should a fire incident occur.
§ Certainly if the Secretary of State at that time refused to say that in his opinion it was safe to use the tunnel, that would be a serious matter. Therefore, it is not unreasonable that we now propose, as we do not know what the future will bring, that whoever is Secretary of State at the time has this responsibility before the tunnel opens. I do not know whether the Minister is aware—he probably is—that it is a Treasury practice that on quite minor matters of public expenditure (for example, equipment commissioned for the Armed Forces) they do not pay the final bill unless they have a certificate to say that it is suitable and fit for the purposes for which it has been commissioned and designed.
§ In the enormous project on which we are now embarking it would not be unreasonable to ask the Government ultimately to accept responsibility for safety. The Minister properly says that he is not giving investment advice, and that the decisions about this and that within the project are commercial decisions for the concessionaries to decide. However, it was the Government (and I do not complain about this) which started the competition from which the present scheme has emerged, and I am sure that the Government will make a great claim for credit if this 509 is a success. Therefore there is an element of responsibility. Because of all the uncertainties—because many things will happen after the Bill leaves Parliament as an Act—it would not be unreasonable to ask the Secretary of State to give a decision of this kind before the system goes into operation. I beg to move.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
Once again I shall seek to persuade the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, that this clause is unnecessary. The concession agreement provides that Eurotunnel shall submit to the Intergovernmental Commission for approval their proposed safety arrangements and emergency procedures. Clearly the Intergovernmental Commission, acting on the advice of the safety authority, would not approve such arrangements unless it was satisfied that adequate evacuation measures were in place.
The advantage of this procedure is that the commission represents both the British and French Governments. It is thus able to ensure that there is consistency of treatment in such important matters as evacuation measures throughout the whole of the tunnel system, while the powers of the Secretary of State in English law would extend only up to the halfway point.
With those brief remarks I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, will be able to accept that the arrangements already laid down will in fact provide a better solution than that envisaged in his proposed new clause and be able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Mulley
I am obliged to the Minister for his reply. I do not know whether he can give us any guidance as to what point in the progress of the tunnel the Intergovernmental Commission will determine, as he suggests they should, that it is safe in every respect. Will this be just at the last moment, or will they come to this decision soon? If they are to wait until just before the tunnel is due to be used, then I would accept that this amendment would not be necessary.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I am not sure when the Intergovernmental Commission will give the final word, but the safety authority is already working with Eurotunnel on these matters. In fact it will be an ongoing process. I cannot say exactly when the final word of approval will be given, but obviously plans are being put forward and looked at, and presumably it is an ongoing discussion.
§ Lord Mulley
I am sure that it would be unreasonable to ask the Minister to give an assurance on behalf of whoever is Secretary of State at that time. However, I hope that it can be recorded so that before the tunnel operates a Statement will be made to both Houses of Parliament—if there are two Houses of Parliament at that time. Having let the Act go through without such a provision, whoever is here at that time will then have the opportunity to discuss the arrangements if it is thought that they are unsatisfactory. With that kind of understanding—I 510 am sure it would be unreasonable to ask for a firm assurance—I beg leave to withdrawn the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 21 agreed to.
§ Clause 22 [Control of traffic within the tunnel system]:
Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 75:
Page 19, line 47, leave out subsection (6).
§ The noble Lord said: I spoke to this amendment when I dealt with Amendment No. 52. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 23 [Approval of trains]:
§ [Amendment No. 76 not moved.]
§ Viscount Craigavon moved Amendment No. 77:
Page 20, line 15, at end insert—
("(2) Any such approval under this section shall only be given where the rolling stock can adequately convey the appropriate classes of traffic, including in the case of shuttle trains and through international passenger trains, pedal cycles.")
§ The noble Viscount said: I hope that your Lordships will allow me to pedal off at a slight tangent from the main thrust of the Bill on the subject of cycling. The intention of this amendment is to make provision for bicycles in international trains passing through the tunnel. The scenario that this amendment seeks to prevent is British Rail telling us in 1993 that it cannot carry bicycles because the rolling stock is not designed to carry them.
§ Some detailed discussions have already taken place with British Rail and this matter was aired in the Select Committee and raised by me at Second Reading when I said that I fully supported the Bill. I shall particularly be focusing here on the attitude of British Rail and the extent to which any undertakings it may give on bicycles are satisfactory.
§ Perhaps I may briefly say how the present position has been reached. An identical amendment to this was moved at Report stage in another place by Sir George Young. It was withdrawn when the Minister undertook to raise the matter with British Rail. At Second Reading in this House the Minister also told me that the matter was still being taken up with British Rail. I should say that it was at the Report stage in another place that Eurotunnel and the Government were graceful enough to accept an amendment by the cycling fraternity requiring the shuttle to provide space for the carriage of cycles, but that of course is only from one tunnel end to the other.
§ The Select Committee of your Lordships' House heard evidence upstairs on 30th March from cycling campaigners and counsel for British Rail; and in correspondence since BR has offered various assurances of its intentions. That is what I should like to concentrate on here. First, I should like to make it clear that cyclists are prepared to pay a proper commercial charge for carriage of their cycles even though at present they are carried free on cross-Channel ferries.511
§ I am talking about cyclists in general and I have been advised in particular by two well-established cycling organisations; the LCC, the London Cycling Campaign, and the CTC, the Cyclists' Touring Club. They are responsible organisations which have been monitoring BR's attitude and practice towards cycles over the years. They share the general feeling that BR is not the cyclists' friend; that it regards them as a nuisance and generally an afterthought in any planning process. I believe that it is fair to take into account BR's past record in assessing its present intentions in the matter before us.
The question that this Committee must decide is whether it can rely solely on BR's goodwill and judgment in this issue or whether the Bill should be amended to concentrate the mind of BR. I should like to describe the worrying problems that will arise if BR, in its wisdom, decides not to provide space for cycles on its international through trains. The only way for cyclists to benefit from the tunnel would be either to bicycle to Cheriton Depot or, as the Minister, Mr. David Mitchell, extraordinarily described at the Report stage in another place on 3rd February 1987 (col. 961):
by catching a train to Folkestone and cycling about half a mile to the Cheriton Depot where they will use the facilities that will be provided by Eurotunnel for the conveyance of cycles through the tunnel".
I understand that by the time the terminal is built that distance will be nearer three or four miles, and that that will be necessary at all times throughout the year, day or night, whatever the weather.
In addition, a cyclist would have to make sure that any connecting train to convey him to Folkestone was permitted to carry cycles. Many journeys would involve a change at London Termini and a ride across London. There are problems and deterrents enough, but they are doubled because they occur again on the other side of the Channel.
I compare that with the recent box advertisements that we have all seen headed:
Channel Tunnel starts at Manchester",
or Edinburgh or Cardiff. It is stated that there will be 15 million passenger journeys in the first year alone. Will all 15 million passengers be forbidden to bring cycles with them on the direct through routes to places such as Paris and Brussels simply because no space is allowed for them in the design of the rolling stock? I hope that the Committee will acknowledge that there is at the very least a problem to be dealt with.
The cycling lobby has no desire to try to impose on British Rail conditions which would be non-commercial. It is my belief and that of many others that carriage of extra passengers, plus their cycles, would be viable and indeed profitable. We should not be elitist in catering only for motor cars. Admittedly this is a difficult area in which to assess use; and in particular newly generated use, seven years ahead. As the Minister will no doubt tell us, BR is offering to conduct a survey, part of which is now going on, based on present usage and from these results to decide whether bicycle space is warranted.
512 Various bicycle organisations have agreed to and helped participate in part of the survey. Any survey, however limited, is better than none. Unfortunately, some of the key figures will not be available until next year, after the rolling stock has been designed; but, even more, after the passing of this Bill, the only real decision-making process will take place in the backrooms of BR. To me and to many other people, given the basis of the survey, it is extremely difficult to assess what criteria and factors will be used to judge whether the carriage of bicycles will be commercially viable in seven years' time. Also there is no attempt scientifically to assess new areas of demand that would be generated for cyclists. In brief, I am not only sceptical of the results of the survey but also of how they can be usefully interpreted.
If we allow British Rail to meet in the backroom to make this decision, it is bound only loosely by any assurances that it has given. It must also take with it the French and Belgian operators with whom it must agree the design of the rolling stock. I understand that both those operators are keen to make provision for cyclists.
What are the assurances that British Rail has given? At present the department within British rail which has been dealing with the matter seems from correspondence to be extremely solicitous and polite. So much so that it brought to my mind the concerned way in which politicians treat their electorate just before an election. Even a healthy democrat might be curious as to what will happen after the election—or in this case after the Bill is passed. The best assurance that we have had from BR was that given by its counsel at the end of evidence given upstairs on 30th March 1987, when he said:
if the market research coming forward this summer justifies carriage of cycles, then British Rail are actively keen to do so and will seek to persuade their European partners to include facilities within the specification of the services".
Another assurance was more restrained. It was given in a letter of 16th April from Mr. Orchard of the Department of Transport to a representative of the London Cycling Campaign. It states:
I do know however that BR have discussed the carriage of cycles with SNCF".
That is the French operator.
They both feel that as long as a commercial case can be made they will be happy to consider the carriage of bicycles on the through trains".
I should like to underline the words "happy to consider". That is, if the commercial case has been made, we are still only at the stage of the railway operators considering what to do. That is disappointingly weak, especially given my earlier scepticism of any clear message being derivable from the survey in the first place. A few years ago we had the well known example of the Harris Report endorsing the benefit of cycle carriage by British Rail yet being ignored by it even though it commissioned the report. I strongly hope that the Government can encourage British Rail to assist in the predicament and problem of cyclists and to take them more seriously.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
The purpose of Clause 23 is to enable the Secretary of State to ensure that any 513 trains that use the tunnel system to operate on the British Railway network satisfy all appropriate safety and technical standards. It is not intended to enable the Secretary of State to interfere in decisions by the railway operators in purely commercial matters, such as the types of traffic they will carry.
The Bill is quite rightly almost entirely silent on questions of this kind. Exceptionally Clause 18 requires the concessionaires to provide a service on the shuttle trains for pedal cycles and motorcycles of under 50cc. The noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, explained how this provision came to be inserted in the Bill in another place where a number of honourable Members felt it was not right that when the tunnel opens cyclists should not be able to use it if they wished to do so in preference to the ferries. In fact Eurotunnel had all along been ready to carry cycles if suitable arrangements could be made for overcoming the danger that could result from mixing motor vehicles and cycles in the terminal area, especially when driving into and out of the trains. By the time that Clause 18 was amended in the way I have described, Eurotunnel had more or less found the solution, and it has also been accepted by the French Government. The insertion in the Bill of a statutory obligation did not, therefore, occasion any difficulty for Eurotunnel.
The noble Viscount's amendment asks in effect why, if Eurotunnel can do it, British Rail should not also be obliged to make provision for pedal cycles? The reason quite simply is that it is not economic for British Rail to provide space for pedal cycles unless it is satisfied that there are sufficient cyclists who would use the service at a commercial fare. I remind the Committee that British Rail's international services are to be run on a strictly commercial basis, with Clause 41 of this Bill ensuring that there is no support from public funds. In these circumstances it would be quite wrong to compel British Rail to act uncommercially by providing expensive space if that would not yield a proper return. There is also the consideration that the international services will depend on co-operation between British Rail and its continental partners-probably using interchangeable rolling stock.
Therefore it will be necessary for British Rail to carry its partners with it in any decision of this kind. The noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, thought the Continental partners were keen on this, in which case all well and good. He also said that discussions with the cycling organisations had been going on for a long time now and that the position of British Rail had not changed in the last six months.
These matters cannot be decided instantly. As I said, British Rail needs to design its carriages and it has to assess the size of the market. It is all very well for the cyclists to say that they will use the tunnel, but British Rail needs to know how many and how often; otherwise expensive space on the trains will be allocated for the wrong purposes and a great deal of potential revenue will be lost. Nevertheless, British Rail has made it clear that it is ready to examine very seriously what it can do for cyclists.
Firstly, it has undertaken to include the question in its negotiations with Continental railways. Secondly, 514 and most importantly, it is in active discussions with the cycling organisations and has been co-operating closely in market research to assess the likely demand from cyclists. The noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, also mentioned that in his speech.
I am sure that these are the right first steps, and I hope the Committee will agree that it would be wrong to anticipate the outcome of these studies by imposing an obligation on British Rail which could well conflict quite directly with the commercial basis of its international services. I am sorry that I have not been able to sound more helpful to the noble Viscount, but this is a matter which must be settled between British Rail and the cyclists on a proper commercial basis.
§ Lord Underhill
Before the Minister sits down, has he or his department any view on this? We often hear about a road lobby at the department but I doubt very much whether there is a cycling lobby. Have the Government got any view about encouraging British Rail to find a solution?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
As I said at the beginning, it is up to British Rail. The Government do quite a lot of work so far as cyclists are concerned in regard to other matters. But particularly in this instance when British Rail is to be required to operate a purely commercial service on this route, it must be up to it to decide whether it is commercially viable to carry cyclists. If it is, well and good; but if it is not, as I said, it could be a matter of having a lot of expensive space on the trains which might or might not be used by cyclists.
§ Viscount Craigavon
I am grateful to the noble Lord for his comprehensive answer, although I am afraid it has not satisfied me. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, for having put his name to the amendment, indicating support. I have not tried to get up a huge bicycle lobby in your Lordships' Chamber, partly to save time and partly having regard to the timescale in which this Bill is being discussed.
I am afraid that the cyclists have been caught in a cleft stick by British Rail. If they are asking for detailed statistics of how many and how often cyclists are going to travel on this new and glamorous service in seven years' time, we are not able to supply those figures. If that is a bottom-line argument British Rail is going to use until the end of time and until the day of decision has passed, then we are going to be defeated.
But having said that, I again thank the Minister for his comprehensive answer. Having given a lot of thought to this subject, I should like to take it back for reconsideration and perhaps return with it at a later stage. On those grounds I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Let me also say before doing so that if I should bring it back at a later stage perhaps the noble Lord in the meantime could read my speech and try to get from British Rail a much clearer and firmer commitment than that quoted already. If that could be done I should be very much happier and, with that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.515
§ On Question, Whether Clause 23 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord Underhill
May I ask the noble Lord the Minister one question? The clause reads:Any train used for conveying passengers or goods through the tunnel system (including any shuttle train) shall be of such a description and conform to such specifications as may for the time being be approved by the Secretary of State".I wonder whether the Minister can explain where the safety authority comes in. If the specifications of the shuttle train, apart from any others, have to be approved by the Secretary of State, does that imply that the Secretary of State will have a certificate from the safety authority? How is it to work? It could mean that certain decisions are being taken now.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
It is a question to which I am sure I should know the answer, but I am afraid I shall have to write to the noble Lord.
§ Lord Mulley
I wonder whether I might also have a copy. In reply to an amendment of mine the Minister said that all this was not necessary because it was provided for. The idea that the Secretary of State should have anything whatever to do with the safety arrangements of the tunnel, which obviously must have a bearing on the specification of the trains, was nonsense. It would all be done by the Intergovernmental Commission. That seems to be something of a contradiction. I am glad to see Clause 23 and I should hate it to be removed. But I should like to know how the two arguments are to be squared.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I can give one explanation which I hope will satisfy the noble Lord. The arrangements will be subject to the requirements of the Intergovernmental Commission, but in addition they will have to take account of national requirements, and that is where the Secretary of State comes into it.
§ Clause 23 agreed to.
§ Clauses 24 to 31 agreed to.
§ Clause 32 [Competition, etc.]:
§ [Amendment No. 78 not moved.]
§ Clause 32 agreed to.
§ Clause 33 [Supplementary provisions with respect to orders under Part III]:
Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 79:
Page 25, line 43, leave out ("20(8), 22(5) or (6)") and insert ("22(5)")
§ The noble Lord said: I spoke to this with Amendment No. 52. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Mulley moved Amendment No. 80:
Page 25, line 45, leave out from ("Act") to end of line 47 and insert ("but such an instrument shall not come into force until it has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.")
§ The noble Lord said: I move this amendment entirely in an exploratory frame of mind, with a view 516 to obtaining clarification. It may seem a little more complicated because of the amendment the noble Lord himself has just moved to remove "20(8), 22(5) or (6)" from the special exemption of Clause 33(3). Clause 32 remains, and while I can understand that there is no need for parliamentary approval for the provisions that apparently have now been taken out, I would have thought it was important that Clause 32 should remain.
§ The main point of my amendment is to ask why this unusual procedure is being used in the Bill. As the Committee knows, it is normal practice that a statutory instrument shall be made either subject to an affirmative resolution—that is to say, it needs to be approved by a resolution of either House, and preferably both Houses, of Parliament—or to a negative procedure, where after a certain period of time it becomes law unless there is a Motion of one House of Parliament to annul it.
§ I wonder why this provision about the draft of an instrument is put in instead of the actual instrument itself coming for approval. One of the difficulties in dealing with statutory instruments in either House of Parliament is that they cannot be amended. Is it perhaps intended that the draft needing approval will be open to amendments being moved while it is being discussed prior to its approval?
§ A very unusual statutory provision is being proposed. I wonder therefore whether I may ask for clarification. Indeed, that is why I am moving this exploratory amendment. Why should we have in this Act the proposal that is now in subsection (3)(b)? Why do we not just follow the normal practice of making all statutory instruments made under powers conferred by the Bill subject to a resolution of one or preferably both Houses of Parliament? I should be most grateful if the Minister would explain. Certainly I do not think it particularly appropriate that no approval should be required for orders made under the competition section of the Bill. I beg to move.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I shall attempt to explain, I hope to the satisfaction of the noble Lord, Lord Mulley. I agree with him that Clause 11 is unusual in terms of its breadth and that some of the orders that we shall need to make will involve important issues of policy and principle. One or two such issues are the conferring of extraterritorial powers for the purposes of juxtaposed frontier controls and the creation of new criminal offences peculiar to the tunnel system. The Government fully accept that orders dealing with major matters of this kind should be subject to the affirmative procedure. In connection with the exercise of powers extraterritorially, I must also emphasise that the order-making power in this clause will only be exercised having regard to the accepted rules of international law concerning jurisdiction.
However, it would be quite wrong to assume that all orders under Clause 11 will be concerned with such important issues. Many orders will be technical and non-controversial, notwithstanding that they may involve in some cases the modification of existing primary legislation. We shall need to modify quite a lot of existing frontier control legislation, which is couched in terms applicable only to seaports 517 and airports, in order to render it applicable to the land frontier created by the fixed link. These orders will simply be making terminological adjustments involving no issues of policy. I submit that it would be a waste of parliamentary time to require such orders to be debated and approved before they came into force.
One can also envisage that some existing regulations under health and safety or animal health legislation may need to be modified in order to bring the fixed link within their scope. Generally, such amending orders will be made under the existing primary legislation in accordance with whatever parliamentary procedure—affirmative, annulment or none at all—that legislation prescribes. However, it may sometimes be appropriate to proceed instead by way of an order under Clause 11. In that event it would be absurd to be committed to the affirmative procedure when a similar order made under existing legislation would be subject only to the annulment procedure.
Orders under Clause 11 which, because of their importance, were dealt with under the affirmative procedure may subsequently need amendment—possibly to correct a small drafting slip or to update a technical detail. I submit that we ought not to commit our successors to putting every such minor amending order through the affirmative procedure.
I am afraid that it is not possible to define in cut-and-dried terms which orders under Clause 11 should be subject to which procedure. In the Government's view it is essential that they have discretion as to the appropriate procedure. This is not an unprecedented situation. We meet it regularly in connection with European Community legislation. The European Communities Act 1972 makes the same provision as in Clause 33(3)(b) for orders or regulations implementing Community measures. The guidelines for deciding which orders or regulations implementing Community measures should be debated in draft by Parliament before they are made are expressed in very broad terms and they were accepted by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. The Government have considerable discretion as to the choice of procedure, but they exercise that discretion in the light of well established practice and informal soundings through the usual channels. It is our intention to deal with Clause 11 orders in much the same way.
I must repeat the assurance previously given, that all orders under Clause 11 concerned with matters of principle or substantial public interest will be submitted to the affirmative procedure, but I strongly urge the Committee not to tie our successors' hands by imposing a rigid requirement that all Clause 11 orders, regardless of their significance, should be subject to that procedure. I hope that the noble Lord will be content with that assurance and will agree to withdraw this amendment.
§ Lord Mulley
I am grateful to the Minister for a very careful and considered reply. While I fully understand and agree that it would be quite wrong for either House of Parliament to be bothered with a large number of purely terminological or technical amendments just to bring the new frontier into line 518 with that of seaports and airports and so on, I cannot see how Parliament's time will be saved if the draft of the instrument has to be approved. I am puzzled about the difference between an order and an instrument containing an order. I am sure that there is a very good reason for it and it would be helpful if the Minister could give it to us. I do not understand that an instrument contains an order. I have always thought of a statutory instrument as being an order.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I understand that for the last 10 years at least the affirmative procedure has taken the form of approval in draft. That is how regulations implementing European Community measures are dealt with. That is as far as I can go in explanation at the moment.
§ Lord Mulley
I was seeking enlightenment. I had a little but I could have done with more. However, in view of that reply I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 33, as amended, agreed to.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 34 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Baroness Nicol
In paragraph 48 of its report, the Select Committee attaches great importance to the environmental quality of the landscape and to the need to secure the highest standards of design and management in executing the entirety of the A.20 improvements. That paragraph ends:The objective must be to sustain the quality of landscaping over a substantial period of time ahead".The Government have now responded to the Select Committee's report. That response completely fails to acknowledge the points made by the committee in respect of both the entirety of the landscape through which the A.20 runs and the need for specific binding agreements with adjacent landowners upon landscaping conditions.
In view of the fact that the Government have failed to give an adequate response to the report, there are two questions that I should like to ask the Minister about the Government's future intentions. First, does the Minister accept the need for long-term agreements, and if so what will be the length of their term? Secondly, will the Minister give an undertaking that long-term binding agreements will be entered into with adjacent landowners by the Department of Transport?
I should like to add that there is another aspect of this matter. On 27th April, when the witness from the Department of Transport was questioned by Mr. Popham, the agent of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, in discussion about the low rate of return on the road, the witness said:A particular factor to take into account in this case is that the terrain is difficult and hence the costs tend to be higher than the average road scheme, and the problem of the environmental provisions which have been made by way of a viaduct across Holywell and Roundhill tunnel, which have added to the cost and depressed the rate of return on the scheme".That seems fine until one looks at the environmental costs of the M.25 Swanley-Sevenoaks section and the 519 A.10-M.11 section of the M.25. Perhaps I may very briefly give the figures. For the A.20, which we are discussing at the moment, the total cost of construction is £55 million. All these figures have been given to me in parliamentary Written Answers, those for the M.25 in February last year and those for the A.20 last week. While the total cost of construction for the A.20 is £55 million, the total cost of environmental works is £4 million. That is 7.27 per cent. In the case of the Swanley-Sevenoaks section, the total cost of construction is £50 million and the total cost of environmental works £7.93 million, which is 15.8 per cent. Finally, for the A.10 M.11 section the total cost of construction is £120 million and the total cost of environmental works £30 million: that is, roughly 25 per cent.
In view of those figures, it is very difficult to understand the remarks made by the Department of Transport witness on 27th April. I wonder if the Minister can give a reply.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I am not able to reply to a point of such detail at this stage without notice. I agree that I gave those figures for environmental improvements to the proposed scheme. I am not sure that I follow the relevance of the different percentages. Presumably, environmental improvements cost more in some places than they do in others. I am afraid I shall have to read what the noble Baroness has said and write to her on this subject.
§ Baroness Nicol
If I could clear the point, as a percentage of the total expenditure, the figure is relevant.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I do not quite follow that, but I shall certainly read the noble Baroness's remarks. It seems to me that in some places environmental measures probably cost more than they do in others.
§ Clause 34 agreed to.
§ Clause 35 agreed to.
§ 6.45 p.m.
Earl De La Warr moved Amendment No. 81:
Before Clause 36 insert the following new clause:
§ ("Road improvements.
§ .—(1) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to prepare a schedule of the trunk roads which he expects will bear a significant increase in vehicular traffic as a consequence of the bringing into operation of the tunnel system.
§ (2) In respect of each road included in the schedule prepared under subsection (1), the Secretary of State shall identify what improvements are required to accommodate the expected increase in vehicular traffic, and shall use his best endeavours to ensure that such improvements are completed before the date of the bringing into operation of the tunnel system.").
§ The noble Earl said: This looks rather a formidable new clause but I must tell the Committee immediately, as I have already told my noble friend the Minister that I am not pressing it. The object is to ask a number of questions about the network of roads which leads from Folkestone; that is, other than the main artery, the M.20. There is grave concern that many of the improvements which are needed to the roads will not be completed at the 520 normal rate at which we are accustomed to see roads developed. There is good reason for thinking that some improvements might be as late as three to four years. This is worrying many of the local authorities and a large number of other people, particularly those responsible for proper traffic management. I hope that noble Lords will develop that argument as to why it is so important to get on with these roads. I draw the Committee's attention to the fact that this point was emphasised in the Select Committee's report.
§ I start with the A.259 which leads west from Folkstone, through Hastings and Brighton and finishes up way down in the west at Honiton. It is the eastern part of the A.259 that I want to talk about. This road, labelled as a trunk road, is not much of a trunk road at the moment; indeed parts of it are little more than Broads as those who know the Pevensey Marsh will, I think, confirm. But the improvements which are planned will in my opinion make this road adequate for many years at a cost of about £50 million.
§ The bypasses on this road which we are worried about are the Bexhill and west Hastings bypass; the east Hastings bypass which has only just been approved and for which consultants have not been appointed; the Rye bypass which is particularly difficult because the railway line has to be moved; and the projected bypasses at New Romney and, moving towards Hythe and Folkstone, at Dymchurch and St. Mary's Bay. They have only recently been approved and no consultants have been appointed. So these are very, very early days in their progress to becoming bypasses. I would be most grateful if the Government would give the Committee their best estimate of when each is likely to be ready.
§ I move now to the extension to the A.259 which is very important because of the link to the M.20 some two miles to the north. To take over this little road, the A.259 must come right into Hythe where the buses turn round and then turn north-west and climb up the escarpment until it meets the M.20. That is a very doubtful proposition indeed. I understand that no consultants have been appointed here either, although the Government appear to be intent upon the project. So far as I can see, there are two options. One is to take the little road on its present line which means that a number of houses on the road coming south from the M.20 will have to be demolished for road widening. I ask myself what the Shepway District Council will say about that.
§ The second alternative is to move a little to the west. This is hard to visualise unless one has seen it. The route would be down the B.2068 and through the Shepway Cross re-entry into the escarpment. There are no other options. All the way above Hythe there is a 250 foot escarpment which is geologically unstable and through which it would be impossible to drive any major works. I ask the Government to give us some special assurances in view of what I have said.
§ I come now to the A.2070 road which leads from Brenzett-in-the-Marsh north for about ten miles to Ashford where it joins up with the new Ashford south orbital road on which is situated the inland clearing 521 depot for goods vehicles and the new international station. It is potentially quite a good road but requires a great deal of work. It needs bypasses at Ham Street and Kingsnorth and some straightening and widening.
§ All these improvements which have been proposed by the Kent County Council have been turned down by the Government except for the little bypass at Ham Street. I ask myself why. Why phase an important little road like this, which is, quite obviously, because of the international station and the goods depot, very much part of the infrastructure of the tunnel? Would the Government please explain their attitude? I hope they will be prepared to tell us that they are on the point of approving this work for additional RSG.
§ I come now to the A.260 which leads from Folkestone northwards to the A.2 for about eleven miles; thereafter, it enables one to go to Canterbury and further north to Whitstable and Herne Bay. Most important of all, it enables one, having gone through Canterbury, to reach the M.2 and thus find an alternative route to London and the North, should there be any problem with the chosen route. It would cost about £10 million. It needs two small bypasses and some straightening and widening and the Government have only agreed to grants for half these improvements. It seems ridiculous not to carry out all these improvements at the same time. So, please would the Government explain why they take this line? When will they let the Kent County Council have the go-ahead? The A.256 is a road which leads from Folkestone via Dover and north to Thanet. Another Member of the Committee is familiar with that road and will address the Committee on the subject.
§ I should now like to turn to my final point, which is not so close to the tunnel but is connected with the M.20. The M.20 has a left-hand branch, the M.26, which joins it up with the M.25. At the point that the M.26 meets the M.25 it goes over a main arterial road from East London south past Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells to Hastings. That is the A.21.
§ If one was able to turn off it at that point, going westwards, it would open up a brand new entrance to the South-East of England, but one cannot because there is no turn off. If one was coming from the west going eastwards toward Folkestone, one could turn off and go south on the A.21, because there is a turn off. If one can do that one way why not the other? I ask the Government to have a look at that.
§ I apologise for the length of my questions but we are talking about some very important parts of local infrastructure in Kent and East Sussex, all of which are intimately concerned with the tunnel. I hope very much that the Government will not tell us that they will spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar. I beg to move.
§ Lord Teviot
My name is also put down to this amendment. However, I cannot follow the excellence of my noble friend Lord De La Warr, who has explained everything in great detail, done great service to the Committee and also provided a great deal of colour to the local area of Kent and East Sussex.
522 We have had the Second Reading and also the excellent Unstarred Question of my noble friend Lord Hardinge of Penshurst to which my noble friend gave some assurances. My noble friend Lord De La Warr is asking the Government to endorse those and I think that he is absolutely right.
§ Lord Pender
Before the Minister replies I wish to make two quick points in support of my noble friend Lord De La Warr, who put the amendment so cogently, although I think that after a long afternoon the Minister must be looking forward to his dinner. There is great concern that progress by the Department of Transport will not be sufficiently rapid to ensure that road improvements are completed on schedule by 1993. Indeed there have been suggestions that some schemes could run about two years late. I hope that that point will be in the front of the Government's mind.
I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the special circumstances of the A.256, which before the leaf is on the trees I can see from my bedroom window. The only drawback of living where I do is that the access on to that road is difficult.
The A.256 runs 30 kilometres from Dover to Ramsgate. It forms the third side of a triangle of primary routes in East Kent, which carry up to 10,000 vehicles a day. A good proportion of those are heavy vehicles. Injuries averaged 75 per year, with two fatalities per year over the last three years.
The Eastry bypass is to be much welcomed. Those Members of the Committee who know that village will be aware of the perils that heavy vehicles can bring as they travel through, some none too slowly. The bypass has reached the design stage. The route has been agreed and there is a start date fixed for 1990, perhaps earlier. But the ratepayers pick up the tab.
When the tunnel opens, the A.256 becomes a tunnel-related bypass. Unless there is massive road improvement before that time, which can only be achieved by government help, I dread to think of the congestion, frustration and bereavement in store.
Despite the fact that I can hear the tummy of my noble friend the Minister rumbling even at this distance, I rise only to support my noble friends Lord Pender and Lord De La Warr. I should like to thank the Select Committee of your Lordships' House for drawing attention to these points in paragraph 22 of its report. It stated in very strong language that a number of the local routes to the tunnel are of a poor standard and need to be improved with great urgency. Select Committee reports do not use adjectives lightly. The report's conclusion is absolutely right there.
I should like to make one further very quick point. It is simply that there is great concern in Kent County Council, and I am certain in Shepway Council as well, not forgetting the Sussex councils involved, about the piecemeal approach to vehicular road traffic improvement. If it is not done as a whole—I recognise the resource implications of these points—one rather gets the effect of driving down a sausage which is very fat in some parts and very thin 523 in other parts. That is absolutely hopeless. One is merely creating a series of bottlenecks. All I ask is whether the Minister could possibly consider very carefully what has been said and above all maintain consultations with the concerned local councils.
§ Lord Hardinge of Penshurst
In supporting the amendment it is rather difficult to avoid repeating some of the points that have already been eloquently put, especially by my noble friend Lord De La Warr. Therefore I shall keep my contribution short. I realise that the amendment is concerned with all the roads, and I am only anxious that East Sussex should not be left behind or come out in any way second best. It is an important area, very close to the main development, and the Government have gone a long way to recognise that in their assurances about the A.259 corridor. In particular the recent addition of the eastern Hastings bypass to the programme has been most welcome.
To me the most important part of the amendment is the last sentence of subsection (2). My noble friend Lord De La Warr and other Members of the Committee have touched on this. That subsection asks for an undertaking about the timing of the various agreed road improvements. I am sure that we all recognise the difficulties that must face any government in giving such undertakings, but I am coming to my main point and my reason for intervening in the debate.
I have the paper of the Secretary of State called Policy for Roads in England: 1987 Vol 2. On page 24 in paragraph 12, sub-paragraph 9, reference is made to major works on the M.20 and A.20. It continues:Preparation is continuing as quickly as possible to have all three outstanding schemes for this route in place subject to the necessary Parliamentary and statutory procedures by the time the tunnel is planned to open in 1993".At present local experts in both East Sussex and Kent predict that various essential improvements to the A.259 corridor will not be completed before 1996. Can we not have the same urgency for the A.259 corridor as for the M.20 and the A.20? Cannot the road developments that so acutely affect the towns of Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, Battle etc. be given the same priority as the major developments in Kent? Perhaps the Minister can give some reassurances about that in his reply.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Lord Ampthill
It is dreadful for the Minister to have to sit this geography exam just before dinner! However, I hope that he will be able to comment on the possible extension of the A.2.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I shall attempt to deal with your Lordships' questions in as much detail as possible. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord De La Warr for having notified me in advance of the particular roads he was going to mention. I have a map of them here.
I am of course in complete agreement with my noble friends that trunk roads, which will carry significantly increased traffic as a result of the Channel Tunnel, must have all necessary 524 improvements made to them. In so far as is practical, that should be done before the tunnel is opened. I hope that this amendment will not be pressed, as my noble friend has said it will not be, because I believe that the Government have already taken all reasonable steps.
The three trunk roads which are likely to be most affected by Channel Tunnel traffic are the M.20-A.20, the M2-A.2 and the A.259. Further afield, on the M.25 and beyond, the additional traffic generated by the tunnel will be small by comparison with existing traffic flows and should not, by itself, necessitate improvements being made.
The principal link between London and the Channel Tunnel and ports will be the M.20-A20, and planning has taken place on this basis. The missing link in the M.20 between Maidstone and Ashford is being completed and the A.28 between Folkestone and Dover is being replaced. One of the main reasons for including the improvement of half of the A.20 in the Bill was the need to ensure (subject to statutory procedures) that the road would be open by the time the tunnel opens.
With the improved M.20-A.20 as the principal route, the M.2-A.2 should not need substantial improvement, although the Government have given a formal undertaking that this will be kept under review once the effect of tunnel-related traffic is known. It needs to be borne in mind that even if it was decided now to go ahead with all speed with improvements to the A.2 between Lydden (where the dual carriageway stops) and Dover, the improvement would probably not be ready in time for tunnel opening.
Turning to the A.259-A.261, which is of particular concern to several of my noble friends, the bypass to New Romney was restored last October to the road programme, and in April the Government announced that bypasses to St. Mary's Bay and Dymchurch would also be restored in the programme. In addition the Hastings Eastern bypass would go ahead. The A.261 link to the M.20 at Stanford is to be trunked in replacement of the A.259 between Hythe and Folkstone. Consultants are to be appointed by the autumn to investigate and prepare detailed proposals for this road. They will examine all options, both along the line of the existing road and along new routes. We do not wish to rule out any possible option until the work has been done.
It is the aim of the department to complete all improvements, except the Hastings Eastern bypass, by the time the tunnel opens, or for them to be under construction by then. The timing depends on how quickly the detailed preparation and design can be progressed, and on completion of the statutory procedures.
It must be borne in mind that these new roads will pass through environmentally sensitive areas. Consultants were appointed in January to investigate possible routes for the Bexhill-Hastings Western bypass. It is hoped that consultants will be appointed this autumn for the New Romney, St. Mary's Bay and Dymchurch bypasses. Consultants for the Hastings Eastern bypass are unlikely to be appointed until 1988.
525 Any delay in the completion of the improvements would be inconvenient. However, estimated traffic flow figures indicate that the road in an unimproved state is unlikely to attract a substantial amount of additional traffic as a result of the Channel Tunnel. Any further improvements to trunk roads are not supported by current traffic forecasts and so could not properly be included in the national roads programme.
Turning to the local roads which my noble friends have mentioned in the debate, although the amendment only refers to trunk roads, I can say that in addition to the improvement to trunk roads, all necessary improvements are to be made to local roads. Kent County Council has identified 13 improvement schemes to local roads which will be needed for Channel Tunnel traffic. Its bid for transport supplementary grant for 1987–88 covered only eight of the schemes. Five of the schemes were given early conditional acceptance. Two of those were improvements to the A.2070 at Ashford, the A.2070 Hamstreet bypass, the A.260 Hawkinge bypass and the A.260 Denton bypass.
Three of the schemes were not accepted. Those were bypasses to Densole on the A.260, to Kingsnorth on the A.2070 and to Whitfield on the A.256. They were not allowed on the grounds that they were not such strong candidates for early conditional acceptance two full years before main works are due to start. Kent County Council has been invited to resubmit them and there need be no delay in the council's anticipated completion dates.
This year Kent County Council is also likely to put forward the remaining five schemes. All of the schemes will be considered sympathetically in line with the Government's assurance that resources for improvements to local roads which are necessary to cope with extra traffic resulting from the Channel Tunnel will be additional to the county's ordinary road programme. I think it is worth pointing out that the Kent schemes accounted for six of the 13 early conditional approvals granted under TSG for this year.
Turning now to the M.26 and the M.21-A.21, it was announced on 13th June 1984 that the provision of east-facing slip roads from the M.26 to the A.225 just east of the M.26-M.25-A.21 junction, known as the Chevening junction, would be abandoned. However, the need was to be kept under review and reassessed after traffic had settled down upon completion of the M.25 Swanley to Sevenoaks section. Since the M.25 section was opened in early 1986, there has been moderate pressure to provide facilities at the M.26-M.25-A.21 Chevening junction to allow traffic to turn off the M.26 westwards on to the A.21 southwards, and vice versa.
In order to establish whether there is a need to provide this facility, a traffic survey was undertaken by Kent County Council on behalf of the department in 1986–87. The results are being prepared by the county council and will be forwarded to the department shortly. If that study identifies a need, then in the usual way a scheme will be considered for adding to the national road programme.
526 I hope that my noble friend will accept that in the main, what he seeks is already being done. The Government have to be even-handed in their national road programme, but they are committed to the provision of the necessary road infrastructure for the Channel Tunnel. They have this very much in mind in reviewing the road programme. I hope that what I have been able to say this afternoon will give some assurance to my noble friends.
Earl De La Warr
I am grateful to my noble friend for the trouble that he has taken over the many questions which I put to him and for the clarity of his answer. Having said that, I must say that it is a little bit like the curate's egg. So far as the A.259 is concerned, I think that what the Minister had to say was encouraging. However, I cannot quite understand what is so difficult about Hastings East, which leaves the bottleneck. I hope that the Government will change their view on that and hurry it up.
As for the A.261, my doubts remain but we must all hope that when the consultants have made their report on how to get up the escarpment without pulling down local houses, the answer will be satisfactory.
As for the three county roads, I can only say that the Minister has confirmed that all the answers concerning the additional TSG grant are in every case still partial and the questions have not been answered. Over the next few years, we shall be pressing the Government hard from all quarters to try to get that matter put to rights.
I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said about the A.21. He may have detected that there was a slightly subjective element about the query. I am glad to hear that he is going to look after that. This has been a useful debate and I believe that there are many local authorities who will be very pleased to have the answers that have been given tonight. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Hesketh
Before I move that the House be resumed, I suggest that we do not come back to the Committee stage before ten past eight. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.