§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 19th December be approved [8th Report from the Joint Committee.]
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of the proposed order, subject to the approval of your Lordships' House, is to amend Section 1 of the 398 International Transport Conventions Act 1983, in order to take account of amendments to the convention concerning international carriage by Rail, known as COTIF, to which the United Kingdom is a signatory. The amendments are set out in Command Papers 1689 and 1690.
§ COTIF was signed on behalf of the United Kingdom on 9th May 1980. It brought together a number of earlier conventions dealing with various aspects of the international carriage by rail of passengers, luggage and goods. The purpose of these conventions was to create a uniform system of carriage law for international through traffic by rail.
§ Section 1 of the International Transport Conventions Act 1983 gave effect to COTIF—in the version published in English in Command Paper 8535—in the United Kingdom. The amendments before your Lordships tonight are the first to be promulgated since the 1983 Act. They were drawn up by a revision committee in accordance with the provisions of the convention. The UK played a full part in the revision committee and the Government fully support the amendments.
§ Amendments adopted by the revision committee automatically come into force for member states one year from the date of their notification to member states by the central office which administers the convention. On that basis, the amendments adopted by the revision committee in December 1989—and which are contained in Part I of the protocol reproduced in Command Paper 1690—came into force for the UK on 1st January 1990. On the same basis the amendments adopted by the revision committee in May 1990—and which are contained in Part I of the protocol reproduced in Command Paper 1689—came into force on 1st June 1991.
§ The amendments make detailed changes to the rules applying to the international carriage of passengers and freight. Several of them update the limits on the compensation payable by the railways in certain circumstances, such as the loss of registered luggage, to take account of inflation. Others remove references to categories of service formerly provided by some continental railways but which have ceased to exist. Many are less comprehensible to the layperson and concern the detailed and complicated procedures followed by the railways in these matters.
§ As I explained earlier, Section 1 of the International Transport Conventions Act 1983 gave effect in the UK to COTIF as reproduced in Command Paper 8535. It is therefore necessary to amend Section 1 to refer to the convention as it now stands, by introducing references to Command Papers 1689 and 1690.
§ Section 8 of the 1983 Act provides for Her Majesty the Queen to make appropriate amendments to the Act by Order in Council where the Government have agreed to a revision of the convention. Before Her Majesty can be recommended to make such an order, a draft must be laid in Parliament and be approved by a resolution of each House. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 19th December be approved [8th Report from the Joint Committee.]—(Lord Brahazon of Tara.)399
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, I am certain noble Lords are pleased to have received that explanation of the order. The convention establishes rules and is an excellent example of the type of co-operation which is so essential for the regulation of the international transport of passengers, goods and other materials. As a member state of the convention, we naturally have an obligation to accept the amendments to which the noble Lord referred.
The Labour Party fully accepts the Act and the amendments to which the noble Lord has referred. I was pleased to note that undertakings have been given by both British Rail and the Northern Ireland railways that on the appropriate date they will carry into effect the amendments to which the noble Lord has referred. We hope the order will receive the full approval of noble Lords.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Lord Cavendish of Furness
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 8.5 p.m.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The Sitting was suspended from 7.10 to 8.5 p.m.]