HL Deb 26 May 1994 vol 555 c877

12.50 p.m.

Viscount Goschen rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 26th January be approved [6th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

This is a very simple and uncontroversial order. Its purpose is to put the Government in a position to ratify a number of detailed amendments to the convention concerning international carriage by rail, to which the United Kingdom is a signatory.

The convention provides positive benefits to passengers travelling abroad by rail and to freight companies shipping goods by rail internationally. It creates a uniform basis for claims in the event of loss or damage. Without the provisions of the convention, individual railway operators would need to negotiate separate carriage agreements with their counterparts in all the countries through which they would wish to provide an international through rail service. With the opening of the Channel Tunnel, there will be greatly increased international rail traffic between the UK and the Continent and the convention will become that much more important for us.

The amendments to the convention make detailed changes to the procedures for its administration and to the rules applicable to the international carriage of passengers and freight. The amendments were agreed at the 1990 general assembly of the states which are signatories to the convention. They comprise the 1990 protocol, reproduced in Command Paper Cm. 2232.

The convention is given the force of law in the UK by the International Transport Conventions Act 1983, as amended by Order in Council in 1992. The draft order will amend the Act, enabling the amendments to have effect in United Kingdom law from the date when the 1990 protocol comes into force. This will be 12 months after its ratification by two-thirds of the member states. So far, 13 out of the 36 member states have ratified.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 26th January be approved [16th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Viscount Goschen.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.