HL Deb 09 December 1998 vol 595 cc98-9WA
Lord Williams of Elvel

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they intend to implement the review of the arrangements for transport safety announced in the transport White Paper. [HL239]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty)

The White Paper on the future of transportA New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone announced the Government's intention to review the arrangements for transport safety, including those for accident investigation.

In carrying out this review, we will address recommendations from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee that transport safety regulation should be focused on a single independent authority as a means of separating safety regulation from operational responsibilities. As the Select Committee's recommendations have potentially wide-reaching implications for the current institutional framework, the review will embrace all transport modes and consider the roles and responsibilities of a number of organisations concerned with transport safety.

The aim of the review is a modern institutional framework designed to deliver continued improvements to transport safety and secure public confidence. It will focus on the principles that should govern the organisational and regulatory arrangements for transport safety, including those for personal security, and cover the main areas of public concern, from the setting of safety standards to the investigation of accidents. In particular, it will address institutional obstacles that are seen to act as a constraint to better regulation of safety and consider whether there are aspects of the current organisational arrangements that could give rise to conflicts of interest. It will not address the substance of policies for the operational safety of individual modes taken forward within the current institutional framework.

An inter-departmental steering group has been set up to guide the review which will work to the following terms of reference: "to consider whether a more integrated or unified approach to transport safety across modes would be more effective, produce a safer travelling environment and secure best value for money". The review will involve representatives of the transport industries and those working in them, together with consumers. We have set up a small advisory panel to provide an independent sounding board and external influence on the work of the review. There will also be consultation in the spring on the organisational and operational principles that should apply to any new arrangements for transport safety.

Our aim is to complete the review process and announce decisions in about 18 months.