HL Deb 04 July 1994 vol 556 cc1006-60

3.40 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

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.—(Lord Strathclyde.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 24 [Controls on London lorries: replacement of discretionary exceptions]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 176C:

Page 21, line 37, after ("applies") insert ("provided that the Secretary of State has consulted the London borough councils and the Common Council of the City of London").

The noble Baroness said: With Clause 24, we come to a debate on the London lorry ban. On Second Reading, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, spoke some welcome words. He said:

We propose to maintain the ban on lorries in the London area at night and during weekends".—[Official Report, 6/6/94; col. 1048.)

Those words were welcome to your Lordships and to those outside this Chamber who are affected by heavy lorries in London. They fear that, although the words on the face of the Bill do not provide for the abolition of the scheme, that will be the effect; or, if not its abolition, at least its severe emasculation. Unless the scheme is easily enforced, it is unlikely that the ban will be effective.

What is the problem with heavy lorries? In 1983, the report of the committee investigating heavy lorries in London, under the chairmanship of Derek Wood, asked:

If lorries provide the service the public wants",

which refers to bringing goods into our shops and so forth, why should people dislike them so much?".

That is an interesting question. The report went on to state:

The heavy lorry is regarded by many as an alien intruder … From what we saw and heard we are quite satisfied that there is a number of areas in London where the nuisance and disruption caused by heavy lorry traffic is such as to reduce living conditions to a level well below what most people would regard as acceptable. This observation is not confined to one or two notorious roads which are constantly referred to in debates on this subject. There are many similar roads, particularly in inner London, and the problem cannot be lightly dismissed".

The report further stated that there is an impression that complaints about lorries come from a handful of unrepresentative environmentalists and politicians—I am happy to be lumped with the environmentalists— and added:

In this they are seriously and badly wrong".

Indeed. Only yesterday I was contacted by a councillor in a north London borough whose ward covers a major through-route. Her residents are deeply worried about the spread of lorries from the trunk road. Spontaneously —by which I mean without the instigation of a politician or, indeed, an environmentalist—several hundred signatures were put to a petition against a change to the ban; and that within a very short time. That is only one example of the public's anxiety about lorries in London.

Perhaps I may take a moment of the Committee's time to explain the scheme. A number of the amendments on today's Marshalled List relate to the ban, and I promise that I shall not speak at such length on others that stand in my name. However, I wish to set the context.

The London Boroughs Transport Scheme is operated and financed by 20 of the 32 London boroughs and by the City of London. Boroughs which are sandwiched between those that subscribe also benefit from the scheme. It administers a traffic order made in 1985—the: so-called "London lorry ban"—whose objective is to reduce nuisance, pollution and the hazards brought about by heavy goods vehicles which travel through London. The order restricts heavy goods vehicles without exemption permits from the excluded roads, which are mainly trunk roads, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and from 1 p.m. on Saturday for the rest of the weekend. The order allows; for fines of up to £1,000.

The scheme covers vehicles above 16½ tonnes, and exempted vehicles must have permits fixed in the cab and exemption plates fitted. The scheme issues permits to allow vehicles into the restricted areas. It currently covers 30,000 vehicles operated by 3,300 hauliers. The scheme has only five enforcement officers but, in co-operation with the Metropolitan and City police forces, it brings about 2,000 prosecutions per year. Boroughs which are not in the scheme administer the traffic order using their own system or they accept the LBTS permits. One of the requirements of the permit scheme is that vehicles, excluding vehicles plated at 17T, must be fitted with air brake silencers where practicable.

In January this year, the Department: of Transport announced that it intended to abolish the permit scheme but to retain the requirement that heavy vehicles which enter London at night must not use restricted streets unless they have necessary business there. The Government's stated policy is to reduce the burden on the haulage industry which is imposed by the permit system and to release those resources for better enforcement. If the permit scheme were abolished, enforcement of the traffic order would thus depend on the police stopping lorries for investigation by the LBTS enforcement staff. We shall discuss enforcement later.

The London Boroughs Transport Scheme commissioned a survey by Touche Ross. It found that most haulage firms disliked the bureaucracy of the scheme but did not object to the scheme per se because they appreciated the underlying reason for its existence. Rather than being negative, the hauliers made a number of suggestions to improve the scheme. They included, for instance, issuing permits lasting two or three years to operators who have a good compliance record and allowing more flexibility on routing, perhaps allowing non-approved routes away from the trunk roads and permitted roads by prior arrangements where special circumstances exist. That does not amount to the abolition of the permit scheme.

Furthermore, Touche Ross found that if the permit system were abolished the total sum that would be saved each year by the haulage industry would be some £437,000.I ask Members of the Committee to consider whether, across the whole industry, that sum is of such concern when set against the benefits of the scheme.

Having explained briefly how the permit scheme operates, perhaps I may refer to Amendment No. 176C. It requires the Secretary of State to consult with the London borough councils and with the City of London. I hope that, of all the amendments tabled today, this is one which the Minister can readily accept.

Earlier this year, I tabled a number of Questions for Written Answer. On 15th March I was informed that:

full consultation … will take place in due course".—[Official Report, 15/3/94; col. WA6]

In another Answer I was also informed that:

Formal consultation with the police and other interested parties … will take place in due course".—[Official Report, 15/3/94; col. WA6.]

On 10th February I was informed that:

If the Secretary of State for Transport were to propose to use the powers contained in Clause 24 … he would do so only after full consultation with all interested parties".—[Official Report, 10/2/94; col. WA135.]

I do not for one moment doubt the integrity of the Minister who gave that Answer and I hope that we shall be given similar assurances today. However, I believe that the matter should be contained on the face of the Bill. As was said previously, consultation means listening and perhaps changing one's mind in the light of representations. It is not a mere cosmetic exercise.

I hope that the Minister will tell the Committee that the Government will accept the amendment and the fact that the ban is an environmental success. I hope that they will not look to the police, whose scarce resources need to be used in fighting crime, but will allow the boroughs cost-effectively to continue their efforts to protect their own residents and to seek the balance between the interests of the freight industry and the peace and quiet of Londoners. I beg to move.

Lord Clinton-Davis

I rise to support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness. I speak also to Amendment No. 177M which stands in my name.

I believe that it is essential to have very specific provisions relating to consultation on the face of the Bill for a number of reasons, partly connected with the Government's history of opposition to that scheme back in 1986; partly because of the way in which they have gone about the business of producing the provisions that are now before the Committee; and partly because I do not accept that this Government have an immaculate record with regard to the desirability of full consultation.

Of course, I accept the basic proposition advanced by the noble Baroness. The Committee will be indebted to her for her explanation of the scheme which means that the rest of us do not have to go into that specific detail. I believe that she was absolutely right to give that explanation as the backcloth to this debate and, indeed, to the others which are to follow.

The Minister will have to explain why the Government opposed the ban in 1986. That is absolutely crucial, because the Minister will be asking us to accept the Government's bona fides at this stage. But in fact it took a judicial review, in which the Secretary of State was found to have acted outside his powers in trying to stop the ban, before the scheme could come into effect on 31st January 1986. Therefore, we want to know why the Government, acting complicitly of course, in those days as now, with the road haulage industry wanted to oppose the ban.

That ban was the result of an outstanding piece of work on the part of a committee chaired by Mr. Derek Wood, QC, the report of which was published in 1983. Unlike the way in which the Government have gone about consultations in this case—if one can deign to call them that—the committee received written representations from more than 2,500 people, mainly individual householders or members of residential or environmental groups. Before the committee published its report, it sat in public for 39 days and received evidence from 153 witnesses. That was the way in which the night and weekend lorry ban was perceived and eventually acted upon.

That ban has been acclaimed widely because it has met the requirements of Londoners. They are unlikely to be moved by the considerations which have moved the heavily biased task force. That task force was dominated overwhelmingly by the road haulage industry, the Freight Transport Association and building and roadbuilding construction people. Did the Minister expect them to say that they are now in favour of a ban which they have opposed vigorously over the years; that they now wish to see it become a great success; and that they wish to improve it? That is not at all consistent with what has happened. The Minister well knows that.

The agenda was set very clearly by the task force because mat is what the Government wanted. As I have already indicated, the Government did not favour that ban. I part company from the noble Baroness in one respect; namely, that she seemed to accept the Government's bona fides in that regard, while, frankly, I do not. It is true that she went on to say that the effect of the Government's proposals would be to emasculate the scheme. That is precisely what they have in mind because it does not suit their paymasters. Many of the people who sat on the task force are representative of organisations which donated very heavily to the Conservative Party and which are biased in favour of doing away with the scheme.

Secondly, why did the Government not think it appropriate to consult the London boroughs? Why were those issues, with their manifestly important considerations which are wider than the burden on industry— concerning safety, the environment and a whole host of matters which are highly germane to residents in London—not addressed before the Government decided to put this clause before Parliament? They did not consult the London boroughs; and they did not consult anybody else. Now they are prepared to consult, but they have made up their minds.

I should have thought that those employed in the industry are entitled to some passing recognition; but not at all. Environmental groups have not been considered. For that reason it is extremely important that the question of consultation should be addressed specifically on the face of the Bill.

I do not trust the Government. I believe that if this Bill were to pass through Parliament, the Government would go through some process of consultation. But their opinions will be immovable. It is extremely important indeed to be very specific about the nature of the consultations upon which we wish to embark. The noble Baroness is right to say that we shall later discuss issues affecting environmental matters and enforcement, but in many ways this issue goes to the heart of the Government's bona fides. I believe that they will be found wanting.

Lord Monson

I support this amendment moved so well by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I should perhaps say in passing that, from conversations that I have had with a wide range of people in my neighbourhood, I know that a considerable number of the people who normally vote Conservative are unlikely to do so at the next general election if they believe their peace and quiet, their health and safety and the health and safety of their children stand to be menaced once again by heavy lorries. Of course the Government are free to disregard those sentiments; that is entirely up to them.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

This amendment was moved beguilingly by the noble Baroness. There was almost nothing in what she said with which I felt it possible to disagree. The heavy lorry has long been detested. It has few champions outside the industry. That is only half the story. Of course the other half of the story is that what we are pleased to call civilised life can hardly continue without the heavy lorry. The noble Baroness made it quite clear that she is aware of that. In the cities more than in the countryside the heavy lorry is essential if sophisticated populations living in densely populated areas are to have the necessary supplies. It is also true to say that the vehicles tend to become bigger and bigger and the streets, for very obvious reasons, do not.

I have always felt disappointed that during the days when I had something to do with such problems such matters were handled, in London at any rate, by a committee of the GLC. I do not believe that it was particularly effective. However, what I do regret is the fact that there has been no long-term effort to deal with the problem. Indeed, planning on the whole has not been used as it might have been where new premises are being erected or old ones modified to insist that proper facilities for loading and unloading are provided. No major effort has been made, as has been the case in other countries, to have limited times for delivery of goods. I do not believe that it is a party issue. It indicates a certain sloppiness of mind on the part of all of us who very much wish to have our cake and eat it and not become involved in a rather difficult situation.

I am somewhat worried about the provision in the Bill. The replacement of one exception with another, or perhaps with none at all—even if by doing so we would remove or reduce the burden—seems to me to be giving Ministers very considerable powers. Such an amendment to Clause 24 can be dealt with by negative proceedings and that in this Chamber means very little, if anything. I hope that the Government will take the matter away and give it some further thought, especially in view of the way that the noble Baroness moved the amendment. As I saw it, there was no desire on her part to make party points or to put any undue blame upon the Government.

Quite rightly, the noble Baroness drew attention to a very real problem which has been growing at an intolerable rate for a long time. She expressed concern —and I am sure she is not alone in that feeling—that if Ministers are given powers that are too wide to do away with inconvenient rules which have become incon-venient to a particular section, they will come under very heavy pressure to use them. I believe that that could result in considerable injury to the environment. It would also provide an excuse for not taking the long-term policy decisions which are required.

4 p.m.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

Perhaps I may add just a few words on the matter. There are a good number of amendments to the Bill tabled in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, with which we shall no doubt deal. However, it seems to me to be sensible for us to have a more general debate on the amendment about consultation. I should like to endorse the points just made by my noble friend Lord Peyton. It is not really a party issue. I am president of the London Boroughs Association and, I am happy and grateful to say, I still am despite the change in control of that body.

However, the association has been divided on the merits of the so-called lorry ban—that is, the night and weekend lorry ban—but certainly not on party grounds. If I had a complaint about the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, I would say that he seemed to elevate the matter into a party battle. It is not. Different representatives of the boroughs in London have, for good and valid reasons, different points of view. For example, the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been in touch with me on the matter. The borough is unhappy with the suggestion that the permit system should be abolished because it is regarded as the most effective way to enforce the ban. It has expressed the anxiety that perhaps the savings and costs to the hauliers have been somewhat exaggerated and has called in aid the report by Touche Ross referred to by the noble Baroness.

The London Boroughs Association has drawn my attention to new estimates prepared by Oscar Faber plc, which is a firm of transport engineering consultants, on the costs of enforcement. Neither the association nor I has yet had a sight of the findings. However, I have been told that, after taking into account savings arising from the abolition of permits, the enforcement: measures proposed by my noble friend would increase the haulage industry's costs by over £300,000 a year. I see that the noble Lord wishes to intervene. I give way.

Lord Clinton-Davis

I am much obliged. The noble Lord said that I made a partisan speech. It was indeed a partisan speech against the Government. However, what the noble Lord is now saying —namely, that: the views of borough councils in the LBA before the local council elections were of great significance—is something of which the Government failed to take notice. That was; one of the major points that I made in my speech.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

The noble Lord has now made his speech twice. I believe that we now understand what he said. However, as I was saying, there is a variety of opinions on the merits of the issue and on the merits of the permit scheme as a means of enforcing the rule. As I already mentioned, the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which on the whole does not have a majority that supports the noble Lord opposite, has especially drawn my attention to that fact.

I return to the Oscar Faber study, which found that the costs of the haulage industry might increase by over £300,000 a year and that police and local authority enforcement costs would rise by an estimated £160,000 a year. The supporters of the scheme point out that the alleged burden of minimal administrative costs would be replaced by a larger burden on the unwieldy enforcement system.

I should stress to my noble friend that I believe that the latter enhances the case for consultation. It would have to be consultation with the individual boroughs. I am advised that it is not possible, even under the new disposition, to expect a single view to come from the representative bodies, and certainly not from the London Boroughs Association. It is quite clear to me that there is now a good deal of support for the ban and a good deal of anxiety about the suggestion that the permit scheme should be abolished. I do not believe that such opinions are merely confined to the other side of the Committee. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to take note of that fact.

Lord Finsberg

I am disturbed by the remarks just made by my noble friend Lord Jenkin. I was involved with the fight against the ban in the 1980s when it was the brain child of a weird man called Dave Wetzel who lived across the road from here in County Hall. On that occasion, he was motivated by a bias against the road haulage industry. I declare no interest in the latter. I tried to reason on behalf of the Multiple Shops Federation, on whose council I sat in those days. One of the difficulties about the large lorry ban is that, if you ban the large lorry, you then split the load into three smaller lorries. No one has yet found an answer to that problem. Moreover, if you go too far, you will increase the cost of transportation and the customer pays more.

I can see that there is a case for consultation. However, my noble friend Lord Jenkin will remember that we once had one voice speaking for London local authorities; namely, the London Boroughs Association. It decided, like an amoeba, to become a spin-off, second body and one basically controlled by the Labour Party. That meant that the Government had to consult two organisations. When I was a Minister in the Department of the Environment, I tried to persuade London authorities that their voices would be heard rather more strongly if they came from one body.

However, now my noble friend has said that our noble friend the Minister would probably have to consult all the London boroughs. That, I suggest, is an impossibility. I would hope that if there is to be any consultation, it will take place with the organisations that represent local authorities in London. I still express the hope that those organisations might decide that they would have a more powerful voice if they were to join together.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

It seems to me that there is some danger in confusing the two issues: that of the lorry ban and that of the permit system. The Government propose to abolish the permit system which has proved to be not effective. In fact, my understanding is that at the outset only 20 of the London boroughs took part in that permit scheme. The first two amendments that are before us this afternoon are designed to create a bigger talking shop with regard to a matter which has proved to be ineffective.

Lord Clinton-Davis


Lord Lucas of Chilworth

Why is it ineffective? My noble friend Lord Peyton gave one reason; my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding gave another. It is quite impossible to ban lorries 24 hours a day for the reasons just given; namely, that if one splits up the load of one large lorry, one will encourage people to replace it with four smaller lorries. By and large, one is as aggravating as another, particularly late at night. Surely in a deregulation Bill, we do not wish to add more discussion with other bodies. I have a letter which was addressed to the Freight Transport Association from the headquarters traffic superintendent of the Metropolitan Police. The letter is dated 9th March. I shall quote one paragraph in which the superintendent writes: As I said, we do not regard the proposal to abolish the permit system as presenting any particular difficulties for Police. We shall continue to respond to requests for assistance from the Lorry Control Unit of the London Transport Boroughs Scheme". He writes in his final paragraph: We agreed that deregulation is likely to result in more vehicles being stopped than at present. Because it is often during such stops that other, unrelated, offences tend to come to light… Therefore it will be in the interests of the police to make those further checks. To discuss this matter with a great many other bodies seems to be totally and absolutely counter-productive. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will resist that.

4.15 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish)

We have had an interesting little debate on this part. I shall refrain from answering all of the points because I rather suspect that some of them are more related to other amendments and I do not wish to be accused of repeating myself, although I suspect that I am in danger of doing so this afternoon. For example, I will leave the question of the costs to the road haulage industry of the permit system until we reach the appropriate amendment, where I believe that will be the subject of the discussion.

My noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth, like my noble friend Lord Finsberg, laid bare the dilemma we all have in the kind of modern society in which we live, whether that arises from the pollution or the noise caused by vehicles, and whether the vehicles concerned be lorries, cars, or—dare I even mention it?— aeroplanes. The simple fact of the matter is that they are all important parts of modern living and without them our lives and our standard of living would be significantly the poorer. But we must try to make sure, as far as we possibly can, that we gain the advantages of these transport systems and at the same time that we lessen the disadvantages in environmental terms and in other respects. One of the problems is the need to try to reduce the impact of lorries, whether they be large or small—some of my noble friends have referred to this —in residential areas. Some people might suggest that we should ban those lorries. However, as my noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil pointed out, if one bans those lorries, the shops and supermarkets, for example, in central London, would not have the supplies the customer wants when the customer enters the shop at nine o'clock in the morning. Therefore I think everyone is agreed that some heavy lorries need to enter areas such as central London.

I believe everyone is also agreed—although the listener might be forgiven for thinking otherwise—that the ban, as it is currently constituted should stay; namely, that during the hours of darkness and at the weekends lorries should not enter London when they do not need to be there. The Government have no proposals at all—nor would this clause give them such a power —to do anything to alter that ban. It is not the ban that we are discussing: we are all at one on the need to have the ban with, of course, the proviso that those people who need to make deliveries may do so but they must use the shortest possible route when they drive on non-exempt roads.

In this clause we are discussing whether the bureaucratic system which has been devised in London is in the best interests of both the ban, and businesses and local authorities themselves. Therefore this discussion should not be a tirade—as I thought it was going to become—against the usual shibboleths of the freight transport industry, road builders, hauliers and all the other evil ghosts raised from the past that the party opposite used to love to hate. However, as I understand it, as modernisers, they are no longer supposed to hate those ghosts.

We also heard about the Touche Ross report from the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I have not had a chance to study that report, as it came into the hands of staff in my department about half an hour ago. However, I listened with interest to her point that the road haulage industry disliked the bureaucracy but not the ban. That is my position entirely. I dislike the bureaucracy: I do not dislike the ban.

Clause 24 will give the Secretary of State for Transport the power, exercisable by order, to amend local authority traffic orders in Greater London which impose a prohibition or restriction on the use of a road by heavy lorries unless a permit is granted. It is just the permit system in London at which this clause is aimed. We believe—and I believe —that this will allow the removal of the red tape and bureaucracy involved in the present permit scheme operated in relation to the London wide night-time and weekend lorry ban. I should again make it absolutely clear to prevent any doubt that we are in no way attempting to change the ban itself. It is the permit system which we consider to be highly bureaucratic. The clause would enable us to retain the ban while reducing the bureaucracy. Under subsection (9) of the clause—

Lord Peston

I hope I may interrupt the noble Lord. I have listened attentively to what he has had to say to try to understand the Government's pasition. The Minister's noble friend Lord Peyton put the point clearly; that we want to find goods in our shops but we do not like the lorries that put them there. I have listened as carefully as I can to the Minister, but when the Minister said that the Government do not want to change the ban, I took him to mean also that we do not want any more lorries in central London causing congestion and pollution. Therefore I am not clear what the effect of the clause is. If it leads to no more lorries and if it does not lead to any changes whatever, what does it actually do? That seems to me to be the central question. At no point does the Minister tell us what the clause actually does. What makes me fearful—I speak entirely as a layman—is that if one makes it easier and if one gets rid of what is called the bureaucracy, one will end up with more lorries. I am afraid that that is what troubles some of us. Will the Minister at least explain that?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

It is not bureaucracy which stops lorries coming into London; it is the ban. The ban means that one can only enter London within the M.25 at night or at the weekend if one has to deliver or load within that area. If one is going from north to south or east to west, the M.25—which some people did not like either—allows one to go round London. One does not have to go into central London.

The ban stays. It minimises the number of vehicles which come into central London. It bans those which are simply transiting central London. We are not attacking that ban at all. We believe that it strikes a perfectly reasonable balance between the needs of transport to enter central London to deliver and the needs of people in London not to be disturbed at night or at weekends.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

I am grateful to my noble friend for giving way. It may be that I have not understood the matter correctly. However, in the notes on Clause 24 in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum the words used are: The orders affected are those which impose prohibitions or restrictions on the use of heavy commercial vehicles in London". Does that tell only half the story?:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I shall obviously not have time to read the note that my noble friend quoted. Clause 24 empowers the Secretary of State for Transport, after he has consulted, to remove the permit system. Under the present system, if one has to deliver in London one does not merely say to oneself, "I must go down these routes so that I minimise the amount of time that I am on the roads that I am not supposed to be on but am allowed to be on only if I am delivering". In addition to thinking about the route and being conscious of the ban, one has to approach the bureaucracy for a permit. The permit does not specify the route to be taken in respect of the application actually made. To the outsider, the permit looks the same for every lorry. It is displayed on the windscreen and then the lorry can go into central London. It is that system of permits which the Government consider an unnecessary bureaucracy. The purpose of the clause is to give the Secretary of State powers to remove it.

Lord Peston

I know that the noble Lord wants to move on to the question of consultation. However, those of us who do not know much about this matter are simple people. We want to know whether there will be more or fewer lorries in London as a result of going ahead with what the Government want. Will there be lorries in London at more or less attractive times? That is the kind of question that we are concerned about.

Will the Minister say categorically that, in his judgment, all that will happen as a result of the clause is that there will be no more lorries in London, no lorries at worse times, and no more congestion—in other words, all of the things that we hate? Can he tell us that that is the outcome, and that whatever else happens there will be no deterioration in the environment? Can he say that in terms?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I can say that this clause in the Bill will not have any of the impacts which the noble Lord mentioned. Indeed, it might just have a positive impact. If the money saved by the London boroughs is used for enforcement, then some lorries which are cheating the system or which do not have permits may be caught and the certainty of being caught may increase. Therefore, if anything, there may be a reduction in the number of lorries in London. There will be elimination of the need to obtain a form.

I come now to consultation, which the amendments are concerned with. Under subsection (9) of the clause the Secretary of State is obliged to consult representative organisations before making an order. That provision—which is set out in the second line of the subsection—was inserted in the Bill in another place after concern had been expressed that such consultation should be required. Indeed, I understand that it was welcomed by the Opposition.

Everybody who has been involved in legislation knows that, whenever one sees the word "consultation", one puts down amendments with a few names in order to get a debate going. One says that if these names are not included there will not be proper consultation. In fact, most legislation is framed roughly on the lines of this provision, which states that the Secretary of State: shall consult with such representative organisations as he thinks fit". We all know that one could not possibly encompass all the organisations which may need to be consulted. Therefore, a wider power ensures that the Secretary of State consults those he thinks ought to be consulted. Of course that will include bodies such as the Association of London Authorities and the London Boroughs Association, both of which represent local authorities in London. In addition, the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police would also be consulted.

Therefore, as Ministers of both parties have said time without number, we do not need to list specific bodies which ought to be consulted or to draw up a list which embraces all the people and organisations which should be consulted.

Lord Clinton-Davis

If we are to believe what the Government say on this subject, why did they make no effort to obtain the views of those organisations before they decided to go into print with this particular provision?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

We have been discussing for some time the various aspects of the way in which the London lorry ban works rather than the ban itself. We came to the conclusion that we should take this particular power. When we have a power which requires consultation we shall then consult. I think that that is the right way to go about it.

I was just about to turn to the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, which go rather further than those of the noble Baroness. They encompass residents' associations and the like. That would draw consultation so wide that the consultation would never end. Once one had consulted one group of residents' associations, they could simply re-form or a new one could spring up wanting to be consulted. I believe that one has to undertake one's consultation with the local authority associations. After all, they are supposed to represent the collective view of the various communities they represent, as the Association of London Authorities represents the collective view of the local authorities. I have little doubt that when consultation takes place, if the Association of London Authorities and the London Boroughs Association put in a collective view which some boroughs do not agree with, then those boroughs will not be slow to send letters to my right honourable friends saying that they do not agree and giving their view.

As Ministers have probably said from this Dispatch Box and from the Dispatch Box in the other place time without number, I believe that it is not necessary to list either in full or in part the organisations which ought to be consulted. I believe that the phrase inserted in the other place properly meets the concerns of the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, that the representative organisations most involved in this issue will be consulted by the Secretary of State for Transport.

I hope that after this interesting debate and having listened to what I have said the noble Baroness and the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw their amendments and rest confident in the amendment made to subsection (9) in the other place.

Baroness Hamwee

I cannot say that at the end of this debate I have any more confidence, as the Minister suggested that I might. However, I shall try to confine my remarks to the particular amendment rather than range too widely.

To suggest that the democratically elected representatives of local government should not be consulted, as if they had no status, is a very odd state of affairs. To resist an amendment requiring consultation of individual directly-elected local authorities, which are grouped in the associations, on the grounds that that would mean that everybody would have to be consulted is extremely odd. Indeed, it will become the Government to accept that consultation on such a matter should be wide and should encompass environmental groups, residents groups and so on.

Perhaps I may answer a few points. The noble Lord, Lord Peyton, correctly analysed the situation. Although it is becoming harder as the moments go by, I do not approach the issue as a party political matter. I accept that lorries are necessary. I do not accept the Minister's stance that roads and lorries are either a very good thing or a very bad thing. I seek a balance. A permit scheme, because it is enforceable, provides a ban which, although not applying to all lorries for 24 hours a day seven days a week, seeks to maintain the ban on heavy lorries at night and at weekends. This and subsequent amendments are directed to that issue.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Finsberg, to this extent. In the absence of a strategic authority, a single association would be a good system and would make everyone's life easier. We have heard a variety of views. Despite what I said about the Minister's comments, I shall not push the matter to a vote today, although consultation is a matter to which we may return. The Minister has been somewhat dismissive on that. On reflection, perhaps we may all consider—I am happy to do so—how consultation can best be carried out. The Government have committed themselves to consultation. Perhaps in the future we may consider some mechanisms for its implementation. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.30 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 176D:

Page 22, line 15, leave out ("a") and insert ("an undue").

The noble Baroness said: The amendment seeks to relate the provisions of Clause 24 to the thrust of the Bill by providing that any burden which the Government seek to "derestrict" (if I may so put it) is an undue burden. In moving the amendment, I put forward a similar argument on Amendment No. 177F.

When the Department of Transport announced its proposal to alter the permit scheme, it stated that powers under the section could be used only where an undue burden on business was imposed. The press release issued at that time used the same term, stating that such powers could only be used where an undue burden on business was imposed. That is not provided by the wording in the Bill. The Bill refers to "a burden". Filling in a form of three lines could be regarded as a burden. It is in order to describe the evil to which the Government address themselves that I move the amendment.

Subsections (4) and (7) of Clause 24 give the Secretary of State very wide powers. Despite what the Minister said earlier, the provisions give the Secretary of State power to destroy the lorry ban if he is so minded. In moving the amendment, I seek to limit the exercise of the Minister's discretion so that the burden is in commonsense language a real burden.

I am concerned at the burden falling the other way. I refer to the amount of enforcement, the need for enforcement and the difficulties of enforcement if there is no permit scheme. One must balance the efficiency of the scheme against what has to be done by operators who apply for permits. Enforcement staff would need powers equivalent to those under the traffic order relating to vehicles which justifiably use restricted streets. The enforcement staff would have to write to the operators requiring the production of journey records. Operators whose vehicles are currently exempt would have to justify the necessity for their journeys. I suggest that such requirements would impose an additional burden if the current scheme were radically altered. Detection of unjustified journeys would be impaired; and detection would be a good deal more costly. The: London Boroughs Transport Scheme would have to increase the number of requests to the licensing authorities. Inquiries would have to be made of vehicle rental companies which are registered as the keepers as well as the operators. At present, failure to have a permit is an absolute offence. Prosecuting for offending journeys—which requires proof of journeys on restricted streets during controlled hours—is quite clearly a more complex matter.

The operation of the permit scheme overlooks the benefits to those who have permits. Ending the scheme would increase the relatively minor administrative work of filling in extremely short forms which the operators have to undertake in renewing permits. Each time the vehicle was stopped, these operators would be required to go through the same rigmaroles as those who were quite blatantly flouting the scheme.

If the clause is to follow the thrust of the Bill, it is entirely appropriate that the term "undue" should be attached to the reference to "a burden". I beg to move.

Lord Clinton-Davis

I support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness. There is a clear logic to the matter. Simply to insert "a burden" into the Bill is obviously completely and utterly unsatisfactory. Anything can be a burden, as the noble Baroness said. Simply writing out a form is a burden. But we are referring to burdens which are absolutely unnecessary —undue burdens—implying that there is also an interest which has to be encompassed elsewhere. When we talk about "a burden", how does one relate it to safer)' issues, environmental issues and the rest? That is why the word "undue" is of great importance.

Moreover, the burden of proof—I use the word "burden" in another sense—in establishing that industry is greatly prejudiced by reason of the scheme must rest on the industry itself. Industry must establish that there are huge and wasteful administrative costs which have a major deleterious effect on the way in which it can operate. But that argument must be considered against the backcloth of other prices which have to be paid. I do not have any sense of that consideration in the provisions in the Bill.

Perhaps I may put the matter into some context. I understand that Sainsbury's has argued in favour of doing away with the permit scheme because it says that it is unduly burdensome. Even if one were to accept the figures Sainsbury's has put forward in relation to this issue as being accurate—they may or may not be—one has to measure them against the group profits of the company which in 1992–93 were of the order of £732 million before tax. The company's estimate of the operating cost of the scheme is £1,000 a week, about 0.005 per cent. of the totality of its profits. That is hardly a huge burden when looked at in context.

Why is it that Sainsbury's finds the whole matter so unsavoury and so burdensome whereas Tesco does not? Tesco, I understand, has found nothing to complain about regarding the permit scheme. I should have thought that the two companies pursue rather similar businesses and similar operations. I stand to be corrected, as this is anecdotal evidence; perhaps the Minister is in a position to confute what I say. But if I am right and there is an evident conflict of view between Sainsbury's and Tesco, carrying on very similar businesses, it seems strange that one should argue that there is an alarming burden upon it and that therefore the permit scheme ought to be scrapped. I wholly support what the noble Baroness said.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

To add the words "an undue", as the amendment proposes, will simply make the Bill rather more difficult to interpret. What is "an undue" burden? What indeed is a "due" burden? To insert the phrase "an undue" will simply produce an area of confusion. It is difficult enough to assess the effect of particular burdens in this type of administration; to add the complication that one can add a "due" burden but not an "undue" burden really does seem to add confusion. I hope very much that my noble friend will not accept the amendment.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I tend to support my noble friend on that point. Is there any legal interpretation of "undue"? We know that in law generally the words that are used normally mean certain things in normal exchanges. In law, does "undue" mean anything? If it means that, as the subsection says, The Secretary of State shall only exercise the power conferred by subsection (3) … if he is satisfied that its exercise will have the effect of removing or reducing a burden"— then, if the Secretary of State is to interfere at all, he will have to think that the matter is worthy of being dealt with and will therefore say that the burden was undue and that that is why he has reached that conclusion. Why does the phrase have to include another word which, as my noble friend said, leaves room for further argument when the matter is being interpreted? The point is not sound. If someone can tell me that in law "undue" has a meaning that extends the area that one has to take into account when one is dealing with a matter—

Lord Clinton-Davis

Will the noble Lord give way? The word "unreasonable" is not unknown to the law. It has similar connotations, I would have thought, to the word "undue". My worry is: what does the word "burden" mean?

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I do not believe that that intervention has altered my point. I do not care whether "undue" is in or out. From my reading, I do not think it makes any difference—unless it is that "undue" has a legal meaning that I know nothing about and gives ammunition to someone who may wish to question a decision. For those reasons I would have thought that it is an unnecessary addition.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I have listened to the debate with a view to trying to learn about this problem while waiting for what seems to me an extremely important amendment to be discussed later; namely, that relating to the degree of parliamentary control over the actions of the Secretary of State under this clause. I intervene to presume to say that I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis. I do not believe that in law there would be the smallest difficulty in putting a meaning on "undue". As the noble Lord said, English and Scottish law are full of the words "reasonable" and "unreasonable". By the use of those words a standard is set, and the tribunal is not just to say: is X and Y proved? And the result follows. Rather, it is to say: have facts been proved? That brings about a certain degree which is the one drawn by the law. If the word "undue" is not in the provision, I would take it to mean that any burden is sufficient. Thinking rapidly, as one has to on one's feet, I would have thought an "undue" burden is one whose benefit is incommensurate with any other benefit that is countervailed by it. So far as this amendment is concerned, I personally would like to see the word "undue" put in. The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, does not think that it makes any difference. I hope that he will defer to me when I say that it does make a difference to me.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I was surprised to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, say that applying for a permit was only a minor inconvenience. I do not know whether the noble Baroness has made an application for a permit. The form happens to be a 10-page document—hardly a minor inconvenience. Not only does a commercial company, or indeed a local authority which operates vehicles of the "16.5 tonne and above" class, have to apply. A permit is required for each and every vehicle which it is intended should run into London during the hours of the ban. Either that means a designated fleet of lorries (which in its turn provides for inflexibility) or, alternatively, an emergency permit, which normally takes 48 hours to acquire. The permit office works normal office hours whereas industry operates 24 hours round the clock to make deliveries to its customers. It seems to me that that is a burden; indeed, a significant burden.

The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, for some extraordinary reason, picked out the firm of Sainsbury's. He described that company's profits, compared that with the cost of the permit applications and put his argument in graphic percentage terms. That really is not the point. The point is a £3 million burden on industry as a whole. It is totally invidious to pick out one firm as against any other.

Lord Monson

I support the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, and my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale. Unless the Committee qualifies the word "burden" with the word "undue", or something very like it, a haulier could legitimately argue that a restriction that added, say, 0.01 per cent. to his costs constituted a burden and ought to be removed. I suggest that that is not what the Committee wants.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

We seem to have managed to stimulate a very interesting debate about the word "undue". The noble Baroness would like to attach it to the burden and also to the bureaucracy. My problem with the word "undue" is that I do not know what the qualification does to the burden. An "undue burden" depends just as much on one's view of the burden as does the simple, straightforward word, "burden". If the burden is unnecessary, the size of the burden does not much matter. It is quite a different matter if the burden is necessary.

Some burdens in this particular case are necessary. I have already made perfectly clear that the Government consider that the burden of living with a London lorry ban is one which the industry should accept. We believe that it should also accept the burden of having to carry around delivery notes or other evidence of where the lorry is going on a journey undertaken during the banned period in the restricted area. We accept that as a burden which is necessary. But whatever the unnecessary burdens are, and whatever size they are, they are burdens which should be removed.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. Surely he has argued that the word "undue" is necessary. He has enumerated certain burdens which he says are necessary. They are due burdens. It is the other ones he wants to sweep away; I sympathise with him in that. They are the undue burdens.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

This is becoming a debate on semantics. If we consider the burden to be unnecessary, it is by definition undue. The problem with the word "undue", as the noble Baroness would attach it in the amendment, is that it somehow qualifies the size of the burden. That is where I take leave of her. I do not think that the size of the burden much matters. I believe —though other Members of the Committee may not do so—that if it is a burden, it is right and proper that it should be removed.

As the amendment stands, I have to ask whether there is some kind of trigger level. Does it not matter if it costs the industry £400,000, the figure the noble Baroness gave as that in the Touche Ross report whereas it does matter if it costs £3 million, as my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth suggested? Do we then get into an argument about the level of cost and about a trigger point? While that is probably an argument all the time, what is much more important is whether the burden is necessary or unnecessary. I believe that the word "undue" does not add anything of importance other than to make the interpretation of the words more difficult. Perhaps that is the real motivation behind the proposed addition of this nice little innocent word: it will perhaps make everything more argumentative and more difficult. I believe that the wording, as it is, with "burden" unqualified, is understood by most people. They understand what a burden is and whether or not that burden is worth undertaking.

Lord Clinton-Davis

Will the Minister ponder on what he has just said? After all, the Minister has to decide whether or not something is a burden. He said that there are necessary and unnecessary burdens. Surely, in the light of what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, said, which I support, the amendment would be helpful to the Minister. Certainly, it would be helpful in terms of parliamentary accountability. The Minister then would have to consider very carefully the meaning of "undue" in this context. That is absolutely critical and can be picked up from what the Minister himself said.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I do not believe that it can be picked up from what I said. The point is that one has to argue about the burden. It is the burden that is important. Whether or not the word "undue" is added, it is still the burden that is considered. As I pointed out, everybody knows—or perhaps I am the only suspicious person in the Chamber—that a simple argument can be put forward about the burden itself and whether it is necessary or not necessary. As I explained, to add the word "undue" is simply a qualification which is not necessary. I do not believe that it will be a helpful addition to the clause or add to the need of the Secretary of State to carry out the consultation to which we agreed and come to a sensible conclusion. I believe that it is unnecessary and I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee

The Minister is not the only suspicious Member of this Chamber. That is precisely why I should like to provide in the Bill an objective test in place of the Government's assessment of whether the burden is an appropriate one. Perhaps I may introduce a term that has not yet been used. The Minister has given many assurances. The word "undue" may not be the right word but if a word such as that were written into the Bill there would be an objectivity which I believe the courts would have no trouble in assessing.

I did not use the word "undue" because I thought it was necessarily the right word—indeed, I like the term "commensurate" used by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, which precisely describes what I mean. I used it because it was the word used by the Minister for Transport in London when he introduced the proposal in January. It is the word in his press release and the word used in his letter to the London Boroughs Transport Scheme. It was out of courtesy, if one likes to call it that, that I used the same word. I hoped that there would be no difficulty in the Government accepting that if they used the word in one place they should use it in the Bill. Otherwise, it might suggest that it was used very casually.

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, referred to the 10-page document. To answer his point, I do not believe that the Committee is in a position to assess whether that 10-page document is inappropriate, burden or not. I suggest that the filling out of a form has to be set against the benefits to be obtained by the application of the permit scheme. That is the first of the application forms and renewal is a very simple matter. Touche Ross, whose report has been mentioned, estimates that as regards the permit scheme we are talking of a sum in the order of £14 per lorry.

I fear that I have not been persuaded by the Minister. I am grateful to those Members who have joined in the debate. It is a matter on which I shall seek the opinion of the Committee.

4.58 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 176D) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 72; Not-Contents, 130.

Division No.1
Addington, L. Jeger, B.
Airedale, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Ardwick, L. Kilbracken, L.
Bancroft, L. Kirkhill, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Bonbam-Carter, L. Longford, E.
Boston of Faversham, L. McCarthy, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Merlyn-Rees, L.
Chichester, Bp. Monkswell, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Monson, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
David, B. Nicol, B.
Dean of Beswick, L. Peston, L.
Dean of Thomton-le-Fylde, B. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Rea, L.
Eatwell, L. Redesdale, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. Richard, L.
Falkland, V. Rochester, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Foot, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Gallacher, L. Seear, B.
Gladwyn, L. Shannon, E.
Gould of Pottemewton, B. Shepherd, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Hamwee, B. Stedman, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Haskel, L. [Teller.] Strabolgi, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Tordoff, L. [Teller.]
Holme of Cheltenham, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Howell, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Howie of Troon, L. White, B.
Hughes, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Aberdare, L. Cadman, L.
Addison, V. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Ailsa, M. Campbell of Croy, L.
Aldington, L. Carnock, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Cawley, L.
Annaly, L. Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Arran, E. Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Ashbourne, L. Chelmsford, V.
Astor, V. Chesham, L.
Attlee, E. Clanwilliam, E.
Balfour, E. Clark of Kempston, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Coleraine, L.
Blatch, B. Constantine of Stanmore, L.
Blyth, L. Courtown, E.
Boardman, L. Craigavon, V.
Borthwick, L. Cranborne, V.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Cumberlege, B.
Brookeborough, V. Davidson, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Dean of Harptree, L.
Bruntisfield, L. Denham, L.
Burnham, L. Dilhorne, V.
Dixon-Smith, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Moyne, L.
Ellenborough, L. Munster, E.
Elles, B. Mutton of Lindisfarne, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Nelson, E.
Elphinstone, L. Newall, L.
Elton, L. Norfolk, D.
Faithfull, B. Norrie, L.
Ferrers, E. Northesk, E.
Finsberg, L. O'Cathain, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Orkney, E.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Gainsborough, E. Oxfuird, V.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Park of Monmouth, B.
Geddes, L. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Goschen, V. Pender, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Rankeillour, L.
Harraar-Nicholls, L. Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Henley, L. Renton, L.
Hesketh, L. Renwick, L.
Howe, E. Rodger of Earisferry, L.
Huntly, M. Seccombe, B.
Hylton-Foster, B. Skelmersdale, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L. St. Davids, V.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Stewartby, L.
Kenyon, L. Strathcarron, L.
Kimball, L. Strathclyde, L.
Kintore, E. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Lane of Horsell, L. [Teller.]
Layton, L. Sudeley, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Swinfen, L.
Liverpool, E. Teviot, L.
Long, V. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Trumpington, B.
Mackay of Aidbrecknish, L. Ullswater, V. [Teller.]
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Chancellor.] Vivian, L.
Mancroft, L. Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Merrivale, L. Waverley, V.
Mersey, V. Weatherill, L.
Miller of Hendon, B. Wedgwood, L.
Milverton, L. Wynford, L.
Mottistone, L. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5.5 p.m.

Lord Clinton-Davis moved Amendment No. 177:

Page 22, line 15, at end insert ("and will not result in placing upon the police and the local authorities concerned an increase in the costs of enforcement of the order.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 177, for the convenience of the Committee I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 177A, 177B, 177D, 177G, 177H and 177K. The amendment deals with the issue of enforcement, which is highly critical. In another place —and indeed here—the Minister said that the Government are seeking a strengthening of traffic controls and better enforcement within the resources released by reason of the discontinuation of the permit system. I believe that that is what the Minister said earlier. The question we are now considering is whether the Government's proposals will have that effect; and whether the permit system had the disastrous effect asserted, not simply inferred, by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. It is perhaps as well to start from the proposition that the permit system worked.

The permit system was not widely welcomed by the industry. It appears that the Government were a late convert to the idea. They did not welcome it and did their best to frustrate it—a point the Minister totally averted when I mentioned the matter earlier—but I am glad that they are now converted to the scheme. In effect they are saying that it did not work. With the greatest respect, that is not accurate. Something like 2,000 prosecutions a year have taken place in recent years and well over 90 per cent. of them resulted in conviction. The reason for that is that the test is a simple one; that is, whether or not the permit was breached.

It is for the Minister to determine why it is necessary to change a system which, contrary to what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said, worked effectively. The maximum fines are £1,000. It had a deterrent effect. There is no suggestion of an upsurge of opinion among the public against the system. If there is, perhaps the Minister could elucidate upon that point. From where does the pressure come? It comes from the road haulage industry—people who set their face against the scheme in the first place and have sought to undermine it ever since. This is the most effective way in which they can undermine it. At the end of the day I suggest that what the Government are proposing to do will render it pretty well impossible effectively to enforce the scheme.

The Government's proposals rely almost entirely on the provision of additional support from the police for enforcement. What happened previously is that the London Boroughs Transport Scheme, with a very small bureaucracy—five people were actually supervising the matter—had this considerable success. The success has to be measured not only in terms of the number of prosecutions but the way in which lorries which would have offended the purpose of the lorry ban have been deterred from entering within these prohibited periods and from entering these prohibited places. That has been done with some, but relatively little, input from the police. That is an important consideration. If the police are now supposed to provide this additional effort in order to supervise the scheme, where should it rank in their priorities in policing London? If the police wanted this duty they would have said so unequivocally to the Minister.

The contrary is the case. The police do not want to assume this duty, and with good cause. On any sensible understanding of the position, who would place this anywhere near the top of their priorities, particularly when the scheme has been supervised effectively in the past; and the police know that just as well as anyone else? The corollary to this is that, if the burden is to be passed to the police to carry out virtually the entire responsibility, have the Government any plans to ensure that additional police resources will be available? What the Minister has implied today is, "Oh no, it is nothing to do with us. It is the local authorities which will have to assume that burden". One must also take into account the whole question of proportionality. The local authorities have some high priorities as well. If they are to embark on a system which is very uncertain indeed in its efficacy, as I shall seek to demonstrate, it is a little unfair to expect them to accept these responsibilities.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, referred to the Oscar Faber Report and to the Touche Ross Report. It is suggested in the reports that there would be a net increase of £160,000 per annum in police and local authority enforcement costs as a result of the Government's scheme. Why do the Government dispute that? The Committee is entitled to an answer from the Minister because it goes to the very heart of what is being asserted in the advice being received by the London Boroughs Transport Scheme. What would happen regarding the administration of the scheme is that the police would have to stop lorries. In the absence of the plating requirements —as I understand it, they would go as well—a far higher number of lorries would have to be stopped, with concomitant delays in journey and essential business time. I wonder how the Government calculated that expenditure. What is the estimated number of police stops compared with the present system? What police resources would have to be provided? What about weekends, when the resources of the police are at their lowest ebb? When it comes to night-time activities on the part of the police, I hardly think that they would very much welcome this additional work.

The Government say that they would apply these spot checks and that they would be targeted on areas of high sensitivity and lorry intrusion. That would not provide the same level of protection as is afforded by the present scheme. The Government also assert that the multi-agency checks—the checks carried out by the police, the London Boroughs Transport Scheme, the Department of Transport, local authorities and so on —would be most effective. But most of those checks take place outside the prohibited hours of the ban. It is for the Minister to indicate to the Committee why he asserts that that proposition is accurate.

I come to the question of evidential difficulties in bringing prosecutions under the Government's scheme. First, as I understand it, delivery notes would be the most substantial part of the evidence against defendants in circumstances of this kind. Delivery notes, as the Minister should know, are not in any standardised form. There is a considerable variation of information in them. There is no requirement by law for drivers to produce their delivery notes and no penalties if they do not. Do the Government intend, as a result of that lacuna, to introduce such requirements into the law? What would happen is that an investigating officer would have to be satisfied that a lorry journey was legitimate. In all probability he would have to follow up, or others would have to follow up, the investigations that he had started. That does not have to be undertaken at the moment. The present system is all very simple by comparison. The burden on the police will be immensely heavier. To establish a case the prosecution would need to show that the journey of the vehicle was unnecessary on a particular street during the prohibited hours. Currently, all the prosecution is required to establish is a failure to display the permit. If we are talking about burdens, it seems to me, against the background of that situation, that the Government have got their thinking in a rather parlous state.

My conclusion is that it will be easier for the operators to evade prosecution under the Government's scheme and to avoid conviction. There will be considerably less success in the enforcement procedures that will be undertaken than is provided in the current system. Therefore, the protection that is afforded to the people of London by reason of the efficacy of the present permit system will be obviated by reason of the Government's alternative scheme. I beg to move.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

I referred earlier to the fact that some local authorities in London are apprehensive that the maintenance of the ban without the maintenance of the permit system will lead both to an increase in the cost of enforcement and, more importantly, to a reduction in the effectiveness of the ban. I am told that in ordinary circumstances compliance with the ban on lorries at certain times of the day from certain streets can well be less than 50 per cent. In London under the permit system compliance has been more than 70 per cent. That represents a considerable reduction in the nuisance by noise, vibration and so on during the silent hours for the people of London.

I say again that boroughs such as the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are genuinely concerned about this. The borough makes the point that it has supported the scheme since its inception. There have been 554 prosecutions by the borough in the past few years. The ban has without doubt achieved a substantial reduction in the number of heavy vehicles using the borough's streets. Residents' associations have stressed the need for a high level of enforcement. The ban and its enforcement are seen as a critical tool in securing a suitable environment for borough residents to live in. That is a point of view of which my noble friend should take great cognisance in considering whether to maintain the ban. On the first amendment this afternoon, my noble friend made it perfectly clear that he was in favour of continuing the ban, and so am I. Like him, I am a late convert to the scheme. I was very suspicious of it, not least because of its provenance which was referred to earlier by my noble friend Lord Finsberg in regard to the notorious Mr. Dave Wetzel of the GLC. The fact is that it is a scheme which has worked and has produced undoubted benefits. I suspect that without the permit scheme the ban will become much less effective.

The amendment refers to the cost of enforcement without the permit scheme, and that goes to the nub of the case. I hope that my noble friend will be able to consult more widely on this before deciding to go down the road of ending the permit scheme. I have considerable doubts as to whether the cost savings as a result of ending the permit scheme will bring sufficient advantage to offset the undoubted loss of effectiveness of a ban.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

Sadly, I find myself opposed to my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding and against the amendment. The ban scheme, together with the permit scheme, came into effect before the M.25 was completed. The general position has changed immensely. Without a permit scheme the same number of lorries will require access to London for that essential business which the permit would afford them. I suggest that the remainder will continue, as they do now, to use the M.25. There is no advantage to a haulier to come through a congested city when there is the M.25 to get around it.

I suggest that the figures which the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, quoted are somewhat misleading. He said that about 2,000 prosecutions have taken place. I am advised that in many instances the "no permit" prosecution figures relate to technical, "no permit" offences and not particularly to vehicles without any business in London at that time. Companies which have permits for those vehicles in their fleets and likely to have business, have been prosecuted when substituting a non-permit vehicle. Equally, permits do not relate to individual journeys. There is no guarantee that a lorry with a permit is engaged on an exempt journey. Therefore, in some respects there is a contradiction in terms.

In any event enforcement would require clarification that a vehicle with or without a permit is in fact on exempt business. That can only be carried out by the enforcement officers making inquiries as to what exactly the lorry is doing at that particular time and place. If one released the resources currently used in this rather bureaucratic permit system, which many local authorities accept is not very effective, one could bring to bear a greater amount of enforcement power.

I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, that there is any suggestion in the Bill, or from any other quarter, that the police themselves will be charged with an additional duty. I cannot remember exactly how much I quoted earlier from the letter. Perhaps Members of the Committee will forgive me if there is a little repetition. The superintendent of the Headquarters Traffic Unit of the Metropolitan Police Service says: We agreed that deregulation is likely to result in more vehicles being stopped than at present. Because it is often during such stops that other, unrelated, offences tend to come to light, it will, of course, be in our interests to co-operate as fully as possible with the LBTS, commensurate with our other operational commitments". It has always been the case that the responsibilities placed on the police authorities should be commensurate with their operational responsibilities. I cannot understand where the noble Lord opposite sees an additional responsibility being placed on the police.

Lord Clinton-Davis

If the noble Lord's arguments are right, why have not the police voluntarily assumed a greater role on the issue of enforcement in order to achieve the ends to which he referred earlier—namely, the disclosure of possible other offences? There is nothing to stop them doing that.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I do not know very much about police operational duties or responsibilities. I believe that this is an element of priority—that is to say, the abandonment of a permit system does not alter in any shape or form that order of priority.

Lord Tordoff

But it makes it more difficult to spot people who are offending. Therefore, in order to catch the offenders, you have to stop more people rather than just the people who are not carrying a licence. Surely that is where the extra cost comes in.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, ought to be fairly reasonable about this. We are talking about a permit stuck on a windscreen; we are not talking about a whacking great number plate. Surely the evidence is self-evident. For example, if a 16.5 tonne lorry is standing in a street at a certain time where there is a ban, that is all the evidence that is needed; it is not for somebody to walk up to the vehicle to see what certification or badges are stuck inside the windscreen. In any event, there is no difficulty with local authorities imposing and enforcing bans on a 7.5 tonne vehicle. Very similar restrictions could be placed on the larger lorry by traffic management schemes.

Baroness Hamwee

One might think that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, was in support of a total ban across London. In fact, the scheme as it now operates provides lorry operators, who have acceptable reasons within the scheme, with permits to use particular roads during hours when otherwise they would be banned. To suggest that the ban is being infringed simply because a lorry of a certain size is parked in a street, is a more stringent position for the operators than the ban we are currently discussing.

The noble Lord said that many boroughs claim that the scheme is not effective. There is no requirement on the boroughs to join the scheme, but the fact is that the majority of them have. It is accepted both tacitly and explicitly by other boroughs which are sandwiched between those areas which operate the scheme, that they themselves benefit. If you cannot go on either side of an area, then you are unable to go through the middle of it. The noble Lord also said that with the M.25 there is no need for the permit scheme. For those operators who use the M.25 the scheme should be no problem.

By these proposals, we seem almost to be reducing the whole of London to one big lorry ban area. I cannot imagine anything more difficult to enforce. Indeed, the Department of Transport's guidance manual states that area lorry bans are particularly difficult to enforce.

In supporting this amendment, which is grouped with a number of others to which I have put my name also, I shall not repeat the arguments that have already been made, which is not to say that I do not agree with them, but I am aware that there are many other important matters to be discussed before the day is out. However, I should say that if the deterrent effect of the scheme is reduced, it is likely that there will be more opportunistic journeys across London, an increasing level of ignorance of the controls, the enforcement teams will have to cope with a much higher level of infringement than currently, and the scheme will be in danger of coming into disrepute.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

As I have explained in my previous interventions in the debate, we believe that the abolition of the permit system, with its incumbent bureaucracy, will generate substantial savings—not just for the industry, but also for the London boroughs—which could then be used by the boroughs to enhance the enforcement effort.

As the system works at present, permits are issued and lorries display plates when driving in London. But, as my noble friend Lord Lucas said, the plate does nor. guarantee that the vehicle is complying with the relevant conditions of the ban. Thus at present to enforce the: scheme even lorries with permits have to be stopped to check that they are complying with the requirements of the ban. Once the permit system has been removed, the ban, as I have explained, will continue to operate. Checks on vehicles will establish whether they are on a journey that is allowed under the exemptions. The existing roadside checks which are carried out by the London Boroughs Transport Scheme, with the support of the police, will continue.

We estimate that removing the bureaucracy of the permit system will save the London Boroughs Transport Scheme in the region of £400,000 based on the costs in this financial year. This is equivalent to the cost of an additional eight full-time police officers. Enforcement could thus be substantially increased at no extra cost above that already incurred by the scheme.

On the question of roadside checks, it has been suggested that documentation would not be available on the lorry for scrutiny by the authorities when they stop vehicles. However, the simple fact is that most lorry drivers carry delivery notes. Indeed, I suggest that they all carry delivery notes and consignment notes otherwise they would be driving around in circles until somebody stopped them saying, "I think what you're carrying is bound for me". Of course they carry delivery notes. The operators of the vehicles are not in the least concerned about the need to carry documentation. As I have said, some documentation is already carried. Furthermore, as part of the consultation that we discussed earlier, there will be consultation on the form of the documentation that will be needed by each lorry.

If one accepts—as I and my noble friend Lord Lucas accept —that many lorries can be on what one might term "illegal journeys", even if they have a permit, one realises that the carrying and checking of documentation will enforce the ban not only on those people who currently "take a flyer", if I may so describe it, and drive in without a permit, but on those who currently, under the cover of having a permit, make other journeys which might not be consistent with the ban.

The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, was sceptical about various schemes such as the multi-agency checks. I advise the noble Lord that most multi-agency checks begin at 6 a.m. Lorries that are pulled in between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. from restricted streets would be subject to the ban and would have to explain why they were there. Checks could be started earlier, but there is little doubt that there will be a time in the early morning—between, say, 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.—when a great many vehicles will be moving about in a restricted area to make the deliveries that we discussed earlier.

As I have said, we believe that the savings that the London Boroughs Transport Scheme would gain from the removal of the bureaucracy could be used to enhance the enforcement effort. It is, of course, for LETS to determine what it would do to increase the level of enforcement and what level of enforcement would be appropriate in the circumstances. We believe that an improvement in enforcement could lead to a better situation for the residents of London than the London lorry ban.

The amendments would prevent the Secretary of State using the order-making power where it would increase enforcement costs even if they were offset by administrative savings of some £400,000 from the abolition of the permit scheme. I do not believe that that would be a sensible way to go. I hope that I have managed to persuade the noble Baroness and the noble Lord on at least that issue.

My noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding raised his concerns lest the removal of the permit scheme means that the ban will be less effective. I have tried to explain that increased enforcement of lorries—both those with permits and those which currently take a flyer without a permit—must help the ban. If people who might be prepared to take a chance knew that enforcement had been increased and that the chance of being caught and fined had increased, I suggest that they might be discouraged from taking that chance.

A number of the issues that have been raised will clearly arise in consultation and will then be considered by the Secretary of State when he comes to decide whether or not to make the order. I suggest that the amendments in this group would not do what they are intended to do, which is to improve the situation with regard to the ban by increasing enforcement. As I have said, enforcement can be increased by LBTS if it decides to use the money saved for that purpose. For all those reasons, I hope that the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Tordoff

Before the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, responds to that, I should say that the Minister seems to be living in a fantasy land. He talked about eight extra policemen. That is one per five boroughs yet he says that that will provide a huge deterrent to those people who might want to take a flyer and come in when the permit has been removed. The whole point about the permit is that it is a coarse filter. It is not perfect, but somebody spotting a lorry in the wrong place and without a permit knows that it should not be there. A lorry in a certain place with a permit may or not have the right to be there, and clearly will have to be checked. The provision of an additional eight policemen throughout the whole of Greater London seems less of a deterrent than the Minister suggests.

Baroness Hamwee

As I do not think that the Minister is seeking to respond to my noble friend, perhaps I may ask him a question about the consultation that the department is to have with various authorities. I refer to a problem that arises when lorries are stopped for multi-agency checks. I agree that that prospect must be a great deterrent as it involves the Department of Transport, the police and Customs. However, are not those multi-agency stops easily avoided or even evaded by the use of CB radio messages, to which many of the lorries have access and by which they may be able to warn their friends? I simply ask the Minister whether he will bring that point into his consultations.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I had not thought about CB radios, but clearly that is a way round any legislation. If the spotters were there and the CB radio operators were on the ball, they could warn their friends. That is one of the problems about the advent of CB radios. Speed traps also encounter that problem with heavy vehicles.

However, perhaps I may advise the noble Baroness that the enforcement teams pick up a great many lorries when carrying out such stops. I have a note of one exercise recently in east London where the LBTC declined the invitation to attend. Many faults and irregularities were detected on the vehicles that were stopped. Some 17 vehicles were prohibited from the roads immediately, 273 warnings were issued and 140 offences prosecuted subsequently. That suggests that they do not use CB radios or that they did not have them. I do not know which.

Lord Clinton-Davis

I have some reservations on one matter which is in a way fundamental to the amendment: whether we have drafted the amendment correctly. To deal with the principle, which is the all important matter here, the Minister has made a number of assertions but has not coupled them with any evidence. He has said that there will be substantial savings for local authorities, among others. He has said that over and over again. What are the substantial savings? What amount does he have in mind? To what extent therefore can additional resources be ploughed back into enforcement? He did not say a word about that.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I thought that I did mention that. I thought I mentioned the figure of £400,000 which will be saved by the LBTC in bureaucracy costs alone. That is the figure to which I was referring.

Lord Clinton-Davis

I of course accept what the Minister is asserting, although I challenge what he is saying, because I challenge the fundamental assertion that the cost to the industry is anything like that which the Minister has asserted, wholly on the basis of course of anecdotal information which has been provided for him by the industry itself. They are issues which are challenged strongly, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, said, by the Touche Ross and Oscar Faber reports and so on. The Minster said that he has not had an opportunity to consider those reports but that they have arrived on his desk. One of the reasons why I shall not press the matter to a Division tonight is to enable the Minister to consider carefully what is in those reports so that there might be—I am not terribly optimistic that anything will change the Government's mind on the matter—an outside chance that what has been reported could commend itself to the Minister.

I take it from what the Minister has said that he will consider those reports before we debate the issues on Report. I see that he is nodding in approbation.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I should have happily considered them before the Committee stage had they been sent, as I said, more than just half-an-hour before we started this afternoon's proceedings.

Lord Clinton-Davis

As I think the Minister will concede, that is not my responsibility. I did not commission the reports. I am not responsible for the reports, but I accept that it may have been better, from the point of view of his consideration of the matter, had they arrived earlier. But that does not diminish the importance of what is said in them. I am glad that the Minister has said that he will consider those issues.

Dependence upon the police will rely heavily upon their assessments of the order of priorities. If it is eight extra police officers in London, that will not add much to the scheme's effectiveness. In fact, it cannot begin to compete with what we already have. A substantial increase in police resourcing would be needed for an effective system to be achieved.

I should like to hear much more from the Minister about police reaction to the proposal. It is not enough merely to provide a bit of anecdotal evidence as to what one police officer has said. We need to have some authoritative evidence as to how the police regard the issue, because my information, which could be wrong —again it is hearsay—is that the police do not welcome the increased powers which will fall to them. They do not accept that eight additional police officers can begin to carry out those requirements.

As to delivery notes, the Minister seems to think that delivery notes are the complete answer to everything. They are not. I beg him in the interim period to have a look at examples of different forms of delivery note. I hope that he will see from that that the evidence necessary for a successful prosecution will be difficult to procure on the basis of some of the delivery notes used currently. I ask him to reconsider what I said earlier —I shall not repeat it—about the efficacy of the evidence that would have to be procured in the courts.

On the question of enforcement strategy cost comparisons, that is a matter to which I shall not refer again. It is dealt with effectively in the Oscar Faber report. I thank those Members of the Committee who have participated in the debate. I should like to conclude with a comment that I noted made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. He and I have agreed and disagreed on transport matters frequently. I think that we have agreed on this, because what he said about the police—this was the nub of the argument—related to the element of priority. They are not willing to give to the policing and monitoring of this scheme the priority that will be required to render it enforceable and effective. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 177A and 177B not moved.]

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Hamwce moved Amendment No. 177C:

Page 22, line 15, at end insert ("while being consistent with the principle that the polluter should pay.").

The noble Baroness said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 177E, 177J and 177L which are grouped with Amendment No. 177C. I shall be brief, although the matter is important. This group of amendments deals directly with environmental issues. The subject of traffic on London streets is one which I am sure will be on the minds of many Members of the Committee. We have the advantage in the Chamber of, I hope, filtered air but certainly cool air. The atmospheric quality outside the building over the past weekend and today has been poor. I am sure that many Members of the Committee who have been in London over the weekend will have felt the effects.

This group of amendments seeks to add to the Bill the requirement that any alteration to the scheme made by the Secretary of State will protect the environment as effectively as is the current situation and will be consistent with the principle that the polluter should pay. The enforcement of the ban has assisted the environment in London in that it has reduced the number of heavy lorries which damage our roads and pavements; it has reduced noise and vibration at night; and it has reduced light pollution. That is no small matter. The intrusion of powerful headlights into residential properties is disturbing. The Minister has told us that there will be consultations. I hope that, consistent with the Government's own words generally about protecting the environment, those considerations will be taken into account. I should like to see them on the face of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Jenkinof Roding

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, mentioned noise pollution and I was reminded of a study that was carried out in Paris. It related to a motorcycle, but a large lorry makes every bit as much noise. It was calculated that if, in the small hours of the morning, a motorcyclist drove from one side of Paris to the other, going straight through the middle, 400,000 people would be woken up in the course of him doing so. That impressed me mightily because it is a measure of the disturbance caused by vehicles using cities at night. Their populations are dense and people do not like sleeping with their windows shut, particularly in weather such as this.

I hope that my noble friend is right in saying that the new enforcement measures will be more economical and effective. I gave that example in order to reinforce my plea that the consultation that we must have with local authorities and others, which his right honourable friend has promised, will examine those points thoroughly before an order is made.

Lord Clinton-Davis

I support the amendment. Someone will have to pay a heavy price for what I believe will be the less rigorous enforcement of these rules, and it will be the London resident. I well remember that when I was a Member of the House of Commons representing Hackney, an area that was particularly prejudiced by reason of what was; happening, the problem was not one about which I received the most mail but there was always a regular flow of letters. People were being disturbed at night and during weekends and that was one of the reasons that the London lorry ban came into operation. I believe that we shall return to that situation and I am appalled by the prospect. If this scheme comes into effect, I hope that I shall be proved wrong.

The air-brake silencers have particular relevance to the environment and I believe that they should be fitted as standard equipment. However, the Minister is proposing that there is no need for their fitting because a new European standard will come into effect in 1996. That standard will not come into effect immediately. The Minister would say, "That does not matter because, for the most part, all new vehicles are fitted with the new air-brake silencers and therefore there is no need to impose that". It will be well into the next century before all lorries have air-brake silencers fitted as standard components. That is highly germane to environmental issues and I should like to hear what the Minister has to say about it.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is overloaded with good intentions and I do not believe that it would be wise to insert them all on the statute book. I do not believe that the phrase "the polluter should pay" originated with the noble Baroness. It is a glib phrase with which some politicians are happy, but I do not believe that it will fit well on to the pages of our statute book. I have no great respect for the statute book as it is, but one does not want to mess it up with any more such glib phrases. I am reasonably confident that on this occasion my noble friend on the Front Bench will agree with me.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

I believe that this is the wrong provision for the discussion of vehicle noise. Notwithstanding any EC directive on the matter, it would be wrong to suppose that the vehicle industry is not aware of its responsibilities in regard to pollution, whether it relates to a motorcycle or to a heavy goods vehicle, or to road damage, springing and suspension, chassis noise, engine noise or silencer noise. A good deal of effort, research and resources are being put into that problem. I suggest that it would be wrong to introduce a specific reference to that aspect of the lorry ban or to the absence of a permit. Therefore, I subscribe to the views put forward by my noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil.

Earl Attlee

The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, advocated the use of air-brake silencers, as does the London boroughs lorry ban scheme. Is he aware that it is most dangerous to retrofit anything to the air-braking system of commercial vehicles? Is he further aware that within the industry there is a great deal of concern that less sophisticated operators may be tempted to avoid the air-brake noise by not fitting suitable air-brakes?

Is the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, aware that the industry has gone to great expense to manufacture diesel engines to the new Euro 2 standards, which produce a great deal less pollution? As was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, a great deal of effort is paid to making lorries quiet. I believe that the noble Baroness must agree that the modern large lorry is very quiet indeed.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

Again, I am happy to reassure the Committee that we attach the greatest importance to the environmental protection offered by the London lorry ban. We have no intention of weakening its provisions. I reiterate that lorries with no business in London at the time of the ban will be liable to enforcement action. They will have to continue to make the maximum use of routes exempt from the ban and drivers will be expected to carry documentary evidence to justify their journeys on the restricted network. As regards carrying documentary evidence, the burden of proof will be on the defendant to establish that he had the benefit of an exemption from the ban because of the nature of the journey that he was undertaking on the restricted network. There will be no relaxation of the existing strict requirements.

Enhanced roadside enforcement of the ban can protect Londoners from those vehicles tempted to "rat run" or to make improper use of the restricted network. This protection will be fully maintained in the future under any revised order. As I have explained, there will be some savings on the LBTS, and I am not sure whether the Committee was disputing that £400,000. What appears to be disputed is the £400,000 which the LBTS consultants placed on the saving to industry and the figure of up to £3 million which, from our inquiries, we suspect is a better estimate of the saving to industry.

I do not believe that Amendment No. 177E is appropriate. Circumstances can change, meaning that the level of environmental disturbance caused by lorries will change. For instance, new roads, such as the M.25, can be built which considerably affect traffic route patterns. The completion of the M.25 has done much to relieve London of lorry traffic both during the daytime and at night. Therefore, it is inappropriate to have the test proposed in the amendment because it would mean that no account could be taken of improvements in environmental protection afforded by extraneous or unrelated developments.

Some of those developments have been mentioned. The technology with regard to lorries has improved; for example, vehicle suspensions have been improved, which reduces the amount of body rattle. Technology with regard to engines has improved, which not only reduces atmospheric pollution but also reduces the pollution caused by noise. The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, mentioned air-brake silencers. As he said, under the EC directive, they have to be fitted to all new vehicles in 1996. Clearly, as fleets are updated, all vehicles will eventually be fitted with such silencers. That will greatly improve the position. In changing what we expect from the design of motor vehicles, the improvements take time to work through as elderly vehicles that do not have the advanced technology move out of the fleet and the vehicles with advanced technology move in.

It is not clear what legal effect Amendments Nos. 177C and 177J would have. The principle that the polluter should pay is useful generally as a basis for considering policy and in particular, taxation policy. But I am not clear what it would achieve here. If the noble Baroness suggests that lorries driving through London should in some way compensate residents for the pollution caused, I should remind her that, apart from the complications involved in doing that, many of those vehicles are entering London legitimately to carry essential goods and to do important work for the ultimate benefit of local communities. Therefore, I believe that the amendments are unnecessary. I hope that the noble Baroness will not press the amendment.

6 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee

I accept that the term "the polluter should pay" is slightly glib and perhaps more useful in general speeches than as a matter for legislation. Nevertheless, an acceptance of the need to protect the environment is important. In his response, the Minister has more or less drafted for me the amendment which I may table at the next stage; namely, to allow account to be taken of technical and other developments. I accept that point. In the circumstances, I do not seek to press the matter and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. J77D to 177M not moved.]

Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 178:

Page 22, leave out from beginning of line 42 to end of line 44 and insert ("no such order shall be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a Resolution of, each House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: I move this amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has already given notice to the Committee that he intends to join our discussions on this matter and he will be welcome so to do.

The amendment takes us back to the report of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee. Paragraph 7 on page 2 of the report sets out the argument. To put the matter simply—and I do not believe that I need go beyond that—there was discussion with the department as to whether it was appropriate to use the negative instrument procedure. The department said that it was appropriate because orders will provide for changes to existing subordinate legislation which itself is not subject to parliamentary procedure. The Select Committee's reply to that was:

'The Committee urges the House to consider whether this is a sufficient justification for the negative procedure in this case, given the potentially wide extent of the powers, or whether the affirmative procedure would be more appropriate for orders made under Clause 24".

No one can pretend that the clause is not wide ranging. We have already spent two and a half hours debating various aspects of it. It seems to me that orders made under this clause should receive the positive scrutiny of your Lordships. I know about the problems that we have with any orders and I do not wish to become involved this evening in an argument about that. It is hoped that the procedure with regard to those may improve in the future. But at present we have a better opportunity to debate these matters if they come before us by way of the affirmative rather than the negative procedure.

I remind the Committee that these matters are not subject to the safeguards provided under Clause 1 and subsequent clauses of the Bill. Orders made under Clause 1 will be subject to the procedural safeguards which we have discussed already. But orders made under this clause will not be subject to those procedures because this is a piece of primary legislation.

I am arguing that this matter is sufficiently serious for it to be dealt with by the affirmative procedure. It should not be left to the negative procedure. I beg to move.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

I support the amendment as strongly as I can. It concerns parliamentary control over a very important provision that has been debated now for two hours and more.

When I first saw the clause, I was filled with apprehension. I thought that it fitted in with the supply side concepts of the rest of the Bill, which are none the worse for being supply side concepts. I thought that it proposed to remove, in the interests of business, the ban on lorries in London. That particular apprehension has been dispelled totally but, in its dispelling, a number of very puzzling matters have emerged. The Minister, who has been so clear and forceful and in such command of his brief, has made it absolutely clear that the ban remains. So far as I can see, the only difference is that the permit system is to be obviated and something that is not very clear is to be put in its place.

The noble Lord repeatedly used the word "bureaucracy". He said that the Government are sweeping away bureaucracy. But with all his abilities, he failed to explain why obtaining and showing a permit is more bureaucratic than carrying the documentation which is apparently now required. Of course, they are both bureaucratic provisions and the first question is whether they are necessary. Obviously they are necessary because if there is to be a ban, it must be policed in some way.

Secondly, it is quite clear that a power that is at present vested in the local authorities is to be transferred to the department. Again, I do not see why Whitehall is less bureaucratic than town hall. Nor do I see that the centralising feature can be justified in any way. As I understand the scheme, the ban is to remain. The present ban is, in its incidence, considered by local authorities. They know the needs for provisioning of their shops, on the one hand; on the other hand, they know the needs of their constituents to have freedom from pollution and noise. They are in a very good position to weigh that balance, which lies at the heart of the Bill.

The ministry is in nothing like such a good position. As the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, said In his memorable speech on Second Reading, every department has its own agenda. I venture to put it rather more unfavourably: a department necessarily has something of a tunnel vision. The Department of Trade and Industry is concerned with the supply side. It is concerned with businessmen and enabling them to fulfil their functions as efficiently as possible to satisfy the wants of the consumer. That is its concern. The department is nothing like so concerned with the various matters which the noble Baroness mentioned during the debate on the last amendment and which were certainly endorsed by the Minister.

That is how the Bill stands at present. However, it gives the Minister those powers which are to be taken away from local authorities and states that they are subject only to the negative resolution procedure. If there was ever a case where parliamentary control is required, it is where a department with its agenda, its tunnel vision, sees only one side primarily of the balance. Parliament is needed to restore the balance— or, if not Parliament, some other institution. But in this case it is only Parliament.

What is offered is the negative resolution procedure, the defects of which are well known. So far as concerns the other place, more often than not the negative resolution is never reached at all because time has run out. However, as for this place, there is the additional disadvantage that the Government recently invented a completely spurious parliamentary convention; namely, that Members of this Chamber do not vote against a subordinate resolution a fortiori, of course, when it is a negative procedure which may not come before this place.

In this case, it is of the first importance that the affirmative resolution procedure should apply. Members of the Committee should make it abundantly plain that there is no such spurious convention precluding Members of this Chamber from performing their proper parliamentary role. In its memorandum to the scrutiny committee, the department said that the Minister's draft orders would be concerned with secondary legislation, meaning the present scheme. Indeed, so it would. But the Minister is assuming very wide powers under the Bill and the proper way to scrutinise them is by the affirmative resolution procedure.

The scrutiny committee has signalled that in its accustomed way with the utmost clarity. Quite clearly, members of that committee believe that this is a case which calls for the affirmative procedure. The scrutiny committee has been an enormous success, partly because it has been so moderate in its recommendations. In many cases, it has accepted the negative resolution procedure, even in respect of Henry VIII provisions. However, when members of that committee signal as clearly as they have in the passage cited by the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, we are virtually abandoning them and that machinery if we disregard what they clearly think.

As I said, the scrutiny committee has been an enormous success. It has abundantly justified the recommendation of the Jellicoe Committee and that of the procedure committee which brushed aside the understandable reservations of the Government. The Government are now engaged in trying to downgrade those recommendations and in downgrading parliamentary control. If parliamentary control is negative in this case, it is largely in the hands of Members of this Chamber. However, what is desired is to vindicate the right of Parliament as a whole—that is, both places—to scrutinise the legislation now before us. It cannot be amended; but it can be debated, disapproved in debate, withdrawn and then perhaps relaid. Members of the Committee have the opportunity to maintain the role of Parliament at a time when Parliament is coming under some criticism. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will avoid any embarrassment by saying that he accepts the amendment.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

I am much relieved to find that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has, as indeed I have, misunderstood the meaning of the clause. Like the noble and learned Lord, I misunderstood it because I had obviously misread the relevant section in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum. The latter gave me the impression that Ministers would subsequently be able to remove not only the permit system but also the ban on heavy lorries in London. However, I have learnt with some relief from my noble friend the Minister that there is no power in the Bill to enable Ministers so to do.

My second point has already been referred to, and I do not wish to repeat everything just said by the noble and learned Lord. However, for myself, I can recall Ministers constantly objecting to amendments on the grounds that they would be meaningless and that they would add nothing to the legislation. There is no point whatever in saying that this Chamber should have the right to use the negative resolution procedure because that is never used here. Therefore, what is the point of having it? We must have an affirmative resolution procedure because the negative one is absolutely meaningless and of no value to this place; indeed, it adds nothing to parliamentary control. I agree with the remarks made by the noble and learned Lord.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I hope that the Government will look again at the matter. If we are to have any faith at all in the parliamentary system for scrutinising legislation when we have given powers to a Minister, the evidence of the past two hours has proved that, on this clause, the affirmative resolution procedure is the only one that would meet the requirements of the Bill. That is especially so if we accept the convention that in this Chamber we do not proceed on the negative resolution.

The noble and learned Lord said that Members of another place usually put such matters at the end of their agenda and that, therefore, they are dealt with rather cursorily. But in this Chamber we hardly ever deal at all with the negative procedure. In the circumstances, and in view of the arguments that have been put on the record this afternoon, I hope that this is an occasion when either we can alter our convention and be as active on the negative procedure as we could if we did not have that convention in our mind, or, better still, have the affirmative resolution where, when a measure is beginning, Parliament can give its views on it.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

We come to an amendment which is, of course, not directly involved with the detail of the permit system and the London lorry ban, but rather about the parliamentary scrutiny of any order which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport might bring forward. As a founder member of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee— I was plucked out of it by an invitation to join the Government—I fully recognise the arguments which have been made, and in particular the, as usual, powerful argument of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. I am not sure whether I do my case any good by admitting to him—he mentioned that every department had tunnel vision—that tomorrow morning I am to address a conference entitled "Tunnelling '94". I am not sure whether that will enhance his suspicions.

I suggest that there are two aspects of the particular order referred to in this clause which perhaps the Committee ought to consider before pressing on me the need to use the affirmative procedure. The first is that the Secretary of State's power under this clause is deliberately restricted. As my noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil pointed out, he is empowered only to amend the permit-based lorry restrictions in London where an undue burden on business is imposed. Only the London-wide ban operating—

Baroness Hamwee

I think I heard that aright—an undue burden? We will return to that on Report.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

Obviously the words of the noble Baroness are ringing in my mind with regard to burden. The moment that slipped out from the previous debate I realised that the noble Baroness would be on her feet. This shows of course —I was testing to make sure of this—that she was not asleep.

I turn to the main point of this serious argument. The London-wide ban on vehicles remains in place. This clause deals only with the permit system. Some Members of the Committee would not agree with my use of the word "only" with regard to the permit system because they clearly think it is a key part of the system. However, I shall use the word "only". It is only the London-wide ban operated by the London Boroughs Transport Scheme and a similar restriction in the City of Westminster which would fall under this clause. It is very narrowly drawn and it does not include other prohibitions or restrictions on the movement of lorries either in London or in other parts of the country. I suggest to the Committee that one of the reasons the negative procedure is, in my view, sufficient is that the clause itself is tightly drawn. The other—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

The noble Lord is always most courteous in giving way and I am extremely grateful. He has recommended the negative procedure as appropriate. Will he accept that your Lordships' House has an untrammelled freedom to vote when a resolution is put forward that is liable to be annulled?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

I was going to deal with that point in a second or two. Perhaps I can move into it by referring to the second part of my argument. The first part of my argument in favour of the negative proceedings is the one I have made. The second part of my argument is that on any definition—no one has suggested these are so defined—this is not a Henry VIII provision. It does not give the Executive power by secondary legislation to amend primary legislation. What it does do is give the Secretary of State power to amend traffic orders made by local authorities, which are of course themselves subordinate legislation and not subject to any parliamentary scrutiny.

Under the negative resolution procedure it is of course possible for a noble Lord, or noble Lords, to pray against a particular order if they consider it justified, although I fully recognise the arguments put forward so forcefully on this occasion, both in the intervention a moment or two ago, and in his speech, and on other occasions, by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, about the way the procedures of the House, or the conventions of the House, interact with these matters.

I am not hugely convinced about the need to change from a negative to an affirmative resolution and I am certainly not convinced that this particular amendment is the one we ought even to consider because of course if the Committee looks at the Bill itself, it will see that the very words "statutory instrument" would be removed. There would be no provision that the order should be made by statutory instrument. Clearly, even to attain the objectives we are discussing, the amendment before the Committee is defective.

However, I recognise the strength of the argument and, as I said, I am not unmindful of the fact that I was on the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee when it commenced its role of considering legislation from the point of view of delegated powers. If the noble Baroness would like to consider what I have said in response, I shall certainly consider what she and other Members of the Committee have said in this debate, and I have no doubt we can return to it at Report stage.

Lord Tordoff

Having moved the amendment on behalf of the noble Baroness, obviously in disguise—

Noble Lords


Lord Tordoff

—or that sort of thing, I should say that I am grateful to the Minister for what appears to be an undertaking to have another look at the measure. One accepts that the drafting is not necessarily all it might be, but I think that the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, cannot be overlooked. Also, the support which was given to this amendment from the Benches behind the Minister is something that he should certainly weigh in the balance.

The fact that this is a narrowly drawn clause might be disputed but, even if it were, I believe that there is sufficient matter of importance here for Parliament to have the opportunity of scrutinising properly orders which are made under this clause. To go merely down the negative procedure does not seem to me—and obviously does not appear to a number of other Members of the Committee—sufficient scrutiny lor the seriousness of the case. Having said that, and in hoping that the Minister will be prepared to discuss these matters between now and the next stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 24 agreed to.

Clause 25 [Employment agencies etc.: replacement of licensing]:

Baroness Turner of Camden moved Amendment No. 178A:

Page 23, line 30, at end insert:

("(2) Nothing in Schedule 9 or in Chapter I of Part I of this Act shall be taken to allow any amendment or repeal, in whole or in part, of the Nursing Agencies Act 1954.").

The noble Baroness said: With Clause 25 we now come to an entirely different issue because it seeks to remove the necessity for employment agencies to go through a licensing procedure. I hope that the Minister will feel that he can accept my amendment. I believe it has long been accepted that nursing agencies require separate regulation. Under the Nurses Agencies Act 1957, a number of requirements set them apart from the general run. Agencies providing qualified nurses must hold a licence under the Act and pay an annual fee. Those providing non-qualified staff must also hold a licence under the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and pay a different annual fee.

The role of the agency is to ensure that the level of competence of staff matches the competence requirements of the client. Recruitment to the agency must be carried out by a qualified nurse who must assess clinical competence and check the work record and personal health record of applicants. To maintain the licence the agency must undergo regular inspections to demonstrate that it is working to acceptable levels of health care.

I cannot emphasise too strongly that health services are not the same as other employment services. The public expects that those who provide health services will have reached a level of competence that they can trust. This is becoming increasingly important with the development of care in the community which means that people will be choosing care assistants and carers from a variety of sources to care for the sick or the elderly disabled, sometimes in their own homes. The regulation of employment agencies providing staff to give that service is therefore a necessary measure of consumer protection and one about which the Royal College of Nursing feels very strongly. Indeed, I am indebted to the RCN for my briefing this evening. I therefore hope that whatever happens to this clause in the Bill, which I do not like and to which I shall return in a moment, the Government will at least accept that health services are different and regulation is a necessary element of public protection.

Of course, sometimes public protection in this area is found to be defective, but not often. However, when there is a breakdown, as there was recently in the Beverly Allitt case, there is an enormous public outcry, and quite rightly so. We have to ensure in so far as we can that cases of that kind do not recur. The existence of the Nurses Agencies Act and the requirement to license under it is a part of that protection. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment (Lord Henley)

We can deal with the amendment fairly quickly. We shall deal with the clause itself later. We shall be dealing with the question of theatres. At the moment we are dealing with operating theatres. I apologise for the feebleness of that joke.

Perhaps I may give an assurance to the noble Baroness that agencies subject to the Nurses Agencies Act 1957 are not subject to the 1973 Act or the 1981 order and therefore the present law on nursing agencies in the 1957 Act will remain unaffected by Schedule 9.

With this amendment the noble Baroness seeks to exclude from the ambit of the deregulation order-making power legislation which serves an important purpose in the employment of nursing staff. But, as was made clear during the Committee stage debate on Chapter I, the Government have no intention of removing necessary protection for any group in society or protection of other kinds such as for public health or the environment. The way we have drawn the provisions in Chapter I means that the deregulation order-making power could not be used to remove any necessary protection. In our previous debates the strong consultation and special scrutiny procedures for the use of the Chapter I power were fully explained. I do not think that the noble Baroness would wish me to go into that in detail.

I suspect that the noble Baroness wants to know whether we have any future plans to include the regulation relating to nursing agencies. The first and most important point to make clear is that we do not wish at the moment to exclude any specific categories of legislation, or indeed, any specific Acts, from the operation of Chapter I but to leave the powers in Chapter I, which include the necessary safeguards to deal with these matters should that be necessary.

However, I should say to the noble Baroness that as part of a wide-ranging review of regulations across government my ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health reviewed the Nurses Agencies Act and its 1961 regulations. They considered that the Act continued to serve a useful purpose in protecting the public and decided against total repeal at this stage.

However, the legislation has been in place for a very long time. Ministers decided to invite views on the desirability of simplifying the legislation by removing elements which are out of date or impose needless burdens on agencies. A consultation paper was issued in August 1993 to interested organisations, including the agencies, the professions, patients and the service itself. My colleagues in the Department of Health are still considering the results of that consultation exercise. It may be that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State may wish to consult further if she decides in the light of the responses to change the legislation.

I therefore feel that it would be premature for the noble Baroness to press ahead with her amendment to exclude the possibility of making further amendments to that legislation by means of the powers available in Chapter I. I hope, therefore, that she will consider withdrawing her amendment, whatever she feels about the rest of the clause, which we shall debate in due course.

Baroness Turner of Camden

I am grateful to the Minister for what he said. Obviously I shall not press the amendment this evening. He said that consideration was being given to the Act to which the amendment refers. Can he give an undertaking that before any alterations are made to the present provisions the RCN will be consulted? The RCN is very concerned about the matter and has provided the briefing for this evening.

Lord Henley

The noble Baroness will know that, as I made clear, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is considering further consultation. Obviously, before we proceeded with any proposals under Chapter I consultation would be necessary. That is why my noble friend Lord Strathclyde made it quite clear when we debated Chapter I some days ago exactly what the procedures were. I said that I did not think that it was necessary for me to go through the whole of the Chapter I debate again, but there are procedures and they must include consultation with the relevant bodies. I can give a fairly categoric assurance that the RCN, as the noble Baroness mentioned, would be such a relevant body.

Lord McCarthy

The noble Lord is a mine of information. He now tells us about the 1957 Act, which affects nurses. So we now have three categories: nurses, seamen and everybody else. Can he tell us why it is that we are going to change the procedure for seamen and for everybody else but at this moment the Government do not come forward with changes in respect of nurses? Presumably the people who run nursing agencies have to have licences. What is the system which will remain in place for nurses but has been done away with for seamen and everybody else? Why are the Government making this distinction?

Lord Henley

Nurses have a different licensing regime, as I made quite clear. I also made it quite clear that these matters had been considered in relation to whether there was appropriate protection under the Nurses Agencies Act and the 1961 regulations. My colleagues in the Department of Health consider that at the moment the provisions serve a useful purpose. However, as I said, because the regulations are fairly dated they will continue to review the matter to see whether any amendments are necessary. They will consult further as appropriate.

As regards the other parts of the clause, it would be better if we dealt with those issues when we debate the Motion that the clause shall stand part of the Bill. At the moment we are dealing simply with the question of nurses, which we see as a slightly different case.

Baroness Turner of Camden

I thank the Minister for his explanation and for his assurance that the RCN would certainly be one of the organisations to be consulted should it be decided to make any alteration to the Nurses Agencies Act 1957 and the relevant legislation. In the circumstances I do not intend to press the amendment this evening. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 25 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Jenkins of Putney

On behalf of my noble friends and myself I rise to oppose the Motion that Clause 25 shall stand part of the Bill. In that I include the schedule to the clause because the clause merely enacts the schedule.

I speak mainly to urge the retention of the licensing of employment agents in the field of entertainment. My noble friend Lady Turner will speak on other aspects and point out other undesirable consequences of the clause and its schedule.

I am concerned primarily with the performance arts, with employment agents in the field of entertainment, the employers in that industry or art, the actors, dancers, musicians, writers and others, those who present and perform plays, who appear in television drama, serials, soaps and in the cinema, and who provide the music, singing and dancing in opera, ballet, musicals and so on. Employment in entertainment is normally irregular and often non-existent. Professional performers seldom work for a single employer. Their life is often one of auditions and unemployment. The performers are almost always represented by an agent; they have to be.

The role of the agent varies from the personal manager at the highest monetary artistic level— although the two factors are not always synonymous —to the agent who specialises in certain types of performer with specific skills and qualities or the agent who finds newcomers their first job. They are all necessary to the proper conduct of the business whether one refers to the provinces, the West End, the BBC, ITV or any other of the multi-faces of the entertainment business.

The duties of the agents vary and have become more complex in recent years as performance is no longer a performer to audience affair but increasingly has become a recorded product—a video recorded by someone. The sale and the remuneration for current and future use of that product must be negotiated by people who know what they are talking about, by experts on both sides. The product must be safeguarded and terms must be agreed on precisely what is allowed to happen to the product, its limitation or extension. That is a new issue. The present complexity did not exist even in 1979 when the licensed agent was created. The issue is becoming more complex all the time; and that is likely to continue. The licensed agent is an accepted part of the business—I believe an essential part.

The negotiations are normally carried out by the licensed agent on behalf of his client. Moneys arising are paid through the agent, who at any one time, like a solicitor, may hold in trust a large sum for his client. The agent has become a key figure. He must be: knowledgeable, skilled and a person of absolute integrity.

Malpractice cannot be dealt with after the event, as the Government propose in the, I believe, impracticable schedule linked to the clause. The licence requirement precedes trading and must continue to do so, for that is still an area of work which attracts the most vulnerable and exploitable people in the world. Not only that—it also attracts those who believe that they can make easy money by exploiting that attraction. They believe that they may enjoy a glamorous and even luxurious life in the process. I would not go so far as to refer to the government proposal as a "thieves' and perverts' charter", as the leaflet that I hold suggests. However, the fears expressed in the leaflet —I refer to it because a number of other noble Lords may have received it—are not mistaken. The fear exists, and rightly so. The casting couch is now a theatrical joke. Once it was even less funny; and that concept could return with the abolition of licensing. The damage which would follow the removal of the licensing system would be catastrophic; and licensing would have to be reinstated after a period of chaos.

Before 1973 brought agency licensing, the entertainment economy was a jungle in which the crook, the con man and the lecher roamed free, undeterred by the occasional prosecution. Licensing arrived out of necessity. That necessity is not less but greater today. Without licensing, bad practice—never entirely eradi-cated—would return in force.

That is why the employers support licensing. They are negotiating with agents not chosen and paid by them but by those they employ. The commission is paid by the performer, not by the theatrical manager. But the theatrical manager needs to know that contracts will be honoured and that money paid to the agent will reach the performer. That is why pre-licensing is necessary. Malpractice is not a matter which can be tackled after the event, as the Government propose.

Some Members of the Committee will have received a letter from Equity. I shall not quote it in full but perhaps I may refer to it in a moment. However, without licensing, the present increasingly complex system will collapse and the damage done in the absence of licensing might be irreparable. The damage certainly could not be repaired by dealing with individual cases after the event, as is now proposed.

Some Members of the Committee who received the letter written on Equity paper may ask, "Does it come just from the performers' side?". Not at all. Ian McGarry, the General Secretary, is a highly respected man. He signs the letter and states that he represents ITV, Channel 4, the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television, which covers the whole range of employers, the Theatrical Management Association, the Society of London Theatre, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the Personal Management Association, the Association of Model Agents, the Musicians' Union, the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and the Film Artistes' Association. Are all those people off their heads? They are not. They know the business. They know the dependency on licensing and that they cannot do without licensing.

The letter states four reasons why licensing should remain. First, performers exist in a very competitive environment and are vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of disreputable and dishonest practitioners. Star-struck, youngsters, desperate for the so-called glamorous life of an actor or model, are particularly at risk. Secondly, the current licensing requirements were hard won in the early 1970s and seen as a necessary deterrent to bad practice in a labour market which has been described as a jungle. If anything, performers are even more vulnerable now. Thirdly, unlike any other workers, performers, not employers, pay commission to the agent on a fixed percentage. That is an additional area of vulnerability. Fourthly, there was no consultation on the proposal with any relevant industry bodies prior to its inclusion in the Bill. The Committee may consider those powerful reasons.

I hope that my noble friend Lord Rix will shortly add some colour to this somewhat bald statement. However, I am absolutely convinced that if the Government had conducted the usual consultation, or even if the measure had been referred to a task force, the clause would not be in the Bill. It would have been seen to be crazy to remove a protection for integrity which everyone in the business seeks to retain.

Why did the Government uniquely avoid consultation in this area? Not only do they recommend consultation in their copious literature, but with their task forces they have actually practised it to a degree as regards other parts of the Bill. Was it because they knew that the survival of their intent was dependent upon depriving themselves of knowledge?

There was no White Paper (white or coloured) and there was no task force. Did the Government simply want to be rid of the chore of licensing? If so, in London they could have devolved the matter to the Greater London Council—if, of course, they had not abolished the Greater London Council. Did they know that if they consulted almost everyone in the business—the BBC, ITV, all the independent television companies and all the others, together with performers, they would say with one voice: "No, for God's sake don't do it. Don't send us back to the jungle. If you do, you'll ruin the business".

Employment agents in entertainment before 1973 had a poor reputation, as the Government would have been reminded had they bothered to ask. Even the good ones carried around with them the stigma of the casting couch, of the runaways who took with them money that was entrusted for clients, of the show girls exported into prostitution.

The unlicensed agent was a menace before 1973. In 1994, he would be a disaster, bringing down with him the better standards that have gradually been established since licensing, not without effort and not without some failures, but with determination and perhaps some sacrifice. Those standards must not be taken for granted. They have helped to make this country celebrated in the performance arts and in entertainment. Here we have one of our greatest assets in a world in which we have lost our lead in many ways. The Government could have done more to help but until now they have not actually gone out of their way to hinder, obstruct and destroy.

During to the proceedings on this Bill in another place, the Government replied to the points made here by saying that misdemeanours had taken place since licensing and on the part of licensed agents. Of course that must sometimes happen. The cure is to enforce licensing fully and eject the offender from the business. It is certainly not to abandon licensing. This clause does just that, and that is why it must come out of the Bill.

The Act of 1973 was introduced by a Conservative Private Member, Mr. Lewis, now Sir Kenneth Lewis, who has retired from the fray. He paid generous tribute to my own previous failed attempt and to the support that I was able to bring in another place to his successful measure, which was piloted skilfully and without opposition in this House by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, whom I am very happy to see in his place. I do not know whether the noble Lord may also have certain points to make. He will, however, agree with me that he received every support from his Government at the time when he introduced the measure and that it met with no opposition from any part of the House. I believe I am right in saying that his Government at the time was under the premiership of Sir Edward Heath. It is that measure that I am talking about now, which that government's mistaken successor now seek to emasculate by abolishing the licensing of employment agents.

The Act of 1973 removed the casting couch from the agent's escutcheon and allowed his rehabilitation and establishment as an essential, private and honoured link in an operation of increasing complexity. I have received a mild suggestion that it would be welcome if I were to draw matters to a conclusion. I shall do just that. I hope that perhaps on reflection the Committee and even the Government will agree that they are about to do harm—perhaps even to themselves. If the Government cannot withdraw the clause I urge Peers on all sides to vote in the Lobbies to rectify this prodigious error. If there are government supporters who cannot vote against the Motion, I ask them at least to abstain and not to give their support to a clause containing a mistake which would wreak havoc and lower standards over a wider area than may now be fully apparent.

Lord Moyne

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, has spoken very, very persuasively. But he has not spoken quite persuasively enough. I am sure that the organisations that the noble Lord quoted were not off their heads. But I suggest that perhaps they were accustomed to the nanny state. It is a good thing that as far as possible the Government should withdraw from the regulation of everything that they can withdraw from and encourage the industries concerned to regulate themselves. I should have thought that this was a case where that could apply. It is also not quite true to say that actors are the only people who pay fixed percentages to their agents. So of course do writers, whose industry, so far as I know, operates perfectly well without any government interference.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

A few days ago I discussed this clause outside the House with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. As a consequence of that discussion I thought that this was to be one of the rare occasions when the noble Lord and I would be in the same Lobby. But, as he has done so often in the past, the noble Lord has overdone it. He has blown the whole thing by extreme exaggeration. This is a good clause, covering most of the areas that it intends to cover. The noble Lord argued on the one section where he knows something about the matter, and on that part of it I have a lot of sympathy. That was the purpose of our conversation. But to remove the whole clause—which is what the noble Lord now wants to do —on those grounds is an absolute nonsense. I tried to deal with the matter by putting down two minor amendments to the clause which achieve a part of it that would be beneficial without ruining the whole of the Bill.

I believe that this clause forms a very important segment of the Bill. The Minister, Neil Hamilton, who has worked so hard on this and has carried out so much research, deserves our support and congratulation. The problem certainly does not call for the whole thing to be ruined by the removal of a clause which is one of the most important in the Bill. I hope that later on, when we come to my amendment, I can persuade the Committee to say that there is an exemption that could be given and that to give it would be the right thing to do. But at this stage to contemplate removing the whole of the clause is a nonsense. It is unnecessarily damaging, and it would undermine the whole purpose underlying the Bill.

Baroness Turner of Camden

I rise to support my noble friend Lord Jenkins in his opposition to this clause standing part of the Bill. I disagree profoundly with what the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, has just said. I do not know why the Government are pursuing this idea. Why is it necessary to do away with licensing for employment agencies? So far as I am aware the whole thing has worked quite successfully in the past, and since as long ago as 1973. I am not aware of any pressure from anywhere to persuade the Government to take this course—quite the contrary. These agencies exist to provide an employment service and, as we have heard, many operate in specialised areas. There are about 14,500 licensed firms at the present time. It must be to the advantage of employers and prospective employers to know that the people operating a service of this kind are individuals of probity and with some professional expertise. This is not a field that we want to open up to a lot of cowboy operators who are anxious to turn a quick buck by claiming to offer a better and cheaper service. Let us make no mistake. Those people are already out there waiting to utilise whatever opportunity the Government give them with the Bill.

A recent newspaper article attempted to show that even now a growing number of bogus employment agencies are deceiving unemployed people by promising access to well paid jobs overseas in return for a registration fee. We are told that victims—many of them in the building industry—have their cheques cashed and their hopes raised by offers of job interviews which do not materialise. The legitimate agencies, which currently have to be licensed, are not allowed to charge potential employees a signing-on fee. There are people out there simply waiting to prey on the vulnerable—the unemployed who want a job no matter what —whose money is taken from them on entirely false premises.

If the Government succeed in getting this Bill through unamended, such individuals will be able to go on making false promises. The only remedy which will be open—and not to individuals who have been defrauded—is to the Secretary of State who may then utilise the intensely complex procedures in the schedule to try to persuade an industrial tribunal to prohibit the individual agency from trading again.

It seems quite absurd to involve industrial tribunals, which already have very heavy and even unacceptably heavy workloads. As for the employment arbitration tribunals, I understand that it can take as long as two years to have the case heard anyway. How many cases of complaint will the Secretary of State's department have to receive before an application is made to an industrial tribunal? How long will it all take? Will such an outfit be able to continue trading in the meantime?

I am advised that there was no consultation before this part of the Bill was written. That point has already been made by my noble friend Lord Jenkins. It is a very important issue in the Bill. A great many people could be adversely affected and they are not just in the entertainment industry. There are entertainment unions —the Musicians' Union, Equity and others—whose members are threatened by the Government's proposals. But clerical and secretarial workers, who are mostly women, for a long time have relied on employment agencies to obtain work opportunities for them. The Transport and General Workers' Union tells me that it now has problems in agriculture following the abolition of a licensing requirement as a result of the operation of gangmasters. There has been widespread exploitation of agricultural workers as a result of the growth of the gangmaster system which has grown up since licensing has not been necessary. It is an example of what can happen across the board when licensing controls are no longer there.

Therefore this evening I hope that the Committee will tell the Government that they should not proceed with this inappropriate clause of the Bill.

7 p.m.

Lord Rochester

Having had long experience of the frustrating effects of restrictive regulations on industry, I start from the position of feeling considerable sympathy with the Government's aim in introducing deregulatory legislation. But, like the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, and the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden, I am at a loss to understand why this particular clause has been included in the Bill. From his experience, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, voiced the misgivings of Equity and other organisations about the likely effects of the clause. Clearly, no one in the relevant task force asked for it and, as has been pointed out, there has been no consultation at all about it.

It has been suggested that the Government stand to achieve savings of some £300,000 from eliminating licensing employment agencies. I have no objection to such savings. But I am concerned about the effects of the proposed change, under which employment agencies may be prohibited by an industrial tribunal from operating only after abuses have been uncovered and complaints made.

The Government may say that in recent years the number of licences refused or revoked has been small and therefore there is no need for the present system to be retained. On the contrary, that fact may be regarded as evidence of the effective way in which the present system has succeeded in weeding out malpractice before it could do excessive damage.

However, I am mainly concerned about the effect of the proposed arrangements on the administration of justice in this area. As the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, pointed out, there is widespread concern about the delays that now occur in the hearing of cases before industrial tribunals. In the year to March 1993—I have been unable to find more up-to-date figures—no more than 56 per cent. of cases in England and Wales came to a hearing within 26 weeks. The effect of Schedule 9 will be to add to those delays. The Government have given no indication that they are thinking of increasing the resources to be made available to tribunals in compensation.

The Minister will need to produce much better reasons than any of which I am aware to convince me that Clause 25 and Schedule 9 should stand part of the Bill.

Lord McCarthy

One must defend the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, because he is a victim of a procedural mix-up. He tabled notice of an intention to oppose Clause 25, which it was thought would take place after all the amendments had been considered. Somehow it seems that the debate on Clause 25 is taking place before the amendments.

Lord Henley

Perhaps I may correct the noble Lord. The debate is on whether Clause 25 should stand part of the Bill. We have already dealt with the one amendment on Clause 25. That is the way in which we normally proceed.

Lord McCarthy

Are we not going to deal with Schedule 9?

Lord Henley

Perhaps the noble Lord will give way. He knows full well that we have a list of groupings of amendments. The groupings are purely advisory to the Committee. If the noble Lord wishes to take Schedule 9 later, he is perfectly entitled to do so. At the moment we are debating Clause 25 and it has been found convenient to group it with Schedule 9.

Lord McCarthy

It is inconvenient, but it has been done now. It is perfectly reasonable for people on the other side, like the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, to say that we are debating the whole issue before we have considered certain minor amendments, including his own, which deal with part of the issue. That is not the noble Lord's fault.

I should like to say very quickly that, since it is in front of us, even at this unfortunate point we should undertake the general debate. For example, it is not enough to say, as was said by the other side, that if we do what the Government want to do, the industries concerned, and in particular the entertainment industry, could return to self-regulation. The fact is that they tried self-regulation for years and in the end statutory regulation was needed. That statutory regulation has worked extremely well. It worked for seamen who also tried self-regulation and did not succeed. For all I know, nurses tried self-regulation and needed statutory regulation.

Here we have dogma. It is a dogma which says that irrespective of what happened in the past, we will abolish every piece of statutory regulation that we can find. It is very recent dogma. In this case, as people who read the debates in the other place will know, as recently as March 1992, in answer to questions, Ministers said that this general provision was necessary. They defended it and spoke as though they had absolutely no desire to introduce deregulation in this area. Yet they have done so, and done it without any consultation at all. There was no demand from the task force or from any of the employers. As for the broad scope of the clause, there has never been any demand from the shipping employers. There has never been any demand from the professional associations or the unions —though we do not expect the Government to take any notice of that. In fact, there has been no demand from anybody.

It is absolutely clear—I challenge the Government to deny it—that their proposals are not a substitute for what we have. As the noble Lord said, there will be no regulation and no prevention until the case has become so bad that a number of people have written to the Secretary of State, he has found one or two inspectors (if he has any left) who have investigated and enough stuff has been built up. There may then be a case for an industrial tribunal.

Let me make one last point about industrial tribunals. We all know that industrial tribunals survive and become acceptable in a modest way only because of the conciliation process. Nine out of 10 cases which come forward on unfair dismissal, or on most other aspects dealt with by industrial tribunals, go into conciliation. They go to ACAS and nine out of 10 cases do not reach the tribunals because they are settled by ACAS.

In this case there cannot be conciliation. Every case will have to go to a tribunal and the effect on the case-load will be disastrous in that regard. We are saying that for pure dogma we shall abolish the regulations; people will have to wait until the situation becomes so bad that the Secretary of State takes action. Nobody wants this except the Government and they want it only because of dogma.

Lord Rix

I rise to support the amendment. There seems to be some confusion. First, I am not sure whether we are past the dinner hour; and, secondly, I am not sure which part of the amendment I am supporting. I am speaking to support the part of the amendment which will ensure that employment agencies for actors and artists continue to be registered.

Lord Henley

I can assure the noble Lord that the amendment has only one part; that is, to take out the entire clause, whether it relates to actors or whoever.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord that my two amendments are designed to achieve exactly what he says he wants.

Lord Rix

Perhaps it would be more suitable for me to speak to the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, after the dinner break rather than at present on the current amendment.

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton

I submit that it is not right that carnal appetites should govern the proceedings of this so-called legislative Chamber. This is one of the most important clauses, and one of the most important schedules, in the Bill for ordinary working people. It is right that points should be placed on record. If they fail to register tonight, at least they can be taken up on Report.

I shall make two points briefly. Were there sufficient time I should try to seduce the coy Ministers who put the Bill forward, but I am told that there is not time. First, I support my noble friend Lord Jenkins. With his enormous experience of industry and human affairs his case is overwhelming. But in saying that, I must perhaps disclose my interest. I have a little experience of industry, employers, trade unions and employees. For 19 years I was independent chairman of the joint councils of the London Theatre Council and the Provincial Theatre Council. Everything that I saw confirmed what my noble friend has said. If nothing else, the clause and the schedule must not destroy the arrangements which are in the interests of both employers and employees because, as my noble friend said, both sides will register.

I make a specific plea and if it means supporting the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, then so be it. But I would prefer to take out the whole schedule, for this reason. The enforcement mechanism of the industrial tribunals is complete nonsense. Those: less charitable than I may say that it was included in the Bill to be a nonsense because it will not protect ordinary people. First, if it were a suitable mechanism it would be wrong for the Secretary of State to be the only possible applicant. Secondly, on the judgments that are supposed to be made by tribunals on the unsuitability of directors and managers, the schedule was drawn up with no reference to and experience of the difficulties in which the High Court found itself in relation to the unsuitability of directors under the Companies Act as amended in 1989. Many people with a wealth of experience would not draft the schedule in anything like this crude form.

Thirdly, the problems of the tribunals are compounded by the fact that in this unusual and rare case their judgments will be the foundation, if there is not suitable performance and acquiescence in place of it, of a criminal offence. The industrial tribunals are not at their best when associated with criminal sanctions. It is a flaw which goes to the core of the schedule.

Fourthly, among a list of objections that could be much longer—the general case-load problem, the problem of delay spoken of by the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, and my noble friend Lord McCarthy—the absence of conciliation, leading to delays, will l be quite unacceptable as a normal method of enforcement. The Government should go away and consult, especially with those who know of the High Court problems in relation to unsuitability of company directors under the Companies Acts; they should look at the procedures of industrial tribunals and come back with something different that does not use them as the central part of an enforcement mechanism, if they must have one.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Henley

I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn, that it was not my carnal desires that led me to intervene. Rather it was the look on the face of his noble friend, the Opposition Chief Whip, that encouraged me to try to bring the debate to a head.

The licensing of employment agencies is a typical example of unnecessary regulation. It does little to protect people who use agency services. It is a very bureaucratic exercise and imposes on the industry— many members of which are small concerns—both licence fees and administrative costs.

The main purpose of Clause 25 and Schedule 9 is to relieve the industry of those burdens while ensuring that controls exist which offer agency users protection from malpractice and abuse. We believe that the repeal will save the industry over £2 million per year. Licensing no longer plays a significant role in maintaining standards in the modern recruitment industry. This sector makes an important contribution to the labour market, and its conduct is generally good. Cases of serious misconduct affecting users of agency services are rare. It does not need licensing. Few licences are refused or revoked each year and there can no longer be any justification for this onerous regime. It is therefore right that it should be removed.

One should perhaps make the point which was made by my honourable friends in another place but which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, did not accept—that even with the licensing system cases have arisen of people charging fees to potential actors, models, film extras and so forth with no intention of finding them a job. Some of the cases involved people without licences and some arose through licensed agencies. However, none of the cases was deterred by the existence of a licensing system. Generally speaking, those cases are simply fraud and are therefore liable to be dealt with by the police under the Theft Act or common law. But obviously with employment agency law a large majority of the breaches discovered were committed by licensed agencies. Out of nine prosecutions which arose from breaches over the past two years, only three involved unlicensed agencies and in those cases the offences were solely of operating an agency without a licence.

If the licensing system is so effective at preventing wrongdoers from entering the business, how can examples of wrongdoing, whether of licensed or unlicensed agencies, be cited? The fact is that the licensing system is not an effective means of controlling this risk. That does not mean that we are removing standards of conduct for agencies. We are committed to the maintenance of minimum standards of conduct in the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and its regulations and the similar requirements in the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. Experience has shown that it is those requirements, rather than the licensing system, which are effective in securing good behaviour.

It is of course right that users of agency services should be protected from the harmful activities of a very small minority of unscrupulous agencies or unsuitable people who run them. We must still be able to deal with them. Clause 25 and Schedule 9 enable us to do that by replacing the current powers in the 1973 Act and 1981 order to refuse or revoke licences with new powers to prohibit people from operating agencies when necessary. That will provide a strong deterrent and effective means to deal with abuse. These powers will complement the continuing enforcement activities of the Employment Department's inspectors. The repeal of licensing will enable them to concentrate their efforts on investigating complaints and other indications of possible breaches of the statutory standards of conduct.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, principally desires this case not for the generality but for the particular position of employment agencies in the entertainments world. We shall probably deal with that in somewhat greater detail after the adjournment. Although users may be at some risk from some agencies of this kind, just as users of agencies in other sectors may be, we do not believe that the licensing system has proved that effective a means of controlling those risks. We are not persuaded that licensing should be retained purely for entertainment agencies.

We believe that the present legislation distinguishes the entertainment agencies from other agencies in one respect only: the regulations allowing them to charge fees to artists. The sole purpose of those regulations was to recognise the very traditional fee-charging practices in the entertainments industry. The repeal of licensing will not affect the statutory requirements under the 1973 Act and there will still be those same safeguards. I am confident that those same safeguards, with the continuing enforcement activity of inspectors and the new prohibition power, will offer continued protection from malpractice and abuse to users of those services.

Perhaps I may also make it clear that, although there has been criticism of the lack of consultation, the Government made no secret of their concern to reduce the number of licences involved in business activities wherever possible or to keep the operation of the employment agency licensing system under review. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment said as much in answer to a Written Question in another place in November 1992. Despite the impression we got from the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, and others, there has been strong support for the Government's position on licensing. It has recently come from the industry's main representative body, the Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services. Although the noble Lord may have tried to give the impression that the entire entertainments industry is against us on this, I can also say that there has been a report recently from the Agents Association, one of the representative bodies of entertainment agencies.

We believe that the provisions currently in the Bill provide the best of both worlds. Burdens will be removed from industry. Protection for agency users will still be in place. It is a move that has been welcomed by those particular bodies. I believe that it should be welcomed by others in this Chamber. I invite the Committee to allow Clause 25 to stand part of the Bill.

The Earl of Dudley

Before my noble friend sits down, I apologise that I missed this point and failed to pick it up in the course of his explanation. Who will enforce the minimum standards under the Government's proposals?

Lord Henley

I can give an assurance to my noble friend that it will be the inspectors employed by my department—the Department of Employment. But it will then be a matter for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to seek the appropriate permission. Schedule 9 states: On application … an industrial tribunal may by order prohibit a person from carrying on, or being concerned with the carrying on of, any employment agency or employment business.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

The agents' body to which the noble Lord referred is the least important of a number of agents' associations in this business. All of them and the employers and the unions firmly take the view which I have expressed.

I wish I had been more impressed with the noble Lord's response. In fact, I was not impressed at all. I think that that was because he was landed with an impossible brief. Noble Lords with knowledge of the business will agree with me, when we go into the Lobbies in a moment as we must, that it would be right for all those who have at heart the interests of the entertainments world and the arts, which rank very highly in the world, to say, "No, we cannot get rid of employment agency licensing. If we do, it will be a disaster". I hope that we shall be followed into the Lobby and, as an inducement, we shall not then have to go over the same ground after the break. Let us vote that we have an easier time after we have had our break.

7.25 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 25 shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 91; Not-Contents, 48.

Division No.2
Addition, V. Jeffreys, L.
Aldington, L. Jenkin of Roding, L.
Annaly, L. Kenilworth, L.
Arran, E. Kenyon, L.
Astor, V. Kimball, L.
Balfour, E. Lindsay, E.
Blatch, B. Long, V.
Boardman, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Borthwick, L. Lyell, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L.[Lord
Brentford, V. Chancellor.]
Brigstocke, B. Marlesford, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Bruntisfield, L. Mersey, V.
Bumham, L. Monson, L.
Cadman, L. Mottistone, L.
Carnock, L. Mountevans, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B. Moyne, L.
Chesham, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Norrie, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Northesk, E.
Colwyn, L. Orkney, E.
Courtown, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Craigavon, V. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Craigmyle, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Cranbome, V. Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Cumberlege, B. Rodney, L.
Dean of Harptree, L. Seccombe, B.
Denharn, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Demon of Wakefield, B. Skelmersdale, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. St. Davids, V.
Dudley, E. Stewartby, L.
Elles, B. Strathclyde, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Strathmore and Kinghome, E.
Elton, L. [Teller.]
Faithful1, B. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Finsberg, L. Trumpington, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Tugendhat, L.
Goschen, V. Ullswater, V. [Teller.]
Greenway, L. Vivian, L.
Halsbury, E. Wade of Chorlton, L.
Henley, L. Wakeham, L.[Lord Privy Seal.]
Hesketh, L. Wynford, L.
Howe, E. Young, B.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Addington, L. Ashley of Stoke, L.
Airedale, L. Barnett, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. McCarthy, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. McNair, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Monks well, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Nelson, E.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Nicol, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. Peston, L.
Eatwell, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Geraint, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Rix, L.
[Teller.] Rochester, L.
Grey, E. Seear, B.
Hamwee, B. [Teller.] Stedman, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Stoddart of Swmdon, L.
Haskel, L. Tordoff, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Turner of Camden, B.
Jeger, B. Wedderburn of Charlton. L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. White, B.
Judd, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Kilbracken, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Mackie of Benshie, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Clause 25 agreed to accordingly.

7.33 p.m.

Viscount Goschen

I beg to move that the House do now resume. In moving this Motion, may I suggest that we return to Committee stage not before half-past eight.

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

House resumed.