Debates between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg

There have been 32 exchanges between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg

1 Tue 26th February 2019 HS2: Electricity Supply
Department for Transport
3 interactions (248 words)
2 Mon 25th February 2019 Air Traffic Management (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Department for Transport
5 interactions (1,826 words)
3 Mon 25th February 2019 Aviation Security (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Department for Transport
3 interactions (1,454 words)
4 Wed 20th February 2019 Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Department for Transport
2 interactions (729 words)
5 Wed 20th February 2019 Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Department for Transport
2 interactions (1,268 words)
6 Wed 20th February 2019 Drivers’ Hours and Tachographs (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Department for Transport
9 interactions (1,617 words)
7 Wed 20th February 2019 Road Vehicles and Non-Road Mobile Machinery (Type-Approval) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Department for Transport
3 interactions (637 words)
8 Wed 13th February 2019 Commercial Air Routes: United Kingdom and East Africa
Department for Transport
3 interactions (271 words)
9 Mon 11th February 2019 Seaborne Freight
Department for Transport
3 interactions (1,214 words)
10 Wed 6th February 2019 Railways: Dawlish
Department for Transport
3 interactions (293 words)
11 Wed 21st November 2018 Operation of Air Services (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018
Department for Transport
6 interactions (602 words)
12 Tue 6th November 2018 International Road Transport Permits (EU Exit) Regulations 2018
Department for Transport
2 interactions (1,132 words)
13 Tue 30th October 2018 Railways: East Coast Main Line
Department for Transport
3 interactions (386 words)
14 Mon 29th October 2018 Railways: Fares
Department for Transport
3 interactions (281 words)
15 Wed 24th October 2018 Civil Aviation (Insurance) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018
Department for Transport
3 interactions (738 words)
16 Wed 17th October 2018 Department for Transport (Fees) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018
Department for Transport
10 interactions (2,325 words)
17 Wed 11th July 2018 Railways: Train Timetables
Department for Transport
3 interactions (255 words)
18 Mon 9th July 2018 Stonehenge Tunnel
Department for Transport
3 interactions (272 words)
19 Tue 3rd July 2018 Govia Thameslink
Department for Transport
3 interactions (642 words)
20 Wed 10th January 2018 Local Congestion: Investment
Department for Transport
3 interactions (242 words)
21 Tue 9th January 2018 Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [HL]
Department for Transport
6 interactions (3,903 words)
22 Wed 20th December 2017 Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (Science and Technology Report)
Department for Transport
2 interactions (2,560 words)
23 Mon 18th December 2017 Sub-national Transport Body (Transport for the North) Regulations 2017
Department for Transport
6 interactions (2,126 words)
24 Tue 12th December 2017 Railways: Fares
Department for Transport
3 interactions (301 words)
25 Wed 29th November 2017 Railways: Update
Department for Transport
2 interactions (2,514 words)
26 Tue 28th November 2017 Space Industry Bill [HL]
Department for Transport
5 interactions (858 words)
27 Tue 21st November 2017 Drones
Department for Transport
3 interactions (149 words)
28 Mon 20th November 2017 Brexit: Tourism
Department for Transport
3 interactions (226 words)
29 Thu 16th November 2017 HS2: Economic and Environmental Impact
Department for Transport
2 interactions (2,938 words)
30 Tue 14th November 2017 Space Industry Bill [HL]
Department for Transport
34 interactions (5,437 words)
31 Mon 13th November 2017 Road Safety: Hand-held Devices
Department for Transport
3 interactions (286 words)
32 Tue 31st October 2017 Railways: Reliability
Department for Transport
2 interactions (2,551 words)

HS2: Electricity Supply

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 26th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I thank my noble friend for his question and I share his desire to ensure good value for money for taxpayers and indeed passengers. The advice given in the KPMG report is that while the wholesale price for electricity is forecast to increase over the long term, the price of renewable energy is coming down, so it recommended signing a long-term contract for the supply of renewable electricity. I should reiterate that the report represents only advice to HS2. No decision has been made and, before any contract is signed, HS2 will need to present the proposed energy strategy to the DfT. Whatever strategy is agreed, HS2 Ltd will be required to demonstrate that it has complied with the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, this Question highlights the fact that HS2 will be an electrified railway, which is much more environmentally friendly and cheaper to operate than a diesel line. The Government have recently abandoned or deferred major mainline railway electrification projects. Will they now restore those projects and put them on the same footing, electrification-wise, as HS2? Further, will they confirm that they will proceed with HS2 north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, we have had to take some difficult decisions on electrification, which we are bringing forward where it is in the interests of passengers. I confirm that we are absolutely committed to continuing HS2 north of Birmingham. It is going to bring great connectivity to our great cities of the north.

Air Traffic Management (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Monday 25th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

Again, I thank the Minister for explaining the purpose of this SI. As before, some of the points that I wanted to raise were touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson.

The first relates to paragraph 7.3 of the Explanatory Memorandum, to which the noble Baroness referred—particularly the reference to,

“pan-European functions including ANS delivered by more than one State … being removed”.

I, too, would like to know the actual impact of that. Does it compromise safety in any way, and what does it mean in practical terms from our point of view as a nation?

Paragraph 7.9 refers to Eurocontrol, which it says is,

“an intergovernmental organisation that provides some ANS for its member States”.

It says:

“It is not an EU body but it has been designated as the”,

single European sky,

“Network Manager and is regulated by the EU where it provides services to EU Member States. The UK will remain a contracting State of Eurocontrol after it leaves the EU and will still be able to receive its services as a contracting party to the Eurocontrol Convention”.

Can the Minister explain the exact impact of that on us, bearing in mind that it is designated as the single European sky network manager and we will no longer be part of the EU? What does it mean for us as far as regulation is concerned? Presumably it does not leave everything exactly the same as it is now, but at the moment I am struggling to identify precisely what the change might be. Any assistance that the Minister can give on that will be appreciated.

Paragraph 7.12 talks about the network manager role. It says:

“These functions pre-date the EU exercising its competence for ANS and the UK would still be able to access Eurocontrol’s wider network management role as a contracting State of the Eurocontrol Convention”.

However, it then says:

“This instrument will amend the preserved SES Legislation relating to airspace in an operable form, but the UK will be unable to participate in EU governance arrangements of the SES Network Manager”.

What will our Government’s arrangements for the network manager be? If Eurocontrol is the SES network manager and that no longer applies to us, am I right in saying that we have to set up some sort of similar arrangement, or have I misunderstood exactly what this means and what its implications are?

As the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, has already said, paragraph 7.13, which talks about functional airspace blocks, refers to the fact that the UK formed an FAB with the Republic of Ireland in 2009. Paragraph 7.14 then goes on to say:

“The legislation establishing FABs will not be retained in the SES EU Exit Regulations. As a non-Member State after exiting the EU, the UK will have no legal basis to participate in a FAB”.

My question is not dissimilar to that posed by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. I simply ask: if we are no longer able to participate in an FAB but have one with the Republic of Ireland, what will the impact of this be on 29 March under a no-deal Brexit? What exactly does it mean and what are its implications? Do we have an FAB only with the Republic of Ireland or do we have a number of others and, if so, what is the impact on, or implication for, those further FABs?

The document also refers in paragraph 7.16 to changes being made in the SI,

“so that the Member State functions in the regulation are retained and instead carried out by the CAA who will now oversee the implementation of the regulation”—

that is, these regulations. Bearing in mind that it specifically refers to a change being made in the SI, is this the only such change of significance in it or are there others that perhaps might not have been highlighted in the same way?

Paragraph 7.19, on the subject of ATM safety, refers to the fact that the,

“SES Legislation relating to safety forms our current mechanism … so that legislation will need to be preserved in UK law in an operable form to maintain continuity in safety. In doing this we are giving some oversight functions to the CAA which were previously for EASA”.

Am I right in saying that this means an additional interface on safety issues? If I am right, does the Minister agree that that is hardly a desirable development, since the more interfaces you have over safety, presumably potentially—I stress “potentially”—the more difficult safety issues can become? It would be helpful to have the Minister’s comments on that issue.

The Minister referred in her introduction to the SESAR programme, which is the single European sky air travel management research programme. Paragraph 7.25 of the Explanatory Memorandum says that,

“the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) was set up under a Council Regulation to manage”,

the research and development programme. The paragraph goes on to say:

“As the UK will no longer be able to participate in the SJU after leaving the EU the Council Regulation setting up the SJU will be revoked”.

What exactly are the potential consequences of this as far as research and development are concerned? I believe the Minister said that we have played an active role within it. Will we inevitably be able to play only a less active role? From our point of view, is there likely to be less involvement in research and development programmes?

Perhaps the Minister can confirm—I am sure there will be no difficulty, since the Minister in the Commons has already said so—that on SESAR funding, if there is a no-deal exit the Government will underwrite what would have been paid to the UK under the current arrangements, to provide certainty and continuity for those involved. Paragraph 7.26 indicates that the pilot common project will continue, saying that there will be,

“legislation to require UK project participants who have been implementing it since 2014 to complete the delivery of projects which will maintain interoperability with the UK’s neighbouring States”.

Presumably, the fact that it refers to one project suggests that withdrawing in this way means that there will be other projects with which we will not continue, or will not get involved when they commence. Perhaps the Minister could confirm whether I am right; that hardly seems a desirable situation.

I turn to paragraph 10 on “Consultation outcome” and ask once again: were the trade unions involved in the consultation? References are made to various stakeholders. I do not know whether that includes the trade unions but, again, I would like to know the answer to that question. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned that the consultation paragraph refers to a view among stakeholders supporting,

“continuity in terms of the regulatory framework for ATM after the UK leaves”,

the European Union. The paragraph ends:

“The preparation of the instrument also takes account of representations from operational stakeholders on the impacts of the UK leaving the EU or ATM and ANS including from NATS, the UK’s en route air traffic services provider”.

Can the Minister tell us what those representations were? Were they simply representations in relation to continuity or were other matters taken into account in preparing this instrument? If so, in what way does the instrument reflect those further representations?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I thank noble Lords for their consideration of these draft regulations and turn to some of the questions raised. On participation in the UK-Ireland functional airspace block—the FAB—it is currently the only FAB we are part of but, in the event of no deal, there would be no legal basis for the UK to continue to participate in it. Nor could we compel Ireland to be part of it, so we have not been able to retain this part of the single European sky legislation in the SI. There is a possibility that EU states could involve neighbouring third countries in their functional airspace blocks and future UK involvement as a third country would be discretionary.

Co-ordination and co-operation with Ireland will of course continue, as both states are members of the international inter-government organisation Eurocontrol and, indeed, ICAO; both the UK and Ireland are delegated by ICAO to provide air traffic services in parts of the north Atlantic. The noble Baroness is quite right to point out that 80% of traffic entering or leaving the EU from the north Atlantic flies through that airspace, so it is imperative that we work together on this.

Break in Debate

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

What is the figure likely to be that the Government will have to underwrite?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I am afraid that I do not have a specific figure. Future funding is under consideration as part of our wider airspace modernisation project. That will be looked at through the CAA, which has a contingency fund for airspace modernisation costs, including the deployment of new technology.

It is important to reiterate that the safety of airspace will not be jeopardised after we leave the EU. This SI, along with the aviation safety SI which has been laid and will be debated in the coming weeks, will ensure that we have the same high safety standards. Air traffic controllers will continue to be licensed by the CAA and relevant EASA regulations will be saved in national law to ensure that those safety standards remain.

On the pilot common project, UK industry has been involved in the governance to shape the scale and costs of SESAR deployment projects. The future deployment of new technology would need UK legislation under the Civil Aviation Act 1982.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, asked about military and commercial use. The military is excluded from the single European sky legislation. The flexible use of airspace is about using airspace reserved for the military when the military does not need to use it. It is not strictly about regulating the military, as such, but rules will be transferred into UK law through the statutory instrument which will continue to oversee them.

NATS is currently the UK’s en route air navigation services provider and will continue in that role; there will be no difference. On the question of what will replace the SESAR programme when the UK leaves the EU, the level of participation in SESAR remains a matter for negotiation. We firmly believe that it is in the best interests of the UK and indeed of the EU to maintain close co-operation, but it is likely that UK industry will no longer be able to receive EU funding for SESAR deployment. As I said, the Government have committed to cover the costs of that.

I hope that I have answered all the questions. If I have missed any, I will follow up in writing. This SI, and others to be debated in the coming weeks, are a key part of ensuring that we have a functioning statute book for aviation should we leave the European Union without a deal. It will make sure that, in the event of no deal, the UK has effective regulatory arrangements for our air traffic management system, and that the aviation industry, the CAA and NATS, have clarity about the regulatory framework.

Aviation Security (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Monday 25th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I am not able to give the noble Lord that reassurance as we are not sure how EU regulations will develop. However, we are of course committed to maintaining our high security record. As has been mentioned, we already have more stringent measures and that will continue.

On the more stringent measures and the Commission decision, the Aviation Security Act gives the Secretary of State powers to give directions to or serve notices on specified parties—for example, directly to air carriers or airports—for the purpose of discharging his aviation security responsibilities. The single consolidated direction is a compilation of the various directions and, after the UK exits from the EU, the single consolidated direction will continue to refer to the retained EU legislation, supplemented already, as I have said, by the more stringent measures. This is essential to maintaining our existing aviation standards, which will be continually assessed and modified, where necessary, to reflect the current threat picture.

The single consolidated direction will also be used to set out the content of the Commission decision, and the content decision will continue not to be published. The information was not published before and will not be published in the future. I understand the noble Lord’s concerns about that but, obviously, if more details were out there on the specifics of what was needed for aviation security that would put us at risk—for example, the specifications of screening equipment, the volume of detection, the criteria for the random testing of airport supplies, details of the exact screening requirements such as what percentage of passengers are checked, and the green list for aviation security. There is no change in this.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

I appreciate that there are security issues involved—I do not pretend otherwise and the Minister may think this unnecessary—but is it still not possible for the Secretary of the State to publish something at least saying what general areas the regulations or amendments he has made cover without being specific about what they said?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

That would be a new development. As I say, the SI ensures that we continue what we have done previously. However, I will take back the noble Lord’s suggestion to consider whether in the future we could do that.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also asked who will be inspecting the CAA, the Secretary of State and airports after exit day. We will continue to maintain our high standards. We will be part of the ICAO and may have EU inspections for one-stop security purposes. This country has an excellent record of aviation security and will continue to have it after we leave the European Union.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about derogation from standards. Some small airports and demarcated areas within airports already have some derogation. That is what we are carrying over. There are no plans to ask for additional derogations.

On civil aviation security equipment manufacturers, the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, asked about standards. I point to the European Civil Aviation Conference which, despite its name, is a branch of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and is made up of 44 member states. We will continue to play an active role in ECAC after Brexit and that will include contributing to the development of improved standards on security equipment. ECAC also undertakes testing of aviation security equipment to certify that it meets the required standards. We will maintain that relationship. Any international manufacturer producing such equipment can submit it to ECAC for testing and certification and that is the standard we will continue to use. There should not therefore be any other barriers to UK manufacturers supplying EU airports post EU exit.

On ACC3—this is an important part of the SI—I say to the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, it is not our choice that we will no longer be part of this scheme. It is an impact of leaving the European Union without a deal. The scheme is open only to member states and. if we leave without a deal, we will no longer be a member state. This is not a policy choice that we are taking; it is an effect of us leaving if we leave without a deal. That is why we have had to bring in a new system.

We want to minimise disruption and additional burdens on industry while maintaining our standards. That is why we have the new UK ACC3 designation and that will be issued to all carriers and the supply chains which currently hold the EU designation. We have consulted carefully on this and, prior to leaving, the CAA will formally confirm the new UK ACC3 designations for carriers and that will be reflected in the UK ACC3 database. However, as the noble Baroness pointed out, this is a moving feast. There will be new cargo flights for existing designations and, when they are due for renewal, carriers in that instance will have to apply directly to the UK for the new ACC3 designation. In order to manage the new regime we will need to maintain a record of all granted designations. In a no deal scenario, we will lose access to the EU database that forms the backbone of the EU ACC3, comprising the approved carriers, the entities and the validators. We will need a new system and that is what we have set up. However, we will ensure that that continues to maintain our high security standards and minimises disruption.

In the current system, to which the noble Lord referred, the UK has a responsibility for designating certain destinations to form part of the EU system. That will also be removed and the EU will take on that role.

On compliance and inspection of airports, as I mentioned earlier, the EU has said that it will recognise one-stop security and we expect some EU inspections in the future. However, domestic aviation security compliance is already managed by the CAA and will continue to be so after exit day.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, raised the important issue of costs. As the basic aviation security requirements will not change, any costs to the industry will be minimal. There will be modest administrative costs to air carriers on expiry of their existing designations because of the change in the ACC3 system. We have aimed to minimise additional costs. The evidence required for both systems will remain the same, so carriers should be able to pay for a single independent validation report and submit it to both the UK and EU authorities. There is no direct charge to carriers applying for an EU ACC3 designation and the CAA will not impose a direct charge on that either. I agree with the noble Lord that it would be easier to stay with the same system but, as I say, it is a consequence of leaving with no deal.

On the question of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about how the current system on costs works, the current regulations allow member states to decide how to allocate the costs of aviation security, subject to the relevant rules of Community law. That means that member states do it differently. There are some that use central funding for it. In the UK currently we have the user-pays principle: the costs are borne by the airline and the airports and ultimately passed on to the consumer. Industry meets those costs by virtue of the charging system under Section 11 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, and that arrangement is expected to continue after we leave.

On the cost to government, another point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, the CAA already has the expertise to assess applications for cargo security designations under what it does in the EU system and it is making appropriate contingency preparations to deliver continuity under that scheme. It has incurred a one-off cost in developing the new database to assist in administration. That cost is around £150,000 and will be funded out of the CAA EU exit programme contingency fund provided by the Department for Transport. There may also be a modest increase in CAA resources required to administer the system in the future. We expect that to be around two full-time posts a year.

I hope that I have answered the majority of the questions. If I have missed any I will follow up in writing. As I have said, delivering a negotiated deal remains our top priority. This SI makes it clear what the benefits of delivering a deal will be and what the implementation period will be. However, in the event of no deal, it is essential to ensure that a crucial part of the regulatory framework for civil aviation continues to work effectively after exit day and that passengers continue to benefit from the level of security we see today.

Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 20th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

I knew I would get approval for at least something I said. I take this opportunity, after a fairly long evening, to express my thanks to the Minister for dealing with these SIs in her usual good-natured and patient manner.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I thank noble Lords for their consideration of the final regulations of this evening. International conventions require each flag state administration to approve marine equipment, and once we have left the EU it would not be appropriate for the UK to fulfil its international obligations through an EU system that we can no longer influence. That is why we are setting up the UK system. It will allow the 10 UK-based conformity assessment bodies to continue offering services to the UK market. If we allowed only EU-approved equipment, those bodies would be in the strange position of having to relocate to the EU to provide to the UK market.

We understand that we need to ensure that the UK bodies can continue to offer EU-approved equipment. The new regulations apply both to existing ships and new ships, which will all be able to use either EU-approved equipment or UK-approved equipment. That does not have a time limit currently. The Government will consider whether we should move towards the UK system, but that would be done only after very careful consideration and consultation with the industry.

There will be no reduction in standards under the regulations. As I said in my opening statement, they retain the existing international standards set at IMO level, and that is what we will stick to. They apply the same familiar process and procedures to marine equipment approvals, to minimise disruption to industry. As the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, noted, some of the 10 UK-based EU-notified bodies have a global client base—and long may that continue. They are global operations and have offices internationally. We anticipate that some of the UK-based notified bodies with offices in the EU will make contingency plans to enable them to maintain their EU-notified body status, but we have no information about any of the UK-based notified bodies moving there. These are global companies that provide to a global market, and we expect them to be able to continue to do so.

Both the EU system and the new UK system are established on IMO standards, so manufacturers do not need to produce to two standards. A UK manufacturer may maintain its existing EU approval and keep EU market access, while also maintaining UK market access.

No formal consultation has been done on this instrument, but the MCA and the department regularly meet the assessment bodies and the manufacturers. Both groups recognise that the regulations are needed to maintain the status quo, and I am pleased to be able to say to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, on our final SI this evening, that both the UK Chamber of Shipping and Nautilus, the seafarers union, are participants in the MCA industry committees, and have been consulted. These meetings occur very frequently, every three to six months.

This statutory instrument is necessary: if the House does not approve it, there will be no legal basis for UK notified bodies to continue operating in the country. The companies and those who work for them would therefore face uncertainty. If this SI were not approved, we would not be able to accept equipment from the EU or investigate non-compliance. So it is essential. We have not carried out a full impact assessment of the regulations because their purpose, intent and real-world effect is to do everything possible to minimise cost and disruption. Noble Lords should be aware that the impacts and costs to business of not making these regulations would be significantly higher—as I said, it would lead to uncertainty.

I hope that I have managed to address the points that have been raised. I thank all noble Lords who contributed to the transport SI debates. I am genuinely grateful for their scrutiny; these are important pieces of secondary legislation, and the House is certainly doing its job in scrutinising them. Marine equipment approvals are, of course, vital to ensuring the safety of those on board ships and the protection of the marine environment. I hope that noble Lords will agree that this SI is essential to ensure that the legislation on marine equipment approvals will continue to work effectively in the UK in the event of no deal.

Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 20th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, I would like to raise one or two questions. I will try to direct my questions to what is in the statutory instrument—although I share the view of my noble friend Lord Adonis that, if the Explanatory Memorandum to this statutory instrument makes a reference to something, it is perfectly appropriate to discuss it in this debate.

My first question to the Minister concerns something that is mentioned in the report of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which ends by saying that the committee recommended that this instrument be upgraded to the affirmative resolution procedure when it was previously presented as a proposed negative. Bearing in mind the fairly dramatic impact that this instrument will have, why did the Department for Transport think that the instrument was appropriate for a negative resolution procedure rather than an affirmative one?

I will try to make fairly specific questions and points. The first relates to the paragraph on consultation outcome that has already been mentioned. I will pursue a little bit further the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, about this extraordinary statement. I will repeat it:

“Given the EU Exit negotiation sensitivity of changes to the Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Information Centre and Compensation Body) Regulations 2003, formal public consultation was not considered appropriate”.

Can we have a proper explanation of why, and sensitivity to whom? What about the changes is so sensitive that the decision was made not to hold a formal public consultation? It goes on to say:

“Nevertheless, informal engagement has taken place with the MIB, the Financial Conduct Authority, insurance trade associations and motoring trade associations to inform our drafting and ensure key stakeholders are aware and satisfied with the changes being proposed”.

Does the reference to motoring trade associations cover, for example, the RAC and the AA? If it does, then clearly I know where I stand on that. If it does not, were the RAC and the AA consulted? Bearing in mind the impact on insurance, was the Consumers’ Association consulted? It might have had a view on the impact of this statutory instrument on the consumers of insurance policies, which will be fairly dramatic. It would be helpful if the Minister, on behalf of the Government, were able to give a response.

I want to follow up another point, already raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, about the cost of having to pursue claims in EU countries, which is another fairly dramatic change associated with this instrument. What is the Government’s estimate of the cost for individuals of having to do this? The instrument remains pretty silent on what that impact will be. Indeed, as has already been said, the instrument is very much geared towards the impact on the insurance industry and the MIB, and the potential costs involved; it says precious little about the impact on affected motorists. Surely the Government would want to protect the interests of the motorists and not leave them in a worse situation, if at all possible. If the Government felt this was not possible, they might at least produce a document setting out fairly what the additional costs are likely to be for motorists in having to pursue claims in EU countries, as opposed to the current procedures.

Paragraph 12.2 of the Explanatory Memorandum also makes a reference which, presumably, reflects when the statutory instrument was first drafted. It says:

“We should anticipate more UK residents issuing legal proceedings from November 2018 to exit day in order to ensure their claim can continue to be made in the UK”.

Bearing in mind that we are now more than half way through February 2019, is the Minister able to update us on whether more UK residents have issued legal proceedings since November 2018, as was anticipated at the time that this instrument was first drafted?

Later in the text, paragraph 14.1 says:

“The approach to monitoring of this legislation is that a Post-Implementation Review is not required”.

In view of everything that has already been said this evening about the impact on individual motorists vis-à-vis their insurance, it would seem that if one piece of legislation required a post-implementation review after going through, it is this one. There is no real information in the Government’s document about what they think the impact will be on individual motorists; there is speculation, but not much solid information, so surely this ought to be subject to post-implementation review. Once again, I would be grateful if the Minister could give a response on behalf of the Government.

As others have said, considerable surprise will be expressed about what this particular impact of a no-deal Brexit could mean. My final comment is that at some stage, presumably, the Government will want to advise people of the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on motor insurance. Perhaps they intend to do it by putting an advert on the side of a bus and running it around the country to tell people about some of the downsides of Brexit.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I thank noble Lords for their consideration of these draft regulations. I start by saying that this is not a situation the Government want to be in. We do not want no deal; we are working very hard to achieve a deal. We do not want to be in a situation where visiting victims provisions are no longer available to UK residents injured in the EEA. That is why we are trying to achieve a deal with the European Union, which is something that I hope will happen very soon. The removal of the visiting victims obligation in respect of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau would be a sensible approach in the event of no deal. It will ensure that the insurance industry and, ultimately, people who pay for insurance documents are not hit with an extra cost—the burden would ultimately fall upon UK motorists.

In response to the specific questions raised, as I acknowledged in my opening speech, this SI was upgraded from negative to affirmative. It did not contain provisions falling within paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 7 to the withdrawal Act, requiring it to be made under the affirmative procedure, but we understand why the committee was concerned and we are happy to relay it in the affirmative procedure.

On consultation, I can confirm that, yes, we speak to the RAC, the AA, personal injury lawyers, the insurance industry, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, the Financial Conduct Authority and consumer organisations. It may be helpful to reiterate that, in the event of no deal, the motor insurance directive, which facilitates the visiting victims scheme, will no longer apply. A decision therefore had to be made because that would mean that the MIB would continue to compensate UK residents injured in the EEA without the ability to claim reimbursement from its foreign counterparts.

Also, the MIB would have to pay for claims made by EU 27 visitors injured in the UK, without UK visitors to the EU benefiting from those same benefits. Ultimately, this could mean that UK motorists in insurance schemes are paying, without any reciprocity, for EU 27 visitors injured in the UK. As I said, we would like to continue being part of the reciprocal scheme but, by leaving the EU, we will no longer be part of the motor insurance directive and will not be able to do so. I reiterate that this does not mean that UK residents will not receive compensation. They will still be entitled to compensation, although, as the noble Baroness pointed out, this will have to be claimed in the country where the accident happened, which will lead to additional complexities and costs.

Drivers’ Hours and Tachographs (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 20th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I will go through it in detail. A number of the provisions and offences in Part VI of the Transport Act are being amended to ensure that the AETR is fully applied in the UK, as I mentioned earlier. The existing measures, which make provision in relation to the EU regulation, are amended so as also to refer to the AETR provision: Section 96, which contains the offences of non-compliance with the EU and AETR drivers’ rules; Section 97C, which requires drivers to provide tachograph records to employers; Section 97G, which requires operators to ensure the data is downloaded from tachographs; Section 97H, which requires the production to an officer of downloaded tachograph data; and Section 99ZE, which prohibits the creation of false tachograph records and data. Those are the criminal offences being amended to make sure they are in line with the AETR rules.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

This relates to what my noble friend said. I intended to say it when I made my contribution, but perhaps I could just say it now. Paragraph 6.5 of the Explanatory Memorandum says that Part 2,

“creates three new offences and amends two existing offences to ensure that there are adequate enforcement provisions”.

I accept that if I had read the document more thoroughly, I might know the answer to this question, but what specifically are the three new offences referred to?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I was just coming on to those new offences. The new criminal offences are all under the Transport Act. The first is the failure to install or use a tachograph in accordance with the AETR requirements for in-scope vehicles. The second, in Section 97ZB, is the supply of tachograph equipment that has not been or is no longer type-approved by the relevant authorities. The final new offence, in Section 97ZC, is the failure by a tachograph manufacturer to inform the Secretary of State of known security vulnerabilities in its product. As I said, in particular the provisions around the AETR agreement will be increasingly important as this international agreement takes the place of the existing EU regulations. In the course of the legal analysis work to prepare this EU exit SI, these were the new criminal offences identified as needed. It is particularly important to make sure that the AETR regulatory regime is fully functioning for exit day.

The necessary legal amendments do not modify the substantive regulatory obligations placed on drivers and operators subject to the rules. In the event of a deal, as set out in the draft political declaration, for road transport the UK and the EU intend to develop market access arrangements underpinned by appropriate common standards, including driving time limits. Obviously, that is where we hope to get to, but in the event of us leaving without a deal these regulations are needed. I beg to move.

Break in Debate

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

I will make one or two comments on this SI and ask the Minister to repeat a couple of things she has already said.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee referred to the three new offences and the amendment to the two existing offences, saying:

“The House may wish to be aware of the creation of new offences using secondary legislation”.

Is the Minister able to give some information—I do not mean an enormous amount—on how frequently DfT uses secondary legislation to create new offences, or to amend existing offences? I am not entirely sure in my own mind the extent to which this is a break from normal practice or simply a continuation of an existing practice which may not be used frequently.

I would be grateful if the Minister could confirm that the effect of this SI is that there will be no changes to the requirements of the drivers’ hours and tachograph rules, so that what we are being invited to agree to is actually a continuation of the present arrangements.

I do not think the Minister will be too surprised if I ask whether there was any consultation with trade unions. Paragraph 10.1 says:

“Department for Transport Ministers and officials have regular engagement with the road transport industry”.

It would be of some relief if the Minister was able to say to me that, on this issue, that covered the trade unions as well as the other key players within the industry, because it talks, at paragraph 6.5, about creating,

“the equivalent offence of failing to install and use recording equipment”.

Presumably, a driver could be accused of not using the recording equipment, and might, for example, turn it off. To suggest that the drivers of vehicles have no interest at all in what is in this SI is stretching it.

I will leave my comments at that, on the basis that there is no change to the existing arrangements, and that is what this SI is intended to achieve. I would be grateful if the Minister could comment on what is in the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee report about creating new offences using secondary legislation.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I thank noble Lords for their consideration of these draft regulations, and I shall turn to the points raised.

The need for these regulations is incredibly important. On the market access regulations, which the noble Baroness referred to, the international access to the EU for the UK—if there is a no-deal Brexit—would be jeopardised without them. The regulation on the haulage market access currently being discussed envisages the continuation of equivalent rules for drivers’ hours and tachographs and includes draft provisions to reduce or terminate market access without those equivalent provisions, so they are important. Even under the limited access provided by ECMT permits, we also need to adhere to the international standards.

On enforcement, parts of the tachograph rules and the current regime of drivers’ hours offences in the UK would not continue to be enforceable in respect of much of the commercial road transport in the UK. Some of these breaches of the rules are incredibly serious, including the fraudulent manipulation of tachographs, so the rules are important to public safety.

On new powers, in many cases the reference to the Secretary of State is a technical change, but the Secretary of State will have some regulation-making powers, and they are exercisable by negative procedure to replace the Commission’s secondary legislation-making powers. At present, such legislation made by the Commission flows through to the UK automatically as directly applicable EU law. The regulation-making powers are transferred to the Secretary of State in relation to authorising exemptions from driver rules for transport operations carried out in exceptional circumstances, which the noble Baroness referred to. Procedures for field tests of tachograph equipment, setting out standardised reporting forms and specifying the content of the training of control officers, and setting out the technical specifications for tachograph equipment are subject to the negative procedure, due to the nature of the amendments which they would make. They are very specific and technical or apply to exceptional circumstances where we need a swift response. It would only be possible to modify the core regulatory obligations, such as maximum driving times and the requirement to install a tachograph, through primary legislation.

The costs on business will not change as a result of these regulations. The effect of the rules will be the same: behaviours which are legal will continue to be allowed, and behaviours which are illegal will continue to be prohibited. The regulations will enable the enforcement of the rules by the DVSA and the police to continue as at present.

On information exchange, which the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, raised, the provisions are revoked because they relate to co-operation which, in the event of no deal, we sadly cannot guarantee. We would hope, none the less, to be in a position to continue to co-operate with the EU in relation to this sector. That is not an agreement we have reached yet, and we would not be party, for example, to the European Register of Road Transport Undertakings, which is the data exchange on violators, as we would no longer be a member of the EU, but that information flow is important and we would like to see it even in the event of no deal.

This would not affect the enforcement sanctions available. Regardless of Brexit, we are targeting enforcement resources towards offences such as tachograph manipulation, and enforcement against non-UK established hauliers and drivers, which includes the immobilisation of vehicles and fixed penalty notices, is not affected by the regulation or Brexit. We will continue to participate in Euro Contrôle Route, which is not an EU body and is not restricted to EU countries’ enforcement agencies. That organisation is focused on practical law enforcement collaboration and enables the exchanges of good practice.

Break in Debate

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

Does the Minister think that the RHA and the FTA are the best representatives of drivers, as opposed to the union they are members of?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

No, I did not mean to say that. As I said, there will be no change for drivers from these regulations; the rules will stay the same. The EU rules are the same as the AETR rules.

The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, asked questions on divergence. We are not committing to following the EU rules. In the future, the Government will consider on a case-by-case basis how the UK might choose to respond to any changes in EU regulations. These regulations do not oblige the Government to remain aligned to the EU rules, but they do oblige the UK to remain aligned to the AETR rules. We are a contracting party to the AETR, and those wider international rules will underpin all transport operations between the UK and the EU after exit. At present, the AETR is aligned to the EU rules: the rules on driving time, rest time and requirements for the use and installation of tachographs are the same.

Road Vehicles and Non-Road Mobile Machinery (Type-Approval) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 20th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

By leaving the European Union through the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, we will take EU legislation on to our statute book. So we are carefully looking at that legislation to make sure that it functions in the best way for us. As I said, this is not intended to make policy changes and is intended to remain aligned with existing standards. But there are more than 3,700 pages of type approvals, and we want to make sure that they function correctly on our statute book. That is a significant piece of work, which we will be doing alongside a formal consultation to make sure that this continues to function.

The consultation on type approval was conducted by discussions and working groups, largely through the main UK trade bodies covering the various categories of vehicle that require type approval. We have had a range of meetings that included members of the SMMT, the Motorcycle Industry Association and the Agricultural Engineers Association. Through these meetings, we refined our proposals and addressed sector-specific issues as well as informing people what is expected in a no deal scenario. Obviously, we have also spoken to the European trade associations.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

I ask this in a genuine spirit: I hope that the Minister will accept that. If there were meetings and discussions with the bodies that she just mentioned, which are referred to in the EM, did they agree that what is in front of us today maintains the status quo—because they would have been told that that was the objective? Can I just check, because the Minister did not mention it, that the trade unions were not consulted?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I am afraid that I do not have an answer on trade unions; I shall have to get back to the noble Lord on that.

The organisations we consulted do not wish for no deal—I should be very clear on that—but we are attempting a pragmatic approach to make sure that we continue trade with the EU should we have a no-deal exit. They are supportive of the proposals. The SMMT told the Lords Select Committee on the EU Internal Market that the department had put in place a system of temporary type approval, initially, which is probably as sensible as we can have during the interim period. The Motorcycle Industry Association confirmed that it had no immediate concern with the proposed text, which it expects to alleviate some of the short-term pressures on manufacturers and importers arising from the UK leaving the European Union without a deal. So I think that it is fair to say that industry does not want no deal but, in the event of no deal, it accepts that this interim measure is the right way forward. We published our technical notice of the changes to type approval last September.

On the question of the cost of type approval asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, the total cost to manufacturers of provisional approval is estimated to be around £800,000. That includes their internal administration costs and familiarisation costs. Normally, to obtain type approval for a single model costs at least £250,000, including the hire of test facilities, internal costs and fees to the VCA. It takes the VCA a couple of hours to prepare a UK approval following an application. As noble Lords would expect, the VCA has engaged extensively with industry and is well placed to issue provisional UK approvals. It has recruited additional temporary staff to manage the additional workload. So far, it has taken on 23 additional staff and is on target to have 40 in place by mid-March. The assessment found an estimated annual cost of the VCA of £800,000 per year, which would be recovered from manufacturers—so, combined with the administrative costs of using the scheme, the estimated total cost to business is £1.6 million per year.

Commercial Air Routes: United Kingdom and East Africa

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 13th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

Yes, we will. The current slot regime allows for new entrants. The regulations require 50% of available slots to be given to new entrants. The main issue is that there are not very many slots available. This is why we need expansion. There will be more slots available with expansion and with other airports making better use of their existing capacity. Our aim in looking at the slot allocation regime is to ensure competition, which will ultimately benefit the consumer.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, government Ministers talk in enthusiastic terms about the new trade agreements that we will be able to conclude with other countries following Brexit. Will the availability at our major airport of sufficient and appropriate airline slots for direct services to those other countries be an important consideration in successfully concluding such trade deals? If so, do the Government intend to make sure—as opposed to simply talking about it—that such slots are available at Heathrow, or Gatwick at least, in the immediate aftermath of Brexit when, as I understand it, these new trade agreements with other countries will be concluded with considerable rapidity?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, we aim to increase our connectivity across the globe. We have a very experienced team of air services negotiators in our department who work across the world to deliver new air services agreements. Our current approach is to favour as much liberalisation as possible, providing it is in the UK’s national interest. Regardless of the negotiations, Brexit will not deliver new slots, but an increased capacity at Heathrow will do. That will help us increase our links, and increase our trade links, across the world.

Seaborne Freight

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Monday 11th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) (Con) - Hansard

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport to an Urgent Question in the other place. The Statement is as follows:

“In December, following a collective government decision and a procurement process involving my department and the Treasury, we contracted three shipping companies to provide additional ferry capacity as part of contingency planning for a potential no-deal EU exit. Let me start by being absolutely clear that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Government’s priority is to ensure the smooth operation of both the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel, and we are putting in place measures at the UK end to contribute to this.

However, any sensible Government plans for all eventualities. That is why we agreed contracts worth around £100 million, with the bulk of the award, £89 million, going to DFDS and Brittany Ferries to provide services across seven separate routes. Built into those agreements are options to add capacity on two other routes from those companies should they be required. This capacity could be required to guarantee the smooth flow of some key goods into the UK, particularly for the NHS. It is worth reminding the House that, in the event of no deal and constriction on the short straits, this capacity would be sold on to hauliers carrying priority goods.

In addition to the £89 million-worth of contracts with DFDS and Brittany Ferries, the Department for Transport entered into a £13.8 million contract with Seaborne Freight to provide ferry services from the Port of Ramsgate to Ostend. At the time of the award, we were fully aware of Seaborne’s status as a start-up business and the need for Seaborne to secure vessels and port user agreements to deliver a service. However, the shorter distance between the two ports meant that the route could provide us with shorter journey times and lower cost, making it a potentially attractive part of the package.

Seaborne’s proposition to the department was backed by Arklow Shipping, Ireland’s biggest and one of Europe’s largest shipping companies. For commercial reasons I have not been able to name Arklow Shipping or mention its involvement to date. But its support for the proposition from the outset, and the assurances the department received, provided confidence in the viability of this deal. Arklow confirmed to me that it intended to finance the purchase of ships and would be major shareholders in Seaborne. It also confirmed to me its view that the Seaborne plans were, ‘both viable and deliverable’. These assurances included clear evidence about the availability of suitable vessels from the continent and about the formal steps which Seaborne, via Arklow, had taken to secure these vessels.

However, releasing this information into the public domain could have significantly driven up the cost of the vessels and might even have resulted in them being removed from the market, where supply is extremely scarce. I have therefore had to refrain from saying anything publicly to date about this.

My department monitored closely the progress of Seaborne towards meeting its contractual commitments. By last week, the company had secured firm options on ships to operate on the route, and had reached provisional agreement with Ostend and was close to doing so with Ramsgate. However, late last week, despite previous assurances, Arklow Shipping suddenly and unexpectedly withdrew its backing from Seaborne. In the light of this, and after very careful assessment, I took the decision to terminate this contract. My department concluded that there were now too many major commercial issues to be resolved to enable Seaborne to establish alternative arrangements and finance in the time needed to bring ferries and ports into operation.

As I have repeatedly made clear, not a penny of taxpayers’ money has gone or will go to Seaborne. The contracts we agreed with the three ferry companies are essentially a commitment to block book tickets on additional sailings after the UK leaves the European Union, so actually we have taken a responsible decision to make sure that taxpayers’ money is properly protected.

I can confirm that the contracts with DFDS and Brittany Ferries remain on track and will provide us with valuable additional freight capacity into the UK in the event of disruption following EU exit. We also have contractual options to replace the Seaborne capacity with additional capacity on routes in the North Sea, and this is an option we will be discussing across government in the coming days.

While the focus of this Government is to secure a deal with the European Union, as a responsible Government we will continue to make proportionate contingency plans for a range of scenarios. That is the right thing to do”.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. On 8 January, my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe was told by the Government:

“With Seaborne, the proposal was subject to technical, financial and commercial assurance”.—[Official Report, 8/1/19; col. 2127.]

What were the financial assurances received and from whom? Were the financial assurances given specific, firm, unqualified and in writing, or were they only in the form of an intention or a consideration of giving financial support, as the Statement suggests?

Why was no reference made in the Statement of 8 January to the extensive involvement on the financial side of the Irish company Arklow Shipping? The Government said it was for commercial reasons. What commercial reasons were so important that they overruled the public interest and transparency on a Brexit issue? Perhaps instead it was because the Secretary of State was so determined to have the involvement at all costs of a British shipping company, to avoid the embarrassment of having to rely exclusively on European companies to help us out of a no-deal mess, that he reached this questionable agreement with Seaborne Freight without competitive tendering and then knowingly did not disclose in the Statement that even British Seaborne Freight was dependent on financial backing materialising from an EU-based Irish company? If that is not the case, why was the agreement not reached directly with Arklow Shipping, one of Europe’s largest shipping companies and clearly the intended real power behind Seaborne Freight?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, we have listed the checks carried out as due diligence on the operational suitability of all the bids submitted as part of the department’s procurement of additional freight capacity. They were director searches and basic counterparty financial solvency checks, with technical support provided by Mott MacDonald. Two high-level technical reviews were completed. The first related to the ferry tender and submission compliance within the DfT evaluation process and the second to the technical feasibility of the tendered ferry intervention. Financial analysis was carried out by Deloitte to assess the financial robustness of operators, and price benchmarking by Deloitte to examine the prices offered to DfT in comparison with market rates to enable the assessment of value for money as part of the procurement process.

I explained earlier in the Statement the reasoning behind not mentioning Arklow before. It was for commercial reasons. It would have adversely affected the cost of ships in order to procure the contract. We contracted directly with Seaborne because it was the company that had been working for over a year to provide the service between Ramsgate and Ostend.

Railways: Dawlish

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 6th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, this train line has been a long-standing problem ever since it was opened in 1846—that year trains failed to run along it. We are working closely on that and although I am not able to give the noble Lord a date, we are making significant progress. Network Rail has submitted a plan that we are looking at carefully and we hope to make an announcement on it very shortly.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

First, in very bad weather, as has been said, the Voyager trains used by the CrossCountry franchise are often unable to operate west of Exeter, as electrics on the roofs of the trains are adversely affected by salt water coming over the sea wall in the Dawlish area. Will the new Hitachi trains being introduced on the line also be adversely affected by salt water coming over the sea wall? Secondly, Network Rail’s plan for preventing sea damage is, as has been said, to build a new, higher sea wall, in respect of which it has made a planning submission to the relevant local authority, with the knowledge of the Secretary of State. We know the problem is only going to get worse as sea levels rise, so what happens if that planning application is declined? What is plan B? Or is there no plan B?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

The noble Lord is right to point to the issues we have with CrossCountry trains. The new intercity express trains on GWR were also affected by weather along the Devon coast last week, so we are working very closely with Hitachi to find a solution. As the noble Lord pointed out, there is a planning submission in play and, as I said, we are absolutely determined to come up with a long-term solution to this problem.

Operation of Air Services (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 21st November 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

As I said, to make responsible preparations it is important to consider all the different options available to us. Of course we are having conversations with the Commission and the member states about a wide range of issues. I am not able to give further detailed information at this moment but our preference is very strongly for a broader deal which will provide a liberalised agreement with the EU, though there are other options available to us. I hope this provides reassurance that we will continue to see flights between the UK and the EU. We will continue to work towards this as we move towards exit day.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

On bilateral discussions, the European Commission document that we have had—which I appreciate extends across the whole gamut and does not apply just to aviation—says:

“In the same spirit, Member States should refrain from bilateral discussions and agreements with the United Kingdom, which would undermine EU unity”.

It may be that this particular sentence does not apply to air transport. Is it then the case that we are having bilateral discussions in the apparent teeth of opposition from the European Union?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

Our first point of contact is with the EU Commission to agree a wider deal. It has been widely reported that the Secretary of State has written to other member states to discuss the potential bilateral agreements. We are working very hard to get that wider deal. That is our focus but, should that not happen, then of course we are making sure that we are as prepared as possible to ensure that we do not have any disruption in services come 29 March.

Break in Debate

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

Before the Minister sits down, if the document that we have had from the European Commission, specifically the section on air transport, represents the Commission’s stance in the event of no deal—as I understand it, the Minister said we were in discussions with it—what is the latest date by which something has to be agreed so that it is effective from 29 March? Presumably what has been listed here by the European Commission as its position cannot be agreed the day before, and presumably it has to be agreed before then to come into operation on 29 March. So what is the latest date, realistically, by which something has to be agreed?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

The noble Lord will know that there are many positions on the negotiations. As I said, that is the Commission’s latest position. We are continuing to negotiate with it on the broader future partnership arrangements. Alongside that, we are of course talking to it about no deal too. There is no specific latest date. That is why we need to do this no-deal preparation, so that if it goes close to the date of exit the industry understands what the alternatives are. We are very keen to provide industry with certainty as early as possible.

We have the European Council on Sunday and I expect that there will be an outcome from that. We will then look at what next steps need to be taken. We are very hopeful that the deal is done and will be agreed by Parliament so that we reach our implementation period on 29 March and the industry has that certainty. Should that not be the case, we will of course continue the discussions with the Commission to provide certainty as early as we possibly can. I am very aware, in my many meetings with the aviation sector, of the importance of providing that certainty. That is what this no-deal planning and our continued negotiations with the Commission are about. I beg to move.

International Road Transport Permits (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 6th November 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

I too thank the Minister for setting out the content and purpose of these draft regulations and order. I share the concerns already expressed, and will revisit only some of them due to the time constraints that I know we are under today.

The draft international road transport permits regulations are laid, as are the others, under the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018. That Act allows arrangements to be put in place to enable international road haulage to continue after departure from the EU. Those arrangements create a framework for a single permit scheme that will deal with bilateral permit arrangements between the UK and non-EU countries, the multilateral European Conference of Ministers of Transport—ECMT—permit scheme and any future permit scheme that may be agreed with the EU. The draft order also includes provisions on applying for and granting a permit, along with provisions on cancellations, appeals and charging.

As has already been said, the ECMT permit scheme provides for a limited number of permits to be available to the UK. It is not much used at present, as the Community licence covers haulage to EU member states. However, if there is no deal for EU countries, Community licences will no longer be recognised from exit day, in which case UK hauliers will need either an ECMT permit for journeys to, in or through the EU, or a bilateral permit under an existing agreement with an individual EU member state to carry goods to, from or through the territory of that member state. But the number of ECMT permits available is limited, and demand for ECMT is expected to significantly exceed supply. Can the Minister say by how much demand for ECMT permits is expected to exceed supply in the event of no deal, and with which EU states there are existing bilateral agreements covering the carriage of goods—or alternatively, with which EU states there are no existing bilateral agreements?

The Explanatory Memorandum says that these regulations provide for an objective and transparent way of selecting which applications should be allocated permits. But what happens to those applicants who are not allocated permits from the limited number available to the UK? What will be the impact on them, and on our economy? If there is no deal or no satisfactory deal, how many applicants is it expected there will be who will not be able to get either an ECMT permit or a bilateral permit? How many UK hauliers currently have a Community licence? How will the Government assist operators who are not granted a permit and who may experience an adverse impact on their business as a result?

The Government have said that they are working to have bilateral agreements in place by exit day. Is that a bilateral agreement with each EU member state, and are the Government giving an assurance that such agreements with each member state will be in existence and effective by exit day? The Government have said that there are nearly 3,000 monthly ECMT permits. How will the operation of these monthly permits work in practice? Will UK hauliers have to reapply on a monthly basis, and how will the Government assist hauliers who need longer-term plans for their operations than monthly permits can provide?

The regulations grant the Secretary of State discretion to determine the allocation of permits where they are oversubscribed. How will the Government ensure that there is a fair and consistent approach, in particular over “random selection”, which is referred to in the regulations and which has already been referred to in today’s debate.

I will not go into the Trailer Registration Regulations 2018 at any length, except to say that I very much share one of the concerns in particular that the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, expressed, on the level of awareness issue.

The road safety financial penalty deposit amendment order 2018 sets out the monetary amount of the financial penalty deposit—the FPD—for specified offences relating to the use of goods vehicles and trailers without the appropriate authorisation, FPDs or registration. FPDs can be taken immediately from a person without a UK address who is believed to have committed a specified offence. A separate order will designate specified offences relating to haulage permits, trailer registration and community licences as FPD offences. The specified offences under the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018 relate to failing to produce a permit when required to do so by an examiner, obstructing an examiner or breaching a prohibition on the use of a goods vehicle on an international journey.

Will the Minister say how the conclusion was reached that the level of deposits shown in the SI is appropriate for the offences in question, bearing in mind for example that,

“wilfully obstructing an examiner exercising powers”,

and carrying out an inspection attracts an FPD of just £300; likewise, a similar amount for “breaching a prohibition” or,

“causing or permitting a breach of a prohibition …on taking a vehicle to a country without reasonable excuse”.

We are talking about goods vehicles, trailers and safety issues since this is a road safety order. How wilful has the obstruction of the examiner got to be, and how blatant a breach of a prohibition, before an FPD is not considered appropriate? Once the requirement to pay an FPD has been imposed under the terms of this draft instrument, what further action will be taken in the light of the offence?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their consideration of these draft regulations. Throughout the passage of the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act there was valuable debate, which allowed us to refine and improve the Act and ensure that it laid out the necessary framework. I am grateful once again for the opportunity to consider the detail of this legislation. I shall attempt to answer all the questions, although I am not sure I will be able to in the time allowed. If there are questions I do not get to, I will follow up in writing.

On the requests for current haulage industry figures: there are 8,400 standard international licences currently in use and 32,000 Community licences. Our figures show that if hauliers were to make one trip per week on each permit, around 20% of current activity by UK HGVs could be facilitated on ECMT permits alone. However, 20% is not enough and we do not expect to rely solely on ECMT permits. These regulations and the published guidance refer only to ECMT permit applications. We do not yet know the outcome of negotiations, so we are not able to provide further information to hauliers on that. Whether with the EU or with member states, it could be that no permits are required at all. In that case, obviously these regulations will not come into force.

I will say a little more on the permit application process—

Railways: East Coast Main Line

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 30th October 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I am afraid that I am not able to give a definite date. We are trying to introduce the trains as soon as possible, but there remain issues that we need to work through. LNER has said that it hopes to start introducing the trains early next year. On my noble friend’s point about King’s Cross, we are carrying out essential works on King’s Cross to replace the expired track and signalling to ensure that we can see the full benefits of the east coast main line enhancements.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

It was from the government Dispatch Box that we were told on 23 May this year that:

“The good news also is that we fully expect the new intercity express trains to be introduced on the east coast main line from the end of this year, as planned”.—[Official Report, 23/5/18; col. 1032.]

Is this episode yet another example of the reality that, in our fragmented railway system, no one is in overall charge? No one is ultimately accountable for the performance or lack of it of our national railway network and, as a result, no one accepted responsibility for ensuring that the new trains would start running on the planned date. If the Government disagree that that is the case, then which individual or body was accountable for ensuring that the new trains would start running on the planned date on the east coast main line?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

Well, that was not me. The noble Lord is quite right to say that in May I gave reassurance that those trains would come into service. At the time, that was very much what we were planning. However, as I said, there have been emerging issues on that which we need to work through. It is not unusual with delivery of a whole new infrastructure—and this is a £2.7 billion investment, which we should welcome—that there are some compatibility issues. We are working through them. On the noble Lord’s point about the rail system, it has been well over a decade since we have seen a large change in the rail network and, while we have seen record private investment and the doubling of passenger journeys, of course it has had its challenges. The time is absolutely right for a comprehensive review, and that is what the rail review will do.

Railways: Fares

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Monday 29th October 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, since privatisation, UK railways have seen a period of incredible growth and passenger journeys have more than doubled. The industry has not been able to keep up with that demand, which is why we are looking at the rail review. It will consider all parts of the rail industry, from the current franchising system to industry structures. That will not stop us continuing to invest in the meantime and seeing more trains with more capacity come on to our lines.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

As has been said, the issue is the level of fares. The Government’s line is that their annual new year present to rail users of a fare increase is to finance their rail investment programme. In fact, that is not the case. The reason for the Government’s high level of fare increases each year is to ensure that we remain the European railway network with the highest, or nearly the highest, percentage contribution towards the running costs of our network coming from fares paid by passengers and the lowest, or nearly the lowest, percentage from the Government. That is why our fares are so high. Will the Government confirm that in any new modernised rail fare structure that will unfortunately continue to be the position?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, as I said, we are aiming to move from RPI to CPI. We are continuing with record levels of funding, with around £48 billion expected to be spent on the network from 2019 to 24, but rail fares will continue to play a role in delivering improvements. We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation for more than a century, and it is meaning faster journeys, longer trains, longer platforms and more seats.

Civil Aviation (Insurance) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 24th October 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I think with all the SIs we are doing, we are literally transcribing EU law into UK law and treating it the same way, as the UK, as we would as a member of the EU. I think any change of policy in the future is not going to be part of these SIs, it would be done as a separate policy decision and debated in the normal way in both Houses. All these SIs are specifically correcting deficiencies which will exist after the withdrawal Act to ensure we have the correct regulatory frameworks. They are not changing; any changes to the minimum requirements would be done if and only if there is a change to international treaties. Some of these SIs do have executive functions which are being carried across; that is why we are giving the reassurance that any time an executive function is used, it will be in the affirmative way.

I will say more about the minimum insurance cover as several noble Lords have mentioned it. Article 6.1 gives member states the power to set a level of minimum insurance cover in respect of the liabilities for passengers, baggage and cargo, and that is lower than 250,000 special drawing rights per passenger for non-commercial aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of 2,700 kilograms or less. In answer to the question asked by the noble Baroness, non-commercial just means that no money has changed hands for the flight. That applies primarily to light and experimental aircraft, and cover must be at least 100,000 SDRs per passenger. The UK has exercised that power, as have other member states, and set the lower minimum of 100,000 SDRs within the Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations. This SI does not give us an option to set it lower—not that we would want to—it just carries across the minimum level. I hope I have assured noble Lords that this is not an attempt to change that in any way. We have no intention of doing so.

In answer to questions on airspace, this is not dealt with in the same way as an air services agreement; it is an International Air Services Transit Agreement which accompanies the Chicago Convention. Almost all EU member states are separate signatories to an IASTA, meaning they allow overflights and will continue to do so whether or not we are a member of the EU. On the devolved Administrations, obviously aviation is primarily a reserved matter and civil aviation insurance is fully reserved in respect of all three devolved Administrations, but of course we are continuing to engage with them on all aviation matters.

There were a couple of questions from the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. I think the last exceptional failure of the insurance market was in response to 9/11. We are working closely with passenger representatives throughout the development of our position on EU exit and aviation in preparing these SIs.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

If the Government are having discussions with passenger representatives, why did it not say so in the consultation outcome paragraph?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I apologise that it did not. I will be looking at what we say in the consultation paragraphs in future to ensure that there is proper information to give assurance to noble Lords. I personally, my officials and indeed the Secretary of State regularly meet with industry and passenger interest groups to ensure that we are getting this right as we leave the European Union.

As I say, I hope I have answered the majority of questions. I apologise if I have missed any but there were quite a few, so I will follow up in writing. As I have said, we remain confident that we will reach an agreement with the EU, but of course it is important that we prepare our legislative framework in case we leave the EU with no deal. That is what this SI is doing. The regulations do not make any changes to the substance of the insurance requirements that air carriers and aircraft operators are expected to meet, but they are essential to ensuring that the retained EU legislation which sets out these requirements continues to work effectively in the UK immediately after exit day. That is what these SIs are designed to do. We need to ensure that we have the right regulatory and legislative framework to provide passengers and industry with choice, connectivity and value for money irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations. I beg to move.

Department for Transport (Fees) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 17th October 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

I thank the Minister for explaining the purpose and content of the SI, which we will not oppose. In the light of concerns that have been expressed about the possible effect on fees in future and other possible impacts, will the Minister gives us some clarification on the consultation? Paragraph 10 of the Explanatory Memorandum states:

“A consultation is not considered necessary as the amendments are minor and technical in nature and do not impact upon either business or the individual”.

Does that mean that there has been literally no consultation, or have some bodies or organisations been consulted? If so, which organisations or bodies have been consulted about this SI and its contents?

As the Minister said, the regulations amend the Department for Transport’s fees orders covering the road traffic field. Fees orders do not set fees but specify functions and their costs which may be taken into account in setting fees. These regulations amend those orders by removing references to the Secretary of State having functions to carry out to comply with EU obligations or requirements on the basis that we are withdrawing from the European Union. Those functions referred to in the fees orders will no longer be carried out under EU legislation but will continue to be carried out by the Secretary of State under domestic law as provided for by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. As the Minister said, the functions currently carried out by the Secretary of State under EU legislation are those relating to international road haulage permits, type approval certification, tachograph calibration centres, international road passenger transport authorisations, driver licensing, vehicle registration, licences to operate public service vehicles and licences to operate goods vehicles.

The SI relates to a situation where we have withdrawn from the European Union. It would appear that it covers a no-deal situation and our intended departure on 29 March next year. What is the position if there is a deal approved by Parliament and that deal entails a transition period with continued membership of the customs union and/or the single market for an unspecified of time or other provisions that do not provide for a clean break on 29 March next year? What is the need for this SI in that scenario? We may not in reality have withdrawn from the EU because we would still be bound to accept that some or all of its legislation applies to us. We would not be able to alter it unilaterally and we would also be bound by any subsequent amendments made to that legislation by the European Union pending our full withdrawal.

What then would be the relevance of an SI, such as the one we are now considering, coming into effect on 29 March next year, which asserts in paragraph 2.4 of the Explanatory Memorandum:

“The relevant EU related functions specified by the Fees Order will, after EU exit, no longer be carried out in pursuance of EU legislation”,

when, if there is a deal, these functions could have to be, including to the extent, for a possible period of time unknown, that we would also have to abide by EU legislation that was further amended by the EU without our agreement? Would it not be better, with a decision on a deal apparently close, to withdraw this SI and wait until we know whether there is a deal and, if there is, produce an SI which reflects the reality and terms of that deal? It is, after all, not the fault of this House if the Government are having difficulty adhering to their intended timetable for progress in negotiations with the EU, as appears to be the case. It would be helpful if the Minister could spell out what the impact of a deal with a transition period could be on the provisions and relevance of this SI, and whether during the transition period agreements could be reached or arrangements made that could have an impact on the terms and relevance of this SI.

I turn to one other point. The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act gave the Secretary of State the power to introduce regulations to charge fees for international road transport permits if a new permit scheme is required, as UK-issued Community licences will no longer be valid in the EU if we leave unless an agreement is reached otherwise. The Government have previously said that any permit fees would only cover the cost of any new scheme and that the detail on fees would be consulted on later in 2018 when the outcome of the negotiations was clearer. Has the consultation started, or has the lack of clarity at the moment over how the negotiations with the EU will end precluded the commencement of the consultation?

Since an issue of concern is that hauliers or taxpayers will incur additional costs if a new scheme is required, does that not underline the importance of continuing with the Community licensing system? Once again, would it not therefore be better to be discussing this SI once the outcome of the negotiations was clearer and the SI itself could reflect that outcome? The SI is not intended to come into force for another five and a half months, yet we are being asked to agree to it now when it is not clear to what extent we will or will not be continuing to follow EU legislation, including any subsequent amendments to the legislation, after the SI is intended to come into effect on 29 March 2019.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their consideration of these draft regulations. As the noble Baroness said, I am afraid they are the first of many EU exit transport regulations. The purpose of these regulations is indeed to make minor and technical amendments to the three pieces of legislation that we are discussing, by amending the language used to take account of EU exit, but otherwise to maintain the status quo.

As I said in my opening remarks, the regulations themselves do not set, raise or lower fees. The fees orders are supplementary to existing powers that the Secretary of State has in other legislation, and that other legislation sets the fees. The regulations do not in any way extend the powers of the Secretary of State or relate to a change in the fees.

I turn to the questions that were asked. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, mentioned the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act, as did the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. We have consulted extensively with the industry on that and we will be discussing the regulations under that Act soon. There is a government response to the consultation, which I will forward to the noble Lord, explaining where we are on fees. We will be discussing that soon.

As I said, the regulations do not set or change the fees themselves but merely set out what can be taken into account, so charges absolutely will not go up. There has been a role for the EU Commission in setting the charges in the past but there will not be after exit.

For the non-UK driver—an issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley—EU driving licences will continue to be recognised in the UK post Brexit, as set out in some of our recent technical notices, so the charges for getting a GB driving licence will not change.

On the question of devolved Administrations, which the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned, we are working closely with them throughout our entire SI programme—obviously more so on some which are directly relevant than on others, but on every one we are working closely with them. Some of the fees orders’ functions are GB-wide—for example, driving licences, as Northern Ireland has its own regime and its own legislation to set its own fees—while others relate to the whole of the UK.

Break in Debate

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

That is very much subject to negotiations. We hope to agree a mutually beneficial deal with liberalised access to continue as it is for haulage firms. Bilateral permits exist. In the event of no deal, we will work bilaterally with the countries involved to agree permit systems. We are very keen to pursue continuing the access that we have at the moment, which would be reciprocal. That is what we are working towards.

The noble Baroness is quite right that many of our goods are moved by small businesses and we are reliant on them for that. I agree that an increase in charges would adversely affect them but, as I said, the regulations do not change the fee or regulate businesses. The fee orders determine what the Secretary of State can consider rather than regulate small businesses. That is why it is noted as such.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about consultation. We are working closely with all our transport stakeholders on the Brexit regulations. We have spoken to them about all the different SIs. This SI will not affect stakeholders. All it will do is remove the obligation on the Secretary of State to take note of the European Union.

On the impact of a deal, which we are all working hard to achieve, the SI will come into force on exit day, which is defined in the withdrawal Act as 29 March 2019. Ultimately, the coming into force of the SI will depend on the outcome of the EU negotiations and any new legislation arising from that outcome. If the UK reaches a withdrawal agreement with the EU, that agreement is expected to provide for an implementation period. We have announced that in that event, we will introduce to Parliament a European Union withdrawal agreement Bill as a primary means of implementing the agreement. Exit day would remain as 11 pm on 29 March 2019 but the coming into force of the SI may be reviewed and delayed until the end of the implementation period. The SI may not be needed, but it is part of our readiness work, as are the SIs to come, which we strongly believe we should be doing as a responsible Government. Noble Lords are aware of the number of upcoming SIs and the limited parliamentary time, so we will spread them out between now and exit day to get through them. Obviously, if a deal is reached and an implementation period is agreed, that will affect that.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

Can the Minister say something about what is said in the regulations under “Citation and commencement”? She said that the regulations will come into force on exit day. We have been told repeatedly by the Government that we will exit the European Union on 29 March next year, but I sense from what she just said—I am sure that she will correct me if I am wrong—that the reference to exit day may not apply to 29 March 2019 if a deal is done, so the Government accept that we may not withdraw from the European Union on that day. Is that the Government’s position?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

As I said, exit day will remain 11 pm on 29 March 2019. When this SI comes into force is currently defined in the withdrawal Act but should a deal be reached where we get a withdrawal agreement, the implementation day of the instrument could change through the subsequent Bill that the Government will bring forward to implement the withdrawal agreement in UK law.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

I am not sure whether the Minister has responded to my point, but I asked whether there was any possibility that during the transition period, agreements could be reached or arrangements made that could have an impact on the terms and relevance of the SI. Is it the Government’s position that even if there is a transition period, nothing will happen then that could have an impact on the relevance of anything in this statutory instrument?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

The expectation is that with the withdrawal agreement we will have an implementation period. During that period we would be covered by current EU laws and therefore this secondary legislation would not come into effect. Obviously I cannot give a guarantee of that because we do not yet know the outcome regarding the withdrawal agreement and it has yet to pass through Parliament, but the expectation is that during the implementation period we would continue as we are and the SI would not come into force until the date agreed through the withdrawal agreement Bill that will be coming through the House.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

Is the Government’s position that in any discussions during the transition period nothing would be agreed that might have an impact upon the relevance of this SI and necessitate it being altered, other than its effective date?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I am afraid I am not able to give a definitive answer to the noble Lord’s question. As I said, we have yet to agree a transition or implementation period with the EU. As we do not know those terms, I am not able to answer the question. However, our expectation is that throughout that period we will continue as we are so this SI would not come into effect until a date set out in the EU withdrawal agreement Bill.

I take the noble Lord’s point that the negotiations and discussions on that agreement are ongoing, and the outcome of that may of course affect what we do in future. However, due to the number of regulations that will have to be discussed in order to ensure that our statute books are fit for 29 March should we not reach an agreement, we think it is the responsible thing to do to keep going with this programme and start these discussions between now and exit day.

I reiterate that the detail around the delivery of the specified functions and the prescription of the fees that can be charged for delivery are set out in other legislation. Making this proposed instrument would merely enable the continuation of the current fee-setting process by removing references to the EU after we leave, so things would absolutely continue as they are.

Railways: Train Timetables

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 11th July 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, the new timetable was planned to deliver hundreds more services up and down the country to benefit passengers, but I think that we can all agree that it has not been successfully delivered. As I say, we are working closely with the train operating companies to ensure that the interim timetables provide the reliable services that passengers expect and deserve. We are conducting a review into whether GTR has met its contractual obligations, which will report in the coming weeks. Once completed, we will follow the advice.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

An industry readiness board was set up to review and direct,

“industry programmes for Thameslink 2018 operational readiness to minimise all risks associated with entry into service and ongoing sustained operations”.

The Department for Transport sat on that readiness board, with its “operational readiness” remit. How can the Secretary of State for Transport maintain that he has no responsibility or accountability for the operational effectiveness and performance of the railway network—including the present shambles—when his own department was represented on the Thameslink 2018 industry readiness board with its clear operational readiness remit?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, the rail industry has collectively failed to deliver for its customers. It is right that it apologise, and the Department for Transport has apologised too. As I have said, we are prioritising the reliability of the service, but I take the noble Lord’s point. That is why we have set up an independent inquiry —to understand what went wrong. We are eagerly awaiting its recommendations because we must learn these lessons, and we will.

Stonehenge Tunnel

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Monday 9th July 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, as I said, we have committed £2 billion to the south-west strategic road network. It will include the first three schemes to achieve the continuous dual carriageway: Southfields to Taunton; Sparkford to Ilchester; and Amesbury to Berwick Down. The intention is to complete the remaining five schemes for the full corridor upgrade in future road investment strategies.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, 5,000 responses were received to the consultation earlier this year on the proposals to improve the A303 past Stonehenge on the 7.5 miles between Amesbury and Berwick Down. Those 5,000 responses have prompted a further consultation on what the recent advertisements in the press describe as “certain aspects” over four weeks from 17 July. What are the certain aspects on which Highways England will shortly be seeking further views which could not reasonably have been foreseen and included as part of the earlier consultation? When will the A303 proposals be submitted for development consent? The Highways England website says mid-2018, but there is a further consultation to come.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, this is a complicated site and we need to do all we can to preserve it. Since the consultation ended, the scheme has undergone further consideration and further development, which led to the identification of three changes, specifically: removing the previously proposed links between byways 11 and 12; widening the green bridge proposed near the existing Longbarrow roundabout to improve the physical and visual connection; and moving the proposed modification of Rollestone crossroads to provide a more compact junction layout. That consultation will take place until 14 August, and then the feedback will be considered and the DCO will be submitted.

Govia Thameslink

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 3rd July 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) (Con) - Hansard

My Lords, with the leave of the House I will repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given by my honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport to an Urgent Question in the other place. The Statement is as follows:

“The Shadow Transport Secretary has asked about the current situation on GTR and about electrification. I will answer each in turn.

Performance on GTR has been unacceptable since the timetable change on 20 May. GTR is working to increase the predictability and reliability of journeys on its network, including reducing the number of on-the-day cancellations. On 15 July, it will implement an interim timetable. This will allow GTR to slowly build up services to the originally planned May timetable. We have announced that passengers affected by severe disruption on GTR will receive special compensation; an announcement will follow shortly.

We have also commissioned the independent Glaister review to make sure we learn lessons and so that this does not happen again. We have started a formal review of the franchise to establish whether GTR has met its contractual obligations in the planning and delivery of the May timetable. We will not hesitate to take tough action against it if it is found to have been negligent.

On electrification, the Government are clear that passengers expect high-quality rail services and we are committed to electrification where it delivers passenger benefits and value for money. We will also take advantage of state-of-the-art, new technology to improve rail journeys.

Over recent days, there has been speculation over the trans-Pennine route upgrade. I can clarify for colleagues that the trans-Pennine route upgrade will account for one-third of our anticipated expenditure for rail enhancements nationwide for the next spending period. It will be the biggest single investment we will make during this period, demonstrating our commitment to improving passenger journeys in the north.

The department is currently awaiting Network Rail’s final project plan. We have instructed it to prioritise those elements which bring the quickest passenger benefits. We will update the House on this in due course”.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

An industry readiness board was set up to review and direct “industry programmes for Thameslink 2018 operational readiness to minimise all risks associated with entry into service and ongoing sustained operations”. The Department for Transport sat on that board. Bearing in mind that the Secretary of State for Transport claims that he has no responsibility for the current new timetable shambles, why was the Department for Transport on that readiness board with its operational readiness remit?

Secondly, the Secretary of State has set up an inquiry into the causes of the current new timetable problems under the chair of the Office of Rail and Road. Some think that the ORR, which also sat on the readiness board, is one of the causes of the current problems through its cost-reduction demands on Network Rail and their impact on train planning costs and manpower. Who, then, will be considering the role of the ORR in respect of the current Thameslink timetable problems, since clearly that person cannot credibly be the chair of the ORR?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, on the operational readiness board, the timetable was planned to introduce major changes and rail companies communicated these changes extensively to their passengers. However, the level of disruption caused by the introduction of the timetable was obviously not anticipated. We are working closely with GTR to put this right. One issue was that the operational readiness board did not anticipate the disruption, so the review will cover that.

On the review itself, Professor Stephen Glaister, who is chairing it, is from the independent rail regulator, the ORR. The inquiry will consider why the industry as a whole failed to produce and implement an effective timetable. There are various independent people on that review and they will consider the role of the ORR, train operating companies and, indeed, the Department for Transport.

Local Congestion: Investment

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 10th January 2018

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

We are looking to reduce congestion, but obviously people still need to travel and to drive to work. More than 17 million people use the roads to commute to work, and I think that we should encourage that.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, the Centre for Cities, a think tank focused on the economic benefits and development of cities, has recently questioned the effectiveness of investment in roads as a catalyst for local economic development in the light of the evaluations that have been undertaken. It suggests that the evidence is far from conclusive and comments that other ways of investing money to reduce congestion could be more effective. Can the Minister say what evaluations of the impact of investment in local roads the Government are relying on to show that such investment does represent value for money in terms of reducing congestion and increasing productivity in local areas, as compared with other ways of investing the money to achieve the same objective? Will the Government make those evaluations, on which presumably they rely, publicly available, if they have not already done so?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I mentioned in my Answer to the original Question that the average is a return of £4.50 for every £1 invested. Our last evaluation, back in 2014, looked at how the investment we are making benefits the economy. We are carrying out a new study that will be available later this year to ensure that we are spending money wisely.

Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [HL]

(2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords)
Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 9th January 2018

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, we support the Bill, which provides for one specific means of addressing a growing problem, which has been raised on a number of occasions in this House. As has been said, that is the increased number of laser attacks on aircraft—more than 1,200 attacks per year compared with, I think, some half a dozen in 2004. A further aspect that makes action urgent is the rapidly increasing power of lasers.

Half the members of the British Airline Pilot Association, responding to a survey a few months ago, said that they had experienced a laser attack in the previous 12 months, and 15% said that they had experienced three or more. These incidents happen mainly during take-off and landing—the critical phases of a flight—and happen suddenly. They can cause temporary visual disturbance for some time after the attack and may result in instruments being obscured and night vision being disrupted. In some cases they can lead to permanent sight damage, and are a threat to those flying in aircraft so attacked, and thus also a threat to safety. As the power of lasers increases and the beams widen, BALPA has expressed concern that before long, there will be incidents of both pilots in an aircraft being temporarily incapacitated, leaving no one able to fly the aircraft. With single-pilot aircraft, including helicopters, there is of course no second pilot.

Such incidents are not confined to aircraft—they happen on our railways and to shipping—but it is only with regard to aviation that the recording of such incidents is, as I understand it, mandatory. There is currently an offence in respect of laser attacks under the Air Navigation Order but it does not give the police the powers, as the Bill will, to enter a property for the purposes of arrest or to search a person or property after an arrest; nor does the current maximum penalty of a £2,500 fine reflect the seriousness of such offences. However, I ask the Minister: will the Bill give the police the power to stop someone whom they suspect is carrying a laser without good reason? If the Bill does not do that, why did the Government come to the conclusion that such a power was not necessary, bearing in mind that a laser in the context of the offence under the Bill would presumably be regarded as akin to an offensive weapon?

The Bill, which extends to the whole of the United Kingdom following an agreement with the devolved Administrations, makes it an offence for a person to shine or direct a laser beam towards a vehicle which,

“dazzles or distracts, or is likely to dazzle or distract, a person”,

in control of that vehicle when “on a journey”. The word “vehicle” is intended to have a wide meaning, with the new offence covering all modes of transport—air, sea, road and rail. However, as has already been mentioned, there have been reports of laser beam attacks on control towers at airports, which one would have thought could have potentially serious consequences both for safety and for the staff affected. Does the Bill also cover laser beam attacks on control towers, and the staff monitoring or directing aircraft, and, if not, why not?

The offence will be a strict liability offence, with it not being necessary for the prosecution to prove intent to harm or endanger, but it will be necessary for the prosecution to prove that the elements of the new offence have been committed. However, can the Minister clarify what the prosecution will have to prove? Proving that a laser beam has been shone or directed towards a vehicle will presumably be insufficient, as there is also the requirement to show that it has dazzled or distracted or is likely to dazzle or distract a person in control of that vehicle.

In that regard, the statement in the Government’s response to the call for evidence on laser pointers that:

“The Bill creates a new offence of shining a laser at aircraft and other modes of transport”,

would not appear to be entirely correct. What will the prosecution have to do to prove the requirements in relation to dazzling or distracting a person in control of the vehicle, and how straightforward will it be for it to do so? If we are seeking to clamp down on the use of laser beams and pointers in this dangerous way, it will not help if we set a bar for the prosecution case which will be very difficult to prove. It would be helpful to have the Minister’s response to that point. It would also be helpful if she could say why the Government did not think that it would be sufficient simply to prove that a laser beam had been shone or directed towards a vehicle with a person in control, bearing in mind that there is a defence for a person so charged, to which I will now refer.

Clause 1(2) provides a defence for a person charged with the new offence, but the onus will be on the person so charged to provide sufficient evidence to show either that they had,

“a reasonable excuse for shining or directing the laser beam towards the vehicle”,

or that they did not intend to do so and,

“exercised all due diligence and took all reasonable precautions to avoid doing so”.

Can the Minister confirm, or otherwise, that the test against which such a defence would be determined would be on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond all reasonable doubt?

For the new offence in the Bill, the maximum term of imprisonment on summary conviction is 12 months; on indictment it is five years and/or an unlimited fine. What considerations and reasons have led the Government to believe that these are the appropriate maximum terms of imprisonment on summary conviction and conviction on indictment, and how would they anticipate the level of an unlimited maximum fine being assessed and determined?

Do the Government envisage most cases coming to court being capable of being dealt with, if the case is proved or a guilty plea is entered, within the sentencing powers available to magistrates, or do they envisage most cases being dealt with at a higher court because the sentencing powers of magistrates will be insufficient for the seriousness of this kind of offence if the case is proved or a guilty plea is entered? Will lay magistrates have the power to sentence for up to 12 months on summary conviction for this new offence in the Bill?

The documentation we have received indicates the number of cases of laser incidents reported each year since 2010 to the Civil Aviation Authority. How many of these reported incidents have resulted in the alleged perpetrators being brought before a court in each year since 2010, and in how many of these cases has a conviction been secured?

What information, if any, do the Government have about the age of those committing these offences and the equipment they are using? It would appear that the answer might be very little, since the Government’s response to the call for evidence states:

“There is no meaningful data on who the perpetrators are, where they have obtained the laser pointers used, or what strength laser pointers they have used”.

If so, is this not a somewhat surprising deficiency, bearing in mind the length of time over which concerns have been expressed about the dangers and extent of laser beam attacks?

Under the terms of the new offence in the Bill, how many cases a year do the Government anticipate being brought before the courts? What do the Government anticipate will be the likely additional workload for our courts as a result? What impact on the number of laser offences being committed against aircraft and those in control of them, as well as more generally against vehicles, do the Government expect the measures in the Bill to have?

The Explanatory Notes to the Bill state:

“The creation of this new offence is intended to capture the use of laser pens and pointers, and other means of producing a laser beam”.

Does the reference to “other means” of producing a laser beam also include the use of a drone to carry and project a laser beam? In view of this reference, is there any level of laser beam that would be considered to lack the power to enable an offence under the Bill to be committed by using it, taking into account the reference in the offence to “dazzle or distract”? If so, what is that level?

Clause 1(1)(a) states that an offence is committed if,

“the person shines or directs a laser beam towards a vehicle which is on a journey”.

This issue has already been raised, but what is the definition of “on a journey”, which will apply to all forms of transport covered by the Bill? For example, does it include an aircraft, ship, car or bus that has not yet moved but has a person sitting at the controls who is dazzled or distracted by a laser beam? If it does cover this situation, why are the words “on a journey” necessary? If the Bill does not cover such a situation, why not, bearing in mind the potential serious damage that can be done by a laser beam to the sight of the person in control of the vehicle, irrespective of whether it is actually moving or “on a journey” at the time?

The penalties on summary conviction differ slightly between England and Wales and Scotland. If an offence takes place close to the border between England and Scotland, where is the offence deemed to have taken place? Is it deemed to have occurred where the person shining or directing the laser beam was located at the time the offence was committed, which could be in England, or is it deemed to have taken place where the person with control of the vehicle was dazzled or distracted, which could be a short distance away over the border in Scotland?

I referred earlier to the increasing power of lasers. I appreciate that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy conducted a consultation on the laser market and potential uses for laser pointers last autumn, and I thank the Minister for making available the Government response to that call for evidence.

The response states that most of the injuries come not from laser pointers bought on the UK high street but from those purchased primarily online or overseas, and that most higher-strength lasers are bought from manufacturers or suppliers based outside the United Kingdom. In addition, a significant number of these are being supplied without the correct or appropriate information, classification or output marking, and are of a class of laser that should not be sold to the public. Whether the actions the Government now intend to take in the light of the call for evidence will prove adequate will no doubt be the subject of further debate.

The response also states:

“Government will take action to improve frequency and resourcing of enforcement activities at ports and borders with the aim of improving safety of the market for laser pointers and increasing enforcement activities against imports of dangerous high powered laser pointers”.

I have to say that that response is strong on generalities and weak on specifics. What does it mean in terms of specific targets or objectives, resources being made available or practices being changed? Frankly, the £100,000 total grant to local authorities referred to in the Government’s response will not solve the problem.

We seem unable to stop people being illegally trafficked into this country in the back of lorries through our inadequately staffed major border entry points, so why do the Government think we should accept that this performance will improve considerably in respect of imports of dangerous high-powered laser pointers?

The Government already appear to have rejected the option of a licensing system restricting the purchase and ownership of high-powered laser pointers, on the grounds that it would risk increasing the rates of laser attacks. No doubt this, too, will be the subject of further debate, but fortunately we do not apply that particular argument in relation to gun licensing. The significant increase in the number of laser attacks has occurred not under a system where there is licensing, but under a system where there is not.

I conclude by reiterating our support for the Bill, as far as it goes, given that the current offences and sentences in respect of laser attacks are inadequate in the current situation. Whether the actions the Government said in their response to the call for evidence that they intend to take are sufficient, though, is another matter.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions today and for their broad support for these measures. I shall aim to answer as many questions as I can. If I am not able to address every issue, I will follow up in writing.

On the types of lasers, we have not defined lasers in the Bill because our legal advice is that the term would be understood and there would not be difficulty in prosecuting based on whether or not a light source was a laser. The offence would cover all forms of lasers, including laser pens, pointers and laser guns; and the term “beam” would cover laser pulses and bursts, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, mentioned.

The offence specifically covers lasers rather than any light source because of the risk of inadvertently catching normal and acceptable light sources, such as car headlights, which might dazzle and distract the pilot or the driver of another vehicle. Lasers are the predominant risk. The police have not raised the same concern in relation to other lights, such as strobe lights, as they have with lasers.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, asked whether Clause 1(8) should refer to an individual rather than a pilot. We have sought to capture those persons who are in control of the vehicle, and in the case of an aircraft these will be the pilots. We specifically refer to the pilots monitoring the control of the aircraft to capture co-pilots. When a laser beam is shone or directed at an aircraft, the light often tends to refract and fill the cockpit with light, so it is difficult to imagine another member of the crew being dazzled or distracted but not the pilots.

Many noble Lords raised the definition of a journey. Similar concerns were raised during the Committee stage of the then Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, which referred to “flights” for aviation rather than “journeys”. We have taken on board those concerns and amended the Bill to ensure that all parts of the journeys are covered. “Journey” will bear its natural meaning. It is intended to start when the vehicle is ready to commence its journey and end when it comes to a final stop at its destination. That includes taxiing in the case of an aircraft and for all vehicles will cover temporary stops along the way such as stops at train stations, bus stops, traffic lights or, indeed, when waiting to take off.

Break in Debate

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

We are working with local authority ports and borders teams to advise them on prioritising the checking of imports. We have allocated a grant of £100,000, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned, to help them have an immediate and targeted impact. We are also working with online retailers and importers.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

Although I do not want to state the obvious, could I ask the Minister to confirm that the £100,000 is the sum in total across all local authorities? It is not £100,000 for each local authority involved in this activity.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

Yes, I can confirm that it is a total of £100,000. Perhaps I will get some more detail on exactly what work the department is doing with local authorities to help them deal with this issue.

On the licensing regime, the evidence we gathered in our call for evidence did not indicate that a ban or a licensing regime would have a positive impact on public safety. We believe that introducing legislation to license the supply and purchase of high-powered lasers would not tackle illegal imports that are purchased online or indeed the many people purchasing them while on holiday. We have looked at international examples. Australia and New Zealand have taken legislative action to impose a ban or a strict licensing system, but that did not actually have a positive effect on reducing the number of these laser incidents.

We do not think that we should classify laser pointers as offensive weapons. I understand the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, that only a few people use lasers in a legitimate way, but we think that it would penalise them. However, if a pointer is adapted for use to cause injury or if it is intended to be used to do so, it would then be classified as an offensive weapon.

My noble friend Lord Balfe raised the issue of children who commit this offence and the responsibility of their parents. Obviously, children under 10 years of age cannot be charged with committing an offence, but other steps can be taken such as a local child curfew or a child safety order. Of course, children aged between 10 and 17 can be arrested and taken to court. However, I understand the point that my noble friend has made and I will discuss it with my colleagues in the Ministry of Justice.

Air traffic control towers were mentioned by my noble friend Lord Balfe, the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. The Bill does not currently cover air traffic control towers, but it is an interesting point. I am aware of a number of incidents where lasers have been shone at fixed installations. Such installations are often located in controlled areas so there is less scope to shine a laser, but we can certainly consider whether air traffic control towers should be included in the Bill.

My noble friend Lord Kirkhope asked about regional air traffic control and how best to deal with these reports, in particular as regards general aviation. The CAA has published a safety notice on laser attacks which provides guidance for air traffic controllers, principally to inform the police immediately and pass on all relevant information. However, obviously I understand that in general aviation the practice is perhaps not as well known as it should be. We will discuss the matter with the CAA.

A number of noble Lords raised the regulation of certain strengths of lasers. It might be helpful to say a few words on the current situation on the classification of lasers in the market. Lasers sold in the UK are classified in accordance with the current British standard on laser safety, which sets out eight classes of laser products. The classification scheme for lasers indicates the potential risks of adverse health effects. The higher the class number, the greater the radiation hazards posed by the laser. Under the General Product Safety Regulations, only laser pointers considered safe for general use should be made available to the public through general sale. The higher classes 3 and 4 are not suitable for sale to consumers. Laser pointers above 1 milliwatt are generally accepted to have limited specialist uses and can be removed from the market. But obviously, as I said, consumers purchase products directly via the internet and while overseas on holiday, which is of course more difficult to control.

My noble friend Lord Balfe and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned stop and search and whether the police need these powers. It is worth noting that the police already have the power to stop and search for laser pointers where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the pointer is intended to cause injury. That is because the laser would then be deemed an offensive weapon. The Government are clear that the power of stop and search, when used correctly, is vital in the fight against crime, but the Home Office is currently conducting a review to achieve greater transparency on this. While this work takes place, it would not be appropriate to consult on extending the power of stop and search to cover lasers, but my department, together with the Home Office, will consider consulting on proposals to apply the power of stop and search to laser pointers as soon as that review is concluded, which I expect to be later this year.

On sentencing, five years is the maximum jail term, as I said, and would be imposed in only the most serious cases, but we believe it is important to have an effective deterrent for these sorts of offences. As I explained, it will be a triable either way offence. It will be up to the courts to decide which court should hear each case, dependent on the seriousness. For a summary offence tried in the magistrates’ court, the maximum imprisonment will be restricted to six months in England and Wales or 12 months when Section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act is commenced.

On the point from the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, on where the case would be tried if the offence is done across a border—which, I must admit, is something I had not considered—I imagine it will be where the person holding the laser has his feet placed, as that is where the offence would be committed. I will certainly take that back to clarify. He also asked how many people had been found guilty of committing this offence. In 2016 it was 10 and in 2015 it was 16. I will send the noble Lord the full figures I have available.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned drones. As I said at the end of November, it is our intention to bring forward drone legislation in the spring of this year. That is still our intention. I understand the importance of the issue and the desire to act quickly on this, but we have decided to separate the treatment of drones from that of lasers as they present different challenges. I look forward to bringing forward drones legislation as quickly as possible.

As the noble Lord, Lord Monks, mentioned, I am lucky enough to have both the president and the vice-president—and, indeed, lowly members—of BALPA in your Lordships’ House, so I want to take this opportunity to thank BALPA for its engagement with my department on this and many other issues that face the aviation sector. I hope that I have addressed all the issues raised. If not, as I said, I will follow them up in writing.

We believe that the existing laws are not strong enough, with the police unable properly to investigate and prosecute such incidents. The police lack powers to search the homes of suspects. Even when a conviction is secured, the maximum penalty for dazzling or distraction is only £2,500, and there is no specific law against shining a laser at a ship or at motorists at the wheel. This new offence will act as a deterrent to these dangerous incidents happening in the first place, but if they do occur, the proposals will help the police bring the offenders to justice.

The safety and security of the travelling public must always be a top priority for the Government. With more than 1,000 attacks on aircraft reported each year, as well as those on other modes of transport, we have a duty to act. I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (Science and Technology Report)

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 20th December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, and his committee for their report. As has been said, it contains four main findings. These are that the Government are too focused on driverless cars when the early benefits are likely to be in other sectors; that the development of connected and autonomous vehicles across different sectors needs co-ordination; that there needs to be further government-commissioned social and economic research to weigh the potential human and financial implications of connected and autonomous vehicles; and that the Government need to do much more, including in the field of skills, to ensure that we can maximise the opportunities that connected and autonomous vehicles offer in different sectors.

I hope that the Government will take on board and act on, and continue to act on, the four main findings of the report. Their response to it seems a bit defensive in places, but then I suppose that government responses to reports over the years usually have been.

The committee is not seeking to be political or to damn, but it is seeking to offer considered and constructive findings based on genuine expertise and experience to help ensure that we can be one of the global leaders in this field and reap the benefits, and address the potential pitfalls, including over data, that will, or could, arise from being so.

We surely need to ensure that we can be up with the best, as significant change in this field is already taking place in other parts of the world. General Motors will soon begin testing autonomous cars in the far-from-straightforward transport environment of New York City, with a fleet of self-driving taxis appearing to be the initial goal, while the European Commissioner said that connected vehicles are likely to become available in the next two to three years.

On that latter issue, the Government said in response to the committee—on recommendation 27, I think— that they would be reporting back to the National Infrastructure Commission by the end of 2017 on improving our digital infrastructure on the roads network. Bearing in mind that we are quite close to the end of 2017, have the Government reported back to the NIC and, if so, what was the thrust of that report back?

I would like to raise a few points with the Government about the impact and future of autonomous vehicles in the light of some of the issues raised by the Committee’s report. In a recent Written Answer in the Commons, the Government said that,

“production of CAVs and CAV technologies in the UK will support over 27,000 jobs”.

However, that was in answer to a Written Question asking what assessment had been made of the potential effect on employment of the introduction of autonomous vehicles. Does that mean that the Government do not consider that connected and autonomous vehicles will have any negative impact on jobs in any field of transport, or at least not for a great many years, an issue about which they remained silent in their Written Answer last month? Will the Minister say what negative impact on jobs autonomous vehicles might have and over what period of time?

What impact do the Government think autonomous vehicles might have on the numbers of people who drive vehicles, fly aircraft or crew ships for a living? If connected and autonomous vehicles reduce the incidence of accidents, which is clearly a major plus point, what impact do the Government think this might have, for example, on the numbers of people employed in garages and in crash repair centres, as well as in the emergency services? If the production of CAVs and CAV technologies in the UK will support over 27,000 jobs, is it the Government’s view that that will mean fewer jobs involved in the production of the kinds of vehicles that we have today? If so, in the Government’s view, what kind of job losses are we talking about?

The committee report refers to the affordability and accessibility of connected and autonomous vehicles. Do the Government have a view on whether they are likely to be affordable for most people? If so, over what period of time will that be achieved? One assumes that the move to electric vehicles will also mean this form of power for autonomous vehicles. Have the Government given any consideration to fuel duty, or another form of power duty, that would apply to autonomous electric vehicles, as this will have an impact on cost? Fuel duty on petrol and diesel vehicles is a source of significant revenue for the Government. How will this source of revenue be replaced—will it be replaced?—as petrol and diesel vehicles reduce in numbers and electric-powered vehicles, autonomous and otherwise, increase?

What government oversight is there into research and development on connected and autonomous vehicles, bearing in mind that there are major safety issues and considerations which go well beyond simply those people owning and using such vehicles or indeed making and selling them? Have the Government laid down, or do they intend to, any minimum standards that have to be met in this key area of safety as far as the goals of research and development in this field and beyond are concerned? What provision will there be for the sharing of information on the development of autonomous vehicles and its implications, and what will be the involvement of local transport authorities?

On this latter point, the Government said in their response to the committee’s recommendation 5 that a further meeting with local authorities, described as a “forum for local authorities”, was scheduled for this autumn. What was discussed at that meeting? What conclusions were reached? How many local authorities were represented and which other bodies or organisations were present?

The committee report refers to international co-operation and the importance of cybersecurity. There would appear to be a real risk of autonomous vehicles being hacked, with potentially very serious consequences, including for safety, presumably on land, sea or in the air. Is cybersecurity being fully addressed as part of research and development objectives? Have any standards that have to be achieved in respect of cybersecurity been, or will be, laid down or set? The Government’s response to the committee’s recommendation 23 refers to the publication of a set of principles for cybersecurity of vehicles, which does not appear to be the same thing.

One of the committee’s recommendations—number three—is that the Government should bring forward a wider transport strategy that places the development and implementation of connected and autonomous vehicles in the context of wider policy goals, such as increased use of public transport and the reduction of congestion and pollution. Reading the Government’s response to that recommendation, it is not clear to what extent the Government believe that they have met that recommendation. They say in their response that they place importance on long-term planning and strategy,

“and as our work on CAVs matures we will continue to set this in the context of the Government’s wider policy aims for the future of transport”.

Do the Government see connected and autonomous vehicles increasing the use of public transport and reducing congestion and pollution, and if so, how and why? One could presumably argue that since autonomous vehicles would take away the strain of driving as well as enabling those who cannot at present drive a car or who do not wish to do so to travel by car, this might be at the expense of usage of public transport and reducing congestion.

Finally, the Government’s response to the committee’s recommendations came out over seven months after publication of the report, and not all of those seven months were taken up by the general election campaign. That was a considerable period of time to wait for an area involving rapid international change. Bearing in mind that we are talking about fields of activity where developments are likely to progress and occur with considerable rapidity, with potentially very significant impacts on the lives of all of us, how do the Government intend to keep this House advised of further progress being made on implementing or facilitating the implementation of the committee’s recommendations and on delivering whatever are the Government’s objectives and goals in this field, since this debate cannot be the end of the matter?

Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) - Hansard

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Selborne for introducing this debate, and all noble Lords for their contributions. I am grateful to the members of the Science and Technology Committee for their work in producing their report, many of whom we have heard from today. I also acknowledge my noble friend Lord Henley, who has worked closely with my department in responding to the report, and I apologise for the delay in that response. This has been an interesting and thought-provoking debate and a wide range of issues have been raised. I will do my best to answer as many as I can in the time allowed.

As many noble Lords have acknowledged, connected and autonomous vehicles will have a huge impact on transport in this country, and the technology is already well advanced. So of course it is vital that we are prepared for the changes to come. We are on the cusp of a profound shift in the transport system, enabled by technology. That is why we have identified the future of mobility as one of four grand challenges in the industrial strategy.

In the Budget, the Chancellor set out a vision for fully self-driving vehicles to be on our roads by 2021. The Government are also taking forward the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill to ensure that consumers are protected and insurers are prepared for the introduction of automated vehicles to our roads.

The first recommendation of the committee is to ensure that we do not have too narrow a focus on highly automated private road vehicles, a point raised this evening by many noble Lords. We absolutely agree that work in this field must address a broader market. Although our self-driving car programme has been very successful, we are also working hard to extend the benefits of the technology more widely. One example is a facility in Oxfordshire, Remote Applications in Challenging Environments, which is conducting research and development to explore how to remove people from dangerous environments such as nuclear decommissioning.

As mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, in the farming sector the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre is researching advanced technologies; projects include looking at the use of robotics for planting, monitoring and harvesting crops. The noble Lord also highlighted the advantages that such technology can bring, both in the UK and abroad. I look forward to researching that and learning more. The noble Lord, Lord Fox, made an interesting point about whether we should focus more on specific industries to see the benefit of that; we will certainly reflect on that.

Automation offers clear opportunities for the aviation and maritime sectors, alongside those offered in road transport. We have already seen some early deployments of automation in those sectors; UK companies are at the forefront of that. As technology develops there, we will work with industry to ensure that we have the right regulatory framework to deal with it. These are just a few examples of the many exciting opportunities beyond self-driving cars—opportunities that will help us to deliver the transformative benefits of connected and autonomous technology to new sectors of the UK economy.

As part of our industrial strategy, we are working with industry to ensure that we have the right level of leadership in emerging sectors. In the recent White Paper, the Government set out a “sector deal” approach; those sectors deals are being developed right now in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems. The industrial strategy also outlined the role of an industry-led AI council: to lead collaboration between industry, research organisations and government. Alongside that, there is the Challenge Fund, which established the robotics and AI advisory group. I am pleased to hear my noble friend Lord Selborne welcome the approach on sector deals; I hope this provides more information and gives your Lordships some confidence that we are trying to deal with the cross-cutting nature of industrial collaboration.

Many noble Lords highlighted the importance of investment. Of course, we will continue to provide research and funding to mitigate the inherent risk of market failure in early-stage technology. That is vital to get industry on board and is already having an impact. Both Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover are running high-profile research programmes of around 100 highly automated vehicles here in the UK. By demonstrating our commitment to this emerging industry, we hope that businesses will invest in the UK with confidence.

We are establishing ourselves as a leading market for the testing and deployment of these technologies, and we intend to do all we can to stay in that position. By working closely with industry, we are better positioned to know where we should focus our resources. There are many examples of the work we are doing on this, including the Transport Systems Catapult and Innovate UK, which works with small and medium-sized enterprises in this field.

The Government have an important role to play in funding research. In the Autumn Statement last year, we announced an investment programme of nearly £5 billion over four years to boost the UK’s position as a world leader in science and innovation. The noble Lord, Lord Mair, highlighted the investment in the co-ordination hub, Meridian. I hope that demonstrates that the Government and industry have vital roles to play in delivering the benefits of this technology to the UK. We will support manufacturers and technology developers, large and small, throughout the process. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, that it is key that we get the relationship between government and industry right.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, and other noble Lords raised the important issue of infrastructure. There is a huge challenge ahead of us in making sure that our infrastructure is ready for connected and automotive technology when it is available. Very different systems from those available today will be needed. However, this is an opportunity. We have a number of programmes under way to understand more about what infrastructure is required and how we can profit from that opportunity. We are engaging with all levels of the supply chain to understand what we need; that includes vehicle manufacturers, Highways England and others, covering telecommunications, data and infrastructure. We have specific initiatives in place analysing how connected and autonomous technologies will work on our roads and influence our future. The London to Dover A2/M2 connected corridor will test a variety of communications systems to help us establish how the new technologies will be deployed.

A lot of this infrastructure will also affect local roads, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Fox. We agree with the recommendation in the report that local transport authorities will play an integral role in the success of connected and autonomous vehicles, and that the Government can help to improve learning as the technologies develop. We meet LTAs frequently; we recently initiated a forum for authorities deploying, or interested in deploying, connecting vehicle technologies. I believe the first meeting was in Newcastle a few weeks ago, so that work is ongoing. I hope this demonstrates that we are thinking ahead by ensuring that the infrastructure will be ready when we need it.

Sub-national Transport Body (Transport for the North) Regulations 2017

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Monday 18th December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

I thank the Minister for her explanation of the purpose and content of these regulations. I note that the Chamber is fairly full, but I am not sure it is because noble Lords have come to listen to either myself or, I am afraid, the Minister; I suspect that they are here for the next item.

Transport for the North was established in 2014 as a partnership of northern authorities and local enterprise partnerships to formalise co-operation on transport issues in the north, working with Highways England, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport. TfN will, under these regulations, become the first subnational transport body in England. Transport for the North’s responsibility is to set out the requirements of the transport network through a strategic transport plan for the north, and it has a remit to focus on movement between cities and key economic centres to support a more productive and integrated northern economy. Indeed, the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review found that, if the north receives the right level of investment to improve connectivity across the region, it will create over 850,000 jobs and add almost £100 billion gross value added to the economy by 2050. Transport for the North also has a role to play in supporting local and national government to ensure that local investment in public transport and national transport infrastructure projects form a coherent investment programme.

We support putting Transport for the North on a statutory footing from April next year, but we doubt whether what is now being put forward is adequate in addressing underinvestment and the significant disparities in transport spending between the north and the south. Following the debacle over the cancellation or postponement of rail electrification on the trans-Pennine route, the Secretary of State asserted that the future of transport in the north was in the hands of the north because he would give it the powers necessary to address its own transport needs. What the Government are now proposing for Transport for the North would not appear to deliver what they said would be delivered.

All the regions of the north combined receive less in transport investment than London, despite the north having twice the population. If the Government will not address poor transport infrastructure in the region, they should at least give the regions of the north the power to do so themselves. However, the regulations we are discussing today would appear to give the north neither the necessary investment nor the necessary power in this area. It would appear that, instead of receiving “client status”, Transport for the North will instead be a “statutory influencer”. Although the Secretary of State will have to have regard to the views and recommendations of Transport for the North and its statutory transport strategy, it will, as I understand it, be a matter for him to decide what improvements to the transport infrastructure will get the go-ahead, and when, since Transport for the North has no decision-making powers in that regard and neither will it have either its own, or access to, financial resources to be able to finance and deliver significant infrastructure schemes.

There is a real danger that Transport for the North will spend a lot of time, enthusiasm and energy drawing up a strong economic case for significant transport infrastructure improvements, with the support and backing of local authorities, business and community organisations and representatives across the region, and then find that the Secretary of State just kicks them into the long grass, perhaps because this Secretary of State, the most politically partisan we have had for a long time, is reluctant to give money or additional decision-making powers to areas that do not share his political outlook—as opposed to effectively giving money to failing east coast main line franchise operators.

Perhaps that is why he has not delivered on his earlier statements that the future of transport in the north was in the north’s hands and that he would give it the powers necessary to address its own transport needs. If Transport for the North does not get the support of the Secretary of State for implementing and overseeing the delivery of its transport recommendations, it will lead to frustration all round rather than progress, since people have had enough of talking shops and want to see imaginative and well-thought-through plans see the light of day.

Could the Minister say what amount of money is available for implementing and delivering Transport for the North’s strategic transport plan—and whether, if TfN had already been in existence as a statutory body and had included the electrification of the trans-Pennine route in its strategic plan, the Secretary of State could nevertheless have disregarded the plan and not agreed to electrification of the route? Hence our view, if I am correct, that Transport for the North does not have any great power; the power remains firmly in the grip of the Secretary of State.

Could the Minister also say what it means in reality for the Secretary of State to “have regard to” TfN’s statutory transport strategy when developing national transport strategies and plans? How does the Secretary of State prove that he has had regard to that strategy—and, alternatively, how does anyone prove that he has not? Would it be open to Transport for the North to take legal proceedings against the Secretary of State if it considered that he had not had regard to its transport strategy—and, if so, will TfN have the statutory power and the financial resources to initiate such legal proceedings?

As I understand it, Transport for the North will also have a role in the co-ordination of regional transport activities, such as, for example, smart ticketing and co-management of the TransPennine Express and northern rail franchises through the acquisition of Rail North Ltd. What exactly will that co-management involve as far as Transport for the North is concerned, what exactly will co-ordination of regional transport activities involve, and what statutory powers is Transport for the North being given in respect of each role?

What will be Transport for the North’s budget for its administration over each of the first three years from 1 April 2018, how many staff will it employ, how much will it receive in grants—the Minister mentioned £260 million—and from what sources and what purposes over that same three-year period? In how many years’ time do the Government anticipate reviewing the role of Transport for the North as a statutory body, including the effectiveness with which it is able to carry out its role under the powers that it is being given through this instrument, and whether there is a need to either reduce or increase the powers and the role that Transport for the North is being given under these regulations?

I believe that the Minister, when she introduced the regulations, referred to Transport for the North achieving “transformational change”. What goals are the Government seeking to achieve over the next 10 years that will represent the transformational change referred to by the Minister?

On the resources made available to Transport for the North, I repeat that I think the Minister mentioned £260 million. To most of us that sounds like an awful lot of money, but can the Minister say how that compares with the cost of Crossrail for London, for example, so that we can see how significant a part of the cost of Crossrail that £260 million represents?

We hope that Transport for the North will be able to exert a positive influence on transport in the north and that it does not become a largely toothless, penniless, powerless talking shop, drawing up persuasive and compelling strategic plans which are then largely ignored by the Secretary of State.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions and for their broad support for this measure. I will do my best to answer as many of the points raised as I can but, if I do not manage to answer them all, I will write to noble Lords.

The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, asked how the change to constituent authorities will work. It would require a further affirmative statutory instrument once it had been proposed and approved by the existing members of Transport for the North.

There was some discussion about the powers for Transport for the North. These powers have been agreed after extensive engagement with TfN and the northern leaders over the last 12 months. Both the Government and TfN agree that the role outlined in this statutory instrument allows TfN to build its capability and capacity over time, and we think that it strikes the right balance between national and regional priorities. Of course, Transport for the North can seek approval from the Secretary of State for additional functions and take on more responsibility to improve transport planning or make provision to enhance economic development in the area.

The noble Lords, Lord Shipley, Lord Liddle and Lord Berkeley, raised the question of regional disparity. This Government are reversing decades of underinvestment in the north, with the biggest investment for a generation. Including all projects, the Government are spending more per head on transport in the north-west than they are in the south-east. This is backed up by the recent publication of the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which shows that per head spending in the north is expected to be £10 higher than in the south. Indeed, just today we have published our rebalancing toolkit, which is designed to help authors of strategic cases assess how a programme fits with the objective of spreading growth across the country.

On funding, raised by probably every noble Lord, the initial funding settlement of £260 million reflects TfN’s initial role. There are also the resources needed to deliver the programme set out in the Northern Transport Strategy. I am afraid that I am not able to give a specific figure as requested by the noble Lord, Lord Liddle. TfN is aiming to publish its draft strategic transport plan in the new year, and a 12-week consultation will follow. It should be finalised in the summer of 2018 and, from there, we will look forward to working with TfN, as it becomes a statutory body, on how best to move that forward. We are already spending £13 billion on transport in the north and, as I said, we must wait to see what TfN’s strategy comes up with.

On the question of who makes the decisions, TfN will, through its strategic transport plan, make decisions on the transport priorities for the north. It will provide the evidence to make the case but Ministers here, who are ultimately accountable to Parliament, will make the funding decision, so that will sit with the Secretary of State.

The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, asked about future franchises. TfN will be a statutory consultee on all future franchises.

The noble Lord, Lord Liddle, mentioned Cumbria. I understand that the LEP there is developing a strategic outline business case and we look forward to considering it. We are working with the LEP and the county council to help them develop that business case.

The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, asked about Manchester rail stations. The Secretary of State has recently written to the Mayor of Greater Manchester to propose a further discussion on how we best answer that.

We see the establishment of Transport for the North as a significant step for the north and for the country. It will work with the region’s transport authorities and elected mayors to build a long-term vision for transport across the north of England. As the voice of the north on transport, TfN will have unprecedented influence over government funding and decision-making.

This Government are clearly demonstrating that, in setting up Transport for the North and backing the election of metro mayors, we are giving the north greater autonomy and control, and a powerful voice to articulate the case for new transport projects.

Break in Debate

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My apologies for missing that. We are aware of the potential issue of the different rates of APD in Scotland and the north of England and indeed in the rest of the UK. In the Budget last week, that change was not made, but we keep a close eye on it.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

The Minister is confirming that Transport for the North is about “articulating the case”, to use her words, and that decisions on how much will be spent and where will continue to rest in Whitehall with the Secretary of State. Transport for the North is purely about articulating the case, and I use the Minister’s own words.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

As I hope I made clear, Transport for the North will articulate the strategic decisions, setting out how it wants to develop transport for the north, but the ultimate decisions on funding will remain with the Secretary of State.

Railways: Fares

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 12th December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I have indeed been looking at the comparison between the UK and Europe. I understand that it very much depends on which rail fare you are looking at; many fares are similar or even cheaper in the UK. Britain has seen the biggest shift to rail from other transport of any railway in Europe since 2009. We have comparable punctuality and higher than average customer satisfaction, and we are investing more in rail than any country in Europe. We are currently delivering the biggest upgrades to our network since the Victorian era.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

Could the Minister confirm that the Government have locked themselves and rail passengers into the yearly increase in regulated fares being related to the normally higher retail prices index figure for at least the number of years that each existing franchise is due to continue, since that is part of the franchise agreements with train operating companies? What amount of compensation in total would have to have been paid to train operating companies for lower than expected fare revenue if the Government had decided to agree to this coming January’s increase in regulated fares being related to the increase in the widely used—not least by government—consumer prices index, rather than the higher retail prices index?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, the noble Lord is right to point out that our current franchise agreements are negotiated on the RPI increase. I say again that we recognise the effect that has on people’s incomes and keep it under review. We welcome the fact that we were able to reduce this from RPI plus 1 in 2014. I am afraid I do not have the figures to hand, and I am not sure they would be available, on the compensation that would need to be given if we used CPI rather than RPI.

Railways: Update

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 29th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) (Con) - Hansard

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport. The Statement is as follows:

“When Britain’s railways were privatised in the mid-1990s, it was against a backdrop of what many regarded as terminal decline. The radical Beeching cuts of the 1960s had been followed by further line closures under British Rail, and passenger numbers had been steadily falling since the Second World War—yet privatisation sparked a remarkable turnaround in the railways’ fortunes. Over 1.5 million more trains are timetabled each year than 20 years ago, passenger demand has more than doubled and other countries are now adopting Great Britain’s rail model in their own markets.

To support this growth and reverse decades of underinvestment in the infrastructure, we have embarked on the biggest rail modernisation programme since Victorian times. In addition to government funding, billions of pounds of investment from the private sector is also helping to renew and expand train fleets, upgrade stations and transform services across the country, and franchises are making an increasing contribution to the public purse—so the rail renaissance we are seeing in Great Britain today is the direct result of a successful partnership between public and private sectors.

This partnership has delivered real benefits for passengers for more than 20 years, but the success of privatisation has created its own challenges. As the number of services has increased, our network has become more and more congested, making delivering the punctual, reliable services that passengers expect more challenging. On much of the network our railway is operating on the edge of what it can cope with. It carries more passengers today than since its heyday in the 1920s, on a network a fraction of the size. When things go wrong, the impact can be widespread and quick, causing significant frustration for the travelling public.

That is why last year I announced plans to start bringing together the operation of track and train on our railways. This is a process of evolution and not revolution, and I said that the exact approach may differ from area to area, but the outcome must be the same: a railway that is predominantly run by a joint local team of people with an absolute commitment to the smooth running of the timetable, whether planning essential repairs, responding to incidents on the line or communicating with passengers.

Today I am publishing more details about our plans, an update on what we are doing and the steps that we will take to realise them. This publication, called Connecting People: a Strategic Vision for Rail, explains how we will create a new generation of regional rail operations with a relentless focus on the passengers, economies and communities they serve. It represents the biggest change to the delivery of rail services since privatisation. Although we have already achieved significant structural improvements, with joined-up working between operators and Network Rail, and Network Rail’s own transformation into a series of regional route businesses, the document explains our plans to go much further.

Where it delivers real benefits for passengers, many future rail franchises will be run by a joint team, made up of staff from Network Rail and the train company, and headed by a new alliance director. This will make the railway more reliable for passengers by devolving powers to local routes and teams, and ensuring that one team is responsible for running the trains and the infrastructure they use.

Today I am also issuing the invitation to tender for the next South Eastern franchise. This will, among other things, deliver longer trains, providing space for at least 40,000 additional passengers in the morning rush hour, and a simpler, high-frequency turn-up-and-go timetable on suburban routes, which will boost capacity and provide a better service to passengers. As part of that unification of track and train, the day-to-day operations on the South Eastern network will be run by a joint team led by a new alliance director, heading both the track and train operations. On the East Midlands main line we will also introduce a joint-team approach, bringing more benefits to passengers.

Honourable Members will know that the east coast main line has had its challenges in recent times, and I intend to take a different approach on this route. From 2020 the East Coast Partnership will run the intercity trains and track operations on the east coast main line. This partnership between the public and private sector will operate under one management and a single brand, overseen by a single leader, with a leading role in planning the future route infrastructure. Bringing the perspective of train operators into decisions on rail infrastructure will help ensure that passenger needs are better represented in the process. While we run a competition to appoint the East Coast Partnership members, we are in discussions with the existing East Coast franchise operator to ensure that the needs of passengers and taxpayers are met in the short term while laying the foundations for the reforms I have just outlined. I want the passenger to be central to train operators’ strategies. On some parts of the network, that will mean we will introduce smaller train companies.

I am today launching a consultation on the Great Western franchise, to seek views on how it can best meet the needs of passengers and communities in the 2020s and beyond. We want to establish whether it should be retained in its current form or divided into smaller parts with a more local focus, to best deliver for customers. We will also begin the process of splitting up the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in 2021. When the two franchises were put together, it was intended that this would help the implementation of the £6 billion Thameslink upgrade investment programme, which is now near completion.

Despite the improvements in the railway since privatisation, we are still some way from achieving the modern, high-performance, low-cost and customer-focused industry we all want to see. That is why we must continue to reform and invest in the railway, and maximise the contribution that public and private sectors make to improving services. We must continue to deliver the biggest railways investment since the steam age, which the party opposite never did when it was in government. Getting to grips with industry structure will go hand in hand with investment in the infrastructure. We need new capacity to cope with growing demand and new links to support economic growth and housing development.

The Great North Rail Project is transforming journeys across the north. There will be faster, more comfortable journeys, new direct services and room for tens of thousands more passengers. Every single train replaced in the north of England is new or brand new—again, a change we never saw when the party opposite was in power. I now intend to invest around £3 billion in upgrading the trans-Pennine route to deliver faster journey times and improved capacity between the great cities of Leeds, York and Manchester.

In the south, flagship projects such as Crossrail and Thameslink are now coming on stream to provide the capacity to underpin economic growth. Our investment in HS2 will bring the north and south closer together, and bring benefits for people across the country. It is a new railway for a new era of rail—a bold and ambitious project. But if it were not for the ambition and faith in the power of rail to transform this country, we would have no railways at all.

Our vision rejects the mentality of decline that characterised the railway in the second half of the 20th century. To complement record levels of private investment, we recently announced government funding of up to £34.7 billion for the railway in the years 2019 to 2024, as part of an overall expected spend of around £47.9 billion. This will support an overhaul of the network’s ageing assets and other vital work and improvements. Passengers value reliability more than anything, and this commitment will help deliver that. We will also deliver new connections. We are establishing the East West Rail company to restore the lost rail link between Oxford and Cambridge—lost to passengers in 1967—and provide a major boost to the region. I expect construction work to begin next summer. We will look at other opportunities to restore capacity lost under the Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 1970s where they unlock development and growth, offer value for money and, in particular, unlock the potential for housing.

Large projects and industry reform take time, but passengers want to see faster improvements in their day- to-day experience travelling on the railway. We do, too —and we are doing something about it. We are pushing to see smart ticketing available across almost all of the network by the end of 2018. We are improving arrangements for compensation and dispute resolution when things go wrong, including supporting the establishment of a passenger ombudsman. We are working with industry to extend the benefits of discounted rail travel to ensure that all those aged 16 to 30 can access appropriate concessions. We are investing in new digital technologies and better mobile connectivity, and are committed to improving the accessibility of the network and delivering a modern customer experience, open to all.

I know that the party opposite does not believe this, but privatisation brought a revolution to our railways. That is why there are twice as many passengers as there were 20 years ago. But now is the time for evolution to build on that success by joining up track and train, expanding the network, modernising the customer experience and opening the railway for new innovation. We have a vision of a revitalised railway used to its full potential by a partnership between the public and private sectors, supporting people, communities and the economy. We are taking real action to make that vision a reality. I am making copies of the strategic vision available in the Libraries of both Houses, while the Great Western and South Eastern documents are now on the website of the Department for Transport. I commend this Statement to the House”.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made in the House of Commons. We welcome and advocate continuing investment in our rail industry and measures to enhance its role and importance in the economy of this country and in the lives of our citizens, including the reopening of some lines closed under the Beeching cuts.

The extent to which the content of the Statement and the associated strategic vision document will deliver those objectives is debatable. We have a Secretary of State who is very good at making grandiose statements about future rail developments—in fact, almost as good at doing that as he is in quietly announcing the abandonment or postponement of schemes that he has previously championed. No Government have cancelled or postponed more railway electrification schemes, or parts of schemes that they have previously espoused, than this one. On the roads, the policy is to reduce diesel mileage; on the railways, it is apparently to increase it above that previously planned. What is the Government’s strategic vision for rail in respect of the further electrification of our railways? I think the Statement was silent on that issue.

The Statement was pretty thin, too, on the issue of fares, as is the associated document called “a strategic vision for rail”. Fares have been deliberately and regularly increased by well above the rate of inflation in order to reduce the percentage of operating costs not covered by fares, and thus the costs to the Government, which they transfer on to the backs of commuters in particular. What is the Government’s strategic vision on fares? What is their objective in relation to the percentage of operating costs that should be covered by fares? How can you have a credible strategic vision without saying what your future intentions are in respect of the level of fares, fare increases in the future and the objectives that you are seeking to achieve and why?

The Statement made reference to the next South Eastern franchise and referred to providing space for additional passengers. However, that is not a strategic vision for addressing overcrowding in our railways. There are many other examples of overcrowding on our rail network, not solely in London and the south-east. Since the Government have chosen to describe their document as “a strategic vision for rail”, what are the objectives in relation to reducing overcrowding? What is the end game in respect of overcrowding and its elimination that the strategic vision is seeking to achieve? Just referring to new schemes, which may or may not be abandoned or postponed at some stage in the future, does not constitute a strategic vision against which success or failure in delivery can be judged.

The Statement set out proposals and intentions for tinkering with the organisational structure of the railways. It referred to a proposed alliance on the east coast main line, running intercity trains and track operation under one management. We had a similar arrangement between Stagecoach and Network Rail in the south-west, which did not seem to prove an unmitigated success. Why do the Government now think this proposed alliance will prove any more successful? What are the specific objectives that it will be expected to deliver under the strategic vision for rail?

As the Government thrash around to find an organisational structure for our railways and the train company franchises that they deem acceptable, they may care to look at the structure of the London Underground, which combines track and trains and has generated—in the public sector—significant increases in the numbers of passengers. It is also a system under which all the revenue goes back into providing and improving services for the travelling public, which cannot be said for our railway network as a whole. Indeed, so concerned was the Secretary of State about the success of Transport for London and London Underground in running services in the public sector, and the revitalisation of the London Overground network since it was taken over by TfL, that he felt it too politically dangerous to agree to the transfer of any further rail services within the GLA area to TfL—not much of a strategic vision there.

This Statement does not represent a strategic vision. It is silent on too many issues, including future fares policy, and silent about too many overall objectives to be such a strategic vision. It is, frankly, more a hotchpotch of separate announcements, some of them regurgitated, since they have been made previously and do not represent anything new. While I reiterate what I said earlier about welcoming new investment in our railways if it materialises, tinkering with the structure, which seems to be the Government’s modus operandi at present, will not address rail’s urgent organisational and ownership problems. Indeed, to the extent that making the structural changes proposed deflects the attentions of managers and staff from the objective of running reliable and efficient services, tinkering with the structure is more likely, in fact, simply to add to the problems.

Space Industry Bill [HL]

(3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords)
Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 28th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

I assume that when she comes to respond the Minister will talk about the wording of the amendment and, if she is not going to accept it on behalf of the Government, will indicate why it is not acceptable. Therefore, my brief comments and questions are based on the assumption that she will talk about the wording of the amendment and what it would mean if it were included in the Bill, because obviously I share the concerns that have been expressed. I hope that if the Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment on behalf of the Government, she will at least indicate a willingness to reflect further on this matter prior to its being considered in the House of Commons.

In her response, perhaps the Minister could say what the Government envisage they might want to do through regulations under Clause 67(1) as it stands that they consider they would not be able to do through regulations under Clause 67(1) if it were amended in line with this amendment. Or, to put it the other way round, what do the Government consider they would not be able to do that they might want to do through regulations under Clause 67(1) amended in line with this amendment that they would be able to do through regulations under Clause 67(1) as it stands?

Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) (Con) - Hansard

My Lords, we debated this issue extensively in Committee and on Report, and I regret that I have been unable to convince noble Lords of the necessity of this provision as drafted.

The wording of the clause—which is why we are keen to include it rather than the amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord McNally—is consistent with that contained in Section 60(2) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, the latter being a power to do anything,

“generally for regulating air navigation”.

A similar power arises under Section 11(1) of the Outer Space Act 1986 to enable the making of regulations generally for carrying that Act into effect. That is why we put forward the wording that we did in the Bill.

As noble Lords are well aware, there are a number of other regulation-making powers in the Bill, notably around security and safety. However, we need to ensure that we can regulate those wider matters relating to spaceflight and associated activities carried out in the UK that are not covered by the other powers. For example, this may include implementation of our international obligations relating to spaceflight arising from bilateral or multilateral treaties. We know from our experience in other sectors, such as aviation, that despite our best efforts there needs to be the flexibility to deal with any unexpected circumstances. The Government therefore remain convinced that this provision, as currently drafted, is needed to ensure that all aspects of the Bill can be fully implemented effectively.

Break in Debate

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I thank all those involved for their interest in, engagement with and scrutiny of the Bill over the past few months. The UK space industry is a British success story—a story of invention, innovation and global ambition. The Bill will take us further, enabling new satellite launch services and low-gravity spaceflight from UK spaceports, and supporting our industrial strategy to deliver a stronger economy that works for everyone.

I thank my predecessor, my noble friend Lord Callanan, who took the Bill through its early stages, and I thank the noble Lords, Lord Rosser, Lord Tunnicliffe, Lord McNally, and Lord Fox, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, who provided rigorous scrutiny throughout this process. I am grateful for the contributions of my noble friend Lord Moynihan; I, for one, will miss the strong advocacy for a certain location in Scotland. Finally, I thank policy officials and lawyers from the UK Space Agency, the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for their work on the Bill.

It has been a privilege to debate the Bill with noble Lords, whose knowledge and expertise I have found incredibly helpful. We have taken on many of the recommendations of the DPRRC and the Constitution Committee, and I thank them for their work. The constructive engagement, conversations and debates we have had together have led to significant improvements to the Bill. This is an example of this House at its best, where proper scrutiny and challenge can—put simply—lead to a better Bill. Today, therefore, we stand one step closer to a new commercial space age, and I beg to move.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser - Hansard

My Lords, I take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, the Minister and the Bill team for their willingness to consider the points we have raised about the Bill during its passage through this House. A number of meetings have been held, which we appreciated, and we welcome the changes the Government have been prepared to see made to the Bill as a result.

I also thank my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe for—I was going to say “his advice and support” but the reality is that it has been infinitely more than that. I also thank Grace Wright in our office for all the hard and vitally important work that she has done for us on the Bill.

Drones

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 21st November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot answer that question directly. We are exploring the possibility of restricting drone use near airports and are looking at a combination of primary and secondary legislation. I will attempt to clarify that and write to the noble Lord.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Balfe, welcomed legislation coming at an early stage, but I thought the Minister said that legislation would come some time next year, which does not seem to me to be “at an early stage”. What is the Government’s current assessment of the possibility of a drone being involved in a major incident resulting in loss of life or serious injury? Is such a major incident becoming more or less likely as each day passes?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I am aware that the expectation of an incident is high. Of course, there has not been a significant incident yet—

Brexit: Tourism

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Monday 20th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I can confirm that yes, it was indeed possible to fly across the Channel, and we look forward to continuing to do so.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

No guarantees were given to my noble friend Lord Adonis in response to his question, and I am sure that note has been taken of that fact. In the light of the Answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, and of the potential adverse impact on tourism, will the Government at least do what the aviation industry wants and give a commitment now to deal with aviation separately and in advance of the main negotiations with the EU on Brexit since there is no automatic WTO fallback for the governance of international aviation rights if we do not reach agreement on new air service agreements following our withdrawal from the EU? Will the Minister, having failed to give the guarantees sought by my noble friend Lord Adonis, at least give a commitment on behalf of the Government to deal with aviation separately and in advance of the main negotiations?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

I am afraid I am not able to give that commitment to the noble Lord today. How sectors are discussed will of course be a matter for the negotiations, but of course we recognise that traditionally aviation agreements have been negotiated separately. For our part, we are ready to move on with the negotiations.

HS2: Economic and Environmental Impact

Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Thursday 16th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Framlingham, for providing us with this opportunity to discuss the progress being made with HS2. I appreciate that the noble Lord has a certain lack of enthusiasm for the project, but our policy, with which I know he does not agree, is to support completion of HS2 from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, then into Scotland. HS2 was initiated by the last Labour Government and neither the coalition Government in 2010, the Conservative Government in 2015 nor the present Conservative Government cosying up to the DUP have decided to do anything other than continue to make the case for HS2 and proceed with the project. The present Prime Minister may have had her doubts about Hinkley Point when she came into office, but she did not to the best of my knowledge demand a review of the case for HS2. Work on phase 1 of HS2 from Euston to Birmingham has already started, and a year ago the majority of the preferred route for phase 2B of HS2 was confirmed by the Government. Passenger services are planned to commence on phase 1 in 2026 and, subject to approval of the hybrid Bills, on phase 2A between the West Midlands and Crewe in 2027 and on phase 2B in 2033.

The strategic objectives of HS2 are to improve capacity and connectivity and, through that, to stimulate economic growth. A new high-speed network will also provide faster journey times and improved reliability. There is a need to ensure that our rail network has the capacity to meet the long-term demand which will arise not least from economic growth, an increasing population, and the continuing expansion of the UK as a major tourist destination. Our main north-south intercity rail routes are already facing capacity issues, primarily but not solely on the west coast main line. Further incremental improvements will not be sufficient to address those capacity issues, certainly not beyond the mid-2020s. On top of that, there is the reality that significant incremental upgrades result in prolonged and extensive disruption to the quality and speed of services on the parts of the current network being upgraded, which in itself has an economic and social cost.

Alternatives to HS2 have been considered but the conclusion has been reached that building new standard or classic rail lines would not be significantly cheaper than new high-speed lines, nor would their effects on the environment be significantly less than those of high-speed rail. They would also not deliver the same level of benefits as high-speed lines would through improved connectivity, bringing people and businesses together, and enhancing long-term economic growth.

Construction of the line will of course bring significant disruption to the communities affected, including where I live, in just the same way as the construction of our motorway network did or as additional runway capacity in the south-east would, assuming that the Government ever get round to making a final decision on that issue. The disruption from the construction of HS2 is all the worse for communities on the line of route because nearly all of them will get no future direct benefit from HS2 as there will be no stations on the new high-speed route anywhere near them.

The subject of this debate is the impact of HS2 on the economy and the environment. I am not quite clear where the Government now stand on rail improvements and the environment. One argument used by the Secretary of State recently when announcing the largest ever government programme for abandoning or delaying rail electrification schemes, to which that Government had previously been committed or supported, was that the overhead electrification infrastructure was unsightly, unpopular and a blot on the landscape. Will that same consideration, which seems to trouble the mind of the Government in general and the Secretary of State in particular, apply in the case of HS2?

The Chilterns, for example, is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Is the Secretary of State now going to say, consistent with his newly found distaste for overhead electrification infrastructure, that the fleet of new HS2 trains will be bimodal, with no wires or supporting electrification infrastructure, on the new line as it passes through the Chilterns? Is he about to announce that the line will now be in a tunnel right the way from West Ruislip through the Chilterns? That would presumably satisfy those advocating the Wendover short-mined tunnel proposal, as well as addressing the issue of visible, unsightly overhead electrification structures which now appears to be a matter troubling the mind of the Secretary of State.

In our previous debates on HS2, reference has been made to those who have pressed for a link line in west London to enable HS2 services to connect with HS1 via existing south London lines. I am aware that there has been correspondence between advocates of this step and the Department for Transport; there may even have been a meeting. Perhaps the Minister could provide us with an update on what is happening on this issue. There are those who think it rather odd that we have managed to build HS1, running from the south into a terminal on the north side of London, and are about to build HS2, running from the north into an adjacent terminal, but have not managed to provide a connecting link between the two high-speed routes or make any provision for through-running of services.

In reiterating our support for HS2, I hope that the Government will be able to provide some firm assurances today that close attention will be paid throughout the construction process to the need to listen to the communities being adversely affected and to do everything possible to minimise the inevitable negative impacts on them that the construction process will involve. Indeed, along with the noble Lord, Lord Framlingham, I would like to hear from the Minister that the Government intend to be actively involved in ensuring that this actually happens and that they do not simply intend to wait for problems to arise before doing anything.

Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) (Con) - Hansard

My Lords, I start by thanking noble Lords for their contributions, and in particular my noble friend Lord Framlingham for giving us the opportunity to discuss this most important issue, the largest infrastructure project in Europe.

Your Lordships will know that I am a relative newcomer to this subject. I recognise the extensive knowledge and experience of noble Lords here today. I have listened to the criticisms of the project by many and welcome the expressions of support. I do not expect my response to satisfy my noble friend Lord Framlingham, as I am well aware of his long-standing views, but I hope to set out the Government’s assessment of the impacts of HS2 on the economy and the environment.

HS2 will transform the railways in this country, but of course I recognise its significant cost. The duty of this Government, and indeed this Parliament, is to ensure that we deliver good value for money for the British taxpayer. HS2 is not just about speed; it is about capacity, connectivity and supporting economic growth.

Our trains are becoming increasingly crowded. HS2 will form the new backbone of our national rail network, providing new capacity and better connecting our major cities. Good rail links bring our country closer together, and HS2 will help improve productivity and lead to a stronger, more balanced economy capable of delivering lasting economic growth and prosperity. Furthermore, people will not need to travel on HS2 to feel the benefits. Moving intercity services on to HS2 will free up space on our existing railways for new commuter, regional and freight services. This will create better connections and thousands more seats for passengers, and of course it will allow more goods to be moved by rail, helping to reduce congestion on the roads.

I turn to the impact on the economy of HS2 and will refer, first, to the important issue of jobs, referred to by many noble Lords. Around 25,000 jobs will be created during the construction, as well as 2,000 apprenticeships. Three thousand people will be employed on maintaining and operating the railway, and the investment around HS2 stations is expected to support 100,000 jobs. This is not just about when the new railway opens; jobs and skills are being created now. Several major contracts, worth over £7 billion, have already been awarded for the enabling and civil engineering works required to build phase 1. These contracts alone are expected to support 16,000 jobs and to generate thousands of indirect contract opportunities for the supply chain. HS2 is working with businesses, trade associations and local stakeholders across the UK, including many small and medium-sized firms, to ensure that they are ready to be involved.

HS2 is also about upskilling. A more skilled workforce is vital for the country. The National College for High Speed Rail, based in Doncaster and Birmingham, will open its doors later this year. The college will train young people to build HS2 and to work on other world-leading rail projects.

I now turn to the question of costs, which, understandably, is of concern to your Lordships’ House. The noble Lord, Lord Snape, raised the possibility of alternative schemes. At an earlier stage in the process, a number of strategic options were considered, but the decision was then made that none of the alternatives presented a better outcome—a point that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, acknowledged. They would not deliver the same scale of benefits as HS2. We are already upgrading the existing network, but this alone would never deliver the same level of capacity or journey time savings as HS2. As the noble Lord, Lord Snape, explained, it would be extremely disruptive to rail passengers, effectively closing key parts of the rail network for many years.

The current approach was decided and agreed by Parliament, and we must progress it. The Government’s responsibility is now to ensure that the project is delivered on budget and that it represents good value for money. The 2015 spending review reconfirmed the Government’s commitment to HS2, setting a long-term funding envelope of £55.7 billion. The Government are determined, and are on course, to deliver HS2 within this.

We have set HS2 Ltd ambitious targets which would see the programme delivered below the total funding envelope. For example, the Secretary of State has set target design costs reflecting internationally efficient benchmarks to incentivise HS2 Ltd and its contractors to deliver phase 2 below budget.

Many noble Lords have raised the issue of proper scrutiny. I share their desire to ensure that all our costings are accurate. The cost estimates are determined by industry experts, informed by international standards. We expect public scrutiny and have invited independent assurance and examination of HS2 Ltd’s cost estimates. They are examined periodically by the Commons Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office, and are regularly reviewed by the Secretary of State.

The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, made a number of points on the importance of clarifying the costs. We have recently published the financial costs as part of the HS2 business case, which I believe is an uncommon step. I know that the Rail Minister will come back to the noble Lord on the points that he has raised with him.

My noble friend Lord Framlingham asked about an independent Treasury review, but as he would expect, the project is already subject to an ongoing rigorous programme of external assurance reviews. The terms of reference for each assurance review are developed with the Treasury and the infrastructure and project authority, with reviews conducted by independent project delivery experts. Given this ongoing scrutiny by the Treasury, the Government do not believe that an independent review is necessary.

Many noble Lords have raised the benefits that HS2 will bring to the north. Economic growth in the north has been constrained by poor connectivity between cities. HS2 will help address this, making it easier for businesses to choose to locate in our great northern and Midlands cities. The majority of benefits from HS2 will be enjoyed in these places, outside of London. HS2 improves journey times between London and the north, but also transforms connectivity between many of our largest cities in the Midlands, the north and in Scotland. We are also committed to northern powerhouse rail—our vision for improving even further journey times and service frequencies between major cities in the north of England. Far from competing with it, HS2 is essential to delivering this vision. The Chancellor announced at conference £300 million of funding to future proof HS2 to accommodate northern powerhouse rail junctions. The Government have also provided Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, the east Midlands and Crewe with funding to develop HS2 growth strategies. They should act as a catalyst for growth and aim to maximise opportunities for new homes and employment.

We want HS2 to be more environmentally responsible than any other major infrastructure project in UK history. Despite it being one of the largest construction projects in Europe, we are committed to reducing its effects on the countryside and on communities. HS2 will play a key part in the UK’s future low-carbon transport system and support the Government’s overall carbon objectives. Noble Lords will be aware that in comparison with most other transport modes high-speed rail offers some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger kilometre, significantly less than cars and planes. Of course, such a major project requires significant works—a point that many of your Lordships have raised today. We are fully aware of the potential detrimental effect this can have on the environment, so are doing all we can to mitigate it.

The route was designed to minimise environmental impacts wherever possible—the noble Lord, Lord Jones of Cheltenham, highlighted the environmental work that we are doing. We will create a network of new wildlife habitats along the HS2 route. This includes around 7 million new trees and shrubs in the first phase of the railway. We expect to plant the first of these trees this winter, with more than 100,000 new trees in the West Midlands area. In phase 1, we are creating nearly three times as much new woodland as the non-ancient woodland affected by HS2. Of course, ancient woodland is irreplaceable. Although we cannot fully compensate all impacts, we have committed to using best-practice measures such as enhancing linkages between woodlands, reusing ancient woodland soils and creating new mixed deciduous woodland. Over time, we will create a green corridor of connected wildlife habitats which will blend the railway into the landscape and support local species. In addition, we are keen to go beyond the immediate boundaries of the railway and take this opportunity to improve the wider natural environment, in partnership with local people. For example, we have introduced the £5 million HS2 woodland fund to help local landowners create new native, broadleaf woodlands and restore existing ancient woodland sites.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, made a number of points on hybrid Bills and the property bond scheme. I will have to read them carefully in Hansard and come back to him.

My noble friend Lord Framlingham asked about monitoring construction activity. HS2 Ltd has an extensive monitoring programme, and a code of construction practice for the scheme will set clear requirements for meeting environmental targets and minimising impacts.

Moving on to the effect this will have on communities, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, we recognise that the construction of HS2 is not always welcome. We have, however, tried to design the route as far as possible to avoid or reduce negative impacts such as the demolition of properties, excessive noise and impacts on our landscape and natural environments. The Government are committed to ensuring that people feel the widest benefits of the new railway and to compensating those directly impacted.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asks whether the Government will be taking a keen interest in having conversations with communities throughout the project, and I can assure him that we will do that. The noble Lord also asked about electrification. As the Secretary of State explained at the time, the decision to cancel the planned electrification schemes, including on the midland main line between Kettering and Sheffield, was made to deliver benefits to passengers sooner than would otherwise be possible.

The noble Lord, Lord Framlingham, asked about the departmental response to the report from the group of academics. I understand that some of the report’s authors have written to the DfT over the years and Ministers have responded to their queries and concerns, including many of the issues raised in the report.

I have endeavoured to address as many of the points raised as I can, but where I have not been able to do so I will write to noble Lords. More people are travelling on our railways than ever: since privatisation the number of passenger journeys has more than doubled, almost tripling in key intercity corridors. That is why we need HS2. While alternatives have been extensively considered, they do not provide the required capacity and would be too disruptive to the existing rail network.

I am sure that my response has not satisfied my noble friend Lord Framlingham, but the approach to HS2 has been decided and agreed by Parliament. Our job is now to ensure the successful delivery and cost effectiveness of phase 1. Your Lordships will, of course, have an opportunity to scrutinise and debate the phase 2A Bill after its passage through the Commons.

Our plan is to build a stronger, fairer country with an economy that works for everyone—one in which wealth and opportunity are spread across the country. Investment in economic infrastructure, in which HS2 plays an integral role, is a key part of this long-term vision.

Space Industry Bill [HL]

(Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords)
Debate between Lord Rosser and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 14th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Department for Transport
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) - Hansard

My Lords, we debated a similar amendment in Committee. The Government said in response that they would work to ensure that we got the best deal with the EU to support strong growth in the sector, but that they did not consider that including provisions related to the EU negotiations would improve the Bill or the support that the Bill, which is about regulation of UK space activities and suborbital activities, would provide to the sector. The Government went on to say that it would be damaging to the UK’s negotiating position with the EU if information on the potential economic consequences of leaving the EU was disclosed.

The difficulty the Government have is that their whole argument for bringing this skeletal Bill forward at this time—one year before discussions on the detailed and extensive secondary legislation start, and nearly two years before that crucial secondary legislation is considered by Parliament—is to end uncertainty for the space industry by showing that the Government intend to provide a structure for UK space activities and suborbital activities. Surely, however, part of the uncertainty at present is the impact our departure from the EU, and the terms on which we depart, will have on the UK space industry, and thus on investment decisions.

If the objective really is to remove uncertainty, as opposed to producing the Bill at this time to fill up the gaps in parliamentary business left by the Government’s almost non-existent legislative programme, why are they not prepared to reduce the uncertainty over the potential impact on the industry of our withdrawal from the EU by providing an assessment of what that impact could be? The amendment calls for a report of the assessment to be laid before Parliament within one year of the Act passing or on the day on which it is passed if that assessment has already been undertaken. Surely such an assessment would also be of real value to all the parties concerned when the discussions start on the crucial regulations that will provide the important details that are sadly missing from the Bill.

Once again, when discussions on the regulations start, why are the Government declining to provide the parties concerned with details of the not insignificant issue of the impact on the space industry and on the Bill as a result of our departure from the EU?

Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg) (Con) - Hansard

My Lords, the UK space industry is a global success story. I am grateful for the productive debate we had in Committee, which will ensure the Bill puts this country at the forefront of new space services.

The Government continue to invest in the success of the UK space sector—for example, we recently invested more than £100 million in new satellite test facilities at Harwell, and manufacture and test facilities for rocket engines at Westcott in Buckinghamshire. As we discussed, another measure of our support to the UK space sector will be through our negotiations with the EU on future collaboration on the EU space programmes. The UK has played a major part in developing the main EU space programmes, Galileo and Copernicus, which have supported the rapid growth of the UK space sector and contributed directly to our prosperity and security. We are working to ensure we get the best deal with the EU to support strong growth in the sector. Last month, the Government published a science and innovation discussion paper and an external security discussion paper. Both set out the Government’s wish to discuss options for future arrangements in the EU space programmes.

My noble friend Lord Moynihan asked about continued support for the space industry. The European Space Agency programmes will continue to play an important role in delivering the UK national space objectives and, in December last year, the UK negotiated an investment of more than €1.4 billion over the next five years in ESA space initiatives. This sustained investment, alongside our industrial strategy, will ensure that we build on the strengths of the UK’s growing space industry. The UK’s membership of the European Space Agency will not be affected by the UK leaving the EU.

The Government hold a mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis of the impact of leaving the EU on sectors of the UK economy, including the UK’s space industry. This is contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum. The analysis in this area is constantly evolving and being updated based on our regular discussions with industry and our negotiations with the EU. As the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU said in his Written Statement on 7 November, the intention is to provide this information to the Exiting the EU Select Committee as soon as possible, and within three weeks of the date of that Statement.

My noble friend Lord Callanan has confirmed to the House that we anticipate sharing the same information on the same basis with the Lords EU Committee as with the House of Commons Select Committee, subject to our being able to agree the terms of that disclosure. Given that this evidence will be published in the coming weeks, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw Amendment 1.

Break in Debate

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg - Hansard

My Lords, I recognise noble Lords’ concerns that there are currently no specific provisions in the Bill regarding the environmental impacts of spaceports and spaceflight activities on local communities, particularly in relation to noise and emissions. However, Clause 2 requires the regulator to take into account the environmental objectives set by the Government. I know that some noble Lords have raised concerns that future objectives cannot be predicted—indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, raised that again today—but the inclusion of that requirement was intended to promote environmental protection, as the regulator will have to take account of existing guidance, such as Defra’s air quality plan.

As noble Lords will be aware, there already exists a comprehensive body of environmental and planning legislation that spaceports and spaceflight operators will need to comply with independently of the requirements under the Bill. For example, an environmental impact assessment may be required for airport-related development under Schedule 2 to the environmental impact assess