All 4 Lord Bradshaw contributions to the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL] 2019-21

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Mon 27th Jan 2020
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Mon 10th Feb 2020
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Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Thu 21st Jan 2021
Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL]
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Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage
Tue 20th Apr 2021
Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL]
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Consideration of Commons amendments & Consideration of Commons amendments & Lords Hansard

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department for Transport

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL]

Lord Bradshaw Excerpts
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Monday 27th January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw (LD)
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My Lords, I do not intend to rehearse what others have said, only to underline a few things. May I turn to resources? It is essential that the Civil Aviation Authority has sufficient resources to do the job it is asked to do. If it is being kept short of resources, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, I hope that the Minister can assure the House that it will have the resources to do what is asked of it. They are well respected, hard-working people, but they do not deserve to spend a lot of their time fighting over their budget.

In terms of resources, however, I am more concerned about the responsibilities being put on the police. A lot of legislation has passed extra responsibility to the police, be it looking out for knife crime, looking out for drug crime or looking out for terrorism. I know that the police are hopelessly stretched. I seek an assurance from the Government that, if the police are to be given extra responsibilities under this legislation, the resources at their disposal will be increased so that they can train specialist officers to deal with them. It is not something that—if I may put it this way— PC Plod from around the corner can claim to have specialist knowledge of; there will need to be intelligent people behind any enforcement.

It also strikes me that a lot of private benefit is likely to come from the use of drones. I think all of us can think of things that might happen, from the delivery of parcels by Amazon to people filming for television—all sorts of things. I urge the Government to make sure that the people doing these things for private gain—they will not do them for free—contribute something in the way of licence fees to whoever is to enforce the law, because one without the other is quite meaningless.

I also reiterate what has been said about powerful deterrents. You have to decide who you are dealing with. Finding powerful deterrents for an individual may be quite easy, but for companies such as Sky or Amazon deterrents must have teeth in order to bite. I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Naseby: there comes a point when people should not receive fixed-penalty notices, however big, if they do not obey the law. They should come before a court to explain what they are doing and answer for it. We are talking about potentially dangerous activities.

Lord Berkeley Portrait Lord Berkeley (Lab)
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The noble Lord will remember Christmas a year ago when the drone—or drones—caused so much trouble at Gatwick. The police and the authorities seemed to have great difficulty in identifying the drone and the person controlling it. It is fine to have more police powers, but how will they be able to use them unless there is some form of identification for the drone or the operator?

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Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw
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I think that probably comes down to licensing operators and drones.

My final point is about the disabling of stray drones, or drones that should not be there. I am no expert on aviation, but has consideration been given to the means of disabling drones engaged in criminal activity or straying from where they should be?

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department for Transport

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL]

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Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard)
Monday 10th February 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley
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I have no particular difficulty with the idea of compensating somebody who is being adversely affected by a decision for larger national reasons, but going back to the concern about the Ministry of Defence interests, let us suppose that a Ministry of Defence interest is such that it needs to be accepted. Looking ahead, the Armed Forces will have drones as well as manned airframes. Their needs may be quite unusual compared with the normal. In those circumstances, a decision would have to be taken either in the interests of the Ministry of Defence or the commercial civilian operator concerned. I am not clear how such a decision would be arrived at. Perhaps, once again, the Minister will be able to make it clearer to us all where the Ministry of Defence fits into this type of decision.

Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw (LD)
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During the discussion that the Minister held in Committee Room G, I took the opportunity to talk to the legal advisers to the department, who assured me that consideration was being given to the financial detriment that may arise. How you determine that is quite difficult because if somebody has a detriment, presumably somebody has a gain. It will be a question of offsetting one against the other. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, that this applies also to remote areas of Scotland with access to the very busiest airports, such as Edinburgh—which is much prized by the small places that have one or two flights a week but is considered almost a nuisance by the large airports.

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Moved by
15: Schedule 3, page 21, line 32, leave out “24” and insert “12”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would reduce the time limit on the determination of an appeal from 24 weeks to 12 weeks.
Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw
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I have some experience of the matters in this clause, although not in respect of the air transport industry. As an academic I was involved, over the period of regulation and deregulation, in the activities of the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Bill is about efficiency, and what I am proposing is an improvement in efficiency. I presume that any appeal referred to in new Section 19A should be about competition matters only—I do not see any purpose in referring it to the CMA if it is about anything else—but the Bill allows it 24 weeks to consider the appeal. As I understand it, it has a very small panel of its members that considers aviation matters. These people ought to be known and put to work quickly. The pace of work of the CMA in some cases is such that a snail would be envious that it can go so slowly. I believe there is a strong case for saying that it should come to a decision within 12 weeks of a matter being referred to it. It should have its members, of whom there are a large number, at the ready. There are usually three or four of its members that consider a case and they should give it immediate attention. These people are drawn mostly from the academic community, for which time is something that can be spent lavishly, shall I say? I think this matter demands immediate action. The Bill is about efficiency; let us impart a little efficiency to this. I beg to move.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, for introducing this amendment.

Schedule 3 introduces the new process by which the Competition and Markets Authority—CMA—may consider appeals against decisions by the CAA to modify conditions in the licence to provide air traffic services. The provisions in this schedule enable the licence holder, airlines and certain airports that are materially affected by the CAA’s decision to modify a licence condition to appeal that decision. The provisions also deal with matters including who may appeal, the grounds on which appeal may be allowed, what steps the CMA may take when it determines an appeal, the time limits for determination of appeal, and the publication of the appeal determination.

These appeal rights are essential to ensure that the CAA is accountable for its decisions and to safeguard the interests of the licence holder and others whose interests are materially affected by the CAA’s decision-making. As set out in the Bill, the CMA is required to determine an appeal within 24 weeks of the day the CAA publishes a notice of the decision that is subject to the appeal. This is in line with appeals relating to licences covering the economic regulation of airports in the Civil Aviation Act 2012. That is why we selected 24 weeks as a guide. The CAA may extend the appeal period, up to a maximum of a further 12 weeks, but only if there are good reasons. The CAA may also extend the appeal if there is a parallel appeal in the Competition Appeal Tribunal which the CMA considers to be relevant. Again, this is the same as under the Civil Aviation Act 2012.

I point out that the 24 weeks is already a shorter timescale than the CMA usually operates when it is dealing with price-control appeals from other sectors. I feel that we have settled on a good middle ground with 24 weeks. The Electricity Act 1989 allows the CMA six months to determine an appeal, and that is from the date that the permission to appeal is granted, not the original publication of the decision itself.

Permission to appeal to the CMA must be given within six weeks. If it were to be made at the latter end of that six weeks, and there was then an appeal, in the worst-case scenario the CMA would have only 18 weeks to grant permission, consider and determine an appeal, and so we feel that 24 weeks is entirely appropriate. However, if, in due course, we feel that the CMA is being a bit tardy, as the noble Lord suspects it might be, the Government are able to change the time limits for appeals and for the processes within the appeals. These can be made at a later date, perhaps once some appeals have been considered under the powers in new Section 19A(1) and paragraph 25 of new Schedule A1. I hope that, based on my explanation, the noble Lord feels able to withdraw his amendment.

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton
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We have been discussing the Bill with the CMA. We are talking about appeals to modify the conditions in the licence of the single air navigation service provider which is dealing with the upper airspace. Therefore, we do not expect to keep the CMA particularly busy and are not aware that it would have a shortage of resources.

Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw
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I thank the Minister for that reply. I was suggesting simply that there were areas where economy was possible. The Government say that they are committed to economy. I suggest that they look at this very seriously. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 15 withdrawn.

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL] Debate

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Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL]

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Report stage & Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords
Thursday 21st January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw (LD) [V]
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My Lords, there is a real and strong disagreement within your Lordships’ House. There are those whom I would call almost the “free enterprise at all costs” people, such as the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. They would have very little and ineffective regulation of the system. Then there are those who are being cautious about the fact that this is a rapidly developing industry, while we know that some part of the industry is in the hands of the most unscrupulous people.

I do not accept the assertions of the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, that a police constable is going to interfere with people whom he knows are legitimately carrying out proper business of this sort, such as looking at bridges or buildings. These people will, or should, be registered in a separate register of those who have legitimate reasons to fly drones. Those who do not have a legitimate reason should, in many cases, be subject to the full force of the law because much of what they are doing is illegal.

The other thing is that drones can be a big nuisance factor. We will come on to that in a later amendment, when we talk about areas of outstanding natural beauty. But in her approach to this, the Minister should think about people who are legitimate drone owners—those who are licensed and registered with the CAA, and presumably the local police or enforcing authority—and those who probably should not be let near drones, and are using them for nefarious or criminal activities. However, in considering this amendment, it is important to say that this industry is developing very quickly. The thought of it proceeding on its way with a formal system of being able to review the way it is turning out, probably fairly often, seems a sensible precaution.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab) [V]
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I will direct my comments to Amendment 14 but will listen carefully to the Minister’s response to all the points made in respect of Amendment 15.

Amendment 14, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, would require the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament a review of legislation relating to unmanned aircraft and whether it provides sufficient protection to individuals. The amendment also sets out a number of issues to which such a review should refer but to which it should not be restricted. The review would be required to make a recommendation on whether the Government should bring forward further legislation in the light of its findings.

Unmanned aircraft—drone—technology is developing fast, and the Government need to ensure that they are proactive, not reactive, when it comes to legislating, where necessary, to reflect developments in this technology and the expansion in the use of drones in the public services, by the Armed Forces and in both the commercial and leisure sectors, as well as by those whose priority may not be operating drones safely and responsibly.

As has been said, unmanned aircraft offer great benefits to society but can also lead to significant areas of concern. Emergency services are utilising drones to save lives, and parcel and freight companies, for example, look to use drones to deliver vital medical supplies as well as day-to-day purchases. Unmanned aircraft are now used in many industries to carry out work that is potentially hazardous for human beings or can be done much more quickly or thoroughly by the use of drones. They are also used by the police, as we have seen during the current Covid-19 crisis and the associated lockdowns—an aspect to which the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, referred.

However, there is another side, as we saw from the drone sightings at Gatwick Airport not so long ago, which resulted in flight cancellations and diversions affecting many thousands of passengers. It led, I believe, to a COBRA meeting being convened and the Army being called in, and it also highlighted the urgent need for this Bill, which nevertheless has been going through this House at a snail’s pace and still has to go through the Commons.

We have to be in a position to be sure that legislation keeps pace with developments in the increasing use, and, most importantly, potential misuse, of unmanned aircraft, as they become more sophisticated and powerful in what they can do and for how long—as well as in their range and areas of activity, not least the monitoring of civilians, and in relation to who uses them. As the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, also said, drones are used for criminal activity as well.

There is a need to ensure that legislation continues to provide sufficient protection to individuals and that this does not get overlooked in this developing field of technology. There needs to be a mechanism for ensuring the continued adequacy and appropriateness of existing legislation, including this Bill, in a field of activity that is expanding and moving forward and will continue to do so with some rapidity.

It is not sufficient to say that legislation will be kept under review: there are so many areas nowadays, across so many departments, where the Government tell us that legislation is kept under continuous review. We need something in the Bill to ensure that, in such a fast-developing field as unmanned aircraft and the uses to which they are put, regular reviews of legislation take place, covering, but not limited to, the specific points referred to in the amendment. It is equally important that Parliament has a clear role in the review process, which is also provided for in this amendment. Amendment 14 has our support.

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I apologise to noble Lords and particularly to the Minister for reading all that out—in fact, it may well be in her brief. Noble Lords might think that it seems to be quite good as far as it goes, but I cannot see any particular sanctions that can be taken if these directions are ignored. I would like to see something that gives real discouragement to those who seek to ignore the directions. Perhaps my noble friend can explain what happens if an aeroplane flies too low over one of these areas without good cause. I look forward to her reply. I beg to move.
Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw (LD) [V]
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I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Randall, has raised this matter, because it is of considerable concern to many people—those who enjoy areas of outstanding natural beauty and, for example, those who run the National Trust. I, too, would like to know what sanctions are available to people who own such areas of land if it becomes apparent that aircraft are not keeping to the guidance provided by the various air traffic orders.

Therefore, I intervene simply to second what the noble Lord, Lord Randall, has said. I believe that the mechanisms are there, but what I really want to know is what happens if the rules are not obeyed and what can be done about it.

Baroness Randerson Portrait Baroness Randerson (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I welcome the raising of this fresh issue. I have had representations from residents in Shropshire about a sudden unexplained increase in aircraft noise in their area. In this case the noise was undoubtedly caused by civilian flights. People who suddenly find themselves underneath flights by the Air Force and the military often understand the need for those, but they may be more concerned about civilian commercial flights.

Even the local councillors could not find the cause. They could not discover where the flights were coming from, or why there had been a sudden increase. Was a new airline operating from a nearby airport? Were the schedules, or the destinations, different? They could not find the answer, and then along came the pandemic, and there was no longer a problem. However, that does not mean that the problem has disappeared for ever, or that it will not be back in the reasonably near future.

Even if that problem does not return in Shropshire, that would not undermine the important principle behind the amendment. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Randall, for tabling it. Areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks are subject to numerous protections in terms of planning, the natural environment, and the agriculture that can take place within them, but, as I understand it, there is no protection from aircraft noise.

The Bill threatens to make the present vulnerability of such places worse, because airports will now be required to surrender their spare airspace. There might be an airport very close to an AONB but not operating over it simply because there is no commercial incentive to use that route. But now airports are to be asked to give up their spare airspace for use by general aviation, which means that our skies will be even more crowded.

This is an interesting development, at a time when the Government are keen to burnish their environmental credentials. I recommend that they look into this and see whether they can use their new powers to deal with the problem of noise. I urge the Minister to take seriously the suggestion in the amendment that flights below 7,000 feet should be controlled, and allowed only in certain situations.

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL] Debate

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Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill [HL]

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Consideration of Commons amendments & Lords Hansard
Tuesday 20th April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I am pleased to support the Commons amendments as technical changes necessary for the functioning of the Bill. The aviation industry is critical to the UK economy, and since any recovery will no doubt be prolonged, I hope the Bill will provide legislative backing for a modernisation strategy that supports that recovery. Any restructuring must be supported with a transitional strategy, for workers and our regional economy, that capitalises on the opportunity to grow industries in green technology. I look forward to the House revisiting this in the future. I am grateful that the noble Baroness, Lady Vere of Norbiton, has engaged with the Opposition Front Bench during the passage of the Bill. I also thank all those from across the House who have taken part in its stages.

Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I too would like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Vere, for her gracious apology on behalf of the department for its omission. Of course, I accept that the amendments are necessary and, like the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, I thank all the people who have been associated with the Bill during its fairly long passage. I hope it may now pass into law.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB)
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My Lords, I too support these amendments. Finally, this Bill, which started its passage through Parliament in January 2020 is to reach the statute book. I am sure that, with a justified sense of pride and relief, the Minister and all those in her Bill team, who worked so hard to achieve this outcome, deserve the commendation received from all sides of the House.

It is a piece of legislation that will not stand still. The announcement that the CAA has approved trials of beyond-visual-sight operation of drones will need to be reflected in the instructions for policing unmanned aircraft presently set out in this legislation. That process will continue, I hope smoothly, as technology and experience help to chart the way ahead. Meanwhile, I join in commending the efforts made to enact this important business, for air traffic management in particular.