House of Lords
Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
My honourable friend the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries has today made the following Statement which, as was requested by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, places copies of the draft British Waterways Board Transfer Scheme and the draft Waterways Infrastructure Trust in the Library of the House.
In advance of the forthcoming debate on the draft British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012, I am placing in the Libraries of the House a copy of the draft British Waterways Board Transfer Scheme 2012 and a copy of the draft Waterways Infrastructure Trust.
If Parliament approves the Transfer of Functions Order, it will, when made, transfer the statutory functions of the British Waterways Board in England and Wales to the Canal and River Trust. The transfer scheme will come into force in conjunction with that order and will be made under Section 23 of the Public Bodies Act 2011. It will divide and transfer the property, rights and liabilities of the British Waterways Board between the Canal and River Trust, the Canal and River Trust Community Interest Company-Canal and River Trading CIC-and the British Waterways Board, as it continues to operate in Scotland.
As a default provision, except where provided for elsewhere in the transfer scheme, all property, rights and liabilities of the British Waterways Board will transfer to the Canal and River Trust. This is to ensure that the British Waterways Board, when operating solely in Scotland, is not unexpectedly burdened with liabilities. Schedules 1-3 list the division of property between the recipients.
The British Waterways Board, operating solely in Scotland, will receive all of the property, rights and liabilities relating to the activities of the British Waterways Board in Scotland as well as a portion of the British Waterways Board's cross-border contracts. The division of assets between the Canal and River Trust and the British Waterways Board, when operating solely in Scotland, was agreed by the UK Government and the Scottish Government through a disaggregation process. The draft transfer scheme was also made available to the Scottish Parliament during their consideration of the Transfer Order. The Scottish Parliament gave its consent to the draft Transfer Order on
The transfer scheme will divide the commercial property assets between the Canal and River Trust (in England and Wales) and the British Waterways Board, operating solely in Scotland, and will provide for their respective transfer.
In England and Wales, the transfer scheme will transfer the heritage infrastructure to the Canal and River Trust to be held as permanent endowment in a specially created trust, the Waterways Infrastructure Trust. We intend to settle the Waterways Infrastructure Trust on the Canal and River Trust as sole trustee. I am also placing in the Library a copy of the draft Trust Settlement, which will be executed in due course as part of the overall transfer process.
The Canal and River Trust will be charged with safeguarding the infrastructure of the waterways on behalf of the nation. The canals, towpaths, locks and other parts of the waterways are to be looked after for the benefit of future generations and the Waterways Infrastructure Trust will ensure this happens.
The Waterways Infrastructure Trust ensures that all of infrastructure property (as defined in the trust) is held as a permanent functional endowment. This means that the Canal and River Trust will not be able to sell any part of the infrastructure property without gaining the Secretary of State's and in some cases the Charity Commission's prior consent. Before granting such consent, the Secretary of State will hold a public consultation.
The Trust Settlement also requires the Canal and River Trust to grant free pedestrian access to the towpath (except in certain very tightly defined circumstances and again with the prior consent of the Secretary of State, following public consultation).
Under the transfer scheme, certain assets will be moved directly to the Canal and River Trading Community Interest Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canal and River Trust. The Community Interest Company will receive the property, rights and liabilities for its trading activities which, under charity law, have to be kept in a separate vehicle from the charity itself.