Heritage Railways and Tramways (Voluntary Work) Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:35 pm on 15 July 2022.

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Photo of Lord Faulkner of Worcester Lord Faulkner of Worcester Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 1:35, 15 July 2022

My Lords, first, I thank all noble Lords for their excellent contributions to the debate. The heritage railway sector will be gratified to learn how many friends and how much support it has: my noble friend Lord Berkeley spoke about the Helston Railway; the noble Lord, Lord Jones of Cheltenham, visited both the Swanage Railway and the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway; the noble Earl, Lord Shrewsbury, went to the Churnet Valley Railway; my noble friend Lady Wilcox of Newport cited the Talyllyn Railway and the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway; and the Minister referred to the Kent & East Sussex Railway. My noble friend Lord Snape reminded us of the pleasures of being a goods guard on steam railways at 4 am before modernisation took over that part of the railway’s operation. He is now, I think, the only former working railwayman in your Lordships’ House and, as a result, deserves to be listened to with particular respect.

It is clear that there is general agreement that the 1920 Act must not be used to prevent young people under 16 working as volunteers. The Minister’s speech was really interesting, because she said that the provisions of this Bill may not be necessary because the provisions of the 1920 Act will never be applied. However, as more than one speaker—including my noble friends Lord Berkeley and Lord Snape—drew the House’s attention to, the Minister did not answer on what will happen should something go wrong involving a youngster working as a volunteer. She referred to insurance but there are other, deeper issues that also need to be looked at. Although I really appreciate her offer to meet representatives from the sector in the autumn—we accept that offer with gratitude and alacrity—we should be looking for stronger guarantees in relation to the 1920 Act than she has been able to give us today, however well-intentioned those have been. I therefore hope that the House will agree to give the Bill a Second Reading as a means of concentrating everyone’s minds on this subject. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.