Clause 2 - Meaning of ''railway accident'' and

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 4th February 2003.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport) 8:55 am, 4th February 2003

I beg to move amendment No.21, in

clause 2, page 1, line 16, after 'property', insert

'or property adjacent to railway property'.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:

No.1, in

clause 2, page 1, line 17, at end insert—

'(1A) A serious accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of a train or rail infrastructure in which—

(a) a person, whether employee, passenger or third party, suffers a fatal or serious injury; or

(b) a train sustains damage or structural failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance or characteristics of the trains, and would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component.

(1B) A non-serious accident and railway incident both mean an incident involving circumstances indicating that an accident nearly or potentially occurred.'.

No.22, in

clause 2, page 1, line 17, at end insert—

'(1A) A serious accident shall be deemed to have occurred in circumstances in which—

(a) the operation of a train or collision with railway property has caused a fatality or serious injury involving an individual, whether employee, passenger or third party; or

(b) {**/ri**}a train or railway property sustains serious damage or structural failure which adversely affects the operations or the structural strength of the trains or railway property which would require a major repair or replacement of the train or closure of the railway property.

(1B) A non-serious accident and railway incident are deemed to have occurred in circumstances in which an accident nearly or potentially occurred.'.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

The purposes of amendment No. 21 are broadly similar to those of the previous amendment . It is designed to specify more tightly the definition of property, which should include reference to ''adjacent to railway property''. The items of a rail disaster would not spread out over as wide an area as the horrifying fall-out of the US shuttle—rail accidents tend to be more localised—but it would be helpful to specify that properties adjacent to railway buildings are included, which would lend further weight to the investigator's powers of investigation.

Amendment No. 1 arose from a far-ranging and excellent debate on Second Reading, in which the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Lawrie Quinn) spoke powerfully about the lack of definition in the Bill of what counts as an accident or an incident.

In his introduction to the Second Reading debate, the Secretary of State mentioned that a degree of latitude would be given to the rail accident investigation branch in deciding which types of accident should be investigated. Members of the Committee will have had the opportunity to study the detailed briefing provided by the Royal National Institute of the Blind on the sort of accident that may not lead to a fatality or serious injury, but may still be significantly harmful to individuals. For example, someone with an eye infection or, like the Under-Secretary, with a streaming cold may be deprived of normal vision. He may be only temporarily impaired, but could easily trip over a step on accessing a platform. It would significantly reassure such a person if the Government allowed such incidents to be deemed worthy of investigation.

I shall leave the hon. Member for Bath to speak to his amendment, but amendment No. 22 is designed to press the argument that non-serious accidents and

incidents should be deemed to have occurred and be viewed as potentially significant in certain circumstances. Following the scenario through, someone tripping on the platform could roll on to the track and cause a serious accident. The amendment is designed to elicit the Minister's clarification of how far-reaching the RAIB's discretion will be.

The Secretary of State said on Second Reading:

''The whole point in having a rail accident investigation branch is precisely in order to get an explanation of what happened as quickly as possible.''—[Official Report, 28 January 2003; Vol. 398, c. 766.]

He went on to say that that was the purpose of setting up the body. We should enable the RAIB through clause 2(1) to decide precisely what type of accident should be investigated.

We believe that a serious accident should be deemed to have occurred where

''the operation of a train or collision with railway property has caused a fatality or serious injury involving an individual, whether employee, passenger or third party''.

The Potters Bar crash was the first occasion on which I saw vividly the consequences of a railway carriage collision, but only last week disaster was narrowly averted on the Central line when a railway carriage collided with a tunnel on entering a station. The Secretary of State alluded to the fact that the RAIB would have been authorised to investigate those two accidents, but it would be far better if the Bill included such a definition.

Our amendment goes on to specify

''a train or railway property sustains serious damage or structural failure which adversely affects the operations or the structural strength of the trains or railway property which would require a major repair or replacement of the train or closure of the railway property.''

We believe that that is a fairly concise definition, but it would help the RAIB and the investigators if the Government said what a serious or non-serious accident or railway incident should be.

Again, in response to the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby, the Secretary of State said that there would be

''sufficient latitude under clause 6 to allow the chief inspector to take a decision as to whether or not he ought to investigate.'' .''—[Official Report, 28 January 2003; Vol. 398, c. 772.]

I humbly submit that it is not sufficient to leave that to clause 6. We need a clear and concise definition. With the Potters Bar and Central line accidents in mind, we propose amendments Nos. 21 and 22 as probing amendments that would strengthen the Bill. Indeed, the Minister's hon. Friend, the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby, pleaded with him to include a concise definition.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 9:15 am, 4th February 2003

I thank the hon. Lady for her introduction to her amendments. We, too, were impressed by the compelling arguments made by the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby on Second Reading. However, it is not enough to leave the issue to clause 6 on the assumption that it somehow resolves the problem. Clause 6 is clear about what the RAIB may or may not do. It states:

''The Rail Accident Investigation Branch

(a) shall investigate any serious railway accident,

(b) may investigate a non-serious railway accident or a railway incident, and

(c) shall investigate a non-serious railway accident or incident if required to do so by or in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State.''

In other words, the distinction between a serious railway accident, which the RAIB is required to investigate, and a non-serious railway accident or incident, which it might or might not investigate, is clearly important. I am delighted that the Secretary of State told us on Second Reading that the RAIB will be given a fair degree of latitude in what it investigates. Nevertheless, unless we have clear definitions of what the terms mean, it will be difficult for us to know exactly what is in the Government's mind on clause 6.

The Minister will rightly tell us that the air accident investigation branch and the marine accident investigation branch do not have detailed definitions in their legislation, and that definitions of this sort in relation to their work are covered by regulations. However, we are again in some difficulty because we do not yet have even draft regulations to give us some idea of what is in the Minister's mind. The probing amendments are important in helping to tease out from the Government exactly what definitions they have in mind.

In a spirit of openness and honesty that might surprise hon. Members, I must say that I am now rather more taken with the hon. Lady's second amendment than I am with my own. She is right to refer to properties adjoining the railway, as we can all imagine several accidents or incidents that might result from, for example, an electricity power line near a railway. Nevertheless, as the hon. Lady has said, these are probing amendments intended to give us a more detailed insight into the Government's thinking. We hope that the Minister will at least tell us when we will see draft regulations.

Either now or during the debate on clause 6, it would be helpful to hear a little more about the Government's thinking on the degree of latitude that is to be offered to the RAIB. As I pointed out on Second Reading, the air accident investigation branch quite rightly believes that it is important to investigate potential incidents, such as near misses. We can learn a great deal from those. Similarly, on the railways there could be investigations into the sort of incidents referred to by the hon. Lady, who mentioned that the Royal National Institute of the Blind has provided information.

The hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby was on to an important point when he said that we need some clear indications about definitions. I am not too concerned whether that happens in regulations or the Bill, so long as we are given an early opportunity to know what will be in the regulations, if that is the route that is followed.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I am grateful to the hon. Members for Vale of York and for Bath for explaining what the amendments seek to address. I hope to show that we have taken into account what they seek to achieve and that there would be some difficulties in including such things in the Bill at the moment.

Amendment No. 21 would extend the remit of the RAIB beyond the railways, which the Government believe would be unnecessary. Lord Cullen recommended that the fundamental aim and objective of the RAIB should be to improve the safety of the railways and prevent railway accidents and incidents. The RAIB will establish the root causes of railway accidents and incidents and, equally importantly, will share safety lessons with the industry as quickly as possible so that safety can be improved and future accidents prevented. Of course, it is possible that an accident elsewhere might affect the operation of the railway. We see that reasonably regularly. Smoke from an office, factory or warehouse fire might blow on to a railway track and impair a train driver's visibility and might even, as we have seen, stop the train. An accident on property adjacent to the railway might involve objects falling on to the track. The hon. Member for Bath mentioned the possibility of a power line; a real example tragically occurred when a Land Rover was involved in the Selby disaster.

However, if such occurrences result in a railway accident, the RAIB will already have the power to investigate. It does not make sense for the RAIB to investigate the office or factory fire, although the Health and Safety Executive might undertake such investigations in order to improve safety in offices and shops and on industrial premises.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Let us take the example of a railway employee, working to repair the roof of a railway station, who falls and sustains injuries. If that did not have a direct impact on the running of the railway, presumably the matter would be investigated—rightly—by the Health and Safety Executive, which could bring to bear its expertise from other similar incidents. That is why definitions are important. They rule out, as well as ruling in, incidents and accidents that can be covered by the RAIB.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman has helped us with his example of people falling from roofs. When I was a trade union official we conducted a campaign on the dangers of asbestos and someone wrote in to say that the union was absolutely right to undertake the campaign and that he could testify to the dangers of asbestos because when he walked across an asbestos roof he fell through and broke his leg. He suggested that people should therefore be aware that asbestos was extremely dangerous.

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. The Health and Safety Executive has the expertise to deal with such issues, which are properly within its remit. The RAIB will consider matters that have an impact on the operation of the railways. I realise that there will be grey areas in which jurisdiction will need to be considered. That is inevitable in the running of such a complex system. I hope that I have explained why we believe that amendment No. 21 is unnecessary.

We agree that there is a need to define what accidents the RAIB will be under a duty to investigate.

The hon. Members for Vale of York and for Bath referred to draft regulations. However, hon. Members will know that we have to ensure that domestic legislation complies with European legislation. The European Council and the European Parliament are currently debating a proposed railway safety directive, which will provide a framework for a consistent approach to independent accident investigation in all member states. We should all welcome that.

The directive will include definitions of what constitutes a serious accident and an incident. The precise definitions in the draft directive remain under discussion, but the current draft definitions are significantly different from those proposed in amendments Nos. 1 and 22. If they were accepted, we would find ourselves needing to amend primary legislation all too soon. I can assure hon. Members that we plan to set out detailed definitions in the regulations that will be published shortly after Royal Assent, but they will need to be compatible with definitions agreed at European level.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport) 9:30 am, 4th February 2003

In my prior life, I was a Member of the European Parliament. We used to take part in that sort of negotiation; I sat on a committee that did so. In that respect the European Parliament is the co-decision maker with the Council of Ministers. Can the Minister convince the Committee that the Government is being a little more proactive than he has suggested? I would like the Government to take our definition to Europe. It could be a definition of the official Opposition or the Government. Europe works best when it is offered a practical and pragmatic approach, often by Britain. I hope that the Minister will take my criticism in good heart. It is wrong that we should lie back and think of whatever Europe comes up with. We should tell it what we believe the definition should be.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I thought that the hon. Lady was going to suggest that we lie back and think of Europe.

I was going to outline the current draft definition of ''serious accident'' in the railway safety directive. That specifies events that would be subject to mandatory investigation by an independent investigation body, as proposed in the Bill, in all member states. It reads as follows:

''Serious accident means:

a) accidents caused by collision or derailment of trains, resulting in at least one killed person or five or more seriously injured persons . . . or extensive damage to rolling stock, the infrastructure or the environment and with an obvious impact on railway safety regulation or the management of safety''.

''Extensive damage'' means damage that can immediately be assessed by the investigating body to cost at least €2 million.

Given that definition, the suggested amendments are unlikely to comply fully with the forthcoming European legislation, particularly in relation to incidents resulting in environmental damage or damage to track and signalling. Such incidents would need to be covered by the definition of serious accident, which we would need to incorporate in domestic legislation. On that understanding, I hope that the hon. Member for Vale of York will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

This has been a fascinating discussion, and I realise that the hon. Member for Bath and I have made one omission. We have not considered the worst-case scenario to which the Minister alluded—environmental damage. For example, there may be a chemical spill. I would like to put the Committee's mind at rest. Hawkhills, the civil service emergency planning college, is located in the Vale of York, and help is at hand. I am sure that even as we speak, the college is considering such a scenario.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Bearing in mind what the hon. Lady has rightly said about our joint failure to refer to environmental damage, does she feel that the definitions introduced by the Government on the back of European legislation would cover some form of terrorist incident on a freight train carrying munitions or radioactive materials? Such an incident might not lead to a collision or a derailment, but would nevertheless be serious.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I hope that the British Transport police, whom my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) rightly commended highly—we all have cause to be grateful to them—are on the case as we speak. I imagine that they are. I share the concerns of the hon. Member for Bath, and it is most generous of the Minister to share with the Committee the thinking behind the European definition. On the face of what he read out a moment ago, it seems to include additional aspects to those specified in amendments Nos. 22 and 1. On the other hand, that definition does not cover some of the points that we have raised. I humbly submit that we could return to the matter later.

There are many definitions that one could examine. The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety has come up with a further definition in which an accident is specified as an occurrence connected to the operation of the train or rail infrastructure, and which is not dissimilar to the definition in amendment No. 22. The Minister must take it on board that all members on the Committee want to continue to improve this country's rail safety record. I mentioned the visually impaired. The European definition that is emerging does not in my view go far enough to satisfy the most vulnerable. I shall not press the amendment to a vote, but I ask the Minister to consider three scenarios and take them on board in his negotiations with his European counterparts.

The first is when accidents occur because the gap between the platform and the train is so large that passengers, especially the less able and the visually impaired, are not sure where the platform edge is. They may trip and be injured. The most vulnerable are often the main beneficiaries of rail transport. Many do not have their own means of transport so depend heavily on public transport. The second scenario is where accidents occur because the gap between train carriages is large enough to cause confusion and disaster. RNIB members have been in such situations. The third scenario is where people are worried about getting off the train on the wrong side and ending up on the track rather than the platform. That would probably not happen often now, because most modern

carriages have doors that open electronically, on one side only.

Against that background, I hope that the Minister will take on board our serious points. I do not know whether he wants to comment on amendment No. 21 and on whether the Government would consider a definition that included not only property but property adjacent to railway property, for the reasons that emerged in the Potters Bar incident. There, not only the tunnel was damaged but, I imagine, some adjacent property. Perhaps the Minister will take that on board.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I hope that I have dealt with the issues raised by amendment No. 21. Damage consequential to the accident is a slightly different matter from the causes of the accident, which is the focus of the accident investigation branch.

I thank the hon. Lady for saying that she will not press the amendment to a vote. I hope that I can help by looking at the definition of serious accidents in the directive. There will be nothing to stop member states widening the scope of mandatory investigation in their territory, as long as it complies with the minimum scope defined in the directive. That is open to us under these provisions, and could be done by regulation. A difficulty would be created, however, if we wrote into the Bill definitions that were incompatible with the directive. We would then need to amend primary legislation, and do so quite soon.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I hope that any such regulation would be subject to the affirmative procedure of the House, providing the opportunity further to investigate and amend. Consensus is emerging in Committee, and it would be regrettable if we could not develop it further. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move amendment No. 19, in

clause 2, page 2, line 7, at end insert—

'(3A) Regulations under subsection (2) must be laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.'.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments Nos. 23 to 26.

Amendment No. 20, in

clause 12, page 7, line 18, leave out from 'be' to end of line 19 and insert

'laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.'.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

Before I speak to the amendment, I want to make a point of clarification. I am moving amendment No. 19, which deals with clause 2, but is it in order to speak to clause 12? Having agreed a programme resolution, we were not expecting to take provisions out of order, but we now seem to be in the Government's hands. We are already talking about clause 12.

As was clear on Second Reading, hon. Members are concerned about the extent to which the Government have empowered themselves to amend

provisions. Clause 2(2) empowers the Secretary of State, through regulation, to

''make provision for what is to be or not to be treated as an accident or incident for the purposes of this Part''.

I repeat that the regulations should be approved by resolution of both Houses of Parliament.

I note that the Government amendments leave out reference to orders, so I presume that regulations will be subject to the affirmative resolution of each House. Now would be a good opportunity for the Minister to answer the question to which he earlier failed to respond: will the regulations on what constitutes a serious accident, a less serious accident or an incident be subject to proper scrutiny?

Clause 12 set alarm bells ringing for Opposition Members because of the wide powers it confers on the Government to make regulations. Will the Minister explain why the Government decided to delete the reference to orders in the Bill at this early stage of proceedings? Am I right in assuming that an order is a statutory instrument? The Minister could nod his head and Hansard would enter it into the record.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons)

He is waiting for guidance.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

Perhaps the guidance could come from a provenance that cannot be recorded, but it would be helpful to understand what constitutes a regulation and what an order. We hesitate to empower the Government. My preference is always for primary legislation, whenever possible. The Minister said that it would have been regrettable to adopt amendments Nos. 22 or 1 and have to review and repeal a part of the Bill. Would this be a good moment for the Minister to respond to my question whether a statutory instrument constitutes an order?

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 9:45 am, 4th February 2003

Order. I can advise the hon. Lady that I shall decide who is going to speak. If the Minister wants to intervene, he is welcome to do so. It is not for her to call Members to speak.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

That is most helpful, Mr. Hood. My question was just for clarification.

I repeat that it is our sincere wish—I hope that the Minister will grant us co-operation and assistance—that as much legislation as possible will be in the Bill and as little as possible left to regulation. Can he assure us that Government amendments Nos. 20 and 23 to 26 relate specifically to the definition, which would avoid the eventuality of having to be specific in the Bill, which would not sit comfortably with, and would perhaps contradict, the definition agreed at European level? In a spirit of co-operation, we have agreed a programming motion this morning. I hope that we will still be allowed to consider later in the Bill the implications of clause 12 for clauses 3 to 11.

Any regulations made under clause 2(2) should be kept to an absolute minimum. We seek confirmation from the Minister that that will be the case. The definition that he seeks, which he generously explored with us this morning, will at least touch on some of the points discussed under amendments Nos. 22 and 1.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for explaining the issues that the amendments seek to address. As she said, the group of amendments includes four Government amendments. Government amendments Nos. 23 and 24 seek to correct typographical errors. The clause presently provides for regulations and orders created under part 1. Part 1 does not provide for any orders, and the reference to such ''orders'' should therefore be removed.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons)

I am interested in the concept of typographical errors that recur regularly. To my mind, a typographical error occurs only once. Perhaps the Minister could say that his Department found that it had made a mistake rather than a typographical error.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

Typographers have to take responsibility for a number of areas under all Governments, as the hon. Gentleman will be aware.

As the hon. Member for Vale of York said, Government amendment No. 25 changes the parliamentary procedure for regulations under clause 1(2) from negative resolution to affirmative resolution. Clause 1(2) allows the Secretary of State to amend the definition of ''railway'' or ''railway property'' by regulation. That is a Henry VIII power, allowing secondary legislation to amend primary legislation. As hon. Members may be aware, the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has recently recommended that Henry VIII powers should generally be exercised by affirmative resolution, and the amendment will accomplish that. Government amendment No. 26 confirms that other regulations under part 1 will be made by negative resolution.

The amendments are being proposed to ensure that the part of the Bill relating to the RAIB works well and that it is consistent throughout. However, the other amendments in the group would damage the smooth operation of the RAIB.

Amendments Nos. 32, 19 and 20 would mean that other regulations made under part 1 could be made only by affirmative resolution. The regulations for the RAIB will set out detailed working arrangements for the branch in the same way as civil aviation regulations and merchant shipping regulations. Both the equivalent air accident regulations and marine regulations are made by negative resolution. Lord Cullen recommended that the RAIB should be modelled on the aviation investigation branch. We agree, and can see no reason why the RAIB regulations should not be made in the same manner. As I have said, we intend to publish regulations soon after Royal Assent.

The regulations will need also to reflect the forthcoming European Union safety directive, which will place its own requirements on what accidents and incidents need to be investigated. We shall have to comply with its terms. With that assurance, I hope that the hon. Member for Vale of York will withdraw the amendment. I beg to move formally amendments Nos. 23, 24, 25 and 26.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

Order. The Minister will have the opportunity to move those amendments formally later in the proceedings, not while we are on this clause.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Whip (Commons)

Given the Minister's assurance, can he give a further assurance that all other typographical errors have been checked and that we will not have to come back to such matters later?

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. We always make examinations to ensure that we have the best possible legislation, and I am sure that both sides of the Committee desire that.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

As my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) has suggested, the question is raised of what is a typographical error and what is a mistake. I should hate to be a typographer in the Minister's Department at this time.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Does the hon. Lady believe that clause 103 is the result of a typographical error, or a straightforward mistake by the Government?

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I hesitate to speak for the Government, but I think that we shall have plenty to say on clause 103 when the time comes.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I think that the hon. Member for Bath meant a mistake by the previous Government.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

We admit to having made mistakes, although we did not make too many typographical errors.

I have great difficulty in seeing the difference between amendment No. 20 and Government amendment No. 25. Apart from about two words, their content, drafting and aim are identical. Will the Minister see fit to withdraw amendment No. 25 and instead to accept amendment No. 20?

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

Order. I should advise the hon. Lady that if she wants to be a member of the Chairmen's Panel, and invite people to withdraw amendments, she should see Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

That is an ambition beyond my wildest dreams at the present time, Mr. Hood. I shall store it away for the future. I hope that the Minister, in a spirit of generosity, will accept that the two amendments are very close.

The Minister has inspired me with no confidence whatever in amendment No. 26. Amendments Nos. 25 and 20 seek to address the Henry VIII situation—Henry VIII was a man of many wives, and I am a lady of many dreams. Given the Minister's points on amendment No. 25, I am shocked and stunned by amendment No. 26, which opens a whole can of worms. He failed to specify precisely what other regulations the Government will want to introduce under the negative procedure.

The Opposition are always deeply uneasy at any reference to the negative procedure. I remember how many statutory instruments were passed in the hazy days of 1973, when I was a humble law student, studying constitutional law at Edinburgh university. If one reads a constitutional law book now, some 30 years later, one sees that the number of statutory instruments introduced, especially by negative resolution, has become unacceptable. I hope that the Minister will agree, in a spirit of compromise, to move forward by means of affirmative resolution.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

Our amendment simply deals with the concerns expressed by the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that Henry VIII powers should generally be exercised only by affirmative resolution. However, if powers under secondary legislation are not used to change primary legislation, regulations are most effectively be made by negative resolution, and we have clarified that in Government amendment No. 25.

Amendment No. 20 would go much beyond that. As the hon. Lady rightly said, she is trying to change all procedures to affirmative resolution. Our proposal that that should be the case only for the area that we have outlined takes account of the concerns of the Lords Committee.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I hear what the Minister is saying, but he still has not satisfied us. There is not a great deal that we can do about that at this stage, but I would like him to respond to the specific question of which issues the Government would seek to advance by means of negative resolution. We remain deeply uneasy about Government amendment No. 26, and I imagine that the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee will be uneasy too.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.