Clause 23 - Constables

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 11th February 2003.

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Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport) 3:45 pm, 11th February 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 64, in

clause 23, page 11, line 19, after 'Force', insert

'appointed in England or Wales'.

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

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 36, 65, 66 and 67.

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

At present, in England and Wales, Home Office police constables make an attestation under the Police Act 1996. In Scotland, police constables make a declaration under the Police (Scotland) Act 1967. Attestations and declarations are oaths made by persons who have been appointed as a police constable. In England and Wales, constables attest that they will serve the Queen, uphold human rights and preserve and prevent all offences against people and property. In Scotland, constables declare that they will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of constable.

Clause 23 provides that the authority shall appoint constables, and clause 24 provides that the authority can appoint special constables. Both clauses apply the existing attestation and declaration used in the respective countries to BTP officers and special constables.

The amendments are necessary to make it clear that the clauses apply the declaration or attestation to BTP constables, depending on where they are appointed. Amendments Nos. 64 to 67 make it clear that a single attestation or declaration by a BTP constable will be sufficient; he will not need to make both. For example, when a BTP officer in Scotland is appointed, he will make a declaration under Scottish law. He will not then need to make an attestation under the law of England and Wales should he need to cross the border. Thus, a BTP constable will have the powers and privileges of a constable throughout Great Britain by virtue of clause 29(1). Amendment No. 36 solely concerns the BTP constable's declaration under the Police (Scotland) Act 1967. At the moment, clause 23(4) refers to special constables. That is incorrect. The amendment ensures that BTP constables appointed in Scotland will make a declaration.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Minister moved the amendments very eloquently in the briefest possible fashion. If the amendments are necessary, and if they are so good, why were they not incorporated into the Bill at an early stage? The Minister must have known of the situations that the amendments address. Can he explain why they have been tabled at this late stage?

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

Because the amendments make the law better and clearer.

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

In that case, the amendments make the law even clearer.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 36, in

clause 23, page 11, line 22, leave out 'special'.

No. 65, in

clause 23, page 11, line 22, after 'Force', insert 'appointed in Scotland'.—[Mr. Spellar.]

Clause 23, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.