Clause 35 - Police regulations: special constables

Part of Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 13th February 2003.

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Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 10:30 am, 13th February 2003

The clause replicates the Home Secretary's powers to regulate the conditions of service for special constables under the Police Act 1996. I, too, pay tribute to the work of special constables. They are few in number, but they provide an excellent back-up to the work of the British Transport police. The regulations must be consistent with Home Office regulations, and they may differ from those only to meet the specific needs of the British Transport police. If the Home Office regulations change, it will be the authority's responsibility to ensure that the non-statutory British Transport police regulations change to fit them. Unlike the Home Office forces, the British Transport police is a national specialist police force; its officers are employees of both the British Transport police authority and holders of the statutory office of constable.

Home Office constables, however, are only holders of the law, as we indicated in our debate on the last clause. The British Transport police are also funded by the railway industry, whereas Home Office forces are funded by direct grants from home Departments and local taxation. The draft legislation cannot be identical in every way to the Police Act 1996, but on the whole that is because of variations for technical reasons, rather than because of their effects.

I am not aware of particular difficulties with recruitment. There are presently difficulties with recruitment in many areas, but the effort is being been made to recruit the people who provide such a valuable service. I assure the hon. Member for Westbury (Dr. Murrison) that that will be reflected in our thinking and in the thinking of the British Transport police authority.

The hon. Member for Vale of York asked whether the regulations would be the same for the specials—clause 35(1)(a) makes it clear that they would be the same.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 35 ordered to stand part of the Bill.