Clause 41 - Regulations: further appeal

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 13th February 2003.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Minister used a helpful example in his explanation of clause 40. For the purposes of clarification, can he confirm that clause 41 relates specifically to disciplinary procedures? He said that the Secretary of State is being given the power to

make regulations in relation to disciplinary procedure. That is not immediately clear from the Bill. The clause refers to regulations being able to

''confer jurisdiction on a court or tribunal.''

If jurisdiction is conferred on a court, that would presumably come under one legal basis—perhaps the Police Act 1996. However, if jurisdiction is conferred on a tribunal, I presume that it would be on a different legal basis. What legal basis would that be?

Which disciplinary tribunal would handle disciplinary action against a senior officer? Does the provision relate primarily or exclusively to disciplinary procedures? What legal basis would confer jurisdiction on a court or a tribunal, and what would be the implications of those two decisions? Presumably, if it were a serious disciplinary offence, the court could hand out a more severe penalty and possibly pass sentence. However, if the jurisdiction were conferred to a tribunal, would the penalty incurred be lower?

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 2:45 pm, 13th February 2003

The previous clause provided a system whereby the authority could make regulations for the Government's operation of the British Transport police. Generally, the authority would be able to take the Home Office regulations and, with the agreement of the BTP, create a modified version for the force. If necessary, we have the powers for the Secretary of State to intervene if appropriate.

Clause 41 mirrors sections 50 and 84 of the Police Act 1996, which provide for the Home Secretary to make regulations for the process of disciplinary appeals. The Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999 establish procedures for cases in which a member of a Home Office police force may be dealt with by dismissal, requirement to resign, reduction in rank, fine, reprimand or caution. As with regulations for police equipment, it is more appropriate for the Secretary of State to make the regulations than the authority.

Clause 41(2) could cover a disciplinary offence, but not exclusively; a tribunal such as an employment tribunal might be involved and would handle the matter in a different way from a court.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am grateful for that clarification, but I am still at sea regarding the legal basis. Does the Minister propose to draft such a regulation? Is there an existing regulation in force applying to industrial tribunals generally? Is there a tribunal relating to police disciplinary matters? When the hon. Gentleman clarified the matter when we debated clause 40, he referred to ''primary regulations'', as used by the Home Secretary when making regulations for police forces. Will he clarify for the Committee the status of a primary regulation, as opposed to a secondary regulation?

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

It would be the regulation that the Secretary of State makes under section 41(1).

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.