Clause 58 - Inquiry: supplemental

Part of Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 25th February 2003.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport) 3:30 pm, 25th February 2003

The Minister linked clauses 57 and 58. I note with interest that the clause transfers corresponding provisions from section 34 of the Police Act 1997. A fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale presumably reflects the fact of a civil offence, whereas imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks will be deemed to be for a criminal offence. In fact, however, the offence could be considered to be both at the same time. Could the

Minister explain the thinking behind that? Subsection (7) states that a direction under subsection (6) could include provision for taxation of costs. To whom would such an application be made given that cases could be dealt with by either a civil or a criminal court? If the offence were both a civil and a criminal offence, would an application have to be made to both courts?

The Secretary of State is given discretionary power to direct the authority to pay all or part of the costs incurred by a person in connection with an inquiry under clause 57. That is rather curious. Does that accept that the inquiry should not have been brought in the first place and that the person who is being inquired into could have those legitimate costs falling on to them? Subsection (2) reads:

''A person appointed under section 57 may not require the production of a document relating to the title of land which is not the property of the Authority.''

How, if the document relating to the title of land is not produced, do the Government intend to prove to whom it belongs? Obviously this will have occurred under the provisions of the 1997 Act? These provisions could have serious consequences in terms of both civil and criminal offences.