Clause 68 - Exercise of functions by Secretary of State

Part of Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 27th February 2003.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport) 9:45 am, 27th February 2003

That is all very interesting. The Under-Secretary will be aware that under section 36 of the 1996 Act there is no residual power for the Secretary of State to take over the running of a police force that is failing in its duties. However, it establishes a general duty on the Secretary of State to exercise his powers in a manner to promote efficiency and effectiveness. I do not envisage it being the case, but if the British Transport police ever reached a stage where they were deemed to be failing in their duties, what would the Department's reaction be? What are its powers under existing legislation and is it envisaged that it would ever take on an increased role?

I am slightly disappointed by the Under-Secretary's reaction to the serious representations made throughout the responses to the consultation paper on this part of the Bill, which related to the policing aspect alone. The theme in those responses was that while those duties have already been exercised hitherto, as the Under-Secretary explained, the Bill goes much further. We have analysed individual clauses where that is the case, given the Secretary of State's new potential powers for centralising. The representations that we have read and have some sympathy with arise from alarm bells ringing among organisations, but they appear to have fallen on deaf ears. How does the Under-Secretary respond to those concerns?