Clause 83 - Crown application

Water Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 21 October 2003.

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

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

My point is similar to the one that I just made. In new section 27A(4), the Secretary of State reserves the right to limit the power of entry exercisable in relation to what is specified in the certificate, and I entirely understand why that might be desirable. What procedure will be followed when entry for environmental reasons would normally be deemed to be desirable but is prohibited for security reasons? What about the problem that would have necessitated entry in the first place?

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am a little quizzical about that point because the clause deals with the exemption of Crown bodies. Its intention is to bring them into the scope of the Reservoirs Act 1975 and to render them formally subject to the Act's safety regime, so the powers of entry are extended to them. That is the simple explanation.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

I understand that, but it appears that an exclusion is given—[Interruption.] There is a lot of talking; I hope you can hear me, Mr. O'Hara. New subsection (4), which gives the general power to bring Crown premises into the scope of the Act, is welcome, but an exclusion is given for security reasons. That is how I understand the proposal, although I may have misread it.

In the minority of cases where it is deemed inappropriate for entry to be given, what will happen when the need for entry is otherwise identified? What procedure will be followed to deal with the problem that would have necessitated entry in the first place? I hope that the Minister can clarify the matter.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hon. Gentleman is right. New subsection (4) deals with national security. A site may fall within the powers of the Act, but for reasons of national security the Secretary of State can declare that the powers of entry do not apply. Because these are Crown estates and Crown bodies, in circumstances where there is a matter of security the site is likely, though not certain, to be a Ministry of Defence property. If there were a need for access to carry out duties under the Bill, it would be a matter for negotiation between the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State at the Department concerned.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 83 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 84 ordered to stand part of the Bill.