Minor and consequential amendments

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 21 March 2017.

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Question proposed, That the schedule be the Fifth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West

May I ask the Minister briefly to give us a bit of an explanation of schedule 5, because I cannot see it in the explanatory notes—maybe I have overlooked it—and it runs to nine pages, covering various things such as limitation periods, which are rather important? Can he briefly talk through the nine pages of schedule 5, which of course come under clause 24?

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Department for Transport)

Why be brief? The Bill introduces a new framework for the Transport Act 2000 governing the new licensing regime for regulation of the provision of air traffic services. Without making the “minor and consequential amendments” detailed in part 2 of the schedule, we would not have a coherent new licensing regime.

With one exception, all the consequential and minor amendments are made to provisions of the Transport Act 2000. Most of the amendments amend the Act to ensure that the nomenclature is aligned and compatible with the new legislative framework. A couple of the amendments introduce specific aspects of parallel modern licensing frameworks, for example to ensure that the regulations can make anti-avoidance provision in the event that there are attempts by a regulating entity to avoid proper oversight. Part 2 of schedule 5 also amends a single provision in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, to ensure that the Competition and Markets Authority can properly determine appeals against civil aviation authorities’ licence modification decisions.

Without making these minor and consequential amendments, we would not have a coherent limitation regime in effect across Great Britain, for example, regarding automated vehicle accidents. Inserting provisions into the Limitation Act 1980 provide a clear new time limit on actions regarding automated vehicle accidents. Automated vehicles bring together two existing limitation regimes: product liability and personal injury. Although the measures do nothing to change those regimes, they could potentially conflict with each other or cause confusion where automated vehicle accidents are concerned. The amendments will avoid uncertainty arising from the difference between the existing limitation periods relating to product liability and personal injury.

Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West

The Minister is much more expert than me, but the way I read it, it seems that the wording of schedule 5 means that the existing personal injury limitation periods take precedence over the consumer product liability limitation periods. There is a clash and it has to be resolved one way or the other. My understanding is that schedule 5 resolves it in favour of the personal injury limitation period, rather than product liability. Will the Minister confirm that, or perhaps tell me that I am misunderstanding it?

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I think that that is right. If it is not, I will correct that in writing. That is how I read it too. I will double-check and if that is not the case, I will correct that point subsequently.

Similar changes are being made to the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 to take account of specific limitation powers in Scottish law, calibrating the measures across Great Britain. Schedule 5 will also insert provisions into the Road Traffic Act 1988, which extends the compulsory motor insurance requirements for third party risk to cover automated vehicles. That will include the disengaged driver, where the accident takes place when the vehicle is in automated mode. Without that change, our new liability framework could not function properly.

With that brief, but I hope sufficient, explanation of the first and second parts of schedule 5, I hope we can move on with alacrity and in the spirit that has prevailed so far.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 5 accordingly agreed to.

Clause 25 to 27 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

We now come to new clause 1. As neither of the signatories to the new clause is present, that new clause falls.

We now come to new clause 2, with which it will be convenient to consider new clause 8. However, the signatories to new clause 2 are not in the room, so that falls, and we will take new clause 8 in order after new clause 7, as that has been tabled by the Opposition Front-Bench team, who are present. We now move on to new clause 3.

New Clause 3