After section 56

Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill: Final Stage – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:37 pm on 29th March 2006.

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Amendment 7 not moved.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

Amendment 8, in the name of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, is in a group on its own.

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

In the interests of public safety and the environment, no driver of a vehicle in Edinburgh is entitled to drive in excess of 40mph. Even then, the speed limit is 40mph on a limited number of strategic roads. By the same criteria, it is desirable that trams endanger neither the public nor the environment. To take one example, in the corridor between Roseburn and Granton, which I have walked along recently, many men, women and children use the current walkway, often with domestic pets. Even with a fenced-off walkway, a tram that is going at 50mph could increase the risk of an inadvertent collision or have an adverse impact on the environment.

I accept that safety is the responsibility of Her Majesty's railway inspectorate, but a 40mph speed restriction would be likely to reduce noise levels, which would benefit the environment. What is most convincing in that connection, relating to speed levels, is paragraph 434 of the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill Committee's second report, which confirms that the speed limit's being reduced or restricted to 40mph would add only two seconds to the journey time.

I move amendment 8.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative 2:45 pm, 29th March 2006

Thank you, Presiding Officer—I nearly called you "Speaker".

Although I am a member of the Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill Committee, the views that I express are not those of the committee. During the committee's deliberation, I felt that 40mph would be a sufficient operating speed in the Roseburn corridor, given the corridor's natural heritage and leisure uses. The papers with which the committee was provided suggested that sole discretion for imposing such a limit would be based on safety and lay with HMRI. On that basis, I accepted that it would not be possible to include the 40mph limit in the bill.

However, I have changed my mind since I examined documentation on the matter. I emphasise that I regard a 40mph limit to be of benefit to the environment of the Roseburn corridor and not necessarily related to the safety aspects that HMRI addresses.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I am not surprised that Phil Gallie was tempted to call you "Speaker", Presiding Officer—he knows that that area of policy is reserved, but perhaps he thought that he was in another place.

Does Phil Gallie agree that the primary purpose of amendment 8 is to set a speed limit? If that is the case, the matter is reserved. I would expect somebody with his credentials to recognise that.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

No. As far as I can see, HMRI sets speed limits that are based on safety considerations; I suggest that amendment 8 would introduce a speed control for environmental reasons. The 40mph limit would not only limit the tram operators within the Roseburn corridor but would be set around the system. However, I can think of no area other than Roseburn where the tram would be likely to exceed 40mph.

The impact of trams going through the Roseburn corridor will be significant. The committee decided that, for the overall good, we should go along with use of the corridor, but that anything we could do to reduce the trams' impact would be of benefit. By setting a 40mph limit, we would certainly benefit the environment, particularly with respect to slipstreaming: when a large vehicle passes cyclists or walkers in close proximity, there is bound to be an impact, which constitutes an adverse impact on the environment. On that basis, I suggest that Lord James Douglas-Hamilton's amendment 8 be agreed to.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I believe that, in another place, David Cameron was accused of "flip-flopping"; Phil Gallie appears to have caught the same disease. I point out that the committee was unanimous on the proposed speed limit and that Lord James's amendment 8 raises a matter that is clearly not within Parliament's competence.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

No. It is important that I explain as simply as I can why amendment 8 is not within Parliament's competence. The setting of speed limits was a matter of concern upon which the committee heard a fair amount of evidence. As a consequence of that evidence, we took advice from HM railways inspectorate, which is now part of the Health and Safety Executive. HMRI confirmed that it is responsible for approving safety on tramways and helpfully set out the criteria that apply. If members require it, I can narrate the lengthy list of matters that it takes into account. I will spare the Parliament from that.

HMRI has advised us that, in practice, there is on-going dialogue between it and tramway operators as part of the approval process that is set out in the Railways and Other Transport Systems (Approval of Works, Plant and Equipment) Regulations 1994. Her Majesty's railway inspectorate and tramway operators tend to reach consensus on maximum speed limits. However, there is a final regulatory backstop under which HMRI has powers to impose maximum speed limits. Section 45(1) of the Transport and Works Act 1992—which I know members have read avidly—enables the Health and Safety Executive to give to any person who carries on an undertaking that includes the provision of transport services on a tramway a direction that imposes maximum speed limits at which vehicles that are used on the system may travel.

Generally speaking, section 117 of the Railways Act 1993 brings section 45 of the Transport and Works Act 1992 within the ambit of the health and safety regime that is operable under part 1 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In terms of section H2 of part II of schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, part I of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is a reserved matter. Put simply, the setting of maximum speed limits for the operation of tramways is not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. It is a matter for Westminster.

Because of that advice, we accepted that amending the bill to set a speed limit would serve no purpose. If we did so, the measure could be struck down as being outwith Parliament's competence. Naturally, we did not let the matter lie—we discuss speed issues in paragraphs 422 to 437 of our report. I commend those paragraphs to the member, and, in particular, our conclusion at paragraph 434, which states:

"The Committee would recommend the promoter considers reducing the maximum requested speed limits operating for tram Line One along the length of the Roseburn Railway Corridor".

We note that a speed reduction from 46mph to 40mph—the level that is suggested in amendment 8—would increase run time by a mere two seconds, so we commend our conclusions to the promoter, as well. We believe that the committee has already—quite cleverly—made the required point. It captures the spirit of Lord James's amendment, but his amendment is not legislatively competent, so I ask him to seek to withdraw it.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. If Jackie Baillie's argument on the legislative competence of Lord James's amendment is correct, why was it accepted for debate? My understanding is that amendments are screened for legislative competence before they are presented to Parliament for a decision. Is that the case in relation to this bill, or is it not?

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

No. Legislative competence is not a criterion of admissibility. The chair will always attempt to give Parliament the fullest chance to debate a matter of some interest.

I ask Lord James to respond and to indicate whether he wishes to press his amendment.

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

I would like to press my amendment.

First, Phil Gallie is perfectly entitled to change his mind on the matter. If he did so, he would have the full support of President Abraham Lincoln

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

I ask the member to let me finish what I am saying.

Former President Abraham Lincoln said—

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

Again, I must ask members to keep private conversations down so that we can hear.

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

President Abraham Lincoln said:

"I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday."

With regard to legislative competence—

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

I want to proceed. I will give way briefly, but the member has had his say.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

I make the point to Lord James that I did not flip-flop on the issue. I was consistent in my argument in committee, but I was persuaded wrongly with information that was given that I should—

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

I thank Phil Gallie.

On Jackie Baillie's point about legislative competence, my amendment 8 was cleared by the clerks, who act impartially. I merely emphasise what the amendment seeks to do: it seeks to place a responsibility on the undertaker—in this case, the City of Edinburgh Council—to restrict the speed of trams to 40mph. I accept that it might be for others to set the overall speed limit, but it is entirely competent for us to place that restriction on the undertaker, who would be obliged to observe it regardless of whether a higher limit had been set elsewhere.

I can say only that we were all elected to fight for the best interests of our constituents. I would be aggrieved if that right was to be taken away by spurious arguments about legislative competence, which do not apply within Parliament.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

For clarification, are you pressing amendment 8?

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The question is, that amendment 8 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

I suspend the meeting for five minutes to allow members to come to the voting consoles.

Meeting suspended.

On resuming—

Division number 1

For: Aitken, Bill, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brownlee, Derek, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gorrie, Donald, Johnstone, Alex, MacDonald, Margo, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McLetchie, David, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Scott, John, Tosh, Murray
Against: Adam, Brian, Arbuckle, Mr Andrew, Baillie, Jackie, Baird, Shiona, Baker, Richard, Ballard, Mark, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Finnie, Ross, Gibson, Rob, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Gordon, Mr Charlie, Grahame, Christine, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, John, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Swinney, Mr John, Wallace, Mr Jim, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The result of the division is: For 17, Against 79, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 8 disagreed to.