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Level Crossing Orders

Volume 450: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

Level crossing orders are made by the Secretary of State under the Level Crossings Act 1983 and specify the protective equipment (lights, barriers, signs, etc) to be provided at a particular crossing. In practice most orders have been considered and made by Her Majesty’s Railways Inspectorate (HMRI) on behalf of the Secretary of State. With the transfer of HMRI to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) earlier this year we had intended to enter into an agreement with ORR to make level crossing orders on behalf of the Secretary of State, replacing a similar agreement originally entered into in 1990 when HMRI became part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The Railways Act 2005 (for ORR) and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (for HSE) however permit only functions of an administrative nature to be delegated to ORR and HSE, and we have concluded that the making of level crossing orders fails this test because it is a function of a legislative nature. Consequently I have tabled an amendment to the Road Safety Bill which provides for the making of level crossing orders to be delegated to ORR and validates those orders made by HSE since 1990. This will restore the position to what we thought it was, which has worked well over the years.