Motion to Consider
My Lords, this draft order will devolve competence to the Scottish Parliament so that it can enact legislation about certain safety measures in relation to all dedicated school transport in Scotland. I will give the Committee a brief explanation of how the draft order achieves this and why it is felt to be an appropriate and sensible use of the powers under the Scotland Act 1998.
The draft order is made under Section 30(2) of the Scotland Act 1998. Section 30(2) provides a mechanism whereby Schedule 4 or Schedule 5 to that Act can be modified by an Order in Council, subject to the agreement of both the UK and Scottish Parliaments. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, will recall that we debated a similar order on the Floor of the House last week.
The draft order will amend Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 to make an exception to the road transport reservation in Section E1 of Schedule 5 to that Act. The amendment will devolve power to the Scottish Parliament to legislate in relation to the regulation of the description of motor vehicles, by reference to their construction and equipment, which are used to transport pupils and students in Scotland to and from places where they receive education or training, such as schools and colleges.
There is an ongoing petition before the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee that calls for provision to be made to ensure that every school bus in Scotland is installed with three-point seatbelts for every school child passenger and to ensure that proper regard is given to the safety needs of the children. Although it is the Scottish Government’s current position that the specific terms of dedicated school bus contracts are matters for individual local authorities, in an approach consistent with the petition I have just mentioned, Scottish Ministers have indicated that they intend to introduce legislation with the aim of ensuring that it becomes a requirement for seatbelts to be installed on all dedicated school transport in Scotland. This order will confer legislative competence on the Scottish Parliament to allow them to do so.
Once again, the order demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to working with the Scottish Government to make the devolution settlement work. I hope the Committee will agree that this order is a reasonable use of the powers in the Scotland Act 1998. The draft order has passed Committee stage in the Scottish Parliament and we expect that Parliament to conclude its scrutiny by 19 March 2015. The other place is expected to consider this draft order in two weeks’ time. I commend the order to the Committee and I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the Minister and his staff for making sure that I was kept informed. He mentioned last week’s debate on the Floor of the House. Perhaps in future he should consider a joint invitation to the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, to come along and liven up the proceedings. That would probably put the Minister in the position that he would expect—and get—the Labour Party to ride to his rescue, as we did last week.
The Minister is absolutely right: this is continuing support for the devolution settlement, which I am glad the current Government are continuing. He has outlined it. There is no need to go over it again. We support the order.