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House of Lords Hansard
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Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill [HL]
04 July 2018
Volume 792

Commons Amendments

Motion

Moved by

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That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 1 to 11.

1: Clause 2, page 2, line 40, at end insert—

“(d) for a number of permits determined by the Secretary of State to be available for grant in cases in which the Secretary of State considers it inappropriate for provision made under paragraph (c) to be applied, for example because of an emergency or other special need.”

2: Clause 2, page 3, line 2, leave out from “permit,” to end of line 3 and insert “including provision specifying—

(i) when an application is to be made, or that the time when an application is to be made is to be determined by the Secretary of State;”

3 Clause 13, page 9, line 2, leave out subsections (3) to (5)

4: Clause 14, page 9, line 31, leave out subsections (3) and (4)

5: After Clause 19, insert the following new Clause—

“Trailer safety: report

(1) The Secretary of State must prepare a report on the number and causes of road traffic accidents occurring in England, Wales or Scotland during the reporting period which—

(a) involved trailers, and

(b) caused injury or death to any person.

(2) The report must contain an assessment of whether—

(a) regulations under section 13 should provide for the compulsory registration of relevant trailers;

(b) regulations under section (Trailer safety: testing regulations) should be made.

(3) The report must be laid before Parliament within the period of one year beginning with the day on which this section comes into force.

(4) In this section—

“relevant trailers” means trailers which are kept or used on roads and—

(a) if constructed or adapted to carry a load, weigh more than

750 kilograms when laden with the heaviest such load;

(b) otherwise, weigh more than 750 kilograms;

“reporting period” means a period determined by the Secretary of State, which must be a continuous period of at least 12 months ending no earlier than 18 months before the day on which this section comes into force.”

6: After Clause 19, insert the following new Clause—

“Trailer safety: testing regulations

(1) Regulations may provide for periodic testing of the construction, condition or safety of relevant trailers.

(2) The regulations may amend provision made by or under Part 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

(3) The regulations may, in making consequential or other provision as mentioned in section 23(1)(a), amend any Act (whenever passed or made).

(4) No regulations under this section may be made before the report is laid before Parliament under section (Trailer safety: report).

(5) In this section, “relevant trailers” has the meaning given by section (Trailer safety: report)(4).”

7: Clause 23, page 13, line 35, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

“(3) A statutory instrument containing any of the following (with or without other provision) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament—

(a) the first regulations under section 1;

(b) the first regulations under section 2;

(c) the first regulations under section 13;

(d) the first regulations under section 18;

(e) the first regulations under section (Trailer safety: testing regulations);

(f) other regulations under section (Trailer safety: testing regulations) which amend an Act.”

8: Clause 24, page 14, line 8, leave out “Section 11 extends” and insert “Sections 11, (Trailer safety: report) and (Trailer safety: testing regulations) extend”

9: Clause 26, page 14, line 25, leave out subsection (2)

10: Schedule, page 15, line 34, at end insert—

“4A In section 90A(2) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (offences in relation to which a financial penalty deposit requirement may be imposed), in paragraph (a)(i), after “vehicle” insert “or trailer”.”

11: Schedule, page 16, line 1, at end insert—

“5A In Article 91B(2) of the Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/1320 (N.I. 10)) (offences in relation to which a financial penalty deposit requirement may be imposed), in sub-paragraph (a), after “vehicle” insert “or trailer”.”

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My Lords, on Amendment 1, alongside the Bill, we are developing regulations relating to the issue of permits for hauliers, which will be laid before Parliament later in the year. These regulations will apply to all existing permit schemes as well as those we may need as part of our future relationship with the EU.

Amendment 1 would enable the regulations to specify that the Secretary of State would be able reserve a limited number of permits. In the unlikely scenario that the UK has a limited number of permits to allocate to hauliers, it is sensible for the Secretary of State to retain a proportion of the available permits to deal with emergencies or other special needs. This would allow the Secretary of State to issue permits in cases where the criteria prescribed in regulations may not be suitable.

Amendment 2 gives the Secretary of State the flexibility to determine when applications must be made, ensuring permits are issued fairly and efficiently. The timing and consideration of applications is likely to differ depending on the country to which the haulier is travelling and the type of permits available. In some cases, where demand is low and permits are likely to be undersubscribed, applications will be accepted and considered throughout the year. In others, where demand is high and the number of permits is limited, applications will need to be made within a specified period for consideration against the relevant criteria to be made in a fair and objective manner. The amendment will enable the administration of applications to take into account the different requirements for different types of permit, which will give the haulage industry flexibility.

Amendments 3 and 4 relate to trailer safety. During consideration in this House, the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, tabled an amendment on producing a report on trailer safety and to make subsequent recommendations on an extension of compulsory registration and periodic testing to all trailers weighing over 750 kilograms.

Department officials held productive discussions last week with the light trailer and trailer equipment group, a specialist group that sits under the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, and we will be consulting other stakeholders as this work continues. Trailer safety is a complex issue and the insight of stakeholders will be valuable alongside the use of extensive data as the department considers it.

After further consideration of these amendments, it was determined that there was scope for clarifying the new provisions. Accordingly, Amendments 3 and 4, made in the other place, remove the clauses and replace them with Amendments 5 and 6. Amendment 5 sets out the detail of the report. There are no substantive changes to the original amendment and policy intention. The changes we have made are technical in nature.

Noble Lords may note that this new amendment does not include Northern Ireland. The regulation of road traffic is devolved, and it would therefore be inappropriate for the trailer safety report to make specific policy recommendations to apply to Northern Ireland.

The drafting of the new amendment replicates the original clause, with reference to the number and causes of accidents involving trailers which caused injury or death to any person, but removes “comprehensive” as it is potentially ambiguous. It is important for this amendment to be made to the Bill to ensure that the duty placed on the Secretary of State is clear and can be fulfilled. To be clear, this by no means limits the data that may be included. After the report has been published, Amendment 6 would allow the Secretary of State to extend the existing system for periodic testing under the Road Traffic Act 1988 instead of the Bill. Although this is different from the original amendment, I stress that it in no way changes the intention. It will avoid any overlap with the existing regime and provide greater clarity to trailer users and flexibility in how any testing regime could be applied should a recommendation to extend periodic testing be made.

Amendment 7 relates to the powers we have taken under Amendment 6 to amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 and to make consequential or other changes to any Act. In the interests of parliamentary scrutiny and transparency, the first regulations made under the trailer safety testing regulations would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Additionally, any other regulations made under Clause 23 which amend another Act must be subject to the affirmative procedure.

Amendment 8 confirms that Amendments 5 and 6 extend only to England, Wales and Scotland, for the same reasons referred to earlier. Amendment 9 removes the privilege amendment and is a procedural technicality.

I turn to Amendment 10. As I am sure noble Lords will be aware, road traffic offences are often dealt through the issuing of a fixed penalty notice, which is a fine that must be paid within a set period. This is a pragmatic and effective alternative to prosecuting every road traffic offence in court, and fixed penalty notices will be used to enforce the haulage permits and trailer registration regimes. However, fixed penalty notices are not always effective against non-UK drivers as the notice can be ignored by those who will not return to the UK. The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 allows a constable or vehicle examiner to require a driver without a UK address to make an immediate payment or their vehicle may be immobilised. This is known as a financial penalty deposit and payment can be required for,

“an offence relating to a motor vehicle”.

The amendment will ensure that such deposits can also be required for trailer registration offences, making enforcement against UK and non-UK drivers equally effective.

Finally, Amendment 11 makes the same change as Amendment 10 but to equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland: the Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. This change is made with the agreement of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

These amendments made in the other place bring clarity and enhance the original intent of the Bill. I beg to move.

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My Lords, I thank the Minister for the care and tolerance that she has shown during the passage of the Bill, which is considerably improved. It is far from perfect and I greatly regret the fact that we need it, but it is a lot better than it was when it first came to us.

I will say two or three things about the amendments. On Amendment 1, I remain concerned about the concept of a limit on the number of permits. It reflects a very old-fashioned view of trade and commerce. We no longer live in a world where people know what their business practice will be in three or six months’ time, in many cases. There is a limited attempt to refer to,

“an emergency or other special need”,

but I fear, as the Minister implied, that with permits being issued once a year, if you miss your opportunity, you will have to wait for the next year. I accept, however, that this is where Brexit appears to have brought us: back to an attempt at an old style of doing things.

Going on to Amendment 5, on the trailer safety report, I am pleased to see that, according to subsection (1) of the proposed new clause, the report will investigate the causes and not just the number of accidents involving trailers. I am pleased about this because initial information is that the majority of accidents involving trailers are caused by human, not mechanical failure. That human failure is usually either incorrect hitching or incorrect loading of the trailer. Can the Minister confirm that the final report will consider how to reduce accidents caused by human error?

To follow on from that, on Amendment 6, the proposed MOT-style test needs to be supplemented by better training and public information. Currently, the National Caravan Council is working with Highways England, which is developing guidelines on the safe use of trailers. I would urge the Minister that this needs to have a formal place in the process and also needs to belong not just to Highways England but the devolved Administrations as well, because guidelines on the safe use of trailers are of crucial importance wherever you live.

Finally, on registration, I ask the Minister to keep in mind an issue I raised earlier in our debates about the CRiS registration scheme, which is already well established and developed by the National Caravan Council. I urge the Government not to reinvent an established process but to work with the council to incorporate that scheme into their plans.

I welcome these amendments and thank the Minister again for her help.

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My Lords, I also welcome these amendments. I share the noble Baroness’s concern about the method of allocation of permits, but I think that we have gone as far as we are going to get on that one. I was particularly interested in the Minister’s comments about Amendments 5 and 6, which she said did not apply to Northern Ireland. I thought the whole point of trailer registration, in Part 2 of the Bill, was that it was a necessity to have trailers registered in case there was a need for any trailer to go outside the UK on to the continent, or into the EU, following Brexit, which of course would also apply to the Republic of Ireland. My logical mind therefore thinks that, if a trailer cannot be registered in Northern Ireland, it cannot leave Northern Ireland—or the UK—for the European Union, which means it cannot go across the border to the Republic.

Notwithstanding that, in Amendment 11, if a driver does take a trailer into the Republic that is registered in Northern Ireland—which apparently it cannot be—they can still be fined. This seems slightly illogical because, if I were a trailer owner in Northern Ireland and not able to register it and therefore go into the Republic, that would not seem quite right to me. Can the Minister explain where I have got it wrong or whether there is something more that needs to happen?

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My Lords, I agree with much of what the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, said, but I also that we have gone as far as we can in those areas. On government Amendments 5, 6, 7 and, I think 8, my research assistant, Catherine Johnson, who drafted the original amendment passed in your Lordships’ House, assured me that the Minister has accepted your Lordships’ amendment but put it in her own words. Accordingly, we support the government amendments and thank the Minister for her efforts.

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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for participating in this short debate and for their support for the amendments. As ever, the scrutiny and analysis of noble Lords has improved the Bill—in particular, on the important issue of trailer safety. The points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, will be covered by the report, and we will work closely with the devolved Administrations. On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, Amendments 5 and 6 relate only to the trailer safety report; the rest of the Bill applies to Northern Ireland.

Throughout the passage of the Bill, the Government have been clear that our priority is to maintain and develop liberalised access for commercial haulage as part of our future relationship with the EU. It is in no one’s interest to put up barriers to trade, and we will seek to agree a reciprocal deal that allows hauliers to continue to travel freely between the UK and Europe. I agree with the view of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, on limited permits. We are confident that we will secure a liberalised approach and avoid the need for any new documents or processes—or, at a minimum, that all hauliers who seek a permit can get one. However, as a responsible Government, we are preparing for all outcomes through the Bill.

Motion agreed.