Civil Aviation Bill second reading

14 June 2012

The Civil Aviation Bill had its second reading, the first opportunity for members to discuss the main purposes and principles of the bill, in the House of Lords yesterday (Wednesday 12 June).

Earl Attlee (Conservative) started the debate by introducing the bill and emphasising the need to 'reform' aviation regulation established in the 1980's. He explained the main themes of the bill, saying: 'The bill introduces reform in four areas: the economic regulation of airports, the legislative framework of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing scheme, and aviation security.

In preparation for this new bill, Lord Bradshaw (Liberal Democrat) has visited Luton, Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham airports. He spoke about making better use of capacity and competition between airports. He said: 'When Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow were all part of the British Airways Authority there was not much competition between them, but Gatwick has shown that there can be competition. It has 25 per cent spare capacity and could be an effective competitor for a number of services from Heathrow.'

Lord Smith of Leigh (Labour) declared his interest in the bill as a former director of Manchester Airport. He said that spoke about security and the role of the Secretary of State and CAA in running secure airports.

'Manchester is running a pilot of whole-body screening, which may be an important way forward. To be effective, security needs full co-operation between partners and a proper exchange of information about objectives,' he explained. 

A number of other aviation-related topics were also discussed in the chamber. The Countess of Mar (Crossbench) moved the discussion on to the issue of cabin air quality, while Lord Jenkin of Rodin (Conservative) spoke of environmental effects of living close to the Heathrow air flight path.  

About the bill

The bill was introduced in the Lords at first reading on 23 May.

The Civil Aviation Bill makes new provisions for operator regulation at major airports. It focuses on the functions of the Civil Aviation Authority under competition law and in relation to services provided at airports.

The bill will also look at aviation security, regulation of flight accommodation and the Civil Aviation Authority’s membership, administration and functions in relation to enforcement and regulatory burdens. 

What is second reading?

Second reading is the first opportunity for members of the Lords to debate the main principles and purpose of the bill and to flag up concerns and areas where they think changes (amendments) are needed.

Before second reading takes place, a list of speakers for the second reading debate is opened and interested members add their names to it.

The government minister, spokesperson or a member of the Lords responsible for the bill opens the debate.

Any member can speak in the debate so this stage can indicate those members particularly interested in the bill - or a particular aspect of it - and those who are most likely to be involved in amending the bill at later stages.

Second reading debates usually last for a few hours but sometimes stretch over a couple of days.

Next stage: Committee stage

Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of the bill takes place during committee stage. Any member of the Lords can take part.

It usually starts no later than two weeks after the second reading and can last for one to eight days or more.

The day before committee stage starts, amendments are published in a marshalled list - in which all the amendments are placed in order. Amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a list (groupings of amendments) is published on the day.

During committee stage every clause of the bill has to be agreed to and votes on the amendments can take place. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit, or guillotine, on discussion of amendments.

Further information

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