HC Deb 14 February 1929 vol 225 cc577-9
The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain)

I beg to move, in page 91, line 14, after the word "repair," to insert the word "of."

This is a purely drafting Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 91, line 28, after the word "but," to insert the words "unless otherwise agreed."

The object of this Amendment, which I believe to be a useful one, is to secure that when the events which are pro- vided by Clause 108 take place, the county council and the district council shall have the power to agree as to whether the county council shall take over the liabilities therein referred to. May I remind the House that Clause 108 provides for the transfer of quarries, plant and things connected therewith from the district council to the county council at the request of the district council on the appointed day. Under ordinary circumstances one would expect that if a district council owning a quarry and running the business of a quarry were to transfer this business to the county council, they would transfer also the liabilities incident to that business on contracts already existing. The Clause as drawn provides that while the county council is to take over the quarry from the district council, in no circumstances shall the district council be relieved of any liability contracted in respect of any such quarries, plant, material or depots. That rigidity is a real defect, and might very well lead to the necessity of a modification of the provisions of this Clause, such as is contemplated by Clause 120.

I will give an illustration. Suppose when the county council took over the quarry from the district council, the district council had a contract for the supply of plant for use in the quarry. If the plant has not been delivered and the money under the contract has not been paid, the anomalous position will arise that the contract and the liability attaching thereto remain with the district council, and that council will, as I understand the position, have to pay for all plant that the county council would not want, and which under the terms of this Clause they would not take over. Other illustrations will suggest themselves to hon. Members. It is undesirable, when we are arranging for county councils to take over a quarry from the district council, that any liability attaching to it should in no case be taken over by the county council. If the two councils agree that the liability attaching to contracts shall be transferred with the business of the quarry, why should not that transfer be allowed to take place?


I beg to second the Amendment.


As the Clause is drafted, the county council has to take over the quarry and to pay, of course, the full value, and presumably any liability remaining with the district council will be taken account of in the price that will be agreed on between the two bodies. I am not at all disposed to resist the suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend that there might be cases in which it would be desirable that, by an agreement between the various parties concerned, the liability ought to be passed to the county council. In that case, that fact no doubt would be taken into account in the agreement on the sum to be paid, but I suggest that the Amendment which the hon. and learned Gentleman has put on the Paper is not quite sufficient, because it does not say who are the parties who are to come to an agreement. I do not know what parties my hon. and learned Friend has in mind. Obviously there would be the county council and the district council, but no doubt a third party who ought to be brought in is the party to whom the liabilities are owing. Again, my hon. and learned Friend will probably agree that if permission to make an agreement be introduced, that agreement ought not to refer merely to the whole of the liabilities, but either to the whole or to any part. Some amendment of this Amendment would be necessary, but in principle I am prepared to accept it, and if my hon. and learned Friend will withdraw his Amendment, I will undertake to use what influence I may possess to get an agreement which will carry out his idea and meet the point which I mentioned.


In view of what the Minister has said. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Sir HERBERT NIELD: