HC Deb 29 July 1935 vol 304 cc2411-3

9.4 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 27, line 2, at the end, to insert: (b) in the case of a drainage board to make, alter or repair any bank in connection with any watercourse; or". This Amendment has been handed in in manuscript form at the request of certain drainage authorities, who want to know exactly how they stand when they have to repair banks in connection with any watercourse. The Minister may say that the Amendment is unnecessary, and, if that be so, perhaps he will be able to make it quite clear to drainage authorities exactly how they stand in connection with the work specified in the Amendment. Otherwise, I hope that, in the interests of the smooth working of the drainage authorities, he will be able to see his way to accept the Amendment.

9.5 p.m


I beg to second the Amendment.

The drainage boards have consulted their legal authorities and, while they are not at all anxious to embarrass the Minister or to injure the Bill, they want to feel doubly sure that in the ordinary course of their repair of any bank or watercourse they will not be obliged to consult the highway authority to secure permission to do what they have always had the power to do previously. The Amendment is moved to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman how his legal experts view the point. Catchment boards have very important duties to undertake, and it would be far better if, before the passing of the Bill, they can be quite sure that there will be no legal quibble and that they well be unaffected and will be able to continue their work. If the right hon. Gentleman can assure us that the words of the Bill cover the point and that catchment boards will not be embarassed in their normal duties, we shall have no hesitation in accepting his word, but the legal experts of the catchment board authorities think that the words in the Bill do not quite cover the point. I hope the right hon. Gentleman can clear it up.

9.7 p.m.


I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for talking while I was trying to discover exactly where the Amendment came in and what it was. A piece of paper was handed to me announcing that an Amendment was to be moved on page 26, and I was a little confused when it came on page 27, and I did not quite hear the words. A drainage board is apparently already permitted to make any excavation that may be necessary for the purpose of repairing a waterworks without consent. The hon. Member's question really is whether it may similarly build up a bank without consent in the ordinary course of its work. I am advised that nothing very serious would arise anyhow, because the drainage authority would get consent from the highway authority. But I should not like to leave anyone in any doubt on the matter. I am advised that the words are not really necessary, but they may remove a doubt, and no objection is seen to them at this minute. I hope I am not committing an error in giving a rapid and decisive answer—I always like to do that—but I do not want the Bill to go through the House leaving a sense of injustice rankling anywhere. Accordingly, I propose to accept the Amendment if the House is agreeable. The words are certainly in themselves innocuous.


It is rather dangerous to have the Bill altered by a manuscript Amendment which none of us has read and none of us understands. Would it not be better for this to be dealt with in less indecent haste in the further stage that the Clause will have in another place? It is a pity to put in something which might alter the whole meaning of the Bill.


If we put the words in here we can still strike them out in another place. If we do not put them in we cannot. I will look very carefully at them. I only want to remove doubt or apprehension.

Amendment agreed to.

9.11 p.m.

Captain HUDSON

I beg to move, in page 27, line 43, at the end, to insert: (2) Nothing in this Act shall affect any powers or duties of the Postmaster-General under the provisions of the Telegraph Acts, 1863 to 1926, and for the purposes of those Acts any underground parking place situate under a street which is provided and maintained under section sixty-eight of the Public Health Act, 1925, shall be deemed to be a subway within the meaning of section six of the Telegraph Act, 1878. This is the usual savings Clause of this kind. It might really have been put in at an earlier stage.

Amendment agreed to.