HC Deb 16 June 1937 vol 325 cc450-4

7.35 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, in page 22, line 19, to leave out, "or of the water-tube type."

I am glad to say that I once again appear in a role of moving to strengthen the requirements of the Bill. When we were drafting the Bill we had an idea that it would not be necessary to have this particular type of alarm on a low pressure boiler, but we have since had representations that it is desirable and is usually done. Therefore, we wish to strengthen the Bill by this Amendment.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I have been assured by my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short), who is an ex-boiler maker, that the proposals made by the Home Office are a great improvement on what has prevailed hitherto.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Lloyd

I beg to move, in page 22, line 31, to leave out Sub-section (3), and to insert: (3) No person shall enter or be in any steam boiler which is one of a range of two or more steam boilers unless—

  1. (a) all inlets through which steam or hot water might otherwise enter the boiler from any other part of the range are disconnected from that part; or
  2. (b) all valves or taps controlling such entry are closed and securely locked, and, where the boiler has a blow-off pipe in common with one or more other boilers or delivering into a common blow-off vessel or sump, the blow-off valve or tap on each such boiler is so constructed that it can only he opened by a key which cannot be removed until the valve or tap is closed and is the only key in use for that set of blow-off valves or taps."
This, again, is a concession to a point raised in Committee by the hon. Member for Batley and Morley (Mr. Brooke). Hon. Members who were on the Standing Committee will remember the technical point about the blow-off pipes and the provision of a special type of key which can only be abstracted from the lock when the valve is closed, and that there should be only one key for a set of blow-off valves or taps. We have been into the point since, and we propose to strengthen the Bill in the manner we suggest.

Amendment agreed to.

7.38 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, in page 23, line 4, at the end, to insert: Provided that, in the case of any range of boilers used at the date of the passing of this Act in a process requiring a continuous supply of steam, any stop-valve on the range which cannot be isolated from steam under pressure need only be examined so far as is practicable without such isolation, but this proviso shall cease to have effect as soon as a reasonable opportunity arises for installing devices to enable the valve to be so isolated and, in any case, at the expiration of a period of three years from the passing of this Act Hon. Members who were on the Standing Committee will recall that there was considerable discussion with regard to the precautions that should be adopted in regard to ranges of boilers and the stop valves in use on them when the boilers have to be in continuous use. Certain undertakings were given in Committee, and it is as a result of an examination by the Department that this proviso has been drafted. The Amendment is drawn, I believe, in exact fulfilment of the general sense of the Committee upstairs.

7.39 p.m.

Mr. Gibbins

Will the Lord Advocate say what he would term, "a reasonable opportunity"? If steam is required for half-a-dozen boilers working together a valve might not show an actual defect, but if under continuous working it goes, there will be a serious accident. The practice is usually to knock off one or two boilers and examine them while the other four are working. In that case the two that are knocked off can be isolated. Where that cannot be done, however, the Amendment says that an external examination will pass muster. I think that the Bill ought to lay down a specified time and not allow the valves to continue working indefinitely with only an external examination. A period of three years is allowed in the Amendment, but that is too long. When the Bill comes into operation you may have a boiler which has been going for some time, and if it is three years before it is isolated for a proper examination, a serious accident may occur.

The Lord Advocate

There is an overriding time limit of three years, and we are advised that that is a proper time limit. If, however, before that period expires the chance arises of putting the whole range of boilers out of action, advantage must be taken of the opportunity to instal the proper devices to isolate the valves. I can only say that our technical advisers think that three years is a proper period, but as soon as the chance arises of putting the range of boilers out of action, the three years' limit will not be applicable.

7.42 p.m.

Mr. David Adams

Speaking as a practical person, it seems to me that there should be no necessity for the period of three years being in the Amendment. That will give scope for negligent people who do not want to be troubled or do not want to have a boiler out of action and want to keep their expenditure to the lowest level, to leave the valves as they are to the end of the period of three years. Everyone knows that steam valves and other valves are very liable to be worn away with great rapidity. It is a question of the type of chemical which is passing through them. I have known cases where even new valves have had to be renovated at the end of three months. If the Lord Advocate could cut out reference to three years and leave it "as soon as a reasonable opportunity arises" it will be a greater safeguard.

7.43 p.m.

Mr. H. G. Williams

I want to express some surprise that this type of matter is in the Bill at all. This sort of technical stuff should not find a place in an Act of Parliament, but should be the subject of regulations made under the Act. Circumstances change and the design of boilers is constantly undergoing change, yet here we are putting all sorts of technical stuff in an Act of Parliament, and it may be 30 years before we have another such Measure. I contrast what has been quite properly done from time to time in the regulations in connection with road transport, in which the Minister is able to prescribe factors affecting design of vehicles from the point of view of safety. It is amazing that technical stuff should be put in an Act, instead of power being taken by the Secretary of State to make regulations with the knowledge that he can conveniently alter them from time to time when changing technical circumstances show that it is necessary to make an alteration in the regulations. I am afraid it is too late to press this protest any further, but I must express great surprise at the procedure.

Amendment agreed to.

7.45 p.m.

The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, in page 23, line 5, to leave out "The person making."

This Amendment ought to be considered in conjunction with the four Amendments which immediately follow it. The Clause requires that the examination of a boiler shall be made in two stages, once when the boiler is under pressure and once when it is cold. As the Clause was drafted it required that the same person should carry out both examinations, although that was not intended, and the sole purpose of these five Amendments is to make it clear that the two parts of the examination may be carried out by different men, because we are advised that there is no objection to that course and it is only common sense to allow it.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 23, line 7, leave out "first examine," and insert "consist, in the first place, of an examination of."

In line 9, leave out "then," and insert "secondly."

In line 10, leave out "again examine it," and insert "of an examination."

In line 11, after "pressure," insert: and the two parts of the examination may be carried out by different persons."—[The Lord Advocate.]