HC Deb 18 December 1945 vol 417 cc1191-216

Not amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.

New Clause. —(Power of entry.)

  1. (1) During the period of five years beginning with the end of the war period, any officer of an authority responsible. for enforcing a building law or planning control shall, on producing, if so required, some duly authenticated document showing his authority to act for the purposes of this section, have a right, subject to the provisions of this section, to enter any premises at all reasonable hours—
    1. (a)for the purpose of ascertaining whether there are on the premises any works carried out during the war period which do not comply with a building law or with planning control, or whether a use of the premises continues which was begun during that period and does not comply therewith;
    2. (b)where an application has been made to the authority under section two of this Act, for the purpose of obtaining any in formation required by the authority for the exercise of their functions under that section in relation to the application;
  2. (2) Any person who wilfully obstructs any officer of an authority acting in the exercise of his powers under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds—[Mr. Key.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

7.0 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Key)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time." When this Bill was in Committee we were asked to accept a new Clause relating to powers of entry of the officers of local authorities for the purpose of obtaining the necessary information that would be required for the carrying out of the duties imposed on local authorities. We were not able to accept the new Clause that was suggested in Committee, but I gave an undertaking that consideration would be given to it, and that, if it was held to be necessary for the purposes of the Bill, a new Clause would be submitted. We did that. Unfortunately, our suggested new Clause was probably a little too widely drawn and when we brought it before the Committee, objection was raised to it on the ground that, although the Bill dealt with contraventions that had taken place during the war period, and limited the time that local authorities could deal with them to five years after the coming into operation of the Act, our Clause could be held to give power of entry it was claimed, for contraventions preceding the war period, dating back as far as 1870. That interpretation of that first edition of the Clause may or may not have been correct. I admitted at the time that I was in some doubt about it, and further consideration of this Bill was adjourned. Since that time a great deal of misrepresentation of that Clause has occurred, and a lot of wild and foolish statements have been made about an attempt to rush through in the early hours of the morning legislation that was to give power to violate the sanctity of private property and the sacred privacy of the home. It has been called "A snoop Clause" that was another example of the "power to imprison and persecute" for which this Government plots and plans, a Clause which ensures that with the "prying inspector comes the spying, snooping, sneaking, jealous neighbour."

Mr. Willink (Croydon, North)

On a point of Order. Is the hon. Gentleman in Order in discussing a Clause which he withdrew?

Mr. Speaker

This is a new Clause, and the hon. Gentleman was referring to the Clause that it is replacing.

Mr. Key

But there is more that has been said even than that, and I feel bound to draw attention to a particularly scurrilous article, purporting to be a report of the proceedings of this House upon this subject. It was headed as being by the Parliamentary correspondent of the particular newspaper, and it started off in these words: A battle for an Englishman's right to call his home his castle began at i o'clock this morning when Mr. C. W. Key, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, moved a new Clause regarding right of entry on the Report stage of the Building Restrictions (Wartime Contraventions) Bill. The article went on to set out the powers that were asked for in the Clause, powers for Ministry of Health officers—I want that to be noted, not local authority officers—to enter any home at 24 hours' notice to check up on available accommodation—nothing to do with contravention of bylaws—with a £5 fine on the householder if he resisted. Then it went on to say: Mr. Aneurin Bevan, dissatisfied with the number of people who have offered to share their homes with others, and labouring under a belief that the public are "dodging" the building repairs limit, is seeking the power to enter homes under the Building Restrictions Bill. It could be brought into force whenever the Government decided compulsory billeting must replace the voluntary system. Under the proposals, any householder attempting to prevent the officer from entering his house, could be fined £5 on conviction. Should the Minister believe an occupier was spending more than£ 2 a month on house repairs (the legal limit) he would be able to send an officer to assess the amount of repairs carried out. But, not satisfied with that dirty, low-down, distortion of what actually was taking place in this House, the same newspaper published some editorial comment on this matter—

Mr. Speaker

It might be better to get on with the Clause and not deal with newspaper reports of proceedings in this House.

Mr. Key

I feel that the harm and injury done to the business that this House was trying to carry through in this Bill, the doubt and dissatisfaction caused in the minds of a great number of people outside, are really so serious that something ought to be said in this matter, to put an end to these doubts and fears and to make plain exactly what this Bill deals with. Therefore I would like attention to be turned to the truth with regard to this power of entry in the Bill. If hon. Members turn to Clause 6 of the Bill where we deal with the definition of building law, they will find that there are nine different groups of enactments dealt with. The first of them is the Public Health Act of 1936 in Section 287 of which the powers of entry given to officers of local authorities are practically identical in terms with those set down in this new Clause.

I will return to that in a few minutes and show how close is the likeness, but for the moment let us consider the other parts of this definition. Similar powers to those under the Public Health Act are available in the London Statutes that are mentioned in connection with items (b)and (c). The unrepealed part of the Public Health Act, 1875, contains similar available powers in respect of (d), (e) and (g). The local Acts mentioned in (i) in almost all cases will be found to contain parallel powers. That leaves only paragraphs (f) and (h), and here the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932, gave powers of entry in cases of planning schemes, whilst during the interim period the interim development authority, although it has not such a Statutory power of entry, is often the public health authority. These powers have existed for 70 years, and they have been there as a restriction on the freedom of property owners to exploit their tenants. There has been nothing said about people standing in mortal fear of the entry of the sanitary inspector except those persons who were slum landlords and who had something to fear when the inspector really did go in.

Further, I would like to refer hon. Members to Section 287, and I would like them to compare the terms of Section 287 in the Public Health Act, 1936, with the words which we have put down in the suggested Clause. Section 287 begins: Subject to the provisions of this Section, any authorised officer of a council shall, on producing, if so required, some duly authenticated document showing his authority, have a right to enter any premises at all reasonable hours— Then it set out in four paragraphs the purposes, such as ascertaining whether there is, or has been, any contravention of the provisions of the Act or of any bye-laws. I would also draw attention to the Proviso: Provided that admission to any premises not being a factory, workshop or workplace, shall not be demanded as of right unless 24 hours' notice of the intended entry has been given to the occupier. That proves that, far from being some new power which was being sought to penetrate the sanctity of the home, we are here merely repeating the powers which already exist for local authorities to deal with contraventions similar to those that are being. dealt with in this Bill. Why, it may be asked, has this to be repeated here? When the Coalition Government introduced the Bill in May, and when it was re-introduced by us in October, it was thought that these existing powers were really sufficient for the local authorities to carry out the duties that were imposed upon them.

The local authorities, however, took the view that their task under the Bill would be simplified, if, instead of having to give consideration as to whether any, and, if so, what powers of entry were available in each particular case with which they had to deal, that a single new power should be given to them, and, as I have said, an Amendment was put forward in Committee stage which we did not feel then we could accept. We have, however, thought it right to pay regard to the views of the people who have to work this Bill when it becomes an Act. We felt that a self-contained Clause would be a much better way of dealing with it than legislation by reference, especially since existing powers differ in form between London and the Provinces. We have felt that it was wise that we should make quite certain that the Clause shall be limited, clearly and definitely, not only to the purpose of gaining possession and getting information of contraventions that had been carried out during the war period, but that it should be limited to the five years after the war for its operation. Therefore, the House will see that the suggested Clause begins with the words: During the period of five years beginning with the end of the war as the period of operation. It says quite definitely that entry shall be for the purpose of ascertaining whether there have been any contraventions carried out during the war period. Every necessary safeguard has been provided and we know that the powers are essential for the job to be done and, therefore, we hope that the House will readily accept this new Clause in its new form.


Mr. Willink

I think the House must have been a little surprised by the contents of the Minister's speech. The position would seem to be that the local authorities have indicated that there are serious matters concerning which it is desirable they should have proper powers of entry in case there have been contraventions of bye-laws. The hon. Gentleman having sought to introduce at a late stage, and in a very hurried manner, a new Clause, which" turned out to be quite shocking in its irrelevance and in the extent to which it went outside the scope of the Bill, is now, and I think he must have been feeling very much annoyed, if not peevish, about it. Ministers must expect the natural consequences of their acts, and when, in such circumstances, a Clause is introduced extending to every local Act and every bye-law of whatever date, and however far back in the past, and on a Bill concerned with a period of five years after the war extending indefinitely into the future, it is not surprising it should have given some alarm. Let us do what is more relevant, and look at the Clause. It is better than it was. I, speaking for myself at any rate, recognise the point which was first made by the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Mr. Berry) was a sound one—that there should be some appropriate and carefully considered power of entry for relevant purposes. There are defects in the Clause, as it stands, to which, no doubt, there will be an opportunity to call attention in a moment. The matters that had to be cut out of the Clause were matters which ought to give the hon. Gentleman occasion for pleasure rather than peevishness.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Mr. Willink

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 16, leave out "as of right," and insert "or requested."

The House will have observed that in the new Clause, which has just been read a Second time, there is a proviso that admission to any premises should not be demanded as of right unless 24 hours' notice of the intended entry has been served on the occupier. That is the form of words that is to be found in earlier statutes, but we venture to suggest, and to press the point, that it is not as good as it might be, and is not as fair or as wise legislation as we should insist on having. Let us see what the position is. The local authority suspects that in the course of the war period, something inconsistent with planning regulations or with a by-law has been done in a house, and it can claim admission to the premises. But, under the Clause as at present drawn, it cannot demand admission as of right without giving notice. I would have thought, from the point of view of the privacy and sanctity of the home, there were very great advantages indeed in embodying in this legislation, even if it be for the first time, a specific provision that people who arc to be visited and asked to admit officials into their homes should be given 24 hours notice of the visit.

This Amendment is not moved from any hostility to local authority officials. It is moved from this point of view; we all know that year by year there are new techniques for obtaining entrance to houses, and it is the simplest possible procedure to say, "I am from the local authority. We want to have an opportunity of seeing whether there has been my breach of a by-law during the last five years when you were not in the house. We arc not imparting any blame to you at all." What a delightful method of getting into a house—a plausible person representing himself to be a local authority officer, carrying a copy of the Act with him and saying "I know you will not insist on this being a demand as of right. You will not want to give us trouble. I was passing down the street and I thought I would like to take this opportunity of seeing whether there has been a breach of the by-laws." I do not think there is any objection to a simple piece of local government machinery by which such a request, just as much as a demand as of right, is preceded by a postcard 24 hours previously Such a request would be on the notepaper of the local authority. It would be unknown to the person who was desirous of making the criminal entry which I have suggested is a very easy thing to effect, and there would be a very substantial safeguard if the local authority machinery for carrying out the provisions of this Bill included the routine whereby, whether on a voluntary or a compulsory basis, there were notice to householders, before the local government officer came and asked for admission to the house. I cannot see any disadvantage in it. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health will not say, "Look at the Acts passed 10 or 20 years ago; this was not thought of then. Why should it be thought of now? "It is a solid point that we are making, namely that it is a better piece of machinery and a better routine if, with both types of case, the householder were notified in advance.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will regard this Amendment with favour. These words add a tone of moderation, and of politeness and courtesy. If the Parliamentary Secretary does not accept this Amendment, I do not think he would be treating this House quite properly, unless he informs us that he has changed his mind since the Committee stage. I was a Member of the Committee on this Bill, and these are the words that the Parliamentary Secretary used on that occasion when resisting an Amendment of this nature: It purports to give the enforcing authority powers of entry first "— I would like hon. Members to listen to this point— where an application has already been made under Clause 2 and, secondly, where the authority itself proposes to take steps for enforcement. So far as the first of these is concerned, where an application has already been made, as is pointed out, it is necessary that the application should be accompanied by all the necessary information required for the purpose, and therefore the authority is aware of what has to be considered. So far as the second is concerned, according to this Clause the power of entry only begins to operate when the authority proposes to enforce the ' law; but surely the, fact that they propose to do this means that they are aware of the conditions that exist, and have the necessary information upon which to operate. — OFFICIAL. REPORT, Standing Committee C, Tuesday, 13th Nov. 1945, c. 19.] So at that time the Parliamentary Secretary did not want this power which he is now asking the House to give, and he has changed his mind. I will be pleased to hand over to him his own words if he would like to see them. I do not intend to pursue this question further, beyond saying that in regard to this urgent new Clause which has been brought in, the Parliamentary Secretary might very well modify it to the extent of the arguments of my right hon. and learned Friend. I sincerely hope that after listening to his eloquence, the Parliamentary Secretary will be prepared to do so.

Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)

I, too, hope that this Amendment will be accepted, because it is one which I feel sure would be welcomed by the Parliamentary Secretary if he had been consulted upon it. Every hon. Member knows how frequently at one time people were able to effect entry into houses merely on the pretext that they were coming to read the meters and things of that sort, and then to commit criminal offences. If it is provided that there shall be a request 24 hours before admission is required to be made, that will give the ordinary householder a chance of checking up if her suspicions are aroused. We have not yet reached a stage where all representatives of local authorities wear an identifiable uniform, and it only needs a plausible rogue to put forward that pretext to secure admission to all sorts of houses. Therefore, in these days we ought to be careful in extending the right of entry on one excuse, or ground, or another. We have talked quite a lot about entry as of right. I think I am correct in saying—the hon. Gentleman opposite, I hope, will confirm this, if he will give me his attention for one moment —that although this new Clause provides for persons having a right of entry, it in fact gives no right at all of enforcing entry if the occupant objects to give admission to the person who applies for it. I think I am right in saying that if the demand is made within 24 hours, and the occupant of the house refuses to admit him, there is a possibility of a prosecution and a fine of?, but there is no right of enforcing entry into the house of the occupier.

Again I would ask the hon. Gentleman the following question. He says these powers of entry are required, and the Clause refers to entry "as of right,' which are the words which this Amendment proposes to leave out. How are unoccupied premises affected by this Clause? Does this Clause, or any part of it, give any right of entry to unoccupied premises? Has a notice to be given to the owner of those premises under this proviso? I would imagine that the answer to that is in the affirmative, but even if such notice be given, can entry be forced? If the answer is that entry cannot be forced when the occupant refuses, I suggest that that is a strong ground for not using the words "as of right," in the Clause, because they will only mean the same as the words that we propose in the Amendment. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman to deal with that point when he replies.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Sparks (Acton)

I have listened carefully to the arguments put forward from the opposite side of the House. The main case that they appear to make is based on an endeavour to prevent criminal entry into houses or premises, but I cannot discover how the Amendment would prevent a criminal entry. It will not be a safeguard in any respect. If a person intends to make a criminal entry he will endeavour to enter illegally, and it is for the owner or occupier to be satisfied that a person who is about to enter is legally entitled to do so. The Clause as it stands seems clear. There is no demand to enter as of right unless and until 24 hours' notice have been given of the intended entry. Therefore the occupier is safeguarded until he has received 24 hours' notice of entry, and he is entitled to resist the admission of any person, no matter who he may be. Having received the 24 hours' notice, it is the occupier's duty to satisfy him self that the person who will expect to enter at the expiration of the notice is the duly authorised person for that purpose. I have yet to know that any official of a local authority would demand right of entry into premises without being in possession of some credential to prove that he was the bona fide official.

I believe that this Debate is very much a quibble over words. I cannot see any logic or substantial argument for the Amendment. I do not believe that if the Amendment were adopted it would avoid criminal entry or would disperse the danger of criminal entry on the part of any person. It is for the owner to satisfy himself that a person who is about to be admitted is the accredited official of the local authority, and 24 hours' notice is to be given to him to satisfy himself on that point.

Mr. Key

First, with regard to the question of attempted criminal entry, I would point out that Subsection (1) of the proposed new Clause lays it down that an officer of an authority shall, if requested, produce "some duly authenticated document showing his authority to act'' for the purpose. Therefore it is always open to the occupant to see that the person who is pretending to come and do the job is really the authenticated representative of the authority that is responsible for the job. There is certainly no right of forcing an entry, but there is a penalty for people who will not comply with a demand as of right to enter, and for preventing or hindering the duly accredited representative from carrying out his duty.

With regard to the quotation from a statement which I made the other day, it is suggested that I said that this right of entry was not required. 1 would point out that what was being there discussed was a suggested new Clause which seemed to imply that this right of entry was required even for the purposes of Clause 3, under which an individual was taking action to get a local authority to operate, and must therefore have given the local authority the information with regard to the contravention that was in consideration. I was saying that, for that purpose mentioned in the suggested Clause, the right of entry was not required, but that does not mean that it is not required for the other parts of the Bill where the information is lacking.

The difficulty which I am in with regard to the suggested Amendment is one to the full effect of which even the right hon. and learned Gentleman who proposed it has not given full consideration. As I see the Amendment, it would preclude a local authority's officer from entering premises for the purposes of the Bill, even with the consent of the occupier, unless he had given the necessary 24 hours' notice. If he did so go in, even with the consent of the occupier, he would, in law, so far as I can understand it, be a trespasser, and if, as a result of any negligence of the occupier, some accident happened to him, he would have no redress or right of action against the occupier, for such entry before the expiry of the 24 hours' notice. I can see no reason why we should desire to complicate the operations of officials of local government bodies for the purpose of this one Measure, when all parallel Statutory provisions give them power of entry on request, if the occupier is willing to let them in.

There is need for the Clause to afford this power in those cases where the occupiers are not willing to let the representative enter to carry out his duties. It is in the interest of the general body of the public that there should not be unknown contraventions. I want to point out that the purpose of going to find out information of contraventions is that authorities may whitewash whatever has been done that has contravened the byelaws. Therefore it is for the safety and the benefit of the people concerned that officials should have the opportunity of seeing what has been done.

Mr. E. P. Smith (Ashford)

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down may I ask him a question? He has called in aid the part of the proposed new Clause which says: any officer of an authority responsible for enforcing a building law or planning control shall, on producing, if so required, some duly authenticated document showing his authority to act for the purposes of this section, have a right, … May I ask what is the object, in that case, of putting in the words "if so re-required ';?Would it not be very much better if, when anybody presented himself at a householder's door to do the inspection necessary, he were compelled instantly to produce his authority and not to wait for a request by the occupier?

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Would the Parliamentary Secretary answer the point I made about the effect of this proviso with regard to admission to unoccupied premises? What is the use of demanding, as of right, entry to unoccupied premises?

Mr. Key

He demands it as of right—

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Of whom?

Mr. Key

—of the owner of the premises.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The words of the Clause are "on the occupier."

Mr. Key

If there is no occupier, he must necessarily take what steps he can. At the present time local government officials know pretty well who is the owner of premises; they take the necessary steps and get their entry. With regard to the production of an authenticated document if so required, it must be remembered that sanitary inspectors and other officials of local governments are, in a great number of cases, very well known to the occupiers of particular premises, and they are freely given the right to enter, because they are known. A new officer, however, as is shown by my 25years' experience of local government work, is very often asked to show his authority on his first visit, but, when he becomes known, he is not asked, and therefore there is no necessity to put it in.

Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland)

The proposed new Clause states: Provided that admission to any premises which are occupied shall not be demanded as of right unless twenty-four hours' notice of the intended entry has been served on the occupier. Does it follow also that, on notice being given to an occupier that entry is desired, a statement will be made of the reasons for demanding entry?

Mr. Key

The Clause does not say that. It says that the person who is going has to be duly authenticated to carry out the duties here laid down; he goes as the representative of the authority to see that there are no contraventions of the bye-laws.

Mr. Logan

Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary has not grasped what I mean; it is not a question of a general survey. Is it possible for the occupier to have, from the accredited representative, notice of what he is coming to inspect?

Mr. Key

Yes, in carrying out his duties under the Bill, his entry is for the purpose of ascertaining whether there have been any contraventions of the bye-laws during the period of the war. That is his purpose.

Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)

I cannot help feeling that the hon. Gentleman is making an extraordinarily feeble attempt to answer the point raised by the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) with regard to absentee occupiers. He did not convince me in the least. The hon. Member for Daventry asked what was the position if the occupier was away—if he was an absentee occupier, did not in fact receive the notice, and was not aware that the notice had been served on him. The hon. Gentleman talked about owners, but the Clause uses the word "occupier," and I want to know what is the status of an occupier who happens to be away. The notice may be pushed through his door but he may not be aware of it at all, and in that case what is his status under the Clause? It is a most important point. Many occupiers may well be away at the time and be entirely unaware of the notice.

Mr. Key

That happens very often in many cases where the local authorities are attempting to carry out their duties, in regard to public health and things of that sort. Public health officials act wisely and leniently. They do their job well. If the occupier is absent, they wait their time until he returns. The only reason for wanting this power is to deal with the cases in which people obstruct the local government officer, and he must have some backing to enable him to do his job.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Bossom (Maidstone)

Are we to understand from this Clause that the inspector can go to a house and, when he gets inside, have a sort of roving authority to go wherever he likes and examine the house from top to bottom? There does not appear to be any limitation. The owner or occupier should have some information as to what the man is coming to look for. It would be very unfortunate if a man could come in and go where he liked about the house, and that nobody should have any right to say "No."

Mr. Speaker

The Amendment we are discussing is to delete the words "as of right." The hon. Gentleman is getting rather wide of that.

Mr. Willink

We on this side of the House feel that some very unreal arguments have been presented against this Amendment, arguments of a singularly unprogressive character. The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) was particularly-unconvincing in that he said that the occupier must look after himself. Surely we all feel that ordinary humble people occupying small houses will not in fact know—and cannot be expected to know—the details of Acts of Parliament of this kind.

Mr. Sparks

The point I was trying to make was that the occupier would want to be satisfied that the person who was about to enter was a bona fide official of the local government, and would ask for credentials. If a person fails to ask for Credentials, he cannot complain if there is an unauthorised, criminal entry.

Mr. Willink

If the hon. Member is really saying that no one in this country can complain if the law is such that he is in peril of being persuaded by a plausible ruffian, I cannot agree with him. It seems to me to be most desirable that we should not create a new opportunity for plausible people to gain entry to people's houses for any purpose. That is what is done if there s no provision for an advance notice. The local authority should be bound, in our submission, to take steps to indicate to anybody whose home they desire to enter that they are coming to do so in 24 hours or more. One cannot reasonably say that anybody who is visited by a person purporting to be an official, and who is persuaded by a person who is not in fact an official, has only himself or herself to blame. It is not so. These people are extremely plausible, and the way to safeguard the householder against their invasions is to say that the local authority, which can make rules and keep them, shall always give 24 hours' notice before visits of this kind. If we pass yet another Act of Parliament enabling officials, or people who purport to be officials, to come and

say "There is an Act of Parliament under which I can come at any time and ask for admission to your house, without notice, to see that there has been no contravention of bye-laws," I say that we are putting householders in peril quite unnecessarily.

It is an immense safeguard to the householder if, before any person can ask properly and lawfully for entry, he should give 24 hours' notice. I am not in the least impressed by the Parliamentary Secretary's point that the man would be a trespasser if he obtained consent. It will be up to the local authority's officer to know that he must not ask for consent unless a notice has been given. We all know of the crime wave that is going on at the moment; at all times there have been dishonest people who, by great plausibility, effect entrance to people's homes. It only needs two people: one effects the entrance, the other detains the householder at the door while the supposed local authority officer, not having given any indication of a visitation of this kind, goes in and does what he likes. We are here copying a Statute which is 30years old, and apparently are not disposed to improve it.

Question put, "That the words ' as of right,' stand part of the proposed Clause."

The House divided: Ayes, 279; Noes, 126

Division No. 58.] AYES. [7.54 p.m.
Adams, Capt. Richard (Batham) Buchanan, G. Douglas, F. C. R.
Adamson Mrs, J. L. Burden, T. W. Dumpleton, C. W.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Burke, W. A Durbin, E. F. M.
Alpass, J. H. Callaghan, James Dye, S.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Chater, D. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Attewell, H. L. Clitherow, R. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)
Austin, H. L. Cluse, W. S. Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Ayles, W. H. Cobb, F. A. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs, B. Cocks, F. S. Ewart, R.
Bacon, Miss A. Collick, P. Fairhurst, F.
Barstow, P. G. Collindridge, F. Farthing, W. J.
Barton, C. Collins, V. J. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)
Battley, J. R. Colman, Miss G. M. Follick, M.
Bechervaise, A. E. Cook, T. F. Foot, M. M.
Benson, G. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Forman, J. C.
Beswick, Fit.-Lieut. F. Corlett, Dr. J. Foster, W. (Wigan)
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Corvedale, Viscount Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Binns, J. Cove, W. G. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)
Blackburn, Capt. A. R. Daggar, G. Gaitskell, H. T. N.
Blenkinsop, Capt. A. Daines, P. Gallacher, W.
Blyton, W. R. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Gibson, C. W.
Boardman, H. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Gilzean, A.
Bottomley, A. G. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Gooch, E. G.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Deer, G. Goodrich, H. E.
Braddock. T. (Milcham) de Freitas, Geoffrey Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Delargy, Captain H. J. Grenfell, D. R.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Diamond, J. Grey, C. F.
Brown, W. J. (Rugby) Dobbie, W. Grierson, E.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Dodds, N. N Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Mainwaring. W. H. Skinnard, F. W.
Gruffydd, Prof. W. J. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Gunter, Capt. R. J. Marshall, F. (Brightside) Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Guy, W. H. Mathers, G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Mayhew, C. P. Snow, Capt. J. W.
Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare) Medland, H. M. Solley, L. J.
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Messer, F. Sorensen, R. W.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Middleton, Mrs. L. Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Mikardo, lan Sparks, J. A.
Hardman, D. R. Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Stamford, W.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Monslow, W. Steele, T.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Montague, F. Stephen, C.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Strauss, G. R.
Herbison, Miss M. Morley, R. Stubbs, A.E.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Swingler, Capt. S.
Hobson, C. R. Mort, D. L. Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Holman, P. Moyle, A. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Horabin, T. L. Murray, J. D. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
House, G. Nally, w Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Hoy, J. Naylor, T. E. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Hubbard, T. Neal, H. (Claycross) Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Noel-Buxton, Lady Thorneycroft, H. (Manchester, C.)
Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Oldfield, W. H. Thurtle, E.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Orbach, M. Tiffany, S.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Paget, R. T. Tolley, L.
Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T. Usborne, Henry
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Jones, P. Asterley Paton, J. (Norwich) Viant, S. P.
Keenan, W. Pearson, A. Walkden, E.
Kendall, W. D. Peart, Capt. T. F. Walker, G. H.
Kenyon, C. Perrins, W. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Key, C. W. Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
King, E. M. Popplewoll, E. Warbey, W. N.
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Porter, E. (Warrington). Watson, W. M.
Kinley, J. Pritt, D. N. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Kirby, B V. Proctor, W. T. Weitzman, D.
Kirkwood, D. Pryde, D. J. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Lang, G. Randall, H. E. Wells, Maj. W. T. (Walsall)
Lavers, S. Ranger, J. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J. Rankin, J. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Lee, F. (Hulme) Rees-Williams, Lt.-Col. D. R. Wigg, Col. G. E. C.
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Reeves, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Leonard, W. Reid, T. (Swindon) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Leslie, J. R. Rhodes, H. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Lipson, D. L. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Rogers, G. H. R. Willis, E.
Logan, D. G. Royle, C. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Longden, F. Sargood, R. Wilson, J. H.
McAdam, W. Scott-Elliot, W. Wise, Major F. J.
McEntee, V. La T. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M. Woodburn, A.
McGhee, H. G. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Wyatt, Maj. W.
McGovern, J. Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) Yates, V. F.
Mack, J. D. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
McKay. J. (Wallsend) Shurmer, P. Zilliacus, K.
McKinlay, A. S. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Maclean, N. (Govan) Silver-man, S. S. (Nelson) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
McLeavy, F. Skefnngton, A. M. Mr. R. J. Taylor and
Mr. Simmons
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Channon, H. Gage, Lt.-Col. C.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Cooper-Key, E M. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)
Ba'dwin, A. E. Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.
Barlow, Sir J. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Grimston, R. V.
Baxter, A. B. Crowder, Capt. J. F. E. Hare, Lt.-Col. Hon. J. H. (W'dbridge)
Beamish. Maj. T. V. H. Cuthbert, W. N. Haughton, S. G.
Beattie, F. (Catheart) Darling, Sir W. Y. Herbert, Sir A. P.
Bennett, Sir P. Davidson, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Birch, Lt.-Col. Nigel Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Hogg, Hon. Q.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Dodds-Parker, Col. A. D. Holmes, Sir J. Stanley
Bossom, A. C. Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Howard, Hon. A
Bower, N. Dravson. Capt. G. B. Hulbert, N. J.
Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A. Duthie W S. Hurd, A.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.)
Butcher, H. W. Erroll, Col. F. J. Hutchison, Lt.-Col. J. R. (G'gow, C.)
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Fletcher, W. (Bury) Jeffreys, General Sir G.
Carson, E. Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.
Challen, Fit.-Lieut. C. Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G. Keeling, E. H.
Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Nicholson, G. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Nield, B. (Chester) Teeling, Flt.-Lieut. W.
Lindsay, Lt.-Col. M. (Solihull) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Linslead, H. N. Nutting, Anthony Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Orr-Ewing, I. L. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Low, Brig. A. R. W. Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Turton, R. H.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Prescott, W. R. S. Vane, W. M. T.
MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Raikes, H. V. Wadsworth, G.
MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury) Wakefield, Sir W. W.
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead) Walker-Smith, Lt.-Col. D.
MacLeod, Capt. J. Renton, D. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Robinson, Wing-Cmdr. Roland Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Manningham-Buller, R. E. Savory, Prof. D. L. Wheatley, Col. M. J.
Marlowe, A. A. H. Scott, Lord W. White, D. (Fareham)
Marples, Capl. A. E. Shephard, S. (Newark) White, Maj. J. B. (Canterbury)
Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodntin) Shepherd, Lieut. W. S. (Bucklow) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Maude, J. C. Smith, E. P. (Ashford) Williams, Lt.-Comdr. Gerald (T'nbr'ge)
Mellor, Sir J. Spearman, A. C. M Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Molson, A. H. E. Spence, Maj. H. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. York, C.
Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Stoddart-Scolt, Col. M. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.
Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E. Sutcliffe, H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Neven-Spence, Major Sir B. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Mr. Drewe and.Mr.[...]

Question put, and agreed to.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Maude (Exeter)

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 20, at end, insert: If any person who in compliance with the provisions of this section is admitted into a factory, workshop or workplace, discloses to any person any information obtained by him in the factory, workshop or workplace with regard to any manufacturing process or trade secret, he shall, unless such disclosure was made in the performance of his duty, be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months. I have good reason to believe, if the lion. Gentleman will allow me to say so, that he will look favourably upon this Amendment. May I simply say this in order to save the time of the House? This is no new thing; that is to say, we have looked at what appears to have been adopted by the hon. Gentleman as a model Clause—Section 287 of the Public Health Act, 1936—but, whereas the Government have not asked for, for instance, the provisions under Subsection (2) for a warrant and forcible entry, they did, in fact, omit to incorporate in the Clause which now stands in the name of the Minister of Health, Clause 5, and that is, in substance, exactly the same. We have left out certain words, and, if I may read them to the House, it will be apparent that there is no novelty or anything unwise. We have left out the words "or of a warrant issued there under. "In substance, if the Government accept the Amendment, they would insert a provision which would operate not merely in favour of an individual business but will operate in favour of every business, and, as the Clause has already received the sanction of Parliament in the 1936 Act, I suggest to the House that it is a Clause which commends itself as a commonsense way to safeguard industry in a way which everybody would wish.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. Key

I am quite ready to accept this Amendment. The only reason that I think I can give for it not being included in the suggested Clause was our desire to keep that Clause as simple as possible, and the fact that the powers were already, as it were, existing.

Amendment to the proposed Clause agreed to.

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.

Clause 2.—(Power to sanction wartime non-compliance with building laws or planning control.)

Mr. Key

I beg to move, in page 3, line 21, leave out from "application," to "and, "in line 23, and insert: publish notice thereof in one or more local newspapers circulating in the area in which the land is situated and serve notice thereof on any person appearing to the authority to be specially affected by the application. When we were considering this Bill in Committee, the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that our wording was not quite happy, because the Minister might not be in the position of knowing, in any particular case, what was happening in time to give the directions that are there put down within the 14 days that is prescribed in line 20 for the giving of such notices. In order to meet the criticism which the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised, we are suggesting that the words "general or particular directions by the Minister "be left out, and that, instead, the Bill itself shall lay down what notices should be published.

Mr. Willink

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and to the Minister for having given consideration to a suggestion of my own. I still think that the alteration in the Bill is an improvement, and I think that its drafting is beyond praise.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 25, leave out "giving," and insert "publication." —[ Mr. Key.]

Clause 3. —( Supplementary provisons as to enforcement.)

Mr. Key

I beg to move, in page 5, line 10, after "land," insert: and within seven days of the making thereof serves on the person proposing to take steps as aforesaid notice that the application has been made." It has been pointed out to us that the Clause as worded does not make sufficient provision for the case where a private person attempts to set the law in motion, inasmuch as that private person will not necessarily know whether the person against whom the action is being taken has applied to the local authority, or appealed to the Minister, for the non-conforming uses or work to be whitewashed under Clause 2, and our Amendment is designed to ensure that the person who has initiated the proceedings shall be informed if those counter-proceedings are taken by the individual. We think it will help the local authorities in carrying out their duties.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Key

I beg to move, in page 5, line 18, leave out "in respect of the carrying," and insert "against any person for having carried."

Under some of the enactments here affected, particularly the London Building Acts, a local authority is empowered, when it discovers a contravention of any of its building laws, to serve notices upon people concerned requiring the works to be brought into conformity with the building law, and, where this is done, failure to comply with a notice really constitutes an offence under the law. The intention of Subsection (3) is that the mere fact of the existence of these nonconforming works that have been constructed during the war should not subject the owner or occupier to the penalties, as it does now, under the existing law. It has been suggested to us, particularly with regard to the London bye-laws, that the Subsection as passed by the Committee was too wide, because it could be said that the serving of notices was a form of action in respect of the carrying out of works during the war period, and we felt it desirable that any such possibility as that should be avoided. Therefore, we suggest the alterations entailed in this Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 5, line 19, leave out "of." — [Mr. Key.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time." — (King's Consent signified.)

8.12 p.m.

Mr. Key

A question was raised on the Committee stage on which I promised to make a statement when we came to the Third Reading. It dealt with the expense involved in removing any structures on private land, typical examples being pillboxes and things of that sort, which were erected by the military authorities. Under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, the landowner may have received compensation for the value of the land that has here been involved, but that will be in many cases quite a negligible sum, and he will not have received any compensation for the cost of the removal of the particular structures, if he wishes so to do, or if he is requested so to do. It was maintained, and I think rightly, in Committee that it would be an intolerable hardship to place the responsibility and expense of the removal of these structures upon the individual owner whilst, at the same time, it was felt it would be scarcely less justifiable if it were placed upon the ratepayers of the particular area concerned through the local authorities. The claim was made that it should be the taxpayer who would be responsible for the cost involved and, as I said, I gave a promise that we would consider the matter further.

It is now my duty to say that it has been decided that the Minister of Works shall be responsible for the removal of temporary defence works on private land where their removal is desirable in the public interest. Where, therefore, in his appellate jurisdiction under the Bill, the Minister of Health is satisfied on the representation of the responsible local authority that the removal of a structure put up during the war period is in the public interest and that the compensation, if any, which the owner has received has not taken into account the cost of its removal, he will bring the case to the notice of the Minister of Works, who will take as evidence of "public interest "in the matter the decision of the Minister of Health in favour of the removal of the offending structure.

It must, however, I think, he plain that such removal work will have to take its turn, because there arc many calls upon the resources of the Minister of Works at the present moment, and early removal of such obstructions might not be possible. The Minister of Health then, again in his appellate jurisdiction, will under the Bill be prepared to allow time for the removal of such works; in other words, he will give, in cases where such a course is necessary, a decision in favour of their being allowed to remain until such time as the Minister of Works can be reasonably expected to remove them. I hope that that explanation and undertaking will satisfy the points that were raised, and that the House will give the Bill its Third Reading.

Mr. Bossom (Maidstone)

I wish to thank the Minister very much for giving consideration to this, but how will it be put into an understandable form?

8.15 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)

I would like to thank the Minister for the way he has met us on this matter, which was discussed very fully in Committee and, as the Minister said, quite rightly, he gave an undertaking that he would fulfil his promise when it came to the question of the Bill being brought down here. From what I can see, he has fully met this undertaking, but I would like to ask him one question: He does not limit this just to defence works, does he? Does he include the large number of cases where buildings have had to be altered, extended and so forth, which were really not defence works at all?

8.16 p.m.

Mr. Key

With the permission of the House, I do not think it is possible to extend this undertaking to alterations and extensions of buildings, and other things that might have been necessary in wartime. What were brought to our attention were obstructions which had been placed upon land, and we have undertaken that it shall be the duty of the Minister of Works to remove these, not merely the cases that are brought to notice as a result of the operation of this Bill, but in all cases it shall be his duty. As I say, where it is brought up under this Bill and the Minister is appealed to, there will be an instruction to the Minister of Works to remove them, but they will be whitewashed for the time being, as it were, so that future action cannot be taken against the owner because of the inability of the Minister of Works to remove them immediately.

8.17 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

I feel that we are entitled to have some reply on the other point which I have put forward. I think the Minister's safeguards are more than adequate as far as defence works are concerned; they are reasonable because, given good time, the Ministry of Works will be forced by a lot of us who want to see this done, to remove the works themselves rather than order other people to do it. From that point of view it is quite satisfactory, but I am trying to put before the hon. Gentleman the very real worry many of us feel that they will be ordered under this Bill to carry out all kinds of work which they were not responsible for creating. For instance, I know many instances where houses were altered for the billeting of soldiers and sailors. I would like an indication that, when His Majesty's inspectors, or local authorities, or planning authorities come round and find those alterations are not in conformity with building laws, they will not enact that restitution shall be done at the expense of the owners. That would be unreasonable, and I think we are entitled to some explanation on that point.

Mr. Key

In the case of requisitioned properties, it is the duty of the requisitioning authority to reinstate at the time of requisition and that, therefore, should deal with the problem raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

8.19 p.m.

Mr. Willink (Croydon, North)

It should not be long before this House parts with this Bill, but I would like to express my appreciation of the statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary with regard to what I thought was not one of the largest points, but an important one from the point of view of equity. It is sometimes a little difficult to follow a statement of that kind at first hearing, and there is one particular aspect of it which I am bound to say I did not follow entirely. So far as this Bill is concerned, I imagine that this problem will arise where it is decided that it is in the public interest that a structure should be removed. There are circumstances in which undue expense may be put on the owner or occupier with regard td something which he never wanted to have on his land, and which it will be expensive for him to remove. That has been safeguarded in a reasonable way in the announcement which the Parliamentary Secretary has made.

What I found difficult to follow was the range beyond the actual scope of the text of this Bill which he covered in his later observations. I should have thought —although I may be deemed to go beyond the scope of the Bill, as, I think, the Parliamentary Secretary himself did—that the measure of obligation on the Crown to remove defence works should not be solely measured by the public interest. There are people who' may have grounds for saying to the Government: "Take away this horrid thing you have, put on my land. I cannot believe that the public are very interested in the way in which you have covered my garden with concrete."

I should not have thought that the measure of obligation put on the Minister of Works ought to be entirely based on whether all sorts of people were interested in this particular work. I think, however, that perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary and I ought to restrict ourselves to the effects of this Bill. So far as that is concerned, I think that the explanation and the statement that the Parliamentary Secretary has made with regard to the duty which will be placed on the Ministry of Works where it is held to be in the public interest that works should be removed is satisfactory. We could have wished that the Bill had been more improved than it has been, but it is a necessary Bill, and it has been improved to some extent. I have, therefore, no desire to delay the House longer upon it.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.