HC Deb 21 April 1947 vol 436 cc654-5
Mr. Westwood

I beg to move, in page 78, line 16, after "sixty-nine," to insert: (so far as relating to infectious diseases. The purpose of this Amendment is to correct an error which has come to light since the Committee stage. Section 69 of the Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1897, authorises local authorities to bury dead bodies under the direction of a sheriff, a magistrate or a justice. At present that Section is exercised by the town councils of small burghs as well as by the major health authority, such as the Town Council for Glasgow, except in relation to infectious diseases, and it is not our intention to transfer this duty from small burghs, but the Schedule as it stood had that effect. The Amendment puts the matter right by limiting the functions of the local health authority to the existing functions of the major health authority relating to infectious disease, and leaving town councils of small burghs as the authorities otherwise responsible.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

I am glad that this error has been detected. The size and complexity of the Measure makes us a little uneasy in case there may be more undetected errors lurking in it somewhere. I would call the attention of the Committee to the fact that, even after many days of consideration, we still find ourselves faced with unexpected pitfalls in this Bill. As the Secretary of State says, no one wishes to deprive the small burghs of the powers which they are exercising here. I can only say that it is another argument for careful and meticulous consideration by Parliament of these Statutes which, I am afraid, they are not getting in every case.

Mr. McKie

This Schedule, which we are asked to amend, is a comprehensive one. It refers to 12 Acts of Parliament, most of them specifically relating to Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman gave us the reason for this Amendment rather quickly and it was difficult, especially for me as an amateur, to follow the whole implications of his argument. I did my best, but he went so quickly—and I am not saying this in any disrespectful way—that we are left a little in doubt as to what effect this Amendment will have. Also I would support what my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) said, that though the right hon. Gentleman, or his advisers in the Scottish Office, have discovered this one defect, there may be many others. Can the right hon. Gentleman outline to me what are the exact functions of the local health authority or local authority—whatever the proper term is—under the Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1897, relating to infectious diseases and why it is so necessary to introduce these amending words into the Eleventh Schedule in order to make quite sure what is the position of the local authorities? Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to give me some elucidation on that point?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I do not think I can permit the right hon. Gentleman to go into that.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Westwood

I beg to move, in page 80, to leave out lines 31 to 34.

This and the next Amendment on the Order Paper are consequential on an Amendment which has already been accepted in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 83, leave out lines 3 to 5.—(Mr. Westwood.)

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended (in the Standing Committee and on recommittal), considered.