§ (1) An Order in Council under section one of this Act may provide for regulating the conditions under which noise and vibration may be caused by aircraft on aerodromes and may provide that subsection (2) of this section shall apply to any aerodrome as respects which provision as to noise and vibration caused by aircraft is so made.
§ (2) No action shall lie in respect of nuisance by reason only of the noise and vibration caused by aircraft on an aerodrome to which this subsection applies by virtue of an Order in Council under section one of this Act, so long as the provisions of any such Order in Council are duly complied with.—[The Solicitor-General.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 11.30 a.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The Clause enables Orders in Council to be made which will have the effect of prescribing conditions under which noise can be created on aerodromes, and saying, with regard to any particular aerodrome, that if these conditions are complied with in the case of any aircraft using the aerodrome, no action in nuisance shall lie for any noise created by the aircraft on the aerodrome. Hon. Members will want to look at this Clause carefully to satisfy themselves that it is necessary and in the interests of the community. I will give the reasons which prompted us to introduce it.
As the law stands, the position is roughly this: One has to set aside those aerodromes which are run under Statutory powers, and those which are purely private aerodromes. In the case of private aerodromes, a member of the public desiring to establish a cause of action in nuisance must prove that, in terms of the authorities decided on that point, his comfort was materially interfered with by reason of excessive noise emanating from the aerodrome.
In the case of aerodromes run under statutory authority, the position is rather different. In that case the issue before the courts would be this: Can the aerodrome be used as an aerodrome, and used by aircraft resorting to it, in any way which creates less noise than was in fact created when the particular complaint arose. The onus would be on the authority running the aerodrome—the statutory authority. That would, as hon. 1718 Members may well conceive, give rise to extremely difficult technical issues on fact. If hon. Members put themselves in the position of a judge, trying to determine as between technical experts, and contrary experts, whether, in a particular case, on account of a different engine, design of engine, or a different gadget on the engine, it would have been possible to reduce the noise without interfering with the necessary safety precautions, and unduly hampering the use of the aerodrome for the purposes of traffic, they would see that it would give rise to difficult technical questions for the courts to decide. The courts already decide such technical questions in patent actions. At the same time, it was felt that there may be considerable diversity of opinion and that a judge might take one view in the case of a particular aerodrome on the technical evidence, and another judge, in the case of another aerodrome, might take on different technical evidence a different view, and it would be difficult to get unanimity of decision. That might have unfortunate consequences.
Take the case of an aerodrome against which an action had succeeded. The result might be that there was an injunction preventing the aerodrome being used in that particular way. Supposing an aerodrome was prevented from "revving up" engines before use, that might give rise to the question of having to stint safety precautions. A big transatlantic plane before taking off has, as a safety precaution, to have its engines on for some time. I gather that in the case of a transatlantic plane, the engine has to be almost full on for nearly half an hour. I see that an hon. Member opposite shakes his head, but I gather that is, roughly speaking, the position. If there were a question of an injunction preventing that sort of thing on account of the evidence, which in that particular case seemed convincing to the tribunal trying it, the result might be that an aerodrome used for international transport would be completely put out of action.
Faced with that problem, the Government thought that the sensible thing to do was what they have endeavoured to do in this Clause. They give power to the Minister to say that, with regard to a particular aerodrome, in the case, for example, of "revving up" an engine 1719 this may be done between certain hours and on compliance with this, that, or the other condition in the use of the aerodrome. The Clause then. goes on to say that provided these uniform conditions are complied with, an action in nuisance shall not lie. That crystalises exactly what shall be done. The operator knows exactly his duty—both the operator and the person managing the aerodrome. Everyone knows where he stands about it. It is felt that this is a sensible way to achieve two ends. In the first place, to prevent interference with the comfort of citizens, and, secondly, so that the ordinary operator may know exactly his duty.
Local conditions vary. Some aerodromes may be used as international aerodromes which carry a vast amount of traffic. They may be near populated areas; others may be in less populated areas, and carry much less traffic. Unless there is some uniform standard laid down very serious inconvenience, it was thought by the Government, might result. Under the Chicago Convention certain aerodromes are designated for international use, and it was felt that this would lead to another inconvenience. Supposing that international aircraft were using an aerodrome which was confronted with an injunction, it would not be fair to give them preference over British aircraft; they should all be subject to the same standard. Therefore, the general idea is that there should be this general uniformity of standard. Section 9 of the Air Navigation Act, 1920, already provides the same sort of protection in the case of aircraft in flight. Once that is accepted as a principle, it is more than illogical not to extend that same protection to aircraft when they land or before they take off. It is not much use having protection in flight, unless there can be similar protection before aeroplanes take off or after they land. If hon. Members will consider the consequences that may ensue if there is not some method of systematisation, they will no doubt think that this Clause ought to be accepted.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)
I think that this requires some examination from the point of view of the protection of a man who may own a house adjoining an aerodrome. It is his point 1720 of view which I would ask the Committee to consider. I think that the learned Solicitor-General was quite right in saying that there are two different classes. There is the private aerodrome, where the adjoining proprietor has received probably no compensation at all, and where, therefore, he is entitled to object to anything that materially affects his comfort. What is to be the position in that case? In the case of the private aerodrome, is the householder next door to be deprived entirely of all possibility of getting compensation? Perhaps the learned Solicitor-General will deal with that point later on. I presume that it is left entirely to the Government to determine whether it is a case where the public interest requires that this man's rights should be taken away—with compensation no doubt—but will be taken away. Has he any right, and, if so, what, to come forward, and say, "I want this matter looked into. Compensation really will not make this good to me. I am in a special position."? This kind of thing creates a great difficulty.
With regard to the second type of aerodrome, I assume that the adjoining owner has had some chance under the Land Clauses Act to get compensation when the aerodrome was set up, but that measure of compensation was on the footing that the aerodrome would be used so as to create the least possible interference. Now the hon. Gentleman wants to create additional interference without paying additional compensation. If he does not want power to do that, I fail to see the object of the Clause. He does raise rather wider issues than the issue of compensation. The present proposal may be a precedent for other nationalised industries. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is right in saying that the courts find inquiries difficult they might find them equally difficult with regard to other industries. I have seen many cases in which the court has had an extremely difficult job in determining whether or not a nuisance has been created. The argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman might apply equally well to the national electrical industry, and it would then be said that it was very awkward not to have uniformity or for the new electrical executive not to know where it stood.
Therefore, we might find in all national industries a movement to withdraw from 1721 the court to the executive the determination of these questions. We must examine with great care proposals which would take away from the court the right to determine these matters and from the subject the right to go to the court for their determination. It may be that the executive would act reasonably and it may be that they will not. There is no control as there is in the case of recourse to the court. I must say that I thought the hon. and learned Gentleman was a bit optimistic when he said that everybody would know exactly where they stood after an Order had been pronounced. My experience is that it is only in very rare cases that anybody knows exactly where he stands in regard to an Order in Council, which is usually extremely complicated, confusing and difficult to apply in practice. We should be optimistic if we thought that the ordinary person would know better where he stood under an Order put out by the Executive than he knows under the common law. The difficulties are apt to be great in both cases, I believe, but the mere fact that the Executive have made an Order will not diminish the difficulties substantially. More justification is required than has been given up to date for the proposed new Clause. My purpose in rising was chiefly to see that the adjoining owner is protected and I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to give us some assurance on that score. On the wider question, probably some of my hon. Friends will have views to offer.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
My right hon. and learned Friend is right in principle on this matter, but he has not touched upon the question of aircraft operators and I suggest that that is an aspect of the matter which requires very careful consideration. The Solicitor-General said that the Minister has to determine the functions of aerodromes. I should have thought that the Minister would have his hands pretty fully occupied at the moment, in developing the Corporations. I think it would be impossible to determine the actual functions of any one aerodrome, even if the State owns the aerodrome. I suggest that the hon. and learned Gentleman should reconsider that point.
It is impossible to say in great detail what the functions of an aerodrome will be. It may be that an aeroplane will come in from the Atlantic, or from any 1722 short flight from the Continent and may be kept circling round for an hour and cause a great nuisance to everybody. It is more or less force majeure, and cannot be avoided. With the development of jet turbines there will be a nuisance to many people. This industry must go ahead, and we must be very careful to ensure that no laws are brought in that will retard the industry. I can see the necessity for protecting individuals, nevertheless when new aerodromes are built we must make sure that houses are not built adjacent to them as they have been in the past. That is a point that must be taken care of. Let us keep it open, from the point of view of the operator at the aerodrome.
§ Mr. Beswick (Uxbridge)
The point I have in mind is probably the same as that brought forward by the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid), but I would like to make sure that I get some kind of explanation from the Solicitor-General. The proposed new Clause does not seek to diminish a nuisance but to legalise it. Very much will depend upon the Order in Council when it is laid before the House. It is quite clear that the Order in Council will have to be watched very closely. Suppose the aircraft operator does nothing beyond the limits laid down by the Order in Council and that he does create a nuisance but it is a legalised nuisance. Nevertheless, material damage to property may be caused. Has the owner of that property a claim for damages from the Minister or from the operator? In my constituency, for example, a new school was built at considerable expense by the Middlesex County Council. It is now practically unusable, because it happens to be on the line of approach of aircraft, and the school is not likely to be used for the purpose for which it was originally intended. Suppose the building had been privately owned and had suffered physical damage, or rendered unusable by the vibration of aircraft coming in over the top of it. Would the owner of that property have the right to claim compensation, even though the operator was not going beyond the limits of his duties or his rights, as laid down by the Order in Council?
§ 11.45 p.m.
§ Sir G. Fox
I would like to ask the Solicitor-General whether any other countries are giving a similar concession to our operators. He mentioned that the inclu- 1723 sion of the proposed new Clause would make it fair to our own people and to foreign operators coming into international air ports here. I should like to be told whether he can give us any guidance as to similar concessions in other countries.
§ Mr. C. Williams
I would like to know, on this matter of compensation, whether we can have more information. We have just had a very interesting illustration about a local authority which built a school. It is equally possible that vibration might do terrific damage to buildings in the course of their construction. The Government are asking for very considerable power in this proposed new Clause but there should be protection for the ordinary individual in the matter of damage from vibration. I say very strongly that in the development of this industry we must look after the operator and the operation of the machines. There is every reason why they should have that protection, but commonsense must be applied to the industry, which we all wish to develop.
This is a thoroughly bad Clause, and it is absolutely in accordance with the type of thing which is being done now by the Government. It will mean that for practical purposes we shall not have Parliamentary control. Other people will have the control, and the individual who is aggrieved will not be able as he previously could to lay his grievance before the court It is a very dangerous power to grant. It is all very well to say that the Executive is quite good today. Hon. Members opposite may say that here, but nobody outside would agree with them. Apart from that, it has never been right for this House to trust everything blindly to the Executive of the country. It is a very bad principle, and we should guard against it.
We are being asked to give this power upon the assurances of good intention by the Minister. That is a worthless pledge. The intentions of Ministers may be perfectly good, but their intentions may have no effect. I sometimes have good intentions of attending the House of Commons to do my job, but something goes wrong, and I cannot come here. It is not my fault. It does not mean that I have been betrayed by my good intentions, but that circumstances have been too strong. We should not legislate in accordance with 1724 the good intentions of the Government but should make good laws which the ordinary person can understand.
We are left with an additional Order, or number of Orders, which the unfortunate people have to learn and digest, and in most cases they are not easily digestible or readable. This adds to the burden of the ordinary individual. In the case of a Clause of this kind, which is so in keeping with the outlook of the Government, they were very wise indeed to put up their most attractive representative to put it before the Committee. I have noticed that the hon. and learned Gentleman always gets left with the baby, particularly if it is a bad one. The Government did not put this Clause in the original Bill, but they are sneaking it in as a new Clause on a Friday morning. It would be wrong for the Committee to pass it without discussion, as some people would wish. It is one which is fundamentally against the liberty of the subject, and I submit that it should not be accepted.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
Like the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), I view this Clause with considerable misgiving. There is no question but that the Government, in attempting to rush it through on a Friday morning, are attempting to take an advantage. I represent a constituency where there are several airfields. I speak from first-hand knowledge about the nuisance caused by noise and vibration to people who live adjacent to aerodromes. I speak on their behalf this morning, though, of course, I sympathise with the technical points which have been made. The action of pushing a matter like this through the Committee on a Friday morning does not give the public, who are concerned, a full opportunity of knowing what is done. I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for Torquay stress that point. I speak on behalf of those who live adjacent to aerodromes, whether they are people living in small houses or owners of large properties. Apart from what I am told by friends in my constituency who live near aerodromes, I know myself of the great amount of nuisance caused, during the war years particularly, by noise and vibration. It is true that vibration can do a great deal of harm to property.
I hope the hon. and learned Solicitor-General will say something more to justify 1725 the tact that there should be no appeal because of damage caused by vibration. I think there is a danger of taking advantage of the Committee by pushing through on a Friday morning a new Clause which authorises an Order in Council against which there can be no appeal. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will take into consideration a constituency such as mine which played a great part in our successful air effort during the war. I ask him to say something to reassure those who suffered very considerably both from strain on their nerves, because of excessive noise, and damage to their property by vibration.
§ The Solicitor-General
I was sorry to hear the observations of the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) with regard to this being a Friday. It is not yet twelve o'clock and we have plenty of time in which to discuss this matter if hon. Members wish. The Second Reading of this Bill also took place on a Friday.
I said the Government were pushing this new Clause through on a Friday morning when there was a small attendance.
§ The Solicitor-General
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am not trying to push. I have listened patiently to all the arguments put forward and I will do my best to answer them. I do not intend to do any pushing at all. I will endeavour to deal with the perfectly reasonable arguments adduced by hon. Members opposite. I do not suggest that they are not points of real substance. Before he made his speech, the hon. Member for Galloway might have looked a little more carefully at the wording of the new Clause. He said that it was a pity that there was no appeal. There is nothing whatever to prevent a person who thinks he has a cause of action from appealing to the House of Lords. I will explain what I mean. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should look at the language a little more carefully before he embarks upon a tirade such as he has just delivered. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) also was very indignant about the general nature and scope of the new Clause.
I would ask him whether he has read and considered Section 9 of the Air Navigation Act of 1920. That Act was passed 27 years ago and has been in operation 1726 ever since. In point of fact Section 9 is on the same lines as this Clause. One hon. Member spoke about vibration. I understand, and my limited experience tells me, that vibration is caused primarily by an aircraft in the air much more than it is by an aircraft on the ground. Since 1920 an aircraft in flight has had protection against an action for damage caused by vibration by Section 9 of the Air Navigation Act of I920. It is drafted on very much the same lines:No action shall lie in respect of trespass or in respect of nuisance, by reason only of the flight of aircraft over any property at a height above the ground which … is reasonable so long as the provisions of this Act and any Order made thereunder and of the Convention are duly complied with.That is exactly the same scheme as that which we are now using. It has led to no hardship. It seemed then, and it seems even more so now, to be the only practical way of dealing with this matter.
§ Mr. Beswick
There is a difference there. In Section 9 of the Act of 1920, a height which is reasonable is laid down according to the international aeronautical rules.
§ The Solicitor-General
The point I am trying to make is that the aircraft is protected so long as it complies with the provisions of the Order. That is what we say. An action may be brought, if it is considered that the requirements are not complied with, and there can be an appeal to the House of Lords. I accept that one should not, if one can avoid it, take matters away from the province of the courts., We are not doing that more than we feel that we must. What happens? An aerodrome is used and certain requirements are specified. To give random examples, which may or may not be real ones, an aeroplane engine shall not be revved up between certain times or, as I said before, for longer than a certain period in the case of particular types of aircraft. What is said then is that if the Order is made to apply to a particular aerodrome and the aircraft operator complies with these requirements, then, and then only, no action shall be brought. If he does not comply, or if there is a dispute about it, the matter can go straight before the court. It is then for the court to say whether the requirements have been complied with or not. We accept that only to a limited extent. But only to a limited extent are we withdrawing 1727 the question from the courts. We are asking the court to decide not whether there was a nuisance but whether or not certain requirements have been complied with by the operator.
It is in the interests of persons who live in areas adjoining aerodromes that Orders of this sort should be made. A person may feel that his comfort is being interfered with, and if there is no such Order he must take upon himself the onus of proving, in the case of a private aerodrome, that a nuisance has been committed. He has to incur expense and has to call evidence, and his case may not succeed. Take the ordinary case of vibration. It is not always easy to prove as a fact affirmatively in court to the satisfaction of the judge that it is the vibration which has caused the damage and, if so, how much damage has been caused by it. Then he has to persuade the judge as to the terms of the injunction which has to be made, and that he is entitled to the injunction. That is the present position. Once we have the thing crystallised and we know what the operator can do, it is much easier for the person who seeks to do so to establish his case, but it is the court which has to say whether the requirements have been complied with. That is the sensible way of going about it.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J S. C. Reid) contrasted the position of persons living near private aerodromes with those living near public or international aerodromes. I can inform him that the general intention is that Subsection (2) of the new Clause can only be brought into operation in relation to public aerodromes. He said that in the case of a public aerodrome presumably the person affected would already have had some opportunity of getting compensation, but was it not unfair in the case of a private aerodrome. I assure him that as at present advised there is no intention of using this Clause in relation to private aerodromes. Therefore, in the case of a private aerodrome persons who live near it will be in the same position as at the moment. They will be able to go to court and seek to establish a cause of action for nuisance.
In the case of a public aerodrome, it is intended to use this Clause, but I can say that it is not intended—I know that 1728 is always open to the comment that good intentions are not always fulfilled—to let it be possible for aeroplane operators to make as much noise as they like. So far as one can state it in general terms, nothing is being done to lessen the obligation they are under at present to use the aerodrome with as little noise as possible. The justification for this is that we are translating into something more solid the present fluid state of the law as to nuisance which may differ from one court to another and as to which learned judges quite naturally take different views, sometimes on the same evidence but particularly when they have different evidence. There is not always the same set of experts giving evidence. The object is to translate that fluid, position into one where people know where they stand. That was the justification for the Section in the Act of 1920. So far as I am informed there have been no actions of nuisance so far This does not seem to occasion inconvenience.
The hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air-Commodore Harvey) referred to jet aircraft and the great increase of traffic in future. It is very difficult to predicate in advance what the state of affairs will be. It will be unfortunate if an unnecessary hindrance is placed in the way of the development of civil aviation. All we are doing is taking power to set out what the position will be by Order, to specify the question which the courts have to decide in the event of dispute arising. We do not want to do more than that—
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
Why is the Solicitor-General differentiating between State-owned aerodromes and private aerodromes? One may have a private aerodrome making engines, which have to be tested there, for State-owned aircraft.
§ The Solicitor-General
The reason is that generally speaking in the case of State-owned aerodromes, particularly those which are designated for international use, there will be a much greater volume of traffic than in the case of a private aerodrome which may be owned by a particular firm for experimental purposes or may be remote from populated areas—
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
I cannot agree at all. We may have a civil flying school, with landings going on continuously all day, training pilots for the Government.
§ The Solicitor-General
I speak subject to correction by what the hon. and gallant Member has said with regard to private aerodromes, but under the terms of the Clause we are not limited only to applying it to public aerodromes. I simply expressed an intention, and one can always alter an intention. If it appears that a private aerodrome should be included, there is power under the Clause to do so. The Clause can be extended to cover any aerodrome, but the intention is to use it for the international type of aerodrome with a great volume of traffic.
These Orders are subject to negative Resolution, and are in that way subject to control by Parliament. Hon. Members will see how it works from Section 17 of the Act of 1920 which has to be read in relation to the present Bill and provides that Orders in Council have to be submitted to the negative Resolution procedure so that Parliament retains some measure of control as to the contents of the Order.
§ Sir G. Fox
Would the Solicitor-General reply to my question about reciprocal legislation in other countries? I would also like to ask in relation to noise and vibration if he would explain how this is affected by the advent of jet aircraft. Does blast come under the heading of noise and vibration?
§ The Solicitor-General
That is a pleasing teaser I should haves thought that the unpleasant effect of the jet engine would manifest itself in the production of vibration and that therefore it would clearly be covered by the word "vibration.' If it did not cause vibration and also did not cause a noise, I do not suppose people would have any complaint against it.
As to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's first question, I stated that one of the objects is that foreign aircraft should not be given any preference over British aircraft. It is very awkward if one designates a port for international user and one finds foreign aircraft using it in a way which they think is consonant with the normal standards and then an injunction is granted against them. They must use the airport in such a way as is reasonable and there must not be unreasonable noise and vibration through its use having regard to the requirements and the practical aspects of aircraft travel. Both are put on the same footing. I cannot answer 1730 the question as to what foreign countries have done about this type of legislation, but I apprehend that the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not really want to know having regard to the point that we are not giving foreign aircraft any advantages but on the contrary keeping them at the same level as British aircraft.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
The meaning of Subsection (2) seems a little doubtful to me. It reads:No action shall lie in respect of nuisance by reason only of the noise and vibration caused …Can a man complain of actual damage caused to his property, supposing that damage is due to vibration?
§ The Solicitor-General rose—
§ The Chairman
Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will wait until other points have been put and then he can reply to them together.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. and learned Gentleman drew a distinction between private and public aerodromes. He was anxious to give some solace to private landowners or tenants living alongside aerodromes. In doing so, of course, he created all sorts of further doubt in our minds as to the way in which this new Clause has been drawn up, and gave further illustrations of the need for the whole matter to be reconsidered before the House hastily passes this Clause. There is not only the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Air-Commodore Harvey), in regard to flying schools on private aerodromes; there is also the point that if the public aerodromes, largely used by State corporations, are to have greater rights, in the creation of noise and vibration, than private aerodromes, largely used by private operators, it might well work out, in practice, that private operators, anxious to try out new designs, might be prevented from doing so because of the legal consequence of their acts, while public corporations, anxious to do so, would be able to. There might, therefore, be very considerable prejudice to the interests of private operators. That is only in passing, but it is a very definite point, which further illustrates what I said, that the whole matter requires renewed consideration.
1731 We are in a great difficulty. We are anxious to take no action that will hold up rapid and successful aeronautical design and development. On the other hand, we are also anxious not to legalise any sweeping changes in the public's rights under the law of nuisance, and, in particular, on the eve of many experiments in State control, not to give to nationalised industries powers over our fellow citizens which have never been granted before to any private interests, however powerful they might be. My hon. and gallant Friend referred to Section 9 of the 1920 Act. But, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick), low flying was excluded from the operation of that Act, and, in so far as aircraft in flight are concerned, everybody knows that the aeroplane passes so rapidly that the nuisance, though tiresome, is very quickly over. "That is a jet machine, that was." We now find quite a different set of affairs. The nuisance on the ground lasts much longer, and we are now, because of the Act of 1920 being called into the argument, to give to aeroplanes on the ground what aircraft in the air were given in 1920.
When we undertook to facilitate the passage of this Bill and to see that today all the remaining stages—Committee, Report and Third Reading—were considered, we did not know, as I am sure my hon. Friends will agree, that there were going to be new Clauses. Had there been no new Clauses we would, of course, have carried out our intention, but, in the light of these new Clauses, I think we are entitled to ask the Government to be good enough to postpone the Report stage, and to think again about this particular Clause. If, for any reason, that course is not practicable, I have a further suggestion to make. This Bill, I think, originating as it did in another place, must, because of these new Clauses, go back to another place. Will the Government, therefore, consider withdrawing this Clause, and thinking again, and then, if they feel that some clarification of the law is needed, introducing another new Clause in another place? If all that the Government want to do is to define what is legal, we will do our utmost to support them, but if, on the other hand, they are now legalising what would otherwise be illegal, then I do not think that we 1732 ought to do it in this hasty fashion. I hope that one or other of these suggestions will commend itself to the Government.
§ 12.15 p.m.
Mr. Gallather (Fife, West)
From the remarks of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), it is obvious that he does not know anything about the conditions that prevail among the great masses of the people of this country. He said that the Minister was trying to legalise something for nationalised industry which would not be legalised for private operators—nuisance and the noise of aeroplanes. There is a common story on the Clyde about a lad who went out into the country and spent the night there. In the morning, a friend asked him how he had slept. He said, "I did not sleep a wink." When asked the reason for that, he said, "It was so quiet." I wonder whether the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford has ever been in a working-class area, and experienced the terrific noises of all kinds which go on all day and all night, and which can be heard miles away? I wonder, from the point of view of nuisance, whether his wife has ever taken up a dustpan in order to sweep up the dirt which the wind has blown into the house from some of the big chimneys? No compensation is given to the working class because of noise and smoke, and nobody has ever suggested that there should be such compensation.
Of course, these aerodromes are not going to be in working-class streets. If they were, we should never hear a word about them. They are going to be in certain parts of the country, among the more superior types of people. While we do not want to bother people more than necessary, it is entirely erroneous to suggest that there is anything in this proposed new Clause that will give an advantage to a nationalised industry. For instance, there is a matter which concerns the Minister of Fuel and Power. If one were driving in a car down Clydeside, one might turn to his companion and say, "What is this awful smell?" If the companion knew, he would say that it was a burning bank. Not only is it a terrible smell, but, when the wind is blowing, all the refuse from it sweeps along the streets and into the houses. If one is walking along the street—
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedford said that consideration must be shown for the nuisance occasioned—
§ The Chairman
That does not enable an lion. Member to discuss other nuisances, which, I gather, is what the hon. Gentleman is now doing.
§ Mr. Gallacher
In discussing this Clause, the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford said that consideration must be given to the people affected by the nuisance, and that, if such consideration was not given, it would mean that a nationalised industry would have an advantage that was never enjoyed by a privately-owned industry. I want him to understand that every conceivable kind of disturbance and nuisance, to sound, sight and smell, has had to be endured by the, working class, and that there has never been any question of compensation because of that. It is only now, because these aerodromes are going to be in the country areas, and when some hon. Members opposite might be affected by the noise, that the question is raised.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
The hon. Member talks about working-class houses around aerodromes. Does he not admit that there are many working-class houses around Renfrew aerodrome, on the Clyde?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Hon. Members opposite are not concerned about working-class houses. For generations, every conceivable kind of disturbance and nuisance has been imposed on the working-class by industries, out of which hon. Members' opposite have built up their fortunes, and never, at any time, has there been any word about compensation for the workers. Maybe it will do them a little good if they have to suffer a little of what the workers have suffered for so long.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I agree entirely with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). It seems to me, from quite another point of view, that the opposition to this Clause is fractious and unreal. It is perfectly obvious that an aerodrome cannot be run without some noise.
§ Mr. Silverman
It is perfectly obvious that noise and vibration may be a nuisance, and, if some alteration of the law is not introduced, anyone affected by that nuisance can get an injunction in the courts to restrain the Government from running any airfield at all. I take it that no one wants that to happen. There has to be some alteration of the law to enable an airfield to exist, in spite of the fact that it may cause some nuisance. We have to examine the Clause that the Government have put down to see whether it introduces a greater alteration of the law than the circumstances require. If we look at it from that point of view, we find that Subsection (1) gives the Government power to make Orders in Council to define the limits of the permitted nuisance. There can be nothing wrong with that. No one would suggest that the limits of permitted nuisance could be defined by the Schedule, or a Clause of the Bill. This is exactly the kind of thing ordinarily done, and best done, by Order in Council, on which the House retains some control. Certainly it is not the same control as under a Bill, but this is not the same kind of thing as is dealt with in a Bill. It is a highly technical matter, and is put into an Order in Council so that the experts of the House can look at it, and object to it if they wish.
The first Subsection having defined what are the limits of permitted infraction of people's rights, which are not to be disturbed by noise or by vibration, the Clause goes on to say in Subsection (2) that, provided those limits are observed, no action shall lie for nuisance in respect of noise or vibration—and nothing else. I apologise for repeating what was said so much better by the Solictor-General, but it seems necessary to repeat it. There is not a word in the Clause to remove any question from the jurisdiction of the courts. It is not true that the Executive will determine whether or not the Order has been infringed. It is not true that the Executive will determine whether private rights have been infringed or not. All that is left to the jurisdiction of the courts. If the Clause is accepted, all we are doing is to alter the rights of persons. If the rights of persons have to be altered, it is in every way better that they should be altered by Parliament than by the courts. That is the proper field for legislation, and it is for the House to 1735 determine what rights shall be taken away, or accorded.
Having defined them, the courts are left completely unfettered to determine, first what were the limits of nuisance permitted by the Order, secondly whether in the particular case complained of those limits have been exceeded, and, thirdly, whether those limits having been exceeded, there is a nuisance created by noise or vibration. Of what are hon. Members opposite complaining? I heard one sound complaint, and I endorse it. If we are going to protect necessary airfields, and prevent their work being stopped by the operation of laws which would stop them unless they were altered, there would be something inequitable in giving that protection to a public airfield, and not to another airfield. But the hon. Member who raised that must fight it out with his own Front Bench, because their arguments were not directed to that point at all. They were saying that this kind of protection could not be afforded to public airfields. Let us agree in principle first, that we must have this industry, and cannot have it unless we give this kind of protection. Then we can consider who ought to benefit, and whether the protection is to be extended to another airfield. That is a perfectly legitimate argument to raise, but we cannot raise it until the principle defined in the Clause has been accepted by the Committee.
This is not a party matter; there is no party politics in it. Everyone says that he is trying to find a workmanlike way of meeting an obvious difficulty. Anyone who looks fair-mindedly at the Clause from that point of view can find nothing to which to object. I do not know why the Front Bench opposite make all these difficulties, unless it is a desire to offer as much fractious opposition as possible, at every possible opportunity. In no other way can be explained the speeches offered by them this morning.
I want to ask a question on this Clause. It seems to be a matter of drafting, which ought to be cleared up. Purely as a matter of drafting, a doubt seems to be created. Suppose a plaintiff proves that his house is falling down, and that nothing has been done outside the permitted limits of the Order in Council under Subsection (1) Can the defendant then say, "It is true your house is falling down, but it is only 1736 because of vibration, and vibration is permitted by the Subsection"? If that is not intended, I think that the words might be looked at again.
§ Mr. C. Williams
I have listened, as usual, with attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I can assure him that I have always assumed, and assumed readily, that when he speaks, he speaks on a matter which he believes should be put in the interests of the people as a whole. I have always assumed that that was what he is doing. As we all grant him that right he should realise that the Opposition also have the right to put their point of view without being accused of being fractious. We express our point of view because we think there is something wrong, as he often believes.
Just now I felt pretty strongly against this Clause, but, having heard the speech of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), I have become absolutely and entirely convinced that the Clause is thoroughly bad. We all know that the nuisances of which he spoke in the industrial areas have gone on, and we are trying to prevent them. Much more should have been done years ago to improve the conditions there. Many of the efforts to control the nuisance from chimneys and such things have been made by our party. I will not develop that further but I think what I have said shows this Clause in a very bad light.
I rise purely out of courtesy to answer a question put to me by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He asked me if I had read a particular Section in the 1920 Act. I must confess that I am afraid that I have not today. It is possible that I am the only person in the Committee at the present time who is responsible in the sense that I was in the House of Commons at that time the Bill was passed, but I feel sure that I justified myself at that time, before the Bill was passed, that it was adequate and right for that date. Am I to suppose that a Bill which was passed all those years ago may not want modernising? We are always hearing of the wicked things that happened in those days but in this case we are assured that that Act is the foundation of all righteousness in this particular matter. I am surprised that the Government should take that point of view about an Act of so long ago, 1737 as that does not quite fit in with some of the things they say.
I saw nothing whatever in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman to lead me to believe that this Clause did not, in the first place, set a thoroughly bad precedent, because it tends to set up much more lax terms for the control of nuisance, etc., for a Government controlled concern than for an individual private concern. It is proposed to give a privilege in competition, and in other ways, to anything controlled by the Government. May I illustrate my point as to what might happen? For a long while there have been a great many precautions, rules and regulations, against railways in relation to sparks from trains setting adjacent fields on fire. We might just as well have the Government coming forward, and saying, when the railways are Government controlled, "We do not need to have all these rules and regulations now that the railways are not privately owned." That is the attitude of the Government. I know that that attitude has been forced on the Law Officer. I know that that is not his outlook, but that he is made to do these things by the hard faced people around him. This is a thoroughly bad Clause. It has been sprung upon the House today, and I suggest, now that the Patronage Secretary is here, that as it is out of line and out of character with the rest of the Bill, and as the Government have had to go right down to the hon. Member for Nelson & Colne to get protection on a matter of this kind, even the Patronage Secretary must realise that there must be something wrong about it. I would only say, in the interests of kindly feeling, that I hope that the Chief Patronage Secretary will not be too severe on the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne for taking up such a lot of time and saying so very little.
The hon. and learned Gentleman accused me of not having read the Clause, and went on to give me the information I desired. I am quite satisfied that it the final resort the appellant will have the right of conveying his case to the House of Lords. He has made that clear, and I thank him. He castigated me somewhat too severely, because without his explanation I could not possibly have understood just what the position would be. I would also thank the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) for what he has said to bring out even more fully just what the legal position 1738 will be. At the same time I also share the apprehensions which have just been expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), on the whole scope of this Clause. Speaking as a Member for a Scottish constituency, I would also say how much I deplore the speech of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). I for one failed completely to follow the logic of his argument.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Would the hon. Member leave the lovely countryside of Galloway and go to live adjacent to Parkhead Forge?
That is quite irrelevant to my remarks. The hon. Member asks me if I would leave the beautiful countryside where I live for Parkhead Forge. I certainly would not. I have the greatest respect for Parkhead Forge, and I know the great work that is done there. The burden of his speech was that nothing had been done in the past to try and safeguard the masses of Great Britain from noise and vibration, and that our, objections to the wording of this new Clause this morning were merely prompted by some desire, on our part, to promote the interests of a small section of the community. I emphatically reject that argument.
I readily sympathise with the point which the hon. Gentleman made as to the conditions and the noise in which large sections of the community—the working class section, which is the phrase the hon. Member likes to use—have had to live for so many years—noise, smell and vibration. With him, I deplore it, but surely he will see that the view we are now expressing is an attempt to do something for all the community. That is the point I want him to bear in mind, and he will see that there was no consistency or logic in the arguments he presented. I deplore the speech which he made, and I thought it was somewhat frivolous.
I would join in the appeal which my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) has made with regard to the necessity for the Government agreeing to postpone the Report stage and Third Reading of this Bill until they can give further consideration to the Bill in toto and to this Clause in particular. When this Government are pushing through, at a high speed, all this legislation to nationalise and socialise our 1739 industries, it is right that we should be on our guard, particularly to safeguard the interests of the community as a whole, in a matter like this. I see that there is some measure of agreement by the hon. Member for West Fife with my remarks on that connection. He is always telling us that the Government, which he supports, are doing something, but are not going fast enough. If that is so I am afraid that some day the Government will be under the threat of having his support add vote in the Division Lobby withdrawn from them because they will not go quickly enough: We must be on our guard to safeguard the interests of the whole community on a matter such as this. I regret that the Patronage Secretary has left the Chamber, but I await the words of the Solicitor-General, or of the Parliamentary Secretary, who has just returned to the Chamber, and who I am glad to see looking remarkably well after his unpleasant experience.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I think I am entitled to the courtesy of an answer to one or other of the very reasonable suggestions I made. We undertook to facilitate the passage of the Bill when we thought that the Amendments were of a trifling or drafting nature. Then two new Clauses were brought in. We did not know that these Clauses would be introduced when we agreed to all the stages being taken today. It will make friendly arrangements to help Government Business forward more difficult in the future if we do not get some consideration on this occasion. I ask the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to give some assurance in regard to one or other of my suggestions.
§ Mr. Lindgren
I reciprocate the general desire of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). So far as my noble Friend and I are concerned, we appreciate very much the facility which has been given to this Bill in all its stages in the House and in another place, but we are convinced that the Bill might be endangered if this Clause were not included. The argument has not been used so far today, but it could be used, that until the present time there has not been an action by any person on account of nuisance, but that if such an action were taken, it would, in fact, cause a little ill-feeling with some foreign 1740 operators and it would destroy the very purpose of the Bill. It is felt by my noble Friend that this Clause assists the citizens of this country as well as the operators of the airlines. It gives to the operator protection if he complies with the regulations, which will come to the House, which will be discussed by the House and which can be prayed against by the House. The actual airports will be included in the regulations, and there will be different sorts of regulations for different aerodromes, if necessary. They will protect the operator against an action and give protection to the citizen in that he will not have to establish what the nuisance is, because if the regulations are complied with, the question of nuisance will not arise, but if the operator goes outside the regulations, it will be established that a nuisance has been created. In view of the fact that we want this Bill in connection with the bringing into effect of the Chicago Convention as from 31st of this month, I ask the Committee to agree to the new Clause.
It is not our intention to push anything through the House. I ask the Committee to agree to the Clause, which is vital to the operation of the Bill. The Bill might be endangered if the Clause were not included, particularly because, by this discussion today, we have called attention to the possibility of an action arising from nuisance. Some of my hon. and learned Friends having brought to the notice of people that an action might arise because of nuisance, people may think that they can, in fact, bring an action, and will do so.
§ 12.45 p.m.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid
I do not think the hon. Gentleman realises what a great departure this Clause is from the recognised practice that has been followed by the House and the courts for a very long time. I do not think anybody would dissent from the view that if it is necessary to limit the rights of private people in the public interest, that should be done—and that is the primary purpose of this Clause —but that it should be done subject to two safeguards. Nothing has been said with regard to those two safeguards which satisfies me, and I do not think that either of them has been adequately considered by the Government. The first is, in the circumstances, the less important; it is that 1741 persons whose rights are to be impaired should have some opportunity of making representations before the matter is done. The second is vitally important; it is that they should have some opportunity of getting compensation. If I understood the Solicitor-General rightly, the position is that, with regard to statutory airports, the Government hope that these regulations will not permit a materially increased degree of vibration and noise, but it is only a hope, and the Solicitor-General qualified his remarks by saying "as far as practicable." Therefore, even he admitted that in some cases, at least, more noise and more vibration would be permitted on statutory airports than has hitherto been permissible. One would think that could be the only meaning of the Solicitor-General's qualification, that there will be cases where it is not practicable to limit the amount of noise and vibration to that which is at present legitimate; otherwise, the words are of no meaning.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Surely, the point is that at the present time there is no determination whatever as to whether a thing is legitimate or not. Up to the present time there has not been any action. It is feared that action might be taken at any time. It is not a question increasing the possibility of nuisance. Our purpose is to protect the operator against something which is happening legitimately in the course of his duty at the present time. If the protection were not there and the nuisance were established by the court, civil aviation would become impossible.
§ Mr. Reid
That reinforces my view that the hon. Gentleman does not really follow the point I do not blame him, because it is partly a legal point; but it is the case, of course, that a great deal happens now which legally should not happen, and which could be restrained. It may get a good deal worse. There may be new types of aeroplanes, there may be increased use of old types of aeroplanes, which will greatly increase the amount of disturbance. I do not object to that if in the public interest it is right that it should happen. The industry must develop, but the rights of people who are damaged by the development of the industry must be safeguarded, and it does not seem to have occurred either to the Parliamentary Secretary or to the Solicitor-General that there is a case here for compensation, 1742 which they have not put into the Bill. I do not say that there will be orders which will allow more disturbance than the common law does now, but if there is an increase in what the common law allows up to something which the public interest requires, then the person who is damaged by that increase must be paid for his loss.
One of the reasons why I would like to have this Clause taken back and reconsidered is in order that there might be included in the Bill some means whereby a person who proves loss following on the enactment of one of these orders shall be entitled to say to some tribunal, "Before, I had a house which I was able to live in properly, but now I have a house which I cannot live in or which it is very harassing to live in, and if I try to sell it, I can get only a small price for it; and I ought to be paid the difference." It will not be a large sum involved, and it will not happen often. It may not happen more than a dozen or two times altogether. The sum at stake will be nothing compared with the amount of money that is being poured out on civil aviation.
§ Mr. Gallacher
What about the great heavy boilers that are taken through the streets at night, shaking the houses and causing terrific noise and vibration? They are taken in the middle of the night because they would completely block the traffic in the streets during the day; does the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that that should be stopped?
§ Mr. Reid
I well remember an action in the Court of Session about 20 years ago, which went on for a week on that very question. Sometimes they are stopped and sometimes they are not, but that does not affect this question, which is whether we shall safeguard the owners of houses—sometimes very small houses; they are by no means all rich people, they may include people whose whole means have been invested in their houses—why should they not be entitled to compensation, if they are being hurt by an increase in permissible noise?
§ Mr. Reid
Perhaps we may have a discussion some other time on where the small house ends and the large house begins. Most of the houses affected will 1743 be small, from anything I know of aerodromes, and if that is so probably I shall have the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) with me on the matter. I think this should be looked at when we come to private aerodromes. I agree at once, there is no dispute about this, that there ought to be the same rules all round and development ought not to be hampered, but the case for compensation, as the Solicitor-General has himself admitted, is even stronger in the case of private aerodromes than in the case of statutory aerodromes, and if I have an argument, as I think I have, on the statutory aerodromes, I have an even stronger argument on private aerodromes. I do not want to see any difference between the two types; by all means increase the standard of public disturbance so far as the public interest requires it, but let us see that no injustice is done by it. That is a point that has obviously not occurred to the Parliamentary Secretary or his noble Friend, and it is one which seems to us to require consideration. A week's delay on this Bill would not have any effect at all; it would not endanger the Bill, it is still the early part of the Session; can we not postpone the Report stage, and if necessary recommit the Bill—which could be done by consent—until some provision can be introduced to allow compensation to be given in cases of proved loss?
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
I have listened to the arguments very carefully and I feel that the Government are making rather heavy weather of this Clause If, as I think the Parliamentary Secretary said, this Bill is largely to protect foreign aircraft operators, I am just as much concerned about our own operators.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey
Perhaps engines are being made at Bristol by the Bristol Aircraft Company for State aircraft, and someone may bring an injunction against the Company and they will not be able to run the engines on their own aerodromes. If we are to have this Clause at all it must apply to all licensed aerodromes. In 22 years' flying experience I have never heard of a building damaged by vibration from aircraft. I was once sent by my C.O. down to the convent at Ramsgate to pacify the Mother Superior, who was complaining about aeroplanes at Manston, that there was 1744 no damage done to her building. On all aerodromes the public must be protected from the noise of engines running up, and I ask the learned Solicitor-General to reconsider this matter. Otherwise I think we are in for trouble.
§ Mr. Marples (Wallasey)
I have not had the advantage of going to Ramsgate to see the Mother Superior of the convent, but I have been in my place during most of this Debate. I would not have intervened had it not been for the extraordinary remarks of the Parliamentary Secretary. His argument, as I understood it—and I hope he will correct me if I am wrong—is this. So far, no legal action has been brought to test the case of noise and vibration, therefore he and his noble Friend consider that one may be brought at any moment and, in order to avoid that, they must alter the law quickly. I do not want this to develop into a lawyers' holiday, and it is not likely to now because the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is no longer in his place. But as a non-legal Member of this House, I honestly believe that it is a most extraordinary argument to use, that the legal rights of a citizen shall be taken away hurriedly before he has time to bring an action in the courts. If a citizen has been wronged under existing law and is entitled to compensation, surely he ought to be able to bring an action and if necessary get the compensation? I do not mean an injunction against an airfield, but compensation. But for that extraordinary argument I should not have intervened, but I should like a further explanation from the learned Solicitor-General on the point.
§ Mr. C. Williams
I also had noticed the quite remarkable explanation given by the Parliamentary Secretary. Surely it is not right for the Government to say they must push this through today because they are pressed for time? It is against all the rules of law for the Government to say that there has been no action so far, but one may be brought, and therefore the private citizen must be cut off from any rights he may have at the present time. I emphasise that because we have had a very friendly discussion today; perhaps I may pay a compliment to the Parliamentary Secretary on the way he has conducted this Bill. All the defences have been knocked down one after another, until the only defence of this Clause 1745 remaining is the one just advanced by the Parliamentary Secretary, unless the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, who I see is giving close attention, has some other defence to bring forward. I think it would be wise on the part of the Government to get the remaining Clauses and then give some more time, so that between now and Report or Third Reading the Government could think again. Hon. Members all over the House have spoken and I hope the Government will not force us to take the further stages of the Bill. Obviously it could be done next week, almost certainly by consent, and I think everybody would wish to see the Bill through if we could be met on this point.
§ Mr. Beswick
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) will be interested when I explain that around the airport with which I am particularly concerned at the moment there are very many good members of the Labour Party living in their own houses. I am not a lawyer but this is the position as it strikes me. There will be provision by Order in Council to legalise certain practices. Those practices may be a nuisance, but nevertheless, in the interests of the country at large, we agree that they should be carried on. But aircraft coming in day after day, night after night might, in course of time—over say five, six or ten years—create definite material damage to a house. The question I want to put is whether the house owner can take the airline operator or the airport authority to court to sue for damages to his property when it can be proved that the damages result from vibration of aircraft. It is a simple point and I should like a reply.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
Having listened to the speeches which have been made since I spoke last myself, it appears to me that the major questions which have arisen on this new Clause have already been discussed. There have been some interesting disquisitions on the physiognomy of some of my hon. Friends who sit beside me, but they did not seem to be altogether accurate and I have read them before as applied to other hon. Members of this House. There have been general descriptions of the object of this Bill, which seems to me to be very innocent indeed, and I do not think I can elaborate further 1746 on its details. I, to the best of my ability, and my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) have explained what it is for and how it works, and I would ask the Committee to decide upon it now.
With regard to the points which have arisen the only one, so far as I can remember, which is outstanding as a specific question on a specific point is that which has just been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick). The reply to that is that when the only complaint is noise and vibration then, providing the requirements are fulfilled by the aerodrome authorities and the operators of the aircraft, one cannot bring an action. But if one suffer not only noise and nuisance but damage to a building then the subsection does not apply and action could be taken. I say with all sincerity that that seems to me to be the only point on the Clause which remained. Hon. Members opposite have said it is a dangerous precedent because if we have it in the case of air transport we may also extend it to other nationalising Acts. Whether that is so or not I respectfully submit to the Committee that it is not a matter to discuss on this Bill. It should be discussed if and when it is sought to extend it to other nationalising Bills. The aircraft industry has particular problems of its own such as this question of vibration and judder which is peculiarly a question of aircraft in flight and on the ground, and cannot be dissociated from aircraft. We have therefore dealt in a way which we think is the best way with this particular problem which is inherent in aircraft and the use of aircraft. I have endeavoured to answer the points which were raised in the Debate. No further point was raised other than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge, and in those circumstances I would ask the Committee to decide now on this new Clause.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
Although neither a lawyer nor an expert on civil aviation I have been interested in the discussion this morning, and as the Patronage Secretary is here perhaps the question might be reconsidered. As I understand it, when the Business for today was discussed it was the general view that there would be no controversial issues arising from this Bill. Since then, however, the Government have put down a new Clause and the Question before 1747 the Committee now is that it should be read a Second time. It must be quite obvious to the right hon. Gentleman that there are some controversial points since the discussion has now lasted for one and a half hours, and he must realise that there are some differences of substance between us. On the other hand, the Government have told us that it is necessary to get the Bill before the 31st of this month in order that they may be able to carry out the full provisions of the Convention.
Even so, that does not make it necessary to get all the stages of the Bill today, and I therefore suggest to the Patronage Secretary that while the Committee stage will be completed when this Question is put from the Chair, he should postpone further discussion of the Bill and not take the Report and Third Reading stages now. This will enable us to put down an Amendment if we think it desirable. We did ask that that might be done or that alternatively the Government should give an assurance which, coming from the Front Bench, would be equally valid, that they would consider the matter further with a view to introducing an Amendment in another place. But, of course, we are the House of Commons and we prefer that if there are Amendments to be made we should make them rather than rely upon assurances from the Government that they will persuade another place to do it. In view of the changed circumstances which were not foreseen when the Business was suggested, I ask the Patronage Secretary whether he would allow the Ministers to assent—since he is really the dictator in these matters—not to take the further Stages today.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley)
I can only speak from my own point of view. Business is so arranged that I do not see how we could get these stages in if they were not taken now. At the moment the programme has been very carefully gone into between now and Easter, and this was really the only way we could get this Bill by the time it is supposed to be on the Statute Book. I am very sorry, therefore, but I do not see 1748 how I could meet the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's desire however much I wished to.
§ Mr. C. Williams
I notice that there is a lot of miscellaneous business down for next Friday so surely it would be possible to take the Report and Third Reading of this Measure then? I quite see that it could not come before, but that is the 21st and gives us ten days for the other proceedings. I venture to make this suggestion because it occurs to me that the right hon. Gentleman may have omitted to think of it.
§ Mr. Whiteley
I did not omit to think of it, but actually the Business for Friday may have to be altered for other reasons.
§ Mr. Williams
Perhaps I may use a little further persuasion on the right hon. Gentleman. He has now said that it is quite likely that all the Business for next Friday may have to be changed, and if that is so it occurs to me that other Business may be upset also. In those circumstances would the right hon. Gentleman not just consider that there have been points raised on this Measure by hon. Members on his own side of the Committee as well as on this side? We do feel that this new Clause involves a big precedent.
§ The Solicitor-General indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Williams
It is all very well for the learned Solicitor-General to shake his head because lawyers can, of course, wipe out a precedent at any given time. Nevertheless, I maintain that this is a precedent and I hope that we shall not be obliged to take the Report and Third Reading now. It is essential that the House of Commons should look after the interests of the private individuals of this country rather than that the Government should depend on another place to make Amendments in a way which no other Government has done.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 130; Noes, 63.1749
|Division No. 111.]||AYES.||[1.10 p.m|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Hardman, D. R||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Hardy, E. A.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Haworth, J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Herbison, Miss M.||Skeffington-Lodge, T C.|
|Baird, J.||Hobson, C R.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Barton, C.||Holman, P.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Battley, J. R.||House, G.||Smith, H. N (Nottingham, S.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Benson, G.||Hughes, H. D (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Berry, H.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Beswick, F.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Jay, D P. T.||Steele, T.|
|Binns, J.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Strachey, J.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Keenan, W.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Key. C. W.||Swingler, S.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Leslie, J. R.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Burke, W. A.||Levy, B. W.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Lindgren, G. S.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Chater, D.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Mack, J. D||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Cocks, F. S.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Viant, S. P.|
|Collindridge, F.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Walkden, E.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Wallace, G. D (Chislehurst)|
|Cove, W. G.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Montague, F.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mulvey, A.||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Edelman, M.||Paget, R. T.||Wilkes, L.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Parker, J.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Parkin, B. T.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Pearson, A.||Wilson, J. H|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Wyatt, W.|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Piratin, P.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Gallacher, W||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Price, M. Philips||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Proctor, W. T||Major Ramsay and|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Lieut.-Colonel Thorp.|
|Hall, W. G.||Ranger, J.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Osborne, C.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hollis, M. C.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Beechman, N. A||Howard, Hon. A.||Prescott, Stanley|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Bower, N.||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G,||Lennox-Boyd, A T.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Byers, Frank||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Savory, Prof. D. L|
|Challen, C||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Snadden W. M.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E||Marples, A. E.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Drayson, G. B||Marsden, Capt. A.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maude, J. C.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Fox, Sir G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Mullan, Lt. C. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Mr. Simmons and Mr. Daines|