§ 1.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Turton
I beg to move, in page 3, line 27, to leave out from "section" to the first "as" in line 28.
This Amendment refers to Section 290 of the Public Health Act, 1936. The Clause as drafted would only allow that Section to operate if structural works were laid down in the notice. Our view is that it should be somewhat wider. I am sorry that the Parliamentary Secretary has not the assistance of a Law Officer on this wholly legal point. Subsection (2, b) says that the notice may in particular requirethe carrying out on the land of any structural repairs or other works so specified.We understand from our advisers that that would be a wider notice than one merely referring to the carrying out of structural works. Of course, under paragraph (a) the notice might requirethe application to the land of any form of treatment specified in the notice.It is therefore quite clear that by including the limiting wordsrequiring the carrying out of any structural worksthe appeal under the Public Health Act is limited to a very narrow field.
I do not see why there should not be a wider scope for appeal. After all, the 1936 Act has been used in other Acts with some advantage, and I do not see why these limiting words should be put into this Bill. It may be that the intention of the Parliamentary Secretary in drafting this Clause was to secure that there should be an appeal under paragraph (b) but not under paragraph (a). If that is his intention, I suggest that the wording should be:requiring the carrying out of any structural repairs or other works so specifiedusing the wording of paragraph (b). To use different wording in the two paragraphs causes a certain amount of confusion. Not only that, but it will involve certain expense when the matter has to 881 be argued in the courts, and we do want to save expense if we can.
I do not think that on this Amendment there is any great party division between the Parliamentary Secretary and myself. We only wish to make the Bill better, and I hope that, after consulting a Law Officer, the hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment. I do not want to waste the time of the House by unnecessarily putting forward complicated legal arguments. I do think that this is a reasonable and necessary Amendment.
§ Mr. G. Brown
It is not my intention to accept the Amendment, and I do not think we need do so. The intention of subsection (5), as has been seen quite clearly by the hon. Gentleman, is that there should be an appeal against a notice requiring any structural works which will involve a good deal of expense in alterations and adaptations. It is proper that there should be provision for appeal, but not in regard to treatment which is urgent, where the trouble would get worse and worse unless dealt with immediately. That is why we have inserted in subsection (5) the words:requiring the carrying out of any structural works,in order to show quite clearly what the occupier or owner, on whom the notice is served, has an appeal against.
Subsection (2, b) refers to the carrying out on any land of any structural repairs, not structural works. The hon. Gentleman will notice the words "or other works." Quite clearly we envisage work which is not a repair, but which may be a new work.
§ Mr. Brown
It says "or other works." The intention of paragraph (b) is not to refer to any form of treatment specified in the notice, but only tostructural repairs or other works so specified.If the order is not under subsection (2, b) it refers to "any structural work." That is why we deliberately use different words in subsection (5), which refers to "any structural works," whether they be structural repairs or other works speci- 882 fied. Being "structural works," there is an appeal against them all. If the order does not affect structural work at all, an appeal does not lie—
§ Mr. Turton
The whole point, which the hon. Gentleman has not answered, is this. If the work is not a structural work but a work of a different nature which can be specified under subsection (2, b), is it the intention or not to grant an appeal?
§ Mr. C. Williams
The Parliamentary Secretary seems to think that the words "structural works" can cover any sort of work. If one was ordered to build a new shed or a new wall to a shed, that would be a structural work. On the other hand, if one was ordered to stop up certain holes with cement, would that be a structural work or not? I should have said that it was a repair, but I am not a lawyer. Is it the Government's intention that this should cover repairs—
§ Mr. Williams
We are coming to the point, which has been brought out 883 very clearly, that it is the desire of the Minister that all kinds of repairs which may be done shall have the right of appeal. It is clear that that is the opinion of the Parliamentary Secretary. My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Mal-ton (Mr. Turton) put down this Amendment in order to clear up that point.
We do not seem to be on very strong ground in accepting the view of the Minister. He has his advisers, and we realise that he does his best in these matters, but my hon. Friend is a highly distinguished lawyer and a far better legal authority than anyone on the Government Front Bench. That being so, the House was right to examine this Amendment. With the complete lack of legal advice from the Government, I still tend to think that, in all probability, there is a great deal to be said for the Amendment, and I hope that it will be looked at on another occasion.
§ Amendment negatived.