HC Deb 05 April 1950 vol 473 cc1263-5

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

7.1 p.m.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire)

I do not think this Bill will detain the House for very long, although there are one or two points in it to which some of my hon. Friend and I take exception. The Bill gives to Government Corporations powers which are new so far as these bodies are concerned. For example, we do not like Clause 87 (12) and (14), nor Clause 89 (3). These subsections give nationalised industries special immunities; and, if they are allowed in Wolverhampton, there is a danger that this Bill might become a precedent for their doing things which other industries are not allowed to do.

We are not proposing tonight to ask the House to divide in favour of any instructions to the Committee, but we would like to put on record our views in regard to these Clauses. We see no reason why a nationalised industry which claims to be a model employer should need these powers. It may be that the Committee upstairs may decide to take these powers out of the Bill, and we hope that they will give the most careful examination to these particular Clauses. If the Opposition find that these Clauses remain in the Bill, and if at any time, in our view, the powers given are abused, or if, on further consideration, we so decide, we shall not hesitate to oppose the inclusion of any similar powers in any future local legislation.

7.3 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-East)

I wish very briefly to reinforce the hope expressed by my hon. Friend that the Committee dealing with this Bill will look very closely at the privileged position created in it for the British Electricity Authority and the National Coal Board. It is particularly ironical to one coming from Wolverhampton to find that the British Electricity Authority are to be given exemption from this particular oblige- tion; for it so happens that in Wolverhampton one of the greatest, if not the greatest, public nuisances and dangers to health arises from an installation of the British Electricity Authority. It is a cooling tower of that authority which, in most conditions of weather, drenches with a thin rain a considerable area of the borough of Wolverhampton, an area in which the houses, walls and streets are practically never dry.

Those of us who are interested in this problem were glad to learn some months ago from an announcement of the British Electricity Authority that these difficulties have been successfully combated in Darlington, and I suggest that, until the British Electricity Authority put their own house in order wherever they are operating these installations, they have no right to expect exemption, upon the grounds of being model undertakers, from conditions which are imposed upon private enterprise.

7.5 p.m.

Mr. Gerald Williams (Tonbridge)

I want to draw the attention of the House to Clause 66 (1, e), in which the Corporation are given power by notice to prohibit persons from entering upon or causing or permitting horses, cattle or vehicles to enter upon any such grass verge or garden. This is really a Committee point, but, as one will not have the chance of bringing it up on the Committee stage, I should like to direct the attention of the House to it. Why the Corporation should wish to prohibit persons or horses from entering upon grass verges, I do not know. It might be reasonable to keep horses off, if the grass verges are mown or fenced off, or bedded with flowers, but in these days, when roads are very dangerous for any equestrian who wants to preserve his life, he likes to get on grass verges, but this, under the provisions of the Bill, the Corporation would have power to prohibit. Formerly, when Bills similar to this were brought before the House, such a Clause usually read: grass verges mown or maintained by the Corporation in an ornamental condition. It would be a great improvement to the Bill if this old wording were used in the present case, because this is a matter of general interest, not only to people who ride horses, but also to motorists, who would like to keep the horses on the verges.

7.7 p.m.

Sir John Mellor (Sutton Coldfield)

I should like to add to what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), and to say that we reserve the right, in the case of any future Private Bills, to object to Clauses by which nationalised industries are given a privileged position. I should like, for myself, to reserve the right on Report stage, should this Bill emerge from the Committee with Clauses 87 and 89 still included in it, to move that they be deleted.

7.8 p.m.

Mr. Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)

While I realise that the Opposition are using a Private Bill as a means for an attack on the nationalised industries, I am rather inclined to agree with what the hon. Gentleman said just now, except in connection with the inclusion of Clause 87 (12), which relates to railways, as I am advised that there are many precedents for it. In fact, under other Private Bills railways were excluded in a specific exemption. In the case of subsection 14, however, the British Electricity Authority are given exemption, and I am rather inclined to agree that this should be included in subsection (6), though I think that most of these points can be left for consideration by the Committee, and I am quite content that the Bill should be considered in detail by them.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.

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