HC Deb 18 May 1950 vol 475 cc1442-4

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. McKie (Galloway)

On this Clause, which applies to Scotland, there are one or two points arising out of what the Minister said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Sir A. Hudson) on the last Amendment. I do not for one moment wish to dissent from a view generally held by my hon. Friends with regard to what I might call sharing the cost. I am confining myself simply and solely to the Scottish position, although it is more or less all one question. I was glad to hear the Minister say that he would not tie himself to the figure of one-third. Although I agree with my hon. Friend when he says that it is in the interests of all parties that these grids should be provided, I think he will probably be inclined to agree with me that an interested party might not necessarily —certainly I can think of cases in Scotland—be the party who would be called upon to subscribe whatever proportion the Minister thought fit.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman now appears to be addressing his remarks to Clause 3, which we have passed.

Mr. McKie

With great respect, Major Milner, I am dealing with Clause 4.

The Chairman

I do not see how the question of the proportion arises on Clause 4.

Mr. McKie

With very great respect, apart from the question of the benefits which Scotland obtains and which England does not obtain with regard to possible damages, I think the Clause is identical with the Clause for England and Wales. That was the only thing which tempted me to rise to make these few remarks.

A party interested in the provision of grids might not necessarily be the party who would be called upon to pay this allocation of one-third, or one-fourth, or one-fifth, or whatever proportion the Minister, in his discretion, may see fit to impose, because in many cases on these unclassified roads the owner of the land is not the occupier of the land, and therefore would not be the party who would directly gain by these grids being set up. I have no wish to dissent from my hon. Friends, but I think that is a point worth making, and it should be kept carefully in mind. I think the Minister will agree with me that many of these persons who at the present time do not occupy their own land may not receive very gladly this extra imposition which will be laid upon them. I am glad to see behind me the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who I thought indicated by his expression that he was inclined to agree with me in this respect.

I repeat what was said about Clause 4 on Second Reading by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan). Do not let anyone imagine that the provision of these grids may not be accompanied by considerable risk of damage and of danger to human beings, and to cattle and sheep as well. My hon. and gallant Friend pointed out that it is quite possible—he did not say probable—that this kind of damage would occur on quite a large scale. We hope that it will not, but it is quite likely. The law of Scotland, of course, gives us much greater protection than the Bill as at present drafted, affords. Those were the only two points I wished to make, and I am very glad, Major Milner that you allowed me to proceed and to finish my remarks.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Grimond

I only want to mention a point which I raised in connection with Clause 3, and now raise in connection with Clause 4. Is it intended to put any additional liability on the authorities in Scotland? Would this Clause cover a case in which there is not even nonfeasance, for instance in which an animal rushes on to the grid or where the grid is badly sited? In such a case, would any liability fall upon the authorities?

Brigadier Peto

Can the hon. Gentleman say what nonfeasance is called in Scottish law?

Mr. Grimond

I do not think I know.

The Solicitor-General

I confess I am not an expert in the law of Scotland, but I understand that distinction between liability in respect of misfeasance and of non-liability in respect of nonfeasance is not made in the law of Scotland. In the case of a badly-sited grid constituting a danger it might fall within misfeasance in English law, but as distinction between the two is not made in Scottish law, I imagine that liability might arise in Scottish law, where a grid was sited so as to be a source of danger.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.