§ The Deputy-Chairman
I think that all the proposed Amendments to this Clause may be discussed together; namely, in the same line, after the first "person," to insert "residing"; to leave out from "no," to "to," in line 5, and to insert "such person," and after second "person," to insert "residing."
§ The Attorney-General
The Amendment was put down as a result of representations, and indeed Amendments put on the Order Paper, by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I must confess that I have always been a little anxious about the provision which one does in fact see in a great many Statutes that service may be made upon any person on the premises. There are innumerable precedents for that. Some of them are recent precedents where Parliament has thought it was enough that process should be served on any person who happened to be on the premises at the time, whether it was the milkman or the man who comes to collect the money from the gas meter—
§ The Attorney-General
—or a man coming to serve another notice. We came to the conclusion that these words were a little wide and we seek to qualify them by putting in the word "responsible." It would be difficult to use the word "residing," since it would involve inquiries as to the position of the person who was served. We came to the conclusion that the better word was "responsible." Frankly, where precarious service of this kind is permitted at all, I think it difficult to find an ideal form of words to ensure that there is never service on somebody who fails to bring the matter to the notice of the person really concerned with it; but we think that "responsible" meets the case. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree and will not press his own Amendment.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
This is not the first occasion on which I have sought to secure some alteration of the almost common-form Clause providing for service of a notice, which might relate to a matter of great importance, on any person on the premises. At last my efforts have met with a degree of success, and I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for going so far as he has done; but I think that the word I selected "residing," so as to make it service on some person residing on the premises, has certain attractions over the word "responsible."
After all, it will not be easy to prove that a good service has in fact been made by satisfying the court that the person who was handed the notice was a "responsible" person, whatever that may mean. In the eyes of Conservatives, a number of Socialists would not be considered responsible, and perhaps vice versa. What is the interpretation of the word "responsible" in this connection? That will probably be a matter of some argument. I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that perhaps, after all, it would be best to take both words and put:responsible person residing on the premises.If there is anyone on the premises, the occupancy is pretty easy to ascertain. Even if it is purely temporary, the remedy is easy—one merely affixes the notice. I have never seen the objection to making the first part rather more definite 1964 than it has been in the past. If one cannot find there anyone on whom to serve the notice, one is justified in affixing a notice to the premises, and it is easy to do so.
There is a case for making the first part a little stronger. Residence is not difficult to ascertain. A man can say "Someone opened the door of the premises, I asked him if he was living there, he said 'Yes,' so I gave him the notice." That is a little more easy to determine than mere responsibility. If one cannot find anyone residing on the premises, one is entirely justified in affixing a notice to some conspicious part of the premises. It is often done by sticking a post in a field and fastening a board to the post. I ask the Attorney-General to give further thought to the point before next Friday, in the hope that we can still make some slight improvement to the provision.
§ The Attorney-General
Certainly. I am not altogether happy about it. The difficulty about using the word "residence" might arise in the case which the hon. and learned Gentleman put to me. One may go to the premises and ask the person on whom one proposes to serve the notice whether he lives there. He might say "Yes" when he is only a visitor or merely spending the week-end there, and one would find that service was bad. If the test was "responsible," that danger would not be quite so great. I do not altogether like the word "responsible." I do not know whether it means responsible in the sense of the hon. and learned Member's example—as all Members of the Labour Party are—or responsible in the matter in question, having some responsibility towards the person on whom the notice should be served. I cannot promise that we will alter the provision, but we will look at it again.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 44, line 4, leave out from "no," to "to," in line 5, and insert "such person."—[Mr. Barnes.]
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 34 ordered to stand part of the Bill.