HC Deb 19 November 1954 vol 533 cc726-7

Lords Amendment: In page 93, line 41, at end, insert new Clause "I": For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that the owner of a mine or quarry is not absolved from liability to pay damages in respect of a contravention, in relation to the mine or quarry, by a person employed by him of—

  1. (a) a provision of this Act, of an order made thereunder or of regulations; or
  2. (b) a prohibition, restriction or requirement imposed by a notice served under or by virtue of this Act by an inspector;
by reason only that the provision, contravened was one which expressly imposed on that person or on persons of a class to which, at the time of the contravention, he belonged, a duty or requirement or expressly prohibited that person, or persons of such a class or all persons from doing a specified act or, as the case may be, that the prohibition, restriction or requirement was expressly imposed on that person or that that person was, in pursuance of this Act or regulations, appointed by a person other than the owner.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a highly technical Amendment, and it is for the removal of legal doubts. You, Mr. Speaker, know more about the possibility of that than I do. I have considered the question very carefully and, in my view, it fully covers the various points raised in the course of the debate. I commend it to the House.

Mr. R. Williams

This is, as the Parliamentary Secretary rightly said, a highly-technical Amendment, but it is also one of the most important matters dealt with in the Bill.

I raised this question earlier because of certain observations which were made by a learned judge in the High Court. Had this provision not been inserted in the Bill, I think that it would have been possible for cases to have been taken where men had suffered from serious disablement and where very substantial damages would have been possible, and that they would not, in fact, have recovered those damages because the owners would have been enabled to plead that they were not liable, since there was a statutory condition or prohibition resting on the person actually guilty of negligence or of committing the offence.

12 noon.

It is no doubt a highly technical matter, but I do not think that it should be dismissed lightly because of that. I am not suggesting, of course, that the Parliamentary Secretary even thought of dismissing it lightly. I make no apology for taking up a little time on this very important technical point, because the result of including the Clause in the Bill—since it removes doubts—will be that quite a substantial number of cases will have no difficulty in recovering the damages to which they are so justly entitled. I offer the heartiest congratulations to the Minister and his colleagues for having fulfilled his undertaking so splendidly.

Question put, and agreed to.