HC Deb 26 April 1955 vol 540 cc895-6
Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I beg to move, in page 4, line 42, at the end to insert: and, in relation to a railway wagon or road vehicle, means the person in charge of the wagon or vehicle and not the occupier of the land on which the wagon or vehicle stands. Clause 3, which this Amendment seeks to amend in a certain particular, relates to the discharge of oil into territorial waters, and among other things to the discharge of oil from a place on land. Under the Clause where that discharge takes place from a place on land the occupier of the land is liable. The Bill as originally put forward did not deal specifically with the case where a discharge of oil arose from a vehicle, either a road or railway vehicle which, I am sorry to say, happens from time to time. In those circumstances it would seem wrong that the occupier of the land on which the vehicle was standing should be liable, and, therefore, this Amendment proposes in that case to substitute for the occupier of the land the person in charge of the vehicle in question.

Mr. Mitchison

This seems to us a very reasonable Amendment. It presumably contemplates the case of a railway wagon going off the property of the Transport Commission and running wild in some part of the country. It may happen, perhaps, that a road vehicle is of more immediate concern.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

I should like to ask the Minister one question, because I have never seen before the words "in charge of" in this context and I wonder exactly what they mean. Do they mean the owner or the driver or the lessee of the wagon or vehicle, or exactly what do they mean?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If I may reply, by leave of the House, I understand that the term "in charge of" is one which is very familiar in the context of the Road Traffic Acts. It is the person who, in fact, is in control of the vehicle at the time, and the courts have fairly frequently to deal with this very problem, for example, in cases under Section 15 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930.

Mr. Shackleton

One of the reasons which the Minister gave for this Amendment was it would be quite unfair to attack a man on whose land the oil pollution takes place. But oil pollution may take place in other ways. It is even conceivable that it could come from an aeroplane. It is a little late in the day to do anything about it, but since the right hon. Gentleman is so passionate in his desire to be comprehensive he ought to consider it a little further.

Amendment agreed to.

(Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified) Bill read the Third time and passed, with Amendment.