HC Deb 29 May 1956 vol 553 cc37-9
  1. (1) Provision may be made by order for directing that such of the provisions of the Factories Acts, 1937 and 1948, as may be specified in the order shall not apply, or shall not apply to such extent as may be so specified, to—
    1. (a) any premises occupied for agricultural purposes;
    2. (b) any premises whereon there is carried on work in which are employed persons of a class to which this Act extends by virtue of an order under section seventeen thereof.
  2. (2) An order under this section may be either one relating to premises in any part of Great Britain and made by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State and the Minister of Labour and National Service jointly, or one relating to premises in England and Wales only and made by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister of Labour and National Service jointly or one relating to premises in Scotland only and made by the Secretary of State and the Minister of Labour and National Service jointly.
  3. (3) An order under this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order there-under made by the authority who made the original order.
  4. (4) The powers conferred by this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and no order shall be made under this section unless a draft thereof has been laid before Parliament and has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.—[Mr. Amory.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Amory

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The object of the proposed new Clause is to prevent overlapping or conflict with the various Factories Acts. Unless we have some provision of this kind, an employer in agriculture might find hint-self subject to two different sets of regulations. We might find that, as it were, we have got the wires crossed. It is not possible to provide an absolutely clear line of demarcation in the Bill, although that would be the simplest plan.

Let me give one or two examples of the borderline cases we have in mind; portable saws, grass drying and grinding machinery, and poultry - plucking machines of the kind normally met with in a factory. I have conferred with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour about this matter and we both agree that this will he the simplest way of ensuring that we do not get confused and at cross-purposes, and that the matter is clear and well-defined.

The House will know that we are providing that an Order made under this proposed new Clause will be subject to the affirmative Resolution procedure. I think that that is right.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

We fully accept the purposes of the proposed new Clause, but I would like the right hon. Gentleman to give the House an assurance that the position of no worker will be worsened as the result of it. We appreciate that the House will have an opportunity to discuss any Order under the affirmative Resolution procedure, which is an advantage for those who are vigilant, but, at the same time, it would be helpful if the right hon. Gentleman would give that assurance.

Mr. Amory

I certainly hope that no worker will be worse off under the provisions of the proposed new Clause. We shall be designing regulations that are appropriate to agriculture, and it is difficult to make an exact comparison between the position of a worker under those regulations and that of a worker under the relevant regulations of the Factories Acts. Our object will be to see that, as far as is humanly practicable, the worker will not be worse off. If it be thought in any case that he is going to be worse off, I hope hon. Members will raise that aspect of the matter when we come to the affirmative Resolution concerned.

Mr. E. G. Gooch (Norfolk, North)

I am sure that the Minister appreciates the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) about the position of the worker. If his position will be better by applying the regulations as they now stand, that will be best. I should have thought the Minister would be in a position to give an assurance of that kind.

Mr. Amory

I entirely agree, subject to the qualification about what is practicable in agriculture. It might be held in a particular case that the worker would be better off in theory under the Factories Acts, but it might be impossible to apply the Factories Acts in the circumstances. Subject to that kind of thing, it is our intention to see that the worker is no worse off under the new Clause.

Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)

Before the Minister leaves the point, may I ask him about the status of certain premises often found in woodlands where a circular saw is set up in a temporary hutment or other building of a temporary character, in order to cut wood and produce timber? There has always been great doubt whether those premises were covered by the Factories Acts. I am still not quite clear whether the Bill will improve the status of a workman injured in such an operation as using a circular saw in woodlands, as compared with his position under the Factories Acts.

Mr. Amory

I can only answer that a worker in those circumstances will be fully covered under the Bill. How he will be covered will depend upon the precise regulations, which will be subject to the affirmative Resolution procedure. We must wait until we see what the regulations are, but, broadly speaking, those workers will be completely covered by the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

3.45 p.m.