HC Deb 04 July 1957 vol 572 cc1418-20

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in page 7, line 8, after "Act", to insert: being a building, structure or works for the time being in existence". This is to clear up a point of doubt raised during the Committee stage, when I said it was intended that the powers of the Board under Clause 4 to carry out preventive works were intended to cover preventive works to existing buildings or structures, and not to buildings that might he erected in the future.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) rightly pointed out that this might have been the intention, but that the Bill did not say it. The purpose of this Amendment is to make it clear, as was always our intention, that the preventive works are to prevent damage to buildings and structures actually in existence. I hope that this Amendment will clear up the point.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

There is only one small point on this Amendment. I am not certain when a building is in existence. I am sorry to press my right hon. Friend, but it may become important. For instance, is it in existence when there is nothing but the ground floor there? That might become important because it might well be that a part of a building may be said not to be a building in existence.

It is a further small drafting point. I am obliged to my right hon. Friend for having met the point which I raised in Committee, and I agree, but I think he will need to look a little further before the matter can be disposed of finally.

Mr. Harold Davies

I want to back the point put by the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) because we have this in practice in the City of Stoke-on-Trent. It may sound a funny question to ask when is a building in existence, but the foundations were laid for a new school where a new estate was being made. Before the school was finished—and in parts of it only the footings of the building were placed—mining subsidence took place to such an extent that they had to abandon the building while they considered placing rafts, etc., underneath. So I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making this point, because it is a real problem in practice in mining subsidence areas.

Mr. Maudling

A very pertinent point has been raised and I will check it. My guess is that the answer will be that a half-constructed building would be a structure and, therefore, is covered by the word "structure." If it is not so, I will see that it is put right.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in page 7, line 32, after "under", to insert "subsections (2) to (5) of section one of".

I think that I am right in saying that these next four Amendments go together, Sir, because they are all consequential in a sense. If I may refer to them together, it would be for the convenience of the House.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is agreed.

Mr. Maudling

The effect is that subsection (2) of Clause 4 provides that if people are unreasonable and will not let the National Coal Board carry out the necessary preventive works, and damage then occurs because of their unreasonableness, the Board obviously should be relieved of liability. That is generally agreed.

In the course of the Report stage we have added a new liability on the Board, which has to pay not only for the cost of repairing the damage done but also removal expenses, and so on. The first purpose of these Amendments is to say that equally in the case of removal expenses, as in the case of the cost of repairing physical damage, where damage has occurred because someone has unreasonably refused to allow the Board to carry out preventive work, the Board shall be relieved of liability. Therefore, this Amendment is really consequential in a sense in that it carries on the existing principle.

The second effect is to exclude the other new Clause about death and personal injury, because contributory negligence is dealt with under that Clause specifically, as the House will remember.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 7, line 35, leave out "this Act" and insert: the said subsections (2) to (5)". In line 38, at end insert: (c) if the property is a dwelling-house, the person aforesaid shall not be entitled to serve a notice in respect thereof under paragraph 4 of the Schedule (Provisions as to dwelling-houses rendered uninhabitable) to this Act nor to receive any relief under that Schedule.

In line 44, after "(ii)", insert "paragraphs (a) and (b) of".—[Mr. Maudling.]