HC Deb 28 June 1957 vol 572 cc587-90
Mr. Nabarro

I beg to move, in line 43, after "building", to insert "(i)".

It might be for the convenience of the House if the following Amendment standing in my name, to line 45, to insert the new sub-paragraphs (ii) and (iii), were considered at the same time.

These Amendments are consequential on the new Clause added to the Bill a few moments ago, and are needed to extend the right of appeal to cover matters arising in that new Clause.

Mr. E. Johnson

I beg formally to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In line 45, to leave out from beginning to "or" in line 47 and insert: (ii) whether conformity to that standard will, in the case of that building, depend (wholly or to a substantial extent) on the use, in the construction thereof, of restricted materials; or (iii) whether the way in which restricted materials are proposed to be used in the construction of the building is such as not to enhance the risk of fire's breaking out or spreading therein.—[Mr. Nabarro.]

Mr. Nabarro

I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, to leave out "jointly".

It might be for the convenience of the House if the following Amendment standing in my name, to line 5, to leave out "and the local authority", were considered at the same time.

These Amendments delete the requirement that any appeal to the Minister should be made jointly by the parties concerned, and substitute for it a right of separate appeal by the intending builder. The matter was raised during the Committee stage, and I think that this further Amendment will command general support in the House.

The provision for joint appeal was based on a precedent created by the Public Health Act, 1936, but as an appeal under the Bill will normally only arise if a builder or intending builder is dissatisfied with the decision of the local authority concerned, and is unlike the position under the Public Health Acts, where the direct interests of the local authority are not likely to be concerned if the Minister's decision is taken in favour of the builder, it seems reasonable that in the circumstance of this proposed legislation we should depart from the Public Health Act in this material regard and create a precedent in the matter.

Further, it can be argued that the necessity for a joint appeal might amount to depriving the intending builder of any right of appeal in any case in which a local authority refuses to join in such an appeal. I envisage circumstances in which an industrialist might wish to extend a building or put up a new building, and, while he might have wished to appeal against the denial of his intention, the local authority may not wish to be joined with him in that appeal.

An extraordinary situation would then arise, and I think that that in itself is sufficient justification for giving an aggrieved person, or a person likely to be aggrieved, namely, one who has been refused permission under the appropriate Clauses of this Bill for insulation purposes, to proceed independently to appeal in the matter directly concerned. This is a point about which the Federation of British Industries has been very much concerned, and the Federation has pressed upon me and others associated with me the desirability of an independent appeal by an intending builder if that situation should arise.

Mr. C. R. Hobson

I am very pleased that the hon. Member has seen fit to move this requisite Amendment. In fact, I do not think that the Bill would have gone through had that not been the case.

It seems to me that it is fair and reasonable that there should be provision here for what are really separate appeals. At least, it does not prevent agreement between the parties before the appeals take place. There are here ways and means by which there could be a smooth application of this Bill. I well recollect cases, many years ago, in my trade union experience, particularly where arbitration decisions were concerned and in the sending of cases for arbitration, in which, unless the two parties agreed to the terms of reference, it was impossible to get them to arbitration, with the result that there was not only a hiatus but often the cause of very serious dispute. Such a position will not arise if this Amendment is accepted, and I therefore hope that the House will see fit to accept it.

Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)

There is only one thing that worries me about this Amendment, and it is whether it is conceivable that the local authority itself might wish to appeal. Has the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) considered that point, or is it fully covered by the Amendment? If this Amendment is accepted, will it not cut out the right of the local authority to have access to the Minister? Can the Minister tell us?

Mr. Renton

Perhaps I should start by answering the point just put by the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd).

The position is that the direct interests of the local authority are not likely to be concerned if the Minister's decision is taken in favour of the builder. The Minister has to be the guardian of the public interest and the judge of whether or not it is being observed in regard to thermal insulation, and the local authority only comes into this to help in the administration of the Act.

The Ministry of Housing and Local Government has, of course, been consulted about this, and my right hon. Friend is satisfied that the departure from the principle in Section 67 of the Public Health Act, that there should normally be a joint appeal, is fully justified in this case. If the builder himself is dissatisfied with the local authority's decision, it is right that he should have a right of appeal to the Minister of Power on the matter. If the local authority is not satisfied, when the Minister himself has been appealed to, then they have no interest because it is the Minister of Power who has to judge the thermal insulation issue.

I should point out that, whereas the enforcement machinery of Part XII of the Public Health Act, 1936, is to a great extent being used as the enforcement machinery under this Bill, we feel that this is a proper exception to make from the general provisions of that part of the Public Health Act.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In line 5, to leave out "and the local authority".—[Mr. Nabarro.]