HC Deb 29 April 1958 vol 587 cc333-4

Lords Amendment: In page 9, line 18, at end insert: (ii) the prohibition on the use of explosives imposed by this subsection shall not apply to the use for cutting away the superstructure of a vessel of such small explosive charges as may for the time being be approved by the Minister for the purposes of this proviso.

Mr. Neave

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

This relates to the use by the Board of explosives for the removal of wrecks. The previous wording prohibited the use of explosives completely, but it was felt that for safety reasons the Board should be able to use small quantities of explosives to remove the superstructure of a wreck in an emergency. It is difficult to define the maximum quantities of explosives to be used but that matter is with my right hon. Friend under this Amendment.

Mr. Ness Edwards

I must say that I do not view the use of the words in this Amendment with very much satisfaction. What may be small to the Minister may be very large to the inhabitants and people living on the boundaries of the Haven. I think we ought to have some better explanation from the Parliamentary Secretary. Can he tell us what procedure will be followed to get this permission? Will it be to deal with a large wreck or a small wreck? Will a large amount of explosive be needed for a large wreck? The matter is left very much in the air. Could the hon. Gentleman say something more about it. so that people living in the area can be reassured that, even if the Minister gives permission, his idea of what is small shall not be the idea which in the minds of other people is large?

Mr. Neave

I see the point made by the right hon. Member and my right hon. Friend will exercise discretion with that in mind. This question arises because the Dock and Harbour Authorities' Association represented that to impose a complete ban on the use of explosives would severely restrict the Board in what it might have to do in regard to wrecks. I think the right hon. Member will agree that it is difficult to define precisely the maximum quantities of explosive charges, but I shall certainly ask my right hon. Friend in deciding what the Board could use in the way of explosives to bear in mind that people in the district may be affected and that the particular circumstances of any particular case should be reviewed in view of what has been said.

Question put and agreed to.