HC Deb 14 April 1959 vol 603 cc838-40

In subsection (1) of section twenty-six of the principal Act (which requires safe means of access to every place of work) there shall be added, at the end, the words " and every such place shall so far as is reasonably practicable be made and kept safe for any person working there " and in subsection (2) of that section (which requires precautions where a person is liable to fall more than ten feet) for the words " ten feet " there shall he substituted the words " six feet six inches ".—[Mr. Iain Macleod.]

Brought up, and read the First time

Mr. Jain Macleod

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

When the Opposition moved a similar Clause in Committee, I said that I accepted everything about it except the words. I have, however, put down almost the identical words myself on Report. The two points about safe access and the bringing the height into line with the building regulations are obvious enough and there is only one point I should mention.

The new Clause introduced by the Opposition in Committee required that sufficient space should be provided at every workplace. I have, however, been advised by my legal advisers that a workplace which does not allow sufficient room for the work to be done with safety could not comply with the new Clause. That is why it has not been necessary to import the word " sufficient" into the Clause.

Mr. MacDermot

Of course, we on this side warmly welcome the new Clause. There is only one point on it which I should raise. As the Minister has said, he told us in Committee that he accepted everything in our new Clause except the words. There are, however, three other words which have been omitted and to which the Minister has not referred—" to and from ". We wanted to introduce into the duty of the employer under Section 26 of the principal Act the provision and maintenance of safe means of access to and from every place at which any person has from time to time to work.

The reason for that was that there have been decisions in the courts in cases in which men sustained accidents when they were not going to their place of work but were going, in one case, to a canteen and, in a case in Scotland, to a lavatory. Doubt has been cast upon the correctness of those decisions. The law, perhaps, is not wholly clear about the position and we thought it desirable to remove any doubt which exists by introducing into Section 26 of the principal Act the words " to and from " to make it quite clear that the liability of an employer remains just the same in whichever direction a man is walking.

This seems to us to be sensible enough. There may be difficulty which we have not foreseen, but, subject to this one point, I warmly welcome the new Clause.

Question put and agreed to.

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