HC Deb 01 July 1959 vol 608 cc550-3

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Palmer

I beg to move, in page 9, line 30, after "qualified", to insert "and trained".

We are proceeding so rapidly that I hesitate to make anything like a long speech on this which is admittedly a relatively small point. Clause 6 of the Bill deals with the question of the inspectors who will be necessary once the Bill becomes the law of the land. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends will agree with me when I say that the success of the safety provisions of the Bill will depend to a great extent on the Inspectorate, just as the success of the Factories Acts depends upon the Factory Inspectorate. Clause 6 of the Bill says that the inspectors to be appointed should be "qualified" persons.

I think we can take it for granted that they must be qualified and that they will have the proper education in nuclear science and nuclear technology and all that is associated with it. But we should like to take the matter a little further, to ensure not only that the inspectors should be qualified for the duties which they will have to perform but that, in addition, they should be trained. I should have thought that in the ordinary way the two things, the two words "qualified" and "trained", would have gone together, and I am a little surprised that the word "trained" which we propose to insert is not already in the Bill because most Acts of Parliament, as far as I remember, particularly those dealing with the nationalised industries, if they use the word "education", add the word "training". The phrase usually is "education and training". Therefore, if we substitute "qualification" for "education," why cannot we go on to add the word "training", and if we have "qualified" why cannot we add "trained"?

When the right hon. Gentleman, or his hon. Friend, replies, perhaps he will also tell us a little bit about how it is proposed to recruit these inspectors. I am, of course, assuming that they are already educated in these matters, that they are already qualified, and should also, as we are proposing, be trained. Much of the training at the moment will necessarily be done by the Atomic Energy Authority. I think it would be interesting to the House to know what kind of relationship is to be established between the Ministry and the Atomic Energy Authority in this matter.

Trade unions and some of the staff associations which organise staff and workpeople in atomic energy establishments—and there will, of course, be others yet to come as the extent of these nuclear processes grows wider—are most interested in this matter of the Inspectorate, that not only should the inspectors be qualified but that they should be firmly trained in the duties which they have to perform. It may be that I am taking too favourable a view of my own argument, but to me it seems a very sound argument, and I hope that it will be looked upon favourably by the Government.

Mr. Harold Davies

I beg to second the Amendment.

Sir I. Horobin

I do not think there is anything between us on this matter, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. and right hon. Friends will not press this Amendment. There are really two quite simple reasons why we take that view. The word "qualified" places the responsibility for the decision quite clearly on the Minister. It is up to him to decide whether the appropriate persons are appointed in these different grades of service. We are anxious that nothing should go into the Bill which might cause confusion, and that might arise in two ways if these proposed words were put in. First of all, there is not only the need for academic qualification in these matters and for specific training in certain cases, but some should have at certain grades substantial practical experience. Therefore, if we put one thing and do not put the other, that may lead to doubt, whereas if we simply put, as I say, definite responsibility on the Minister to see that the persons appointed have the proper qualifications, which is a general word, that difficulty is covered.

The other objection is very relevant to something which we all know is very much in the hon. Gentleman's mind. Indeed, he referred to it in passing when he was moving the Amendment. There may be certain of these junior appointments for which, if we are to get them at all and get them quickly, the Minister must go to the universities and appoint people subject to subsequent training. This Amendment would make it impossible for him to do that because he could not start paying these young people, who may have the most brilliant qualifications and be in every way qualified, as they would not already have had the necessary training.

For these and similar reasons, and as we entirely share the objective which the hon. Gentleman has in mind, I hope he will agree that his point would best be met by leaving the Bill as it is.

Mr. Palmer

In view of that very rational explanation for which I am sure we are grateful, and as, I understand, the word "qualified" covers, in effect, education and training, and as I see the strength of the hon. Gentleman's argument about the recruiting difficulty, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in page 10, line 6, at the end to insert: in order to secure that the carrying out of the test does not create any danger.

This Amendment is for the purpose of clarification. In Clause 6 (2) there is a proviso that before carrying out any tests an inspector shall consult with such persons having duties upon the site as may appear to him appropriate.

There was some discussion earlier whether this should not be spelled out a little more definitely, and the purpose of this Amendment is to make it quite clear that the purpose of these consultations is not to consider the nature of a test but to ensure that the test itself does not create any danger—by the pushing of the wrong switch, or something of that kind. I hope we have made that clear and that the House will think it satisfactory to leave it to the inspector to decide for himself whom he should consult before carrying out his test.

Amendment agreed to.