HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1322-5

(1) A harbour authority engaged in improving, maintaining or managing a harbour to which a scheme established by a control of movement order relates may make byelaws (subject to confirmation by the Minister) for securing that the putting into effect of the scheme is not prevented or impeded.

(2) Byelaws made by virtue of the foregoing subsection may include provision for the punishment of a person who contravenes, or fails to comply with, any of them, by the infliction, upon his being summarily convicted of an offence consisting in the contravention or failure, of a fine not exceeding £20.

(3) Sections 250(2) to (7) and 252 of the Local Government Act 1933 (which relate to the procedure for making, and evidence of, byelaws) shall apply to any byelaws made under subsection (1) of this section by a harbour authority as if they were a local authority and their secretary or clerk were the clerk to a local authority.

(4) No power to make byelaws vested, by a statutory provision other than subsection (1) of this section, in a harbour authority engaged as therein mentioned shall be exercisable for the purpose so mentioned.

(5) In the application of this section to Scotland, for the references to subsections (2) to (7) of section 250 and to section 252 of the Local Government Act 1933 there shall be substituted respectively references to section 301(3), (4), (5), (7) and (11) to (13) and to section 303 (except paragraph (d) thereof) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947.—[Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

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

It might be for the convenience of the House to discuss, at the same time, the Amendment in my right hon. Friend's name in Clause 18, page 21, line 36, leave out subsection (6).

Mr. Speaker

If the House so pleases.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

The new Clause is designed to take the place of that subsection. It ensures that bye-laws made under the provisions of this part of the Bill follow the normal procedure for making byelaws.

Clause 18(6), in its present form, gives harbour authorities the power to make byelaws to secure that the putting into effect of a scheme is not prevented or impeded. But it does not lay down procedures to govern the making of these byelaws. This was pointed out in Committee by the hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin), who moved an Amendment seeking to make these bye-laws subject to the Minister's approval. We accepted the idea behind the Amendment. The new Clause constitutes the necessary drafting to put it into effect. The Amendment in page 21, line 36 is, of course, necessary to delete the substituted subsection from the Bill.

Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)

We welcome the new Clause. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman has pointed out, the Bill as it stood originally gave power to make byelaws, but without the safeguards and consequential arrangements which are required to put the matter in order. We regard the new Clause as making good the deficiency.

Dr. King

The new Clause is certainly an improvement on the one which it replaces, but I must comment on this question, as I so frequently had cause to do in Committee. The new Clause adds one more negative provision to a Bill by which we are seeking the cooperation of all authorities to make the docks and harbours of this country more efficient than they are now. The new Clause reminds me of the mother who said to her daughter, "Go and see what little Johnny is doing outside and tell him to stop it at once". It is a negative provision. It adds one more to the 18 sets of penalties with which the Bill is so liberally besprinkled. The one good thing which the new Clause does is to remove the defect which the Clause it replaces had in that it puts the harbour authorities on a par with the local authorities when they seek to make byelaws.

Subsection (4) of the new Clause completes the negative picture. Having said, in subsections (1), (2) and (3), what may be done and what punishments are devised to see that no authority disobeys schemes which are for the good of all authorities and in which one would expect them to co-operate, it then takes from the harbour authorities any other powers which they may now have to make byelaws. I do not know whether any of them have had positive powers under existing legislation, but, when the Clause becomes law, any other power which they have to make byelaws will be taken away. All they will have will be the negative power to decide a set of things which must not be done, subject to the penalties in subsection (2).

All these references to byelaws and enforcement relate to control of movement orders which nobody wants. Again, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us which group of citizens, which harbour boards, which captains of ships, which pilots, or which dock authorities have asked for control of movement orders power to enforce which under byelaws the new Clause is designed to enforce?

I am opposed entirely to the control of movement order. If it were possible, I should wish to vote against the bye-laws which give force to them.

Mr. John Silkin (Deptford)

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for giving way on this matter. Had the original Clause remained—I think that this deals to some extent with what my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) has in mind—there would have been extraordinary anomalies in the law governing the making of byelaws. Under the old 1847 Act one might have had one set of byelaws, with a penalty entirely different from what is proposed in the Bill, and the result would have been to make confusion worse confounded. In addition, according to the 1847 Act, the making of byelaws and penalties thereunder was under the supervision, in many cases, of entirely different bodies, in some cases in England and Wales under the control of the justices, in some cases in Scotland under the control of the sheriff court.

The new Clause, whether it be penal or not—if we are to have byelaws, there must, I am sure, be penalties attached to their breach—gives a uniformity throughout the country to all harbours, to the byelaws, and to the penalties, and it makes them subject to the Minister's confirmation. I am very glad to welcome the new Clause.

Question put and agreed to.

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