HC Deb 13 April 1965 vol 710 cc1306-8

Lords Amendment: In page 12, line 12, after "accordingly" insert: ,and any reference to land includes a reference to premises

Dr. Dickson Mabon

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

This is a drafting Amendment to make it clear that "land" in this context includes "premises".

The Clause, taken in conjunction with Section 19 of the 1951 Act, empowers river purification authorities to obtain and take away samples of any effluent passing from any land or vessel into any stream in its area. Having regard to other Clauses in the Bill which refer specifically to "land or premises," for example, Clauses 1(3), 2(2) and 10(1), and so on, it would be questionable whether "land" in this context included "premises." It was for that reason that it was decided in another place to clarify the position.

Mr. Hendry

Alas and alack! I cannot welcome the Amendment. I have listened with great care to the hon. Gentleman's explanation, which he gave at high speed, but which I was able to follow. He suggested that because in some other subsections of the Clause the expression "land or premises" is used, whereas in this provision only the word "land" is used, there might be some doubt.

I dislike the Amendment for two reasons. One is that the subsection substitutes a new Section in the principal Act which will stand alone without any reference to any other subsection in the Clause and will fall to be construed in that way. This is one of those unfortunate instances which arise because we have no Scottish Law Officer in the House. It is most unfortunate that Ministers, with the best of good will, should have imperfect legal advice on matters of this sort. My first objection to the Amendment is that the Government has completely misunderstood the construction of the subsection.

My second objection is that the Amendment is completely and utterly unnecessary. If the Under-Secretary had been properly advised by a Law Officer, he would have been told straight away that "land" includes "premises." There can be no question about that. It is one of the basic and cardinal features of the law of Scotland that what is built on the land forms part of the land. That derives from the ancient Roman law, incorporated in the Scottish law, of Quod inaedificatur solo solo cedit. That, of course, is basic. Had the hon. Gentleman been advised by a Law Officer, he would have known this.

Although I dislike the Amendment, however, I cannot see that there is any harm in it, and in these circumstances I do not propose to press my objection.

Question put and agreed to.