HC Deb 04 May 1965 vol 711 cc1170-3
Mr. John Morris

I beg to move, Amendment No. 15, in line 11, after "from", insert: or the addition of any ingredient or substance to". The purpose of the Amendment is to spell out that the Minister may make it a condition upon the gas authority that not only should it, as a prerequisite of safety, remove or reduce any particular constituent in gas, but that it may also add to the gas.

The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) made this observation in Committee, and among the attractive suggestions he made was that it might be advantageous in certain circumstances to add smell to gas to ensure the safety of the public in that they would be aware of the existence of gas, having regard to the tendency of gas not to have a smell these days. While there was, as I said, not strictly a need for the specific insertion of this power for the Minister, we have agreed that it would be advantageous to spell this out exactly and so ensure that it is written into the Statute.

The difficulty about the Amendment moved in Committee by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury was that, had it been accepted as drafted, it would not have been grammatical. I undertook to introduce a suitable Amendment to cover the point, which is what I am doing.

Mr. Ridley

I apologise for my bad grammar in Committee and I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for having met the point of substance with the Amendment. It is gratifying to note the care which the Government have taken in considering our Committee discussions on the Bill. They have picked up the various undertakings they made and have, where-ever possible, put right the defects which we found in the Bill. Our labours in Committee are by no means wasted if this is always done by the Government.

We had a good debate on this subject in Committee and I have no need to go over the ground again. Various of my hon. Friends have been conducting experiments with respect to gas smells. My hon. Friend the Member for Wan-stead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) discovered a gas leak in the drive of a constituent's home and my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Webster) told us about explosions in the bars of public houses.

I think that the Parliamentary Secretary has gone some way towards agreeing that underground storage methods are safer and are in every way more desirable than the ordinary gasometer on the surface. Perhaps it should be added that our desire for the addition of a smell to gas was not only because that would be in the interest of the public—indeed, most hon. Members will agree that leaks which are harmful to the public are unlikely—but because the gas authority, perhaps more than anybody, should be aware of leaks to prevent enormous amounts of gas being lost into the atmosphere. The addition of a smell to gas will enable leaks to be traced all the sooner, and we welcome the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. John Morris

I beg to move, Amendment No. 17, in page 20, line 27, after "storage", to insert: or any activity or matter connected therewith".

Mr. Speaker

It might be convenient to extend the discussion to cover Amendment No. 16, in line 27, leave out "as respects the storage".

Mr. Morris

That will be convenient. Mr. Speaker. It was suggested in Committee, again by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) that the words "as respects the storage" were restrictive. Certainly, that was not the intention of the Government and I gave an assurance that I would look into the matter.

Amendment No. 16 is designed to leave out the words "as respects the storage", but it is doubtful whether the intention of the Opposition would be achieved by deleting those words. An Amendment of that sort was moved in Committee, when I agreed to consider the Opposition's suggestion sympathetically. I have done that and since the simple omission of the words "as respects the storage" might conceivably leave the Clause open to be interpreted in different ways, we consider it preferable to add the words in Amendment No. 17, which will make it clear that the measures which the Minister may order under subsection (2,c) of the Clause may extend to activities or matters connected with storage.

Mr. Ridley

We are again grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for taking notice of this point and for moving an Amendment which my hon. Friends and I amply accept and welcome. I believe that the wording is now wide enough and I agree that nothing should lie outside the scope of the words or any activity or matter connected therewith. They are as wide as we could possibly hope for and I believe that this will help to ensure that the most stringent and satisfactory safety precautions are taken by the Minister throughout the exercise. We indeed welcome the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.