HC Deb 10 May 1968 vol 764 cc799-804
Mr. Maxwell

I beg to move Amendment No. 35, in page 2, line 3, leave out from 'the' to 'from' and insert: 'rates of emission of grit and dust'.

The Deputy Chairman

With this we are to take the following Amendments: Nos. 53, 4, 36, 37, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, new Clause 1, and Amendments Nos. 29, 30 and 32.

Mr. Maxwell

We are here considering a total of 20 Amendments and a new Clause all concerned with the same matter, namely, the application of the Bill to the emission of fumes. They fall into two separate sets, those suggested by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) and the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain), and those which I have suggested. They have a certain amount in common. My reason for opposing the Amendments of hon. Members opposite is that theirs are clumsy and a mere job of amputation and that I am doing what is required, but better.

It has been agreed with industrial interests that Clauses 2 and 3 should not for the time being apply generally to the emission of fumes. This is because technological progress in fume arrestment is not yet so advanced as to enable several kinds of industrialists to be able to arrest fumes as efficiently as they can arrest grit and dust. However, the time will soon come when they will be able to do so. In the iron and steel industry means of fume arrestment are now well advanced.

The proper way in which to tackle this situation is not simply to go through the Bill with a razor and cut out all references to fumes. We must do a better thought-out job than that. The right course is to stop Clauses 2 and 3 from applying to fumes for the moment, but to give the Minister power to apply them to fumes by regulation in due course. He will consult the interested bodies in the usual way before proceeding to make regulations.

These regulations, as will be seen from new Clause No. 1, may make different provisions for different cases, that is, apply the Clauses to fumes from one industry and not to the fumes from another which is not ready, and they will be subject to an affirmative Resolution. That should be sufficient to allay any misgivings.

It is not necessary to remove the application of Clause 4 to fumes. This is the Clause which deals with the measurement of emission. If the emission of grit and dust from a chimney is to be measured, the emission of fumes might as well be measured at the same time, and I am advised that one can hardly refrain from measuring the fumes. The Confederation of British Industry has no objection to the reference to fumes in Clause 4.

I therefore prefer my group of Amendments and I accordingly invite the House to accept Amendments Nos. 35, 36, 37, 7, 12, 22, 27 and new Clause 1 and Amendment No. 31 while resisting Amendments Nos. 53, 4, 6, 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29 and 32.

A further consideration arises on Amendments Nos. 35 and 37 which are consequential upon Amendments Nos. 41, 42 and 43 which we shall consider later and which deal with rates of emission under Clause 5. For the moment, I will say only that we must use the word "rate" in Clause 5, but, to be consistent in our terminology throughout the Bill, we must alter the word "quantities" in Clause 2 to "rates" to bring the wording into line. "Rate" is quantity emitted in a given time and its use in Clause 2 is more accurate and an improvement.

Mr. Costain

The Committee should have an assurance that the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee is not introducing Amendments to keep fumes out of the scope of his own Bill just to save his own kitchens, as those of us who walk along the corridors from time to time are inclined to think.

Until he started his one-upmanship and said that his Amendments were better than mine, there were no party differences on this subject, but he is being a little cheeky when he makes that claim, because for several weeks he copied our Amendments. I presume that the Ministry, or the Whips, told him that one never takes an Opposition Amendment as it stands, because the Opposition might then claim something, and so he has altered the wording.

As he has claimed that his Amendments are much better, we are entitled to press him to explain why he introduces the words, "or dust is". We thought that our Amendment covered the point much better. It says, "grit and dust" and, originally, so did the hon. Gentleman's Amendments, but now he has altered them to, "or dust is". What is the legal benefit of such a change? The legal advice which I have taken is that the earlier version was better. Whether it should be "and" or "or" is always a legal question and I should like to know precisely why the hon. Gentleman claims that the alteration is better.

Mr. Maxwell

This is merely a matter of legal interpretation. My legal advice is considered to be of the highest repute and qualification. Various interested bodies have been consulted and they think that this interpretation is right. That is not to say that the hon. Gentleman will not find another lawyer to interpret it differently. We sometimes make laws so that lawyers can keep busy.

Mr. Costain

I wonder why the hon. Gentleman's second lawyer is better than his first. I suspect that they are the same. I prefer to stick to my advice and to my explanation that he did not want to accept our Amendment and that he altered it for alteration's sake. We are used to that when a Private Member's Bill is supported by a Ministry.

I am still not satisfied about Amendment No. 21, but I do not know whether we are entitled to discuss Clause 5.

The Deputy Chairman

If the Amendment is related to Clause 5 the hon. Member may refer to that Clause. The Amendment is being discussed irrespective of the Clause it applies to.

Mr. Costain

Thank you very much, Mr. Irving. I wanted to make clear that I must refer to Clause 5, but I was not certain that that would be in order.

Clause 5 includes "fumes" and Amendment No. 21 is to exclude "fumes" from the Clause. As the basis of the hon. Member's argument is that he wants to exclude "fumes"—though not because of the kitchen fumes—and I accept his explanation that one cannot define what is a "fume" either under present legal definitions or even perhaps technically, I wonder why he has left "fumes" in Clause 5. I shall be glad to give way at once if he can answer.

Mr. Maxwell

I can only tell the Committee that I considered this with our legal advisers and that it is necessary. As the hon. Member knows, we have consulted all interested parties, in particular the C.B.I., whose approach to these matters is extremely responsible, and I should like to acknowledge that. However, as the hon. Member well knows, it also represents industry in this instance. As the C.B.I. has found this satisfactory and acceptable, I hope that, in the circumstances, he will, too.

Mr. James Allason (Hemel Hempstead)

The local authority is told under Clause 5 that it has got to consider the effects of smoke, grit, dust, gases, with all of which they have experience, and will have under Clause 3, but Clause 5 also says it must consider fumes. "Fumes" suddenly appears in Clause 4. Perhaps there is no great harm about that because the provisions there are permissive. One can ask the local authority to measure the fumes, but what criteria are the local authority to have in assessing them and determining the correct height of the building?

The hon. Member has already admitted that local authorities' knowledge about fumes is very sketchy indeed. Will the hon. Member's proposal not merely delay local authorities intolerably if they have to assess something which they cannot assess in determining the height of a building? I would urge upon him that Amendment No. 21 is necessary.

Mr. MacColl

To follow up the first point made by the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain), I thought that it was inconsiderate of him at this time of the day to draw attention to the luscious fumes awaiting us if we can get through the Bill with reasonable speed. We all hope we shall be able to do that.

It is not correct to say that we have been bullying—even if one can bully him—my hon. Friend to accept Amendments. We are interested in the Bill because we care desperately for smoke control and we want the cause of clean air to be advanced. Therefore, we are very anxious indeed to see that the machinery is made flexible.

Clause 4, as the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) pointed out, is about the measurement of emissions and it is not mandatory. It is dealing, really, with the technique of measurement. From the technical point of view, our technical advisers and the alkali inspectorate who, I suppose, are the country's greatest experts in this business, think it quite reasonable to ask people who will measure grit and dust also to measure fumes while they are about it. It is a simple, useful facility to be able to do it when they are looking at a chimney.

Clause 5 empowers local authorities, when they are considering the question of the height of a chimney, to consider its effect on fumes. It empowers them to do this. It is an enabling provision and has not led to criticism from the people we have consulted about it. Our attitude towards it is the simple consideration of what is most convenient for everybody. We think my hon. Friend's proposals are likely to provide the easiest way of regulating this.

As the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe said, there are difficulties connected with fumes. We want to be able to have the machinery flexible so that we can adapt it as science of the nature of fumes and knowledge of techniques of control of fumes develop. I think my hon. Friend has hit upon the best way of doing this. There is no great point of principle involved between any of us, I think. It is merely a question of what is best for everyone.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: No. 36, in page 2, line 7, leave out 'dust or fumes are' and insert 'or dust is'.

No. 37, in line 8, leave out 'in quantities' and insert 'at a rate'.

No. 7, in line 20, leave out 'dust or fumes' and insert or dust'.—[Mr. Maxwell.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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