HC Deb 10 December 1974 vol 883 cc427-32
Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I beg to move Amendment No. 100, in page 10, line 4, leave out subsection (2).

The Opposition object to this subsection, which deprives persons or bodies affected because of the provisions of the Bill, say by noise or dust or anything else of that nature, of the opportunity of proceeding with an action for nuisance in respect of the operations described earlier in the Bill. We believe that this is an unnecessary removal of a right, which a person has in other circum stances, to proceed with an indictment against those who are causing a nuis- ance or disturbance. We think it is wrong to remove that right.

We have received representations on this Bill from a number of bodies outside the House, who believe that subsection (2) is unnecessary.

1.0 a.m.

Mr. Fairbairn

It is essential to preserve the right to interdict. We do not understand the scope of the operations in the Bill. There may be many neighbouring companies which find that pollution prevents their operations, and they will have no right to interdict.

If hon. Members do not understand the law of nuisance and what interdict is, I can explain by saying that if I were to speak for an hour, it would be a nuisance, and hon. Members would have the right to interdict me—and I interdict myself.

The Temporal y Chairman

Mr.Gordon Wilson.

Mr. Gordon Wilson rose

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Robert Mellish)

Do not take long.

Mr. Wilson

Despite the temptation held out by the Government Chief Whip, I add only a brief comment on the background to this subsection.

As I understand it, there were two provisions to cover environmental nuisance. The first was that in commerce or in non-public life, there is the sanction of raising an action in the courts for interdict or damages or both. In many cases, this has proved a useful way, especially with the threat of interdict, of bringing the harm or nuisance to an end.

The second solution open to a person who is affected by a public nuisance is through the compensation provisions contained in the preceding paragraph, and I understand that acceptance of the one may rule out the action of interdict or nuisance of the other.

We reach the odd situation where we have provisions to allow commercial companies to engage in the normal activities of platform construction, yet the normal sanction under the common law of interdict or damages against them has been removed, and we have in their place statutory provisions for compensation. It seems to me that these are mixed.

There is one important advantage about the interdict procedure. It can be more threatening to an enterprise engaged in a project because, if it is successful, it will bring operations to a halt. It can be successful in restraining the enterprise from indulging in operations which are noxious or harmful. Most of us have cause to complain about environmental pollution in our constituencies.

I await the Minister's reply. But it seems to me that there is a degree of hybridity involved in the solutions proposed in the Bill. At the moment, my

view is that without the threat of an action of interdict the community may be left without protection.

Mr. John Smith

The Government's purpose in putting forward Clause 12(1) is to confer upon people who might have complaints the right of statutory compensation which the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973 provides. We think that that might be beneficial to many people who might be affected by operations under this legislation.

One difficulty of giving this statutory right of compensation under the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act is that Section 1(6) says that unless immunity from actions for nuisance is conferred, the compensation in respect of public works shall not be paid. Therefore, we could not give the statutory protections of the 1973 Act and still preserve the action for nuisance. Hon. Members who wish to delete subsection (2) will have to bear the responsibility of denying people the protection which would be given by the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973.

Hon. Members say that it would not be possible to have an action of interdict if subsection (2) remained part of the Bill. That may be so, but we have to weigh in the balance whether this is more important than the rights under the Land Compensation Act. Apparently, the proposal is regarded as a little sinister, but we believe that the use of the Land Compensation Act is the better way to deal with the problem. We cannot always arrive at a perfect way of dealing with these matters, and we believe that in this instance the Land Compensation Act will provide better compensation for those affected. It is in that spirit and not the opposite that this provision was framed.

Question put. That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 92, Noes 160.

Division No. 30.] AYES [1.7 a.m.
Adley, Robert Chalker, Mrs Lynda Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Churchill, W. S. Eyre, Reginald
Banks, Robert Clark, Alan (Plymouth, S) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Benyon, W. R. Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fairgrieve, Russell
Biffen, John Cockcroft, John Farr, John
Biggs-Davison, John Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N.)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Cope, John Gardner, Edward (S. Fylde)
Bowden, Andrew (Brighton) Corrie, John Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Braine, Sir Bernard Costain, A. P. Gray, Hamish
Brotherton, Michael Dodsworth, Geoffrey Grieve, Percy
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Grist, Ian
Bulmer, Esmond Durant, Tony Hampson, Dr Keith
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Nelson, Anthony Spicer, Michael (S. Worcester)
Holland, Philip Neubert, Michael Sproat lain
Hunt, John Newton, Tony Stainton, Keith
Hutchison, Michael Clark Page, John (Harrow West) Stanbrook, Ivor
James, David Parkinson, Cecil Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Kellelt-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Pattle, Geoffrey Stradling Thomas, J.
King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Percival, Ian Taylor, Teddy (Glasgow C.)
Kitson, Sir Timothy Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Tebbit, Norman
Lawrence, Ivan Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Temple-Morris, P.
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Ritkind, Malcolm Townsend, Cyril D.
Luce, Richard Roberts, Michael (Cardiff N.W.) Tugendhat, Christopher
Macfarlane, Neil Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Viggers, P. J.
MacGregor, John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Warren, Kenneth
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shelton, William (Lambeth St.) Weatherill, Bernard
Mates, Michael Shepherd, Colin Young, Sir George (Ealing)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Silvester, Fred Younger, Hon George
Mayhew, Patrick Sims, Roger
Meyer, Sir Anthony Smith, Dudley (Warwick) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Monro, Hector Speed, Keith Mr. Spencer Le Merchant and
Morrison, Peter (Chester) Spicer, James (W. Dorset) Dr. Gerard Vaughan.
Anderson, Donald Golding, John Pendry, Tom
Archer, Peter Gourlay, Harry Prescott, John
Armstrong, Ernest Grant, John (Islington C.) Radlce, Giles
Ashton, Joe Hamling, William Reid, George
Atkinson, Norman Hardy, Peter Richardson, Miss Jo
Bain, Mrs Margaret Harper, Joseph Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Bates, Alf Hatton, Frank Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Hayman, Mrs Helene Rodgers, William (Teesside)
Bidwell, Sydney Heffer, Eric S. Rooker, J. W.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Henderson, Douglas Roper, John
Booth, Albert Horam, John Rose, Paul B.
Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow Pr.) Hoyle, Douglas (Nelson) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilm'nock)
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N.) Rowlands, Ted
Buchanan, Richard Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Sedgemore, B.
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P.) Jay, Rl Hon Douglas Short, Rt Hon Edward (Newcastle C)
Campbell, Ian John, Brynmor Sillars, James
Cartwright, John Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Skinner, Dennis
Clemitson, I. M. Jones, Barry (East Flint) Small, William
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S.) Jones, Dan (Butnley) Smith, John (N. Lanarkshire)
Coleman, Donald Kaufman, Gerald Snape, Peter
Concannon, J. D. Kelley, Richard Spearing, Nigel
Conlan, Bernard Kilroy-Silk, Robwt Stallard A. W.
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Kinnock, Neil Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Corbett, Robin Lamond, James Stewart, Rt Hn Michael (H'smith, F)
Cox, Thomas (Wands, Toot) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Stoddart, David
Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow M.) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stott, Roger
Cryer, Bob Loyden, Eddie Strang, Gavin
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh.) Lyon, Alexander (York) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Dalyell, Tarn Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Davidson, Arthur Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) McCartney, Hugh Thompson, George
Deakins, Eric MacCormick, lain Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McElhone, Frank Tomlinson, John
Dempsey, James Mackintosh, John P. Urwin, T. W.
Doig, Peter McNamara, Kevin Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V.)
Dormand, Jack Madden, Max Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Magee, Bryan Ward Michael
Duffy, A. E. P. Mahon, Simon Wellbeloved, James
Dunn, James A. Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Welsh Andrew
Dunnett, Jack Maynard, Miss Joan White, Frank R. (Bury)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth Meacher, Michael White, James (Glasgow, P)
Edge, Geoffrey Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Mendelson, John Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E.)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Millan, Bruce Wilson, William (Coventry S.E.)
English, Michael Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Murray, Ronald King Woodall Alec
Femyhough, Rt Hon E. Noble, Mike Woof Robert
Flannery, Martin Oakes, Gordon Wrigglesworth Ian
Fletcher, Raymond (Iikeston) O'Halloran, Michael Young David (Bolton E. )
Ford, Ben T. Orbach, Maurice
Forrester, John Ovenden, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Park, George Miss Betty Boothroyd and
George, Bruce Parry, Robert Mr. James Hamilton.
Gilbert, Dr John Pavltt, Laurie

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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