HC Deb 25 July 1974 vol 877 cc1971-2

Lords Amendment: No. 1, in page 5, line 10, leave out "works of repair and replacement" and insert "improvement works".

11.18 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish office (Mr. Bruce Millan)

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

This amendment and the other amendment to the clause are purely drafting amendments.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

First, I should like to congratulate the Minister on showing once again how efficient Scotland is in producing an excellent Bill, with no printing mistakes, and a clear and precise list of amendments.

I have one short question on the amendment. This refers to works of repair and replacement being replaced by the words "improvement works." The one question that I have is about a problem which has arisen in Glasgow and certain other areas in defining what is a bath. In other words, is the replacement of a bath a work of improvement. The problem specifically arises from old iron baths which do not have normal plugs but large metal plungers. In some of the baths the plungers are breaking down and cannot be replaced.

I have three specific examples, details of which I could send to the Minister, of cases in which baths are unusable because plungers cannot be obtained anywhere in the United Kingdom, or even in the EEC countries or Japan. This means that a number of people are unable to use these baths because replacements cannot be found. I wonder whether this amendment will mean that these baths which previously qualified for a grant, will no longer qualify for a grant. If that is not the case and if this is purely a drafting amendment, will the Minister be kind enough to look into the specific problem and write to me and those interested in the matter?

Mr. Millan

The hon. Gentleman raises a quite ingenious point, but I do not think that it arises from the amendment, which is specifically a drafting amendment because the drafting is at present defective. The words we are dealing with, to which the 50 per cent. relates, ought to refer to the total expenditure, which is the total approved expense of executing the improvement rather than simply the expense of the repair and replacement part of this.

Whether the replacement of baths in the circumstances the hon. Gentleman mentions should be treated as a repair and replacement or as an improvement is probably in the first instance for the local authority to decide. The important thing is that in the way in which the Bill is drafted the matter can be covered, because we now have "repairs and replacements" as well as "improvements" covered. Therefore, I should have thought that the Bill certainly covers the possibility.

How the Bill would operate in a particular instance might be for the local authority to decide in the first instance. However, I shall look into this point and write to the hon. Gentleman about it. I hope that he will find that an agreeable way of dealing with the matter.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

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