§ Lords Amendment: No. 36, after Clause 28, page 36, line 5, at end insert new Clause G:
§ "G.—(1) If a private sewer is obstructed at a point within the area of a local authority (other than a county council and the Greater London Council), the authority may serve on each of the persons who is an owner or occupier of premises served by the sewer, or on each of those persons as the authority thinks fit, a notice requiring the recipients of notices in pursuance of this subsection in respect of the obstruction to remove it before a time specified in the notice; and that time shall not be earlier than forty-eight hours after the service of the notice or, if different notices in respect of the same obstruction are served in pursuance of this subsection at different times, shall not be earlier than forty-eight hours after the latest of those times.
§ (2) If an obstruction in respect of which notices have been served by an authority in pursuance of the preceding subsection is not removed within the period specified in the notices, the authority may remove it.
§ (3) Where an authority has reasonably incurred expenses in removing an obstruction in pursuance of the preceding subsection, the authority may serve on each of the persons on whom it served notice in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section in respect of the obstruction a further notice—
- (a) requiring him to pay to the authority a sum equal to so much of his expenses as is specified in the further notice; and
- (b) specifying the other persons on whom notices in pursuance of this subsection have been or are to be served in respect of the expenses and the amount specified or to be specified in each of those notices;
§ (4) A person on whom a notice is served in pursuance of the preceding subsection may, within the period of six weeks beginning with the date of service of the notice, appeal to the county court against the notice on the ground that it would be reasonable for the whole or part of the sum specified in the notice to he paid by some other person who is an owner or occupier of premises served by the sewer in question.
§ (5) On an appeal in pursuance of the preceding subsection against a notiice the court shall either dismiss the appeal or order that the whole or part of the sum specified in the notice shall he paid to the authority which served the notice by—
- (a) a person, other than the appellant, who is an owner or occupier of premises served by the sewer in question; or
- (b) persons, other than the appellant, each of whom is such an owner or occupier, in such proportions as are specified in the order,
§ (6) Where a local authority has served a notice on a person in pursuance of subsection (3) of this section, then—
- (a) if the person has not appealed against the notice in pursuance of subsection (4) of this section within the period specified in that subsection, the authority shall be entitled after the expiration of that period to recover from him the sum specified in the notice; and
- (b) if he has so appealed within that period and the court has not reduced to nil the sum specified in the notice, the authority shall be entitled after the determination of the appeal to recover from him the sum specified in the notice or, if the court has reduced that sum to a smaller sum, the smaller sum.
§ (7) Expressions used in this section and in Part II of the Public Health Act 1936 have the same meanings in this section as in that Part; and sections 287 and 288 of that Act (which confer power to enter premises and penalise obstruction) shall have effect as if references to that Act included references to this section."
§ Mr. Guy Barnett
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
This new clause is designed to complement Section 17 of the Public Health Act 1961. It was accepted in principle 1592 during the Committee stage in this House. It was one of a number of provisions sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.
What is not so much wrong as deficient in the existing provision is that the local authority may serve a notice only on the person responsible for the premises where the blockage is found to have occurred, even though other people may derive benefit from the sewer and, of course, may have caused the blockage rather than the person on whom the notice is served. Frequently it is impossible to assign responsibility to any one person. It is therefore sensible in such cases to spread responsibility amongst the parties who are affected by the blockage.
§ Mr. Graham Page
In this case, the clause does give power to the local authority to pass on the cost to someone else. It gives the authority a rather wider discretion as to the apportionment of the cost and so on, and quite rightly so. However, it might be a very large amount. There might be a considerable amount of work to be done in pulling up the drains, unblocking them, perhaps laying new drains, and so on. A large sum may be involved.
As the clause stands, the local authority would be under an obligation to pursue people for payment at once. This might he a very severe blow to some small owners who find themselves faced with having to meet large costs. It is right that they should do so, because the blockage has occurred on their land. However, it would have been better if there had been provision to make this a charge on the property, and registrable as a local land charge on the property, so that the local authority would feel that it had clone its duty by getting the debt secured on the property. If ever the property were sold in the future, it could be paid out of the proceeds. This is a very convenient way of collecting large sums of money which the owner or occupier cannot pay at once. It is adopted in many other cases in which local authorties have had to pay out sums of money.
I would have hoped to see in the clause a provision not that the debt becomes recoverable immediately from the owners of the property if they do not have the 1593 money to pay but that in such cases it could become a charge on the property and formally secured on the property for payment in due course.
§ Question put and agreed to.