HL Deb 27 March 1930 vol 76 cc1057-61

Order of the Day for receiving the Report of Amendments read.


My Lords, I think it may be for the convenience of the House if, in moving that this Report be now received, I make a general statement on the Amendments on the Paper in my name and special reference to certain matters which are not dealt with in these Amendments. I wish first to explain why there is no reference to the point raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in connection with small reservoirs, to which I promised to give my attention. The reason for that is that on more careful study of the Bill it seems to me that there is no necessity for any addition in respect of small reservoirs. There is an expression in one clause of the Bill which applies to reservoirs in general, and that is in Clause 7, and a small reservoir, or reservoir which is not large, is defined by Clause 10 as a reservoir of lees than 5,000,000 gallons. I think the noble Marquess and Lord Bridgeman were a little troubled as to the position of these reservoirs which are not large reservoirs. The Bill does not affect that category of reservoirs at all, except in Clause 7.


What is the effect of that clause?


The effect of Clause 7 is that the owners or undertakers are liable to pay for damage in case such damage is done by an escape of water from their reservoirs. The case of a reservoir which has already been constructed is not dealt with at all in the Bill—that is, reservoirs of this character. The owner or undertaker of such a reservoir is exposed to any penalties to which he was exposed when he put up the reservoir. If he put it up under a statutory authority, he might be called upon to pay damages to the victims if negligence is proved, or it might depend upon the character of the Private Act, and he might have to pay for nuisance. If he is not under a statutory authority he might be exposed to penalties arising under the ordinary law. Reservoirs constructed in future, of that character, under a statutory authority, come under the provisions of this Bill only in so far as damages are incurred in case of an accident.

Lord Bridgeman said he did not know what 5,000,000 gallons looked like, and he wanted to have some idea. I have had some calculations made. This Chamber, if filled with water, would contain a quarter of 5,000,000 gallons. The Haymarket, if twelve feet deep with water, would contain about 5,000,000 gallons. Five million gallons take up 800,000 cubic feet—200 feet by 200 feet by 20 feet, we will say—but of course if you have a lesser depth, say five feet, then you would have a sheet of water 800 feet long, 200 feet broad and five feet deep. There is a further safeguard for the owners of sheets of ornamental water who may turn them to practical use for electric lighting or other purposes. The water affected is only water above the natural level of the ground. Indeed, this Bill safeguards the private owner or the factory with a reservoir very considerably. In the original drafting of the Bill 1,000,000 gallons was the lower limit of size of a large reservoir, but it was finally raised to 5,000,000 gallons after consultation with numerous authorities. I hope that I have disposed of the point raised with regard to small reservoirs. In fact, what are small reservoirs under this Bill are really quite large.

I now pass to the various points raised in the Amendments which will be moved by myself, and I think a few words of explanation may save time. The first four Amendments are purely consequential and drafting in relation to a substantial Amendment to Clause 2 in which a new subsection (5) is proposed, and I hope they meet the point raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, about joint inspection. The later Amendments are also consequential or drafting. The main point is, I trust, met in the Amendment to Clause 2 (5), and if there is any point to be raised by the noble Viscount on that, we can deal with it in the debate on that particular Amendment. I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Thomson.)


My Lords, I arm very grateful to the Government for having put in this provision associating a firm's own inspector with the outside in- spector, and I believe it will lead to a very much smoother working of the Bill. As regards the smaller reservoirs, I, like the noble Lord himself, have made a more careful study of the Bill, and have come to the conclusion that the apprehensions that I had entertained were not altogether substantial.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 2 [Periodical inspection of large reservoirs]:


My Lords, the first four Amendments are purely drafting, and are consequential on the proposed new subsection (5) in Clause 2. I beg to move.

Amendments moved— Page 3, line 33, after ("cause") insert ("a periodical inspection, and a report of the result thereof, to be made in accordance with the provisions of this section in respect of") Page 3, line 35, leave out from ("stored") to the end of subsection (1) Page 4, line 18, leave out from ("if") to ("that") in line 19, and insert ("the report of the result of any inspection made under this section contains a recommendation") Page 4, line 29, leave out from ("cause") to the first ("as") in line 30, and insert ("an inspection of the reservoir, and a report of the result thereof, to be made").—(Lord Thomson.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

LORD THOMSON moved, after subsection (4), to insert the following new subsection:— (5) Every inspection and report required under this section shall be made by an independent qualified civil engineer appointed for the purpose by the undertakers: Provided that, where there is in the permanent service of the undertakers a qualified civil engineer, the undertakers may appoint that engineer to make any such inspection together with the independent engineer, and, in that event the said two engineers shall jointly make the inspection and the report of the result thereof required by this section, so however that if the engineers disagree as to the report which should be made, the independent engineer alone shall make the report. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the proviso which we propose to insert to meet the point of the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman. I do not know whether it is worth while taking up your Lordships' time in explaining it. The noble Viscount has expressed his satisfaction. I therefore beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 31, at end insert the said new subsection (5).—(Lord Thomson.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The remaining Amendments are again consequential drafting Amendments, with the exception of the last two on the Amendment Paper. I beg to move.

Amendments moved— Page 4, line 32, leave out ("inspecting engineer") and insert ("independent engineer to make an inspection under this section") Page 4, line 37, after ("with") insert ("the record required to be kept by them under this Act and") Page 5, line 2, leave out ("inspecting") and insert ("independent") Page 5, line 5, leave out ("made under this section") and insert ("of the result of an inspection made under this section shall be made as soon as practicable after the inspection and shall be in the prescribed form and") Page 5, line 7, leave out ("states that any measures are necessary") and insert ("contains a recommendation that any measures should be taken") Page 5, line 11, leave out from ("any") to ("as") in line 12, and insert ("recommendation contained in a report made under this section, being a recommendation") Page 5, line 15, leave out from ("may") to ("request") in line 16, and insert ("in accordance with rules made under this section").—(Lord Thomson.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.


My Lords, the last two Amendments on the Paper are not consequential on the provision of a private joint inspection, but they are drafting Amendments to the Bill as it stands. They go together, and their effect is simply to transfer from subsection (7) to subsection (8) the power of the Secretary of State to prescribe the time and manner for applying for the appointment of a referee. They involve no extension of the powers of the Secretary of State. They are purely to improve the style and drafting of the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 25, leave out from the second ("which") to ("under") in line 26, and insert ("a request for the appointment of a referee").—(Lord Thomson.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3 [The keeping of records]:

Amendment moved— Page 6, leave out lines 4 and 5.—(Lord Thomson.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.