HL Deb 25 October 1945 vol 137 cc497-9

4.10 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill can, I think, be regarded as non-controversial. It is, however, of considerable importance to Scotland. Its main purpose is to secure that proper arrangements are made for medical control of airborne traffic at any airports in Scotland. This is essential both for the protection of the people of Great Britain, and for the carrying out of the Government's obligations under the International Sanitary Conventions for Aerial Navigation. The Bill accordingly proposes to empower the Secretary of State for Scotland to make regulations for preventing danger to public health and the spread of infection through aircraft in the same way as he can make regulations relating to vessels in seaports. The Minister of Health has that power under Section 143 of the Public Health Act, 1936. Similar power for aircraft was not sought in Scotland before the war because there were no airports for international traffic in that country.

If, as Scotsmen hope, international air services and particularly the use of Prestwick as an airport for international traffic in Scotland are to be developed, then it is essential that precautions be taken to prevent either the introduction and spread of infections in this country or the conveying of infections from this country to others to which the aircraft is travelling. It is just as important to those who live south of the border as to the people of Scotland that these precautions be taken in Scotland because passengers may travel on to England after landing in Scotland.

Your Lordships will see that the Bill contains more than the provision relating to prevention of danger to public health from aircraft. One reason for this is that a Bill which was restricted to amending in detail the Scottish Public Health Statutes for that purpose alone would have produced a bad example of legislation by reference, and, indeed, it would have been scarcely intelligible. The opportunity has, therefore, been taken to bring up to date the Scottish code for the making of regulations for the control of infectious diseases generally. By this means the Bill becomes clear and intelligible and the provisions in Scotland in this regard will correspond closely to those in the Public Health Act, 1936, which apply to England and Wales. Such a measure is desirable especially where the carrying out of international conventions is concerned. The Bill would also be useful in the limited sphere with which it deals, in the eventual consolidation of the Scottish Public Health enactments.

The general layout of the Bill is that Clause 2 proposes to repeal Part IV of the Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1897, and the Public Health Act, 1904 (so far as the latter Act relates to Scotland), which authorize the Secretary of State to make regulations for the control of infectious diseases. Clause 1 proposes to re-enact the essential parts of those enactments in up-to-date form and to extend the regulation making power to cover aircraft. Apart from the extension to aircraft, only minor changes are proposed and these are concerned with modernizing procedure and dropping what is obsolete. I would, however, draw your Lordships' attention to subsection (6) of Clause 1, which proposes that regulations should be laid before Parliament in accordance with modern practice. Under the existing Scottish Public Health enactments, regulations of this kind merely have to be published. This, I am sure, is a change which Parliament would desire. I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time, and I commend it to your Lordships for approval.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Westwood.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

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