HL Deb 21 June 1956 vol 197 cc1181-96

3.7 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill is intended to reform an important branch of the Common Law. It deals with the liability of persons who occupy land, buildings and other premises for injury to visitors and their goods resulting from defects in the state of the premises. This branch of the law has been the subject of considerable discussion and criticism for many years past. In the course of its development by numerous decisions of the courts, the Common Law has hardened into rigid categories, representing the different classes of visitors to whom varying duties of care are owed. These classifications no longer represent the needs of the present day and have led to needless refinements and distinctions of little merit. In 1952 my predecessor invited the Law Reform Committee to examine the law on this subject and the related subject of a lessor's obligations towards persons injured on premises occupied by his tenant. In their Report, presented in October, 1954, the Committee recommend the abolition of the distinction between invitees and licensees which I will explain to your Lordships in a moment and the codification of this branch of the Common Law, and the Bill now before the House is intended to give effect to their recommendations.

Let me illustrate shortly the defects of the law as it operates to-day. Apart from any obligation an occupier may expressly assume under a contract, there are at present no fewer than five different standards of care which an occupier may be expected to exercise to see that persons entering his premises do not suffer it injury. The standard in the particular case depends on the character of the visit and the right by which the visitor enters. The lowest duty of care is owed to trespassers. This is left unaltered by the Bill, which is concerned only with lawful visitors. The highest duty is owed to visitors who enter by right of a contract. But the extent of the duty which the law implies in such circumstances differs with the nature and purpose of the contract. I do not wish to burden the House with a discussion of legal niceties, but, broadly speaking, where the contract is one for the use of the premises, they must be as safe as reasonable care and skill on anyone's part can make them. Where the use of the premises is merely incidental to the main purpose of the contract, it is sufficient for the occupier to take reasonable care to see that the premises are reasonably safe for their purpose. In practice, agreements involving the use of premises occur in an endless variety of forms and the dividing line between the two types of contracts is often blurred, so that the extent of the occupier's duty in any particular case may be a matter of uncertainty.

So far, I have mentioned three of the five different standards of care expected from occupiers. The remaining two standards apply where visitors enter premises lawfully, but without any contract with the occupier. A higher duty is owed to such visitors if they come for a purpose of material interest to the occupier, when they are known in law as "invitees"—a name which, I ought to explain, does not imply that they come by invitation of the occupier. A lesser duty is owed to visitors whose visit is of no material interest to the occupier and who are known as "licensees". Philosophically, some such distinction may well accord with a notion that a visitor ought, so to speak, to earn his right to the enjoyment of special steps for his protection by bringing the occupier some kind of material benefit, and that, on the other hand, an occupier who obliges the visitor by allowing him to come should not have to do more than warn him of dangers.

If your Lordships will consider this point, your Lordships will see that in practice the distinction does not work well and can have results which most of us would consider wrong. If I ask a friend to dinner and he has the misfortune to fall on a slippery stair in my house and to suffer injury, the question whether I would be liable to him in respect of the injury may, as the law stands, depend on whether I invited him for purely social reasons, or because I intended to discuss some business matter. If I had asked several friends, but intended to discuss business only with one of them, and all are injured by a collapsing ceiling, it would, I think, seem surprising to most non-lawyers that I might well be liable in damages only to the one.

Or to take another example: a customer entering a shop is clearly, in law, an invitee, and as such entitled to a higher standard of care than a passer-by entering the shop merely for the purpose of asking the way. Yet the shopkeeper can hardly be aware of the object of the caller's visit and might reasonably be expected to make his shop safe for anyone who in the normal course of events could be expected to enter it. Perhaps the illogicality of the distinction is brought out even more strikingly if one supposes that the passer-by, having entered the shop to ask the way, happens to see some article of interest and inquires its price; he would thereupon cease to be a mere licensee and become an invitee, with the result that, although he did not buy the article, he would be entitled to a higher duty of care on leaving the premises than on entering them.

I cannot believe that this rigid classification is in accordance with the needs of the present day. For instance, anyone who goes to a public park, a library, or a museum, cannot be said to be a person in whose visit the occupier, that is, the local authority, has any "material interest", and therefore, as the law stands, such a person is a mere licensee, but I think most of us would agree that he should be entitled to expect the same care to be taken of his safety as a visitor to a shop. However, in view of the binding decisions of the courts, it requires legislation to bring this about.

Another example of frequent occurrence is the visitor to a block of flats who is injured by a defect in the common staircase. If one assumes that the owner of the premises remains in occupation of the staircase, the visitor (whatever his relationship to the tenant of the flat he is visiting) will, in relation to the owner, be a mere licensee, because his visit confers no material benefit on him. Most people would, I think, agree with the Law Reform Committee that the test in such a case should not be the material benefit to the owner, but whether the staircase was reasonably safe for such persons as might normally be expected to use it.

I have deferred until now any description of the difference in the duties owed to invitees and licensees respectively; but I must mention this now because it illustrates the uncertainty of much of the Common Law on this subject. The duty to an invitee is frequently expressed as being one to use reasonable care to prevent injury to the visitor from unusual dangers of which the occupier knows, or ought to know. The duty to a licensee is merely to take reasonable care to prevent injury from concealed dangers or traps actually known to the occupier and unknown to the licensee. The distinction between an unusual danger and a concealed danger or trap is a narrow one. At first sight, the distinction between a danger actually known and one which ought to be known seems rather wider, but recent decisions have whittled it down by imputing actual knowledge to an occupier of whom it could be shown only that he had knowledge of a potential danger due to the state of the premises. Indeed, there are learned lawyers, including a distinguished member of the Court of Appeal, who consider that the courts have already by their decisions practically abolished the distinction. In these circumstances he would be a bold man who ventured to say exactly what the distinction is today, but it is clearly unsatisfactory that there should be this uncertainty on a matter of such daily concern to everybody.

In illustrating the capricious way in which the present law may at times operate, I hope I have not given your Lordships the impression that the law is wholly bad. I have picked deliberately on striking illustrations, and it is always easy, by taking an extreme and therefore a hard case, to make the law appear mulish if not actually asinine. It is generally agreed that only in a few cases does the law on this subject work real injustice at the present time. Generally it works quite well, but this is due, I think, not to the inherent merit of its rules, but rather to the efforts of the courts in recent years to strain the rules so as to fit the substantial justice of the case before them. Justice has been achieved, to quote the Law Reform Committee, in spite of, rather than with the assistance of, the categories, which tend to embarrass justice by requiring what is essentially a question of fact to be determined by referring to an artificial and irrelevant rule of law. There are two possible methods of dealing with a situation of this kind: one course, advocated by Mr. Justice Diplock, a member of the Law Reform Committee, in his Minority Report, is to pass legislation dealing only with the hard cases thrown up by the present law. This would leave the present categories unaltered, but would re-classify some of the types of visitors, like the visitors to public parks whom I have mentioned. The alternative, which is recommended by the rest of the Law Reform Committee, is to abolish the existing distinction between invitees and licensees altogether. The Bill follows the latter course, because it seems wrong to preserve distinctions which, as I hope I have shown your Lordships, are untenable as rational grounds for fixing the occupier's duty of care. What the Bill does, therefore, is to replace the four different standards of care known to the Common Law by one common duty of care owed to all lawful visitors.

The common duty of care is defined by Clause 2 of the Bill, which makes it clear that an occupier is free to restrict or exclude his liability: for instance, by attaching conditions to any right of entry he grants. The duty is to take such care, as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable—not to see that the premises are reasonably safe, but to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there. Thus in appropriate cases an occupier may fulfil his obligations by giving adequate warning of the state of the premises.

Subsection (4) of Clause 2 contains two important changes in the law to which I ought to draw your Lordships' attention. One of these concerns the effect of warning of dangers given to a visitor. As a result of a decision of this House in 1951, it is now the law that an occupier is not liable for injury to a visitor if the visitor had notice of the danger and recognised the full significance of the risk. The Law Reform Committee felt, and I agree with them, that this may in certain circumstances work injustice—for instance, where a workman, although aware of a danger, and perhaps after having protested about it to his foreman, nevertheless, and quite reasonably, continues to work on a dangerous site. The Bill, therefore, in subsection (4) (a) of Clause 2, provides that warning is not to be treated without more as absolving the occupier from liability, unless in all the circumstances it was enough to enable the visitor to be reasonably safe.

The second change in the law made by subsection (4) concerns an occupier's liability for the work of an independent contractor. The present law, as laid down in another case decided by your Lordships' House, is that an occupier cannot escape liability for injury or damages resulting from faulty work done by an independent contractor. But if reasonable care is to be the test of the occupier's liability, I think it follows that he should not be liable for defective work done by another person, provided that he acted reasonably in employing that person and in satisfying himself that the work was properly done. That is what the Committee recommend and the Bill provides in Clause 2 (4) (b).

May I now turn for a moment to the occupier's duty to third parties under contract? Clause 3 deals with the case where the occupier is obliged by contract to permit persons who are not parties to the contract to enter his premises. As the law stands, the occupier can limit his liability to third parties by provisions in the contract which may be entirely unknown to them. This is unsatisfactory, and Clause 3 therefore provides that the occupier's minimum liability to third parties is to be the common duty of care. Of course, if under the contract the occupier has accepted more onerous obligations, then any third parties who enter his premises in pursuance of a right to do so will have the benefit of those obligations. This clause will ensure that in the case I mentioned to your Lordships earlier, of persons injured on the common staircase in a block of flats, the landlord's liability will be no less than the common duty of care, but may be a higher duty if the landlord, in his agreement with the tenants of the flats, has taken upon himself an obligation to keep the staircase in good repair.

My Lords, I now turn to Clause 4, which deals not with the liability of the occupier of premises but with the position of a landlord who has undertaken to keep his tenant's premises in repair. At present, if the landlord fails to carry out his obligations, he may be liable to his tenant but he is not liable to any relative or friend of the tenant who may be injured as a result. The injured person cannot sue the landlord on the agreement, for he is not a party to it. And it was decided by your Lordships' House in 1906 in the case well known to lawyers of Cavalier v. Pope that he has no other remedy against the landlord.

I want just to mention this case in a little detail, if your Lordships will not be too bored by the personal reminiscence. It is a case which always offended me, from my earliest years of studying the law. In that case the tenant's wife was injured by the collapse of part of the kitchen floor. The landlord was, under the terms of the lease, responsible for the repair of the defective flooring, which had been brought to his notice, but he had neglected to put it right. Nevertheless, as the landlord's obligation was to the tenant and not to the tenant's wife, the injured woman had no redress. Your Lordships will probably agree that such a result is morally wrong. In some cases justice may be achieved indirectly if the person injured is in a position to sue the tenant as the occupier of the house, in which case the tenant may recoup himself by suing his landlord on the repairing covenant. But this remedy is not available to an injured wife, whom the law does not permit to sue her husband in such circumstances, and in any event it involves needless expense and inconvenience.

This is a matter which has been considered, not only by the Law Reform Committee but also by the Committee on the law of landlord and tenant which reported in 1950. Both Committees have criticised the present law. Clause 4 accordingly puts a landlord who has undertaken a repairing obligation in the same position as if he were himself the occupier of the premises, so that he will owe the common duty of care described in Clause 2 to all persons lawfully visiting the premises. There is one exception to this, and that is where the presence of the injured person was due solely to a use of the premises which was not permitted by the tenancy agreement. Clause 5 of the Bill makes the common duty of care an implied term of any contract for the use of premises which contains no express provision about the occupier's liability for the safety of the premises, and the remaining clauses bind the Crown and enable the Parliament of Northern Ireland to pass corresponding legislation if it so desires.

My Lords, I apologise to your Lordships for the technical nature of what I have had to say, but I think noble Lords who have been good enough to listen to me will agree that this is a branch of the law which affects the common life and daily round of practically everyone in this country. The Common Law on the subject was fundamentally sound, but as the years have passed it has become encrusted with refinements and distinctions which ought now to be removed. I hope your Lordships will agree that this Bill does so in a way which does no unnecessary violence to the spirit of the common law, but frees it from the shackles imposed on it by past decisions, and enables it to go forward with renewed strength. My Lords, to me the law must be a dynamic thing, improving to meet the needs of the time, if it is to perform what I think is its duty of being a great social service for the comfort and security of ordinary people. Therefore we owe a great debt of gratitude to the Law Reform Committee for their extremely valuable Report on this subject. The members of the Committee, whether judges, barristers, solicitors or academic lawyers, are all busy men who give their time most unselfishly to work of this kind. Without their assistance no Lord Chancellor could do much in the way of law reform. Although your Lordships have recently had occasion to consider Bills giving effect to recommendations made by the Committee, this is the first time since the war that here has been an opportunity for legislation by the Government on a Report of the Law Reform Committee. I hope your Lordships will agree that the Bill is worthy of the occasion and will give it an unopposed Second Reading. I beg to move.

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

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will be grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for the explanation both of the present law and the alterations which this Bill seeks to effect. I should like to join with him, if I may without impertinence, in thanking the members of the Law Reform Committee whose work has led the introduction of this Bill. Their Report is a remarkable document. The Committee have endeavoured to set out the law as it exists and to recommend how that law could best be modified. It is obvious, from our own knowledge and from a perusal of the Report—and I cannot pretend to have dipped into it very deeply—that there is great confusion and difficulty at present, due, in the main, to the infinite variety of cases which arise in this branch of the law. It is indeed questionable, as Mr. Diplock, now Mr. Justice Diplock, stated in his Minority Report, whether, having regard to that infinite variety, it is possible to lay down a code which will cover every possibility, and whether, in fact, by the very endeavour which we are making to give more clarity to the law in a somewhat piecemeal fashion, we are not really creating more uncertainty, because the courts—assuming the Bill passes, as I have no doubt it will—will have to construe the new rules and set up a new series of constructions as to how the old Common Law is affected by the Statute. However, the Committee recommend that the change be made, and it would seem prima facie to be a desirable one. Only time will show whether, in fact, the Bill, or rather the Act as it will be, will improve the situation or not.

I do not propose to go into the manifold details of the Bill. The noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack has himself gone into considerable detail, and I should just like to deal with one or two main points in this measure. The principal alteration made by the Bill is to make it clear that the whole question is really a small part of the general law of negligence, and to do away with the difference between the treatment accorded to invitees and licensees respectively, on which difference liability has often been decided in the past.

The present meaning attributed to these words has always created difficulty for the layman. By the uninitiated, an "invitee" is thought to be a person invited on to premises, and a "licensee" a person who, without any invitation, enters premises for some other lawful purpose. In fact, under Common and Case Law, the exact opposite is the case. A person going on to premises for some lawful purpose, without invitation—for example, as the noble and learned Viscount has mentioned, to sell goods—As an invitee at Common Law, whereas a person invited on to the premises is a licensee. The real question is whether the occupier has a material interest in the visitor. If so, he is an "invitee". If, on the other hand, the occupier has no material interest—and apparently an invitation to dinner is not a material interest—the visitor is a mere licensee. There have, however, been many decisions which make confusion worse confounded, and it is right, therefore, to endeavour to clarify the position and to abolish this distinction between invitees and licensees. The Bill therefore makes the occupier liable for the same common duty of care to all visitors, the extent or degree of that care varying with the particular circumstances of the case. That common duty may, of course, he modified by express agreement.

The second main alteration made by the Bill is set out in Clause 4, and it relates to the liability of landlords to persons lawfully using their premises. At present, a landlord or lessor is under no liability for non-performance of his covenants to maintain and repair to any person other than the tenant who is lawfully on the premises. The Bill changes this law and makes the landlord liable for damages arising from his default in carrying out repairs and maintaining property as if he were an occupier and the persons using the premises were there by his invitation or permission. That obligation on the landlord, however, is to arise only if the landlord's default is such as would be actionable at the instance of the actual tenant or occupier. This alteration in the law would appear to be logical and right. A breach of an obligation to repair should enable anyone injured by that breach to obtain compensation.

There have been many cases which have been obviously unjust. I happen to know a case myself—indeed, I had some association with it. In that instance, a man stepped off a footpath into a forecourt to tie his bootlace. He happened to step on to a pavement light which was unsafe, with the result that he fell through it and was injured. He was unable to recover damages because the landlord of those premises, whose responsibility it was, under his lease, to keep the pavement light in repair, had liability only to the occupier and not to third parties who came on to the premises. This Bill will make an alteration in that position. Had this Bill become law before that action was brought, that particular individual would, presumably have recovered damages. The Bill—though, as I say to the noble and learned Viscount with all respect, it is rather a piecemeal measure, for there are a great number of associated subjects which perhaps might well have been dealt with in it—is clearly a useful revision. It brings some clarity to a branch of the law which is of interest to and may affect any one of Her Majesty's subjects in England. We on this side of the House have no objection to giving the Bill a Second Reading to-day.

3.37 p.m.


My Lords, almost everything that needs to be said on this Bill has been said, but I feel that I ought to say one special word for the Law Reform Committee whose Third Report is the basis of this Bill. I have read the Report. It is a rather longer Report than usual, running to some forty-two pages; and it deals, as your Lordships can well imagine, with a very complicated subject. But I have rarely read a Report of this kind with greater pleasure. It is completely clear, and I think any layman can understand it. I can strongly recommend it as an interesting piece of weekend reading for any noble Lord who is in the slightest degree interested in the subject. It really is a remarkably well-written Report, and when we get one like this I think it is right that we should express our approval.

I should like to congratulate the Government on this occasion—and I do not often have the privilege and the pleasure of doing so—on having introduced a Bill so relatively soon after the publication of the Report. It is very frustrating to people sitting on a Committee—especially people of such eminence as those who sat on this Committee—to find that, after they have given a great amount of their precious time to produce a really worthwhile Report, it is then pigeonholed or put on the shelf so that nothing is done about it for many years. I do not think that eighteen months from the date of publication of this Report is an unreasonable time to have elapsed before legislation has ensued, and I am very grateful to the Government for having introduced this Bill. I am grateful not only because of the merits of the measure itself, but also because of the encouragement it must give to present and future members of Committees who so willingly give of their time freely in the hope that some good may result.

The noble and learned Viscount, in dealing with the Bill, took the view that some of the anomalies to which he re-referred were exceptional, and that one must not assume that the law as a whole is as bad as one might think. I should like to read just two very short extracts from the Report which I think speak for themselves. One is a statement by the late Lord Justice Atkin, who said: It is no doubt unfortunate that the law as to the obligations of owners of property towards those who come upon it compels distinctions to be drawn which are subtle and apt to be confused. The noble and learned Viscount has given some examples of the subtle distinctions. The other passage which I should like to read is taken from the standard text book Salmond on Torts: The law on the whole subject is still in a confused state. The delimitation between the different categories (sc. of persons entering on premises occupied by others) is far from settled, nor is it possible to state with certainty the duties owed to persons falling within those categories. I think that these two references indicate that there was an urgent need for this Bill, and any attempt to simplify the complicated law on this subject must be welcome indeed.

On the merits of the Bill, I have little to say. In general, I find the language of the Bill somewhat difficult. If only the language could have been as clear as the language of the Report, it would have been an excellent thing, but it may be that the attempt to compress the Bill into a small number of clauses is responsible. I should like to draw the noble and learned Viscount's attention to two paragraphs of Clause 2, not on the merits but on the language. If he will look at subsection (4) (a) he will see that it says: where damage is caused to a visitor by a danger of which he had not been warned by the occupier, the warning is not to be treated without more as absolving the occupier from liability,… What is the meaning of the words "without more"? Unless they have some special legal significance, of which I am not aware, I do not understand their meaning. We find the same thing in subsection (4) (b). I should he grateful if the noble and learned Viscount, having so clearly explained the purposes of the Bill, would explain the purpose of these two words.

I was delighted to hear the noble and learned Viscount refer to an old friend of his, as well as of mine—that is, Cavalier v. Pope: it goes back a long time. If only this Bill had been introduced forty years ago, I imagine that both the noble and learned Viscount and I would have made a little more money out of the law. But this case has stood in the way of actions being taken against landlords which, on their merits, ought to have been taken; and I am afraid that it is too late now. There was a way out of Cavalier v. Pope as the noble and learned Viscount will remember. It was possible for the husband who was a tenant to take proceedings against the landlord in respect of any out-of-pocket expenses he had suffered, though not in respect of any pain and suffering caused. That provided the possibility of some compensation, hut it was quite inadequate, and it is a good thing that to-day any person who suffers from the negligence of a landlord in respect of his premises should have the right to bring an action.

We gladly agree to giving this Bill a Second Reading. I hope that it will be possible to enable noble Lords interested in the subject to go through this Bill carefully, with a view to having a really effective Committee stage. By "effective" I mean, as the noble and learned Viscount will appreciate, that we shall not be harassed by the fact that, unless the Bill goes through without substantial amendment, it may not be possible for it to go through at all before the Summer Recess. I do not think that that is fair to the House. If Amendments are put down, I think that they ought to be considered on their merits. It is much better to have a really effective Bill, even if we have to wait another twelve months, than to pass our legislation hurriedly and then, sooner or later, have to bring in amending legislation. In the long run, that is not even a saving of time. I commend the Bill to your Lordships. I think it is a good Bill, and I hope that it will be a better Fill before we have passed it.

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, there is such a general acceptance of this Bill that I hesitate to strike a discordant note. I certainly do not propose to make any Committee points to-day, but, I would make two general points. The Bill places considerable new burdens on occupiers and owners, and it should not be overlooked that in certain cases damages could be enormously heavy, and might prove to be very serious to those against whom they were given. The second general point I would make is that there is an anxiety on the part of owners of property and occupiers who allow access to the public wherever this is reasonable and possible. I am bound to say that the Bill gives great discouragement to any who seek to meet the public interest in that way.

3.46 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords who have contributed to the debate on this Bill. I am especially pleased that the noble Lords, Lord Milner of Leeds and Lord Silkin, have given their meed of praise to the Law Reform Committee. I have indicated my own view, and I think that it is an admirable thing that it should go out from your Lordships' House as a whole that we are indebted to them for their work.

May I make one general point in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin? I entirely agree with him that it is material at this time that this Bill should not be hurried. If it is any consolation to him, I should much rather that we had a full Committee stage and then perhaps leave the Report stage until after the long Recess, when the legal papers have had a chance of seeing the views of Members of your Lordships' House and of putting forward their criticism. As the noble Lord envisaged, we might perhaps bring back the Bill again next Session, strengthened by the improve- ments that have been suggested by your Lordships. I could not agree with him more that it is far better to get a really workmanlike instrument in our task of improving the law than to try to hurry the matter. If I may put it in this way, I give him full authority, as a licensee and an invitee in the matter, to use these words of mine on another occasion from another angle.

Having said that on the general matter, I do not intend to go into anything verging on Committee points this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked me about the phrase "without more" in Clause 2 (4) (a). I understand that that means by itself and that it makes it necessary to consider not only the circumstance of the premises but also the circumstance of the visitor. The noble Lord will remember that I gave the case of a workman who might have protested to his foreman about working on a site, but had gone on because there was a necessity of earning his daily bread. The fact that there had been a notice, which he might or might not have seen, I do not think should conclude the matter. It is one of the matters to be taken into account, in the light of the danger itself and the position of the person who is subjected to it. But, of course, I will gladly have a look at that point with the draftsman and consider what the noble Lord has said. I am glad that he, too, has bitter memories of Cavalier v. Pope. I think we all have those memories, and we shall be glad to see the end of the rule.

My noble friend Lord Clitheroe raised the question of whether we had swung too much against the landlord in the Bill. I would remind him that on the last two points with which I dealt, one was for the visitor, but the other was for the landlord—and we are following the Committee on that point. I think he will agree that on the point regarding the independent contractor reasonable people will think it right for the Committee to have swung in the landlord's direction. I do not know whether it was hidden too much in the technicalities. My noble friend Lord Clitheroe is a lawyer, but the law never saw as much of him as the law would have liked. The point I was making was that, as the law stands at the moment, if the landlord employs an independent contractor, and someone is damaged through the bad workmanship of the independent contractor, the landlord is liable. Under the Bill, he will not be liable if it was reasonable to have employed an independent contractor and the work was apparently well done. I quote that to show that the whole Bill does not move in the one direction; and that is something that my noble friend might consider when he is, as I am sure he will be, giving the week-end's study to this Report.

On the second point, with regard to access, again I would remind the noble Lord of the way in which the duty of care is framed in Clause 2 (2). That says: The common duty of care is a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there. I welcome any suggestions from my noble friend, but that clause is as near the perfect expression of the reasonableness that underlies English law as I have been able to get. If he thinks that some flicker of irrationality has crept in, I shall be glad to consider it at a later stage. My noble friend will see that the circumstances of the case, the purpose of the visitor, the invitation and permission must all be considered. Therefore, in the case that I believe he had in mind, of someone being allowed to walk over, perhaps, a mountain path in a very beautiful place, the ordinary danger of slipping on a rock, or something of that kind, is not any more likely to be brought in, I should have thought, than in the present state of the law. I hope my noble friend will develop the point later on, when I shall be glad to give him a fuller answer. I am grateful to your Lordships for the reception of this Bill, and I hope that you will now allow it to be read a second time.

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