HL Deb 11 June 1959 vol 216 cc983-8

3.31 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Dundee.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair]

Clause 1 [Cleanliness:]


This Amendment enables the Minister to prescribe by order the manner in which painting and repainting of a factory should be carried out. As it is drafted now, the clause simply allows the Minister to prescribe the types of paint to be used and the periods of repainting. It does not enable the Minister to specify how many coats of paint should be applied. Your Lordships will appreciate that this might be an important consideration in the case of some types of paints. The Amendment removes this defect and ensures that the Minister will have the maximum flexibility in making orders prescribing paints which can be used. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 7, leave out from ("words") to ("and") in line 9 and insert ("'in a prescribed manner' shall be substituted for the words 'with oil paint', the words 'in a prescribed manner' shall be inserted after the word 'repainted").—(The Earl of Dundee.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Hoists or lifts and lifting machines]:

THE EARL OF DUNDEE moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "fourteen" and insert "twenty-eight" [days]. The noble Earl said: This Amendment will increase from fourteen days to twenty-eight days the period within which a report of a defective hoist, lift or lifting machine must be sent to a district inspector. I think that the only important thing to say about this Amendment is to remove a possible misapprehension that if any immediate danger is to be feared from the working of a defective lift or hoist or other machine, twenty-eight days may have to elapse before anything is done about it. That is not so. If, as the result of inspection, there is any reason to think that there is any immediate danger, the engineer surveyor informs the occupier of the factory immediately, not after twenty-eight days, and, of course, it is the duty of the occupier of the factory to put the defective machine out of use immediately, if there is any immediate danger to be apprehended in using it. It was in order to satisfy himself on this point that my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour postponed this Amendment in another place. He said that he was practically sure that it was so but would postpone the Amendment in order to give himself time to ascertain definitely that it was the invariable practice. He has now ascertained that that is so.

I do not want to trouble your Lordships by going into the principal Act, but you will probably be aware that under Section 22 of the principal Act every hoist or lift must be thoroughly examined by a competent person at least once in every period of six months, and that a report of the examination must be included in, or attached to, the general register of the factory within fourteen days of the examination. The new provision in Clause 3 (1) of the Bill requires that a copy of the report of the examination shall be sent to the district inspector of factories within fourteen days of the completion of the examination. The object of that is not to enable the inspector to take emergency action—he could not possibly do that, as it is the duty of the occupier of the factory to take any emergency action and put the lift out of use—but simply to keep the Factory Inspectorate informed of what is happening.

The reason for making the change from fourteen to twenty-eight days is that it has been represented that when a report has to be made on a complicated piece of machinery, fourteen days is often not enough. Our own Factory Inspectorate confirm that the engineer surveyors appointed by manufacturers and insurance companies to carry out these examinations have great difficulty in completing their reports within a fortnight. As a matter of fact, they are not, as a rule, completed in a fortnight, though that is the statutory period. It has been found impracticable. Therefore, I think that it is reasonable to alter the period in this clause from fourteen to twenty-eight days. That will involve, in a minute or two, if your Lordships agree to this Amendment, a consequential Amendment making a similar alteration in the existing provision in the 1937 Act. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 32, leave out ("fourteen") and insert ("twenty-eight").—(The Earl of Dundee.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This Amendment is consequential on the preceding one. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 37, at end insert— ("(2) In subsection (2) of the said section twenty-two for the words 'fourteen days' (which specify the time within which the report has to be registered) there shall be substituted the words 'twenty-eight days'.")—(The Earl of Dundee.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE EARL OF DUNDEE moved, to add to subsection (2): unless his work is so connected with or dependent on the movements of the crane as to make a warning unnecessary.

The noble Earl said: This Amendment has the effect of relieving occupiers of factories of the duty to give a specific warning to persons whose work closely depends on the movements of an overhead travelling crane. It has been drafted to meet the case, which often happens in factories, where a team of men is employed in conjunction with the working of an overhead travelling crane. One of the team will be responsible for unloading the crane while the others stand by to carry out certain duties immediately after the unloading has taken place. In this case, all the men who are working can see the crane all the time. If the crane is working properly, a lot of noise is going on, anyhow. If there is a statutory duty to warn them about what they can already see, the person who warns them has to shout at the top of his voice; and if the man is warned in this way and his attention is distracted from what he is doing simply to inform him of something of which he is aware and which he has been watching for several minutes, it may be a considerable strain on his good temper and will certainly not add to his safety. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 46, at end insert the said words. —(The Earl of Dundee.)


While I fully appreciate what the noble Earl has said, I rather regret this Amendment, because it somewhat weakens the whole purpose and will make definition difficult. I have in mind a shop which I frequently visit, a constructional engineering shop, where steel members, girders, are continually being moved about by an overhead crane. When they are being so moved, there is, as the noble Earl says, a team of men, slingers, and others, working with the drivers doing the work, and they are well aware of what is going forward. But this does not happen every day or all day. During the time that it is not happening, many people are engaged on the floor of this huge shop on other occupations connected with the frabrication of these steel members. The crane comes along and starts moving. The words of the Amendments are, unless his work is so connected with or dependent on the movements of the crane… All the men in that shop are concerned with the movements of the crane, since it is moving material with which they themselves are concerned; and in a sense they are all dependent on the work of the crane, because otherwise they could not move their stuff. But if, under this clause, the occupier is to be exempted, he is exempted from giving any warnings or notices at all, because all the people, to that extent, are concerned. It seems to me to make a big and dangerous loophole in the intentions of the Bill as drafted.


It is certainly not the intention of the Government to weaken the law in this case, and I will look at the noble Lord's point. At first sight, I should be inclined to say that the answer would probably be that in the circumstances which the noble Lord has described the warning would be necessary. This Amendment provides only that the warning shall not be given unless his work is so connected with…the movements of the crane as to make it unnecessary.


Before we leave this point, I hope that the Minister will not give way unduly on it. I regard this as an important matter. If a number of unnecessary warnings are given, when a necessary warning is given nobody will take notice of it. Anybody closely acquainted with work in a factory, and with the noises going on, knows that if something is continuing all the time nobody takes any notice of it. I would ask the Opposition not to press the point, because I am sure it is wrong.


I appreciate what the noble Lord says. It is rather difficult to do what is right here; but it is equally dangerous that this clause should let everybody out and no warning be given at all.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.


For the purposes, as some of your Lordships know, of enabling me to make a statement, I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume. —(Viscount Hailsham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.