HL Deb 06 July 1961 vol 232 cc1507-11

5.5 p.m.

Amendments reported (according to Order).

Clause 14 [Assessment of drainage charge on owners]:


My Lords, when we discussed in Committee what is now Clause 39 of the Bill, the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition moved Amendments that were designed to clarify that clause, and I said I would look into the points he raised. I have done so, and, as your Lordships will see, I am moving an Amendment to Clause 39, for I agree it must be made clear in connection with that clause that when an owner collects drainage rates from occupiers he will in fact receive the 10 per cent. allowance if the payment is made within the specified period.

I said at the time when we were discussing that clause that if there was substance in the point which the noble Viscount raised—and I thought that there was—I would take the matter away and reconsider it, and that a similar point would arise on Clause 14 of the Bill, which contains similar arrangements for the collection of drainage charges. I therefore move this Amendment to Clause 14, which will make it clear that an owner who is required to be responsible in the first instance for occupiers' drainage charges, will be able to recover from occupiers the full amount of the charges including the 10 per cent. allowance. Thus, it will be clear that the owner will get the benefit of any allowance for which he qualifies under this clause. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 16, leave out from ("by") to end of line and insert ("or allowed to him under this section").—(Earl Waldegrave.)


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Williams of Barnburgh, who cannot be here this afternoon, and I think has informed the noble Earl of that, I should like to thank him very sincerely for the Amendments which he has put down—this one and the Amendment to Clause 39—which substantially meet the case we put forward. I wish to convey those thanks to him on behalf of the noble Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 18 [Performance by river board of functions of internal drainage board]:

5.9 p.m.

LORD BURDEN moved to add to the Clause: (6) (a) The Minister shall by regulations provide for the payment by a river board, subject to such exceptions or conditions as may be specified in the regulations, of compensation to any officer or servant of that board who suffers loss of employment or loss or diminution of emoluments which is attributable to an order made under subsection (2) of this section or anything done in pursuance of any such order. (b) Different regulations may be made under this subsection in relation to different classes of persons. (c) Regulations made under this subsection may include provision as to the manner in which and the persons to whom any claim for compensation by virtue of this subsection is to be made, and for the determination of all questions arising under the regulations. (d) Regulations made under this subsection shall be made by statutory instrument and shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it will be within your Lordships' recollection that on the Committee stage I moved an Amendment, and on the kind assurance of the Minister that he would look into the matter again I withdrew the Amendment. I have taken advantage of the time to write to the noble Earl setting forth the reasons why I think this Amendment should receive his sympathetic consideration, and at this hour I do not want to recapitulate those arguments. I want to say only two things: first, that the Amendment I propose follows well-established precedents, and secondly, that the officers concerned, who are already apprehensive, will be most hopeful if the Minister in charge of the Bill can see his way to accept the Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 21, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Burden.)


My Lords, when the House examined this Amendment in Committee I undertook to look again at the points that the noble Lord, Lord Burden had made, and to come back on Report stage with fully considered views. Since then the noble Lord has been good enough to write to me in considerable technical detail. As he has not raised all these +technical points I do not think that your Lordships will wish to be wearied with that matter, and I think we can carry on the discussion by correspondence. I will only say that I should not like the noble Lord to think that I agree with every single point which he raised in that very long letter. We can keep that a:s a private matter.

In the earlier replies that my noble friend Lord Hastings and I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Burden, I made it clear that the Government regarded this as almost a theoretical point and that there was little fear, if any, of hardships arising under this clause. However, it is obvious from the few words that the noble Lord has spoken this afternoon, and from the letter he has written to me, that there is apprehension in the minds of some of the officers of the Association for which he speaks. I still think that these fears are unfounded. But it cannot be denied that this clause provides; a new method in which the powers and duties of a river board in one of its capacities can be transferred to another authority, and, therefore, it is arguable theoretically that it should provide for compensation to be payable to affected officers, if any.

If any of your Lordships were impressed by the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Burden, and if it is your Lordships' wish—I am in your Lordships' hands—I am advised that this Amendment as drafted is perfectly good. I do not have to say, as one so often does, that the drafting is wrong; the noble Lord must be a good draftsman. However, if it is your Lordships' wish that this Amendment should be accepted, I do not object.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, before we pass on, may I express my gratitude on behalf of the officers concerned, to Her Majesty's Government and to the noble Earl in particular for accepting this Amendment. I blush in regard to his kind words in relation to my Amendment.

Clause 39 [Collection of drainage rates by owners]:


My Lords, this Amendment has the same purpose as the one I have already moved in regard to Clause 14 in connection with drainage charges. This makes it clear that when an owner is required to collect occupiers' drainage rates, he will be able to recover from the occupiers not only the sum he has paid to the drainage board, but also the amount of the allowance made to him by the board. It makes clear, therefore, that the owner will get the benefit of the allowance. When the noble Viscount opposite raised this matter in Committee, there was another matter which he thought also might be ambiguous in subsection (2) of this clause. We have looked again at that other matter and we do not think there is any ambiguity there, so I am not moving an Amendment to cover that; but I am 'moving this Amendment to cover the ambiguity which may be thought to have existed in subsection (3) of this clause as it was previously drafted. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 36, leave out from ("by") to ("which") in line 37 and insert ("or allowed to him under this section").—(Earl Waldegrave.)


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Williams of Barnburgh, again asks me to express to the Minister his grateful thanks for this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 42 [Payment by river board of expenses of official visits, etc.]:

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, this is a minor, almost a drafting, Amendment. The main purpose of Clause 42 is to authorise the payment of expenses to members and officers of river boards for official and courtesy visits they make in the course of their duties. The proviso in the clause specifies that payments must not exceed what has been payable under Section 113 of the Local Government Act, 1948, which lays down the conditions of the payment of expenses to members of local authorities. Section 113 does not relate to officers of local authorities. Therefore, there is no purpose in referring to them in this proviso. This Amendment, therefore, deletes the reference to "officers." In case there should be any alarm and despondency about this, the River Boards Association have told us that expenses paid to officers of river boards are already subject to national agreement. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 27, line 37, leave out ("or officer").— (Earl Waldegrave.)

On Question. Amendment agreed to.

First Schedule [Minor Amendments]:


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I will speak to Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 together. They are all drafting Amendments. I beg to move.

Amendments moved—

Page 39, line 23, leave out ("Minister") and insert ("Ministers").

Page 39, line 25, leave out ("Minister") and insert ("Ministers")

Page 39, line 26, leave out ("him") and insert ("them").—(Earl Waldegrave.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.