§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD ARCHIBALD
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This is a small and not very exciting Bill, but at least it has the merit of being uncontroversial, and it fills a gap in Scottish legislation. It is an uncontroversial Bill, and I think that is evidenced by its history to date. It went through Second Reading in another place without discussion. It then went to the Scottish Standing Committee, and the fact that it went through that Committee in about 36 minutes does not mean that it was considered in a perfunctory manner or that it was not examined; it only means, I think, that the Scottish Members of Parliament on the Standing Committee 494 could find no fault with the Bill. When it went for Third Reading it was discussed for about 29 minutes; it had the blessing of the Scottish Office, and passed its Third Reading unanimously. I hope that its experience here to-day will be in line with its previous history.
I need only say a few words about the Bill itself. Clause I was requested by the Association of County Councils in Scotland, because there are at present no statutory arrangements for disposing of lost and found property in county areas. Putting it quite simply, Clause 1 amends the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892. That Act provides for the disposal of lost property (I suppose one ought to say lost and found property) when it is handed in to the appropriate police officials of the burghs. But there is no similar or parallel position for the disposal of lost property when handed in to the police in the landward areas of counties. This Bill gives similar power to the police in landward areas as that now enjoyed by the police in the burgh areas. To that I cannot imagine that there will be any opposition.
There is a further provision in the Bill which applies to burgh of landward areas, and this is in respect of perishable lost property. As the powers stand at present, the police have no authority to dispose of perishable lost property until the end of the six months' period which applies to non-perishable lost property. One can easily see that there are some types of perishable lost property which might create considerable problems unless there is an amendment. This Bill, therefore, gives power to both burgh and county police authorities to dispose of perishable lost property if unclaimed by the owner after the expiration of such period as the chief constable or other officer thinks fit. I should think that in some cases that might depend on the keenness of sense of smell of the chief constable or other officer dealing with the matter.
§ LORD ARCHIBALD
I heard the remark that whisky improves. I should not normally regard whisky, safely bottled, as being perishable lost property. I need only add, for the benefit of those who have expressed concern, that this Bill does not affect the law as applying to treasure trove. As I said to begin with, 495 this is a simple but useful Bill, and I commend it to your Lordships.
§ Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Archibald.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, as one who is continually losing property of every kind, although to do justice to myself I think I can claim that I have never yet done anything quite so dreadful as to lose a bottle of whisky, nor have I had the good fortune to find any treasure trove, I am glad to welcome this Bill. All I want to do is to thank the noble Lord, Lord Archibald, for what I think was his full, thorough and satisfactory explanation of the Bill, and to say I agree with him that it is generally acceptable. I have no criticism to make of the Bill, and I hope that the amount of time which all its stages take in this House will be less than that in another place.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I should like to associate Her Majesty's Government and my humble self with the thanks which have already been proferred to my noble friend for introducing a small but useful Bill. One wonders what the Scots did with found property in landward areas before they had this Bill—but that is another matter.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.