HL Deb 28 February 1966 vol 273 cc466-9

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Motion appearing in my name on the Order Paper. This Motion is concerned with a draft Order—the draft of the Weights and Measures (Solid Fuel) (Carriage by Rail) Order 1966—to modify certain provisions of the Weights and Measures Act 1963 in their application to whole train-loads of fuel which is all to be carried by rail to one single industrial undertaking. Those provisions, in Part IV of Schedule 6 to the Act, require a rail waggon to be tare-weighed at the loading place before a seller may load it with solid fuel for despatch to a buyer, and require him to ticket it with particulars of its load as soon as he has completed the loading and knows who the consignee is to be.

The National Coal Board has drawn our attention to certain cases where those requirements do not seem necessary for the protection of the customer and are difficult or inconvenient to comply with. In some collieries, for instance, special loading arrangements have been, or are being, introduced; these enable pre-weighed fuel to he loaded from overhead storage by automatic weighers which weigh the fuel net and automatically print the particulars for a complete train on to one invoice. There are other cases where fuel is held at disused collieries or dumps where there is no weighing equipment; cases where the fuel is to be loaded from collieries where there is at present no weighing equipment; cases where weighing at the point of loading is unnecessary because the National Coal Board and the buyer have agreed that the weight of the fuel shall be determined at the waggon's destination; and cases where the same waggons are repeatedly loaded with fuel for the same buyer and where he would be prepared to accept tare-weighing at occasional intervals.

We have accordingly discussed this matter with other interested organisations and found general agreement that there is a case for relaxing the Act as this Order does in relation to whole train-loads of fuel which is all for one industrial user. For other consignments—including, for instance, all deliveries of fuel to coal merchants—the Act will continue to apply as it now stands. For waggons for trains of the kind I have described the draft Order modifies both the requirements to which I referred at the beginning of my speech. It does not modify the tare-weighing requirement except for fuel in heavy steel waggons capable of taking loads of up to 24 tons. Subject, however, to those two conditions—the single user to receive the whole train-load, and the use of a 24-ton steel waggon—there will be three cases where a waggon can be loaded without having first been tare-weighed at the loading place: first, the case where the waggon will be loaded by automatic weighing and loading equipment; second, the case where the buyer and the seller have agreed that the weight of the load will be ascertained at the end of the journey; and, third, when the buyer has agreed to accept tare-weighing at three-monthly intervals and the tare weight has been ascertained and durably marked on the waggon on a stated date up to three months earlier.

In the second place—and for this relaxation the waggons need not be the heavy steel ones—the waggons in those single-user trains will be relieved of the requirement in the Act that each one must be separately ticketed. Instead of ticketing each waggon, the seller must give the requisite particulars with respect to each waggon and its load—the place of loading, the weight and so forth—in one single document, which we are calling a "train bill". I bee to move.

Moved, That the Draft Weights and Measures (Solid Fuel) (Carriage by Rail) Order, 1966 laid before the House on 1st February, 1966, be approved.—(Lord Rhodes.)


My Lords, I am sorry to see that the Liberal Party appear to have departeden blocnow, when we are considering a further modification of the Weights and Measures Act. When we passed that preliminary Act, and then the final Act, after immense discussion in this House, those of us who studied it knew that there would be many cases in which, in practice, its provisions would be found silly and unworkable; and I am glad that, in this instance, the National Coal Board and the Electricity Board are being let off the full rigmarole as prescribed in the Act. I can only conclude that the Liberal Party are not here because the National Coal Board has no vote.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for his explanation of this complicated Order? I am sure that this is a sensible provision to make. I take it that the noble Lord is satisfied that the automatic weighing and loading equipments do succeed in loading all the coal that is weighed into the waggons, and not elsewhere. Certainly nobody could have any objection to weight at destination. In fact, I think that at the time the Act went through there were some who felt that coal ought to be weighed at destination. As to the third exemption, I think that this also is a sensible provision, to take care of a reasonable need for efficiency. I have no objection to this Order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.