HL Deb 21 May 1974 vol 351 cc1343-406

4.1 p.m.

Report of Amendments received.

Clause 3 [Prohibition of unlicensed disposal of waste]:

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 1: Page 5, line 5, leave out ("the following section") and insert ("section 4 of this Act").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Leader of the House I beg to move Amendment No. 1, and with permission I seek to speak also to Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 27, 28, 31 and 32. These are the Amendments necessary to give effect to the Government's undertaking to carry into this Bill the substance of Sections 1 and 2 of the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act 1972. Because of the interest that the House has shown in this matter, perhaps I might explain briefly how the task has been effected. The 1972 Act penalised severely anyone who deposited poisonous waste on land so as to give rise to an environmental hazard. The ingredients of the defence were carefully defined; statutory defences were provided; and there was a let-out for anything done pursuant to an enactment. Part I of the present Bill creates an entirely new background. It distinguishes between controlled waste, farm waste, mine and quarry waste, and other waste.

Clauses 1 to 16 deal with controlled waste—and Clause 3 makes it an offence to deposit controlled waste on land except in accordance with a disposal licence. So far as farm waste and mining waste are concerned, the Secretary of State can apply to them provisions applicable to controlled waste. This is to be found in Clause 17. To avoid cutting across this structure, the draftsman has had to deal separately with controlled waste which is poisonous waste and other waste which also is poisonous waste. The Amendments to Clause 3 inject into the offence created by that clause what I might call an aggravated offence. If the controlled waste which is deposited on land contrary to any disposal licence has the characteristics of poisonous waste, then tile person concerned is liable to severe penalties, as under the 1972 Act. So Clause 3 will contain two offences—one being tile plain offence now in the Bill, and the other the aggravated offence taken from the 1972 Act.

So far as all other wastes are concerned, including farm waste and mining waste, we rely on the provision to be added to Clause 17. It becomes an offence to deposit any other waste on land so that if it were controlled waste, and the deposit were not covered by a disposal licence, tile person would be guilty of the aggravated offence. There is an exclusion for acts done in accordance with any enactment, and this would of course, cover such substances as toxic farming pesticides properly deposited on a licensed site. The only other special kind of waste I need mention is radioactive waste. This is now taken out of Part I by virtue of Clause 24(5), whereas under the 1972 Act it had to rely on the exemption for acts licensed by enactment.

I must say a word about Section 2 of the 1972 Act, which created a civil remedy for breach of the duty created by Section 1. We could have been in some doubt as to the proper treatment for this, bearing in mind that Clause 95(2) of the Bill excludes any civil remedy for breach of any duty created under the Bill. If we are to have a civil remedy in respect of the aggravated offence then clearly we ought to have a civil remedy in respect of the plain offence, especially when these lie side by side in the same clause. However, the noble Lords who pressed for this consolidation exercise to be taken have given us the key. In consolidation one seeks to repeat the substance of the former law. So we have done just that. Accordingly, the presence in the Bill of the new clause after Clause 79 should be regarded as entirely neutral and not as involving any Government commitment in this matter of civil liability. I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to express my deep gratitude to the Government for the way in which they have responded to the criticisms that were made in all parts of the House on the failure, when the Bill was originally introduced in its first form by the late Administration and in its present form by the present Administration, to consolidate the provisions of the 1972 Act in the new Bill. Anyone who has listened to the carefully drafted brief from which the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, has just read, which clearly states the complicated differences between an offence and an aggravated offence and the exact difference in the nature of these offences, will surely feel convinced, if he had not been convinced before, about how essential it is for the understanding of the law that the whole matter should be stated in one Bill, and that this should not merely be an addition to, and in some respects an amendment of, the Act of 1972. At the time that Act was described as an interim measure and I am quite sure that this House has served a most useful purpose in pressing the Government, as it sought to press the previous Government, to consolidate all the provisions dealing with this extremely important and complicated subject. I repeat my gratitude to the Government for having responded to the general appeal that has been made.


My Lords, I should also like to add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, and also my congratulations because he and his colleagues must have worked very hard to have achieved this measure of consolidation. I appreciate that the noble Lord gave an undertaking in Committee stage that this would be done. We are therefore glad to see the Amendment coming forward on Report. I know that it will be welcomed by local authorities who will have to interpret the Act, and also I have no doubt by private industry. In view of some of the criticisms made about the drafting of Acts, and the complications which people get into in trying to understand these Acts, this will be of enormous benefit to vast numbers of people. We welcome it, and we thank you.


My Lords, on behalf of those of us who sit on these Benches, I support what the noble Baroness, Lady Young, has said in this matter. I congratulate the noble Lord on the way he has presented it.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Molson, the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran. Members of your Lordships House gave us a clue as to how we might deal with the matter. For our part, we are grateful to them for the constructive role they played on Committee stage.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.11 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2.

Amendment moved—

Page 5, line 10, leave out ("Subject to") and insert ("Except in a case falling within")—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 3.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 11, at end insert (", subject to subsection (3) of this section,").—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 15, at end insert— ("(2A) A person who contravenes paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section in a case where—

  1. (a) the waste in question is of a kind which is poisonous, noxious or polluting; and
  2. (b) its presence on the land is likely to give rise to an environmental hazard; and
  3. (c) it is deposited on the land in such circumstances or for such a period that whoever deposited it there may reasonably be assumed to have abandoned it there or to have brought it there for the purpose of its being disposed of (whether by himself or others) as waste,
shall, subject to the following subsection, be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding £400 or both or, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine or both.")—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords I beg to move Amendment No. 5:

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 32, at end insert— ("(8) For the purposes of subsection (2A) of this section—

  1. (a) the presence of waste on land gives rise to an environmental hazard if the waste has been deposited in such a manner or in such a quantity (whether that quantity by itself or cumulatively with other deposits of the same or different substances) as to subject persons or animals to a material risk of death, injury or impairment of health or as to threaten the pollution (whether on the surface or underground) of any water supply; and
  2. (b) the fact that waste is deposited in containers shall not of itself be taken to exclude any risk which might be expected to arise if the waste were not in containers.
(9) In the case of any deposit of waste, the degree of risk relevant for the purposes of the preceding subsection shall be assessed with particular regard—
  1. (a) to the measures, if any, taken by the person depositing the waste, or by the owner or occupier of the land, or by others, for minimising the risk; and
  2. (b) to the likelihood of the waste, or any container in which it is deposited, being tampered with by children or others.").—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 6.

Amendment moved— That clause 3 be divided into two clauses, the first to consist of subsections (1) to (3) inclusive (Prohibition of unlicensed disposal of waste); and the second to consist of subsections (4) to (9) inclusive (Provisions supplementary to s. 3).—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 5 [Provisions supplementary to s.4]:

LORD MERRIVALE moved Amendment No. 7: Page 9, line 36, after ("applicant") insert ("may at any time").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 7. This Amendment is designed simply to make it clear that the authority and the applicant may reach agreement at any time as to the period in which an application for a licence has to be considered. On the one hand, the authority may wish to extend the application period beyond the two months period rather than its being rejected through default. On the other hand, the applicant might wish to agree upon an application period before the application is formally submitted. The purpose of this Amendment is, therefore, to make it clear that these are possibilities. I beg to move.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, has explained the purpose of his Amendment. I do not want to waste the time of the House by repeating the argument. I am very pleased to say I am able to accept his Amendment on behalf of the Government.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord and to Her Majesty's Government.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9 [Appeals to Secretary of State from decisions with respect to licences]:

4.16 p.m.

LORD MERRIVALE moved Amendment No. 8: Page 13, line 7, after ("health") insert ("or serious detriment to the amenities of the locality").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 8, and in so doing, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to add the following words to the Amendment: "affected by the activities", so that the Amendment would now read: or serious detriment to the amenities of the locality affected by the activities". I do this because I have a feeling that this form of wording may be more agreeable to Her Majesty's Government. Under Clause 6(4) a disposal authority can by notice revoke a licence if the continuation of activities to which the licence relates is seriously detrimental to the amenities of the locality. I feel it is only right that in the notice the authority should include a statement to this effect, and that if the authority acted unreasonably in including such a statement, the holder of a licence should be entitled to recover compensation in respect of any loss suffered by him in consequence of that statement. I believe this to be consistent with the other requirements of subsection (3) of this clause. I beg to move.


My Lords, subsection (2) of Clause 9 says that when a licence is revoked or varied, and an appeal is made, then the revocation or variation shall not take effect until the appeal is settled. In this way the result of the appeal is not, as it were, anticipated. Subsection (3), however, makes an exception to this. If the authority consider that there is such a risk of danger to public health or water pollution that their decision to revoke or vary the licence should be carried out immediately even before the appeal is settled, then they can require that their decision takes immediate effect. But in this case they are liable to pay compensation if the Secretary of State considers that they have acted unreasonably in compelling an immediate cessation or alteration of the disposal operations before the appeal is settled. It will be seen, therefore, that subsection (3) is intended only for use in what are, in effect, emergency or near emergency situations where the disposal authority consider that immediate action must be taken, and are prepared to take the risk of having to pay compensation for the effects of their urgent action if it is subsequently shown that they have acted unreasonably or precipitately.

The effect of the proposed Amendment would be to broaden the scope of subsection (3) considerably. It would add the words "serious detriment to the amenities of the locality", to which the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale has added the words "affected by the activity", as a possible ground for immediate revocation or variation of a licence before an appeal had been settled. The subsection would thus reflect the words of Clauses 6(1)(b)(i) and 8(1)(a). This Amendment does not seem likely to be often necessary in practice, which is why we did not include these points in the original clause. Unlike public health risks, serious detriment to the amenities is unlikely to arise overnight and require instant action in the same way. Nor is any detriment to the amenities likely to be so serious that immediate action must be taken even before an appeal is determined. However, I am prepared to accept that such circumstances might arise, for example where a tip becomes very smelly in hot weather without actually causing a public health hazard, and it could then be desirable for the authority to be able to secure immediate improvements even before any appeal on the changes required is settled. We will therefore be happy to reconsider the point to see whether something on the lines of this Amendment should be brought in at a later stage.

I should like to re-emphasise, however, that this kind of urgent action should be regarded as the exception rather than the rule. Normally the authority should be ready to wait for the appeal to be settled before requiring changes to be made on a site. The Secretary of State will be able to ensure that authorities do proceed with due deliberation in this way through his power to award compensation against unreasonably hasty authorities. We shall want to underline this point in issuing guidance to local authorities, so as to avoid rash use of the subsection. It is for this reason that we ought to be cautious about accepting the broadening of the clause on the lines of the Amendment before the House. I hope that that explanation, which I thought it desirable to provide at some length, will be sufficient to persuade the noble Lord that he can withdraw his Amendment on the undertaking I have given.


My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for the detailed explanation he has given as to why he cannot accept the Amendment at this stage, and for saying that Her Majesty's Government are willing to reconsider the point and, if need be, to propose a suitable Amendment in another place. I take the noble Lord's point that subsection (3) is meant to deal mainly with situations of emergency, or near emergency, and may not be used to a great extent in practice, and that may be so. But as the noble Lord has said that the whole question will be reconsidered, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 [Dustbins, etc.]:

4.22 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 9: Page 19, line 10, after ("number") insert ("reasonably").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Shepherd, I beg to move Amendment No. 9 and to speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 10 and 11. During the passage of the Bill to date, several noble Lords have expressed themselves very forcibly about the Government's proposed Amendment to Clause 12 dealing with the supply of domestic dustbins. In particular, concern has been expressed about the abandonment of the appeal procedure for householders aggrieved by a local authority decision to serve notice on them requiring the use of a particular receptacle. A number of noble Lords thought that this was unfair, particularly in view of the liability of the householder to a fine of £100 for refusal to comply with the notice. I think my noble friends Lord Slater and Lord Hale, and the noble Lords, Lord Merrivale and Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, as well as the noble Baroness, spoke on this matter.

In view of the strength of feeling in the House, the Government have reconsidered this matter, and this Amendment and the next recast the clause in a way which includes an appeal provision which I hope will provide a clear indication of the policy proposed here. The clause, taken with the Amendments now offered, will give the collection authority three possible courses to follow in relation to each householder. First, it can provide receptacles free of charge; secondly it can provide receptacles for a charge if the householder agrees; thirdly it can require the householder to provide his own receptacle. This third course is open if the householder refuses, or is not offered, the option of taking the authority's receptacles with charge. Although regulations under Clause 12(4) will cover maintenance of receptacles, they will not cover cases where the authority feels that replacement is desirable, and the authority's notice will therefore be able to require the householder to put his waste in receptacles of a kind and number so specified. This, of course, was the substance of the Government's previous Amendment on Clause 12.

In view of the comments of a number of your Lordships, however, we now propose to introduce a right of appeal for the householder who is required by the notice to provide any receptacles, on the grounds, first, that the kind and number of receptacles so required is unreasonable; or, secondly, that the receptacles in which the household waste on his premises is placed for collection are quite adequate. It comes to this: so long as a person provides adequate receptacles he cannot be compelled to accept and pay for receptacles provided by the authority. If the authority wants to introduce universal standard receptacles, it must pay for them and the householder must then use them. I hope noble Lords will feel that the structure of this clause now achieves a fair balance between the desires of an authority seeking to ensure a safe and efficient household collection service, and the rights of the individual who may not feel that there is justification in his having to buy new, different or more dustbins. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, for introducing this Amendment and for giving us this very full explanation. I am very glad to see it, as I am sure the whole House will be, and to note that he has met the point about appeal procedure and has indicated that if the local authority requires a certain type of dustbin it will not necessarily be obligatory for the householder to have to pay for it. I am sure that this Amendment meets the criticism that was made, and we are all very grateful for it. I should like to ask one question about the maximum penalty of £100. It seems to me extremely difficult to imagine circumstances in which this could be imposed. It may well be that this is really a legal formality. I am not a magistrate myself and I am not familiar with this point. But I wonder whether it is worth having another look at it.


My Lords, may I support what the noble Baroness has said about our gratitude for this Amendment? Also, may I say this, as a magistrate sitting in an area where most of the magistrates are Conservatives? I can understand how such a bench of magistrates may in certain circumstances impose a very heavy fine. The House will no doubt remember that I made a speech on this matter earlier this week, when I suggested that there should be an appeal. But I should like to support generally the proposition put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Young.


My Lords, I should also like to add a word of thanks to the Minister for having moved this Amendment covering appeal procedure to a magistrates' court. On the other hand I still feel, as I did at the Committee stage, that in dealing with household waste a maximum of £100 seems rather high; it is the same maximum as for industrial or commercial waste. It seems to me that the offence in those two cases could be of greater significance, and might therefore warrant a higher maximum penalty than for purely household waste. I am not suggesting that lone should raise the maximum for commercial and industrial waste offences, but one might consider lowering the maximum for the householder.


My Lords, before the noble Lord replies, it may be convenient to reply to all questions together. Now that there is this very welcome provision covering free receptacles of the approved kind, may it be necessary, when the Bill goes to another place, to consider some provision under which, if the freely provided receptacle is lost or damaged, the second receptacle has to be paid for?


My Lords, I am grateful to those who have expressed appreciation of the Government's intention in submitting these Amendments for approval. First of all, may I say with regard to the maximum penalty of £100 that I have no doubt the matter will be pursued in another place. I should like at the same time to touch on what the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, said. I, too, have been for years a member of the Bench, and I cannot conceive of any Bench lightly or easily imposing a penalty that is anywhere approaching the maximum.


My Lords, may I say that the noble Lord is really unrealistic about the attitudes of some magistrates in certain circumstances—at any rate on the Benches with which I have been associated?


My Lords, I must say that I would have thought that the noble Lord would have had a more liberalising effect.


My Lords, may I say that I have a very liberalising effect on my Bench, but I cannot manage many of these landed gentry who seem to dominate the Benches with which I am associated.


My Lords, I do not want to pursue this matter unduly, except to say that I am not unfamiliar with working with members of Benches.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord is not familiar with landed gentry on these Benches.


My Lords, I think that the noble Lord might let me say what I want to say, because I think that we have to keep this in perspective.




My Lords, I repeat what I said, that in any case where a local authority is behaving unreasonably I think that the householder is now going to enjoy recourse to a local government Ombudsman. We have put back into the Bill the right of appeal, and I have indicated that I should not be surprised—indeed, I would expect—if there were some further attention given to this matter as it proceeds through the other place.

The question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, can be looked at. If we are satisfied that there is something in the point it can be dealt with in the other place. I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, for putting his question. I am not at all sure that anybody has thought of that one, and off the cuff I should not like to give any kind of reply. We have to avoid giving the impression that people can afford to be careless in the manner in which they look after the receptacles with which they are provided.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 10.

Amendment moved— Page 19, line 11, leave out from beginning to end of line 22 and insert ("a person who fails to comply with such a requirement shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of an amount not exceeding £100. (1A) A notice served by an authority in pursuance of the preceding subsection may provide for the receptacles in question to be provided by the authority free of charge or—

  1. (a) if the recipient of the notice agrees, by the authority on payment by the recipient of the notice of such a single payment or such periodical payments as he agrees with the authority; or
  2. (b) by the recipient of the notice if he does not enter into an agreement in pursuance of the preceding paragraph within a period specified in the notice or the notice does not propose such an agreement.
(1B) Where by virtue of such notice the recipient of it is required to provide any receptacles he may within the period of twenty-one days beginning with the last day of the period specified in the notice in pursuance of paragraph (b) of the preceding subsection or, where no period is so specified, beginning with the day on which the notice is served on him, appeal to a magistrates' court against the notice on the ground that the kind or number of the receptacles required by the notice is unreasonable or on the ground that the receptacles in which household waste in the premises in question is placed for collection are adequate; and where an appeal against a notice is brought in pursuance of this subsection—
  1. (a) the notice shall be of no effect pending the determination of the appeal; and
  2. (b) the courts shall either quash or modify the notice or dismiss the appeal; and
  3. (c) no question as to whether the kind or number of receptacles specified in the notice is unreasonable shall be entertained in any proceedings for an offence under this section in respect of the notice.").—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 11.

Amendment moved— Page 20, leave out lines 5 to 12 and insert (", paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (1B) of this section shall apply in relation to the notice as they apply in relation to such a notice as is mentioned in that subsection.").—(Lord Garnsworthy.]

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 15 [Removal of waste deposited in breach of licensing provisions]:

4.33 p.m.

BARONESS YOUNG moved Amendment No. 12: Page 26, line 9, leave out from ("land") to ("permitted") in line 10 and insert ("if it can be shown that he made or").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I move this Amendment on behalf of the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, who unfortunately is unable to be present this afternoon. I read carefully what the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, said when the noble Duke moved a similar Amendment at Committee stage. I think it would be helpful to the he House if the noble Lord could give a further explanation of the kind of defence open to a landowner in these particular circumstances. The point that my noble friend wished to make was that it appears to be unjust that a landowner is held responsible if something like an old car, or other bulky or untidy waste, is left on his land unless he can show that he had no knowledge of it and was not responsible for its being left there. We all recognise that this is a real problem. Indeed, at Second Reading of the Protection of the Environment Bill, and at various stages during the Committee stage, noble Lords made reference to this great problem, manifestations of which we see all around us, particularly of people dumping old cars in the country and other bulky waste which they do not seem to be able to get rid of, despite the provisions of the Civic Amenities Act which make it possible for local authorities to have tips where people can leave such waste.

It appears that there could be an injustice in that a landowner could be assumed to be guilty because he is responsible for this waste until he has been proved innocent. He might not always find it easy to prove that he knew nothing about it, because it would be a question of trying to explain how he could have had nothing to do with the particular offence. This appears to reverse what is the normal position in English justice, that someone is innocent until proved guilty. I appreciate that the clause is precisely as drafted in the Protection of the Environment Bill, but I think that it would be helpful to the House if the noble Lord could offer a further explanation on it.


My Lords, may I come right away to the point of the old motor car. Clause 15 is not concerned with old cars because they are not controlled waste. Old cars dumped on land will continue to be regulated in the way that they have been hitherto. Turning to the Amendment, may I draw attention to the fact that it is similar to the one moved by the noble Duke in Committee and, as your Lordships will recall, I promised to reconsider this matter. I have since written to the noble Duke explaining at some length why the Government still take the view that this Amendment is not acceptable.

Clause 15(6) deals exclusively with the recovery of costs by an authority for work that it does under Clause 15(5) in order to remove or reduce the consequences of waste deposited on unlicensed sites in certain circumstances. Clause 15(6)(a), to which this Amendment specifically relates, deals with the recovery of costs in those cases falling within Clause 15(5)(a); that is to say, where the authority acts in order to remove or prevent pollution of water or danger to public health. So we are talking here about the more difficult wastes which, if deposited on unlicensed sites, are likely to cause public health dangers. In these circumstances, we stand by the view that when you turn to considering the allocation of the costs, the right person to look to first is the occupier. We are, after all, concerned about an event which occurred on his land; and ordinarily he should be in a much better position than the local authority to explain what happened, or might have happened.

We anticipate that in practice the local authority will first act in the interests of public health, and then come round to making some inquiries about the exact circumstances. If they conclude that the occupier genuinely knew nothing about it, they will doubtless leave him in peace. The noble Duke expressed concern at Committee stage about the occupier whose land is visited by a fly tipper. The question is whether the local authority or, if it comes to that, the court, accept the occupier's testimony that he knows nothing whatever about it. By contrast, if the local authority have to prove what happened in the middle of the night on private land, they would surely find the burden of proof impossible to discharge—perhaps even if they can mobilise the resources of the police. This could all tend to make authorities reluctant to use the powers at all; and this would scarcely be in the best public interest.

I hope that the noble Baroness will feel that she need not press this Amendment this afternoon. If she has not been able to follow me too well, I hope that when she reads what I have said she will appreciate that we have given careful consideration to it. We feel that we are justified in indicating that the Amendment is one that we ought not to accept.


My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 17 [Application of preceding provisions to other waste]:

4.40 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 13.

Amendment moved— Page 28, line 15, at end insert— ("(1A) A person who—

  1. (a) deposits on any land any waste other than controlled waste; or
  2. (b) causes or knowingly permits the deposit on any land of any waste other than controlled waste,
in a case where, if the waste were controlled waste and any disposal licence relating to the land were not in force, he would be guilty of an offence under section 3(2A) of this Act shall be guilty of such an offence and punishable accordingly unless the act charged was done in pursuance of and in accordance with the terms of any consent, licence, approval or authority granted under any enactment (excluding any planning permission under the enactments relating to town and country planning); and in this subsection "land" includes such water as is mentioned in section 3(7) of this Act.").—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 24 [Interpretation etc. of Part 1]:

LORD INGLEWOOD moved Amendment No. 14: Page 34, line 4, after ("home") insert ("or a hotel, a boarding house, a guest house or restaurant").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is similar to an Amendment I moved to a similar Bill introduced by the late Government into this House in the last Parliament. I had intended to move this Amendment during this Bill's Committee stage, but business moved much faster than I expected and I must apologise for not being here. Your Lordships need not be anxious; I will not repeat all the arguments I deployed when the Amendment was first moved. I thought the arguments were clear and more convincing than the reply of the then Government, and I have put down the Amendment again because I feel sure that it is at least worth having another look at it.

Hotel waste was traditionally treated as residential waste because it is of the same nature as the latter, but in the last Bill this emphasis was changed. When I read the Memorandum on the Bill from the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, I found that she underlined that only residential premises shall benefit from the free collection services. It seemed to me that I was justified in tabling the Amendment again because, as the Bill is now drawn, only some residential premises will benefit in the way the noble Baroness said. Why some, my Lords, and not others? Why should a residential home be given the benefit but not a guest house? Again, as I read the Bill, why should a restaurant, which is hardly residential premises, but which may happen to form part of a university, be given preferential treatment but not, apparently, any other form of restaurant? I would suggest, therefore, that it is worth the Government's while to look at this point again. There are later stages before the Bill reaches the Statute Book and if the noble Lord feels that he cannot accept every word of my Amendment I hope he will examine it carefully to see whether he can, at a later stage in another place, introduce an Amendment which will at least make the present unsatisfactory position a good deal fairer. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I wonder whether there is another anomaly which this Amendment might put right? It may have been raised at an early stage, and if so, I apologise. It concerns the office or factory canteen. If school canteen waste is regarded as household waste, I do not see why an office or a factory canteen's waste should not also be regarded as household waste.


My Lords, may I presume to support what the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, said? Perhaps it is a subject which may be considered again by the Government if the wording is not as precise as it should be. In making this submission to the Minister, may I say how grateful I am to have an opportunity of saying what great public duties are performed by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, in the North-West—in the Lake District particularly—in regard to his activities there.


My Lords, may I also support the Amendment? I will not repeat all the arguments made during the Committee stage, because I supported my noble friend on the Amendment at that time, but I should also emphasise that I fail to understand how the Government can draw a line—if they do, it must be a very thin one—between a residential house and a boarding or guest house. So many boarding houses, guest houses and small hotels actually have residents who may live there for a year or for several years. How the Government can differentiate between the small hotels, boarding houses and residential homes I find difficult to understand. As I commented on Committee stage, the courts have always decided that the classification of waste should not be through its origin but rather its nature. In this case the Government appear to be classifying waste through its origin. I should like to know why. They presumably say that because hotels presumably make profits, therefore they should pay for collection of their waste; but as we argued on the Committee stage there are other places like art galleries, nursing homes and hospitals, some of which make profits but which will have their waste collected free.

I find it difficult to understand how the Government make this distinction. I am concerned—as I indicated when I intervened on Second Reading—about the effect on landladies and Small Hoteliers around the South-East coast of England, many of whom have a very hard time to make ends meet, especially with the fire precautions applicable to hotels. Small hotels simply cannot afford the cost of meeting the new requirements. If at the same time they now have to pay for the collection of hotel or boarding house refuse, it will bear hard on them, and I therefore support my noble friend's Amendment.


My Lords, I should like to point out to the House that under Clause 24(4) it will always be possible to make some adjustment to categories of waste by regulations if at any time that seems necessary. It would not be possible to make an exhaustive classification of all types of waste and all types of premises in the Bill itself without making the clause inordinately long and inflexible. We envisage, however, that we shall in due course need to make more detailed regulations under Clause 24(4) when it will be possible to go into much more detail about which types of premises and which types of waste should fall into the different categories. We can give this assurance and we shall consult widely on those regulations.

I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, and other noble Lords who have spoken, that the British Hotel and Restaurant Association will be among those consulted, so that there will be further opportunity to consider this matter. I hope that these assurances may help the noble Lord so that he may feel able to withdraw his Amendment.


My Lords, in the light of those words of the noble Lord, I would be ungracious not to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. The noble Lord has gone a little way towards meeting our point, but he has not gone as far as I should like, and I cannot say what may or may not be put on the paper in another place. I feel it would be reasonable to have another look at this problem because the present situation is almost beyond working out fairly through regulations. But in the light of what the noble Lord has said—and I would also thank the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, for his unsolicited testimonial—I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 26 [Control of discharges of trade and sewage effluent etc. into rivers and coastal waters etc.]:

4.50 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved Amendment No. 15: Page 39, line 7, at end insert— (1A) Where any sewage effluent is discharged as mentioned in paragraph (a) of the preceding subsection from any works or sewer vested in a water authority and the authority did not cause or knowingly permit the discharge but was bound to receive into the works or sewer, either unconditionally or subject to conditions which were observed, matter included in the discharge, the authority shall be deemed for the purposes of that subsection to have caused the discharge.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 15 I should also like to speak to Amendment No. 16, which is consequential. Ministers are fortunate in that they have a brief which is prepared to meet any eventuality. My brief starts as follows: If the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, has moved the Amendment, the Government spokesman probably needs to do no more than say that he takes this opportunity to pay tribute to Lord Dilhorne for the way in which he has pursued this particular hare through two Bills and two Committee stages; and while, with respect, we still think that the Bill as drafted would have dealt adequately with the matter, there are possibly a few rather unusual cases and we are grateful to him for having helped (to mix the metaphor) to stop up a potential bolt-hole.

Unfortunately, the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, is not present, and it therefore falls to me to explain this Amendment.

At the Committee stage of the Protection of the Environment Bill, and also on this one, the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, pressed the need to import into the Bill a provision on the lines of the latter part of subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act 1951; and the proposal was then resisted, as I also resisted it on the Committee stage of this Bill. Our further studies have confirmed our original view that it is unnecessary to deal in Clause 25 with the question of who commits an offence when a discharge from a sewer or sewage disposal works carries polluting matter into a stream in conflict with a requirement of a consent to discharge or in the absence of a consent. This is because Clause 25(2)(f) provides a defence in that case against the offence under Clause 25(1). Paragraph (f), together with the introductory two lines of the subsection, reads as follows: A person shall not be guilty of an offence by virtue of the preceding subsection "— that is, subsection (1) of Clause 25— if … (f) the matter in question is trade or sewage effluent discharged as mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of the following section", that is, Clause 26, and so on. This defence is provided by the Bill because there is a separate offence under Clause 26 of causing or knowingly permitting a discharge of trade or sewerage effluent without consent or in breach of conditions of consent.

Where an offending discharge is made from sewers or works vested in the water authority, we had previously taken the view that the water authority, being in control of the works, must prima facie cause any discharge from them or from sewers direct to the river. We read the judgments in Alphacell, including that of the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, as tending to support that view; but on the strength of an earlier line of cases we concluded that it was possible to take the view that the water authority does not cause or knowingly permit the discharge when it is bound to receive matter into sewers but has not actually agreed to do so, perhaps under a prescriptive right of the discharger, and when the effluent is discharged from the sewers by gravity. If that is the correct view, it is perhaps right to make provision in Clause 26 positively deeming the authority to cause the discharge in such circumstances, and that is the purpose of this Amendment.

My Lords, I must say that I was never more involved or more bewildered as when listening to three lawyers discuss the law connected with water and sewage, and I am hopeful that this is the last of this type of Bill in which I shall get involved. But I have been in communication with the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, and have spelt out the purposes and the intentions of this Amendment. I have not yet heard from the noble Viscount whether I have been able to meet him on this point, but I hope I have. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, as the first of the spokesmen on this side to find myself entangled with the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, on the whole problem of Alphacell, I can certainly express my sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd; but in the absence of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, I think my role now is to say that I hope—a hope I share with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd—that the Government have got it right and that the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, is content.


My Lords, may I presume to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on his history of this Amendment in relation to Lord Dilhorne's suggestion? May I also congratulate the noble Lord on putting forward so lucidly and in such clear terms what he proposed to do?

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD SHEPHERD: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 16.

Amendment moved— Page 40, line 10, after ("of") insert ("subsection (1A) of this section and")—(Lord Shepherd.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 35 [Registers]:

4.56 p.m.

VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD moved Amendment No. 17: Page 54, line 14, at end insert— ("(f) consents under section 1, notices under section 2 and agreements under section 7 of the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act 1937.")

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment perhaps looks slightly complicated, but in fact it is not really at all complicated. In the Library I have been looking up the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act 1937, which is rather an obscure provision really outside the main stream of this Bill, but it has a certain bearing on it. The Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act 1937 relates to trade discharges into public sewers. This Act is applied and amended in Clauses 37 to 39 of this Bill, but it is not fully integrated. By Section 1 of the Act as amended, trade premises have to have a consent to discharge trade effluent into public sewers. They apply by means of a notice under Section 2 of that Act as amended. Under Section 7 as amended, the water authority may make agreements with occupiers as to discharges, and for some reason these agreements, though not the Section 1 consents, are to be kept in a public register. I find this rather illogical. I cannot see why they cannot both be kept in one and the same register.

The amendments to the Act in this Bill transfer the Section 7 agreements—that is to say, the agreements made by the water authority with occupiers as to discharges—to the new, comprehensive register under Clause 35 of this Bill. That seems sensible; but, though the amendments also make the Section 1 consents registrable, as I say, they do not make them registrable in the same register as the agreements made between the water authority and the occupiers as to discharges. I am sorry, my Lords; I am explaining this very badly, but it is slightly complicated. The point I am trying to make is this. Why can we not have one register under one Act to show exactly what is going on in relation to discharges of water within an area? I often feel, as I study some of these Bills, that we should really try to make them a bit simpler, and in this case I feel it is quite unnecessary to have several registers to register what appears to amount to one and the same thing. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, has spoken of the complexity of the matter with which this Part of the Bill deals, and perhaps I ought to try to set out the position as we see it. As the noble Viscount said, the Amendment seeks to ensure that certain information about discharges of trade effluent to the sewers is placed on the registers and thus made public. Consents issued under Section 1 of the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act 1937, to which he referred, are given after the intending discharger has served a notice on the water authority. The notice—which is tantamount to an application for consent—contains details of the composition, daily volume and maximum rate of discharge of the effluent, and the water authority may give consent either unconditionally or with conditions. If the water authority and discharger wish, they may enter into an agreement—this is in Section 7 of the Act of 1937, as the noble Viscount said. The agreements generally concern matters outside the scope of the notice and consent system. They commonly cover the construction and maintenance of works for the reception and treatment of an effluent by the authority at the whole or part expense of the discharger. An agreement may also contain provision for the payment of charges by the discharger for the treatment of the effluent at the disposal works.

The purpose of the Amendment, as indicated by the noble Viscount, is to bring trade effluent discharges to the public sewers under the same arrangements (so far as records are concerned) as other discharges. But the other discharges are made direct to the environment; to rivers, lakes, underground strata and the sea. Discharges made to the sewers only become of interest to the public once they have passed through the treatment works and are then liberated to the environment. But by that stage many effluents have been mixed together and often have been treated at the sewage works. It is the nature of discharge from the works which is important, rather than what goes into the works.

If it was thought that a register of consents and notices relating to discharges to the sewers would make a significant contribution to the further control of pollution, the Government would have been happy to include the appropriate provision in the Bill. But that is not the case. Knowledge of what is going into the sewers adds very little, if anything at all, when it comes to monitoring the state of discharges to rivers or the sea, to the knowledge the public will already be able to obtain from the registers. The imposition of additional registers would add to the already fairly elaborate administrative arrangements which the keeping of these registers will entail. I may say that there are approximately 5,000 sewage works, so that registers of consents and agreements relating to discharges to the sewers will be very sizeable. Because I anticipate very little return in public usefulness from including these extra details in the registers, I cannot advise your Lordships to accept the Amendment. But I hope the noble Viscount will appreciate that very full consideration has been given to what he had in mind when be tabled it.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply and explanation. Not being an expert on the registration of the various discharges, whether into sewers or rivers or wherever they are made, I am happy to accept the noble Lord's explanation, and would thank him and his Department for the trouble to which they have gone to answer my Amendment. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.5 p.m.

BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 18: After Clause 42 insert the following new clause:

Deposits and vegetation in rivers, etc.

".—(1) If without the consent of the relevant water authority, which shall not be unreasonably withheld,—
  1. (a) a person removes from any part of the channel or bed of a stream a deposit accumulated by reason of any dam, weir or sluice holding back the water of the stream and does so by causing the deposit to be carried away in suspension in the water of the stream; or
  2. (b) any substantial amount of vegetation cut or uprooted in a stream, or so near to the stream that it falls into it, is allowed to remain in the stream by the wilful default of any person,
then, subject to the following subsection, that person shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200.
(2) Nothing in paragraph (a) of the preceding subsection applies to anything done in the exercise of statutory powers conferred by or under any enactment relating to land drainage, flood prevention or navigation. (3) Regulations may provide that any reference to a stream in subsection (1) of this section shall be construed as including a reference to such controlled waters as are prescribed for the purposes of that subsection. (4) Any question as to whether the consent of a water authority in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section is unreasonably withheld shall be determined by the Secretary of State; and any consent given in pursuance of section 4 of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act 1951 (which is superseded by this section) shall be treated for the purposes of this section as given in pursuance of this section. (5) This section does not apply to Scotland.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 18, and I should like to consider with it Amendments Nos. 29 and 30. Many Parliamentarians have an ambition to place an enactment on the Statute Book. I have a more modest one, which is to remove an Act from the Statute Book and I am happy that with the assistance of the Government I have now succeeded.

The new clause which comprises this Amendment has the effect of including within this Bill the only provisions that were of the slightest significance still remaining in the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act 1951. The only matters of substance which would have remained in that Act are in subsection (1)(a) and (b) of the proposed new clause. The other subsections are all consequential, and Amendments Nos. 29 and 30 simply tidy up the two Schedules concerned; namely, Schedules 2 and 4. It is a most satisfactory outcome that we have, at any rate, subsumed two former Acts of Parliament into this one. Although I have not yet succeeded in persuading the Government to do something about the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act 1961, I am living in hopes. It is most gratifying, however, that we can hereby celebrate the demise of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act 1951. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, may I say very briefly that I am very pleased indeed to be able to indicate that the Government are pleased to accept the Amendment. I should like to take this opportunity of saying how much everybody in this House feels that we owe to the noble Baroness, Lady White, for her work and her influence on the Bill. I say this now, because she has been particularly keen to see some consolidation of the Rivers Acts. The House will appreciate her regret that the Government did not feel able to go further, but at least she has been much more successful than many of your Lordships who may feel equally keenly on other matters.


My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Baroness on her success.

On Question. Amendment agreed to.

Clause 52 [Summary proceedings by occupier of premises]:

5.9 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 19: Page 70, line 15, leave out subsection (6) and insert— ("(6) If a person is convicted of an offence under subsection (4) of this section, a magistrates' court may, after giving the local authority in whose area the nuisance has occurred an opportunity of being heard, direct the authority to do anything which the person convicted was required to do by the order to which the conviction relates.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Shepherd. Your Lordships will recall that during the Committee stage he accepted in principle the two Amendments Nos. 61 and 62 proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale. It was indicated from these Benches that we were prepared to accept that it would be reasonable to give a person against whom a court order had been made an opportunity to undertake any necessary noise abatement measures himself, before the court could require the local authority to do the job. The Amendment achieves that result and I hope it will commend itself to your Lordships and, in particular, to the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, and also his noble friend the Lord Privy Seal, for acting so promptly and kindly on an assurance that he gave to the House on Committee stage of the Bill. I am most grateful.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 55 [Noise in streets]:

5.10 p.m.

LORD SOMERS moved Amendment No. 20: Page 73, line 17, after ("in") insert ("(a)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may be thought that I have drawn these two Amendments a little wide. That may be so, but if I could get some words of comfort from the Government I should be very grateful. I should like to speak to the two Amendments together, with your Lordships' permission, because each hangs upon the other. It is a well- known physical fact that sounds produced by an electric loudspeaker carry for miles further than any natural sounds and it is possible to hear them at a very considerable distance. That is why I have introduced these Amendments—to try to preserve a little of the peace and quiet that are very lacking in our lives to-day.

First of all, paragraph (b) of Amendment No. 21 refers to— (b) a garden or other open space". When one has returned home after a hard day's work and wishes to have a quiet rest in the garden, it is not very pleasant to have a loudspeaker—even if it is not immediately next door, but some little way off—blaring out "pop" music. I know the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, always thinks I say that because I do not like "pop" music, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with it: I should find it equally irritating if what was being played was Brahms' Fourth or Beethoven's Ninth. Therefore, I feel that the only way of preventing this nuisance is to prevent altogether the use of loudspeakers in open spaces. That, of course, would include not only radios but also gramophones giving electrical reproduction.

Paragraph (c) of Amendment No. 21 refers to— Commercial premises in such a manner that the noise is audible in a street outside. In Epsom, where I live, a shop has appeared in the High Street, and it is called a "music centre". Its door is permanently wide open and even above the roar of the traffic (which is quite considerable) one can hear this dreadful "pop" music blaring forth as one goes by. As I said, I am not talking only about the fact that it is "pop" music which is being played, because the sound is really rather disturbing. I had a word with the manager of the shop. I thought that a personal approach, if made tactfully, might have some effect, but not a bit of it. He was immediately on the defensive and said, "Nobody here has complained about it"—and, as things are at the moment, unless residents in the immediate neighbourhood complain, such a person is perfectly all right. But of course there are no residents to speak of in the High Street, and even if there were I do not suppose they would complain. However, it is not only the residents within hearing of the shop about whom I am concerned; it is also those who pass by and who live in the place. Of course, in this case I had absolutely no answer from the manager.

Paragraph (d) refers to noise from— a car when it is not occupied". On many occasions I have been past a car which was parked outside in the road with a window open and the radio blaring forth—again, "pop" music—and it has been most uncomfortable. Surely some rule could be made so that one's radio must be connected with one's ignition, and when one switches off one's ignition this will automatically switch off the radio as well. That might not be very convenient, because one might want to listen while the engine was not running, and that is why I have made reference to a car when not occupied. What is the sense of producing a lot of noise when you are not listening to it? These are slightly extreme Amendments, but I sincerely hope that I shall get some comfort from the Government and some assurance that they will do something. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to support the spirit of these Amendments. I believe there is a real problem here and that wirelesses can be a very great nuisance. It may well be said by the Government that when it is a question of noise from the house next door one always has the remedy of nuisance. But let us be realistic: it is quite a job to get together with neighbours to make a complaint, and, in any case, it is not the sort of thing one likes doing. I suggest, therefore that if we could get some very general provisions put into this Bill—though it might be difficult to enforce them—it would then be quite clear that this was the sort of thing which, if carried to extreme, was undesirable. I think it would have the effect that one could then go up to people and say. "Your wireless is a bit noisy and is disturbing the peace. It is not in accordance with the Anti-Pollution Act", or what have you. Therefore if we could get the right provision put in it would be valuable.

I do not believe that either of these Amendments do what is needed. There is no reason why there should be noise coming out of commercial premises in such a manner as to be annoying, but that some noise might well come out is undeniable. Therefore, perhaps one again has to use a much wider form of words. I agree with the suggestion about cars not being occupied, but many people take their transistors out of the car and carry them and this can be even more annoying. I think we need some general provision, possibly keeping paragraph (c) and saying something like this: Radios should not be played out of doors when they may reasonably be supposed to interfere with the enjoyment of the environment by other people". I hope that the Government will seriously consider what might be done to meet, at least in part, what the noble Lord has suggested.


My Lords, I should like to speak, as the noble Viscount has just spoken, in general favour of something being done about this nuisance, which can be a tremendous menace to sensitive people and to those who occasionally spend some of their time thinking. Like the noble Lord, Lord Somers, I do not restrict my remarks to "pop" music—I think some "pop" music is quite good. But I absolutely detest sitting in my garden if some neighbour is listening on the radio to a horse race or a football match or something of that kind, and some commentator is shouting for the whole afternoon. I think this is far worse than "pop" music. The only point of my saying that is to emphasise that it is not purely personal prejudice against "pop" music—not at all. It is a matter of the general noise coming from these eternal portable radio sets, and so on.

I know it will be very difficult for the Government to take any definite action. I was a member of a Committee of your Lordships' House which had to consider matters concerning some Bill appertaining, I believe, to Chelsea and Kensington. We had to consider the question of radios in shops which could be heard outside, and we came down against agreeing to any regulation to prohibit it. There is a limit to what you can go on prohibiting. We felt it was not audible very far away from the shops, and that you did not need to go to those shops, and so on. There should be some action taken against the general use of radios in open spaces, and, as the noble Viscount has said, although it would be difficult to enforce—or even completely impossible—the mere fact there was a regulation against it would put these people in the wrong whereas, at present they apparently have complete freedom to interfere with anybody's privacy and peace.


My Lords, would this apply to electioneering, either local or general? If a loudspeaker car was advertising some political fete, or something like that, would that be affected?


My Lords, I believe there may be some confusion here. As I read the Bill, it refers to loudspeakers in roads. I take that to be the van that goes round shouting out political slogans or advertising products, whereas Lord Somers's Amendment and speech obviously take the matter much further and are chiefly concerned with transistor radios. I think that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill should say what the Bill is really intending to deal with, whether it is transistor radios or loudspeakers. The Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, refers to: "a garden or other open space;". Surely one is entitled to sit in the garden with one's transistor radio on. But I think he means a public garden, in which case he should say, "a public garden".


My Lords, may I interrupt? I mean a private garden, where gardens are very close to each other. Possibly the noble Lord is fortunate enough not to have other gardens close to his garden, as I have.


My Lords, the noble Lord obviously means gardens which run 16 to the acre or thereabouts. But his Amendment would also stop the well known noise that comes out of the circus, which is partly an advertising noise and partly the general run of the mill, hurdy-gurdy that goes on inside the circus. I agree that we dislike these noises intensely. I cannot see how legislation can be brought in which would operate against them, whereas it would be possible to stop the loudspeaker, the device that broadcasts words in a road.


My Lords, have not nearly all the noble Lords who have spoken to this Amendment omitted to observe paragraph (a)? It states that this only refers to: between the hours of nine in the evening and eight in the following morning. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Platt, would sit in his garden at that time, or, if he did, whether he would be likely to hear the commentaries on races.

5.24 p.m.


My Lords, Lord Somers, as always, shows a great sensitivity, and I hope that he will feel satisfied in that he has received some strong support regarding the views he has expressed, touching on the matters that cause him so much concern, such as the music centre at Epsom, I think it is, that annoyed him so much. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, and the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, because they have very properly drawn attention to what this clause deals with. The noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, I am sure, will feel that his question has been answered by what they had to say.

While I have some sympathy with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Somers, I think that it would be right to remind your Lordships that this clause, as the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, pointed out, is primarily concerned with the circumstances in which loudspeakers may, or may not, be used in the streets. The word "streets" is defined widely to include a highway and any other road, footway, square or court which is for the time being open to the public. The proposed Amendment would extend the clause to cover gardens and open spaces, including private gardens. The noble Lord, Lord Somers, made it clear that he had that very much in mind.

I am unable to accept the implications of such an extension. I can appreciate that problems can arise when certain instruments, such as transistor radios, are used in private gardens but I am not convinced that this is the best way to deal with it. Whether we are talking about noise made on private premises or noise made in public places, it is clearly incumbent upon the person responsible to conduct his affairs in such a way as to minimise any annoyance. But there are many circumstances where noise which is objectionable to one person is a source of enjoyment to others. There has to be a certain amount of give and take in these matters, and I find it difficult to justify an Amendment which could prevent an individual from enjoying himself in his own property. I may object to my neighbour's transistor radio; he may equally object to my grass mower. It is important to remember that we have to live together.

If this enjoyment causes a nuisance to other people outside the premises from which it emanates, Clause 52 of the Bill makes it possible for an individual to complain to the magistrates about the nuisance. There is no question of there having to be two or three individuals. Compared with the position under the Noise Abatement Act 1969 which requires such complaint to be made by three householders affected by noise, Clause 52 gives the individual a much better remedy than he has had before.

I can well understand that many people might be annoyed by the loud music which emanates from some shops, and I have no doubt that there will be some sympathy with the Amendment in so far as it seeks to deal with this problem. But I do not think that this Amendment is really necessary. Noise from commercial premises is just one of a whole range of noise nuisances which could be dealt with under Clause 51. If this sort of noise was considered to be a nuisance, a local authority could serve a notice on the owner or occupier of the shop requiring them to abate it and that notice would be enforceable in a magistrates' court.

The noise abatement zone provisions of this Bill give a local authority further powers to deal with this problem. If they include commercial premises in a noise abatement zone they could, under Clause 59, require a reduction in noise levels emanating from the premises. This would include noise from amplified music. I consider that the powers already provided in this Bill should be adequate to deal with this particular problem without the proposed Amendment.

I recognise that there are many circumstances in which it is necessary to exercise controls over the use of loudspeakers, but I doubt whether the problem of noise from radios in unoccupied cars is a very great one. But if it is, I think that the point of this Amendment is adequately covered by subsection (2)(d) of this clause which requires, among other things, that the loudspeaker be operated solely for the entertainment of the driver or a passenger of the vehicle, and that it be so operated as not to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity. If these conditions are not met then an offence is being committed. I hope if we have that on the record that the noble Lord, Lord Somers, will feel that he has achieved something of what he was after. I trust, with the explanation I have given, that he will feel he need not press his Amendment.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down may I ask whether he would define "loudspeaker". I cannot find it anywhere in the Bill and although a loudspeaker is colloquially supposed to mean an instrument that makes any kind of noise loud, literally speaking a loudspeaker is an instrument that speaks loud and therefore anything to do with music would not be covered by the Bill.


The noble Lord has not spoken long enough to enable me to get the definition he has asked for and with his permission I will write and give him a carefully considered definition.


My Lords, may I with the leave of the House refer to the answer to my query. Paragraph (b) reads: "at any other time"; in other words one could not have loudspeakers working in the daytime in any street or open space. Will this mean that loudspeaker advertising for entertainment or a fete or some other thing will be banned?


My Lords, I understood that the noble Lord's earlier question dealt with electioneering and I would draw his attention to the fact that subsection (b) deals with … the purpose of advertising any entertainment, trade or business;". I would not know under which heading electioneering would come.


My Lords, I would have thought it came under entertainment.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, has done his best; his answer was, I confess, very much what I expected. I realise that there are difficulties. The great problem to-day is that people are not given to being considerate to others. The noble Lord says that one person may enjoy the noise of his radio, and that while I dislike it others may enjoy it. I think the only person who enjoys it is the person who is actually using it. If you are some distance away you cannot hear it properly in any case. However, I see that there are difficulties and therefore I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 59 [Reduction of noise levels]:

5.35 p.m.

LORD MERRIVALE moved Amendment No. 22: Page 77, line 33, leave out ("magistrates' court") and insert ("local appeal tribunal").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 22. During the course of earlier replies to my previous Amendments to this clause dealing with appeals against a noise reduction notice both my noble friend Lady Young and the Lord Privy Seal, Lord Shepherd, when speaking for the Government drew attention to the fact that magistrates had been dealing with cases under the Noise Abatement Act 1960 for the past 14 years. I would agree too, by and large, that the magistrates have been dealing satisfactorily with such cases. Evidence of my feelings on this issue may be gained from the fact that I have neither sought to amend Clauses 51 and 52 where there are references to magistrates courts, nor expressed any criticism of these provisions or of magistrates' past records on this subject.

My Lords, my contention is solely that, when one considers noise nuisance situations, the circumstances to which Clause 59 relates are rather different from those with which the magistrates have been concerned to date, that is since 1960. In the past the existence of a noise nuisance established a clear objective for the magistrates, namely, the abatement of the nuisance, and this in turn afforded the magistrates a considerable measure of guidance when reaching their decisions. That is not to say that all cases were or are simple and in those cases technical considerations could or can be brought to bear. Be that as it may, the objective and guidance remained in the past, and remain now the same. Under Clause 59 the appeal must be determined in the absence of this objective, and herein lies the difference. In such cases it will be necessary to decide what noise level is appropriate for a given circumstance in relation to the expenditure involved. It will also be necessary to assess the technical merits of one approach against another and to compare the related benefits and expenditure involved. Surely there should be a large measure of consistency in decisions made in different parts of the country concerning similar circumstances. Here I feel that a local tribunal may achieve a greater measure of simplicity than the magistrates' courts. These decisions should be based on the technical and financial considerations involved.

My Lords, again to mention the point, in the absence of the objectives of nuisance abatement the considerations to be taken into account in determining an appeal are surely similar where, on the one hand, a person wishes to increase a noise level whether or not new premises are involved or, on the other hand, where a local authority wishes to reduce a noise level. In the former cases (increasing a noise level), appeals are determined by the Secretary of State, and magistrates courts in this instance are not regarded as appropriate, while in the latter cases (reduction of noise level), it is industry's contention that magistrates' courts are not appropriate appellant bodies either. I might add that industry still believes that the best method of handling these appeals would be by reference to the Secretary of State. That explains my past efforts to get the Government to agree on that point. From industry's point of view the Amendment which I have moved is an acceptable and desirable alternative and a much more satisfactory arrangement than is provided for in the Bill as it stands.

Let me sum up; (a) a local tribunal would be established with the relevant technical expertise; (b) the Secretary of State could give general guidance to tribunals in a manner not open to him if magistrates' courts determine these appeals; (c) the decisions would be more consistent and more expeditiously made; (d) there should be no need for the cost of legal representation to be excessive. The 1957 Franks Committee Report on Administrative Tribunals and Inquiries, paragraph 84 reads— … where legal representation is permitted before a tribunal the citizen may well be in a better position than before the ordinary courts … My Lords, I beg to move.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, the need for an appeal is undisputed, but on a number of occasions the suitability of the magistrates has been queried mainly on the grounds that they lack the technical ability to deal with the issues which might be raised in cases of this kind. It has been suggested that appeals should be heard by the Secretary of State or by a local appeal tribunal instead of by the magistrates. Before looking at the advantages and disadvantages of using one appeal forum or another, it would perhaps be instructive to mention the issues which the appeal forum would be asked to adjudicate upon. These are essentially simple and non-technical and they are set out in subsection (1). The first point on which a decision must be made is whether there is an acceptable level of noise emanating from the premises in respect of which the notice has been served. This is very akin to the sort of judgment that a magistrate is already called upon to make in the case of a noise nuisance. There is relatively little technical content here. If there is a dispute about whether the noise level is unacceptable, an adjudicator can go along and listen for himself and in this context a layman's judgment is as good as that of an expert. Some technical issues could arise if there was a dispute about the source of the noise, but similar disputes can arise in the case of noise nuisance and there is no evidence that magistrates have failed to deal satisfactorily with such matters.

The second thing that the adjudicator would have to decide is whether a reduction in the noise level would be practicable at reasonable cost and whether it would afford a public benefit. To take the last point first, there is obviously no point in requiring a reduction where the existing level is satisfactory or where nobody would benefit from a reduction. These are decisions which an intelligent layman could reasonably be expected to make. Probably the most technical as- pect is to make a decision about whether a reduction in the noise level "is practicable at reasonable cost". While I would not deny that there is some technical content in deciding upon the practicability of a reduction in noise levels, I am hound to say that I cannot see any radical difference of approach as between this judgment and the one which magistrates are required to make in the case of noise nuisance, where the best practicable means test has to be applied. They have been carrying out this duty efficiently since 1960. I can perhaps summarise what I have said by saying that the decision required of the adjudicator is whether the local authority has properly done its job as defined in subsection (1).

I have tended to stress the basic similarities between noise nuisance cases and appeals under Clause 59. This is because I believe that magistrates are the right people to hear these cases. Compared with the alternatives of the Secretary of State or tribunals, there are a number of advantages for the industrialist in using the magistrates. Foremost among these is the fact that justice is available locally and can be dispensed quickly. Another advantage when dealing with noise is that magistrates will have an intimate local knowledge of the situation.

It has been remarked that it is strange that appeals under Clauses 58 and 60 will go to the Secretary of State but that appeals under Clause 59 will not. On the face of it, the issues appear to be similar, but a closer examination shows that this is not the case. The reason why appeals under Clauses 58 and 60 go to the Secretary of State is that in those cases an unreasonable decision by the local authority could have widespread implications for investment in the area, for job opportunities, for regional development and matters of that kind. These are important matters of policy and politics. The ramifications of a noise reduction notice under Clause 59 are nothing like as wide. Management will be asked to do no more than reduce existing noise levels. The reduction will be subject to the limitations of the practicability test. If the noise reduction required by the local authority would otherwise leave a company with no alternative but to reduce their activity and lay off employees, that company would have no difficulty in showing that the local authority's demands were going well beyond those limits.

The other suggestion is that these cases might be heard by tribunals. It is true that tribunals could call upon greater technical expertise than magistrates, but I have endeavoured to show that there is not such a high technical content in these cases as might be thought. But there would be other disadvantages in setting up a system of tribunals. They would tend to be less expeditious in giving decisions and more expensive. They would also tend to be less accessible and lack the local knowledge of magistrates, unless a large number of local tribunals were set up to deal with the relatively few appeal cases which were likely to arise in each area. If there were a great enough degree of technicality in these cases that might be a reason for taking a different view, but I have sought to show that there is no significant difference between what magistrates are already doing and what they will be called upon to do in the future by this Bill. The general preference of the Franks Committee was that tribunals should not normally be used as convenient alternatives to the courts of law, and this is a view that successive Governments have accepted.

I would emphasise that the clause has been carefully drafted in order to throw up justiciable issues which the ordinary courts are quite capable of pronouncing upon. The technical element has been kept to the absolute minimum so that the issues are appropriate to magistrates. I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, will appreciate that the fact that I have spoken at some length indicates the very full consideration that has been given to his Amendment. Finally, I would say that, as I am advised, the Amendment that he submitted as it stands would be incomplete to achieve his purpose; the Bill would have to say a great deal more.

5.48 p.m.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, for his detailed explanation of what exactly is entailed when appealing to a magistrates' court and, as he sees it, the possible disadvantages of appealing to a tribunal. Towards the end of his remarks he said that the Amendment was badly drafted. Of course, the reason for this is the lack of time between the Committee stage and the Report stage. What I should have liked Her Majesty's Government to consider, and still would like them to consider, is whether or not at a later stage, in another place, the Secretary of State should be given powers to make regulations if he feels it necessary to establish tribunals, but after consultation with the appropriate bodies concerned.

Lord Garnsworthy referred to some remarks in the Franks Report. In relation to these matters, under the heading of "The choice between tribunals and courts of law", in paragraph 38, the Report says: We agree with the Donoughmore Committee that tribunals have certain characteristics which often give them advantages over the courts. These are cheapness, accessibility, freedom from technicality, expedition and expert knowledge of their particular subject. I think those final words are particularly relevant. Also, I know that there has not been very much time, but I have a feeling that Her Majesty's Government have consulted the Council on Tribunals between last Thursday and now, and I should be very interested, if possible and with the permission of the House, to know whether such consultation has taken place and what were the Council's feelings on the matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, also said that it would mean the setting up of a large number of tribunals if they were to be local in the service they provided. As I said earlier, if the Secretary of State had the power, after consultation, to make regulations with a view to setting up such tribunals, it might be useful, after the Act reached the Statute Book, should it be felt that there was a need to set up a large number of tribunals in the event of the magistrates' courts which were bearing this extra work not proving totally satisfactory.

My Lords, I have gone as far as I can on past occasions and to-day with a view to trying to persuade Her Majesty's Government to allow for appeals to go to the Secretary of State or, failing that, to a local tribunal and I shall accordingly seek to withdraw the Amendment.


My Lords, before the noble Lord withdraws the Amendment, I should like to say that the Council on Tribunals has been consulted, as he indicated, and that, as a consequence, Her Majesty's Government see no reason at all to change their approach to this matter. In our view, the Bill ought to be as specific as possible in regard to the forum to which appeals should go. It would be difficult to provide a really effective alternative to achieve the objects about which I spoke in some detail as effectively as is done in the Bill as it stands.


I thank the Minister and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 61 [Noise from plant or machinery]:

5.54 p.m.

LORD MERRIVALE moved Amendment No. 23: Page 79, line 10, leave out ("in making") and insert ("before he makes").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with this Amendment I shall also be speaking to Amendment No. 24, for they both cover the same point. One object of these two Amendments is to maintain consistency throughout the Bill. Your Lordships will see that under Part IV of the Bill, appertaining to pollution of the atmosphere, Clauses 68(2) and 69(2) state: It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, before he makes any regulations in pursuance of this section, to consult such persons appearing to him to represent producers and users of fuel for motor vehicles, which represent also manufacturers and users of motor vehicles and manufacturers and users or plant and equipment in which oil fuel is used.

It therefore seems completely logical that under Part III of the Bill, which deals with noise, and particularly under Clause 61, which deals with noise from plant and machinery, it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State before he makes regulations, to consult such persons appearing to him to represent producers … and users of plant and equipment". to which this clause relates. The provisions of subsection (2) are designed to ensure that the regulations do not, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, contain requirements which would be impracticable or which would involve unreasonable expense. To achieve these ends, would not the Secretary of State therefore be greatly assisted by consultation with representatives of producers and users of plant and machinery?


My Lords, I am glad to have this opportunity to make it clear that the Secretary of State has every intention of undertaking full consultations before exercising the powers which will be given to him by this clause. The Government fully recognise that many important interests could be affected by the use of these powers, and they have no wish to use them in ways which would cause unnecessary difficulties to industry or employees. In practical terms, the need for consultation is already implicit in subsection (2). This lays on the Secretary of State the duty to ensure that regulations do not contain requirements which would be impracticable or which would involve unreasonable expense. This duty could not be discharged properly without adequate consultation. It is envisaged that consultations will have to take place with producers and users of plant and machinery affected by the proposals in question, but other interests, such as the local authorities and other Government Departments, will also have to be consulted.

My Lords, I have said that subsection (2) as drafted already contains an implicit requirement to consult, and I have made explicit the Government's intention in this respect. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, will find this assurance satisfactory and will not wish to press an Amendment which, if I may respectfully say so, casts the consultation net rather too wide, in that it does not stop at producers and users of the plant and machinery affected by the proposals. As regards what the noble Lord had to say about Clauses 68 and 69, I will give an undertaking without commitment to look at what he has had to say.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for saying at the end of his remarks that he will look at what I have said regarding Clauses 68 and 69. If he does, he will see that what I have been saying is totally logical. In Clauses 68(2) and 69(2), the producers and users are listed. What I am trying to achieve by these Amendments with regard to noise is that so far as plant and machinery are concerned, it should be specified in the Bill that the producers and users of equipment which give out noise are to be consulted. I cannot see why it should be stated in the Bill that the Secretary of State has this obligation when it is a question of manufacturers and users of motor vehicles and producers and users of fuel oil, as well as manufacturers of plant and equipment, and not in the case of producers and users.

I am delighted that the noble Lord has confirmed that there will be full and adequate consultation, but he may want to put in this obligation regarding producers and users of plant and machinery after consideration. Perhaps it could be incorporated in the Bill in another place. I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that he will have another look at the provisions of Clauses 68(2) and 69(2), and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 74 [Regulations about research and publicity]:

6.0 p.m.

BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 25: Page 90, line 32, leave out ("other than") and insert ("not including").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 25 and to speak to Amendment No. 26 as well. The purpose of these two Amendments is to ensure that in dealing with emissions to the atmosphere one will obtain the same kind of information on the proposed registers as one will be able to obtain in relation to water effluent under Clause 35(1)(d). The effect of the Clause 35(1)(d) provision where water is concerned is that where the Secretary of State has issued a certificate it would be unreasonable or contrary to the public interest if certain information was disclosed. We are, nevertheless, given the information that the Secretary of State has issued such a certificate, the date on which it was issued and the personal enterprise receiving the certificate.

The conditions of emissions to the atmosphere are not quite the same, but they are set out, in effect, in Clause 73. There are conditions comparable with water in subsection (1)(a), but in subsection (1)(b) there is a further ground which would exclude information being given to the local authority in this case; that is that the information is not immediately available and could not readily be collected or obtained by the recipient of the notice without incurring und[...] expenditure for the purpose.

My Lords, it is important that the public should be informed of the occasions upon which and the persons or enterprises to whom the Secretary of State issues directions or, rather, the occasions upon which he may direct the authorities in relation to which he issues directions. The way in which I have attempted to do this may not be satisfactory and I shall be perfectly prepared for my noble friend to indicate that it is not satisfactory. However, I am anxious that we should not allow the Bill to leave this House without making it plain that this is a desirable provision in itself, and, in particular, that it should be made clear in any notification in the register under which part of Clause 73, whether it is paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of subsection (1), the direction was issued. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I wonder whether I can say a word or two generally to support the approach of the noble Baroness, Lady White, in this matter and other matters related to it. I shall be interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, about what he can do to meet her point if he does not feel able to accept the Amendment. May I also take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for the letter which he wrote to me concerning this clause and other clauses in this part relating to emissions to the air. In particular, in replying to my point, he said, "You question whether the Bill struck the right balance between satisfying public concern"—which is what the Amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady White, is about—"and protecting legitimate private interests". That was one of my concerns, and I am content to leave that point for the Government to consider in the context of the Amendment by my noble friend Lord Courtown, that he would see whether it is possible to draw a distinction between consultants called in by local authorities and employees employed directly by them.

My main concern, however, which, if I may say so, is not really met by the letter he has written to me, is that councils should have a positive duty to publish information on their progress in dealing with air pollution rather than simply a power. That they should so publish was firmly recommended by the Working Party that met under the chairmanship of Admiral Sharp who went on to prescribe in detail how it should be done. Her Majesty's Government, both this one and the one before, rightly, in my view, restrained themselves from following up the Working Party's suggestion that they should tell local authorities, local councils, precisely how they were to do their job and go on to make provision for that in the Bill. The Government have, however, taken powers to do that by regulation, and these powers are what Clause 74 and this particular register are all about.

The Secretary of State will, therefore, have power under the Bill to make regulations which will prescribe exactly how the local authorities are to discharge their functions under Clauses 71, 72, 73 and 74, and we are concerned on a particular detail about that. I am still not satisfied, however, that the Secretary of State will have a power to tell a council that in his view it should be publishing details about its progress in controlling air pollution if a council decides not to do so, although in the opinion of the Secretary of State it should be publishing such details because they have particular problems with which they should be dealing and the public should have the right to know what they are doing about them.

It seems to me that this is one of their basic functions under Clauses 71 and 72 and that there is no power in Clause 74(3)(a) to (f) for the Secretary of State to require them to carry it out, whereas there are many detailed powers as to how they are to carry out other functions under Clauses 71 to 73. I suspect that the power is not there. If it is there I shall be glad to be shown how it operates. Otherwise I think that my right honourable friends in another place will have to pursue this matter further.


My Lords, I wonder whether it would meet the position if I referred to the fact that my noble friend the Leader of the House has written to my noble friend Baroness White accepting her Amendment in principle and promising that it will be taken into account at a later stage. As a matter of drafting we want more time to consider how it should be done. We shall take note of all that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has said and the points which he has raised. I wonder whether he would allow us to write to him, because I think that that might be the most useful way of proceeding. Clearly the matter will have to be dealt with in the other place because of the undertaking that has been given to my noble friend. Perhaps, however, on this occasion my noble friend would accept that position and not press the Amendment this evening.


In view of the assurance which I have received both in writing and now from my noble friend, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 79 [Miscellaneous provisions relating to legal proceedings]:

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 27.

Amendment moved— Page 93, line 22, after ("or") insert ("(2A) of this Act or by virtue of section 17(1A) of this Act or under".)—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.10 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 28.

Amendment moved— After Clause 79 insert the following new clause:

Civil liability for contravention of s. 3(2A)

".—(1) Where any damage is caused by poisonous, noxious or polluting waste which has been deposited on land, any person who deposited it or caused or knowingly permitted it to be deposited, in either case so as to commit an offence under section 3(2A) or by virtue of section 17(1A) of this Act, is liable for the damage except where the damage—

  1. (a) was due wholly to the fault of the person who suffered it; or
  2. (b) was suffered by a person who voluntarily accepted the risk thereof.
(2) The matters which under paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (3) of section 3 of this Act may be proved by way of defence to a charge of committing an offence under subsection (2A) of that section may be proved also by way of defence to an action brought by virtue of the preceding subsection (the reference in the said paragraph (a) to the charge being construed as a reference to the act alleged to give rise to the liability). (3) In this section— damage" includes the death of, or injury to, any person (including any disease and and any impairment of physical or mental condition); fault" has the same meaning as in the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Acts 1945; and land" includes such water as is mentioned in section 3(7) of this Act. (4) For the purposes of the following enactments, namely—
  1. (a) the Fatal Accidents Acts 1846 to 1959;
  2. (b) the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945; and
  3. (c) the Limitation Acts 1939 and 1963 and the Law Reform (Limitation of Actions, &c.) Act 1954,
and for the purposes of any action of damages in Scotland arising out of the death of, or personal injury, to any person, any damage for which a person is liable under subsection (1) of this section shall be treated as due to his fault.
(5) Subsection (1) of this section is without prejudice to any liability which arises apart from the provisions of this section."—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Alteration of penalties]:

BARONESS WHITE My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 29.

Amendment moved— Page 111, leave out lines 33 to 40.—(Baroness White.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Repeals]:

BARONESS WHITE: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 30. Page 119, line 10, column 3, leave out from ("Act") to end of line 13.—(Baroness White.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 31.

Amendment moved— Page 121, column 3, leave out lines 2 to 6 and insert ("The whole Act.")—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD GARNSWORTHY: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 32.

Amendment moved— Page 121, line 11, column 3, at end insert ("and 49.").—(Lord Garnsworthy.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Control of Pollution Bill, has consented to place Her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill at the disposal of Parliament, for the purpose of the Bill.

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. In moving the Third Reading of this Bill I should first like to say a few words about one or two particular topics in the Bill which my noble friend Lord Shepherd and I promised to come back to on Third Reading. Then I will go on to the more general issues of finance, staffing and implementation of the measures in the Bill on which several noble Lords have raised questions.

First then, on Part I, I should like to say a little more about the control of toxic wastes. Several noble Lords expressed their concern in Committee about the operation of Clause 16 which provides the Secretary of State with regulatory powers over the disposal of dangerous or intractable wastes, defined in Clause 16 as "special wastes". In particular, the noble Viscounts, Lord Amory and Lord Simon were concerned about the Government Amendment, which the Committee agreed, which is designed to impose a duty rather than a power on the Secretary of State to make regulations to control toxic wastes; they feared that this might prove to be an onerous and inappropriate obligation.

Perhaps I can explain the background to Clause 16 in a little more detail. First, I should like to emphasise that it is indeed the Government's intention to introduce a special authorisation procedure for dealing with toxic wastes, and preparatory work for this is in fact well in hand. The new procedure will replace the notification procedure introduced by the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act. That Act made a useful start towards producing a comprehensive and reliable system of recording where toxic wastes arise and how they are disposed of. What Clause 16 now seeks to do is to build upon the experience obtained from the working of that temporary procedure and to ensure that fuller and better information is provided, and any gaps or loopholes are eliminated.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, was concerned that our Amendment would mean that the Secretary of State would have to examine every possible toxic substance he can think of and make regulations to deal with it. Of course it would be an enormous task to list every single toxic chemical that might become waste. But it is our intention to define most of the main groups or classes of toxic waste that arise from industrial and other processes in this country. The Department's Working Group on Toxic Wastes is producing a list of the substances that will need to be defined by regulations for control, and have already produced an interim list. Initially the list may be similar to the wastes which are required to be notified under Section 3 of the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act; but the list will inevitably need to be extended or altered from time to time. In addition, the Group are producing codes of practice giving advice on the best disposal methods for the different types of special wastes.

In addition to these steps we need adequate control over toxic wastes to ensure that the wastes are disposed of safely and efficiently in accordance with the codes of practice. Under Clause 16 toxic waste producers will be required to be registered; to keep their wastes in specified ways; to dispose of them to sites licensed for the purpose and to keep records so that the disposal of such waste can be checked as necessary. The Department's Working Group is examining the proposed system in detail, and considering in particular the form of records that should be kept. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, was concerned that the duty now written into Clause 16(1) would mean that regulations would have to be produced immediately. Clearly we shall need to be sure that the lists, codes and control procedure are all sorted out before we introduce the provisions of Clause 16 so that the changeover from the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act notification procedure to the new one is conducted smoothly and effectively. But when the procedures are complete the new pro- cedure will be considerably fuller and more reliable than the present one.

Turning now to Part II of the Bill, my noble friend Lord Shepherd promised to say a little more about the circumstances in which consents to discharge might have to be revoked or varied. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, pointed out the uncertainties that might arise for industry, and asked for some assurance on this point. He suggested that it might be desirable for an industrial firm and the water authority to agree in advance on what steps should be taken to monitor the condition of the water into which the discharges are made, and in what circumstances conditions of consent might need to be varied.

I can at once welcome this suggestion. It is always open to the authority and the discharger to agree before the discharge starts what the present condition of the river is, and on the state of the flora and fauna in it, so as to provide a baseline for any subsequent questions about liability. This sort of informal discussion and agreement before a consent is issued is obviously useful, and we shall be glad to recommend water authorities to adopt this kind of approach. At the end of the day, however, we must recognise that there cannot be complete certainty in advance about the likely effect of a discharge, and the water authority must have the power to vary or revoke consent where necessary, as the Bill provides.

I turn now to the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Courtown, on Clause 83 on powers of entry. The noble Lord was concerned that local authorities might in some cases use consultants to carry out some of the inspection and control functions under this Bill, and that such consultants might then acquire valuable information about trade secrets which they could make use of in their other work. The Committee recognised that consultants would be subject to the same constraints as any other person preventing them from disclosing trade secrets, and making it an offence to do so. Nevertheless, I think it was generally felt that there might be more legitimate concern about the use of consultants in this way, and that something should be done to deal with this point.

My Lords, the Government are reluctant to draw rigid distinctions between different classes of person on the face of the Bill, and we therefore advised the Committee to resist the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Courtown. But I can assure the House that we are alive to the point, and we will certainly advise local authorities to be careful and selective if they wish to use consultants for pollution purposes, and to keep industry informed where it is proposed to use them for inspection of industrial premises, so that objections can be made if necessary.

Coming now to more general matters, I have been asked on several occasions to say more about the financial and economic aspects of the Bill—


My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, leaves that point, could he just clarify it? Did I understand from what he said that the local authority will inform the works which is going to be inspected as to who the person is or who is going to be informed?


My Lords, if I repeat what I said, the noble Earl, Lord Courtown, will appreciate that it has been carefully worded. We will certainly advise local authorities to be careful and selective if they wish to use consultants for pollution purposes, and to keep industry informed where it is proposed to use them for inspection of industrial premises. I think that is quite clear. Local authorities will be advised to keep industry informed where consultants are being employed.

My Lords, if I may now come to more general matters, I have been asked on several occasions to say more about the financial and economic aspects of the Bill and I should like to take this opportunity to do so. I think we should recognise first that this is not an area capable of precise financial quantification. The costs and the benefits of pollution control are hard to measure, and it is difficult to be certain where they fall. My noble friend Lord Walston drew attention on Second Reading to the possible effects on the Third World of higher costs of British products because of tighter pollution controls. Such remote effects should be comparatively limited, but his remarks were an important reminder that the effects both of pollution and of its control are very widespread, and are felt in distant parts.

My Lords, the Financial Memorandum to the Bill could scarcely stray into consideration of these remote effects. According to custom it sticks to the direct effects of the Bill on public expenditure. I should like first to say a word about these direct effects, before going on to some of the wider issues on the economy to which several noble Lords have drawn attention.

First then, my Lords, so far as public expenditure is concerned, the two main effects will be to require local authorities and water authorities to employ more specialised staff on the various controlling functions, and to require them over a period to improve the standard and range of their waste collection services. On the first of these aspects we have estimated that some 500 to 800 additional staff may eventually be needed, at a cost of about £2 million to £3 million per annum. On the second aspect, it has been estimated that the cost of improving the waste collection services, to the extent implicit in the Bill, might eventually be about £6 million per annum on current costs. I should say, however, that these are very provisional estimates, and too much weight ought not to be attached to them.

I know that some of the local authority associations believe that more money and staff may be needed for the purposes described in the Bill, particularly if more attention is to be given to recycling and recovery of wastes. In any event we must realise that there can be only a gradual build-up to these new levels of staff and expenditure. Overall public expenditure must be contained within the approved allocations, and I have to say very relucantly there can be at this point in time no question of putting large new injections of funds into this area. It will be a question of making the best use of resources, and building up the necessary establishments gradually as and when resources become available. There may, of course, be some redeployment that can be made from other parts of local authority and water authority establishments following reorganisation, and this may enable more rapid progress to be made.

My Lords, because of the difficult economic situation the previous Government decided that implementation of the Bill should not take place until after April 1, 1975. We consider that that was sensible, and we shall not seek to advance that date. Between now and then we shall hold further discussions with the local authority associations and the water authorities about priorities in this field, and how best limited resources can be utilised to carry out these new functions.

My Lords, turning now to the wider implications for consumers, industry, agriculture and the economy at large we are on ground that is even less firm. In broad terms the Government subscribe to the principle of "the polluter pays". In the terms of this Bill that means that controls are imposed on those who produce pollution, who will therefore have to invest resources in disposing of their wastes more satisfactorily, bringing their discharges to water up to standard, quietening noisy plant or machinery, and improving the quality of emissions to air. It is impossible to make precise estimates of how much this will cost. Certainly, we recognise that for individual firms the new or extended controls may impose tough standards which will be hard to meet. But the controlling authorities will be able to consider alternative ways of meeting those standards, and the phasing of them. What is needed is a continuing dialogue, and a determination on the part of all concerned to bring about the necessary improvements over a period. This is the essence of the "best practicable means" approach which we have always adopted with such success in this country. Her Majesty's Government intend that this approach should continue to be our practice.

My Lords, summing up on finance, we must recognise that the public rightly demands a steady improvement in the quality of the environment, and over the years this will certainly require increased expenditure and investment to control pollution. But this will of course be a gradual process, and we shall have to suit the pace of advance to the economic climate of the time.

My Lords, I should like finally to say a word about staffing, a matter raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman. I said previously that this was a matter of legitimate concern to your Lordships and that it would be dealt with at some time during the Third Reading debate. Let me say immediately that the staffing implications are particularly difficult to predict in the case of this Bill. The figures in the Explanatory Memorandum represent only the best guess that can be made at this stage, and it would be foolish to deny that these guesses could be proved wrong. So much depends on the extent to which, and the speed with which, local authorities exercise their new powers, particularly their discretionary powers with regard to noise. Much will depend on the scope for rearranging the workload of existing personnel following the re-organisation of local government. As I said before, we have estimated that some 500 to 800 additional staff may be required by local authorities and water authorities, together with 25 additional Central Government staff, and that is still the best estimate we can give at this stage.

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Young, was quite right when she pointed out in Committee that the new noise provisions carried significant staffing implications. It is reasonable to assume, however, that the build-up will be gradual as more and more authorities begin to exercise their discretionary powers. I should like, however, to take this opportunity to correct the misapprehension that local authorities do not already have a substantial body of public health inspectors skilled in dealing with noise. Since the passing of the Noise Abatement Act 1960, many local authorities have acquired a considerable amount of technical expertise in noise control, and we are aiming to build on this foundation.

I have concentrated on the noise implications, because this is the context in which the staffing issue was originally raised, but much of what I have said applies to the waste disposal, water and clean air aspects of the Bill also. It is partly in recognition of the difficulties facing local authorities on staffing and finance, that the Government intend to delay the implementation of the Bill, as I have said, until after April 1, 1975. This ought to enable the local authorities to plan properly for these new powers.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, also raised the question of training, and the career structure of those who will be concerned with the implementation of this Bill. The Government recognise that the Bill creates a new demand for skilled personnel and that people with the necessary expertise will not be immediately available. Existing skills will have to be developed and extended and new skills acquired. The need for new professional training and skills has been recognised by local authorities and the professional and representative bodies, and action is already being taken. The Association of County Councils is studying the management and staffing requirements of the new waste disposal authorities. The Institute of Solid Waste Management is broadening its base of membership and the range of its professional requirements to meet the new demands in this field.

So far as noise is concerned, there are already a number of training courses run under the auspices of technical colleges and such bodies as the Institution of Sound and Vibration Research at Southampton University. Where necessary, the content of these courses is being reviewed, and the Association of Public Health Inspectors are reviewing training needs in the context of the proposed legislation.

The task of creating a satisfactory career structure for officers in this field is also basically a matter for local government, again with the support and assistance of the various professional bodies in the field. New specialisms and skills may be needed as the task of pollution control becomes more complex. But it will also be important to continue to have professional officers with a wide range of experience running across the environmental health field, and a career structure that has room for specialists and generalists.

The role of central Government is to give assistance or advice wherever it is required. There might, for example, be scope for centrally assisted training courses or seminars on the Bill's provisions. Central advice and guidance on technical or professional problems may also be needed. The Department of the Environment proposes to keep in close touch with the Associations and professional bodies concerned and to give such assistance as it can in helping them to respond to the new needs.

I have dwelt on these topics of finance and staffing at some length, because, of course, it is vital as the noble Baroness emphasised, that we make sure that the means are available to carry the legislation into effect. I hope I have made it clear how the Government see this developing when the Bill comes into force.

My Lords, in what I have said I have endeavoured to meet the points that have been raised on Second Reading and in Committee, except when we have written to noble Lords, because it was obviously the desire of your Lordships that more information should be supplied. If there is any matter that we have not covered by way of correspondence or by replies in debates, perhaps noble Lords will write and we will do our best to deal with their points expeditiously. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a. —(Lord Garnsworthy.)

6.35 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, for the very long and detailed speech he has given us on Third Reading. He has raised six major points, and I am sure he will understand if I do not reply to all of them. But I should like to say, in general, how grateful we are for the help we have received throughout the passage of this Bill. I should like to thank the noble Lord for the letter he sent to me on the various points I raised, and for the letters he sent to a number of my colleagues on points which they raised. We are grateful for the assistance of his advisers and for the spirit of helpfulness throughout this Bill. We shall wish to study very carefully what the noble Lord has said in his very helpful explanation. In particular, I think my noble friend Lord Courtown will wish to look very closely at what he has said about the employment of consultants by local authorities.

We recognise, as does the noble Lord, that the success of this Bill will depend very largely on the amount of money and the quality of the staff that can be attracted to do the work involved. We are, therefore, glad to know of the training proposals and the career structure for people entering the field of the environment. I am sure that it is to the advantage of everyone that the Bill will not come into force until after April 1, 1975, so that local authorities will have time to study the Bill and consider its implications. We are also glad to note that there will be further extensive discussions both with local authorities and water authorities. We are very glad that the noble Lord was able to say that the Government fully support the principle of the best practical means, because we believe very much that this is a principle which has secured very high environmental standards in this country. We believe that it will give us even higher standards, and is preferable to setting an absolute limit which could easily be used as a minimum standard with no improvement at all. We are glad to have the noble Lord's assurance on this point.

My Lords, it only remains for me to thank the noble Lord again for his help in seeing us through this immensely complex piece of legislation. As I say, we shall study carefully what he has said, and I have no doubt that my colleagues in another place will be very glad to pursue points on the basis of the explanation which he has offered.

6.38 p.m.


My Lords, perhaps I may be allowed to say a word or two about this Bill, being among those who have paid the closest attention to it since it started under its other guise. I, too, should like to thank my noble friends the Leader of the House and Lord Garnsworthy, and the officials in the Department for being extremely helpful in every way concerning this Bill. The only thing which rather concerns me is the fact that while I do not think I have ever had such generous correspondence, it is not of course on public record. This is one disadvantage of having to take a Bill at such speed that one has to rely on letters, delightful as it may be to receive them. One feels that there are many people interested in these matters who would also like to know what is contained in some of these letters, and possibly my noble friend could see, in some appropriate manner, that some of the principal points are at least published in some of the local authority or trade journals concerned, so that people may know the explanations which have been generously given to us, which may affect them. I propose to read a few passages from some of the letters I have received, but clearly it would be inappropriate to go into them at great length to-night.

One of the matters on which I felt most strongly when the Bill in its first form was put before your Lordships' House was that we had to make a strenuous effort to carry out the principles of the Second Report of the Royal Commission on Pollution; namely, that the public should be told as much as possible concerning pollution in which, after all, they have the greatest interest. The principle of confidentiality, as the Second Report of the Royal Commission made plain, can be carried much too far for the public good.

In the Bill as it now stands we are still left with references to trade secrets, which I suppose we have to accept. I was delighted that we were able to drop references to "any manufacturing process". I am grateful to my noble friends for having supported the noble Lord, Lord Ashby, and myself in our efforts to improve the scope of the registers, both for water and air, and for making it possible for those who are interested in these matters to get much more information than they have ever been able to obtain in the past.

I am somewhat concerned about those parts of our economic life which are to some extent outwith the Bill, although under Clause 17 they may at some later stage be brought within it. I am referring to mines and quarries and agriculture. Both aspects of the Bill have been discussed at some length, but I think that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, who has referred to these matters, and other noble Lords as well as myself, would concede that we have not, as yet, found a really satisfactory basis of dealing with either of these spheres.

So far as agriculture is concerned, there are doubts about the equity of some of the proivsions in reference to farmers. Some of us also have doubts as to the full efficacy of some of the arrangements that may be made for dealing with farm effluent. So far as mines and quarries are concerned, noble Lords will have recognised my close interest in this matter. I could hardly fail to be interested in mines coming, as I do, from South Wales. Here, as my noble friend is well aware, I am still not entirely content with the Bill as it now is, but I hope that there may yet be opportunities in another place to make more adequate provision.

My noble friend Lord Garnsworthy referred to these matters in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in column 948–9 of the debate on May 14, and I would not wish to go over all that ground again. My noble friend Lord Shepherd also wrote to me. I am particularly concerned about the problems which can arise from abandoned mines. I do not think that we have sorted this out adequately. Effluent from abandoned mines is specifically excluded in Clause 25, and I think that a good deal more thought should be given to this, and I hope very much that it may be, so that a somewhat more satisfatcory provision can be made. I must, however, recognise that it is not only a question of powers; it is largely a question of finance. My noble friend put forward the usual cautionary words that further money is not likely to be forthcoming in any great quantity, but you cannot deal with mine and quarry waste except by spending money. We have already discovered this in the Derelict Land Unit, which has done a great deal of work in South Wales. What I am concerned about is that we should try to avoid creating more derelict land if we can, and more poisonous or polluting effluent from mines.

One of the matters that we have not yet tidied up in this Bill is the definition of "specfied waters" which occurs in Clause 25 and in the definition clause. I hope that in another place something more satisfactory can be done, because otherwise we can have a very unsatisfactory situation where a water authority will not necessarily be able to stop noxious matter leaching into underground waters because they have not been specified under the procedures suggested in the Bill as it now stands. This is a technical matter, but I hope that my noble friend can encourage his Department to look at this further to see whether they cannot find something more satisfactory. I should like to go on talking about mines but I shall not do so because I recognise that other noble Lords may wish to comment. I wanted to make that particular point.

I was concerned about one or two matters relating to Part IV of the Bill, emissions to the atmosphere. I recognise that there is to be a special study of this whole field at the request of my right honourable friend, and that this will be undertaken by the Royal Commission on Pollution. Meanwhile, it might be helpful if I mention two matters about which I have received a letter from the Leader of the House. One was my concern about the possible difficulty with which a local authority might be faced under Clause 71(3) if the occupier of premises decided to request a notice under Clause 72. This was mentioned on a previous occasion, but it may be of wider interest to have it confirmed here that this particular provision has no effect upon the powers of entry in Clause 82 which, in particular, allow a local authority to enter premises to check that the provisions of the Bill are being complied with and to make measurements and tests for that purpose. This, I think, meets the point that I raised on this clause, but it is useful to have this confirmation on the Record, because the Bill, as drafted, is not easy to understand, and unless we have a specific reference to it in Hansard there might be a good deal of dubiety about it.

I also raised the question of how far county councils and the Greater London Council would have powers under Part IV to undertake research and monitoring on air pollution, because there is a good deal of concern in so far as it is the district councils who have the main powers under the Bill. I was happy to receive from my noble friend assurances that there are ways in which counties and the G.L.C. can carry out these functions. They can do so, I am advised, by the use of Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972. This would work very well provided that they are all happily in agreement. In the event of local authorities not agreeing to use the counties or the G.L.C. as agents, then there are other powers in Section 141 of the Local Government Act, or Section 71 of the London Government Act 1963 which would also allow counties or the G.L.C. to, conduct, or assist in the conducting of, investigations into, and the collection of information relating to, any matters concerning all or part of their area. I have read this extract because it is helpful to have the actual references in Hansard so that those who are interested in these matters will know that the assurances that have been given me can, of course, be relied on if they wish to encourage certain authorities to carry out functions which would, or could, fall to them under the Bill.

There are many other matters which one would like to see even further improved in the Bill, but on the whole I think that we in this House can congratulate ourselves on having done a good job of work. There are one or two things that may arise under the Safety and Health at Work Bill which impinge on certain matters concerning, for example, noise, so I give fair warning to my noble friend that some of us will be on the look-out when that Bill comes before us for certain improvements, if they have not already been made in another place. But on the whole I think we can say that the Bill, which is shortly to be leaving us, is a much better one than when we first received it.


My Lords, I intend to detain the House for only a few minutes in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, for the very full explanation which he gave to your Lordships about the way the Government see the operation of Clause 16. As far as I am concerned I am perfectly satisfied with what he said. There is only one other point I wish to take up from his interesting speech and that is his reference to local authority staffing problems. He implied that he did not think this would build up very quickly and he described the discretionary powers given to local authorities, but, of course, in this matter of noise—I think he was referring particularly to the duties of local authorities—Clauses 50 and 51 lay statutory duties on the local authorities, not discretionary powers. So I would have thought it would be necessary for them at a fairly early stage to engage additional staff and that, I am afraid, means that ratepayers throughout the country, who have had some pretty nasty shocks in the last few weeks, may have to face further shocks in 1975, because this is an aspect of the control of pollution the cost of which cannot, in the nature of things, be recovered from the polluters. Having said that, my Lords, I should like to join the noble Baroness, Lady White, in saying that the Bill is better than it was when it came here and is one which we all look forward to seeing implemented for the benefit of the country.

On Question, Bill read 3a an Amendment (privilege) made.

6.52 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. First, may I thank your Lordships for the great toleration shown to my noble friend and myself. We have had to ask the House, as a House and in Committee, to really get a move on and the response has been magnificent. I should especially like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. I mentioned the work that my noble friend Lady White has done on this Bill, as she did on its predecessor. We have much appreciated her looking over our shoulder all the time and we are glad that she will go on so doing.

The noble Baroness has suggested that the letters which have been written might be published. I am not at all sure in which form they could be published because, as she rightly said, we have written quite a number. I have no reason to think that any letter that we have written in response to a matter raised in debate is of a confidential nature, and therefore any noble Lord who wishes to make use of what has been written in order to make public the assurances that have been given, is so far as I know at liberty to do so.

I should particularly thank the staff at the Department of the Environment. Your Lordships do not need me to say that without their help I should have been almost speechless at this Box and quite incapable of rendering any really worthwhile service. I cannot think of an occasion when they have failed to give us good and ready advice. If there has been any failure to convey that advice in understandable form to your Lordships, the fault will have been mine. But I think your Lordships have very good reason to appreciate, as indeed I do, the very great value in having my noble friend the Leader of the House with an office in the Department of the Environment. To have had his tremendous interest, his great support, his dynamic personality helping to get this Bill through has been an experience that has been heartwarming and, to me, very encouraging. I wish to thank all the individual Members of your Lordships' House who have played any part in the deliberations, but I would be bound to leave somebody out and should not wish to make what might appear to be invidious comparisons.

We have been able to accept a number of Amendments which have improved the Bill. As has already been indicated, the Bill leaves this House in better shape than when it arrived. We are still conscious of the fact that our task was made easier by the consideration that was given to its predecessor. Finally, may I declare that we have here a piece of legislation which, when on the Statute Book, should do much to improve the face of this country and the lives of its people. I believe that over a period of time we shall get from local authorities the co-operation and good will to make it an Act that will be regarded as a charter of the first importance in the history of this country.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Garnsworthy.)


My Lords, I rise for just two minutes to thank noble Lords on both Front Benches for the help they have given me over this Bill and to ask the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, to convey those thanks to the officials whom he knows have given me so much help. I speak not only on behalf of myself but on behalf of COENCO, the Committee for Environmental Conservation, which is the umbrella organisation for the majority of voluntary conservation organisations. One of these organisations is represented by the noble Baroness, Lady White, who sits with great distinction on our Committee. COENCO welcomed the original Bill. Under my noble friend it was improved, not as much as some of us would have liked, but as the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, said, it was improved a great deal more by the Government Front Bench. This is just the sort of measure that conservationists hoped for. It is not a spectacular gain; it is just workable improvements to the law, improvements that give expression to the growing realisation of the public that we must protect by every possible means the environment in which we live. We do not expect, in conservation, to win every battle. The battle is nearly always the same; it is a battle between meeting to-day's urgent needs and whether that justifies to-morrow's consequential results. For us this has been a Bill of highly successful skirmishes. We are very grateful and we hope that we may win a few more in another place.


My Lords, I wish briefly to pay tribute to the co-operative attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, and the Lord Privy Seal, and pay tribute also to the equally co-operative attitude of those who advised them. I also thank the two Ministers for their courtesy and tolerance and for their acceptance of a number of Amendments, either in principle or in fact. During the course of the passage of the Bill I was speaking as my noble friend Lord Courtown in endeavouring to represent the point of view of industry and I am grateful that Her Majesty's Government had numerous consultations with the C.B.I. in this period of time. Due to those consultations, I think a number of assurances were given by the Ministers which were gratefully received by industry and, in particular, the C.B.I. With those few words I wish this Bill a speedy passage.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.