HL Deb 02 February 1982 vol 426 cc1208-76

3.15 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Mansfield)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Mansfield.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Lord ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 58A: After Clause 58, insert the following new clause:

Notification of processions. ("Public processions

.—(1) A person proposing to hold a procession in public shall give written notice of that proposal in accordance with subsections (2) and (3) below to the district or islands council in whose area the procession is to be held, or if it is to be held in the areas of more than one such council, to each such council.

(2) Notice shall be given for the purposes of subsection (1) above only by—

  1. (a) being posted to the main offices of the district or islands council so that in the normal course of post it might be expected to arrive before the time when the procession is due to start; or
  2. (b) being delivered by hand before that time to those offices while they are open for business.

(3) The notice to be given under subsection (1) above shall specify—

  1. (a) the date and time when the procession is to be held;
  2. (b) its route;
  3. (c) the number of persons likely to take part in it;
  4. (d) the arrangements for its control being made by the person proposing to hold it; and
  5. (e) the name and address of that person.

(4) At the same time as notice is given under subsection (2) above, a copy of the notice shall be delivered by post or hand to the chief constable of the police force for the area in which the procession is to be held or, if it is to be held in the areas of more than one police force, to the chief constable of each police force in those areas.

(5) In this section and in sections (Powers of district and islands councils in relation to processions), (Appeals against orders under section (Powers of district and islands councils in relation to processions)) and (Offences) of this Act, "procession in public" means a procession in a public place but does not include a ceremonial procession regularly held by a public body or public authority.").

The noble Lord said: This ground is fairly familiar. Amendment No. 58A is a series of new clauses which deal with the subject of processions. In case any of your Lordships are alarmed by it, may I say that we will deal with all these clauses together and have a general and, I hope, a very short debate arising there-from. As I said, the amendment deals with the whole question of public processions and marches. Sadly, this is the era of the protest march—sometimes peaceful, sometimes of the kind with which we have become familiar through the years, sometimes fairly new and, sometimes, very provocative indeed. We get march and counter-march and it is a matter of very considerable concern to the police.

In Scotland, sadly, the existing statutory position is confusing, to say the least. It was remarked upon by the working party which was set up in, I think, 1972. So the Government have had plenty of time to consider the matter. It is some years since the working party reported. Then the Government themselves produced a White Paper, Proposals for a Code of Civic Government in Scotland, and, within that, there is a series of clauses dealing with public processions. In substance, the clauses which were in the Government's own proposal are the clauses which are now before the Committee.

The Government also set up a committee under the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, to look into the functions of local authorities and, in considering the control of public processions et cetera, he suggested that the regulating authority should be the regional authority. I have gone back to the original proposal of the working party, which said that the regulating authority should be the district or islands council. The working party also said that a district authority already has power under the Local Government (Scotland) Act to ask the regional authority, which is in control of the police, to perform this duty for it.

The position at the moment is unsatisfactory for the simple reason that the Burgh Police (Scotland) Acts, which we are considering in this Bill, gave power to the district and islands councils to make by-laws and to issue notices and orders prohibiting or regulating such public processions. Then, of course, there is Section 3 of the Public Order Act 1936. Glasgow has no statutory provisions at all and can only use the powers under the Public Order Act. That means that it can control the route of a procession and impose some conditions, but it cannot ban a procession. If it wants to ban a procession, the police must apply to the regional authority, which is limited in what it can do. It must ban not one procession but all processions for three months. Many processions are quite harmless. Some of them are customary. The suggestion has been made to me that my clauses are of considerable concern to the Salvation Army. I agree entirely that they are. The exceptions are far too limiting. This is of concern to me. It would mean that the Boys' Brigade, whose centenary falls next year, might also be affected by this ban. Nobody intends that. My noble friend Lord Mackie of Benshie is quite right. I would be prepared to accept the amendment standing in his name which would widen considerably the number of exceptions.

Edinburgh is at present well provided for by its own private Acts. It has been able to use its power in a way that Glasgow could not. It has power over the routes, over the laying down of conditions and also over the banning of individual processions and marches. It has used its power well. It all comes down to a matter of co-operation between those organising the procession, the police and the authority. But we must close this gap, remove the confusion and give this power to the other authorities. I suggest that the district authority is the right authority. For instance, the Strathclyde authority comprehends half the population of Scotland. It is not right that that power should be given only to Strathclyde.

This has led me back to the position laid down by the working party: that the authority should be the district or regional authority. Notice should be given at least seven days before the procession. The authority should consult the police. It should be able to deal with the date, the time and the route of the procession and it should also have the power to ban a particular procession if it thinks that it will lead to a breach of order. An important point was made by the working party: that it should also be borne in mind that police manpower should not be excessively extended by work arising out of processions. We have all been appalled by by what has happened in the past.

It may be that the Government have not yet made up their mind. I think they have made up their mind generally about the substance of the clauses. I am sorry that Lord Stodart is not here, because whether it should be the regional authority or the district authority is the one stumbling block. Since Lord Stodart suggested that it should be the district authority, this is a problem which the Government may well have to face. It is time that we had on the statute book powers which are adequate and sufficient for the local authority, be it the regional or district authority, to deal with this matter. During the coming year there will be very important processions and events in Scotland which may themselves lead to other marches, demonstrations and protests which could be provocative and lead to trouble. I suggest that the Government should delay no further. If they cannot accept my series of new clauses, please may we have an indication from the Government that at some stage in the Bill they are going to deal with this problem. I beg to move.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

As an amendment to this amendment, I call Amendment No. 58AB.

3.24 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie moved Amendment No. 58AB as an amendment to Amendment No. 58A: In subsection (5) of the proposed new clause, leave out ("ceremonial procession regularly held by a public body or public authority") and insert ("procession commonly or customarily held unless the Secretary of State otherwise directs as respects processions of a class or held by a body specified in the direction").

The noble Lord said: May I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, for accepting the amendment. He understands its purpose as well as my noble friend and I do. We have put down the amendment at the behest of the Salvation Army who are concerned about the fact that in Scotland the second amendment might not be sufficient. In Glasgow, the customarily held Orange processions might, because of the state of affairs in the disturbed country of Ireland, give rise to trouble. The Salvation Army therefore felt, and we agreed, that that amendment would not cover the position. However, it will give the Government a chance to comment upon the amendment to the new clause, which is very necessary because traditionally the Salvation Army have taken music and processions on to the streets as part of their campaign.

I am sure that nobody in this House or in the Government would wish the Salvation Army to have to apply every time they wish to hold a service outside or to march with a band from one point to another. I understand that in some areas—in Liverpool, for example—it has been dealt with by exemption by name, but I do not think that this is satisfactory. My noble friend and I are sure that it would be very bad law if the Salvation Army had to apply for permission every time they held one of their normal processions. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

It may be convenient if I follow the helpful lead of the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, and briefly discuss all the amendments down to Amendment No. 58E. Among those I include the two amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. I indicated at Second Reading that the clauses dealing with local authority powers to regulate public processions were excluded from the Bill as it was then published because of the undertakings given by the Secretary of State in the green paper on the review of the Public Order Act 1936 and related legislation that the provisions in the draft Civic Government (Scotland) Bill which the noble Lord's amendments would follow, save in one respect, would be reconsidered in the light of the main review of public order issues.

As I am sure the Committee will appreciate, the preliminary conclusions of that review are being reassessed in the light of the findings and recommendations of Lord Scarman's report on the Brixton disorders which was published on 25th November. In relation to public processions, the report recommended in paragraph 8.63 that the Public Order Act 1936 be amended to include a requirement of advance notice of a procession to the police. Different commentators have suggested different periods of notice and forms of notice. Clearly it is desirable that whatever is embodied in the civic government code should be consistent with the proposals emerging from the wider review.

It seems that the process of finalising the result of the public order review is unlikely to be completed until the early summer. In the circumstances, we have decided that the best way forward would be to table draft clauses on Report which can, if necessary, be reviewed later in the light of the findings of the review and any comments which may be made upon it. These clauses will follow closely the form of Clauses 95 to 99 included in the draft Bill, but it may be helpful if I mention three specific points now.

First, I mentioned that the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, differs in one respect from those included in the draft Bill. The noble Lord himself has touched on this point. It is a fact that notice requires to be given to and subsequent action to be taken by the district rather than the regional council. In the Green Paper the Government indicated that on public order it was their view that the responsible authority should be the regional council, which is already the authority which is empowered under the Public Order Act 1936 to impose a ban on the holding of public processions. Moreover, the regional council is, either singly or jointly, the police authority and the highways authority. It remains our view therefore that the clauses should refer to regional rather than district councils.

This question was discussed by the Stodart Committee which reported in January 1981, and the committee agreed that the powers available to local authorities in relation to public processions should be placed at regional level. For all these reasons, therefore, we are of the opinion that it should be the regional council which should be the responsible authority. Secondly, we are giving detailed consideration to the detailed mechanics of the procedures for giving notice of the intention to hold processions, and some modification of the draft may be necessary on that score. Thirdly, we are giving further thought to the definition of "procession in public" in the light of possible difficulties which have been drawn to our attention by, in particular, the Salvation Army. Their concern is of course reflected in the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie.

I should explain that the Salvation Army are concerned that the terms of the exemption from the requirement to give advance notice would adversely affect their freedom to carry on their traditional activities. There is a very practical problem and it is this. The parliamentary draftsman is required to draw up a provision that is both narrow enough to exclude activities which clearly need not be subject to the requirement to provide advance notice, yet broad enough to encompass all those activities which ought to be subject to the requirement. This is a matter which we are looking into carefully. I hope it will be seen from what I have said that there are these relatively detailed points which are occupying our attention, but, subject to these, provisions for public processions will be tabled on Report and your Lordships can return to the subject in rather more detail then.

3.32 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

I was interested by the Minister's statement with regard to the responsibilities of the regional council as distinct from the district council, and whether there is some wisdom in the comment that has been made. Would he accept that, in the Scottish context of Glasgow with relation to the Stratclyde region, there are special circumstances in which processions of one kind or another have a particular impact in the City of Glasgow, which is the district council, as distinct from the region which is a very widely-spread organisation and is perhaps less conscious of the tensions involved in some of the so-called religious processions that take place from time to time in the City of Glasgow?

Lord Drumalbyn

Would my noble friend give me an indication as to what are the views of various local authorities on this question of districts and regions? I can quite see that Glasgow has a particular problem of its own, but I would have thought that it would have been possible to make special provisions for at least one regional authority, if not more. I do not see why the notice should necessarily be given to the same tier in every case.

Would it not be true to say that the higher the tier—that is, the more important the local authority rating as between regions and districts may be—the longer the length of notice given would have to be? If it is a question of a procession in a particular place, I would think that, in that case, in an area such as Strathclyde, a longer period of notice would have to be given. Could I also ask about the attitude of the police in various areas? Is there a consensus about this? So far as police areas are concerned, I suppose one advantage of having the higher tier would be the more ready transferability of forces from one area to another and a unified command. But that might not always apply to each of the regions or districts, or whatever it is. I believe it would be helpful at this stage if my noble friend could reveal a little of the thinking that is going on at the present time, other than simply saying that the Government have not seen any reason to depart from regions rather than districts as the authorised authority.

Lord Davies of Leek

Here I am, a mere Welshman, daring as a Celt to interfere in this! When I was a child, one of the joys of Sunday School was when we were converted and walked around the streets singing, "I am H-A-P-P-Y. I am S-A-V-E-D." We were dressed up and the parents made a big fuss of these processions. Surely you are not going to take that away from the poor Scottish children of the future? As for possibly interfering with religious prejudices, nothing better destroys prejudice than to see a bunch of children of all colours and all races singing joyfully about something in which they believe. Surely to goodness you are not going to put the finger of officialdom in Scotland on these innocent little ceremonies of evangelism which, from period to period, echo from the valleys and villages of Wales? Surely you are not going to be different from us? Surely you will allow those processions to go on without the police interfering, and so give the kids some joy?

Viscount Thurso

May I underline the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, in saying that it is not always clear that it is better for regions to deal with something rather than districts. For instance, if it was intended to hold some protest procession in Thurso, it would be very difficult for Inverness—where the regional headquarters are—to be as fully informed about matters in Thurso as might be necessary. They would obviously have to consult the local police headquarters in Wick in order to find out what the position was. It would probably be better to make the application to the district in Wick where the police are in the office next door and can give a quick and sensible answer to the problems involved. It is not always clear that the region is better than the district or that the district is better than the region in these matters.

The Earl of Selkirk

I should like to underline a point that has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and by the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso. Supposing someone wants to hold a procession in the Lothians. One would not hold it in Dunbar or North Berwick or Bathgate; one would want to hold it in Edinburgh, because that is the place if one wants to make a noise. The same would be true of Dundee, if I may say so, or elsewhere. It does seem to me that the local district are the people who would be much more immediately involved and concerned at what could or could not happen in their immediate area. I am not all that familiar with the workings of the new arrangements in Scottish local government, but it does seem to me that the local people, particularly in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness or elsewhere should be personally concerned at the way in which processions are conducted.

Lord Hughes

May I start by saying that when the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, referred to Dundee, he looked towards me. I have not lived there for some time and I would like to assure the noble Earl that the number of processions held in Auchterarder are few and far between. I want to support my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock in his suggestion that district is preferable to region. I do so from a background of a very long time in local government—although I have no experience of regional government, except to try and stop it happening. The one argument in favour of the region which the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, put forward was that the region is the police authority. I do not believe that is important.

I am chairman of the East Kilbride New Town Development Corporation and I know that there are quite a number of occasions when both the development corporation and the district council are involved in matters in which consultation with the police is necessary. We do not have to go to the chief constable of Strathclyde to get this done; it is done by the senior officer in the area. The relationship with the police and the district council and the development corporation is excellent and it is always possible to make satisfactory arrangements.

I am thinking particularly of the two very large regions geographically; Strathclyde, which, after all, has half the population of Scotland in it, and the Highland Region, which has pretty nearly half the geography of Scotland in it. I doubt very much whether there are very many occasions in the Highland Region when there are controversial processions taking place, but it is not impossible. What I am quite certain of is that in a region of that size the people best qualified to take decisions are the more local authority, which is the district council, and it will have the benefit of the ability and guidance which can come from the more local police. So while I can see advantages both ways, going either to the region or to the district, I am quite certain that the balance of advantage—a phrase which we have heard a lot this afternoon—lies very much in the direction of entrusting this responsibility to the district council.

I would close by referring to the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk. If there is to be a procession in Lothian, it is much more likely to be in Edinburgh than anywhere else. I think from that point of view the Edinburgh District Council is by far the more suitable body to be deciding than the Lothian region. So far as Glasgow is concerned, I think it goes without saying that this is a very valid point.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I am grateful to noble Lords for having given us the benefit of their experience and wisdom.

3.42 p.m.

The Earl of Mansfield

Would the noble Lord like me to reply now? I am sure the noble Lord is going to withdraw his amendment very soon, but I think I should answer the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, if nobody else. The points that he made exemplify the difficulties the draftsmen are in. On the one hand, we have the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, the Salvation Army and the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, with his children shouting joyfully. May I say that throughout the Kingdom the longer the Conservative Government are in power the more cause they will have to shout joyfully, whether in the mountains or on the plains, or even—dare I say?—in the region of Lothian. The fact is that one has to steer a middle course between these entirely laudable and innocent activities and the much less laudable and far more sinister processions which take place—dare I say?—in Glasgow, which also have, unfortunately, a religious connotation. So that is a problem of drafting and interpretation.

With regard to the question of regional council as opposed to district council being the authority which should control these matters, I said that a considerable amount of thought had been given to the subject. We are, of course, dealing here with public order. I appreciate that the areas of the Highland Regional Council and Strathclyde are large, but I think we must realise how modern communications can draw attention to what is happening in a very large area remarkably quickly. Anybody who has watched the police computers working in the new headquarters in the regions knows that it is perfectly possible, from the Public Order Act point of view, for proper effect to be given to notification very quickly indeed. The old days of doing these things, almost by throwing up carrier pigeons, have gone completely with the invention of the microchip. I must not be too facetious about this.

Can I say, for the benefit of noble Lords who have queried this point, that we obviously consulted the local authorities, and the general consensus was that this should be a matter for the regional authorities. The police agreed when they were consulted. As I said, the Stodart Committee went into the matter and also favoured the regions. Not least, the Edinburgh District Council accepts that the present Edinburgh Act, as it has been called, should in the future be administered by the regional authority. I am not going to say that there is unanimity, because that would be a dangerous thing to claim, but I do say that there seems to be a reasonable consensus, at any rate, and for these reasons, and for those I have already given—that is to say, that the regional authority is also singly or jointly the police authority and the highways authority—the Government have come to the view that it should be for the regions to be notified and to have the responsibility in these matters. Nevertheless, I shall very carefully look at the Official Report of this debate, and in the light of that see whether any more needs to be done.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I think we have had a reasonable starting debate on this question. We are promised that we are going to have an opportunity of yet another debate on it at Report. Did I understand the Minister to say that he was going to put down draft clauses, rather than definitive clauses?

The Earl of Mansfield

No, I will put down the amendments, but they are in draft now.

Lord Ross of Marnock

They have been in draft for a long time. I feel that the Government have been waffling on this for far too long. I think it is quite wrong to suggest that the Scarman Report should have held us up. We in Scotland have not had anything like Toxteth, nor are there circumstances that are likely to lead to that situation. Even the processions in Glasgow with a religious connotation have not caused any trouble in the past. One is amazed at the kind of people who have turned out to see some of these processions.

The new aspect is the political troubles that we get into with, say, Northern Ireland. I think we must be very grateful indeed that the troubles they have there have not spread into Glasgow to any great extent. However, there are always people who are prepared to use any indications of controversy to get on the band waggon and to further their own aims rather than the original aims, and this has caused trouble in the past. I think the consolations of religion and the processions in respect of that are more necessary under a Tory Government than at any other time, and far be it from us to deny them that because of the inability of Glasgow or Strathclyde to discriminate among processions. That is the power that is lacking in the West of Scotland, the ability to ban a single procession, and it will remain so until such time as the Government make a change. So, I hope they will.

With regard to difficulties about definition, I can assure noble Lords that the Salvation Army is able to bear the flag through the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh without any trouble. When Edinburgh did ban a procession, it was not in Edinburgh, it was outside Edinburgh. The noble Earl, Lord Home, will appreciate that there are processions that are not by public bodies in the Borders; for instance, Beating the Marches and all the traditional processions that take place there. They could come under these clauses if the Government do not get things right.

I think it is wrong that this gap should remain for another six months or so, because these troubles can arise and can be sparked off very quickly. There are many people who will probably read the clauses, to see how they can get round them and cause trouble. So I do not disagree with him when the noble Earl says that he wants to make it at once narrow enough and yet broad enough to include the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts and the Boys' Brigade who constantly process through Glasgow and cause no trouble.

I must say that at present when a ban has been imposed—there was one last year—it has meant that the police have shut their eyes to certain processions which properly should have been banned. I remember one in the Irvine Valley. It was a harmless procession and no one would have dreamt of banning it. However, obviously it was banned if there was a blanket over all processions for three months. So please let us have fairly speedy action in respect of this matter.

On the whole, I do not think that there is very much disagreement among us as to the kind of processions that we want to have the power to control and those which lead to the brightening of life in our already bright Scottish towns and cities. But when it comes to the towns and cities, I must say that they are the people who know—not the authority in Glasgow that represents the region and on which many of these towns that used to have their own town councils have only one representative, and it may be only one representative from towns which have their own traditions. It is the local people who know. So let us not be tied down: let us be a little more flexible in relation to public processions. In view of what the Government said, which 1 welcome, I shall beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

The Chairman of Committees

Before the noble Lord does so, let me remind the Committee that at present we are dealing with Amendment No. 58AB.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment No. 58AB.

Amendment to the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 58AC not moved.]

The Chairman of Committees

I understand that the noble Lord wishes to withdraw Amendment No. 58A.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 58B, 58C, 58D and 58E, not moved.]

Clause 59 [Being in or on building etc. with intent to commit theft]:

3.52 p.m.

The Earl of Selkirk moved Amendment No. 59: Page 36, line 27, leave out from ("vessel") in line 27 to ("liable") in line 29 and insert (",in circumstances that infer that he intended to commit theft, shall be guilty of an offence unless the contrary is shown and shall be").

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 59. I think that this clause needs to be looked at rather closely. Perhaps I may describe what it does. It takes power to convict a man of an offence which he has not committed and then transfers the onus of proof, or defence, from the Crown to the accused. I think that this is probably in the circumstances correct, but we must look very carefully at the wording.

What it envisages—if I may describe it bluntly—is that Bill Sykes is found with a large jemmy in his hand standing in front of a strongbox and in an enclosed place where he has no known business to be. I personally think that there probably is a case that such a man should not say, "Well, I have not done anything yet", and get away with it. I agree in that respect. But I think that it should be made abundantly clear that he has a proper and full opportunity to explain how he comes to be there. The amendment as it stands is simply tabled to say that in the whole circumstances of the case it would be quite a good thing if he went to prison for three months. I am paraphrasing and cutting short the amendment, but that is very closely what it says. I think that it goes too far in that respect. I want to make it quite clear—as I have tried to do in the amendment—that he has full opportunity to explain his position and in my amendment I say, in effect, "unless the opposite be shown". That gives him a pure chance of explaining just how he comes to be there and just what are the circumstances.

Anyone who has had any experience of crime will know that the most extraordinary circumstances do arise from time to time and that many of them can be perfectly well explained. I think that someone will probably say that this has something to do with what is described in the papers as the "sus" law in England. I am not very familiar with it. However, this applies only to persons in enclosed places and not in any public places as such. I think that in the circumstances the purpose of the amendment is correct, but I would like noble Lords to accept a much clearer picture; namely, that the accused has a full, careful and extensive opportunity of explaining just how he comes to be in those circumstances. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

If my noble friend's point is that in some way this clause as presently drafted transfers the onus of proof from the Crown to the accused, then I must tell him that that is not so. It remains for the Crown to lead such evidence as it can to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt in the ordinary way. But perhaps it would be best for me to explain the effect of the clause as it is presently drafted.

The wording of the clause is such that the "reasonable inference" that the accused intended to commit theft has to be drawn by the court when considering all the circumstances—and of course they include any information which the accused may offer at the time of his arrest. As I have said, it is at subsequent court proceedings for the prosecution to lead sufficient evidence to sustain the charge, otherwise there is an acquittal. So it is not sufficient for a conviction that a constable, for instance, or some other person who found the accused in a building, had reasonable cause to infer that the accused intended to commit theft. So the clause does, in fact, protect the accused person in the way in which I think my noble friend seeks to protect him. In other words, there is an objective test and a person would not be guilty of an offence under this clause if he can show—or if the Crown failed to prove, in fact, the opposite—that, despite the circumstances in which he was found, it was not his intention to commit theft.

In fact my noble friend's amendment would not have the effect which I think he wants. His amendment effectively deprives the accused of the opportunity afforded by the clause as presently drafted to have his explanation for his presence in the building, or wherever it is, taken into account by the court when considering the question of his innocence or guilt. The amendment provides that the only circumstances which are to be taken into account by the court are the circumstances in which the accused was actually found and not, as under the clause as it presently reads, all the circumstances, including any explanation which he may offer. Moreover, the amendment provides that the accused shall not be guilty of an offence, not if he can show that he did not intend to commit theft, but only if he can show that the circumstances in which he was found do not lead to the inference that he intended to commit theft—and there may, of course, be circumstances which seem to establish that inference but where the accused nevertheless has a satisfactory explanation for his presence in the building, or vessel, or whatever.

I think that I can sum this up by saying that the clause as presently drafted imposes on the court an objective test and the ordinary rules apply which the prosecution must get over, as it were, if a conviction is to be justified.

The Earl of Selkirk

I must confess that I am not satisfied with that answer. The noble Earl speaks of having "reasonable cause to infer", and he says that that is proof beyond reasonable doubt. I do not accept that. I think that the burden of proof for this is very much lighter than is normally shown in a criminal case. I would readily accept that my amendment may not be correct—it practically never is, so I am not in the least bit surprised about that—but I think that the noble Earl should undertake to look at this matter more closely.

There are two points. First, he has to be shown to have been in a difficult position or a position where he may be intending to commit a crime. But in the long run the proof will have to be whether or not he had that intention. The mere fact that Bill Sykes is standing with a jemmy in front of the strongbox may not be the proof. The question is, was he going to use the jemmy and had he no authority to do so? I wanted to make it quite clear—and I may not be right in my amendment—that he has a full opportunity of explaining that that was not his intention.

Therefore, there are two matters here. Was he in a position where guilt might have been assumed and, secondly, had he, in fact, to consummate that act by making it assumed? It is a matter of careful wording, and I should like the noble Earl to give an undertaking to look at this very carefully to see whether he is not making the burden of proof much lighter. The Crown only has to say that it is reasonably inferred, and that is not the same as saying "beyond reasonable doubt". I should like the noble Earl to look at that very carefully.

The Earl of Mansfield

I shall certainly take it away and have a look at it. There is a difference here between the clause setting out that to which the court must have regard when it comes to make up its mind and the standard—that is to say, the standard of proof which has to be met—before the court can say to itself, "This case is proved". They are two different things. However, I shall certainly take this away and see whether it can be improved.

The Earl of Selkirk

I am grateful to my noble friend and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 59 agreed to.

Clauses 60 to 64 agreed to.

Clause 65 [Duty of finder]:

4.2 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59A: Page 40, line 39, leave out paragraph (a).

The noble Lord said: No one can say that we do not get variety here. We now switch to lost property. We have the advantage here that the Scottish Law Commission published a report on 16th January last year on the whole question of lost and abandoned property, so we have some guidance here. One of the matters with which it was concerned was that it felt there should be a unitary system for dealing with lost and abandoned property, and that the person responsible for it all should be the chief constable of the area where the property was found.

But in Clause 65(2)(a) we have a most important exception to that. I says: property found on the premises of, or used by, an undertaking which provides a transport service for the public, being premises such as omnibus stations, railway stations, ports, airports or other similar places, or on any vehicle, train, ship or aircraft", and so on. Those undertakings have their own rules drawn up by themselves, although I think that in the case of aircraft there is a regulation to which the public have access, and in the case of public vehicles there are also regulations which are published in the appendix to the report and which vary very considerably with what in the Bill applies to the general business of property that is lost.

In case anyone thinks that the Law Commission was in any doubt about what it wanted, I would ask noble Lords to look at page 12 which deals with the role of the chief constable, where everyone was agreed that there should be reliance on the chief constable and that this business had given public satisfaction. The commission suggests that there is a more complex question as to whether the chief constable alone should perform this function. In Scotland certain transport undertakings are at present permitted to operate under special schemes. The Scottish Law Commission felt that it was difficult to resist the conclusion that schemes which enable certain transport undertakings to apply different rules of law should not survive in this branch of law. It felt that we should welcome and seek to set up a single system. It said that lack of uniformity could cause inconvenience both to the police and to members of the public who have lost their property.

The Government have said "It is all right, we have consulted the police; we have consulted these transport undertakings and they suggest that there should be no change". They did not consult the public, and surely it is the public who matter. I can understand why the transport undertakings did not want any change. The Law Commission's words are very strong: If our conclusions on rights to ownership of lost property are accepted, it would be inconsistent to confer qualified, confiscatory rights by statute on certain selected public undertakings only while denying such rights to private concerns and to members of the public".

I do not know how many people have ever left anything on public transport. It is a much more difficult business trying to recover lost property there than it is in respect of anything you might lose in the street, which someone immediately hands to a constable or takes to a police station. The Public Service Vehicles (Lost Property) Regulations 1934 guide public transport in Scotland as to its obligations. If you find anything there you must hand it to a conductor, if conductor there be. That conductor must either hand it himself to the owner or agent of the business or, if he is going off shift, hand it to another conductor, and eventually that conductor will hand it in and get a receipt. If anyone claims it and offers a reward it is given, not to the finder, but to the conductor—whether the first conductor or the second conductor I do not know. I have heard many people complain about this. For instance, in the case of a reward, the reward is given to the conductor and it is a sum—and as far as I can gather the sum has not changed since 1934—not exceeding £4, or generally speaking, one-twelfth the value of the property that has been claimed; or, if it is not claimed, then-twelfth of the value if sold. I do not think that that is entirely satisfactory. In relation to air transport, no rewards come into it. If the property is claimed, people get it back. If it is not claimed, it is kept and then sold, and what happens to the money thereafter nobody knows.

So I think that the Law Commission was quite right to draw attention to the differential proceedings in respect of this and to suggest that there should be a unitary system. So far, certainly from the remarks made on Second Reading, I do not think that the Government have proved their case. It requires rather more than this. I know that the feelings about the changes suggested by the Government are that the police are rather fed up with this business. They have certainly made considerable changes in respect of what was suggested by the Law Commission. If the Government think it is necessary to depart from some of the recommendations in the Law Commission's report, they might as well look at the existing provisions and regulations applying to public transport authorities as to whether or not they will bring them into line with the changes that the Government are making in the present laws and in relation to the Law Commission's suggestions. However, I think that there is an element of confiscation in this, and it is certainly unsatisfactory from the public point of view in respect of lost property found on transport undertakings. I beg to move.

4.10 p.m.

The Earl of Mansfield

Following the report of the Scottish Law Commission there were of course some consultations with a number of interests, as the noble Lord, Lord Ross, has rightly said. What came out was that a unified system, which seemed to be what the Commission envisaged, would be likely to lead to greatly increased pressure on police resources. This would arise of cow se from the considerable additional workload in keeping records and disposing of property. In the present economic climate an additional extraneous administrative burden of this nature simply would not be justified.

Indeed, anybody who has been to any of these left luggage places in one of our great conurbations I think would agree that it is not really a matter in the first case for the police. In the Government's view, the public would be unlikely to be served any better by a unified system. Everybody understands, so far as the public are concerned, the separate arrangements for transport undertakings, and it was felt that no significant advantage in practical terms would result from adoption of the commission's recommendations. As I have said, the whole thing would be extremely expensive.

It does not end there, because it would still he necessary for the various transport undertakings to handle lost property found on their vehicles or premises, and that would require a certain amount of staff time and storage space because they would have to gather property together before it was either quickly claimed by the member of the public who had lost it or forwarded to the police. At the moment the proceeds from the sale of unclaimed articles go towards meeting the cost of the separate lost property arrangements, and any change would eliminate such financial recompense. So the amendment, if it were agreed to, would be costly from the point of view of the transport bodies and it would in fact stop them from trying to contain their overheads in the way that they do at the moment. For all these reasons we came to the conclusion that it would be better to leave well alone.

Lord Drumalbyn

I do not suppose that this would necessarily be the right place to deal with it in a Bill of this description, and especially in an exclusion clause, but my experience is that there is a good deal of hard feeling about these ancient rules and regulations that apply to public transport undertakings. I do not know whether it is the right time even to say this, but it might at least be noted; I should have thought that this was something that the consultative bodies attached to the various nationalised undertakings and, where there are any such things, the consumer bodies too, at any rate someone, should have a careful look at to see what is provided in the way of service for lost property on these various undertakings.

One has seen from time to time that this matter has come to the attention of consumer bodies, but nothing ever seems to happen. I should have thought that some encouragement ought to be given for something to happen, and perhaps a nod and a wink to the nationalised undertakings concerned might at any rate resurrect interest in the matter and something might come of it. On the whole I am bound to say that, while one would like to feel that the principle of unification should be observed, I doubt whether it would be practicable to do anything about it in this particular Bill. But if attention is paid—perhaps my noble friend could tell us what attention has been or is being paid—to the recommendations of the Law Commission, that would presumably be the moment to set off a more general examination of very boring rules and regulations which, in many cases, are among other things entirely financially out of date and, I should have thought, are no longer in keeping with the practices of today.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I can understand the transport undertakings' unwillingness to get rid of the responsibility for lost property. From what the Minister says, it is a very rewarding matter for them. But what I am concerned about all through this is the question of the public itself. It was the Government who pressed the Law Commission to expedite their report. They might as well not have bothered because they are paying little or no attention to it. The Minister of State will remember—and as a lawyer he probably appreciates how right they were—that they looked at the matter from this point of view of general law, and they did not regard it purely and simply as a matter for civic government.

They had hoped that the Government themselves would produce a separate Bill dealing with this particular general problem, and not deal with it purely as a matter of civic government, where it may be convenient to do it but it is not necessarily the right way to tackle this problem. I am not convinced of it. If you give this power to transport undertakings, why not give it to a big department store? Things are lost there. It must be a matter of trouble to them to deal with lost property within a big department store. I am thinking of the kind of store that did not exist in 1892 when the civic government Acts handed over. If you shake your head at that one, why allow it for a small bus company? Or even allow a shrinking railway service, when it works, to handle the question of lost property?

If you find something and take it to a police station you get a receipt for it and, generally speaking, you find out what has happened to it later on. The police will tell you. If you hand in something to a bus company, that is about the last you will ever hear of it. It would be interesting to find out how they report these things, and the extent to which they find people claim their lost property. I do not think this situation is satisfactory at all. The Government are trying to hurry this one, and it would have been far better to leave this out of this Bill and deal with it in a separate piece of legislation. However, I am not going to spend much more time over it—certainly not this particular aspect of it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 59B not moved.]

4.18 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59C: Page 42, line 7, leave out ("2") and insert ("3").

The noble Lord said: This concerns the length of time that the police have to keep the article for the claimant. I think it is a matter of two months or three months. The provision says: may sell or otherwise dispose of the property after the expiry of a period of 2 months". I suggest that it should be three months. May I point out to the Minister of State, who is desiring to keep things more or less as they are, that the people who are governed by the regulations for public service vehicles, for trains, keep them for three months, so why not let us have that bit of uniformity? I think that two months is far too short. I can understand that the police do not want to hold these things at all, but from the point of view of the public I think that three months is right.

The Earl of Mansfield

At present the police are required to hold property for six months and there is general agreement that the present holding period is too long. Consultations with the police established that in practice the vast majority of claims by owners of lost property are made within one month of the article being deposited with the police, that very few claims are made after the second month and that hardly any are made thereafter.

The Lothians and Borders Police recently undertook a survey and the results are interesting. During a period of one month, 97 per cent. of claims for lost property were for articles which had been handed in to the police within the past month; 1½ per cent. were for articles handed in between one and two months previously; and less than 1 per cent. between two and six months. These figures are merely illustrative; they were not the figures on which the decision was made. It was decided that two months was a long enough holding period, and therefore the recommendation of the Scottish Law Commission was modified.

The reasons are that disposal after this period will cause only minimal inconvenience to the public because, as I said, only a tiny handful of people who lose property do not become aware of it or are unable to contact the police within two months of the loss. Furthermore, the two-month period has the advantage of reducing considerably the amount of storage space required by the police so that better use may be made of their existing accommodation without incurring additional costs. Those reasons prompted the selection of this period and I hope the Committee will agree that they are sensible.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I am disappointed with that answer. I should have thought that half way from the existing six months—that is, three months—would have been reasonable. I should not like to be one of the 1 per cent. who, according to the Lothians and Borders survey, went to report a loss to the police after two months. Even from the point of view of that 1 per cent., it would be worth while making it three months rather than two, which was the suggestion of the Scottish Law Commission; surely they must have got something reasonably right.

Lord Hughes

Before my noble friend withdraws the amendment, which I anticipate he intends to do, may I point out that I do not understand the figures quoted by the Minister? Although I appreciate that he was not founding on them generally, because what happens in Lothian does not necessarily happen everywhere else, if they were typical, how does the fact that 99 per cent. of the property is claimed within two months reduce enormously the burden of storage compared with the time being three months? Unless I am totally wrong in my arithmetic, it is only 1 per cent. of the property that the police will be burdened with for an extra month.

The Earl of Mansfield

I think that follows, but it does not mean to say that merely because the police must have the space available it will necessarily be filled.

Lord Drumalbyn

Is that really the answer? My second thoughts about the matter, while my noble friend was speaking, were that he was talking about those articles which were claimed, but what about all the articles which were not claimed? One of the difficulties the police must face is the fact that something which is lost in a particular place does not necessarily go to the nearest police station; it may be handed in at a totally different place. One would like to know the total figures of articles claimed and what proportion are not claimed at all. In the case of those which are not claimed, the provision says that the chief constable shall take reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the person, appearing to him to be the owner of it or having possession of it To discharge this provision properly means having a system of notifying articles that have been handed in, with an exchange of information between the various police stations, for the reasons I have given. I doubt whether that takes place-I speak from personal experience—and in the case of valuable articles it is important.

The Earl of Mansfield

It should be remembered that the figures I gave were for claims, not articles, so there will be a considerable need for articles to be stored, and that will need space. My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn asked about various figures. I do not know the answer and I do not think there are general statistics as to what claims are made in any particular period. That is why I said the survey which the Lothians and Borders Police carried out was interesting. I know from experience that there is considerable liaison between police districts, one with another, on the question of articles both found and lost, and therefore I do not think that that is strictly to the point on this amendment. I believe that the mechanism is there for the chief constable to carry out his responsibilities under the clause.

Lord Ross of Marnock

If something was lost in Girvan and the chief constable was in Glasgow, there would need to be communication about that, and it would be interesting to know what changes have been made since the reorganisation of local government, when we had this tremendous new police force in Strathclyde covering such a wide area and so many people. I believe the Government have been far too ready to listen to the pleas of the police in this matter, and they do not think it is a police duty. But whatever else they are doing, if they are pleasing the police they are not doing it to suit the needs or convenience of the public, and from that point of view three months would have been right the period.

The point raised by my noble friend Lord Hughes is relevant; the difference between two and three months is not so much, but it could save a considerable amount of difficulty later on, particularly in relation to the later clause on compensation. Then we shall be discussing, say, something that was known to have been there but has been sold, and here we are giving them the right to sell after two months. There could, therefore, be trouble after that period has expired, and by making it three months they could save themselves that trouble. I will not press the matter now, and I hope the Government will think of far better arguments between now and Report than those they have adduced so far. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.28 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59D: Page 42, line 19, leave out ("one year") and insert ("two years").

The noble Lord said: This is similar to the previous amendment. Here I am seeking to change one year to two years; this is the time for which the police must keep records of lost property handed in. The Law Commission suggested it should be five years, which I agree would be far too long. Where the Government say one year, I reckon it might be better, and more appreciative of the work done by the Scottish Law Commission, to compromise and make it two years. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

Although the noble Lord, Lord Ross, did not speak to his next amendment, No. 59E, what I have to say applies to it just as well as it does to this amendment. I understand that the vast majority of persons who lose articles claim them within a matter of weeks, and this is particularly so if they are of any value. The Government believe that if for any reason a person fails to claim his lost article within the required period (which we have just discussed) and the article is subsequently sold by the police, a further year is an adequate period within which the right to compensation should apply, and any lengthening of that period would really serve no practical purpose. The keeping of records imposes an extra burden on the police, and since the right to compensation will not extend beyond one year, there is no benefit to be gained by requiring the police to keep records for any longer period.

I think it right that I should say why the Government have come to a conclusion totally different from that of the Scottish Law Commission, though it is right to say that the noble Lord, Lord Ross, too, has come to a different conclusion. The 5-year period was chosen for legal, rather than practical, reasons by the Scottish Law Commission. The period was chosen because it conforms with the relevant prescriptive period in Scots law. But, looked at in the practical terms of the day-to-day responsibilities of the police, the Government felt that such a lengthier period was quite disproportionate. If the property is valuable, for either sentimental or monetary reasons, surely its loss will be noted much earlier, indeed relatively soon. As I have said, 97 per cent. of claims may be expected within one month. One can assume that in the remaining cases owners are either unaware of the loss, or are at any rate indifferent to the fate of their property.

So what it comes down to is that under the Bill owners of property have at least 13 months in which to claim non-perishable property, and, if it has been disposed of, to claim compensation from the chief constable, or seek to recover possession from the new owner where the article has not been disposed of for value.

Throughout the consideration of the Bill your Lordships have displayed a constant and unremitting vigilance to minimise the bureaucratic pressures which might have been placed upon the community by earlier Parts of the Bill, and I think that this is a commonsense way out of what is a new situation which could have been of practical difficulty.

Inquiries made of Lothian and Borders police indicate that in any year no more than one claim would be expected in respect of an article handed in more than 12 months earlier. So if an amendment such as this were accepted by the Committee, it would be to accommodate very rare circumstances indeed.

Viscount Thurso

Surely it is to accommodate very rare circumstances indeed that one keeps records in any case. One can have sympathy with the police over the question of storing large quantities of items, which take up considerable space. But nowadays it is not difficult to store a record. It is probably kept on a fiche and occupies only a tiny space upon a piece of film. Even if it is kept on a piece of paper, it does not take up an enormous amount of space, nor does it cause much more work to keep it for an extra year. On the other hand, there is the poor individual who has finally found the object for which he has been looking for 13 months only to discover that it is too late, that the record has disappeared, and he cannot even get compensation. I feel that we ought to have sympathy with such a person and that the law ought to provide for his compensation.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I consider that the Minister of State has been far too considerate about the convenience of the police, forgetting that the police are there for the convenience of the public. The Minister said that I did not discuss Amendment No. 59E along with this amendment. I admit that I did not. But that does not justify his discussing Amendment No. 59E and saying that, because a claim for compensation must be made within a year, there is no point in keeping records for a longer period. The argument is the other way round: It is necessary to justify keeping records for only one year as against my suggestion of two years. If the Committee felt that I was right, that it was being fair to the public to provide for records to be kept for two years, it would follow that the period for claiming compensation should be two years, as I propose in my second amendment. The noble Earl should deal with the amendment on the Marshalled List, rather than jump to the other one that is consequential.

However, I do not think that we shall get anything from the Government on this amendment, and so I shall withdraw it. I do not propose to move the next amendment because, if records are to be kept for only one year, it would not make sense to suggest a period of two years in regard to claiming compensation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 59E not moved.]

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59F: Page 43, line 35, leave out ("£250") and insert ("£100").

The noble Lord said: We are still dealing with the rights of compensation, and the Committee should remember that the claim has to be made within a year. Here is another restriction. If the value of the article on being sold is less than £250—it might be only £200—no claim for compensation can arise. With all due respect I think that £250 is a fairly large sum to put down as the minimum regarding a claim for compensation, and so I suggest that the figure should be £100, remembering that any other amount may be specified by the Secretary of State. Surely a figure of less than £250 is unfair to the person who has lost the property. On realising that he has lost the property, he goes to the police station and discovers that it has been sold. If it has been sold for a value of less than £250, he has no claim at all to compensation. I think that £100 would be a fairer sum. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

The report of the Scottish Law Commission did not recommend a minimum value for eligibility for compensation, but the Government were attracted by the suggestion in the consultative memorandum, which was issued before the report, that compensation should be limited to sales to a value over £250. This is partly because it is desirable that some restriction be placed on the demands of police manpower which would be involved in the red tape of processing claims for compensation and maintaining relevant records. Therefore, a scheme of compensation applying to all lost property would be impracticable, not least because of the clerical demands on police manpower, particularly in relation to articles of minimal value. So one has to balance practicality against fairness to the loser.

I echo what the noble Lord, Lord Ross, has said; namely, that Clause 70(3) contains a power on the part of the Secretary of State to regulate the amount, so that if the figure of £250 is found to be either impractical or out of line with equity, it can be changed. If someone is possessed of an article of value, I think it reasonable to expect that such a person, if he is being sensible and prudent, would insure it against loss. Therefore, the sort of compensation envisaged here would be unnecessary. I should say that the number of articles which are sold and realise between £100 and £250 is very few. Perhaps naturally, valuable articles tend to be lost less often, and, if they are lost, are claimed with alacrity. So I do not think the noble Lord's amendment, although I appreciate it is very well intentioned, would have much, if any, effect in practice. The compensation provisions, which I should remind your Lordships are new, are intended to cover only cases of serious loss.

Viscount Thurso

There seems to me to be a slight flaw in all this, in that, in selling the articles for value, there is no obligation on the police to obtain the best value. There is no machinery laid down, so far as I can see, for getting the best price. Therefore, if some chief constable was inclined to minimise the amount of difficulty he would have, all he would have to do is sell everything for £249. I feel there ought to be something which at least obliges him to get the best value or to obtain a valuation where it seems as though the value of the article is high.

The Earl of Mansfield

I scarcely believe that police departments are going to behave with quite such ill-faith, but I will certainly look at this to see whether it should be strengthened.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I think it is a valid point. But, to come back to the point of this amendment, the £250, it is certainly a new provision, and certainly the Law Commission did not put in a figure. I should think they must be incensed by the idea that the Government are now doing their thinking for them and suggesting that if it is less than £250 in value then no compensation should be paid at all. With all due respect, I think the thinking of the Government here is quite wrong. If they want to obviate unnecessary work for the police and in the processing of compensation and the rest of it, certainly £250, to many people who lose articles, is quite a lot of money.

I do not think the indication was that if, later on, the Secretary of State found that this needed changing then he would change it downwards, but rather that it would be upwards. I think it would be far better without any figure at all, leaving the power in the Secretary of State to specify a sum by order; but if he insists on having any figure in at all I would suggest £100 is reasonable. I hope the noble Earl will look at this again between now and the next stage of the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Nugent of Guildford)

I should inform noble Lords that as there has been a mistake in the Marshalled List—Amendments Nos. 59E and 59F should have been placed under Clause 70—I shall move the subsequent clauses accordingly.

Clause 65 agreed to.

Clauses 66 to 69 agreed to.

Clauses 70 to 72 agreed to.

Clause 73 [Stray dogs]:

On Question, Whether Clause 73 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of Selkirk

I raised this matter on Second Reading, and I had great hopes that my noble friend would give me a textual version of Clause 73 instead of the amended version as it is here. This clause amends the Dogs Act 1906 in what is the draftsman's favourite way, but it does not do what it says it does. That is to say, the amendments here are not in fact to the 1906 Act; they are, I think I am right in saying, amendments to a 1929 Act, which amended the 1906 Act. I think it is important on this subject that it should be quite clear what the law is, and it is quite difficult to find that out. It may be difficult to get statutes, but it is much more difficult to look through statutes in force and find out what are the exact words. I therefore think that a textual version of this clause would be a great advantage.

My noble friend Lord Cottesloe tells me that in the Battersea Home there are something in the order of 17,000 or 18,000 stray dogs collected every year—and that is only one place in this country. So one may take it that there are a fairly large number of people who may be concerned with this, and I think it is desirable that they should have the full version of the law (which, I may say, I think is a good amendment) in as reasonably accessible a form as can be arranged. That is what I am asking for here, that this clause should be redrafted in the form of a textual amendment. I hope my noble friend will find it possible to do that. The same argument applies also to Clause 124, which deals rather substantially with the same sort of subject, and I hope the noble Lord will find it possible to agree to do what I am asking.

Lord Ross of Marnock

The point I wished to make is exactly the point that the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, has made. It seems crazy to me that we should have this Clause 73, dealing with Section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906, and then, in Clause 124 of this same Bill, what does it do? It amends Section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906. That is a strange way to deal with things, and how there could be anything other than confusion in it, I just do not understand. I am surprised that the Government themselves have not produced a better and more intelligible amendment to the Dogs Act 1906. The noble Earl will recollect, of course, that at an earlier stage I drew attention to the fact that it needed even further amendment, according to the document that I was given by the Scottish Office—I do not know why they sent it to me; it was probably a mistake—because we had the business of the shilling appearing in it; and it is going to remain in the Bill, even after these amendments. This clause and Clause 124 remain; so, please, will they have another look at the whole question of stray dogs? If they must stray into this Bill, let them stray into one place and not into two separate clauses.

The Earl of Mansfield

There are two issues here, really, if I have understood what my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Ross, have said. First, there is the content of this clause and, indeed, of Clause 124. Perhaps I can say a word about that. Clause 73 amends the relevant sections of the Dogs Act 1906 to bring them into line with the provisions of this part of the Bill; and we are referring, of course, to lost property. So the purchaser of a stray dog will acquire ownership of the dog as he would of any other type of property; and the penalty for non-compliance with the requirements of the section of the Dogs Act dealing with strays is increased to £50. This clause provides that where a dog has been in the custody of the finder for more than two months and has not been claimed, it becomes the property of the finder, and this is consistent with Clause 72. So the purpose of the clause is perfectly consistent with the rest of these clauses, which deal with the subject of lost property.

I then turn to my noble friend's real ground of complaint, which goes more to the way in which the law has been amended. I have to tell him—my other noble friend is not in his place—that the amendment is in accordance with the report of the Renton Committee on the preparation of legislation. It is in terms of that report that these amendments have been tabled—although I appreciate that, when one tries to make sense of them in conjunction with the Bill, it all looks, if I may say so, like a bit of a dog's breakfast. Nevertheless, that is the way in which we are enjoined these days to amend the law. There will be a reprint of the Dogs' Act; it will be included in the Statutes in Force and all of these amendments which are being written in will be set out there, so that the position will be made clear eventually.

The Earl of Selkirk

Since the noble Earl has brought in the Renton Report, to leave no doubt about what the noble Lord, Lord Renton, recommended, the words of that report in paragraph 13.20 were: Having considered the problem on both sides of the question, we have concluded that the practice of using the textual method should be applied as generously as possible and we so recommend". I hope that my noble friend will remember those words and that when he comes to advise his draftsmen he will try to persuade them that these are circumstances in which it could properly be used. I gather that he does not want to accept this amendment as it is, but I hope he will consider it carefully, for it needs to be so considered.

On the point that the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, made—that of merely including dealing with stray dogs—I cannot see why they cannot be brought together. Many people want to know what to do. A dog was wished into my house only last week; one wants to know what to do with it. One does not want to get into trouble. The general proposition is to get rid of it; but one wants to be within the statute and to know fairly easily what the statutory requirements are. I hope that my noble friend will look at this again. If he does that, I will gladly withdraw my objection to Clause 73.

The Earl of Mansfield

I have no doubt that the draftsman will read the Official Report with great care and see my noble friend's strictures in it. I shall pass them on in case he does not do so. As my noble friend knows, the mysteries of draftsmen and the way they comport themselves are not always obvious to outsiders, but I shall do my best.

The Earl of Selkirk

I am grateful to my noble friend.

Clause 73 agreed to.

Clauses 74 to 83 agreed to.

Clause 84 [Local authorities' powers in relation to buildings in need of repair

Lady Saltoun moved Amendment No. 59FA: Page 48, line 14, after ("writing,") insert ("sent by recorded delivery,").

The noble Lady said: There was a happy time in the palmy days of the British Empire when it was rare for an ordinary letter to go astray or to take more than one day to reach its distination. Unfortunately, I have found, as no doubt many noble Lords have found, that that is no longer the case. Therefore, I suggest that all such notices as are referred to in this clause should be sent by recorded delivery to ensure so far as is humanly possible that the owners of buildings actually receive the notices, and promptly. I think that that is particularly important in view of the powers of the local authority under Clause 96. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

I have carefully considered this amendment and I think that it is unnecessary, having regard to general notice arrangements in other legislation. The procedure for service of notices under this Bill is governed by Section 192 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Section 192 provides that notices shall be sent by prepaid letter or delivered by hand. It also covers proof of service and deals with the difficulties which may arise when the owner of premises is unknown. I should emphasise that this procedure also governs or substantially parallels notice provisions in respect of works to make safe dangerous buildings (under the Buildings (Scotland) Act 1959) and notices requiring the carrying out of works on houses in serious disrepair (under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1969), which are close analogies in existing legislation to the complementary new power given in Clause 84(1) of this Bill.

Even if the notice was not received, the owner would not automatically be faced with having to let council workmen in to do the work specified in the notice because the powers of entry in Clause 96 cannot be used to effect entry without the agreement of the occupier; so if a notice had been served but had not been received by the occupier he would be under no obligation to admit workmen. If he contests the need for the works—whether or not he has received the notice—he can refuse entry initially.

Under Clause 98, entry without the agreement of the occupier can be granted by a justice or the sheriff only under certain specified circumstances and provided the sheriff is satisfied that "there is reasonable ground for entry". Thus, if an occupier had not received a notice he would not be subjected to council workmen carrying out works without his agreement unless the court was satisfied that it was reasonable. I emphasise that the entry must be reasonable, and not the work, at that stage. I do not think, therefore, that it is necessary to specify recorded delivery solely on the grounds that it is essential to safeguard the rights of occupiers against unheralded entry by workmen to do work which the occupier was averse to having carried out and for which he had to pay.

Lady Saltoun

I should like to thank my noble friend for that reply and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lady Saltoun moved Amendment No. 59FB: Page 48, line 15, leave out ("repairs to the building as are specific in the notice") and insert ("works as are necessary to remedy specified defects").

The noble Lady said: Clause 84(1) as it stands seems to leave the way wide open for local authorities, should they feel so inclined, to demand of the owners of buildings very much more than necessary repairs. Since the cost would fall on the owner, they might feel so inclined. This amendment is intended to safeguard against such a situation. The wording was suggested by my noble friend Lord Mansfield himself, and perhaps he will feel that I am a copycat in using it. I hope he will remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and give the amendment favourable consideration. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

I accept that the noble Lady has tabled this amendment probably in the light of correspondence with me and equally probably because I encouraged her to do so. I do not want to discourage her now, but I would ask her to withdraw it on the undertaking that I give now that I am going to bring forward an amendment at Report stage. The reason I ask her to do this is that we have considered the matter since we noted her remarks on Second Reading and, in the light of the correspondence that we have had, I am satisfied that it would be preferable to qualify the very wide discretion given to authorities as the clause is presently drafted; though not only in the way suggested by the noble Lady but also by introducing a reference to the nature of the building itself. For instance, some repairs may be essential if a building is to be lived in but may be much less necessary if the building is designed for another purpose. On the understanding that I shall embrace the noble Lady's amendment in a rather wider later amendment, I ask her to withdraw her amendment at this stage.

Lady Saltoun

I am most grateful to the noble Earl for his helpful reply. I am very glad to hear of his proposed rather farther reaching amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59FC: Page 48, line 23, after ("repair") insert ("or demolish").

The noble Lord said: This is an important amendment. We are dealing in subsection (3) with what is virtually emergency action, where the Government give powers to a local authority in the interests of health, safety and to prevent damage to any property, that they should repair a building immediately and even without prior notice to the owner. I seek to add the two words "or demolish" after the word "repair". That is considered necessary in order to retain the power that some of the local authorities presently have under private legislation. For instance, in Glasgow, Section 100 of the Glasgow Streets Sewers and Buildings Consolidation Order Confirmation Act 1937 gives Glasgow district just such an expedited emergency power. This has been found absolutely essential.

The Committee may recall what happened when a storm of hurricane proportions hit Glasgow. It was necessary for the authority to use their powers not only for immediate repair but in some cases to demolish buildings from the point of view of the safety of the public and the safety of other buildings. Since this Bill itself will remove or repeal the order of 1937, it is absolutely essential that we should replace it in the body of the Bill. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

It is slightly ironic that this clause was included in the Bill at the behest of the conservation lobby, and along comes the noble Lord, who is a distinguished figure and holds a position in the National Trust for Scotland, and he now wants to give powers to raze such buildings to the ground. I think that I detect the hand of Glasgow in this. Whatever the provenance of this amendment—and I accept immediately powers to demolish buildings are necessary in some instances—powers are not necessary so far as this Bill is concerned because they are held in Part III of the Building (Scotland) Act 1959 which provides for the forthwith demolition of buildings which constitute a danger to residents, the public or other property.

The 1959 Act has the further advantage of providing for the immediate removal of the building's occupants, for the recovery of expenses incurred in the demolition and for service of notice by the local authority on its owner. But before the 1959 Act can be used it is necessary for the local authority to be satisfied that the building is dangerous. It is thus a rather more rigorous test than is provided for in Clause 84, and I think that is quite right. I do not think that we should lightly contemplate giving wider powers of demolition when, as I have said, the emphasis of this clause is on repair and conservation.

Lord Mishcon

I hesitate to rise at this moment but I am sure that the noble Earl will forgive me. The logic of his argument rather escapes me. First of all, we are not dealing here with buildings of merit, one would imagine, where conservationists feel that their ideals are being ruined as a result of the act of the local authority. We are dealing with a case in the interests of health or safety. The noble Earl has pointed out that there is another Act under which one can demolish where there is danger.

May I pause for a moment and merely deal with the question of health'? An argument obviously will be advanced, as I am sure the noble Earl, as an eminent lawyer, will appreciate, when the local authority sends in a bill where they have not just repaired but, in order to carry out some work, they have had to demolish something. The argument under the section of the Act will be that the local authority, in the interests of health, may have demolished but nevertheless would not be able to recoup the costs. They would be able to recoup only the costs of the repair after the very necessary demolition. My noble friend has a point here which is surely a valid one. On reflection, the noble Earl may care to reconsider his reply and possibly be more sympathetic to the amendment.

Lord Howie of Troon

May I pick up one point from the comments of my noble friend Lord Ross? As I understand it, he said that a certain order which was of use in Glasgow would be repealed through this Act. If that is so, is the effect of that order replaced by the 1959 Act which the Minister referred to, or is it not? If it were, it would seen that the noble Earl's arguments were fairly strong. He did not refer to the order; I wonder whether he will do so.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Howie. This matter has been side-stepped entirely by the Minister. For some reason he says that all this has been put here because of the concern of the conservation lobby. He could have deceived me. May I assure him that the National Trust has not been subtly pressurising me for this particular clause. I do not know whether the noble Duke, the Duke of Athol], has been pressured about this particular clause.

This power, which I seek to put into the Bill, is already in the possession of Glasgow by virtue of a confirmation order which this Bill is going to repeal. They have found it not only desirable but essential in particular cases. When one takes the point which the Minister of State made: "Ah, but the 1959 Building Act says 'danger", with all due respect, we are coming down to words here. They are seeking power to be able to act, as they can at the moment, where it is necessary in the interests of health, safety or to prevent damage. It may well be that phraseology is wider but it is still very, very essential.

When a local authority has to act quickly, then this is the kind of power it requires not only from the point of view of repair but, it may well be, from the point of view of demolition as well. I should not like to be party to the denial to a city with the building problems and housing problems which Glasgow has, and all the kind of things that have happened which have been nothing to do with them at all but as a result of the wind and the weather, and where this power was found necessary. They were glad to have it and the Government gave them this power. We are in a situation where, probably unthinkingly, Government are taking it away and they say, "It is all right, it is in the 1959 Act."

With all due respect to the Minister of State, Glasgow says that there is no similar expedited procedure left in terms of the Building (Scotland) Act 1959. Glasgow has gone into this and says that expedited power, which has been taken away from them by this Bill, is not covered by the 1959 Act. That is why I felt that this amendment was absolutely essential and I hope the Government will think about it again. If they are not entirely happy at the moment then, please, would they think about it?—because if they are prepared to prove to me that that power is there and is adequate for the purpose of health, safety and avoidance of danger to property, I would be the first to withdraw any further pressure in respect of this kind of amendment; but I am not satisfied at the moment.

The Earl of Mansfield

The power that Glasgow District Council presently have is Section 100 of the Glasgow Streets, Sewers and Buildings Consolidation Order Confirmation Act 1937, and that contains an emergency power of demolition in the interests of health or safety. That is repealed by this Bill. There is a dispute as between Glasgow and everybody else, I think, as to what Section 13 of the Building (Scotland) Act 1959 means. But on the advice which I have it means what I said it meant: that is to say, that it provides powers of immediate action for the removal of occupants from dangerous buildings, a 28-day period of notice for cases which do not require immediate action and for recovery of expenses from the owner by the local authority. That, of course, is in addition to the powers of immediate action so far as demolition is concerned. That is the advice which I have.

I am perfectly happy to go back again to see whether we can reconcile whatever Glasgow's opinion on this happens to be and that of those who advise me. But as things stand at the moment I have to say that the power which the 1959 Act gives to local authorities such as Glasgow provides for the forthwith demolition of buildings which constitute a danger to residents, the public or other property, and that is sufficient. But, as I have said, I will look at it again.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I am happy to hear that and I will certainly consult again with Glasgow to see about their position. In view of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendments Nos. 59FD, 59FE, 59FF, 59FG and 59FH: Page 48, line 34, after ("purposes") insert ("of Part II"). Page 48, line 34, leave out ("Acts 1966 to 1981") and insert ("Act 1969"). Page 48, line 35, leave out ("rights") and insert ("entitlement to loans and grants"). Page 48, line 37, leave out ("A") and insert ("(1)"). Page 48, line 37, leave out line 38.

The noble Earl said: It may be for the convenience of your Lordships if I move these amendments en bloc. They are all drafting amendments, designed to correct and tighten up statutory cross-references. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 59FJ:

Page 48, line 38, at end insert— (" (5) In this section, "local authority" means the district or islands council except that in the case of districts situated within the Highland, Borders or Dumfries and Galloway region it means the council of that region.").

The noble Earl said: This amendment makes it clear that the powers under Clause 84 can be exercised only by those authorities which already have building control powers: in other words, the responsibilities are to be exercised by district and island councils, except in the three regions mentioned, where the districts do not have planning or building powers. This amendment is consistent with the Stodart recommendation that there should be no change in the level at which these responsibilities should be discharged. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 84, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 85 [Installation of pipes through neighbouring property]:

5.15 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59FK: Page 48, line 39, after ("may") insert ("with the consent of the other common owners and").

The noble Lord said: Clause 85 allows the owner of any part of a building to install pipes of various kinds, ventilating equipment and rainwater pipes to serve his part of the building and gives him the power to take these pipes over parts of the building which are owned commonly by himself and others and, if necessary, enables him to enter and take them through any part of the building owned by somebody else, and to do so without the consent of that person even though he does not own the part in which work is to be done.

It is quite serious from this point of view. It appears to cut across the common law right of property in a most unreasonable way—to be able to do something in somebody else's property without their consent or permission. But when you come down to particular cases and in relation, say, to city property, it becomes even more important because it affects the relationship between people living in the same dwelling—for instance, a tenement property in Glasgow.

It has been put to me by the city council, who have had considerable experience of dealing with developments on the ground floor—business premises with three or four levels above them—that the principal types of commercial activity on the ground floors of tenements which cause tremendous problems to the owners of dwelling-houses above, and which can lead to the depreciation of values of their properties, are launderettes, restaurants, snack bars and hot food shops generally. All these activities require the installation of special mechanical ventilation and ducting up to the level of the eaves: sometimes very sophisticated devices indeed. It is rather unsightly and it undoubtedly affects the values of the properties so far as the people who are living in the tenements are concerned.

The policy of refusing planning permission for hot food shops on the ground floors of tenements has been successfully applied by the district council in Glasgow for four or five years now and has on appeal been supported by the Secretary of State. One of the principal points of this policy is that where the applicant for planning permission cannot demonstrate that he has the agreement of the other common owners, they feel impelled to turn the matter down. It is from this point of view that this clause drops the need to have the consent of the other common owners, which is causing very considerable alarm. I can well understand why; and so my amendment, with Amendment No. 59FL, deals with this point by insisting that this can be done only with the consent of other common owners. I beg to move.

Lord Hughes

I should like to support my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock in this amendment. Looking at Clause 85, I can see that there might not be great difficulty caused under subsection (1)(a) or (b), where work is to be done, on the outside surface of any external wall or roof of the building", or, through or under any part of the building which he owns in common with any other person". But paragraph (c) reads: if unavoidably necessary, through any part of the building owned by any other person". I must admit that I have not read the Bill line by line or word by word, so I do not know whether there is any definition of what is "unavoidably necessary" and who decides that it is unavoidably necessary. But this seems to confer on one person rights of interfering with the property of somebody else, when he may, in terms of the Bill, be the person who decides what is necessary. As I said, I may have missed something, but I should like to know who, in terms of Clause 85(1)(c), is the judge of what is unavoidably necessary.

Lord Howie of Troon

I have been thinking about this part of the Bill in relation to the discussion which we had last week on an earlier part of the Bill, when we worried a great deal about the licensing of window cleaners. I know that the two cases are not exactly the same, but the arguments put forward by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, in support of the licensing of window cleaners rested in part on the notion that window cleaners were not always trustworthy—though they frequently are—and that they had to be licensed for that purpose. So he was presenting the licensing argument then in terms of the protection of householders. Yet here we have a clause which, if I understand it rightly, permits people not only to look in windows but actually to enter premises where they might not be wanted, and without the consent of the householders. These two ideas in one Bill do not seem to me to cohere together very well.

I know quite well that it may be at the back of the noble Earl's mind that it would be mistaken to demand that consent should always be obtained, because it might not always be obtainable, and that if the amendment of my noble friend Lord Ross—which I generally support—were passed, there would be a slight weakness in that the consent might be unreasonably withheld, so that something might have to be put into the clause at a later date to guard against that weakness. But it seems to me extraordinary that, on the one hand, we fear, rightly or wrongly, the intrusion of window cleaners and, on the other, we appear to permit people rights of entry which seem to go far beyond those which are usual.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

May I ask the Minister what is the present position and is there a great deal of unreasonably withheld consent in the case of common ownership? It appears to me that, very often, perfectly reasonable repairs can be held up, because one owner wishes to be awkward, and simply to be awkward, which is a characteristic of some of our fellow countrymen. Also, is there somewhere else in the Bill provision for compensation for damage to property, as people go through or work outside part of a building belonging to someone else? There is a great deal in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Ross, but I can see the other side, where a man may be held up in doing good improvements for many months or years by the unreasonable attitude of one of the other co-owners.

The Earl of Mansfield

Perhaps I may first deal with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon. There is a distinction to be made between somebody who is found lurking around a tenement building and who sets himself out to be a window cleaner, and somebody who is lurking around a tenement building and who sets himself out as the owner and is intent on laying a pipe. It seems to me that there is a distinction to be drawn there.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie, asked about compensation. He will see that an owner, who installs or lays pipes and so on, is enjoined to pay compensation under subsection (4). But I want to come to the generality of the clause and, in particular, to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, and the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. The intention of the clause is to continue and improve the existing powers, which allow the owner of part of a building in multiple ownership to install pipework. In view of the concern which has been expressed—and I take notice of it—that the Bill is weighted rather too heavily to the advantage of the would-be installer of pipes, and too much against the owner of property, so that there is perhaps a risk of some erosion of his common law rights, what I think I will do, if I may, is to consider the introduction of an amendment on Report. The best way of doing it is to provide for appeal to the sheriff where there are cases of dispute among affected property owners. That seems to me to be one way of setting about this. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ross, wants me to look at it again and I shall do so. If that is considered to be the right way to proceed, I will table the appropriate amendment.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I am very glad for that so far, but I am not entirely happy about the noble Earl's proposed amendment. I should have thought something along the lines of what my noble friend Lord Howie of Troon suggested, to ensure that the withholding of consent is not unreasonable, would have been better. It is, certainly, absolutely essential that we should retain the rights of the individual in respect of what could he a very undesirable project, which was going to lead to considerable depreciation of the value of the property.

I can think of many properties in parts of Glasgow—I shall not name any particular part. in case the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, might have a sudden and fleeting interest in it—where the people would be very annoyed if they suddenly found a fish supper shop underneath them, and if they did not have the means of properly objecting to it, for the simple reason that this clause had been passed with the consent of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. I do not see any of his Alliance partners from Scotland at the back, who might be equally embarrassed if this went through. So I am thinking of them, when I say that I hope the Government will think again and go a little beyond the point which they have made, because we have to retain the rights of owners to give their consent, which means the right to withhold consent, but certainly not to withhold it unreasonably. In view of what the Government have said—

Lord Hughes

Before my noble friend withdraws the amendment, may I ask a question about what the Minister said? He said that he would consider an appeal to the sheriff. What does he have in mind? Does he mean that the one who wants to do the work should appeal against an unreasonable refusal, or that the man who does not want his property interfered with has to appeal to the sheriff in order to stop it from being done? If that is the line to be taken, I hope that it is the man who wants to do the work who should get the necessary overriding rights from the sheriff.

The Earl of Mansfield

I have not had time to consider who is to go the sheriff and what it is that the sheriff is to direct his mind to. I was hoping that it would be an amalgam of what the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, wants and what the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, wants but to be decided by the sheriff.

Lord Ross of Marnock

That is fairly reasonable. In view of that explanation, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 59FL not moved.]

Clause 85 agreed to.

Clause 86 agreed to.

Clause 87 [Lighting of common stairs etc.]:

5.31 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59FM Page 51, line 31, leave out ("district") and insert ("regional").

The noble Lord said: This amendment deals with a subject about which there has been considerable comment and which has been of value to Scots comedians over the years: the lighting of the common stairs—who is responsible for the stair heat gas. Under the Bill the responsibility for lighting is given to the district council. This has been a subject of concern to the Stodart Committee and it has also been a subject of concern elsewhere. The suggestion is that this should be a responsibility of the regional authority. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)

With Amendment No. 59FM we should probably discuss also, if this is agreeable to the Committee, Amendments Nos. 59FN, 59FP and 59FQ because they all deal with the same point.

Lord Hughes

Might I explain that my noble friend had has to go out on a matter of urgent business. I am quite certain that what he would expect is to hear from the Minister the reason why "district" has been chosen instead of "regional", as my noble friend suggests in his amendment.

The Earl of Mansfield

At the present rate of striking, it is going to be "read" rather than "hear", but I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes.

Lord Hughes

My noble friend has not left the Chamber for good.

The Earl of Mansfield

Of that I am glad.

Lord Hughes

The Minister should not raise his hopes too high.

The Earl of Mansfield

I will refrain from commenting on that. All these amendments—and there are 13—really hang together. They all seek to transfer responsibility for stair lighting provision from the district or islands authority to the region or islands authority. My noble friend Lord Stodart, who is now in his place, reminded us on Second Reading that his committee in their report recommended a transfer of all lighting functions to regions and islands, and that recommendation has been accepted by the Government. But the major lighting issues have to be seen in the context of the proposed Roads (Scotland) Bill. A consultation document on that Bill has already been issued and we are now looking at comments upon it. But the provision will not be enacted this session and we felt it desirable that at least we should continue and modernise the stair and common property lighting provisions in the current Bill so that powers will be there when the existing powers expire at the end of 1984, even if the Roads (Scotland) Bill has not by then been enacted.

I would not want to legislate on transferring powers of lighting common property from districts to regions in isolation from transferring all other lighting powers but, as I have said, we are not yet ready for that. Our concern at this stage in the Bill is to define the function rather than deal piecemeal with its allocation to a particular level of local authority. I believe none the less that the clauses are best provided for in this Bill now because of the need to attract the rights of notice, entry, charging of expenses and appeal provided for in Clauses 96 to 103 for action in Part VI of the Bill, of which Clauses 87 and 88 are a part. The purpose of drafting the clause in this way is to preserve the status quo meantime. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, who has now returned to us will see fit to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

I would find it inconsistent if I did not say that I agree with the amendment which has been put down. The report which has been referred to examined the whole lighting set-up, which is a network of complexities, made no easier by the fact that some powers are mandatory while others are permissive. We dealt with the question of the lighting of highways, of streets, of common stairs and of private developments and recommended very strongly that the responsibility should be put in the hands of one authority instead of two; namely, the region, in order to do away with each local authority having an electrical department which we thought was not altogether necessary.

I take my noble friend's point about his unwillingness to pre-empt legislation which is coming, but I would have said that you have got to start somewhere. I cannot see any particular objection to saying, "Let us start here with the regions"; otherwise, presumably once the legislation which is to come is on the statute book, this particular piece of amendment will have to be amended and the books and the statutes will have to be looked up to see that the amendments have been made. I do not regard it as a matter of earth-shaking importance but I still find it difficult to see why it is not possible to kick the thing off from here by saying, "Let this bit go to the regions and everything else will fall into place in due course".

The Earl of Selkirk

Can we be told whether street lighting is a district or a regional responsibility?

The Earl of Mansfield

It is a highly complex matter. Regional councils have permissive powers to light roads and propose roads for which they will become the highway authority. In the areas which are covered by the Burgh Police Acts, the district councils have a duty to light all streets and other places where lighting is necessary. On the other hand, the district councils cannot light roads for which a highway authority is responsible without the latter's approval.

The reason why rationalisation cannot begin now, as I am sure the Committee will appreciate, is that if this amendment were agreed to, the lighting of common property would then be the responsibility of the region, whereas the responsibility for the lighting of the street outside would remain with the district council. Without going into the technicalities of it, it could cause a great deal of unnecessary duplication of effort, to say the very least. So what I am suggesting to the Committee in effect is: leave the status quo where it is for now and then, when the Roads (Scotland) Bill comes before Parliament it will, as it were in one fell swoop, regulate all these lighting matters together.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I must apologise to the Minister of State. I had a telephone call to make at 5.30 p.m. and I am afraid I missed it. But never mind. It meant that I did not hear his explanation. I gather that the Minister said that this matter has to be dealt with in general legislation and that this would be the wrong time to do it, although what we are proposing to do is right, and so we must wait for a roads Act.

May I suggest to him that we already have another relevant Bill going through Parliament at the present time. It is supposed to be dealing with Stodart Committee recommendations in relation to the division of functions between local government, districts and regions. I entirely agree with Lord Stodart that we must make a start somewhere. We could have made a start here. Indeed, it is a very simple process. I am sure that even with his long experience of the Scottish Office he would know that draftsmen can put in something saying that something will come into force on such and such a date to be determined by the Secretary of State. If there are any other matters to be tidied up, he could tidy them up either in this legislation or for that matter in other legislation. He is not showing a great deal of imagination or being a great initiator of the Scottish Office if he rests on this and says that we must wait for other legislation. I am disappointed about that. The views of the Stodart Committee were accepted by Strathclyde Region, by the City of Glasgow and by most of the people throughout Scotland in respect of lighting—that lighting should really come under one authority, and that one authority should be the region.

The Earl of Mansfield

The Government have accepted it, too.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I know; but they do nothing about it. They accepted something about processions as well, but they have done nothing about it. I do not know what they have been doing. It is not for me to ask, but it may well be that they have been so tied up with the problems of chimney sweeps and window cleaners that they have not been giving proper attention to the things that really matter. But in view of what the noble Earl has said, I do not have any alternative and I will withdraw this particular amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 59FN, 59FP, and 59FQ not moved.]

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 59FR: Page 52, line 9, leave out ("(5)") and insert ("(6)").

The noble Earl said: This is simply a drafting amendment, to correct an error in the cross-reference. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 59FS and 59FT not moved.]

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59G: Page 52, line 16, leave out ("vent") and insert ("event").

The noble Lord said: This amendment simply corrects something that was obviously a spelling error. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

I am happy to accept it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 59GA and 59GB not moved.]

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 59GC: Page 52, line 22, leave out ("(3)") and insert ("(4)").

The noble Earl said: This is a drafting amendment, and I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 59G D not moved.]

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 59GE: Page 52, line 26, after ("subsection") insert ("(2), (3) or").

The noble Earl said: This amendment gives specific powers of entry to enable the provision and maintenance of stair lighting by a local authority in the exercise of their options under subsections (2) or (3) of this clause, to provide and maintain lighting in common property. Parallel powers have been provided already to cover similar local authority action in accordance with their alternative powers under subsection (7) in the default of the owner. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 59GF not moved.]

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 59GG: Page 52, line 28, after ("(2)") insert ("(3)").

The noble Earl said: This is a technical amendment which rectifies the omission of entitlement to recover expense incurred by a local authority in providing and maintaining stair lighting under subsection (3) of this clause. Parallel entitlement had been provided already in respect of similar expense incurred under subsections (2) or (7). I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

Amendment No. 59H as shown in the Marshalled List is a printing mistake. In fact, it comes under Clause 88 and will be called after Amendment No. 59HA.

Clause 87, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 88 [Installation of lights in private property]:

[Amendment No. 59HA not moved.]

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59H: Page 52, line 38, leave out ("where it is necessary to do so").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move that the words, "where it is necessary to do so", in line 38, be deleted. I think that these words are quite unnecessary and so we should get rid of them. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

The clause as drafted limits intrusion into private property, for example for the fixing of lights for common property, to cases where there is no feasible alternative if local authorities or owners are to fulfil their obligations under Clause 87. To permit such intrusion at will and without regard to any alternatives, as this amendment would do, would in our view be open to abuse. We believe, therefore, that a test of "necessity" is desirable and I hope that on reflection the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, will agree.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I do not believe that local authorities are rushing to spend money where it is unnecessary to do so. This has been an argument that the Government have been using time and again; that local authorities will be anxious to save money in many police aspects and all the rest of it. It strikes me as being quite unnecessary, but I will bow to the wishes of the Government and will not proceed. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 59HB and 59HC not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 88 shall stand part of the Bill?

5.48 p.m.

Lord Howie of Troon

We had a discussion a little earlier this afternoon on the rights of owners to enter common property in order to put pipes and so forth through them. I am wondering whether there is any similarity between that situation and the one covered by this Bill where, so far as I can see, the owners of common property have certain rights of entry in order to put lighting arrangements through other people's homes. Am I right in thinking that? Is there a similarity between lighting installations and piping installations? If there is, should we not in this clause make similar arrangements to those which we appeared to be considering under the previous clause?

The Earl of Mansfield

I believe that the difference between providing light or maintaining lights is entirely different from that which is contemplated in providing or putting in pipes and ventilation shafts. One betokens a great deal more than the other, so far as building work is concerned. That is why the clauses have been framed rather differently. I hope that satisfies the noble Lord.

Lord Howie of Troon

It does not, I am sorry to say. I quite understand that the construction difficulties are different; this is obviously so. But we are not worried about the construction, we are worried about the entry into other people's property. The entry in order to do piping work is through the door, with or without consent, and the entry to do lighting installation work is also through the door, with or without consent. We agreed that it were better in the earlier case if consent were obtained, as long as it was not unnecessarily withheld, and I am inclined to think that a somewhat similar notion should prevail in this case. At any rate, I would like to hear the noble Earl say that he will think about it before I am satisfied.

The Earl of Mansfield

If the noble Lord would be good enough to go back to Clause 85, he will see that what the consent goes to is consent for the work, not consent for the entry. That is why there is an essential difference which relates to the work and not to the entry. There are no rights of entry without agreement. If one goes on to Clause 96 and Clause 98, the powers of entry and entry warrants and so on are set out. So I do not think, if I may say so, the noble Lord is comparing like with like.

Lord Howie of Troon

It is extremely likely that I am not comparing like with like, but in that situation I am in the same boat as the noble Earl. If he casts his mind back to Clause 85, the point we were arguing about was not whether it was consent to entry or consent to the work. The clause did not have consent to anything at all, and we were suggesting that consent should be included in the clause. The consent which exercised some of the noble Lords who spoke earlier, and certainly exercised me, was the matter of consent to entry. The entry is the same in this case as it was in that. I do not want to make too heavy weather of this, but I certainly do not want the noble Earl to make too much light of it either.

The Earl of Mansfield

I think we have to go back and consider the amendments which were tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Ross. If we go back to Clause 85, page 48, line 39, what the noble Lord sought to do was to put in the words, "with the consent of the other owners", after the word, "may". With respect, I believe that that amendment went to the work and not to the entry into the building. The next amendment the noble Lord sought to make so far as Clause 85 was concerned was on page 49, the first line of subsection (2); that is, line 8 on the page. Again he sought to insert the same words after the word "may", and again that goes to the work which it is sought to do and not to the entry into the particular part of the land or building. I can only repeat what I have said, that rights of entry are dealt with later on in this part of the Bill.

Lord Howie of Troon

Let me merely say that the discussion we had earlier concerned itself as much with rights of entry as with the work, but I am not eager to carry the point any further.

Clause 88 agreed to.

Clause 89 [Cleaning and painting of common stairs, etc.]:

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59J: Page 54, line 18, leave out subsection (9).

The noble Lord said: I suggest we leave out this subsection (9). I was intrigued by it because it says: A person who throws down, drops or otherwise deposits, and leaves, litter in a back green or private court shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £200". When it says "a person" that applies to the owner of the place or the tenant. In many of the back courts of Glasgow I know that is where you deposit your litter; certainly it may well be in a dustbin provided. I hope that this will be suitably looked at again to see whether or not it is taking far too wide a power in relation to this offence. It may be that there will need to be some qualification in respect of the person who may deposit rubbish and litter in a back green or private court. A person may be doing it because that is what he has got to do in order to get rid of the litter. I do not think we should be making him liable to a fine not exceeding £200 for doing what is the sensible thing to do. I know what the Government are getting at here, but with all due respect I do not think the drafting is all that good. I do not want to leave the whole thing out, but I want the Government to look at it again from the point of view of ensuring that it is correct in respect of what they want. I beg to move.

Lord Howie of Troon

Your Lordships may recall the debate we had a week ago on Clause 48, which concerned certain aspects of nuisance. What struck me about it was that the items concerned in Clause 48 could conceivably be described as litter. In relation to that noble animal, the domestic cat, it is provided with a thing called a litter box. My point is a very simple one. I notice that under Clause 48 the fine is £50 whereas under this clause the fine is £200. If the offender is charged under Clause 48, he is in danger of paying £50, whereas if his activity is described as littering rather than causing a nuisance he may conceivably be fined £200. Is this reasonable, or have I mistaken it again?

The Earl of Mansfield

If I may deal with Lord Howie of Troon's point first, the penalty under the Litter Acts, and I use the word advisedly, at present is £100, and it is intended to increase the limit of the fine in the Criminal Justice Bill, which is presently being considered in another place, to £200; that is why it comes about that subsection (9) has a maximum fine of £200. I will not go into the merits, or rather the demerits, of people who offend against Clause 48 as opposed to Clause 89. When I used to sit as an honorary sheriff the maximum for that particular offence was £2, so we are marching on to some extent.

I am not quite sure what it is that the noble Lord, Lord Ross, complains about. The clause deals with the cleanliness of common property, passages and back greens, which in the tenement properties are found in all parts of urban Scotland. Subsection (9) forms part of the provision to ensure the cleanliness of the common parts of the property out of doors.

So dropping litter in a public place is already an offence under the Litter Acts. The Working Party on Civic Government suggested that it should also be an offence to drop litter in courts, back greens and common areas which the public are not legally entitled to enter, but which nevertheless, for the purposes of the residents, are to all intents and purposes common. We think that this is a justifiable sanction against a thoughtless minority who, by their carelessness, lower the amenity for owners and occupiers of tenemental properties in general and I suppose it is possible that they may even create health hazards. I do not suppose that there will be a large number of prosecutions under this particular subsection, but if the presence of the subsection in our criminal calendar has a slightly deterrent effect then I feel, at least, that it will be worthwhile.

Lord Ross of Marnock

It is good to know that we have a Criminal Justice Bill coming along and being considered at present which will deal with litter in Scotland. Is it a Scottish Criminal Justice Bill? If it is not a Scottish Criminal Justice Bill, will the section dealing with litter and the fine be specially amended to make it applicable to Scotland?

The Earl of Mansfield

Perhaps I may respond to the noble Lord. There are certain provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill, particularly so far as the updating of penalties are concerned, which will have application to the whole of Great Britain.

Lord Ross of Marnock

So Scotland will be dealt with in this English Bill—

The Earl of Mansfield

It is a United Kingdom Bill.

Lord Ross of Marnock

—in this United Kingdom Bill. Whether or not it is or is not we shall determine once we see it, but as far as I can see it is just going to be a vehicle of convenience for the Government in order to make changes. Reference has been made to the £200 fine. The Minister says, "Why worry about it; there will not be very many prosecutions". The Minister has not answered the question which prompted my amendment. Does "a person" include the residents?

The Earl of Mansfield


6.3 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock

The noble Earl says that naturally it includes the residents. It may well be the residents who deposit. Remember the phrase is, "or otherwise deposits … litter". The only place where the residents can get rid of their litter is in the back green where there is a receptacle for them. Surely they are not going to be rendered liable to an offence for that? It is with that aspect that I should like to sec the Government concerned. It could quite well be that the only person who will be prosecuted under this subsection is a resident. Someone who casually comes through and dumps an old bed or bedding or any old rubbish at all will get away with it.

I have no objection to what the Government intend in this subsection. They really intend to deal with somebody who invades private property and leaves a load of rubbish around. They certainly do it with public property as well. It is right to fine them. Unfortunately it is not used to the extent that it should be used. However, let us not be silly about this. Let us be absolutely clear as to whether or not the phrase "a person" requires some kind of restriction and as regards "otherwise deposits" whether the noble Earl is satisfield that "otherwise deposits" may not bring into the criminal calendar—as he so nicely pointed out, although I would object myself to the phrase—something that is really legal; the depositing quite legally of litter in a back court. I have no desire to carry on with this. I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Howie of Troon is satisfied with that, but certainly to my mind he had a point.

Lord Howie of Troon

There is one very small point about "otherwise deposits" which concerns me. I believe we know that the noble Earl does not have in mind people putting things in dustbins and things of that sort. That is not what he means. But we do know that it is quite a common domestic occurrence to have to get rid of things which are too big for the dustbin. I am thinking of things like washing machines and items of that type which have lived their life and become useless. It is quite common to dump them temporarily beside the dustbin or near the dustbin in the hope that the dustbin men will take them away. That hope is usually confounded and the dustbin men do not take them away. The owner of the disused washing machine, or whatever it happens to be, then enters into negotiations with the dustbin men in the hope that some time in the preferably near future they will take that object away. But while it is there it has been deposited in the back green, not in the dustbin, and while it is so deposited it is unquestionably litter. Is the owner of that article in danger of being prosecuted for this apparent offence, or would he thrive in court if he put up such a story as his excuse for littering the back green? Would that be a sound defence? I am a little hesitant about the scope and breadth of this clause. I think that my noble friend Lord Ross is quite right to want to get rid of it.

The Earl of Mansfield

I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Howie, really expects me to respond to that. We must keep a sense of proportion about this. The purposes of the clause are really to protect the amenities which are enjoyed by all the residents of tenemental property. If somebody deposits their junk and then negotiates either with the local authority or with the dustmen for its collection, there is no doubt about it that he is, to some extent, making a minor nuisance of himself and it is not really for me to suggest that he might negotiate before he dumps rather than dump and then negotiate.

I think that the fiscals have much more to do and have much more common sense than perhaps they are credited with. If somebody puts his ancient television set beside the dustbin in a particular position where it is likely to be picked up by the dustman, and for some reason or other it is not, I cannot see, under the Scottish system of criminal justice, a fiscal solemnly initiating proceedings under this subsection. I think that one has to look at the matter with a little bit of common sense.

Lord Howie of Troon

I have listened to the noble Earl with great respect and I am grateful to him for reminding me to look at these things with common sense—he is obviously quite right. I also noted that he suggested that we should keep a sense of proportion—I think that those were his words—and he is quite right there too. But I would remind him that he used exactly that phrase in a discussion which we held last week about the licensing of certain casual labourers. He advised me then to observe a sense of proportion and ended up by agreeing that there was something that he ought to think about again. So a sense of proportion is something that I think we ought all to keep.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I think that the weakness here is in the actual language that is used in this subsection which is trying to prevent litter being dumped in common property. I think that the mistake is first, limiting it to "a person"; and secondly the use of the words "otherwise deposits" because "otherwise deposits" is not dumping. Depositing is just placing. I do it every week with the amount of paper that I have to throw out. I cannot put it into the dustbin: I put it into a carton which I leave beside the dustbin outside my front gate—that is "otherwise depositing". It is litter. So in the circumstances of this particular clause you are liable to an offence. So, if he is concerned about dumping, let us use the word "dumping". Everyone knows what it means, and if the lawyers do not, it is time that they did. In the belief and hope that someone will look at this again, I shall certainly not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 89 [Cleaning and painting of common stairs, etc]:

On Question, Whether Clause 89 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Ross of Marnock

There is one point on Clause 89 that worries me a little. Subsection (5) of Clause 89 says: Sections 96(4) and 102 of this Act shall not apply to a notice served under subsection (4) above". Subsection (4) says: A district or islands council may by notice in writing"— I hope the noble Lady appreciates the words again, notice in writing"— require the occupier to comply with subsection (2) above". Subsection (2), taken with subsection (3), really means that one can be fined an amount not exceeding £50. If my researches are right, subsection (5), which does not apply to a notice served under subsection (4), means that they do not have the right of appeal. This concerns the cleaning of common stairs. Am I right in that assumption? If I am right, is it fair?

The Earl of Mansfield

Subsection (5) disapplies Clause 96(4) and Clause 102 in relation to the cleansing of common property in compliance with a notice under subsection (4). This disapplication of subsection (4) means that, although a district or islands council may arrange for the cleaning of the property in default of one or more of the occupiers, they may not recover costs. I think the reason for that is that at present district and islands councils involve themselves in the washing of common stairs only on very rare occasions, and when they do the costs are minimal.

A recovery provision, with the associated provision for appeals to the sheriff by occupiers against expenses claimed, cannot be justified, especially in the light of the need to keep trivial matters out of the courts. A district or islands council does, however, have a remedy against an occupier who persistently refuses to take his turn of washing the common property. If by-laws have been made under subsection (3), he may be proceeded against in accordance with the offence provisions. The right of appeal is designed to give a chance of appeal against being required to incur expenditure, and this of course does not apply to the cleaning of stairs.

Clause 89 agreed to.

Clause 90 [Fire precautions in common stairs, etc.]:

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 59K: Page 54, line 40, leave out ("immediate").

The noble Lord said: Under this clause the occupier of a property has to keep the "common property"—that is, the stairway and such places—free of any combustible substances and anything which might obstruct people going backwards and forwards in the event of lire. It then says: An authorised officer of the fire authority shall be entitled: (a) to enter common property and see whether everything is being done and, if it is not, and there is thereby an immediate risk of fire likely to endanger life, to enter the property and to put matters right. I question why we should have the word "immediate" risk in the clause. If there is a risk of fire, surely the fire prevention officer should be entitled to act and not have to wait until there is about to be a lire or an immediate risk of fire? This is the whole point about fire authorities paying as much attention as they do to fire prevention. Therefore, to limit their actions in this particular case to the immediate risk of fire is just a bit too restrictive. I suggest that we leave out the word, "immediate". I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

The purpose of this clause is to give the authorised officer of the fire authority the right to take emergency action where there is an immediate risk of fire likely to endanger life because of obstruction to common property giving access to or egress from a building in the event of fire. The emergency action includes the right to seize property and it is thought that such a drastic right should be available only where there is an immediate risk. If the risk of fire is not immediate, then the inspecting officer would have the right to serve a notice in writing under Clause 90(4) requiring the occupier of a premises to comply with the duty imposed on him under subsection (2) within a reasonable time, by removing or rendering safe the substance specified in the notice. Failure by the occupier to comply with such a notice would be an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200. That the risk of fire in any case may not be immediate does not then entail that no action will be taken by the inspecting officer to remove that risk. So it really comes down to what I might call special powers for immediate risks.

Lord Ross of Marnock

The noble Lord the Deputy Chairman is looking at me very appealingly and I think asking me to withdraw the amendment. I gladly do so.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 90 agreed to.

Clause 91 [Disused petrol containers]:

Lord Lyell moved Amendment No. 59KA: Page 55, line 35, after ("which") insert ("are situated").

The noble Lord said: This is a drafting amendment because it makes sense of a sentence which, at the moment, simply does not make sense. This amendment supplies the missing verb for the complex subject: the lands or premises in which there is a disused petrol container ". We would hope that this drafting amendment at least makes some sense. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 91, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 92 agreed to.

Clause 93 [Statues and monuments]:

6.18 p.m.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 59KB: Page 57, line 3, at end insert ("and the powers conferred by paragraph (c) above shall be exercised only where the council consider it expedient to exercise them for reasons of public safety or the better use of the site on which the statue or monument has been erected.").

The noble Earl said: This amendment follows an undertaking that I gave the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, and specifies the purposes for which a local authority may require the demolition or removal of a statue under Clause 93(1)(c), which deals only with statues in a public place owned by the council. Under Clause 93(1)(c) a local authority may, by notice, require the owner of a statue or monument not maintained by the local authority but which is in a public place owned by the council to demolish it or remove it to another site. This provision is desirable so as to deal with situations where the present siting of a statue or monument may, with changing circumstances—such as new roads or schemes of traffic management—become a danger to the public or inhibit new developments which are in the public interest. As it stands, however, the clause does not put any limitation on the purposes for which these powers can be used, and on Second Reading, the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, expressed fears, in effect, about the safety of her grandfather's statue and her pocket, and felt that the powers were rather too wide.

The amendment therefore sets out the criteria for the use of these powers by providing that they are to be exercised only where the council considers it expedient to do so for reasons of public safety or for the better use of the site on which the statue or monument has been erected. This provision, when taken with appeal provisions against a notice, protects owners of such statues and monuments against the possibility of arbitrary requirements. I beg to move.

Lady Saltoun

moved Amendment No 59KC as an amendment to Amendment No. 59KB: In line 2, leave out ("paragraph (c)") and insert ("paragraphs (b) and (c)"). The noble Lady said: May I also at the same time, with the leave of the Committee, speak to Amendment No. 59KD. The reason I have tabled these amendments is that I am a little concerned about public monuments such as war memorials. Some years ago a borough council produced a scheme to remove a war memorial from its site at the junction of two roads near the entrance to the town, and re-erect it out of sight in a new park which they were making. The reason they gave was that some leviathans of the highway found difficulty in turning from one road into the other because the war memorial was in the way. In the first place, it was not in the way provided one drove carefully. In the second place, very few huge vehicles needed to make that turn; and, thirdly, there was another route they could have taken.

The idea of moving the war memorial gave great unhappiness and distress to many local people whose relations' names were on it. I am glad to say that the pressure of public opinion, combined with the colossal cost of the project, caused the scheme to be abandoned and the war memorial remains where it has always been, in full sight of all who enter the town. I believe that this amendment would go some way towards guarding against this kind of scheme in the future unless there was some real necessity for it. Before I move, I should like to say that I am extremely grateful to the noble Earl for the concession in his amendment. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

Perhaps I should explain why in the end, despite my correspondence with the noble Lady, my amendment does not go as wide as I at first thought it might, and as wide as she would like it to. In other words, why I have restricted my amendment to Clause 93(1)(c). We felt, and feel, that the main need was to restrict the exercise of a local authority's powers, not in relation to statues or monuments which it itself already owned or maintained, but rather to ensure that they could not arbitrarily exercise powers requiring other people to demolish or remove a statue in a public place which was not maintained by the local authority. That is why we think it is better to concentrate the test of "for reasons of public safety or the better use of the site" on the circumstances in Clause 93(1)(c), the situation of the statue in a public place not maintained by the local authority.

I doubt whether it is necessary to constrain the actions of a local authority in relation to statues or monuments for which they already have the burden of maintenance, and it would be an unnecessary restriction on their freedom of action if we were to qualify their right to demolish or remove statues for which they are already wholly responsible. It should also be borne in mind that the council cannot act under Clause 93(1)(b) without the prior consent of the owner of the land.

So far as Amendment No. 59KD is concerned, to which the noble Lady also spoke, that amendment would require the authority to act only for the better use of the site in the public interest. While appreciating the intention behind the amendment, I think it is redundant. If the authority decide that a statute should be removed or demolished for the better use of the site, then we must allow that the authority are acting in the public interest. I think that we have to trust the democratically locally elected members of the district authority, and in making better use of the site I think we have also to accept that their decision must be in the public interest. Therefore, to spell it out in the statute, so to speak, would be redundant and, dare I say it?, almost offensive. I hope that this makes the position clearer and that the noble Lady will feel satisfied.

Lord Howie of Troon

I wonder whether I could coax the noble Earl to accept Amendment No. 59KD. I was greatly enchanted by what he said about trusting the democratically elected local representative councillors, and so on. I just wonder what they would think about that comment in County Hall across the river. I merely draw attention to the fact that by no means everything that properly elected people do is universally admired—sometimes rightly, and sometimes wrongly. But we must not assume that their acts are automatically in the public interest, although we hope that they are, and for the most part so they are.

It might be that putting in the phrase "in the public interest" would be from one point of view slightly redundant, but I think that it would be a reassurance to such as the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun. For that kind of reassurance, I should like to think that the noble Earl would consider incorporating that amendment in the amendment that he moved earlier.

The Earl of Selkirk

I do not know whether these clauses, particularly Clause 93(1)(b), are already the law of this country or of Scotland, or whether they are not. I greatly deplore the practice in some countries of knocking down statues of the wrong religion, or knocking down statues of the wrong political party. This is sometimes done, and in most cases it is utterly deplorable. Are we opening the door a little too wide for this great democratic assembly just to perhaps strike down statues which momentarily happen to be unpopular? Is there not something in what the noble Lord, Lord Howie, said, that there should be some element of public, or even might I say of historic, interest in these statues? Are we opening this very wide now, or is it open at the present time? I would he sorry if action were taken under this clause regardless of interest.

Lord Ross of Marnock

Did I understand the Minister of State to say that he appreciated that he was not going so far as he had hoped originally, and that he was going to include more or less the substance of the noble Lady's amendment applicable to paragraph (b) as well as just paragraph (c)? To my mind that would be helpful.

I gather that he is not going to do it. His argument was that they can demolish or move to another site any statue or monument that they maintain. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk. It may be that I am pretty soft on history and that kind of thing, but there is a danger that some local authorities, for whims or reasons of their own, will just get rid of some bits of well-known monuments. Remember, too, that we are in a different ball-game now. The old local authorities have gone, and we have new and bigger ones. There is less local concern in the areas than there was previously. It may well be that the new local authority, which is a bit divorced from the locality, would have points of view that are entirely different. So far as I can see there is nothing at all here to stop them. They are not going to advertise what they are doing in the local papers. They are not going to seek objections.

What is this newfound declaration of faith we have had from the Minister in the local authorities the Government will not trust to spend money? I remind the noble Earl that we have another Bill coming and that this is not the last your Lordships' House will hear of Scotland this Session; immediately after this Bill another one is coming. The whole proclamation of the Government is that they do not trust local authorities. "But", says the Minister, "when it comes to monuments and statues, we can trust them. Let them do what they like with them". That is what he is saying, and all he has given us is a little reassurance about what they can do to monuments not maintained by them but in public places owned by them.

I do not consider we are reaching a happy conclusion on this issue. I do not know how the noble Lady intends to deal with it, but certainly we are grateful to her for having drawn our attention to it. We have a duty to our fellow Scotsmen to ensure that reminders of the past are kept. I recall on the way to Patna seeing what is in essence just a stone in memory of the unemployed of 1926—it was the miners' strike which followed the general strike—and that stone is valued. I do not believe we should give local authorities too much power to move these objects about, and even to demolish them. It is after such occurrences that people realise what has been done and wish they had known about it and had complained. The whole clause is too weak, and I suggest we need to examine the matter carefully between now and the next stage, whatever action the noble Lady decides to take on the amendment.

Viscount Thurso

Will the removal of a statue and its re-erection in another place be subject to planning consent? I should have thought it had to be in some way the subject of planning consent, especially if the statue belongs to somebody else. We are told that if you own a statue privately and it is erected, the council can tell you to take it down and re-erect it somewhere else. Surely that is a planning matter which must be aired in the normal way. I should have thought the moving of statues and landmarks would be dealt with in the same way as planning matters and be subject to a public inquiry, if necessary.

The Earl of Mansfield

I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, that putting up statues and monuments requires planning permission. I would remind my noble friend Lord Selkirk that this provision comes from Section 614 of the Edinburgh Corporation Order Confirmation Act which enables the district council, as it now is, to: put up and maintain, or permit the putting up and maintenance of, any statue or monument in a street, public park or other public place", and the power: to remove any statue or monument for which it is responsible to another site". So far as I know, there has been no evidence of Edinburgh's statues being either diminished in number, to the outrage of the citizenry, or changed in character, so it seems to be working satisfactorily. I would also draw the Committee's attention to the recommendation of the Working Party on Civic Government: that a local authority should have powers similar to those of Section 614 of the Edinburgh Act to put up and maintain, and so on, any statue or monument in a street, public park or other public place.

The Earl of Selkirk

What about the word "demolish"? I have very much in mind the Reformation, when some ghastly things were done.

The Earl of Mansfield

According to the recommendations of the working party, a district council should have power as it thinks fit to demolish any statue or monument which it maintains. This matter has been thought about.

I come to whether the words, "in the public interest" would add anything to these provisions. One has to take the actions of a district council, when it is properly constituted and acting intra vires, as being in the public interest, and therefore adding those words to the clause would, as I suggested, be unnecessary and redundant, and I go further and say I think they would be otiose because they would not alter the position one whit. If any noble Lord wishes me to, I will reconsider the position about statues and monuments in the light of this debate, but I am bound to say, as the correspondence between the noble Lady and myself would show, that we have thought about it fairly deeply already, and I hope, at any rate for now, that she will see fit to withdraw the amendment.

Lady Saltoun

In view of the Minister's undertaking to reconsider the matter, and in the hope that he will consider removing the power to demolish, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment to the amendment.

Amendment to the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 59KD not moved.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 59L not moved.]

Clause 93, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 94 [Street names and house numbers]:

6.38 p.m.

Lady Saltoun moved Amendment No. 60: Page 57, line 20, leave out ("to it as they think fit") and insert "in such places as would best serve the public interest").

The noble Lady said: This amendment is tabled for two reasons. The first is the hope that it will give some power and encouragement to local authorities to place street names where they can be read easily by drivers by day and night, at all junctions, and by drivers approaching from any direction, which is often not the case now. The second is the hope that it will encourage local authorities to take into consideration when naming streets the history and geography of the place and not choose names frivolously as if by sticking a pin in the telephone book, as sometimes would appear to happen. If you walk around the older parts of a Scottish town and you know something about national and local history, you can trace the development of the town, and future generations can learn a lot about their heritage by discovering the reasons for street names.

The Earl of Selkirk

I support the amendment. There should be an improvement in the naming and actual inscribing of street names in certain places. The situation varies greatly from place to place and the amendment would do no more than offer a slight encouragement to local authorities to do their job slightly better. As drafted, the Bill simply refers to "name", and I quite agree that the name has to be selected by the council itself. But I think that the council should be under some obligation to see that the public are properly served in regard to street names. There are places that are very often not easy to find. I shall not say that this is a generality—probably they are less important places. But I think that the amendment would give councils an encouragement to see that the public interest is better served.

6.41 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock

Quite seriously, it is very difficult to see how the public interest is to be served by the naming of a street or a road. I do not like the amendment. At the same time, I do not like the freedom that is being given in the Bill to councils to give such name to it as they think fit". I had thought of putting down an amendment to make a change there. All kinds of councils approach this matter in different ways. First, they name streets after all the councillors in sight, and in some instances councillors take it in turns to name the streets. That is why we have a Gagaran Avenue somewhere in Scotland, where the one local councillor who was a communist decided that he would express his interest in world affairs and events by using that street name.

Do we give any advice to councils as to how they should approach this matter? I remember that Ayr council on a very good occasion decided to name all the streets in one area by reference to Burns—Lochlie Road, Jean Armour Crescent, and all kinds of names. But they missed out one or two; there was no "Willie Fisher" around. If one approaches Glasgow from Kilmarnock, one finds there a number of roads which seem to have been named with Walter Scott in mind.

But some of them are strange devices. If there is some local connection, I think that that is worthwhile. But it is fairly dangerous to grant a local council the power to give to a street, such name … as they think fit", without giving any guidance on how to go about it. However, I do not know why we are worrying about this because if the Tory Government continue, there will be fewer and fewer new streets to name. Judging by their housing policy, we are worrying about something that is quite needless and heedless. But I do not like the amendment, I must confess.

Lord Hughes

I found myself in total agreement with the noble Lady on the previous amendment, and in that regard I hope that if she does not gain satisfaction on the point she will return to it at the next stage. But I am afraid that I do not agree with her at all on this amendment, nor do I agree with my noble friend, because I do not see anything wrong with the wording that a council should, give such name to it as they think fit, since that is descriptive of the position that has always existed.

If there are to be any guidelines such as my noble friend suggested, I would hate to find that the Minister of State, for instance, would agree to "Churchill Avenues" but would tell local authorities, "Oh no, you are not going to have any Attlee Places". As soon as one starts trying to interfere with the discretion of local authorities there is a temptation to start meddling in the wrong kind of way.

There are not many cases where local authorities decide on terribly ridiculous names, though sometimes they do. On one housing estate in Dundee, the Midcraigie estate, which has now been in existence for 50 years, one of the streets was named "Fontainbleu Drive", but I can tell the Committee that most of the people who live there do not call it "Fontainbleu Drive". They get round it; there are the most wonderful mispronunciations of it. But that is no reason for saying that the street should not have that name. I do not know why it was so called.

However, generally speaking, particularly in regard to big housing schemes, local authorities try to develop a pattern in naming streets. They choose the names of Scottish glens or mountains. In Dundee, in my time, councillors did not start naming the streets after themselves, with one exception. As a consolation prize to the leader of the opposition, who was also the leader of the Conservative group which conspicuously failed to get very much that he wanted done in Dundee, a street was named after him. That was his consolation prize, and I think that it was the only case in recent times, though there was one earlier on referring to someone on the other side.

However, I believe that this is a power that is exercised by the local authorities in a perfectly reasonable way. Perhaps the occasional communist has a street named after a Russian connection, but there are not so many communists in positions of authority, and so we do not need to worry too much about them.

Viscount Thurso

With the greatest of respect to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, I think that the present position is that if one actually owns the land, one can name the street as one wishes. Therefore if a private development is taking place, until such time as the street in question is taken over by the local authority, the private developer may place whatever name he wishes on the street. Of course, once the street is taken over by the local authority, the situation is as stated in the Bill and the local authority can change all the names. Surely this would create confusion if done indiscriminately. Furthermore, it might be more difficult to sell the houses if the name changed from a desirable, pleasant, bosky one to a controversial, political one.

It seems to me a pity that it should be necessary to go around changing names at all. In Thurso, there is a ridiculous situation where the old, traditional name, "The Cowgate" was changed to "Riverside Drive". There is nothing particularly descriptive about "Riverside Drive" because in fact it is not next to the river. Nevertheless "Riverside Drive" was thought to be more appropriate than "The Cowgate", yet historically that name was much more interesting than "Riverside Drive".

It is extremely dangerous to give an indiscriminate, unchecked authority to even the best and most democratically-elected local authorities to go around changing street names at their whim. The opinion of the residents of the area should certainly be canvassed on the particular, since one is not elected to go around changing street names; one is elected to manage the affairs of the burgh or district. So I feel that a little check on the choice and changing of names would not be a bad thing.

Lord Howie of Troon

I do not think that we should permit this discussion on road names to pass without commenting that there is a fine thoroughfare running to the north out of Nottingham, entitled "Mansfield Road". Whether it commemorates the place or the person I do not know, but it is such a grand, outstanding highway that I hope it commemorates the person, not merely the place.

My noble friend Lord Ross considered the wide-ranging manner in which street names are selected and chosen, sometimes for reasons that are akin to megalomania. No doubt he will recall that quite often—and I think that this might apply to the Cowgate in Thurso as well—local inhabitants do not use the newfangled names. They prefer to stick to the old ones, or indeed make up names of their own. The noble Lord, Lord Ross, will be acquainted with two housing estates in Ayrshire that he has canvassed many a time, one rejoicing under the local name of "Coney Island" and the other, "Beverley Hills", though doubtless they are otherwise named on the Ordnance Survey, which the Government are anxious to do away with under a different heading.

I wish to make only one other point. I want to take up the word which ruffled the feathers of my noble friend Lord Ross. He objected to the council deciding on such names "as they think fit". I think that it was the word "fit" that caused him concern. It is a peremptory kind of word, somewhat aggressive in its tone. It is the kind of word which, by its very literary qualities, could give rise to defects of a megalomaniac kind, to which my noble friend rightly took exception. I am wondering whether, in reconsidering this clause in the light of this discussion, the noble Earl might think of replacing the word "fit" with some other, softer and more agreeable word—for instance, "they think suitable" or "they think appropriate" or "they think agreeable", or something of that sort, to remove the explosive and aggressive nature of the clause as it now stands.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I trust the noble Earl will do nothing of the sort. This is exactly the sort of thing that my noble friend was talking about—changing "Cowgate" to some beastly name like "Riverside Drive" or "Riverside Avenue". The phrase "think fit" is a splendid and peremptory phrase, and it should stay.

The Earl of Mansfield

I have a certain sympathy with Members of the Committee when they can point to the nomenclature of certain streets or roads which do not happen to tie in with their particular preferences. But the difficulty is to think of a way which will, as it were, cause the district council to have regard to public susceptibilities in its area and yet will not act as a fatal fetter on its freedom to get on with its statutory powers. I think that basically speaking we have to take local councils as being responsible in the matter, and accept that when they give these names to roads or streets they are acting in the public interest.

What I am quite sure from my own experience, both as a councillor and also, on occasions, when I have sold little bits of land for housing, is that if the local councils are not regarded by the locals as acting responsibly they very soon hear about it from local people. Certainly in my part of Scotland, if I can be personal about this—and I imagine it applies throughout the country—a chorus of suggestions, usually totally at variance one with another, arises whenever a new housing scheme is mooted. I really do not believe that anything that Parliament can do is going to help the local authorities to discharge their function in a way which will please everybody. In fact, I know that one cannot do it.

The noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, asked about Mansfield Road in Nottingham. Much as I should like to lay claim to it, I fear it merely happens to be the road which points towards the town, and has nothing to do with me. There are Mansfield Roads in other parts, particularly in Scotland, which are slightly nearer home.

I have listened with considerable interest to this debate to see whether I should say to the Committee that I will take this away and think about it, and see whether Clause 94(a) should be amended; but I really do not think it can be. I will not respond to the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, if I may, at this moment because we are going to come on to subsection (b) in the very next amendment, which is an amendment tabled in my name which I hope he will find satisfactory. So, altogether, I very much hope that the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, will think that she has had a pretty good run for her money, perhaps, so far as this amendment is concerned, and will see fit to withdraw it.

Lady Saltoun

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.54 p.m.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 60AZ:

Page 57, leave out lines 21 and 22 and insert— (" (b) after advertising in a newspaper circulating in their area any proposal to alter its name and taking into account any representations thereupon made to them within 28 days after the date of the first publication of the advertisement, alter any such name;").

The noble Earl said: This amendment arises because during our debate on Second Reading the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, in effect expressed concern that Clause 94 did not require local authorities to consult local opinion before naming streets or altering street names. There was then a correspondence between the noble Lady and myself, which I have already referred to; and we considered that there should be some sort of consultation process (if that is the word) before the names of streets are changed. This amendment therefore provides that before altering the name of any street or road in their area to which the public have access the local authority must not only advertise their proposal, as presently provided for in Clause 94(b), but also take account of any representations received within 28 days of the first advertisement before reaching a decision on the new name.

I think the difference between subsections (b) and (a) so far as Clause 94 is concerned is that the names of streets or roads where folk live is a matter of some importance to them, and they should not be lightly changed. Of course, the final decision lies in the hands of the council, but what the amendment does is to ensure that in reaching that decision the council will be fully aware of any local views and opinions. beg to move.

Lady Saltoun

I am very grateful to the noble Earl for this amendment, and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, will be, too. I think it should lead in future to the preservation of a number of Cowgates and to rather fewer Riverside Drives.

Viscount Thurso

I feel I have to say that I approve of this amendment, and I am grateful to the noble Earl for bringing it before your Lordships' Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 60A:

Page 57, line 32, at end insert— ("(2) An owner of any premises who fails to comply with a notice served on him under subsection 1(d) above shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding £20.").

The noble Lord said: Under paragraph (d), having decided on the name of a street or road and having decided on the number, the authority are to require the owner of each of the premises, "by notice served on him", to affix or paint that number on his premises; but there is no indication anywhere as to what happens if the person does not comply. What I suggest is: An owner of any premises who fails to comply with a notice served on him under subsection 1(d) above shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding £20". think this is merely an omission. It may be a kindly omission by the Government, they feeling that it did not matter very much. But if it matters so much that the council may send a notice to someone telling them that they have got to do something, then there has to be some sanction, and this is what I am suggesting here.

While I am on my feet, perhaps I may say that I hope the draftsman will have a look at line 31. Subsection (d) says: and require the owner of each of the premises, by notice served on him, to affix or paint that number on his premises in such position and style as they think fit". Who is "they"? I would have thought it was beyond the council to determine the position of the number or the style of the number, and that they might have left that to the owner of the premises. I do not know whether or not it is just another drafting slip. It is not connected with the amendment I am moving, but I think the point has a certain amount of force. It saves me speaking on the Question, Whether the clause shall stand part? I beg to move the amendment.

Lord Howie of Troon

I should like to draw one very small point to the attention of my noble friend Lord Ross, who has just moved this amendment, of which I entirely approve. What strikes me is that when he put down the amendment he fixed the fine at £20. I have no idea whether or not that is the right sum, but what occurs to me is that earlier this afternoon, in the course of a previous debate, the noble Earl drew our attention to the fact that there was certain legislation somewhere—in the offing, under consideration or being drafted; at any rate, somewhere—in the course of which some fines at least, were being reconsidered; and an amendment which he had put down earlier was based on whatever scales of fines are foreseen in that prospective legislation.

I wonder whether my noble friend would consider, in the light of that information, if his £20 is too puny? Would he consider "upping the ante" in line with what appears to be the Government's attitude in these matters. Has my noble friend thought about that?

The Earl of Mansfield

The noble Lord, Lord Ross, seeks an almost draconian effect to non-compliance with the terms of Clause 49(d). Under that subsection, the local authority may serve a notice on the owner requiring him to put up or renew the appropriate number. If he does not do so, then we go to Clause 96 (which is the enforcement clause) and under the terms of that clause the local authority can do it themselves and recover the cost from the owner. At the end of the day, therefore, it will be the recalcitrant owner who has to pay up and we thought that it seems unnecessary to invoke a criminal sanction as well as doing the work and making him pay.

If this amendment were agreed, it would mean that for failing to put up or renew a house number a person would have to pay the local authority to restore it and would also be separately charged with committing an offence. I think this is unnecessarily ponderous and it is putting into an administrative law a criminal element which is entirely unnecessary. I would invite the noble Lord to withdraw it.

Before I sit down, I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Ross—this has nothing to do with this amendment, but he can ask it—who "they" are. "They", there, means the local authority. It is evident from the plural. I think it is right, if I may say so, that the local authority should have the power to see to it that whatever is put up by way of a number should be legible; otherwise you could get a recalcitrant owner putting it up in gothic figures, which could be almost impossible to read.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I regard it as very difficult to justify that the local council should tell me on which side of the two posts outside my front gate I should put the number—or the actual style of the painting or whatever is to be done. It is very foolish and silly; but that is the way of Governments when they get their teeth into it. So far as the £20 fine is concerned, I take the point that my noble friend mentioned. I think that it is the smallest fine in the whole book. I am not very anxious to do it but I am anxious to ensure that something happens in relation to compliance with the desire of the local authority, and, I am sure, of everybody else, to have house numbers put up and in a reasonable place.

For my sins I have done my share of canvassing. I think it was at the Garscadden election that I discovered that there was some great mystique about how one numbers the houses in Glasgow. I found myself going from one end of the place to the other in order to advance by about two numbers and I still have not understood how these various things are done. But I think it important that it should be done properly. It may be that we do not require to have this matter done by statute and that in the general compliance clause we can cover it. That being so, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 94, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 95 agreed to.

Clause 96 [Power to enter, execute works and recover expense.]:

7.4 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 60B: Page 59, line 37, lease out subsection (7).

The noble Lord said: This deals with the power to enter and to execute works. That brings us to the point about cleaning common property but subsection (4) does not apply to it. What does that mean?—that they cannot be recompensed for the work they do on this. I should like to be told why subsection (4) does not apply in relation to the cleaning of common property done under subsection (2). I beg to move.

The Earl of Mansfield

Normally, where a local authority carry out work under the Bill, they may recover their costs from the owners or occupiers of the premises, but it is felt that the cleaning of common stairs should be an exception. At present local authorities rarely clean common stairs themselves, and when they do so the costs are minimal. The administrative expenses of making a recovery would be disproportionate to the amount recovered, and a recovery provision is not therefore justified. In addition, there would need to be an associated provision for appeal to the sheriff; this could not he justified having regard to the need to keep trivial matters out of the courts.

I would not like the Committee to think that a council has no remedy against an occupier or occupiers who persistently refuse to clean their common stair. Councils will have power to make bylaws under Clause 89(3) of the Bill to regulate the cleaning of the common property, and any occupier refusing to clean a common stair may be proceeded against in accordance with the offence provisions specified in Clause 89(3).

Lord Ross of Marnock

I do not think it worthwhile pursuing this. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 96 agreed to.

Clauses 97 to 105 agreed to.

Clause 106 [Byelaws]:

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 60BA:

Page 64, line 13, at end insert—

("(3) The register kept under subsection (1) above shall at such reasonable times and places as the local authority may determine be open to public inspection and any member of the public may make a copy of or extract from anything in it.

(4) No payment shall be charged or taken by the local authority for any inspection or the making of any copy or extract under subsection (3) above.

(5) The local authority may, on payment of such reasonable fee as they may determine, issue a certified true copy of an entry in the register; and any document purporting to be certified by the proper officer of the local authority as a true copy of an entry shall be sufficient evidence of the terms of the original entry.").

The noble Earl said: This amendment follows a helpful suggestion by the Scottish Consumer Council that new Section 202B of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 should specifically provide that the register of byelaws be open to inspection by the public. This seems a good suggestion, especially as one of the complaints about the present byelaw system is that the public and many practitioners are not fully aware of what byelaws are in force. It is modelled on paragraphs 15 and 16 of Schedule 1 which we have already approved. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 106, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 107 agreed to.

Clause 108 [Making of management rules]:

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 6OBB: Page 66, line 28, after ("has") insert ("first").

The noble Earl said: This amendment makes it clear that the one month period during which representations against proposed management rules are competent is calculated from the date on which the rules are first advertised, since there may be cases when proposed rules are advertised on different days in different local newspapers. To avoid any confusion over the period of one month during which representations against the proposed rules are competent, this amendment makes it clear that the period in question is calculated from the date of the first advertisement placed by a local authority. This is consistent with the procedure adopted in Clause 94 as amended; that is, on the notification of street name changes. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 108, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 109 to 114 agreed to.

Clause 115 [Regulation of charitable collections]:

7.10 p.m.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 60BC: Page 70, line 15, leave out ("thereof") and insert ("of this section").

The noble Earl said: This is a drafting amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 60BD: Page 70, line 21, after ("section") insert ("and they are of the opinion that, in consequence, grounds of refusal under subsection (6) above apply").

The noble Earl said: This amendment narrows the grounds on which a permission may be withdrawn. At present, although the limited number of grounds on which initial permission for a charitable collection can be refused are set out in subsection (6) of Clause 115, subsection (7) permits withdrawal of permission earlier granted in any case where circumstances have changed, a criterion which might be susceptible to very wide interpretation. This amendment makes Clause 115 more internally consistent by spelling out that local authorities can only withdraw permission for a collection to be held on the grounds set out in subsection (6), which would have permitted initial refusal of permission had they obtained at the time. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 60BE: Page 71, line 35, leave out from beginning to ("and") in line 38 and insert ("a collection from the public of money (whether given by them for consideration or not) for charitable purposes taken either in a public place or by means of visits from place to place").

The noble Earl said: It has become clear to us from comments received since the Bill was introduced that the reference to "an appeal to the public" in this subsection could be misunderstood, leading some people to believe that a public exhortation—for example, in the context of a disaster or emergency—to give money would come within the scope of this clause and require a permit even though no money was collected at the time of the appeal and the invitation was to send donations to a local authority or a bank.

This amendment therefore deletes the reference to "an appeal to the public" from the definition of "public charitable collection" in Clause 115(14) and substitutes reference to "a collection from the public", in order to make it clear that a permit is required only where a collection is actually made and it is not exempt by virtue of the subsection (2), which exempts collections at public meetings, for example when "the hat" may be passed round. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 115, as amended, agreed to,

Clauses 116 to 119 agreed to.

Clause 120 [Collection and disposal of household and trade waste]:

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 60BF: Page 75, line 8, leave out from ("it") to end of line 9.

The noble Lord said: We have had quite a lot of concern and worries about the disposal of trade waste, among other things. To use these words (which the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, likes) is just a bit much when it comes to this, that a district council may collect household and trade waste in an area and dispose of it in whatever way they think fit. We require more of a safeguard than that. That is the reasons why I suggest this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Lyell

The noble Lord, Lord Ross, and I am sure other Members of the Committee, will be fascinated to know that once a local authority have collected waste, whether it is normal household or other waste or trade waste or other forms of waste, then the local authority must get rid of it in one way or another. In this modern technological age this may be in a number of different ways. If I may give the Committee one or two examples, the local authority may sell such recoverable materials as are readily saleable; for instance, waste paper, glass or even metals. Other forms of waste may be disposed of directly in the form of landfill. Other forms of industrial waste may be treated first by what is called compaction—but I would call it compression—or pulverisation; or indeed the waste might end up by being incinerated.

The phrase "in whatever way they think fit" is there to make it absolutely clear that a local authority may do some or all of these things that a local authority might wish to do. If we were simply to say that a local authority could dispose of their waste, then we would be allowing some doubt as to whether or not they could carry out the ancillary operations of selling some of the waste, pulverising it, incinerating it or whatever way in which the local authority might wish to dispose of their waste. The words "in whatever way they think fit" remove any doubt on this score, remove any doubt on the overall powers of a local authority to get rid of the waste or treat the waste in any way which will ultimately be for the benefit of the community as a whole. For that reason I ask the Committee not to accept this amendment.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I do not agree with my noble friend. I know a part of Scotland where across a sea loch the council dispose of a lot of waste over a cliff. It is a scar on the landscape. I should like to see something in this legislation so that councils could not dispose of their waste which would cause a scar on the landscape. I do not think that my noble friend has quite covered that point.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I should like the Minister to go further and say whether he means that the council can dispose of the waste as they see fit. Can they put it into a river that flows through their district and let the waste go down to the next district? Are they not subject to the laws of the land regarding pollution? This is a curious phrase and not in the same context as the one I used before. I cannot believe that there are not laws that govern the conduct of a district authority regarding the disposal of waste.

Lord Howie of Troon

The Minister was quite right to remind us of the various ways in which waste can be suitably and even profitably disposed of by local authorities. It is correct that they should do such things. But the clause seems to allow them carte blanche to do more or less what they like. I cannot for one minute believe that that is what the Government have in mind. Although, I can believe a lot of them, I cannot believe that. I am sure that there are other provisions elsewhere in the vast array of law which we have which would prevent the local authorities from doing anything. If that is the case, and the local authorities are in some respects restricted in what they can do, it seems pointless to put in this legislation the notion that they can dispose of waste as they think fit; whereas, if there are restrictions, that they cannot do it at all. Perhaps the Minister might consider having another look at this clause and amending it in some way with words like as they think fit, subject to"— that is, subject to other provisions elsewhere in our enormous legal system. I have a strong feeling that we are about to reach all round harmony and agreement, and my heart leaps up for joy.

Lord Lyell

The remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, are fresh in my mind when he says his heart leaps up with joy and we might reach some harmony on this clause. The noble Lord, Lord Ross, in his amendment fills my heart with alarm and terror. But with regard to what my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard said, I understand that if any local authority continues to take the action which my noble friend described and pollutes the rivers, the sea and so on—my noble neighbour Lord Mackie thought that a local authority might be disposing of rubbish and waste, be it industrial, trade or household and that they might be putting such waste into rivers and causing pollution—and if a local authority were to act unreasonably in disposing of waste, that local authority itself will be subject to other statutes, and particularly to the Control of Pollution Act 1974. This applies very much to councils, to local authorities and to anybody who disposes of waste, in just the same way as it applies to an individual. I hope this simple explanation will go some way towards pacifying my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie.

Regarding the query which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Howie, he gave both sides of the argument: First that the local authority would be quite within its rights and likely to act in a very reasonable way and indeed to recover such items as metal, glass, waste paper and so on from the disposable waste, to treat it and sell it so that there will be some benefit, although perhaps quite small, to the local community and the local authority. The noble Lord, Lord Howie, also wondered whether this clause gave what I might term licence to despoil rivers or landscape for which the local authority is responsible. I would stress this is not the case, because any local authority is subject to all the laws to which any individual is subject, and the fear of the noble Lord, Lord Howie, is covered by the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I think we are very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, for the care he has taken over this, because he has proved my case. What he has just said is that, whatever else local authorities can do, they cannot dispose of waste in any way they think fit. That is what he has just said. They cannot do as they like. Why have these words in? They mislead us, they mislead the local authorities and everyone else; so they are far better out. I think the noble Lord had better have another look at this. He mentioned the word "reasonable". There is nothing reasonable about this. It does not say: in whichever reasonable way they think fit". There is nothing about benefit to the community in this; so he really must pay a little closer attention to what this says and to what he says in justifying the retention of these words. He has proved that these words do not mean what they say, and I would suggest that he has another look at them. This is one case in which most of us are agreed that something better should be done.

On Question, amendment negatived.

Clause 120 agreed to.

Clause 121 [Interference with dustbins etc.]:

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 60BG: Page 75, line 34, leave out ("sorts over or").

The noble Lord said: The clause mentions interference with dustbins, and now we are getting down to it. It reads: Any person who, without authority as mentioned … sorts over or disturbs anything in …". All I want to know is: What does this business of "sorts over" mean? I beg to move.

Lord Lyell

As always, the noble Lord, Lord Ross, doth tempt me—I suspect he tempts many other Members of the Committee—to rise up and ask questions and, above all, to worry about the precise definition that we are covering in disposing of our rubbish and our waste. I am not entirely clear as to whether the noble Lord has anything in mind other than to shorten the clause. If he wishes to abbreviate the clause in some way while still retaining its clarity, then we would support his aims. All of us are great supporters of brevity, but the clause repeats more or less the following section: No person shall sort over or disturb— (a) anything deposited at a place provided by a waste disposal authority". The noble Lord, Lord Ross, has been dealing with legislation such as we are discussing tonight for far longer than I have been among your Lordships in this Chamber. Indeed, I think he was probably doing it when I was in short pants at school; but perhaps his memory might guide him to the recollection that the words I quoted— No person shall sort over or disturb— (a) anything deposited at a place provided by a waste disposal authority". will be found in Section 37 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The noble Lord, Lord Ross, in another incarnation was very much responsible for the introduction of that Act. We think it best to stick with the wording already approved by Parliament rather than to lead practitioners or inquisitive Members in this Chamber to worry about the significance of what we see as little more than a drafting change. Finally, I would stress that the 1974 Act will in due course replace this clause. That is the major reason why we think the wording should be seen to be consistent with it.

Lord Ross of Marnock

All I did was to ask the Minister what was meant. What is "sorts over"? It may well be that, quite apart from having been in short pants when I entered Parliament, by 1974 he was sufficiently influential that he himself arranged that this Bill should be introduced. I am perfectly sure, in that short space of time after I became Secretary of State in 1974, that I cannot be held responsible for the preparation of that Bill. It was there and ready. It may well be that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, could help us here in relation to the meaning of "sorts over". Surely we are entitled to ask what the words really mean; and how can you sort over something without disturbing it? I do not think we lose anything by getting rid of these words. However, I have no desire to have the noble Lord get to his feet again, because he said he wanted to be explicit and precise and that he wanted to be very short in everything he did. Whatever he does, he is never quite that, and so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 121 agreed to.

Clause 122 agreed to.

Clause 123 [Advertising on local authority lands, vehicles etc.]:

7.30 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 60C: Page 76, line 36, after ("person") insert ("(excluding political parties)").

The noble Lord said: This clause gives power to a local authority to enter into an agreement with any person for the display of advertisements on its premises, property or vehicles. What I suggest is that an authority should not make such agreements with political parties. In other words, it cannot be done with one party without offending the rest, so it should not be done at all. Most of us are appalled at the extent to which, without permission, public property is used by certain political parties at election times. It is bad enough when they do it without agreement, but I should be appalled if agreement to do it was reached with local authorities. I beg to move.

Lord Underhill

I am in full agreement with the terms in which my noble friend Lord Ross has moved this amendment, but I should like to put one question both to my noble friend and to the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield. In the event of this amendment being agreed—and we can understand that we do not make agreements with political parties for the purposes which my noble friend has in mind—would that debar an agreement with a political party which hired any local authority property, for the purpose of a social event or a political meeting? If so, the amendment would need to be reconsidered so as to ensure that any political party which was hiring for an event was not allowed to display advertisements, inside or outside the property, for that event.

The Earl of Selkirk

I wonder whether the words, "political parties", are not a trifle too wide. There is no definition of a political party. Two people can set themselves up as a political party and can go straight through Clause 123 as they like. When one considers the ordinary political parties who are acting in a normal way, that is straightforward. But as the amendment stands, is it not a little wide?

Lord Howie of Troon

I am tempted to disagree with my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock. It is not a frequent occurrence, but I shall do so, provided that he does not turn around and look at me while I am doing it. I am inclined to think that we are being a little over-zealous in protecting ourselves from political parties. In the days of Herbert Morrison, we brought in town and country planning laws, which greatly restricted the kind of fly-posting which politicians used to do and which, I am assured, they never do nowadays. Perhaps we are going too far in that direction and it may be that this amendment goes too far, too.

I end by saying—and this might mollify my noble friend—that the most enjoyable and, in many ways, the most useful political act that I ever carried out in my life was in the early summer of 1945, when I chalked the streets with the slogan "Vote for Willie Ross". A great many people did that and it seemed to me a direct response to the chalking of the pavements that I did. The summer was a good one and the chalk marks lasted right through it. I do not think we should be over-restrictive in these matters.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

I remember very well the 1945 election, which the noble Lord has just mentioned, when Glasgow still had a great many air raid shelters. They were very ugly things, with cement roofs and brick or cement sides. People were not supposed to use them for advertising, but the supporters of our opponent in the election—and my husband was fighting Kelvin Grove—covered everywhere with posters of himself as the Labour candidate for Kelvin Grove. It was very difficult to compete with that, so on the day before polling day I organised a tremendous group of enthusiastic Conservatives who over-posted all the Labour posters with the slogan "Vote for Elliot".

It was all quite wrong and we ought to have been prosecuted, but nobody prosecuted us and I think on that occasion we won. That does not matter. The real point is that it opens the way to the abuse of public buildings or sites, if political advertising on them is allowed. So I support the suggestion that we do not have political advertising on public buildings, which are not advertising spaces at all, but which, as I have seen myself, can be so used.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I support the spit it behind the amendment, wholly and completely. Nothing can be more infuriating than for ratepayers in a burgh, town or district to see the propaganda of the opposing parties carried on local council vehicles. I do not know whether it is covered by another regulation, or whether the amendment is too wide, but, certainly, the sentiments are wholly and completely correct.

The Earl of Mansfield

T was waiting for a few cogent reasons to be advanced by noble Lords as to why there are sufficient grounds for preventing political parties from negotiating the display of advertisements on land, premises or vehicles which are the property of the local authority. I shall not go down the by-way with the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, and his graffiti. But, if a political party wants to advertise something on the back end of a bus, why on earth should it not do so? I fancy that it is one of our little liberties.

But I come now to the practicalities. What is a political party? I do not know of any sensible definition. For instance, if Aims of Industry want to have an advertisement on the back end of a bus, are they a political party? I think that they would stoutly resist that suggestion. If one goes to the other end of the political spectrum, I am not sure whether Militant Tendency regard themselves as a political party, so where are we getting to with this amendment?

There is no statutory definition of a political party. I submit to the Committee that it would be totally unsatisfactory even to try to define a political party for the purposes of this clause. I do not have very much more to say. If a local authority seeks to abuse its position by using its own vehicles, or premises, for the purpose of pushing forward its own political ideas, then I suggest it will lay itself open to public ridicule which might be the best sanction.

Lord Campbell of Croy

Has not the debate on this amendment been very useful, in as much as it has brought out that what we really want to stop is the advertising without permission by political parties? That is really what happens most of the time; it is what one wishes to prevent and it has come out in this debate. But I agree with my noble friend that, if a local authority reaches an agreement with a political party, in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, mentioned, that ought to be legitimate.

Lord Underhill

Before my noble friend replies, the point I was making was about hiring council property. Having listened to the noble Earl, I am a little concerned about his reply, because, in the terms of this clause, we are not dealing specifically with an agreement for anyone to have a commercial position, such as advertising on the back of a bus. There have been elections when a political party has displayed posters on all the roads going into a township, the posters being displayed on trees which are owned by the local authority. If a local authority so wished, this would mean that it could agree to a political party displaying posters on those trees, not in return for a commercial payment but simply by agreement with that local authority. We are concerned that no local authority should be able to make an agreement with a political party without there being a proper basis for it. This clause does not specify such a basis.

Lord Drumalbyn

In this clause are local authorities subject to planning permission regarding where advertisements are displayed? I should have thought that they were. Does this clause override the necessity for planning permission?

Lord Ross of Marnock

I welcome very much the exchange of opinion. To take the point made by my noble friend Lord Underhill, he wishes to support me over what we consider to be normal advertising by a political party, but he does not want there to be any infringement of the right of any political party to hire a hall in which to hold a social evening and to put up posters within that hall. This is a very different matter which could not be construed in the same way as advertising. I have listened to all the confessions which have been made by those who have broken the law and who have said that they should not have done it. But they did it, and I bet that they would do it again tomorrow if the opportunity arose. So I am not going to be soft-soaped by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, when she says that she has turned over a new leaf, because I am sure that she is as devoted a politician as ever she was.

It may well be that there are difficulties over how I have approached this matter, in that I have mentioned "political party". It would put a restriction upon the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Scottish National Party and, it may well be, any other new party. But it would not put a restriction upon some- thing which is not a party—an alliance. So they could do what they liked. They could come to an agreement with a local authority to use their premises. The idea that they should do this is offensive. We get very annoyed about what our political opponents do during election campaigns and we proceed to obliterate them by breaking the law ourselves—although I never heard about it and never agreed to it. I never remember giving the right to the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, to desecrate the pavements of Troon with the Slogan "Vote for Willie Ross". Nobody knew who Willie Ross was in those days. He must remember that. If I recollect, it was a much more succinct slogan that was suggested to him at that time. And, anyway, I gather that his writing was not very good!

We could perhaps deal with this matter in another way. We get heated up about this during an election period, so instead of mentioning political parties we could refer to a time in respect of candidates: no advertising of candidates during a general election. Mention has already been made of general elections, European elections and local elections in relation to an earlier clause. It could apply equally to advertising in relation to this clause. I shall withdraw this amendment, but I promise to put down another amendment at a later stage of the Bill, which promises to be equally interesting.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 123 agreed to.

Clause 124 [Control of stray dogs]:

On Question, Whether Clause 124 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Ross of Marnock

In view of what the Minister said earlier about the problem of stray dogs and what he is going to do about it, I do not propose to move that Clause 124 shall be left out of the Bill.

The Earl of Selkirk

May I express the hope that my noble friend will find ways and means of putting near to each other this clause and Clause 73 and giving further consideration to placing both of them in a textual form which a normal individual can understand.

The Earl of Mansfield

I take note of what my noble friend asks for. I think that a textual memorandum has already been prepared and circulated.

Clause 124 agreed to.

Clauses 125 and 126 agreed to.

Clause 127 [Expenses]:

On Question, Whether Clause 127 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of Selkirk

I asked my noble friend what this Bill is likely to cost. He said that the cost will not be borne by the Treasury. I think he went a trifle far by saying that. I understand from the explanatory memorandum that there is sufficient loose cash in the Scottish Office to pay for any small matters which may arise from time to time. I wonder whether my noble friend could give us some idea of whether or not this is a totally insignificant sum?

The Earl of Mansfield

The Bill will have some expenditure implications, obviously. Such expenditure for the most part will not be new but will result from the continuation of existing duties and functions of local authorities. The new licensing system in Parts I and II of the Bill will, as I explained earlier, be self-financing. The only clause in the Bill which confers a new if discretionary general function on local authorities is Clause 124. New expenditure on staff appointed under the clause will be very slight. Nevertheless, we have provided for a money resolution because such expenditure will be relevant for rate support grant and an increase in the notional allocation for miscellaneous services may be necessary to cover it. In other words, overall public expenditure will not be affected, but the minor redistribution of expenditure involved may result in an increased allocation to one particular service.

Clause 127 should not be taken to imply that there are any hidden increases in overall public expenditure lurking in the Bill, but it is a common form provision found in any major public Bill dealing with central or local government functions or services. I hope that that goes some way towards reassuring my noble friend.

The Earl of Selkirk

May I thank the noble Earl for what he has said.

Clause 127 agreed to.

Clauses 128 to 131 agreed to.

Clause 132 [Citation, commencement, repeals and extend:

7.49 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy moved Amendment No. 61: Page 80, line 39, leave out ("Civic Government") and insert ("Local Administration").

The noble Lord said: I rise to move this amendment on my own behalf and on behalf of those whose names are down with me to Amendment No. 61. Its purpose would be to change the title of the Bill from Civic Government (Scotland) Bill to Local Administration (Scotland) Bill.

I believe that it is difficult to find for the Bill a name which is both accurate and helpful. It could have been called a Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, but I agree with what must have been the view of the Government: that this would not have been appropriate. Not all of the Bill bears directly upon local authorities—for example, the clauses on offences, Clauses 47 to 60. These, and others, are of concern to local authorities but they are not necessarily within their functions. It would, for example, be misleading if all of this Bill were later to be consolidated into local government, Scotland, legislation.

The word "civic" does not in my opinion and in the opinion of others, I would say (and some whose opinions I have heard in Scotland), convey a clear picture of what is in the Bill. Moreover, I have the impression that the Government are themselves ready to consider other possible titles. This amendment is an attempt at a better description of the Bill, and later the Act, for the benefit of all who are likely to hear of the Act or be involved in its provision. I am not wedded to this particular form of words, but it is the best that I, my noble friends and others have been able to think of, and we do consider that it is more accurate than the present Title. As we know well from our debates, the Bill includes such subjects as local licensing schemes, control of stray dogs, disused metal containers and charitable collections, to name just some examples. I believe that the Title proposed in this amendment would cover all these diverse subjects.

I realise that the word "civic" was in the terms of reference of the working party that was really the architect of this Bill and which was established in the early 1970s. I must take the responsibility for the word "civic" being in those terms of reference. But I do not consider that it need necessarily be carried into the Title of the Act and thus become a new or almost new word in Scottish legislation Titles. I have looked at the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, which says that "civic" means: of or pertaining to citizens, to a city, or to citizenship". Where "citizen" and "citizenship" are concerned, then of course central Government are involved as well as local government and the clauses in the Bill refer to rural areas as well as to towns and cities. I have tried very briefly to explain why I hope the Government will keep their minds open to suggestions for a better Title, because this is the moment at which we may have to live with the Title of this new Bill for as long as the Title of the old legislation, the Borough Police Act. It is therefore worth while trying to get it right now. So far as I am concerned, this amendment is keeping in view the fact that there is still time to think of a better name for the Bill.

Lady Saltoun

My Latin is very rusty and so is my Roman history. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, does not agree with me on this and has pointed out to me the Latin origins of the word "civic", which meant a citizen. But a citizen of what? Of a city or "urbs", either in Rome or later of some other towns, or cities, but never was it used to refer to country-dwellers, who were very much third-class persons without a vote; not citizens of anywhere at all, but merely country bumpkins whose only use was to grow food for the cives—citizens who live in towns. The Romans were nothing if not urban-minded.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I believe we should leave in "civic government", and I hope that the Minister will stand totally firm. It has a fine Roman sound about it, whereas "local administration" sounds terrible, if I may say so, and even the mover is not satisfied with it; the noble Lord felt that something better could be found. So please leave "civic government" because I believe it is a fine-sounding name.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

I would like to support my noble friend. This is an administrative Bill which covers all the country, and all the different types of organisations which are administered in Scotland. To me, "civic" conjures up a purely urban or city area, and it would be a great mistake to leave it at that. Whether "local administration" can be improved upon I do not know, but I much prefer it to "civic government".

Lord Ross of Marnock

This is a local government Bill and it should have been called a local government Bill right from the start. From that point of view, I do not like the Title of the Bill and I do not like much what is in the Bill. Why not just get rid of the Bill altogether, and then all these problems would disappear. I am not going to take sides on this particular one.

The Earl of Mansfield

This matter is one that has occupied the Scottish Office and indeed the Crown Office to a very considerable extent. Indeed, the Lord Advocate, if I am not telling tales out of school, instituted a prize at Christmas to try and get a more acceptable name for the Bill, but I have to say that the prize was not awarded. The competition did not throw up any acceptable new name. We have to recognise that the Bill is sui generis and therefore I do not regard that a Title unique to it may be as inappropriate as some noble Lords suggest. I am very glad that my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy admitted that he in fact laid down the terms of reference for the working party, which was to look at the powers available "for the administration of civic government". That is what happened when he set up the working party.

The working party itself said that it wanted to adopt a fairly broad approach without attempting a precise definition of civic government and suggested that the formula might be: Such provisions of the law as should govern the conduct of citizens living together which are not at present included in the separately established codes of law. This definition includes the licensing of various activities of the citizen not covered by separate licensing codes, and provisions regulating the behaviour of citizens towards each other—or 'good neighbourliness'". I regard that last phrase as being the key to this—"provisions regulating the behaviour of citizens towards each other—"because so much of this Bill is about just that.

The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, insists on equating "civic" with "urban" and indeed that is one of the meanings given in the Oxford English Dictionary. Indeed, I looked up the big Oxford Dictionary and moreover, managed to photograph two pages of it myself. It is indeed one of the three meanings which are attributed to the word "civic" but the first one is pertaining to citizens or to citizenship". I consider that this is what this Bill is about; that it pertains to citizens or citizenship. One is just as much a citizen, with all the obligations that entails, if one lives in the country as if one lives in the town. Having said that, I want to make it clear that I am not wedded to the phrase "civic government" and if someone can come up with a better alternative I would he very happy to accept it.

The words "local administration" are suggested, and a great deal of the discussion on this Bill has related to local administration, and just that. It would be appropriate for Parts I and II of the Bill, and conceivably for Parts VI and VII, but the provisions of the criminal law and the duties and obligations of the police in Parts III and V do not sit readily within the framework of local administration. They are not so much matters of administration at local level as the subject of precise statutory definition.

Then the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, thought it ought to be "Local Government Bill", but that most assuredly it is not. I do not think it would be appropriate to add this Bill to our long catalogue of Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bills. They deal normally with the functions and duties of local authorities rather than the obligations of individual citizens or the creation of offences of the kind listed in Part III of the Bill. So I do not think that that one is any better.

Then there have been suggestions, lastly, that we should use the words "civic code" as part of the Bill, the idea being that "civic" if associated with "code" implies a settled corpus of statutory procedures with some functional coherence. I do not think this Bill is very coherent, so I do not really think the word "code" would be too appropriate to describe it. Equally I do not think the phrase "beast of a Bill", used by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, at Second Reading, was altogether justified, but as he supports me now I am not going to say any more about that.

It is a unique Bill. I do not think it readily fits into the ordinary type of Bill, and therefore I do not think the ordinary kinds of name are very suitable. I think the police and the local authority services understand what we mean by civic government, dating from the report and the consultation document. If only for the reason that such people have got used to it, I do not think we should change the Title unless we are reasonably satisfied that the change is going to be an improvement.

So I think my position on behalf of the Government is that I am not happy about my noble friend's amendment because I really do not think, for the reasons I have given, that "local administration" covers it at all. I remain of the opinion that, if any noble Lord at any other stage of the Bill comes up with an amendment which commends itself to the House, then, of course, I will consider it very carefully indeed; but for the moment I think it better to leave the Title as it is.

Lord Howie of Troon

I have been listening very carefully. I started with no great animus against the Title, nor any great wish to change it, but I have come round to supporting the amendment. I think the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and his friends are probably right, and I think in all probability their title is as near to the real thing as we are likely to get. The noble Earl the Minister was correct, of course, to claim that citizens were no longer mere urban dwellers; the word "citizen" applies to country folk as well. But I am not sure that his argument that this Bill should be called a civic Bill because it regulates the behaviour of citizens one to another as neighbours, is correct. It is correct, but I am not sure that it is unique. After all, the overwhelming mass of legislation we pass through Parliament does exactly that. Maybe some of it does not, but almost all of it regulates the behaviour of citizens one to another in a variety of relations, some of them neighbourly, some of them unneighbourly. I do not think that particular argument strengthens his case one bit.

I take his point that it would not be quite right to call it merely local government, since, as he explained, the Bill covers a fairly wide range. It might not be a beast, but it is a bit of a rag bag; it is the kind of measure that we all know which contains things that people want done, whether coherent or not. With that in mind, I rather think that Lord Campbell of Croy and his colleagues have got nearer to the heart of the matter with their idea of local administration, as the Title certainly defines that it is local, and the use of the word "administration" distinguishes it from the narrow range of local government. I think the Government should reconsider Lord Campbell's amendment and possibly take it up.

The Earl of Selkirk

I think the noble Earl has missed one very important point. What is civic government? It is local government. Are we some other body called the civic government as opposed to the local government? We are using a word which is totally inaccurate. Is there such a thing as civic government in this country? It is all very well to go back to Latin a long time ago, but the main meaning is "pertaining to the city". I looked at the Greater Oxford Dictionary myself; that is exactly what it says. I think it is quite wrong for the great areas of the Highlands of Scotland to be called civic. I do not think they would see themselves in that light at all.

I am glad the noble Earl's mind is still open, though he is not very happy with this title. I do not necessarily say this is the only possible title. What we are really trying to do is to incorporate Police Acts. You could call this "Police Act (Scotland)" if you liked, but that would not be quite true. There really is very little government here at all; this is regulative, it is a code, it is administrative. The decisions of the local authority are very slight here. This is the way it should be conducted and this is broadly administration. You could call it "Administration and Police Bill" or something of that sort. I am not going to make any definite suggestions. I am glad the noble Earl's mind is open. I hope we do not stay with a Title which is inaccurate and in point of fact contradictory, because there is no such thing as civic government in this country at all.

Lord Campbell of Croy

I am grateful to those noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I am sorry that my noble friend was not able to accept the proposed new title because I would have looked forward to sharing the Lord Advocate's prize with the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, and my noble friends! I presume that that prize is still there, that the competition is still on. I still think the title proposed in this amendment is better than the one the Bill now bears. That is what I would say for it. I will not go over the reasons again. I am glad my noble friend is prepared to keep this under consideration. There may be suggestions in another place in due course as well. If the prize is still there, I am sure the competition will continue. In the meantime, I beg to leave withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Mansfield moved Amendment No. 62: Page 80, line 42, leave out ("(7)") and insert ("(6)").

The noble Earl said: This is a drafting amendment to correct a wrong cross-reference. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 132, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 2 and 3 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the amendments.

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