HL Deb 12 February 1990 vol 515 cc1132-66

5.15 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 5 [Food authorities and authorised officers]:

Lord Carter moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 4, line 24, at end insert—

("( ) For the purpose of facilitating and developing the exercise of functions conferred on food authorities by this section, the relevant Minister or Secretary of State shall, after consultation with organisations representative of food authorities, lay before Parliament a report on the cost of any additional functions conferred in the first three years of operation of this Act, together with an estimate of the likely cost of functions to be exercised by such authorities over the succeeding three years")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 11 returns to an issue which we explored in Committee. We then sought and won an assurance from the Minister that the £30 million made available to local authorities in the forthcoming year is to be genuine additional money which will not be clawed back in other ways through the local government finance system. That was a very welcome assurance which we accepted.

This amendment concentrates on the likely developing cost to local authorities as food authorities in the future. Again, that subject was touched on in Committee. Evidence is accumulating within local government that the likely implementation costs of food safety will be substantial and are likely to develop and increase in future years.

A further concern which has been put to us is the basis of the distribution of the finance which is to be made available. One possible basis which the Government may put forward is that of population. However, it is argued that needs as between authorities will be dependent on a different set of variables in the case of this function. The numbers of restaurants, shopping centres, food producers and other sites requiring food and safety inspection will be the relevant determinants of the expenditure of a given authority. It would be helpful if the Minister could set out a little more of the Government's thinking as to the basis of the distribution of this money.

Amendment No. 66 deals with the provision for the public analyst of each local authority of the facility of laboratories, analysis and inspection. The amendment asks the Secretary of State to consult the local authority associations before the onset of the financial year as to the likely cost of adequate laboratory facilities or access to them.

The purpose of the amendment is to secure that sufficient funding will be made available. The public analyst provides the professional analytical function on which prosecutions and other forms of action will rest. The provision of such facilities is clearly crucial to the maintenance and expansion of the regulatory system if public confidence in the authority of the analysis undertaken is to be retained. This we all agree is so important. Again, it would be helpful if the Minister could set out the Government's thinking in that area. Perhaps she will feel able to give a commitment that if any deficiency in laboratory facilities is identified in the new structure set out in Clause 27, which states that each authority must appoint one or more persons as a public analyst on its behalf, then resources will be made available in future years as the regulatory system emanating from the Bill is developed. I beg to move.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Carter, said, we have been over similar ground in Committee. As I said then, the Government have already held consultations with organisations representing local authorities to discuss the likely cost of carrying out the new tasks which this Bill introduces.

I also announced that we intended to extend the provision for statutory consultation on the regulation-making powers which may have financial consequences for enforcement authorities. We have now tabled an amendment to that effect to which your Lordships agreed in our earlier debate on Clause 1. Before Ministers can make an order allocating or changing the functions of food authorities, they will have to consult organisations representing those likely to be affected.

We certainly expect local authority associations to comment on the need for, the shape and the financial implications of, any proposals to alter their duties and we would listen to their views. That perhaps takes in the point about laboratories. Moreover, the Government already hold extensive discussions with local authority associations about their spending, culminating in an annual meeting between local authority associations and Ministers. Food authorities will be free to make their normal representations in the context of the revenue support grant and to take the cost of the Bill into account.

For these reasons I still do not believe that it is appropriate to set down a formal requirement as noble Lords propose. I do not believe it adds anything useful to existing arrangements. Local authorities have the duty to enforce food law under Clause 6(3). There will be codes of practice to assist them in "prioritising" their work, but ultimately we must have a system which leaves it to them to allocate resources, both from central government and locally raised, in the right way for their area.

Lord Carter

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the Minister for her reply. However, it did not go as far as we hoped. Incidentally, we also heard the word "prioritising" in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and we did not like it then, either.

Consultations are obviously important and we are very pleased that there has been an extended provision. It is, however, the government reaction to consultation which is important. The concern of the local authorities clearly is whether the money will be made available. I shall read carefully what the Minister said and, in the light of her remarks, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 4, line 33, after ("any") insert ("suitably qualified").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in Committee, by Amendment No. 16, I sought to ensure that an authorised person should be an officer of the authority so that he could definitely be said to be under its jurisdiction and under its discipline. When replying to that my noble friend the Minister said that she wanted flexibility to be able to have expertise which is not in-house. My amendment today seeks to make the expertise an invariable part of any officer of the authority, whether he be from outside or inside. It refers to any "suitably qualified" person.

My noble friend may say that that is covered by the last three lines of subsection (6). However, that states: but if regulations made by the Ministers so provide, no person shall be so authorised unless he has such qualifications". That gives the Minister the opportunity not to make regulations. It seems strange that we can have an authorised officer in this connection who is not suitably qualified; it seems to me that they must be qualified for the sorts of functions which they are required to perform under the terms of this Bill. I hope, therefore, that my noble friend will find it possible to accept my amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Monson

My Lords, I am very happy to support this amendment. However worthy the motives, additional bureaucratic powers should be conferred very sparingly and then only upon a limited number of suitably qualified people.

Lord Somers

My Lords, I too should like to support this amendment. It is the fashion nowadays to appoint almost anybody to a position regardless of whether he is qualified. If one is to have an authority which is of some importance and of some real authority, such as we are considering, then surely it is essential that suitably qualified persons should be on it. I wholeheartedly support the amendment.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, this amendment leaves me in a slight difficulty, in that I am aware that local authorities have great difficulty in obtaining what I describe as "suitably qualified" people. There are just not enough fully qualified environmental health inspectors and public health officers. Whether or not this could be covered by making the suitable qualification referred to at varying levels, I do not know. There may be a need on occasions to be able to delegate the authority to other people and for that reason I have slight doubts about the amendment.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hooper)

My Lords, it is useful to have the opportunity to return to this point so that I can explain the Government's view more fully and illustrate it further.

We all recognise, I believe, as shown by our brief discussion, that the task of inspecting a food business is one which calls for a high level of knowledge and expertise. That is why environmental health officers undergo three or four years' intensive study and training before they qualify. Many of those entering training are already graduates. Environmental health officers are therefore trained, responsible professionals. We all recognise that.

However, we also have to recognise that the food industry is becoming increasingly complex and specialised. This is particularly so when we are considering high technology and relatively new processes which enforcement officers will have to inspect. This was the sort of concern that led us to widen the definition of an authorised officer in this clause of the Bill to include people, whether or not an officer of the authority". This will allow the authority to appoint in certain circumstances an expert as an authorised officer to inspect a complex process, without having to rely on the co-operation of the manufacturer when the EHO is in need of such specialist advice.

As my noble friend pointed out in presenting his amendment, the clause, as drafted, also allows the authority to appoint as an authorised officer someone who is less qualified than an environmental health officer or trading standards officer. There are a number of tasks currently undertaken quite satisfactorily by such less qualified people and we believe this should be allowed to continue. For example, there is the need to ascertain whether an improvement notice issued under this Bill has been complied with. It may well be that the improvement notice specifies simply that the owner of the food business should install a sink in a particular position in his kitchen. It is not really a task which requires a high degree of qualification for someone to visit and check that it has been done. Allowing authorities to utilise such staff for these tasks will enable EHOs to concentrate on the tasks which really do require their skills. Unfortunately, my noble friend's amendment would prevent this.

My noble friend's fears are groundless for two further reasons. If an authority appoints as an authorised officer someone who is not suitably qualified to carry out a particular enforcement function, we must remember that when acting as an authorised officer a person is acting in the name of that authority. It is, therefore, the authority that would carry the can for any mistakes.

There is a further safeguard in the unlikely event that authorities appoint unsuitable people as authorised officers. Clause 5(6) also provides Ministers with powers to make regulations setting out the qualifications required before anyone can be appointed as an authorised officer, either generally or for a specific class of duties.

In view of these reassurances I hope that my noble friend Lord Mottistone will feel able to withdraw this amendment.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I think my noble friend has the wrong point. By saying "suitably qualified" I was not seeking to ensure that they were qualified to the same degree as environmental health officers. There is no suggestion of that at all. The amendment says "suitably qualified".

My noble friend quoted an example of giving authority for a sink to be installed in some business, which obviously does not require a highly qualified person. However, it requires somebody who understands what a sink is; what the limitations are and whether it can go in a particular place, because it may be that the water was expected to run up from the drainpipe instead of down, which is the normal gravitational way in which water runs. There has to be someone who understands that kind of thing, and also someone who can read and write in order to post letters so they know into which box to put them.

"Suitably qualified" means exactly what it says. In this particular context it means that local authorities would have to make sure that persons were suitably qualified. The point of that is to make sure that local authorities do not have people who are complete morons and who do not command the respect of the companies with whom they may find themselves dealing. I believe that is a more sensible argument than my noble friend was acknowledging in her reply. However, on this issue it is not worth taking the House to a Division or anything grand like that. It is a matter which my noble friend might wish to take away in order to see whether at Third Reading she might have an amendment of this kind of her own. If not, I reserve the right to return to the charge. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.30 p.m.

Clause 7 [Rendering food injurious to health]:

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 5, line 22, after ("who") insert ("recklessly").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is grouped with three subsequent amendments on the groupings list. Amendment No. 13 is a matter separate from the subsequent three amendments, so I shall speak to it quite separately. This is the second attempt to make Clause 7 rather less of a blunderbuss which not only peppers the rogue —and nobody could possibly object to that —but may also inadvertently cause considerable discomfort to food manufacturers who act in good faith and with all reasonable care and diligence.

I give an example to illustrate the necessity for the insertion of the word "recklessly" or something very like it. Let us consider the case of two small confectionery manufacturers neither of which employs more than 10 people, maybe lower than five. Therefore, they are clearly not in a position to employ food analysts or research chemists. In the course of a particular year the world is suddenly faced with a worldwide sugar blight which afflicts both sugar cane and suger beet. In consequence the price of refined sugar skyrockets. What is of even more importance to the manufacturer is that sugar becomes almost impossible to obtain, as do suitable sugar substitutes —not all sugar substitutes would be suitable for their purpose.

The first confectioner (let us call him the good confectioner) learns, luckily, that a very highly regarded and internationally known public company such as ICI, Unilever or Beecham, has just developed a totally new sugar substitute. He immediately places an order with the firm, albeit at a considerable price, in order to keep his business in existence, his employees employed and his customers happy.

In contrast, the second manufacturer is visited by a salesman who says: "Why bother paying through the nose for the new sweetener produced by ICI?" or whoever it may be. "I can get you something which is perfectly adequate for less than a third of the price. It has just been developed in a small laboratory outside Bucharest by one of the late President Ceausescu's many sons-in-law. As it so happens, I have a few cartons in the back of the van. I can let you have them at a pretty good discount, provided it is cash up front and no questions asked".

The second manufacturer finds the offer impossible to resist. Unfortunately, a few weeks later it transpires that 10 per cent. of the customers who bought products from the first confectioner develop an unpleasant rash, not a seriously disabling one, but one that is unpleasant for a few days or weeks. What is far worse is that perhaps one in three of those who bought cakes or sweets made with what might be called the Ceausescu sweetener have developed a really serious malady causing permanent disablement in some cases.

As the clause stands, it would appear that both confectioners would be caught. I believe that many people would feel that to be wrong. After all, the first manufacturer acted in good faith by going to the trouble of obtaining his ingredients from a reputable company and he has therefore taken all reasonable care. He cannot be expected to know that the ingredients would turn out to be harmful if a major company with all its resources had been unable to ascertain that fact in the first place. On the other hand, the second manufacturer has demonstrably behaved with extreme recklessness. He is clearly a reckless man who deserves prosecution, unlike the other manufacturer. I beg to move.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Monson, has clearly given further thought to this matter following the Committee stage debate. However, I still cannot accept his suggestions. Before I explain why perhaps I may make a general point. I was expecting to deal with all these amendments together as they are grouped. My general point concerns all the amendments, but I shall be speaking simply to Amendment No. 13.

Lying behind these amendments and those in the name of my noble friend Lord Mottisi one, I detect the feeling that the main offence provisions of the Bill are too tough. At the same time, if your Lordships will look down the Marshalled List to Clause 8 and Amendments Nos. 19 and 20 and think back to our earlier deliberations, you will see that we are also under pressure to go further. I believe this shows that we have the balance just about right.

We took these points away for consideration. Our conclusion is that some adjustments can usefully be made to the enforcement powers in Clauses 11 and 12. Your Lordships will see that government amendments are tabled to these clauses. However, we feel that Clause 7 is right as it stands.

Amendment No. 13 would mean that a person commits no offence by rendering food injurious to health unless he does so recklessly, though unlike the similar amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, at Committee stage, this amendment might catch someone who acts negligently. It is quite unacceptable. It would dilute the offence of rendering food injurious to health. Since this offence involves a positive act, it is right that it should be absolute, but with resort to the due diligence defence for a manufacturer whose process produces injurious food despite his taking all reasonable precautions and exercising all due diligence.

If a manufacturer can prove this to the satisfaction of a court it is right that he should be acquitted. However, it is also right that, regardless of whether an offence is shown to have been committed, we should have powers to prevent the defective food from being sold for human consumption. The Bill provides such powers.

Lord Monson

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for her explanation. Like most people, I have always been totally opposed to the concept of an absolute offence. I feel as strongly as anyone in this House that the real rogue manufacturer should be prosecuted and no question of it. It is the borderline cases that worry me. However, I am somewhat heartened by the Minister's explanation of the possibility of a due diligence defence. That is slighly reassuring. I believe that I have done all I can concerning this amendment. If in future reputable and conscientious manufacturers find themselves facing prosecution for something over which they have little or no control they cannot say that they have not been warned. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 5, line 33, leave out ("a person") and insert ("most persons").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall speak at the same time to Amendment No. 15 which is consequential and to Amendment No. 18 which is not consequential but is a possible alternative to Amendments Nos. 14 and 15. I do not think that this trio of amendments needs much explanation. There is hardly a foodstuff in the world which does not have an adverse effect on somebody somewhere. It may be chocolate, coffee, cow's milk, cheese, wheatflour, nuts, strawberries and so on, to say nothing of common additives, which are perhaps regrettably too common, such as monosodium glutamate. Many noble Lords made much the same point when supporting me in Committee.

These amendments are designed to ensure that a manufacturer does not risk prosecution merely because ingredients which are generally considered to be safe, and which are in actual fact safe for the great majority of people, happen to cause adverse reaction in a small proportion of the population. I beg to move.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord. As we are discussing these amendments together, presumably now is the moment to speak to Amendment No. 18. When I first saw the amendment I could not understand the exact reason for it. I thought it was onerous. But now that I have looked thoroughly into the matter I find that it is exactly the reverse. I thought that 5 per cent. of the population being allergic to a food would be a fairly common occurrence. However, research by the European Commission Scientific Committee for Food showed that 15 per cent. of people are sensitive to something. That 15 per cent. includes those sensitive to housedust and pollens. Only 1.5 per cent. are sensitive to some form of foodstuff and only 0.15 per cent. to food additives. The percentage of people allergic to a food, at 1.5 per cent. of the population, is very small.

A food intolerance data bank is being built up. It is important to appreciate that a manufacturer should not be held liable for an intolerance of food. The word "intolerance" is much wider than "allergy". It could cover someone who has a liverish feeling arising from an intolerance to certain foods. Some people are genuinely intolerant of food as opposed to being allergic to it, which gives different symptoms. The Leatherhead Food Research Association which manages the food intolerance data bank provides a service for state registered dieticians and hospital dieticians. It keeps a list of foods free from one or more ingredients. If someone cannot tolerate flour he can be supplied with a list of foods which exclude wheat and flour. If a milk product is to be avoided, a similar list would be provided.

It is important to appreciate that, although people have individual physiological conditions which might cause them to be upset by certain foods, it would be very unfair to blame the manufacturer of foods which did not affect the vast majority of people and in which the ingredients were good and wholesome but which had an unfortunate effect on an individual. For that reason I support Amendment No. 18 in principle, although whether or not the terminology is correct I would not be able to judge.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 suggest that injury to health should be defined by reference to most people. This is undesirable. I have vibes whenever I hear the words "most people". The definition we have provided merely assists in the interpretation of a phrase that occurs far more widely than in the present Act. It does not expand on the present interpretation which existing case law indicates to be that, food is injurious to health if it affects a substantial portion of the population". This offers greater protection than would the words of the noble Lord, Lord Monson. However, it does not mean that every incident where an individual with an odd intolerance is affected by food could be caught. For instance, very young children might risk injury to health from a food. At present a court would be unlikely to hesitate in deciding that they were a significant proportion of the population. However, most people would perhaps be unaffected.

This leads me to the noble Lord's final amendment, Amendment No. 18, which seeks to provide that food is not injurious if its sole risk to health is an allergic reaction, to which less than five per cent. of the population are known to be prone". The implication of existing case law is that foods leading to rare allergies and intolerances are unlikely to be injurious. However, I do not see why we should make the amendment which my noble friend Lord Monson proposes and which my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes has supported and hence deprive ourselves of the chance to deal with a food that causes a serious or even fatal allergic reaction in 4–9 per cent. of the population. In view of this explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will not wish to press the amendment.

Lord Monson

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, for her expert support. I was interested to hear from her that only 1.5 per cent. of the population is allergic to one or other foodstuff. I can only suppose that my family, friends and acquaintances are somewhat atypical because I reckon that at least 10 per cent. of them seem to be allergic in some degree to one food or another. But there it is.

I am reassured by what the noble Baroness said in reply to Amendments Nos. 14 and 15. Case law in that respect seems to answer my worries. However, I cannot agree with her on Amendment No. 18. She said that case law proves that foods which cause allergies are unlikely to be injurious to health. That is not quite so. I know someone who is so allergic to nuts that if one teaspoon of ground almonds were put into a cake, after one bite he would immediately become extremely ill. The noble Baroness has not answered the point fully. The case I have just cited is by no means unique.

I do not intend to press the amendment at the moment. I ask the Government to look again at the points covered by Amendment No. 18. Unlikely though it may be, there are some perfectly ordinary everyday foodstuffs to which some people are so allergic that their reaction to eating them is strong enough to hospitalise them. That is what I am talking about. I am not talking about a rash or anything as relatively innocuous as that. In the hope that the Government will look at the matter before Third Reading, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 15 not moved.]

Lord Mottistone: moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 5, line 38, leave out ("Part") and insert ("section").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 29, 36, 37 and 40. In Committee I questioned strongly whether subsection (3) of Clause 7 was too broadly written in that it might catch people on a wide scale. We have just been talking about this in relation to other amendments. I shall not pursue that further but instead concentrate on explaining the purpose of Amendment No. 16. The other amendments I referred to are consequential upon it.

The amendment seeks to narrow the definition of "injury" just to Clause 7 so that it does not apply to the whole of Part. II. That is because, as I shall explain more fully in relation to Amendment No. 17, there are some clauses within that part of the Bill where this wide definition could be seriously misinterpreted. Therefore, I suggest to your Lordships and to my noble friend the Minister that the safest way to use the term "injury", if it has to be used, is to narrow its usage down to just this clause.

In replying to one of my previous amendments my noble friend said that the definition of "injury" is used more frequently now in legislation. However, it is not frequently used in this Bill. I say that because I have only had to put forward three consequential amendments which seek to strike the word out of Part II. Therefore the term is not as widely used as may be thought. Perhaps, therefore, it would be wise to narrow its usage down to this clause alone. I beg to move.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the amendments of my noble friend Lord Mottistone reiterate the concerns he raised in Committee. I hope that he is now less concerned about the definition of "injury" as contained in Clause 7. As I have already said in response to my noble friend's amendment to Clause 7, the definition is a reasonable one and, I maintain, consistent with the common usage of the term. Moreover, it would not cover any impairment due to food intolerance or to the after-effects of alcohol.

I cannot accept my noble friend's first amendment. The term "injury" in turn defines the crucial expressions "food safety requirements" and "the health risk condition". Consequently, it influences the major offence provisions in Clauses 7 and 8, the seizure powers in Clause 9, the enforcement powers in Clauses 11 to 13 and the regulation-making powers in Clauses 16 and 26. I cannot, therefore, agree that the word should be defined only in respect of Clause 7.

As for the remainder of his amendments, my noble friend will also note that we have tabled a number of amendments of our own to the enforcement powers in Clauses 11 and 12 which address his concern that as originally drafted these clauses were rather inflexible.

I cannot accept his specific proposals to amend Clauses 11 to 13. It still appears to me that the loss of the term "injury" leads to a lack of precision and could therefore weaken the clauses. The term "injury" is wide enough to cover the circumstances where enforcement action is needed but, as I have already explained, not as wide as my noble friend may have feared.

I hope therefore in the light of that rather involved explanation that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw these amendments.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that full explanation. At this stage I am certainly satisfied with that response in relation to these amendments. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 16.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 5, line 39, after ("temporary") insert ("and attributable to food,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to emphasise the fact that subsection (3) is referring to health in relation to food. My concern and that of the Food and Drink Confederation which advises me is with the terms of Clause 11(2). I am not quite sure whether my noble friend's amendments will adequately clarify the situation.

If noble Lords will look at Clause 11(2) it can be seen that it deals with the "health risk condition" in relation to the "construction of any premises" and other such purposes. In this connection the fear is that "injury" could well be taken to encompass the health and safety of employees at work; for example, people constructing premises who may fall off ladders. Therefore it would seem reasonable to ensure, especially as this is the purpose of this part of the Bill, that we are really only talking about injury in relation to food. That is the purpose of the amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I understand my noble friend's concern that it is not specified in Clauses 11 to 13 that the term "injury to health" applies only in respect of injury caused by food. It would indeed be quite inappropriate for food authorities to use the Food Safety Bill as a draconian extension of health and safety legislation.

However, I am happy to be able to reassure your Lordships that the term does not have the breadth of meaning which my noble friend fears. The way the term is defined in Clause 7 is such as to make it clear that it refers to food. Moreover, the scope of the Bill means that the term is confined to food.

I must therefore ask my noble friend whether he will consider withdrawing the amendment. I should add, however, that I agree wholeheartedly with its purpose but I am confident that the Bill already meets the concerns he has expressed.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for her reply. I shall study carefully what she said. Moreover, I shall read the Bill again, for the umpteenth time, before deciding whether to take further action. I am very pleased that my noble friend understands what I seek to achieve. However, at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 18 not moved.]

Clause 8 [Selling food not complying with food safety requirements]:

The Viscount of Falkland moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 6, line 9, leave out ("or").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this amendment is put forward in the shape of a general safety requirement. I argued the case for such a requirement at an earlier stage of the Bill's proceedings. I should say that at this stage that while moving Amendment No. 19 I am speaking also to Amendment No. 20, the former being a paving amendment by way of a word change.

I do not know whether it was my argument or the way in which my amendment was worded at a previous stage —I add that the one I now propose is produced in roughly the same shape —which led the noble Baroness to say that she found the reasons to have such a safety requirement included in the Bill difficult to follow. I do not think it was due to my argument, but I may be wrong. I should point out that the wording is taken directly from Section 10(2)(a) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. It is also similar to that which introduces such a duty in the draft product safety directive, which, as your Lordships know, extends to food.

The main objective of such a safety requirement is to block up holes, if I may put it that way. It is a catch-all clause which would not only cover any loopholes which may currently exist in the Bill but would also cover future eventualities. Such a requirement is particularly important at present as regards future eventualities because technology in food changes so fast.

In Committee the noble Baroness also said that she found the idea of a new safety requirement to be unnecessary. I think that she said that the existing clauses, Clauses 8, 15 and 16, were a more targeted way of dealing with such problems. The arguments which I brought into play at that stage related to the example of microwave cooking. Having read the report of the proceedings on the Bill at Committee stage I am not absolutely clear how the clauses that the noble Baroness mentioned would deal with the problem. In order to keep the subject alive and not bore your Lordships by going over the same ground again, perhaps I may put another example to the noble Baroness and perhaps she can tell me how the Bill deals with it.

Let us consider the troublesome problem of red kidney beans. It may not generally be known, although it is probably known to all Members of your Lordships' House who cook, that severe stomach upsets can be caused by consuming red kidney beans unless they are cooked for at least 10 minutes.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, much longer.

6 p.m.

The Viscount of Falkland

Much longer than 10 minutes, as the noble Baroness says, in order to destroy the natural toxins which are contained in the beans. I bow to her experience in cooking. I believe that commendably the Government have written to the bean trade —if one may describe it as such —asking those involved to label their products with the requisite cooking instructions. However, there is no legal requirement —no legislative inducement —for those who sell red kidney beans to conform to the Government's request.

I dare say that the noble Baroness will suggest that the labelling regulations cover the point, but surely these requirements do not cover the sale of loose red kidney beans. It is even arguable whether they cover pre-packaged beans. If someone were to become ill from eating beans sold loose from a shop when no warning is displayed, it is unclear whether an offence has been committed. I suppose that outside your Lordships' House it is unreasonable to expect purchasers of raw kidney beans to know that they need this special treatment. I would welcome comments from the noble Baroness on that. It is an area in which there could be problems which might extend to other foods.

One accepts the Minister's final point that the provision which was added during the previous stage of the Bill, Clause 16(1)(e), gives the Government powers to impose labelling requirements. However, surely, rather than dealing with loopholes as they emerge, a higher degree of protection would lead to consumer confidence. This has been mentioned at several stages of the Bill and it would be achieved through a tighter and more watertight framework by adding this subsection. That is what the amendment tries to achieve.

As the Bill is intended to give a comprehensive legislative framework for food safety, it seems strange that the Government do not wish to raise the standards of consumer protection to those in other areas. It is my contention that your Lordships should carefully consider the amendment which I put before the House today because it would benefit consumers, manufacturers, retailers and the Government alike.

We should avoid a good many problems by tightening the band of legislation around this area. I beg to move.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, we seem to have got into a fog with this amendment. I did not understand the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, in the first round and he did not understand what I said. Let us try to put this matter to bed.

With the amendment we turn to the other side of the coin and I cannot accept it. As I said during the discussion of Clause 7, I think that we have got the balance about right and should be wary of amending key provisions. In any event, as it happens, I believe that the addition is unworkable and unnecessary. Perhaps I may talk about the famous kidney beans for a minute. If they are pre-packed, as they might well be, the labelling regulations cover them. If they are sold loose, the Food Advisory Committee is looking into labelling requirements for non-pre-packed food. We shall draw kidney beans to their attention. As a cook, I merely say that if people do not boil them for a long time they might find that their teeth suffer because the beans are extremely hard.

I do not think that it is possible to say that food fails to comply with the food safety requirements if it is not reasonably safe. It is extremely difficult to determine whether or not food is safe, even taking account of those factors listed in the proposed amendment. Food which is safe to eat at a particular time may be harmful if eaten later because it has deteriorated. Food which does no damage to one person's health may be dangerous for another.

Clause 8 already prohibits the sale of unsafe food which must be taken to include all the factors which have a direct effect on the safety of the final food, including those factors set out in the amendment. I believe that these provisions are sufficiently comprehensive and I hope that the noble Viscount has understood my explanation and will withdraw his amendment.

The Viscount of Falkland

My Lords, I think that the noble Baroness and I understand each other much better, perhaps because it is earlier in the evening than on the previous occasion. I understand what she has said and it is true that the Bill goes a good way towards allaying many people's fears about the relationship between government and food safety in times of changing needs. The rejection of the amendment is still puzzling to many of us who criticise the absence of an absolute safety requirement. This would put an obligation on those who supply food to the public to undertake to provide food which is safe in the way indicated in my amendment.

However it is not my intention to press the amendment. I do not think it is foggy; we are not in a fog or mist. I am confident that time will show that one may need to tighten the legislation in future. It would be arrogant of me to suggest at this stage, taking into account what the noble Baroness has said, that the Government resisted a move towards further protecting the consumer. I believe that a careful watch will be kept in the future. After what the noble Baroness has said, we may well have to come back to the argument, but I am glad that we have clarified some of the points at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Clause 9 [Inspection and seizure of suspected food]:

Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 7, line 9, leave out from beginning to ("forthwith") in line 10 and insert (", as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any event within 21 days, determine whether or not he is satisfied that the food complies with food safety requirements and—

(a) if he is so satisfied, shall")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we discussed Amendments Nos. 21 and 22 at an earlier stage and I think that they are clear. The essence of Amendment No. 21 is that there should be no unreasonable delay in providing an answer as to whether or not the food is fit. Therefore I have now brought back this amendment in a modified form. I believe it is self-explanatory. I hope that the Government will view it favourably. I beg to move.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friends for tabling these amendments. The argument may have been clear at an earlier stage but the amendment was not. A period of 21 days should be long enough to allow a local authority to carry out the necessary tests. I believe that these amendments strike the right balance between the needs of the enforcement authority and the owner of the food. I am happy to accept the amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 7, line 11, after ("satisfied,") insert ("shall").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 7, line 20, leave out from ("witnesses") to end of line 23.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we discussed this amendment in Committee. In the first instance the Food and Drink Federation advised me that it was concerned that a Justice of the Peace should not deal with a prosecution where he had been involved in the initial condemnation of the food. At that time my noble friend Lady Hooper said: A justice who has become prejudiced in the course of hearing the application for the condemnation of food would in practice always withdraw from any subsequent proceeding in relation to the food". —[Official Report, 15/1/90; col. 461.] I confirmed that to be so from my knowledge of magistrates in my county.

I also draw attention to the fact that Clause 9(9) specifically leaves out subsection (5)(b) in relation to Scotland. That might be understandable in the first instance because the Scots do not have JPs. However, it does not replace that provision with an amended equivalent. Therefore, the provision is clearly not considered necessary for Scotland at all.

As I said in Committee, I believe the best thing to do is to leave out subsection (5)(b) altogether. That is what I am now proposing. I believe that the subsection is unnecessary because the essential feature of whether a JP does two jobs or one is a matter for the local Bench. They are the best people to decide that matter, depending on the circumstances involved. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, I cannot sort out this matter as I have not been into the detail. However, we have JPs in Scotland although their role is somewhat different. I expect that my noble friend has studied that matter and doubtless the Minister has sorted it out.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I recall a previous discussion on a similar amendment at the previous stage of the Bill. I suggest that the paragraph which my noble friend now wishes to remove does not tell the Bench what to do but merely makes it clear that two options are open to it. I believe it would be a retrograde step to remove a paragraph which clarifies the position of magistrates. It seems to me that such a paragraph can only be beneficial to them. On that basis again I cannot accept the amendment of my noble friend on this occasion too.

On the Scottish point which my noble friend raised, as I understand it Clause 9(9)(a) simply elaborates on the reference to a Justice of the Peace to include a reference to a sheriff and a magistrate. I can confirm that sheriffs, like judges, are legally qualified. That is not the case with JPs. Therefore they have a different role. That accounts for the difference in the application to Scotland. I hope that is helpful to my noble friend and that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, this is certainly not a matter to make a great fuss about. However, I believe my noble friend has been advised rather stubbornly by people who have included an extra and unnecessary subsection, subsection (5)(b), and who are jolly well going to hold onto it through thick and thin, even if it is not necessary. This is very much a matter of back seat driving on behalf of the magistracy which is perfectly capable of deciding whether a magistrate should sit on a Bench when he has been involved in some previous exercise of his duties. Therefore I think the subsection is totally unnecessary and has been insisted upon through the stubbornness of some people who are involved in the matter. I hope the Government may feel that they are overlegislating, as is so often the case these days. However, at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 7, line 35, after ("value") insert ("and other costs, claims, damages and expenses incurred or suffered by the owner directly").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I moved an amendment in Committee which was rather wider than this one in that I was trying to recover not only costs for immediate and direct losses but also for those involved in loss of good will and good name. That may be rather difficult to value. The Bill as it stands, however, does not cover all the losses that manufacturers could be faced with in the wrongful seizure of goods. Clause 9, as it is set out, only covers depreciation in value.

However, I know of a case where a firm was instructed that it must retain all its stock of mayonnaise and not put it on the market at all because it had to be checked for various organisms. As a result 31,144 cases of that product had to be put on hold. Although a meeting was held with the environmental health officer and the company presented what it considered to be sufficient data to prove that the product was all right, it was still asked to continue to hold the product. The company carried out its own microbiological tests to confirm the product was all right but they were not acceptable. However, I support the view that an independent public analyst should carry out these tests, so I do not think, the company had any grounds for complaint there. Nevertheless, 13 days after the initial contact the company was told that the tests had been completed with satisfactory results and that the product could therefore be released.

The company had held all its stocks of that product, but as its customers could not do without it the company had to employ additional staff, at overtime rates, to make up replacement goods in order to supply the customers. When the goods were eventually cleared there was no loss in their value because they were still worth the same amount on the shelf, and as they were eventually supplied no compensation could be claimed under the terms of the present wording of the legislation. However, the cost to the firm in terms of supplying all the replacement products at a certain speed with overtime rates payable was estimated to be about £5,000. My amendment seeks to cover direct losses incurred by someone whose goods are subsequently found to be not faulty in any way and quite fit for sale. I beg to move.

Lord Stanley of Alderley

My Lords, I supported my noble friend at Committee stage when she moved a similar amendment and I do so again this evening. Perhaps I may ask my noble friend Lady Trumpington to pay very careful attention to what my noble friend Lady Gardner has said when we consider Clause 13.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I shall make sure that my noble friend Lady Trumpington is aware of the point made by my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley.

As my noble friend Lady Gardner said in moving the amendment —although not in so many words—Section 9(4) of the Food Act 1984 already requires enforcement authorities to compensate the owner of the food for any depreciation in its value resulting from its seizure, if a magistrate refuses to condemn it. That requirement will continue under the Bill. I reiterate that our aim is to maintain the proper balance between effective enforcement of public health measures and the legitimate interests of food businesses. We believe that this provision achieves that balance.

It is important to realise that, if we accept the amendment, we should be widening the provision and requiring local authorities to cover the costs of other expenses, such as legal fees and loss of custom. That would push up the compensation bill dramatically. As I said in Committee when my noble friend moved a similar amendment on the same subject, one of the main aims of the Bill is to ensure the effective enforcement of food safety law, for the better protection of public health. If we were to accept the amendment, every time an enforcement officer came across food which he suspected might be unfit he would have to balance two unpleasant possibilities in his mind. If he did not detain or seize the food he might be putting public health at risk; if he did detain or seize it he might be letting his authority in for a hefty compensation bill. That would surely lead to less effective decision-making and less effective protection of public health.

As I recollect, a number of noble Lords, although supporting my noble friend's previous amendments, also said that they had no wish to weaken the enforcement of the Bill. I fear that the amendment would weaken it.

In a case such as that of the mayonnaise referred to by my noble friend, a food business already has recourse to a local government Commissioner and can sue the local authority if it feels that the local authority has abused its powers in some way. Therefore food businesses already have the opportunity to pursue a claim for special compensation if they feel that they have a good case.

I trust that on the basis of that reply my noble friend will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her explanation, which I shall read with care. However, it seems inconsistent that if the case that I mentioned had involved a perishable product which had depreciated in value it would have been possible to make a claim even if the amount of money was the same, yet because a replacement had to be provided it was not possible to do so. That was the case that I made.

I hope that the Minister will read in Hansard what we have both said on that point. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 [Improvement notices]:

Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 8, line 10, leave out from beginning to ("within") in line 11 and insert—

  1. ("(a) state the officer's grounds for believing that the proprietor is failing to comply with the regulations;
  2. (b) specify the matters which consitute the proprietor's failure so to comply;
  3. (c) specify the measures which, in the officer's opinion, the proprietor must take in order to secure compliance; and
  4. (d) require the proprietor to take those measures, or measures which are at least equivalent to them").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment arises from an amendment which I put down at Committee stage and which I understood the Government accepted in principle. It concerns the point that there are many different ways of doing something. Therefore, the authorised officer should specify the steps which a proprietor must take but should not be so restrictive as to define those steps to the last detail since the matter could be dealt with by alternative methods. The matter should be open to formal agreement. I believe that there is no need to go into further detail. I beg to move.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I must thank my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes for tabling a revised version of the amendment which she moved in Committee. I am satisfied that the amendment will achieve our aim of ensuring that defective food premises are brought up to standard while at the same time ensuring that undue burdens are not placed on food businesses. I am therefore happy to accept the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to

Lord Gallacher moved Amendment No. 26:

Page 8, line 12, at end insert —

("(1A) Within the period referred to in subsection (1)(b) of this section, an improvement notice may be revoked or amended by any authorised officer of the enforcement authority under whose authority it was issued. The proprietor on whom the improvement notice was served shall be notified in writing"):

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment No. 26 I should also like to speak to Amendment No. 27, which is consequential. The object of the amendment is to ameliorate the drafting of Clause 10 which, as it stands, requires that an improvement notice once issued must be complied with in total subject only to an appeal to a magistrates' court, which is provided for in Clause 37.

It has been suggested to us that circumstances may arise in which the issuing officer or another authorised officer of the same enforcement authority wishes either to amend or revoke the notice. For example, an environmental health officer may have issued an improvement notice requiring new steps to be taken to prevent infestation by birds only to discover that adequate steps have been taken but not drawn to his attention. In such a case the enforcement officer might wish to withdraw the notice. Alternatively, an improvement notice could be issued requiring an improvement to be carried out in a certain way. It might then be drawn to the attention of the environmental health officer that the same result could be achieved by other and perhaps better means. In such circumstances he would probably wish to amend the notice. It is to cover such circumstances that the amendment has been tabled. I beg to move.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I appreciate the purpose behind the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Gallacher. However I believe it to be unnecessary.

I accept that following the issue of an improvement notice there may be discussions with the owner of a food business which will result in the enforcement officer wishing to change the notice. For example, if the owner has tried to find a builder to carry out work but is unable to locate one who can do it within the period specified in the improvement notice, he night approach the enforcement officer to lengthen the period. In those circumstances the enforcement officer could issue a new notice and withdraw the old one. Those powers do not need to be explicit in the Bill.

We have just discussed an amendment to Clause 10 brought forward by my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes. That will make the improvement notice system much easier for food businesses. I might add that it would also be possible for the owner of a food business to appeal against an improvement notice if he so wished. We are bringing forward an amendment to Clause 37 of the Bill later today which will allow the court which hears the appeal to alter the terms of the notice. That is another route by which an improvement notice can be changed on the application of the person on whom it was served.

I hope that, in view of what I have said, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Gallacher

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness. I was aware that the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, improved the climate somewhat. I am grateful for it. In those circumstances and in the light of what the Minister said about improvement notices in general, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 27 not moved.]

6.30 p.m.

Clause 11 [Prohibition orders]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 28:

Page 8, line 27, leave out ("(in this Act referred to as a "prohibition order")").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, in moving Amendment No. 28 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 30, 32, 33 and 115. The main amendment here is Amendment No. 30 and the others are all consequential upon it.

The amendment reflects the desire expressed in Committee by my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes that the imposition of a prohibition order on the proprietor of a food business should be something which is at the court's discretion rather than required of the court. The Government agree with that view. As I said in Committee, it is not our intention to prohibit an entire company from carrying on a food business because of an offence committed in the single outlet which may not be typical of the company as a whole. Our aim, as I said then, is to catch the real offender. Nevertheless, I hope that the House will agree that it is necessary in some circumstances to give the court the power to prevent someone from being involved in the management of any food business. We have therefore taken the opportunity to revise the clause in general and I should like to explain to the House what we have done.

I should like, first, to emphasise that before a court can begin to consider whether a prohibition order may be imposed on the proprietor of a food business he must first be convicted of an offence under hygiene regulations. We originally thought that we would cover within the scope of this clause cases where a proprietor was convicted under regulations on processing or treatment of food. However, we no longer believe that this is necessary and we consider that all the circumstances in which we would like courts to have the power to consider a prohibition relate to offences against hygiene regulations.

I am sure that noble Lords are aware that the scope of the hygiene regulations is very wide. Your Lordships will notice that we have altered the requirement in the Bill that the state or condition of the premises or equipment must pose a risk of injury to health before the court could impose a prohibition order on a proprietor. We think that that precondition was unnecessarily restrictive on the court.

To ensure that the powers are used properly, we have also come to the conclusion, following comments made during our deliberations at an earlier stage and elsewhere, that a court considering the imposition of a prohibition order on the proprietor of a food business should be required to take account of the wider circumstances of the case. The provision will, we believe, allow the court to take account of the seriousness or repeated nature of the offence which has been committed. It will also allow the court to consider whether the order is being imposed on the real or main offender. Your Lordships will see that in a little while we shall move another amendment which allows a court to place a prohibition order on the manager rather than the proprietor of a food business. There may be some cases where both are convicted under hygiene regulations. However, it may only be appropriate to impose a prohibition on one of the parties concerned because of the nature of the offence. The amendment that we are now discussing allows a court to do that.

Finally, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the additional discretion which the amendment gives to a court to prohibit the person concerned from the management of any food business or from a particular type or description of food business. For example, a court might consider that a person's behaviour led it to disqualify him from running a restaurant. However, because of the difference in the risks involved, he might still be able to run a greengrocer's shop. The amendment allows the court the discretion to adjust the scope of the prohibition order as it thinks fit. I commend the amendment to the House. I beg to move.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I am delighted that the Government have brought forward the amendment because this is an extremely complex matter which it is difficult to get right. As I said in Committee, I have seen cases where thoroughly disreputable and unreliable people were managing or running food businesses. When they were closed down by the local authority health committee, they turned round and opened up another one pretty well next door. At that stage nothing could be done about it.

The flexibility now built into the clause will still give the powers to the court to ensure that an unscrupulous person cannot flout the law, yet it will not have the effect about which the Food and Drink Federation was so concerned. If the previous wording had been retained, even the largest manufacturer of foodstuffs in the country could have been closed down because of the actions of perhaps a tiny, newly taken over branch over which it had not yet had an opportunity to exercise full control. I am therefore most grateful to the Government for considering the arguments brought forward in Committee and for bringing forward such satisfactory amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 9, line 1, leave out subsection (4) and insert —

("(4) If —

  1. (a) the proprietor of a food business is convicted of an offence under any regulations to which this section applies by virtue of section 10(3)(b) above; and
  2. (b) the court thinks it proper to do so in all the circumstances of the case,
the court may, by an order, impose a prohibition on the proprietor participating in the management of any food business, or any food business of a class or description specified in the order.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 9, line 3, at end insert —

("( ) Where the prohibition concerns the wholly owned subsidiary of a company, it shall not normally be extended to other parts of that company.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment is designed to ensure that, in the event of a recently acquired subsidiary of a company being deserving of a prohibition order, the whole company will not automatically be shut down. Part of the problem is perhaps due to the interpretation of the word "proprietor" and its definition later in the Bill. I suspect that Amendment No. 35 takes care of the problem. I should be grateful if my noble friend would reassure me that a large company would not be shut down purely because one of its subsidiaries committed an offence and required a prohibition order. I beg to move.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, as my noble friend pointed out, I said in Committee that we would review Clause 11 carefully to ensure that a court could not prohibit an entire company from carrying on a food business because of an offence committed in a single outlet which may not be typical of the company as a whole. I can reassure my noble friend that we have done so and that the provisions of Amendment No. 30 will meet his concern. I shall not repeat my introduction of the amendment here but assume that it will reassure my noble friend.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, my noble friend's words reassure me and I thank her for them. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 9, line 4, leave out ("a prohibition order") and insert ("an order under subsection (1) or (4) above (in this Act referred to as a "prohibition order")").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 33:

Page 9, line 7, at beginning insert ("in the case of an order under subsection (1) above,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 34:

Page 9, line 12, leave out from beginning to end of line 25 and insert—

("(6) A prohibition order shall cease to have effect—

  1. (a) in the case of an order under subsection (1) above, on the issue by the enforcement authority of a certificate to the effect that they are satisfied that the proprietor has taken sufficient measures to secure that the health risk condition is no longer fulfilled with respect to the business;
  2. (b) in the case of an order under subsection (4) above, on the giving by the court of a direction to that effect.

(7) The enforcement authority shall issue a certificate under paragraph (a) of subsection (6) above within three days of their being satisfied as mentioned in that paragraph; and on application by the proprietor for such a certificate, the authority shall—

  1. (a) determine, as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any event within 14 days, whether or not they are so satisfied; and
  2. (b) if they determine that they are not so satisfied, give notice to the proprietor of the reasons for that determination.

(8) The court shall give a direction under subsection (6)(b) above if, on an application by the proprietor, the court thinks it proper to do so having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including in particular the conduct for the proprietor since the making of the order; but no such application shall").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 38.

I am most grateful to my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes who made the point in Committee that the owner of a food business should have the right to apply for the lifting of a prohibition order. Where a prohibition order has been placed on a food business or on the proprietor of the business under Clause 11 of the Bill or when an emergency prohibition order has been placed on a business under Clause 12, there will be deficiencies which need to be put right. The amendments allow the owner of the business, when he considers that he has put those deficiencies right, to apply for the order to be lifted. In the case of an order placed on his premises, he would apply to the enforcement authority. Where a prohibition order had been placed on himself as the proprietor he would apply to the court.

If an enforcement authority is considering whether a prohibition order on a food business can be lifted, it must be satisfied that that business no longer poses a risk to health. The amendment also provides that, if the enforcement authority is not satisfied, it should let the owner of the food business know of the reasons for that decision. I hope that noble Lords will agree that that is a sensible change. It will lead to greater clarity for all concerned. The owner of the food business will be absolutely clear as to what else he must do to satisfy the enforcement authority that his business is no longer a risk to health. Equally, the enforcement authority will be confident that the owner of the business knows what he must achieve and will begin to take the necessary steps. On that basis I commend the amendment to the House. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 35:

Page 9, line 29, at end insert—

("(9) Subsection (4) above shall apply in relation to a manager of a food business as it applies in relation to the proprietor of such a business; and any reference in subsection (5) or (8) above to the proprietor of the business, or to the proprietor, shall be construed accordingly.

(10) In subsection (9) above "manager", in relation to a food business, means any person who is entrusted by the proprietor with the day to day running of the business, or any part of the business.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment is closely linked to Amendment No. 34, which allows the court discretion as to whether or not to disqualify the proprietor of the business. We had in mind, in particular, the situation where the conviction of the proprietor of a large chain of food premises, because of the unhygienic conditions in one branch, should not necessarily lead to the prohibition of the proprietor. Rather, it could well be the manager of the branch in question, who might also have been convicted of the offence, who should be barred from running a food business or managing one for a period of time.

This amendment allows a court to disqualify the manager of a food business or part of a business in exactly the same way as it may disqualify the proprietor. The amendment defines "manager" as the person entrusted by the proprietor with the day-to-day running of the business or a part of the business

I am sure that your Lordships will agree that there are circumstances where it would be indefensible to treat the manager of a single branch or outlet of a major chain differently from the proprietor of a small food business. We recognise that the onus is on the proprietor of the business to ensure that hygienic conditions and practices exist in all the branches of that business. However, because people working in the catering trade in particular tend to move rapidly between jobs within that trade, we think it is necessary to have the power to disqualify a manager so that, where appropriate, he may not move on and immediately begin work with another company where he could continue his bad practices. I hope that your Lordships will agree that this is a worthwhile amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Gallacher

My Lords, I have no intention of opposing the amendment. I accept the principle inherent in it and the good sense which lies behind it. I intervene to express the hope that the granting of a facility to proceed against managers, whilst fully justified in the circumstances which the noble Baroness has outlined, will not result in any weakening of the responsibility of proprietors to ensure that hygiene regulations are observed throughout the whole of their business. I hope that in particular branches hygiene training is fully implemented.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I can reassure the noble Lord that it is not our intention that proprietors should have less responsibility in those circumstances.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 12 [Emergency prohibition notices and orders]:

[Amendments Nos. 36 and 37 not moved.]

Baroness Trumpington moved Amendment No. 38:

Page 10, line 24, leave out from ("business") to end of line 25 and insert—

("8A) The enforcement authority shall issue a certificate under subsection (8) above within three days of their being satisfied as mentioned in that subsection; and on an application by the proprietor for such a certificate, the authority shall —

  1. (a) determine, as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any event within 14 days, whether or not they are so satisfied; and
  2. (b) if they determine that they are not so satisfied, give notice to the proprietor of the reasons for that determination.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 10, line 39, leave out subsection (10).

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I should also like to speak to Amendment No. 116. The deletion of the subsection reinserts a similar category of bank holidays under Clause 53 —I have amendments down in respect of Clause 53.

As regards Amendment No. 116 perhaps there should be specific reference to the fact that any period that finishes on a Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 in a relevant part of Great Britain should be treated as finishing on the next day thereafter, which is not such a bank holiday. Your Lordships will be aware that bank holidays vary in different parts of the United Kingdom. It may be unfair if those bank holidays were in the counting period. If they were counted within that period it would be much shorter. I believe that holidays should be counted, whilst recognising that if a period ends with a holiday, the due day should be the next working day. Under the provisions of the Bill a period beginning on a Friday would discount Saturday and Sunday and end on Wednesday. The effect of this amendment would be that the period would end on a Monday.

We are discussing a fine point in regard to calculation of bank holidays.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, it was not our intention to produce the effect that my noble friend discovered and raised with us at a previous stage. I am happy to accept my noble friend's amendments, which put it beyond all doubt that, for the purposes of enforcement, Scottish bank holidays are disregarded in Scotland, and English bank holidays are disregarded in England.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 13 [Emergency control orders]:

Amendment No. 40 not moved.

Baroness Trumpington moved Amendment No. 41:

Page 10, line 46, leave out ("section") and insert ("Act")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Stanley of Alderley moved Amendment No. 42:

After Clause 13, insert the following new clause:

("Complaints about emergency control order.

(1) This section applies where any person makes a complaint to a justice of the peace on the ground that he is aggrieved by an emergency control order made under subsection 13 above, or by an emergency order made under section 1 of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985.

(2) If a justice of the peace is satisfied, on the basis of such evidence as he considers appropriate in the circumstances, that there was no imminent risk of injury to health from the carrying out of commercial operations with respect to food or food sources at the time when an order under section 13 above was made, or that food was not unsuitable for human consumption at the time when an emergency order under section 1 of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 was made, the Minister shall compensate the owner of the food or food sources for any depreciation in the value of the food or food sources.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have studied very carefully the remarks made by my noble friend Lady Trumpington at Committee stage. She was kind enough to write to me concerning this amendment.

Despite that fact, I am moving the same amendment not least because I fear that I have not explained the problem correctly. I know that the noble Lords, Lord Carter and Lord Mackie of Benshie, will ensure that the position is put quite clearly tonight.

The amendment would provide for compensation for the incorrect application of an emergency order and would only come into play if two rare conditions occurred, the first, of which would be if an emergency order was incorrectly made. A perfect example of that situation occurred recently when a farmer had an order placed on him regarding the movement of his stock because the authority thought that he had purchased lead-contaminated feed. When the invoice was inspected it turned out that the invoice was for rubber boots. The farmer could have suffered unnecessary loss. I hope that your Lordships will agree that in that case he should be compensated. The amendment deals with that point.

The only other point that the amendment deals with that would come into play is a situation where the food was not contaminated. My noble friend Lady Trumpington felt that this would overburden the justices because every farmer would appeal to the court. I beg to differ for the following reasons. First, farmers have better things to do than to make frivolous appeals before the courts which involve legal costs. Secondly, the order will be in force, so it will be up to the farmer to bring technical evidence to prove that he is correct. That is not an easy thing to do. It could only occur if a glaring mistake had been made. In those circumstances it is a bit like French law: the farmer is guilty until he can prove otherwise.

The amendment would be very seldom used. It cannot be used if the food is contaminated as, for instance, in the Chernobyl situation. It can be used only if there is a mistake by an official. I hope that your Lordships will agree that it is important that the individual should always have the right to bring an official, or indeed a Minister of the Crown, before the law if there is evidence that they have acted incorrectly.

In Committee my noble friend said that the fear of such a proceeding would deter Ministers from acting. I believe I heard that tonight also from my noble friend Lady Hooper. I am surprised by such a statement. It reflects poorly on Ministers' characters and more importantly officials' ability. I, and I know your Lordships, would be unable to accept that my noble friend on the Front Bench has a weak character. I am sure that she will assure us that her department and environmental health officers have the expertise, the numbers and the ability to operate the Bill. The amendment does not set a precedent. It only duplicates the procedures set out in Clause 9, which we have just been discussing, which allow producers to appeal to a justice of the peace if they have evidence that they have been incorrectly discriminated against. I beg to move.

Lord Carter

My Lords, we are pleased to support the amendment from this side of the House. It has been explained with great clarity by the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley. I should like to refer again to the point that he made which was mentioned in the letter sent to him by the Minister and to add my surprise at the suggestion that the fear of having to pay out large amounts of compensation would be likely to deter Ministers from taking swift action, the result of which would inevitably be to put consumers at greater risk. Surely we are not to believe that the fear of compensation would mean that the Ministry would not act with all the speed and expedition that one would expect in a matter of food safety. The House is entitled to ask the Minister to explain what was meant by the wording.

Another point was raised in the Minister's letter which I believe to be incorrect. It was that traders can insure against such risks and that once new provisions are enacted they may be better placed to seek legal redress from negligent and third parties. When we debated the orders dealing with lead contamintion last week I read a letter from a substantial feed supplier which showed that suppliers cannot obtain insurance cover in a number of areas of risk. It is incorrect to assume that insurance cover is available in all cases.

I am pleased to support the noble Lord because a genuine problem exists which concerns many farmers and others to which the Government should address themselves.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, I hope that the Minister will consider the amendment with care because the arguments which have been adduced against it are, to put it mildly, not practical. First, it is said that the polluter must pay. That is true, but in this case we are talking about an area which has been frozen because of a danger to health. It then turns out that the farm, for example, was incorrectly scheduled as being part of the area. Therefore, if the polluter is sued he can say, "I did not pollute your ground". There are all sorts of complications and the time factor is important.

If a Minister is to take action and wants the backing of the community, farmers need to be sure that they can obtain compensation for doing something which is in the public good and for the public health. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, has already said that insurance is difficult to obtain. It is far too expensive. It is nearly impossible to specify all cases. I am sure that it would be difficult to cover everything that might happen in the small print.

I cannot understand why the Minister will not include or substitute a clause similar to Clause 9(7) which provides: If a notice under subsection (3)(a) above is withdrawn, or the justice of the peace by whom any food falls to be dealt with under this section refuses to condemn it, the food authority shall compensate the owner of the food for any depreciation in its value resulting from the action taken by the authorised officer". If that applies to the food supplier who merely buys and sells the food, it should apply also to the grower who has spent years preparing the ground, as in the case of strawberries, for example. He waits the whole year to harvest his crop. If a restriction is placed upon him for 10 days it could ruin not only the ripe crop but that which is to follow. Some provision needs to be included to cover that point.

The amendment is logical but I shall be happy if the Minister cares to substitute a real alternative. In the meantime I do not doubt the justice of the case or the use it would be in obtaining the co-operation of the community in containing any outbreak of food poisoning or distribution of dangerous food.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I support the principle behind the amendment. It does not seem right to me that one group should be entitled to compensation and not another. I shall not comment on the wording of the clause because I have not studied it in detail. But it seems only fair that something along the lines of Clause 9 should be provided for other people.

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, I too should like to support my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley. It is only right, as my noble friend Lady Gardner said, that if one group of people is compensated, so should the other be. I feel so strongly about the point that if my noble friend were tempted to test the opinion of the House I give my noble and, if I may say so, great friend on the Front Bench fair warning that I might support him.

I could be impressed by my noble friend's arguments, but I should not be impressed if they were to take the following lines: first, it will be a great drain on the Exchequer. If it will be a great drain on the Exchequer it shows that the entire legislation is not working because Exchequer money will be called for only if there is a mistake. If it will be a drain on the Exchequer it means that the whole system is a nonsense.

Secondly, I do not believe that I should be impressed if I were told that the provision would put a great deal of extra work on JPs, because a great deal of work is being put on them in the other part of the Bill. I come from a rural area where such an occurrence might pop up, and it might make rather a pleasant change from the humdrum petty crime and motoring offences which we magistrates hear the whole time to have a bit of common sense like this to work out.

Thirdly, I should not be impressed if I were told that the farmer has the right to go to the High Court. Many of the farmers, especially the hill farmers in my part of the world, could not afford to go to the High Court and the idea would never occur to them. If my noble friend does not like the wording of the amendment, I hope that she will say that she will have a look at it again because, as I said, I shall be tempted to follow my noble friend through a different Lobby from her.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

My Lords, I too support the amendment. I live in the middle of an important agricultural area where there is a tremendous number of cattle and sheep. If no one can appeal against a proposal, and there is nothing in the Bill which would allow it to be questioned that would be most unfair. The Bill is designed to protect the consumer and also, I presume, the producer. It would be unfair if the producer were criticised or made to pay if the decision were incorrect. I think this amendment would help in that respect and it would be fair to the farmer as well as to the consumer.

7 p.m.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I agree in principle with this amendment, although I speak from a different angle from that of the farmers.

Lord Monk Bretton

My Lords, I have certain sympathies with this amendment of my noble friend Lord Stanley; and of course I am also an interested party. I still have the feeling that really this may be a misunderstanding which is causing a storm in a teacup. I very much hope so. It depends on the reply given by my noble friend. I do not think she was very mollifying in Committee when replying to my noble friend Lord Stanley. However, perhaps more light will be thrown upon the situation on this occasion.

I can only say that when we dealt with the matter of lead in feedingstuffs I, like many other farmers, wanted to check my own position very carefully.

Where a farmer did not have, or did not use, the feed that was contaminated but was nevertheless banned from marketing his milk, I understand there to be no ability for him to claim under a third party policy and that there was no claim on the feedingstuffs supplier beyond his having to replace any feed that was contaminated.

I then got the comment that if the authorities extended their prohibitions too far they would be liable. Of course that is one area of conjecture. I understand that another area concerns the question of the claim against the feedingstuffs supplier. I believe those matters are still before the courts, and perhaps not only the courts in this country.

I wonder what the Minister will do if those cases go against the farmers, because it will put them in a most unfortunate position; there is no doubt about that. I very much hope that my noble friend the Minister will be keeping a close eye on that matter. It would help enormously, I think, if she could give some assurance to farmers as to what the position would be if the result of the court actions were to be as one might fear.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, I appreciate that there are enormous problems in thinking through how to apply an arrangement of this sort, but I am bound to say I do not think that the Government can ignore the matter. As my noble friend Lord Stanley has said, it is only in rather rare circumstances that this crops up. It has to be because an official has actually made a mistake so that the emergency order was incorrect, or the feed turned out not to be contaminated. There was a time when farmers had plenty of room for manoeuvre. I was one of them and I do not know whether or not I owned up to it; but there was room for manoeuvre. If someone was unjust to a farmer he could probably accept the extra cost. I am not a farmer now, but I know it is very difficult nowadays in many areas to farm profitably. To treat farmers differently in this respect from other producers of food is not only unjust, but wrong. It shows a certain lack of awareness on the part of the Government of the problems that can be created. So I hope that my noble friend, if she is going to defend the Government's position on this matter, will go away and think very hard about it. This is a big problem. Times have changed and farmers have a right to the understanding of the public and of your Lordships' House in this particular respect.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I fear there will always be times in life when I cannot follow my noble friend Lord Swinton through every door he opens. I cannot accept the amendment put forward by the noble Lords, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, I have a fundamental objection. This amendment is logically out of place in this Bill. The powers it contains, and those contained in Part I of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, are concerned with protecting consumers. There are other safeguards for manufacturers and traders. The law already holds Ministers accountable if they act negligently or unreasonably in the exercise of their powers.

Secondly, it is clear that in an emergency the Government's principal duty may be to protect the consumer. Where it is not possible to establish all the relevant facts immediately, consumers are entitled to expect Ministers to feel no inhibitions about erring on the side of caution. In other emergency situations involving a serious threat to public health and safety, the emergency authorities are free to introduce immediate precautions without concern for possible financial penalties.

Returning to what the noble Lord, Lord Carter, said, I ask your Lordships seriously to consider whether the introduction of compensation in this clause could act as a deterrent to Ministers concerned about possible financial implications, when their concern should be for the health of the public. Provided that Ministers are acting reasonably —and I have already said that it will remain open to anyone who wishes to test this in court —the risks to commerical operators should be very small. The powers we are seeking provide the utmost flexibility of operation in order that precautionary restrictions may be lifted in whole or in part immediately it is safe to do so.

Thirdly, there are a number of problems relating to the particular approach embraced in this amendment which we did consider at Committee stage. In particular we fear that the judicial system could well be plunged into chaos if everyone subject to an emergency order (and there could be many thousands affected by a single order) decided to register a complaint with a justice of the peace. If this seems fanciful, let me ask what anyone would have to lose under the terms of this amendment by making such an application "just on the off-chance", when the potential commercial advantage is so obvious.

Moreover, very few JPs could be reasonably expected to have the necessary technical expertise to make a judgment or, in the early stages of an incident, to have sufficient facts to second-guess the Minister's judgment on what may or may not constitute a risk to human health. Since this amendment is so fundamentally at variance with the objectives of the clause, I will not spend time on detailed drafting points, beyond pausing to wonder how it could possibly work in practice. How, for example, would the level of compensation be determined? Are the Government expected to compensate at the client's own valuation or is the JP also expected to calculate the appropriate depreciation in value? Or, again, is it envisaged that some new tribunal be set up to work through such claims? The amendment gives no guidance on this rather vital pratical question: nor does it place any limit on the number of applications a party may make. Presumably a claimant could approach one JP after another until he finds one who will agree with his case.

On insurance, people can legally insure if they can find an insurance company willing to cover the risk. The latter may be a little difficult, I freely admit. With regard to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, who told a jolly little story about an invoice for rubber boots, I am reliably informed that this has been checked out by my Ministry. Nobody has as yet been able to substantiate this story.

Before I sit down, I should like to return to the more general argument. Could I press the noble Lord further with a mixture of principle and practical concern?

The amendment seeks to introduce the possibility of compensation if, with the benefit of hindsight, Ministers turn out to be mistaken in taking emergency measures. They would not even know at the outset where the particular consignment was contaminated.

I am responding to my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley. Obviously all that they can do is to take a view of what appears prudent or necessary at the time when crucial decisions have to be made. We want Ministers to be free to do what is in the public interest without risk of legal challenge. We do not want them to become liable to pay compensation, if and when, additional facts come to light, if it is apparent that they were mistaken although acting in good faith.

I also remind noble Lords that present emergency action is taken under voluntary arrangements. We have made it clear that we hope these will continue with emergency control orders being the exception rather than the rule.

The noble Lord, Lord Banshee, asked —I am so sorry, I do apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, will the noble Baroness permit me to say that I take little offence from her calling me the noble Lord, Lord Banshee. I object much more to the remainder of the speech!

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I shall still civilly answer the point that he raised. He asked why we do not insert the provision from Clause 9. Clause 13 is quite different. It will be used when the risk is widespread. Clause 9 in contrast applies to a single seizure of food. The emergency control orders are not only for use against farmers. On the contrary, we would often expect to use the Food and Environment Protection Act for on-farm problems. What they will do is to back up the Department of Health's hazard warning systems which are used to withdraw food when there is a risk to public health. The provisions of Clause 13 will therefore also apply to manufacturers and retailers of food.

We did pay compensation. An example is that to date almost £7 million that the Government have paid to those farmers affected by the restrictions following the Chernobyl accident were despite the absence of any specific statutory provisions within the Food and Environment Protection Act.

I have a great many more arguments to deploy, but I believe that the time has come when your Lordships will wish to make up your minds.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Monson

My Lords, the noble Baroness wrung our hearts with the quite pitiful vision of Ministers who acted in good faith having to pay compensation. Does she agree that they would not have to pay compensation out of their own pockets?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Stanley, replies, perhaps I could allow him the benefit of what happened to me.

Noble Lords


Lord Lyell

My Lords, at Report stage I may speak once on each amendment.

Lord Belstead

My Lords, with respect to my noble friend, not after the Minister.

Lord Stanley of Alderley

My Lords, I should like to thank all noble Lords and noble Baronesses for their help, with the one exception, I am afraid, of my noble friend on the Front Bench. Obviously we cannot agree on this. If the amendment is wrongly drafted, as we all know it is always possible to correct that afterwards. Certainly I can put the details in it.

However, I wish to address the principle. I do not think that my noble friend has addressed herself to that. I shall comment very briefly on the points that have not already been raised. Most of the points that she brought up have already been raised. It is no good behaving like children, saying, "Yes, you did"; "No, you did not." I shall comment only on those that have not been brought up.

First, I am reliably informed that if one goes to the ombudsman he has no power whatsoever to direct the Minister. He can only advise. That course of action is therefore out for the farmer.

A judicial review is not possible in the case of an individual farmer. I am sorry that we have not got this difference over to my noble friend. We are talking about very few individual cases because of the terms in which the amendment is drafted. I do not believe that she and her department have looked carefully at it. To have a judicial review for an individual farmer is quite out of the question. One might have a judicial review if the Minister designated Norfork instead of Suffolk. That is the situation in which a judicial review would be brought.

I received the assurance from the Minister which I welcomed that in the end the Government paid for Chernobyl. I was affected by Chernobyl. I can remember the agony that we went through before we received compensation. I do not wish to see a repeat of what happened then, when my right honourable friend Michael Jopling had to go every week on his knees before the Chancellor and say, "Please spare a penny for the farmer". I do not wish to see my noble friend having to do that. I do not mind seeing her on her knees, but I do not think she would wish to be put in that position. I mean that seriously. I believe that the provision should be on the statute book.

The other point is the question of the Minister failing to act, or being worried about acting, because of the provision. I am appalled by that argument. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, brought it up. I shall have to repeat it. If the environmental health officers are properly qualified, and if there are enough of them, they will not make mistakes. If one makes mistakes, I was always taught that one pays for them. That is all that I am asking for. I shall not continue because obviously unfortunately we cannot agree. I shall have to ask for the opinion of the House.

7.16 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 42) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 62; Not-Contents, 54.

Ardwick, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Barnett, L. Mason of Barnsley, L.
Blyth, L. Meston, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Monson, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Carter, L. [Teller.] Mottistone, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Nicol, B.
Congleton, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Pender, L.
Downshire, M. Phillips, B.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Ennals, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Erroll, E. Russell, E.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Falkland, V. Savile, L.
Forbes, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Gallacher, L. [Teller.]
Grey, E. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Hampton, L. Swinton, E.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Tordoff, L.
Hooson, L. Tryon, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Hylton-Foster, B. White, B.
Jeger, B. Williams of Elvel, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Kilbracken, L.
Kinloss, Ly. Winstanley, L.
Kirkhill, L. Wise, L.
Liverpool, E. Wynford, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Arran, E. Eden of Winton, L.
Auckland, L. Ferrers, E.
Beloff, L. Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Belstead, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Blatch, B. Gray of Contin, L.
Borthwick, L. Greenway, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Gridley, L.
Caithness, E. Halsbury, E.
Campbell of Croy, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Henley, L.
Coleraine, L. Hives, L.
Colwyn, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Craigavon, V. Hooper, B.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Johnston of Rockport, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Kaberry of Adel, L.
Davidson, V. [Teller.] Kenilworth, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Long, V.
Lyell, L. Renton, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Rodney, L.
Margadale, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Merrivale, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Mersey, V. Strathclyde, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Nugent of Guildford, L. Trumpington, B.
Orkney, E. Ullswater, V.
Orr-Ewing, L. Windlesham, L.
Reay, L. Young, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

7.24 p.m.

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned. I suggest that the Report stage begins again at 25 minutes past eight o'clock.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.