Skip to main content

Clause 12—(Compensation In Respect Of Government Oil Pipe-Lines)

Volume 446: debated on Wednesday 28 January 1948

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I beg to move, in page 10, line 32, at the end, to insert:

"Provided that in the case of a payment under the said Subsection (4) which accrued due to any person before the commencement of this Act but has not been made before the commencement thereof, the said person shall be entitled to interest on the payment in accordance with the provisions in that behalf of the Act of 1939 as from the date when the payment accrued due until the commencement of this Act."
This Amendment is designed to remedy a slight omission. A case may arise where compensation has become payable under Section 3 (4) of the 1939 Act but has not been paid by the time Royal Assent is given to this Bill. The Amendment provides that for the intervening period interest shall be payable, in respect of compensation payable under the 1939 Act, up to the time that the interest becomes payable under this Bill. This Amendment simply makes provision for a particular set of circumstances.

The Committee are grateful to the Solicitor-General for the explanation he has given. We accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 10, line 37, after "stock," to insert "chattels."

In our opinion, damage may be caused by these oil pipelines not only to crops and stock, but also to movable property and to persons. It is not clear why if this Subsection is necessary, it does not embrace chattels as well as the other provisions. I would point out that the same point is covered by the Amendments in page 10, line 38, after "land," to insert:
"or by reason of injury to any person,"
and, in line 39, after "damage" to insert "or injury."

9.45 p.m.

We consider that a case has been made out for the Amendment. In other words, we agree that the word "chattels" should be inserted. The right hon. Gentleman intimated that in his view this Amendment and the following two Amendments hang together. That is a view which we cannot altogether accept. We feel that different considerations are involved. We accept the first Amendment, but with regard to the other Amendments, which seem to impose what is virtually an unlimited liability in respect of injury to any person, we think that they go too far. It may be difficult to carry out maintenance and other work without doing a certain amount of damage to crops and chattels. That is why we think it proper that liability should be accepted, subject to certain qualifications, for damage to that category of property.

With regard to personal injury, we feel that the position should be left to the common law. We think that no one should be entitled to damages in respect of personal injury which may have been sustained owing to the exercise of the powers given by the Act unless that person can show that there was some degree of negligence or of culpable omission which led to the injury. If a person claims damages for personal injury, it is right that the person from whom he claims the damages should be entitled to exonerate himself or say that the accident was the result of contributory negligence. In those circumstances, we feel that we cannot accept the two following Amendments, although we accept the first.

Do I understand the Solicitor-General to say that, supposing an action lies against the owner of the land on which there is a pipeline, and the case goes against the owner at common law, the Department responsible for the pipeline will indemnify the owner against any financial loss?

I did not say that, and I was not dealing with the question of the liability of the owner. I was dealing solely with the question of the exercise of the powers conferred by the Act. It was in respect of the exercise of those powers that I said that the ordinary common law should apply.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

On a point of Order, Major Milner. With regard to the Amendment in line 46—to leave out from "in," to "and," in page line r, and to insert:

"writing within two years, or such longer period as the Treasury may in special circumstances allow, beginning with the date on which the compensation accrues due."
I think that is an Amendment which you have not selected. It raises a point which is quite different from that which has been raised before, and I could deal with it quite shortly if I might be allowed to move it.

The hon. and learned Member can refer to it, if it is relevant, on the Motion, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

That is the course I will adopt. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that under Subsection (7) there is no time-limit within which claims can be made. It is left completely at large. It can be prescribed in the regulations, for instance, that schemes have to be made within three weeks or within one week, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider bringing this Subsection into line with the previous Subsections with which we have dealt. There is not even a stipulation that a claim made within six months will be all right. I suggest that it would be preferable to alter Subsection (7) so as to bring it in accordance with the proviso to Subsection (8), whereby a claim made within the prescribed form and manner is in order if made within six months. There is no limit here. It is all left to regulation. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will consider altering that on the Report stage in order to bring it into line with the earlier part of the Bill.

I can assure the Committee that the regulations will prescribe a perfectly reasonably time in the circumstances. I do not want to give any undertaking about a specific time. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that there is no reason for him to anticipate that the time will be unreasonably abbreviated. What he has said will be taken into account. I cannot give any undertaking but I have listened with interest to what he has said, and no doubt the regulations will deal with the matter sensibly.

I am asking that it should be put into the Bill. It is better that it should be in the Bill and not in regulations which are hard to find.

I have heard what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said. I cannot help thinking that he is a little too suspicions and over-anxious, but what he has said is on record and will no doubt be considered.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.