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Clause 6—(Works Not To Be Begun Until After Notice To Authorities And Managers Concerned)

Volume 478: debated on Friday 20 October 1950

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11.15 a.m.

I beg to move, in page 11, line 15, to leave out subsection (3).

This Amendment is identical with one which I put down on the Committee stage, and the two points which I raised then were not, I think, fully appreciated by the Minister at the time, because he was engaged elsewhere and only came into the Chamber in the middle of my speech. The first point is what is intended to be the test of whether works have been substantially begun, as referred to in line 17? The second is whether or not the second notice is really necessary, supposing there is a temporary impediment which prevents the work commencing as it is intended it should commence. I hope the Minister has looked at this matter between the Committee stage and now, and will tell us whether he is prepared to consider the Amendment again or make some other arrangement.

I can assure the hon. Member that this matter has been fully reconsidered in all its legal aspects and I am advised—I understand the Attorney-General concurs—that the interpretation would depend in every case upon the facts of the situation. It is impracticable to give any definition in the Bill, because this is apparently one of those issues which, in the final resort, must be determined in the courts. That is the reason why I have not been able to bring any Amendment forward at this stage to give effect to the view which the hon. Gentleman expressed in Committee.

It may well be inevitable that some matters are incapable of precise definition, but, at the same time, it is regrettable that the Minister should have to leave the matter to the decision of the courts instead of trying to find a way of clarifying the matter now. The Parliamentary timetable being what it is, there is probably nothing that can be done about it, but, nevertheless, it is regrettable that we should have to leave the matter as it is and I only rise to record a mild protest about it.

I ought to point out that the Bill has been under consideration for a very long time and that negotiations have been going on. We have made considerable progress, but we cannot possibly hope to solve every problem in connection with it. This is a substantial step forward.

Amendment negatived.