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Viscount Ullswater: I have a point to make before my noble friend the Minister replies. I am led to believe by the conversations I have had with the Institution of Chemical Engineers that the word "steelwork" can indeed involve the bulk storage of food and drink in the food processing industry. Therefore, it is not just the steelwork which might be the frame of a building; indeed, it is actually steelwork which is used within the manufacture of those bulk vessels. We should also understand that that can be construed in the word "steelwork".

Lord Monkswell: I believe that we are entering into a most important area. We can think in terms of steelwork forming the frame of a building and that providing a support structure for the process plant within it, or one can think in terms of the steelwork which does not form the frame of a building but which is part of the process plant itself. The difficulty is where to draw the line. It is not clear from the way that the Bill is currently worded where the line that I suspect the Government and the rest of us would agree on should be drawn.

Earl Ferrers: I have tried to make it as clear as I can. If I may say so, I believe that we are talking about two totally different concepts. The noble Lord,

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Lord Monkswell, referred to construction, and so on, in paragraph (c) and the installation, demolition and steelwork on a nuclear site. That is excluded. A nuclear site, and whatever goes on there, is excluded from the legislation because it is a specialised area and those concerned have not found trouble in that respect.

I see that the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, is frowning. However, I am trying to say that much of the process engineering activity like building reservoirs and large nuclear stations, and so on, is not supposed to be covered by the Bill. It has operated perfectly well and the participants in that industry do not want this to operate. However, the participants in the construction industry do want it because they do not get paid properly.

Therefore, with regard to the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, and his nuclear site, as I said, that is excluded. As regards my noble friend Lord Ullswater and his vats, they are excluded by virtue of the amendment that I am now proposing to the Committee. It would exclude from the provisions of the Bill large warehouses for vats and so on--for example, vats of, say, olive oil, if one can have such things. However, it would not exclude Sainsbury's and Tesco which have what one might describe as warehouses containing bottles of olive oil. It is the large warehouses which will be excluded but the supermarkets, inasmuch as they may be considered to be warehouses, would not be excluded.

Lord Monkswell: I am sorry to press the Minister, but I believe it would be useful to try to clarify the matter. The noble Earl referred to a nuclear site and said that there were no problems. The industry was quite happy with the way things operate. However, when the Minister refers to a "nuclear site", I wonder whether he means the nuclear vessels and the process pipework that goes into such a site. Alternatively, is he including the whole site which may include the perimeter wall or fence or the gatehouse at the entrance to the site which are obviously just normal construction activities, if I may put it that way? Where is the border line? That is the difficulty.

Earl Ferrers: I believe that I now understand the noble Lord's concern rather more than I did before. I should like to consider the points that he made and write to him. My understanding is that if you are demolishing a whole nuclear site, the whole lot would be excluded and that if you are building a whole new nuclear site, including a gate and a manager's house, then that would also be excluded. However, if you had a site that was already constructed and you wanted to give the manager a jazzed up house and you built it on that site, I believe that the building would be included within the Bill. I believe that we have taken the matter as far as we can at present. I shall certainly consider the points that have been raised and, indeed, will write to the noble Lords, Lord Monkswell and Lord Howie, specifically.

Lord Howie of Troon: I have no wish to persecute the Minister or, indeed, to prolong the debate much further. However, I am intrigued by the references to nuclear power stations. I fear that I must again draw

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on my own personal experience. I was one of the designers of the pre-stressed concrete pressure vessel for Wylfa nuclear power station which was constructed by Taylor Woodrow, a very well-known civil engineering company, not a process engineering company or anything of that sort. The pressure vessel was constructed by civil engineers, not by process engineers. It was designed by them and built under the standard conditions of contract of the Institution of Civil Engineers. I forget which edition it was; it was probably the second or the third. It was quite a while ago. The exclusion of nuclear activities from construction seems to me odd at best, possibly even perverse.

Earl Ferrers: One of the advantages of such a Committee stage is that it draws out of noble Lords the most astonishing abilities. I did not know that the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, had ever been able to design a pre-stressed concrete pressure vessel. If my mind wafted away while the noble Lord was speaking, it was because I tried to get that linguistic knot right; namely, that it was a pre-stressed concrete pressure vessel.

Lord Howie of Troon: I did not do it all!

Earl Ferrers: Now the noble Lord spoils it. I thought that he had done it all on his own. In any event, he is a very clever fellow to have done even a little of it, even if he just put the lid on.

I have no doubt that that work was carried out successfully, with no trouble and no hassle, as they say. I do not think the noble Lord would have liked all the fandango in this Bill to have applied to that pressure vessel which he was trying to construct. We are not trying to aim the Bill at things like that; we are trying to aim it at the construction industry, where they have had the problems which the noble Lord, Lord Howie, did not have in the case to which he referred.

Lord Williams of Elvel: This has been a long debate and no doubt there will be other long debates on this matter. As the Minister now appreciates, the drafting of Clause 102, and in particular of subsection (2), gives rise to all sorts of complexities. In particular, I am not entirely happy with the Minister's response with regard to my point about "off-shore" versus "on-shore" but we will certainly consider it.

My noble friend Lord Monkswell drew out the point about "primary activity" versus "sole activity". Indeed, that is the point that was at issue when we were discussing whether something was properly described as a nuclear power station or as what the Minister referred to as a jazzed-up house for a manager. I am advised that the word "primary" in Clause 102(2)(c) will give rise to great dispute and earn a lot of fees for lawyers.

With regard to warehousing, I am happy to accept the noble Earl's amendment, which goes a long way towards satisfying what we were aiming at and would deal with Amendment No. 135 as well.

I have no doubt that when we deal with Amendment No. 139 to be moved by my noble friend Lord Howie of Troon there will be further discussions on this matter. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 129:


Page 59, line 2, leave out ("or construction of underground works").

The noble Lord said: This amendment covers a slightly different point but is also concerned with exclusions under subsection (2) of Clause 102. We have taken advice on this and it seems to us that construction of underground works is properly a matter for the construction industry and is performed by what would normally be called construction companies even though the works may be underground. For that reason, I would have thought that construction of underground works should be within the ambit of the Bill. I need say no more at this stage because I am sure the Minister understands what I am getting at, but I should be grateful for this amendment to be given proper consideration. I beg to move.

Lord Ezra: Perhaps I could intervene on this point, having had quite a lot of experience of underground works in my time. Something which slightly worried me when we were dealing with the previous block of amendments was that contracts let by the National Coal Board for major projects were clearly divided between civil work, electrical work, mechanical work and mining work, and it is difficult therefore to accept the concept that some of these major projects should exclude one or other of these activities. With regard to the specific amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, has moved, it is clearly in my recollection that this type of work was carried out by civil engineering contractors.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Howie of Troon: Before the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, was in charge of the National Coal Board, the board decided to build six coal-mines in Britain in the 1950s. It turned out that there was no one in Britain who had ever designed or constructed a coal-mine at that time. The board therefore appointed six civil consulting engineers to design and construct certain parts of these coal-mines. There were obviously surface works, railways works and road works. In addition, the consulting civil engineers designed the mine shafts. Mining engineers designed the horizontal works--roads and so on--which were the mine proper, but the vertical shafts, which were very deep--2,300 feet in one case, I remember--were construction works and were bored, dug, excavated and lined by civil engineering contractors. Therefore there was a strong element of underground work connected with the coal industry--in the days when we had one--which was construction work and which should be included in this Bill rather than excluded. I support this amendment.


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