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Line 3, after ("structures") insert ("or any works").

5.45 p.m.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 68A as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 68. This is almost as small an amendment as I have moved in the course of this Bill. I managed to move one which had only two words in it. However, the Government were worried about the drafting of those two words at the time, but they eventually accepted them.

I think my noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel would agree with me that the Minister listened most carefully to the many amendments which we tabled during the various stages of the Bill. I am not sure that he always got the hang of them but he tried hard to meet us as far as he could. A number of amendments were discussed in the Committee stage in another place. They were sensible amendments and largely based on amendments which we had discussed in this House. They were passed, but unfortunately reversed by the Government at later stages of the Bill. One, however, did get through which sought

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to include the word "maintenance". That word appeared to give the Government great difficulty, although maintenance contracts are commonplace in construction. As regards roads, part of the private finance initiative is based on people building a road and then maintaining it for about 30 years through a variety of maintenance contracts. I was amazed that the Government took so long to accept the concept of maintenance although they had quite happily accepted the concept of repair. Repair and maintenance are fairly closely related. They do not differ widely from each other. I shall not mention the Minister in another place by name so as not to embarrass him, but he said that maintenance was a jolly silly word to put in the Bill. But then he put it in. That was one of the most sensible things he did.

My point in this little group of amendments is to tighten up the wording of the Bill and to make it understandable to people other than lawyers. Government Amendment No. 68 to Clause 104 contains three lines in paragraph (a) which are almost identical to the first three lines of paragraph (b). However, they are not totally identical; there is a distinction. Paragraph (a) refers to construction, alteration and so on of "buildings or structures". Paragraph (b) refers to the construction, alteration and so on of "any works". The words,

    "any works forming, or to form, part of the land"
must in any common sense use of language include buildings or structures. Is there some reason why buildings or structures in paragraph (a) should be separated out and distinguished from "any works" in paragraph (b)? Of course there is no reason at all for that. All I have done in my amendment is to combine the two to refer to buildings or structures or any works. I have tidied up paragraph (b) by moving some of the wording into paragraph (a). That is all that I have done. That seems to me to make much more sense than the wording in the Bill as drafted at present, as quite obviously any works must include buildings or structures. If any works exclude buildings or structures someone ought to explain to me why that is so.

In passing let me mention something that occurred to me a few moment ago. I am sorry about that; it would have given me another amendment had I thought of it earlier. In the second to last line of Commons Amendment No. 68 there is a reference to "industrial plant". That means that industrial plant is included in the provisions of the Bill. However, under the exclusions in the Bill there is a reference to process plants. Is "industrial plant" different from "process plant", or will we discover the difference between them in some extremely expensive High Court action? I do not press the point too hard. I merely put the issue forward for the Minister to consider. No doubt we shall have an opportunity to deal with these obscurities and ambiguities when the remainder of the Latham proposals are eventually brought before this House next year or the year after. I beg to move.

Moved, That Amendment No. 68A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 68, be agreed to.--(Lord Howie of Troon.)

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Lord Lucas: My Lords, these amendments would have two effects. First, they would reduce the list of examples given in Clause 104 to ones solely concerned with civil engineering projects. I can understand why the noble Lord wishes to achieve that, but this is supposed to be a rather more wide-ranging clause than that.

Secondly, this is another series in the noble Lord's attempts to improve the drafting. We have looked carefully at what the noble Lord proposes. We think that the Bill as drafted achieves the effects we want. We do not see that the noble Lord's amendments offer any practical improvement. With that sparse comfort, I hope that the noble Lord will feel content to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I am tempted to tell the Minister that he is wrong, but I would not dream of doing so. The amendment does not have the effect that he states. Quite apart from anything else, it leaves the list of examples exactly as he has put it. It so happens that those are nearly all civil engineering matters with the exception of power lines, telecommunication apparatus, and perhaps one or two others. Those are still in the list. His argument is completely mistaken. I give him another chance to convince me that I am wrong.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I think that the best answer to the noble Lord's problems is to rely on Clause 104(4) and the power to make amendments at a later time if the noble Lord proves to be right and there prove to be problems with the definition. Doubtless he will continue to offer his advice to Secretaries of State on this subject. However, there is nothing that we are willing to do at this stage.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I look forward to Clause 104. I am elated at the thought that the Secretary of State might listen to something said to him. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 68A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 68, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 68B and 68C, as amendments to Commons Amendment No. 68, not moved.]

On Question, Commons Amendment No. 68 agreed to.



Clause 104, page 58, line 28, after '(d)' insert 'external or'.


Page 58, line 34, at end insert ', maintenance or dismantling'.


Page 58, line 45, leave out from '(c)' to 'on' in line 46 and insert 'assembly, installation or demolition of plant or machinery, or erection or demolition of steelwork for the purposes of supporting or providing access to plant or machinery,'.


Page 59, leave out lines 4 to 9 and insert--

'( ) manufacture or delivery to site of--
(i) building or engineering components or equipment,
(ii) materials, plant or machinery, or

23 Jul 1996 : Column 1340

(iii) components for systems of heating, lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, power supply, drainage, sanitation, water supply or fire protection, or for security or communications systems,
except under a contract which also provides for their installation;'.

Page 59, leave out lines 12 and 13.


Page 59, line 14, leave out from beginning to end of line 22.


Page 59, line 24, leave out ', (2) or (3)' and insert 'or (2)'.


Clause 105, page 59, line 28, leave out from 'apply' to '"dwelling"' in line 32 and insert '--

(a) to a construction contract with a residential occupier (see below), or
(b) to any other description of construction contract excluded from the operation of this Part by order of the Secretary of State.
(2) A construction contract with a residential occupier means a construction contract which principally relates to operations on a dwelling which one of the parties to the contract occupies, or intends to occupy, as his residence.
In this subsection'.

Page 59, line 39, leave out 'such order' and insert 'order under this section'.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 69 to 77 to which I have already spoken.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 69 to 77.--(Lord Lucas.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.



Clause 106, page 60, line 14, after 'submissions' insert 'in adjudication proceedings, or'.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 78. The amendment would permit an exchange of submissions in adjudication proceedings to provide evidence of an agreement in writing in the same way that an exchange of submissions in arbitration and litigation can do so. This was first suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, in Committee. Indeed, as on every other speaking note today, this demonstrates that we have been listening to the noble Lord. On that occasion I undertook to consider the matter. Unfortunately, we were not able to determine the final form of an amendment before the Bill left this House and in the end it was introduced first in another place. But I am more than happy to give the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, sole credit for this sensible and useful addition to the Bill, and I commend it to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 78.--(Lord Lucas.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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