Memorandum by the Department
for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
1999 (S.I. 1999/2170)
1. The Committee has requested
a further memorandum on the following point:
The Department's memorandum
of 26 October 1999 takes the view that an injured wild bird is
an "article" for the purposes of section 108(4)(f),
(g) and (h) of the Environment Act 1995. Explain the grounds for
this view. The Department's attention is drawn to the observations
of Lord Goddard CJ in Daly v Cannon 
1 WLR 261.
2. Section 108 of the Environment
Act 1995 is in the nature of a general provision giving, amongst
other matters, enforcing authorities (as defined in section 108(15))
powers necessary for determining whether any provision of the
pollution control enactments is being, or has been, complied with
(section 108(1)(a)). The term "pollution control enactments"
is also defined in section 108(15) and it will be seen that the
term covers an extensive range of environmental legislation. The
Department is therefore satisfied that the provisions of section
108 should not be interpreted restrictively.
3. The case of Daly v Cannon
 1 WLR 261 to which the Committee refers involved the interpretation
of the words "no person who collects or deals in rags, old
clothes or similar articles ." in section 154(1) of the Public
Health Act 1936. The Court held that a live goldfish was not an
"article" within the meaning of section 154(1) of that
Act. The Department would not in any way seek to dispute this
decision because it seems clear on normal construction principles
that the term "similar articles" needs to be read in
the context of "rags" and "old clothes". The
Department notes that Lord Goddard CJ's judgment stated, "Would
anybody in ordinary common parlance talk about a goldfish as an
article? I do not think they would. If the statute had said "article
or thing," as some statutes have said, there could be no
doubt, I think, that a goldfish would be a thing". However,
the Department considers that in making these comments Lord Goddard
was having regard to the context of the word "article"
as set out in section 154(1) of the 1936 Act. Indeed, it is noted
that at the beginning of his judgment Lord Goddard stated, "The
question which we have to decide is whether a goldfish is an article
within the meaning of section 154(1)".
4. There are other cases on
the meaning of "article"-
(1) In Landaff Market
Co. v Lyndon, 30 L.J.M.C. 105, a horse was held to be an "article"
within section 25 of the Landaff and Canton District Markets Act
(2) In J.M. Knowles
Ltd v Rand  1 W.L.R 893, "articles" was held to
include livestock. The legislation which was involved was the
Road Traffic Act 1960 and the Vehicles (Excise) Act 1949. In that
case Lord Parker CJ stated that " "articles" must
be given a wide meaning".
(3) The Australian
case of Palmer v B.J. Clarke's (Hampton) Pty. Ltd..  V.R.7
seems to have held that a maggot was an "article" within
the meaning of the definition of "substance" in s.3
of the Health Act 1958 (Vic.); (the Department has not seen the
report of the case).
5. Definition 1V of "article"
in the Oxford English Dictionary (second edition) is "a separate
thing (immaterial or material)". The Department considers
that this definition would encompass an injured wild bird.
6. In the Department's view,
the interpretation of a term in legislation such as "article"
will, unless specifically defined, very much depend on the context
in which it is used. As mentioned above, the context of section
108 of the Environment Act 1995 is wide. The Department therefore
remains satisfied that a dead or injured wild bird will be within
the term "article" as used in section 108(4)(f),(g)
and(h) of the 1995 Act.
9 November 1999