HC Deb 11 February 1965 vol 706 cc671-3

Amendments made: In page 4, line 15, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".

In line 19, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".

In line 20, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".

In line 24, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".

In line 26, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".

In line 28, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".

In line 31, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".

In line 37, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".—[Mr. John Morris.]

Mr. John Morris

I beg to move Amendment No. 18, in page 5, line 7, after first "section" to insert: and to section 6(3) of this Act". This is a drafting Amendment involving no change of substance and is required only in the interests of clarity.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In line 18, leave out "hurt" and insert "injury".—[Mr. John Morris.]

Mr. John Morris

I beg to move Amendment No. 20, in line 22, to leave out from beginning to the first "the" in line 26 and to insert: shall not be entertained if the occurrence takes place after the expiration of". I think that for the convenience of the House it would be convenient to discuss, at the same time, two Amendments to Clause 6: Amendment No. 33, in page 7, line 36 and Amendment No. 34, in page 7, line 38.

Mr. Speaker

If the House so pleases.

Mr. Morris

As the Bill stands, when material is lost, stolen, jettisoned or abandoned and, in the words of the Bill, there is a "nuclear occurrence" the claim and occurrence must both take place within 20 years of the loss. In Committee the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) made what I thought a very important point in that if the material came within this classification and was lost it would be harsh indeed on someone if, say, the occurrence occurred in the nineteenth year after the original loss. He would have only a short time in which to make his claim.

That seemed to me a harsh decision against this kind of claimant. Thus, we are trying in this way to meet the point by means of these three Amendments. The position remains, as regards the person against whom the claim is made, that the first 10 years of the limitation period, or whatever shorter period remains after an occurrence within the 20 year period, would be covered by insurance or the direct liability of the A.E.A. or Government Department. Later claims would be met out of funds provided, as Parliament may determine.

By means of these three Amendments a claimant injured in these circumstances is placed in the same position as one injured in an occurrence due to an incident in a nuclear installation or during transport of nuclear matter under an opertor's control, except that, in order to place some limit on the operator's and the Government's commitment, in the case of the material lost and so on the Bill covers only occurrences which take place within 20 years of the loss.

I should like to illustrate by practical examples what the position will be if these Amendments are accepted. If the loss of nuclear material occurred in the year 0 and the occurrence was in the year 21, there would be no claim against either the operator or the appropriate authority. That was not the point made by the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton); this is the overrider that we have maintained in this Measure—that the occurrence must take place within 20 years of the loss.

A second example is that if there is a loss in the year 0, an occurrence in the year 5 and a claim in the year 14, that is still within the 20-year period and the claim is against the operator. If the loss is in the year 0, the occurrence in the year 5 and the claim in the year 16, the claim would then be made against the appropriate authority, because it would be more than 10 years after the occurrence.

The last two examples show against whom the claim would be made, but the type of case put to me by the hon. Gentleman was that in which there was a loss in the year 0, an occurrence in the year 19, within the 20-year period. If the Amendments are accepted, a claim can be made at any time between the year 20 and the year 49 so that, save for the overrider that the occurrence must have been within 20 years of the loss—there must be some limit of liability here—the claimant is put in the position of having a 30-year period in which to make a claim. That would be the limitation period, as in other claims under the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Sir Eric Fletcher

I beg to move, in page 5, line 29, to leave out from the beginning to "unless" in line 32 and to insert: (7) Section 5(1)(c) of the Act of 1959 shall not apply to any claim such as is mentioned in subsection (6) of this section. This is a consequential Amendment.

Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)

I do not want to make the task of the Minister without Portfolio unnecessarily difficult. If he says that the Amendment is consequential, I accept that, of course, but I should like to know to what it is consequential.

Sir Eric Fletcher

It is consequential on the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend which the House has just been considering.

Amendment agreed to.