Clause 4. — (Supplemental Provisions.)

Orders of the Day — Disposal of Uncollected Goods Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1952.

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Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South 12:00 am, 27th June 1952

I beg to move, in page 5, line 10, after "accepted," to insert "by a bailee."

These Amendments are designed to meet the criticism made in the Committee by some of my hon. Friends of the Words "open to public access" on the grounds that the meaning of those words is uncertain, and that there are businesses which would wish to take advantage of the Bill but which have no premises open to public access. This Amendment restricts the Bill to traders who accept goods primarily from private individuals, and excludes those who accept them primarily from industrial concerns.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 5, line 13, after "accepted," insert "by him."

In line 14, leave out from "business," to end of line 20, and insert: consisting of or comprising the acceptance by him of goods of that class for repair or other treatment (whether or not the repair or other treatment is effected by him) wholly or mainly from persons who deliver to him, otherwise than in the course of a business, goods of that class for repair or other treatment."—[Miss Burton.]

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

I beg to move, in page 5, line 26, to leave out from "therefor," to the end of line 40, and to insert: and, in a case where the goods have been sold, the following additional amounts, that is to say—:

  1. (a) a reasonable charge for storing the goods during the period beginning with the date of the giving of the notice that the goods are ready for re-delivery, or, where there has been a dispute between the bailor and bailee, the date on which the dispute was determined, and ending with the date of the sale;
  2. (b) any costs of or in connection with the sale; and
  3. (c) the cost, if any, of insuring the goods."
This Amendment provides that, subject to any agreement between the customer and the trader, the trader shall be entitled to recover storage charges, costs in connection with the sale of the goods and costs of insurance, if any, only where the goods have been sold, and not, as at present, from the time when the trader has given notice of his intention to sell the goods. As the Bill is concerned only with giving traders the right to sell goods, there seems to be no reason why the Bill should entitle him to recover any charges other than those for which he has contracted, unless he has exercised that right and sold the goods.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

This matter arose out of a discussion which we had in the Committee stage on the question of the power of charging. I understood that the view of the Committee was in favour of the charge provided that the charges were reasonable and they were properly incurred in the circumstances in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Bill. There was always, of course, the provision that the charges could not be made unless the procedure, and the circumstances contemplated by that procedure, in fact arose.

Therefore, as I understood it, it seemed to the Committee not unreasonable that, in those circumstances, a trader should have the power to charge, even though the goods had not been sold. Certainly, those who are sponsoring the Bill were, during the Committee stage, under the impression that the power of making that charge already existed in the Bill.

I myself take a different view, although with some trepidation on a Bill the drafting of which is as difficult to follow as is this one, but I am not complaining about that. Now, however, I understand that the policy is changed, and that it is no longer a drafting question, but that, as a matter of policy, it is intended that there should be no power to charge unless the goods are sold.

Again, of course, my hon. Friend has been in touch with those whose interest it is to have this Bill carried, and if they are content with that then obviously there can be no objection on the part of anybody. I personally am certainly not raising any objection of substance on that. But I think it should be made clear to all those who were on the Committee and to the House that what is now happening is contrary to what was thought by the sponsors of the Bill when it was before the Committee. If the hon. and learned Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary who has been so helpful throughout this Bill can throw any further light on that, I am sure we shall all be most grateful to him.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

Speaking only from memory at the moment, I thought that in the discussion in Committee on the point that both the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) and I had in mind, it was the desire of all concerned that the meaning of the Bill should be perfectly clear, and that the view I then expressed was the view now made doubly sure by this Amendment. My recollection of what was the general view of policy then expressed differs from that of the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

I beg to move, in page 6, to leave out lines 1 to 3, and to insert: (4) The powers conferred on a bailee by this Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of any powers exercisable by him independently of this Act. This is a purely drafting Amendment, and I wish to move it formally.

Amendment agreed to.

11.43 a.m.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

The House has a great deal of business to do and it is not my intention to trespass unduly upon its time, but I think it would be most ungracious if I did not express my very deep appreciation to the Government and to the Parliamentary Secretary for the help they have given throughout these proceedings. I was quite convinced of the justice of this Bill, but I felt some trepidation in that it needed legal knowledge which I did not possess, and I want to pay tribute to the legal officers whom the Government have been so kind as to place at our disposal. I believe that this Bill will right many injustices for traders and, at the same time, safeguard customers. I hope the House will give the Bill an unanimous Third Reading.

11.44 a.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Crouch Mr Robert Crouch , North Dorset

I wish to say a few words in recommending the Third Reading of this Bill to the House. In the first place, I want to congratulate the hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton) on her persistence in getting this Bill through. I know she had a certain amount of difficulty in the early stages when, perhaps, I may have been of a little assistance in breaking a way through the hedge in front of her.

I think this Bill will be of great assistance to a number of traders in this country. It may be that, generally, people visualise that it will assist the boot and shoe repairers and probably the jewellers, but there are several other tradespeople who have in the past been affected by and lost money as a result of goods being sent to them for repair and never collected. They comprise such people as the bookbinder, the draper, the ironmonger, the leather goods man and the garage proprietor.

A garage proprietor in my constituency told me that last year he had no fewer than 10 spare wheels left with him by people who had asked him to mend a puncture and who promised to call back later. Those wheels still remain uncollected, and at the present moment he is quite unable to dispose of them despite the fact that they are in his way and take up valuable space. Then there is the cycle and wireless and television dealer, the dry cleaner, the tailor, and also the furniture repairer and upholsterer.

In conclusion, I have been asked to include in my congratulations to the hon. Lady those of my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Odey) and my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) both of whom are unable to be here today and both of whom, I know, have given a great deal of assistance in the preparation and the passage of this Bill through its various stages.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I do not think I can let these congratulations end without congratulating the hon. Member for Dorset, North (Mr. Crouch) on the very skilful part he played during the Report stage, which must have been of very great assistance to my hon. Friend.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.