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Lord Berkeley: I support the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel. Following on from what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Howie, perhaps I may say that I too have worked on process plants as a civil engineer. I see little difference between putting in foundations using holding-down bolts--the noble Lord's may have been wrong and mine may have been right--or putting bridge beams or a cracker on the top or a lot of pipework.
To a large extent, the process people with their separate types of contract have got that side of it pretty well sewn up. But we should think of the civil engineers and the building people and their sub-contractors and suppliers. They need just as much protection when they are working under or around the process plant as when they are working around any other type of building or plant.
I shall speak further to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Howie. I believe that it is important to widen the scope as much as we can in order to protect--because that is why we are here--the "small" people such as the sub-contractors and specialist suppliers in the civil engineering and building industry.
Earl Ferrers: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Howie, for saying that he is reassured by Amendment No. 134. I am glad about that and perhaps I may return to it later. This part of Clause 102 covers a very complex subject. Some of the discussion that has taken place outside this Chamber may have resulted from a misunderstanding. I should like to clarify what we are trying to do. However, I accept that the drafting needs some fine-tuning and I tabled Amendment No. 134, which reassured the noble Lord, Lord Howie.
My noble friend Lord Ullswater is right to say that process engineering is totally different from construction. Process engineering is industrial work involving certain types of chemical, physical or biological processes. Examples include refining oil, generating electricity, and making chocolate. This clearly involves a great deal of heavy plant and machinery, with complicated steelwork to hold it all in place. It is only the construction of such plant,
We are excluding process plant from the legislation because it does not suffer on anything like the same scale from the problems which Sir Michael Latham identified in building and civil engineering. In the process engineering sector, clients, contractors and suppliers have proved themselves capable of finding voluntary solutions to their difficulties. The Process Industry Latham Group has warmly welcomed the intention of this part of Clause 102 and is satisfied that we have covered all the industries where process plant should be excluded from the Bill.
There is little doubt, however, that water and effluent treatment, much food and drink production, and the on-shore extraction of oil and gas are part of a well-understood process engineering sector. I re-emphasise that the exemption here would apply only to work on plant, machinery or steelwork, and not to site work or building. So much of the construction sector's interest in process engineering would be covered by the new provisions.
The noble Lord, Lord Williams, asked why on-shore drilling and off-shore drilling should be different. They are both engineering operations and not construction operations. We must remember that the whole purpose of the Bill is to deal with the construction industry. Therefore, I do not see that there is any difference between the operations, whether they are on-shore or off-shore, if they are engineering operations. If neither is a construction operation, it is right that both should be excluded.
The noble Lord then referred to Clause 102(2)(c) which includes the word "construction". He wishes to exclude the word "primary". The following operations are not construction operations within the meaning of the Bill:
Therefore, we return to the point that those engineering industries have shown themselves quite capable of resolving their problems. The difficulty arises within what one might call loosely the building industry. In that industry, there is a long chain of different organisations. One starts with the person who is the main contractor and the work is then passed down the chain. The chaps at the end may get left out as, indeed, may some of those in the middle. But we are trying to direct our attention to that situation. Large civil engineering projects do not have that problem which is why we have decided to exclude them.
Amendment No. 134 is designed to include in the Bill warehousing and supermarkets but not bulk storage such as oil tanks which are part of an oil refinery. Our previous clause would have excluded buildings used for storage such as food and drink warehouses. Therefore, we have tried to recognise the difficulties which may occur.
Lord Howie of Troon: I should like to return briefly to the question of process engineering. The Minister will be aware that quite frequently, where an oil refinery is alongside the coast, the tankers come along to a jetty made of tiling and with a structural steel superstructure. On top of the jetty there is equipment that transfers the oil from the tanker into pipes and hence into the nearby refinery.
Process engineers would regard the refinery and the pipes and machinery as their business. But, from my conversations with the Institution of Chemical Engineers, I find that chemical engineers would regard the jetty itself as a part of civil engineering construction; and so it is. I designed several in the old days and as far as I know they are still standing.
The jetty which supports the plant is exactly analogous with the oil refinery foundations I mentioned earlier. If the process engineers are perfectly happy--and they tell me they are--to exclude the civil engineering component of the jetty, I cannot see why they demur when it comes to consideration of the civil engineering element in the foundation.
Earl Ferrers: I am on dodgy ground--I use common parlance--in dealing with the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, who has constructed jetties. I am delighted to hear that they still exist. He has a natural understanding of the matter. As I understand the position, if the construction was taking place off-shore, that is part of a civil engineering process and would not be covered by the Bill. Of course, the construction of the jetty would be covered because I think I am right in saying that that is regarded as a construction. But, in this case, the jetty has been built and therefore you are referring to the pipework which is supported by the jetty.
I shall take note of what the noble Lord, Lord Howie, said and consider it in full. Obviously, he has a great deal of knowledge. We do not wish to impose a lot of regulation on a part of the industry which has shown over time that it can manage its affairs quite well. We wish to contain the regulation to one part of the building industry. There will inevitably be overlaps but we must try to make sure that as far as possible the overlaps are kept to a minimum. I shall certainly consider the points which the noble Lord raised.
Lord Berkeley: I thank the Minister for agreeing to look again at these matters. Following on from the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Howie, I believe that it may be convenient for us to consider Amendment No. 131. Steelwork can cover a multitude of sins. A jetty may be made of steel or concrete; it could have pipes on it which are also made of steel; the cables which go down to the jetty may also be made of steel;
Earl Ferrers: I shall be happy to look again at the matter. However, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, may be under a slight misapprehension. Paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of the clause refers to anything which deals with,
Lord Monkswell: The Minister puts his finger on the nub of the problem. He says that the exclusion refers to the nuclear processing or the power generation, which I believe we would accept. The difficulty is that the wording of the Bill refers to a site where such activity is taking place. It does not refer to the nuclear generation or the power generation; it talks about a site where such work goes on. Therefore, the wording of the Bill actually widens the sphere of exclusion rather than narrowing it.
By the use of those words, the Minister has highlighted a difficulty which presents itself to us. I accept that the noble Earl recognises the strength of the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon. Perhaps the odd remarks that I have just made will help to clarify and highlight the difficulties with which we are faced.
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