Earthlinggb's Blog

“What the blazes is a natural person?”

Posted in Law by earthling on February 19, 2014
HC Deb 19 January 1993 vol 217 cc271-351

Sir Teddy TaylorDoes my hon. Friend accept that article 57 does not offer opportunities for everyone? The second sentence of paragraph 2 of article 57 refers to training and conditions of access for natural persons. My hon. Friend seems to have studied this matter carefully. As we know from last night, however, the Minister does not answer questions but simply reads prepared speeches. That is unfortunate, but perhaps my hon. Friend can help me. Bearing in mind the reference to “natural persons”, can he tell me what unnatural persons are? Or perhaps some Opposition Member can enlighten us.

This is a very serious point. The Bill with which we are dealing is to become the law of the land. Training and access are to be provided for natural persons but not, apparently, for unnatural persons. What on earth is a natural person? May we have an assurance—

§The ChairmanThe hon. Gentleman must not keep asking the same question. He has asked what a natural person is. Perhaps he will allow his hon. Friend to respond.

9.15 pm

§Sir Richard BodyMy hon. Friend is, of course, right. This just goes to show how difficult it is to translate these documents into some kind of English. At one time I did a little lecturing in company law. We used to talk about “persons”. A person can be a corporate entity. For example, I believe that, in law, ICI is a person.

§Sir Teddy TaylorBut a natural person?

§Sir Richard BodyMy hon. Friend and I are natural persons. I shall not point to anyone who might be described as anything other than a natural person; indeed, all of us here are natural persons. In law, ICI, Unilever, Shell and all other such organisations are persons, but not natural persons.

§Sir Teddy TaylorI have great respect for my hon. Friend, who is one of the wisest people in the House, but I have to point out that he is stating what he thinks the position to be. Is there a definition anywhere? Constituents of mine will probably have to obey these laws. When it comes to training and access, I shall have to ask, “Are you a natural person?” My hon. Friend says that he thinks that he and I are natural persons. Where is the definition? This is not fun; it is a serious matter. All those who say that this Bill should be rushed through should realise that what it contains would become the law of the land. I demand that before we leave this matter we be told, by my hon. Friend or by somebody else, what the blazes a natural person is.

§Sir Richard BodyMy hon. Friend should not be quite so naive as to believe that the people who drafted this treaty, as well as those who will put it into effect, have very much interest in the people of Southend. The treaty 342contains many examples of the way in which it will be very difficult for ordinary people, particularly those who are self-employed, to understand the laws that govern their lives, disobedience of which may result in punishment.

§Mr. CashPerhaps tucked away in this convoluted treaty is a reference to a Euro-person. In the light of previous debates, I believe that we are moving rapidly to the notion of a European culture in which a person will be seen as natural in the European context. This is very disturbing. Does my hon. Friend know of a recent conference in Madrid that was partially funded by the European Commission? We are told that at that conference a certain Dr. Lenarduzzi of the Commission said that the Commission had been seeking to influence education—

They don’t half get themselves in a pickle with this “person” stuff though eh? 😉



HL Deb 10 December 1981 vol 425 cc1436-73

Lord Ross of MarnockIt could happen; it depends on how the council or the new authority conduct their business. I have another amendment later which might be helpful to the applicant—and it is the applicant I am considering as well as the council: we should give them some information as to when things are going to be considered. I appreciate the difficulty of time, and instead of “five weeks” we could have said “two weeks” or “three weeks” What I want is to get licences considered by the authority more expeditiously. We want to be as helpful as possible, certainly in respect of the form, so that people know exactly what is required of them. But I am not fussed about this one and so I am prepared to withdraw it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

§Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

§Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 10: Page 82, line 16, leave out (“a”) and insert (“an individual”).


§The noble Lord said: This amendment is put down because my curiosity is aroused. I am sure that your Lordships will be equally concerned, having read that the line I propose to change is: where the applicant is not a natural person”. The mind boggles! I suppose that it has some meaning in Scottish law, and I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, will rise to the defence of the draftsman. But I warn him that there is a trap here, because we have the phrase elsewhere in this Bill and it is not a question of not being a natural person. What I want to put in is for the purpose of keeping it clear throughout. If you are going to use the correct phrase once, then let us use it right through.

§If my amendment, to include before the word “natural” the word “individual”, is not accepted, then I shall need to move another amendment later to leave out the word “individual”, because the phrase “an individual natural person” is used elsewhere. In my simplicity, I thought that one of them must be right and one of them must be wrong, and that is the reason why I have put down this amendment. So I beg to move to leave out the word “a” and insert “an individual”, so that the line will read: where the applicant is not an individual natural person”.

§The Earl of MansfieldThis is a titillating phrase, and I want to emphasise that I am speaking in legal or drafting terms. By definition, a natural person is an individual human being. There are no other kinds of natural persons. All other persons are of a non-natural kind; for example, companies, local authorities and, to some extent, partnerships. Since there are no kinds of natural persons apart from individual human beings, it is unnecessary to specify that a natural person is also an individual. To do so, indeed, might suggest that there are kinds of natural persons other than individuals. The Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 speaks of “an individual natural person”, but although the licensing system in this Bill is based on the scheme of the 1976 Act, it does not follow it slavishly and the draftsman departed from the 1976 Act style where he saw fit, which was in this paragraph. So I hope that the noble Lord will accept that explanation on behalf of the draftsman.

§Lord Ross of MarnockI am delighted. Of course, the draftsmen have changed their minds since last year, because the phrase “an individual natural person” was in the draft Bill. I should not be at all surprised, as we go through this Bill, if we find that it is also here. It depends on the draftsman’s mood as to whether it is “a natural person” or “an individual natural person”. I am not going to quarrel, but have I a promise from the Minister of State that if I find the phrase “an individual natural person” later on, he will then remove the word “individual”?

§The Earl of MansfieldI am not normally a betting man but, if the noble Lord turns to Clause 51 (4), I am not sure that he will not hit the jackpot. But be that as it may, the purpose of this is, of course, to distinguish between individuals and corporations. That is the serious part of this. That is why the draftsman has adopted the style that he has.


§Lord Ross of MarnockYes, but the noble Earl has not answered my question.

§The Earl of MansfieldI think the question was—

§Lord Ross of MarnockI know it is there. I have got it marked in Clause 51 (4). The noble Earl surely does not think that something so obvious as this would escape a teacher’s eye. I noticed that the draftsmen used the phrase “a natural person” first, and then, later on, “an individual natural person”. We have had the Minister getting up and explaining why they dropped the word “individual”. I would rather he did it now. When we come to Clause 51, he will need to explain why they replaced the word “individual”. Or has he already promised? Maybe I am a little bit dense on a Thursday afternoon. But later on, when we discuss amendments to Clause 51, are we going to take out the word “individual”?

§The Earl of MansfieldI must not keep the noble Lord in suspense. It is my intention to amend that subsection when we come to it.

Looks like there’s a few of them that just don’t get it – and never will. Democracies are perfect for totalitarianism when the majority just don’t get it and when that majority exists in Parliament itself, then it’s even easier isn’t it?



HL Deb 02 April 1990 vol 517 cc1104-24

Baroness PhillipsBefore the noble and learned Lord replies, I wish to make a small point. Perhaps it is peculiar to Scottish law but I have never before seen a reference to a “natural person”. One is surely not dealing with unnatural persons. I noted that the word “persons” is also used. Is there any reason why the words “natural persons” are used in relation to Scottish law?

The Earl of BalfourMy noble and learned friend will see that subsections (6) and (7) of the new clause refer only to “the Director”. After reading the old Clause 21 I know that that relates to the Director General of Fair Trading, which was there written out in full. However, the new clause does not indicate who the director is and that must be considered at a later stage.

§Lord Fraser of CarmyllieI shall look at the point raised by my noble friend Lord Balfour. As regards the “natural person”, it is envisaged that a professional body will be making applications on behalf of its members who are natural persons and individuals. They will not be other associations or companies but one professional body making applications for its individual members—

§Baroness PhillipsAs a teacher of English, which I assume is spoken over the Border, I believe that reference should be made to “the person”. “Natural person” is an unnecessary and confusing description.

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