The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 12 (1934) > Issues > Issue 1 > Building Regulations. Discussion on Mr. Roland Woods's Paper
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Building Regulations. Discussion on Mr. Roland Woods's Paper

Mr. A. N. C. SHELLEY (Ministry of Health), proposing a vote of thanks to Mr. Woods for his interesting and suggestive paper, said he was particularly glad to have been able to pick from it two or three points upon which persons who desired reform of the existing law might concentrate. One of the difficulties in the Ministry of Health was that more or less definite complaints were received-usually less rather than more definite-but it was not easy to relate those complaints to the existing law. He was not suggesting for a moment that the law did not require amendment in many ways; indeed, he was as convinced as anyone that several important amendments could be made. But the difficulty with which any Government was confronted when it had to place proposals before Parliament was two-fold. On the one hand, there was always a certain vis inertice on the part of people who did not want reform; on the other hand, there must be found arguments or reasons for reform with which to convince those who did not care one way or the other. If a Government was not able to convince those who had not thought about the matter, the vis inertice on the part of the people who did not want reform would bring about defeat. For many years he had been hammering away at the architectural and engineering professions to impress upon them the necessity for informing the Ministry, as precisely as possible, of actual difficulties experienced. Mr. Woods had put his finger on one or two of the difficulties, as, for example, the diffusion of the legal requirements which had to be complied with. It was a source of difficulty, when designing a building, working out stresses, and so on, to have to refer to a law which was scattered about in several different places, and there was no reason, in the nature of things, why the law ahould not be brought together. The principal reason against it, he imagined, was that it was not very conformable to the English genius. The problem was easier in Latin systems than in this country, because the law in Latin systems tended to become collected under logical headings, whereas English law did not. Perhaps one thought that in a particular case the law with which one had to comply was collected in one place, but subsequently one found a little of it, affecting the building with which one was concerned-relating to storage of petroleum, structure of theatres, or what not-in a different place. The Ministry of Health had done its best, givcn the law as it stood at the moment, to help to overcome that difficulty, for it had drawn up a Memorandum setting out, at any rate, the headings, indicating what to look for and whcre to look for it. This was Memorandum C. 34+, and it represented a start, at collecting under one cover the headings, or pointers, indicating whcrc to look for one's requirements; his colleagues at the meeting would be glad to have the names of those who would like copies. But Mr. Shelley emphasised that in mentioning this matter he did