HC Deb 25 November 1909 vol 13 cc401-9

(1) For the purpose of the maintenance, repair, improvement, and enlargement of or dealing with any road constructed by the Road Board, the Board shall have the same powers (except the power of levying a rate) and be subject to the same duties as a county council have and are subject to as respects main roads, and may further exercise any powers vested in a county council for the purposes of the maintenance and repair of bridges. Every road constructed by the Road Board under the provisions of this Act shall be a public highway, and the enactments relating to highways and bridges shall apply to such roads accordingly, and the Road Board shall have the same powers as a county council for the preventing and removing of obstructions:

Provided that—

  1. (a) Communications between a road or path and a road constructed by the Road Board shall be made in manner to be approved by the Road Board; and
  2. (b) The Road Board and any highway authority in whose district any part of any such road is situate may contract for the undertaking by such authority of the maintenance and repair of the part of such road in their district; and for the purposes of such undertaking the highway authority shall have the same powers and be subject to the same duties and liabilities as if the road were a road vested in the highway authority.

(2) Before the Treasury approve of the construction of a new road by the Road Board they shall consult with the Local Government Board and shall satisfy themselves that notice of the intention to construct the road has been sent by the Road Board to every highway authority in the area of which any part of the proposed road will be situate, and shall consider any objections to the proposed road which they may receive from any such authority.

Lords Amendment: At the beginning of Sub-section (1), insert "Every road constructed by the Road Board under the provisions of this Part of this Act shall be a public highway, and the enactments relating to highways and bridges shall apply to such roads accordingly, except that the cost of maintenance of every such road shall be borne by the Road Board, and."


It is well within the recollection of the House, and all those who take an interest in this Bill, that these new roads to be constructed by the Road Board will be made public highways. It was pointed out in the House of Lords, however, that there might be danger that these roads declared to be public highways might have to be maintained by the local authorities, and not by the Road Board. The object of the Amendment is to make it clear that they are to be maintained by the Road Board. We agree with this Amendment in substance, but we desire to amend the Amendment in order to make it clear that not only the cost but the maintenance of these new roads will be placed upon the Road Board, and that the obligation or duty of maintaining the roads shall be upon them also. Therefore I move to leave out the words "the cost and maintenance of" and "borne by" in the Lords Amendment, in order to insert the words "maintainable by and at the cost of." The latter part of the Amendment will then read "except that every such road shall be maintainable by and at the cost of the Road Board."

Amendments to Lords Amendment (as moved accordingly by Sir Samuel Evans) agreed to.

Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Lords further Amendments: In Subsection (1), leave out "road constructed by the Road Board," and insert instead thereof, "such road."

Leave out the words "Every road constructed by the Road Board under the provisions of this Act shall be a public highway, and the enactments relating to highways and bridges shall apply to such roads accordingly."


These are consequential Amendments.

Lords Amendment: Insert at the end of Sub-section (2) the following words "And if. notwithstanding an objection made by a county council within such area, the Treasury consider that the construction of the proposed road should be proceeded with, the approval of the Treasury shall not have effect unless and until, after submission to Parliament by way of Provisional Order, it is confirmed by Parliament."


I move "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Ample safeguards are provided by Subsection 3 of Clause 7, which secures that a fair hearing should be given to the county council. This Amendment would make it possible for any county council to compel the Road Board, and would, make it obligatory on the Road Board to come to Parliament, and with all the expense and delay attending it to get a Provisional Order and an Act of Parliament following it before constructing a road. We have safeguarded the county council by giving them a fair hearing, and I think it would be quite unreasonable to allow any county council to object to a new road unless a Provisional Order and an Act of Parliament were obtained authorising it.

Viscount MORPETH

The Solicitor-General says a fair hearing is to be given to the county councils, but there is no obligation on the Road Board to pay the slightest attention to the representations of the county councils. The Road Board will be an independent authority, not amenable to public opinion. If they choose they will be able to override the present highways committees in the county councils with absolute impunity. Furthermore, there are a great many people who have a suspicion that the Road Board may be dominated by the automobile interests. We have not got the names of the members of the Road Board yet, and I hope when we do, that that will not be the case, but there is a widespread fear that the motor interest will be dominant upon the Road Board, and that the Road Board will, in fact, be a motor board looking at the matter from the motor point of view, and not from the general public point of view. I do not want to repeat the objections which I put forward on a former occasion, which I think are very real, of allowing another highway authority to come into the jurisdiction of the present highway authority, and to conflict with them. I think it is only right where the existing authority objects to any new road, either because they think it is unnecessary or that it will interfere with existing roads, that they should have some opportunity of putting their objections before an independent tribunal. That cannot be the Road Board, and as far as I can see it can only be the House of Commons. I think an appeal to this House in a matter so important as this, and where there cannot be any case of extraordinary urgency, a matter of a few weeks or a month would make no difference whatever—is most important and no argument has been adduced against allowing such appeal.


I think it is a very-strange thing that you should submit so important a body as the county councils to the arbitrament of a body like the Road Board. I could quite understand its being done in the case of smaller authorities, but I am bound to say, speaking as an elected member of one of the largest councils in the country, I feel that we are probably better judges, through our long experience and knowledge of the roads in our districts, than a Board of this kind, which merely comes into the district and listens to representations made to it. I do not think it is sufficient to say that the county councils can be heard; I think they ought to have more power. Throughout this Bill we have complained that these councils, important bodies though they are, are put under the control of the Local Government Board; but this is a far stronger case, because the Local Government Board and the Treasury are represented in Parliament, and we have an opportunity —not a very frequent one, I admit—of criticising their decisions; but in the case of this Board you have nothing of the kind, and therefore it is a far stronger thing to place these councils under a Board of this kind than if you put them under the Local Government Board. For that reason I strongly protest against disagreeing with this Amendment of the Lords, and if the Noble Lord is anxious to go to a Division I should certainly support him.


The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General said the county councils would have had the opportunity of presenting their case, but the only body to whom they could address their case, as provided by Clause 9, is the Treasury. We on this side of the House are not so enamoured with the Treasury and Government Departments as to desire that appeals should be made to them. We still linger after the old-fashioned notion that the Houses of Parliament are the proper institutions to govern the country, and that appeals should be made to the Houses of Parliament and not to the Treasury.


I hope the Government will adhere to their decision to resist this Amendment. I speak as the Member of a borough council, and I fully realise the immense cost many of them have been put to in regard to matters of this kind. To compel them to proceed by Provisional Order would be most costly, and would be bound to lead to a great deal of delay. It is all very well to say that the question of delay of a few weeks or a month would not matter much in regard to the question of making roads, but there is very great delay when you come to the House of Commons for a Provisional Order—sending deputations, paying lawyers, and incurring all other kinds of expenses. The hon. Member (Mr. Peel) represents the largest county council in the country, but his council is here in the City of London, and they may be able to proceed by Provisional Order without any very great increase in expenses.


May I point out to the hon. Member the Amendment does not compel a council to proceed by Provisional Order; all it does if the council objects to the road being made, then the road cannot be made without a Provisional Order. If they wish to have the road made no Provisional Order is necessary.


There is no need of such a costly machinery in this matter at all Objections will be very few, and there is no need to enable a council to proceed by Provisional Order.


The hon. Member who has just sat down, in spite of the lucid explanation given to him by the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), mistakes the purpose of this Amendment. This Amendment will not put any county council to any expense unless it desires to incur it. The only case in which it will be put to any expense is if the Road Board overrules the opinion of the county council. If the county council desires that the road should be made it can be made without any Provisional Order. Therefore, to say that it puts the county councils to expense is, if the hon. Member will forgive me for saying so, to wholly mistake the Amendment. As to the expenses of Provisional Orders there appears to be complete misapprehension upon the point. For one Provisional Order that is opposed, 20 are unopposed, and in the case of a Provisional Order that goes through unopposed the expenses are quite insignificant. That was the object of the creation of Provisional Orders. What is proposed by this Amendment is that in case this appointed body overrules the county councils the county council shall have the right of an appeal to Parliament. I am surprised that hon. Members below the Gangway do not support this, because I thought they agreed in the general principle of local government. The Govern- ment, of course, entirely dislikes the electoral system, and anything that gives protection to an elected body as against an appointed body naturally receives the opposition of the Government. That we quite understand, but we thought the Labour

Members did pride themselves upon their democracy. I am afraid we have been mistaken. This is absolutely a democratic Amendment put in by the guardians of the democratic liberties of this country, the House of Lords.

The House divided: Ayes, 188; Noes, 42.

Division No. 917.] AYES. [6.0 p.m.
Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.) Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.) Pirie, Duncan V.
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R, Henry, Charles S. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Alden, Percy Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe) Price, Sir Robert J. (Norlolk, E.)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Hodge, John Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)
Astbury, John Meir Hooper, A. G. Radford, G. H.
Atherley-Jones, L. Horniman, Emslie John Rainy, A. Rolland
Baker, Joseph A. Hudson, Walter Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) lllingworth, Percy H. Rees, J. D.
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Ridsdale, E. A.
Barker, Sir John Jackson, R. S. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Jardine, Sir J. Roberts. G. H. (Norwich)
Barnes, G. N. Johnson, John (Gateshead) Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Beck, A. Cecil Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Berridge, T. H. D. Jones, Leif (Appleby) Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Jowett, F. W. Scanlan, Thomas
Bowerman, C. W. Joyce, Michael Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)
Brigg, Sir John Kekewlch, Sir George Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire) King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Sears, J. E.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Lambert, George Seaverns, J. H.
Byles, Willian Pollard Lamont. Norman Shackleton, David James
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Cawley, Sir Frederick Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Soames, Arthur Weliesley
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Lehmann, R. C. Soares, Ernest J.
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Lewis, John Herbert Steadman, W. C.
Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lupton, Arnold Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Lynch, H. B. Summerbell, T.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Sutherland, J. E.
Cory, Sir Clifford John Mackarness, Frederic C. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Maclean, Donald Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)
Cowan, W. H. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Crosfield, A. H. Macpherson, J. T. Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Cross, Alexander MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.) Thorne, William (West Ham)
Cullinan, J. MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.) Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James
Curran, Peter Francis M'Callum, John M. Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) M'Micking, Major G. Verney, F. W.
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Maddison, Frederick Vivian, Henry
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Mallet, Charles E. Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Donelan, Captain A. Marnham, F. J. Walsh, Stephen
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Massie, J. Walters, John Tudor
Erskine, David C. Masterman, C. F. G. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Essex, R. W. Meagher, Michael Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Esslemont, George Birnie Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrlm, N.) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Evans, Sir S. T. Menzies, Sir Walter Waterlow, D. S.
Everett, R. Lacey Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Watt, Henry A.
Falconer, James Morse, L. L White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)
Ferens, T. R. Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Whitehead, Rowland
Fuller, John Michael F. Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Gibb, James (Harrow) Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.) Wilkie, Alexander
Gibson, J. P. Myer, Horatio Williamson, Sir A.
Gladstone. Rt. Hon. Herbert John Nolan, Joseph Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Glover, Thomas Nussey, Sir Willans Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Greenwood. G. (Peterborough) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Gulland, John W. O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Wood. T. M'Kinnon
Hancock, J. G. O'Grady, J. Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Parker, James (Halifax)
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester) Paul, Herbert TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.
Hart-Davles, T. Pearce, William (LImehouse)
Hedges, A. Paget
Balcarres, Lord Bignold, Sir Arthur Channing, Sir Francis Allston
Baldwin, Stanley Bowles, G. Stewart Cheetham, John Frederick
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Carlile, E. Hildred Clark, George Smith
Banner, John S. Harmood Cave, George Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E.
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Kerry, Earl of Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Craik, Sir Henry Kimber, Sir Henry Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)
Douglas, Rt. Hon, A. Akers King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan) Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham) Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)
Faber, George Dcnison (York) Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.) Thornton, Percy M.
Fletcher, J. S. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Valentla, Viscount
Gardner, Ernest Morpeth, Viscount Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edmunos) Percy, Earl Younger, George
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Remnant. James Farquharson
Hay, Hon. Claude George Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Peel.
Heaton. John Henniker Ronaldshay, Earl of