HC Deb 29 July 1913 vol 56 cc459-60

(1) Where on such application as is hereinafter mentioned it appears to the Secretary of State that two or more local authorities should join for the purpose of the exercise and performance of any of their powers and duties under this Act, the Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Local Government Board, shall have power by Order to make such provisions as appear to him necessary or expedient, by the constitution of a joint committee or joint board or otherwise, for the joint exercise and performance of all or any of the powers under this Act of such local authorities; and any such Order may provide how. and in what proportions, and out of what funds or rates, the expenses incurred in the joint exercise and performance of such powers are to be defrayed, and may contain such incidental, consequential, and supplemental provisions (including provisions adapting any of the provisions of this Act to the ease of any committee or board so constituted) as may be necessary for the purposes of the Order.

(2) An Order under this Section for the joint exercise and performance of all or any of the powers under this Act of two or more local authorities may be made on the application of one or more of such authorities, but unless all such authorities agree to the making of such Order it shall be provisional only, and shall not have effect unless confirmed by Parliament.

(3) Any such Order shall remain in operation for the period (if any) named therein, or if no period is so named until it is determined by mutual agreement between the local authorities concerned with the consent of the Secretary of State: Provided that any such Order may be revoked or varied by an Order made on a like application and subject to the like provisions as the original Order.

(4) Sections 297 and 298 of the Public Health Act, 1875 (which relate to the making of Provisional Orders by the Local Government Board), shall, with the necessary modifications, apply for the purposes of this Act as if they were herein re-enacted and in terms made applicable thereto.


I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (2).

This Clause deals with joint action between county councils and borough councils, and under Sub-section (2) power is taken to force co-operation between the borough council and the county council, or between two public bodies. The Government take power to compel two local authorities, generally the county council and some county borough in the county, to form one joint committee, and that step would be taken on the application of one of those authorities alone, provided that in that case the joint action is only provisional until approved by Parliament. We all know that the approval of these things by Parliament is very much a matter of form, and would be very difficult to prevent, if any borough did not wish to come into the county council or the joint committee. They had very great difficulty in Staffordshire over the question of the committee dealing with consumption under the National Insurance Act. There, Stoke-on-Trent did not want to come in with the rest of the county, and with Wolverhampton and the other county boroughs, and she managed to keep outside and had her own committee to deal with tuberculosis. In the interests of local independence, that power to stand outside, and have their own committee, ought to be preserved. I rather fear that under Sub-section (2) we shall have a state of affairs under which the Government will be able to compel the different county boroughs to come in with the county council, or two county councils to join together, where they think that the counties are not large enough, and you will have the interference by the central authority with the free exercise of their functions by the various county and borough councils. I should be very glad to hear from the Home Secretary whether my reading of this Sub-section is correct, and whether it does rest with Parliament, merely by passing a formal confirmation of an Order, to compel two unwilling parties to come together in this way. If so, I think it is undesirable that it should make this interference.

Amendment not seconded.