HC Deb 10 November 1920 vol 134 cc1170-1

asked the Minister of Health whether, before considering the applications of Leeds and Bradford to absorb towns and urban council areas, he will, in view of the great cost involved, withhold his authority for the holding of any inquiry until the promoters of these schemes have satisfied him that they have good grounds for their applications on the lines of the Birkenhead Committee recommendation, namely, that they have taken a plebiscite of the areas to be absorbed and have secured a substantial majority in favour of their proposals, or that they are able to prove to the Ministry that there are good grounds of public policy for the absorption proposed; whether, with the object of avoiding an abortive inquiry, with its very great outlay of money, he will submit the statements made in pursuance of the above by the applicants to the representatives of these areas which it is proposed should be absorbed; and whether he will postpone all inquiries until he has considered both the statements made in support and the replies made in objection?


I have no authority to substitute the procedure suggested in the first part of the question for the procedure prescribed by Section 54 of the Local Government Act, 1888, and I am not aware that the Town Councils of Leeds and Bradford possess powers which would enable them to take a plebiscite in the areas which they seek to acquire. As regards the second and third parts of the question the instructions of the Ministry issued in July last require the promoters to send copies of their Memorial to the several local authorities affected and to inform these authorities that a full statement of any objections they may wish to raise should be sent to the Ministry and to the promoters within six weeks of the receipt of the Memorial. I may add that a conference with the authorities concerned has been fixed for Thursday the 18th instant.


When the right hon. Gentleman meets the deputation will he hear arguments to show that there are special reasons why these inquiries should not take place, as otherwise the result of the deputations may be fruitless for these people who are fighting for their very existence?


I have no doubt when I meet the deputations I shall hear plenty of arguments.