§ The obligation of a council of a borough or urban district under the Allotments Acts to provide allotments shall, if the population thereof is ten thousand or upwards, be limited to the provision of allotment gardens not exceeding twenty poles in extent.
§ Mrs. WINTRINGHAM
I beg to move, to leave out the word "thereof," and to insert instead thereof the words "of such urban district is."
I wish to allow borough councils with a population of less than 10,000 to take advantage of this Clause, and I have an Amendment on the Paper to enable them also to take advantage of Clause 14. There are some councils in the country, very ancient ones, with small populations, and I want them included. There is one particularly that I have in mind which has a great number of allotments and yet does not at present come under the scope of Clauses 13 and 14.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I beg to second the Amendment.
In Committee upstairs, I will not say an agreement, but a general arrangement was conic to—very much against my will, as a matter of fact—that certain modifications should be made in Clause 14 and that it should be accepted as a reasonable compromise. The boroughs of over 10,000 inhabitants were to have their allotment committees with their co-opted members, but the proportions of those members were to be considerably restricted. If I could be assured that there is not going to be any attempt to weaken Clause 14 on the part of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir J. Norton-Griffiths), I would counsel the hon. Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) not to press her Amendment to put in these small boroughs—that is, as I say, unless there is going to be a serious attempt, in spite of the general understanding come to, to weaken Clause 14 by making it optional.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I do not think I can accept the Amendment, because, whether or not these powers should be exercised, they depend really on population. This is to a large extent an urban Bill, and where you have a very small town which is really rural in character, you do not want to have the same 886 provisions as you would have in an urban council district, which is really of far more urban character, with a large population, than a small borough. Therefore, I think it would be very undesirable to make the distinction as between borough and urban councils; the proper distinction should be a population distinction. There are no fewer than 105 boroughs with under 10,000 inhabitants in this country. On the point raised by the right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland) I do not know whether or not the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth is going to move his Amendments to make Clause 14 optional, but, as far as the Government are concerned, we intend to stand by the arrangement made in the Standing Committee.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
It is not my intention to move my Amendments, but only to ask the Minister of Agriculture to make a statement, so that we shall be clear as to what was arranged in Committee upstairs. My objection is to having Committees interfering with municipal bodies. This is the thin end of the wedge, and if it be applied generally, we shall have Committees formed, like the Geddes Committee, with the right of coming into this House and telling us what we ought to do, and I think it is a dangerous practice. I should much prefer to see Clause 14 taken out altogether. My own Council of Wandsworth Borough feel very strongly on it, and have asked me to press my Amendments, but I am not doing so, as I have already informed them, because I understand they were met in Committee, and I think it would help matters if the right hon. Gentleman would make a brief statement as to the way in which they were met.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.