§ Lords Amendment:
In page 11, line 16, after "Minister" insert
shall require the adoption of the said new material or method of construction to be reconsidered for that purpose by the local authority and in the event of their failure without reasonable cause to adopt the same.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment—[Mr. Wheatley]
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
With regard to the words "without reasonable cause to adopt the same," supposing the Minister has approved a new method of construction, but the local authority is 2993 debarred from using it, because it infringes a local bye-law, will that be regarded as a "reasonable cause" for rejecting such a method of construction? This is an important point, because there should be one central authority to settle questions of construction and material, and at the present time there are something like 1,000 different authorities in the country. It is of importance that any person, or company, wishing to manufacture on a large scale should be able to obtain a definite ruling as to whether a particular type of material, or method of construction, will be approved in all parts of the country. If the interpretation placed on the word "reasonable" be such that the existence of some old and out-of date bye-law will not be regarded as a reasonable objection, then I think there is no objection to the Amendment. But if a local authority can object simply because there is some such local bye-law in existence, then there should be some Amendment to this proposal. I raise the point in order to get an expression of opinion from the Minister.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I have just sent a message to my legal advisers to obtain the information asked for by the hon. and gallant Member, and I am advised that it is a matter of legal interpretation—which does not carry us much further. My own advice to the House is that in actual administration there would be no difficulty, and that, where the Ministry of Health were satisfied that a certain material was suitable for the erection of houses, no bye-law or local authority would stand in the way.
§ Mr. VIVIAN
Is it not the case that power rests with the central authority to act in these matters and that in regard to any objection concerning material, the central authority would have power to alter or remove any bye-law which proved an obstruction?
§ Lord E. PERCY
For the information of the House, I must point out that while, in administrative practice, the Minister has power to overrule a local authority in a particular case, he has no power at all in practice to say to a local authority, "You must in the future in every ease allow such and such a method of construction or such and such a type of material." Consequently the real administrative difficulty is that where power might be exercised in the case of one 2994 particular builder, every builder who wanted to erect houses would have to make a new application to the local authority and the administrative machinery is a great deal more cumbrous than the House realises.
§ Lords Amendment:
§ In page 11, line 17, leave out "may" and insert "shall."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr. Wheatley.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Technically, this is a matter of privilege, and it is my duty to call attention to that fact.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendments down to page 12, line 32, agreed to.
§ First Schedule.
§ Lords Amendment:
§ In page 15, leave out from the beginning of line 4 to the end of line 7 and insert:
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr. Wheatley.]
§ Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their Amendments to the Bill.
Committee nominated of Mr. Paling, Mr. Egan, Mr. Ernest Simon, Lord Eustace Percy, and Sir Kingsley Wood.
§ Three to be the quorum.
§ To withdraw immediately.—[Mr. Warne.]
§ Reasons for disagreeing to certain Lords Amendments reported later, and agreed to.
§ To be communicated to the Lords.—[Mr. Warne.]