I beg to move, in page 20, line 4, at the end, to insert the wordsThe level crossings described in the said schedule shall be maintained and used subject to and in accordance with such conditions for the protection and maintenance of the said main road and for the safety of the public using that road as the Minister may by order prescribe, and the county council may apply to the Minister to make such an order.This Clause deals with level crossings on a main road. This Amendment and the one which follows, in line 21—to leave out the word "protection" and insert the word "safety"—run together, and provide for the purchasers being responsible for the safety of the public. Originally it was provided that they should be responsible for the "protection" of the public, but that has been considered to have a wider meaning than is usually applied in such cases, and we propose to substitute for the word "protection" the word "safety." The Amendment I am now moving provides that the Ministry of Transport shall continue powers which they already possess under the Defence of the Realm Act to ensure the necessary protection of the road and the safety of the public.
§ Sir ROBERT HUTCHISON
I understand that there are many shunting operations on these level crossings which prevent the public from using the road for a considerable period. Can the right hon. Gentleman say how far shunting operations will be allowed to continue?
There is a Clause in the Bill, which was put in in Committee, I understand, limiting shunting operations to certain hours of the day.
§ Mr. HOPKINS
There is a Clause in the Bill which prohibits shunting operations except during the night.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 2.0 P.M.
The next series of Amendments deal with an undertaking which has been given by the purchasers that, if the local authority give notice at any time that they want to carry the main road, by a bridge, over a railway line which crosses the road on the level, the purchasers shall pay £5,000 towards the cost of erecting such bridge incurred by 1760 the local authority. As the Clause was passed in Committee, it is out of order without a Financial Resolution, because it lays an obligation to pay this £5,000 on the Secretary of State, and we have, of course, given no authority from this House for any such expenditure of public money. The next sub-section makes it clear that it is not proposed that the Secretary of State should find this money, but that the obligation will fall on the purchaser. None the less, that would not get us out of the difficulty on the point of order. These Amendments are therefore being; proposed. While retaining the substance of the Clause, they make it clear that there is no question of the money being paid by the Secretary of State.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Hope)
Does this arise on the Amendment to leave out the word "protection," and to insert instead thereof the word "safety?"
I thought you had put that Amendment. I beg to move, in page 20, line 21, to leave out the word "protection," and to insert instead thereof the word "safety."
§ Major Sir GRANVILLE WHELER
May I take it that these Amendments to the Clause have been agreed to by the Kent County Council?
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
This Bill has been before a. Select Committee. It now appears that this Select Committee has overlooked a fundamental rule of Parliamentary procedure, and has proceeded to commit the Secretary of State to a certain financial obligation, without a Financial Resolution from this House. If that was the way in which the Select Committee did its work in one respect, are we justified in accepting all its recommendations throughout a long Bill of this sort with very little explanation? If so, our proceedings here are farcical.
I understand that the Select Committee were given this advice by learned counsel, who were not so familiar with the procedure of the House as hon. Members here. I do not think the offence is so serious, because if the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Clause, he will see clearly that it is not 1761 the intention of the promoters of the Bill that this money should actually be paid by the Secretary of State.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Question before the Committee is the difference between the word "protection" and the word "safety." I do not see how a financial point can arise on that.
What is the real reason for substituting the word "safety" for the word "protection"? Is there any thing subtle in this change of word to prevent an obligation being met by the promoters with regard to making provision for the protection of the public?
I am advised that the Ministry of Transport are satisfied that "safety" is an adequate word to use. We are advised by the experts that the word "protection" would go very much further than the normal obligation put upon the owners of a railway line in proximity to a road.
This may be a point of some substance, if you are going to leave it at "safety," to insist upon certain protective erections, but if you have the word "protection" as well you might be able to have very strong powers to protect as well as provide for the general safety.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It will be observed that the word "protection" occurs in the previous line of the paragraph which reads:For the protection and maintenance of the said main road and for the protection of the public using the said main road.The consideration of the main road is one thing and the consideration of the public another, and I presume that it was thought better to use different words.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 20, line 29, leave our Sub-section (3).
§ In page 21, line 15, after the word, "The" insert the word "foregoing."— [Mr. Guinness.]
I beg to move, in page 21, line 24, at the end, to add the words(4) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Section, if at any time the county council give to any purchaser from the Secretary of State three 1762 mouths' notice in writing that in their opinion it is desirable that all or any of the aforesaid level crossings should be discontinued and bridges substituted therefor each of such bridges to be of a span sufficient for two lines of rails and with a clear headway throughout above the rail level of fifteen feet, the following provisions shall have effect: —
- (i) The said purchaser shall convey free of cost to the county council so much of the land formerly the property of the Secretary of State abutting on either side of the said main road as shall be reasonably necessary for the construction thereon of embankments of such width as will, with the present width of the road, be sufficient to carry a road thirty-five feet wide between the fences thereof, and with a gradient of not more than one foot in thirty feet, and any question as to the amount of land necessary under this paragraph shall in default of agreement be referred to the arbitration of an engineer appointed by the Minister, and the award of that engineer shall be final and conclusive;
- (ii) The said purchaser shall on the completion of such bridge and the approaches thereto pay to the county council towards the cost of the construction thereof the sum of five thousand pounds."
This is the point, I understood, at which we were to get a full explanation of the financial procedure.
I do not think that I have anything to add, as I have explained the position fully to the Committee. On the advice of learned counsel, and as was clearly the intention of the Committee, the purchasers were to undertake this liability which Messrs. Pearson and Dorman Long have given us an assurance that they will undertake, and this Sub-section is carrying out that intention.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Are we not exposing ourselves to exactly the same danger as the Select Committee, which was misled on a most important point, in dealing to-day with this long and intricate Bill? It is obvious that we know nothing about this Bill which we are passing.
§ Mr. HOPKINS
As Chairman of the Select Committee I feel that I ought to apologise to this Committee for an infringement of the rules, through an oversight of mine, though as a fact it amounts to nothing, but I ought to have foreseen that it was an infringement and I ought 1763 to have insisted on the Clause being redrafted in the form in which it is now proposed.
I do not think that the point is fully understood by the Committee yet. There might be a new charge arising and it seems to me that, if there is a new charge arising, there is a point of great substance raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir II. Craik). There ought to have been a further amended money solution before we had a Clause incorporated in the Bill covering such increased charge as may arise.
There is no Money Resolution to this Bill. This point arose during the Committee stage. We had various conferences to get over difficulties with regard to level crossings, which are a great inconvenience. Those level crossings already exist. The purchasers were not prepared to go on with the transaction unless we kept those level crossings. As a result of those negotiations we made the Arrangement with reference to this contribution, which was never foreseen when the original Bill was brought in. That is how this transaction arises. It is a matter in which it was in no way possible to foresee.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 44 to 48, inclusive, ordered to stand part of the Bill.