HC Deb 17 April 1928 vol 216 cc153-8

Amendment made:

In page 10, line 24, at the end, insert the words:

"Sec. 16 After the words 'harbour authority,' in each place where those words occur, there shall be inserted the words canal company'"—[Sir W. Joynson-Hicks.]


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


An Instruction apparently was given to the Committee that a certain alteration should be made. The alteration that has been made was to make a change in our laws relating to local authorities which is the first of its kind since 1907. This Bill gives county councils and boroughs power to operate, but deprives urban district councils of the same power which has been granted to these authorities in almost every Bill passed during the last 30 or 40 years.


The hon. Member is now dealing with something that is not in the Bill. That can be done on Second Reading, but not on Third Reading.


I shall most certainly endeavour to keep within your Ruling, Sir, but I should like to draw attention to the fact that the Bill for the first time since 1907 gives to a borough council a power that is denied to an urban district council. It gives a county council overriding power over urban district councils and deprives urban district councils of a power they have hitherto enjoyed, and, because merely to make by-laws is one thing but to see that they are carried out is another, it seems to me the overriding power of the county council ought not to have been given.

I have no desire to indulge in or to create a lengthy discussion, but, in view of the fact that two Amendments, which were regarded as highly important from the urban district councils' point of view, have been ruled out of order today, we believe that we have no alternative but to intimate to the right hon. Gentleman that the opposition to the Bill as it now stands, with the omission referred to, is much stronger than appears on the surface. Hon. Gentlemen on his own benches had their names down to Amendments which have been ruled out of order, and I am convinced, could the Debate have gone on and the right hon. Gentleman had really understood the demand of the urban district councils to have equal authority with the borough councils, he would not have hesitated to accept the Amendments on the Order Paper. But if the right. hon. Gentleman will indicate that in another place he will repair the wrong, which, apparently, has crept into the Bill, I am sure that hon. Members on these benches will not stand in the way of the Bill, but will allow it an easy passage.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give satisfaction to the 800 urban district authorities who are said to be unfit to control all matters of this kind within their own borders. I hope that be will give sufficient comfort to them by stating that in another place he will take steps to see that, as has been the ease since 1907, except in the case of the Shops Act in 1912, the same power is granted to them as is granted to borough councils, 66 of whom have less than 5,000 population, 166 less than 10,000 population. While there are hundreds of urban district councils with more than 20,000 population, yet a power is given to the borough councils which is denied to the urban district councils. I hope he will inform us that if we give this Bill a Third Reading steps will be taken in another place to give the powers to urban district councils that are to he given to borough councils.


It is a little difficult for me to argue a case which has been ruled out of Order. I can only tell the House that I have given a great deal of consideration to this Bill. I received this morning a very important deputation from the Urban District Councils Association, who used very strong language about county councils. I received an equally import- ant deputation from the county councils, who used equally strong language. That is my difficulty. I only desire to get the best result. There is one point which I may put to the House without transgressing the rules of Order. In the Bill as it now stands, the authority is the county council which has the control of a very considerable area and will create very considerable uniformity with regard to this question of petrol pumps. Let me take the road between London and Brighton—50 miles of road. It passes through two county councils, three borough councils, and five urban district councils. Under the proposals in the Bill, you would have two sets of by-laws only dealing with petrol pumps on that road. You might say there might be a difference of opinion between the two county councils, but, at all events, they would only be two. Under the proposal of the hon. Member there would be ten different sets of by-laws dealing with the road between London and Brighton.


Is it not true the right hon. Gentleman said, in reply to a previous Amendment, that it will be his duty to issue model by-laws immediately the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, and that he expects that the authorities will, more or less, adopt the model by-laws which he prepares?


We may hope that, but we have no power to enforce any particular form of by-laws. The Bill says that the county councils may frame certain by-laws. I want to do the best for the community as a whole. If there were 10 different kinds of by-laws existing on the route between London and Brighton, and between London and Bath 12 or 13 different sets of by-laws, it would be very undesirable. Not only would there be different sets of by-laws, but different methods of administration and different esthetic ideas of the local authorities all along the route. That would create very great confusion. I am not suggesting these points for the consideration of the House now, because the matter has been dealt with, but only to show the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) that I have not overlooked the point which he has raised. I have given very full consideration to the remarks addressed to me by both deputations this afternoon. I have no feeling one way or another, but my opinion is that in the interests of the community as a whole it would be better to leave this power in the hands of the county councils.


In the interests of art itself, would it not be an advantage to have the artistic expression of different authorities between London and Brighton? Would it not be a great advantage to find out the varied expressions of art in regard to petrol pumps in the different districts?


The variety might be charming, but perhaps a little too charming, if we had 12 different varieties in 50 miles. Hon. Members opposite and hon. Friends of mine on this side have not been able to fire off the speeches which they meant to fire off, on account of their Amendment having been ruled out of order, and if they so desire I should be very glad to meet a deputation of them and allow them to make their speeches to me. I will consider any point which they care to put before me. I cannot say more. The Clause in question has been passed. It is impossible to think that a Bill of this value to the community will be thrown out on Third Reading merely because of a difference in regard to which set of local authorities shall have the right to make by-laws. We are all agreed that by-laws must be made. I hope the House will give the Bill a Third Reading, and if between now and the Bill going to another place there should be any real feeling on the matter I shall be glad to look into it further and to discuss it with my hon. Friends on either side of the House.


In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and particularly in view of the fact that he is willing to allow us to fire our speeches at him, I beg to withdraw my opposition.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

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