§ (1) The grounds on which an application by an urban district council can be made under Section 15 of the Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act, 1878, for an order declaring a road to be a county road shall include the ground that the road is a road situate in a part of the urban district which is of a rural character.1051
§ (2) If on an application made under Section 15 of the said Act a county council refuse to make an order declaring the highway which is the subject of the application to be a county road, or fail for a period of six months after the application to make such an order, or if, having made such an order, the county council refuse or fail to confirm the order within six months of the making thereof, the applicant authority may appeal to the Minister of Transport who may, after considering any representations made by the county council, and, if the council SO require, after holding a local inquiry, make an order declaring the highway to be a county road.
§ (3) An order of the Minister of Transport under this section shall have effect as if it were an order made and confirmed by the county council under the said Section 15, and shall come into operation on such date as may be fixed by the order.—[Colonel Ashley]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley)
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The Committee will recollect that on former Clauses of the Bill it was decided that all scheduled roads, and indeed all roads in rural areas, should go over to the county council, and it was also decided that assistance to the upkeep of these roads vesting in the county council should be given through the block grant. There are a certain number of urban councils in the country who have part of their urban area really rural in character. This proposed new Clause seeks to remove a possible or probable injustice to them, namely, that under the Bill as it stands they would be left with these scheduled roads as a charge on their ratepayers, whereas, the maintenance grant of 25 per cent. having ceased to be paid and being transferred to the block grant, the block grant would go to the county council, and the urban council, with the same roads, purely rural in character, would have lost their 25 per cent. and would not get their block grant, so that they would be in the unfortunate position of having roads to maintain and no money with which to keep them up other than the money provided by their ratepayers. So this new Clause says that, if an urban council with areas in it which are rural in character makes an application to the county council to take over those roads, the county council shall, if the Minister of Transport declares them to be county 1052 roads, take them over, maintain them and pay for them, of course, out of the money of the block grant.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I should like to express my acknowledgment to the Minister for this Clause, which almost altogether covers an Amendment later in the Paper which I hope to move on behalf of the non-county boroughs. It embodies a recommendation of the Royal Commission on Local Government. The only point on which I am a little doubtful is how far the Amendment is limited by the provision laid down in Subsection (1). Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain that.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
It means what it says. The area should be rural in character and the roads would generally be what are called scheduled roads, that is, roads receiving the grant of 25 percent. as most of the same sort of roads were receiving 25 per cent. under the district councils. What we and my hon. Friend want to avoid is these urban councils having to keep up roads whereas the county council gets the money that ought to go to the district.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.