The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. WESTWOOD:
In page 12, line 31, to leave out the word 'representing,' and to insert instead thereof the words 'elected for.'
In line 38, to leave out paragraph (c).
The Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Mr. Westwood) appear to be incomplete, because they make no provision as to the manner in which the members are to be elected, and, therefore, Mr. Speaker could not see his way to select them.
The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. E. BROWN:
In page 13, line 23, to leave out the voids "a newspaper" and to insert instead thereof the word "newspapers.
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) appears to be unnecessary. If he can show that there is some point of substance in it, I shall be glad to hear him.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I am glad to hear that this Amendment is unnecessary. As Sub-section (4) reads at present, for the purpose of the reconstitution of county councils and determining the number of county councillors the Secretary of 318 State is empowered to do certain things by Order. Before he makes the Order he is to cause a local inquiry to be held in certain cases, and when the order is made it is to be published in the "Edinburgh Gazette" and in a newspaper circulating in the area to which it relates. If publication is to be confined to the "Edinburgh Gazette" and a single newspaper, I desire to move my Amendment, with the object of securing that there shall be publication in more than one newspaper. If the Lord Advocate tells me that the drafting of the Subsection gives me what I want, then there is no need to amend it, but unless the words of the Sub-section have some technical and legal meaning they seem to me to limit the publication to one other newspaper beside the "Edinburgh Gazette," and if that be so I do not think the Order will have the publicity which is necessary.
Clause 8 does very wide things. It makes drastic changes in the constitution and the election of county councils and confers on the Secretary of State important powers as to determining the number of county councillors for a county, apportioning them between the landward area and the burghs, and determining the contents and boundaries of electoral divisions. If the Lord Advocate tolls me that what I want is covered by the terms of the Sub-section I have no more to say, but according to my reading of the Sub-section it is, to use the word of a late Cabinet Minister, "definitive" to say that publication is to be made only in the "Edinburgh Gazette" and one newspaper. In many places people take only one newspaper and would not have any knowledge of the proposed change.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
My answer to the hon. Member is that his Amendment does not make twopenny worth of difference, because under the Interpretation Act of 1889 where it is in the plural it includes the singular, and where it is in the singular it includes the plural.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
I think that is a most inadequate reply, and that we are entitled to further elucidation of the point raised by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown). If the right hon. Gentleman proposes to issue an Order, he may regard it as quite sufficient for his purposes to insert an advertisement in either the "Scotsman" or the "Glasgow Herald" newspapers. Both those newspapers circulate in practically the whole of Scotland, and that, no doubt, would be regarded as adequate, but, in my submission, it is very far from being adequate. Publicity ought to be given to the proposed Order in the local newspapers circulating in the areas concerned. That is a perfectly reasonable proposal. The Lord Advocate may say that if an announcement appears in the "Edinburgh Gazette" and, for example, the "Scotsman" newspaper, all persons interested would be informed; but that may not follow, because they may not make themselves acquainted with all that appears in the "Edinburgh Gazette." I do not know of anybody who does read the "Edinburgh Gazette." I have no acquaintance with the periodical.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
The "Scotsman" and the "Glasgow Herald" are both excellent newspapers from the point of view of publicity, but publication in them would be insufficient from the standpoint of the publicity required for such Orders as are contemplated. My last point is this. I think it will be conceded, even by those on the Treasury Bench, that there are many points arising out of this Sub-section which are involved and require much elucidation. We do not want to circumscribe publicity in the manner which is proposed in this Clause, because in my judgment that would be a disadvantage. For these reasons, I
§ hope the Lord Advocate will see his way to make the necessary change. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give us the assurance that publicity will be accorded in respect of local newspapers. I quite appreciate the point that in this case the singular includes the plural, but does it refer to the leading newspapers as well as to the various local newspapers?
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
May I point out that the words in Clause 14, Sub-section (8), areshall publish in one or more newspapers." Why not retain the same words in this case?
§ Mr. STEPHEN
In the past a proposal of this kind has been taken to mean cither the "Scotsman" or the "Glasgow Herald," and very often the local papers have been lost sight of. Suppose the advertisement to be published related to something connected with Leith. If an extension was made beyond the "Scotsman" it might be the "Evening News." I look at this matter from another point of view. I suggest that you should take a paper like the "Labour Standard," which is the best paper circulating in the Edinburgh districts of North and South Midlothian. It is obvious to anyone acquainted with newspapers that the Labour weekly newspaper is the brightest and most interesting newspaper circulating in those districts. If there is to be any advertisement relating to matters connected with the district I have mentioned, I hope that the "Edinburgh Labour Standard" will be duly noted, and then the advertisement will be brought to the notice of a wide circle of people who will be glad to read it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided Ayes, 171; Noes, 87.321
|Division No. 253.]||AYES.||[8.59 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bevan, S. J.||Brooke, Brigadler-General C. R. I.|
|Albery, Irving James||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Blundell, F. N.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Boothby, R. J. G.||Brown. Brig.-Gen H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)|
|Atkinson, C.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Bullock Captain M.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Burman, J. B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Brail, Captain W.||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cassels, J. D.|
|Berry, Sir George||Briggs, J. Harold||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Bethel, A.||Brittain, Sir Harry||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Charteris, Brigadier, General J.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Ramsden, E.|
|Clayton, g. C.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hudson, R. S. (Cumbert'nd, Whiteh'n)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Hume, Sir G. H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Rye, F. G.|
|Couper, J. B.||Hurd, Percy A.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hurst, Sir Gerald||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandtworth, Cen'l)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Savery, S. S.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lamb, J. Q.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Loder, J. de V.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Looker, Herbert William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Lougher, Sir Lewis||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lumley, L. R.||Stuart, Crichton, Lord C.|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cethcert)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||McLean, Major A.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macquisten, F. A.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Thomson, Sir Frederick|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. Sir K. P.|
|Gates, Percy||Margesson, Captain D.||Waddington, R.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Ward, Lt. Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Grant. Sir J. A.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Hanbury, C.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Harland, A.||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Wells, S. R.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Nelson, Sir Frank||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Withers, John James|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wright, Brig-General W. D.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Nuttall, Ellis||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Perring, Sir William George|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Pilcher, G.||Major Sir William Cope and Major the Marquess of Titchfield.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Shinwell, E.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardle, George D.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Harris, Percy A.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Burr, J.||Hayday, Arthur||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Bellamy, A.||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Hollins, A.||Snell, Harry|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Strauss, E. A.|
|Bromfield, William||Kelly, W. T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kennedy, T.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lawrence, Susan||Townend, A. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lee. F.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Clarke, A. B.||Lowth, T.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lunn, William||Westwood, J.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Mackinder, W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Compton, Joseph||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Whiteley, W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish universities)||Maxton, James||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Duncan, C.||Mosley, Sir Oswald||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Murnin, H.||Windsor, Walter|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Oliver, George Harold||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Greenall, T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Granted, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingeley||Potts, John S.||Major-General Sir Robert Hutchison|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Saklatvala, Shapurji||and Major Owen.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Scrymgeour, E.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 13, line 23, after the word "newspaper," to insert the words "published or."
This is to indicate that, if there is a local newspaper in the district, notice of the scheme that is required to be published shall be published in that local newspaper.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I beg to move, in page 13, line 24, at the end, to insert the words:(5) Section 51 of the Act of 1889 (which relates to alteration of the number of county councillors and of boundaries, etc.) shall have effect as if after the words 'town council,' there were inserted the words 'or of a majority of the members of a county council elected for the landward area.'In Section 51 of the Local Government Act, 1889, it was laid down that, after the machinery of the new Act had once got going, there might be an application for alteration, for instance, of the number of county councillors, boundaries, and so on, and that application could be at the instance either of the county council or of a town council which was within the county for any purpose. I made some reference to this matter during the Committee stage. It seemed to us fair that the landward members of the county council should also have the chance, if they thought that the balance of representation was a bit unfair to them, to make an application at their own hand, and I said then that I proposed to put down an Amendment to give to that third interest the power to make such an application. This Amendment secures that by putting in, in addition to the wordscounty council and town council,the wordsor of a majority of the members of a county council elected for the landward area.I notice that there is an Amendment, if I may refer to it, which seeks to insert, before these words, the wordsrepresenting the burghs.A town council itself has the right to make an application under Section 51, and to put in these words does not seem to add anything very material. If the Government Amendment be agreed to, the three parties who can make such an 324 application will be, first, the county council; secondly, any town council within the county for any purpose; and, thirdly, a majority of the members representing the landward area of the county. That seems to cover the ground completely.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman sits down, may I ask him how he can argue that the second party referred to can possibly be in the same fair position, shall I say, as the landward members, since the second party is merely a separate burgh?
As the Lord Advocate has already spoken, I do not think he would be in order in speaking again.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I think, Sir, that that was really an interruption; I had not quite concluded. Under the Bill, the town council are the people who nominate representatives to serve on the county council, and any town council separately will be entitled to make an application of the kind suggested. They, of course, represent the interests of the small burghs in the county, and each small burgh council by itself may make an application. It is not necessary that all the town councils, or even a majority of them, should act together; any town council can do it. As regards the rest, namely, the representatives of the landward areas, it seemed to me fair to say that a simple majority of the landward members should be entitled to make such an application. That would secure consideration for any substantial body of opinion that might think that an alteration was due. The third body that can make the application is, as I mentioned at first, the county council itself, that is to say, the whole body.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I should like to ask the Lord Advocate if it is not rather complicating matters to create this new body inside the newly constituted authority? The newly constituted authority will consist of the members elected for the landward areas and the councillors nominated from the burghs within the county. Under the Act of 1889, either the county council or the town council of any burgh which will now be included—I understood the Lord Advocate to say that—
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
No; the town council of any burgh included within the county will have the right to make representations to the Secretary of State. I should like to ask what is really the object of creating this third body, namely, the majority of the landward members. If it is desired to get the new authority working together as one body, it would seem to me to be a pity to insert this third body. If I have understood the Lord Advocate aright, the majority of this third body of landward members will have the right to make representations independently to the Secretary of State on any matters with which Clause 51 deals.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
The town councils have the right, and the county council has the right. Why create this new body, which is a portion of the county council?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
With the leave of the House, perhaps I might answer that question. The newly constituted county council will consist partly of representatives of the landward areas, and partly of representatives of the small burghs. The persons who can apply, under Section 51 of the Act of 1889 as it now stands, are either the whole body, consisting both of the landward members and of the representatives of the burghs, or only a section of it, namely, the town councils. That section can now apply independently of the whole body, but the other section, the representatives of the landward areas, cannot, and we thought that the landward section, who, if they were in a minority on the county council, might otherwise suffer an injustice, should in fairness be allowed to apply just as the town councils can. It is not a third body; it is the other half, and, really, I cannot see that the matter admits of any argument. Although there may be matters affecting the landward areas very intimately, at present an application can only be made either by the county council as a whole or by one section of the county council, and what we want to do is to give to the other section of the county council the right also to go at their own hand. Surely, that 326 is only fair, and I cannot see why it should be spoken of as creating a third body.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I am sorry that the Lord Advocate has suggested that this matter is incapable of argument, because that shows that his mind is definitely made up, although he has not heard the other side of the case. One county council which I have in mind, dominated by a majority of representatives from the landward areas, is already approaching the Secretary of State complaining about the representation he has given to the burghs. Under the proposal before us there can be no collective appeal by the representatives of the burghs, or the county council either, to reduce or increase, as the case may be, the representation which finally will be given so far as the constitution of these county councils is concerned. The lord Advocate has made it quite clear that a single burgh will have a right to appeal, not for an increase of the burgh representation but for an increase of its own representation.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
No, the right of the burgh to appeal is with regard to the representation of the whole county. Under Section 51, the application is not to increase the particular representation, but to reconsider the whole distribution of the representation in the total area. The hon. Member has given a very useful illustration. He takes a case where the representatives of the landward area are going to be in a majority. It does not need the whole of them to act together. One alone can apply to have the whole electoral distribution of the county council area reconsidered. The landward area's representatives in the opposite case, where the burghs are controlling the county council and are in a great majority, even if they are unanimous, cannot make an application under present conditions. We say it is unfair that in the one case a minority can make the application and that in the other case they cannot. They are not even as well off as the braghal areas, because they have to get a majority under this, whereas a single one can make a representation. That is why it is to me quite unarguable.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
It may have been density on our part or lack of lucidity 327 on the part of the Lord Advocate on the first occasion, but the Lord Advocate did not give us as clear an exposition of what is meant on the first occasion as he has given now. It was lack of clearness on the first occasion that led me to the impression that a single burgh could only make an application on its own behalf. The further explanation that a single burgh can make representations for a complete change in the personnel so far as the whole of the burghs' representation is concerned certainly makes the position far clearer, and I think it is quite a fair suggestion that landward members should be in the same position as burgh members for the purpose of making representations.
§ Mr. W. M. WATSON
Will the Lord Advocate say to whom the application is to be made for a reduction of the burgh representation?
§ Mr. SHINWELL
I cannot understand why the Lord Advocate did not adopt another expedient in order to meet the difficult position as it concerns the landward members of the county council. He has proposed, and we have been compelled to accept, the constitution of the district councils which are to undertake functions on behalf of the county council. Why not leave it to the district councils to make individual representations in respect of changes in the boundaries and in the number of members who are to serve on the county council? Then we shall have this position, that the burgh council can make representations, and equally the district council, representing a small section of the landward area, can make representations also. That would be a fair position, but the proposal the right hon. Gentleman makes—I take no exception to the fairness of it—seems to me to create an anomaly which it is desirable to avoid. My own view is that it would have been very much better to give the district councils similar powers to those at present held by the burgh councils, namely, of making application to the Secretary of State in the event of new 328 boundaries being required and new membership having to be called for for the county council.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I beg to move, in page 13, line 25, to leave out Sub-section (5) and to insert instead thereof the words:(5) No councillor representing a small burgh shall be entitled to exercise a deliberative vote in respect of any matter relating solely to the exercise of any function which the county council is not entitled to exercise within the burgh;(6) No councillor representing a large burgh shall be entitled to exercise a deliberative vote except in respect of any matter relating solely to a function which the county council is entitled to exercise within the burgh.We had some discussion on this matter in. Committee, and there was general agreement that the words of the old Act were not satisfactory, and I felt that even the words we got in Committee were not altogether satisfactory. I hope the House will be able to agree that we have found a clearer basis. I hope to satisfy them at any rate that the new basis is a very clear one. May I explain it as it appears to me? The two classes of members of the county council which we are considering here are first of all, those who represent the small burghs, and, secondly, those who represent the large burghs, and one of the topics in which one is particularly interested is the question of Standing Orders, for instance, and the Chairmanship. The interest of the large burghs in the council's business will really be very small. It may be in education or police, and that not in all cases, that they have representation. On the other hand, the interest of the small burghs is proportionately very much larger. We thought the fairest and most correct way would be to approach the right to vote of these two classes of representatives from exactly the opposite angle. The effect of what we have prescribed in these two new Sub-sections is that a person representing a small burgh is entitled to a deliberative vote on everything, prima facie, unless the person challenging can say to him, "The business on which you are going to exercise your deliberative vote is concerned with the landward areas and nothing else." In effect, that is what it comes to. That means that he could vote on the Standing Orders, or on the 329 election of the Chairman, or of the officials whose services are used generally by the county council. Then, with regard to the representatives of the large burghs, we approached it entirely from the opposite angle, and the new Subsection (6) prescribes that he is not to exercise a deliberative vote except in respect of a matter which relates solely to the exercise of a function which is exerciseable within a large burgh. In other words, the moment you get a taint of any county matter, then he is excluded, even though the large burgh is interested. The result of that, of course, is that while under the other Clause a person residing in a large burgh will be qualified to become a Convener, if they choose to elect him, the representatives of a large burgh will not be able to weigh in with their large battalions and cast a deliberative vote on such a question as Standing Orders. I suggest it is not a very easy problem to define, and the words we have discovered, particularly the words beginning "solely", are the most satisfactory method that we can find. On the whole it does deal fairly with the difference in the representation of large and small burghs in these matters, and I hope the House will be ready to adopt our suggestion.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I would like to have an assurance from the Secretary of State or the Lord Advocate that, in considering this rather difficult problem they have consulted with the people who have to carry out the administration. What is the view generally held by county councils regarding what will happen at a meeting convened to be carried out under these provisions? You will bring these people, in a widely scattered county, distances of 40 or 50 miles, and they will sit down together at a meeting where there will be three distinct and separate voting powers. You have the county councillor who is the representative of the landlord area and who has very comprehensive voting powers; then you have the representatives of the large burghs, who have less voting powers, and then you have representatives of the small burghs, who have still less voting powers. Surely there will be a perpetual wrangle at that meeting as to whether No. 2 is to go in or No. 3 is to go down. I speak seriously of this, because I have had some experience of it on the county 330 council of Lanark, and I know it does not work. We had to abandon it in disgust. We had representatives of a Government Department sitting on the district committee and we had to carry on our business, I suppose illegally, by allowing all these people, for mere purposes of convenience, to participate in the whole of the business which came before our meeting.
Common sense will tell you that it is a most complicated procedure to carry out in practice, and I hope the Government will not, without serious consideration and consultation with the authorities, saddle them with a procedure of this kind. I am not speaking in a hostile manner or suggesting any alternative. I know right hon. Gentlemen themselves must recognise what a difficult scheme it is in actual practice. Remember that these people will have been brought a considerable distance and may have a very limited period in which to get through their deliberations, with a lot of business to transact. I wish a more simple method could have been devised, and I am quite sure that if those on the front Bench had put their minds to it, they could have devised a simpler method.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I am sure that this, like the previous Amendment, will require some further explanation particularly as regards the part which deals with the representation or voting powers of the representatives of the large burghs. They are to have a vote solely on those functions which the county council is entitled to exercise within a burgh. Would they have a vote, for instance, on the chairmanship of the county council, or would they have the right to vote for the finance convener or any of the other conveners? We have to keep the fact in mind that the rates which are to be collected now by the county have to go into a common pool. There will be a stand on the part of the respective conveners as to how the money is to be spent. Take the problem of education, which up to the present has been a separate problem as far as the collection of rates is concerned. Under this new scheme, there will be a fight for the money that is to be collected which comes into that pool from the ratepayer's pocket. The result will be, that while the representatives from the large burghs are only directly interested in connection with education, they will be indirectly interested in the expenditure of 331 all services of the county council, owing to the fact that the more money that is spent in connection with certain health services or other services which the county council have got to administer, the less money will there be for education. Consequently, every representative from a large burgh will be as much interested in the appointment of the finance convener and the conveners of the other committees, as he will be interested in the convener of the education committees.
I can see many problems arising in connection with the limiting of the voting powers of representatives, particularly of the large burgh, because they are only to have a vote on those functions solely exercised by a county council within their respective burghs. The chairmanship, for instance, is not a matter that is solely exercised within the burgh, nor is the appointment of the finance convener something that solely affects the large burgh itself. Consequently, I think we are entitled to have some further explanation from the Lord Advocate. I hope he will make it as clear to us that this Amendment is in the interest of fair play and justice to all parties as he did in connection with the previous Amendment. I am afraid that is going to be a far more difficult job, realising that the rates are going into the common pool, and that there will be a general scramble for the allocation of that money. I am afraid that in this representation of the large burghs, which are only interested in education, and in some cases the police and in others lunacy—for those are the only three things in regard to which the representatives of the large burghs from an administrative point of view are directly interested—there will be serious difficulties as far as this Amendment is concerned.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I rise only to ask that, when a reply is given, I may be told whether the word "deliberative" covers the whole of what is meant. Has it a technical meaning, or is it a new word that is chosen? If it means that every vote, except those limited by the proposed words, "except the casting vote," is a deliberative vote, then I have never met the phrase before. I ask for information, as it seems to me to be a new phrase.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I wish the Lord Advocate, in amending this Clause, would have faced the problem in a better fashion. The one objection which I see to the Clause is that you have three persons attending—the town councillor, the representative of the larger burgh, and the representative of the smaller burgh. It is argued by the Lord Advocate and the Government supporters that it is not fair that the representatives of the small burgh should vote on matters in which there is no payment made by the small burgh, or in which the small burgh is not directly interested. The Lord Advocate will at least agree that the small burgh representative is penalised in regard to voting on certain occasions. He is not allowed to vote on every question that comes before the county council. On other questions the representative of the larger burgh is not allowed to vote. The representative of the smaller burgh, before he or she can vote, must prove that the matter upon which he or she wishes to vote relates to a smaller burgh. The Lord Advocate in explaining the Amendment pointed out that if there was the slightest doubt members would not be allowed to vote.
The objection to this proposal is that in actual practice the thing cannot work. Immediately members at a meeting will start wrangling as to who is entitled to vote and who is not. Every member who attends the council meetings will want to vote as often as he can. One of the worst features of this Clause is that it will force a person, who ought to be independent and free, into the firing line of two or three different groups. Who has to decide whether a person can vote or not? The clerk. Immediately you get a wrangle on this matter, the clerk will be hauled into the firing line. He will be hauled into a position from which he ought to be kept clear. It is not customary to have a roll call vote. In the Glasgow Council it is not common to have a roll call vote unless on very exceptional matters. Here you may have a county council meeting voting by the showing of hands and depending on a member's honesty as to whether he votes or not. Unless you have county councillors descending to the level of spying on one another, you can have no real check as to how this method of "ins and outs" will work at all. I think with my 333 hon. Friends that the system wants revising, and, speaking personally, I would sooner that every person had a vote. All members should be placed on an equal footing. I believe that within six months of the actual working of this Measure that will be the position of affairs. I would sooner the Lord Advocate had treated all councillors alike, because I think such a course would make for much better local government than the unseemly wrangles which, I think, will result as the outcome of this Clause.
§ Mr. W. M. WATSON
The Lord Advocate has tried very hard indeed to support a proposition to which he committed himself at an earlier stage in the discussions on this Bill. He committed himself to the proposition that the Provost of a small burgh might be selected as the convener of the county council. I hear that that is also supported by his hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary of State. On a previous occasion I reminded both the Lord Advocate and the Under-Secretary of State that if such a gentleman were selected us convener of the county council, he would be presiding over county council meetings and conducting discussions upon which he would be entitled to have neither a voice nor a vote. After all, the Government have left something to the small burghs. They have left them the water supply. Sup posing the subject before the county council was the water supply for the county, would such a convener be in a position either to speak or to vote on the question? Housing, drainage and water supply are things which are still retained by the small burghs, and my contention is that if a representative of such a burgh were elected to the position of convener of the county council when matters of that kind came before the county council, he would not be in a position to take any part in the discussions or to vote upon them.
The position is worse, if we imagine a representative from a large burgh being appointed the convener of the county council. What connection has a large burgh with a county council? It has connection in respect of education, perhaps lunacy, and perhaps the police. It is not so in every case, but there may be cases where the large burgh has a police con 334 nection with the county council. Only on matters of that kind coming before the county council would such a chairman have either a voice or a vote in the proceedings. I maintain that it is absolutely ridiculous to say that either a representative from a large burgh or a small burgh should be the convener of the county council. Even if the representatives of the burghs had a majority of the representation on the county council, it would not be advisable for them to elect to the position of convener of the county council a man who had a limited vote at a county council meeting. I would appeal to the Lord Advocate to reconsider this matter, because I contend that he took up an absolutely impossible position on the last occasion in maintaining that the representative from burghs had equal voting powers with the representative from the landward areas. I agree that in certain very important matters that come before the county council the small burghs will have a very direct interest. They will have interest in finance, in roads, in education, and in many other things that come before the county council, but, even at the best, the representative of the small burgh cannot expect to exercise the same liberty of action either in speaking or voting at a county council meeting as the man who is elected from the landward area.
I would ask the Lord Advocate to reconsider this matter. It is absurd for him to contend that the representatives from the large burghs or the small burghs are in a position analogous to the representatives from the landward areas. It is clear to those who have had any experience of work done in any county council, that the county council will decide that the man who is to preside over their deliberations must be a man who has the right to speak and vote upon every question that will come before the county council. The Lord Advocate must admit that the representatives from the small burghs or the large burghs cannot, under these circumstances, hold the same position as the representative from the landward area.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
The Lord Advocate is not to be envied in this matter, because it is clear that he is up against a very awkward difficulty. If any complication arises, it will be because of the Bill itself. Complications are bound to 335 ensue, once the Government step from the slippery slope of local government reform in Scotland. The initial meetings of the reconstituted county councils in Scotland will be a series of miniature Bedlams, because it will be almost impossible for the county clerk of these new authorities to know what members should vote in respect of one proposal and what members should be prevented from voting. Another complication will arise. Meetings may be convened in connection with the county council to deal with certain matters, yet many of the members who are called to such meetings may be expressly precluded from voting upon the issues involved. Therefore, what on earth will be the use of calling those members to such meetings? It will not be possible to say before the meeting is called what the nature of the business will be as affecting all the members concerned.
As far as I understand it, the Government are anxious to promote centralisation in local government in Scotland. They have told us that time and again. Where is the centralisation in respect of this proposal, when we are to have three sets of members on the county council? One set are to be full members, another set are to be half members, and the third set, presumably, are to be half-baked members. We are to have members representing the small burghs, who will be able to vote only on certain matters concerning themselves, but what these matters are the Lord Advocate is not in a position to tell us. There are to be members representing the large burghs and members representing the landward areas. What is to be the position of the members who represent the landward areas? The members representing the small burghs and the large burghs are to be precluded from voting on certain issues. Presumably, the members representing the landward areas are to vote on all issues that come before the county council. If the Under-Secretary thinks that what I am stating is not accurate, perhaps he will correct me.
§ Major ELLIOT
Such matters as the water rate are debated in the town council and do not come before the county council.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
That does not remove my difficulty. On all the major 336 issues that come before the county councils, the members who represent the landward areas will have the right to vote. If matters such as water and drainage are excluded from the county councils and are dealt with, as I understood the Under-Secretary to state, by the town council, and do not come before the county council, that matter does not arise, but I am in doubt as to whether the Under-Secretary understood the point that I was making. If there arises no doubt in the mind of the Under-Secretary, why cannot he put the matter as clearly as he usually does? It appears to me that a very awkward complication arises. Complications are bound to arise. When you present a complicated Measure of this character, you cannot avoid difficulty. In these circumstances, it is possible to suggest a way out to the Secretary of State. I cannot appeal to the Lord Advocate, because he always makes up his mind a long way ahead, and there is no possibility of any new orientation so far as he is concerned. No such thing would occur to him, but perhaps the Secretary of State is more susceptible to the influence that can be brought to bear during Debate.
May I suggest to the Secretary of State, in view of the difficulty that arises—and there is some difficulty and complication—that it would be wise to withdraw this proposal and allow the newly constituted county councils to work out their own destiny. They may make by-laws, standing orders, rules and regulations governing their conduct, quite sufficient for their guidance, and if they find themselves on the horns of a dilemma not of their making they may come to the right hon. Gentleman and ask for his advice. The members of the county councils will occasionally have to set up committees to deal with various aspects of county council administration. Are the members from the small burghs and the large burghs to have the right to deliberate in respect of the personnel of such committees, or will they vote only in the selection of such committees where those bodies are to deal with matters affecting the small and large burghs? I put that point because this consideration occurs to me; that you start off by setting up a committee to deal with a matter that affects the county council work itself, and may not affect the small or large burghs, 337 but in the course of time the functions of the committee widen, they are amplified, and the functions of that small committee six months after its inception, may be entirely different from its functions when it was inaugurated.
In view of that complication this point arises, that you may find that a committee of that kind will be dealing with matters affecting the small burghs and the large burghs and not exclusively county council or landward affairs, and yet Members representing the small burghs and the large burghs may not have been represented on the committee. How are these matters to be dealt with? The Lord Advocate has a legal mind, a very brilliant legal mind. Every Member on these benches appreciates that fact, and some of us are rather inclined to the view that he is much too clever, and we would wish it were otherwise. For my own part, I do not like to see so many clever men sitting on the Front Bench opposite. However brilliant the Lord Advocate may be in respect of legal matters, he does not appear to me to have got the right hang of local administration in Scotland, whatever he may know about the theory. It is the same with the Under-Secretary. The Under-Secretary is chock-o-block with theory in these matters, but the Lord Advocate and the Under-Secretary know very little about the practice of local government. If any hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite had been members of a local authority in Scotland for 14 months, they would know much more about local government affaire than they appear to know at the present time.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
Quite frankly, and without any disrespect, I must say that that would not appear to be the case from the observations he has made in the Debate to-night. If it is the case I accept it, and I ask him from his great fund of administrative experience in local affairs to give some consideration to the important and complicated issue with which we are now dealing.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I can only speak again by leave of the House; but I am very anxious to make things as clear as I can. We have, as hon. Mem 338 bers have observed, three classes of persons appearing in the county councils, the landward representatives, the small burgh representatives and the large burgh representatives; but elected for a different set of things. There is nothing new in that. That was the situation under the 1889 Act, where there was a similar provision limiting the exercise of the right to vote by the representatives of the burghs. The basis on which that provision, Section 73, Sub-section 8, of the 1889 Act was based, was unfortunate, because it made a financial interest the test as to the capacity to vote. That was found to be really quite unworkable in some instances. But we have taken quite a different test in this Bill. We have taken what, I think, is a very easy and simple test. It is this: is the business in hand business which relates to a function which the county council as a whole can exercise within the small burghs? Functions which can and cannot be exercised within the small burghs are defined by the statute and are simple. The boundary lines of a county in these respects are simple and county council clerks in Scotland are a competent body. I imagine that they will find it far easier to answer that question than having to work out their own salvation as the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell) suggests.
One is faced with this difficulty in settling this question. Let me give an illustration. In the case of the County of Renfrewshire, in the draft scheme, taking it broadly, the landward representation is 21, the small burgh representation is 15, making 36, and the larger burgh representation 54. That is 54 as against 36 for the other two interests combined. It is clear that it would not be fair to allow the larger burghs to swamp the rest of the county when their only interest probably is education and police, perhaps only education. It is quite clear to me at any rate, and I am sure the House will appreciate it, that the larger burgh interests ought to be limited to matters with which they are really concerned. The hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood) made a point in regard to general finance, but I would point out to him that the subjects in which they are interested are subjects in which the grants are not pooled.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
The Lord Advocate has not really grasped the point I was making There is no question about the distribution of grants. They are not interested as to the manner in which the grant coming from the central education fund in Scotland is to be spent by the education committee, but they are interested in the amount of money necessary to make up the deficit between the amount of the grant and the expenditure on education in the county.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
Therefore, they are interested in the expenditure on education. That is perfectly true. The consolidated rate which is going to include all the needs of the county is quite a separate matter. I assumed that the hon. Member was referring to the question of the allocation of the general grant of money to the different needs of the county, but it so happens that the things they are interested in do not come into the pool and they have no interest in it. Then the question arises as to what is fair as regards the small burghs. There again, I agree that it might have been simpler to say that the representatives of the small burghs should be free to vote on every subject which came before the county council, but that again would have been a bit unfair if we allowed the small burghs to vote on matters in which the landward areas alone were interested. Therefore, it seems fair that the small burghs should be allowed to vote on everything except matters which solely concern the landward areas. That is the perfectly sound lines on which we proceed.
One or two minor points have been raised. One hon. Member referred to the deliberative vote. Surely a chairman is chosen for his capacity to act as chairman. I assume that is the basis on which local authorities elect their chairmen, and it may be an advantage if he has no direct personal interest in the business in hand; he may make all the better chairman. I for one would agree that eligibility for chairmen should arise 340 whatever part of the county he lives in. We thought it would be unfair that while they would be eligible to be chairmen the representatives of the larger burghs should not be entitled to force one of their own men on the rest of the county council for the whole of the rest of the business in which the smaller burghs and landward areas were alone interested. I do not think that is an unreasonable proposal. With regard to the distinction between the deliberative votes and the casting votes, the hon. Member for Leith asked if it was a new distinction. It is not; you will find it in Section 73 (5) of the 1889 Act. With regard to the general difficulty as to voting power the hon. Member for Linlithgow said that this difficulty arises out of this Bill. It does not, The difficulty existed in the 1889 Act, and I submit that we have very much simplified and indeed, I think, have solved it by the demarcation between business which we have taken. We have divided along the line of functions, not on the line of financial interests, which proved a difficult one and led to litigation in the courts. I think I have now dealt with all the matters raised as far as I can remember. The hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles asked a direct question as to whether the representatives of the large burghs will be entitled to vote, but I think I have already answered that question. He would be eligible to be elected, but not eligible to vote. This is a fair solution and a clear solution of a question which primâ facie presents difficulties, and I ask the House to agree to the Amendment.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
There is one point which the right hon. Gentleman has not made clear, and that is the fact that the representatives of the large burghs have an indirect interest in the whole of the expenditure in the county, because the more money spent on roads, for instance, the less money available for education.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I agree that when you come to the last bit they will have an indirect interest, but they are directly interested in the amount of expenditure on education in the county as a whole. It will be no difficult matter to arrange the business so that the different matters will not be jumbled up.
§ Amendment agreed to.