HC Deb 06 March 1929 vol 226 cc432-3
Lieut.-Colonel MOORE

I beg to move, in page 23, line 27, to leave out the word "may," and to insert instead thereof the word "shall."

It is obvious from the wording of the Clause that it is the intention of the Government that this delegation of authority should take place. With that idea, no doubt many county councillors and town councillors will agree. But we are setting up here a new county authority. It will be an authority not quite sure of itself in many cases. It will be an authority, largely without predispositions and largely ignorant of its own powers. We shall have that authority on the one side, and on the other side the town councils with their traditions, their local knowledge, and experience of the various services gained during many years of working. I think it would be to the advantage of the burghs and the people of Scotland if this delegation of authority were made compulsory, and—although the Amendment does not provide for this—I think it should at least be made compulsory for one year, until the powers of the new county councils become so clearly defined that there will be no possibility of trouble arising or of the people of the burghs suffering from failure to delegate powers.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not find it necessary to press the Amendment. The effect of the Amendment is not as he has described it, and I notice that his seconder, evidently realising the fact, has left the House. To import the word "shall" in this line would not make the Clause mandatory. Let me read the sentence as it would run if amended in the way suggested. A county council shall, on such terms and conditions as the councils concerned may agree, appoint…to act as the agents of the county council," etc. That means nothing. Supposing the councils concerned did not agree, this would produce at once an administrative deadlock. Apart from the fact that the Amendment does not achieve the object which the hon. and gallant Member desires, I do not think that object is in itself a desirable one. The fact that the Amendment would lead to an administrative deadlock and that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has not found it possible to resolve that deadlock by introducing any subsequent words, shows the great difficulty of the proposal and in these circumstances I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.