§ Amendment made: In page 9, line 35, leave out the words "Part of this."—[Miss Lawrence.]
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 10, line 9, to leave out the words "six weeks," and to insert instead thereof the words "thirty days."
This is an attempt to expedite matters. Everybody agrees that we want to get on with the work as quickly as possible, and 30 days seems ample warning for the purpose here.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
This and the four following Amendments have been put down at the request of the Association of Municipal Corporations. There are two or three little points which should be considered in connection with them—
On a point of Order. Ought we not to discuss this first Amendment by itself? It seems inconvenient to discuss all of them together.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
They are all connected, but perhaps it would be better to discuss this Amendment first. It is moved at the instance of the Association of Municipal Corporations, and the Government consider it a reasonable Amendment.
§ Sir BOYD MERRIMAN
I should like the House to consider this point before assenting to the Amendment. The thing which is to be done within six weeks or 30 days, as the case may be, is the making of a motion to the High Court by any person who is aggrieved by an order, and desires to question its validity on the ground that it is not within the powers of this Bill, or because some requirement of this Bill has not been complied with. Unless he makes this Motion within the time stated, he is for ever shut out from complaining on either of these two grounds. As his only means of informing himself is by a notice published in a paper circulated in the district, six weeks is not too long to allow a man to inform himself of what has happened. In the case in which a man's attention may not be called within a month to the fact that this order has been made, he will be for ever shut out. We ought not to make this time too short, and the proposed alterations should not be accepted.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
We discussed this matter carefully upstairs, and I was under the impression that the Minister was satisfied that six weeks was a proper period. It is true that these Amendments have been sent in by the Association of Municipal Corporations. They were sent to me, and when I considered them and saw the difficulty of the person who would have to give notice, I found that I could not support them. Take the case where there is more than one owner of property to deal with; somebody would be put in a awkward position if we say that unless they put a claim in in 30 days they are ruled out. Ample time should be given to people who have valid objections to raise. I hope that the House will bear in mind that when an order is made, the person who owns the property, whether he be a small working man who has saved a little money and bought a small place, or a wealthy man who owns several places, will be deprived of his 316 property, and all he will be awarded under this Bill is mere site value, which in some cases will be only a few pounds. In view of the serious position that people will be placed in, the Minister was right in inserting six weeks in the Bill, and we shall make a mistake if we alter it, even at the behest of the Association of Municipal Corporations. They regard it from the point of view of the local authorities in their work of administering the Bill, and they want to make it as easy as possible for themselves. I do not blame them for that, but we have to have consideration for both sides. I am sorry that the Minister is going to accept it. I would rather it had been left to a free vote of the House, for it is not a question of party politics, but of common sense and reason.
I hope that the Minister will reconsider this point, and not put the House to the trouble of a Division. It is a small point; the only difference between the two proposals is 10 days, and nobody can maintain that serious obstruction will arise because another 10 days is given to a man to make up his mind whether the action that has been taken is within the powers of this Act or whether any requirements of this Act have not been complied with. Surely the Minister does not want to make this change simply because the Association of Municipal Corporations have put this Amendment forward, when no real ground has been shown why he should change his mind from the original draft of the Bill.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
The only point in the minds of the Association of Municipal Corporations is the possibility of delay. It is true that the question of validity may raise awkward points, but I should have thought that 30 days was a reasonable period—
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I erred on the side of generosity. This is not a point of any great substance, and I shall be prepared, if the hon. Member will withdraw his Amendment, to consider whether it is necessary to Shorten the period at all with a view to an Amendment being moved, if necessary, in another place.
§ Mr. HARRIS
It is purely a question of expediency, and, if the Minister will go into the matter carefully, to consider whether a shorter period is necessary, I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.