HC Deb 08 July 1930 vol 241 cc323-5

I beg to move, in page 20, line 7, to leave out the words from the second word "the," in line 7, to the word "and," in line 9, and to insert instead thereof the words: the Minister against the notice, demolition order, clasing order, or refusal to determine a closing order, and may appeal against the demand for the recovery of expenses, or an order made by ft local authority with respect to any such expenses. I very much regret that the hon. Member for South Battersea (Mr. W. Bennett), whose name appears first to this Amendment, is, unfortunately, in hospital and unable to be here to move it. In order to make the Amendment run with the Bill it has been necessary to move it in a somewhat different form from that in which it appeared on the paper by leaving out these words from the Clause: the county court within the jurisdiction of which the premises to which the notice, demand, or order relates are situate. The Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee have asked for this Amendment to be made. They suggest that no sufficient reason has been given for the very drastic amendment of the law proposed in this case. Prior to 1909 such appeals as this could be heard by petty sessions or by quarter sessions. In 1909 this House tranferred the appeal to the Minister. The jurisidiction of the Minister has been efficiently exercised; it has been a cheap method, and has avoided a very considerable amount of delay. It is highly desirable that these appeals shall be heard by a tribunal which is easily accessible and does not involve a great outlay. The Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee feel that if the alteration proposed by the Bill is made it will involve a serious congestion of work in the county courts. It is not suggested that the county courts are well qualified to deal with this particular form of appeal, and I hope the Minister will be able to say that the existing practice, which has lasted for over 20 years, and has given general satisfaction, may continue.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I found it a little difficult to follow the altered Amendment which was presented to us in verbal form, but, as far as I gathered it, the purpose of the mover is to restore the law to its present state in which such appeals lie to the Minister. We suggest that these appeals should go to the county courts. The Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee speak for boroughs that live, as it were, on the steps of Whitehall, and they do not feel that the present procedure involves any difficulty for them; but if some small business has to be undertaken in, say, Cumberland, the Minister has to send down an inspector and has to hold an inquiry, and that entails some delay. The courts are well distributed throughout the country and every authority will find a county court within a reasonable distance. It, may be said that the Ministry will know more about housing law than the courts do and, as far as technical matters are concerned, I think we may say that the Ministry would be the better judge; but these appeals will be with regard to details of the execution of work, expenses and matters of that class. In weighing the points up carefully the enormous advantage to the local authorities of having an appeal to courts so easily accessible to them turned the balance in favour of the proposal in the Bill. The local authorities which object are those which do not suffer owing to their nearness to London. I hope the House will reject the Amendment.


In view of the explanation of the hon. Lady I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: In page 21, line 14, leave out the first word "the."

In line 30, leave out the word "section," and insert instead thereof the words "Part of this Act."—[Miss Lawrence.]