§ Major GLYN
I beg to move, in page 101, line 24, to leave out from the word "inquiry," to the end of the paragraph.
My object in moving this Amendment is to ask the Minister to reconsider the case of an inquiry which is set up by the Ministry to deal with applications under Clause 46. The wording proposed in the Bill is that the person holding the inquiry may refuse to hear any person, if he is satisfied that the views of that person have been adequately stated at the inquiry by some other per- 2102 son. If you are to have an inquiry it seems a unique thing to provide that the Board holding the inquiry may, if they think fit, not hear certain evidence. There are plenty of rules of procedure which make it impossible to have repetition of evidence, and any inquiry which is set up and is tactfully conducted could always refuse to hear evidence that is repeated over and over again. But it does seem to me that the rights of petitioners are going to be endangered if in the Bill you say that the person holding the inquiry may absolutely refuse to hear evidence if he thinks it is not necessary. I hope that the Minister will give some assurance that this power will not be abused. If you have an inquiry it is right that the person aggrieved should have a chance of being heard. An important point is that this particular Clause 46 is one of the Clauses that concern every village in the country. It is the Clause which gives the local inhabitants the right to appeal if the amount of traffic through the villages is such as to be a nuisance on the country roads. The whole House feels, I am sure, that there should be some safeguard to local inhabitants, and that they should be protected from an undue amount of traffic where that traffic is dangerous. I hope the Minister will consider whether he cannot modify the provision.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
These words in this Schedule are reproduced from the appropriate Schedule of the Roads Act of 1920, in respect to inquiries and applications for Orders under Section 7 (4) of that Act. These are applications for Orders restricting streets and so on, and clearly there could be witness after witness, person after person, seeking to give evidence which merely repeats the evidence which has been given before. If that were done, it would unduly delay the proceedings, without materially adding to the knowledge of the person conducting the inquiry. Therefore, it is provided that the person conducting the inquiry may refuse to hear any person if he is satisfied that the views of that person have been adequately stated at the inquiry by some other person. The hon. and gallant Gentleman may be sure that, in instructing the officers who are to conduct these in- 2103 quiries we shall be careful to inform them that they must not preclude, without careful consideration, any relevant evidence, and certainly they will enter these proceedings in that spirit and will be very careful not to exclude persons whose views have not already been heard.
Then there is the other consideration, that if they did in fact exclude persons who brought new evidence and new views, we should be liable to actions in the High Court, presumably for not conducting inquiries in a proper manner. Therefore, I think these words should remain in, otherwise inquiries may be protracted and delayed, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman may be sure that, in administration, we shall endeavour to act in the spirit of what he has said and not with any desire to steam-roller people or arbitrarily to exclude them from these inquiries.
§ Major GLYN
In view of the hon. Gentleman's assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.