§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."479
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I would like to ask the Minister one or two questions which I think are appropriate to an occasion of this kind. It will be remembered that these Provisional Orders have to be confirmed by the House itself, and it will be realised that the House does not insist on having this power without very excellent reasons. There are two reasons for bringing these Bills on to the Floor of the House for discussion. The first is that it enables certain people to raise certain grievances in connection with the locality itself. I personally have no particular grievance, nor am I mixed up with any, in connection with the locality covered by this Provisional Order. There is, however, a second reason, and that is that it enables the House of Commons to watch with a jealous eye what the Minister is doing in connection with these Provisional Orders.
I have never liked or pretended to like these Provisional Orders, and it is essential, in my view, that the Minister who makes them should come and explain, if necessary, why he is making them. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health is here, and I presume that the hon. Lady intends to reply, although her name is not on the Provisional Order. I fully accept the fact that she will be able to give an adequate explanation, but, having regard to the particular circumstances of this Bill, I think it is a little ungracious of the Minister not to be in his place on this occasion to explain his own Order. I say that because this Order, as far as the Minister is concerned, deals with a most important place which is of great interest in many ways, and I think that, when an Order of this kind is before the House, the Minister of Health, if no more, ought to be present, having, if necessary, the able assistance of the Parliamentary Secretary.
The first point that I wish to raise in connection with this Bill is in regard to the First Schedule. It will be noticed that it is there stated that, under the Act of 1888, certain powers are given for the borrowing of money, and I think that one of the things which it is essential that we should know in the House of Commons on these occasions is what are the limits of the borrowing powers of 480 these districts. I notice that it is stated in the Schedule that the limit of borrowing powers under the Act of 1888, which is the Act that we are now amending, is a sum not exceeding £4,000—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must recollect that this is not the Second Reading of the Bill. On the Second Reading all these matters could have been raised, but I do not think I can allow, on the Third Reading, an explanation of the meaning of the provisions of the Bill.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and, 40 Members being present—
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I was raising a point which might seem to be one of detail, but I only raise it as a point of principle in connection with the Act. I think, subject to your ruling, that I should be entitled, on the Third Reading of the Bill, to raise as a matter of principle the point that we should have some knowledge of the limit of borrowing under the powers with which we are now concerned. I should not wish to extend that to a system of general questioning, but I submit that it gives the Minister the opportunity of saying what is the exact position in regard to this general principle. I understand that there has been some sort of dispute between various people in connection with this Bill. If I understand the matter aright, that dispute has now come to a peaceful and amicable settlement, and that for that reason there has been no further opposition to the Bill. I think we ought to know from the Minister, as a point of principle, on what grounds the dispute was settled, and whether the hon. Lady is satisfied, as representing the Minister of Health, that, on the one hand, the locality got fair terms, and, on the other hand, that the various parties interested in this dispute have not in any way been oppressed by the Order or by the Minister of Health.
There is a curious point in the Schedule, where it states that only steam motor vehicles may not be used. At the present time, on the roads of this country, it is the principle that steam motor vehicles can be used, and I should like to know if this indicates any unseen hand of the Minister of Transport or anything of that kind in endeavouring 481 to exclude steam vehicles from the roads in favour of petrol vehicles. I should like to emphasise very clearly that I raise these points, not in any sense in opposition to the principle of the Bill, but in protection of those very vital principles which belong to the freedom of the House of Commons, and in order to indicate that the House should have the perpetual right, on occasions when these Orders are brought forward, to raise the matter here, so that we may get a proper explanation of the position of the Minister in regard to any particular Order. For that reason I have chosen what I think is probably one of the most important and interesting Orders that we could discuss.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member again that this Bill was brought before the House for Second Reading, and that that was the time to raise these questions, and not on the Third Reading.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the Third time, and passed.