HC Deb 29 July 1936 vol 315 cc1680-1

Lords Amendment: In page 35, line 5, leave out "are," and insert "is."


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment is grammatical.

11.11 p.m.


I do not think this is quite so simple a matter as my right hon. Friend thinks. I do not propose to raise the whole question whether a local authority or a corporate body ought to be referred to in the singular or the plural. The Amendment proposes to alter "local authority are "to" local authority is." I do not object to that, but we are doing exactly the opposite to what we were recommended to do on the Public Health (London) Bill. "Borough council" was referred to in the singular and the draftsman altered it to the plural. I rather reluctantly agreed because I thought that was the usual practice. I am rather surprised that this Bill started in the plural and we are now told to alter it to the singular. I am sure the Law Officer of the Crown will agree that in these two Bills which are to be passed in a week we ought to regard local authorities either in the singular or in the plural but not in different ways.

11.13 p.m.


May I reinforce what my hon. and gallant Friend has said? The Public Health Act, 1935, throughout uses the words "local authority" as importing the plural, and the first volume of the Oxford English dictionary makes it quite clear that, while it was formerly used in the singular, it is now more usually used in the plural. There seems to be every authority from 1875 onwards in favour of the plural form and I cannot understand why another place was so insistent on the singular.


Is this inconsistency in using "are" at one time and "is" at another not quite in keeping with the general inconsistency of Government policy both in foreign and in home affairs?

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 52, line 36, agreed to.