§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not propose to call any of the Amendments to this Clause.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
I am sorry that you have decided not to call the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Yardley (Mr. Salt) to leave out Sub-section (2).
§ The CHAIRMAN
I may help the hon. and gallant Member by telling him that I did not call that Amendment because I considered it out of order. Perhaps he may find that that applies to a good deal of what he was intending to say.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I am proposing to discuss the Clause as a whole. It states that certain roads shall be excluded from the Bill, namely, the roads within the county of London and any county borough. I understand, therefore, that the Clause means that certain roads which are in the county of London or in any county borough, or in any extension of the area of the county of London or of any county borough, shall not be included in the Bill. I want to discuss whether they should be in. If the Clause were deleted the county of London and the county boroughs would come in the Bill. I want to ask the Minister what he considers a trunk road ought to be. I think that it is a road that goes from one place to another regardless of whether it goes through a town or not. In making trunk roads we want to make main roads without bottlenecks here and there where they go through boroughs and other parts of the country, but real trunk roads where the traffic can flow smoothly from one part of the country to another. This Clause is the essence of the Bill, and if we exclude London and the county boroughs it will seriously affect what a trunk road ought to be.
I would ask my right hon. Friend to imagine what would happen if, say, he wanted to make a trunk road round Oxford and part of the road went through a portion of the borough of Oxford. Under this Bill the part which goes through the borough will have to come under the borough council and will not come under the Minister's jurisdiction at all. If the Minister decides to by-pass certain boroughs, he may have to say, "If I go the nearest way round I shall go into the fringe of the borough and when I do that I shall have to ask the borough to do the work, because I have not the power to do it." In other words, he will have to make a wider circle in order to go round certain boroughs than he would have to do if Clause 2 were not in the Bill. That is a serious matter. What will happen afterwards? If he has managed to make such a trunk road and has arranged with the local authority to make that part of the road which impinges on its area, he will not have control of that part of the road. He will have nothing to do with the lighting of it or anything else to do with it, but, according to this Clause, it will have to be maintained 879 by the local authority. Is that what we want? Is that what a trunk road ought to be? Ought not a trunk road to be one which should be maintained as a national road by the Minister of Transport whether it goes round a county borough or through it?
Why has the Minister decided to put this Clause in? I can understand that it was necessary to include London, because London is a very big place, and it would be difficult to draw a special line and say that certain roads were trunk roads which should come under the Minister of Transport. I cannot, however, see why the big main roads in the country which go through county boroughs all over the country, where they are often reduced to bottlenecks, should not come under the Minister of Transport who, under this Bill should form a proper trunk road system which extends from one end of the country to the other. Unless I can get a satisfactory answer from my right hon. Friend I propose to vote against the Clause.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Captain STRICKLAND
I hope that the Committee will consider carefully before consenting to the inclusion of this Clause. Sub section (2) is the test of the whole purpose which the Minister has in mind—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must point out to the hon. and gallant Member that we are discussing the Clause and not the question of amending it. It is a question of passing the whole Clause or nothing.
§ Mr. DENMAN
May we be clear as to the effect of the removal of this Clause? By the Financial Resolution we authorise the expenditure of money only on trunk roadsnot being roads within the administrative county of London or within any county borough.If, therefore, this Clause is taken out, does it mean that the roads will be vested in the Minister without his having any power to expend any money whatever on them?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman has raised a very difficult and interesting point. I am rather inclined to think that his question is one on which I ought not to give a Ruling now, or unless and until the Committee refuses to pass the 880 Clause. That would be the time to raise the point.
§ Captain STRICKLAND
I am grateful for that Ruling because it appears to me that the Committee have it within their power to reject the Clause even though it may mean the rejection of the whole Bill. It is not a question of adding anything to the expenditure; it may mean the complete rejection of the Bill unless the Minister is prepared to meet the grave objections that we have to this Clause. The Minister must have in his mind one of two things—either that he wants to improve the facilities, the layout, and the safety of the main trunk roads, or that he hopes to be able to relieve the poor county councils through which corridor roads run, concerning which they have to meet the expense, subject to the Road Fund grants, but from which they gain very little benefit. If it is the first, he must have in his mind that a trunk road is a corridor road which runs over considerable distances and that all such roads are linked up with each other as a continuous whole.
Under this Clause we shall have a repetition of the very trouble that we are supposed to be trying to clear out of the way. The object was that there should be continuity of system along the whole of our trunk roads, that the corridor traffic should have its passage facilitated by the similarity of road surface, similarity of lighting and similarity of layout all along the road. The actual name of the authority governing any particular section of a road does not appear to me to matter in the slightest. We want to secure the greatest safety on the roads, but if this Clause is passed that object will unquestionably be endangered. If the local authorities are in a position to accomplish this on the trunk roads which run through their particular territory there is no need for this Bill at all, because by additional road grants they could have been empowered to do exactly what they will have the power to do if this Bill is carried. If it does not mean the improvement of our road transport facilities this Clause cannot be regarded as anything else than mere window-dressing, a means of relieving the poorer local authorities of the burdens which they have carried unjustifiably for so many years in respect of this corridor traffic.
881 Take the title of the Bill, which itself has a bearing on this Clause. The title says it is a Bill to providethat the Minister of Transport shall be the highway authority for the principal roads in Great Britain which constitute the national system of routes for through traffic.Under this Clause we destroy the very title of the Bill. The Minister says he wants to control the through traffic which goes across our country north and south or east and west, and it is national through traffic with which we are dealing, but this Clause appears to have been drafted to enable the Minister to refuse to take control of even a, rural road through a borough. Many of the roads which I have in mind were expressly constructed as main trunk roads, not as roads belonging to this city or that, because they had very little to do with the internal transport of the city. They were constructed as by-pass roads to carry traffic around the city on its onward journey and to afford relief to the congestion from bottlenecks in the city itself.
Take my own city of Coventry, an old, walled city, with all that congestion of traffic which makes it almost impossible for two omnibuses to pass in the centre of the city. At great expense a wide by-pass road, the Fleckhampstead Highway, has been built to connect the Holyhead-Birmingham-London road. It bypasses the whole of the city, except as regards a portion of it which happens to pass over the fringes of the borough boundary—a fact which does not alter the character of the road, which is a trunk road, although it runs partly across the borough boundary. But the Minister is tying his hands by this Clause, so that if he wanted to take over Fleckhampstead Highway, which is a by-pass road, and has no concern with the local traffic of Coventry, except to relieve the bottleneck of the centre of the city, he could not do so. If we look at the First Schedule and trace the through main trunk roads there mentioned it will be found that in no fewer than 62 cases they run for part of their way across the boundaries of some city or borough—a borough which has extended its boundaries perhaps. Under this Clause, if a borough extends its boundaries in future over a by-pass trunk road which the Minister has constructed he will lose 882 his authority over that part of the road, and we shall lose that continuity of control which is so necessary in the interests of through traffic.
Coventry is only one example. There is the case of Oxford, quoted just now by my hon. Friend. There was a great outcry about Oxford, because it was said the colleges were endangered by the heavy traffic which passed through it shaking their foundations. A by-pass road was built round Oxford. That is a trunk road, one of the vital arteries of the country. If ever any road needed central control surely it is the Oxford by-pass road. There are other parts of the main trunk roads which are less important to through traffic than is the Oxford by-pass road. I can quote also the case of Exeter, another city of narrow, congested streets where there is to be a by-pass—or where it is already under construction—in order to relieve the traffic. What is the position going to be? Parts of the main arterial system of roads are not to be under the control of the Minister. Even if he wanted to take over those parts he could not do so without tabling a new Bill. We shall be fiddling about with the roads in future, lengths going into the scheme and other lengths coming out, and no one will ever know whether a particular section is a trunk road or not.
If this Bill was framed to relieve the poorer local authorities surely the grounds for acting were that they had by-pass roads running through their territory and it was unfair to expect them, who reaped no benefit from the roads, except in the relief of their own internal traffic, to continue to pay for their upkeep. It was a big step forward, and one which was welcomed I am sure, by the whole motoring fraternity, when the Minister proposed to take over at any rate some of our trunk roads. It was regarded as a first step towards a future in which we shall possibly have roads, such as are so badly needed in the country, on which there will be nothing but motor traffic, and on which we can secure safety for pedestrians and children and avoid the accidents which happen because of the mix-up of traffic on them under the present conditions. All those roads were to come under one central authority, and to have similar lighting, similar surfacing and similar precautions for the avoidance of accidents.
883 I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that so far as the by-pass roads which are main trunk roads are concerned he will not tie his hands. It may well be that he cannot to-night give the Committee an assurance that he can accept any particular schemes, but the roads to which I have referred must be included if we are to have a system of national corridor roads which will not only be helpful to industry but a valuable factor in the National Defence problem. I suggest that the Minister should give us an assurance that this Clause is not his last word with regard, at any rate, to these great by-pass roads. It is difficult to find words which exactly fit the situation, but I hope that where the Minister can come to an agreement with the boroughs he will do so, because they will gladly hand over these by-pass roads to him; there would not be much difficulty about it. Where he can come to an agreement with a borough council either in London or any of the county boroughs I hope he will use every endeavour to get these roads as part of the network which he is seeking to control. I have tried to put my views in as moderate terms as possible, because I wish to show that I am not taking up an obstructive attitude. My sympathies are with the idea, but I ask the Committee to consider very carefully before they allow this Clause to become part of the Bill. Like my hon. Friend, if there is a Division on the Clause I shall certainly vote against it, unless we have some assurance from the Minister that he will take in these by-pass roads which are so essential a part of our national trunk road system.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. BELLENGER
I wish to offer a few remarks on the points raised by the two hon. Members opposite, because I submit that they are points of substance. I should like to give an illustration of what will happen to a section of the Great North Road, one of the roads which it is proposed to take over. Part of that very important road passes through the town of Retford, in my constituency. I often travel along that road, and I must say that for a considerable distance it is excellent both as to surface and to width, but when it comes to the town of Retford it shrinks in places to a width which I should imagine does not exceed that between the two Front 884 Benches in this House. If we are to believe—and I think we must believe—in the right hon. Gentleman's highly desirable intention to make the trunk roads a pattern for the whole world, and if we are to believe that part of the idea of taking them over is connected with the defence of the country, surely the Minister will be stultifying himself if he is to take over the Great North Road only up to the point where it reaches Retford and is not to have the same control over it when it passes through the narrow bottleneck of that town. I am asked by an hon. Friend whether Retford is a county borough. Whether it is so or not, the fact remains that the Minister will have control of only a part of the Great North Road, and that is the point I want to make. Whether my illustration is the best illustration of the point or not, the fact remains that in certain boroughs there will be conditions similar to those I have described in the case of Retford, and I think the point raised is one of substance to which the Minister should apply his mind in order to give us a satisfactory answer.
There are many points in connection with the county borough parts of the roads which be will not take over which are of great substance—for example, the width of the roads, their lighting, the crossings with which the name of the Minister is associated, the stop-and-go lights. All these conditions affect the flow of traffic along these main arteries of the country, and the points raised by the hon. Member opposite are of such substance that it is necessary for the Minister to assure the Committee that even if he does not think it necessary to take over those roads he will have sufficient powers under this Bill to enable him to control them, that is, the roads which pass through the county boroughs.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. R. ACLAND
I and those associated with me on these benches regard this question very largely as a test question, as to whether the Minister means business by this Bill, or whether the Bill is simply an administrative change and of no further consequence. If the Minister means business, he must mean business in relation to by-passes. If so, he must also mean business in relation to bypasses in county boroughs. If we look at the map which has been given to us, 885 and at the City of Birmingham, it will be seen to be very easy to get to Birmingham but seemingly impossible to get through Birmingham, unless the Minister is to take this business of by-passing seriously in hand. This situation may be in order that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or in whatever more elevated station he may be, may be able to get with ease to all parts of the country. What applies to Birmingham, applies to all county boroughs which come upon the Minister's system of roads.
I believe that, on the merits of the question, the Minister will not have any answer to the argument which has been addressed to him from all parts of the House. We quite understand that the Minister does not want to take over Exeter High Street, which is well known to me, but surely the Minister must have, somewhere, some power to run by-passes through county boroughs. It is ridiculous for him to say that generally the bypasses will be outside the boundaries. Does that mean, just for want of putting in the power, that in some cases he will be forced to take his by-passes miles round, simply because he has neglected to take legislative power? The thing is absurd. The point which we are raising now is testing whether the Minister is in this matter a free agent, or whether he is tied up in his Financial Resolution. Is this another example of the legislation which the Government try to get through the House by drawing the Resolution so tightly that discussion by private Members is limited, and the Minister himself becomes involved in it
? Will the Minister tell us, first whether he has the will to take power to drive bypasses in areas which are within the control of county boroughs, and then whether he has the power to make alterations to that effect in the Bill, within the terms of the Financial Resolution? If be tells us that the Financial Resolution binds him, and therefore automatically binds us, it seems to me that the time has come when private Members in all parts of the House ought to intimate to the Government that we will not tolerate much longer this system of drawing Financial Resolutions which bind not only private Members but Ministers as well. I understand, Sir Dennis, that you foreshadowed a Ruling in relation to the question which is now before us, but I cannot believe that there can be any provision under which the 886 Committee will be compelled to vote for the Clause. Although the effect of our voting against the Clause might be that the Financial Resolution would have to be redrafted and recommitted, that is an effect which I would welcome if it would show to the Government Front Bench that hon. Members in all parts will not tolerate Financial Resolutions which rule out discussion by private Members.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. TURTON
Among the many anomalies of this very anomalous Bill, this anomaly seems to be the greatest. [Interruption.] Well, there may be an even greater one which the Committee will hear about. On the Second Reading, the Minister, with his accustomed eloquence and energy, said that the Bill would preserve the continuity of roads by doing away with different local authorities. When those who succeeded him in Debate pointed out that Clause 2 denied him the very claim which he put forward for his Bill, they were replied to by the Parliamentary Secretary, who said that very much of the traffic through the county boroughs must of necessity be of local value only and that for that reason he could not consider the point. Then he went on and said, in respect of many of the big towns and big cities like London, Liverpool and Manchester: "I cannot find where the trunk road is." At that stage the Minister got up and just gave him a nudge, and he went on to say:My right hon. Friend reminds me that in very many cases—I think I might say the case of Wigan among others—it is our intention to build by-passes."—[OFFICAL REPORT, 19th November, 1936; col. 2057, Vol. 317.]That is not the fact. The policy of the Minister of Transport is to order by-passes to go through the county borough and not round them, however unwilling the authorities are. I have the case of what used to be the capital of England. When they by-passed the City of York, the county borough asked for it to be outside their area, but the Ministry of Transport said: "No, you must go through your built-up residential area with your by-pass. That must be your concern." It is a very anomalous position that we should have this Clause presented at the present time. What the effect will be of taking out the Clause 1 887 do not know, but I would be quite prepared to vote for its exclusion and to see what we can do to repair the damage afterwards.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. C. S. TAYLOR
There is a point which has, I think, been left out, in the speeches which have been made on this question, and that is in reference to road accidents. In a recent Debate on road accidents it was generally agreed that the majority of them could be attributed to a system of lighting and of surfacing which was not uniform. It was agreed that skidding was one of the greatest causes of road accidents, and all Members who were motorists agreed that if you came off one surface on to another surface, there was a very great possibility of a skid. If county boroughs are given full authority to look after their own little portions of road, what is the safeguard of the continuity of the main trunk roads, so far as lighting, surfacing and widths are concerned? That is a very serious point which I would like answered by the Minister, because of the great number of road deaths which happen every week in this country.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. MOREING
Before the Minister replies I would like to say that I am very sorry that I was unable to be present during the Second Reading Debate, on account of other activities. I would emphasise the point made by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). The Minister of Transport must be under some misapprehension as to the nature of traffic that goes through county boroughs. In winding up the Second Reading Debate, the Parliamentary Secretary said—I have the OFFICIAL REPORT in front of me:In county boroughs the roads of necessity must be of very large local value, and very much of the traffic must be local."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th November, 1936; col. 2057, Vol. 317.]In Preston, an enormous amount of traffic goes through the town, and I should think that a great deal more than 60 per cent. of it—probably 70 per cent.—north and south as well as east and west, is not traffic which originates in the town. A very heavy burden is put upon the local authorities which is not met by the Minister. I have seen a block of traffic extending one and a half miles 888 or two miles in length, owing to some temporary hitch in the middle of the town. Every bit of that traffic originated outside the boundaries of the borough. If we are to adopt a new system of dealing with the roads of this country and vest them in the Minister of Transport, Clause 2 should be deleted, to allow trunk roads, when they pass through county boroughs, to be treated as part of a national system.
§ Sir IRVING ALBERY
When the Minister replies, will he deal also with the question of the circular roads which are now being built, and which will be part of the trunk road system?
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. EDE
I would refer for a moment to the history of the Bill. The county councils suddenly expressed, a few months ago, a desire for 100 per cent. grant, while retaining control. The Minister said: "I will pay for the trunk roads, but I will take control." He did not take the precaution, before he said that with regard to the county council areas, to ascertain the reaction of the county boroughs. He has a sort of agreement with the county councils, but members of the County Councils Association Executive are not quite sure that the county councils are in agreement on the Bill. We have a large number who say, "Yes" and a large number who say "No," but we also have a large number who say "Yes, but" and a larger number still of those who say "No, but." We are not quite sure how that works out for and against the Bill.
The county boroughs were not consulted, and I do not think anyone knows what their views are. Like Brer Rabbit, they have lain low and "said nuffin." It is clear from the arguments we have heard this afternoon that if we are to have a logical system of trunk roads, the Minister must be the authority within the county councils as well as outside. On the Second Reading Debate I raised the question of Doncaster. There is Doncaster, sprawling right across the Great North Road. If we are to have for Doncaster an effective by-pass which people will use because it will save time, it has not to be too wide. Everyone who has been engaged in the construction of bypass roads knows the difficulties that arise when the by-pass is taken either up steep 889 gradients or round such curves that users of the road decline to use that road and prefer to go along the old road. If the Minister is to make a logical scheme, he must be the authority throughout the country, including the county boroughs. Some of the county boroughs are as poor as any of the counties, but there are some very rich counties, whom we are to relieve of their responsibilities.
I sincerely hope that the Minister will not shut his ears to the pleas that have been made in, I think, every speech made this afternoon. If it is necessary, by some machinery of the House and possibly by negotiation with the county boroughs, to delay the Bill slightly, I hope that we shall get from the Bill a national system of trunk roads, over which the Minister will be the authority, and that he will become the highway authority in the counties and also in the county boroughs.
§ 5.44. p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I agree with the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that my supporters have not been very conspicuous in anticipating the argument which it will now become my duty to deliver. That is always the case in the House of Commons. The most friendly act that can be performed towards a Minister is for his supporters to refrain from contributing to the discussion, and to leave it to the few critics to criticise in relation to the points which they wish to see altered. I am not going to allow the present atmosphere which has characterised our deliberations to be vitiated. I am going to appeal to the common sense and cooperation of all those hon. Gentlemen who have been responsible for this discus3ion, and particularly my two hon. Friends who initiated it.
What is the origin of this Bill? Ever since I became Minister of Transport, motoring associations and other associations have pressed upon me the argument that if only some central authority, myself or another, could take over the principal highways of the country, the routes would offer a more convenient means of passage for those who desired to use them. I was pressed again and again, and my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor) a year or so ago moved a Motion in the House. A s the Bill now shows, however, the 890 Government only rejected my hon. Friend's proposal in the sense that we could not at the time accept the central authority which he then desired. Government in this country, as I said on the Second Reading, does not proceed by catastrophic and sensational reforms initiated and carried out by edict; it proceeds by persuasion, argument, agreement and co-operation; and when the County Councils Association themselves asked for proposals akin to those of this Bill, the Government at once responded—
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I agree, for they were calmly asking that the Government should pay 100 per cent., and that they should have complete and unfettered control; but they were asking for something like the proposals presented in this Bill, except that they wanted to remain in charge and wanted me to pay, while under the Bill, I shall pay, but I shall also be in charge. When they came to that conclusion they were, as has been said, very reluctant to give up the control of any roads at all; they wanted to retain control even of these roads; but, even though they might be conceived as consenting to this Bill, they were very anxious that we should not extend it to cover other roads, and it was in that spirit that the Bill was negotiated. We are not conceiving in the abstract what an ideal road system should be; we are trying to improve the existing system as best we can—a system long rooted in the past, under which the local authorities have enjoyed autonomy over their own roads, and that almost from prehistoric times. Having got what, the hon. Gentleman says, even now I am not entitled to call an agreement—having got some sort of understanding to take over a limited number of roads—surely it is a little ungracious for my hon. Friend to come along and say, "It is true that you are taking over 4,500 miles of roads in this country, but unless you add those roads which go through county boroughs we shall vote against this Bill." What user of the roads would benefit from an attitude like that? If this Clause is to be rejected, obviously the Bill falls to the ground, and I do not believe my hon. Friends will carry it as far as that.
I have narrated what the attitude of the county councils was. The municipal 891 corporations did not ask to be included in this Bill. It is not usually necessary to wait to ask associations for their views; as soon as they see proposals they offer them of their own accord, and from first to last they have never asked to be included in the Bill; and, while I have no authority for saying it, because the matter has not been the subject of negotiation, I can understand the reasons which would be likely to impel them to oppose their inclusion in this Bill. If, as a result of this Debate, public opinion is created which should cause them to do what the County Councils Association have done, and in the future come forward and ask to be included, we can consider their proposals just as we have considered those of the County Councils Association.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
It would be quite impossible to include them now. The most profound and intricate financial arrangements would have to be made before it would be possible to include county boroughs in a scheme of this kind. We cannot just pass a Clause of the Act saying that everyone is in, without providing any machinery. The county boroughs, unlike the county councils, are block-granted; we give them a block sum of money for the maintenance of their roads, and they spend it exactly as they like. We have not the same control to-day in the county boroughs as we have in the county council areas. The reason why we block-grant the county boroughs and give them a limited sum to distribute as they wish is because the roads in towns are a maze. You cannot easily distinguish one road from another in a town as regards its importance; you cannot easily distinguish between the local importance and the through importance. I agree that in some cases that may be possible, but if you go into the centre of London, or if you go into the centre of Liverpool, you cannot tell what is local and what is through traffic by looking at the motor cars themselves. It is because of these difficulties that we block-grant.
How could we go inside a county borough— I do not mean every county borough; I except Preston if you like—how could we go inside a county borough 892 like Liverpool or Manchester and say, "As regards this piece of road between shops in your city we are the responsible authority, and we are going to control that road centrally because it is a through road?" How could we do that when they have their own staff, their own police force, their own method of looking at this matter in connection with a large number of other roads—lighting at the corners and so forth? It is all part of a much more involved proposal than this one, which is simple, and it is because of its simplicity that I have been able to introduce it with such rapidity after the county councils proposed it. I could not do the same in the boroughs. That would necessitate proposals far more closely reasoned and far more complicated than anything in any Clause of this Bill. I do not say I am incapable of seeing the logic of the, matter. Personally, I quite see the logic of it. My hon. Friend asked: "Why should you stop outside Binning-ham? Why should you stop outside Wigan, Preston or anywhere else?" We do not want to stop outside; we want to go wherever we can and wherever it is appropriate, and I agree that my remarks are not universal in their application. We want to build by-passes round, and in that way to get the through traffic out of the urban areas, which must be a desideratum. In describing what we desire to do with these through roads, I have said that we intend to have separate carriageways, cycle tracks, verges, and all these other modern amenities: but you could not get these in any county borough.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I agree that, if you are a single-taxer, your imagination, perhaps, is stirred, and you can do almost anything. For my part, I must confess I am far more pedestrian in my outlook—
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I am well aware of my hon. Friend's argument, and I would ask him to do me the courtesy of 893 agreeing that he is aware of mine. I quite agree that in some halycon day under that system we might get this improvement, but those are not the financial arrangements which are here made, and you cannot transform, with any approach to practicality, the average county borough into a parkland settlement, making carriageways and so on as we are doing on through routes outside.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Of course, it is because the price of the land is too high. You made reflections on the single-taxer.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I am not making reflections on the single-taxer; I am asking him to be patient with me, and to believe that I understand his arguments; but they do not happen to apply in the case of this Bill—they are not part of the financial arrangements—
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
The unfortunate thing about my hon. Friend is that he is not only a single-taxer, but he is the single single-taxer in the House of Commons, and, therefore, he has not a majority for his proposals.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
That may be. I much regret it, but I want to leave the single-taxer out of the question.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
My hon. Friend interrupted me. I have indicated the distinction between the town and the country, and we could not exercise the same method of control or the same supervision in the towns, but wherever possible we desire to by-pass these areas.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
We desire that wherever possible the by-pass shall be 894 outside the area, but I have agreed that possibly that is not of universal application.
§ Mr. A. JENKINS
Supposing that there should be an extension of the county borough such that the by-pass then becomes included in the area, will the Minister lose control?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I shall then lose control. I have agreed that this may not be very logical, but it is not a procedure, that we can suddenly change by altering a Clause in the Bill. Anyone who is set this task as an administrator must work with the co-operation of the county boroughs. I have said that they have expressed no desire to come in, and have offered no objection to be excluded. If they like to take the course that the county councils took, and if they have proposals to make in the future, naturally those proposals will be considered in the same spirit in which any proposals coming from such a quarter would be considered.
§ Mr. C. S. TAYLOR
Would it be possible to withhold the block grant from the county boroughs if they do not conform to a certain standard in the little section of roads going through their boroughs?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
It is clearly possible, if a county borough does not keep its roads up to standard, to withhold the block grant. That, of course, would be a very drastic measure to take, and would disorganise the whole procedure, but we can exercise that power in cases where it is appropriate to do so. The answer, therefore, to my hon. Friend's question is in the affirmative, that we could withhold the grant.
§ Sir W. BRASS
If a new by-pass goes through a county borough, would it be necessary for the Minister to get the sanction of the county borough on account of the fact that the portion of the by-pass going through the borough will be handed over to the county borough later on?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
Anything that is in the area of a county borough is within their authority, and, therefore, nothing can be done without their consent. The position would be exactly as it is to-day in that respect. I have been quite frank with the Committee, and have told them that the county boroughs are excluded, but some people seem to 895 take that as meaning that all urban areas and non-county boroughs are excluded also. For instance, the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) was under a misapprehension which I want to correct. He spoke of Retford as an area which he imagined would be taken out of the Great North Road, so that Retford would continue to administer its own particular piece of road, on the ground that it was a county borough. It is not a county borough, and the part of the road to which the hon. Member refers comes within the ambit of this Bill.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I do not quite see, on that showing, how the point about trunk roads running between roads and houses comes in. Surely the position of a fairly large non-county borough and a county borough as regards shops and amenities is just about the same.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
There is an obvious distinction between a place like Liverpool and a place like Retford. You can make a road at Retford, I should imagine, with far greater facility than you could make a system of trunk roads in Liverpool. My answer may not be completely logical, I admit, but it is none the less sincere. When the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Acland) said that the Government in some sinister way are always drafting Financial Resolutions which impede discussion, he surely could not have had this Bill in mind. The Financial Resolution faced this issue quite frankly and left open what many Financial Resolutions might not have left open, the ability to move Amendments to the schedule of roads. I
§ see that for my sins about a thousand miles are to be offered me later on. So the Financial Resolution has not been so tightly drawn. It enabled us to take over through routes in the county areas and it was confined to that. That was the limit of our proposal. I ask the Committee to look at this proposition as a whole and to realise that the Government is making a great transformation in the practice that has endured for centuries and is taking over, however inadequate that may be, 4,500 miles of road which it proposes to improve to modern standards. I hope in view of that, because some Members might like to have seen more, they will not, at any rate, begrudge the credit that is due to the Government's present efforts, and will not further embarrass it in this discussion.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I have an Amendment in page 3, line 8, at the end, to insert:except such roads or parts of roads specified in the First Schedule as the Minister and the council of the Metropolitan borough or county borough, as the case may be, in which the road or parts of roads are situated may agree to transfer to the Minister as trunk roads.I understand that this Amendment has been ruled out of Order on the ground that it conflicts with the Financial Resolution and that a private Member is not entitled to move such an Amendment. Would the Minister consider whether he could move an Amendment such as that?
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 184; Noes, 108.897
|Division No. 21.]||AYES||[6.5 p.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Bull, B. B.||Culverwell, C. T.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Burghley, Lord||Davies, C. (Montgomery)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Davison, Sir W. H.|
|Anderson Sir A. Garrett (C. of 1 dn.)||Butler, R. A.||Dawson, Sir P.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Cary, R. A.||Denville, Alfred|
|Assheton, R.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Donner, P. W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.)||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Channon. H.||Drewe, C.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Duggan, H. J.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Bernays, R. H.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Clarke, F. E.||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Elmley, Viscount|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Bracken, B.||Craddock, Sir R. H.||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Crooke, J. S.||Fraser, Capt. Sir I.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Furness, S. N.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cross, R. H.||Ganzonl, Sir J.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Crossley, A. C.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon, Sir J.|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Granville, E. L.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||McKle, J. H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Selley, H. R.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Manningham Buller, Sir M.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Markham, S. F.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hanbury, Sir C.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Harbord, A.||Munro, P.||Spens, W. P.|
|Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Hepworth, J.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Patrick, C. M.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Penny, Sir G.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Petherick, M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Holmes, J. S.||Pilkington, R||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Hopkinson, A.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Wardlaw-Mline, Sir J. S.|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Procter, Major H. A.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Rankin, R.||Wells, S. H.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Williams. H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hume, Sir G. H||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Keeling, E. H.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Remer, J. R.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wragg, H.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rowlands, G.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Liddall, W. S.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Young, A, S. L. (Partick)|
|Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Llyod, G. W.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Salmon, Sir I.||Mr. James Stuart and Dr. Morris-|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Salt, E. W.||Jones.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon M. (Ross)||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddi'sbro, W.)||Potts, J.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poptar, S.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Ridley, G.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Riley, B.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hardie, G. D.||Ritson, J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Rowson, G.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Jagger, J.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Batny, J.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Bellenger, F.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Benson, G.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merloneth)||Shinwell, E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||short, A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Burke, W. A.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cape, T.||Kirby, B. V.||Sorensen, M. W.|
|Chater, D.||Lansbary, Rt. Hon. G.||Stephen, C.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lathan, G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lawson, J. J.||Strause, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Dagger, G.||Leach, W.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Dalton, H.||Leonard, W.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leslie, J. R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Thorne, W.|
|Dobble, W.||Lunn, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macdonald, G (Ince)||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Turton, R. H.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Walker, J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Foot, D. M.||Maclean, N.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Frarkel, D.||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Maxton, J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Milner, Major J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Montague, F.|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Mr. Charleton and Mr. Mathers.|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.