§ 6.38 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 11, line 34, after "road," to insert:or in any local authority for the purposes of functions in relation to the road under any of the enactments mentioned in Part I of the Third Schedule to this Act.The introduction of this form of words is proposed in order that we may take over the speed-limit signs and the markings of pedestrian crossings. Clause 7 as at present drafted transfers to the Minister:The property which immediately before the date on which the road became a trunk road was vested in the former highway authority for the purposes of their functions in relation to the road.The imposition of the speed limit under Section 1 of the 1934 Act and the preparation of the scheme for pedestrian crossings, under Section 18 of the Act, are functions of local as opposed to highway authorities. It is proposed that on trunk roads these functions should be transferred to the Minister, and it is important therefore that he should also acquire at the same time any property in speed-limit signs and markings for pedestrian crossings. This Amendment and a number of consequential Amendments to this Clause and to the Fifth Schedule are designed to make certain that these properties are transferred to the Minister. They are the only property which can be vested in a local authority 912 for the purposes of functions relating to the road under any of the Acts mentioned in Part I of the Third Schedule.
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In page 11, line 38, after the first "the," insert "former highway."
In page 12, line 4, leave out the second "the," and insert "any such." — [Captain Hudson.]
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Before I call the next Amendment I ought to point out that none of the Amendments which deal with this question of loans are in themselves complete. It must be obvious that if the unexpended part of a loan is to be transferred to the Minister then also the liability should be transferred. In these Amendments some hon. Members seek to transfer the benefit, and some to transfer the liability. It seems to me difficult to keep these discussions separate, and I suggest that it would be for the general convenience of the Committee if we took a general discussion on this subject on the Amendment in the name of the right. hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. James Brown).
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I beg to move, in page 12, line 6, to leave out from "road," to "and," in line 7.
This Amendment seeks to do away with an obvious injustice. Certain councils may have entered on large capital expenditure and also on loans for road works, whereas neighbouring towns may not have been so active and may not have spent more than a small part of what the others are spending. If this Clause goes through as it is, it means that the community that has been trying to do its best is to be penalised for its energy, as represented in the capital and loans that should be taken over. The Scottish Association of County Councils has taken up this subject very keenly, and this afternoon I received the following telegram:County councils in Scotland heartily support your Amendment to Clause 7.These councils are well aware of all the difficulties connected with roads, and their voice should not be lightly turned aside. They are the people with the practical contact and experience. It would be hard if this Clause should remain as it stands because every one 913 which has set out to do something useful would be made to feel that it did not pay. The whole of this Clause for the transfer of property and liabilities seems to act in a one-sided way. There is a phrase "except loans and loan charges." If they have been entered into honestly for the purpose of carrying out a public service, why should the community which has done it be penalised and others that have not done their bit be allowed to go scot free? I hope the Minister will be able to shed some light on this, especially in relation to the Scottish county councils. They have been active in every way in assisting towards getting not only better roads, but a better organisation of traffic, and I hope the Minister will see that it is necessary to keep good faith with the county councils which are earnest in their work.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
If this goes through without amendment, as far as one can tell in the case of county councils the whole or the greater part of the liability for providing loans and sinking funds will fall on them, and it will appear that local authorities will be responsible for the discharge of loans without any chance of reimbursement from the Ministry. Some local authorities may pay for the whole of their roads by means of long-term credit. In other cases the loans may have lapsed, or have been taken over by other authorities, and the roads may be paid for. In the case of other authorities there may be loans outstanding, and they will be paying for something which they no longer possess. If the Minister takes over the roads he should also take over any part of the road that has not been paid for because the loans are outstanding. It is a fair question to ask him what he proposes to do with these eases. There will be a great deal of feeling on the part of ratepayers if they are to continue paying for trunk roads over which they no longer have any control.
§ 7.9 p. m.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
There are three types of local authorities dealing not only with roads but with all our public services. There is the authority that carries through its programme on its current revenue; there is the other type which borrows; and there is the third 914 type which is altogether reactionary, where the roads are disreputable, and which has not used money out of current income nor yet has borrowed. We are pleading at the moment for that middle type of authority that has borrowed. The Bill does not propose to take over the loan charges which attach to the trunk roads. The county councils in Scotland are strongly objecting to the loan charges being left with them when they will have no control over these trunk roads. I understand this will be the first occasion when responsibility has been taken over by one authority from another and it has not taken over the loan charges or financial obligations of that authority. Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, the county councils were forced to take over duties attaching to roads in small burghs. They were compelled, because of changes in local government, to accept responsibility not only for the roads, but for the capital incurred in making them and for the loan charges still attaching to the unpaid part of the capital debt.
If the Minister is not to assume liability for such debts for trunk roads the result will be that in certain cases the county councils will be left with a debt which they did not incur and which attaches to something that they have only administered for a few years. The result will be that, although they have administered these loans for only a small number of years, the debts will not be passed on to the Minister as they were passed on to the county councils by the 1929 Act. That means that there will be a feeling of injustice among the county councils. I think it wise that the good will of those responsible for administration should be kept. The county councils have circulated every Scottish Member, I think, in support of the line taken by hon. Members who have put down this Amendment. They ask that in equity, and on the precedent of the 1929 Act, the Minister should assume responsibility for the loan charges attaching to these roads. It would be contrary to all precedent for a transferee authority to take over the property of a transferring authority and at the same time not to become responsible for all the liabilities of that authority. I have been for 28 years engaged in Scottish local government work, and in all that time there has never been a change when property has been 915 transferred to another authority without the liability being transferred also. That is all we are asking in this case.
We are quite willing to get rid of this problem and we congratulate the Minister on doing something that is right in the way of taking over trunk roads and making them national highways. It is something we have advocated for many years and it is rather strange that it should be a Tory Government which should have to accept a Socialistic policy so far as trunk road charges are concerned. We are quite anxious to get rid of the problem and we are anxious to get rid of the responsibility attached to the problem. I have found the Minister so amenable to reason in other directions that I hope he will be equally amenable to reason so far as this Amendment is concerned. Under the 1929 Act county councils were forced to undertake a liability for a debt attached to roads when they took them over from the town councils, and the County Councils Association of Scotland has asked me to speak on its behalf on this occasion. I hope the Minister will be able favourably to consider this Amendment even if it is not in the appropriate words. There are some difficulties, as pointed out by the Chairman, but if the principle is accepted we are quite well satisfied, and I have pleasure in supporting what has already been said so far as the particular Amendment is concerned.
§ 7.16 p.m.
Sir J. LAM B
The number of Amendments shows that the widespread feeling on the matter is not confined to Scotland, to England, or to any one section but to the whole country; and I would like to repeat that if the Minister can accept any of these, if he will get up and say he accepts the principle that we are advocating although not the particular words, we do not mind how it is done. But as it stands at present undoubtedly the Clause is going to hit some of the poorer counties very hard. Some of the counties have been progressive and some have suffered much more than others because they are internal counties through which a great deal of traffic, not their own, passes. Consequently the expenditure upon the road maintenance has been heavy and the poorer county which has done its duty in the past has had to take up loans for the work to be done. 916 Now they will be saddled with the loans, although not saddled with the responsibility and this really because they have done their duty in the past. But the poorer counties who have said simply, "No, we will not do anything at all," have not taken up any loan, and now they are rather in the position of saying, "We did not make any loans and now the Minister is coming along to do the work." That is hard and unjust, because the Minister is not proposing to take over all the roads.
There are quite a number of Amendments later on which I must not refer to now. They ask the Minister to take over more roads, and personally I have a request that he should include another road in my county in the Schedule. But what is going to happen to those roads which he is leaving and which really ought to be trunk roads? The local authorities in future will say, "Well, we will not do anything to those roads because obviously they ought to be main roads, and if we do anything now and take up loans we shall not be paid, so we had better leave them alone." It will be an inducement to say that they will not do anything on roads likely to be taken over by the Minister later on. I do not think the matter is such a big matter, from the financial point of view, as some might imagine. I believe the outstanding loans are £2,500,000. The annual loan charges would be about £150,000, and that £150,000 is small in comparison with the large sums which I hope my right hon. Friend will spend in this matter. He is better able to pay it than these poor councils, and I plead with him to look upon it from that point of view.
If these county councils are still saddled with the paying of loan charges it will reduce the amount of money they would legitimately wish to spend on other roads in their charge. That point was made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage). The balance of the time for which these loans were taken up is not altogether exhausted, and consequently they feel, in some cases where they have taken up loans to do work only recently done, that the Minister is to come along and take advantage of the work for which the county is still expected to pay. When I raised this matter on the Second Reading the Minister in reply— 917 I had referred to the alteration of principles which was adopted, I think universally in some cases but particularly in my own memory in the 1929 Act when tie county councils took over the roads from the rural district council—there they had to take over the loan charges—in reply to me the Minister said that that w as simply transferring from one pocket to another; but I think he has made a mistake for the reason that there were County districts which had loan charges and other county districts in the county which had no loan charges. The position was the same as now between county and county, except that then it was between county and county district. I cannot see why another principle from that enforced upon the county on a previous occasion has been adopted. I want to refer to the kindness of the Committee in accepting another Amendment I have put down, and I think it would be very nice if the Minister would not break the continuity of that pleasant experience to me but would say that, if not able to accept the Amendment in the words on the Paper, the principle which we are advocating shall be adopted by him and that he will include it in the Bill.
§ 7.21 p.m.
I should like to reinforce what my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) has said. I do not always find myself in agreement with Members who represent Scottish constituencies and sit above the Gangway, but on this occasion I am on their side. Representing a constituency which has within it two county councils which I think can be classified under the terms used by my hon. Friend above the Gangway as poor county councils, I can claim to know a little of what they feel under the proposal of Clause 7 of the Bill. I hope, as my hon. Friend above the Gangway has just said, that, if the Minister cannot accept these specific Amendments, he will at all events give us the assurance that he accepts the principle. Only this afternoon when I returned to the House I had a very strong representation from one of the county councils within my constituency on this very point. The Amendment will receive whole-hearted support from every other poor county council in Scotland.
In a letter received this afternoon there are interesting figures given with regard 918 to one county council as affected by the Measure. Two small burghs are instanced and, speaking from memory, one has a population of 3,500 and the other a population of 2,000. Under the present law and under the Act repeatedly referred to, the county council had to take over from the burgh of 3,500 inhabitants a debt of £10,867 and from the small and ancient burgh of 2,000 inhabitants a debt of £2,450. I hope my right hon. Friend will perceive from these figures how one small county council representing a poor rateable area in Scotland is affected, and I hope he will see his way to give the Committee an assurance that he does at all events accept the principle of all these Amendments, and that the county councils are not to be penalised. I think the word "penalized" is rather too strong a word, as the local authorities are going to be relieved of a great deal of their burdens, but it seems inconsistent to say that the maintenance of trunk roads is to be a national concern and at the same time a poor local authority is to be saddled with a continuation of those road charges.
Incidentally it is not going to make for the increasing smooth working between county councils and small urban authorities. I realise this is not essentially a Scottish question, as my hon. Friend above the Gangway said, but those of us who represent Scottish constituencies know that great friction has existed ever since the passing of the 1929 Local Government Act. We want to make things work more smoothly in future, and I hope if my right hon. Friend accepts the principle of the Amendment we shall see a great deal done towards getting smooth working between county councils and boroughs with regard to local administration. The Member for Stirling and Falkirk seemed rather aggrieved that the Tories were carrying out a Socialistic Measure, but I was pleased. He is naturally a little disappointed at being on the opposite benches, but I might point out that he cannot claim this as a purely Socialistic Measure, for the principle involved in this Bill is accepted by all parties in the State to-day. I will put it in this way: The general public would prefer to see legislation like this by those who came into office at the last election and the one before it, in whom the electorate showed greater confidence than in the hon. Gentlemen.
§ 7.24 p.m.
I wish to add my voice to the appeal that has been made to the Minister to accept the principle that has been enunciated. When the Minister raised the question, he indicated that he was going to step into the shoes of the local authority, but now he is going to take over the rights and only partly going to step into the shoes. He is going to shuffle along. We want him to take over the liability attaching to the roads also. We think it is the right thing to do. I hope he will in this case find that his first thoughts were best and that he can meet us in the matter. I think that all the roads should be taken over, but I feel more strongly still regarding a road attaching to a bridge in my own constituency—a bridge that was put across the estuary of the Esk in 1926 under a special Act, the Montrose Bridge Order Confirmation Act. I think that the liability for loans on that bridge, which have fallen on to the County Council of Angus, should be taken over, because they are in a very particular case.
That bridge was built under the 1926 Act and cost —90,000. The Minister gave a grant of —60,000 but the other —30,000 had to be raised by the County Council of Angus to the extent of 50 per cent. while the other 50 per cent. was raised by the County Council of Montrose; but under the 1929 Act, which repealed that Act, the whole of that liability now falls upon the County Council of Angus, and in an extraordinary manner the largest burgh in the county of Angus, namely, Arbroath, escapes liability altogether. I do not know whether the Minister is going to meet us in the matter of this Amendment, but if he is not able to take over the loans I hope that when he comes to consider the question of grants he will consider the special case of Angus in respect of the bridge over the Esk.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. QUIBELL
I also urge the Minister to accept this Amendment. Under the Bill as it stands, the more loyal a local authority has been in carrying out works in time of need, the worse off they are going to be under these proposals. It is not only the county councils who will be penalised. Some urban districts have carried out works of a very extensive character. In small urban districts works costing up to something like £80,000 have been carried out and those authorities, 920 when the trunk roads have been taken over, will be left with a considerable burden on the local ratepayers unless something can be done for them. I presume that, as far as the Minister is concerned, there will be no grants in aid of the repayment of the interest charges due on outstanding loans. I think the Amendment only proposes common justice to the local authorities, especially to those who at a time of distress in this country, were most loyal; who pledged their credit and incurred debts which will, in some cases, hang round their necks for 40 or 50 years, in order to meet what was at that time regarded as a crisis in the country's history.
The Minister ought to be a little generous to those authorities and take over the liability for outstanding loans as well as the roads. I am sure that Members on all sides in the Committee would wish him to do so. As far as the money is concerned, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that, had it not been for the raiding activities of Chancellors of the Exchequer the probability is that the Road Fund would have been in a position to meet this liability without incurring a relatively great burden. The road users, after all, created that Fund, and, in view of what has happened in connection with it, I think the Minister ought to be a little generous on this occasion. I think it is now his turn to do something and that he ought to take over this liability which will entail such a heavy burden on some of the small urban districts in this country.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Mr. TURTON
I hope the Minister will resist this united effort by Scotland and Lincolnshire. There is another point of view besides that which has been put forward by certain hon. Members. Why should the wise virgins pay for the misdeeds of the foolish virgins? The authorities who paid for these roads out of revenue and whose rates have gone up on account of the roads, have been just as loyal in carrying out works in time of depression as any others. They did so at the time when a Socialist Government was continually spending in 1931. The other people, the foolish virgins, have been borrowing, keeping their rates low and putting matters off 921 in the hope that the Minister would select their roads as trunk roads and take over all their liability.
§ Mr. MATHERS
Is it not the case that, finally, the wise virgins will prove to be those who did nothing at all and who appeared at the time to be completely neglectful of the ordinary wisdom of providing better roads?
§ Sir J. LAMB
The hon. Member does not say whether the virgins in this case were rich or poor. Some of them were rich and some were poor.
§ Mr. TURTON
If I remember aright there is no reference to poverty or riches in the parable. As regards the point of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) I do not think it is germane to the issue. One presumes that all the county councils are carrying out their obligations. If they are not, it is the Minister's duty to see that they do so. What we are considering here is the fact that some councils have spent out of loans and some out of revenue. Hon. Members argue that those who have spent out of revenue should pay for those who have put it all on loans.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I am sure that the ion. Member does not desire to misrepresent the position. I was referring not to what happened under the Socialist administration in 1931, nor in the alleged financial crisis of that time, but to what happened under the Conservative Local Government Act of 1929 which compelled county councils to take over the liabilities of small burghs.
§ Mr. TURTON
I agree, and if the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) had waited, I was going to say that the one exception was his speech. He kept to a very narrow point, but a very good point as to the effect of the Local Government Act of 1929. I would ask the Minister to consider that matter. The county councils were, of course, to take over the duties of the rural district councils. That was in England, but, of course, in Scotland it has to be translated into different language which I do not attempt. In England the county councils, as I say, took over the duties of the rural district councils, willy nilly. Now, when the Minister is about to take over these other matters, there does seem to be some justice in the case in that particular 922 respect, but I hope that, on the broao main question of loans generally, the Minister will be as adamant as he was against the argument which I put forward on Clause 2. I say so, all the more sincerely, since many of us find, when we look at the map which is displayed in the tearoom, that we are completely excluded from the benefits of the Bill, and we consider that it would be unjust if we should have to contribute to these loan charges.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. JAMES BROWN
I should not have risen in this Debate at all had it not been for the use of that very foolish illustration about the wise and the foolish virgins. I always understood that it was the habit of all Governments to borrow and to make posterity pay. However, I am not troubling much about that. What I am anxious to do is to relieve Ayrshire of the heavy burden which will rest upon it if the Bill as it stands is carried through by the Minister. I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to give way or not. At the moment he seems to be beaming with benevolence but whether that is due to the fact that he feels himself in a very strong position, or because he intends to give us some satisfaction on this matter I do not know. The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) expressed himself in agreement with the Amendment but I am not sure whether he will go into the Lobby with us if it is carried to a Division. I fear his political principles go too deep to allow him to support what is called a Socialist proposal, but whether we are Socialists or Liberals or supporters of the so-called National Government, I think we all wish that justice should be done to the districts which we represent and that is all we are claiming here.
I do not see why the Minister, when taking over all these other powers and responsibilities, could not take over this liability also. I do not wish to stand in the way of other speakers who know more about the details of this question, but I do know this, and I would like the Minister to understand it—that if the Bill passes in its present form, Ayrshire and many other parts of Scotland, and England as well, will suffer heavily. I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) that Lincolnshire 'will suffer and I believe that applies to many other districts all 923 over the country. I trust that the expression on the Minister's face means that he is going to give us relief in some shape or form. [An HoN. MEMBER: "A poker face."] I do not know, I never saw a "poker face," but, at any rate, I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to promise us some relief in this part of the Bill. If he does so I am sure that those concerned in all parts of the country will unite in saying "God bless the Bill."
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE
It is only a few short weeks since the Minister paid his first official visit to Scotland. He went there to celebrate the centenary of that hero of road-making, McAdam. While he was there he earned golden opinions by reason of his sympathy and his understanding of road problems and the difficulties of road authorities. For his own sake, and in his own interest, I ask him now to preserve that good opinion by relenting on this question of the loan charges. During the Second Beading Debate I tried to get an exact answer to the conundrum: Why was the Minister prepared to take over the roads, with all their assets and all their liabilities, except only these loans and loan charges? No answer has yet come to light. Unless the Minister can see his way to remove this burden from local authorities, they will be placed in a very difficult position, and if he refuses this request, I fear that his reputation for sympathy and understanding, as well as the position of these rural authorities, will be seriously menaced. As regards the rather unjustifiable analogy used by the hon. Member opposite about the wise and the foolish virgins, I would ask whether it is not the wise virgins who are going to be penalised under the Bill? The progressive and far-seeing authorities who paid out of revenue—and that revenue came out of taxation or rates—will be penalised under the Bill. I sincerely hope that the Minister will see that point of view and recognise the claims of those authorities who accepted the burdens which came to them and are now entitled to some consideration.
§ 7.44 p.m.
Mr. DAVID ADAMS
I do not wish to stand between the Committee and the 924 felicitous announcement which the Minister is, no doubt, about to make in response to these appeals from all parts of the Committee. I desire to mention the case of Durham County, which has always done its duty as regards highways. Prior to taking over the burden of the smaller authorities under the 1929 Act the highway rate in Durham was 13.0d. in the £, whereas to-day, as a, result of the progressive policy of the county council, it is no less than 44.0d. in the £, which illustrates the great burden that is laid on one of the poorest counties in the United Kingdom. There are substantial outstanding loans because it was clearly impossible in a poverty stricken county to find the revenue otherwise. I feel that we are possibly arguing quite unnecessarily on these loan charges and that the reference in the Bill may be due to a printer's error. At all events I hope the Minister will soon clear these loan charges out of the way. Why should we have this exception? If he does not assent to the appeals which have been made, particularly for democratic and progressive councils, such as the County Council of Durham, there is no doubt that a very great hardship, for which, so far as I can see, there can be no justification, will be inflicted upon this great and progressive county.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Sir PAUL LATHAM
Unlike most of those who have preceded me, I am going to support the Minister. I am not going into the question of whether the counties are wise or foolish virgins or indeed whether they are virgins at all. If there is to be a parable in this case, the proper one, I think, is the parable of the vineyard, because here it appears that the man who got the pay has been working all day as well as the man who has been working half the day; in other words, one man is well off, because his contract has been fulfilled, and so is the other man. In this case the county which spent money spent it in order to get a good road, and they probably have a good road now and are enjoying the benefit of it. If the Ministry take over the road, that county is fortunate, but another county which may not have done its duty in regard to roads is now more fortunate still and both should be happy. I hope the Minister will not withdraw his Clause.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Sir P. Latham) for the still, E mall, but very powerful voice which he raised on my behalf. We have had 12 speeches upon this subject, and as they all dealt with the same point, it may perhaps be well if I do not refer to each of them individually, except in so far as it is germane to the particular aspect of the argument with which I may be dealing. The hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie) told the Committee that the Scottish County Councils Association felt so keenly upon this matter that they had sent a telegram to every Scottish Member. I must congratulate the Scottish County Councils Association on the manner in which the Members have responded, for almost from north to south and from east to west every one of -them has spoken in this Debate, and there has been a complete unity among all these speakers, quite irrespective of the divisions which usually separate them. It is a very happy event to bring these people together in all parts of the House, and most unexpected, and I cannot help rising in a very good though somewhat auspicious frame of mind, because I noticed that speaker after speaker went ant of his way almost to find means how best to pay me a compliment. I have been called smiling, amenable, generous, and so forth, and I would like to be able to live up to that standard. However, I must deal with this case on its merits and not merely in order to give satisfaction on emotional grounds to those who have spoken.
I cannot see the merits of this case that has been put to me. It might be imagined, from the fact that the case is presented at all, that I am taking over some asset, some revenue-earning undertaking, and that, therefore, I ought to compensate those who suffer as a result, but, of course, that is not the position at all. I am relieving local authorities of a liability. We have been told by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) that the total annual burden in respect of those loan charges in the past is £150,000, which, of course, is a diminishing sum, but I am relieving them, in respect of these roads, of maintenance costs of four times that amount. I am 926 relieving them, or rather the Government are relieving them, of all their future liabilities in respect of improvements. Therefore, these authorities are not handing over to the Government anything out of which the Government could make money. They are handing over to the Government properties which in the past have cost them much to maintain and which in the future will cost them nothing.
What is their case? They say, "Some of us borrowed in order to make these roads." That is quite true, but others did not borrow; others put the burden upon their ratepayers from year to year. Why should those who bore that burden not have their rates refunded to them, if this is the principle and we are to go back to the remote past? The proposal in the Amendment is confined to the suggestion that those who borrowed shall be repaid, whereas those who paid out of rates shall be left exactly where they were. That is quite the reverse of the position that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Lieut.-Colonel Moore) stated. There is no proposal here to go back into the past in respect of the rates, but there is a proposal to take over the loans.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE
Had I not desired to sit down quickly in order to allow the Minister to reply, I would have explained. Of course, those who have paid out of revenue should have a capitalisation of that outlay refunded to them, so as to allow the ratepayers who subscribed to those charges to be refunded.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
My hon. and gallant Friend put his case powerfully, but this is a proposal that the State should meet the outstanding loan liabilities of those authorities which borrowed, and it is not a proposal to pay back rates to those which paid out of rates. Of course, if it were, I should have to resist it, because there would be no end to such a process. It is true that in 1929 the counties took over liabilities which were previously incurred by smaller authorities. That was in respect of what are now county roads, but that seems to me to be quite a different proposition, because here we are taking over the full 100 per cent. cost of maintaining these roads in the future, which was not the case in 1929.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Is it quite correct that in all cases the counties took over the liabilities? It is true, or I suggest that it is true, that there were county councils which had carried through their road programme on revenue and there were small burghs which borrowed, yet the county council which had carried through its own roads on revenue was compelled, under the 1929 Act, to take over the liability for the roads of the small burgh.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I have admitted that that was the case, and even if it were a parallel case, which I deny, for the reasons which I have given, I still could not accept this Amendment. I have said that there is no parallel case to the State taking over 100 per cent. of the cost of the future liability for these roads, and if we were to make a financial readjustment in respect of the past, it would be an inequitable one. I was going to give the case of Devon on the one hand and Middlesex on the other. Middlesex is a rich county, but it has borrowed; it has paid for its roads out of borrowed money. Devon is a poorer county, and it has always paid for its roads out of the rates. I do not know what portion of this £150,000, which is the annual liability mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone, belongs to Middlesex, but Middlesex would certainly get something as a result of this Amendment, while Devon would get nothing, and that, I think, is an illustration, and an illustration only, of the inequality and inequity of this proposition. With all the good will in the world, I therefore cannot see any ground for adding the further relief suggested to the substantial relief already
§ granted, and placing on the shoulders of the taxpayer an additional burden, however minute. It is with very real regret and with a thorough and sympathetic appreciation of the case that has been put forward that I must ask the Committee to reject this Amendment.
§ Mr. MATHERS
Before the Minister sits down, may I ask whether his failure to make any mention of the third description of authority mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) is an indication that there is no such authority? The Minister is refusing to take over financial burdens that have been incurred by those who have built roads, but he is taking over in this Bill responsibility for the expenditure of money in respect of roads still to be built.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) always speaks with good tone and temper, and I should be sorry to answer him in any other spirit. He mentioned three types of authority, all of which doubtless exist, but he did not make any impression on my mind as to the validity of the case which I made in reply. It all comes down to the principle which I have enunciated, and now that the anaesthetic has been administered and the operation performed, I trust that we shall be able to pass to the next Amendment.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 175; Noes, 97.929
|Division No. 22.]||AYES.||[8.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Duggan, H. J.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Channon, H.||Dunne, P. R. R.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S (E. Grinstead)||Eastwood, J. F.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Clarry, Sir Reginald||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Elliston, G. S.|
|Askew Sir R. W.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Craddock, Sir R. H.||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Cranborne, Viscount||Foot, D. M.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Crooke, J. S.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Furness, S. N.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Ganzonl, Sir J.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Crossley, A. C.||Giucksteln, L. H.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Crowder, J. F. E.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Dawson, Sir P.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Bull, B. B.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddi'sbro, W.)|
|Butler, R. A.||Denville, Alfred||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Guest, Clot. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake)|
|Cary, R. A.||Drewe, C.||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Selley, H. R.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Harbord, A.||Markham, S. F.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Maxwell, S. A.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Mitchell, H. (Brenttord and Chiswick)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hepworth, J.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Spens, W. P.|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Hopkinson, A.||Munro, P.||Strauss. H. G. (Norwich)|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Nicolson, Hon. H.G.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Stuart, Hon. J.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Keeling, E. H.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Petherick, M.||Turton, R. H.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Pilkington, R.||Wakefield, W W.|
|Kimball, L.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Latham, Sir P.||Ramsbotham, H.||Wardlaw-M line, Sir J. S.|
|Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Liddall. W. S.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Little, Sir E. Graham.||Remer, J. R.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut,-Colonel G.|
|Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wragg, H.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|MacDonald Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Rowlands, G.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|McKie, J. H.||Salt, E. W.||Mr. James Stuart and Mr. Cross.|
|MacLaren, A.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Hall, J. H. (W hltechapel)||Pethlck-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hardie, G. D.||Potts, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Isbr.)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Price, M. P.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ouibell, D. J. K.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Ritson, J.|
|Baines, A. J.||Hollins, A.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Batey, J.||Jagger, J.||Rowson, G.|
|Bellenger, F.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Bremfield, W.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Shinwell, E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Short, A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Silkin, L.|
|Cape, T.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kirby, B. V.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawson, J. J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Daggar, G.||Leach, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Dalton, H.||Leslie, J. R.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Donble, W.||Lunn, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Thorne, W.|
|Ede, J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Thurtle. E.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwelity)||Maclean, N.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Messer, F.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Milner, Major J.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Westwood, J.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Muff, G.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Noel-Raker, P. J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Oliver, G. H.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Owen, Major G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Paling, W.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 12. line 6, leave out "the," and insert "any such."
§ In line 10, leave out the first "the," and insert "any such."
§ In page 12, line 25, leave out "former highway."930
§ In line 25, after "authority," insert "from whom it was transferred."
§ In page 13, line 3, after "authority," insert "and to any local authority."
In line 6, at the end, add:
or, so far as relates to property and liabilities vested in or incurred by the
Minister for the purposes of any functions under the enactments mentioned in Part I of the Third Schedule to this Act, to the local authority which is to exercise those functions in relation to the road."—[Captain Hudson.]
§ Clause 8 (Exemption from stamp duty), ordered to stand part of the Bill.