HC Deb 24 November 1937 vol 329 cc1213-4
45. Sir Hugh O'Neill

asked the Prime Minister whether he has now considered the recent report of the Select Committee on Private Bill Procedure (Local Legislation Clauses); and, if so, what action he proposes to take with regard to its recommendations?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

Yes, Sir. The report has now been considered and it is the intention of the Government to bring forward by way of experiment proposals which will, I hope, secure the main objects of the committee's recommendations, and at the same time meet the somewhat divergent views expressed before the committee. Should the experiment not prove successful, the matter will no doubt require further consideration. I propose to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT an outline of the proposals.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking my right hon. Friend and the members of the committee for the care and trouble which they have taken in their inquiries into this matter.

Following is an outline of the proposals:

The objects which the recommendations of the Select Committee presided over by my right hon. Friend were designed to achieve were—

  1. (1) to relieve the Deputy-Chairman from the very heavy burden which the present system imposes on him:
  2. (2) to secure greater uniformity in the treatment of Clauses of a local legislation character contained in Opposed Private Bills:
  3. (3) to give to the Chairman of Ways and Means greater power of control for expediting the progress of Private Bills.

It is hoped that these objects may be realised by the adoption of the following proposals: Object (1).
  1. (a) by increasing somewhat the number of members on the panel from which the Committee on Unopposed Private Bills is selected.
  2. (b) by enabling that Committee to sit in two divisions.
  3. (c) by authorising the Chairman of Ways and Means to nominate one of the members of the panel to act as Chairman at any meeting of the Committee or of a division thereof at which neither the Chairman of Ways and Means nor the Deputy-Chairman is present.
Object (2). By providing that the Counsel to Mr. Speaker shall sit as an assessor to any Committee on an Opposed Private Bill when considering any local legislation Clauses contained in the Bill. Object (3). By making arrangements for securing closer co-operation between the Chairman of Ways and Means, the Committee of Selection and the Committee and Private Bill Office.

The proposals under heads (1) (b) and (c) and (2) will require certain modifications of Standing Orders. As the proposals are of an experimental nature the modifications will be submitted to the House in the form of a Motion for a Sessional Order.