HC Deb 15 March 1946 vol 420 cc1401-3
Mr. Keeling (by Private Notice)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Town and Country Planning why he has not laid before the House or sent to the Select Committee on Statutory Rules and Orders, the Provisional Town and Country Planning General Interim Development Order, 1946.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning (Mr. Fred Marshall)

It was believed that this Order was of a class which did not have to be laid. At the beginning of this week, however, this belief was questioned, and it was decided that a mistake had been made, for which my right hon. Friend has asked me to apologise to the House. Immediate steps were taken to rectify the error, and the Order is now before the House.

Mr. Keeling

Do the Government propose to introduce an indemnity Bill, for their failure for six weeks to lay this very important Order, in the same way as the Coalition Government had to introduce an indemnity Bill for their failure to lay the Fire Service Regulations?

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Why bring that up?

Mr. Marshall

That question has not been considered yet. I do not know whether any proceedings have been taken under the Order.

Mr. C. S. Taylor

May I ask first, whether there have been any prosecutions under this Order; and, secondly, whether it is not a fact that correspondence about this particular Order has been going on for about three weeks? Surely the Ministry should have taken less time to make up their minds, whether it was an Order that should be laid or not?

Mr. Marshall

As far as my knowledge goes there have been no prosecutions made under the Order yet. The delay that has taken place is one, I believe, that is usually associated with the introductions of these Orders. Correspondence has been going on about its legality. We found, ultimately, that a mistake had been made.

Mr. Bowles

is there anybody in the hon. Gentleman's Ministry specificially detailed to see that Rules and Orders and Regulations are laid on the Table of the House?

Mr. Marshall

Yes. This matter has been submitted to the legal department of the Ministry. We were advised that the Order did not need to be laid, but it was found out after further correspondence that a mistake had been made, and that that information was wrong

Mr. Eden

While obliged to the hon. Gentleman for clearly acknowledging that a mistake has been made—these things do happen in the best regulated Departments —may I ask him to be good enough to consider the points raised by my two hon. Friends, which seem to me to have considerable substance? Perhaps he can make a further statement on Monday about the situation arising from those questions.

Mr. Marshall

Yes, I will convey to my right hon. Friend the desire of the right hon. Gentleman that the points that have been raised should be considered.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether, as a result of this delay, it is now too late for hon. Members to put down a Motion to annul the regulations?

Mr. Marshall

I do not think so, but that is not a matter for me to decide.