§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I beg to move, in page 4, line 16, to leave out "compulsory purchase," and to insert "agreement."
My hon. and learned Friend the junior Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) pointed out a moment ago the scheme of the Bill. In Clause 3, as the House has appreciated, no person other than the authorised agent of the Secretary of State shall sell intoxicating liquor in a State management district. But there is a proviso to the effect that the subsection shall not apply to anything done in premises which are licensed premises when State management comes into operation—that is, to premises which are licensed premises when this Bill is assented to.
The next step is that under Clause 5 the Secretary of State may acquire by agreement any land, whether in a State management district or elsewhere, and, subject to the provisions of the Clause, acquire by compulsory purchase any licensed premises in a State management district. The scheme, of which I make no criticism at this stage, at earlier stages caused a considerable amount of confusion because, as you will understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, those who have not the good fortune to belong to the same profession as you and I, read Clause 3 and the proviso and accepted that proviso as letting out existing licensees, and thereupon rejoiced and thought that that was the full extent of the operation of the Bill.
But, of course, on passing on to Clause 5, as you and I have done, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—because we have so often been taught that we must not take any part of a statute or a Bill by itself but that we 1753 should consider it in the setting of a whole statute or a whole Bill—one then came to the position that the Secretary of State has the right of compulsory purchase in the case of licensed premises.
That means that the licensees in the State management districts—or, put in another way, the licensees of the houses that are already in the districts where the new towns are to be built—are liable to lose their livelihood by the compulsory acquisition of their houses.
We dealt with the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman to meet that position in the first new Clause which was discussed today, and then there was an Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman accepted. But even on that basis, even recognising the efforts that the right hon. Gentleman has made to try to help the licensees who are caught in these areas of State management, we are still left in the position, as the right hon. Gentleman very frankly and properly told the House, whereby in regard to these licensees he can only proceed, and indeed we could only ask him to proceed, so far as was practicable and so far as fitted in with the policy which he is driven to follow—namely, that of being prepared to extinguish licences.
One has to consider whether this compulsory acquisition is really necessary at all. One starts from the view that in the State management districts there are at the moment, as we have heard so often, only a few buildings and very few public houses; in fact, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brighton reminded the House this afternoon, the Lord President of the Council, in winding up on Second Reading, thought there were no houses at all. But one may fairly assume that when the Lord President of the Council mistakenly thinks that there are no houses at all, there are not many houses or he would not have fallen into that error. Therefore, we start from the point that there are not many houses, and it is not a question of getting fewer houses than we start with. That is the problem with which the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors had to deal at Carlisle, because of the very special circumstances that existed at that time.
But that is quite a different matter. This is not an old-established border town with very special industrial circumstances. These are ex hypothesi country districts in which new towns are going to be 1754 placed. Therefore, I ask the House to start—and I submit it is reasonable that the House should start—from the hypothesis that we must want more public houses than there are at present. We cannot by any stretch of the imagination want fewer houses, except the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson) who would like a blank negation of public houses.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I thought I was correctly expressing the views of the hon. Member for West Ealing in saying that he would like a blank negation, but of course between what he wants and what will happen there are various shades of possibility which he must recognise. I do not think that anyone else, apart from those who hold his view, would suggest that in the new towns there should be fewer houses than there are existing in the countryside. That can be ruled out.
The next point that the right hon. Gentleman has made, and will no doubt make again, was: "What about the distribution of the houses? It may be that some of the existing houses are not in a suitable position, and I must have the power to acquire them in order to see that they are placed in a suitable position." Again I put the position as it seems to me. If they are not in a suitable position, then the development corporation of the new town will obviously want to use that site for something else. I think that follows as a logical sequence of argument. One starts by saying that the public house ought not to be there; that is part of the area of the new town; therefore, something else should be there. It may be an open space or it may be another building. Of course, the development corporation would have power under their general powers to acquire it with other parts of the town which are necessary for the development scheme.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman, who is following me with his usual courtesy, to say whether there is a logical flaw in the next step, because I cannot see it myself. The licensee in theory and the owners of the house in fact would combine to apply for a special removal, and then they would be looking for a place where they could suitably put their house according to the needs of the town. I 1755 do not understand the right hon. Gentleman's difficulty. I think he felt that in order to have a special removal, or an ordinary removal—although in this case it would be a special removal—the initiative rests with the licensee, and the licensee is, of course, a different person from himself on this basis. I do not believe that it is a practical difficulty that in those circumstances the licensee would move to an unsuitable spot. After all, he has got to have suitable premises before he can get his removal. He has to have suitable plans approved. Before he can have suitable premises, he has to have the planning authority which allows him to put the premises there. Therefore, I do not believe that he can move a public house from one unwanted spot to another unwanted spot.
If that is the position—and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this point again—I do not see why he wants the compulsory powers of purchase. If he abdicated from his position of wanting the compulsory powers, a great deal of the difficulty would go. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that we are on a point here which, quite irrespective of party, is really worrying people. People are wondering whether they are to be turned out of their jobs and put into a position of difficulty at the present time. We all know that the right hon. Gentleman will do his best to find them jobs, and we accept what he has said, but it is a very difficult situation when people lose jobs, and they will be worried, short of any certainty of another job being found for them. I know that Members opposite can bring in the past. We are not discussing that but this human problem. We suggest that there is really no need for the course of action proposed in the Bill, and that if the right hon. Gentleman were able to do without this element of compulsion, he would do away with one of the human difficulties and improve the Bill immensely.
§ Mr. C. Williams
Now that the Government have been reinforced by the eminent legal authority of the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels), I hope it may be possible to have some carefully considered legal advice on this matter. I am not in the least surprised that this provision is 1756 in the Bill, because we all know how devoted the Government are to compulsory powers. There are many things which are compulsory under this Government that would never have been compulsory under a Tory Government. The Government are continually asking for compulsory powers. They have even asked for powers of compulsion in regard to labour, which is something we should never have done. This Bill merely emphasises how willing the Home Secretary is to have compulsory powers, which leads me to believe that no argument will make him give way on this Amendment.
Let us examine for a minute or two how wide are these powers for which the right hon. Gentleman is asking. Paragraph (b) states that the right hon. Gentleman may,subject to the provisions of this section, acquire by compulsory purchase any licensed premises in a State management district and any land in such a district required for the erection or extension of, or otherwise for use in connection with, any premises in a State management district in which the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail is, or is to be, carried on on behalf of the Secretary of State.Everyone knows that all sorts of things can be added, if a public house is being enlarged, for the purpose of running the establishment. For instance, certain hotels have a nice bit of fishing, and it is conceivable that the compulsory powers may be used to acquire that fishing. Subject to any legal argument against it, I cannot see how that can be disproved. It means also that compulsory powers can be used for golf courses, cricket grounds or skittle alleys. Members should realise that this is not an innocent little provision to deal with small pieces of land, but is something which can be extended to a considerable degree. We all know the vital differences there are at the present time between various Ministers. It may be that these compulsory powers will be used in such a way as to acquire a vast amount of land against the interests of food production.
This Clause can be interpreted and used very widely indeed, unless it is definitely prescribed, in spite of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman, whose statements I do not mistrust any more than those of any other Member on the Government Front Bench If the right hon. Gentleman gets frivolous on this matter, I think I can quote at least one 1757 Bill on which he has changed his mind. I do not want to introduce any controversial note, but merely wish to state the fact that the Government are as usual endeavouring in every possible way to extend their powers. On the other hand, if the Government accept this Amendment they will be showing that they are willing to acquire licensed premises in a reasonable way by agreement. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to reply to this Amendment which leads one to believe that he is now completely convinced he has no need for these powers. If not, I hope that this Amendment will be taken to a Division.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I, too, deprecate the use of powers of compulsory purchase for the purpose set out in the Clause, and I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to agree that, if possible, he should avoid taking these powers. I would not suggest that the powers of compulsory purchase are not vested in various authorities for all sorts of purposes under a great variety of statutes—it may be that the right hon. Gentleman will say that he is in no way departing from precedent in giving himself powers of compulsory purchase—but on this I should like to make two observations. If powers of compulsory purchase are to be given to the Home Secretary for the purposes specified in the Clause then, of course, those powers make the right hon. Gentleman judge in his own cause. When a local authority or statutory undertaker is given powers of compulsory purchase there is always the right of objection and inquiry. Before the compulsory purchase order becomes effective it has to be confirmed by a Minister, that is to say, the acquiring authority does not have the final word as to whether or not the order which it makes should become effective.
Where, however, powers of compulsory purchase are given to a Minister under the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Act, 1946, he is judge in his own case as to whether the objections to such an order should be upheld. That is always an unsatisfactory position, and although it may be unavoidable in some cases it is a position which should be restricted to the absolute minimum because the spirit of it runs counter to our basic 1758 British constitutional theory that no man should be judge in his own case.
For that reason I suggest that when new powers of compulsory purchase are given to a Minister, they must always be most jealously scrutinised by the House to ensure that the case for them is made up to the hilt. If that is so, this Clause must be jealously scrutinised to see that the powers are vitally necessary before the House gives them to the Secretary of State.
I shall not repeat the admirably lucid argument put before the House by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe). I would add only this: In some of the areas designated for new towns which will become State management districts under the Bill there are already old-established licensed premises. In these towns there are many people who were long resident there before the designation of the new town came into force. It is, I think, vital that the rights of those already existing should be preserved, and that some degree of continuity should, if possible, be preserved between the previously existing community and the new community which is coming into being as a result of the designation of the area as a new town. I have always hoped that it will be possible that the licensed premises existing in the designated areas will be carried on as they are now, that is to say, as licensed premises—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Bowles)
The hon. Gentleman is now going rather wide of the Amendment. This is a question of taking over by compulsory purchase or by agreement. The other argument was discussed earlier today.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I am much obliged to you, Sir, for pointing out the limitations of the Amendment, of which, with great respect, I was already aware; the point I was about to make, and which my argument was leading up to, was that if powers of compulsory acquisition are given in such a way that the Secretary of State becomes judge as to whether or not the power should take effect in any given case, it is by that degree the less likely that any of the existing licensed premises will continue under their present ownership. If, on the other hand, the powers are confined to purchase by agreement I think we can 1759 reasonably hope that there will be a greater degree of continuity of the previously existing system.
In conclusion, the people already living in the designated areas have been, naturally somewhat affronted at the compulsory powers already used for the setting up of new towns. It could hardly be otherwise, and I therefore put this consideration to the right hon. Gentleman. If he and the House as a whole want a spirit of harmony to prevail in these new towns, it is his duty to confine his powers of compulsory purchase to the minimum. For these reasons I trust that this very reasonable Amendment will commend itself to the good sense of the House.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
It is a little surprising to find that, so far, this Amendment has had no support from the other side of the House. It is an Amendment designed to safeguard the rights and means of earning their livelihood of a respectable and reputable section of the community. It is also surprising that no hon. Member opposite has in this Debate supported the protection of those rights. I stress "in this Debate" because, a short time ago, assurances were being given by Members opposite as to their attitude in this matter.
I am particularly surprised not to see in their places tonight either the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Cross-man) or the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman). On 8th February this year both hon. Members stated that they would support an Amendment to preserve the rights of existing licence holders in the new town itself or the surrounding countryside—which is precisely what this Amendment is designed to do. They stated that in letters to their constituents. Notice was served on those hon. Members during the Committee stage, when my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) quoted what I have just told the House, and added:Neither hon. Member is a member of this Committee, but I hope that when we come to the Report stage we shall have the opportunity of putting down this Amendment again so that these two hon. Members will have a chance of implementing their undertaking."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 24th February, 1949; c. 327.]1760 I do not know whether before the Division is taken those hon. Members will be present to implement their undertaking, but it is an interesting illustration of the lack of understanding on the part of hon. Members opposite when two hon. Members, whose intellectual distinction is beyond all question, should have apparently so misapprehended the Bill that they gave that pledge and now find themselves in no position either to redeem or explain it. But confusion as to what the Bill did was not even confined to those two hon. Members for East and West Coventry. I refer to them particularly, because I was rather pinning my hopes for this Amendment on the hon. Member for East Coventry. This House has, on a previous occasion, seen how that hon. Member has been able to assert his will, even against Ministers of the Crown. I had hoped that the Home Secretary this evening would have gone the sorry way of the Minister of Defence.
It is not only back bench Members opposite who have completely misrepresented this Bill, and who, on the pledges which they have given, should now find themselves supporting this Amendment. The Financial Secretary to the War Office wrote to a constituent, on 9th December:The Licensing Bill deals only with such new public houses as will be built in the proposed new towns and the country districts in their immediate neighbourhood.We are concerned, in this Amendment, to protect the existing public houses, and if the Financial Secretary to the War Office understood this Bill when he gave that pledge to his constituent, he must find himself morally bound to support this Amendment, thereby confining the interferences of the Home Secretary to the new public houses, and protecting the old. I do not desire to weary the House by continuing on this point, but a considerable number of Members opposite have put themselves in the same position, and the House is entitled to some explanation as to how pledges of that sort have apparently been given; so far, at any rate, there has been no indication of any intention to redeem them. There is, in particular, the blunt statement of the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Braddock):There is no proposal before the House to interfere with existing public houses.That statement lacks nothing in clarity. If this Amendment is carried it may 1761 become a fact, but as the Bill stands, it is in flat contradiction to the facts.
I am perfectly certain that the Home Secretary knew what he was doing in his drafting of this Bill. It is a pity that he did not make his position a little clearer to his supporters. Had he done so, then assuming that these pledges to have been sincerely given, those Members could not possibly have supported the Bill in its earlier stages and could not possibly do so tonight. The very fact that those statements were made is highly material to the issue immediately before us. Hon. Members quite obviously thought, when they gave those pledges, that it was wrong to arm the Home Secretary with power compulsorily to acquire existing licensed premises; that is inherent and implicit in what they have said. Yet, we have here to decide that precise issue.
The Home Secretary is proposing to arm himself with this power of compulsory acquisition. He is proposing to do so although we have offered him the alternative of voluntary purchase. if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to accept this Amendment, it will be a clear indication to the people outside who are directly affected by this matter, that the right hon. Gentleman, for all his superficial air of reasonableness and conciliation, regards compulsion as a necessary element in his State public house system in the new towns. Therefore, we shall be entitled to say, in words that have been used in another context, to those outside who have been lulled by the pledges given by hon. Members opposite that "You have been warned."
§ Mr. Ede
The real case behind this Amendment was given away in one phrase that was used by the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe). He said, "We are talking about compulsory purchase; it is the licensee in theory but the owner of the house in practice." That destroys the greater part of the argument which we have heard on this Amendment, except for that used by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), and I cannot help thinking that when the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby reads the speech of the hon. Member for Torquay, if he ever inflicts such punishment upon himself, he will not thank him for the line which 1762 he adopted. The right hon. and learned Gentleman made a closely argued speech without once alluding to the fact that this Amendment was wider than that which was moved in Committee upstairs, and included land as well as licensed premises.
When the hon. Member for Torquay listed the kind of adjunct to a public house or hotel which it might be necessary to acquire, I kept asking myself, "Why not?" If an hotel run under private enterprise finds it attractive to have in conjunction with it fishing rights, a golf course, a tennis court or a skittle alley—though I hardly think that that is associated with an hotel, but if a public house wants a skittle alley—why not, and why should the owner of adjoining land be entitled to hold the State to ransom if the State wishes to acquire that land to carry out that necessary public improvement? I thought that if the hon. Gentleman had only spoken long enough he would have convinced the Members on his own side of the House of the desirability of providing this power.
I wish to emphasise the fact that this Amendment deals with the acquisition of premises, and that what happens to the person who is employed in the premises so acquired is dealt with by an Amendment which was moved earlier today, and which I accepted; I have undertaken that his position shall he safeguarded—not merely the position of the actual licensee but the position of the other people who may be employed on the premises. If we are to have a properly organised scheme inside the State management area, it is essential that when the advisory committee makes its recommendations to the Secretary of State, and they are accepted, there shall be power to carry those recommendations into effect with reasonable economy and with certainty. If one is left merely with the power to acquire either licensed premises or the necessary land by agreement, it is quite clear that neither of those two objects can be guaranteed.
I should have thought it would have been realised that in an effort properly to lay out the licensed premises of a considerable area it might be necessary on occasion to have resort to compulsory powers, without any injustice being inflicted. My experience, over a life that 1763 is now far too long in dealing with the acquisition of property, has been that the possession of compulsory powers, without the powers being in fact exercised, very often enables arrangements to be made that could not be made were the compulsory powers absent. I recollect when I was at the Board of Education going once to a remote county where I pointed out that it was necessary in the interests of the educational facilities of a certain school that certain land in the proximity of the school should be acquired. The Chairman of the Education Committee said, "I agree, but my county council makes the boast that it has never exercised compulsory powers. The owner of the land knows that and I cannot get the land by agreement at any price at which the county council would look." I am glad to say that the record of the county council was broken as a result of a report which I made.
That is the position with which one is constantly faced in one's efforts to forward the public interest in this matter. Upstairs in Committee this Amendment was limited to the acquisition of the licensed premises. Now the land is also included in the requirement that it must be acquired by agreement and that compulsory powers will be denied. I say that any effort to carry on this scheme limited by this Amendment would be quite futile and I must ask the House, therefore, to reject the Amendment. As a matter of fact, I have pointed out that the tenant, the licensee, is already amply protected by what we have done this afternoon and that we are dealing here with the owner and not with the employed person.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not think it necessary to explain to hon. Members on his own side of the House what this Clause is about because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) pointed out, many hon. Members were under a complete misapprehension on this matter on Second Reading. It is necessary that it should be clearly understood that this Amendment goes to the very root of the question of whether the Government are compulsorily to take over licensed premises which already exist in new towns which become 1764 State management areas. Hon. Members opposite who voted for the Second Reading of this Bill in the belief that the Bill did not affect any existing licences voted in error and it is right that they should be given an opportunity by this Amendment, to put right the error which they then made.
I repeat the question which was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames. Where are the two hon. Members who represent Coventry and who told their constituents that there was no power in this Bill to take over existing licences? Are we to assume that those hon. Members were content to take the advantage of support from their constituents by telling them that which was totally untrue and are now not prepared to come here and withdraw that statement so that it can be revealed publicly in their Press that they made complete fools of themselves when they said it was so? After all, that is what they said; that is the statement to which they committed themselves. I gave them very clear notice on the Committee stage that I should raise this matter in the House on the Report stage and that I should expect them to withdraw that entirely false statement.
I see that the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) is here, and I am very glad to see he is here. Although, equally, he committed himself to a similarly fatuous statement, he withdrew it at an early opportunity.
§ Mr. Hastings rose—
§ Mr. Marlowe
I will give way in a minute. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I only want to complete my sentence and then I will give way to the hon. Member. I said I was very glad to see him here. My objection to the hon. Member on this score is that it was possible for an hon. Member who had voted for the Second Reading of this Bill to commit himself to such a statement as that which the hon. Member himself agreed he had said when he made the following comments on the Committee stage:… that it is quite true that I did say, in reply to a petition, that the Bill was not intended to take over and nationalise all licensed houses in a State management area.On re-reading the Bill a few days later. I found that I had made an error as to the powers of the Bill, and I wrote to those concerned pointing out that my statement was incorrect, and apologising for the error made. 1765 —[OFFICIAL REPORT: Standing Committee B; 24th February, 1949; c. 323.]
§ Mr. Hastings
I should like to point out to the House that that statement which I made in the Committee was a statement of the facts. I should like to point out that if the individual to whom I had written, and made that statement, and to whom I had replied, had had the decency to have informed the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) of my second letter, this statement would not have been made. I would trust at any rate to his honesty not to read an incorrect statement which was corrected almost immediately.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I have been perfectly fair. I read out the hon. Gentleman's correction as well. That was why I did not wish to be interrupted a moment or two ago. I wanted to read out the correction at the same time as the misstatement. The point is that it is lamentable that an hon. Member should have voted on the Bill without knowing what was in it. That is the point of the argument.
§ Mr. Hastings
I voted for the Bill, it is quite true; but the time when I voted for the Bill was a long time after the date of the reply to the petition to which reference has been made.
§ Mr. Marlowe
The hon. Gentleman really cannot have it that way. The position of the hon. Gentleman is, that he one day committed himself to one statement on the Bill and another day committed himself to precisely the opposite. The importance of the point is that now we have down an Amendment to try to achieve precisely the position the hon. Gentleman thought existed at first.
§ Mr. Hastings
The statement has been made that I voted for the Second Reading of the Bill before having made my statement and my correction. That is not correct.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I shall not withdraw. I have nothing to withdraw. I am only trying to help the hon. Gentleman to clear his mind, and to give him an opportunity of voting on this Amendment, now that he does know what the Bill is about. I should think he would welcome the opportunity of voting now that the position has been clarified for him. However, as I pointed out before, it is scarcely fair to blame hon. Gentlemen 1766 opposite on this point, for they were misled by the Leader of the House. The Lord President of the Council himself on Second Reading misled hon. Gentlemen opposite by telling them that there were no existing licences in the new towns or the Bill, because the new towns did not exist. That was just before the Vote was taken, and it was entirely the fault of the Lord President of the Council that hon. Gentlemen were misled.
Where they have been misled in this matter is this. When the Lord President made that statement he had not appreciated that this Bill applied to areas which were designated and became State management areas in which there were already existing towns and villages. It is possible under the New Towns Acts for a conglomeration of villages and, perhaps, adjacent town areas, too, to become a new town. In those areas there will be already a number of existing licences. The Lord President, as he made clear in his Second Reading speech, had not understood all that. He thought "new town" meant simply a town where no buildings were yet, and which would subsequently come into being at a later date. That is where he misled those who voted for the Second Reading of this Bill.
I want to come to the argument, such as it was, which the Home Secretary put up just now. He said that it was necessary for him to have these powers of compulsory acquisition, for he could not have a position where there were other licensees in the new towns operating in competition with him. [HON. MEMBERS: "He said nothing of the kind."] I am paraphrasing what the right hon. Gentleman said, and if he did not say it, it is what he meant. If he did not say it, I will say it for him. That can be the only possible interpretation of the action of the right hon. Gentleman in insisting on these powers of compulsory acquisition. He could not stand up to the competition of free enterprise. The right hon. Gentleman must have a monopoly, and if he has not, he will be beaten by the private enterprise licensee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say, 'No," and if that is so, why not let the private licensee carry on?
If hon. Gentlemen opposite are fully satisfied that there is no danger to the right hon. Gentleman's scheme by letting the private licensee carry on, they should vote for our Amendment and ensure that 1767 he will carry on. That is all we are seeking to do in this Amendment. We want to prevent existing licensees being driven out of business by compulsory acquisition, and we think they should be allowed to continue to compete with the right hon. Gentleman's nationalised public houses. We believe the private licensee ought to continue in fair competition with the nationalised public house of the right hon. Gentleman. The reason the right hon. Gentleman will not accept this Amendment is that he dare not stand up to that competition, and he desires to create a monopoly.
§ Mr. Proctor
I am sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman the junior Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) did not see fit to withdraw his statement with regard to my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings). His attitude did not come up to what is regarded as the usual standard of this House. My hon. Friend explained that he had withdrawn the statement before voting. As everyone knows a Bill is published some time before Second Reading, and I assume that took place in this case. The hon. and learned Gentleman should have withdrawn.
Much misrepresentation is taking place on this Amendment and is created by hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) referred to the fact that we were inferring that somebody was not earning an honest livelihood. Very few if any dealt with under this Clause would be in the public houses. This Clause deals with landlords and owners and not with licensees and tenants. Therefore, it is an attempt to prevent the State acquiring property from those who own and not those who manage them and who are the licensees. This compulsory power is absolutely necessary if this scheme is to be tried out.
§ Mr. Grimston
The point made by the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) may be true in the majority of cases, but for all I know there may be now or in the hereinafter, someone who owns his public house. He would be equally affected by this Clause. This matter was discussed upstairs and we had a very close division in the Committee. Some hon. Members opposite voted with us and some abstained. There has been a 1768 great deal of misunderstanding about this matter. When the Bill first appeared, it was thought by a great many people, including a number of hon. Members opposite, that the Bill gave complete immunity to existing licence-holders. They thought that because of the words in Clause 3 where it says that the Clause shall not applyto anything done in premises which were licensed premises or a registered club when State management came into operation …That seemed clear enough, as showing that existing licence-holders were fully protected, but the bottom was completely knocked out of that situation by the compulsory powers which are taken in Clause 5. That was where hon. Members went wrong. There was no doubt much misapprehension about this matter.
A great many licence-holders and others wrote in to hon. Members of all parties because they were anxious to know their position. Many of them received assurances from hon. Members opposite that no existing licence-holder would be affected. The hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) spotted the mistake that he had made, and he wrote and corrected the assurance that he had given. For all I know there may be many other hon. Members opposite who have done the same thing, and there may be many who have not—not by intention, but because they have overlooked the matter. Therefore, we face the position that there has gone out an impression, given by many hon. Members opposite, that existing licence-holders should not be interfered with. The fact that they gave those assurances indicates that in their real opinion existing licence-holders should not be interfered with.
What is the size of the problem? It cannot be a very large one. To start with, it will only occur with new towns where there is already a nucleus. As time goes on, that nucleus will become less and less. With the completely virgin new town the problem does not arise at all. In view of the assurances that have been given, it would be morally right that this provision should be put into the Bill, and that is what we advocate. In many cases under present nationalising legislation, a small number of individuals are harshly treated. We had 1769 a case of it the other day, and I give it as an illustration and do not propose to expand it, in which a small minority in the old Cable and Wireless have had a very bad deal. Their position has been considerably worsened.
It is true that the Home Secretary has introduced a new Clause today and has accepted an Amendment which make the licence holders' position better, but there is no absolute guarantee for the individual that he will not lose his job. He will be found a home if the Home Secretary takes over his pub and, as far as practicable, he will be found a job. That is very different from giving him complete immunity. In cases of this sort there may be men who have owned a publichouse or who have been publicans for a number of years, and who do not wish to be disturbed. They do not wish to become managers or tenants under the State.
The hon. Member for Preston (Dr. Segal) introduced rather a sinister note earlier in the afternoon when he said that the Home Secretary might want to get rid of one of these people who did not believe in nationalisation. Although that idea may not be in the mind of the Home Secretary, the fact that the hon. Member made that statement shows that the idea is in the minds of some hon. Members opposite. That is the kind of thing against which we want to protect the individual.
§ Mr. Grimston
That explanation does not make the matter better. The hon. Member is merely saying that the Home Secretary should have the power to turn out a man who is of a different political opinion and who, in his opinion, will not run his State-managed house properly. It is against that sort of political victimisation that we wish to protect individuals in the nuclei of these new towns. By his remark the hon. Gentleman has strengthened our case.
A small point arose during the Committee stage and the right hon. Gentleman 1770 said that he would look at it before the Report stage. He said it was not his contention that these powers should apply to clubs nor that he should have the power to take over any club by compulsion. There was a question whether "licensed premises" in the Clause covers clubs or not. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can now give me a categorical assurance.
§ Mr. Grimston
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. It clears that point out of the way. However, that does not clear up the point we make about the position of the individual. I believe that from the assurances they unwittingly gave, many hon. Members opposite agree with us on the principle that in these cases the individual should not be compulsorily thrown out of his job. That is the principle behind the Amendment, and in view of the Home Secretary's attitude I shall ask my hon. Friends to divide on this issue.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I do not want to intervene at any length but we must clear up certain points before we go into the Lobby which we cannot avoid doing. I see that the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Braddock) is now in his place. He may have been told that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) quoted from a letter of his as an example of the misunderstanding which existed on the other side of the House as to the meaning of this Clause. The letter said:There is no proposal before the House to interfere with existing public houses.
§ Mr. Braddock (Mitcham)
I would point out that that letter was in connection with my own constituency where, owing to the attitude of the publicans, agitation was being promoted to suggest that we were out to take over all public houses.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Hon. Members opposite should listen to what I have to say before they ask me to withdraw what I have not yet said. That was a quotation from a letter of the hon. Gentleman, but there are existing public houses in 1771 areas designated as new towns which are to become State management areas. Does the hon. Gentleman wish to imply by this letter that there is no proposal before the House to interfere with existing public houses in what will be State management areas? Has he explained the letter to his own constituents? If he has not done so, obviously they are still under a misapprehension even if he is not.
§ Mr. Braddock
No demand has been made to me to explain the letter. It would only have been decent of hon. Members opposite, knowing that they were to bring this up—it must have been planned—to give me notice of it. I am a new Member of this House but I thought that it was ordinary courtesy when matters of this sort are being brought up to give notice to that effect. I repeat again that the agitation in this matter was a local one, there was fear in my own constituency that this would happen to them, and I was dealing with my own constituency.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
In one sense the hon. Member did get some considerable long-term notice because this matter was raised in Committee upstairs and no doubt, as he is attending the discussions on this Bill on Report, he will have studied the proceedings of the Committee upstairs. Secondly, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames referred to this statement shortly before the hon. Member returned to the House. I am glad that the hon. Member has now explained to the House but I would still—
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I say again that I am grateful that the hon. Member has made his position clear to the House, but he should make his position equally clear to his own constituents. However, I willingly leave that matter to his own conscience.
To turn to the general aspect of the matter, it is perfectly clear that many 1772 hon. Members opposite were honestly in the position of misunderstanding the contents of this Bill. They were honestly misled by the speech of the Lord President. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] Oh yes, and that was reflected even as lately as in the proceedings upstairs on the Committee stage. I think now that when they reconsider their position, having been misled so far, hon. Members opposite will find themselves in conscience bound to abstain from voting tonight on this matter. [An HON. MEMBER: "Contacting agents for the brewers."] There is one other aspect of this matter with which I would ask the Home Secretary to deal. [Interruption.] When hon. Members opposite make so many remarks sitting down, it is rather difficult to understand what they mean. If they have anything to say worth listening to, I suggest that they take the trouble to get to their feet, when I would willingly give way, but unless they do that, they might hold their peace for a moment.
I would ask the Home Secretary to consider this matter. Let us assume for one moment that the Home Secretary is right. [Interruption.] I imagine that hon. Members opposite can understand plain English words occasionally. Let us assume for one moment that the right hon. Gentleman is right and that it is necessary, if this Bill is to have any effect, that somebody should have compulsory powers. I do not agree with it, but it is a line of argument. There are only two people who can have compulsory powers to acquire licensed premises. One would be the development corporation and the other would be the right hon. Gentleman himself. I would say that if his argument resides in the fact that compulsory powers must be held by someone, he is the last person who should have them and that a far better holder of those powers would be the development corporation.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I suggest that we are arguing the merits or demerits of the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman has said that there must be compulsory powers. If he says there must be compulsory powers, am I not entitled to suggest that, even though there must be compulsory powers, there are other 1773 people who might hold those powers equally well as himself.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am sure the hon. Gentleman realises that that Amendment is not on the Order Paper. It might be a good Amendment, but it is not on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
We are moving to omit the very words which you yourself have just mentioned, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The position is perfectly clear. Under the Clause the Home Secretary has the power compulsorily to purchase certain lands. The Amendment seeks to substitute the word "agreement" for "compulsory purchase." That is the power of the Home Secretary. It has nothing whatever to do with any other body or Minister.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
The right hon. Gentleman himself has used the argument—I am sure I am not distorting his argument—that the Bill could not be made to function in this respect unless compulsory powers were available. We are seeking to omit "compulsory purchase" and to use the method of "agreement" only. Am I not entitled, therefore, to argue that, even if the Home Secretary is right, the compulsory powers need not be in his—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Am I not entitled to argue that others can better make use of those powers, and that the Bill as it stands, with compulsory powers to the Home Secretary, is not the only way of carrying out the duties which he says must be performed?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman could do that if he had another Amendment on the Order Paper in
§ respect of which this was a paving Amendment. There is no Amendment on the Order Paper suggesting that any other body or person should have powers of compulsory purpose. The hon. Gentleman, therefre, cannot proceed with that argument.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
There are powers in the New Towns Act—in Clause 5, I think, in particular—which could be used compulsorily to acquire any premises within the area of a new town. It might well be that the New Towns Development Corporation might wish to acquire licensed premises by the use of compulsory powers. Although we should deplore such a procedure, at least those powers would have been used by a planning body responsible for the full planning and organisation of a new community. Had the right hon. Gentleman suggested such an alternative and insisted that compulsory powers were necessary, much though we detest those powers, it would not have been so obnoxious a proposal as the powers which he seeks to insert in the Clause in its present form.
The interested party—the party which will make use of the premises himself for the purpose of trading—should decide, first, whether that place should be acquired; second, whether he would acquire it by agreement or not; and third, if he wishes to be harsh, he will decide to acquire it compulsorily; and having acquired it, he will then make use of it for his own purposes. That sequence of events is grossly improper and I do not wish to see the Home Secretary of this country involved in a transaction of that sort. For that reason, I ask the House to support the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words 'compulsory purchases' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 236; Noes, 103.1777
|Division No. 135.]||AYES||19.6 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Beswick, F.|
|Albu, A. H.||Bacon, Miss A.||Bing, G. H. C.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Baird, J.||Blackburn, A. R.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Balfour, A.||Blyton, W. R.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Boardman, H.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Barstow, P. G.||Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Barton, C.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Battley, J. R.||Brook, D. (Halifax)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Bechervaise, A. E||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Benson, G.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Berry, H.||Brown, George (Belper)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Janner, B.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Carmichael, James||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jenkins, R. H.||Robens, A.|
|Cobb, F. A.||John. W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Johnston, Douglas||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Collindridge, F.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Robinson, K. (St. Pancras)|
|Collins, V. J.||Kenyon, C.||Rogers, G. H R.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||King, E. M.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Sargood, R.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Kinley, J.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lang, G.||Shackleton, E. A A|
|Crawley, A.||Lavers, S.||Sharp, Granville|
|Daggar, G.||Leslie, J. R||Shawcross, C. N (Widnes)|
|Daines, P.||Lever, N. H.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lewis, A. W. J (Upton)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lindgren, G. S.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lipson, D. L.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lyne, A. W.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Deer, G.||McAdam, W.||Solley, L. J.|
|Delargy, H. J.||McAllister, G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Diamond, J.||McEntee, V. La T.||Seskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Dobbie, W.||McGhee, H. G.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McGovern, J.||Steele, T.|
|Donovan, T.||Mack, J. D.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||McKinlay, A. S.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Dye, S.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir G. (Bedwellty)||MacPherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Timmons, J.|
|Ewart, R.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Farthing, W. J.||Messer, F.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Follick, M.||Millington, Wing-Comdr, E. R.||Walker, G. H.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Wallace, G D. (Chislehurst)|
|Freeman, J. (Walford)||Moody, A. S.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Morley, R.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Gilzean, A.||Moyle, A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Murray, J. D.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Nally, W.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Naylor, T. E.||West, D. G.|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. J. T. (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, 'W.)|
|Grierson, E.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||O'Brien, T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Oldfield, W. H.||Wigg, George|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Oliver, G. H.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C A. B|
|Gunter, R. J||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wilkes, L.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Harrison, J.||Pargiter, G. A.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Parker, J.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Kingswinford)||Parkin, B. T.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pearson, A.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Pearl, T. F.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Popplewell, E.||Willis, E.|
|Horabin, T. L.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Houghton, A. L N. D.||Price, M. Philips||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hubbard, T.||Proctor, W. T.||Woods, G. S.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Pryde, D. J.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Pursey, Comdr. H.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Randall, H. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Ranger, J.||Mr. Hannan and|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Rankin, J.||Mr. George Wallace.|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr, J. G.||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Bullock, Capt. M.||Drewe, C.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Byers, Frank||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Challen, C.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Channon, H.||Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Walter|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Clarke, Col. R. S.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)|
|Birch, Nigel||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)|
|Bower, N.||Darling, Sir W. Y.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D P M|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Davidson, Viscountess||Gage, C.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Macpherson,, N. (Dumfries)||Stoddart-Soott, Col. M.|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Harden,, J. R. E.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Marples, A. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Maude, J. C.||Touche, G. C.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mellor, Sir J.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hogg, Hon. Q.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Howard, Hon. A.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hurd, A.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Mullan, Lt. C. H.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Nicholson, G.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J, (Dorset, E.)|
|Kendall, W. D.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lancaster, Col, C. G.||Pickthorn, K.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Prescott, Stanley||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Parlick)|
|Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lucas-Tooth, S. H.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Mr. Studholme and|
|MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport.|
|McFarlane, C. S.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
§ Mr. Ede
I beg to move, in page 4, line 22, at the end, to insert:Provided that before acquiring any land in a new town (whether by agreement or compulsorily) the Secretary of State shall consult with the development corporation.By Clause 5, subsection (5) of the Bill, land belonging to the development corporation is excluded from the power of the Secretary of State of compulsory purchase. But it is only right that I should consult the corporation respecting any purchase of land in a new town, and this Amendment is moved in order that that shall be accomplished.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Younger
I beg to move, in page 5, line 8, to leave out from the beginning, to the end of line 11.
This is merely a drafting Amendment. The proviso which it is now proposed to delete from the Bill has been found not to be necessary.
§ Mr. Marlowe
May we have a little more explanation of this, because as it stands at the moment, before the Amendment, the Bill prevents the use of speedy acquisition procedure? The Amendment removes the whole of the proviso and that means, as the matter stands at the moment, that the speedy acquisition procedure can be used. Unless there is some safeguard elsewhere in the Bill which the hon. Gentleman did not explain, then we must oppose this Amendment. We always understood throughout the Committee stage that the speedy acquisition procedure was not to be used. Could we have some explanation why the change is to he made?
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Younger
I did not explain the detail because this is a purely technical drafting matter. There never was any intention that this power for the speedy acquisition of land should be included in the powers of the Secretary of State for this purpose. The proviso was included because, when the Bill was first drafted, it was thought that without the proviso the Secretary of State would have this power. On further examination—and I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to confirm this if he refers to the original Sections of the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) Act, 1946—it appears that in any event Clause 5 as it stands does not attract that power. That power was only available where the purchasing authority was a local authority, whereas in this case the purchasing authority is the Secretary of State. I hope that that is sufficient explanation. This is purely a drafting Amendment, and the intention originally set out in the proviso is not in any way affected.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I think the House would be grateful if we could have a little more elaboration on this point. As I understand it, the suggestion is that Section 2 of the Act of 1946 applies only to local authorities whose powers of compulsory purchase orders must be confirmed. The Clause gives the Secretary of State the powers of the Minister of Transport under Section 1 (1, b) of the 1946 Act, but Section 2 (2)—that is the speedy acquisition Section—also gives the Minister of Transport powers of speedy acquisition. The point on which I think 1779 my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) wanted enlightenment is a point on which the House is entitled to be satisfied—whether or not the provisions of Section 2 (2) are attracted. In other words, does the Secretary of State get these powers of speedy acquisition which are conferred on the Minister of Transport under the 1946 Act if this proviso is omitted? I apologise to the House that I have only been able to give a very rapid glance at this matter, but my impression is that that may be so. I should like to have some assurance. Otherwise, I shall certainly most whole-heartedly oppose the introduction of these powers into this Bill as being wholly unnecessary and undesirable.
§ Mr. Younger
If I may make a further explanation, I think the House will appreciate that this is a highly technical lawyers' matter. It has been most carefully examined by the draftsman who originally thought that this proviso was necessary but is now satisfied that it is not. I am advised that the provision relating to the Minister of Transport under Section 2 (2) of the 1946 Act is definitely not attracted by the general provisions now made in Clause 5—in particular, I think that the lines at the top of page 5 which refer to paragraph (b) of Section 1 (1) do not attract the later provisions for the speedy acquisition under Section 2 (2) of the Act of 1946. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that this has been very carefully looked at, and that it is strictly a matter of drafting. I am assured that its effect is as I have explained it to the House, and there certainly is not any other alternative intention.
§ Mr. Marlowe
This is clearly a difficulty caused by drafting by reference, and, while I accept the hon. Gentleman's assurance as to its intention and effect, may I ask him if he will, between now and the proceedings in another place, consider bringing into the Bill that reference to which he has alluded, in order that it may make easier reading?
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
As this ought to apply to Scotland, perhaps the Secretary of State can help me. Does the deletion effected by this Amendment mean that his powers for the 1780 speedy acquisition of land will disappear, or that he has still got those speedy powers of acquisition? What happens as a result of this deletion? Will the right lion. Gentleman act more quickly or more slowly?
§ Mr. Woodburn
As the powers did not exist in the first draft, they still do not exist when this is taken out.
§ Amendment agreed to.