HC Deb 30 July 1956 vol 557 cc998-1000

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 22, leave out from "council" to "large" in line I on page 2 and insert: designated by the Minister for the purposes of this section, being the council of a county, of a borough, or of a".

Mr. Molson

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I think it would be convenient if we also considered the Amendment in page 2, line 2, to leave out from "1947" to end of line 3.

Mr. Speaker

Very well. The second Amendment also involves a question of Privilege.

Mr. Molson

These two Amendments were inserted in another place in order to implement an undertaking given by my right hon. Friend in this House. The whole idea of using the local authorities for purposes of testing originated with the Opposition, and they originally suggested county and county boroughs as the local authorities suitable for the purpose. It was represented to us that there was no essential reason why lesser local authorities should be barred, and the Association of Municipal Corporations asked for non-county boroughs not to be excluded. This Amendment meets their request.

Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)

I should like to mention one point arising from the Joint Parliamentary Secretary's reference to boroughs. Presumably he is referring to municipal boroughs as being the second type of borough below the county borough, which should not be excluded.

There are urban district councils in Middlesex which are larger in size and function than some municipal boroughs. Therefore, if it is the size of the authority with which the hon. Gentleman is concerned he ought to have regard to the size of the authority as distinct from its name. Originally the Bill provided for county councils and county boroughs. The hon. Gentleman has gone in the right direction by including in addition other boroughs. Surely other boroughs must be municipal boroughs. There are no other kind of boroughs except municipal boroughs, including presumably the Metropolitan boroughs in London.

As I said, the hon. Gentleman is leaving out a number of urban district councils, especially in Middlesex—there may be others, though not a great number of them—whose population, rateable value, services and functions are far greater than those of some of the boroughs which he is now proposing to include. I do not know whether it is too late to ask the hon. Gentleman to consider that point now as we appear to be on the eve of passing this Bill. This is certainly a factor which ought to be borne in mind if he is concerned with delegating this responsibility to the larger local authorities, because he has, as I say, probably unwittingly left out a number of large local authorities which happen to be urban district councils and not boroughs.

Captain J. A. L. Duncan (South Angus)

I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary what discussion he had with the local authorities in Scotland on this matter. It appears to me that the only authorities that can operate if they are designated are a county in Scotland, or a large burgh, but not a city—and also not a small burgh. I should like to know what the position is. If these smaller local authorities in England are to operate, surely the council of a city like Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee ought to have the right to be designated.

7.30 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

The point I wish to make arises out of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks.) It would be most desirable if the Joint Parliamentary Secretary could clarify the position of boroughs, particularly of the Metropolitan boroughs. For some purposes, Metropolitan boroughs are not municipal boroughs and for some purposes they are. This is an occasion when their special position should be clarified.

Mr. Molson

With permission, Mr. Speaker, may I say that Metropolitan boroughs are included. As regards urban district councils, the line had to be drawn somewhere, and we drew it at boroughs; urban district councils are not included.

Captain Duncan

What about Scotland?

Mr. Hayman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the largest authority in Cornwall is an urban district council, the urban district council of Camborne-Redruth?

Question put and agreed to.—[Special Entry.]

Further Lords Amendment agreed to: In line 2, leave out from "1947" to end of line 3.—[Special Entry.]