HC Deb 10 December 1957 vol 579 cc1209-20

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees).—[Queen's Recommendation signified.]

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision with respect to the drainage of agricultural land in Scotland, it is expedient to authorise:—

  1. A. The payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any expenses incurred under the said Act by the Secretary of State—
    1. (i) in making grants towards any expenditure incurred by persons empowered by 1210 an order made under the said Act by the Secretary of State to execute works specified in such order, being grants amounting to not more than one half of such expenditure so far as approved by the Secretary of State as having been reasonably incurred for the purpose of, or in the course of, the discharge by the said persons of their functions under such order or the said Act other than expenditure incurred for the purpose of, or in the course of, maintaining any works executed in pursuance of the order;
    2. (ii) in executing or maintaining any works specified in such an order;
    3. (iii) which are administrative expenses.
  2. B. The payment into the Exchequer of any sums received tinder the said Act by the Secretary of State.—[Mr. Maclay.]

10.21 p.m.

The Chairman

Mr. Fraser.

Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)

I do not know whether you have called me, Sir Charles, to move the Amendment on the Order Paper, in line 2, to leave out "agricultural."

The Chairman

It is out of order. It raises the charge.

Mr. Fraser

In the circumstances, I am obliged to ask the Secretary of State whether he will take this Money Resolution back and reconsider it. Clearly, it does not commit him to do what he wishes to do in terms of the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill. Concluding our Second Reading debate in the Scottish Grand Committee on Thursday last, the Joint Under-Secretary said: It is quite true that there may be cases where nothing very useful can be done unless the works start from the mouth of the river. That was said by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee during the debate, which lasted two forenoons. The Joint Under-Secretary went on to say: We cannot contemplate making improvement orders to enable groups of owners to solve their own immediate problems by increasing the problems of others. I hope that that relieves the anxiety of my hon. and gallant Friend. He was referring to the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan)— In some cases the difficulty may be overcome by the provision in this Bill for the carrying out of protective works to prevent damage to other land."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 5th December, 1957, c. 80.] Other land means land other than agricultural land—

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay) indicated dissent.

Mr. Fraser

I see the Minister is dissenting, but I gave examples, as did other hon. Members, of damage caused to land other than agricultural land, down river from areas that might be dealt with under the provisions of the Bill.

I have ascertained that the county councils are willing to make a contribution from rates for the protection of river banks for the avoidance of flooding to agricultural land and to other land. All I am asking is that this Committee will not pass a Money Resolution tonight which will prevent us from having land drainage legislation that gives us anything like comparable protection to that enjoyed in England and Wales. We want to enlarge this Bill to take account of some of the recommendations made by the Duncan Committee when it reported in 1950. As I see it, we shall be prevented from amending the Bill in the way that every hon. Member on both sides of the House who spoke in the Second Reading debate wanted to see it amended.

I would have thought that the Secretary of State would want to keep the promise made by the Joint Under-Secretary in winding up the debate the other day. I would have thought that he would want to make it possible to have those works carried out for the avoidance of flooding from the river mouth upwards. That can only be done if we protect land other than agricultural land.

I could give many examples, but I will not do so tonight, as the hour is late. I beg the Secretary of State to take this Money Resolution back. We were assured only last week by the Lord Privy Seal that it was the policy of the Government to draw Money Resolutions wide enough to allow us to make reasonable Amendments. This is the first Measure since then, but we find that the Money Resolution is so tightly drawn that Amendments to the Bill will not be possible, Amendments referred to in the course of the Second Reading debate by every hon. Member on the Government side of the House who participated in our discussions.

We had a unanimous recommendation from the Duncan Committee on this matter in 1950. More than 20 hon. Members spoke in the debate and all, except the Secretary of State and his Joint Under-Secretary, wanted this Bill to give effect to the recommendations of the Duncan Committee. I ascertained at the week-end that the county councils in Scotland are willing to make their contribution to enable those recommendations to be given effect. Therefore, I beg the Secretary of State to take back this Money Resolution tonight and give us another one which will enable us to make a Bill of which Scotland can be proud.

10.30 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)

I have followed as closely as I could the argument of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) and have looked again at the words used by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland in the recent debate, but, as far as I can judge at this short notice, what my hon. Friend said about other lands and about powers given under the Money Resolution is strictly correct.

I would add only this, because I am very anxious not to trespass beyond the bounds of proper order on a Money Resolution. I have said, and so has my hon. Friend, that we realise that the Bill does not do a great deal to meet the full recommendations of the Duncan Committee. I have explained, and my hon. Friend has explained, the reasons why we cannot go further, and I would suggest that the Bill is a great deal better than no Bill at all. It makes real progress and gives a substantial advantage.

The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) laughs, but the argument which we have had on this in another place would imply that we ought to take the thing away and drown it. The fact is that we have a useful Bill which can be a very real advantage within the terms of the Money Resolution to the improvement of agricultural land in Scotland.

I assure the hon. Member for Hamilton that within the scope and purpose of the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill the Money Resolution is sufficiently widely drawn and drawn in full consciousness of what the Lord Privy Seal said last week about Money Resolutions and what I myself said about them. It is drawn within the deliberate scope and purpose of the Bill for enabling proper discussion to take place, and I sincerely hope that the Committee will give unanimous approval to the Money Resolution in the full knowledge that if it does not it will be implying that we ought not to do something which both the Scottish landowners and the National Farmers' Union have both agreed is very well worth doing. Therefore, I sincerely hope that we shall get the Money Resolution in its present form.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question raised by my hon. Friend? Will he tell the Committee where it permits money to be spent on these other works not within the scheme area?

Mr. Maclay

This was all very fully explained before. I could not, within the bounds of order, go through what was said before. It was made very clear that protective works which might prove to be necessary arising out of schemes could be part of the schemes, and that would be land other than the land included in the schemes. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will realise that that is completely correct.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

It seems very difficult to ask us to accept the explanation given by the Minister, who tells us that all the purposes for which we wish an extension of the Money Resolution are covered by the present Resolution.

Mr. Maclay

I did not say that.

Mr. Ross

There will be plenty of time for the right hon. Gentleman to reply later.

In view of the fact that our original Amendment was ruled out of order because it would raise the charge, I find it very difficult to believe what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. I do not see how we can possibly accept the Money Resolution as it stands in view of the speeches made by every Conservative Member in the Scottish Grand Committee.

I think I am right in saying that in the closing remarks of his speech the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Patrick Maitland)—I am quoting from memory—said that unless we have such power to amend the Bill it makes idiotic nonsense. In other words, the Bill will do little or nothing unless we have the power to extend it to land other than agricultural land.

The right hon. Gentleman has just told us that people will be able to build protective works and get grants for them. He has not explained that at present everything is tied by this Money Resolution to the fact that the benefit must accrue to the agricultural area. It is to be for the benefit of the agricultural area, otherwise it is not done at all. To suggest that we do not need this kind of thing is utter nonsense. I am wondering whether the Minister knows his own Bill; we shall probably find out on Tuesday, 17th December.

Will the Minister explain the meaning of lines 10 and 11 of the Money Resolution. I will give him time to read it—or I will read it out myself. It says: for the purpose of, or in the course of, the discharge by the said persons of their functions under such order or the said Act other than expenditure incurred … What does the second "or" mean? Does it mean "of"? Is this another example of the slovenly drafting we are now getting so used to from the Scottish Office, or is it the Treasury that is to blame? Can the Minister explain what those lines mean, and what the word "or" means; and what function it performs?

Further, it refers to expenditure other than expenditure incurred for the purpose of, or in the course of, maintaining any works executed in pursuance of the order … and then, in paragraph A (ii), to executing or maintaining any works specified in such an order … What is the difference between the two things? Why does one have to be specifically provided for and the other not provided for?

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give me ready and intelligible replies to those three small questions.

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member has asked me to give some explanations, and his first question concerned the word "or". I should have thought that it would have been clear to anyone reading the Money Resolution. It says: the discharge by the said persons of their functions under such order or the said Act … I cannot put it any more clearly than that, and I do not see what is puzzling the hon. Member. It is perfectly good English, and perfectly well expressed.

Mr. Ross

Nothing can be done under the Act without an Order—and we cannot have an Order without the Act. Why are the two things necessary?

Mr. Maclay

For the purpose of absolute clarity. I have every confidence in the ability of the parliamentary draftsmen to make an important point absolutely clear.

If the hon. Member wants to know precisely what the Money Resolution does, I can tell him that it authorises the payment of any expenses incurred under the said Act by the Secretary of State … in making grants in respect of the costs incurred by authorised persons in discharging their functions in executing or maintaining any works specified in the order made under the Bill. That is absolutely clear. Secondly, the Minister can exercise his default powers in regard to executing or maintaining any works specified in such an Order in certain circumstances.

Thirdly, in regard to administrative expenses, if the hon. Member would carefully study the Resolution, and what I have said, I am certain that he would agree that it is an admirably drawn and clear Resolution.

Mr. Ross

Paragraph A (i) provides that money may be paid for particular purposes other than expenditure incurred for the purpose of, or in the course of, maintaining any works executed in pursuance of the order … But paragraph A (ii) says that money may be provided by Parliament for any expenses incurred …in executing or maintaining any works specified in such an order… The two provisions contradict each other. We are entitled to a clear explanation of these two points.

Mr. Maclay

I am always willing to be as helpful to the hon. Member as I can, in his difficulties. I am saying that the explanation I have given of what the Money Resolution does is absolutely accurate, and that the way in which it is drafted is obviously a necessity of parliamentary draftsmanship. If the hon. Member will study it I think that he will find that it is as clear as it can possibly be.

Mr. Douglas Johnston (Paisley)

May I put three questions to the Secretary of State? First, is it his understanding of this Money Resolution that it is competent under this Bill to make grants for drainage of any land? Secondly, is it competent to make grants only for the drainage of agricultural land? Thirdly, is it competent to make grants for agricultural land and any expenditure consequent on the drainage of agricultural land? If there is any doubt about the answer, will the Secretary of State undertake to bring in the necessary Amendment or new Resolution? I ask that because he is not the ultimate authority upon what this Resolution means. The ultimate authority is the Chairman.

Mr. Willis

I think that we should have an answer from the Secretary of State about the important contradiction pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). Under paragraph A (i) we are excluded from voting money for the purpose of maintaining works executed in pursuance of an Order. But under paragraph A (ii) it becomes admissible to give money for that purpose. The right hon. Gentleman might answer that by giving a reply to this question. If we put down an Amendment to the effect that grants should be made for the maintenance carried out in connection with any of these schemes, would that be in order under the Resolution?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member has asked an hypothetical question which far be it from me to answer and thus presume on the proper functions of the Chair.

The hon. and learned Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston) asked whether this Measure was confined to agricultural land and gave three possibilities. The purpose of the Bill, and the Money Resolution relating to it, is to deal with agricultural land. It also covers consequential work in the prevention of difficulties in relation to a scheme which must be for the benefit of agricultural land.

Mr. T. Fraser

You, Sir Charles, have given us more advice than has the Secretary of State. You said that my Amendment was not acceptable to the Chair, because it would increase the charge. You have made it perfectly clear that we cannot amend this Bill to extend its provisions to land other than agricultural land. The Secretary of State was not

specific, but you have made the position clear. I call on hon. Members opposite who spoke against the Bill on Second Reading to support us in the Division Lobby.

Question put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 197, Noes 160.

Division No. 19.] AYES [10.44 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Medlicott, Sir Frank
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Alport, C. J. M. Gurden, Harold Moore, Sir Thomas
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Hall, John (Wycombe) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Harris, Reader (Heston) Nabarro, C. D. N.
Ashton, H. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Neave, Airey
Atkins, H. E. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Nicholls, Harmar
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Harvey, Sir Arthur (Macclesfd) Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Baldwin, A. E. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Nugent, G. R. H.
Balniel, Lord Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Oakshott, H. D.
Barber, Anthony Heald, Rt. Hon, Sir Lionel Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.
Barlow, Sir John Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Barter, John Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Hesketh, R. F. Osborne, C.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Partridge, E.
Bidgood, J. C. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Peel, W. J.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Hirst, Geoffrey Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Bingham, R. M. Hobson, John (Warwick& Leam'gt'n) Pitman, I. J.
Bishop, F. P. Holland-Martin, C. J. Pitt, Miss E. M.
Body, R. F. Hope, Lord John Pott, H. P.
Bossom, Sir Alfred Hornby, R. P. Powell, J. Enoch
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Boyle, Sir Edward Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Profumo, J. D.
Braine, B. R. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Redmayne, M.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Burden, F. F. A. Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.) Rippon, A. G. F.
Channon, Sir Henry Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Roper, Sir Harold
Chichester-Clark, R. Hyde, Montgomery Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Sharples, R. C.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Iremonger, T. L. Shepherd, William
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Speir, R. M.
Cooke, Robert Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Cooper, A. E. Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Stevens, Geoffrey
Cooper-Key, E. M. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Kaberry, D. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Keegan, D. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Kerr, Sir Hamilton Studholme, Sir Henry
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Kershaw, J. A. Summers, Sir Spencer
Currie, G. B. H. Kimball, M. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Dance, J. C. G. Kirk, P. M. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Lancaster, Col. C. G. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Deedes, W. F. Langford-Holt, J. A. Teeling, W.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Leavey, J. A. Temple, John M.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Leburn, W. G. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Drayson, G. B. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
du Cann, E. D. L. Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Duncan, Sir James Linstead, Sir H. N. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)
Elliott, R. W. (N'castle upon Tyne, N.) Llewellyn, D. T. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Errington, Sir Eric Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Finlay, Graeme Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Fisher, Nigel Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Tweedsmuir, Lady
Forrest, G. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Vane, W. M. F.
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Macdonald, Sir Peter Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Gammans, Lady Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Vickers, Miss Joan
George, J. C. (Pollok) McKibbin, Alan Wall, Major Patrick
Gibson-Watt, D. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Glyn, Col. Richard H. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Webbe, Sir H.
Godber, J. B. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan McLean, Neil (Inverness) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Goodhart, Philip Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Gower, H. R. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Woollam, John Victor
Grant, W. (Woodside) Maddan, Martin Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Green, A. Markham, Major Sir Frank TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gresham Cooke, R. Mathew, R. Mr. Brooman-White and
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Mawby, R. L. Mr. Hughes-Young.
Ainsley, J. W. Howell, Denis (All Saints) Peart, T. F.
Albu, A. H. Hoy, J. H. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Popplewell, E.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Prentice, R. E.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hunter, A. E. Probert, A. R.
Awbery, S. S. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pryde, D. J.
Baird, J. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Randall, H. E.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Jeger, George (Goole) Redhead, E. C.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.) Rhodes, H.
Beswick, Frank Johnson, James (Rugby) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Blackburn, F. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Blyton, W. R. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Ross, William
Bowles, F. G. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Short, E. W.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Kenyon, C Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Brockway, A. F. King, Dr. H. M. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Lawson, G. M. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Skeffington, A. M.
Burke, W. A. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Burton, Miss F. E. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Callaghan, L. J. Logan, D. G. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Cattle, Mrs. B. A. MacColl, J. E. Snow, J. W.
Champion, A. J. MacDermot, Niall Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Clunie, J. McGhee, H. G. Steele, T.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) McGovern, J. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) McInnes, J. Stonehouse, John
Crossman, R. H. S. McKay, John (Wallsend) Stones, W. (Consett)
Cullen, Mrs. A. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Mahon, Simon Swingler, S. T.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Sylvester, G. O.
Deer, C. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Diamond, John Mason, Roy Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mellish, R. J Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mikardo, Ian Thornton, E.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mitchison, G. R. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Fernyhough, E. Moody, A. S. Usborne, H. C
Finch, H. J. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Watkins, T. E.
Fletcher, Eric Moss, R. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mulley, F. W. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Gibson, C. W. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Grey, C. F. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Wigg, George
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) O'Brien, Sir Thomas Willey, Frederick
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Oram, A. E. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Hamilton, W. W. Orbach, M. Winterbottom, Richard
Hannan, W. Oswald, T. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Paget, R. T. Woof, R. E.
Hastings, S. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Hayman, F. H. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Zilliacus, K.
Healey, Denis Palmer, A. M. F
Herbison, Miss M. Pargiter, G. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hobson, C. R. (Keighley) Parker, J. Mr. J. T. Price and Mr. Wilkins.
Holmes, Horace Parkin, B. T.
Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Pearson, A.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received Tomorrow.