§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
As the elected representative of the borough of Stockton-on-Tees in the House of Commons, it is my duty to ask the House tonight to give a Second Reading to the Stockton-on-Tees Corporation Bill. I do this at the unanimous request of the members of the town council, representing all political parties. This is, indeed, a non-political issue so far as the town of Stockton-on-Tees is concerned. Moreover, the general good will of the people of Stockton is behind the Bill.
I also support the Bill from my own experience of the borough over eleven or twelve years, because I believe that it is right and proper that it should be introduced at this time and that it should be given a Second Reading so that it can be sent upstairs to a Committee to be dealt with in detail.
The Bill has one object only; that is, to change the status of the non-county borough of Stockton-on-Tees into that of a county borough. I stress emphatically that it makes no territorial demands on any other part of the county, or of the adjacent county of the North Riding. Provision is made in the Bill for services such as police and fire to be dealt with by a joint authority, and the Bill proposes that Stockton-on-Tees should have representation on the existing police authority with the Durham County Council, with Darlington, and with the other county borough of West Hartlepool, and on the fire authority also, and that it should, of course, be liable for its due proportion of the costs.
We in this House are anxious to see that local government is both local and effective. In paragraph 15 of the White Paper on Local Government (Cmd. 9831) issued in July, 1956, the Government lay down the criterion which they consider is right. They say:The test of any system of local government in this country should be whether it provides 1113 a stable structure, capable of discharging efficiently the functions entrusted to it, while at the same time maintaining its local democratic character.That is an excellent definition and one with which I agree. I hope this evening to satisfy the House that the proposed Bill to make a county borough of Stockton-on-Tees fulfils those conditions and that Stockton-on-Tees as a county borough would be an effective and convenient unit of local government administration. If we take the tests both of the administrative record of the town and of its resources and population, I hope to show that it is in every way fitted to carry out these functions.
Stockton-on-Tees is a very ancient borough indeed. It received its Charter from King John early in the thirteenth century, but I stress our claim, not on history or tradition, but on the fact that it is today a thriving, prosperous industrial town with a population of over 76,000, geographically compact, well identifiable and easily distinguishable from the rest of the county around it and, in my view, readily detachable from the administrative county without causing any headache to anybody.
Our record of housing and industrial development in the post-war period is excellent and compares more than favourably with that of other comparable towns. It is clear that we have available resources to carry out all the essential functions. The rateable value of the town was £826,877 on 1st April, 1956, and the estimated product of a penny rate, £3,252. That Stockton-on-Tees can stand on its own feet is clearly proved in the Report of the Local Government Boundary Commission, 1947. That Commission made a thorough, detailed examination of local government and in its Report recommended that in the first list of new county boroughs there should be included, first, all existing county boroughs with a population of over 60,000 and, secondly, all existing non-county boroughs with a similar population. Those were ten in number and included Stockton-on-Tees.
In paragraph 62 of its Report, the Commission said:We are entirely unable to distinguish between the towns in (1)"—1114 that is, the county boroughs—and those in (2)"—that is, the non-county boroughs—on individual merits. The ten non-county boroughs are as capable of administering local government services as are most of the 52 county boroughs.In that connection, I should like to make a comparison between the existing county boroughs of Darlington, twelve miles distant on one side of Stockton, and the existing county borough of West Hartlepool, twelve miles away on the other side. Those two towns are roughly comparable in population, resources, environment and tradition with Stockton-on-Tees. West Hartlepool and Darlington, however, are county boroughs, whereas we in Stockton are in an inferior position, still being a non-county borough. It is quite an anomaly at this time that we should be in that position.
Viewed in isolation, therefore, if that were the only test, it is my belief that on individual merits it would be impossible for the House to withhold county borough status from Stockton-on-Tees. There is, however, one other test, and that is the effect of detaching the town from the rest of the county. If it could be shown that by making Stockton a county borough, the county itself would suffer or that it could not exist or could not be a viable unit without Stockton, that would be a strong argument against giving the Bill a Second Reading. If the House studies the facts objectively, however, it will, I hope, be clear that the position of the county is in no way threatened by what the Bill proposes.
The following figures are relevant. The population of the county without Stockton-on-Tees would be reduced by 8 per cent.—from 914,600 to nearly 840,000. In my view, that is not a mortal blow to the existence of County Durham. Its rateable value would be reduced by 10½ per cent.—from £7,821,000 to nearly £7 million. Again, that would not make the county unable to exist. The estimated product of a penny rate would fall by 11 per cent.—from £29,363 to £26,111. It is, I hope, clear from those figures that County Durham would be capable of efficient, independent existence without Stockton-on-Tees.
In terms of population, the county would still be larger than 39 existing counties: it would still be ninth in the list 1115 of counties by population. Its position with regard to rateable value means that there would still be only ten English counties with a higher rateable value and 37 with a lower rateable value. Thus, it can hardly be said that the standing of Durham would diminish greatly as a result of this action. Indeed, in the petition of the county against the Bill, there is no mention that Stockton is incapable of operating as a county borough or that the future of the county is seriously jeopardised by this action.
The main point in the petition seems to be that this is not the right time and that consideration should be deferred for the time being. Of course, so far as Durham is concerned, the time will never be right, whenever it is. Stockton is too good a milch cow for the rest of the county to lose. In fact, with a population of just over 8 per cent. of that of the county, we have 10½ per cent. of its rateable value and 60 per cent. of the rates in Stockton-on-Tees go to the county.
What would Stockton gain as a result of the Bill? There would be a return to a Stockton county borough of those services lost as a result of legislation since 1944—health, planning, education, fire brigades, midwifery, welfare services, ambulances, domestic help—and the care of children and, with the addition of secondary and further education, we should revert to the pre-war position. We should, of course, gain enormously in prestige. There is a disposition in some quarters to sneer at this as an argument, but to people who serve on local authorities prestige is important. When non-county boroughs have been losing services, it is a frustration to members of those bodies to feel that they are not so important as they once were. Therefore, we should become a more attractive centre if those services were restored to us.
There are nine boroughs in County Durham. Five are county boroughs and four are non-county boroughs. The county boroughs are Sunderland, with a population of 182,000, Gateshead with 113,000, South Shields with 107,000, Darlington with 83,000, and West Hartlepool with nearly 73,000. At the top of the second division, as it were, comes Stockton with 76,000, followed by Jarrow with 29,000, Durham with 20,000 and Hartlepool with 17,000. Therefore, it is clear 1116 that Stockton ought to be in the first list with the county boroughs.
Secondly, we should gain direct control of services and finance. There are difficulties in operating certain local government services from a remote authority over 20 miles away, which meets only quarterly as a full council and inevitably tends to become more bureaucratic than a town council. The Minister of Housing and Local Government, when he spoke of proposed changes in local government finance on 12th February, said:With this change, local authorities will acquire a great increase of responsibility in determining the money to be spent on the various services, in accordance with local needs. Local Government will become more truly local.I ask the House to note that.Our aim is to foster and stimulate a vigorous and independent local government, and to give members of councils a greater incentive to take a lively interest in their local expenditure by placing much more of it under their own control."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 12th February, 1957; Vol. 564, c. 1083.]That is precisely what we are asking for in this Bill.
We are asking that local government should become more local. We have heard gibes about the gentlemen in Whitehall knowing best. It is our conviction that the gentlemen in our town hall know better than the gentlemen in the shire hall, and we prefer the town hall to the shire hall in the conduct of our affairs.
It is generally recognised that a closely-knit community such as Stockton can deal with its own local government matters in a much more speedy way than can a remote county council. I give one example. In Stockton we have been wanting for a long time an occupation centre for mentally handicapped children. This matter was raised by myself and others in 1950. It was raised by the town council in 1951, but, because the matter had to go through the whole paraphernalia of consideration by the county council, etc., the centre was not finally opened until April, 1954. Yet the only expenditure incurred was on some minor alterations to a church hall, costing £500. I am quite certain that if we in Stockton had had full control of the venture the whole thing would have gone through in a matter of months.
If we had county borough status the services would be much better adapted 1117 to local needs, as a result of the local knowledge of our councillors. There would be much less sense of frustration, and, most important, there would be a cessation of delegated functions. Any member of a non-county borough knows full well that delegation of function does not work smoothly, and Durham County Council in particular is rather niggardly in the amount that it is prepared to delegate. It delegates the barest minimum. Consequently, there has been friction between the town council and the county council on the question of delegated powers. This has been particularly so in respect of health and planning administration. Delegation is itself a very poor substitute for the direct conferment of power on an authority which is perfectly capable of operating as efficiently and as economically as is Stockton.
I do not want to go into the individual difficulties that have arisen. It would take some time and would delay the House in coming to a decision, but I want to mention that the town map, under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, has not yet been submitted to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. That is a very difficult task in any case, but when it becomes complicated by the matter having to go through the county council and the town council it becomes more and more involved. Many consultations have to take place, there are very great complications, and the time involved becomes far too extended.
The day-to-day activities of the health services are centred in Durham. There is an area health sub-committee for the borough but in many ways it is a rubber stamp and the borough members of it feel that it is a complete waste of time to attend. The medical officer of health of our borough is an area medical officer for the county and he has no authority to act on his own initiative. The town council has made many approaches to the county council for local autonomy in this matter but so far has been unsuccessful.
The community of interest of Stockton is not shared by the rest of the county. The county itself is in the main pre-occupied with mining and agriculture. The Stockton area is an area of heavy industry, self-contained, easily defined, with a great civic consciousness. We look 1118 more to the Tees and to the industrial towns of the Tees than we do to the county, and it is clear that members of the county council are not in the best position to judge what is best for a town like Stockton.
I suspect that the main objection to the Bill that will be put forward, as usual, by the Government is that it anticipates Government action and substitutes piecemeal legislation for the overall review of the areas and status of local government. How often has that been the excuse for inactivity. We have had it every year that a Bill of this kind has been brought forward.
On 17th April, 1951, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) used this argument in the case of the Luton Bill. I was his Parliamentary Private Secretary at the time and I know all about it. He stonewalled very well and gave nothing away. Would my right hon. Friend expect that six years later, in 1957, a Government of a different persuasion would be using the very same argument? Year after year, in relation to Bill after Bill, Minister after Minister has used this argument to block the legitimate aspirations of good local government units.
I had hopes of my right hon. Friend because on 14th March, 1951, he relaxed in respect of extension when we were dealing with the Sheffield Bill. He said:I think it would be a mistake to hold up all proposed extensions because at some later stage some change in local government may take place."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1951; Vol. 485, c. 1636.]Admittedly, that was said in respect of extension. However, six years later, I hope that my right hon. Friend has made sufficient progress to recognise that status is just as important now as extension was in 1951.
§ Mr. Hugh Dalton (Bishop Auckland)
As my hon. Friend has stated, he was my most efficient and helpful Parliamentary Private Secretary at a time when I was making several speeches, from two of which he has quoted. But there is a great difference, he will excuse me for saying, between promoting to county borough status any of the non-county boroughs—and Luton has a stronger case than Stockton, though not strong enough to convince me—and what he has just called a modest extension to the great 1119 City of Sheffield, which I think amounted to taking a few housing estates and a few picturesque ravines, too vertical to be built upon. I thought the second was justifiable, the former not justifiable at all, and I cite that to show what a discriminating judgment I brought to bear upon the problem.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
I made two allowances for the fact that my right hon. Friend is a county borough and also a county member for Durham, but I had hoped that he would have made some progress in this time. However, I suppose I have to write him off so far as this Bill is concerned.
Six years later we now have as an excuse the Government White Paper published in July last year, which I ask the House to notice has not yet been debated. So the House has not yet formed a judgment upon it, and it seems that that does not imply any degree of urgency on the part of the Government in getting this matter through. Legislation is involved in the implementation of that White Paper but, clearly, there will be no legislation on local government changes during the present Session. When we reckon that next Session we shall also have to deal with the complicated financial changes proposed by the Minister a few weeks ago, it is extremely doubtful whether the Government, if still in existence, will be able to deal next Session with this issue of local government reform. After that, it is anybody's guess what might happen. My reckoning is that it will be at least between five and ten years before we can get any adequate overall reform of local government in this country.
Surely we are not expecting progressive local authorities to keep dragging their feet in this way year after year, put off by these promises of an overall reform? Even if the proposals in the White Paper are accepted, and carried into effect, then a local government boundary commission has to be established. That has to make its review and its report and bring forward its recommendations. Past experience indicates that there is no guarantee that such a report will be acceptable to this House. Therefore, I think it is unfair of the Government to expect local authorities to put up with this delay and frustration further.
1120 When the present Prime Minister was Minister of Housing and Local Government, speaking on the Luton Bill on 18th March, 1954, which is a long time ago now, he brought forward the old argument that the House should oppose the Bill because a general reorganisation was in sight. But he made this important statement:However, I have not forgotten the need of local government, and I agree that its turn is overdue … Quite clearly, decisions on this matter cannot be put off indefinitely".This was in 1954.I feel confident at least of this, that it will be possible for a statement of the Government's intentions one way or another to be made early next Session, and that is why I am asking the House not to give a Second Reading to the Luton Bill … But I will add this.This is the significant thing—This is the last time that I hope either I or my successor will ask the House to refuse approval to a Bill giving county borough status to a local authority solely on the ground that a new prospect is just around the corner."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1954; Vol. 525, c. 711 and 712.]Yet I rather suspect that that is the argument which we shall get from the Minister, who is not the immediate successor of that right hon. Gentleman whom I have just quoted, but the next but one.
It should be borne in mind that the present Prime Minister is a former Member for the borough which I now represent, Stockton-on-Tees, and but for electoral misfortune in 1945 it might have been his duty today to be introducing this Bill. I wonder what he would have said then? The right hon. Gentleman has a long and detailed knowledge of the borough, and he knows of the aspirations of its members and of the people. It is a happy, or perhaps ironic, coincidence that the first Bill in his Prime Ministership asking for county borough status should be promoted by the right hon. Gentleman's former constituency.
I hope that he will not go back on the words which he used in 1954. If he does, I am sure that it will cause grevious disappointment to many of the people in my constituency who still look to him for guidance and for assistance. [Interruption.] Of course there are some. I hope, however, that if he does not give his support to this Bill, for reasons which I can well understand, at least we shall have his benevolent neutrality or, failing that, his absence.
1121 In conclusion—because I have detained the House for long enough—I believe that I have satisfied the House of the qualifications of the borough of Stockton-on-Tees to be promoted to county borough status. First, it is so qualified by the fitness of the authority concerned to discharge the functions of a county borough in relation to its population, resources, and administrative record. Secondly, this Bill will have no detrimental effect upon the county. Thirdly, it really does not prejudice the future reorganisation of the structure of local government. I think that all Members will agree that we are indeed weary of waiting for that, and that we should go ahead now with this very sensible Bill. Fourthly, there is no real community of interest between the town and the county, and the sooner we recognise that, the sooner those frictions and local, petty irritations will disappear.
The motto of the town, if I can speak it correctly in Latin, is "Fortitudo et Spes". I hope that the House will continue bearing the rest of the debate with fortitude, and I hope that we shall have the hope at the end of it that the House, reviewing the facts objectively, will decide that this is a Bill worthy of a Second Reading, and worthy of being sent upstairs for further consideration. It is my belief that in the interests of good local government this Bill should receive its Second Reading on a free vote of the House.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. William Blyton (Houghton-le-Spring)
I rise to ask the House to reject the Bill, the Second Reading of which has been asked for by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd). I must say at once that I should have liked to have heard him make a more objective speech, instead of trying to besmirch the administration of County Durham, whose standard has ranked very high since 1921, when there were colleagues of his own party on that council.
I ask for the rejection of the Bill because of the great principle involved, the principle which this House has to decide tonight. The subject of the creation and the extension of county boroughs was dealt with in the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government which was published in 1925, and, 1122 since 1926, no county borough has been constituted. In 1945, the Local Government Boundary Commission provided an opportunity for the consideration by a statutory body, intended to be permanent, of problems associated with the alterations of local government areas. The Boundary Commission, in its 1947 Report, made recommendations which dealt, not only with extensions of existing county boroughs, but also with the creation of new ones.
Between 1949 and 1953, three boroughs promoted Bills to obtain county borough status. All were opposed by the counties affected and none received the Royal Assent. After this, two of those boroughs and another promoted similar Bills but withdrew them when the Minister announced that he was considering proposals for alterations of local government.
It is our submission that the future of counties and boroughs should be examined in relation to any changes contemplated by the Minister in local government as a whole. The Minister himself and his predecessor had a series of talks with the local government associations to see how far conflicting views on the changes needed in local government could be reconciled. In the light of these discussions, the Minister presented to Parliament a White Paper dealing with the general structure of local government.
Among the conclusions stated in the White Paper is that there are five main problems to be examined. The first is the creation of new county boroughs. The White Paper suggests a new procedure, namely, the creation of local government commissions for England and Wales. Their main task is to make recommendations to the Minister about extensions by county boroughs and the creation of new county boroughs. The White Paper adds that one of the first tasks of the commissions would be to deal with applications for promotion to county borough status. The White Paper also states that to set up this machinery to effect the changes envisaged, legislation would be needed.
The Minister also promised that before framing his legislation he would have further talks with all the local authority representatives of the five organisations and would consult the views of Parliament. In page 13 of the White Paper 1123 there is a statement of proposals covering the main issues which the Minister had discussed with the local authority associations.
The five associations, which represent the whole of local government in this country, decided that they would recommend to their members the embodiment of the proposals in the Appendix to the White Paper. It should be remembered that the associations who have put forward this Appendix and recommended it to their members are the County Councils' Association, the Urban District Councils' Association, the Association of Municipal Corporations, the Rural District Councils' Association and the Parish Councils' Association.
The Appendix, in page 14, states the basis upon which borough status should be considered. There is, first, its ability, having regard to population, resources and other factors, to discharge effectively the functions of a county borough, and, secondly, the effect that the promotion, if made, would have upon the county as a whole. It further states that, in considering a county borough for promotion, there should be a presumption that an authority with 100,000 or more population is able to discharge the functions effectively of a county borough, and that an authority with fewer than 100,000 should be required to show an exceedingly good reason to justify promotion.
It is also suggested in the Appendix—and this is the suggestion which the five associations have recommended their members to accept—that pending a decision on the proposals it is undesirable that there should be any promotion of a non-county borough to borough status, except where all the authorities in the area concerned are in agreement.
I suggest that in present circumstances this Bill should not be passed into law. Stockton has a population of 75,680, which is 680 over the present limit for application for county borough status. Its rateable value is £826,878, and a 1d. rate brings in £3,252. While the borough is an excepted district, under the Education Act, for primary and secondary education, it would, if granted county borough status, remain to a great degree dependent on the county for the efficient administration of further education.
I put it to the House that the fate of this Bill is of the utmost importance to all 1124 county councils in England and Wales, because they would undoubtedly be prejudiced if, at this stage in the progress towards the reorganisation of local government, the House were to give it a Second Reading. I hope that the House will not be unmindful that the five great associations which represent local authorities have agreed, pending a decision on the proposals which they agreed to recommend, that it would be undesirable that there should be any promotion of a non-county borough or urban district to county borough status.
The Bill, if it were carried, would mean a big loss of revenue to County Durham and a higher rate for the services in the county on the rest of the people in County Durham. The Stockton people have at present six councillors on the County Council and the corporation has never suggested an increase in its numbers.
The Bill itself asks, in Clause 10, for an amendment of the Durham police amalgamation scheme so as to include the borough within the Durham County police area. Clause 11 asks for a combination scheme with respect to the county and the borough being made by the county council under the Fire Services Act, 1947. Therefore, even if it got borough status, it is asking for the police and the fire brigade to help them in that particular area. This would mean the setting up of joint committees between the two authorities for the administration of these services. Joint committees oftentimes cause delay, involve a more cumbersome procedure than exists today and deprive the county of co-ordination of expenditure or any extension of a county borough except where all the authorities concerned are in agreement.
The White Paper states, in page 17, under the heading "Interim arrangements", thatPending a decision on these proposals …those of the five big associations representing local authorities—… it is undesirable:In Stockton's case, there are no exceptional circumstances. The authorities concerned have not agreed. In fact, the Durham County Council has petitioned against the Bill.
- (a) that there should be any reviews of county districts under Section 146 of the Local Government Act, 1933; or that any individual district should be eliminated without their consent, unless in the most exceptional circumstances;
- (b) that there should be any promotion of a non-county borough or urban district to
1125 county borough status or any extension of a county borough except where all the authorities concerned are in agreement."
Therefore, tonight the House has to decide whether the future of local government is to be prejudiced by the Bill receiving a Second Reading. The Association of Municipal Corporations supported the proposals in the Appendix to the White Paper in the light of the Minister's assurance that a thorough review of local government finance would take place. Consequently, we are faced tonight with the fact that Stockton is ignoring the proposals put to the Minister by the five great associations of local authorities. In fact, Stockton is trying to jump the queue with this Bill and to obviate the need for its case to go, with others, before the local government commission which it is proposed to set up. It is on that basis, because of the big principle involved in that local government administration is to be reviewed, that I ask the House to vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. Speaker
I gather that the hon. Member does not wish to move the Amendment standing in his name. It is not necessary to move it. Hon. Members who agree with him can vote against the Second Reading.
§ Mr. Blyton
I do not think it is necessary to move the Amendment, Mr. Speaker. It is a direct negative.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) played with an exquisite touch on the historical ironies of the situation. Ironies apart, I think the House would like to recognise, in general, that this is indeed an historic occasion, because I think that this will be the last occasion on which a Bill will be moved for this purpose under the 1888 and 1926 Acts.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
The hon. Gentleman was not here, but we have heard that said before.
§ Mr. Iremonger
Perhaps I might be allowed to continue my speech. The 1926 Act has had a run of thirty years. I think it has now come to the end of its course, and a singularly barren animal it has proved to be. In the whole of the thirty years there has been only one borough which has improved its status by means of a Measure introduced under the procedure provided by that Act, and that was Doncaster.
That Act has proved, in general, that the gate is too strait and the gauntlet is too vicious for any borough to succeed in obtaining county borough status under it. Consequently, we might well feel that this is a vain hope on the part of the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees in trying to persuade us to give the Bill a Second Reading. I do not think so, however, and I propose to support him and to vote for the Bill, and I hope that sufficient hon. Members will follow us into the Lobby so that the Bill will become the second fruit of that thoroughly inadequate Act.
Even if it is a vain hope, I think we ought to be grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his quixotry in bringing the Bill forward, because it at least gives others of us who feel strongly on this point in a similar connection an opportunity to impress upon the Minister what strong feelings we have and also to ask the Minister for certain assurances and information which we badly need.
Hon. Members who were in the last Parliament and the Parliament before that will remember that similar Bills have been withdrawn and that the Minister has said that we must be patient and not deal with these things piecemeal but wait for the comprehensive scheme of local government organisation and the reform of local government finance. To my certain knowledge and recollection, since the last time three years have passed, and whereas, in the past, our patience was only slightly tempered with anxiety, now our anxiety predominates and our patience has been exhausted.
I would not say that in the three years which have gone by there have been absolutely no signs of progress at all. Some slight scents of spices have been 1127 borne to us on the night breeze from the distant shore and in the dawns we have seen vague shapes on the horizon which we hoped might be the promised land. We have had, for example, the White Paper on the areas and status of local authorities. It told us that the Government intend to set up a local government commission to make recommendations to the Minister about the creation of county boroughs. It told us that the Minister should submit to Parliament Orders giving effect to those recommendations, with any amendments that he considers desirable. It has told us that each Order should cover substantial portions of the country.
As to my direct interest, we have been told that in the conurbation of Metropolitan Essex we can expect to find a grouping of county boroughs which, between them, will take over the whole area, and we are invited to conceive above that either some kind of joint body or common services to which county boroughs will send delegates, or some kind of upper-tier authority or watered-down county council.
Those are the possibilities to which we have to look forward. We are told in the last paragraph of the White Paper that to set up the machinery to effect these changes legislation will be needed. We accept that. Then we are told that, before framing such legislation, the Government will wish to have further discussions with local authority representatives and to consider the views which may be expressed in Parliament and elsewhere. That is how things have gone, and that is what we have to look forward to. We have to wait for discussions between local authorities and the Government, and we have to wait for a Parliamentary review of the whole subject.
Again, we were told on 12th February that the Government have completed their review of local government finance and that they have to discuss matters with local authorities and others. The House must ask: how much longer have we to wait? I am not going to wait any more. I am going into the Lobby tonight in support of the Bill, and I hope that sufficient hon. Members will also do so to give the Bill a Second Reading.
The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) said that if the House gave the Bill a Second Reading it would 1128 cause those who will have the duty of forming judgments on these matters in the local government commission to be biassed in favour of increasing the status of those asking for county borough status. I believe that that is a very good reason for voting for the Bill. Consequently, I hope that all hon. Members who represent boroughs which, for years, have groaned under the yoke of county imperialism will support us in the Lobby.
I sit in the House tonight as an Ilford nationalist and I hope that other nationalists, under a suitably coloured flag, will go through the Lobbies quickly, before all the "county blokes" get back. We do not want to be too long about the debate. We want to vote for the Bill quickly.
I will give a crumb of comfort to my right hon. Friend. I am afraid that he will find himself in the minority tonight. I expect that he will ask us to be a little more patient a little longer, but we shall require more than exhortation for that. If he can do certain things we might possibly be able to modify our determination.
If he can give us a timetable now, say that his discussions have now reached a certain stage, that his discussions on both finance and reorganisation will definitely be terminated by a certain date, that a Parliamentary debate will be held on the whole subject of the reorganisation of local government finance by a certain date, that legislation will be introduced in the Session immediately following this—I do not see how he can possibly do it in this one, and we have to be fair; but we should have the required Bill through all its stages in this House by Christmas—if he can give us some idea of how long the whole business will take—for once we have a local government commission going round the country considering these things it may take ten years—if he can give us an assurance that legislation will be on the Statute Book in a certain time and that such legislation as he will recommend to the House will conceive a commission which will not take more than a year to do its job after the Bill is passed; if he can do all that, then we might possibly be able to urge those who are anxious and impatient about this matter to curb their impatience somewhat and feel that their most anxious misgivings are not entirely justified.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
Can the hon. Member add another "if"—if the Government will withdraw the Rent Bill, we will support this Measure?
§ Mr. Iremonger
That is a very straightforward question and the straight answer is, "No".
That is the end of my plea. We want to be quick about this and get an early Division.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. William Stones (Consett)
My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) said that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) was already prejudiced because he happened to come from the County of Durham. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees can probably refer to me in the same way, because too, come from the County of Durham. I am, of course, prejudiced in favour of my county. I shall not detain the House for more than a few minutes, but I wish to support my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) in his opposition to the Bill.
I do not profess to be an expert in these matters, but I have had an association with local government affairs for many years, and I can claim some little understanding of human nature. Local authorities consist only of human beings. One of the peculiarities of human nature—and everybody will acknowledge this—is that jealousy between individuals can and does exist. As local authorities consist of human beings, we must, as I have already said, expect to find jealousy between them, particularly between neighbouring authorities and lesser and greater authorities.
Despite all that has been said against jealousy, I suggest that jealousy is not always a bad thing. It largely depends on the circumstances in which the jealousies arise and the extent to which individuals or local authorities are prompted by a jealousy. For instance, it is a good thing that the men and women of this country are jealous of their democratic rights and will fight to the very death to protect them.
It is a good thing too that a democratically elected representative of a local authority should be jealous of the rights 1130 and powers of his authority. In this case between Stockton Corporation and Durham County Council we have an illustration of that which I have attempted to outline. The corporation is seeking an extension of rights and powers unto itself, as it is perfectly entitled to do, whereas Durham County Council is seeking to retain its existing rights and powers, as it is entitled to do. We are being asked to decide between the respective merits of the claims and counterclaims and we should have regard to whether advantage is to be gained by the people of the respective areas.
I know little of Stockton. Of course, I have passed through it.
§ Mr. Stones
Very beautiful indeed, with handsome members. Despite the fact that I know little of Stockton, I sincerely believe—and this is no attempt to eulogise—that the corporation performs its present duties admirably. I also believe, just as sincerely, that the services performed on behalf of the Stockton people by the county council are just as faithfully carried out by Durham County Council. Stockton is well represented on the county council, at least as well represented as is any other electoral area in the county, both numerically and from the point of view of ability. I am sure that if Durham County Council were failing in its obligations towards the people of Stockton, the representatives of Stockton would immediately see that remedial action was taken.
I am given to understand that the granting of borough status to Stockton-on-Tees would mean an excessive reorganisation of the public services. In view of the White Paper of July, 1956, which refers to the duty of local government, and which has been described by hon. Members, I think that the extensive reorganisation which would be required as a result of the passage of this Bill would be rendered null and void by the more extensive reorganisation required when the proposals in the White Paper are put into operation. Therefore, I consider it undesirable that the Bill should be given a Second Reading.
As has already been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring, local authorities 1131 affected should be in agreement. Enough has been said to show that the affected local authorities are not in agreement. I cannot see any reconciliation between Stockton Corporation and the Durham County Council regarding this Bill. There is complete disagreement. It has been said that to wait until the proposals contained in the White Paper are brought into effect would mean a delay of five or ten years or more. I do not think that is so. I think that the reorganisation of local government is very necessary and that it will be forced on us in a short time.
For those reasons I believe that we should reject this Bill. I have not heard anything said by those supporting the Measure which reveals an advantage to either side. I have not been able to discern anything of that kind, and so I believe we should allow the situation to remain as it is. We could do that by rejecting this Bill.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
I do not often speak on local authority matters, so I hope that I may be forgiven for any shortcomings. For various reasons I feel strongly about this matter, but chiefly in the interests of economy and efficiency. I think that our case has been strengthened by the speech of the hon. Member for Houghtonle-Spring (Mr. Blyton), who said that if the Bill were passed it would embarrass those people dealing with the reorganisation of local government. I do not think that it would. I consider that it would have an opposite effect. It would show the feeling of this House in the matter of county borough status.
To me, it is intolerable that borough councils which, in the past, have shown themselves capable of running certain services, should not be allowed to do so. It is intolerable that able, earnest men who understand the problems of their own boroughs should not have a complete say in these matters. The idea of delegation, which has always been put forward as an alternative, is known not to work by those who have had any experience of it. The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) said that the joint committee did work, although it was clumsy. I cannot think of anything more cumbersome, slow or inefficient.
1132 It is a pity that we have to deal piecemeal with a matter such as this. It would be much better if all boroughs which aspire to county borough status could be dealt with in one Bill. But the Government have brought this on themselves. Successive Governments have brought this sort of thing on themselves because of procrastination. Promises have been given time and again, but the matter has been put off. We have a White Paper before us containing certain proposals. Therefore, although I think it a pity that this should be dealt with in isolation, I nevertheless propose to go into the Lobby tonight in support of the Bill.
I ask my right hon. Friend to pay attention to two points which arise in the White Paper. There is the question of the £100,000 population. Why has this "bid" been put up? The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) produced that figure originally at the time of the Boundary Commission's Report and in his wisdom he finally reduced it to £60,000. I think that it is the "back-room boys" in the Ministry who have inserted that amount in the White Paper and I hope that my right hon. Friend will do what the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale did—reduce the figure; or not necessarily stay at that figure, having regard to all the circumstances, provided that the population is over a certain figure. That is the guiding principle, not the actual number of people living in a town.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will look at the case made out by these boroughs which, under the old Boundary Commission, now defunct, were recommended for county borough status. They have a strong case, and that of my own constituency is the strongest of the lot.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
The Borough of Stockton-on-Tees is a compact town on the coast of Durham. It is a rather isolated town. It has a population of 75,500. In the county, and not very far away, there is a smaller county borough represented by my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones). West Hartlepool has a population of 72,000, yet it has county borough status. The town of Stockton has a bigger population, but it has not county borough status.
1133 I know Stockton fairly well, and I know a good many of the councilors there. The hon. Members who represent constituencies in Durham would agree that Stockton has a fine civic life. There is a great deal of civic pride among the people who live there. It is the sort of thing that one finds in a community of that kind, a very old community, a town built around the central core of the market square. In such communities there is a high degree of civic pride. I am sure that in a number of local government areas people could not care less how they are governed but, in a town like Stockton, county borough status would mean a great deal.
I think I am correct in saying that the borough council is 100 per cent. behind this Bill, and that council consists of representatives of both parties. My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) made a long and legalistic speech. I am sure that he did not convince anybody and I do not think that he even convinced himself. The gist of it was that we should stand still pending the consideration of the Government White Paper of July last year.
As many hon. Members have said, a considerable time will elapse before anything is done. The reform of local government would be a very unpleasant thing for any Government to tackle. Everybody in politics in this country knows that a Government cannot do anything unpleasant in the last half of their life and so it is pretty certain that the present Government, who are particularly anxious not to do any more unpleasant things, will not tackle the reform of local government.
§ Mr. Short
It seems to me that we cannot expect anything to be done about the reform of local government for at least another five years. Any Government with any sense which wished to tackle this job would do it in the first year of their life, and so I am pretty certain that it will not be done by the present Government. However that may be, I think it is certain that a good deal of time will elapse, and in the meantime Stockton-on-Tees is growing bigger every year, as the popula- 1134 tion is increasing considerably all the time.
The second point, and it is one that requires emphasising, is that this Bill is merely concerned with status. There is no proposal in the Bill affecting any kind of territorial change at all. The borough is not seeking to take an inch of county territory into its boundaries, and has made no proposal to do that. It is merely concerned with status.
Thirdly, this status, if it were given, would not, so far as I can see, in any way prejudice any wider changes that may take place under the White Paper proposals. I think it is agreed that it would not damage County Durham as an administrative unit because, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, County Durham would still be eleventh out of forty-eight counties in size of rateable value.
If we really believe in local democracy, surely a large, ancient, clearly defined community of this kind should have the largest possible say in running its own affairs? For example, it is surely monstrous that the schools of Stockton-on-Tees should be run from the shire hall twenty or thirty miles away in Durham. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring suggest that the education committee sitting at the shire hall in Durham, consisting of representatives from the dales, Teesdale and Weardale, from Bishop Auckland, Stanley, Consett, Chester-le-Street, consisting of people from all that scattered area of Durham, can run the schools of Stockton-on-Tees any better than can the local people who are already making such an excellent job of running their housing and other services for which they are responsible?
§ Mr. Stones
Would my hon. Friend suggest that the people in Stanley, Consett or any of the other towns which he mentioned in Durham should be given the educational right that he is proposing for Stockton in respect of the schools run by the Durham County education committee?
§ Mr. Short
All I am saying is that the people in Stockton-on-Tees, who are making such a good job of running their own services, can surely be entrusted with the task of running their schools and all the other services now being run by the county council.
1135 Hon. Members from the County Durham constituencies outside the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees are opposing this Bill from purely selfish motives. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] All they are concerned with is the loss of rateable value to the county, and nothing else.
§ Mr. Short
I am not in County Durham and have nothing whatever to do with it, and because of that I can speak impartially about it, which is more than some hon. Members here can do.
If the hon. Members from County Durham really have the interests of local government at heart, they would weigh the loss of rateable value to the county with the gain in vitality in local government, because I think the county will gain rather than lose by it. Durham would suffer a loss of rateable value, but would gain, as my hon. Friend pointed out, in that it would not have so many services to provide. It would not have to provide the services in Stockton. Indeed, although I have not tried to equate the one with the other, I think that in the long run the county would lose very little or that the two would about balance. It would mean that Stockton would gain tremendously in vitality in local government.
Finally, I appeal to all hon. Members of both parties to support the Bill. I believe that there is a great principle involved here. If we really believe in giving big communities of this kind the right to run their own affairs, surely this is the sort of Bill which ought at any rate to be considered by a Committee upstairs.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
Far be it from me to break up the expressions of brotherly love with which hon. Members have been expressing themselves as between borough and county Members—
§ Mr. Williams
—more especially because those hon. Members who have been speaking on behalf of the Durham County Council have made their case in a very laboured and reactionary series of speeches. If one had come into this Chamber uncertain about which way to vote and which side to support, I think that the reactionary nature of the speeches on behalf of the Durham County Council would have persuaded one to go into the Division Lobby, as I shall do, in favour of this Bill. I think that the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) has shown with crystal clarity—
§ Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)
The hon. Gentleman will recognise, of course, that it is impossible for any county Members to speak from that point of view, because there are no county Members.
§ Mr. Williams
I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but I am speaking on behalf of 50 per cent. of the Conservative representation in County Durham, and it may well be increased in the near future.
The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees referred to the friction which exists between the borough of Stockton-on-Tees and the Durham County Council. Anyone who knows anything of this matter at all, even from the mountain fastnesses of Sunderland, would know something of the stereotyped approach of the Durham County Council, its desire for centralisation and rigidity of administration. This is the sort of thing which, as has been pointed out, would stifle and prevent good local government, and I would have thought that the arguments which have been deployed both by supporters and opponents of the Bill, if they are serious in their defence of good local government, would, if the hon. Members had stood away from their arguments for a moment, have persuaded them to go into the Lobby in support of the Bill.
On the whole, the things which have been said—to make a slightly partisan point—in support of this Bill constitute one of a most damning, but polite and genteel, condemnations of the Socialist County Council that I have heard for a long time.
§ Mr. Shinwell
It was not that; I am trying to be as impartial and objective as one can in the circumstances, but the hon. Gentleman is provoking me and he had better look out. It will be noted that he has now come to the matter that troubles him, which is that the Durham County Council, unfortunately from his point of view but fortunately from the standpoint of the people of Durham, happens to be a Socialist-controlled council.
§ Mr. Williams
I accept completely the statement of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) that it is a Socialist council, and although I have heard his claim that the borough council of Stockton-on-Tees supported the Bill, I think he will find, on further investigation, that there were two Socialist members of the Durham County Council who opposed the Bill at one stage; and that was the time that they were under party discipline. It is a slightly different picture from the one he tried to convey to the House a few moments ago.
It seems strange that hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House so frequently talk about helping other countries to grow up by giving them self-government when members of a Socialist county council have so vigorously opposed the growing up and the acquiring of self-government by the borough of Stockton-on-Tees. I would have thought that, on the grounds mentioned by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees, those of size, community of interest and ability to govern its affairs, Stockton-on-Tees was the sort of borough which merited pro-notion from the second division, as the hon. Gentleman said, into the first division and to join Sunderland while it can.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Gloucestershire, West)
I should not like to interfere in domestic affairs between the County of 1138 Durham and its boroughs. I have no connection with this matter directly but a principle is involved in it which concerns county councils and county boroughs in other parts of the United Kingdom.
It is undesirable to split up areas of local government without very good cause. We have in Gloucestershire an efficient unit of local government, broken in one case by the City of Gloucester, which has very ancient rights going back to the Middle Ages and a Charter from former Kings of England. The county and the city get on very well together. This may be regarded as an argument for breaking up areas of local government, but I do not think it is. These old customs exist, and should be continued, but the splitting up of local government should not be extended without very good cause.
The hon. and gallant Member for Cheltenham (Major Hicks Beach) is not here, but I know his views on this subject. There are people in the borough who would like to see Cheltenham made into a county borough too. All I can say is that both county and borough get on very well. I happen to know that from my experience of the education committee of the county, on which county, village, small-town and borough interests are well represented. The interests of all are well considered. There should therefore be good reason before fresh county boroughs are created.
It has been suggested that the figure of 100,000 population should be taken. That is the considered view of the associations of county councils, district councils, urban councils and rural councils. It is a very reasonable figure, and when the population gets near to requiring two Members of Parliament there may be a case for considering county borough status. So I think it is undesirable, purely on the principle, affecting not one county council but the whole of the country, to give a Second Reading to this Bill. Therefore, I hope that the Bill will not be accepted.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
I have listened carefully to all the arguments, and I was impressed by what the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) said about the pride of local 1139 people who wished to have self-determination. He based this upon the numerical argument that there are about 73,000 people in Stockton-on-Tees. As this is primarily a steel division, and as, in a steel division, one person is equal to one and a half anywhere else, we might be talking about 90,000 or 100,000 people.
Pride of this kind should be supported. Why should not a community decide what is best for itself? I come from a very proud county borough. We do things which we should never do if we had to rely upon a community of interest with the whole of Yorkshire. It may be that Stockton-on-Tees wishes to do for its old-age pensioners something more than the law of averages in the county might otherwise make possible. I represent a community where meals-on-wheels and other facilities for old-age pensioners have been introduced, and have recently been commented upon favourably by the Minister of Health himself.
These things should be approached in a dispassionate way, neutrally. All that Stockton is asking is that it should be allowed to pay for the things it wants. I know that County Durham is a very strong mining area. There are probably 160 people on the county council, about 100 of whom are mining representatives. It happens that Stockton-on-Tees—if my arithmetic is correct—has about six representatives on the county council and are in a minority. How can it expect to get all the things it wants and which are additional to what the law of averages permits? I have had some conversation with people from Stockton-on-Tees and I know that there are difficulties.
I have listened to conversations in this House and I know, for instance, that if Stockton-on-Tees has two or three windows broken somebody has to spend enormous sums of money in ringing up Durham for somebody to replace them. That is complete nonsense. Why should not this community be able to pay for the things which, by unanimous decision, it wishes to do? My researches show that the leader of the Tory Party on the local council is in favour of the Bill as well as the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees.
§ Mr. Jones
My hon. Friend is also a supporter of it, so we have Socialists and 1140 Conservatives both supporting the Bill. This is a unanimous decision of the community, which wants to levy its own rates and do what it wishes with its own money. I am not trying to decry what the Durham County Council wishes to do, but I have always found, in the trade union movement, local government, church, chapel, club or "pub" that, on the law of averages, those who wish to progress most always suffer.
I speak in the interests of those who wish to serve Stockton-on-Tees and do not wish to be too subservient to the dictates of the county council. We are losing that sort of independence all over the country, and that is not a good thing for the House of Commons or for the nation. It is not the way to bring out the best in people. In the interests of the people of Stockton-on-Tees and of the steel workers, for whom I have a great affection, I am prepared to go into the Lobby in support of the Bill.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
I want to bring the Minister's mind back to the Luton Bill, because on the occasion of that debate the right hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Hill), now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, asked the House to give a Second Reading to that Bill from the back benches while he was a member of the Government. On that occasion I was asked to wind up the debate on behalf of the Luton Borough Labour Party.
Conversations had taken place, and it was agreed that a statement would be made on the Floor of the House to settle the future of Bills for county borough status. That statement is contained in column 712 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 18th March, 1954. The then Minister for Housing and Local Government, now the Prime Minister, said:This is the last time that I hope either I or my successor will ask the House to refuse approval to a Bill giving county borough status to a local authority solely on the ground that a new prospect is just around the corner."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1954; Vol. 525, c. 712.]I must point out that my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) based his objection to the Bill on precisely those grounds and no other. The Minister is in honour bound to produce some completely new argument to 1141 that advanced by the County of Durham against the Bill.
This is not just a matter between the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees and the Durham County Council. For the purpose of this argument they are both vested interests. It is for the Government to decide on which side they will come down, and the House will help them. The Minister must advance fairly weighty reasons for which the Bill is to be rejected. The reason the Prime Minister gave his pledge in 1954 was that year by year Luton received a heavier vote for its county borough status. I must say quite frankly that, on balance, I think that Luton had a better case than has Stockton-on-Tees. It met all the arguments about population.
I must say, straight away, that I will go into the Lobby for any borough seeking county borough status because I am tired of the procrastinations of successive Ministers on this issue. I have listened to most of them speaking on this issue over a very long time. I would remind my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), a Socialist and an honoured figure in the Labour Government, of something he wrote in his biography, "Call Back Yesterday", which I read with interest, enjoyment and sympathy. Speaking about the Right and Left wings of the Labour Party, he said, "I fly on two wings, but my heart is on the Left." He must consider that carefully before he becomes a county backwoodsman.
Looking back over the history of the changes in local government, I can remember, as probably can the Minister, the first conferences set up under the war under the then Paymaster-General, who later became the Lord Chancellor, Lord Jowitt. I recall these conversations on changes in local government since about 1940. Since then seventeen years have passed. Hon. Members have come with completely fresh minds on the subject and have been provided with a brief from the Durham County Council. They speak airily in terms of another ten or fifteen years. Those of us who have lived with this subject for seventeen years may be pardoned if we hope to hurry a little faster than that. Of course, the County Councils' Association will always oppose such a Measure for the sake of vested 1142 interest—and I do not blame them for this.
What about the proposals which we have had for the reform of local government? I suggest that they are so nebulous that anybody could agree to them. Indeed, the only reason that we have agreement between the local authority associations is that they can all put their own interpretation on them. Again, the vested interests are safeguarded, and all the officials are safeguarded, which is a considerable vested interest. Consequently, I do not pay much heed to the proposals put forward for the reform of local government. As I have said on previous occasions, sooner or later a Minister will have to decide which path local government should follow. It may well be that the Labour Party will itself have to decide a policy for local government, irrespective of the conflicting interests of the county councils, county boroughs, non-country boroughs and county districts, and it will have to be imposed as a pattern for the future. Do not let us be deceived about this.
Another point was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring. If the Bill went through there would have to be joint committees for the police and fire services, but those things are not unique. The local government Boundary Commission envisaged most purposes authorities with the idea of a county borough from which certain services would be excepted. I think we shall have to except the police service from most of the newly-created county boroughs and in some districts we shall have to except the fire brigade, but there is nothing sacrosanct about that. In this case, the local authority is concerned only with prestige. It is already an excepted district for education, which was a compromise solution under the 1944 Act.
On the question of whether Stockton gets a fair crack of the whip, I could use some of the figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones). I stand to be corrected by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd), but I believe that there are 116 members of Durham County Council, of whom six represent Stockton, but they represent 10 per cent. of the population. I should have thought that on the ground of democracy it would be a bad argument to suggest that Stockton is well represented. When, on the 1143 Boundary Commission, we were considering Parliamentary constituencies we become overloaded with the curious idea that, somehow, the counties had to be better represented than great cities.
§ Mr. Pannell
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland pushed an extra 16 seats on for the cities because he thought that they were disadvantaged. Does he stand on that now? If so, logic and common interest should drive him into the Lobby to support his former Parliamentary Private Secretary.
§ Mr. Dalton
I have a great admiration for the knowledge of local government and ingenuity of mind of my hon. Friend, but I think that he is leading us away from the issue before us. At another time I would recommend him to do what my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) did, when I urged him, from the back benches, to do justice to the great towns and their representation in this House; but that has nothing to do with this Bill.
§ Mr. Pannell
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland will not bring in my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who is a great advocate for county councils while representing a county borough. No man in this country did more for Surrey County Council than he did. He had a most distinguished career in local government in Surrey, but the electors there did not send him here—
§ Mr. Pannell
Of course, my right hon. Friend won a sensational by-election in Mitcham, but at the next Election he was defeated.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
Order. I think the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) is getting rather far away from the subject of the Bill.
§ Mr. Pannell
With great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it is very difficult to separate these things. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields is President of the County Councils' Asso- 1144 ciation. He is a great advocate and I object to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland interrupting his researches, as he might intend to make a speech.
I suggest that Stockton is completely under-represented. The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs is the worst possible Minister to reply to this debate. There is nothing personal about this. I refer to the right hon. Gentleman only because, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), he was a member of London County Council. To a degree, they are brothers under the skin. London County Council, I beg the Minister to believe, is not local government. It is a curious form of local government—
§ Mr. Pannell
—which exercises a sort of overlordship over metropolitan boroughs, giving them only powers which equate to less than those of a rural district council. Therefore, it is difficult for the right hon. Gentleman, with his metropolitan connections and not having the advantages that I have, of representing a great city in the North, to break away from that curious pattern of local government and believe that great places like Stockton want to grow up. Wandsworth and Woolwich are not allowed to grow up. They have to take their sanctions for loans not only from the Ministry, but from County Hall.
I ask the Minister to believe that the real virility of local government is to be found in places like Stockton-on-Tees and that this question of prestige is not something that can be written down. Towns are like persons. They grow from childhood to adolescence, and, finally, reach the adult stage. It is only reasonable that their elected representatives and officials should, at some stage, take complete charge of their affairs.
As I have said before, democracy does not merely consist in the bringing forward of Bills in this House. Democracy is what we do in the various town halls, when we look after our own affairs and when we manage them in the way which seems best to us. Only in that way shall we nourish local government and only by Bills of this sort shall we attract to local 1145 government men of capacity who want to do worthwhile jobs and not act merely as minions of the county hall, many miles away.
I shall vote for the Bill because it is only through the speeches of back benchers who believe in this sort of thing that Ministers in charge of local government will bring in Measures of this kind. Otherwise, we shall see them regarding their office merely as a stepping stone to another more plushier one or to foreign fields. This is a second-rate sort of job and I hope that the Minister—wishing him every success apart from the Rent Bill—will regard it as the aim and purpose of his ambition to nourish local government, and that he will gracefully accept the Bill tonight.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)
I suspect that the Bill has been introduced—and well introduced, if I may say so—because the people of Stockton and their representative here tonight have got very tired indeed of waiting. Unless local government receives some definite pledge as to the time when the Government will introduce legislation there will be a falling away of interest in local government altogether. It will be very difficult indeed to get men of capacity to come forward in the public service if they feel that they are doing a remote service and not, as it were, a service to their fellow men and neighbours.
The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) referred to the growth of towns from childhood to the adult stage, but, so far as county councils are concerned, and I am an alderman of a county council, I regret to say that their growth has gone from childhood to the adult stage and has thence passed into old age and, in many cases, nearly—
§ Mr. Lagden
It has gone past second childhood.
Many of the representatives of county councils who carry the county councils' case to the County Councils Association go there so badly briefed and with so little capacity that anything they may produce in the way of advice can very largely be ignored.
Stockton, with a population, as quoted, of 76,000 is, of course, very small fry 1146 indeed compared with the area of Horn-church that I represent, which has a population of 115,000 and which is still an urban district. We have repeatedly asked for borough powers and we have been waiting, even as Stockton has been waiting, and there is little or no doubt that we shall go on waiting. Our vote this evening may not perhaps succeed, but if a vote of sufficient strength is forthcoming, it may jerk into life somebody, somewhere in some Ministry, who has for far too long been sitting on the papers and petitions which he has received from all over the country. We shall this evening have to give an injection to the Ministry by our vote.
There is an enormous amount of jealousy between the younger local areas asking for powers and the old-fashioned county councils. I do not think I exaggerate when I say that when a man of 50 years of age is elected to a county council, very often at least 25 per cent. of the county councillors want to know, "Where did this boy come from?". The qualification on a good many councils is old age. If the capacity has been there before, it is very largely fading. There are exceptional cases, and a particular exception, if I may say so quite sincerely, is the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), whom I see sitting in his place, and for whom I have the greatest admiration.
We must do something. I ask the Minister, when he replies, not to say that he will have consultations with all the individual local authorities and that upon the outcome of those conversations will depend the date when he will do something. Rather I would ask him to say, "I shall consult the local authorities, but I shall set a deadline for the end of those talks". If we can get that sort of promise or assurance from my right hon. Friend this evening, it may well be that we shall not vote too wholeheartedly with Stockton. But I feel, from my own observations of local government and the shocking state which it is getting into as a result of the suspense, that we really ought to do something tonight.
As an illustration, may I give my experience as Chairman of the Local Government Committee for the County of Essex? Time after time, when we hold our meetings at two-monthly intervals, I have to say to my committee, about 1147 items on the agenda, "I think that we should suspend judgment on this matter because of the coming reorganisation of local government". It is not good enough. We must have some sort of assurance that a time limit will be set, and I ask my right hon. Friend to give us that assurance this evening.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) made a most eloquent speech, almost an oration; indeed, it was really a succession of orations. I am not in the least envious, now that I am completely free of political ambition, but I must confess that the bulk of his oration was quite irrelevant to the proposition before the House. He seemed to think that Stockton had a case which was singular, exceptional, and, therefore, deserving on its merits of the consideration of hon. Members.
My hon. Friend's knowledge of local affairs far exceeds my own, although I was for several years a member of a very important corporation in Scotland, but his knowledge does not permit him, so far as I gathered from his speech, to speak with accuracy about local government affairs in the County of Durham and in the adjoining boroughs. If it had, he would have known that, although Stockton may make out a case on the basis of a population of about 75,000 inhabitants for the conferment of county borough privileges, in my own constituency, Where we have had a rural district council for many years, with a population of more than 90,000, that question has not yet arisen. There is very good reason why it has not emerged.
Strangely enough, the argument which appeals to me, as it does, I think, to the county Members, but which has not received very much consideration—I hope that hon. Members on both sides will take note of this—is that there can be very little complaint about the administration of the Durham County Council. Does anyone complain, even the people of Stockton, about the educational schemes promoted by the Durham County Council? They are some of the best in the country. Does anybody complain about what the county council has done to provide better roads and highways? I cannot think of any project undertaken by the Durham County 1148 Council which has been regarded by any of the adjoining boroughs as in any sense detrimental to their social interests.
I admit that my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) made, as we expect from him, an admirable speech. The House should hear him much more often than it does, because he is capable of making very good, constructive and informative speeches. Nevertheless, in spite of that, I am bound to say that any argument that can be based on support of Stockton because of any shortcomings on behalf of the Durham County Council does not weigh with me and ought not to weigh with other hon. Members.
I can understand the animus of the hon. Member—for the time being—for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) against the county council, which is Socialist-controlled. The hon. Member must just bear it with fortitude. He will have to bear it with the utmost composure for a long time to come, probably long after he has left this assembly, either voluntarily or under compulsion—I think, under compulsion.
That is the trouble. If hon. Members divest themselves of any prejudice or bias in this matter and treat it, as has been suggested, objectively and impartially, I think that on the facts known to us they are bound to ask for the rejection of the Bill. I regret it, not so much because of the Stockton Corporation, but because of my hon. Friend. We should like to please him and encourage him in his efforts and activities, which, we know, are genuine and sincere; but if the case is based on any shortcomings and limitations of the Durham County Council, there is, I am afraid, no substance in it.
§ Mr. Shinwell
If that is so, what is the case? If it is not based on the limitations and shortcomings of the Durham County Council in the administration of social and local authority affairs, what is the case?
There is general agreement that as soon as may be, as soon as practical and possible, there must be a complete reorganisation and reform of local government. It is easy to talk like that. I 1149 suggest that if every hon. Member were canvassed individually and privately about his views on the reorganisation and reform of local government, we should have more than 600 different varieties of ideas.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West, who knows so much about these matters, talks about the need for action and demands from the Government a statement almost at once, now, tonight, before a decision is reached, on the Government's intentions about local government, I wonder whether he would say sincerely to hon. Members tonight that even the Labour Party is unanimous about the reform of local government.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
I was making the point that in all this business, and I have been interested in it since 1940, I have seen successive schemes brought forward, and I said that a Government will have to make up their mind and impose a scheme on the local authorities. I am giving my right hon. Friend the point that he has already made.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am very grateful. All contributions thankfully received. It substantiates my case.
Of course we have all been pressing for the reform of local government. We have been doing since as long as I can remember. I became a member of the Glasgow Town Council in the early days of the First World War. Even in those days a case was put forward for the reform of local government. on the relations between boroughs and county councils, on the question of whether parish councils should be retained, on the question of whether we should continue to have rural district councils, and on whether there should be any reorganisation as between urban councils and borough councils, and so on. These arguments have been going on for a very long time and no solution has been found, for a very simple reason.
I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) who talked about jealousy among local authorities. It is said that there is so much of it that they do not know where they are or what they want, except that they want to hold on to what they have got. I do not deny that for a single moment. This is, of course, the position of Durham County Council. What is the position of 1150 Stockton Corporation? Is it merely power that they demand? My hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) put a point which he thought of great substance. He said, "After all, they should be able to decide what they want. Give the local authorities what they demand." That means that every "tuppeny-ha'penny," pettyfogging council in the county, every urban council, rural district council and parish council should get what they want.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
I hate to interrupt my right hon. Friend's rhetoric in view of his earlier complimentary remarks, but he should be aware that Stockton is not a "tuppeny-ha'penny" pettyfogging authority and that by an unanimous vote we know what we want. We are dissatisfied with the present arrangement and we want to be on our own.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Did anyone hear me say that Stockton was a "tuppenny-ha'penny," pettyfogging corporation? Of course I did not say it. I was replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham, who said, "Give them what they want. That means independence and standing on their own feet."
§ Mr. Jack Jones
What I said was definitely in relation to the desires of this community of about 78,000 people. I said that the majority of them were worth a man and a half because they are steel workers. I was not concerned with petty-fogging bodies, or interested in a remote parish council or in a dead or dying duck. I said that these people worked to pay the rates and were entitled to spend their own money as best they knew how.
§ Mr. Shinwell
We all know our hon. Friend's loyalty and that his conviction about the integrity and high quality of steel workers is beyond question. We know that a steel worker is regarded not as a single person but as a man and a half by my hon. Friend, but it is very difficult for me to follow that. The physical difficulties are not easy to overcome. We might submit it to an eminent mathematician. Hon. Members opposite say that they are under physical difficulties but I usually think that they are under mental difficulties. But do not let us have any quarrel. This is a happy occasion. We are arguing these matters out objectively and, of course, without any bias, completely impartially.
1151 Now I come to another point. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West attacked my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland.
§ Mr. Shinwell
My hon. Friend sometimes mistakes harshness of attack for mildness. It does not sound that way to us. At any rate, it seemed to me a most vigorous and bitter attack on my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Shinwell
He attacked my right hon. Friend and accused him of being a county backwoodsman. I do not mind how he describes my right hon. Friend, but he must not include me in that category. I am not a county backwoodsman. I support the Durham County Council in all its activities when it does the right thing. If it does the wrong thing, I say so without hesitation.
Let us come back to the point at issue. It is simply whether, in the circumstances, we should support a Bill which provides for a conferment of borough powers on the Stockton Corporation and divorces it from the county council. Will that be a good thing for the county council? Of course it will not. Who says so? The county council itself, and so do many of us here. If it were put to the people of County Durham, I think that they would say the same.
The second question is: will it be to the advantage of the people of Stockton? Frankly, if I could be led to believe that it was to their advantage, I would support my hon. Friend, but I have not heard yet a single argument which has been addressed to that point. Educationally, socially, in the housing sphere, in highways, in what respect? There is only one argument that has been adduced, if it can be called an argument, and that is that it confers greater powers on them and enhances their prestige. Powers and prestige do not matter much when it comes to material considerations. They are the things that count for the people of Stockton. My hon. Friend represents those people admirably and ably in this House, and I am not sure that they require these powers conferred upon 1152 them in order to make the position of the people of Stockton any stronger than it is.
Now I come to the final consideration. The Minister was told by some of my hon. Friends and hon. Friends on the opposite side of the House—I call them friends—that he must, here and now—mark you, here and now, no time is to be lost, in the course of a debate on a Private Bill—tell us what are the Government's intentions about local government reform. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is about time."] I am satisfied that if the right hon. Gentleman had got up and told us what the Government's intentions are about local government reform, even if he were capable of doing it, even if he were in a position to do it, he would be denounced by my hon. Friends on this side of the House because they would not be in the least satisfied with what he said for the obvious reason that very few people have yet made up their minds about the kind of local government they want in the future. And how can they, in view of the contentions among local authorities, in view of the envies and jealousies and rivalries, and the rest?
No, this question of local government has to be considered very carefully indeed, and it is bound to take time. Of course, they have had plenty of time to consider it, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland, when dealing with this matter, encountered many physical and other difficulties and will remember them.
§ Mr. Dalton
For an even longer time our right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) also had it on his agenda.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I wonder why my right hon. Friend brought that up? I do not know what may emerge before the night is out. As I say, he encountered not only the physical difficulties, but also the competition and confusion among the local authorities themselves. Therefore, I do not think that we shall elicit anything from the Minister.
It is a great pity that this Bill had to be promoted. I would much rather have seen my friends on the Durham County Council and our friends on Stockton corporation meeting to see whether a rapprochement was possible, and whether there was anything that the County 1153 Council could do more than it was doing at the present time for the Stockton Corporation. That is what I should like to have seen, but it could not be done. So I say quite frankly, although hon. Members may regard me as biassed and prejudiced, as a county council member who represents a division with a huge population far in excess of Stockton with its rural district council, that I have no alternative, much as I should like to support my hon. Friend—and, indeed, the county members in Durham have no other alternative—but to support the Durham County Council.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)
I deliberately delayed rising to express the Government's point of view on this important Private Bill and I think that the whole House will be glad that I did so, because it has given us an opportunity to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) one of the most delightful and, shall I say, diversionary speeches on the sober and sombre subject of local government to which most of us have ever listened.
I should like to remove any suggestion which may be in the minds of hon. Members that as a Minister I approach a matter like this with any private prejudice. The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) said that I could not be an unbiassed witness because I have been for ten years a member of that great authority, the London County Council. But I would remind him that I have been for twenty years a member of a Metropolitan borough council, and while it is certainly not going to lie in my mouth today to cause any additional friction between local authorities of different types, no one can have served for many years on a Metropolitan borough council without having been occasionally irked by the existence of major authorities in the local government system.
I should like to congratulate, as I am sure will the whole House, the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) on the way in which he introduced this Bill. It is, of course, as he said a misfortune that the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees is not represented in the House today by the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
I did not say that it was a misfortune. I said that it was the misfortune of an election. I think that it was a blessing, and so does the Prime Minister, otherwise he would not now have a safe seat in Bromley.
§ Mr. Brooke
The hon. Gentleman has set himself to make party amends as well as he can and I should like to join in by saying that he has shown himself today to be a most admirable substitute. I was a little anxious about the future course of the debate when he began by saying that he had no territorial demands. I suspected that we should have a somewhat bellicose atmosphere a little later.
I appreciate that this is not a matter of boundaries; it is purely a question of the status of the Stockton Borough Council. If I sensed the tone of the debate aright, it was set to a large degree by the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees and repeated by a number of other hon. Members that we must proceed, in considering a Bill like this, on the assumption that local government reorganisation was right away over the horizon and therefore as we cannot do the whole thing, we must make a shot at doing what we can.
I think it was the hon. Member who said that it was extremely doubtful whether the Government would deal with local government reorganisation in this Parliament. That view was repeated by a number of other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees, indeed, reminded us of the statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister during the proceedings on the Luton Bill in 1954, when he expressed the view that that would be the last time that he would have to advise the House to reject a local government Bill.
Very substantial progress has, of course, been made since that statement by the Prime Minister. Since that date we have got a broad measure of agreement among the local authority associations, and we have before us the White Paper containing the Government's proposals. We know that those proposals are generally acceptable to the local authorities. There is the expressed intention of the Government to press forward and in due course to legislate, and only a fortnight ago I said in the House that it was 1155 my hope that we should have a debate on the White Paper as soon as practicable.
Therefore, I suggest that the question which the House has to decide is whether we should give up hope of the general and comprehensive approach, in which so much progress has already been achieved, and turn rather to the piecemeal procedure. There is one thing on which there is agreement between all, both in the House and outside, who have studied the difficult question of local government organisation, and that is that, if it is humanly possible, reorganisation should be comprehensive. I appreciate the views expressed by some hon. Members on both sides of the House that that will not be practicable, that it will be too difficult, that we shall get bogged down again, and therefore that it is not fair to boroughs like Stockton-on-Tees, Ilford, or Luton that they should not be permitted to proceed.
§ Captain Richard Pilkington (Poole)
Will my right hon. Friend include Poole, which has a case stronger than any other?
§ Mr. Brooke
I must be careful, as Minister, not to make odious comparisons between one local authority and another, but I will certainly include Poole in the list.
It has been generally accepted in the discussions which have been going on during the last couple of years that claims to county borough status should be looked at comprehensively, and that we should do all we can to work out some machinery by which these claims can be examined on general principles, with, of course, local application, and not singly, in isolation. I suggest that that has special application to the case of Stockton-on-Tees. Stockton-on-Tees is an important borough in itself, but at the same time it is part of the Tees-side built-up area.
I am not going to argue the case for or against the Bill tonight by taking sides in any way between Stockton-on-Tees and Durham County Council. It would be wrong for me to do that, but I would suggest to the House that that is not the only issue to which we should have regard. We must also consider whether it would be right to carve out the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees and make it a county 1156 borough without regard to all the rest of the Tees-side area and the other authorities which hold sway around it. Anybody who looked at a map of England would agree that, especially where there is a substantial built-up area, a particular effort should be exerted to try to get what might be called a local government solution which will apply to that area as a whole and not just to one part of it.
We have a great and perhaps unique opportunity to reorganise local government on a comprehensive basis. The right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) described to us how unsuccessful the Labour Government were in that. I grant that up to now the Conservative Government have not seen their way to legislate. At the same time, there has been unanimity among all post-war Governments, regardless of political colour, that we should if possible seek a comprehensive approach, rather than rely on what we all accept as the second best.
In the proposals which have been worked out with the local authority associations, and on which they are broadly agreed, there is provision for considering claims like those of Stockton-on-Tees, Poole, Ilford, Luton and any other boroughs which may press their claims to county borough status. I suggest most strongly to the House that having been patient for these many years, now that we seem to have achieved a greater degree of agreement than ever before, we should hesitate to give a Second Reading to a Bill which inevitably, if passed into law, would prejudge just those questions to which the House as a whole ought to give attention as a whole.
I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House may say that this is just another Minister seeking to fob off the House with one more appeal for patience. I will leave it to the House to judge. My aim is to press forward with all the Government's proposals for local government, covering both reorganisation and finance, and to submit their broad principles to debate in Parliament. I hope to complete everything, including the necessary consultation, in time to have a major local government Bill ready to present to the House next Session.
The hon. Member for Leeds, West said that the agreement among local authorities was, as it were, only the shadow of an 1157 agreement, because the major issues, where there might be a clash were shirked. I cannot endorse that statement, and I think that on reconsideration the hon. Member will feel that he went rather too far. I do not challenge him if he says that in the end some Minister has got to make up his mind and has got to come to definite conclusions, even where the local authorities are unable to agree among themselves. I intend to be that Minister. In seeking to arrive at a comprehensive plan to put before Parliament, I may displease everybody, but I am ready to take the risk, because I believe it to be essential that we should not let local government reorganisation slide. Parliament should be enabled to come to decisions.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
Can the Minister tell us—[Interruption.]—I have sat throughout the debate and I intervene without the indulgence of the sedentary people who have just dragged themselves into the Chamber. Will the Minister tell us whether he will obstinately stick to the Bill proposed for next Session, or is he likely to give way on a prospective Clause 9?
§ Mr. Brooke
As one who has already spent the hours today in the Standing Committee considering the Rent Bill I think that I am showing myself ready to stand up to almost anything.
The hon. Member appealed to the House of Commons to nourish life and vigour of genuine local government. I believe that to be precisely the task which lies before us. I hope to present the Bill of which I have spoken; and remembering the motto of Stockton-on-Tees, I may have to call upon the House for a considerable degree of fortitude in examining its lengthy provisions. Having said that, and with no hostility whatever to Stockton, whose claim should, in my view, be judged in the general context and not by itself I advise the House at the end of this long and most interesting debate not to give a Second Reading to the Bill.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he would mind not speaking from the Opposition Front Bench? This is a Private Bill, and hon.
1158 Members who have just entered the Chamber and were not present during the debate may think that he is speaking officially on behalf of the Labour Party, which is not so. I think it would be better, therefore, if he did not speak from the Front Bench.
§ Mr. Ede
My first sentence was going to be that on this matter, as I have indicated in the case of every local government Bill that I have discussed, I speak for myself alone. This is a Private Bill and hon. Members on this side of the House at least are entitled to speak and vote as they please. Nothing that I say this evening will commit any member of the Party, other than those who agree with me.
I wish to join with the Minister in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) on the way in which he urged the Second Reading of this Bill. Everyone who heard him will agree that he said everything that could be said in favour of the Bill, and in the best possible form and style. I am quite certain that the Minister shares with me the view that the House has this evening shown a great amount of impatience about the way in which this general matter has been handled over the post-war period.
I was undecided whether the best thing would not be to get this Bill before a Select Committee so that the Government would have to face the issue about what is to happen. I assume that when the right hon. Gentleman tells us that he hopes to introduce a Measure during the next Session of Parliament, a general local government Measure, he has the assent of his colleagues in the Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] If the right hon. Gentleman does not deny it, I shall assume that he has the assent of his colleagues. He is an experienced Member of this House, and he would not have made such a statement through a mere slip of the tongue. I assume that it represents a pronouncement of Government policy. Though I can speak for myself from this Dispatch Box, it is difficult for a member of the Government to speak for himself from that Dispatch Box.
§ Mr. Brooke
I should like to make it clear to the right hon. Gentleman that I 1159 was speaking for the Government. I used the words, "I hope" to allow for the changes and chances of mortal life.
§ Mr. Ede
The present Prime Minister said in 1954, that he was speaking for himself, or his successor, when he hoped that it would be the last time any Member of the Government would have to ask the House to vote against one of these Bills merely on the ground that the time was not opportune.
On the assumption, and on that assumption only, that it is the fixed determination of the Government to introduce a general Bill in the next session of Parliament, I shall feel that tonight I can safely vote against this Bill. It would suit me to embarrass the Government and get this Bill sent to a Committee upstairs so that some time would have to be devoted by the Government to presenting a case upstairs to destroy the Bill, but I think it more important that we should be able to proceed by general agreement to the consideration of a general local government measure than that we should play party politics here this evening.
For that reason alone, I shall vote against the Bill tonight because I take the right hon. Gentleman at his word and believe that, somewhere towards the end of this year, we shall have a Message from the Throne indicating that a general local government measure will be brought in front of us, and that we shall have an opportunity of considering it during the Session that will then be commencing. In saying that, I want to assure my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees that I am doing nothing other than speaking for myself.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)
The debate on this Private Bill has taken the usual line that debates on Private Bills have taken in this House for a long period of years, with the same exceptions. In former years, Private Bills in this House have resulted in borough Members speaking in support, and, with the honourable exception of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who is a borough member, and who opposes this Bill, the opposition to such Bills has invariably been made by county Members, and indeed, almost in the same language.
1160 The Minister, in fact, gave the same kind of undertaking that the Prime Minister, when he was Minister of Housing and Local Government, gave in 1954. I remember that in that debate the Luton Corporation Bill challenged the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Prime Minister, and it will be found in HANSARD, to say that he would produce a Bill in the lifetime of that Parliament. He did not introduce it in that Session of the 1950 Parliament. He did not introduce it in the second Session. We are well into the second Session of the new Parliament, and now we are being told by the present Minister of Housing and Local Government that he proposes to bring in a Bill next Session to do—what?
If he accepts the implications of the White Paper, the most that he can do will be to introduce a Bill to set up a local government boundary commission, and that body will take at least several years to reach conclusions before he can begin to introduce legislation to make any substantial alterations in local government. Therefore, I do not regard the right hon. Gentleman's undertaking to introduce a Bill in the next Session of Parliament as doing anything more than what the Royal Commission will do in the case of the doctors' salaries—put the matter off to a more convenient time.
The Durham County Council and my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) have said that this was not the right time. That is what the Durham County Council said in 1951 in connection with the Sunderland Corporation Bill, when Sunderland had to modify considerably its request for the territory it required from the County of Durham for building houses in order to secure that the opposition to its Bill was withdrawn.
§ Mr. Blyton
Surely my hon. Friend knows that the Sunderland Bill was an extension Bill, and not one for county borough status?
§ Mr. Jones
I am well aware of that, but the argument used by Durham County Council at that time was that it was not the appropriate time to introduce a local government Bill to alter boundaries. Two years later the West Hartlepool Bill was before the House, and precisely the same reply went out from Durham County Council. One is 1161 entitled to ask, when will be the right time? Have these and other municipal boroughs to wait for an indefinite period?
It was the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government himself who said, on 12th February:With this change, local authorities will acquire a great increase of responsibility."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1957; Vol. 564. c. 1083.]He was talking about the changes he proposed in the basis of local government grants, but surely, not only in that respect, but in every other, local authorities are entitled to acquire new responsibility. My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring was a little bit finicky when he accused Stockton of besmirching Durham County Council.
§ Mr. Jones
Nobody wants to do that. Anybody who knows Durham County Council recognises that, within the limitations imposed upon a county council and considering the area that it has to cover, Durham County Council does as good a job as most other county councils, if not a better job.
Nevertheless, difficulties arise because of distances. I have here correspondence in which the medical officer of health for the County of Durham actually objected—and so did the county architect—because the medical officer of health for Stockton placed an order with a firm in Stockton for the replacement of a cistern in the staff lavatory of the nursing school within the borough of Stockton. That kind of thing is bound to cause difficulty, by its very nature. [Laughter.] I do not want to pursue this matter, but it would have caused serious difficulties had the medical officer of Stockton not acted witih promptitude.
The White Paper on local government reform, to which the Minister referred, was also referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring. He quoted certain passages from it, but not from paragraph 28, which says:An essential qualification for promotion to county borough status must be the fitness of the authority concerned to discharge the functions of a county borough.Can anybody who heard my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) deny that the borough of 1162 Stockton has proved that is is capable of discharging the duties of a county borough?
The White Paper continues:In determining this, a number of factors have to be taken into account, such as population, resources and administrative record.Does anybody challenge the administrative record of Stockton? When my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was speaking I was reminded that the borough of Stockton has already erected a large number of houses. Stockton Borough Council has proved its capacity to undertake the duties of a county borough council.
We have been told that Stockton-on-Tees has not the necessary population to qualify for this step. If we examine the tremendous increase in population in Stockton-on-Tees over the past few years we recognise that in the very near future it will reach that magic figure of 100,000.
When the Minister talked about Stockton-on-Tees he made a point about Tees-side. It is not without significance that whereas the conurbation on Tyneside is mentioned, there is no mention in the White Paper, nor was it ever suggested by the Boundary Commission of 1947, as far as I know, that there should be one of those authorities for a conurbation on Tees-side, unless it be on the other bank of the Tees. Possibly the right hon. Gentleman has overlooked the fact that the borough of Stockton-on-Tees is on the north bank of the Tees and not on the south bank, where lie Middlesbrough and the other conurbations.
§ Mr. H. Brooke
I was not seeking to argue whether Tees-side was or was not a conurbation, if we have to use that dreadful word, but rather that Stockton is part of a built-up nucleus and that this was a special reason for not treating its problem in isolation.
§ Mr. Jones
An interesting factor in that connection is that a good deal of virgin territory lies between Stockton and the sea. One of the arguments advanced upstairs against the West Hartlepool Bill, which sought to extend the boundaries, was that the territory which lies between Stockton and West Hartlepool is appropriately administered by the county. I suggest that the Minister cannot have it both ways.
1163 My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring referred to police and fire service powers. Again, what he omitted to mention was that an arrangement is already in existence within the County of Durham whereby the county borough of West Hartlepool and the county borough of Darlington both have agreements with the Durham County Council and there is one police force operating for those county boroughs as well as for the county. That was in existence long before my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) introduced his Police Bill, in 1946. When he was Home Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields also introduced the Fire Services Bill, in 1947, and he envisaged that it might be desirable in certain parts of the country to have this type of agreement. In Committee upstairs he argued that it was desirable, in certain circumstances, that there should be agreements of this nature.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
It is not within my recollection that my right hon. Friend argued that a new force should be created by that type of agreement. He merely said that where there were existing vested interests that type of agreement might be used.
§ Mr. Jones
In this case no new force is being created. All that Stockton is saying is that for the purpose of convenience and greater efficiency it would be prepared to have one joint fire service for the envisaged county borough of Stockton and the Durham County; and the powers to provide that were already envisaged by my right hon. Friend when he introduced his Measure in 1947. In that respect, there would be no difficulty whatever.
The borough of Stockton has six representatives on the Durham County Council out of a total membership of 116. May I here say a word about finance? It is true that if this Bill becomes law, and Stockton becomes a county borough, it will take certain rateable values from the County of Durham. Of course, it will reduce the produce of a 1d. rate in the administrative country, but it will take away corresponding responsibilities.
For example, there are 14,000 elementary school children residing within the borough of Stockton whose education 1164 now is the responsibility of Durham County Council education authority. When Stockton becomes a county borough that responsibility, and the responsibility for the whole of the staff employed in that area, will be transferred from Durham County Council to the new education authority of Stockton-on-Tees.
There are 600 children from without the borough of Stockton attending Stockton secondary schools, but it is not without interest to record that at present there is being erected outside the borough boundaries of Stockton a new technical grammar school which will cater for those 600 children. Whatever happens about this Bill those 600 children will be transferred to a school within the administrative county. That presents no problem at all.
If Stockton-on-Tees becomes a county borough it will take away from the administrative County of Durham £826,827 worth of rateable value, but it will still leave Durham with nearly £7 million worth of rateable value. It is interesting to recall that with Stockton within the administrative county it is the eleventh richest county of the 48 counties in England, apart from Wales and Scotland. Although it would take £826,000 of rateable value, Durham would remain the eleventh richest authority on rateable value.
Even assuming that extensive changes took place in the administrative county of Durham—if Hartlepool were conceded to West Hartlepool, the Urban District of Billingham were transferred to Stockton, if Jarrow Hebburn and Felling were transferred to the Tyneside conurbation and Sunderland rural district transferred to the borough council while Stockton was taken from the county, the administrative county would still be left with £2½ million rateable value. That would be a higher rateable value than 29 other counties.
How, then, can it be argued that if Stockton is taken from Durham County, the administrative capacity of Durham will be destroyed? It certainly will not do that. Already, there are in existence 20 county boroughs with a smaller population than the present population of Stockton-on-Tees. There are two county boroughs within the County of Durham with a smaller population than that of Stockton-on-Tees. Therefore, to deny to 1165 Stockton-on-Tees the right to become a county borough now that it has promoted a Parliamentary Bill is tantamount to saying that we ought to take county borough status from those 22 authorities. That seems to be the argument which is advanced. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] My hon. Friend says, "Hear, hear." Naturally, that is what the county desires. [Interruption.] There are another 15 minutes in which I could address the House, Mr. Speaker, and if I am interrupted any more I will inflict myself upon it for another 14½ minutes.
I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that all we should be doing tonight, if we gave a Second Reading to the Bill, would be to give assent to the principle contained in it. The Bill could then go upstairs to be examined by an impartial Select Committee, and that, it seems to me, is the proper way in which to deal with the Bill. It is quite wrong that we in this House should prejudge the merits of the case based very largely on documents received either from the borough of Stockton or from the County of Durham.
Most of the borough Members in the House have been briefed by the borough of Stockton and all the county Members have been briefed by the respective county councils. It seems to me to be quite wrong for us to decide the merits of the Bill and for our decision to be based on prejudiced views before the debate started.
Let us give the Bill a Second Reading tonight and then let the Select Committee decide whether or not Stockton has made out its case to be given county borough status.
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
I think that we ought really to get this argument into perspective. As has been said, this is not particularly an argument against Stockton-on-Tees as such or its capacity to govern itself. The argument is concerned with the timing of the Bill, especially in relationship to the relatively short time in which Stockton has attained a population of 75,000, which is a necessary qualification under the law as it stands at present, as compared with a number of other authorities which because of the progress that has been made on the general background of the problems of reorganisation, have agreed, at 1166 this juncture at any rate, not to promote Bills. Many authorities equally as capable and larger than Stockton-on-Tees feel that the present time is inopportune to do so.
I want to draw the attention of the House to what the result would be if the Bill received a Second Reading, quite apart from what happened to it in Committee upstairs. I should be interested to know at this stage whether any hon. Members have received a brief from the Association of Municipal Corporations on the matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The answer is "No", the reason being that the A.M.C. is acting with greater circumspection and caution in the matter than is Stockon-on-Tees.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
The reason is that we feel that our case is strong enough and does not need outside associations to support it. Had my hon. Friend been present during the whole of the debate he would have heard all these points answered.
§ Mr. Pargiter
Whether the points are answered or not, the fact remains that if the House prejudges the tentative agreement arrived at between the associations which provides that the minimum population for borough status, except in exceptional circumstances, should be 100,000, we might as well give up so far as co-operation between the various associations is concerned because the A.M.C. would say that it is no longer concerned with a population of 100,000 because the House of Commons has decided on a free vote that the figure is to be 75,000.
It will be a serious matter if the House decides to jeopardise the large measure of agreement which has been arrived at on the problems of local government reorganisation, and I say that with respect to all points of view in the matter. I want to say as strongly as I can that if at this stage the House indicates that what the associations have agreed as being a reasonable basis for the future of local government as regards size of population, etc., for county borough purposes is to be prejudged at this juncture, it is fairly obvious that the negotiations will not get very far. How the Minister would be able to introduce a Bill which the authorities would after that accept as taking them back to where 1167 they were before negotiations started, I really do not know.
It seems to me that, with a sense of responsibility, the House must reject the Bill at this stage. It must have regard to other authorities, larger and more influential, perhaps, than Stockton, which have decided that the present time is not opportune for the promotion of Bills. I can refer to at least five boroughs in the County of Middlesex which have decided, whilst still making representations, not to introduce Bills to prejudge an issue which they feel ought to be dealt with on its merits impartially in Parliament so that the future of local government will not be bedeviled as it has been for so long by the promotion and the rejection of Bills.
I am surprised that Stockton felt it desirable to spend the amount of money necessary for the promotion of a Bill at this stage, having regard to all the factors. In the light of the fact that borough Members have not been circularised by the A.M.C. in support of this proposition, one must assume that the A.M.C. is not necessarily in support of it at the present time, especially since it would wish to honour the arrangement which it has come to.
I urge that the Bill be rejected. I say that not out of any lack of respect for Stockton-on-Tees, but because the time of the introduction of the Bill is so inopportune.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
I am in a somewhat difficult position tonight because my own authority has, since 1950, promoted Bills in successive years in an effort to achieve borough status, and every year we have been fobbed off with one excuse after another. In the days when the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was in office, we were told that a review was taking place, and that at some indeterminate date we should be given consideration and perhaps given the status that we wanted.
Two years ago, almost by one of the mishaps of Parliamentary procedure, Ilford succeeded in getting the Second Reading of its county borough Bill. Subsequently, we were pressed to withdraw it on the assurance that this review was going to take place. Still nothing hap- 1168 pened. We have had a White Paper, and certain suggestions of agreement between the local government associations have been made; but in spite of all that the Minister has so far said, we have no real evidence or proof that the local government associations are in any real harmony whatsoever on this subject.
I should feel much happier about the whole situation if I felt that the County Councils Association, which I regard as the most reactionary body in local government in this country, had any real desire to see any reform of local government organisation. I am not in fact convinced that we have brought the county councils to any sort of stage where we can look for any support or help from them in what we are seeking to do.
Notwithstanding all that I have said, we have tonight had from the Minister the first positive statement of action by the Government in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has said that it has changed his view, and he will vote tonight in a manner opposed to the action taken by him in previous years.
Before I came into this debate, I assured the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) that I would support the Bill, but having regard to the statement that my right hon. Friend the Minister has made I feel that I should be acting with a sense of irresponsibility if I voted for the Bill tonight, knowing that it stands no chance whatever of getting a Third Reading.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
Neither did Ilford's Bill. We supported the hon. Member then. Why does he "rat" on us now?
§ Mr. Cooper
I have endeavoured to explain why I feel that I must take this action. The hon. Member will admit that I am not afraid to speak in this House against the Government when I feel that I must do so. Equally, there are occasions when I feel that I must support the Government, and tonight happens to be one of those occasions.
I still feel that having regard to the fact that the Minister has made a positive statement that in the next Session of Parliament legislation is to be introduced, I should support my right hon. Friend. I should, however, like to ask him one question. In the legislation which he proposes to introduce, does he embody the 1169 financial reforms of which he spoke a week or so ago or is it his intention that the financial reforms shall be introduced during the present Session?
I ask that for this reason. It is astonishing how quickly the Treasury can act when it wants money. It was very easy for the Valuation and Rating Bill to go through, because the Treasury was to get about £10 million extra revenue, but because the Treasury would lose a lot of money on the rerating of industry there had in that case to be deferment for a
§ couple of years. Therefore, I want to know whether it is the Government's intention to embody the financial reforms in their legislation next Session or whether they intend to introduce the financial reforms during the present Session.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 95, Noes 201.1171
|Division No. 73.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Redhead, E. c.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hoy, J. H.||Reeves, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hubbard, T. F.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bence, C. R (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Hynd, H. (Acorington)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Benson, G.||Iremonger, T. L.||Ross, William|
|Boardman, H.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Royle, C.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Janner, B.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Short, E. W.|
|Braddook, Mrs. Elizabeth||Johnson, Erio (Blackley)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Kenyon, C.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Kerr, H. W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Coldrick, W.||King, Dr. H. M.||Steele, T.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shereditoh & Finsbury)||Lawson, G. M.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Wade, D. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon, Ness (Caerphilly)||Logan, D. G.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Forman, J. C.||McInnes, J.||Wigg, George|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mahon, Simon||Wilcock, Croup Capt. C. A. B.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grimond, J.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hale, Leslie||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Hannan, W.||Mason, Roy||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Maude, Angus||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Healey, Denis||Orbach, M.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Oswald, T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Holmes, Horace||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Mr. D. Jones and Mr. Chetwynd.|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Probert, A. R.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Delargy, H. J.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bryan, P.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathooat (Tiverton)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Anstruther-Cray, Major Sir William||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Carr, Robert||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Champion, A. J.||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Ashton, H.||Channon, Sir Henry||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Clarke, Brig, Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Fletcher, Eric|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Barter, John||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Gibson-Watt, D.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Glover, D.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Godber, J. B.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Cronin, J. D.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Crouch, R. F.||Gower, H. R.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Currie, C. B. H.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Bishop, F. P.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Crant, W. (Woodside)|
|Body, R. F.||Dance, J. C. G.||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.(Nantwich)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Davidson, Viscountess||Green, A.|
|Braine, B. R.||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Grey, C. F.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Deedes, W. F.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Gurden, Harold||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Redmayne, M.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvll (Colne Valley)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maddan, Martin||Russell, R. S.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Hesketh, R. F.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Marshall, Douglas||Sorensen, R. w.|
|Holman, P.||Mathew, R.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Mawby, R. L.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Mellish, R. J.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hunter, A. E.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Nairn, D. L. S.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Temple, J. M.|
|Irvine, Bryant Codman (Rye)||Neave, Airey||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. C. A.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Oakshott, H. D.||Thornton, E.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Osborne, C.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Keegan, D.||Page, R. G.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Kimball, M.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Lagden, G. W.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pargiter, G. A.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Parker, J.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Leburn, W. G.||Partridge, E.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pearson, A.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Peart, T. F.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Pentland, N.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Wills, C. (Bridgwater)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Pott, H. P.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswisk)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|MacColl, J. E.||Ramsden, J. E.||Sir Henry Studholme and|