§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Marples
I beg to move, in page 14, line 38 to leave out "to the authority".
1524 The Amendment is consequential on the new Clause which I moved to allow a local authority to employ such bodies as the British Legion to run their car parks for them.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Hay
I beg to move, in page 17, line 29 to leave out from the first "to" to the end of the line.
I suggest that if it is convenient to you, Mr. Speaker, and the House we might also discuss the remaining Amendments to the Clause:
In line 32 leave out "accordingly".
In line 34 leave out "those councils" and insert:local authorities in the administrative county of London".In page 18, line 28, after "London", insert:(apart from the City of London)".In line 33, after "done", insert "by such a council".
In line 38, at end insert:(17) Nothing in this section shall affect the Restriction of Ribbon Development (Power to provide Parking Places) Order, 1936, so far as it applies to the City of London or apply to any bylaws having effect as respects the City of London by virtue of that Order; and that Order, so far as it so applies, shall have effect by virtue of this subsection.The main purpose of this series of Amendments is to take the City of London out of Clause 11 altogether. The reason is that we wish the City, which has a number of special positions, to continue to avail itself of the provisions of its own local Acts as they relate to the provision of off-street car parks. Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, gives powers to local authorities outside the administrative county of London to provide off-street car parks. These powers are amended and extended in various ways by the present Clause.
Section 82 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, provides that the Minister of Housing and Local Government may by order confer similar powers on the Common Council of the City of London, on the Metropolitan borough councils and upon London County Council, but not in the City. In 1936 the then Minister of Health made an order conferring these powers on the Common Council of the City of London and on the Metropolitan 1525 boroughs but not on London County Council. Clause 11 (12) at present provides for the repeal of Section 82 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, and for these powers to be conferred directly upon the Common Council of the City of London, upon the metropolitan boroughs and upon London County Council, but it contains a proviso that London County Council is not to exercise its powers in the City of London or in the metropolitan boroughs unless it has the consent of the council of the borough.
The City of London, which already had in effect Section 81 powers because of the order made by the Minister of Health in 1936, took additional powers in 1957 by a local Act. Section 12 of that Act, the City of London (Various Powers) Act, 1957, gave the City power to develop car parks. It removed the provision for a right of appeal to magistrates and provided that byelaws made by the City need no longer be confirmed by the Minister of Transport but only by the Home Secretary.
Clause 26 of the City of London (Various Powers) Bill now before Parliament, to which my right hon. Friend has raised no objection on behalf of the Government, provides that in future the City of London need not make byelaws but need merely prescribe such matters as the class of vehicles to be parked, the charges to be paid and the times when car parks may be used. These powers are not conferred on the City under local Acts but are stated to be an extension of powers conferred upon the City by the 1936 Order made by the then Minister of Health, which is called the Restriction of Ribbon Development (Power to provide Parking Places) Order, 1936. The powers conferred on the City by these local Acts go further than the powers to be conferred by this Bill. The City is also allowed to prescribe charges for its car parks rather than to be required to make orders.
We have decided that the City should be allowed to keep its present local Act powers and, because it desires to deal flexibly, particularly with regard to charges, with the parking arrangements which have to be made from time to time for the somewhat special functions in the City of London it has been decided that it should be allowed to prescribe charges to be paid and should 1526 not be required to deal with these by order under the procedure whereby the Minister takes power under subsection (11) of the Clause. Therefore, we have to provide that the powers of the City should be continued and should not be affected by the passage of the Bill.
As the powers of the City derive from the 1936 Order and are not conferred directly upon it, it means that we must provide that the Order shall continue to have effect in respect of the City despite the fact that we are repealing Section 82 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960. That is the purpose of the Amendment in page 18, line 38, to insert the subsection (17).
I am sorry that I have had to give the House a somewhat complicated explanation. I have referred copiously to some notes that I have had prepared on this matter and therefore I hope that I have it right, but briefly it is the intention to take the City of London right out of Clause 11 and allow it to continue under Private Act powers.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
We are much obliged to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for the lengthy but very clear way in which he has tried to overcome what appears to be an intricate problem. As I understand it, certain powers which the City now has will be allowed to remain in respect of parking places and so on, but I should like to have one point made perfectly clear. Was this matter discussed with the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee? I assume that there will be no objection by the Metropolitan boroughs to the fact that the City Council is to retain these powers.
If my noble Friend, Lord Morrison, were here no doubt we should have a very long debate about this. He would argue that the City Council has no special right at all in London and is allowed there only by permission of one or two people in this House. But we are not quite so insistent as my right hon. Friend might have been. I should like to know, however, whether the Metropolitan boroughs were consulted on this matter. May I assume that they were?
§ Mr. Hay
I frankly do not know. I know that we had a great deal of discussion with the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee on a whole 1527 range of problems. Whether the Committee was expressly consulted on these Amendments and on our intention to take the City of London out of Clause 11 I honestly do not know, but I can find out if the hon. Member feels strongly about it and let him know. I imagine that in all probability we discussed it, but perhaps not in the great detail that the hon. Member imagines.
§ Mr. Ede
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary has given us a long list of the special powers which have been conferred in the past on the unreformed Corporation of the City of London, and I understand that these are to be continued and I am not sure that in one or two cases they are not to bet extended.
There is one point on which I should like to have some information. In those cases where the City Corporation has the right to prescribe things and to make orders of some kind or another, is any power given to any person to object to such a prescription or order? If so, to whom does the objector give his notice that he is anxious that the City Corporation should not be so endowed? Elsewhere in the Bill, the ordinary citizen has power to object if only he does it quickly enough. Can he object if he has such an interest in the City as should entitle him to be able to object as an ordinary citizen? If so, before what tribunal will his objection be heard?
§ Mr. Hay
Whilst the right hon. Gentleman has been speaking, I have been trying to find a rapid answer. I have with me a copy of Section 12 of the City of London (Various Powers) Act, 1957, which I thought might give the answer, but it does not. It is important to realise that the matters that are normally dealt with under order and which will continue to be dealt with under the Private Act powers are matters in which I should not have thought that objection was likely to arise. They relate to the provision of parking places, the restriction 1528 of certain types of vehicles that may not use them or the limitation of use to certain types of vehicle, the making of charges, and so on. Matters of that kind would not be likely to cause objection to anybody except, possibly, the owner or user of a class of vehicle that was excluded from the park.
I must confess my ignorance to the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether there is provision for objection and how it would operate if there is one. I am, however, willing to look into the point and, if it appears necessary for us to take action, we will seek to do it in another place. I think it better to leave the matter as it is on the assumption that there is no necessity for a procedure for objection in cases of this kind.
§ Mr. Ede
I would have thought that a citizen of what I, and a great many other people, regard as the greatest city in the world should be in a position, if his local authority does something which he does not like, of having adequate means of expressing his views. We ought not to assume that everybody who lives —I emphasise "lives"—in the City of London is a plutocrat. He may well object to a parking fee being demanded that is beyond his resources. There should be some body which is capable of dealing with these adjustments, otherwise let the City Corporation at last come under the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835.
§ Mr. Hay
I think I shall have your sympathy, Mr. Speaker, if nobody else's, if I express the hope that we can bring this discussion quickly to a close, because I am under the handicap that I do not know the answer to the point raised by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I am told that those who advise me would not be able to obtain the answer except with great difficulty and the expenditure of considerable time. Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman is raising a fairly big issue concerning the future of the City of London as an element of the local government structure of the country on what is only a limited Amendment. I hope that for these reasons he will be kind enough to excuse me from giving a more detailed reply.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 17, line 32, leave out "accordingly".
In line 34, leave out "those councils" and insert:
local authorities in the administrative county of London.
In page 18, line 28, after "London", insert:
(apart from the City of London).
§ In line 33, after "done", insert "by such a council."—[Mr. Hay.]
Amendment proposed: In page 18, line 38, at end, insert:
(17) Nothing in this section shall affect the Restriction of Ribbon Development (Power to provide Parking Places) Order, 1936, so far as it applies to the City of London or apply to any byelaws having effect as respects the City of London by virtue of that Order; and that Order, so far as it so applies, shall have effect by virtue of this subsection.—[Mr. Hay.]
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn
I take it that all these Amendments are, in fact, consequential. Nobody has said so. Since the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has been so honest in confessing that there are certain areas of public policy which are not at his finger-tips all the time and since we have accepted ignorance as the best case for passing the Bill at such speed, I hope that we shall be assured that these Amendments relate entirely to the cogent arguments that the hon. Gentleman has just given us.
§ Mr. Hay
I can give that assurance. The Amendments are consequential on the Amendment in page 17, line 29. Perhaps it is only in respect of this present Amendment that consequentiality is not the full answer. Clause 11 (12) of the Bill provides for the repeal of Section 82 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960. We desire to continue in force the local Act powers of the City of London, which depend upon the Restriction of Ribbon Development (Power to provide Parking Places) Order, 1936. For this reason, we must provide that despite the repeal of Section 82, the Order will continue in force only so far as it applies to the City of London. That is the effect of the new subsection (17).
1530 Subsections (15) and (16) of the Clause contain certain transitional provisions. In particular, they provide that bye-laws which have been made under Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, shall have effect as if their provisions had been contained in an order made under subsection (2) of that Section. As the City of London is to be excluded from the Section and, therefore, will not be able to make such orders, it will be necessary to provide that its bye-laws continue in effect despite the provisions of the Clause.
The City is seeking by its current Bill in Parliament to provide that in future it shall not make bye-laws which are confirmable by the Minister of Transport, but shall be able to prescribe without any formal procedure the various matters which at present have to be dealt with by bye-law. I hope that this explanation clears up the difficulty about the consequentiality of the Amendments.
§ Amendment agreed to.