HC Deb 02 June 1960 vol 624 cc1656-8

Except as otherwise expressly provided. Part I of this Act shall not apply to land in the administrative county of London.—[Sir W. Wakefield.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Sir Wavell Wakefield (St. Marylebone)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

Section 22 of the London County Council (General Powers) Acts, 1959, gives Metropolitan borough councils powers of control over moveable dwellings. That Section was intended to operate in London as a means of controlling caravan sites and their use.

The Bill includes Metropolitan borough councils as local authorities, in accordance with the definition in Clause 23. The House will agree that it is undesirable that the position should be duplicated in this fashion. It will be appreciated that, that being so, the Metropolitan boroughs are left with two alternatives—they can continue to be included in the provisions of the Bill, with the prospect of Section 22 being repealed, or they can be excluded from the provisions of the Bill.

The Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee has carefully considered those alternatives and has decided that the second is preferable. The reason is that action has been taken under Section 22 and would be wasted if the Bill repealed it. Section 22 required advertisements to be made before 31st October, last year, giving notice of intention for what will come into force on 1st October of this year. The Metropolitan boroughs feel that the provisions of Section 22 are wide enough to cover the London position. All of those who were members of the Standing Committee which considered the Bill will feel that it is inappropriate for London, but very desirable in many respects for handling the problems of the Provinces and the countryside. For that reason, I hope that the House will approve of the new Clause.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)

My hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W Wakefield) has made a good case. Parliament cannot wish there to be two concurrent codes for the control of caravans in London and it is as recently as 1959 that the London legislation was enacted. Much of the reason for the Bill in general is that the legislation is out of date, but in the case of London it is not. It was considered as short a time as a year ago, and, although they are not precisely identical with those of the Bill, there is no reason why we should repeal the London provisions and substitute these.

I observe that there is an Amendment to Clause 20 in page 14, line 17, at end insert: (9) This section extends to the administrative county of London and the expression "local authority" in this section as so extended includes the council of a metropolitan borough. to retain the application of Clause 20 to London, and I appreciate that the effect of the new Clause, therefore, will be to cut London out from the whole of Part I of the Bill, except for Clause 20 —if that Amendment is accepted. I can see nothing objectionable in that course of action, and I recommend the House to agree to it.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)

I fully appreciate the case which the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) has made. However, is it not a fact that the 1959 London legislation is much narrower than the scope of the Bill? If the additional powers contained in the Bill are not extended to London, will not the law relating to London be much narrower than for the rest of the country?

Mr. Brooke

I speak again by leave of the House. I do not think that it will be narrower. The caravan problem in London is rather different from that in the hon. Member's constituency of Anglesey. Although there are caravans in London, the number is relatively small and the licensing provisions in the London Act are similar to those of the Bill. I have examined the matter and I cannot see that any difficulty will arise if we allow London to have its own code which has been framed so recently and which has been endorsed so recently by the House.

Mr. Hughes

I fully appreciate the difference between the rural areas and London. However, the Minister is preparing model standards which will come into force when the Bill comes into force. They will not apply to London if the new Clause is accepted. I know that there are not many caravans in London, but there are some, and model standards, which the Minister is preparing in consultation with authorities concerned, should be applicable to the London area.

Mr. Brooke

It is true that technically the model standards will not apply in the London area. Nevertheless, every Metropolitan borough council will be able to familiarise itself with them. The London Act provides for the right of appeal to a magistrates' court against refusal of a site licence, or against conditions in site licences which are not acceptable. The magistrates will not be under any statutory obligation to see whether the site licence conditions are in line with those in the model standards, but in practice, surely, the effect will be that everybody will take note of the model standards. I do not see any difficulty arising.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.