HC Deb 13 May 1960 vol 623 cc771-2

Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to prohibit a committee of a public body from admitting the public to its meetings.—[Mr. Kirk.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

11.5 a.m.

Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)

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

The point in the Clause is quite a small one. It seeks to re-enact Section 4 of the 1908 Act, which is repealed by this Bill. Section 4 of that Act reads word for word the same as this Clause, with one change to take account of the change in the scope of the Bill which took place in Standing Committee. Section 4 of the earlier Act reads: Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to prohibit a committee of a local authority from admitting representatives of the press to its meetings. I have simply altered that to read "admitting the public."

It might be thought that this re-enactment is unnecessary, but I am advised that otherwise it might be possible to question the practice of a very large number of councils that do admit the Press—and will, presumably, admit the public—to certain of their committee meetings. I very much hope that the House will agree to include this very small item in the Bill in order to make it abundantly clear that it is legal for committees to have members of the public present at their meetings should they so desire.

Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

My only comment on this new Clause is that I am advised that its inclusion is quite unnecessary. The Bill requires a minimum of amendments to be made by local authorities to their standing orders, but there is nothing to prevent them carrying out things in addition to those mentioned in this Measure.

I have one very great objection to including an unnecessary Clause, and that is that it might later have unforeseen effects on the construction of the Bill as a whole if any particular item in it came under adjudication by the courts. That is my only reason for resisting the amendment, but I believe it to be a valid reason, dependent on the construction of the Bill.

Question put and negatived.