HC Deb 26 April 1961 vol 639 cc570-2
Mr. Vane

I beg to move, in page 15, line 5, at the end to add: (3) Where such a request is neither refused nor complied with within three months after it is made, it shall be deemed to have been refused. This Amendment is to ensure that a request is not sat on by the authority for too long. It is to provide that on a request for exemption from drainage rates there is no undue delay before the individual has a right of appeal to the Minister. This Clause deals with exemption from drainage rates on the individual who feels that the location of his property is such that it lies outside the definition which would bring him within a drainage district. It would be possible in some cases for a request to be taken out of a drainage district to be refused by the river board. He then has an appeal to the river board and, where the board is the authority, he has a right of appeal to the Minister.

The time limit we now propose is intended to allow an aggrieved individual to appeal to the river board or to the Minister within a reasonable time. It would otherwise be possible for the drainage board to be extremely dilatory in dealing with what is really not a very important piece of business. It is in the interests of the individual, and I hope that it will commend itself to the House.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

The Question is, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill." Those in favour say, "Aye"; to the contrary "No." I think the "Ayes" have it.

Mr. Willey

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 1, to leave out "three" and to insert "six."

Our purpose is really to discover whether our guess is as good as the hon. Gentleman's, and it is a matter on which we should be assured—

Mr. Turton rose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. If I may say so, I have been in error. I should have called the hon. Member to move his Amendment before I put the Question. The Question is, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill." I called the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) to move the Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 1, to leave out "three" and to insert "six."

Mr. Willey

That is what I understood—

Mr. Turton

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. We have already passed my hon. Friend's Amendment; it is part of the Bill.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

What the right hon. Gentleman says is quite true. I did it in error, and I hoped that the House would allow me to correct myself.

Mr. Willey

I am sure that the House would, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I will not detain hon. Members long, having got this fortuitous opportunity to speak to the Amendment.

I do not think that anyone would quarrel with the purpose of the Amendment moved by the Parliamentary Secretary. None would want anyone to be unduly prejudiced by dilatory action on the part of the public authority, but whether the period should be three months or six months is a difficult matter to decide. One would have to know a good deal about the experience of the boards concerned. We tabled our Amendment on the specific point of the time-limit in order to satisfy ourselves that this limit was fair both to the aggrieved party and to the authority which had to take the decision.

Mr. Vane

We considered this Amendment when it was tabled, and it seemed to us that it is not such a very big question to decide; that three months was ample time for an authority to deal with such a problem. It is an intimate sort of problem, and not one that should give an authority a great deal of trouble and work.

Mr. Willey

In view of that explanation, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.