HC Deb 21 July 1961 vol 644 cc1628-30

Lords Amendment: In page 32, line 25, leave out from "Authority" to end of line 27 and insert: , such number of persons appointed by the Authority, being officers thereof, as may be determined from time to time by the Authority, and such number of other persons so appointed, not being less than nine nor more than twelve, as may be so determined.

Mr. Soames

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

It may be for the convenience of the House if I take at the same time the next two Amendments, which are consequential. The Clause provided that the traffic committee should consist of the managing director of the Authority as chairman and from nine to twelve other members appointed by the Authority who are to be traffic experts. The purpose of these Amendments and of later Amendments to Clause 35 and the Fourth Schedule is to ensure the closest possible liaison between the Authority and its three statutory advisory committees. It has always been our intention that the Authority and its three committees should work, as it were, in partnership. For this reason, we provided that the managing director, who is, of course, a member of the Authority, should be a member and should be chairman of its three committees.

It might happen that the managing director was away on business elsewhere and not able to attend the committee. We felt it right, therefore, to widen the scope and not limit membership to the managing director, so that the Authority can ensure that when these bodies meet there will always be a member of the Authority present. This will make for the good working of the Authority, otherwise part of its function might be nullified.

Mr. John Hall

We are considering an addition to an important committee, the Covent Garden traffic committee. I know that one unkind definition of committees is that they consist of the unfit drawn from the unwilling to do the unnecessary. That is certainly not the case with the Covent Garden traffic committee, which will have an important task to fulfil. The Clause specifies that certain of the persons nominated to the committee must be traffic experts.

I have two questions to ask my hon. Friend. First, how many officers will be nominated? Why is not a restriction placed on the number of officers of the Authority to be elected or nominated to the committee? Secondly, will they in each case be experts in traffic problems? I should have thought it necessary to restrict the numbers, otherwise it could well happen that the Authority, by virtue of its power to nominate officers to the committee, could outnumber all the other nominated members. That would not necessarily be desirable. It is essential that these people should have expert knowledge of traffic problems.

Mr. Mellish

I believe that the Minister is right. The Amendment will ensure that representation from the management side is not confined to the Chairman. If the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) looks at subsection (1), he will see that it specifies the membership of the traffic committee and that by subsection (2), seven of the twelve members will represent certain named authorities, by whom they will be nominated. I am quite happy about the Amendment.

Mr. John Hall

I do not think that the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) has studied the Amendments clearly. The Amendment to line 25 goes on to say such number of persons appointed by the Authority, being officers thereof, as may be determined from time to time". That does not seem to me to limit the number in any way.

11.45 a.m.

Mr. Soames

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) that the Amendment could he read as he suggested so that the Authority may appear to be swamping the committee, as it were, with its own officers. That, however, is not the object. The intention was that the managing director of the Authority should be chairman of the committees. It would be disadvantageous if we did not provide for somebody else to attend in the absence of the managing director. The object is to have on the committee a member of the Authority, whether the managing director or not. The substitute for the managing director will not be a traffic expert any more than the managing director himself. The object of the Amendment is not to increase the representation of the Authority on the committee, but to ensure that the Authority is represented on it.

Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan

Before we part with the Amendment, which seems to me to be sound, the attention of the House should be drawn to the rather curious English which we are now perpetuating in the Statute Book. If my right hon. Friend looks at the Amendment in line 39, he will find that from the words "no person", we are inflicting upon the Statute Book a double negative. Although it may be good, common practice, it is not usually part of the Queen's English. One ought in fairness to say that the Amendment should have been written to provide that any person appointed to be a member shall be rather than the cumbersome wording of no person shall be … neither … nor …".

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.