HC Deb 23 June 1961 vol 642 cc1866-83
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. John Hay)

I beg to move, in page 5, line 19, at the end to insert: (4) A highway authority shall not exercise their powers under subsection (1) of this section in such a manner as to be likely to cause damage to or affect the drainage of any land or works used for the purposes of a railway or canal undertaking, except—

  1. (a) after giving not less than fourteen days' notice to the undertakers of the manner in which it is proposed to exercise those powers; and
  2. 1867
  3. (b) in accordance with any reasonable requirements of the undertakers of which notice is given to the authority within fourteen days from the date of the authority's notice;
and any question whether any such requirement is reasonable shall, in default of agreement, be determined by the Minister. This Clause is intended to give a highway authority power to fill in a ditch adjoining or lying near to a highway which constitutes a danger to people who use the highway. As an alternative to filling in the ditch, there are powers in Subsection (1, d) to lay pipes in the ditch, or on land adjoining it, to deal with drainage, and thereafter to fill in the ditch.

The new subsection (4) is intended to give some protection to the British Transport Commission where that type of thing is done by a highway authority. I should explain that Clause 6 is based upon powers which several county councils as highway authorities have obtained under local Acts. When those local Acts were before Parliament, the British Transport Commission sought and obtained various protective provisions. It is not, therefore, surprising that in this public Bill it has pressed for similar protection.

The Committee must remember that the Commission is under certain statutory duties to carry on its railway and canal undertakings and has very heavy responsibilities placed upon it by Parliament, to ensure the safety of its work. In many enactments, both private and general, Parliament has recognised that this is the situation and has been willing to give the Commission the necessary protective provisions.

Railway and canal undertakings are, of course, a little different from some other types of property with which the Bill is concerned. Not only do railway and canal works have to be properly drained, but in many cases the general drainage system of the land which they traverse had to be preserved when the railway or canal was built. That was done by making ditches alongside embankments, or carried under embankments, over bridges or structures by means of pipes or culverts. If a highway authority exercised the powers to be conferred by the Clause in an injudicious manner, that could have a serious effect on the work of the under- takings, and in some cases the results might be dangerous. We should therefore be willing to insert some limited protection in respect of railways and canals.

Hon. Members will see from its text that the Amendment does not invite the undertakers, the British Transport Commission in this case, to refuse its consent to the carrying out of the works. All it does is to give the Commission the right to be informed of the manner in which the works are to be done and to impose reasonable requirements for its protection. For instance, if it chooses, it can require that the pipes should be of a certain capacity, or that any proposed connection of pipes to an existing railway culvert or drain should be so contrived as to enable the undertakers to inspect and maintain the culvert as previously.

I hope that the Committee will think that this is a reasonable and sensible Amendment to make.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

On a point of order. Would it be convenient for you to tell the Committee. Sir Gordon, whether you intend to call the Amendment in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Dudley Williams), in page 9, line 1 [Clause 12], leave out subsection (6), which also deals with drainage?

The Chairman

That Amendment has not be recommitted. We are now dealing with the recommittal stage.

12.45 p.m.

Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)

I am a little unhappy about this Amendment. The operative word in Clause 6 is "danger". These operations arise only when there is an anticipated danger to the public on a public highway. When there is, the highway authority carries out its statutory and moral duty to protect the public. A sensible highway authority will not seriously endanger a railway or canal if it can avoid it, and it can reasonably be expected, if it has time, to consult the British Transport Commission. However, in some cases it may have to step in fairly quickly.

I do not like the idea of one public authority being placed under a legal liability towards another when carrying out its statutory duties. The precedent of what has happened in Private Bills on this matter is not a good precedent, because it is common knowledge that in getting through a Private Bill one has to bargain and make concessions.

I can well understand a county council trying to get a Bill through and buying off the opposition of various transport authorities. Opposition to Private Bill legislation can often be well organised and effective. However, to say that Parliament dealing with the same problem ought to give in to the same kind of pressure is another matter, and I have some misgivings about the idea that a highway authority should not be expected to act sensibly.

I am somewhat unhappy about having a transport authority placed in a sort of special privileged position when a public duty is being undertaken by a highway authority, which is an elected authority, for the protection of the public. That ought to be the prime concern and everything else should be subsidiary to it.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)

I cannot fully agree with the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). This is a matter of mutual responsibility. There may be a road which a local authority, or whoever is responsible for its maintenance, thinks should be properly drained in case the road subsides. Alongside the road there may be a railway or canal undertaking which has to have special arrangements for its protection because of the nature of the undertaking. It is not unreasonable to say that if the road authority alters the system of drainage it should inform the canal or railway authority. It might be that by making some reasonable alteration to the drainage of the road the drainage of the canal or the railway undertaking would be adversely affected. It is not unreasonable that there should be some sort of consultation for both undertakings to arrive at a system of mutual benefit.

However, I would like my hon. Friend to say where the final responsibility is to lie. It may be possible to drain the road, or fill in the ditch, or whatever it is, at a very low cost, but it may be that owing to the adjacency of the railway undertaking or the canal, very complex and difficult arrangements have to be made by the authority repairing the road. It might be involved in a great deal of excessive expenditure. Is there any sort of arrangement about who would pay for the final scheme if its costs were in excess of what it would have reasonably cost to drain the road?

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

The Amendment raises an issue of very great importance. Clause 6 says: If it appears to the highway authority…that a ditch on land adjoining or lying near to the highway constitutes a danger… It is not that it is, not that anybody says that it is, not that anybody faces the responsibility if anything should go wrong, not that anybody exposes himself to an action for damages if he makes a mistake. It has only to appear to the highway authority that there is a danger. If there is a danger, someone somewhere should do something about it. The Minister then comes along under pressure from the Transport Commission and puts in a form of words which in the quietness of his room seems reasonable.

Mr. Hay indicated dissent.

Mr. Wigg

The reason why we get into this position is that it is proposed to give power far beyond that which was thought necessary by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken). I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his good fortune in being able to introduce the Bill, but the idea behind it is so important that the Government have taken over the Bill. It is their Bill and not the hon. Gentleman's. The Government are hiding behind the Bill because if they came along with a Bill of this kind and had to face their supporters in the 1922 Committee they would be in difficulty.

We hear about Crichel Down and so on, but would the Minister find himself in political difficulties if he did what common sense demanded? If there is a danger, of course something ought to be done. If it concerns a private individual, if it is me, or one of my hon. Friends, action is taken without reference to us, but if one happens to be big enough, never mind how great the danger, one has to be given fourteen days' notice. In the meantime, people can be drowned, or break their necks, or a dozen and one things can happen. There is no concern about the danger or the size or gravity of the problem provided that the influence which one can bring to bear is powerful enough to make the Minister come down to the House on a Friday and ostensibly put down an Amendment to a Bill introduced by a private Member.

This Bill ought to be taken over by the Government. We ought to call the proceedings on this Bill to an end today. The Government should take it away and introduce it in their time. If they hold the view that the Bill is right—and I think that the idea behind it is sound—they should accept the political responsibility of putting through a Measure of this kind. If there is a danger, let us deal with it. If the rights of the Transport Commission are infringed, or if it is put in a position of difficulty in running its organisation, that should be taken into account, but do not let us put vague and nebulous words into a Bill. Do not let us give limited powers in one direction and restrict them in another.

If it were a ditch belonging to an hon. Gentleman opposite, or to one of my hon. Friends, this would not arise. This is not the way to treat the House of Commons. This is why things are continually going wrong. This is the idea of a Government who have lost their way. They have lost their theme. Everything is being done ad hoc. A staff officer in the War Office, describing one of their military operations a few years ago, said that it should be described as per ardua ad hoc. The Government should think about those words, for their handling of the Bill is another example of that approach. I hope that they will accept responsibility for what is a good Bill. I hope that they will take it away and slop cluttering up the business of the Committee today because we have other more important Measures with which we want to deal. I hope that if the Bill comes to an untimely end today the Government will deal with it as Government business.

Mr. Dudley Williams

I do not think that I want to follow the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) too closely, because if I do I might not have his good fortune in keeping within the rules of order.

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. That remark is a grave reflection on the Chair. I am sure that if I had been within a thousand miles of being out of order you would have drawn my attention to it.

The Chairman

The hon. Member was on the periphery.

Mr. Williams

That was the point I was going to make. I cannot hope to be as skilful as the hon. Gentleman. As he said, we want to get on to the other interesting legislation on the Order Paper. In particular, I want to say something about the Motor Vehicles (Passenger Insurance) Bill.

My view of the Amendment is different from that of the hon. Gentleman. I agree that this is a complicated Bill and that it might have been better if it had been brought forward by the Government. I am in favour of the Amendment to the extent that I accept the principle behind it, but I do not think that it goes far enough.

If the filling in of a ditch with affect the British Transport Commission, the Commission should have the right to be consulted. I do not consider it desirable that there should be the possibility of assets under the control of the British Transport Commission being seriously damaged by unwise work done by a local authority. The Commission ought to be able to warn the authority concerned that if the work is not carried out in such-and-such a way there is a serious danger of embankments or whatever it is, which the ditch had been put there to protect, subsiding.

Mr. Aitken

Railways are different from other statutory undertakings. The tracks sometimes go for miles along the side of a road and might be seriously affected by ditches being filled in. The works of other statutory undertakings are usually underground, or high in the air. Does my hon. Friend not agree that the railways are in a different position?

Mr. Williams

Perhaps my hon. Friend did not hear what I said. I agree with the idea behind the Amendment, but I do not think that it goes far enough. I am concerned about other people who are likely to suffer, and I think that this was the point made by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). He was concerned about damage being done to other people's interests because they had not the right to be warned by a local authority that some work was to be carried out.

I think that I shall be within the rules of order if I give some examples. A church in Devonshire has a ditch on one side of it. It is conceivable that if one is walking round the church and one has bad sight one might fall into that ditch. The local authority may then say that the ditch must be filled in. This ditch has been there for many years, and I am told that if the ditch is filled in serious damage will result to the structure of the church. That point ought to be borne in mind.

I think that the Amendment should go further if my hon. Friend will give an undertaking that in another place he will seek to extend the scope of the Amendment, I might find it possible to support it now. I would find it very difficult to support an Amendment as limited as this which is designed to protect the British Transport Commission but which excludes the Church Commissioners.

The next example relates to factories. I know several factories which have ditches round them. If they were filled in by the local authority, serious damage might be caused to those factories. There may be accidents involving hundreds of people. I do not consider it wrong in principle to ask that this protection, which I maintain is rightly given to the British Transport Commission, should be extended so that other bodies would have similar chances of voicing their disapproval of action proposed to be taken by local authorities.

1.0 p.m.

I see that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is having ammunition delivered to him. I hope that he can set my fears at rest but, if he does not, I must warn the Committee that I should find it very difficult to let this Amendment go through without challenge. If I could get an undertaking from my hon. Friend that between now and the passage of the Bill through another place, careful examination would be made of this point, I would be prepared to support the Amendment now but, as I say, I should find it very difficult to do that if it were to be allowed to go through another place in its present form and, possibly, become the law of the country, so giving protection to the British Transport Com- mission but leaving out other worthy bodies that I have mentioned.

Mr. J. Wells

I support the Amendment because our canal system is at present facing grave difficulties and, unless it is protected in small matters like this, there is always a risk of further deterioration. It is quite essential that the British Transport Commission should have the safeguards offered to the canals by this Amendment.

I have a slightly different view about the railway position although, obviously, one cannot have half the provision and not the other half. The argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) that the railways run for miles and miles alongside the highway seemed very reasonable, but my experience in the West Country is that the railways are by no means the best of neighbours in dealing with matters of ditch maintenance and the filling in of ditches.

Matters concerning ditches are among the most frequent causes of conflict between neighbours in the country areas, so why should the railways, who are bad neighbours, get preferential treatment? The argument for the canals is strong, because alterations of the drainage system are important matters, but the railways should be pulled up lather smartly and reminded of their duties, and should not be given further safeguards when they themselves neglect their neighbourly duties.

Mr. John E. Talbot (Brierley Hill)

I support the Amendment in all respects, and I think that some hon. Members have misconceived its purpose. I do not think that Clause 6 is meant to deal with something immediate and active, such as a landslip which has caused the road to be fenced off, or a flood which causes a subsidence. The danger envisaged here is a potential danger arising from a situation that is potentially dangerous. That, perhaps, is a lawyer's way of putting it, but, if I may give an example, I would point out that dangerous driving does not always end in a collision, and a situation of potential danger can exist which, if properly dealt with, can be alleviated without any actual damage resulting from it.

That is the type of danger that I believe subsection (1) has in mind and, applicable to everyone are two safeguards. First of all, by subsection (1, a) the occupier has the right to refuse his consent. If he consents, the ditch is filled in at once but, if he objects, the authorities have to act under subsection (1, b) and must …place in the ditch, or in land adjoining or lying near to it, such pipes as they consider necessary in substitution for the ditch… I think that safeguard is adequate.

The purpose of the Amendment is plainly this. By the action of the local authority under paragraphs (a) and (b) a danger, in the potential sense, can be obviated by work done on the property of a private individual, and what the Commission quite rightly wants to ensure is that that danger is not transferred from a public highway to its own premises which are, in other senses, just as much a public highway as are the roads. The Commission wants a special degree of consultation in respect of that.

Water, when uncontrolled does funny things, and what might be of little damage to the property of a private individual might cause serious trouble if diverted into a canal or other railway undertaking. The Commission is right to ask the Minister for this Amendment in order that it might have some small degree of prior power to decide how far the work ought to be done in relation to its own specific problems.

I see no more in this Amendment than that. If that is the position, I commend the Amendment to the House as a very necessary degree of protection for railway and canal undertakings, and I here dissociate myself from any "cracks" about the nationalised industries as such. We are here considering the railways and canals in the light that they, in their sphere, run a type of service to the community similar to that performed, in their sphere, by the highway authorities.

Mr. Hay

I should like to answer some of the criticisms that have been made of this Amendment. It is important to realise, as my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Talbot) has just pointed out, that Clause 6 is intended to deal with a situation that is not of immediate but of potential danger. In Clause 8 there is provision for the removal of an obstruction on the road or in the road, which may be an actual danger, but the roadside ditch can really become a danger to traffic only if a vehicle gets off the carriageway, on to the verge and thence into the ditch. As we said in the Standing Committee, there are numbers of such ditches, and we think it right to do something to put that matter right.

There has been a good deal of criticism of the fact that this Amendment gives special treatment to the British Transport Commission. I feel sure that no hon. Member has put forward criticism of that kind simply because this is a nationalised industry, or simply because he has views about the railways or canals. The plain fact is that the Commission operates railway and canal undertakings all over the country. It is under a statutory obligation, placed on it by our forebears in this House, to see that its permanent way, its methods of operation, and so on, are safe. What it fears. I think rightly, is that unless there is some protection for its undertaking, the powers in the Clause could—and I emphasise the word "could"—be used in a way that might make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Commission to discharge that statutory obligation in respect of some parts of its undertaking.

Perhaps I may be permitted to give the Committee an example of how this would arise in practice. Let us imagine that a stretch of railway has been built over an embankment. As part of the drainage arrangements for that embankment, water may be allowed to run off into a ditch that passes across open country and runs alongside the road.

Under the powers of the Clause, unless the Amendment is made, the highway authority, if it considered that that particular part of the ditch which ran alongside the road was dangerous, would have the power to go ahead and fill it in, or pipe it and then fill in, and the authority might possibly fill it in without regard to the fact that this stretch of drain or ditch was on integral part of the drainage system of the embankment of the railway some distance away.

All that the Amendment says is that before a highway authority exercises its powers it has to tell the British Transport Commission how it proposes to do the work. It does not have to obtain the permission of the Commission. It simply has to inform it of the way the work is proposed to be done, and paragraph (b) of the new subsection in the Amendment would expect the British Transport Commission to ask the local highway authority to carry out the work in such a way as to preserve its drainage rights.

This case can be distinguished from that of statutory undertakers, such as gas and electricity, for the simple reason, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) said in an intervention, that those undertakers have their apparatus above or below the ground. They do not have to deal with questions of drainage as does the Commission in respect of canals and railways. The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) asked whether there would be a good deal of delay if there were this provision in the Clause. It is possible that there could be delay but, as I have already said, we are not seeking to deal with an immediately dangerous situation such as some structure coming on to the road, for example a fallen tree. We are seeking to deal with a roadside ditch which might become a hazard to traffic. Therefore, I do not think that the argument that delay would be caused by the requirement to tell the Commission what the highway authority was doing and how the work was to be done would have all that significance.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) asked what would be the financial position, and whether if the Commission wanted rather elaborate work done the highway authority would be obliged to meet the complete cost. That possibility could arise, but these matters as between public authorities are frequently matters of negotiation and it will be seen that the last two lines of the Amendment read: and any question whether any such requirement is reasonable shall, in default of agreement, he determined by the Minister. In this case it is the Minister of Transport.

I apprehend that if there were a dispute or failure of negotiations on the financial side between the Transport Commission and the highway authority on a matter of this sort it would be for the Minister of Transport to arbitrate and finally decide the matter. Obviously, he would seek to hold the balance equitably between the two authorities but I think that the possibility of argument arising between them and getting to that stage is pretty remote.

My hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Dudley Williams), asked whether this protection could not be conferred on other people, for instance, the Church Commissioners. I think that my hon. Friend has not read with his customary assiduity the first part of the Clause to which this is an Amendment, because subsection (2) points out that the provisions of Section 103 of the Highways Act, 1959, are attracted by the Clause. That Section gives power to local highway authorities to compensate anyone damaged by the exercise of the powers to lay pipes and construct ditches. Therefore, if some other person was afraid that he would be damaged by the way the local authority would fill up the ditch, he would have the right to compensation. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend, who is not here at the moment, will note this and will decide that he can support the Amendment.

1.15 p.m.

The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) criticised us for hiding behind my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds and he suggested that we should take over the Bill. Anyone who has been concerned with the Bill since it first saw the light of day, and with respect I do not think that the hon. Member has been, will know that at an early stage the Ministry of Transport was approached by the County Councils' Association, which represents all the highway authorities in the country, and was asked to give assistance in drafting and to agree to various provisions in the Bill. In fact we have helped my hon. Friend and we have done most of the drafting ourselves.

There was no question of our trying to hide behind a private Member. Here was my hon. Friend with a perfectly good Bill but some of the provisions were not technically correct in their drafting. We helped and we added a number of powers which highway authorities, including my right hon. Friend who is himself a highway authority, might well have.

It is not therefore a sensible suggestion on the part of the hon. Member for Dudley that we should withdraw from the proceedings and introduce the Bill in Government time. We have perfectly good time here for private Members. Here is an excellent Bill with which we have done our best. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member will not resist what we are doing and that the Committee will agree to the Amendment, which ought to be made, which is reasonable, and which will not have disadvantageous repercussions on other people and authorities. I hope that it will be added to the Bill.

Mr. Wigg

The hon. Gentleman is pushing at an open door for the second time. He makes an absolutely cast-iron case on behalf of action in the interests of the British Transport Commission. We all accept that. He looked at me in a pained way when I suggested that he was hiding behind the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken). There is nothing disgraceful about that. The hon. Gentleman does not have to attack me. I did not attack him, and I welcome action.

Mr. Hay

Does the hon. Member remember the words of the old song: "It ain't so much the words he said, but rather the way he said 'em"?

Mr. Wigg

Such vulgar songs pass over my head. I was paying the hon. Gentleman a compliment. Here is something that should be done. The Government did not want to do it themselves. I leave their motives on one side. They see that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has had good fortune in the Ballot and the good sense to promote this Bill. They then say, "Here is a stalking horse. We will help him to do something we ought to have done years ago." There is nothing wrong about it. It might not be courageous on the part of the Government but at least it is action.

Mr. Aitken

May I relieve the rising tension by saying that I do not mind in the least getting all the help I can from the Government? The Bill has been greatly improved as a result.

The Chairman

May I remind the Committee that we are discussing the Amendment?

Mr. Wigg

May I, with respect, say that, if I am attacked by a Government spokesman, with all the authority that he exercises from the Treasury Bench, surely I can say a word in my defence. Again I repeat that I testify to the wisdom of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds in accepting all the help he can obtain. This is a good Bill which the Government ought to have promoted a long time ago.

Then the Minister, as an alibi, as it were, as an additional reason or as a defence against me, says that it is not so; and that he has taken the trouble to find out that the County Councils' Association is the candidate for a stained glass window in this matter.

The Chairman

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman but he must deal with the Amendment.

Mr. Wigg

I am coming to the Amendment but, with respect, Sir Gordon, it was not I who introduced the County Councils' Association into this discussion. It was the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. I am pointing out that it does not add to the merits of this Bill that the County Councils' Association and not—

The Chairman

Order We are not discussing the merits of the Bill, bust only the Amendment.

Mr. Wigg

I agree, Sir Gordon. I am coming to the Amendment. I am making a point, in answer to the Minister, about what he regards as a matter of great virtue. I found out a long time ago that the County Councils' Association, which properly wanted something done, could not get the Government to do it, and so it got the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds to do it. But, as the Minister has admitted, the Government have done most of the drafting. Now they come with the proposition that, If it appears to the highway authority… it is all right for everybody else.

That should not do for any hon. Member of this House. Nor for anything in relation to the ordinary lives and property of anybody. Nor—as we shall be discussing later—for their shrubs and trees. If it happened to appeal to some member of the county council, and if he were eminent enough, he could fill in ditches and tear down trees without giving any notice at all. But if is a case of the British Transport Commission, fourteen days' notice has to be given.

I do not think that is right. There is one freedom for all. This is tyranny, or the back-door to tyranny, and how tyranny starts—

Mr. J. Wells

It is Socialism.

Mr. Wigg

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that that is Socialism, he has given a good reason why he has followed a misguided political future. If he understood Socialism he would be with me on this side of the Committee—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not helping me. The Committee is discussing only this Amendment. It is not even discussing the Clause as a whole, far less the wider question of Socialism.

Mr. Wigg

As you know, Sir Gordon, it is always my anxiety to help the Chair, and not to trespass on your kindness. But if I am continually interrupted, I must, in all fairness, explain where I stand.

I am not condemning the principle of the Amendment. It is a perfectly good Amendment to a perfectly good Bill. It is only that some of the words in it are wrong. I think it wrong that only in the case of the Commission—because they cannot face the arguments and the representations of the Commission—should the Government make this concession. Of course it is right that this concession should be made in respect of the Commission. But if it is right for the Commission, it should not be left to any highway authority to take any action which it likes to take, without giving notice, and without having to show cause, or without being accountable for its actions, merely because some anonymous individual on a county council says that something "appears to him" to be so.

I do not think that that is right and I am astonished that the Chamber is not crowded with hon. Members wishing to challenge the Government on this issue. I am sure that if the Government had taken responsibility for what I believe to be their Bill, a reactionary body like the County Councils' Association would not have had the temerity to come to the Government with such a proposition, because that would have put the Government in difficulties. So it chose another way, and that is what we are discussing today.

Regarding this Amendment and its relation to the Commission, I repeat that I do not share the view of the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Dudley Williams). I support the Amendment. I do not want to hold up the progress of this Bill. I hope that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds will be good enough to indicate that action will be taken in another place where there are still some supporters—not of liberty which is a nineteenth century word, but of freedom. I consider that the Anglo-Saxon word, "freedom", is much better. There are those who will defend the freedom of the individual against tyranny, whether exercised in Whitehall or in the county town of any county, and who will see that the rights and property of people are defended and not submerged for the benefit of administrative convenience.

If the hon. Gentleman or the Government—I do not know who will answer in this context would give an assurance that in another place the rights and freedom of the individual will be safeguarded; if they will be as responsive to those rights as they have been to the admirable case put forward by the Commission, I shall vote with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds if this matter goes to a division.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee proceeded to a Division—

Mr. Wigg (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. You wrongly announced the names of the Tellers. I suggest that the Tellers be called again.

The Chairman

I did correct the names of the Tellers to Mr. Lipton and Mr. Wigg.

Mr. Wigg

With respect, Sir Gordon. You having called the names of the Tellers, many hon. Members had departed from the Chamber and the possibility exists that they will have been misled by the names of the Tellers. It is my respectful submission that the Division should be called again.

Question put, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee proceeded to a Division. Mr. AITKEN and Mr. TALBOT were appointed Tellers for the Ayes; but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes, The CHAIRMAN declared that the Ayes had it.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended (in the Standing Committee and on recommittal), considered.