HC Deb 01 April 1963 vol 675 cc114-21
Mr. Mellish

I beg to move, in page 10, line 10, to leave out from "satisfied" to the end of the subsection and to insert: that the Greater London Council have failed to carry out their functions in relation to the matters aforesaid". The purpose of this Amendment is to deal with the powers of the Minister in respect of his authority over the Greater London Council. As the Bill now stands, he can revoke or vary an order made by the Greater London Council in respect of traffic regulation or the provision of parking accommodation. I put down a similar Amendment in Committee, and we had a reasonable discussion on it.

This is a matter of fundamental principle, and I am glad it has come back before the House. We take the view that, if the Greater London Council is to be the sort of authority which most of us wish it to be, as a traffic authority and a planning authority, it should be allowed to function without too much interference from the Minister.

When we put down a similar Amendment previously, the Minister said that he opposed it because he felt that there were certain circumstances in which the Minister ought to interfere in matters of this kind, and he gave three instances. He said that he thought that the Minister ought to act to protect third parties, individuals, and traders in the boroughs. He said that the Greater London Council would be a new and untried body in traffic management. It would probably make mistakes, and, therefore, it was right that the Minister should have certain powers over it.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that these powers would be used only in the last resort. I think that the examples which he gave of hypothetical circumstances in which the Minister might intervene were based on the Minister's guilty conscience. The Minister's own record in many of these matters is, as we know, very bad indeed.

There was the Highgate lorry scheme, for example, which the hon. Member for Hornsey (Lady Gammans) would know something about, which the Minister introduced without any consultation with public opinion. The Minister was very surprised to find that there was an outcry, a result of which he had to modify the scheme. I think that he had that kind of guilt complex when he thought that the Greater London Council, unless he had some powers over it, might try to do the same sort of thing.

We do not hold that view. We believe that the Greater London Council, irrespective of what party controls it, would be very sensitive indeed to public opinion before it introduced any scheme. It would scarcely be necessary for the Minister of Transport to interfere and tell it what to do and how to do it. If it got to the stage that the Minister had to intervene, his own record is so bad that, quite frankly, we do not think that he is qualified to take these powers in the Bill. The Minister said that these would be only, what he called, reserved powers. He also said that the Minister should have powers sufficiently flexible to deal with the situations that might develop.

We do not think that those two arguments are parallel. After all the advice that we have taken on this matter, we ask the Minister to be far more sympathetic and understanding of what we have tried to do. It is not to deprive the Minister of the final say, because, to be quite fair, we realise that the Minister will have to pay for much of this, and, therefore, he should have a final say in it. We want to make sure that the Minister of Transport, especially the present Minister, will not have these powers because the Greater London Council will be looking over its shoulder all the time, wondering when, or how, the Minister of Transport will interfere.

Therefore, we say, firmly and frankly, that we think that the time has arrived when the Minister ought to give up these powers and accept our Amendment, which would mean that the Minister would have only default powers which would be restrictive. This we think is right and proper when dealing with a Minister of the kind that we have at present.

Mr. Hay

In view of the approach of seven o'clock the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) scampered through the explanation of what this Amendment was all about, and I had sympathy with him, but I wish that he had devoted more time to talking about the Amendment and less to making a number of provocative remarks in which he admitted openly that he was worried about these powers being in the hands of the present Minister of Transport. Since the Greater London Council will not come into force for some years, the anticipation of the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend will remain there is something that we all note. I do not wish to emulate his example.

I want to direct my attention to the Amendment. The words which the hon. Gentleman seeks to leave out have been the subject of a good deal of consideration. What we want to do is to give the Minister of Transport, as I said in Committee, the reserved powers to intervene if the Greater London Council either is about to go wrong over a traffic matter, or has exceeded its powers, or is not doing something that it ought to do.

We have throughout the Bill always taken the view that it is right and proper that the Minister responsible to this House should have these powers of intervention. I made it very clear in Committee that we did not intend to exercise these powers regularly and as a matter of normal course. The words that the hon. Gentleman would seek to leave out are, I admit, cumbersome. They read:

… circumstances exist which make it necessary for him "— that is, the Minister— so to do"— that is, to intervene— in order that the matters aforesaid may be secured, or may be secured only, in a manner and to the extent which is proper".

Mr. Mellish

Which powers are these?

Mr. Hay

The powers contained in the previous part of the subsection. The Amendment would simply leave it to the Minister to exercise his powers when he was satisfied that the Greater London Council have failed to carry out their functions"—

It being Seven o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill: —

The House divided: Ayes 213, Noes 151.

Division No. 86.] AYES [7.0 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Coulson, Michael Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Aitken, W. T. Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Harris, Reader (Heston)
Allason, James Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham) Critchley, Julian Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)
Barlow, Sir John Cunningham, Knox Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Barter, John Curran, Charles Hastings, Stephen
Batsford, Brian Currie, G. B. H. Hay, John
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Dance, James Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)
Berkeley, Humphry Digby, Simon Wingfield Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Doughty, Charles Hirst, Geoffrey
Biffen, John Drayson, G. B. Hobson, Sir John
Bingham, R. M. du Cann, Edward Hocking, Philip N.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Duncan, Sir James Holland, Philip
Bishop, F. P. Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John
Bossom, Clive Elliott,R.W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne,N.) Hornby, B. P.
Bourne-Arton, A. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.
Box, Donald Errington, Sir Eric Howard, Hon. C. R. (St. Ives)
Braine, Bernard Farey-Jones, F. W. Howard, John (Southampton, Test)
Brewis, John Farr, John Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter Finlay, Graeme Hughes-Young, Michael
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Fisher, Nigel Hulbert, Sir Norman
Buck, Antony Forrest, George Hutchison, Michael Clark
Burden, F. A. Foster, John Iremonger, T. L.
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Freeth, Denzil Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Cary, Sir Robert Gammans, Lady Jennings, J. C.
Channon, H. P. G. Gardner, Edward Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Chataway, Christopher Gibson-Watt, David Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Chichester-Clark R. Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central) Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Glyn, sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith
Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.) Goodhew, Victor Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Cleaver, Leonard Gower, Raymond Kerby, Capt. Henry
Cole, Norman Grant-Ferris, R. Kerr, sir Hamilton
Cooper, A. E. Green, Alan Kimball, Marcus
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Kirk, Peter
Corfield, F. V. Gurden, Harold Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Costain, A P. Hall, John (Wycombe) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Legge-Bourke, sir Harry Page, Graham (Crosby) Stanley, Hon. Richard
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Stevens, Geoffrey
Lilley, F. J. P. Partridge, E. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Linstead, Sir Hugh Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Storey, Sir Samuel
Litchfield, Capt. John Peel, John Studholme, Sir Henry
Longbottom, Charles Percival, Ian Tapsell, Peter
Longden, Gilbert Pitman, Sir James Temple, John M.
Loveys, Walter H. Pott, Percivall Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Price, David (Eastleigh) Thomas, Peter (Conway)
MacArthur, Ian Price, H. A. (Lewisham, w.) Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
McLaren, Martin Prior, J. M. L. Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Pym, Francis Turner, Colin
McMaster, Stanley R. Quennell, Miss J. M. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Macpherson,Rt.Hn.Niall(Dumfrles) Ramsden, James Van Straubenzee, W. R.
Maddan, Martin Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Vickers, Miss Joan
Maginnis, John E. Rees-Davies, W. R. Wakefield, Sir Wavell
Maitland, Sir John Renton, Rt. Hon. David Walder, David
Marshall, Douglas Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Marten, Neil Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool,S.) Wall, Patrick
Mathew, Robert (Honlton) Rabson Brown, Sir William Ward, Dame Irene
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Webster, David
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Roots, William Wells, John (Maidstone)
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Mills, Stratton St. Clair, M. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Miscampbell, Norman Scott,Hopkins, James Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Seymour, Leslie Wise, A. R.
Nabarro, Gerald Sharples, Richard Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Neave, Airey Shaw, M. Woodhouse, C. M.
Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Skeet, T. H. H. Woollam, John
Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick) Worsley, Marcus
Oakshott, Sir Hendrle Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John
Orr-Ewing, G. Ian Spearman, Sir Alexander TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Speir, Rupert Mr. Gordon Campbell and
Mr. Rees.
Alnsley, William Grey, Charles Morris, John
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Griffiths, David (Bother Valley) Mulley, Frederick
Awbery, Stan (Bristol Central) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Bacon, Miss Alice Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)
Barnett, Guy Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Oram, A. E.
Beaney, Alan Harper, Joseph Oswald, Thomas
Bence, Cyril Hayman, F. H. Owen, Will
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Benson, Sir George Hill, J. (Midlothian) Pargiter, G. A.
Blackburn, F. Hilton, A. V. Pavitt, Laurence
Boardman, H. Holman, Percy Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(Lelcs, S.W.) Houghton, Douglas Pentland, Norman
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr) plummer, Sir Leslie
Bowles, Frank Hunter, A. E. Popplewell, Ernest
Boyden, James Hynd, H. (Accrington) Price, J. T. (westhoughton)
Bradley, Tom Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Probert, Arthur
Brockway, A. Fenner Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Rankin, John
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Janner, Sir Barnett Reynolds, G. W.
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Rhodes, H.
Chapman, Donald Jeger, George Robertson, John (Paisley)
Cliffe, Michael Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Ross, William
Collick, Percy Jones, Dan (Burnley) Royle, Charles (Salford, West)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Kelley, Richard Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Key, nt. Hon. C. W. Short, Edward
Cronin, John King, Dr. Horace Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Crosland, Anthony Lawson, George Skeffington, Arthur
Dalyell, Tam Lee, Frederick (Newton) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Small, William
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lipton, Marcus Snow, Julian
Deer, George Lubbock, Eric Sorensen, R. W.
Delargy, Hugh MacColl, James Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Dempsey, James McKay, John (Wallsend) Spriggs, Leslie
Diamond, John Mackie, John (Enfield, East) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Dodds, Norman McLeavy, Frank Stones, William
Donnelly, Desmond MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Driberg, Tom Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Swingler, Stephen
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Taverne, D.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Manuel, Archie Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Mapp, Charles Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Finch, Harold Mason, Roy Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Fitch, Alan Mayhew, Christopher Thornton, Ernest
Fletcher, Eric Mellish, R. J. Tomney, Frank
Galpern, Sir Myer Mendelson, J. J. Wainwright, Edwin
Ginsburg, David Millan, Bruce Warbey William
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mitchison, G. R. Watkins, Tudor
Greenwood, Anthony Monslow, Walter Weitzman, David
Wells, Percy (Faversham) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
White, Mrs. Eirene Willis, E. C. (Edinburgh, E.) Zilliacus, K.
Willey, Frederick Winterbottom, R. E.
Williams, LI. (Abertillery) Woof, Robert TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Redhead and Dr. Broughton

Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions on Amendments, moved by a member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to that part of the Bill to be concluded at Seven o'clock.