HC Deb 30 April 1964 vol 694 cc723-5

9.56 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 16, to leave out from "area" to the end of line 30 and to insert: to be known as the inner London area, consisting of the inner London boroughs; (b) an area to be known as the northeast London area, consisting of the London boroughs of Barking, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest; (c) an area to be known as the southeast London area, consisting of the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley and Croydon; (d) an area to be known as the southwest London area, consisting of the London boroughs of Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton; (e) an area to be known as the Middlesex area, consisting of the London boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow. This Amendment is designed merely to simplify the reading of subsection (1) by substituting names for numbers. When the Bill was first introduced, these new London boroughs could be known only by their numbers because their names had not yet been assigned to them. Since then, they have acquired their names and I hope that the House will agree that it is much better that they should be described by their names, which everybody will long remember, rather than by their numbers, which people would soon forget.

Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)

I am glad that the Middlesex area has been defined in the Amendment. I am particularly glad, too, that in another place it was insisted that one of the London commission areas for the administration of justice—the North-West area, as it was originally called—should be called Middlesex. I am also pleased to note in the Bill that Subject to the provisions of this Act, a London commission area shall be deemed to be a county. Therefore, the area of which we are speaking in Middlesex is indeed thought of for the purposes of the Bill as a county. I am glad of that, because we cannot throw one thousand years of history in Middlesex into the dustbin.

What is Middlesex in truth but the old province of the Middle Saxons, of the old Kingdom of Mercia, which was founded by Offa, the first King of the English? Although the County Council is to be abolished, Middlesex is still a geographical area and for certain purposes is still a county. Two million people will live in it and, therefore, it will still be a respected part of the country.

For the purposes of the Bill and from the Amendment which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has moved, my constituency of Twickenham, which is now for local government purposes part of Richmond-upon-Thames, will be within the south-west area for the purposes of administration of justice. I want, however, to ask my right hon. Friend two or three questions, because Twickenham is in an anomalous position. Geographically, for the purpose of postal address, we are in Middlesex. Apparently, under the Bill, for the purpose of administration of justice we shall be in the south-west area, which was part of Surrey.

What will happen to the petty sessional cases which at present arise in Twickenham? They now go to Brent-ford or to Feltham, both of which are in Middlesex. Are they to go to Richmond? I understand that the Richmond magistrates' court is a very small place and it is doubtful whether it could take the large number of petty sessional cases which arise in a large constituency of over 100,000 people. Are we, therefore, to continue in Middlesex?

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.