HC Deb 08 May 1964 vol 694 cc1605-20

11.6 a.m.

Mr. W. Howie (Luton)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 23, to leave out "ten shillings" and to insert "five pounds".

I am rather loath to move any Amendment to this Bill at all, because I do not know much about horses. The only time when I have been in close contact with them they have had policemen on their backs, which has left me with an attitude towards them somewhat different from that of the promoters of the Bill. Whenever I see a horse I tend to run for cover.

This Bill deals not only with animals but with businesses. Certain persons are to be licensed to keep riding establishments, from which they hire out horses for profit or gain. That is not a bad thing, but, in regulating this business, the local authorities have to hire vets, provide people to inspect premises before granting licences, and make sure that the businesses are being run properly. That means trouble and cost, and I can see no reason why that cost should fall almost entirely on the ratepayers, who are already fairly hard hit.

I rather suspect that the 10s. fee in Clause 1 is a carry-over from the days before the war. Money has lost much of its cutting edge since 1939, and what was valued at 10s. before the war must obviously be valued much more highly now. I therefore propose to substitute a fee of £5. This would give the local authorities a certain amount of revenue with which to finance the entire job of looking after these establishments.

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)

While I appreciate the general desire to save ratepayers' money, I think that it would be a rather strange departure if we were to agree to the fee being increased from 10s. to £5. I would remind the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) that in two very recent enactments of a similar sort, the House, with the agreement of both sides, insisted on keeping the fee at 10s. In 1939 no licence at all was required. When we debated the Pet Animals Act, 1951, one or two hon. Members proposed a fee of £2, but this was subsequently reduced to 10s. When the Animal Boarding Establishments Act, which I sponsored last year and got through the House, was being debated, it proposed what was in my view a correct fee of £2, and not £5, because I thought that 10s. was too little. The Home Office resisted the proposal for a fee of £2 and in order to get the Bill through the House I went back to a 10s. fee.

I hope that if my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department agrees with this proposal in the Amendment he will give reasons why the Government sought to persuade me that £2 was too big a fee. Whether it is a boarding establishment or a riding establishment, I am sure that the costs are very much the same, and, if my hon. Friend agrees to the Amendment, it would be at least logical to amend in the same way all Acts dealing with animals. If the fee is too low at present it must be too low in all cases, but in fairness to all concerned and in order not to give preferential treatment to one sort of enterprise concerned with animals as against another, I think that it is better to leave the fee in the Bill at 10s.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)

I was in general agreement with the principles which the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) enunciated so well, but having listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) I feel that we are faced with a difficulty, in that if we adopted the Amendment we should be stepping out of line with similar legislation. The hon. Member for Luton raised an extremely important point, but I think that in the circumstances we would be well advised not to accept the Amendment. I hope that the hon. Member may agree that this is the right way of dealing with the matter.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)

I was also attracted by the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Howie). He explained his own attitude towards horses and said that, as a result of his own experience, it perhaps differed from that of the sponsors of the Bill. I assure him that my own experience of horses is very much the same as his, and I am one of the sponsors of the Bill.

I do not think that local authorities should be expected to do something at less than the cost to them if the result of their activities is to help establishments which are run for private profit. This is especially important in view of the growing number of local authorities coming under the control of the Labour Party. I was not convinced by the argument of the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) about the Pet Animals Act, 1951, because the purchasing power of the £ has dropped so much since that time. I should have thought that it was now time to review the whole question of fees to be paid for licences of this kind.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

I do not quarrel with that observation, but I would remind the hon. Member that I also mentioned that there was an Amendment to that Bill to lower the fee to keep in line with other legislation but that I had proposed £2 and there has not been all that drop in the value of money since then.

11.15 a.m.

Mr. Greenwood

The hon. Member's explanation shows that fees of this kind should be reviewed. It is a mistake to make local authorities charge fees which give the impression to persons who apply for a licence that it is not an important matter and that the survey made before the granting of the licence will be to a large extent a perfunctory examination. There is also the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton that the fee does not cover the expense to the local authorities or the fee which a veterinarian would charge. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will consider the whole ques- tion of fees for licences of this kind when the opportunity arises.

Mr. William Roots (Kensington, South)

My views differ entirely from those expressed so far. I am not happy that a fee should be charged at all. If it is to be charged it should be a fairly nominal one. Application for planning permission dealing with riding establishments incurs no fee. This is a duty on the local authority. If we give it the right to control the perfectly normal operation of user by the individual who owns the premises and we feel that that control is sensible and justified, it seems to me that that, of all things, is a normal exercise of local authority powers and that to impose a fee on one individual would be quite wrong.

Moreover, if my reading of the provisions in the Bill is correct, we must remember that the fee of £5, if it were made payable, would be virtually an annual charge, because the licence is to be renewed each year. We all know that it is unlikely that the premises will be involved in expensive inspection every year. It is the initial inspection that will be the important one.

Clause 1 (3), for example, enumerates the kind of things which may be looked at before a licence is granted—suitable accommodation, food, drink, and so on. These will not change from year to year. Therefore, to impose a fee of even 10s. is something of which I am doubtful, but to impose a fee of £5 would be a quite unfair imposition.

Many, and indeed I suppose all, of these riding establishments are not conducted merely for the entertainment or enjoyment of the owners. They provide a very real source of pleasure and recreation for members of the public. We are always being pressed that local authorities should spend vast sums of money on theatrical, musical and other kinds of entertainment. Be that as it may, when somebody proposes to provide a very welcome and admirable source of recreation for members of the public, even though they are going to pay a hiring charge, surely we should put in their way as little as possible by way of objection, difficulty or expense in establishing such places. We must also remember that while many of these premises are expensive and have many horses there are a great many others which are usually run on shoestrings. It is a difficult and expensive matter these days to keep horses.

If £5 is to be spent each year, I would rather see it spent on the premises or on the care of the horses. Simply, in effect, to spend £5 on the town clerk does not seem to me as much worthwhile as spending it on the horse. While not intending to oppose a fee of 10s.—and I appreciate that, to some extent, my argument is weakened when what I really believe is that there should not be a fee at all—I emphatically oppose a change to a fee of £5 a year which, except for the first year, should only have to cover a fairly general inspection of the premises. I do not, of course, quarrel with the sentiments which have moved the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie), but I hope that hon. Members will think of the implications behind the Amendment and will reject it.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. C. M. Woodhouse)

I have listened with great sympathy to three cases put before me today, all argued in a most reasonable spirit. I hope that I can show the same kind of reasonableness in reply as we expect not only of this House but of horses, who are among the most reasonable of animals. The hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) proposes to multiply the licence fee by 10, my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) proposes to leave it where it is and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Mr. Roots) proposes to abolish it altogether, although he has not put down an Amendment to that effect, so he will presumably not wish to force that issue.

My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay and my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) really put their fingers on the crucial point when they drew a comparison with existing similar legislation governing animal boarding establishments and pet animals. The functions to be undertaken by the local authorities in relation to this Bill are closely comparable to those under the Animal Boarding Establishments and the Pet Animals Acts. Both Acts also require annual licensing and the cost of the licensing processes, one may assume, is very much the same in all cases. I do not think that horses are ten times as expensive to licence as rabbits merely because they are very much larger.

Mr. Howie

Surely there is a distinction in kind between horses in this context and rabbits in the pet animal context. One does not, as a rule, hire out rabbits for gain.

Mr. Woodhouse

But people sell them for gain and, as such, are controlled under the Pet Animals Act. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not wish to press that point. It has not been put to us in that form by the local authorities. It is true that they take the view that the present licensing fee is insufficient but they take that view under existing legislation and no doubt they would also take that view under this Bill.

I readily concede that there has been a decline in the value of money since 1951 but it seems preferable that there should not be inconsistencies in fees charged by local authorities under similar enactments and for that reason only I hope to persuade the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Amendment. However, by way of greater inducement to him to do so, perhaps I might respond to the invitation made by the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) to consider the whole question of the level of fees throughout this range of Acts.

We are in consultation with the Treasury in our consideration of representations that have been made to us by the local authority associations for an increase in the fees charged for a wide range of licences issued under various enactments and if, as seems probable, in due course it were decided to amend the whole range of fees—which would require legislation—opportunity would naturally be taken to apply the revised figure to the fee in this Bill as well as to the fees in the two comparaable Acts which I have quoted.

In this way, it will be possible to keep in step the new level of fees appropriate to licences in general and to licences under the Pet Animals and Animal Boarding Establishments Acts and the present Bill in particular. On these two grounds—that the fees should not be allowed to get out of line in comparable legislation and that, which is impossible to say now, whether the fee should be £5 or £2 or any other figure—together with my undertaking, I hope that the hon. Member will feel disposed to withdraw his Amendment.

Mr. J. A. Leavey (Heywood & Royton)

Will my hon. Friend give some indication of the criterion by which this matter will be judged? Can he go so far as to say that he will not take too much account of the criterion used by the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood)—that discrimination should be made against those establishments which are operated, as he puts it, for gain as distinct from those whose activities are presumably operated purely for pleasure? It would be unfortunate if, in the reconsideration of fees, that were to be a substantial criterion.

Mr. Woodhouse

The essential criterion will be the cost of the processes of issuing licences through the local authorities.

Mr. Howie

I have listened with great interest, and in view of all that has been said, particularly of the inducement the Joint Under-Secretary of State has offered, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir Jocelyn Lucas (Portsmouth, South)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 27, at end to insert: (3) Where an application for the grant of a licence for the keeping of a riding establishment at any premises is made to a local authority, they shall not proceed to a decision in the matter unless they have received and considered a report by a veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner authorised by them to carry out inspections under the next following section of an inspection of the premises carried out by him within the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date on which the application is received by the local authority, being a report containing such particulars as in their view enable them to determine whether the premises are suitable for the keeping thereat of a riding establishment, and describing the condition of the premises and of any horses found thereon or anything thereat.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps the House will find it convenient to discuss, at the same time, the Amendments Nos. 3 to 8 and 18, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Sir J. Lucas

I am sure that is agreeable, Mr. Speaker.

Local authorities are anxious that they should have the right of inspecting any establishments at any time to see such things as drains and fire precautions, and the British Horse Society is strongly of the opinion that it is necessary that a veterinarian should be responsible for inspecting and approving the conditions under which the horses are kept.

As things are now, we have with us an hon. Member opposite who has only seen a horse with a policeman on its back and it would be quite possible in some urban districts for council officers who know nothing about horses to inspect these establishments. It is, therefore, surely essential that a veterinary surgeon should be able to give advice not only on how the horses are kept but on suitability of premises. When the Bill was drafted we had a passage which has now been cut out as it was copied from the Animal Boarding Establishments Act. It was that there should be suitable bedding for horses while out at grass. It was cut out, but that was the sort of thing which one had to watch for.

I think that we have achieved a happy solution in these Amendments. It will be necessary for a "vet" to see that the buildings and everything else are suitable to ensure that the horses are properly looked after, properly fed and so on, and the council's officers will be able to inspect the place and see that the drains and other such facilities are satisfactory, for instance, that hay and straw are not kept where fire could be caused as a result of people smoking, and so on.

The idea is that there should be joint approval by both parties for the granting of a licence or, on the other hand, a joint decision for the refusal of a licence. I hope that the House will accept that this is a very happy solution.

11.30 a.m.

Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)

I congratulate my hon. Friend for Portsmouth, South (Sir J. Lucas) on achieving, at long last, by these Amendments a very important compromise. We must not forget that this is a voluntary Measure for licensing and inspection to be inflicted upon the horse world by those really interested in it. As the House knows, the Bill is promoted by the British Horse Society and all the other interested parties. As my hon. Friend has said, these bodies have felt that it would be quite wrong that a local authority fire officer or sanitary inspector who knew nothing about horses could prevent the granting of a licence for a riding establishment purely on their background knowledge of one particular item or other which really had no relevance to the welfare of horses. Equally, the local authorities felt that there there be a burden upon them, since they do not normally have veterinary surgeons on their payroll, to employ and pay veterinary surgeons who would, on the other hand, have knowledge about drainage and such matters.

The Amendment moved in Committee, at the last moment and at rather short notice, did not meet the problem. I think that my hon. Friend has an extremely good compromise in this series of Amendments. They provide that, if a local authority's fire officer and sanitary inspector inspect a riding establishment and find that it is all right, the authority need not be involved in bringing in a veterinary surgeon. If, on the other hand, the local authority officer brings in an adverse report and recommends to the authority that the licence should be refused, the authority cannot turn down the application unless there is a subsequent report by a veterinary surgeon. Thus, nothing drastic can be done regarding the establishment without a report from a veterinary surgeon. I think that this gives the Bill the safeguards which the British Horse Society wants.

Amendment No. 3 permits the borrowing by local authorities of officers for this purpose from other local authorities. Obviously, in a large county it would be much easier in some circumstances to borrow a veterinary surgeon at the perimeter than to take one from the centre. Amendment No. 9 also is important because it lays down clearly what the purposes of the inspection are. I congratulate my hon. Friend on introducing these Amendments, and I hope that the House will accept them.

Dr. Alan Glyn

As my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Sir J. Lucas) said, we faced some difficulty in Committee in trying to put certain safeguards and guarantees into the Bill. The Amendments which were moved at that stage did not achieve our object because they were not phrased correctly. In the circumstances, our only solution was to introduce these Amendments at this stage. They achieve a compromise between the rights of the local authority and the duties which it has towards riding establishments. Clearly, it would be wrong for an inexperienced person who knew nothing about horses to make a decision which would jeopardise the licence of the owner or manager of a riding establishment when, in fact, the criticisms levelled were really not valid or supportable in the normal course of keeping horses.

By these Amendments, we have met the views of both the local authorities and the British Horse Society. The keeping of horses requires a great deal of experience. To the outsider, some aspects of it might appear to be wrong whereas someone accustomed to the keeping of horses would understand that the arrangements made were not only adequate but were thoroughly suitable.

Amendment No. 3 is particularly valuable because it allows flexibility in the finding of veterinary officers necessary to carry out these inspections.

I support these Amendments having in mind particularly the situation in urban areas. Nowadays, a growing number of riding establishments are being started in urban areas and people are tending to use their leisure hours more in the recreation of horse riding. In the future, therefore, there will be a growing number of riding establishments in areas where people generally have very little knowledge of the keeping of horses. The local authorities will benefit by having the advice of a veterinary officer and they will be in a very much stronger position if they have cause to say that not only has the sanitary inspector condemned a place as unsuitable for the keeping of horses and the fire officer has said that it is dangerous on account of forage being kept in an unsuitable place but also that these opinions have been fortified by a veterinary expert who knows all about the dangers and requirements involved in the keeping of horses. Their opinion will be accepted much more readily in such circumstances by the keeper of the riding establishment.

Mr. Greenwood

I feel that we should express our indebtedness to my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) who, in Standing Committee, stressed the need to reconcile the interests of the local authorities and the interests of the animal welfare organisations. He showed great diligence and perspicacity in Committee, and I know that he would have been here today were it not for important constituency engagements which he had to keep.

I confess that I have not been in touch with the local authority organisations on this matter, although I am a vice-president of the Association of Municipal Corporations. However, I am sure that the compromise which has been reached is a happy one. I have no doubt that it will be acceptable to the local authority associations, and I hope that the House will accept the Amendments.

Mr. Howie

I got rather lost, Mr. Speaker, as you were reading out the numbers of the various Amendments to be taken together, but I think that I have the gist of what we are about. My own Amendment No. 4 agrees somewhat with Amendment No. 3, and having regard to the terms of Amendment No. 3, I shall not wish to press my own Amendment.

I turn now to the general principle of this series of Amendments. As the Bill now stands, an officer of a local authority is unable to carry out any inspection either at the beginning for licensing purposes or at any intermediate stage for the regulation of the business unless he is accompanied by a veterinary surgeon. This seems to be quite wrong. Clause 1(3,a,) deals with such matters as the construction of premises, size, lighting, ventilation and drainage. These are matters about which a veterinary surgeon, although expert in his own line, is not likely to be at all knowledgeable. I myself would never think of trying to give advice as a "vet" about horses, for the reason I made plain earlier, but as a civil engineer of some years standing I should not listen very long to a "vet" giving me advice about drains, about which I know a good deal.

Subsection (3,e) deals with precautions against fires. It does not seem to me that a "vet" can offer any real expertise about that which would not be better provided by a fire officer.

For these reasons I think that the Amendments very much strengthen the Bill, because although "vets" are experts in their own field and in this context earn their corn well enough, they are not likely to be listened to in fields other than their own. The thing they can tell the borough engineer or architect or fire officer is the size of a horse—how much room it requires; and they can probably tell the engineer a little about what the fundamental requirements for drainage are likely to be, about cleanliness and so on, but on the technical side, on questions as to whether the drainage is adequate or not, and so on, the word of the engineer would have to be paramount.

For these reasons I think that the Amendments very much strengthen the Bill and I should like to support them.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

This may have to be my last contribution to the debate because I also have constituency needs, but I am delighted to be able to say to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) that for once I find myself wholeheartedly with him, and particularly on his Amendment No. 4, in page 3, line 26, which I think is the best of the lot, if only on account of simplicity.

I have extra encouragement for saying so because we agreed to an early Amendment probably guided to some extent by precedent which we set when considering the Animal Boarding Establishments Bill, and agreed to an almost precisely similar Amendment. It was debated at some length, and we established that dogs are valuable as horses are, and that a "vet" is just as important for a dog as a horse, and that a dog might be just as valuable, judging by some of the prizes which are won at a notable dog show. Therefore, it was felt on that occasion that the local authority should have a degree of discretion over inspections, and that its officers should carry out particular sorts of inspection, at various stages of the licensing, and an Amendment was agreed in exactly the terms of the hon. Member's. I do not know whether he had that in mind or thought it out himself.

Mr. Howie

I invented it.

Mr. Bennett

Anyway, it is satisfactory.

Section 2 of the Animal Boarding Establishments Act says: A local authority may authorise in writing any of its officers or any veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner… As far as I can find out, and I have done a little research this morning, there have been no complaints, and the local authorities are satisfied that the Act is working all right, and therefore I hope that my hon. Friend will accept the Amendments, but particularly the one in the name of the hon. Member for Luton.

Mr. Roots

I think that these Amendments introducing the veterinary surgeon to the various duties and operations which have to be carried out are absolutely vital and I support them most wholeheartedly. I speak with feeling on the subject of veterinary surgery because I won my first election by giving "vet" advice. It was clear that the beast would either be permanently maimed, or cured. It was cured, and I am glad to say that the electors showed their gratitude as they should, or, alternatively, they thought that I should be able to help them as I helped the horse.

We have to remember that not all local authorities are equally knowledgeable about horses. I remember that in my own constituency there was a considerable fracas because someone was found keeping a cow in his mews. It took a very long time to explain to the resident of a certain locality that a cow really did not differ fundamentally from the beast for which the mews in question had been constructed.

I think, therefore, that the introduction of a veterinary surgeon, to bring some knowledge of animals to help the borough surveyor, in whom the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) has considerable confidence, and quite rightly, but who is not qualified to advise on these aspects, is right, and I am sure that the House will welcome the Amendment.

11.45 a.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. C. M. Woodhouse)

The case in favour of this group of Amendments has been very clearly put by hon. Members on both sides of the House, and I am much relieved on this occasion to find my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Mr. Roots) not inviting us to reject them en bloc. I do not think I need say much in detail about them because the points have already been sufficiently made, but I should perhaps comment on a point of detail on the one which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie), in page 3, line 26, and which my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) urged me to accept.

Its intention is, of course, perfectly clear and desirable, but, as the hon. Member will see, his Amendment is not quite so far reaching as the one immediately before it, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South (Sir J. Lucas), which does provide additionally for an officer of another local authority to perform necessary tasks in this context. The sort of case in which it might be necessary would be, for instance, inspecting fire security precautions. Not every local authority having licensing powers would itself be a fire authority. Therefore, it would be natural for it to call on a neighbouring authority to provide a suitable officer for that purpose.

For that kind of reason, which I do not think I need elaborate in detail, I hope that the House would prefer my hon. Friend's Amendment to page 3, line 26, rather than that in the name of the hon. Member for Luton.

In seeking again to persuade the hon. Member for Luton to acquiesce, I will offer him another inducement, which is to congratulate him on his Amendment in Clause 2, page 4, line 7—Amendment No. 12. I think this first appeared on the Paper under his name. It is a necessary consequential Amendment, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, South will not grudge it if I congratulate the hon. Member opposite on having been the first to spot the necessity for that consequential Amendment.

As has been made clear in this brief debate there was some controversy in Committee about the points which are covered by these Amendments. I think that the controversy arose not through any fundamental and irresoluble cleavage of opinion but only because the Amendments appeared on the Paper in Committee as starred Amendments with less than 24 hours' notice to consider them. We have now had an opportunity of going into the pros and cons of this matter with all the interests concerned.

To summarise very briefly what was at issue, it was this. The local authority associations wished to have discretion to authorise inspections by their own officers as well as by veterinarians, and this was clearly reasonable in the case of some of the criteria laid down in this Clause for the granting of a licence, but on the other hand the British Horse Society and other sponsors of the Bill were opposed to the introduction into the Bill of any possibility that the proprietor of a riding establishment should be liable to have his licence revoked following an inspection by a local authority officer alone without any inspection also being carried out by a veterinary expert.

The conditions under which the licence is granted are obviously to be primarily concerned with the health and well-being of the horses. It therefore seemed reasonable to us to accept that there should be no prosecution for alleged non-compliance with these conditions and no withdrawal of a licence unless there had been an inspection by a veterinarian as well as by a local authority officer. This is the effect of the proposed group of Amendments. In particular, the last point which I have just made is covered by Amendment No. 15.

The group of Amendments which is now before us represents a compromise between the views of the local authorities and the sponsors of the Bill and those who advised them in its preparation. I feel sure that the House will regard this as an acceptable compromise, on which I need not dwell further except to explain why the effect of the compromise made it necessary, rather unusually, for the Government to move a Money Resolution, which passed through all its stages on Wednesday and Thursday nights of this week.

The Bill as introduced enabled local authorities to authorise any veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner to inspect premises but did not provide for local authority officers to inspect. In that respect, the Bill differed from the Pet Animals Act and the Animal Boarding Establishments Act. The question whether officers of local authorities should also be brought into the inspection procedure had a bearing upon the amount of expenditure likely to be incurred by local authorities in carrying out their functions. The local authority associations have from the outset maintained that their own officers should inspect those aspects of riding establishments which they are competent to inspect. The compromise solution which has been worked out amends the Bill to enable both types of inspection to be carried out, with the additional provision that there should be no prosecution or withdrawal of a licence except after a veterinarian's inspection.

Licences have to be issued annually. This necessitates veterinary inspection yearly. The Bill as thus amended will have the effect of requiring inspections by veterinary surgeons or practitioners before any decision is reached on any application for either the grant or the renewal of a licence. This goes rather further than the Bill as originally introduced. The consequence is that a rather heavier expenditure will fall upon local authorities than they would have incurred had the Bill passed unamended as it was first presented.

The extra expenditure is not likely to be formidable. I am told that on present estimates, it is unlikely to exceed £15,000 a year over the whole country. That would involve an increase in the amount payable in the form of rate deficiency grants and Exchequer equalisation grants of up to about £2,200. It is to cover this additional Exchequer expenditure that the Money Resolution had to be moved last night. The House will, I think, agree that this is not a formidable addition to the burdens of the taxpayer. Since that is the only financial consequence of this group of Amendments, which are otherwise acceptable, I hope that the House may approve them.

Amendment agreed to.