HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc171-203

10.11 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. James MacColl) rose—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Will hon. Members leave the Chamber quietly?

Mr. MacColl

I beg to move, That the Torbay Order 1966, dated 1st August, 1966, a copy of which was laid before this House on 9th August, be approved. The purpose of this Order is to set out a new pattern of local government as recommended by the Local Government Commission for the three towns around Torbay. It creates a new county borough for the area by amalgamating almost the whole of the Borough of Torquay and urban district of Paignton, together with the built-up part of Brixham urban district and some small adjoining areas in the rural districts of Newton Abbot and Totnes. The present arrangements under which that area is administered are partly by a county council, a borough council, two urban district councils, two rural district councils and three parish councils, and all this will be replaced by one single administration.

It may help the House to have a picture of the timetable of this operation. It began in the autumn of 1959 when the Local Government Commission began the south-western review. In July, 1961, the Commission prepared draft proposals and in November of that year held its statutory consultations. In February, 1963, it produced its final report. In October, there was a public inquiry ordered by my right hon. Friend who is now the Lord President of the Council. In June, 1965, my right hon. Friend made his decision. Thus, from the beginning until the final decision—we now have this Order dated August, 1966—seven years have been taken to complete the operation, and it will be another 18 months before the council is in full operation.

In the beginning, the Commission was against the idea of a county borough but, after its statutory consultations, it changed its mind, largely, I think, for two reasons. First, the Commission was strengthened in its appraisal by the in- initiative of the three local authorities and the support of local organisations in tackling together the commission problems of the area. Moreover, it saw that the population would increase. In fact, the population has gone up by almost 12 per cent. in the last six years, and, by 1968, when the new county borough is timed to begin, it will be almost 102,000, together with the influx of summer visitors, which adds about 60 per cent. My right hon. Friend the Lord President took the same view. In the words of the decision letter, It seems to him that there would be a real advantage in establishing here a local government structure which would express the growing unity of the Torbay district and would encourage the planning and development of the area as a tourist centre of national importance. In this impressive consensus of agreement, there were what I might call peripheral shadows. The Commission's proposals included four parts of parishes—Marldon, Churston Ferrers, Kings-kerswell and Coffinswell. These were all against coming in and the boundary has now been drawn to exclude the villages of Marldon and Kingskerswell. The decision letter cut out Coffinswell.

Unfortunately, Churston Ferrers is in a different position. In the words of the inspector, Churston Ferrers must be part of the county borough if county borough there is to be. It is therefore fair to say that my right hon. Friend has done all he could to found the new county borough on an essentially voluntary association.

The first question which I should like to explore with the House is whether the new borough is viable. It has a rateable value per head of about £50. This compares very favourably with many county boroughs of similar size. Solihull, for example, a new county borough and of about the same size, has a rateable value of about £44 a head, which is substantially lower.

It has been argued that the cost of running this county borough will be excessive. It was suggested that the change would reduce the county administration cost by £13,000 and increase the Torbay costs by £97,000, a net increased burden of £84,000. All this was deployed in argument at considerable length at the inquiry. I need only quote the comment of the inspector, who said: I therefore think that the present estimates, although made, I hasten to add, in perfectly good faith, like all similar ones must be regarded with tolerant scepticism. The next and very important question is whether Devon in its new form is viable. One of the major arguments against the Order was that it would leave a rump of a county with its main urban strength severed. It is only fair to look at the matter in conjunction with the other proposals for Plymouth and Exeter and look at their effect as a whole.

The Commission concluded that the county would be left a strong and effective instrument of local government. Devon will have a population of 419,000. This is about the middle of the population table for English counties. Its rateable value per head will drop from £35 to £31, but this will be more, for example, than Norfolk, a comparable county with a big area and a modest population.

Another major objection to the Order is that it creates a new and not very large county borough just as the Royal Commission starts its review. It was a complex and difficult matter for my right hon. Friend to decide where to draw the line, whether to scrub out everything which had not been brought to legislation or to accept decisions already made.

The decision letter was issued in June, 1965, eight months before the setting-up of the Royal Commission was announced. My right hon. Friend said on 10th February: Where decisions have been already announced on proposals by the Commission, the necessary orders will be brought before Parliament as soon as possible. Other proposals on which decisions have not yet been taken will be considered on their merits, in the light of the decision to appoint a Royal Commission."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1966; Vol. 724, c. 644.] We have not departed from those principles laid down by my right hon. Friend.

Torbay has another claim for consideration that the Order should be allowed to go through. The decision letter implied that the changes should be made on 1st April, 1967. The three councils were anxious to get on. I had much difficulty myself in persuading them of the wisdom of waiting for a year and I think they would have very great cause for complaint if they were now frustrated because they accepted this advice that these proceedings should be delayed so that they could make a better job of it eventually.

I should like to go quickly through the main points in the Order, but before doing so I should like to say this, because it is quite clear that the county council has been strongly opposed to, and has doubted the wisdom of, what is now being suggested, but, of course, it has co-operated fully in the detailed preparations of the material for the Order. It behaved as one would expect a democratic, responsible body, which it is, to behave, and my right hon. Friend the present Minister is extremely appreciative of the way it has done this.

The new county borough will come into full operation on the day appointed by the Order; that is, 1st April, 1968, as I say, a year later than the original proposal in the decision letter. Article 5 makes the changes in local authority areas. In addition to specifying the areas which will make up the county borough it provides for the transfer of areas which are consequential and incidental to the main purpose of the Order. For example, the rural part of Brixham Urban District is transferred to Totnes Rural District.

Articles 6, 8 and 9 make the electoral arrangements. The new wards described in the borough's charter reflect the Home Secretary's acceptance of proposals by the existing authorities for 12 wards and a council of 36 councillors and 12 aldermen. Elections for the new county borough council are to be held on the basis of those wards in May, 1967. The new council will have almost a year in which to complete its final arrangements such as the organisation of services and the appointment of the staff in readiness for the assumption of full responsibility on 1st April, 1968, when the councils of Torquay, Brixham and Paignton, and the Parish Council of Churston Ferrers, will be dissolved.

Article 9 cancels the elections which would otherwise have been held in May, 1967, for a third of the Torquay Borough Council, and the councils of Brixham and Paignton. The 1967 election of county councillors for the county electoral divisions which will be abolished in 1968 are also cancelled. These arrangements have been agreed with the local authorities.

Articles 11 to 14 make the consequential changes in the administration of justice to bring the arrangements into line with the revised local government areas. Other parts of the Order facilitate the transfer of functions—for example, education, health and welfare, planning and housing—and make provision for the transfer of property, assets and liabilities. The staff, who are affected by this reorganisation, are given protection by Article 66, which follows well-precedented provisions. Superannuation rights are safeguarded.

I commend this Order to the House. It is time to end the uncertainties and delays which inevitably have accompanied the protracted discussions. The changes will not seriously weaken the county. In the words of the Local Government Commission, The proposed county borough of Torbay is an imaginative proposal which, with the assured good will of so many who are concerned, could have far reaching effects on both the standard of services and in the future prosperity of the area as a whole.

10.24 p.m.

Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

The imaginative proposals which the hon. Gentleman has just recommended to the House are of the nature which one would associate with anything intended to be done on All Fools' Day in 1968 or any other year. The Minister has brought in an Order which he has emphasised has the eventual blessing of the Boundaries Commission, a body whose recommendations in the third member of the trio, the Order concerning Plympton and Plymstock, the Minister has overruled, and a body which the Minister holds in such esteem he proposes to terminate it, and indeed to alter some of its recommendations. The House would do well completely to ignore any synthetic value which the Minister attributes to the recommendations of a body which evidently he holds to be time-expired, if not entirely useless.

What are the effects of the Order? They are to set up a new county borough which, if the rate of population increase is maintained, will just slip at a high tide over the breakwater of 100,000 laid down as the absolute minimum for any new county borough. I doubt if any one in this House believes other than that when the Royal Commission which the Minister has set up reports, it will recommend that the minimum size for any new county borough should be well in excess of 100,000; so that this proposal goes contrary not only to the existing trend of municipal orders but contrary to the anticipated result of any reasonable inquiry into local government structure. If we accept this Order, we are setting up a new entity doomed to all the disadvantages of inadequate size before it is even born.

If the Royal Commission on Local Government is expeditious in its work, it is quite possible that its report condemning this sort of thing will come out and be offered to the House before the Order comes into effect. It is very possible that the Minister will ensure that that does not happen to avoid the obvious embarrassment.

The effects of the Order are to set up a new entity so small that it recognises its own incompetence to perform any local government functions such as fire, police and ambulance services. Those will be run in conjunction with Devon County Council. Within its frontiers, it will have many acts of social administration set up by Devon County Council for the benefit of the county as a whole, such as the College of Advanced Technology and a training establishment for handicapped persons. Those will continue to be used by the county, but with a tremendous amount of cross-over paper work as people are accounted for and charged on some hypothetical basis and with transfer payments being made from the county authority to the new authority.

Not very long ago, Devon, including the ratepayers of Torbay, put up a county hall. The eventual cost of it was no less than £1.6 million, and from it was to be administered the then County of Devon. It is now proposed to set up this new minute organism of local government. Already there has been the most acrimonious disputation between the tiny component bodies of the projected county borough as to where their new county borough hall should be, with one of the three units threatening to withdraw its support for going into the new county borough unless the new huge block of offices is built in its own little area.

Already £1.6 million has been spent on Devon County Hall, a significant proportion of which was paid for by the ratepayers of Torquay. That is now to be duplicated at immense cost—these things always come out at an immense cost—to the same ratepayers who have already paid for the existing new county hall. Possibly the Minister will notice that in his inspector's estimate of £84,000 for increased administration costs of the new county borough, there is no element for the new administrative offices. This might come out at £600,000, and it would surprise roe if it came out at very much less, although we are used to being surprised. One can then add, I would guess, about £78,000 to that £84,000, interest at about 8 per cent., plus amortisation of the capital sum. The inspector did not think of this. He did not think that they would want new offices and have a tremendous squabble about where they went, and the squabble was only settled by agreement to build glamorous new offices, to be paid for, of course, by the ratepayers.

The jobs in local government which are being done adequately by the existing county administration—and the inspector never said that they were not being done adequately—will be done by people promoted in grade and paid more money—by the ratepayers, of course—for doing the same work. If, after the Royal Commission has reported, this absurdly small new organism does not opt out and re-amalgamate with Devon, the ratepayers will have left round their necks many people taken on to the permanent staff of the local authority at increased rates of pay, with guaranteed pension structures; people who, as we know, cannot be got rid of by the wink of an eye. They will be taken on with an entitlement which will persist when this act of folly which the Minister is recommending is overturned, as overturned it most probably will be.

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary prepared to tell the House that the present system of rate deficiency grant will continue, at any rate for the next 15 years? The hon. Gentleman's speeches leave us to expect that the answer is in the negative. If the present system of rate deficiency grant continues, we can expect the national Exchequer to have to pay out about £500,000 more a year than it is paying at the moment in rate deficiency grant to Devon, for what measurable benefit? The answer is for no measurable benefit, and this at a time when our unclassified road programme and many other capital works are being cut right back because the Government are pleading the necessity for a freeze of expenditure; indeed, a contraction of expenditure.

We are now invited to throw open the end of the cornucopia and pour nearly £500,000 a year into unnecessary administrative costs, and this, presumably, is recommended as being in line with the Government's economic policy, in line with the wage freeze, and in line with all the other aspects of the cohesive, dynamic, arresting policy followed by the present Administration as a cure for our economic and social evils. The Minister has not come down to the House to recommend this Order to us. He has left it to his Joint Parliamentary Secretary, who has my deepest sympathy.

What are we to expect? The hon. Gentleman pleaded with the House that because April Fool's Day had been transferred from 1967 to 1968 the House should expedite the passage of this Order. Delighted as I am that the date has been postponed for a year, it logically follows that the inconvenience caused by failing to pass this Order is less than would otherwise have been the case, rather than greater. Does the hon. Gentleman realise—because he has not mentioned it to the House in introducing this Order—that the population density of the existing County of Devon is already pitiably low? It is one-third of a person per acre, and if this Order goes through it will become one-quarter of a person per acre—0.25 people per acre—and this we are offered in an Order presumably in fulfilment of what the Government believe to be a policy of encouraging sound local administration.

How pathetic can a proposal be? I do not believe that the Minister—let alone the Joint Parliamentary Secretary—has considered the consequence of this. If they get rid of the rate equalisation grant, the consequence of leaving the county ratepayer in an impoverished county where there are a number of areas which are recognised as particularly impoverished is that this area will have to bear an additional l0d. in the £ in rates. That is not the way to encourage fresh industry to come into it.

If we look at Torbay, which is just squeezing over the breakwater of 100,000 what do we see? We see a gross disparity in age groups in the population. It is a place to which people go to retire. It has far less than its normal quota of young people. It has very little perennial industry. Its industry is largely seasonal, holiday industry, even though, compared with some areas, it attracts a measure of winter trade. This should make the Minister think carefully, even if the population were 175,000, but it is all the less reason for helping it over the breakwater and thereby creating a new balkanisation of Devon.

I hope that the Minister will not feel that his personal political pride is involved in getting this Order through the House. It was started on its way—from the point of view of inquiries—before the Government took office; therefore he need not feel any mortal loss of prestige or face if he decides to be sensible tonight instead of advocating folly to the House. I hope that the Minister will agree tonight on three things—first, that carrying out this Order will result in a significant increase in public expenditure; secondly, that that is totally foreign to the Government's present policy and will continue to be so into the foreseeable future and, thirdly, that in setting up this absurd unit he is going against the trend which his own Department advocates and is weakening an administrative county that already has placed upon its shoulders many and onerous problems, the discharge of which is the responsibility laid upon it by Parliament.

Devon County has a right to look to the Minister and ask him not to increase its burden, because it knows that if it comes to him for help in discharging the burden it will meet a head that shakes in the negative.

10.37 p.m.

Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)

First, I thank my hon. Friend for taking such a keen and almost passionate interest in the affairs of my constituency, which forms the boundary almost exactly of the new proposed county borough. I do not want to hold up the proceedings of the House by dealing with every point of special pleading in which my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell Hyslop) indulged this evening. There is only one in respect of which he went a little too far for him to expect his remarks to pass unnoticed. He sought to refer to the excessive cost of having a county hall in Exeter as being something which should argue against Torbay's wish to run its own affairs. If we look back we shall probably find that it was precisely that argument, and others like it, that drove Torbay to decide that it would run its own affairs rather better. To have complained about the decision to build this marble palace in Exeter and then to seek to argue that, because the luckless electors of Torbay had to pay the money out of their rates, they do not deserve to run their own affairs, is going too far.

I have been trying to find out the real reason for opposing the Minister tonight In the first half of my hon. Friend's speech he pointed to the fact that this was an insignificant unit, just touching the 102,000 mark—small, minimal, unimportant. Anyone would think that his objection was that Torbay was too small and unimportant to matter at all; that it was incompetent to run its own affairs; that it could not provide the necessary expertise; so that this small, minimal unit did not deserve to be allowed to come into existence.

The second half of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton was an articulate argument to the effect that this small and insignificant unit, if separated, would bring the county to ruin. My hon. Friend must make up his mind on which leg of his argument he depends although, of course, since neither of them are correct, he cannot rely on either.

As the Minister said—and, since it is a vitally important point, it is surprising that my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton did not mention it—we are considering a "voluntary association". Those were the Joint Parliamentary Secretary's words. Throughout my hon. Friend's remarks not a word was said about the wishes of the people concerned. At the beginning of this controversy—remembering that it has gone on for seven years—I felt that it was my duty to remain neutral in the sense that I wanted to discover the wishes of the great majority of my constituents. J wanted to make certain of their wishes before I gave my support one way or the other in putting forward the point of view of the people concerned.

It has not been shown tonight—indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton would not attempt to prove it; he could not—that the people of Torbay do not want the proposal to go through. We therefore come to the point mentioned by the Minister, that of voluntary association. Over the years, for one reason or another, the people of Torbay have increasingly come to the conclusion that this is the right step to take. So much so that my hon. Friend was not able to point to one substantial section of the community in Torbay which does not want this. The only argument which my hon. Friend could deploy was about where the new offices should be situated. That is the sum total of the difficulty. There is no need for us to consider hypothetical cases that might arise in the future and so my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton was also unable to show that the people of Torbay do not want this result to take place.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary said, when giving his historical review, that this discussion and debate about the future of this great tourist area—which is now generally acknowledged here and abroad to be one of the most prominent in the United Kingdom—had gone on for about seven years. Certainly today the phrase "voluntary association" can be used to describe what is wanted by the people of this area. The three councils voted in favour of the county borough by substantial majorities.

I was at the meeting to which the Joint Parliamentary Secretary referred. On that occasion my colleagues representing Torquay, Paignton and Brixham came to see the Minister. We had a long argument and pointed out that the matter should not be delayed from 1967 till 1968. The hon. Gentleman will agree that I am being entirely fair in saying that the representatives said that they were willing to go along with the Minister's wishes and accept his view without further argument, on the basis that that would not be used as an excuse for the Order not finally being brought into effect. The representatives were given the assurance which the Minister gave tonight; that it was all a question of administrative convenience but that that would not be a reason or provide an opportunity for the Government or Parliament to throw out the Order.

To recapitulate the history of this matter. At the time when Torbay made known its wish to form a county borough 100,000 people was the figure mentioned. It is no good today talking in terms of 102,000 or 103,000. The fact remains that the figure is now accepted as being 100,000. Thus, from the point of view of the statutory figure at which a county borough may be formed, 100,000 is the accepted one.

We then had the inspector's report, with which I will not weary the House. Suffice to say that generally it was in favour of the creation of a county borough. We then had the Commission's Report, which was also in favour of the proposal. Consideration of the matter was given by the Minister, and it so happened that an election took place and the Minister who ultimately gave this decision was a Labour Minister. When he made his decision—I regret that the right hon. Gentleman is not here tonight; he is the present Leader of the House—he knew perfectly well that everybody in Torbay was prepared at that time to accept his decision, one way or the other. There would be no argument, no attempt to dispute the Minister's decision, or to fight him.

After the Minister's decision, and until very recently, there was no objection from the county at all. The late Alderman Day, chairman of the county council, who died tragically all too recently, said on television that although he himself had opposed the creation of this county borough, now that the Minister had given a decision it was up to the county to cooperate, and to see that the machinery necessary for the implementation of that decision was brought into being speedily and amiably.

Suddenly, at very short notice, we find worked up this opposition to the Order. It is noticeable that except for a word, at my instigation, with my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton, I was given no intimation from any source that an Order affecting my own constituency would be contested here this evening——

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Is my hon. Friend aware that we had no intimation until Thursday that the Order was to be dealt with this evening?

Sir F. Bennett

There has still been the lapse of time between Thursday and Monday, during which time I have received no direct intimation, other than by my own specific inquiry, that my hon. Friend intended to oppose this Order this evening. I should have thought that it would have been a matter of mere courtesy to have given me some intimation of his intention. I do not make much of this, but it is surprising, when it has been known for a long time that this Order would come before the House tonight—it has been tabled for a long time—that we had no intimation until the last minute——

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

With respect, that is quite untrue. Devon County Council has had a number of meetings dating as far back as December, 1965, over this Order. The county council's opposition has been persistent and prolonged. What my hon. Friend has just said is inaccurate.

Sir F. Bennett

That was not the statement I had just made—it was about two statements back. I am sure my hon. Friend will not contradict the fact that Alderman Day said that, although he disagreed with the decision, now it had been made it was up to the county loyally to implement the report——

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Yes—if passed by the House.

Sir F. Bennett

Obviously, if the Order is not passed by the House the situation would not arise. My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that at this stage we would be facing the major unscrambling of an egg, which would be impracticable and virtually impossible. It has been assumed ever since the Minister gave his decision that nothing adverse would happen. The county indicated that it would not oppose, and that nothing would happen. Even in another place, it was not until 24 hours before the time limit—and I am not even sure that it was legally in time—that a petition was lodged against the Order. I therefore repeat that all the evidence is that this was a very last minute attempt by certain elements in the county to block this Order tonight.

If there is any validity in the argument against the creation of this county borough that it damages the county, that argument would apply to every county borough. I am quite prepared to accept that in due course of time this Government, or some other Government, may decide that the division between counties and county boroughs is wrong, and that we should have another system. I am not prepared to argue that. All I say is that according to the criteria in existence when the necessary inquiries were made, and the report was made, and the Minister's decision was given, Torbay qualified for its creation as a county borough.

It may well be that there will be changes later, but if tonight we are to say that because the trend is against county boroughs we should break the criteria retrospectively, this comes oddly from my hon. Friends who, on every other occasion on retrospection, are only too keen to attack the party opposite. Any argument against the creation of the Torbay County Borough applies to every other county borough at the present time. If Torbay satisfies the criteria laid down by the previous Government and endorsed by this one, it has every right to take advantage of these criteria and to come into being. I do not usually find myself in the company of hon. Members opposite, but I think that they have behaved with good faith in this matter and I, whatever the result of the argument, will have no hesitation in supporting the Minister.

10.50 p.m.

Mr. Peter Mills (Torrington)

We are discussing one of the most important and difficult problems that Devon has had for a long time, that is the fragmentation of the county. This is what the Order is all about. Fragmentation means pieces broken off the whole. This is dangerous for the body, it is dangerous for Devon county and it is dangerous for the pieces broken off.

The situation has been well set out in the memorandum drawn up by the Devon County Council. I should be ruled out of order if I went too far into their proposals, but one is the transferring of the built-up portions of the parishes of Plympton and Plymstock and the other parishes of Alphington, Pinhoe and Topsham. I look on these things as a whole and disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) that we are concerned only with Torbay. I am concerned with the fragmentation of Devon; this is what this Order is about. There have been other Orders and admittedly we have failed in the past and we may fail again, but I will not alter my point of view that this is fragmentation of the county. I am against these decisions. They will have a harmful effect on the county and not only on this humble Member. The County Councils Association is quite concerned and worried about it.

Devon is not a wealthy county with great deposits of minerals or basic raw materials which would bring us great industrial development and wealth. We are a large and scattered county with difficult communications and special problems. These difficulties mean that it is important to have a strong and efficient administration for the whole county.

My main contention and argument and my answer to the hon. Member for Torquay is that we stand or fall as a county as a whole. We prosper together as a whole or we fail together as a whole, and to me it is as simple as that. Hiving off the more prosperous areas is bound to affect what is left.

I am proud to be a Devon man and I want Devon to prosper as a whole and this will occur only if we work together as a unit and as a team. This is true of the nation. No one thinks that it or an area of it can exist by itself. We depend upon each other. It is true that Torbay is a prosperous area which helps the less prosperous areas, but the rest of the county has much to give back in return.

The Minister says that Torbay is an exceptional case, but it is difficult to understand what he means by this. It is true that many holiday makers go to Torbay but as Devon County Council says in its memorandum: certainly visitors today do not remain in one place. They tour from one resort to another and into the rural areas which lie behind the coast, and it seems certainly wrong to put Torbay in a special category with financial advantages over their neighbours merely because Torquay, Paignton and Brixham happen to lie on the same large bay. How true this is. We find that in the rest of the county visitors are streaming from Torbay to the other parts. We provide many of the facilities which bring people to Torbay. Torbay needs the rest of the county just as we need Torbay. To think otherwise is very selfish.

I can understand the position of Torbay residents, but I wish that they would think of the county as a whole and of the needs of the county. Torbay makes a greatly reduced contribution towards rates for rural water schemes and sewerage. Is this fair? There is the problem of administration. The effect of these suggestions would be to unbalance the always desirable balance in local government between the urban and rural points of view. To destroy this is not desirable.

Then there is the problem of finance. Local government finance is never easy and today it is probably more difficult than at any other time. It is no good people saying that all will be well and that it will be covered by rate deficiency grants. Who knows how long that will continue? Without being rude to the Minister, I would say that I do not think any assurances from him are worth having on this point. Times change and circumstances change. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ministers change."] Indeed they do. The rest of the county could be left high and dry if the Minister at some future date decided to scrap the rate deficiency grant.

These measures will throw the local authority more and more into dependence on central Government. I am sure that is a bad thing. Is it wise at a time like this—admittedly a very difficult time, as we all agree—to have this greatly increased capital expenditure, which Torbay would have to make to provide the new facilities? There seems no point in doing this when already the county has such facilities and is operating them very well indeed. I believe that this is nonsense. I am not only concerned with Torbay but with all other fragmentations which have taken place and will take place.

Even though some of the honourable people in our county seem to think that we are making much out of a very small point, I believe this proposal to be a mistake and I hope that the House will vote against it.

10.58 p.m.

Mr. Robert Mathew (Honiton)

There is only one question here—whether the proposals put forward in this Order are in the interests of the improvement of the administration of the area as a whole. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) that consistently for a long time the county council has opposed proposals for the very good reason that they are not in the interests of the area as a whole.

Sir F. Bennett

I do not wish to interrupt my hon. Friend, but perhaps I should do so to avoid argument later. My hon. Friend has said that this has been opposed for a long time, but he should remember that in April this year the county council by an amendment decided not to continue to oppose the decision, so from April until tonight the opposition has been withdrawn.

Mr. Mathew

The impression that my hon. Friend gave in his speech was not that there had been a long history of opposition but that opposition had suddenly arisen at the last moment. The one criterion left is whether the administration of the area as a whole—what is now the county council area—will be improved. The amputation of a major limb—yet another limb—must be a serious matter to the county. It involves 25 per cent. of the rateable value.

I do not intend to stress any of the points that have already been so ably made by my hon. Friends in opposing this Order, but I should like to put three points on the matter of timing. There has been a certain amount of talk by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay about putting an end to the unnecessary length of delay, hesitations, indecisions and so forth. Indeed, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary himself mentioned this. But there are three matters which have changed since the decision was originally taken by the former Minister of Housing and Local Government who is now Leader of the House. First of all, we have had the appointment of the Royal Commission. This was mentioned by the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. I would remind him of the words of the Prime Minister about the Royal Commission. He said that the Minister of Housing and Local Government will be free to go on with any appropriate cases, but when it comes to broader issues and those which involve matters of deep principle, on which the Boundary Commissions have sometimes reached conflicting views, we would do well to await the reports of the Royal Commissions. Later he said: … on the big issues of principle it would be better to await the reports of the Commissions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 24th May, 1966; Vol. 729, c. 294.] Surely the creation of a new county borough, the milking of an administrative county, of 25 per cent. of its rateable value must be a big issue of principle. Would not ordinary common sense dictate that it would be much wiser to await the outcome of the Royal Commission's Report?

The second point is the alteration in the grant structure for local government. This is a matter of great alarm for all ratepayers living within the County of Devon. Will the Minister give us some assurance about the future of the rate grant as it affects the administrative County of Devon as it will be if the Order is passed?

I would remind the House of remarks that the former Minister made on this very matter. As we know, it will be possible for the Government, as a result of provisions in the Local Government Bill, to do away with the rate deficiency grant. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman said that the rate deficiency grant is another of the things which will go, because it is no good. It has the grave disadvantage of basing the deficiency on rateable values and, in different parts of the country, they represent a strange way of defining need. …I think that it is probable that rate deficiency grant … will go."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1965; Vol. 711, c. 1496.] The Joint Parliamentary Secretary said on 14th June, when talking on the Local Government Bill: There are two main reasons why, as far as one can see, some counties could probably lose. …The other is that some counties have benefited for quite a time from the weighting of the low density formula. Under the new system they will cease to get that benefit."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th June, 1966; Vol. 729, c. 1378–9.] This Order means that 25 per cent. of the rateable value of Devon will go. Will the Parliamentary Secretary say that if the rate deficiency system also goes something will replace it to make the remaining County of Devon a viable entity and an economic administrative unit?

The last point which leads me to the conclusion that the timing is very bad, and most unacceptable in a time of economic crisis, for the Government to propose to establish a new county borough, is the expense not only in absolute terms in the cost of local government administration but in the probability that county boroughs with a population of 100,000 will not continue as all-purpose authorities when the Royal Commission's recommendations have been given effect. Surely the wise thing would have been to await the outcome of the Royal Commission's Report, before going ahead with this on the excuse which was given by the Minister in introducing the Order that the matter has gone on for long enough and that there have been delays and hesitations.

If the expense that is now being incurred by the ratepayers, and indeed by the taxpayers, will be abortive, tonight's debate and the Order will have been so much wasted breath. It would be wise for the Minister, even at this late stage, to withdraw the Order and await developments, await the Royal Commission's Report, await the decisions that are made about the deficiency grant system or about what is to replace it, so that we can see clearly ahead both in the county and in the councils of Torbay.

For those reasons I ask that the House reject the Order.

11.08 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

I, too, oppose the Order. I am not certain whether I should have told the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) of my intentions, but I have not, and I hope that he can withstand the shock.

Sir F. Bennett

I am absolutely amazed. The hon. Gentleman never has any need to inform me. I should be extremely surprised if he ever supported me in anything.

Mr. Thorpe

I find the hon. Gentleman extremely civilised on so many things, like Gibraltar, where he has had the great distinction of quelling a riot in his own right, and I have always respected him for that.

The Minister said that the Order must go through because we could not unscramble the egg. There has been no egg scrambled. At the moment, the Devon hen is sitting on the whole county with Exeter and Plymouth clucking on their own. When he says that there has been objection from the people of Torquay, that may well be so, but the Minister must look at the wider considerations within the whole context of Devon.

I do not want to be ungenerous, but I think that some of the enthusiasm—by no means all—was induced, and certainly it would have given me cause for enthusiasm, when the initial indication was that 1s. in the £ would come off the rates. I gather that now the chairman of the co-ordinating committee has amended that to say that he does not think that the rates will be increased.

I am delighted to see that the Leader of the House is present, whether he is here in that capacity or is looking on one of those strange children he tried to bring into the world, which had a long period of gestation and may or may not be given birth to tonight.

The first thing I want to clear up is the suggestion that Devon County Council, referred to in the person of the late Alderman John Day, said in a television interview that it would give every assistance in bringing forward this scheme. That did not mean that it was in favour of it. What the county council said, quite plainly, was that, if the Order went through, and if it were the wish of the House, it would, naturally, do everything in its power to co-operate.

I understand that at this moment—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—there is a Petition against this Order before the other House. I have no particularly great love for the other House. We may want to abolish either the House itself or the power of Petition, but so long as it exists and the power of Petition exists, I should have thought that normal relations between the two Houses would at least have permitted that Petition to be heard first before the Order was rushed through. I should certainly have expected the party opposite to have due respect for the other House, because I believe that the list of Labour people applying for life peerages is almost as long as in the 1909 dispute when they were going to have to be created. It seems a very odd time for the Government to introduce this Order.

Next, it is contrary to the Government's own declared policy. We remember the introduction of the Greater London Council. We were continually told that we must have larger administrative units. The Home Secretary is to make an Order in regard to the police because we have to have larger administrative units, and the same was the view of his predecessor, Lord Stow Hill, in regard to the fire services. But here in this case we have fragmentation.

I think that, when the right hon. Gentleman was entertained in the Tory last stronghold of Torquay as, perhaps, no Labour Minister has ever been entertained before, it went to his head. [AN HON. MEMBER: "It was the Devonshire cream."] Perhaps the expectation of this cream to come affected his judgment.

At a time when the Government are moving, albeit haltingly, towards a system of regional government, which means that we are thinking regionally in terms of larger units, and when, again, in local government services such as the fire and police services we are thinking in terms of larger units, it is extraordinary that the Minister should seek to carve out a piece of the county of Devon and create a new county borough.

I am particularly interested from the standpoint of the North Devon area, because this is a very unbalanced county in terms of wealth. There is the very prosperous South Devon, perhaps over-populated by the English at the expense of the Devonians, and there is the underpopulated, very low-paid northern area where there is depopulation. One rural district I know has lost 10 per cent. of its population over the last 10 years. There is high unemployment. In my constituency, I have 10.2 per cent. unemployment in one part of the county.

We are, therefore, very frightened of the more prosperous sections being broken off, not merely because it is against the interest of the poorer sections of the community—it seems a typically Tory idea, "to him that hath shall be given "—but also because it will make life very difficult for the county as a whole.

As the Minister has made the observations about the rate deficiency grant quoted by the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Mathew), we are entitled to ask what the Government's policy is to be. As the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) said, are we to have a guarantee that this will go on for 10 or 15 years, or are we to see heavier burdens still on the less prosperous areas of the county? The Chairman of the Devon County Council, Mr. Gerald Whitmarsh, in his letter to the right hon. Gentleman of 25th July, said that the extra cost falling on the taxpayer would be about £250,000 a year. It seems to me that this is somewhat out of keeping with current Government economic policy. Is he right in saying that the running costs will be about £100,000 a year? If he is, this, again, seems an unnecessary increase in expenditure.

What is the point, as the hon. Members for Honiton and Tiverton said, of bringing in this Order now when the whole pattern of local government is under review at this moment by the Royal Commission?

I hope that as a result of that Royal Commission—I must be careful not to go outside the bounds of order—we shall see dramatic changes made in the whole structure of local government and that, for example, regional government will be given tremendous power. Whatever decisions are taken by the Royal Commission, they are bound to affect the structure——

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. The hon. Member is now getting out of order. That question is not part of the Order.

Mr. Thorpe

I respectfully agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I bring myself back into order by saying that at the very moment when the Government have asked a Royal Commission to examine the whole structure of local government, it seems lunacy to take a decision which will be extremely costly economically, which will be taken before we have any idea of the future rate deficiency position and the whole finance of local government and which is contrary to the established policy of the Government in their local government rearrangements.

The Government are against fragmentation and have said so constantly. Why they should make this exception in this case, I know not. Having listened to the Parliamentary Secretary, I certainly do not know the reason for it. This is a mad scheme which, I prophesy, even if it goes through, we will see reversed in the next 15 years.

11.16 p.m.

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

As someone who is passionately devoted to the interests of the West Country, but speaking from a city and county which got its charter in the reign of Edward III and which is, therefore, immune from such blights and blandishments as we have had tonight, perhaps I might be permitted to ask the Minister a few questions, since it is the Government who have come here tonight to make a case for the Order.

If we could be convinced of the viability of the new County Borough of Torbay, we would wish it well. We have heard of the great importance of tourism to Torbay. We have also heard something of the communications problem. I hope that before this debate is concluded, the Minister, in making his case for Torbay, can say something about the improvements which the Government propose in communications by rail, and particularly by road.

I must not stray too far in that direction, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, that subject has been introduced into the debate. If the new borough is to be viable and tourism is its main industry—and, presumably, the tourists will not all come by sea—communications are vitally important and the Government must have proposals for dealing with that problem. All that they have done so far is to cut back what we did during our term of office. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) wish to intervene?

Mr. Thorpe

Not a bit.

Mr. Cooke

I take it that the hon. Member was nodding assent to what I said.

Mr. Thorpe

To quote the Duke of Wellington, if the hon. Member believes that, he can believe anything.

Mr. Cooke

It is difficult to know what the hon. Member for Devon, North, is saying from a seated position behind me. I will endeavour briefly to conclude my remarks.

As a West Countryman, I want to see the counties remain viable. I come from the City of Bristol as a Member of Parliament, but I live in the County of Dorset and I have a wide knowledge of the counties which have been discussed tonight. We want to see the Devon County remain as a viable unit, even if they have built a glass and marble palace costing £1.6 million. May God forgive them. We want far more assurance from the Government that the new borough will be viable and that the county will not be left in an impossible financial position.

I cannot but have been impressed by what my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Mathew) said about the rate deficiency grant position. I hope that the Government, in their reply, will deal with the very telling questions asked by my hon. Friend, because he cast considerable doubt on the financial future of those areas which depend upon the rate deficiency grant.

We would give our support, I am sure, to reforms in local government if they were going to make for greater efficiency, but here we have had it said—and accepted by the Government, as I take it—that very considerable additional administrative expense is to be involved Well, that can be justified if we are to see an increase in efficiency, but so far I find myself in considerable doubt

I admire the passionate way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir B. Bennett) put his case. It is perfectly obvious that many of his constituents are very happy with what is being proposed, but doubts have been cast on the foundations of their happiness, and perhaps they may find themselves not as well off as they had hoped.

I came to this debate this evening not having read the statements of the various lobbyists on the one side and the other. I knew that my hon. Friends had varying views on this subject and that it was to be discussed here tonight. As someone who cares about the West Country and can look at the matter objectively, I came here to make up my mind on the merits of the speeches, which I have now heard.

This causes considerable amusement to the Lord President of the Council, who used to be the Minister of Housing and Local Government and is responsible for this Order.—[HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Member came only halfway through the debate."] He came only halfway through the debate?—[HON. MEMBERS: "No. You did."] This is, of course, typical of the Members on the Government side. I cannot imagine the serried ranks of hon. Members here this evening are just waiting for the Adjournment debate: they are waiting to go home. All they can say is that I came in halfway through the debate.

I have heard every single word of this debate from both sides of the House, and I have watched the Minister carefully annotating that prepared speech of preconceived ideas which he is to use at the end of the debate. I can only hope that the Minister will look at the merits of this case. In my view, a case has not been made finally either way. The Minister should give further consideration to it—take it away and think again.

11.22 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I shall not detain the House more than a few moments. This has been an interesting debate, with different views put forward for both sides, for the county borough and the county, and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has a fairly substantial case to meet if he wishes to get an affirmative resolution for the Order tonight. He has a substantial case to meet for five or six different reasons.

First, I think that he ought to dispose of the fact that he brings this Order before this House when there is a Petition in the other place. I personally think it most unfortunate that the Government seek—this is not the first time they have done it—from this House an affirmative Resolution which may, in fact, be quite purposeless. An Order of this sort requires a Resolution of both Houses. It may well be that the Petition will be upheld in the other place, and it would, perhaps, have been better to have waited till we knew the result of the Petition, before debating the Order here.

Secondly, the Minister brings this Order before this House in anticipation of the Royal Commission which, we hope, will report at not too late a date and which may have a different view altogether. I can appreciate the doubts which he explained to the House, that the decision in this case was in June, 1965, before the announcement of the Royal Commission, but it does raise doubts in one's mind whether we are making here a decision which may well not be in line with the advice and recommendations of the Royal Commission.

The population figure of 100,000 for the county borough is not a figure which we have been given to understand lately should be the right figure for a new county borough. It is undoubtedly a low figure. There are the services which this county borough will be unable to undertake, the fire service and the policy service. On the county side, those hon. Members who have spoken on behalf of the county have shown that there will be disadvantages of rateable value, and so on.

This Order has taken a long time to get to the House; I understand, seven years. It has gone through a number of inquiries in that time and, when it started on its way with the recommendations of the Commission, the Commission itself was not quite certain what course to take. It recommended at first that it should not be a county borough, but should have district status and a sort of amalgamation of district services. Then it changed its mind and recommended a county borough. As a result, there was the inquiry before the Minister's inspector. That was a very thorough inquiry in which a great deal of evidence was recorded by the inspector, and I imagine that the case on either side was fully deployed at that time.

I am coming round now to assist the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. In the face of all the evidence, which is fully and carefully set out by the inspector, the Minister came to the conclusion that the Commission's decision for a county borough was correct. If I may quote from the Minister's letter: Looked at from the point of view of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, therefore, the Minister has reached the conclusion that it would be right to join them in a county borough. But he has had also to consider the effect on the county. To them, obviously, the loss would be serious. He has, however, concluded that the Commission were right in holding that the disadvantage to the county would not be so great as to outweigh the benefit to the future of Torbay, and that despite the loss of population and rateable resources the county would still be a strong and effective instrument of local government. The Minister therefore accepts the Commission's proposal for the establishment of a county borough at Torbay. That is the Minister's decision. In opening the debate, the Parliamentary Secretary did not go very much further than stating that that was the decision. He has been asked many questions during the course of the debate. I think that it needs further reasoning from him to satisfy my hon. Friends that there should be approval of the Order. I do not think that he has by any means satisfied the House at present, and I hope that he will be able to give further information and answers to the questions which have been asked.

11.28 p.m.

Mr. MacColl

A number of criticisms of varying weight have been made. The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) objected to the proposal because it was to begin on 1st April. That is one of the less impressive objections, because the point is that the financial year begins on 1st April. It is a sensible administrative arrangement that, if a unit of local government is starting its life, it should start at the beginning of the financial year. The hon. Gentleman should not be contemptuous of Torbay for starting life on 1st April. It is what is done by most of the new authorities that are appointed.

The objection produced by the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) surprised me. I was surprised to find the hon. Gentleman being agreed with by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). I expected the hon. Member for Crosby to take a point like this, but to say that we in this House were not to take a decision on an affirmative Order which has to be passed by both Houses because the other place has its own procedure for dealing with these matters which is different from ours seems to me to be a constitutional doctrine from which even the Duke of Wellington, whom the hon. Gentleman quoted with such enthusiasm, would shy.

Mr. Thorpe

Surely it is within the hon. Gentleman's knowledge—if not, perhaps he would like to know—that there is no procedure for petitioning this House in this matter, and, therefore, the Devon County Council has resorted to the best means it can of expressing its protest.

Mr. MacColl

It is entitled to do that, but this House over the years has not in its wisdom had a procedure for Petitions. It has decided that by the time this has been looked at by the Local Government Commission, by an impartial inspector, and by my right hon. Friend, a sensible body of mature people in this House can make up their own minds about it. If the other place takes a different view, that is its affair, and not ours. It is almost a breach of privilege to say that we are not entitled to take a decision on an Order before the House because the other place has its own procedure for dealing with it.

Mr. Graham Page

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the point. There are two procedures in the other place—one the Petition, and the other to debate the matter in the House. AH we are suggesting is that the first procedure which is adopted there might go through before we waste our time here in debating this Order.

Mr. MacColl

That is a doctrine which we might apply to many things. We might discuss not to have a Land Bill until it has been discussed in the other place. We have our own procedure, which we have adopted, and it would be wrong for me to make any comment on, or criticism of, what is done in another place. Our job is to deal with the Order which my right hon. Friend, in pursuance of the Local Government Act, has laid before the House. He has to do that, and the House should make a decision on it. I therefore ask the House not to be side-tracked by that point but to take a responsible decision on this matter.

The hon. Member for Devon, North said that future tendencies were towards larger authorities and towards regionalism. If that be the case—and I am not anticipating what the Royal Commission may decide—it is as likely fundamentally to affect county council government as it is county borough government, and it is not an argument Tor saying that we will not give Torbay what it wants because after the Commission has reported we may have such a reorganisation that it will be neither one nor the other.

This is relevant to the point made by the hon. Member for Tiverton. He said, in a rather contemptuous way, that these wretched people were not even fit to run the fire and police services.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

I did not say that they were not fit to run them. I said that they did not want to. They do not want to, they have agreed not to.

Mr. MacColl

The position is that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is discussing the question of the organisation of the police in this part of the country. He is proposing an amalgamation of Cornwall, Devon, and Plymouth forces in a new police authority, in accordance with his general policy. If the new Torbay county borough takes the view that it should join that big authority, it shows that it is being pretty sensible about the whole business, because it illustrates the point that in the light of the new post-Royal Commission world county council government as we know it is as likely to be obsolete as county borough government, and, therefore, it is irrelevant to this question. The county borough council is the fire authority, and it is up to it to decide whether it joins Devon County. It will decide that when it is constituted and is able to do it.

The hon. Member for Tiverton also attacked the inspector's assessment of the costs. He said that the inspector had not taken into account the estimates for the provision of a town hall. The inspector did not invent these figures. There was a long and exhaustive argument and discussion before him on both sides about the estimates of cost, and he formed his opinion judicially, having heard both sides of the case. If what the hon. Member said were true it would only be a reflection upon the way in which the case was presented by the county council, and in no sense a reflection upon the decision of the inspector.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the decision had not then been taken to build a completely new administrative centre rather than use the existing one?

Mr. MacColl

The forensic and dialectical resources of Devon County Council and its advisers would have got the point that if a new county borough is being created it is likely that there will be a new town hall, and, therefore, it is likely that the county council would have explored every opportunity and every facet of this question of cost.

I want to say something about the grant situation, because this has been an understandable worry on the part of people objecting to the Order. As far as I can say, and as far as my right hon. Friend knows, the rate support grant in its new form will go on at least until there is a fundamental reorganisation of local government and its finances. The Bill which has just passed through the House is intended to remain in existence until that time. That includes a resources element, which provides the same kind of assistance as that which is given by the rate deficiency grant.

It is quite true that I cannot say categorically what would be the effect of the new grant on Devon in its new form, because whenever a new grant order is being negotiated it is not possible to tell, until after the negotiations are over, what is going to turn up. Therefore, all I say is subject to the proviso that as far as I know, and according to my advice, Devon will be no worse off under the new grant than it has been under the existing one.

Two matters are likely to affect that situation in this respect. The first is the new low density supplement. That is being discussed with the associations, but my right hon. Friend's idea is that it will produce much the same results in this context as the old one did. The other matter is the sparsity weighting in the resources element. The position there is that counties in whose area there are fewer than 70 people per mile of road have their population increased by two-fifths of the shortfall in the calculation of the rate deficiency grant. We were discussing this only last week when it came up on Report, and we moved an Amendment to increase the weighing of this resources element, which would help. For those two reasons, Devon will not find itself worse off financially.

The argument that has been put forward from the point of view of general financial criticism is that this is inconsistent with a proper economic policy. We are arguing about the distribution of the cost between local and central government. The total cost is not affected, except in a maginal way. Therefore there is no doubt that as far as Torbay is concerned it is viable. That has not been challenged. I quoted the figures of what the rateable value per head would be.

The population is practically the same as that of Solihull, which has only just become a county borough. Therefore, Torbay is quite viable. Devon, in its new form, is viable, and as far as one can tell will not be serioulsy affected, financially, when we see the new grant at work.

My advice to the House is to accept the Order, bearing in mind what I have said about the long-term reform of local government and the fact that my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council has made a statement about

accepting matters where decisions were issued before the appointment of the Royal Commission. The Order should be accepted because, as I pointed out, the decision in this matter was arrived at before the appointment of the Royal Commission. There would, therefore, have to be something very wrong indeed with the Order to justify throwing it out. Nothing said tonight, and none of the figures produced, gives us reason to disagree with either the Local Government Commission or my right hon. Friend.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 166, Noes 10.

Division No. 192.] AYES [11.40 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Forrester, John Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Allritt, Walter Fowler, Gerry Murray, Albert
Anderson, Donald Fraser, John (Norwood) Neal, Harold
Archer, Peter Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) Newens, Stan
Armstrong, Ernest Gardner, Tony Oakes, Gordon
Ashley, Jack Gourlay, Harry Ogden, Eric
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Gregory, Arnold Orbach, Maurice
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Grey, Charles (Durham) Orme, Stanley
Beaney, Alan Hamling, William Oswald, Thomas
Bence, Cyril Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth S'tn)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hart. Mrs. Judith Palmer, Arthur
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Haseldine, Norman Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Heffer, Eric S. Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Bidwell, Sydney Hiley, Joseph Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Buns, John Hilton, W. S. Price, William (Rugby)
Bishop, E. S. Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Reynolds, G. W.
Blackburn, F. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Blenkinsop, Arthur Howie, W. Roberts, Cwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Boardman, H. Hoy, James Robertson, John (Paisley)
Booth, Albert Hughes, Roy (Newport) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Braddock. Mr. E. M. Hunter, Adam Roebuck, Roy
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Rose, Paul
Brown, Hugh D. (C'gow, Provan) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Ross Rt. Hn. William
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Buchan, Norman Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ryan, John
Cant, R. B. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Coe, Denis Lawson, George Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Coleman, Donald Lestor, Miss Joan Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Concannon, J. D. Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lomas, Kenneth Swingler, Stephen
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Loughlin, Charles Tinn, James
Cullen. Mrs. Alice Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Tuck, Raphael
Dalyell, Tam McBride, Neil Varley, Eric G.
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) McCann, John Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stratford) MacColl, James Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Davies, Harold (Leek) MacDermot, Niall Wallace, George
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Macdonald, A. H. Watkins, David (Consett)
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey McGuire, Michael Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Delargy, Hugh Mackenzie, Gregor (Ruthergien) Wellbeloved, James
Dewar, Donald Mackie, John Whitaker, Ben
Dickens, James Mackintosh, John P. Whitlock, William
Doig, Peter Maclennan, Robert Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Dunn, James A. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Dunnett, Jack McNamara, J. Kevin Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Dunwoody. Mr. Gwyneth (Exeter) MacPherson, Malcolm Williams. Mr. Shirley (Hitchin)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Eadie, Alex Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Ellis, John Manuel, Archie Winnick, David
Ennals, David Marquand, David Woodburn Rt. Hn. A.
Ensor, David Mellish, Robert Woof, Robert
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Mendelson, J. J. Yates, Victor
Faulds, Andrew Millan, Bruce
Fernyhough, E. Miller, Dr. M. S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mitchell, R. c. (S'th'pton, Test) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Moonman, Eric Mr. Alan Fitch.
Ford, Ben Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Cooke, Robert Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Corfield, F. V. Steel, David (Roxburgh) Mr. Maxwelt-Hyslop and
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart) Mr. Peter Mills.
Kitson, Timothy Thorpe, Jeremy
Mathew, Robert Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)

Resolved, That the Torbay Order 1966, dated 1st August 1966, a copy of which was laid before this House on 9th August, be approved.