HL Deb 11 March 1942 vol 122 cc258-9

My Lords, it will be within your Lordships' recollection that a short time ago, in a discussion in your Lordships' House, the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sankey, referred to the question of the cost of Private Bills, of promoting and, especially, of opposing Private Bills in the Committees of your Lordships' House. I think that everyone will agree with what my noble friend Lord Sankey said as to the value of our Private Bill procedure, and I think that everyone will agree that, if that could be cheapened in any way, it would be of very great advantage both to Bill promoters and to petitioners, so long as the essential features of our procedure were not interfered with. The effects fall more hardly not, probably, on the larger bodies, such, as county boroughs and county councils, but on smaller bodies, such as district councils, statutory undertakers, and especially private individuals. The cost to petitioners is undoubtedly very considerable.

This question is not a new one; it has been examined before. It was examined by a Committee in another place, which went into the whole question of Private Bill procedure, and it was examined by the Royal Commission on Local Government, of which I had the honour to be Chairman, but no very definite results came about. At the present time, however, the position is rather different. Expense, especially now and after the war, is a matter of primary concern. If we want to maintain—and we do want to maintain—our Private Bill system and its procedure intact, we must do all we can, if we can do anything, to make it cheaper and more easily accessible to smaller purses. Even if nothing can be done, even if we cannot produce a scheme for cheapening procedure, I think it would be to the satisfaction of your Lordships' House that the matter should be gone into, and that we should be able to say that we have done our best, that we have gone into the whole question and examined it thoroughly, and that this is what we recommend. I therefore beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.

Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the question of the cost involved in promoting and opposing Private Bills, Provisional Orders and Special Orders, and that the Lords following, with the Chairman of Committees, be named of the Committee:

—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.