§ 2.49 p.m.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (LORD MERTHYR)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. In doing so, I should like to draw the attention of the House to what appears on the Order Paper—namely, an indication that I shall be making a statement to the House under Standing Order 91 relating to Private Bills. There are at least two reasons which would cause me, upon occasion, to make a statement on a Private Bill under this Standing Order. The first is a comparatively new development, which is the result of an unofficial meeting now held in the month of January, yearly, to discuss the Private Bills for the Session and to make suggestions as to on which Bills I should make a statement under this Standing Order, drawing the special attention of the House to the Bill concerned. This is a new arrangement, arising, as I think your Lordships will probably remember, out of the discussion on the South Wales Transport Bill in the last Session. As the result of that discussion it has now been 1027 arranged that the Second Reading of Private Bills in the House is not taken until after the last day for the deposit of Petitions. The wish that that should be done was expressed by the House last year, and your Lordships have already agreed to an Amendment to the Standing Orders to give effect to that desire. As a result, we do not now take the Second Reading of Private Bills until after February 6 each year. That is the last date for petitioning, and it follows that when the Second Reading is moved all the Petitions that are going to be deposited have been put down.
The second reason for my making a statement will probably be that on my own initiative I have come to the conclusion that the attention of the House should be drawn to a particular Bill. I believe I can undertake not to do this more often than is necessary, for the obvious reason that the more often it is done the less attention may be paid to the Bill. But there may be occasions such as this when I have reason to know that some noble Lord desires to comment upon a Bill and to discuss one or more of its clauses, and possibly to oppose it. It is the second of those reasons which prompts me to make this statement to-day.
In this particular case I should not have done so upon by own initiative, but it came to my knowledge that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, wished to make comments on this Bill. May I say here that I am extremely grateful to the noble Viscount for letting me know that he wished to speak on this Bill; and, incidentally, may I say that any noble Lord who desires to speak on a Private Bill is doing me a great service (if I may so put it) by letting me know that he is interested in the Bill and wishes to say something about it. That all makes for smoothness and good order. I would add that, of course, nobody is bound to do so unless he thinks fit.
May I now turn to this Bill, the Cardiff Corporation Bill? I should like, extremely briefly, to say a few words about it without arguing the merits—for it is not for me to do that. This is a general powers Bill consisting of 107 clauses and 4 Schedules divided into 16 Parts, each Part relating to a different subject; and if I 1028 understand it correctly, the Parts on which the noble Viscount wished to comment are Part VII, which deals with food, and Part XII, which deals with mobile shops. At this stage perhaps I ought to tell the House that at a very late hour—actually I did not hear about it until this morning—it appeared that three clauses in Part VII (and I apprehend that, from the noble Viscount's point of view, they are the most important ones) have now been withdrawn by the Promoters; and that the whole of Part XII, except for one clause, has also been withdrawn by them, leaving only Clause 101 remaining in that Part of the Bill, that clause, however, being, as I see it, a contentious one.
I have to add only a few more details. There have been set down against this Bill 15 Petitions. Two of those deal with Part VII and seven of them deal with Part XII, so that it will readily be seen that Part XII is, to say the least, the controversial part of the Bill—or rather was, before most of it was withdrawn. So I believe your Lordships will be satisfied that these contentious matters will be fully argued by a Select Committee upstairs, and you may therefore think that it is not so necessary for the details of the Bill to be discussed fully this afternoon. I would add that, needless to say, there will be full opportunity given to all Government Departments who may be interested in the Bill to state their views on any part of it, and not only on those parts which are the subject of controversy or of Petitions.
I should like to add this: if the noble Viscount wishes to invite the House to reject the Bill, then I should ask leave to withdraw my Motion this afternoon and set it down for another day, so that there may be full opportunity for debate, which I understand would be easier than it would be to-day. If the noble Viscount does not wish to take that course, then I would ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading to-day and to send it upstairs to a Committee, which I am sure will deal fully with all the Petitions and controversial matters. I would suggest, therefore, subject to what the noble Viscount may have to say, that the House might be willing to give the Bill a Second Reading this afternoon.
Finally, may I ask for your Lordships' indulgence and hope that you will excuse 1029 my making this comparatively lengthy statement? As I have said, it is the first of this Session's statements, and I hope that it will not be necessary for me to speak at such length on any subsequent occasion.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Merthyr.)
§ LORD DYNEVOR
My Lords, if I understood the noble Lord aright, he said in the earlier part of his remarks that after the due date for lodging objections had passed, no objection or Petition would be sustained.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
My Lords, it is laid down by Standing Orders that all Petitions against Private Bills which begin in your Lordships' House must be deposited by February 6 unless the Standing Orders are, for some good reason suspended—which is possible though not usual. It is a fact that no Petition received after that date would be admissible so far as this House was concerned.
§ 2.58 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am sure the whole House will be obliged for the clarity of the statement as to the procedure on this Bill given by the Lord Chairman of Committees. I have no intention of opposing the Second Reading to-day. I had thought of just rising to say that the very Parts of the Bill to which the Lord Chairman has referred are highly controversial, and that I should like to bring them to the attention of your Lordships in order that you might have an opportunity to look them up and study them, so that if there was to be a debate on Third Reading noble Lords would know about them. That is all I had intended to do.
A great deal of the controversial part has been removed from Part VII and most of it from Part XII, which is exceedingly helpful. The one part remaining in Part XII concerns a principle for which we should always be warned to watch; that is, whether it is right for a local authority, although there may be a precedent, to seek to upset a judgment of the High Court concerning the whole of the Realm by having a special clause in a Private Corporation Bill.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, as I was one of those who on the South Wales Transport Bill referred to the matter of Petitions and pressed for reform of the kind that has now been introduced into this House, I want to say how grateful I am to the Lord Chairman of Committees and to other noble Lords who have brought about what I believe is a distinct reform in our procedure.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Select Committee.