HL Deb 24 February 1960 vol 221 cc286-9

My Lords, in the case of this Bill, I have put down on the Order Paper an intimation that I would make a statement to your Lordships' House under Standing Order 91. I have done that because I think the House is apt to be interested in a Bill which introduces a provision for the enclosure, however small it may be, of an open space. In the County Borough of Salford there is a public park known as Peel Park. In the year 1920, by an Act of Parliament, a part of Peel Park was appropriated for the purpose of a building for the Royal Technical College. In the year 1955, a further small area of the Park, two acres in extent, was taken to provide a car park for this college, which no doubt adjoins it. Under Clause 4 of this Bill it is proposed to appropriate those two acres of the car park for an extension of the building of the College or for some other educational purpose. That is the matter which I thought it right, I hope rightly, to draw to the attention of the House. There are three Petitions against this Bill, but none of them deals with this point, and it is possible for me to say that to the best of my knowledge there is no opposition to this proposal, although, of course, opposition might develop at some future time. Therefore, I am not saying that the House need take any time over this proposal, but, as I have said before, in view of the nature of it I thought your Lordships might like to know. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Merthyr.)


My Lords, I do not want to detain your Lordships, but I wonder if the Lord Chairman could indicate whether, when this car park has been appropriated for building purposes, there is some protection to prevent the authorities from taking a further part of this open space for a new car park.


My Lords, there are two clauses in the Bill which provide for underground car parks, but I must admit that I am not sure whether they are directly connected with the proposal to appropriate this car park. Be that as it may, there is provision for further car parks in Salford. If it were proposed to take any further portion of this park for any purpose, that would, of course, require another Bill.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord the Lord Chairman of Committees very much for the course he has pursued to-day, having regard to the point of view of general Parliamentary interest. Any further enclosure of open space in a borough, so overcrowded requires consideration, and we might see what happens as a result of any Government advice that may be given to the Committee considering the Petition.


My Lords, some of us have had an opportunity of considering this matter with the Lord Chairman. The position, I think, is this. If it were a question of taking any piece of common land, however small, that would be a matter of public importance which we should all want to consider, both for local considerations and as a general matter. But, as I understand it, the position here is this. Some years ago two acres of this park were taken for the purposes of this educational institution for use as a car park. Nothing could compel the institution to give that area back and make it part of the park. If we were now to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, or indeed to give any direction to the Committee, we should not be helping to get any extra land for the park but should merely be giving an instruction that this land, which is the property of the institution, should not be used for the best educational purposes.


My Lords, I should like to ask a question—though really it has nothing to do with me—for those who do not know this park. The noble Lord referred to a small park of two acres. I should like to ask him what the acreage of the park is.


I do not think I said that Peel Park was a small park. What I said was that the two acres was a car park—possibly the noble Lord did not hear me correctly. It is the car park which is two acres, and I ventured to describe that as a small part of the park, which may be a very large park. I am afraid that I have not the actual acreage of the whole park.


My Lords, I should like to ask two questions. The first is of general interest, and it is this. The noble Lord the Chairman of Committees is now apparently adopting a course in which he asks Members of the whole House to apply themselves to a particular question he is raising, which is really a matter of procedure. One would like to know whether it is the intention to air these matters before the House as a whole before they receive detailed consideration, presumably by a special Committee, or whether this is an unusual course in which he asks for guidance from your Lordships' House. The second point deals with the specific area in question, about which most of us know very little. The question is: what is the purpose of raising this matter at all? Most of us have strong views about the destruction of parkland, especially in our urban areas, but what is it that we as the House of Lords are supposed to do on this particular issue?


My Lords, I am afraid that in order to give a proper answer to the noble Lord's question I must again remind the House of what happened last year. The whole story begins on the Second Reading of the South Wales Transport Bill of the last Session. I am sorry to have to remind your Lordships of that Bill, but it was an interesting Bill. As a result of the events which took place in this House on that Bill, I was asked by the House to make arrangements so that those of your Lordships who were interested in the matter would be in some way acquainted with the more interesting proposals in Private Bills presented each Session. When I say "interesting", I mean those clauses in Private Bills which might be expected to occasion the specific and particular interest of the House. It was then arranged that in the month of January every year a meeting should take place of two or three members of all Parties and interests in this House, and that meeting should be told by me of those clauses in the Private Bills for that Session which, in my judgment, might fall under that head. That meeting took place last month for the first time, and those noble Lords who attended that meeting agreed that I should draw attention to Clause 4 of the Salford Corporation Bill, and that is why I am doing so to-day.

On Question Bill read 2a, and committed to a Select Committee.