§ 6.30 p.m.
§ House again in Committee.
§ LORD SHEPHERD moved, after Clause 8, to insert the following new clause:
§ Greater London Traffic and Highway Plan
§ ".—(1) The Greater London Council shall cause to be carried out a survey of the Greater London area (taking also into account development outside that area) in respect of road traffic and highways and roads, with a view to—
- (a) the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of traffic including foot passengers;
- (b) the provision of suitable, adequate and conveniently sited parking facilities on and off the Highway; and
- (c) the provision of a co-ordinated and adequate public transport service.
§ (2) For the purposes of paragraph (c) of the preceding subsection, those carrying out the survey shall consult with the bodies operating public transport services in and around Greater London.
§ (3) For the purposes of, the survey, the Minister of Transport and the London County Council shall make available to the Greater London Council such staff as may be agreed and such information as is or may become available,
§ (4) Within such period as the Minister of Transport may appoint, the Greater London Council shall submit to him the results of the survey, together with a scheme recommending means whereby the objects of the survey may, in the opinion of the Council, best be accomplished.
§ (5) After consultation with such bodies as he may think fit, the Minister of Transport may approve the scheme aforesaid, and thereupon shall designate it the Greater London Traffic and Highway Plan; and it shall then he the duty of the Greater London Council to exercise the powers and functions conferred on them by virtue of sections 10 to 19 of this Act in accordance with the said Plan.1368
§ (6) The Minister of Transport shall not exercise any of the powers which, by virtue of sections 10 to 19 of this Act, he has in common with the Greater London Council unless it appears to him that that Council is failing to give effect to the aforesaid Plan or is failing to discharge its duties under this Part of this Act; and in any case that Minister shall not exercise any of those powers without informing the Council and, if the Council so request, holding a public inquiry into the matter upon which he proposes to act."
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment standing in my name and in the names of my noble friends.
§ We now move to Part II of this complex Bill. May I say that we welcome a new Minister to the fray? We will try to give the same constructive support to this Part of the Bill as we have clone to the first Part. We all recognise that the traffic and highways problem is one of the main planks for the Government's introduction of this Bill. If I speak rather long for Committee stage, perhaps I shall be forgiven. We have already indicated to the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, that on this Amendment the Opposition will discuss the broad principles of this part of the Bill and refrain from speaking on policy when we come to the rest of the Amendments, though reserving the right to deal with any technical matters that arise.
§ If there is any case for a change in London Government, undoubtedly it lies in dealing with the problem of traffic and highways. The Royal Commission, in paragraph 401 of their Report, described the chaotic distribution of powers and responsibilities, which they said was so difficult to explain that they could not put it on paper. The London County Council is not a highway authority, but it is an improvement authority, though there is no requirement on it to carry out improvement. There is a division of responsibility between the L.C.C., the Minister of Transport and the London boroughs. All this has resulted in long delays where improvements are necessary.
§ We are all agreed that London traffic represents a special problem. The congestion in Central London arises not only from the movement of goods of, and passengers who are, strictly Londoners. All roads lead to London, and it is an unfortunate fact that this tendency is increasing. In Central London we have to provide a system which takes into 1369 account developments outside the Central London area, and even developments outside the area of Greater London. I understand that by 1970 we shall have 12 million vehicles on the roads—90 per cent. more than to-day—and of those we in London shall receive more than our share. In looking at the congestion at the present time, one's mind boggles at what it will be like for people who live in London, for those who have to come to work in London and for those who provide the services essential to the life of this great City.
§ Identical congestion is now being created in places such as Croydon, where shopping centres, offices and factories are being built and where the roads are still the old suburban roads, winding and narrow. So the congestion we see in Central London is being built up at points all round the periphery of the Greater London area. A vigorous approach has to be made to the whole problem. Some people may say that what we need is a dictator who will cut through all the red tape that exists. Perhaps that would be the answer if we were in despair. Perhaps some people would nominate Mr. Marples or the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, and the Ministry of Transport, for this task. But for long-term results, and taking into account all the special needs of London, we really cannot consider the Minister of Transport or his Ministry as the right instrument for cutting through all the red tape. The Royal Commission clearly recommended that there should be one highway authority and one traffic authority, and I think that the case they made in their Report is overwhelming.
§ I would reject the Ministry of Transport because their attitude and their horizon would be too limited to deal with all the problems that face them in London, though undoubtedly the Minister would have the advantage that he would have behind him Parliamentary control and authority. But I think that we should reject the Ministry of Transport and look to this new authority that is being set up, the Greater London Council, which, though it may not have the same authority as Parliament, will be an elected body, which can act with precision and strength and which would be able to control such wild-cat schemes as the Highgate scheme. It may be said that if the Greater London Council has power to take strong action, this will cut 1370 across local interests; but I believe that, if the right people are elected, the Council should be able to tackle this problem. Above all else, it should be able to obtain the co-operation of the borough councils, which also are elected bodies, though elected on a narrower basis. I think that it is right that we should place our trust in the Greater London Council to carry out the duties of this authority.
§ We come to what is perhaps the more difficult question of the dual control between the Greater London Council and the Ministry of Transport. Under the Bill, both have responsibilities and powers and it is possible for both to act independently. In fairness to the Council, I do not believe that power other than a sleeping power, a last resort power, should lie with the Minister. Perhaps I can best describe it as a partnership in which the Minister is not exactly a sleeping partner but merely advisory, providing extra resources if and when the Council require them, but not assuming executive powers. The responsibility, if it is to be effected by an elected body, and if the interest of the Council is to be maintained, should be solely and clearly laid on the shoulders of the Council.
§ I would not say that the Minister should not have power. The Minister is responsible to Parliament and therefore should have power. But I would beg the Government to say that the Minister has no intention of interfering, or of putting any pressure on the executives, the officers of the Greater London Council or on the Council itself in its executive capacity, and that the Minister will intervene only when the Council has clearly failed to carry out the responsibility laid upon its shoulders. I hope the Minister will be able to give us a clear assurance.
§ I turn now to my Amendment. It first calls for a survey of the Greater London area in respect of the road traffic and highways. If one looks at the problem, in military terms one can say that we need a strategic plan and a tactical plan. It is difficult when one discusses a problem in military terms to know whether it is strategic or tactical, which aspects rather impinge upon each other. But, for my purpose, I would have regard to the strategic plan; that is, the general planning for major through traffic, 1371 not only traffic from the centre of London outwards, but the through traffic that will circle around London. This will become more and more important as the years go on, with the continual growth of an area or borough of the type of Croydon. We have to pay as much attention to these circular roads, these transverse roads, as we do to those roads that lead in and out of London.
§ Whatever we may do on the strategic plan, it must be obvious to the Government, and I should have thought to the Committee, that whoever is empowered to do it must take account of all the developments that are taking place outside London. We can see already the growth clown to the South-East Coast of England and to the North of London. In the first instance, it has followed the railways. But as time goes on, commuters having gone out for the facility of the rail, they then turn to the road. You will find, unless the Government put a brake on the development of South-East England, a continual strain upon the position in London by the development going on outside. Therefore, I would say that when one considers a survey of the London area it appears of absolute importance that the authority concerned should have some liaison and intelligence section which will inform them of long-terms trends of development outside their area.
§ I hope that the Government will accept the case for a survey. The Government in a later clause require the Greater London Council to make a survey for the general development of housing and the like. I should have thought it would be obvious that if you are carrying out such a survey, then it is right there should be a traffic and highway survey at the same time. I am not asking for anything new, because a survey is already taking place, I think at a cost of £400,000 and being carried out by the Ministry of Transport and the London County Council. I should like to see that survey taken over by the Greater London Council, if it is still in being when the Council is set up, or if it has been completed by then, the officers and the information that has been garnered made available to the Greater London Council.
§ What I should like to see, after the election of the Greater London coun- 1372 cillors․and it is clearly recognised that there will be a year or so in which there will be general planning within the Greater London Council—is the Council's being given the opportunity of using that time and the information that has become available as a result of this survey (perhaps they will make certain of their own surveys to clarify the information that has become available) and for them to produce their plan and to place it before the Minister with their recommendations. The Minister, if I had my way, would then consider the plan, just as the Minister for town and country planning will consider the development plan called for in a later part of this Bill, and having consulted the various authorities, the Minister could think fit to decide upon the plan as it was presented, or as it was amended, subject to general approval by those people taking part, and then the plan would become the broad blueprint of future traffic and highway development in London.
§ For that purpose, all the assets and liabilities of London—all the good roads, the secondary roads and the poor roads—should be considered within the scope and orbit of the Greater London Council so that they can consider what will be available to them within that area. From that procedure, and their plan, those who are experienced in traffic management and highway development could assess of the roads that now exist in London those roads that should be retained within the strategic plan of the Greater London Council, and which should remain under the control and responsibility of the Greater London Council. There would be certain roads which obviously would be local roads and which could well be transferred to the local boroughs. There would obviously be the fringe roads in the type of area where the Greater London Council would not be able to decide whether in the long run the roads would be necessary although they might well be necessary.
§ Therefore, as I see it, with the Bill as it is now presented, where you have clearly defined those roads which shall be under the Greater London Council or under the boroughs, there will probably have to be long discussions and Ministerial consent before there would be a transfer either from the boroughs to the Greater London Council or back. 1373 What I therefore suggest to the Committee is that for the: period of the survey we should place within the scope of the Greater London Council every road, and after you have made your plan, you would then transfer those roads that do not come within the general strategic planning for traffic development in London.
§ To me, this is the most sensible way of going about it: in fact, I believe the Royal Commission used words to the effect that you cannot define at this moment what roads should be metropolitan roads; in other words, which roads should come within the Greater London Council. I would suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, that there are a number of roads which are now classified as borough responsibility which could well be developed as main roads, strategic roads, with some improvement.
§ If those roads were so adapted, you could well take off a good percentage of the heavy traffic that now runs along the existing main roads. As a motorist, the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, probably knows many odd roads by which one can find one's way front the outskirts of an area into the centre which run alongside the main roads which are heavily congested. Many of those roads, if widened and straightened, could make a tremendous difference to the congestion that now exists on, these main metropolitan roads.
§ We should see that the assets and the liabilities in regard to roads are available to the Greater London Council for its survey. We should not lay down in this Bill which roads should go to the Greater London Council and which should go to the boroughs. I have no idea how the Government came to create Schedule 7. I cannot understand how it is that the Minister has decided that 60 per cent. of Class 1 roads—roads that are recognised as main through roads—should be the responsibility of the Greater London Council, and that 40 per cent. of the same type of road should be handed over to the boroughs. Perhaps the Minister when he replies will give us a good reason why this fixed position has been taken in this Bill. I say to the noble Lord that, where you have this golden opportunity of planning by an authority which is not committed to executive 1374 action, you should take it to look at the problem of London in a sort of empirical attitude. But you can only do it, as I have said (I am sorry I am repeating it, but it is very important) if all the area is within the scope and power of the authority. I beg the Government to consider that point.
§ I now turn to paragraph 2 of my Amendment. If we are to relieve the congestion in the centre of London we must do more to get the commuters on to our trains. No doubt this will involve staggering of working hours. The Government and the Minister have failed in this respect. Maybe the Greater London Council, responsible for development and the like, will have greater success in this matter. But you cannot tackle any question of staggering until you can provide adequate public transport service in these stagnation periods. There are other aspects, such as in areas like Oxted or Watford, on the perimeter, where the Greater London Council have the power to organise—if that is the right word․to co-operate, to arrange, with the public transport services the provision of car parks sufficient to cope with the vehicles of commuters in order to encourage them to come on to our trains.
§ Much more could be done to see that our buses run at times to meet the trains. The noble Lord, Lord Chesham, would be surprised at the inconvenience that is caused to travellers by the fact that bus timing does not coincide reasonably with train timing. It is this type of thing which makes people use their cars to get to the station, when in certain of the areas they could well use public service, and would perhaps prefer to. These are aspects which should come within the scope of traffic organisation. All these things have to be borne in mind. Therefore I suggest that we should see that there is some responsibility on the Greater London Council to endeavour, in co-operation with the transport authorities, to see that there is an adequate transport service in and around Greater London.
§ I have dealt with the survey and the scheme. I now come to the plan, because no doubt the Government will say, "Well, if you have a plan, this is something fixed." If the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, 1375 were here, he would recognise that a General who goes into battle has a plan. He has to fight the battle rather "off the cuff", but he does it within the broad principles of his plan. He has to make adaptions as the days go on. When I suggest that we should have a traffic highway plan for London, it does not mean something which is fixed, which is not flexible. Obviously, as the trends change, as traffic differs, maybe from year to year, there will have to be a change of plan. Therefore I hope the Government will not criticise my suggestion this evening on the ground that I am advocating something which is fixed. I suggest that the Greater London Council cannot be effective as a traffic or highway authority unless it has a broad plan which is acceptable to the Minister in the first instance.
§ Now I come to my paragraph 6. At first sight, I wondered whether this was going to be too much for the Minister. It would require that the Minister of Transport would not exercise any powers by virtue of Clauses 10 to 19 of this Act unless the Greater London Council had failed in their duties. The Minister has practically used those very words in his Amendment, No. 103A. But the Minister is still the final judge. This is something to which I would ask the Minister to give consideration. I said earlier, and I say it with all possible sincerity, that if you expect the Greater London Council to carry out their responsibilities, it must be clear that the responsibilities are theirs, and that they have a real duty; that they will not have to look over their shoulder all the time to see whether they are pleasing the Minister; that the Minister should use his powers only where the Minister has failed.
§ There may be occasions when the Council, taking into account perhaps their development plan, prefer not to act, but where the Minister may feel that action must be taken in the interests of the narrow point of the movement of traffic. The Greater London Council will be bound to take factors into account other than traffic. Therefore you should not put the Minister in a position where he can dictate to the Greater London Council. If the Minister wants to use the powers, and the Greater London Council, acting as a responsible council, felt that the Minister's order was wrong, 1376 there should be some opportunity to have the position aired, perhaps through the Press or through the letter box; and that no doubt, could come by a public inquiry.
§ In a further Amendment, I have suggested that in certain cases it should be referred to the Minister of Town and Country Planning. I accept that that is wrong—that you cannot put two Ministers up against each other. But I hope the Government will accept this. If they have set up a Greater London Council to be a responsible council—and this is their child; this is their creation—they should put the responsibility on them. If there is a dispute perhaps between them (not a dispute in broad terms, but perhaps on a small point at issue, whether a particular roundabout should be made in that way or particular lighting should be installed in another way) only where the Minister has an overwhelming case should he act. But if the Council felt that the Minister's decision was wrong in what they considered to be the general interests, then they should have the right to obtain outside opinions, perhaps through a public inquiry. But at least they would be able to have the matter aired, so that perhaps Members of Parliament could take up the cudgels for them. I beg the Government to see that, having created this authority, they should clearly put trust in them; and I feel that to-night the Minister must clearly say that the reserve powers that the Minister is retaining will be used in only the very last resort. I beg to move.
After Clause 8, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Shepherd.)
§ LORD CHAMPION
My noble friend has so adequately covered the difficulties of London and set out some of the main requirements for the solution of the problem of this great conurbation, that the only thing I would add to his suggested requirements for a solution would be an observation on the necessity for close co-operation between the traffic authority and the planning authority. I believe that, unless we have that close co-operation, one of these authorities will be taking decisions which could make complete nonsense of what the other was doing, and this would be a very great mistake. There is, too, a corresponding need for co-operation between the body providing London's transport services and the traffic authority.
1377 My noble friend has set out the requirements; he has posed the problem and suggested some of the solutions. Of course, it is always so much easier to pose a problem than to provide the solution to that problem. I know that is a platitude, but it is none the less true. But I am bound to say—and I think I must give this to the Government and to my noble friend to some extent—that in the creation of the Greater London Council and in improving of overall traffic responsibility, the Government go a fair distance towards meeting the requirements of London. I see no reason why we should not here admit and say that in reference to this Part II which we are now discussing; but I must say that I have some doubts about the Minister of Transport's retaining responsibilities for the trunk roads, although, clearly, I recognise that he must have some reserve powers in this respect—and I would stress the words "reserve powers" rather than the first-place, responsibility.
In parenthesis, perhaps I might say that the details of this Bill are extremely difficult to follow. I do not know that I have ever tackled a Part of a Bill which is so difficult to understand. To master thoroughly Part II one would have to have beside one the Local Government Act, 1933, the Road Traffic Act, 1960, the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Act, 1960, the Road Traffic Act, 1962, the London Passenger Transport Act, 1933, the Highways Act, 1959, the Private Street Works Act, 1961, and possibly the Vehicles Excise Act, 1962, all of which are mentioned in this clause and to which reference is made. For a layman to follow all this is an extremely difficult task, and I imagine that it is not easy for an experienced lawyer to do it. I just mention this because the Bill is a large one but it would not have mattered, I think, if it had been enlarged by consolidating the appropriate sections of the Acts I have mentioned in the Bill as they applied to the London area. It would then have been very much easier for us to follow, and certainly easier for those who have to find their way through this tangle that we have here in the Bill in order to apply this Part II.
To turn to the new clause, this I imagine is based on paragraph 441 of the Report of the Royal Commission, which reads: 1378Finally, we must point out that although, in fact, sporadic and partial traffic censuses have been taken, no one is responsible for finding out the facts systematically about the nature of traffic. It is no-one's business to find out where traffic is coming from, or where it is going, or for what purposes the vehicles are being used. Without such studies no firm basis can exist for planning traffic management or road construction.Incidentally, although many of my noble friends would perhaps use stronger words, the conclusions of the Royal Commission, I am bound to say, coming to study them as I have, set out London's problems in a way which makes it understandable to those coming newly to the subject, and perhaps I might add that I would strongly commend a large part of Chapter 6, headed "Some General Considerations", to any new councillor, or indeed any old councillor, whether here or elsewhere—but that is quite by the way.
We know (and my noble friend Lord Shepherd pointed this out) that the London County Council, perhaps together with the Ministry of Transport, is making a survey of London's traffic problems and my noble friend has made reference to this in his subsection (3). I do not know what are the limits of this survey, but clearly if it does not already apply to the whole of the Greater London area it should be so applied as soon as possible. I think that it is immediately being applied to the L.C.C. area, but if it is not, if it is a wider area, that is all the more satisfactory.
Under the new clause this survey will be used for the preparation of a scheme for presentation to the Minister for approval; and subsection (5) of the new clause has been read out by my noble friend and he has made extensive reference to it. I am in favour of an overall plan for London for the reasons which my noble friend gave, but not an absolutely rigid one. Traffic is fluid, and to some extent clearly the plan must allow within itself for that fluidity and for the plan itself to be adjustable in the light of altering circumstances. These plans can be good. If someone had not conceived a plan for the Green Belt I rather think that we should never have preserved for London this area that surrounds London. It would long since have been surged over by the bricks and 1379 mortar of this extending London. It was a good thing that the plan was conceived. It was there, it had to be worked to, but to some extent it was adjustable and had certain little bits of fluidity about it.
So I would end by urging the Government to consider very closely this proposal of my noble friend and his Amendment that he has here proposed, so that we might have this survey applied as soon as it is humanly possible; and, provided that it is done thoroughly with all the traffic requirements I have mentioned in mind, and the planning requirements which I regard as tremendously important in this connection, to have a scheme prepared so that we shall have a plan which the bodies who are going to have to undertake this tremendous job which is being placed upon them by this Bill may be able to work. I certainly support the Amendment of my noble friend.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I realised when I studied in advance the Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has been explaining and commending to us that it was probably more in the nature of a peg on which to hang a number of hats, and he has done that for us this evening in an extremely interesting way. He has raised a number of points of principle, as he said, on purpose to cover other Amendments later and possibly save a little time there, for which I am duly grateful to him. But predominantly I want to say how interestingly he put all of his case and how beguilingly some little parts of it. He and the noble Lord, Lord Champion, between them, presented me with a large number of subjects to cover, so I think I, in my turn, must ask your Lordships for a little indulgence if I have to take a little while in doing so. Perhaps I may approach it in a slightly different manner from the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. It might be for convenience and possibly a little acceleration if I were to work through the clause, sweeping up the points of principle as they are raised in it.
§ LORD CHESHAM
Never mind what is exactly the word; we will deal with 1380 the matters. The clause falls into two parts, the first part being devoted to the question of the survey and the second part to how to make use of the results in broad terms. I must first address myself in a fairly detailed way to the question of the survey, because the survey for which the noble Lord has asked is being carried out now. It is sponsored jointly by the Minister of Transport and the L.C.C., and it is covering all forms of transport; it is covering public transport as much as private transport. The London Transport Board and the British Railways Board have taken part in planning the survey and have co-operated by surveying and giving information on their own services. It is very comprehensive, and I think it is the biggest survey carried out anywhere, at a cost of £600,000—not £400,000 as the noble Lord mentioned; but that is only a detail. It covers not only the existing transport and the factors that generate it, but also a forward projection which is aimed at assessing how the demand for transport for the next twenty years or so will grow.
We hope, with reasonable confidence, that the results of the survey will be published by the end of this year. I think the Ministry and all the other authorities concerned will have every incentive in the circumstances to make full use of those results when they are published, to begin the work of developing firm proposals for new roads and for public transport facilities, and I believe that work will have been started and be under way before the G.L.C. actually take over their responsibilities.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Can the noble Lord say which authority will be preparing these plans? Will it be the Ministry or the boroughs?
§ LORD CHESHAM
It would be the authorities concerned, certainly the Ministry and the L.C.C. There would be work starting which would be very interesting and important to the G.L.C. when it comes along. It does not have to wait for them; it will be possible to start all that work before.
I would reassure the noble Lord, Lord Champion, and also the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, by saying that the survey is being carried out over an area in fact bigger than Greater London. It covers a population of about 1381 9 million, as opposed to the 8 million in the Greater London Area. It is also taking into account developments in the area immediately outside Greater London. There is a general co-ordination between the survey and the work of looking at the problems of the South-East as a whole which is being studied at the moment in a study which involves the Ministry of Housing as well as the Ministry of Transport. So I am happily able to reassure noble Lords that it is very comprehensive and includes the points they want to be included.
May I turn to the actual Amendment and start with the first paragraph (a). It covers all types of wheeled traffic, public and transport. It does not cover in the same way pedestrians, because the statistical data on pedestrian movement is not required in the same way, naturally, as for vehicles. The paragraph (a) requirement the noble Lord seeks is, of course, in the Bill, and the pedestrian interest is covered under Clause 9.
With regard to paragraph (b), the question of parking needs has been investigated to a considerable extent by the L.C.C. and they have collected a great deal of information about it, as have also the Association of Metropolitan Borough Engineers. That, too, has been made available to the London traffic survey team and will be included in their forecasts and study of the present position. While I am on the subject of parking, I should point out that the G.L.C. will have the full powers they need for these matters under Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960. I should have preferred to deal with this a little later under the general heading of powerful authorities or dictatorships. On this particular parking matter, it still remains our thinking that this is a subject for local authority provision, and the appropriate section is geared to that end. I want to emphasise that they have the powers and also the duty placed upon them in the Bill to consider parking in that light in which the noble Lord wanted them to consider it.
With regard to paragraph (c), provision of a co-ordinated and adequate public transport service (as the noble Lord puts it in the Amendment), I explained that the survey covers travel by train and bus as well as by road vehicles. It is already the duty of the London Transport Board, 1382 which your Lordships will find in Section 7 of the Transport Act, 1962, to provide or secure the provision of an adequate and properly co-ordinated system of passenger transport for the London passenger transport area. The London Transport Board and the British Railways Board, under Section 7 and Section 3 respectively of the Transport Act, 1962, are also required to co-operate with each other to ensure the proper co-ordination of their services. In fact they have set up a committee for this purpose called the Passenger Transport Committee for London. Therefore, so far as the transport authorities go, there is already full provision for the co-ordination of public transport.
What the noble Lord advocated, and what is not provided for—and, indeed, as he will fully realise, is not in accordance with Government policy on this matter—is that the G.L.C. should be responsible for seeing that this co-ordinated service is provided. He will appreciate that if we were to put in a general provision that they should see that there was such a service, it would not, without powers, mean anything; and it produces an entirely new concept of what their powers should be if it is suggested that they should achieve such an object, because to do that they would have to take charge of all the various forms of public transport. They would have to take charge of part of the Railways Board's enterprise, and that of the London Transport Board. I do not think that, without an immensely complicated and cumbersome measure of that kind, a measure which I should have thought the Greater London Council would scarcely be technically equipped to do, could there be achieved precisely in the Bill what the noble Lord wants.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I quite accept the point; but if the noble Lord looks at paragraph (2) he will see that I use the word "consult" with the bodies operating public transport services. I do not advocate, and I could not possibly advocate, that the Greater London Council should take over the London Board. But there is a lot to be said for this elected body representing the electors, quite apart from the position of a Minister, who is a national figure. This is a local means whereby they could consult and could use much stronger influence than is now available 1383 to see that the London Board provide the type of service, not only as is now required but within the G.L.C. development plan. There is a great deal to be said for this consultation. Within the Bill there is no mention of it. There should be laid down in the Bill that it must be a recognised duty of the G.L.C. to consult, to try to persuade—although that is very hard to put into Parliamentary words. In other words, there should be an attempt to see that the G.L.C. help to organise, with the London Board, these adequate services.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I take the point made by the noble Lord and I have made my own. I have nothing further to say, except this: I was going to talk of this consultation in a moment. In that particular regard the noble Lord puts me in a slight practical difficulty in talking about it, because I was going to say that consultation of the kind that he refers to in subsection (2) of the Amendment is in fact happening now. The only thing is that it is not, of course, happening with the G.L.C. as a body, because that does not yet exist. But the very consultation he wants is a fact of life at the moment and is going on.
§ LORD CHESHAM
With all the authorities that I have mentioned—the L.C.C. and the other authorities, the Railways Board, the London Transport Board and the Ministry.
§ LORD CHESHAM
That is happening within the general framework of the survey now, the difficulty being, of course, that the survey will be completed before the G.L.C. take office. Therefore I do not see that any useful object is served in actually putting that into the Bill, because it will be history. The noble Lord makes a point which I think I must briefly refer to, about making staff available. He did not refer to it in his speech, and I assume that he probably meant "transferred". I do not know whether he did or not.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The purpose of subsection (3) was to deal with the question of the survey which is already in being. If it was continued, then the 1384 people doing it within the Ministry or the London County Council would for a period go to the G.L.C.
§ LORD CHESHAM
The L.C.C. people concerned would no doubt go on in the normal way; so far as the Ministry people are concerned, they would be better if they stayed where they are, but I am sure that there would be no problem connected with that.
I now want to come to the question of this plan, because I think it is rather important. It seems to me, as the noble Lord put it forward, to draw a distinction between the Greater London Traffic and Highways Plan, to use his own words, and the Greater London Development Plan. I must ask your Lordships' indulgence about this because I want to be perfectly clear about it. As the noble Lord, Lord Champion pointed out, it is true that one would come under the Minister of Transport and the Development Plan under the Minister of Housing and Local Government. That is a division of responsibility which, he rightly said, one could not assume, in order, as it were, to set one against the other. I am making the point in principle now, and I think it right to say that highways must be accepted as a feature of a development plan within this context.
§ LORD CHESHAM
And in Clause 25 of the Bill the duty is specifically put on the G.L.C., in drawing up the Greater London development plan, to include "in particular guidance as to the future road system".
The noble Lord said that I was not to refer to it as being inflexible. I must ask him to allow me to do so with complete seriousness, and not merely as grounds for arguing against him; because there are definite snags coming up, which I shall show in a moment, in relation to other matters about which he spoke. If there is to be a Traffic and Highways Plan incorporated as an individual plan but within a bigger plan, I must point out that the development plans are normally revised every five years. I do not mind whether or not it is a point of drafting, but the noble Lord did not suggest some method of review. That is by the way, but I do not see how one can prepare a plan of that kind which must 1385 be subject to a review every five years, with its mother plan, so to sneak, if traffic is considered as distinct from highway proposals, because the circumstances that make one want to change traffic management measures are subject to constant changes themselves which cannot be anticipated so far ahead. I think it would be quite impracticable, for instance., to cater five years ahead for a one-way traffic scheme. One would not know that far ahead that it was wanted; and to put a few measures that could be foreseen into the plan, such as through-routes for lorries or general traffic, might be misleading, because the public might then think that nothing else was intended. It is a small point but worth making.
I do not agree with the noble Lord when he asks for a complete blue print to be laid down. I do not believe that in this matter one can lay down a blue print for traffic and highway development unless the whole thing is completely knitted in with the development plan, which is the way we look at it. There is obviously little between us in this matter. For that reason, it would be more difficult for the Minister of Transport to use that plan, as the noble Lord has suggested, as the only reason why he should employ his reserve powers. I think that the way that we have put it in the Bill, in the Amendment he referred to, Amendment No. 103A, is the better and cleaner way of doing it, at the same time ensuring that the Minister uses his reserve powers only as a last resort. The noble Lord asked me for an assurance about that matter, and I am happy to tell him that the intention is that that should be a last resort power; that the work should be in the hands of the Greater London Council; that it is intended to trust the Council and to rely on it to do its work. That is why there has been put down that Amendment which we shall no doubt discuss later. I hone that that assurance the noble Lord will find satisfactory.
I think I must touch quickly on the point the noble Lord made about roads, which he thought should all be under the Greater London Council and delegated as experience dictated later. As will be obvious from the Bill, and from discussions we may have a little later on individual Amendments, we have not seen it 1386 in that way. The reason why it has been done in the way it has is that we feel it carries out the spirit of the recommendation of the Royal Commission (paragraph 442(3) on page 119) which says:The same general authority must be responsible for the construction, improvement, maintenance and lighting of all main roads in Greater London, being those mainly used by through traffic. Authorities more local in character should have the same responsibility for the other roads.That is exactly what we have tried our best to draft into this Bill. If it proves to be not quite right—I do not pretend that it is going to be perfect—there is provision in Clause 17 that adjustments can be made and metropolitan roads (which is what the Commission called "main roads") can be made or unmade as experience dictates. I hope that the noble Lord will feel somewhat satisfied by the explanations I have given and that the majority of the principles to which he attaches importance in fact run through the Bill, and that he will not wish to press this Amendment.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth wishes to say a few words, and I think, with his vast experience as an ex-Minister of Transport, that that would be welcome. I wonder in view of the time, whether—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I was hoping that we should get this Amendment disposed of before we adjourned during pleasure. But I have no doubt that everyone would like to hear the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, on this particular point. Therefore, I will fall in with the suggestion and move that the Committee do adjourn during pleasure.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The Sitting was suspended at twenty-five minutes before eight and resumed at twenty-five minutes before nine o'clock.]
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
The Parliamentary Secretary has something of a point in saying that the survey which my noble friend Lord Shepherd seeks is going on now. Nevertheless, I support the Amendment and, if it were carried, it might be that on Report it could be put in terms that there shall 1387 from time to time be such a survey, perhaps once in five years, or seven years, or even ten years. The defence of the Government against my noble friend's Amendment, for which I shall vote, is that what he is asking for is already being done, but I am not sure that it is being done to the full extent my noble friend would wish.
What intrigues me is that the Government argue that the big basis for this Bill—apart from the basis which we know was the reason, namely political jiggery-pokery and Party interests—was that there was no big traffic authority in London except the Minister of Transport; that they wanted to get him out and put a great local authority in. The other basis was town planning, which indeed my noble friend has brought into his Amendment.
The Government's answer to this Amendment, which is in clear harmony with the Report of the Royal Commission, is that the reasons for bringing in the Bill have nothing to do with the case—in other words, that the Report of the Royal Commission has nothing to do with the case; and that in fact this survey is going on, by co-operation between the London County Council and the Ministry of Transport, and possibly some other people. But if such cooperation is now going on, it means there is no reason for this Bill in order to create a Greater London Traffic Authority. Even when the Bill is brought in, conferring some traffic powers on the Greater London Council, the Government see to it that the powers of the Minister shall to a considerable degree remain, so that he can still mess about with London, instead of leaving it to the new directly elected authority which the Government propose.
This is a manifestation of the dishonesty of the arguments which have been advanced by the Government for the Bill, because the very thing they gave as the most important reason for bringing it in is, they now say, already being done. When my noble friend proposes an Amendment imposing on the Council a duty to do one or two things, the Government reply by saying that it is not necessary because it is being done. If it could be done—does the Parliamentary Secretary want to controvert what I have said? No? Are we agreed?
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
I asked him if he wanted to controvert what I said, and he nodded his head. That means we are agreed.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
It was in the negative. So this really is humbug on the part of Her Majesty's Government. I am sorry to call them humbugs; I very much regret it; but that is what they really are, because they have brought in a Bill for a purpose and have not entirely lived up to it. They have retained a lot of powers for the Ministry of Transport; and then, when my noble friend brings in an Amendment which, on the face of it, implements part of the Government's argument for this abominable measure, they say it is not necessary because it is being done. I always knew that the London County Council could do a traffic survey—and not only in the County of London, but beyond. I think the Parliamentary Secretary has said that the present survey goes beyond the limits of the proposed Greater London, which just shows what the London County Council is capable of; what an extraordinarily able and competent local authority it is.
Of course, there was another great flourish in the Report of the Royal Commission that had nothing whatever to do with the case, but simple-minded newspaper-men gobbled it up, like the innocents that so many of them are, and came out with great headlines—" An Intelligence Centre for London ". They said that there was at last to be an authority which was to gather knowledge and intelligence about London and its problems, statistics, and so on. Good heavens!—the London County Council has been an intelligence authority for London for years. The B.B.C., bless its heart!—it did not mean any harm; it just fails to acknowledge people who have done a job; it has no copyright respect—came out with a story. One night Cliff Michelmore—a very nice chap and a very able television man (let us hope that will 1389 get me a show to-morrow night, but I doubt it) said there had been a book published that day, and he quoted from pages of it various statistics, interesting, startling statistics, not only about the County of London but beyond, in Greater London. I know the book because I used to get it for nothing when I was a member of the Council. I know it very well, and it is a very valuable book. At the end, he said, "It is called London Statistics", but even my friend Cliff Michelmore had not got the decency to say that it was published by the London County Council. I think it is a "bit hot" when a chap makes a story out of a book and does not acknowledge the author.
But there is to be this intelligence branch of the proposed London authority to collect information, co-ordinate it and publish it. There is no need to create a Greater London authority for this purpose. It has been done for years, ever since the day of the dear old Progressive Party. The Abercrombie Plan was in the same field. They did it; and the Liberal-Progressives supported a great deal of this. It is perfectly true that we were instrumental in eliminating them from the London County Council. We were very sorry, but we wanted to get there ourselves. But they did a great deal of this work, and they were a great Party in their time. They started the London County Council on good lines, and that is why we are so sorry that the Liberals are so unreliable in regard to this Bill. In the other place, all six of them voted for the Second Reading of this beastly Bill, which was in flat contradiction to the principles of the Progressive Liberal Party, which did some great work at the beginning of the London County Council.
So this Amendment is set down by my noble friend, and he moves it in all good faith. As I say, I think on Report we may consider another Amendment to provide for this survey to be done in five years, seven years or ten years. But he moves it in all good faith, and then the Government say that it is not necessary; that this Bill makes no difference whatever. And yet this was one of the principal arguments for the Bill. They say, "It is not necessary; it is being done". If it is being done, it was not necessary to bring this Bill in to enable it to be 1390 done. The Government are convicted out of their own mouths of giving false, inaccurate and untrue reasons for bringing in this Bill. Then, when my noble friend likes to associate the Government with the reasons they have given for bringing in this Bill they say that the Amendment is not necessary; that it is redundant; or, to quote Karl Marx, that "it is tautological." They convict themselves of having brought in under false pretences a Bill actuated by Party politics and gerrymandering motives.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I will just say a few words since it was I who moved the Amendment. We on this side of the House have looked at the Royal Commission's Report and at the Bill. There is some similarity, but there is considerable divergence from the principles outlined in the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Chesham, may well shake his head. The Royal Commission said that the highway authority should be the traffic authority. Is that not so? In the Bill there are three highway authorities—more, if you count the number of boroughs involved. You have the Minister; you have the Greater London Council and 32 boroughs. My noble friend failed to get the City of London Amendment accepted. Thirty-two boroughs—there is a big departure! I understood when I moved this Amendment that a survey was already in progress. I referred to it. The noble Lord quoted my figure. He said it was wrong. The figure I was given was £400,000. That is the figure. I was informed there was a survey in being. Therefore when I moved to put it in the Bill I understood that a survey was already taking place, but under my Amendment it would become the survey of the Greater London Council, who would take it over, as I suggested in paragraph (3).
We want a plan. I understood from the Minister that there would be a plan but that it might be changed. He spoke in rather lukewarm terms for the plan, I think. We believe there must be a plan—a blue print. There is not a city in Europe that has come out of the war and has developed—as have so many cities like Rotterdam and Hamburg—that could have made such wonderful progress if they had not a plan. And that plan is still in progress. 1391 In the case of Rotterdam it will extend for 20 or 30 years. That is the type of conception which we believe is vitally necessary if London is to develop as an orderly city. I had not proposed to divide on this Amendment, but I feel, on the advice of my friends, that I must. I do not propose to withdraw it. It is very close to the Royal Commission, and, as I said, the Government
§ Clause 9 [General duty of Greater London Council with respect to road traffic and abolition of London Traffic Area and Traffic Advisory Committee]:
LORD HASTINGS moved in subsection (2) to leave out "as to secure so far practicable" and to insert—
so far as practicable having due regard to—
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment and the following one may be taken together, for convenience, as the second one is consequential upon the first, and possibly my noble friend Lord Conesford 1392 have gone in some other directions on major points from the Royal Commission. We may be small in numbers this evening, but I propose to ask my friends to support me.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 19; Not-Contents, 51,1391
|Addison, V.||Henderson, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, E.||Latham, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Lawson, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Longford, E.||Williams of Barnburgh, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Williamson, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.||Wise, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Dudley, E.||Margesson, V.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Milverton, L|
|Ampthill, L.||Falmouth, V.||Molson, L.|
|Boston, L.||Ferrers, E.||Monck, V.|
|Cawley, L.||Fortescue, E.||Monsell, V.|
|Chesham, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Newton, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Furness, V.||Poulett, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Saltoun, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Sandford, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Hanworth, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Hastings, L.||Somers, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Hawke, L.||Spens, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Ilford, L.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Derwent, L.||Jellicoe, E.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Devonshire, D.||Luke, L.||Willingdon, M.|
|Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.)||McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Wolverton, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
would not object if his Amendment, No. 102 was considered at the same time, as it is on precisely the same point. The purpose of these two Amendments standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Chesham and myself is to state more explicitly the matters to which the Greater London Council must have regard when exercising the traffic duty laid upon them in this clause. There has been, as we all know, some criticism in both Houses of Parliament, probably because of the manner in which the reference to access is presented:
in exercising those functions the Council shall have regard to the desirability of securing and maintaining reasonable access to premises.
My noble friend Lord Conesford had something to say about this on Second Reading.
§ This seems to have been regarded as a comprehensive statement of the Government's concept of the matters to which the 1393 Council should have regard. But this is not so. It is recognised that there are a great many non-traffic matters which the Council would, and should, take into account. The necessity to balance these matters against the purely traffic considerations mentioned in the clause was acknowledged by including the words "so far as practicable" (page 9, line 48); but this did not satisfy many noble Lords in all quarters. Strictly, there is no logical need to amend the subsection. But we have considered this matter carefully, and the Government recognise that there is something to be said for making perfectly clear that the Greater London Council are required to consider amenity and other non-traffic matters in every case. It is probable that in most cases amenity is the most important of these, but I think noble Lords will agree that it would be wrong to specify this one and exclude all other considerations.
§ Therefore, this Amendment re-phrases the subsection so as to stipulate formally that the Greater London Council must have regard to the maintenance of reasonable access, the effect of amenities, and any other matters appearing to be relevant. "Amenities" has been covered in a single wide phrase. The Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, refers to living conditions of the residents as well, but I hope he will be able to agree that "amenities" (possibly there is a slight difference between "amenity" in the singular, and "amenities" in the plural) should cover the sort of matters that he has in mind. We feel pretty sure that the specifying of "amenities" as such should look after everything that could possibly appertain to the living conditions or conveniences of the locality and the inhabitants who dwell in it. Therefore. I hope that my noble friend will feel that our Amendment covers the point he has been making. I beg to move.
Page 9, line 48, leave out from first ("as") to end of line and insert the said words and sub-paragraphs.—(Lord Hastings.)
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
These words are an improvement on the Bill as it stood at Second Reading. My noble friend the Minister is, I think, quite wrong as a matter of law, among other things, in thinking that these words were 1394 in any way covered by the phrase in the Bill, "so far as practicable". When an Act of Parliament puts a duty upon a body to secure a specific thing "so far as practicable", that phrase no doubt provides for some physical limitations which would make it almost impossible to perform; it might even provide for a limitation through immense expenditure. But the idea that it would direct them to consider a number of other matters is, in my submission, completely wrong.
The clause, as it stood on Second Reading, and as it was defended in another place, was, in my submission, indefensible. I do not think that anything could make this clause completely satisfactory in its attitude to the right relationship between planning and traffic. The right relationship, of course, is to say that people should have regard to some such thing as the amenities of the locality and the living conditions of the people, and should use their traffic powers to promote these objects. Nevertheless, I know the convenience, and perhaps the necessity, from the point of view of draftsmen, of collecting all the traffic provisions in a particular Part of the measure, as has been done here. Although I slightly prefer my form of words, I shall certainly not dispute the Government's preference for their own words. I am sorry that my noble friend even questioned the necessity of this most important addition, but it is a valuable addition. It is a most necessary addition and, for the purposes of the Committee stage, my noble friends and I, I am certain, are prepared to accept it. Nevertheless, I hope that the Government themselves will look into the matter a little further before the Report stage to see whether they cannot themselves suggest some improvement.
May I give one example; the very first thing that is mentioned:so far as practicable having due regard to…the desirability of securing and maintaining reasonable access to premises".Is it really desirable or necessary? Is it much good having premises which it is impossible to get to? I am not at all convinced that the word "desirability" has been fully considered. I say to the Government, on behalf of my noble friend who joined with me in setting down Amendments to this clause, that in accepting this Amendment and welcoming 1395 it as far as it goes, I hope the Government will not be uncritical of their own handiwork and will consider the matter further before the Report stage.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
We on this side recognise the advance that has been made. In fact, as I understand it, the question of the protection of amenities was raised in another place during, I think, the Committee stage. On that occasion Her Majesty's Government said that it would be quite wrong to include these provisions. It is good that at this stage the Government are prepared to admit their error. Mind you, they have many more errors to admit.
I hope paragraph (iii) will be clarified. One could say in some ways that these words are restrictive on the Council. The obvious purpose of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, is that the Greater London Council shall consider many aspects before they take a particular action in order that there should be expeditious movement of cars. I agree that there should be some restriction, and I believe that there should be some consideration of the amenities of the locality, but I wonder whether paragraph (iii) could not perhaps be construed by an authority in such a wide sense that it would be an excuse for failing to adopt a necessary action. It could be construed that if, for a number of reasons, they did not wish to do a particular thing, they might be able, within this wide definition here, to say, "Well, we have had to take this thing into account". I think that would be quite wrong. I agree that there should be some restriction for the protection of amenities, but I hope that we do not use phraseology which would give this authority an excuse for failing to carry out its duties. I wonder, therefore, whether the noble Lord can help us a little further with what the Government have in mind in regard to paragraph (iii).
§ LORD CONESFORD
Before my noble friend replies, may I suggest to the noble Lord opposite, who I think has been in general sympathy with me in my criticism of this particular clause, that Her Majesty's Government are wise in putting in some such words as are contained in sub-paragraph (iii)? Because the argument that has been used against those who sought to amend the Bill in some such way as 1396 this, in another place and here, has been the danger that by providing for certain things they would be thought to have excluded other relevant matters. Therefore there is some utility in having something of this sort in; while I am critical of some of the words, I am least critical of these words.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I am grateful to the two noble Lords for giving at any rate some sort of welcome to the Government's best efforts in this regard. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, that I am, of course, perfectly ready to study the possibility of improving the word "desirability". We all know that he is a great defender of the English language and of precise meanings attached to words, for which we have much to thank him—and I say and mean that seriously. Quite obviously it is not much use having premises if the door is barred.
§ LORD HASTINGS
if you cannot get to them. That is a matter we can look at. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that these other matters will have to be considered—for example, the convenience of bus passengers, or the public service.
§ LORD HASTINGS
The fire brigade, disturbance of sewers and main services; special classes of people, disabled drivers, doctors—matters of that sort. I do not think they can all be spelled out; the list would be almost inexhaustible.
§ LORD LATHAM
Are we to take it from the catalogue the noble Lord has raised that the Tubes and Undergrounds are excluded from consideration?
§ LORD HASTINGS
Not at all. I said that there were other relevant factors. These matters will have to be considered.
§ LORD LATHAM
It is rather a pejorative way to put it, to include the important Underground railways in "other factors".
§ LORD HASTINGS
No: I do not agree. If we have everything spelled out it would be a considerable Schedule. 1397 I should have thought they have something to do with amenities—accessibility, for example. We try to meet the wishes of noble Lords by introducing specific reference to amenities in general while not excluding other factors which are relevant and which obviously a responsible Council such as the Greater London Council will certainly require to take into consideration. I do not think there is any great danger that they would use sub-paragraph (iii) as an excuse for not doing things they should do. In later Amendments we come to powers of the Minister to deal with such things.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 10, line 2, leave out from ("and") to ("the") in line 4.—(Lord Hastings.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
LORD CONESFORD moved in subsection (2), to omit all words after "unless" and to substitute:
either every London Borough concerned has consented to such direction, revocation or variation, or it has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament".
§ The noble Lord said: I think that many of us, on both sides of the Committee, as was indeed shown in the debate on Second Reading, desire the Greater London Council to be a very great local authority and a very great traffic authority. Therefore we do not desire the best efforts of that traffic authority to be unduly interfered with by the Minister of Transport. We are agreed, I think, on both sides of the Committee in this House, and there was agreement in another place, that the powers of the Minister of Transport to interfere with this great authority ought to be strictly limited. The words of limitation as they stand in the Bill are so absurd as really to be almost comic, but I shall not weary the Committee by commenting on them because the Government also propose to abandon them. The Government have an alternative Amendment to what I am now proposing.1398
§ I also desire the Minister to have reserve powers on the face of the Statute, which has the effect, of course, that he can be asked in either House of Parliament about the performance of his duties, which is a most useful remedy. However, though I desire that the Minister should have some powers, I do not desire that he should have completely unlimited powers of which he is the only judge. Therefore what I have tried to secure by these words is that the Minister, if he is to act, can act only if one of two different sets of circumstances is satisfied. The first is, if every London borough concerned has agreed about his action. In that case he can give a direction to the Greater London Council, if every London borough concerned agrees. Of course, that will not prevent his being questioned on his action in Parliament, but that is one of the circumstances in which he can intervene, to give a direction or take the other steps which are set out in the clause.
§ He might want to intervene on good public grounds when he disagrees both with the Greater London Council and the London boroughs. Then I say he should seek the authority of Parliament. That is the scheme of my Amendment: that the Minister can intervene in the way described in the clause, but before he can lawfully intervene he must either have the agreement of the London boroughs concerned or obtain the sanction of Parliament. I beg to move.
Page 10, line 10, leave out from ("unless") to the end of line 13 and insert the said new wards.—(Lord Conesford.)
§ LORD CHESHAM
I listened with some interest to the explanation which underlay the Amendment proposed by my noble friend, because I had not quite been able to anticipate in advance what might be his argument, which, to be absolutely honest, I found a little surprising. First of all, to take the beginning of his Amendment, the part of Clause 9 that he wishes to leave out specifies the criteria by which the Minister is to determine whether to use his reserve powers in traffic matters. That was put in by a Government Amendment in Committee in another place in order to make it clear that the Minister's powers are for use in the last resort, and that, for instance, a mere matter of a difference of opinion between him and 1399 the G.L.C. is not a sufficient reason, but that he must be satisfied that his action is necessary to secure the proper fulfilment of the duty which is placed on the G.L.C. in the earlier part of the clause. Despite the fact that my noble friend tells us that he does not want the Minister to have unlimited powers, he sweeps all that away in the first part of his Amendment and substitutes other conditions for those criteria, which would take the decision away from the Minister.
He told us what the proposed new conditions are: that the Minister must have either the consent of every borough concerned, or else the approval of Parliament by Resolution of both Houses. But, apart from that, my noble friend has now removed the criteria which limits the Minister from acting in the last resort. He can now seek, at any rate, the consent of the boroughs concerned or the approval of Parliament, so far as I can see, on any ground that he pleases—it may be a difference of opinion or something of that kind. As I see it, it removes the limitations which the Bill places upon him and which we are going to consider in a moment—I will be moving exactly what those limitations are, spelt out rather more closely.
May I deal first with the requirement that the Minister's action must have the consent of every London borough concerned? One of the reasons why he has reserve powers at all is to enable him to intervene on behalf of a borough if there should appear to be some reason to do so. But the purposes of his powers are wider than that. There is the national interest, which my noble friend mentioned. There is the protection of third party interests, not only the interests of the boroughs concerned, which might require his intervention. There are such matters as the effect of loading restrictions on trade, of one-way schemes on bus routes, of heavy traffic on amenities, of busy traffic on safety, and so on; and where the boroughs concerned may or may not take the same view as the G.L.C.
There is the matter of the police. They have greater traffic responsibilities in London than they have outside London. They have their own power to make traffic experiments as well as their day-to-day duties, and they have a lot of experience in that field. But what they 1400 have not got is so close a relationship with local authorities in London when proposing their traffic measures. The G.L.C. may refuse to adopt a proposed police experiment, and that might be with or without the consent of the borough or boroughs concerned, and the Minister might have to intervene. But apart from that, the delay that may well be involved in securing the formal consent of the boroughs concerned might prejudice the success of the Minister's action, especially if his action was to revoke or to vary an order already made by the G.L.C.
Before giving a direction to the G.L.C. the Minister has, of course, to consult them; and one of the subjects for consultation would undoubtedly be the views of the boroughs concerned. Obviously, the Minister would take the boroughs' views into account in determining whether or not he should exercise his powers. If he were unable to secure the consent of the boroughs he would then, as the Amendment has it, have to seek approval by Resolution of each House of Parliament. That would be an even longer process, and in some instances that might be most important. In any case, I do not think it can honestly be argued that the Affirmative Resolution procedure in the kind of local measures that would be under consideration would not take Parliamentary control a little too far. Such control is usually reserved for general matters that have real national importance, and traffic regulation, surely, is more a matter for local government.
I may add that the local authorities are already responsible outside London, and under this Bill a local authority will be responsible inside Loudon; and they are subject in the same way, in both cases, to the retention of certain reserve powers by the Minister. His reserve powers in this case are no greater than exist to vary or revoke the traffic regulation Orders of other local authorities throughout England and Wales. He does not have specific Parliamentary control there, and I do not think it necessary for him to have it. I seriously think that the Amendment to which we shall shortly come is a better answer than the Amendment proposed by my noble friend.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I was to-night looking for something on which to twist the Government's tail, but I am afraid 1401 this is not the Amendment one could use to do it. My friends groan, but I am afraid that it would be quite wrong for us to support this Amendment.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Yes, I could do that. If the Amendment were accepted we should have a situation in which the Minister could take action in regard to the Greater London Council's responsibility without consultation with the Council, but merely by consulting the boroughs or by coming to Parliament. This could well create a dangerous position where, if the Minister wished to take action and the Greater London Council were opposed to it, he could then send down some of his friends to the boroughs and persuade them to give the necessary approval to it. Therefore, one might well find the Minister using the borough to upset a decision taken by the Greater London Council. I do not say that the Minister would adopt such a course, but there have been occasions when things have not been as right as they should have been. Therefore, I would strongly support the Minister—I regret having to do so—in suggesting that this particular Amendment should not be accepted.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I am grateful both to the Minister and to the noble Lord. If I might first reply to the noble Lord very briefly, he is quite wrong in thinking that the attitude which he is now taking would be in the interests of the Greater London Council. What I am suggesting is a limitation on the Minister's right to overrule the Greater London Council. At the moment, and even under the Amendment to which we shall come, he will have no such limitation.
Having said that, I was going to say to Her Majesty's Government that, fin any event, I regard the Government Amendment to which we shall shortly come as so great an improvement upon what is in the Bill, that I certainly should not divide the Committee for the purpose of preferring my solution to that solution. I think that possibly it might be said that my solution is too drastic, that it goes too far. It may well be that the Minister's solution does not go far enough, in the sense that it still leaves the Minister completely 1402 the judge of the necessity. It is perfectly true that he can be questioned in Parliament, but on these traffic matters he can overrule the Greater London Council without any limitation whatsoever. That, I think, might be going too far. Nevertheless, greatly preferring as I do the Amendment to which we shall shortly come to what is in the Bill as it at present stands, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD CHESHAM
The words which I am here moving to take out and replace with those on the Order Paper, are part of a Government Amendment which was inserted in Committee in another place to make it quite clear that the Minister's reserve powers in the traffic section of the Bill are intended only for use in the last resort, when, in his opinion, his action is necessary to secure proper fulfilment of the duty placed on the Greater London Council earlier on in the clause. On Second Reading, my noble friend Lord Conesford criticised the words concerned ("incomprehensible", I think, was the word he used) and noble Lords opposite have put down a very similar Amendment. Indeed, it might be convenient to consider the next Amendment at the same time. It would appear that there is a good deal of community of purpose between our two Amendments. I am bound to say that I am advised that the words I move to leave out do say in very precise legal language what we want to say. I am hound also to admit that it is a little too precise for me; and it is quite evident, from remarks made in both Houses, that the full meaning of the words as printed is a little difficult to understand. Therefore, we carefully examined the clause and put down the Amendment which I now beg to move.
Page 10, line 10, leave out from ("satisfied") to end of line 13 and insert ("having regard to any matters appearing to him to be relevant, that the Council's duty aforesaid is not being satisfactorily discharged by the Council and that it is necessary for him so to do in order to secure compliance with that duty.").—(Lord Chesham.)
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ LORD CHAMPION
We are delighted to hear that there is this community of purpose over this Amendment. In fact, 1403 our Amendment appeared on the Order Paper first, although it is here printed afterwards, because we made a slight mistake in the line. It originally appeared as No. 105, which now has some asterisks to it. But this Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, has moved meets our point pretty completely and adequately. I must admit that I have consulted a legal friend on this, and he supports my opinion. This supports the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Chesham; so I think it must be a pretty good Amendment which the Government are now moving, and we are prepared to accept it.
§ On Question. Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I beg to move this Amendment, which in itself is paving the way to Amendment No. 106. I can speak very briefly. It is very much on the same theme as that which we have been discussing and which the Government themselves have granted, perhaps in a more limited way. In later parts of the Bill we have the requirement of a Greater London Development Plan. We feel very strongly indeed that the Minister, by this Amendment, should not be in a position to make an order which the Greater London Council feel would be detrimental to the Development Plan. It is as simple as that; and, with those words, I beg to move this Amendment.
Page 10, line 11, leave out from ("do") to the end of line 13.—(Lord Shepherd.)
§ LORD CHESHAM
I do not want to create any difficulty for the noble Lord here, but the moving of this Amendment, No. 104, puts us in a slight procedural difficulty, because, by the acceptance of Amendment No. 103A, the words he wants to leave out are in fact no longer in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Amendment No. 106, will, in fact, be able to stand on its own, without any paving. When we put this Amendment down we did not anticipate any Government action, which we now know they have taken. Therefore, 1404 I beg to move, and the words I spoke earlier stand.
Page 10, line 13, at end insert—
("( ) If it appears to the Council that any action taken by the Minister of Transport under any of the provisions mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the preceding subsection is detrimental to the Greater London Development Plan, the Council may apply to the Minister of Housing and Local Government for a public local inquiry into such action and that Minister shall either hold an inquiry accordingly or certify to the Council that in his opinion the public interest requires that no such inquiry be held.")—(Lord Shepherd.)
§ LORD HASTINGS
I am sorry. I am getting a little confused. I should like to take in three stages Amendment 106, which asks that the Minister of Housing and Local Government should be able to order a public inquiry in certain circumstances. First, I would put it to the noble Lords opposite that it is in fact very unlikely that a measure taken by the Minister of Transport under paragraph (a) or (b) of Clause 9(2) would, in fact, be detrimental to the Greater London development plan in the true sense. It might appear, in short-term, contrary to that plan in certain circumstances; for instance, to route traffic through areas scheduled in the plan for development as residential areas. But it would not necessarily be against the long-term plan if the new road system permitting that development were not at that time available. That sort of circumstance could arise.
On the other hand, in respect of other matters referred to in this paragraph—there is the matter of direction to the Greater London Council under Clause 13(2) concerning parking meters—the Minister must already follow the procedure laid down in that clause which governs the publishing of proposals which are mentioned specifically in the clause; the objections mentioned in that clause that the Minister must take into account; and also references by way of the Road Transport Act, 1960, to the publishing of proposals. Then another point. Before taking any action at all under these paragraphs (a) and (b) the Minister must 1405 consult with the Greater London Council and ascertain their views, as is laid down under Clause 10(7), 11(7) and 13(2)(a). As a result, he would have to take into account all those matters which the Greater London Council have to take into account, such as amenities and non-traffic aspects, before deciding on the particular measure.
Therefore, in the first place, I would put it to the noble Lords opposite that this Amendment is partly—I would say wholly—unnecessary. There is this process of consultation, and one would hope that any difficulty or disagreement would be smoothed out and that the Minister would not find it necessary to take any action. Moreover, we have just passed an Amendment which is restrictive of the Minister of Transport's powers (the Amendment which my noble friend has just moved and which has been accepted) saying that he can act only if the Greater London Council are not carrying out their duties. These reasons alone, perhaps, are sufficient to show noble Lords opposite that they need not press their Amendment.
There is, however, one other point; and this is decisive. It is not clear from the wording of the Amendment what would happen if the Minister of Housing and Local Government did hold an inquiry under the terms of the Amendment, and what would happen as a result of that inquiry. Is the Minister of Transport then to be overruled by the Minister of Housing and Local Government? Surely that is, by all recognised standards contrary to the concept of the corporate responsibility of the Cabinet. I suggest to noble Lords opposite that, if they were in office, they would never consent to putting one Minister against another. Lord Shepherd's own words, when speaking before dinner on the first Amendment, were: "You cannot put one Minister against another". That is what this Amendment is asking us to do. On all the grounds that I have put forward—the lack of necessity; the process of consultation; the restrictive Amendment which we have just passed on the Minister's power; and the fact that we cannot divide the Cabinet's responsibility by putting one Minister against another—I
§ ask the noble Lord to withdraw this Amendment.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I hope that the noble Lord does not think that I am as naive as possibly I look. I cannot believe that there is always unanimity in the Cabinet. My Amendment merely asks that where, in the opinion of the Greater London Council, an Order of the Minister is detrimental to their development plan, a public inquiry should be held. Obviously, it has to be called by a Minister, and in this instance it seems to me that the appropriate Minister would be the Minister of Housing and Local Government. He would call for an inquiry, the purpose of which would be to bring the facts together, to allow the interested bodies to deploy their arguments and to have a report made by an independent inspector or assessor. Then it could be clearly seen where the difficulty is and who is being reasonable or unreasonable. That is the purpose of my Amendment. Of course, lit is restrictive on the Ministry of Transport. That is the intention.
I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, remembers the Highgate scheme. We always use this in regard to Mr. Marples. But it could well have gone through, if it had not been for a few vocal Members of your Lordships' House and of another place, for without them I do not believe that the local authorities would have been able to stop the scheme. I do not know what the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, would say, but I do not think that the local authorities could have withstood the pressure of the Minister. I feel strongly that we should see that the Council is in a clear position in regard to the Greater London Development Plan, so that where the Council feel that an action of the Minister is detrimental to its overall plan a local inquiry should be held in the interests of all concerned.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 17; Not-Contents, 49.*
§ * See col. 1417.1407
|Addison, V.||Burton of Coventry, B.||Henderson, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, E.||Champion, L.||Latham, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Crook, L.||Lawson, L.|
|Longford, E.||Shepherd, L.||Williams of Barnburgh, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Stonham, L. [Teller.]||Wise, L.|
|Morrison of Lambeth, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Luke, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Dudley, E.||McCorquodale of Newton, L|
|Ailwyn, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Margesson, V.|
|Albemarle, E.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Merrivale, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Falmouth, V.||Milverton, L.|
|Boston, L.||Ferrers, E.||Molson, L.|
|Cawley, L.||Fortescue, E.||Monck, V.|
|Chesham, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Monsell, V.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Furness, V.||Newton, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Gage, V.||Poulett, E.|
|Conesford, L.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Sandford, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Sandys, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Hanworth, V.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Davidson, V.||Hastings, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Ilford, L.||Willingdon, M.|
|Derwent, L.||Jellicoe, E.||Wolverton, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Lansdowne, M.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH moved to leave out subsection (3). The noble Lord said: In the absence of my noble friend Lord Shepherd, I beg to move this Amendment. Subsection (3), which we seek to omit, provides that it shall be an obligation on the part of the Greater London Council to appoint a director of traffic. I do not think there is a Government Amendment to do what I want to do. I have two points on this Amendment. One is that I do not like the term "director" in relation to chief officers of local authorities. It almost sounds as if he is superior to the council: it is not a proper designation. "Chief officer of traffic" would be all right, but "director of traffic" sounds as if he were directing the traffic, which I am sure the poor man will find he will not have a chance to do. Half the traffic will direct itself.
§ Secondly, I do not like the term "director." The people who direct, the people who decide, are the committees of the council and the council itself, and not a chief officer. Therefore, the designation should be "chief officer", or some other harmless name which does not fill the man with ideas that he is really the boss of the Council and the boss of London traffic. He is not—he is an instrument of policy. I do not like the Bill deciding what chief officers the Council should appoint. It is right that the Bill should confer functions upon the Council. But it is for the Council to appoint such chief officers as are expedient and appropriate in the circumstances of the case. If you put into 1408 the Bill that they shall appoint a director of traffic, you might as well also put in the Bill—as I think you do somewhere, and there is more case for it—that they must have a clerk: they must have what you call a "treasurer": and, by the way, that should be "comptroller", which is the name of the financial officer of the London County Council and is a more dignified title than "treasurer".
§ But I would not go any further than that. You might still say they must have an education officer—though again, some local authorities call them a "director" of education which I do not like. You might as well direct them to have a chief officer of the public control department and so on. These are domestic matters for the local authority. It is for Parliament to confer upon the local authority the functions which it has the power to discharge. It is for the authority to arrange their administrative set-up and decide what chief officers should be appointed and what titles they should be given. And, having appointed them, they ought to let them do their work and see to it that they do their work—unlike one chief education officer in the provinces, who seems to spend a lot of his time on the British Broadcasting Corporation instead of getting on with his job. The London County Council have a good practice on that. Their officers could not do it without specific permission of the General Purposes Committee, as the noble Lord, Lord Ilford knows. And then, poor things! if they earn any money on it they have to hand it over to the County Fund, unless the Council otherwise decide. This man, a chief education officer, I should 1409 think a pretty competent fellow, appears on "Any Questions" and Heaven knows what! on the British Broadcasting Corporation. It is quite wrong, and I should not be a bit surprised if it were not partly caused by being called a "director".
§ I ask the Government not to use the word "director" or to stipulate, any more than the minimum essential, what chief officers are to be appointed. This is the business of the local authority, which they are quite competent to discharge. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Hastings will see his way to accept this Amendment as it is, or at any rate, in spirit. I beg to move.
Page 10, line 14, leave out subsection (3).—(Lord Morrison of Lambeth.)
§ LORD CONESFORD
The case for deleting this subsection is overwhelming. I developed it in my speech on Second Reading. This is one of the very few compulsory appointments in the Bill as it stands. There is no obligation to appoint a chief planning officer; there is no obligation to appoint a chief architect; but there is am obligation in the Bill as it stands to appoint a director of traffic. Therefore I made it absolutely clear on Second Reading that I was going to put down an Amendment to delete this subsection. The same thought occurred to the Opposition, with the result that my name and that of my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross appear, I suppose for the first time in history, coupled with the name of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth.
But the case is even more overwhelming because the Government now agree with it. The next Amendment on the Order Paper shows that the Government also agree to delete this subsection and, as the whole Committee is agreed, I should have thought we can delete it without further delay.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I think my noble friend Lord Conesford has anticipated my answer, and on this occasion I have much pleasure in saying that the Government agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, on almost every count. I will not argue about whether the title should be "director" or "chief officer", but we entirely agree that the Greater London Council should appoint its own chief officers. I think everybody agrees 1410 that treasurer and clerk are statutory appointments, and must remain so. But I foreshadowed at Second Reading that my right honourable friend was thinking over the whole matter. The office of surveyor was taken out of the statutory list in another place because some people wanted to put in "chief architect"—and "chief planner" has also been mentioned. Therefore we think it is better to take out "director of traffic". At the same time, while we have agreed to erase subsection (3), I would point out that the Greater London Council have been given special new powers and we think it is not quite enough simply to delete the requirement that the Greater London Council shall have a chief officer entitled "director of traffic". Therefore, as traffic management is an entirely new function of local government in London—and my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport is very much alive to the importance and possibilities of traffic management techniques—
§ LORD CONESFORD
May I reinforce Lord Shepherd's point? There has been no suggestion that any other Amendment should be taken together with 107. Is there any reason why we should not dispose of 107 and then move to such part of 108 as survives?
§ LORD HASTINGS
That is quite agreeable to me. I said I agreed to the deletion of subsection (3), and I thought it might be convenient to go on. Let us put this one first.
§ 10.2 p.m.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (LORD MERTHYR)
I think this Amendment wants a little rewording. I suggest the Amendment should be: Page 10, line 13, at end insert the new subsection (3) as printed.
§ LORD HASTINGS
Thank you. That is really why I was continuing, because there was this line in front of the Government Amendment. As I was about to explain, we thought that the mere deletion would not be sufficient because these are new powers, and very important powers, being given to the Greater London Council. I think it is reasonable 1411 that with the background that we have of general knowledge and experience in traffic requirements and traffic management in Greater London as a whole, my right honourable friend would really be failing in his duty when handing over his responsibilities, which, after all, have been Ministerial responsibilities for a great many years, if he did not satisfy himself that the Greater London Council were setting up a really effective organisation to deal with the traffic problem. Therefore, we are asking the Committee to accept these words, so that the matter shall not be entirely overlooked. I beg to move.
Page 10, line 13, at end insert—
(3) The Greater London Council shall before 1st April 1965 make arrangements to the satisfaction of the Minister of Transport with respect to the control of the discharge of the Council's functions by virtue of sections 10 to 15 of this Act.")—(Lord Hastings.)
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The Minister has said that the Minister of Transport feels that in view of this new authority he should have the power to see that the Greater London Council have carried out their initial duties with responsibility and diligence. Perhaps there is a case, but it would seem to me, reading the Amendment on its face, that the Minister is still retaining what one might call dictatorial powers. First of all, what do the words, "make arrangements to the satisfaction" mean? Does this really cover staff, the number of staff, the quality of staff, the policy of staff? "Arrangements", can cover quite a wide range—not only staff, but even policy. I would ask that first.
Then how long does this power remain? If the Greater London Council have to satisfy the Minister that what has been created is satisfactory, does that mean that the Greater London Council have, irrespective of what may be their decision, to see that those same provisions of staff have to continue year by year and if there is to be a change to seek the Minister's approval? I wonder whether the noble Lord can help me in that matter. I frankly do not like this Amendment as it stands. I can see perhaps the limited point of the Minister's being satisfied that a new authority has created a sufficient body, but even then it is a reflection upon this new authority 1412 that the Government are setting up. They have decided that this is the right type of organisation and yet they say, "We must be satisfied that it can do it". That is what the Minister has said this evening. If the Government feel they wish to have this power no doubt they will take it, but I think as a Committee we are entitled to know what "making arrangements" means. Before I sit down, may I apologise for infringing the Rules of the House. I was trying to make a negotiation with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the convenience of the House and I took a short cut.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The points raised by the noble Lord are really two. The first is what are the contents of the phrase "make arrangements to the satisfaction of the Minister of Transport"; and secondly, how long has this got to go on? I can answer the second one quite shortly. These arrangements which have to be made to the satisfaction of the Minister of Transport have to be made before April 1, 1965, and after that date this subsection will be spent.
As to the first point I do not think one need make terribly heavy weather over this. This is a new and important authority and this will be one of its most important functions. It does not seem to me unreasonable to say that when it starts the arrangement to discharge these important duties it should show them to the Minister of Transport and get his expression of satisfaction with them. I do not think that is really a revolutionary proposal at the inception of a new authority performing new duties. It would seem to me to be reasonable, so that they can develop and progress with the Ministry's help. It is an assisting process right at the beginning.
As to the content of the phrase, "make arrangements to the satisfaction of the Minister of Transport" that is widely drawn, I agree; but again I think it is desirable. If one is to create the pattern to start off with, then I think it would be a mistake to limit the scope of this particular subsection by saying only particular, specified matters and not general. I would stress the fact that this has to be done before April 1, 1965, and when it is done—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Yes, and I have intervened very shortly at this hour of the night in the hope that I might allay some of the fears and perhaps lead to the matter being concluded.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has made a case for the Amendment in his usual and mostly persuasive style—it is not always, but it was this time. However, I would point out that this Minister of Transport is a gentleman who has been a kind of Czar or Stalin of London traffic. He has accumulated these powers, and he frankly enjoys exercising them, especially when the Press and television are there. But what he is asking for is that the Greater London Authority, before April 1, 1945—I should say 1965; excuse me if I have 1945 in my head; then things were much better—must make arrangements to the satisfaction of the Minister with regard to the control of and discharge of the Council's functions by virtue of Clauses 10 to 15.
There are two points on this. One is "before the 1st April, 1965". I am open to correction, but my impression is that the Council is constituted in 1964, which we think is a year too early; it is then constituted side by side with the continued existence, until 1965, of the existing local authorities. I think I am right. I beg your Lordships' pardon: it is 1964 when they come into office, side by side with the others, and they do not physically start functioning, so far as I can understand it, until April 1, 1965. Therefore, they are in the difficulty that they are asked to produce this administrative scheme and policy before they are physically functioning—namely, in the year April, 1965.
Let us look at these Clauses 10 to 15. They are a mouthful; and if the Greater London Council have to satisfy this particular Minister, they will find he takes a bit of satisfying. Clause 10 deals with traffic regulation in Greater London; Clause 11 with experimental traffic schemes; Clause 12 with powers in respect of traffic signs, et cetera Clause 13 with parking accommodation in Greater London; Clause 14 with other road traffic functions in Greater London; and Clause 15 with supplementary provisions as to road traffic. This is a large mouthful upon which they have to be prepared 1414 to produce to the Minister, presumably, their administrative organisation, their executive organisation and their policy. I think it is a lot. I think that if you confer functions on local authorities you must trust them reasonably to discharge those functions adequately, as I am sure that this body will if it comes into existence, otherwise there could be months of delay before they have satisfied the Minister as to what they are doing. Then the Lord Chancellor may say, "But the Minister must have some power to see that they are going to do their job." He has considerable power under this Bill—I think too much power—to give direction and to approve certain things. I think he has too much, just as I think that the Minister of Housing and Local Government has in respect of planning.
Secondly, he will make grants in aid towards road construction and maintenance, and thereby the Minister always has a power to say, "I am not satisfied that you are doing such-and-such a thing right; I may stop your road grant or diminish it." There are all sorts of powers. In any case, I am quite sure that the Greater London Council will be willing to confer with the Minister and agree with him about things; but I do not like this idea that, before a local authority gets going they have to produce policy, administrative set-up, executive schemes, for the approval of the Minister. That is not British local government, and it ought not to be. I would beg the Lord Chancellor to think again about this, because, believe me, if he leaves this as it is Mr. Marples could give this local authority a very difficult run for their money—or his money.
§ LORD CONESFORD
There are, I think, two strong objections to this new clause that it is proposed to insert. The first is that nothing whatever of this sort is required here. The only reason why it appears here is that somebody thinks that it slightly wraps up the capitulation involved in taking out what was there before. That is the only reason for putting in anything. By bringing in a Bill with these provisions the Government have shown quite clearly that they think that the Greater London Council is capable of performing these functions. They have retained 1415 reserve powers in case it does not do so. But why they should want to say that some arrangements have got to be submitted beforehand, I cannot see. It seems to me to be completely insulting to the new authority that it is proposed to set up. That is the reason why nothing is required in this place, but, if anything were required, this is unworkable and impossible. This refers to making "arrangements to the satisfaction of the Minister". What happens if the Minister is not satisfied? Unless it is suggested that this is to impose an absolute veto, that he can say "No" to anything, this becomes completely unworkable.
My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will be very familiar with the principle of law—which I shall probably get slightly wrong—about the impossibility of enforcing an agreement to enter into an agreement, because one gets into endless difficulties. But here the subsection is saying, in effect, that the new local authority have got to agree with the Minister. What happens if they do not? It is quite possible to say that they shall submit certain plans to the Minister and then to go on in the Statute to provide what happens if the Minister does not like it. But to put in a Statute that the authority that is to be set up has got to "make arrangements to the satisfaction of the Minister of Transport", is to say something that is not merely insulting but also completely unworkable.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.1416
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
At this late hour I do not think I had better embark upon a prolonged argument with my noble friend Lord Conesford. We have had many arguments in the past, and I have no doubt we shall in the future. But I do not think this is completely unworkable; I do not think it is insulting. And when my noble friend says "It is saying in effect…", I know he is going to say something which is not the same as is provided in the clause; otherwise he would not have used the words "in effect". I disagree with my noble friend on that. I think the clause does put a duty on the Greater London Council. I do not think that it will be a difficult duty for it to discharge. There is a lot of work for it to do in planning, as the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, said, but he was inaccurate, if I may say so, with respect to him, in saying that this provision contemplated arrangements with regard to policy—that is, planning arrangements in respect of the control of the discharge of the council's functions. I do not think I need say more on this. This is not to cover up the deletion of subsection (3) from the Bill in its present form, but is something which my right honourable friend thinks is desirable.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 35; Not-Contents, 25.1415
|Aberdare, L.||Devonshire, D.||Lansdowne, M.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Luke, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Dudley, E.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Boston, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Margesson, V.|
|Chesham, L.||Ferrers, E.||Monsell, V.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Fortescue, E.||Newton, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Poulett, E.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||St. Oswald, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Sandford, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Hastings, L.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Inchcape, E.||Willingdon, M.|
|Derwent, L.||Jellicoe, E.|
|Addison, V.||Cowley, E.||Merrivale, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Crook, L.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Furness, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Gage, V.||Shepherd, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Henderson, L.||Somers, L.|
|Champion, L.||Latham, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Longford, E.||Wise, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Wolverton, L.|
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I have to announce that in the Division on Amendment 106, the number of Lords who voted "Not-Content" was 50, and not 49 as announced.
§ Moved, That the House do now resume.—(Lord Dilhorne.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.