§ (1) Subject to the following provisions of this Schedule, the functions exercisable by the council of a county borough under the Land Drainage Act 1930 and the Land Drainage Act 1961 (hereafter in this Schedule respectively referred to as 'The Act of 1930' and 'the Act of 1961') shall be exercisable as respects a London borough by the council of the borough and as respects the City by the Common Council, and accordingly references in those Acts to a county borough and the council thereof shall, without prejudice to paragraphs 2 and 4 of this Schedule, be construed as including references respectively to a London borough and the council thereof and the City and the Common Council.
§ (2) Subject as aforesaid, the functions exercisable by the council of a county borough under or by virtue of Part V and section 51 of the Act of 1930 and sections 28 and 34 of the Act of 1961 shall also be exercisable as respects the metropolitan watercourses by the Greater London Council, and accordingly references in those provisions to a county borough and the council thereof shall, in their application to the metropolitan watercourses, be construed as including references respectively to Greater London and the Greater London Council.
§ (3) The functions exercisable under the Acts of 1930 and 1961 by the council of a London borough or county district or by the Common Council shall, so far as concerns the main metropolitan watercourses, including the banks thereof and drainage works in connection therewith, be exercisable solely by the Greater London Council; and without prejudice to the foregoing restriction, any provision of the Acts of 1930 and 1961 which precludes or restricts the exercise by a county borough council of any functions with respect to a main river shall apply to the exercise by the council of a London borough or county district or the Common Council, of any functions with respect to a main metropolitan watercourse.
§ (4) References to a county borough and the council thereof in sections 4(2), 6(4) and 54 of, and paragraph 1 of Part I of Schedule 2 to, the Act of 1930 and in section 17 of the Act of 1961 shall be construed as including references respectively to Greater London and the Greater London Council.
§ (6) The foregoing provisions of this Schedule shall not be construed as applying to any river authority or river authority area a provision of the Act of 1930 which is excluded by paragraph 5 of Schedule 2 to the Water Resources Act, 1963.808
§ (7) Subject to any provision made by an order under secion 81 or 84 of this Act—
- (a) the functions of the council of any county or county borough under the local enactments relating to the metropolitan watercourses shall instead of being exercisable by that council be exercisable by the Greater London Council and references in any such enactment to any such council shall be construed accordingly; and
- (b) the local enactments relating to so much of the tidal Thames as lies within the existing county of London shall apply to the whole of the tidal Thames (as described in the Table in paragraph 13(1) of this Schedule), and in those enactments references to, or which are to be taken as references to, the county of London shall be construed accordingly;
- (c) no functions relating to land drainage, flood prevention and the like matters shall (subject to paragraph 14 of this Schedule) be exercisable with respect to the tidal Thames by any authority under any local statutory provisions other than the enactments mentioned in sub-paragraph (b) of this paragraph or by virtue only of section 83(3) of the Act of 1930.
§ (8) In section 9(5) of the River Boards Act, 1948 (so far as applicable by virtue of section 9(10) of that Act and section 128(5) of the Water Resources Act, 1963) the reference to local authorities shall be construed as including a reference to the Greater London Council, the London borough councils and the Common Council.
- (a) the reference in section 16(3) to local authorities and the reference in section 127(3) to a local authority as defined in section 127(1) shall be construed as including references to the Greater London Council and the London borough councils;
- (b) the references in sections 6(7), 7(3), 82, 105 and 116 to a county borough and the council thereof shall be construed as including references respectively to a London borough and the council thereof;
§ (10) The expenses incurred by the Greater London Council in the discharge of the functions conferred on them by virtue of this Schedule shall be chargeable on the London boroughs falling wholly or partly within the London excluded area and on the City and the Temples and where part only of a London borough falls within that area those expenses shall be chargeable only on that part of the borough.
§ (11) The expenses so incurred shall be expenses for special London purposes.
- (a) any expenses incurred by the council of that borough in the discharge by them of the like functions with respect to another part of the borough, and
- (b) any payments made by that council for meeting precepts for defraying expenses incurred by some other body of persons in the discharge of the like functions with respect to another part of the borough,
13.—(1) Subject to the provisions of any order under the next following paragraph, in this Schedule—
the metropolitan watercourses" means the watercourses described in column 1 of the following Table;
the main metropolitan watercourses" means the tidal Thames and the watercourses named in paragraphs 2 to 4 of that Table (including the tributaries of the river Ravensbourne mentioned in the said paragraph 2);
the tidal Thames "means the water courses described in paragraph 1 of that Table;
local enactment" means, in relation to any watercourse, the enactments specified in regulation thereto in column 2 of that Table:
|1.||The river Thames from and including Teddington lock to the eastern limits of Greater London, including all its associated watercourses within the flow or reflow of its tides west of those limits, but not including so much of the river Thames or of those watercourses as lies within the Thames catchment area, the Les catchment area or the area of any river authority.||The Thames River (Prevention of Floods) Acts 1879 to 1961 and section 14 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act 1932.|
|2.||The river Ravensbourne and the tributaries thereof named in section 5 of the Act of 1961 specified in column 2, and their associated watercourses.||The River Ravensbourne, &c. (Improvement and Flood Prevention) Act 1961.|
|3.||The Beverley Brook, the river Graveney, the Pyl Brook and the river Wandle and their associated watercourses.||Part II of the Surrey County Council Act 1925, section 15 of the Surrey County Council Act 1931, Part II of the Surrey County Council Act 1936 and the London and Surrey (River Wandle and River Graveney) (Jurisdiction) Act 1960.|
|4.||The river Brent, the river Crane and the Duke of Northumberland's river and their associated watercourses.||Part V of the Middle-sex County Council Act 1944.|
§ (2) The Minister may, after consultation with the Greater London Council and the council of any London borough or county district appearing to him to be affected, by order provide that—
- (a) the whole or any part of a watercourse other than the tidal Thames shall cease to be a metropolitan watercourse;
- (b) the whole or any part of a metropolitan watercourse shall become or cease to be a main metropolitan watercourse.
(3) In this Schedule—
associated watercourse" in relation to any river means a tributary or other watercourse the water from which ultimately flows into, or which is directly or indirectly connected with, that river;
banks" has the same meaning as in the Land Drainage Act 1930;
London excluded area" means so much of Greater London, and of any area adjoining Greater London, as does not lie within the Thames catchment area, the Lee catchment area or the area of any river authority;
public sewer" has the same meaning as in the Public Health Act 1936;
watercourse" includes all rivers, streams, ditches, drains, cuts, culverts, dykes, sluices, sewers and passages through which water flows, except public sewers;
and any reference in this Schedule to a particular river does not include a reference to so much of the river as is a public sewer, and any mention of a particular river shall not be construed as prejudicing the meaning of the expression "associated watercourse".
§ 14. Nothing in this Schedule shall apply to any property held for the purposes of their undertaking by the Port of London Authority or affect any functions exercisable by that Authority."
§ The noble Lord said: This is the new Schedule referring to land drainage and flood prevention which I foreshadowed in the paving Amendment earlier this afternoon. When I was moving that Amendment I said that this was in response to an undertaking given during the Committee stage in another place. It was thought that this was such an important subject that, to deal with it in orders, which had been the original intention, would not be appropriate, and Members of another place requested that there should be much more detailed mention of this matter. In considering the provisions of land drainage in Greater London we have to remember that parts of Greater London are in the areas of the Thames Conservancy, the 811 Lee Conservancy Catchment Board and the Essex and Kent River Boards. In their respective areas those authorities have general control over land drainage and exclusive powers to carry out works over the "main rivers" which are specified for this purpose on a map of "main rivers". Within those areas, however, the county boroughs, county councils and county district councils have their own powers under the Land and Drainage Acts to carry out works on watercourses other than main river to prevent or to mitigate flooding. In those parts of Greater London which are within those areas the London boroughs will be able to exercise the same powers which county boroughs have in this connection elsewhere throughout the country.
§ A substantial part of Greater London is not, however, in the area of any of these major drainage authorities. This area is known as the "excluded area", and it includes most of the administrative county of London, South Middlesex and much of Metropolitan Kent and Surrey. The excluded area also stretches outside Greater London into Staines and also in the Banstead and Caterham areas of Surrey. In this excluded area a number of the most important rivers have been made the subject of Local Acts. The Thames itself is, of course, in this category, and in addition there are the rivers which are specifically named in column 1 of the table which forms part of paragraph 13 of this Schedule. The Schedule describes these named rivers as "main metropolitan watercourses" and the effect of doing so is to place them in the same position as main rivers in river board areas elsewhere. The Greater London Council is thus given exclusive power to carry out drainage and flood prevention works on these rivers and the expenses of the Council in this connection are to be spread over the whole of Greater London in the excluded area.
§ The Schedule also refers to "metropolitan watercourses." I think I ought to draw your Lordships' attention to the difference between these. There are "main metropolitan watercourses", and these are merely "metropolitan watercourses." This may otherwise be rather 812 confusing. These metropolitan watercourses, in addition to the main rivers mentioned in this category, include the associated watercourses, which are the tributaries of those rivers mentioned in Nos. 2, 3 and 4 of the table. The Greater London Council and the London boroughs will have concurrent drainage powers over these. For example, if we take the River Brent, which flows through Hendon, the Greater London Council will be the sole drainage authority for the River Brent itself, but so far as its tributaries are concerned, which would be metropolitan watercourses, works may be carried out either by the Greater London Council or by the London boroughs concerned.
§ There remain then the other streams and watercourses in the excluded area. These are the ones which are not tributaries of any of the named rivers in the table in paragraph 13. In connection with these, the London boroughs will be the sole drainage authorities. Paragraph 13(2) of the Schedule permits the Minister to alter the table by removing rivers either from the categories of metropolitan watercourse or main metropolitan watercourse. I am afraid that this is a long and involved Schedule and it may call for further study but I hope I have, in a brief space, been able to clarify what it is about and to make clear the sort of way in which this matter will operate. I beg to move.
After Schedule 13 insert the said new Schedule.—(Lord Hastings.)
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
I confess that we are beaten by this long Amendment; we do not know what it means. But we do not think that it is necessarily any the worse for that. Therefore, we do not propose to be troublesome about it at this stage of the Bill. We must examine it in further detail and we may want to bring up something on the Report stage. This term "paving Amendment" is a new expression, I think, in Parliamentary language, so far as I remember. Well, I stand corrected. I accept that. I thought it was. I thought it was something from Perry Mason who, when he gets pulled up by the district attorney or by his Honour as being out of order, says, "I am laying the foundation, your Honour". I thought 813 it meant that. If the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor assures me that it is a common phrase. I accept that, because he knows all about it. In all the circumstances, we propose not to be difficult about this Amendment; but we shall have to try to understand it between now and the Report stage, and then do what we can, if anything, in regard to it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Part VIII.
§ Clauses 61 to 65 agreed to.
§ Clause 66 [Financial provisions applicable to the Common Council]:
§ LORD HASTINGS
This Amendment removes the reference to "St. Botolph Without Aldgate Tithe Rate." As the Bill stands, expenses met by the rate in question are excepted from the provision made by the subsection. The rate is levied under the provisions of Acts of 1881, 1888 and 1910 to meet the cost of the extinguishment of the tithe formerly charged on the ecclesiastical parish of St. Botolph Without Aldgate, which is within the City. The rate is leviable until 1970, and it therefore seemed necessary to except the expenses covered by it from the clause. But we have heard since that the Common Council are satisfied that it will not be necessary to levy any further rate, and therefore the reference can be removed from the Bill. I beg to move.
Page 80, line 41, leave out from ("rate") to end of line 42.—(Lord Hastings.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 66, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 67 agreed to.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Before my noble friend moves the next Amendment, I wonder whether I might seek the assistance of the noble and learned Lord who is in charge of the Bill. I think he will agree that we have made very good progress at this stage. We are now about to deal with Clause 68, about which there is considerable concern because this matter is regarded as of considerable importance by all sections of the Committee. I think that in some ways it would be unfair to my noble 814 friend Lord Champion to have to speak and then to find the debate being adjourned for Dinner.
Therefore, in view of the progress we have made, and in the interests of continuity of debate—because this is an important subject, not a Party issue—I wonder whether the Government would agree to adjourn at this stage, and then we could deal with Clause 68 in its entirety. May I say to the noble Lord in charge of the Bill that a number of these Amendments will in fact be moved together? They will not involve separate debates. I refer to Amendment 244A, 245, and 246A; and I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, would be agreeable to speaking to his own Amendment, No. 246B, together with the others, which would mean that Amendment 246, which is on a different subject, could be moved separately. I hope that the Government can help us in this matter.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I think it is true that we have made extremely good progress, and some of the pessimism shown at an earlier period of the day has proved to be unfounded. I would willingly accept the noble Lord's request, but I should point out that its acceptance cannot accelerate the cooking process. Therefore, I understand that Dinner will not be available, or I cannot guarantee its availability, immediately. I beg to move that the Committee do adjourn during pleasure until half-past eight.
§ Moved, That the Committee do now adjourn until half-past eight.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ LORD AIREDALE
On this Motion, perhaps I might inform the Committee that the result of the Division, Division No. 2, on Amendment 208, was announced as: Contents, 25; Not-Contents, 73. A careful check of the Not-Contents division sheet shows that 74 Members, and not 73, voted Not-Content.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The Sitting was suspended at thirteen minutes past seven o'clock and resumed at half-past eight o'clock.]815
§ Clause 68 [Transitional assistance to certain counties]:
LORD CHAMPION moved, in subsection (1), to omit
which exceeds the estimated product of a rate of fivepence in the pound for the county for the year 1965–66.
§ The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 244A is a paving Amendment for No. 246A. I use the expression even if my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth did not like it very much, because it seems to me to be a good way to describe something which paves the way for something which succeeds it. Clause 68 accepts the principle put forward by the Royal Commission that the severed counties would need financial aid. So what we have to discuss now is the extent of that financial aid and the extent to which the Government have, by this Bill, made provision for it. We have to consider whether or not these proposals in the Bill are just and fair to those counties.
§ What are the problems that those counties will have to meet? First, the new counties—that is, the severed counties—will have to carry the burden caused by the movement of Londoners outwards, a movement that has accelerated enormously since the end of the last war, which has caused these counties which are to be severed to provide services on a very large scale for those people who have moved out. In this connection it has to be remembered that many of these people who have moved out to these counties work in the Greater London area and by so doing contribute to the wealth of the Greater London area. It also must be mentioned in this connection that the effect of migration upon these counties, the counties of Essex, Kent and Surrey, has been felt for many years, and the whole of those counties have contributed to the initial building up of services in the metropolitan part of the counties. This part, in turn, could now have been expected Ito contribute to the cost of the services for those Londoners who are moving out into what are now described as the new counties. In this connection it might be argued that all this new development will create new rateable values. Of course it will. But the point that has to be stressed about the new rateable values is that before the benefit is felt by these counties there will be a 816 considerable time lag. I think this is important. It is the experience of everyone who has ever been engaged in local government, that with new rateable value, following upon new building, et cetera, some time elapses before the benefit accrues to the local authority.
§ Secondly, in this connection there is the burden caused by the fact that the cost of central administration will be borne on narrow shoulders, the narrower shoulders of the new counties, as against the broad shoulders of the old counties. The counties will lose their most compact areas, and we all know that the rural parts of the county can involve the county in very much heavier cost than the compact area, in the matter of roads and services of that sort. The savings which accrue to old counties as a result of their size—the old counties as they were before—will no longer be achieved. For example, the fire service and other specialised services will have to be carried on what I have described as the narrower shoulders.
§ Also, large-scale purchasing economies will be reduced as a result of this contraction which is going to take place. Perhaps I can best illustrate this by taking the County of Essex. The population of the County of Essex rose by some 253,000 in the ten years 1951 to 1961. For comparison with other counties, I take two counties showing large increases in the same period: Lancashire, 163,000; Gloucestershire, 65,000. Ten other counties come in between the figures I have quoted. The population increase of the new County of Essex is more than the population of many of our counties in England. It is the equivalent to an increase of some 37 per cent. in the population of new Essex—that is, the part which will be left after this Bill has become an Act. Schools clinics, police and ambulance stations, et cetera, have had to be provided at large capital costs and high interest rates to provide for that tremendous influx of population. Two hundred new schools have been built since the end of the last war. And all this gives Essex a special claim to transitional assistance.
§ Essex has estimated—and here I am using some information which has been provided for me by someone knowledgeable in this connection—that the new county will incur a loss due to the Bill 817 of about £1.5 million. The Government propose to provide transitional assistance to meet this loss, but require that the new county mast bear the first 5d. rate increase due to the loss, without any help of any kind. This means that the first £900,000 a year—the estimated product of a 5d. rate in the new County of Essex in 1965–66 must be borne by that county in one fell swoop in 1965. Thereafter, the remaining £600,000 of the loss will be assumed by the new county by eight equal annual instalments until the whole £1.5 million is borne by the new county. Yet, if the whole of the losses of the Home Counties were met by Greater London in the first year, it might cost less than a 1½d. rate in London, and this would be reduced each year. The whole scheme of local government in Greater London is designed to benefit the people of Greater London. The people of the new County of Essex can reap no benefit at all. Yet the Bill proposes that the people of Essex must bear a 5d. increase at once, increasing to about 8d. on 1965 figures. This will be directly due to the Bill—and Essex, naturally, feel that this is an imposition that they ought not to be expected to bear.
§ In another place the Government improved the financial provisions of the Bill by reducing the additional rate burden from the estimated product of a 6d. rate to a rate of 5d. in the pound. They also extended the transitional period from five to eight years. That was something of an advance, but I have seen the 1d. in the pound reduction described as a derisory reduction considering the burden which has to be borne by these counties as a result of this Bill. The proposal in the two Amendments hat I am moving would provide for reimbursement of the whole of the added burden in the year 1965–66, for reducing the assistance in subsequent years by a fixed amount in each year, and for the avoidance of unnecessary claims and ascertainment of added burden by a proviso that no payment shall be due under the clause it the added burden, ascertained by applying Schedule 15, is less than 2d. in the pound.
§ Under our proposals embodied in Amendment No. 246A, the severed counties could easily and quickly ascertain if the added burdens to be sustained were 818 likely to support a claim; if not, then no further administrative time would be involved. Those counties qualified for assistance would receive the whole of their loss in the first year and a reduction in the financial aid by a specific figure would extend the period of aid for those counties where the loss is greatest. I have moved this Amendment very briefly, but I honestly think there is a case for improvement in these financial provisions. Some way must be found to make that improvement even if the proposals in my Amendment do not exactly meet it. I think that the case of Essex demonstrates the burden that is going to fall upon these new counties as a result of this Bill; and clearly the ratepayers of that section of Essex ought never to be expected to bear it.
Page 82, line 19, leave out from ("Act") to third ("the") in line 21.—(Lord Champion.)
§ LORD SHEPHERD
May I support my noble friend and, with the permission of the Committee, speak also to the following Amendment No. 245? My noble friend Lord Champion and I, with our colleagues, have been involved for many days in what is obviously a political fight. I have no regrets about it. However, I hope this evening that the non-political approach we are making from this side will be matched by the other side, because here we are not dealing with any Party matter. We are trying to find justice for these counties that will be gravely (and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, will bear this in mind) and permanently affected by the proposals of the Government. This is a Bill which the Government claim is for the improvement of local government in London. That is their case; but I do not now propose to deal with it. But, falling consequentially from the Government proposals, local county government in Surrey, Kent and in particular, as the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has said, in Essex, will be permanently affected.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Yes, and Hertfordshire; but I think the Committee would agree with me that in Hertfordshire the effect is limited. I am sure that it would not be the Government's intention, whatever they may wish to do in London, in any way to destroy 819 or reduce the effectiveness of government in Surrey and the other counties; or in any way to reduce the type and quality of service these counties are providing.
My noble friend drew the Committee's attention to the Royal Commission Report. Perhaps, I may read it the relevant passage, because this part is the basis of Clause 68. It says:Nevertheless, the changes which we propose are of such magnitude and represent a surgical operation of such an unusual kind that special treatment seems to be justifiable. We therefore propose that there should be transitional arrangements whereby the Boroughs in the severed metropolitan parts of the Counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey should relieve the rate burden of their respective former counties for a limited period of time by means of a special precept payable through the Council for Greater London.The Royal Commission recognised the consequences of the proposals on these counties. The Government have accepted that these counties should receive some compensation, but they have departed from the Royal Commission to this extent, that instead of putting the precept upon the areas being brought into Greater London, they have decided to make the whole of the Greater London area responsible for it. It is debatable whether that is right. It could be argued that the inner boroughs will be called upon to pay a rate to a county to which they have never been affiliated and that in the long run they themselves may not gain by the new Greater London Authority.
The Government's original intention was that there should be a 6d. rate decreasing over five or six years. The counties understood that the 6d. rate was to be on the old valuation. In that circumstance, they thought that their treatment was satisfactory. But they were completely shocked when they found that the 6d. rate was to be on the new valuation. This means that the figure at which compensation will be paid to the county councils would be the equivalent of 1s. 3d. on the old rate. That would be a heavy burden, which would come as a great shock to ratepayers. If they appreciated the magnitude of the imposition which was being placed upon them. But when expressed as a 5d. or 6d. rate, it does not sound so bad. After pressure in 820 another place, the Government reduced the 6d. rate to 5d. and lengthened the period of payment for the county qualifying from five or six years to eight.
This evening I wish to speak of my own county, Surrey. I recognise that the county of which my noble friend Lord Champion was speaking, Essex, is in a much worse position than Surrey.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I should like to put the position of Surrey in some detail, because I think that the Committee should be aware of it. I appreciate the position of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, about making a policy decision on his own responsibility, but I should like him to give an undertaking tonight that he will again take up this matter with his senior Minister and perhaps open fresh negotiation with the counties concerned and the Minister. The area that will be left of the new Surrey—that is, the Surrey area without the London section—will represent 92.33 per cent. of its present area. Therefore, the Committee will appreciate that the area for the new county to administer will be very much the same as now exists. They will have the same length of roads, the same problem of providing social services and the transport problems that will arise from them. As to population, they will have to provide services for 60½ per cent., a tidy figure, spread over the urban district.
The serious consequence is with regard to the rateable value. The rateable value of new Surrey will be a mere 57.43 per cent. of the present rateable value, and this to cover and provide the services to an area practically equivalent to today's area. If we want to get away from percentages, perhaps the noble Lord will take these figures from me. The revenue which the Surrey County Council to-day receive is approximately £43,750,000. But they will have to provide and maintain the present standards of social service, education and the like on an income of approximately £25,750,000. I think the noble Lord will appreciate the task that will confront the Surrey County Council.
I do not think there is any dispute over my figures, because I understand that the noble Lord's Ministry has accepted them. As I understand it, leaving aside administrative costs, the severance of the county 821 will result in an increased rate on the old valuation figures of 11d., or of 3¾d. on the new figure, which is what we are now interested in. This figure derives partly from lower rating resources of the new Surrey, and partly from the heavier burden of highways. For although the county is losing 42 per cent. of its rateable value, it is losing less than 8 per cent. of its area. As I say, I think the figures have been accepted by the noble Lord's Department. To this figure of 3¾d. we have to add the administrative costs—the extra burden that will fall on the authority in view of its present size, the distribution of its population and the type of facilities that will be required, which will not in any way permit the authority to reduce its administrative staff, its equipment and the like to compensate for this fall in population. According to my figure, on the new rate it will be 1¼d. Therefore, so far as Surrey is concerned, because of the area of higher rateable value being taken into the Greater London Area, a 5d. increase in the rate will have to be borne by the ratepayers of Surrey to compensate for the loss. That represents a figure of £925,000.
I wish to say one thing in regard to what the Surrey County Council are faced with in education. I have mentioned it before, and I think it is of considerable importance. It is in regard to the capital cost of education, and I refer to it because I believe it represents 80 per cent. of their expenditure to-day. During the years 1934 to 1939, 65 per cent. of their capital expenditure on education—that is, the provision of schools, playgrounds and the like—related to the area which is being absorbed into London, and a mere 35 per cent. was spent upon the rural district.
During the years 1959, 1960 and 1961, and obviously in the future, the ratio must be changed. The rural areas must be developed. The services which have been concentrated into the built-up areas must now be brought to if e rural areas. Their estimates were that 37 per cent. would be for the Metropolitan area and 63 per cent. for the rural areas. But because of this Bill, because of the Government's decision as to which areas shall go into Greater London, the mainly rural area of Surrey, which has provided the main capital, the main emphasis, for the 822 development of this London area, will be denied the income and the resources that would naturally become available from the high rateable value of those areas that are going into Greater London.
I suggest that in justice, and for the sake of maintaining the standards of the rural districts of Surrey (and, of course, of Essex and other counties), these counties should be provided with (if I may use the word) "compensation" for the permanent loss they will sustain. This is not a loss from which they will quickly recover. The areas they are losing are the areas in which they themselves have played a part in developing. I know that these areas have developed by natural consequence because they were so close to London; but it is county responsibility, judgment and decision which has built up these amenities. I suggest that if, following a Government decision, these areas are now to be taken away and are to go into Greater London there should be some (I use the word again) "compensation"; because, as I say, it is a permanent loss to the counties.
There is much more that could be said in this matter. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, can give us any idea how the figure of 5d. was set. In the case of Surrey, I think there may be suspicion that the figure was set at 5d. because they thought there would be no precept charge on the Greater London area. I think it is quite wrong that the County of Surrey—and, of course, the County of Essex—should bear this complete shock.
In closing, may I illustrate the effect of the Government decision on the rateable value per head? My understanding is that the rateable value per head in Surrey to-day, as a whole county, is £52 10s. For the new Surrey—the Surrey outside the Greater London area—the rateable value per head will drop to £49 17s. This is very interesting. The rateable value of London-Surrey, that is, the part that will be going to London, will rise to £56 13s., so that the areas which are going into London will make substantial gains. Perhaps that will not be shared by Greater London, but they themselves will have a higher rateable value per head. Whether the Government were right to say that the whole of the Greater London area should make 823 this contribution, I do not know. The Royal Commission said that it should come from the areas which are leaving the county, and to which the county themselves had contributed to their development. Whether it is the boroughs, whether it is the London area, or whether, as my noble friend Lord Latham will suggest, in view of the Government policy it is a question for the Government itself, with its financial national resources, who should make the contribution to the county, I beg the Government at least to recognise the position of these counties. They will be viable, but you cannot hold back progress. Once you start halting the growth of a service, it takes some time to recover. Plans have already been made and I hope that this Committee will see that these counties, whatever may be done, may be able to continue with their plans and develop their own districts.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
I wish very briefly to support everything which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and the noble Lord, Lord Champion, have said. During the course of this Bill I have tried to estimate in my own judgment, purely on the merits of the case; and while there have been times when I have not agreed with noble Lords opposite, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has put this case with consummate fairness. The Surrey County Council is not an irresponsible body. It has gone into this matter with great care. I have myself had considerable communication with the Clerk of the Council. The people who live in Surrey, and especially those who live in the parts of Surrey which are not going into the Greater London Council, are largely people of fixed incomes. They are not people of great wealth, and already this year many have suffered considerable increases in rates; and once the rates go up they have a habit of coming down, if at all, very slowly. One has only to examine the figures to see the burdens with which these people are likely to be faced if those proposals go through. There is another point here, which is that Surrey is going to lose quite a large proportion of its industrial ratings; for example, Mitcham, which has a good deal of industry, will be lost. I know that it will be argued that Woking, Camberley and Weybridge, which were reprieved, will remain in the county.
824 My noble friend Lord Ellenborough and I have another Amendment down which does not commit the Government as far as the one moved by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, but I feel that his Amendment is perfectly fair and I plead with my noble friend to give it at least very serious consideration, because people living in Surrey and those who do such fine work for the Surrey County Council have gone into this matter very carefully. I will say no more, because the case has already been put, to my mind, with cast-iron conviction; but I would plead with my noble friend to go into this matter very thoroughly.
§ 9.4 p.m.
I hope the noble Lords who have spoken will forgive me if I raise a somewhat different point on this Amendment although it is connected with it. This is a Bill about London and the Amendments deal with London, but in the course of the arguments about these Amendments points have been raised on both sides which go a long way beyond London. I happen to know that there is a degree of apprehension in the associations of local governments about the formula which we are now discussing. In the first place, I think there is a good deal of sympathy for those truncated counties, for the reasons that have been put very clearly. This new valuation in itself has come as a great shock to retired people, as I know well. They have to face it, for reasons which no doubt can be stated as good mathematical reasons but which weigh very hardly on that particular class of person. What I am especially concerned about is to get some assurance from the Government with regard to the application of this formula to other parts of the country. This Bill obviously contemplates considerable enlargement of the areas and the powers of various authorities, but they are by no means the only proposals likely to be placed before Parliament with the same object if the recommendations of the Boundary Commission are of any importance in this matter.
I do not claim any expert knowledge on this highly technical question of financial adjustment. I know it has had a long and complicated history, and even if I were an expert it perhaps would not be a suitable occasion to go into 825 it in detail on this London Bill. I am informed by experts that if this formula were to be applied elsewhere it might result in a number of serious anomalies and unfairnesses. The case we are discussing to-day is rather unusual, because we are contemplating the creation of an entirely new body, the Greater London Council, and the controversy, which is considerable, is nevertheless a fairly simple controversy. I am informed that it would not be at all simple if this formula were applied to amalgamation of other existing authorities. I would therefore make a strong plea to my noble friend Lord Hastings that we might be given an assurance that Clause 68, whatever happens to it in this House—and I personally hope some attention will be paid to the speeches already made—will not be treated as a precedent in any other case without opportunities being given for full consultation with the organisations of local government authorities.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
May I say a word and declare an interest? I am a ratepayer to some extent in Essex, and therefore I must confess my interest. We have already had an experience, as mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Gage; we have already had our first shock in 1963, and the rates are up tremendously this year. In my own case in the course of twelve months they will be up by nearly £40. Some of it may be adjusted, because we can appeal against the basic valuation up to August. Mine has been in an agent's hands for two or three months and we have heard nothing about it or about what is going on. When we come to the elect on Essex as a whole, which has been so admirably illustrated by detailed figures given by my noble friend Lord Champion, then we see that the result will be quite extraordinary. It must also be the case in Kent and Surrey that when these new delineations are carried through there will have to be many adjustments in the accommodation provided so far near the boundaries which are newly to be set, and the costs which are going to remain upon the county which is losing so much of its rateable value will be out of all proportion in the rate per pound as against the actual areas taken into Greater London. I do not need to repeat the figures given by my noble friend Lord 826 Champion regarding the County of Essex, but I can say that I know there are rising commitments of very heavy substance.
Take education, for example, If you lose the rateable value of boroughs like Walthamstow and Ilford and other places which have already been largely provided for in regard to education by great capital expenditure within their boundaries, you leave on the fringe, outside a lot of these facilities, places where new capital expenditure will have to be undertaken. One cannot measure yet what the effect is going to be on Surrey, Kent and Essex. Take the great pressure now for advanced education beyond the secondary modern and grammar school stage into the university. In the case of Essex we have already the heavy burden upon us of finding university places for our scholars in Essex and so it has had to be decided that an entirely new university must be provided in Colchester. It is all passed, and I believe the preliminary expenditures are at this moment being undertaken.
Who is to bear the burden of that in the future, apart from the actual grants for university education from the Government? It is this tendency all the way round in these matters that makes us fear greatly for the financial stability of many of our remaining administrative county areas. I daresay the Government think that, sooner or later, the suffering public will bear it, but I do not think the Government can get away with that. They ought to listen to the pleas of both of my noble friends, Lord Champion and Lord Shepherd—and particularly in regard to the rates referred to, which could be relieved by a proper readjustment, and if not entirely by adjustment with the Greater London Area, then surely by direct aid from the Government themselves, to see that these rate burdens do not come down upon these mutilated areas in the counties I have mentioned. I have looked into this matter carefully from the point of view of the county where I live, Essex, and I most heartily support the Amendment.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ LORD ELLENBOROUGH
I, too, should like to give general support to these two Amendments, even though they appear to go somewhat further than the 827 Amendment which is down in the names of my noble friend Lord Auckland and myself. I think there is no doubt at all that particularly the counties of Essex and Surrey are hard hit. Essex is left without any large town apart from Chelmsford and Colchester. In so far as Surrey is concerned, 42 per cent. of its rateable value goes, but it loses only 8 per cent. of its area; and it is obvious what effect that will have on administrative costs and also on the upkeep of the highways.
I find it rather difficult to see what is the use of Clause 68 in the Bill, because although it guarantees relief from anything over an estimated product of a 5d. rate in the £, as a result of the loss of the metropolitan area of these counties, at any rate Surrey has worked it out—I do not think the matter is in any dispute at all—that when all is said and done, and allowing for administrative costs and so on, it will, in fact, mean an additional burden of just about exactly 5d. What, then, is the use of the clause? It all seems to me really far too reminiscent of the Government's undertaking during the passage of the Rating and Valuation Act, 1961. I think it was then said by the Minister that an increase of at any rate over one-third of the householders' rates bill would be quite intolerable. And, of course, that Act allowed for percentage deductions of rateable values to be made in hard-hit areas. Then, later on, the Government came along and said that nowhere had they actually reached that one-third limit, and therefore nothing would be done. It was really a poor consolation for those people in areas which had been hit by 20 or 25 per cent. increases.
If I may say so, I find the Government's continued indifference to the plight of the ratepayer—not only in these four counties, but elsewhere for that matter—astonishing. At last, very belatedly and with great reluctance, they have grudgingly agreed to set up a Committee to look into certain limited aspects of rating. There seems to be little enthusiasm about it, and I do not think that is going to get the Government very far. Obviously, many ratepayers in these four counties—which are, after all, if not mainly, at any rate to a great extent, residential, as my noble friend 828 Lord Auckland mentioned—are retired and elderly people living on fixed incomes. Many of them have already had a nasty shock through the positively savage increases in rates as a result of the revaluation which has just taken place. Now, if this Bill is unamended, they are going to be severely hit again next year or in 1965, and certainly so far as Surrey is concerned they have calculated that it will mean not less than a 10 per cent. increase in the rates.
I do not know whether the Government really think that ratepayers are going to be prepared indefinitely to put up with just anything. One would have thought they might have been taught some lesson from the recent local elections, which go some way to show that ratepayers are not prepared indefinitely to put up with this Government. I would warn the Government not to delude themselves into thinking that because of low polls at local elections people do not care what happens. They quite obviously do. I think the Government will find out in no uncertain manner at the next General Election that the electorate sees through the local government to the real culprits—who are the central authority who control the powers of local authorities.
As a result of Clause 68 the Government surely accept, at any rate in principle, the need for making transitional assistance to those counties, particularly Essex and Surrey, which are to be shorn of their metropolitan area. But by inserting this rate limit or bar of 5d. in the clause it seems that at the same time it will be of no effective use at all. I would therefore feel that these Amendments which have been moved by noble Lords opposite go a long way to meet the needs of the ratepayers in these counties, because, when all is said and done, there is going to be a very difficult transitional stage as a result of this reorganisation which is being imposed on the ratepayers of these counties—not asked for by the ratepayers in these counties, not necessarily in their interests, but it is in the interests of course of an important reorganisation of local government in the area of Greater London. I therefore would ask the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government to give these matters very serious consideration.
§ LORD BOSTON
I want to intervene for one moment to say that, although I do not live anywhere near London, in my own case about three years ago I was paying about £65 rates on my house; last year I paid £90; this year, thanks to the new rating, I have once more gone back to something under £70. So there are areas in which the rates are down.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I approach this series of Amendments with a great deal of sympathy, but, naturally, with a great deal of caution as well. Here we are delving into a field of strong personal feelings, feelings based perhaps on a sense of injustice, and feelings aggravated by the knowledge that certain people's financial well-being may be affected. Therefore I have to make my argument as convincing as possible, and to treat the arguments from the other side—and not only from the opposite side, but from behind me as well—with complete seriousness and to try to meet them as best one can.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I agree at once, of course, that there is no question of not paying anything. As the noble Lord, Lord Champion, said, we are discussing whether the payments proposed to be made are just and fair. I would also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that this is not in any way a Party matter. We wish to do justice to all concerned, within certain limits and within certain principles, upon which we feel we must take a stand. This transitional assistance, which was recommended very strongly by the Royal Commission, in the words quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, is to be considered, in the Government's view, as an exceptional case. It is not a principle that transitional assistance should always be given when we are dealing with local government reorganisation.
I should like to digress for a moment to speak about the principles of local government reorganisation. After all, as we know, the Boundary Commission is doing its work and there is going to be local government reorganisation throughout the length and breadth of the country. Therefore, I think it will be accepted by noble Lords opposite that the purpose of local government reorganisation is to 830 improve local government as a whole. There can be no other reason for reorganising. I have deliberately linked the Greater London scheme to reorganisation in the country as a whole, because I am perfectly well aware that noble Lords opposite do not think that the reorganisation of London Government on the lines proposed by the Government is in the interests of local government.
§ LORD LATHAM
Can the noble Lord mention one case where the Commission's proposals have been agreed to?
§ LORD HASTINGS
Is the noble Lord referring to the Boundary Commission's proposals? They are very incomplete.
§ LORD HASTINGS
We are not going into a detailed discussion of that aspect. But these reorganisations are going on, and in many cases people are agreeing to them. But they are very incomplete.
§ LORD HASTINGS
Inquiries are held and objections are fully considered. But I am saying that the purpose of this reorganisation is to improve local government. There can be no other purpose. When we consider it in that context, we have to realise that transitional assistance is not a principle at all. It can be considered only in exceptional instances.
Therefore I would assure the noble Viscount, Lord Gage, who brought up this particular aspect, that there is no intention of adopting Clause 68 as a pattern for other areas, with reorganisation of local government outside Greater London. The Royal Commission, as I have said, considered that there was a special case for some form of transitional assistance to the counties which, as a result of their proposals, would be losing population and rateable resources, and the Government agreed with this recommendation. However, their conclusion—that is to say, the Government's conclusion—was reached purely on the circumstances of the reorganisation of London government. I cannot say that a special case could never in any circumstances be made in any other area, but I can certainly say that Clause 68 is 831 not regarded by the Government as a precedent, as regards either the principle or the formula which it contains.
That brings me to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who spoke about compensation. He will not be surprised to hear me say now, after what I have just said, that this clause is not intended to provide compensation for loss of territory or rate resources. Its sole purpose is to cushion any sudden and substantial increase in the rate. Following the lines of the passage in the Royal Commission Report which the noble Lord himself read out, this assistance would be only for a limited time. The noble Lord said that the damage would be permanent, but I am not sure that that was entirely borne out by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Champion, who said that there would be new people and new building going to the areas which would build up a new rateable value, although there would be a time-lag. But I do not think that we can accept the fact that the damage will be of a permanent nature.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
May I just put this point?—because it is important. The noble Lord said that this should not be regarded as compensation for permanent loss. But in the case of Surrey—and I quoted the figures—the County Council, by a policy decision, has used the resources of one whole county in a particular direction, and they are now to lose that part. Would it not be just to say to those people in the rural districts, who have permitted a large share of the resources to go to the development of that part now to be lost, that there will be some form of compensation? I should have thought that ultimately they would expect some return from their assistance to this particular area.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I follow the logic of the noble Lord's argument, but it is not a principle we can accept: that one part of a county has an absolute right to expect that another part should assist it in return.
Looking to the future (he is thinking of the future difficulty of rural areas, and the provision of better services), I would point out that any expenditure on that will ordinarily qualify for grant. For 832 the major services—education, local health, welfare, child care, fire—the general grant is available, and the distribution formula for that grant is under fundamental re-examination this year. If the new counties feel that there is a case for some special weighting for expanding populations, it is open to them to present their case. But I do not think that, in this context this evening, we can link future commitments of expenditure for new populations to the cushioning of the immediate rate increase resulting from reorganisation.
§ LORD LATHAM
Does the noble Lord say that, notwithstanding the words in Clause 68:If the county of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent or Surrey incurs an additional rate burden consequential on this Act…—and so on? If that is not compensation for the consequences of this Act, what is?
§ LORD HASTINGS
This is not compensation, or the principle of compensation: it is transitional assistance for a limited period.
We have heard this evening three variations on a theme, and I cannot but answer them all at one go. We have been subjected to, or offered, three possibilities of a different form of transitional assistance. I think I should say—and this follows naturally upon what I have already said—that if the maximum additional burden had been, say, of the nature of a 2d. rate, the Government would never have entertained the need for a transitional assistance scheme at all. Because we believe, as I have said—we do not accept it as a principle that there should necessarily be assistance when we are dealing with local government reorganisation—that Greater London is a special case, because I admit, that it involves an increase of rate, particularly in the case of Essex, which they themselves estimate to be in the nature of 1s. based on the new valuation, therefore there may be said to be special hardship in that direction.
At the same time we are creating a completely new organisation and one which is exceptional in every way. This principle of transitional assistance cannot be transferred to other parts of the country, where local government reorganisation may take place in the evolutionary sense from time to time. In the case of 833 Greater London, any additional burden must be looked at very carefully; and, as I have already said, if it was a low one there would have been no question of the Government considering transitional assistance at all.
§ LORD HASTINGS
The 5d. threshold is admittedly an arbitrary figure. As noble Lords have said, when the Bill was in another place the figure was 6d., and after strenuous argument it has now been reduced by 1d. Above that we shall give assistance over an eight-year period in the manner laid down in the Bill. The actual amounts of increases to be expected in 1965–66 cannot be determined exactly at present. A good deal of the sum can be dome fairly accurately, because one-half relates to future rate resources and half of the remainder relates to expenditure. Provided that the assumption about the expenditure proves to be right, one can come to a reasonable guess at what the answer will be. But the other quarter is all important and covers a variety of imponderables, such as policy, the effect of reorganisation, administration expenses and so on.
Surrey County Council, as the Committee has heard from my noble friend Lord Ellenborough, estimate that their loss will be almost exactly the 5d. rate mentioned in the clause, and they are therefore unlikely to get anything out of it. Perhaps it is not surprising, therefore, that they should feel a sense of grievance. On the other hand, there is some comfort in the thought that the loss is likely to be much less as a result of the modifications to the boundaries made in their favour since the publication of the Royal Commission Report—much less than the estimates submitted to the Royal Commission.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Would the noble Lord not agree that if the boundary adjustments had not been made, Surrey County Council would have been entitled to some compensation, because they would then have been above the bar? They are only just on the bar because of the adjustment to the areas.
§ LORD HASTINGS
The case of Essex was movingly put by the noble Lord, Lord Champion. He said that £l½ million will have to be found by the rates. I gave the rate poundage 834 of 1s. and I accept his figure. I do not know whether that is the total sum. But I think it is worth reminding the noble Lord that Essex, as a result of this operation, will be below the national average, so far as a penny rate product is concerned; as a result of which they will get a deficiency grant calculated at something a good deal over £600,000. I do not know whether the noble Lord took that into account when he was mentioning that figure of £1½ million—I think, perhaps, he did not; but that will help considerably to close the gap.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Should not the whole gap be closed, because this is on the initiative of the Government, in a measure for which they had no mandate from the electorate? The Government make interference and then put back the costs on the ratepayers.
§ LORD HASTINGS
That was the suggestion in the Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Champion, moved: that all the additional rate burden should be borne by the Greater London Council and none of it should be borne by the truncated counties. That brings me right up against a problem the Government have had to face—the effect of reorganisation on the ratepayers in Greater London itself, since it is the ratepayers who are going to bear the cost of any transitional assistance to the severed counties. There is no evidence in the short-term—and that is what we are dealing with in Clause 68—that local authorities in Greater London will have rate reductions equivalent to the rate increases in the severed counties. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, was barking up that tree, if I may use that expression, but I do not think we can accept that. Indeed, some of the present rating areas must expect substantial increases themselves on being merged with other more highly rated areas in a single London borough. The Government do not feel that they should aggravate the difficulties of those ratepayers by asking them to pay too much to the truncated counties. It is the Government's desire to hold the balance between the two groups of authorities and they feel that the present figure of 5d. is about right.
The noble Lord. Lord Shepherd, referred to the shock that the Surrey 835 County Council had when they learned that the 6d. rate was not based on the old valuation but on the new. Having had a few moments to make inquiries, I can say that there must have been a misunderstanding, because it has always been made clear that the rate paid would be that pertaining when the Bill became law. It so happened that the Bill was first published before the new rates were published. But, if there was any shock in that regard, it was definitely a misunderstanding. It has never been the intention that the rates should be based on the old valuation.
In regard to the three variants we have heard this evening—that the Greater London Council should bear the whole additional burden, that they should bear all above a 2d. rate, and that the rate should be somewhere in between—I do not want to detain the Committee by arguing all three separately, because we feel that we cannot accept any of them, for the reasons I have given. We have thought over this matter carefully. It has been threshed out in another place. We have come down to a figure of 5d. This is a matter of transitional, exceptional, assistance, which we do not accept as a principle all over the country. We have to bear in mind also the financial well-being, and difficulty maybe, of the ratepayers of Greater London itself. Bearing all these things in mind, we feel that we have come to a fair compromise and that this is the best that we can do. Although I have listened carefully to the speeches with a great deal of sympathy and realise fully the feelings that lie behind them, I cannot honestly advise the Committee to accept any of these Amendments.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
May I briefly make one point? I have the greatest sympathy with the unfortunate people who will find their rates going up as a result of all this reorganisation, but I cannot say that I have any sympathy with noble Lords opposite who have been making the case on behalf of those ratepayers. After all,
§ this is an essential result of the whole scheme that has been put forward. It stood to reason from the beginning that if certain areas were to be taken away from Essex, Surrey and the rest of them, the rates of the remaining counties would go up.
§ What is more, throughout the whole Committee stage on this Bill we on this side have been putting forward Amendments which have been attempting to increase the efficiency of the new Greater London Council with the idea of reducing the cost to the ratepayer. All those Amendments have been opposed by the Government, and noble Lords opposite have had the occasion, not only on Second Reading but on our Amendments, also, to vote with us against the Government in order to reduce the expense of this whole operation. They have refused to do so. They are like people who go into an expensive restaurant, order a large meal, enjoy it when they consume it, and when the bill comes start making a fuss about it. Now that the bill is being presented to them, surely, having acquiesced and having encouraged the Government in this act, which can result only in higher rates for all concerned, they have no right now to complain about the bill as it comes forward. In spite of that, as I say, I have great sympathy with the ratepayers themselves, who in the local elections and on other occasions have shown their disapproval of this. Therefore, for the sake of these people, I think it is only right to support my noble friend Lord Champion.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I am not going to reply extensively to the noble Lord. I think he has made it obvious that anything that may be said will not move him. In the circumstances, I do not propose to withdraw the Amendment, in the hope that we shall proceed further.
§ 9.42 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 244A) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 21; Not-Contents, 57.837
|Alexander of Hillsborough, E.||Latham, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Lawson, L.||Stonham, L. [Teller.]|
|Auckland, L.||Listowel, E.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Burden, L.||Longford, E.||Summerskill, B.|
|Champion, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Walstom, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.||Williams of Barnburgh, L.|
|Henderson, L.||St. Davids, V.||Williamson, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Derwent, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Devonshire, D.||Mersey, V.|
|Albemarle, E.||Dilhome, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Mills, V.|
|Ampthill, L.||Dundonald, E.||Monsell, V.|
|Atholl, D.||Falmouth, V.||Newton, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Ferrers, E.||Powis, E.|
|Bossom, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Boston, L.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Greofell, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Sandys, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||Hastings, L.||Sandwich, E.|
|Chesham, L.||Hawke, L.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Ilford, L.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Colyton, L.||Jellicoe, E.||Templemore, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Lambert, V.||Tenby, V.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Long, V.||Teyniham, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Mabane, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Cromartie, E.||Margesson, V.||Wolverton, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 9.50 p.m.
LORD LATHAM moved in subsection (1) to leave out all words after "1965–66" to, and including, "county purposes" and insert:
the Minister of Housing and Local Government shall pay out of moneys provided by Parliament.
§ The noble Lord: I rise to move Amendment No. 246, and perhaps it is appropriate that. I should say that Amendments Nos. 247 and 248 are closely related to the subject matter of this Amendment. We have been discussing the ascertainment of the amount which should be defrayed as a result of the consequences of this Act, and my Amendment is concerned with who pays this sum, whatever amount it may be ascertained to be. We take the view that, inasmuch as the expenditure is entirely consequential upon the action of the Government, it should be paid by the Government and not cast upon the ratepayers of the Greater London Area.
§ The provisions of this Bill are quite indefensible. The ratepayers of the Greater London Area are to be asked to pay for the cost of the dislocation and dismantling of their local government, about which they were never consulted and in respect of which the Government have no clear mandate to proceed. The ratepayers did not ask for this Bill. It is being imposed upon them, and there is no reason at all, in justice or in equity, why they should be asked to pay the costs of these proceedings. It is true that the cost 838 will be spread over some eight years. But in addition to the material costs, the money costs, there will be other very important costs, namely the costs resulting from the dislocation of the local Government services in the area in question, the review area.
§ As I have said, the ratepayers did not ask for these changes. They will not benefit from them. It may well be that the normal operation of the local government services of the area will be less efficient, less satisfactory, because of the demolition and the disarray there will inevitably be among the services ordinarily provided by local government. In these circumstances we take the view that the Government should pay for the cost of its own misdeeds. The local government pattern of the area will, it is quite clear from the terms of the Bill, be muddled, will not be thought out. It will not be a balanced pattern of local government; it will be a collection, as it were, of odds and ends, a distribution between the Greater London Council on the one hand and the London boroughs on the other. This Bill, as I have already said in another connection, is a pretty slovenly piece of work.
§ VISCOUNT STUART OF FINDHORN
Would the noble Lord contemplate getting a bigger typewriter; then he could read his speech more quickly.
§ LORD LATHAM
I think the noble Lord will make his own speech in his own way without interruptions of that character.
§ LORD LATHAM
As I have said, the Bill is a slovenly piece of work and we do not see why the ratepayers of the Greater London area should pay for the costs of the failure of the Government. I beg to move.
Page 82, line 21, leave on: from ("1965–66.") to the end of line 24 and insert the said words.—(Lord Latham.)
§ LORD HASTINGS
The noble Lord, Lord Latham, has based his entire case for throwing the extra cost of the rate burden in the counties on to the Exchequer instead of the Greater London Council on the hypothetical view that all the services in Greater London are going to be much worse than they are now. He was attacking the whole London Government Bill. He was saying the services were going to be less efficient, whereas of course the whole purpose of the reorganisation is to make London government a much more efficient and comprehensive organisation in every way. If that is what is being done, and we claim it is, there cannot possibly be any reason for saddling the general taxpayer with the transitional cost of these changes in London, the transitional cost of improving local government in the London area.
§ LORD LATHAM
I wonder whether the noble Lord will be agreeable to the charge being deferred until it is seen that the services in the review area are better than they are now.
§ LORD HASTINGS
Certainly we do not wish the truncated counties to go without any assistance at all. I am sure the noble Lord will not suggest in the reorganisation of local government in the provinces that we should ask the London ratepayer and taxpayer to pay transitional assistance to some county perhaps in the north-west of England. I do not think we should do anything of the sort. This is on a par. We say that if local government is being reorganised and will ultimately result, as we maintain, in better, more efficient and more economical local government in the whole region, then the temporary provision of assistance
§ to ease the new system in financially should properly come from the sources that will ultimately benefit. These are the ratepayers of the Greater London Council. That is the whole of the case, and we cannot accept that the taxpayer should be asked to pay.
§ LORD LATHAM
The ascertainment of this amount is not dependent upon how much is saved by better local government activities or facilities. It is based upon the reduction or the credit that is given to the severed counties. The two are not related.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I think they are. But coming on to the position of the Exchequer, I mentioned in the previous series of Amendments that the Exchequer would be paying a rate deficiency grant as a result of this reorganisation. So the Exchequer is not really getting away with it, by any means. I have no doubt that that pleases the noble Lord. As a result of reorganisation, we calculate that the rate deficiency grant to the County of Essex might be in the nature of £610,000, equivalent to about a 4d. rate on the new lists; and that Kent, which already receives a deficiency grant, might receive an additional deficiency grant in the nature of some £680,000, also nearly a 4d. rate in the new lists. Therefore the Exchequer is going to be paying out more money to the truncated counties. It would therefore seem unreasonable to throw the whole weight on the Exchequer which is making a substantial contribution in any case; and, of course, I base my argument mainly on the purpose of local government reorganisation, which it is aimed to improve. Therefore the ratepayer should make his contribution.
§ LORD LATHAM
It should be emphasised that you pay nothing until the local authorities have borne a rate of 5d.
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 246) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 16; Not-Contents, 53.841
|Archibald, L.||Longford, E.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Summerskill, B.|
|Champion, L.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.||Walston, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Shepherd, L.||Williams of Barnburgh, L.|
|Latham, L.||Stonham, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Devonshire, D.||Monsell, V.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Newton, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Dundonald, E.||Powis, E.|
|Ampthill, L.||Falmouth, V.||Rochdale, V.|
|Atholl, D.||Ferrers, E.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Beauchamp, E.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Boston, L.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Sandys, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Grenfell, L.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Strathcarron, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Hastings, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Colville of Culross, V||Ilford, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Jellicoe, E.||Tenby, V.|
|Conesford, L.||Long, V.||Teynham, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Mabane, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Margesson, V.||Wolverton, L.|
|Cromartie, E.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Yarborough, E.|
|Derwent, L.||Mills, V.|
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ LORD AUCKLAND had given notice of his intention to move to insert a new subsection after subsection (1). The noble Lord said: My noble friend Lord Hastings rejected the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, principally, I think, on the grounds that the Greater London Council would be saddled with a very large burden. The Amendment in the name of myself and my noble friend Lord Ellenborough would greatly reduce that burden, but in view of the very negative attitude of the Government I do not propose to move it at this stage. However, I reserve the right to do so on the next stage of the Bill.
§ Clause 68 agreed to.
§ Schedules 14 and 15 agreed to.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
We have now reached the stage in the Bill which I indicated earlier this afternoon that I hoped we should reach. We have done so before half-past ten, despite the protests which were made at that time. Events have shown to be unfounded the protest that there was too much work to be done to-day. Although it is not half- 842 past ten, I should be very willing to move that the House do resume, were it not for the risk that one would perhaps run of again meeting a similar protest to-morrow, that we should have too much work left to do to finish this Bill on Thursday. That would indeed tempt me to ask your Lordships to sit a little longer to make some progress with Clause 69. But as events have shown that the protest made to-day was without foundation, I am prepared to take a risk about what might happen on Thursday in relation to a similar protest, and I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ House resumed.