HL Deb 28 May 1963 vol 250 cc719-807

2.25 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, we were dealing with business just now upon this very Bill. I was quite astonished that my noble friend Lord Silkin, who has put in so much work on this Bill and on nearly all the other technical Bills which your Lordships have had, did not have the courtesy of an answer. Now the noble and learned Lord is moving to go into Committee without our having been satisfied at all with the kind of answers we have had from the Woolsack this afternoon. I protest most strongly against this treatment. I take it that it is still possible for the Government to answer the points which have been made by my noble friend Lord Silkin.


My Lords, if I may say so in reply to the noble Earl, I am sorry he should be so indignant about that, but I had already answered the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. I do not want to go into what happened yesterday, or indeed on earlier days, but I can assure the noble Lord that I made the fullest possible inquiries and received information which led me to suppose that there was no need whatsoever for us to sit later last night. That was why, at the time I did, I moved, "That the House do now resume." And to be faced to-day by a protest, on the ground that there is too much work for to-day and Thursday, I must confess somewhat astonishes me, in the light of the information that I was given last night.


My Lords, are we to understand then from the Lord Chancellor, when he thinks that Tuesday and Thursday will be, sufficient to deal with over 100 Amendments, that he expects and suggests, by implication, that members of the Opposition should either not talk at all or, if they do any talking, should be very brief? And if they do not either cease talking or speak very briefly, then the penalty he intends to impose is to compel them to sit throughout the night or at least as long as the Lord Chancellor thinks they ought to?


My Lords, I think I must say that nobody can compel this House to sit. It is for the House itself to decide.


That sounds a little better. Surely, also we are part of the House, and we usually have the courtesty of considering what are the limits to which the House can go on a particular matter. I must say that, with an Opposition in a small minority, if there is a change of Government and it goes the other way round we shall have to learn our lesson from this, and see that we take steps at least to be equal in power to this unelected great majority opposite, who blindly follow a Government which impress their will upon us. We must consider the whole future of the Chamber.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 52 [Licensing of theatres, public entertainments, etc.]:

LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH moved, after subsection (3), to insert: ( ) If at any time it appears to the Greater London Council that any club at which music and dancing or any other form of entertainment is carried on is not being conducted as a bona fide club which is restricted to the use of permanent members and their guests, or that it is being conducted as a place of public resort, then that Council may make a declaration accordingly, and thereupon the provisions of Schedule 12 to this Act, except paragraphs 4 to 6 thereof, shall apply to that club.

The noble Lord said: We have just had an inevitably lively period, which I think was justified, so far as this side of the House was concerned. But I hope that the Committee can bring itself to the state of mind of considering, in relation to this Amendment, a real and important problem which exists in London, particularly in the district of Soho—because this is not a Party matter at all. It is a moral question, largely, and a question which affects the welfare of our city and of our country, and the opinion of the country in the eyes of foreigners, people from the Commonwealth and others from abroad. I refer to the problems related to the occurrence of certain bodies in the Soho district which are in the nature of so-called private clubs, which really are not always to the credit of London, the capital city of our country.

I understand that these places are not subject to public supervision if they do not sell intoxicating liquors, or if they are private clubs. Therefore, it is said—and it is true—they are outside effective control. This Amendment may or may not be perfect in drafting, but it is the idea that I want to put to the Committee and it is the idea upon which I should like the Committee to vote. If there is imperfection in the drafting, that can easily be put right by the Home Office and the Government draftsman and brought forward later. The Amendment begins: If at any time it appears to the Greater London Council… That brings in an element of elasticity in timing and gives the Council control as to when they thought it was time something was done about it. Then the Amendment says if it appears that any club at which music and dancing or any other form of entertainment is carried on is not being conducted as a bona fide club which is restricted to the use of permanent members and their guests, or that it is being conducted as a place of public resort, then that Council may make a declaration which would bring the provisions of the Schedule into effect. I myself am not quite sure about the drafting, on the point that sometimes these clubs are not run ostensibly as places of entertainment. There are forms of entertainment that can take place there which would not be looked upon with favour by the law. We feel, therefore, for the good name of London and of Britain, that something ought to be done about it. Indeed, there are a number of Continental people, and some of our own countrymen, who now say that this part of London is the most disreputable place to be found in Europe. I do not know whether or not that is true, but it is being commonly said.

I do not bring up this matter because I am anything in the nature of a strict Puritan. I should not like England to be run on the strictest puritanical lines; but I think that this part of London has gone over the limit. I say that as one who has an attachment to Soho, not only because I work there but because I always have felt that way. It has many nationalitites there, with people of all colours; it has all sorts of restaurants, most of which—in fact, nearly all of which—are well conducted and well run; and it is a very interesting part of London. It is partly because I like Soho that, with my noble friend Lord Shepherd, I have tabled this Amendment.

The kind of things that are going on are striptease exhibitions. Not only are there exhibitions of striptease, but there are large posters outside at least one place, showing a woman near enough naked, for the purposes of attracting in passers-by. I think they are nominally made members of the club when they pay, and consequently the place is without public control or public supervision. There is at least one cinema—and here I declare an interest as President of the British Board of Film Censors—where the films shown have either been condemned by the censors or amended, but where they appear in their raw state. I have never been to it. I have never been to a striptease show, either. I do not see any reason to go, especially to the cinema, because I see all the films, such as I censor, in their raw state, anyway, and most of the so-called naughty ones I find thoroughly boring. But they are exhibited without any censorship control over them at all. I am told that the gentleman who runs one of these places is not a bad chap at all, and that the shows might be worse; but surely it is unfair to the ordinary licensed cinema that it should be subject to competition under conditions in which the other cinema is free to show what it likes, whereas the ordinary cinema is subject to some degree of public control.

Then there are institutions known, I am told, as "clip joints", where women have a custom of standing outside attracting visitors inside for the purpose of taking light refreshments and being entertained in some way or another. In some of these places alcohol is not sold: in some, it is a question of gin and orange, with perhaps a little touch of alcohol, for which they may pay 10s. 6d. a time. Of course, the existence of these places opens up the possibility of their use for improper purposes; and, in any case, if foreigners, Commonwealth citizens or people from Britain, including the provinces, come here and innocently drift into one of these places, they may find themselves badly shocked and it is not for the good name of London or of the country that that should be so. There are also some very small clubs, conducted in backrooms, which, because they are private clubs, are not subject to public supervision. I think that this is wrong and bad.

I assure the Committee that there is a lot of feeling about this question among Londoners, provincials, Commonwealth people, foreign people and so on. What I would ask the Committee to do is either to approve this Amendment in principle, subject to redrafting by Government experts, or to say that we should have an undertaking that a suitable provision will be brought in at Report stage. But I think it is important, when this new form of local government is being set up, that powers should exist whereby these things can be dealt with. If I may anticipate a possible argument, that it could be dealt with by the London borough concerned—namely, the City of Westminster—I would say that I think that would be unsatisfactory, for this very simple and more or less obvious reason. If the City of Westminster were to descend upon these people, there is nothing to stop them from moving into Chelsea or Kensington; and then it would be necessary to legislate all over again. So I think it is more appropriate that this matter should be dealt with by the Greater London Council, which, under the Bill, is also the authority responsible for issuing licences for cinemas, public music, dancing and so on.

There is one other point I ought to mention. It could be argued that this job would be better done by the police than by the Greater London Council, which is a local authority. I have a great respect for the police, as indeed we showed yesterday, all of us on both sides; but I think the police would be a bit nervous about dodging into these places, even if they had the power. I dare say the case of Lady Chatterley's Lover may have made the police a little apprehensive about starting prosecutions. They have become somewhat nervous, in case they get themselves into controversial bother or are defeated in the courts, which naturally they do not like. So I do not think that the police would welcome it, and I think that, owing to this apprehension on the part of the police, we might not get so effective an administration as is desired. As music halls, many theatres and cinemas are already under the control of local government, it is appropriate, I think, that this service should also be under the control of local authority—namely, the Greater London Council.

As I have said, this is not a Party political question: it is a moral question. It is one of those things in which the noble Viscount the Leader of the House often exhibits a worthy interest, even during our economic debates. And he is right to bring tie moral factor forward: this is a moral question. But it is also a question affecting the good name of London, possibly in a small way our tourist business, and the good name of our country. I very much hope that the Amendment, or at any rate its principle, will commend itself to the sympathy of the Committee. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 70, line 32, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Morrison of Lambeth.)

2.40 p.m.


I rise briefly to support my noble friend because I have one or two points should like to put to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. At the moment I am not particularly interested in the morals of the people who will go to these strip-tease clubs; I am concerned about the effect of that type of club on the local area. One can see the general standard going down very much, not only in London, but in places like Hamburg or Paris, where there is a very serious effect, not only upon the reputation of the city in the minds of passers-by or visitors, but also upon the men, women and children who must live in the same streets as this type of business.

I would put this point to the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Wool sack, because here, I think, we are involved in a problem of law. As I understand it, a club can be set up to-day so long as it has bona-fide permanent membership. The only licence it requires is that for the sale of alcohol. I think it is true, from what emerged when we were debating in your Lordships' House the licensing of clubs, that the feeling in Parliament and outside is that a member of a club should be entitled to some privilege; we should not wish a policeman or an inspector to come regularly into the premises to see what is going on. As a member of a sports club myself, I can, in some ways, well understand this. But these strip-tease clubs are clubs only in name. I do not believe that a case could be made that they have a permanent membership. If we could obtain a definition of what is a permanent member of a club, or how it becomes a club through permanent membership, we could then make a great stride in dealing with these so-called clubs that exist in London.

I think it is quite clear, from information I have had from the authorities, that the majority of the people who go to these so-called clubs are not the local residents; they are, in the main, visitors from overseas to London and, I am afraid, also those business men of London who have to entertain clients. These people, obviously, do not come within the classification of permanent members. Therefore, if we could find some way of defining the permanent member of a club we should be making a great step forward. As I understand it, during 1962 the London County Council took proceedings on the conduct of clubs. I think it was 34 in 1962 and 49 in 1963.


It is 51 in 1963.


I will accept 51; it is a higher figure. No doubt there could have been more prosecutions if there was not so much difficulty in obtaining the information; and my noble friend, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, spoke just now of the problem of the police in this connection. The police are reluctant to do the under-cover type of investigation in which they would be involved. It does not give the police a good reputation when a sergeant, a constable or another rank has to come into court and give evidence that he has been to this or that club; that he has gone in as an ordinary member, has broken the normal laws of becoming a member of the club. He has to say that he has spent large sums of public money in entertainment and in buying drinks for himself and for lady friends. This does not give the police a good reputation.

Again, I would suggest that if we could deal with this definition of permanent membership then we would make it possible for the police to go into clubs that clearly do not come within the definition of permanent-membership clubs. The point I would put to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, is that at present the London County Council can take proceedings in regard to the conduct of clubs only on the question of a licence; that a licence should have been obtained for the type of entertainment that is being provided. The fine is a mere £100. The Bill will raise this to £200. I would have thought that the maximum fine for this type of conduct should be a deterrent fine; it should be a great deal higher—if in the judgment of the magistrate (or perhaps a higher court) the circumstances were such as to deserve it, the court should be able to impose a much higher fine than that proposed within this Bill. Obviously, the magistrate or judge could use his discretion, but in the past—and certainly last year—I think in well over 90 per cent. of the cases the maximum fine was imposed; but clearly it was not a deterrent.

Therefore, I would suggest to the noble Earl that he should consider the raising of the maximum fine in the Schedule to a figure which would be a deterrent one. I come back to the first point I made. I am not concerned with the morals of people who go to these clubs; that is their own affair. What I am concerned about, and I am sure the Committee would also be concerned about, is the effect upon the people who live in the vicinity of these clubs. If this is a free world, a free society, we should see that the people who live in these streets are free of this vice and menace.


I would certainly agree with both noble Lords that this is a real problem and a completely non-Party problem. I think we should all wish that London, as the capital city, should set and maintain a certain standard. We all have its good name very much at heart. In these matters we all have personal standards; nevertheless, I should have thought that certain types of nude entertainment and certain types of "strip joint" clubs fall below our own personal standards. That said, I would briefly outline the problem as I see it. There are two problems here. In the first place there is the genuine club, the bona fide club, which complies with all normal club requirements, but yet, perhaps, on occasions lends itself to or pursues indecent or lewd entertainment. I think it is fair to say that there was, in the last two or three years, something of a rash of that type of thing in London. But here the Common Law bites. For example, it is an offence against the common law to keep a disorderly house. Although there is no statutory control directly over entertainments provided in genuine clubs, there are these other means of taking action against such clubs where undesirable or objectionable entertainments are laid on.

In the past few years a number of successful prosecutions have been launched against such clubs. There was a club called "The Keyhole Club" which laid on such entertainment. It was prosecuted and the proprietor was fined £2,600. To pay his fine, he laid on even lewder entertainment, and as a result he is now in prison. From such inquiries as I have made, I understand that the police are of the opinion that they have this type of problem under control as a result of the successful prosecutions which have been made in the last year or so.

The second problem is the club which is not a bona fide club, which pretends to be a club but is not, and which produces what is really public entertainment of one sort or another. We have in mind the problem with which the noble Lord was mainly concerned—the sleazier type of Soho "joint". As I understand it, noble Lords opposite feel that there is a loophole here in the Bill and accordingly the Amendment provides that if it appears to the Greater London Council that any club in which this sort of thing is being carried on is not conducted as a bona fide club, or that it is being conducted as a place of public resort, the Council should then be able to make a declaration to that effect and deal with the club concerned under the provisions of the new Schedule 12. I would suggest, however, that the Amendment adds nothing to the powers already included in the existing Schedule 12.

If a place which provides entertainment admits members of the general public, notwithstanding that it calls itself, or professes to be, a club, it is then being used for purposes of public entertainment, and automatically paragraph 1 of Schedule 12 will bite and the club will be liable to prosecution for not having obtained a licence for public entertainment. Whether or not the public is admitted is a matter of easily ascertainable fact, and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, himself produced statistics which showed that it is reasonably easy to ascertain this: the 34 successful prosecutions initiated by the L.C.C. in 1962, and the 51 successful prosecutions in 1963 up to now—and we are only halfway through the year. Therefore, it would appear that in practice not only are prosecutions being successfully launched and maintained in this area but also, whatever the intention behind the noble Lord's Amendment, it would not increase our powers, because it would not enable us to do anything more than we are at present able to do.

In answer to the specific suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for a possible increase in the range of penalties, I would say straight away that this is an interesting suggestion, but I would remind your Lordships that already penalties under the Bill have been raised once. In another place, the Government accepted an Amendment to raise the maximum penalty in this field from £100 to £200. I would also remind your Lordships that, so far as monetary penalties are concerned, the normal maximum in magistrates' courts is £100, though we have departed from it in this instance. As I am advised, if one wishes to "up" the fines one proceeds by the hybrid method of taking a prosecution to a more senior court. It is, I think, for consideration whether we should wish to introduce this second tier, where prosecutions would be launched for what at least on the face of it, would be only technical offences against administrative provisions.

That is the problem here. But having outlined the problem; having said that I do not think the noble Lord's Amendment would help us, because it does not reinforce our powers having touched on the question of penalties, I would add that I, at least, have an open mind on this subject, and I should very much like a chance, subject to what my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor may have to say, of reconsidering this particular problem in the light of what the noble Lords, Lord Morrison of Lambeth and Lord Shepherd, have said.


I am very glad to hear the noble Earl say that he might contemplate some increase in the penalties, because this is a practical problem. I myself have heard a great many cases of clubs of this kind. The noble Earl has referred to the number of successful prosecutions, but I think that he would need to have in mind that successful prosecutions are often successive successful prosecutions against the same defendant. In my petty sessions we have sometimes beer obliged virtually to hold special courts in order to hear cases repeatedly against the same defendant. It is quite obvious that at the moment the law is farcical, that it is constantly defied and that the penalties are not a deterrent.


May I put one point to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe? The L.C.C., as licensing authority, will not license a strip-tease performance. Therefore, these strip-tease shows are being held in premises under the guise of clubs. I think that the noble Earl's Office will give him the information that the members of these so-called clubs are not permanent club members, as we understand club membership. They are passers-by who merely use a loophole in the law to pass themselves off as members of a club. Therefore, I would say that my Amendment goes a stage further in the matter. If it became known that any club carrying on strip-tease or indecent performances was clearly a club to which the public resort—and the noble Earl must know that there are many in the Soho district which have advertising material outside, not only pictures but neon lights, to entice the public—and so would come within the province of Schedule 12, then the Greater London Council could refuse a licence and close down the club. That is my understanding of it.


The noble Lord has referred to so-called clubs. As my noble friend pointed out, here we have really two problems to consider. First, there is what is called in the Amendment a bona fide club, which is rather an odd description for this kind of club. That means a genuine club, and where there is a genuine club the Amendment does not touch the position, even though there may be indecent performances inside the club. That is a police matter and can be dealt with under the ordinary law. The Amendment does not touch what I call the genuine club.

So far as the so-called club is concerned, where members of the public can easily resort to it, although it is called a club, it is a question of fact. It is pretty easily established that it is a place of public entertainment, although it may be called a club. That depends on the evidence and, as the record shows, there have been a large number of prosecutions for running this sort of so-called club, when in fact it has been a place of public entertainment to which members of the public resort. I doubt whether the law is unsatisfactory in that regard, having regard to what has happened in the last two years. However, whether the law is adequate or not, this Amendment does not alter the law in relation to the so-called club, because the powers to deal with what the noble Lord calls the so-called club exist already and are not enlarged by this Amendment. Schedule 12 will bite in relation to this class of premises.


Can the noble and learned Lord say whether Schedule 12 changes the existing law?


I do not want to be drawn too far into that at the present time, for the simple reason that we are not discussing Schedule 12. We are discussing the noble Lord's Amendment. We are not discussing penalties, because they are not touched on in this Amendment.

I appreciate what the noble Baroness said about being troubled with the same person being brought before the courts more than once, and I will certainly give consideration, with my noble friend, to the question of penalties, which, as I say, does not arise on the Amendment. There are arguments that can be advanced (I will not go into them) in favour of not making this kind of offence triable at quarter sessions or assizes and not, therefore, giving the accused persons the right of election to go for trial. That ordinarily places a limit upon the amount of the fine imposed. I do not think it would be useful to discuss that aspect further at this juncture.

I appreciated the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, moved this Amendment. I should like to ask him if he would be good enough to withdraw it, on the understanding that, while I cannot enter into any commitment with regard to it, I realise it is the general feeling of the Committee that the law here should be made as positive as it can be. I should like another opportunity of considering whether any improvement can be made which would meet with your Lordships' wishes. But this Amendment will not—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, realises it—secure the object he desires. I would ask him to withdraw now, and I can say that I will certainly consult with my noble friends to see whether we can tidy up this small section of the law in some degree.

3.2 p.m.


I am obliged. May I say "Thank you" to the noble Earl who spoke in response to the submissions of my noble friends Lord Morrison of Lambeth and Lord Shepherd. I fully appreciate what has been said about those cases which can be on the ordinary basis of police action, fines and the like. But it has occurred to me, from the submission of my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth to the Committee in respect of this Amendment, that he has something wider in view, and I began to see a little glimmer through the Lord Chancellor's speech that he probably apprehends what my noble friend is after. Here is a Bill dealing with the local government of Greater London; here is something which in a moral sense does not bring a good name to London, and here, if this Bill becomes a Statute, is probably the greatest authority as a whole for the London of the future.

What is really needed in a case like this? We do not want to interfere with the law of the land; we want to interfere with the sort of thing that is done on the side from the ordinary law, by people adopting every possible method to try to escape the penalty under the law, and at the same time constituting a real menace. I see the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, here. It is the sort of thing that we do not want our young men in all spheres, and especially in the Services, to suffer. When they come up for an earned night of entertainment, we do not want them to be taken into the wrong kind of place like this. What we want is to have powers in in the new authority to be set up under this Bill, not to take action in this court, that court or the other court, but by some process of licensing to close these clubs altogether.

What I want to know from the Lord Chancellor, before my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth replies to his offer, is this: how far will his inquiries go, and what sort of results will he see? If my noble friend withdraws the Amendment, will the Lord Chancellor look far enough and wide enough to see that we really have a chance, under the legislation finally to be passed, of stopping this particular menace altogether. That is what we want to do, and if the noble and learned Lord can give us some reassurance like that, I am sure my noble friend will respond.


I should be very bold to give an assurance that we should be able to pass legislation which would prevent any offence of this kind from being committed in the future. After all, one has tried to stop people from being fraudulent by passing laws, but it does not always work. I would say, in answer to the noble Earl, that what I should be concerned about are three aspects. The first is detection and prosecution—and detection is a matter for the police. Whether a place is a club "so called" depends really on the evidence available. As to that, I should like to make inquiries from the police to see whether they experience any difficulty in establishing that a place which is a so-called club is really a club. The second aspect I should wish to consider is the proper range of fines.

Thirdly—and the noble Earl touched on this—I want to see whether in some way one can prohibit the same individual from starting the same thing up again. That, I think, is a matter of great difficulty, because the so-called club is started up without a licence, when it should require one. I do not see at the moment a way in which somebody can be stopped from starting up a so-called club in breach of the law. However, I should like to look at that. I appreciate that the feeling of the Committee is to try to put real teeth into these provisions, to make sure that, if we cannot secure complete prevention, at least the penalties are sufficient to be an adequate deterrent. I cannot go further than that at the moment, as I am sure the noble Earl will agree, but I certainly want to look at the problem as a whole.


Would my noble and learned friend also look at the so-called clubs which work rather the opposite way? Outside they promise you untold pleasures and vice inside, and when you get in all you do is to pay three guineas for two orange juices and half an hour's conversation with an unattractive and ill-educated female.


No, I cannot undertake that task. I think the man who pays his money for that and is disappointed in consequence has incurred his own fine.


On that I am pleased to agree with the Lord Chancellor. Nevertheless it shows that there is money to be made out of this business. There are a few points that I should like to mention on the Amendment. I think the Lord Chancellor was a little unkind, if I may say so—not spitefully, but he was not forthcoming enough—because I admitted at the begininng that probably the Amendment was not perfectly drafted. That is a clean "let out" for me, and it should not be taken advantage of, because this is a difficult thing to frame. Therefore I cannot be blamed if the Amendment is badly drafted, because I am not good at doing things like this. I was a Minister for a long time, and I had these things done for me. So long as I told the draftsman clearly what I wanted, then it was done.

The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe—or it may have been the Lord Chancellor; it was one of the two speakers from the Government Front Bench—said that the police are broadly satisfied that it is under reasonable control. But I do not think they can be, for the very reasons that the Lord Chancellor has kindly given about the number of places in which authority can be evaded and walked round, and about people being difficult to catch. But if the police are broadly satisfied, then that rather confirms my belief, not that there is anything wicked about the police in this matter, but that they do not want to be unduly troubled with it. It is admittedly a troublesome matter, and the police are always worried about their relations with the public.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that there is nothing new in the Amendment and the existing law covers it. That is another way of saying, as I think he will agree, that the existing law must be inadequate to deal with the problem, because of these "jolly old strip-tease clubs" (if they are jolly; and I doubt it) in Soho. They go on and on-and so do other clubs, and the police do not seem able to close them or get ad of them. Therefore, there must be something unsatisfactory with the existing law and a need to change it. In any case, let the Government get to work on redrafting my Amendment, or producing an entirely new one which will be adequate from their point of view. But there must be something wrong with the existing law, whether it be the law affecting the police or that concerning the London County Council, because these things are going on.

I should prefer the responsibility to be given to the Greater London Council, through what I imagine they will call the Public Control Committee—because by the rejection of our Amendment on the merging of the police forces we have lost the chance of giving them a watch committee. They will deal with a number of things. The procedure is very fair. I do not think I ever sat on the Public Control Committee, but I have seen it in action. I have been to their public hearings. A charge is brought against a licensee by the chief officer or the solicitor of the Council, and it is heard by the Committee. The accused licensee is then competent to appear, either in person, by counsel or by solicitor, and I have seen very important counsel appearing at those hearings of the Public Control Committee.


The noble Lord is dealing with a case of a licensee who is abusing his licence?




The problem here is the man who had no licence at all.


I am saying that such people ought to have a licence—that is the whole point. They ought not to be allowed to function without a licence from the Greater London Council. They can be heard by counsel (and I have seen Curtis-Bennett the elder, and the younger, I think, appear before that Committee; so the licensees have plenty of chances of defence, which is right, if they have the money to pay) or by solicitor or by themselves. At the end of the hearing the Committee give their decision. It may be a warning; it may be a temporary suspension of the licence, or even a total abolition of the licence. That goes for the premises as well as the man. That is an adequate and fair judicial procedure, and I feel it is better than a court procedure because this is a matter in which morals and public policy—in the best sense of the term—arise. Law ought to come into the matter, but other things are needed as well. Therefore, I believe that the best remedy is through the Public Control Committee which can revoke the licence of the premises altogether—and these clubs should not be able to open without a licence.

As I have said, this is a moral question. I do not want to rub it in about the Bishops too much, but this is eminently a matter upon which I feel the Bishops could have been helpful to us. Having said that, I leave it. I tried to draw in the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who I know is keen on moral aspects, even in economic debates. But he has left us, so we are left with the Lord Chancellor. He has done his best about the morals of the matter, but he has done more about law.


It would be easier for Bishops to attend at specific times if it were possible to stick more closely to the proposed timetable.


We can elaborate a timetable if that is what you want, but it will go well beyond Whitsun. Why try to be controversial, which is just the thing I am trying not to be? The Lord Chancellor said that they will give real consideration, not only to the police aspect, but to the possibility of using the local government Public Control Committee. I know that he cannot commit himself. He admits that there is a real problem, and has undertaken, without commitment, that they will give it real consideration, to see whether something can be done and to put it on the Order Paper for the Report stage. That is right. We also, of course, are free to nut something on the Order Paper for the Report stage.

I hope that the Government will take this matter seriously. I am sure that any Government, with all the legal knowledge they have, with all the skill that the Parliamentary draftsmen have—for which they never get enough credit in the public mind; they are pretty wonderful—if they wished to have something done about this could get it done. They have the technical means and, moreover, they have the Law Officers of the Crown and the Lord Chancellor. I am never sure whether the Lord Chancellor is a Law Officer of the Crown, or something superior. I think they could do something, and in view of the undertaking—not a binding undertaking—I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 52 agreed to.

Clause 53 agreed to.

Clause 54 [Food drugs, markets and animals]:

3.17 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "council of a London borough" and to insert "Greater London Council". The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend, I beg to move this Amendment, and also those up to No. 207. I would say that we regard Amendment No. 206 as the main Amendment. Clause 54 lays down the provision that a London borough shall be the authority with regard to the Food and Drugs Act, 1955, the Slaughterhouses Act, 1958, the Slaughter of Animals Act of the same year, and, for some peculiar reason, that the Common Council of the City of London should be the authority in regard to the importation of animals under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950.

The purpose of my Amendment and that of my noble friends is to see that the authority for these closely connected and important duties should lie with the Greater London Council. The Molony Committee, which no doubt the noble Earl will remember, recommended that the administration of food and drugs, together with the Merchandise Marks Act, should be tied or co-ordinated with weights and measures, and that these functions should reside with the largest unit of local government. I think it is right that the Molony Committee considered that type of authority to be that of a county status and not of a borough. We believe that the weights and measures and the food and drugs legislation, upon which consumer protection is largely based, depends upon enforcement. In our view—and I think this view is shared outside this Chamber by those connected with consumer protection—enforcement is best done by a large authority able to use its inspectors and to switch them from one area to another so that, above all else, shopkeepers and the like are not aware of who is an inspector and, therefore, have to be more careful with the way they conduct their business. There is the other tremendous advantage that you will be able to obtain a uniformity of standard.

I would ask the noble Earl whether he can conceive, under the provisions of this Bill, in the question of weights and measures or other matters, how 32 boroughs, each with its own inspector—because that is what the position will be—and, of course, its own local authority, will be able to produce a uniform standard right through the area. It may well be—and we deployed this argument in the weights and measures debate—that one borough would insist on a particular standard, and another borough would be quite satisfied with another. Obviously this may well put shopkeepers at some advantage or disadvantage. I should have thought that the Government would accept the special need for uniformity in this matter. In fact, they themselves accepted this—I think the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, will remember—in the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Bill, when they inserted a clause to set up a central administration of inspectorate to ensure that local authorities throughout the country would maintain the right standards in relation to the offices and shops.

So far as I can see, if the Government proceed with their idea of having 32 different authorities dealing with consumer protection—that is, weights and measures and food and drugs—they have no organisation here to see that there is uniformity in its enforcement and also its standards. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, can give us any idea how the Government propose to obtain that uniformity. I am sure that it is their wish that it should be so, but there is nothing within this Bill, as I see it. I ask the noble Lord why is it that the Common Council of the City of London is the authority in regard to the disease of animals in respect of the importation of animals? Is it because the City of London is the borough health authority for London? But then, surely, meat is imported through other ports than London. Meat comes to Southampton. It does not necessarily come into Smithfield, but it could well be distributed within the Greater London area. Is the noble Lord then going to suggest that the City of London's inspectors will be travelling and inspecting the importation of meat in places like Caterham or Epsom? I cannot believe that is so.

Therefore, we come back to the point that I was endeavouring to make at the beginning: that we should ensure in regard to consumer protection that there should be one strong authority. We have had that in the past in the London County Council, although I agree that it has been subdivided down, into, I think, ten divisions. This has given a degree of flexibility, yet it has given central control and this degree of uniformity. But the Bill as we have it in front of us will not give us that uniformity.

I would ask the noble Lord how he anticipates that the boroughs themselves will be able to provide veterinary officers for dealing with the disease of animals? At the present moment the Middlesex County Council and the London County Council have their own veterinary officers who are in close contact with the farming industry, as it is necessary. But under this Bill the local borough becomes the authority. Are we therefore to expect that each borough will employ a veterinary officer?—because that is what would appear necessary if an authority were to do its duty under this provision. I believe that there is a shortage of veterinary officers willing to perform this duty, but, at the present time, because of the central authority, the task has been able to be spread over a wide area. But if you concentrate it into watertight responsibility in the boroughs, you will find there will be some boroughs with a veterinary officer and some without. In the interests of all, and because in the question of the control of disease one cannot afford to have some areas uncovered by veterinary officers, and because to ensure that a whole area is free one has to be satisfied that a proper service is provided, I do not believe that the service can be performed on this narrow, borough basis. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 72, line 13, leave out ("council of a London borough") and insert ("Greater London Council").—(Lord Shepherd.)

3.25 p.m.


This series of Amendments which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has introduced, bring into the picture several different Departments—the Board of Trade, Agriculture, Health and the Home Office—but it was thought perhaps that I should try to embrace all these subjects in an opening speech to give the Government's general view as to how these matters should be dealt with as between the Greater London Council and the London boroughs. In fact, I think we shall find as we go on, that there are more Amendments to which the noble Lord has not specifically referred which relate to the same subject, and we shall find ourselves dealing with two aspects of the same matter under Clauses 54 and 60. In this Clause 54, the Government are dealing specifically with food and animals, two subjects which are at times dealt with jointly by the two Ministers responsible. In Clause 60, we shall be dealing with other enactments, one or two of which the noble Lord is wishing to import into Clause 54, such as the Pharmacy and Poisons Act. In both clauses, however, the Government are proposing to give these powers and functions to the London boroughs. Noble Lords opposite wish to turn Clause 54 into a Greater London Council clause in respect of the matters which they have mentioned, and to take out of Clause 54 certain things which are now in it, and put them into Clause 60, which would then deal with the powers of the London boroughs. I think that that is the general picture.

As a result of that somewhat confusing interchange between the two clauses, we find that we have no disagreement about Parts III and IV of the Food and Drugs Act, and no disagreement about the Slaughter of Animals Act and the Slaughterhouses Act, both of 1958. What we do disagree about are the Food and Drugs Act, 1955, except for Parts III and IV, the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, 1933; weights and measures enactments and the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950; and, later on, my noble friend Lord St. Oswald will deal separately with the Performing Animals (Regulations) Act, 1925, the Amendment concerning which is going to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Walston.

May I deal with these four Acts, and just give your Lordships a picture of the present situation? Because we must know what that is if noble Lords opposite wish to transfer these powers to the Greater London Council. Under the Food and Drugs Act the functions of a food and drug authority, of course, consist of the enforcement of provisions relating to the composition, labelling and description of food and of milk, including the duty to appoint a public analyst. The Act lays the duties of a food and drugs authority on county boroughs—this is the present situation—metropolitan an boroughs (I draw your Lordships' attention to this) the City of London as well as non-county boroughs and urban districts with a population of 40,000 or more, unless the Minister gives special directions; and, if a special direction is given by the Minister of Health, then even boroughs and urban districts with a population of only between 20,000 and 40,000 may be given these powers.

In respect of other county districts, the only food and drugs authority is the county council. Middlesex, of course, is in a special position and it exercises all the powers in the County of Middlesex in respect of food and drugs, but that is because there were so many boroughs and urban districts of over 40,000 in Middlesex that if all were given powers to which they were in fact entitled the county would not have been left with enough to do and they would not have been able, because of the location of the remaining districts aid their size, to perform their job efficiently. That is the only reason Middlesex County Council had powers throughout their whole territory.

There are at present no fewer than 64 food and drugs authorities wholly or partly within the Greater London area, including the metropolitan boroughs and the Common Council of the City, as I have said. They have been, in spite of that, extremely effective. In this case we shall of course be reducing the number of authorities. There will only be 32, or 33 if the City is included. One of the specific recommendations by the Royal Commission on London Government was that these functions should be given to the new London boroughs, and that the Greater London Council should not inherit the concurrent permissive powers to institute proceedings which the London County Council have at present. I am informed that these concurrent powers to institute proceedings have hardly ever been used by the London County Council. I think that is so. So there the situation will be, from the point of view of noble Lords opposite, considerably improved by what the Government are proposing to do.

May I turn now to the weights and measures enactments? Surely we must discuss on the Weights and Measures Bill, which of course is in process of going through your Lordships' House, what authorities shall exercise functions in this respect. When and if the Weights and Measures Bill itself becomes law, it will, of course, be the basic instrument governing the designation of weights and measures authorities throughout the country. The present weights and measures authorities under existing weights and measures enactments are county and county borough councils, and the Common Council of the City of London. The Bill provides that outside the London area counties and county boroughs, non-county boroughs and urban districts with a population of only 60,000 or over shall be weights and measures authorities. It is the intention of the Board of Trade, if this London Government Bill goes through Parliament, to make the London boroughs weights and measures authorities, since there seems to be no reason, if there are to be urban districts and county boroughs, and even non-county boroughs, with a population of only 60,000 enjoying these functions, why the London boroughs also should not do so. This again was a recommendation of the Royal Commission, and one with which we agree. I will just add here that orders made by the Board of Trade designating these authorities in the Greater London area will be subject to annulment by Parliament, so that Parliament will have the final decision.

In respect of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, the local authorities responsible in this field in the Greater London area are the Common Council of the City and, again, the metropolitan boroughs in the County of London; and elsewhere they are the county councils and county borough councils. It seems that the decision to give responsibility for functions under this Act to the London boroughs is based on the principle of ensuring that they do most of the detailed day-to-day work, and also on the present responsibility of the metropolitan boroughs under the Act.

I come, finally, to the Diseases of Animals Act. The noble Lord made particular play with the figure of 32 or 33 authorities that will be dealing with these functions under the Bill. There are, in fact, at the moment 20 different author-ties in the Greater London area, so I admit there will be an increase, but not a very substantial increase. There are 20 different authorities. They are the counties and county boroughs in the area, the Common Council of the City and, curiously enough, 10 boroughs with populations over 10,000 and dating as far back as 1881. I have the list of the 10, but, unless requested, I do not think I need bore your Lordships with the names.

Despite this apparent fragmentation of the Greater London area in respect of the Diseases of Animals Act, we find that enforcement, which the noble Lord particularly mentioned in his speech, is satisfactorily carried out both by the county boroughs and by the boroughs which have these powers, and we do not think it necessary, or even reasonable, to pass this work to the Greater London Council. The City of London has a special responsibility, as the noble Lord pointed out, for dealing with imported animals within the L.C.C. area, and those functions are linked with its powers as port health authority. Under Clause 41 of the Bill these are to be continued.

From that résumé of the present position I think your Lordships will see that the food and drugs authorities are normally the boroughs, with the special exception of Middlesex, as I said. In weights and measures matters, responsibilities are given to counties and county boroughs. Local authorities responsible under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act are, inside London, the metropolitan boroughs, and elsewhere the counties and county boroughs. In broad terms, the authorities under the Diseases of Animals Act, as well as the Performing Animals Act, which perhaps I should not mention yet—I am anticipating—are counties and county boroughs. In every case we see that at present the county borough is the appropriate authority and that in two cases the metropolitan boroughs also have these powers.

That being so, I do not see how it can be argued that county boroughs and metropolitan boroughs do not do their jobs efficiently, or that there is any real argument on the ground of pure efficiency for changing what is virtually the present system. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that it is the new London boroughs, as it is the county boroughs elsewhere, who should have these powers. There seem to us to be no special circumstances in the new organisation which could justify giving these functions to the Greater London Council. That is the general view of the Government in respect of these matters. If there should be any detailed points on some of these subjects which are the concern of another Department, I think one of my noble friends will probably answer it.


I happily admit that the noble Lord has on this occasion made out a much stronger case in defence of the proposals than has been the case on some other matters. For all that, I am not by any means 100 per cent. convinced by what he has said. As I understand his argument, one of the major points is that since, in the past, this system has worked well with county boroughs and similar authorities elsewhere, there is no reason why it should not work well in this case as proposed. But I would point out, in the first place, that simply because something has worked adequately up to the present time, that is no reason why we should say we cannot make it work better somewhere else. After all, the Government themselves have taken that attitude about the L.C.C., which has worked adequately up to now, but they believe they have an idea which will make the system work very much better. So that argument I do not find very convincing.

Even if I did, there would be a second objection—namely, that many of these county boroughs need not necessarily be the ideal size, from the point of view of population, but because of geographical reasons they are the most satisfactory compromise between size and area. It would manifestly be foolish to give the officials responsible for carrying out some of these regulations such a wide geographical area that they simply cannot satisfactorily travel around. Therefore, it may well be arguable that it is right to restrict the population they would cover because of the area. That, in the case of London, does not follow at all because the area that has to be covered is not so great; it is here primarily a question of population density. But for all that, I see that there may be some argument for decentralising various functions—some of the food and drugs administration and fairly routine types of inspection.

But that does not deal with more important and more specialised problems which arise from time to time. There is, for instance, the occurrence of (shall we say?) something like anthrax, which takes place rarely but from time to time in certain areas of this country and—I am speaking without figures—I suspect to a greater extent in London than in most other parts of the country, with the possible exception of somewhere like Liverpool. Anthrax is not the sort of thing which you would expect an inspector in the normal course of his duties to come across more than once or twice in a lifetime in an ordinary area where it is not prevalent. Therefore, it is far better for him to have somebody who has far more specialised knowledge in the recognition and diagnosis of that particular disease, which can be achieved only by putting the administration of this particular regulation under the control of the Greater London Council rather than under the control of individual boroughs.

A similar argument might well apply to foot-and-mouth disease, which veterinary officers in country districts unfortunately come across rather too often, but which in the London area is a rare disease and which does not present itself frequently to the inspecting officers. In matters of that kind, it seems to me that placing the control and the implementation of the general orders emanating from the Ministries of Agriculture or Health, or whatever it may be, under central control would have far more efficacious results.

I think it is worth looking overseas, to something which has recently happened which has some bearing on this—namely, the Zermatt typhoid epidemic. I have no doubt whatsoever that the health authorities in Zermatt were extremely com petent and efficient, but for all that, they were unable to contain this disease and it attained serious dimensions. It was only, I am informed, after the central authorities had come into the picture that this matter really came under control. I do not want to draw too close an analogy between Zermatt and the Swiss Government and the Greater London Council and the borough administrations, but I think we can learn from that that there are various diseases which may be extremely serious and which do not often happen but where an authority which has a wider experience is going to be much more effective in getting quickly on to the cause of a disease and preventing its spread than would be the case if it were left, at least in the initial stages, to the local authority. For these reasons, I believe that my noble friend's Amendment has sufficient substance to warrant supporting it, not so much in the interests of the fairly routine stuff which happens from day to day, but because of the more exotic and rarer types of occurrence which do not happen often but, if they do happen, may attain serious proportions.


I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, with great care, and I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Walston for coming to my support. I recognise the position that now exists in Greater London in regard to the dispersal of some of these powers. I hope I made it clear that what I wished to see was that, if the various provisions of the Food and Drugs Act and matters relating to diseases of animals and weights and measures, which are all part of consumer protection and consumer health, were brought under and administered by one authority over a wide area, they should be given flexibility and greater uniformity than at present exists. I am not in any way criticising some of the local authorities. Some are better than others; some could do a little more. But I still believe—and this is the burden of our case, not only on this Bill but on other legislation that has been before your Lordships' House—that where you are dealing with consumer protection there is more to be gained by a strong enforcing body than by having a large number of independent small boroughs, acting not always in a sense of uniformity or even of purpose. Therefore, I feel

3.57 p.m.

LORD LINDGREN moved, in subsection (3), after "1950" to insert: and the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925".

The noble Lord said: I desire to move Amendment 208 on behalf of my noble friend, and for the convenience of the Committee, and no doubt of the Minister dealing with it, we can take with it Amendments Nos. 209 to 211. Much of what could have been said on this group of Amendments has already been said on the previous Amendments, because, strangely enough, the regulations

that in the circumstances I must press this Amendment.

3.47 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 202) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 26; Not-Contents, 72.

Addison, V. Latham, L. Silkin, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Lawson, L. Summerskill, B.
Attlee, E. Lindgren, L. Walston, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Listowel, E. Williams, L.
Chorley, L. Longford, E. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Crook, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Williamson, L.
Faringdon, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Wise, L.
Francis-Williams, L. Shackleton, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Henderson, L. Shepherd, L.
Ailwyn, L. Fraser of North Cape, L. Margesson, V.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Freyberg, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Atholl, D. Gage, V. Merrivale, L.
Auckland, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Mersey, V.
Beauchamp, E. Grenfell, L. Milverton, L.
Bessborough, E. Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Monk Bretton, L.
Blackford, L. Hanworth, V. Monsell, V.
Boston, L. Harris, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Carrington, L. Hastings, L. Moyne, L.
Cawley, L. Hawke, L. Newton, L.
Chesham, L. Henley, L. Ogmore, L.
Cholmondeley, M. Hereford, V. Powis, E.
Conesford, L. Horsbrugh, B. Rea, L.
Cottesloe, L. Howard of Glossop, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Crathorne, L. Howe, E. St. Oswald, L.
Cromartie, E. Jellicoe, E. Sandys, L.
Derwent, L. Jessel, L. Saye and Sele, L.
Devonshire, D. Limerick, E. Sinha, L.
Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lloyd, L. Sculbury, V.
Dundonald, E. Long, V. Swinton, E.
Ebbisham, L. Lothian, M. Templemore, L.
Effingham, E. Luke, L. Twining, L.
Ferrers, E. Mabane, L. Wolverton, L.
Forster of Harraby, L. MacAndrew, L. Yarborough, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

with regard to performing animals are tied up with those dealing with diseases of animals. Here again it is a question of which is the more sensible administrative arrangement to cover the group of regulations in regard to performing animals. Under the Bill this function goes to the boroughs, and this group of Amendments suggests that it should go to the Greater London Council.

There is considerable feeling among a large section of the public in regard to the training and performance of animals involved in circuses and all the rest of it. I do not share many of the fears which many people express, but I am certain that the question of inspection, regulation and control of those registered for training, the conditions under which performances are held, and the whole arrangements in regard to the welfare of animals have a certain comforting effect upon a range of the public who, while not violently opposed, have some general mental reservations as to whether it is natural for wild animals, and even domestic animals, to be put through some of the marvellous tricks which we see in the circuses and in various music-hall performances.

In London, where are seen some of the finest animal performances in the world, and where great masses of people watch individual performances, it is desirable that there should be one organisation to control the whole area. This is an important matter not only in regard to the welfare of the animals themselves—and it is their concern first of all—but in regard to the effect this might have on others, as well as the general question of public confidence in the regulations which have been passed by Parliament for the general protection of animals and their welfare.


The purpose behind these Amendments is very similar, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, implied, to that behind other Amendments raised on this clause. I am sure that your Lordships will not wish me to weary the Committee any further in going over the same ground covered so lucidly by my noble friend. The effect of these Amendments would be to put the enforcement of the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950, and the Performing Animals Regulation Act, 1925, into the hands of the Greater London Council instead of the London boroughs. This was made very clear by the noble Lord. This work in connection with these two Acts has been performed perfectly efficiently in the past by the county councils, the county boroughs, the Common Council of the City and the ten non-county boroughs which are diseases-of-animals authorities. We consider it would be unnecessary, and indeed unreasonable, to take from the boroughs a task which they have been carrying out adequately and capably up to now.

The noble Lord did not in fact touch on this matter, but the City of London have a special responsibility for dealing with imported animals within the London County Council area. These functions are linked with their functions as port health authority for the Port of London which under Clause 41 of the Bill are to be continued. This arrangement has been satisfactory in regard to imported animals in the London County Council area, and we consider it desirable to continue it and to extend the area of the City's responsibility for imported animals throughout the area of Greater London. This would probably be approved of by the noble Lord.

So far as the purposes of the Performing Animals Regulations Act are concerned, the local authorities within the Greater London area are similar to those under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950, with the exception of the ten boroughs. The administration of the Performing Animals Regulations Act occasions very much less work, but in fact requires staff with similar knowledge and experience to those for the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act. It has therefore been the practice for local authorities to use staff employed on diseases of animals work, for the occasional needs arising under the Performing Animals Act. I say "occasional", and I have figures for the number of times they have been required. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, with his usual reasonableness, will understand why I am not able to recommend the Committee to accept these Amendments.


I gather that the noble Lord, in the course of his observations, has said that in other parts of the country county boroughs, even county districts—


I am sorry, but I did not mention other parts of the country. I was referring to the Greater London area.


County boroughs would have done it there, of course. It is very natural that they should, because a county and a borough combined are a county borough, and to whom else can you give it? Nobody else, because nobody else has local authority jurisdiction. That is quite true, and the noble Lord is right. But did the metropolitan boroughs and county districts have that power? If they did, where did they get it from?


In point of fact, all my remarks referred to the authorities within what is to be the Greater London area.


Does the noble Lord mean that the authorities for this purpose of seeing that the performing animals were looked after reasonably well and not ill-treated included metropolitan boroughs, urban districts and rural districts, as well as county boroughs?




Is the noble Lord sure?


Yes, that is quite so. I am sorry I was not following the noble Lord. I was trying to follow the noble Lord as closely as possible. I wanted to be certain I gave him the right answer. That is so.


I must say I am surprised to find that county districts, urban districts, rural districts and metropolitan boroughs did this job. If they did, then it is an argument to be taken into consideration. I hope the noble Lord is 100 per cent. right about it; not that I am in any way assuming he would mislead the House. I just wondered whether he would like to check up. But if he is sure of it, all right. But if it is a Ministry of Housing and Local Government brief I should ask them again, or preferably some other Department like the Home Office, which is more reliable.


Perhaps I ought to repeat what I said, which was that the authorities are the same for both; that is, for the Performing Animals Regulations Act as for the other. The authorities which I listed, and I read them out in order to be absolutely certain, were the county councils, the county boroughs, the Common Council of the City, and the ten non-county boroughs which are diseases of animals authorities.


What about the County of London? Who is the authority there?


The L.C.C. Is the noble Lord referring to the L.C.C.?


That makes a difference. Because what happens in the County of London may well be different from what happens outside, though I do not want to perpetuate these differences. We ourselves have drifted into a number of Amendments, where we apply an Amendment to the inner London boroughs and not to the outer London boroughs. Sometimes you have to do it, but I do not like this distinction between inner London and outer London boroughs. In this case, the history of the law makes it understandable, for traditional reasons, though it is not really sensible, that outside London, where they are not used to county government of our type in London, they gave it to the county boroughs and the county districts, which includes non-county boroughs, urban disstricts and rural districts. I accept that from the noble Lord.

A man listening to this debate and coming from the North of England, provincial England, for example, might well think that in his county the county borough would do it, and I agree that they would. There is nobody else to do it there because they are the local authority. They are the supreme state, almost, in the hierarchy of local government authorities. But London is different. First of all, London is a built-up county and I will guarantee that 99.5 per cent. of Londoners, if they are standing in a metropolitan borough outside their own, will not know where they are. I am right—at any rate, I am 99.5 per cent. right. I am not sure about the .5 per cent. They may be on one side of a road and be in one borough, and on the other side they may be in another borough. We used to get "chivvied" in Brixton, when I did open-air speaking in Brockwell Park, about local patriotism, which the boroughs have more than the counties, or so the Conservatives said. I got up on the platform in Brockwell Park, by which time I had a good following there, and said, "Come on, you respectable Brixtonians and Norwood people. What is the name of the Mayor of Lambeth?" Not one hand went up. That is the sad thing about London: that you have not the degree of civic patriotism that you have in the North.

But if the London County Council were doing this job, that is a prima facie case why the Greater London Council should do it in succession to the London County Council. In fact, I am increasingly thinking that the best name we can give to this authority is still "the London County Council". If the County Council is doing it, it is natural that the Greater London Council should succeed in the function. The London County Council had considerable powers beyond those of an ordinary county council—in some cases less powers than an ordinary county council—but these additional powers, given to it by Conservative Governments, in some ways meant that the London County Council was nearer to a county borough than to provincial county councils. I hope, therefore, that there is a case for this Amendment and that it will be understood. It is very difficult to understand it, in view of the complexities of local government over Greater London as a whole, but here is a natural case for the Greater London Council to do this job.

Let me give one example. Blackheath is an historic open space under the County Council. That is where King John, or a King whose name I have forgotten, met two peasant revolt leaders. He asked them to come and see him on Blackheath and said he would do a deal with them. He got them there and they were promptly arrested. That is the way we get dealt with, sometimes, when we do a deal about business. Every year Blackheath has a big circus or fair, and they have to get the permission of the County Council to hold it. That is simple; they just go to County Hall. But in the new Bill there will be two boroughs meeting in le middle of Blackheath. If the Bill goes through as it is, there will be Greenwich and Woolwich amalgamated on the one side, and Lewisham and Deptford amalgamated on the other. Can le noble Lord tell me quickly, on the spur of the moment—never mind about reading his brief—which borough they will go to? Or is this another case where they have to go to both? Or must we have a joint committee cluttering up the earth with indirectly elected authorities with no popular support whatever?


I am sure the noble Lord will want me to ignore his beautiful rhetorical question. He asked me a specific question about the present position of the L.C.C. as regards animal health. The L.C.C. at the moment employ two inspectors. It seems to us quite reasonable that these inspectors will afterwards find employment in two of the boroughs, the enlarged boroughs, which will come into being. That is in answer to a specific question which the noble Lord put to me.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord. I can see what the noble Lord is going to do. The L.C.C. having two inspectors—I must say I should have thought one would do, but they may be right—I suppose one will cover Blackheath for Greenwich and Woolwich and the other will cover it for Lewisham and Deptford. What are they going to do with the others, the other circuses and what-not? Are you going to appoint a lot more? This is really a waste of manpower, because if two are going to do it, there will have to be joint appointments by thirteen metropolitan boroughs plus the City, because the City do not run circuses—except their own. Therefore, I submit that this is an uneconomic arrangement. The Minister ought to be surcharged. If the District Auditor was functioning, the Minister would be surcharged for this proposition, for compelling local authorities to spend more money than they ought to spend.

This is an easy service when run by the big authority. These men can "nip" about by motor car, even by helicopter if necessary. I do not recommend it by helicopter, because it is costly, but they can "nip" about. Therefore, it is better done in this way. I beg the noble Lord not to be a slave to those briefs, which may come from the Ministry of Agriculture but which are inspired by the incompetence of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Do not take any notice of them. Stand on your own feet. If you think we are right, say, "I am converted. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, and others have persuaded me they are right, and I agree." That is all you have to do.


I think it is really most unsatisfactory. First of all, look at what we have been saying throughout the whole of the proceedings on this Bill. In some instances we have put the argument that it is the destruction of the London County Council that is taking place. There has not been an argument on any service that it did not function, and function well. Now the Government turn round, so far as other things are concerned, and say, "Because things have been going well, we will leave them as they are." This really is foolish, so far as this group of Amendments is concerned. This is not the sort of entertainment I go to very often, but, in company with youngsters, it makes a delightful evening to go to Olympia during the season. These circuses are not being held in every borough: they are being held at various times in various places.

When we have had a competent body such as the London County Council, which has created a confidence and whose inspectors have been doing this

work over the years, it is far better to give the power to the body to whom they are going, the Greater London Council—and they would have to go to the Greater London Council—than to give it through the boroughs. The noble Lord has not told us yet whether or not the other boroughs are going to have an inspector each. If not, the job cannot be put on to the sanitary inspector and made a spare-time job for him, because then it would not be done properly. Therefore, it is far better that this work should be centralised under the Greater London Council. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I invite my colleagues to press this Amendment to a Division.

4.14 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 208) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 25; Not-Contents, 73.

Addison, V. Henderson, L. Shepherd, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Latham, L. Silkin, L.
Attlee, E. Lawson, L. Summerskill, B.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Lindgren, L. Williams, L.
Champion, L. Longford, E. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Chorley, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Williamson, L.
Crook, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Wise, L.
Faringdon, L. Shackleton, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Fraser of North Cape, L.
Ailwyn, L. Ferrers, E. Merrivale, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Forster of Harraby, L. Mersey, V.
Atholl, D. Freyberg, L. Meston, L.
Auckland, L. Gage, V. Milverton, L.
Beauchamp, E. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Monk Bretton, L.
Bessborough, E. Grenfell, L. Monsell, V.
Blackford, L. Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Moyne, L.
Bossom, L. Hanworth, V. Newton, L.
Boston, L. Harris, L. Powis, E.
Carrington, L. Hastings, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L
Cawley, L. Hawke, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Chesham, L. Hereford, V. St. Oswald, L.
Cholmondeley, M. Horsbrugh, B. Salter, L.
Colyton, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Sandys, L.
Conesford, L. Howe, E. Sandwich, E.
Cottesloe, L. Jellicoe, E. Saye and Sele, L.
Crathorne, L. Jessel, L. Sinclair of Cleeve, L.
Crornartie, E. Limerick, E. Sinha, L.
Derwent, L. Lloyd, L. Soulbury, V.
Devonshire, D. Long, V. Swinton, E.
Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lothian, M. Templemore, L.
Dundonald, E. Luke, L. Twining, L.
Ebbisham, L. Mabane, L. Wolverton, L.
Eccles, L. Margesson, V. Yarborough, E.
Effingham, E. Massereene and Ferrard, V.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 54 agreed to.

Clauses 55 and 56 agreed to.

Clause 57 [Provision of entertainments, concert halls, museums, etc.]:


I beg to move this Amendment and will speak also to Amendment No. 217. This is a technical Amendment and perhaps it may not result in a division if we have a proper explanation from the Minister. Clause 57(2)(a) refers to the Horniman Museum. The purpose of Amendment 217 is to include provision for refreshments at Horniman Park. The purpose of this Amendment is to include in Clause 57 a reference to other statutory provisions governing the control and management of the Park and Museum. The view of the London County Council, who have taken a special interest in this matter, is that since certain parts of the Horniman Museum and Park are covered by the clause, it would be right for all the premises to be covered by an Amendment to this clause. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 74, line 29, after ("of") insert ("and the Third Schedule to" ).—(Lord Shepherd.)


I hope I can put the noble Lord's mind at rest in respect of Amendment 214. This would bring in reference to the Third Schedule to the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1901. The Third Schedule to that Act recites the e conveyance of the Horniman Museum, but as this conveyance is confirmed by Section 46 of that Act, which is specified in the clause as it stands, it is not necessary to refer to the Schedule specifically. To make it quite sure that the reference to Section 46 embraces the Schedule too—and the Government draftsman had a look at this point and came to the conclusion that it did—the Government are going to move Amendments 215A and 216A to substitute the expression "by virtue of" certain enactments instead of "under" enactments. That has the effect of extending the precise legal meaning so that it will quite definitely mean Section 46 does include the Third Schedule to the 1901 Act. Therefore Amendment 214 would not be necessary.

In respect of Amendment 217, which the noble Lord has taken with this one, he referred to its purpose which was to make sure that the Greater London Council have the power to provide refreshments. We feel that is going rather beyond the scope of this section which is only dealing with the transfer of property, and also it is anticipating the review of local Acts under later clauses. If it is necessary to preserve the powers referred to in the Amendment, this will be done by order under Clause 81 of the Bill. This is merely arising under a point about refreshments. I would remind the Committee that I believe there are about 200 local Acts which have to be reviewed and revised at this moment. It would seem invidious to put this little one in at this point; it will be dealt with under Clause 81. In respect of Amendment 214, it is, as I have said, not necessary for the reasons I have given.


I take it from the noble Lord's reply that the Greater London Council will be able to take over the L.C.C.'s authority and see that refreshment services are provided.


I think it has to be done specifically under Clause 81. But, in respect of the other part, the question of confirming the interests of the Greater London Council in the Horniman Museum is looked after under Section 46.


In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.30 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved, in subsection (2)(d), to leave out "section 4" and to substitute "sections 4, 5 and 6". The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth. I beg to move this Amendment. In Sections 5 and 6 of the L.C.C. (General Powers) Act, 1947, there are certain subsidiary powers and savings in connection with the exercise of the power in Section 4 of the Act to provide the Council with halls, et cetera. We consider that these powers should be transferred to the Greater London Council, in Clause 57(2)(d), and not left to be dealt with by Ministerial orders under the Bill. I presume that it is the Government's intention to use Ministerial orders in this matter. If I may, I would also refer to Amendment No. 216. The Council can exercise the power under Sections 5 and 6 at a future date should they consider it desirable, and they are not limited merely to taking over the property already provided under the power.

It might be argued against this Amendment that it is unnecessary, having regard to the application to the Greater London Council by Clause 57(1) of Section 132 of the Local Government Act, 1948. However, Sections 4, 5 and 6 are wider than Section 132, in so far as they enable the Greater London Council to do three things: first, to provide reading rooms and pavilions; secondly, with Ministerial consent, to adapt existing premises or erect buildings on land not appropriated for entertainment purposes—in other words, there would be a degree of flexibility; and thirdly, to provide, maintain, equip and furnish shops and offices as part of the buildings provided, adapted or erected for entertainment purposes. What we have in mind is something similar to the Festival Hall, where it would be of advantage, not only to the local authority but also to the community, that shops like tobacconists', confectioners' and florists' should be permitted to operate on the premises. This Amendment was put down in another place, but unfortunately, because of the guillotine, was not moved or considered. I think that it is reasonable.

Amendment moved— Page 74, line 36, for ("section 4") substitute ("sections 4, 5 and 6").—(Lord Shepherd.)


This section is concerned only with the transfer of property, and no property is held under Sections 5 and 6 of the 1947 Act, to which the noble Lord referred. He is right in surmising that these sections will be studied with other local Act provisions to see whether they need to be retained or adapted by order under Clauses 81 and 84. Section 5 of the L.C.C. (General Powers) Act is already covered by the general powers to provide entertainment in Section 132 of the Local Government Act. 1948, which comes under Clause 57(1). So Section 5 appears to be looked after in that respect. I may point out that subsection (2) was only put in the Bill to allay possible misapprehensions about the future of certain major properties, such as are listed here, otherwise they would have all been dealt with under Clause 81.

It would appear that, if we accepted Amendment No. 216, this would give the Greater London Council powers which, apart from the fact that they are outside the scope of this subsection, are unnecessary because of the provision of Section 132 of the Local Government Act, 1948, or may even conflict with them in certain respects. And we feel that this would be anticipating the review of local Acts under Clause 84. I hope that the noble Lord may be satisfied with that explanation and feel that nothing dreadful is going to happen if this clause stands as it is at the moment.


I do feel that something dreadful is going to happen when this Bill goes through, but not perhaps under this particular clause. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I have already referred to this Amendment in connection with Amendment No. 214. It is purely drafting. The words "by virtue of" give a better legal interpretation and effect a slight extension of the provision made in the final seven lines of the clause. In particular, they give the assurance that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, required on Amendment No. 214. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 74, line 44, leave out ("under") and insert ("by virtue of").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This Amendment is also drafting, and is similar to the last one. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 75, line 2, leave out ("under") and insert ("by virtue of").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 57, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 58, [Parks and open spaces]:

LORD SILKIN moved, in subsection (1)(b), to leave out "Greater London as a whole" and to insert: an area larger than the London borough of boroughs in which any such further park or open space is, or is proposed to be, wholly or partly situated".

The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Latham and other noble friends. The purpose of this Amendment is to modify the conditions under which the Greater London Council can acquire land for open spaces in the Greater London area. At the moment, the test under Clause 51(1)(b) is that it is to be for the benefit of the Greater London area as a whole. That, of course, is quite intelligible, but there will be cases where it would be desirable to acquire land for open spaces where it cannot be strictly said that it would be for the benefit of Greater London as a whole, but it might be for the benefit of several boroughs. In that case, the Greater London Council would not come within the ambit of this subsection.

The purpose of the Amendment is to widen slightly the scope under which the Greater London Council can acquire land for open spaces. As the noble Lord will see, this is not to be entirely within the discretion of the Council, because any such acquisition will have to be approved by the Minister. So the Minister will have to certify that the proposed acquisition, under our Amendment, is not for the benefit of Greater London as a whole but for the benefit of part of Greater London larger than a borough. This seems to me a perfectly innocuous Amendment, and I hope that the noble Lord will see his way to accept it.

Amendment moved— Page 75, line 24, leave out ("Greater London as a whole") and insert the said words.—(Lord Silkin.)


I see what is worrying the noble Lord about this, but I hope that after he has heard what I have to say, he may think that his Amendment is not necessary. "Greater London as a whole ", the phrase which gives the noble Lord cause for anxiety, is not the same thing, we claim, as saying every part of Greater London. One can quite easily have an existing open space which can be said to serve Greater London as a whole but which is certainly a long way from some parts of the area. One can think of Richmond Park, for example, which is not very near to north-east London but is certainly for the benefit of Greater London as a whole. I might point out, also, that the Amendment made in another place which introduced sub-paragraph (i) into this clause will help, because this will allow the appropriation for open-space purposes of land already held by the Greater London Council for other purposes, subject, of course, to the Minister's approval. In this way, land acquired under planning powers for major redevelopment can continue to be held by the Council if that is thought right. On the other hand, it is the Government's intention to restrict the Greater London Council's power to provide new open spaces. The Royal Commission recommended that parks and open spaces should be the responsibility of the new boroughs, and apart from the exceptions provided for, the Government agree that this is the right thing. Dealing with existing open spaces is rather a different matter from deciding what should be done in the future.

It might be pointed out that the existing pattern is somewhat illogical, the L.C.C. holding some very minor open spaces and the boroughs some large ones which could possibly be said to be for the benefit of Greater London. It did not seem to us right to stem the existing pattern of open spaces, but when we come to the future we feel that the new boroughs should be well able to provide all the open space necessary and practicable within their areas. What I think is particularly in the noble Lord's mind is their inability to acquire an open space which might straddle boundaries or something of that nature, either because they felt they could not afford it or they could not agree with the neighbouring council, however unlikely that may be, and this would be a possibility. But in that case, if it was an important new open space, then the Minister could approve, and in these circumstances I think would probably approve of its acquisition by the Greater London Council. So I do not think that under the present drafting of the clause there is anything to make it more difficult for new open spaces to be acquired, either by the London boroughs or by the Greater London Council, if the necessity should arise.


I think we can cut this discussion short. If I understand the noble Lord correctly, he and I are in complete agreement as to the purpose of this Amendment; and, as I understand him further, he agrees with its purpose—namely, that there will be (he says, however remote) some open spaces which might cut across boundaries where it would be difficult to get agreement, and in such a case, with the approval of the Minister, he thinks it right that the Greater London Council should acquire. He then goes on to say that the words in the Bill are sufficient for that purpose, while I say they are not. I do not think that anyone reading those words objectively could possibly come to the conclusion that they would meet this case. Therefore I suggest to the noble Lord that he goes away and looks at the words again, and removes any ambiguity, so that we are both in agreement that the actual words in the Bill cover what we both have in mind. If the noble Lord will do that, I am perfectly willing to withdraw the Amendment.


I think that is a reasonable suggestion, and I am glad to adopt it.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


This is a purely drafting Amendment, but it will have some significance when we refer to a later Amendment of noble Lords opposite, because it replaces the phrase, "land so held by for use as" by the more correct one, "land so vested in and used as", and therefore pinpoints the matter of ownership. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 75, line 29, leave out from beginning to ("as") and insert ("vested in the London or Middlesex county council and used").—(Lord Hastings.)


Could the noble Lord tell me to which Amendment he is now referring, which comes later on in the Marshalled List? There are more than one.


It is Amendment No. 219, which refers to the question of property rights.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The Middlesex County Council own land in districts which, although now part of the borough of the county, are not being included in any London borough. These are the urban districts of Staines, Sunbury-on-Thames and Potters Bar. This Amendment makes it possible for land now held by the county council in those districts to be transferred eventually, if it should be so decided, to the urban district councils or to the councils of the counties in which those districts will ultimately find themselves. As at present drafted, the clause leaves them out, and there would be no possibility of such a transfer. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 76, line 18, at end insert ("and, in relation to any land outside Greater London, as including a reference to the council of any county or county district in whose area any of the land is situated").—(Lord Hastings.)


We should like to know a little more about this Amendment and its effect, because it may apply to other county councils than just the Middlesex County Council. I am told that some of Hainault Forest falls out side the Greater London boundary, and if that is so, it would affect the London County Council, who own this large tract in the East, and partly in the county of Essex. Hainault Forest is 1,100 acres in extent, and of that 400 acres fall in Essex, in the Chigwell Urban District Council area and the Epping and Ongar rural district. Is this a case where the land might be alloted to the district councils and not to the Greater London Council? Can the noble Lord tell us more about this?


This clause is limited to the simple transfer of property ownership from the two councils which are going to disappear—namely, the London County Council and the Middlesex County Council. Ownership of open spaces is not interfered with in respect of Essex, Kent or Surrey. When we come on to the Green Belt, I think there is a point to be clarified a little. They own land, I believe, inside the Greater London area, and the L.C.C. and Middlesex own it outside. There is not going to be any transfer of that sort of thing. It is simply because these two councils are disappearing, and Middlesex is, so to speak, the odd man out, and it might be a useful thing to transfer those properties which were part of Middlesex in that way. That is the only point.


I want to be clear on this point. The case of Hainault, which was quoted by my noble friend Lord Lucan, is partly in the Greater London area and partly out. Are we to take it from the noble Lord that, even if that be so, it will be treated as a unit and will therefore pass to the Greater London Council? There is the other case of Epping Forest, which belongs to the Corporation of London. But I do not think that question arises under the Bill, because the Government are preserving all the rights of the City. If that is so, I am glad to hear it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.51 p.m.

THE EARL OF LUCAN moved, after subsection (2) to insert: (3) For the purposes of subsection (2) of this section—

  1. (a) land in respect of which a contribution of not less than 50 per cent. of the purchase price has been made by the Middlesex County Council towards its acquisition by another body for use as a park or open space shall be deemed to have been held for that purpose by the Middlesex County Council immediately before 1st April 1965;
  2. (b) land held for use as a park or open space includes land used for agricultural purposes within the meaning of the Town and Country Planning Act 1962 other than land held by the Middlesex County Council as smallholdings authority."

The noble Earl said: This Amendment deals with the case of the Middlesex County Council. Your Lordships will remember that subsection (2) of Clause 58 brings any land which is on April 1, 1965, vested in the London or Middlesex County Council under the provisions of subsection (2), which says that it shall on that date vest in the Greater London Council; but not later than 1970, or such later date before 1975 as the Minister may direct, the Greater London Council shall make a scheme, or make proposals in a scheme, which will be submitted to the Minister. I must say that that subsection seems to me to give astonishing powers to the Minister. It seems hardly worth while for the local authorities to make a scheme, if, after it has been submitted to the Minister, he may give effect to the scheme without modification, or with such modifications as he thinks fit, or may make such other provision for the retention by the Greater London Council, or the transfer to one, or to two or more jointly, of any of that land as appears to the Minister appropriate. In other words, it gives the Minister complete discretion to dispose of this land as he thinks best.

The Greater London Council is under an obligation to submit a scheme five years after the Act comes into force. But in the case of Middlesex there has been for many years a movement to implement the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act, 1938, and the County Council and several of the boroughs and district councils in the county acquired land for open space or, in pursuance of the Green Belt policy, to keep it as agricultural land for the benefit of the population of London. In cases where a district council wanted to acquire land and the County Council thought that it would confer benefits on the county as a whole, the county contributed towards the cost, and this Amendment is proposing that where a contribution has been made of not less than 50 per cent. of the purchase price, that land should vest in the Greater London Council and not in the urban district to whom it belongs now. Your Lordships will see that in paragraph (b) of the Amendment land held for use as a park or open space includes land used for agricultural purposes… which, as I said before, was acquired in pursuance of the Green Belt policy for London.

The main argument for this Amendment, of course, is the argument which I think the noble Lord said he agreed with in the last Amendment: that parks and open spaces which conduce to the benefit, to the amenity, of the inhabitants of London as a whole should vest initially in the Greater London Council, who would then submit a scheme to the Minister. That is one argument. The other is the argument which my noble friend Lord Silkin brought up on Amendment No. 218, that a number of small authorities, each having only a small acreage of park, garden or open space, cannot afford the skilled staff needed to give proper attention and care to public parks and open spaces. They need landscape architects, and in the country they need estate agents. All this technical staff could easily be maintained by a large authority such as the Greater London Council, who would have a large department which could offer good pay, good prospects of promotion, and an interesting and worthwhile job, whereas the smaller units would be unable to do so. Therefore, they would not be able to give proper attention to the parks which vest in them. I hope that in this case the noble Lord will agree that this is an entirely reasonable Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 76, line 18, at end insert the said subsection.—(The Earl of Lucan.)


I am not quite sure that I wholly support my noble friend, if I understand the Amendment aright, although my name appears on the Order Paper as supporting the Amendment. My difficulty arises from the fact this this will affect urban district councils who will in future be outside the Greater London area. I have received a letter, and I hope your Lordships will not mind if I read a couple of paragraphs from it. The letter says: My Council have…a property of 100 acres with two lakes known as 'The Aquadrome' and acquired by my Council in 1961 with the aid of Green Belt contributions from Hertfordshire, London and Middlesex. The London and Middlesex contributions together do amount to exactly 50 per cent. of the cost of acquisition. The property is open to the public on payment of an entrance fee for boating, bathing, fishing and other forms of recreation; but it is right in the centre of the town and local control of it is of vital importance. The effect of the Amendment (if extended to include London as logic would require) would be that my Council would be compulsorily deprived of its freehold in this property against its will and without any consultation and the Greater London Council would acquire a property outside its boundaries at half of what it cost to acquire and without any compensation being made to my Council for their share of the expenditure. This seems to me to be a matter which ought to be considered in connection with the Amendment moved by my noble friend.


I am not unsympathetic in principle to the point my noble friend has raised, but what I do not follow is the argument about vesting—that means, I presume, the ownership of the property. If this land about which my noble friend Lord Champion is speaking is already part of the Green Belt, then presumably it was vested in one of the Green Belt authorities. Therefore, it is conceivable—I do not say it can be done—that the urban district council's case might be met if the vesting remained where it is but the day-to-day management of the open space remained with the urban district, if that is where it is at the present time. I do not know whether my noble friend has thought about this point. I am only guessing and trying to feel my way.


My noble friend, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, asks whether I have thought about this point. Frankly, I have left it to the Clerk of the Council, who is a lawyer, and I guessed that he would know all about it. Therefore I have not made serious inquiries. I have put his point of view, and I am hoping that the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, will be able to clear up any doubts in my mind and in that of my noble friend.


This Amendment would transfer to the Greater London Council land not now vested in the Middlesex County Council but which has been, or is to be, between now and the coming in of the Bill when these the new boroughs are set up in a year's time, acquired by other bodies for use as an open space by agreement with the Middlesex County Council. As the noble Lord said, it has been quite a usual practice of the County Council to make contributions amounting to as much as 50 per cent. towards acquisition by the district councils for land which could be described as "regional" open space, or, at any rate, carries with it some benefit which could be said to extend beyond the limited enjoyment of that particular district council; and where such land has been, or is being, acquired by the district councils, it is intended to deal with it in due course by order under Clause 81. The normal method in this particular case would be to transfer it to the successor boroughs, because, as the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has pointed out, they own it and have also contributed towards it.

On the other hand, it could be transferred under Clause 81 to the Greater London Council, and I take it that these matters would be the subject of discussion and agreement. However, it seems that to throw this land arbitrarily and compulsorily, as the letter received by the noble Lord, Lord Champion, pointed out (and there is nothing permissive about this) into the scheme under the clause we are discussing would complicate things, and perhaps do so unnecessarily, because under this clause, as a point of administration, the Greater London Council has to make up its mind between now and 1970, and a little longer if extended, and produce a scheme for submission to the Minister, trying to make up its mind which open spaces it thinks it ought to keep for itself and which perhaps might go to the borough councils.

Therefore, if this land were to be put into the scheme, it would be taken away from a district council, given to the Greater London Council and possibly returned later to the district council. So, administratively, I do not think it would be a very good thing. There is also a very strong point on the question of ethics. Even if the Middlesex County Council had paid more than half the purchase price, after all, they knew what they were doing; they did it with their eyes open and vested that land in another body, in the district council, and it seems rather difficult to justify taking it away now from such a council. I do not think we can contemplate doing that.

The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, refers to some agricultural land, and it is true that the Middlesex County Council own, so I am informed, about 8,500 acres of farm land, mainly in the Green Belt area. But I would point out that most of this land will be transferred to the Greater London Council under the Government's new Green Belt clause, which we are coming to presently. Only a little would fall outside that clause, arid we feel that could be much more expeditiously dealt with by orders under Clause 81. So I hope the noble Lord will feel, one way or another, that it would hardly be necessary or wise to press this Amendment.


I thank the noble Lord for his reply. I must say it is nice to see the Government beginning to have doubts about the policy of compulsion. If the noble Lord jibs at compulsorily transferring a few little bits of open space from the Middlesex County Council to a district council, he seems to have no qualms about compulsorily abolishing the entire Middlesex County Council and the London County Council. Nobody had a choice and no one was asked whether they would like to be abolished. So the Government are straining at a gnat. It seems to me that perhaps the Government are relenting and softening, and we may yet, before the end of this Bill, get more concessions. We hope so. In the meanwhile, as this Amendment seems to have, I will not say stirred up a hornet's nest, but disclosed certain disagreements in the County of Middlesex, I do not propose to press it, and I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.8 p.m.

THE EARL OF LUCAN moved to leave out subsection (3). The noble Earl said: In this Amendment we propose to delete subsection (3) of Clause 58. It is partly an exploratory Amendment, because I should genuinely like enlightenment on what is the purpose of this subsection. It was introduced in another place at a late stage in the Bill, I think the Report stage, by the Minister in not more than a dozen lines of Hansard, with no explanation at all of what the purpose of it is. The effect of it is that half the expenditure of the Greater London Council on parks and open spaces is to be treated as expenditure for special London purposes, and it is charged only on the inner London boroughs.

It is very difficult to see the logic of this. Financially, it is not a very serious matter. I believe that it amounts to something like a penny rate on the inner London boroughs, but, in any case, why should they have to pay other than on a pro rata basis for the whole of the Greater London area parks and open spaces? Financially, it is going to come a little hard on the inner London boroughs. They are being hit in several ways. They are being made to shoulder half the total cost of the London parks, are going, presumably, to take their share of the cost of the remainder of the Greater London parks with the outer London boroughs, and will also have to take their share of the cost of any Middlesex or other council's parks which come into Greater London. So it seems to be weighted unnecessarily against inner London. It has such a small financial effect that it would seem, administratively speaking, hardly to be worth while doing. I should like, therefore, to move the Amendment and hear what the Government's reasons are for putting this subsection in. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 76, line 19, leave out subsection (3).—(The Earl of Lucan.)


The purpose of this subsection, as the noble Earl has said, is simply to secure that one half of the cost of maintaining the parks and open spaces taken over by the Greater London Council from the London County Council is borne by inner London authorities only, leaving the other half to be borne by Greater London as a whole. The reason for this is that the outer London boroughs, constituted from parts of Essex, Kent, Surrey and so on, pay for their own local parks, and we do not think that in these initial stages, until the general plan is made, from 1970 onwards, they should pay also for the local parks of inner London. The county districts and the metropolitan boroughs of Essex, Kent and Surrey at present provide practically all parks and open spaces in their areas, and they have local rates for that purpose which range from 6d. to as much as 1s. 8d.; and the outer London boroughs, of course, will inherit these responsibilities. Therefore, we feel that to treat one-half of the cost of parks and open spaces formerly held by the L.C.C. as attributable to parks serving local needs, as against the needs of Greater London, and charge that upon inner London is admittedly, perhaps, arbitrary but quite reasonable in the circumstances. That is why we have put in this subsection. I hope that noble Lords will feel that that is a reasonable explanation and will be satisfied.


I should have thought that if the object of this whole Bill is to set up a Greater London Council and to treat Greater London as one for many purposes, it is unwise to draw a distinction straight away on the lines of the old county boundaries—because that is what is happening: you are merely perpetuating the division. The inner London boroughs are being differentiated against as compared with the rest. Surely the Greater London Council is precisely the means by which a fair allotment of the expenditure could be assessed.


The noble Earl realises, of course, that this will be only a temporary situation. When the general schemes are made, from 1970 onwards, most of these parks which are in the inner boroughs area, and which are now owned not by the boroughs but by the L.C.C., will probably be transferred to the boroughs, in which case they will have to pay for them. Meanwhile, all the local parks owned are owned by outer boroughs, who bear quite a substantial rate for their maintenance.


Until the Minister has his field day with the schemes, when all the schemes come up to him and he blue-pencils them, this will fall fairly hardly on some inner London councils. But I do not propose to press this matter, and I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 58, as amended, agreed to.

5.14 p.m.

LORD HASTINGS moved, after Clause 58 to insert the following new clause:

The Green Belt

".—(1) Where, in the case of any Green Belt land within the meaning of the Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act 1938, immediately before 1st April 1965 that land was vested in the London or Middlesex county council or any functions, rights or liabilities were exercisable with respect to that land by either of those councils, then on that date that land shall vest in, or, as the case may be those functions, rights and liabilities shall become functions, rights and liabilities of, the Greater London Council.

(2) In the said Act of 1938—

  1. (a) in section 2(1), in the definition of 'the area', for the words from 'London' onwards there shall be substituted the words 'and Surrey, and Greater London';
  2. (b) the expression 'local authority' shall include the Greater London Council;
  3. (c) the expression 'contributing local authority' in relation to any land in relation to which, if this Act had not been passed, any existing council to whom section 3(1)(b) of this Act applies would have been such an authority, shall, if that existing council is the London or Middlesex county council, include the Greater London Council, or in any other case, include the London borough council whose area includes the whole or any part of the area of that existing council;
  4. (d) in sections 5, 6, 12, 15 and 32, the expression 'the county council' in relation to any land in Greater London shall mean the Greater London Council;
  5. (e) in section 17(7) for the words 'county or borough or district or parish' there shall be substituted the word 'area'."

The noble Lord said: This is the Amendment about the Green Belt to which I have already referred. It has two purposes. The first subsection transfers to the Greater London Council all the functions, rights and liabilities of the London and Middlesex County Councils under the Green Belt Act. I think I am right in saying that it covers the same ground as the Amendment in the name of noble Lords opposite which immediately follows this one. The Government Amendment is, for technical reasons, somewhat more extensive. In subsection (2) it adapts the Act to the new situation which would be created by the passing of this Bill. I do not think I need say any more about it unless noble Lords wish to ask any questions. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 58, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Hastings.)


This is a case where we can with both lungs say "Thank you" to Her Majesty's Government, and we are indeed grateful that this Amendment should have been brought forward by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings. I think it will improve the situation very much. I was right in this Green Belt business. We held a conference of counties and county boroughs, and we fixed up this arrangement whereby the L.C.C. would contribute substantially and the management would be undertaken by the county or county borough. So control was transferred: it has worked very happily, and would have been a pity if the control of the scheme had been broken up. We are very much obliged to the Government in this connection.

There is one thing that worries me, and I hope it is permissible for me to mention it at this stage. I refer to the efforts that are being made by speculative builders. It might be—I do not know—that individual local authorities might encroach on the Green Belt with building operations: what is called "nibbling" at the Green Belt. Of course the word "nibble" sounds a small affair, like a mouse or a rat at the greatest; but once it begins, you do not know where it is going to stop. And there are now before the Government proposals for various "nibbles" at the Green Belt which, though in themselves unobjectionable, would be profoundly dangerous as precedents. I communicated with the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government about this problem, and he has been kind enough to send me a reply. This rather gives an indication that the Minister will try to uphold the Green Belt as a whole, but that, in view of the need for land for housing, he would concede on very limited cases the right to build. I think that is a fair summary of the letter.

Lord Hastings mentioned in his letter to me that Enfield, in the Lea valley, was a case in point. In that area there are some nurseries with which it happens I am familiar, though my noble friend Lord Stonham knows more about them than I do. I went there before the First World War, when I was a circulation man on the first official Labour newspaper, which unhappily died in that war—another grievance I have against that war. I was sent on an editorial experiment to report on these nurseries at Enfield. Even then they did not look particularly glorious or a tidy lot of structures. It is suggested that that would be a permissible place to let the Green Belt go. I am not sure about it, but I gather from Lord Stonham that they are to build some sort of structures. But Enfield is the kind of place which can do with all the open space and fresh air it can get, especially as it is represented in Parliament by Mr. Iain Macleod.

Once this nibbling at the Green Belt begins we do not know where it will stop. It is all very well to say "We will not go far", but there will be all sorts of specious pleas to build on this bit of land or that bit of land, because of the problem of shortage of housing accommodation—which may get worse in view of the obstinate refusal of the Government to allow the Greater London Council to be a concurrent housing authority with the boroughs. They may make it worse. We shall watch it and blame the Government for it. Therefore, they will say. "We must have it for housing". But, once you start that, you are committing the very crime against society that has been committed ever since the country abandoned the excellent policy of Queen Elizabeth I, who wanted a Green Belt around the Cities of London and Westminster. She passed it. She was an absolute Monarch. But the anarchist Tories of her day "busted it up" and it went. It was left to a Labour County Council to resume what that great Monarch, absolute as she was, did many centuries ago.

This encroachment may go on. There are plenty of speculative builders knocking about; they have a lot of influence with the Conservative Party, and especially with the present Minister of Housing and Local Government, Sir Keith Joseph, who is a reactionary and not a progressive. A few local authorities might have it. But if the Green Belt tends to get filled up, not wholly but partly, then what you are going to do is to increase the urban spread of built-up London that ought never to have happened, and would not have happened if Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth I had not been defeated in her efforts to try to preserve a Green Belt round the Cities of London and Westminster. If you let building go on in the Green Belt, then you will have to make another Green Belt further out. Who knows, we may possibly have a future reactionary Minister of Housing and Local Government, and he may come along and say, "We have got to nibble at this"; and finally, the only Green Belt will be the North Sea and the English Channel. That is the history. That is how Greater London has evolved.

I love London, but I am not proud of this enormous urban sprawl. It ought never to have happened. Therefore, I hope that the Government in moving this clause, which we agree with, thank them for and congratulate them on, will listen to the address I have delivered to them this afternoon in the hope that they will regard Green Belt land as substantially sacrosanct and will not allow this nibbling to proceed, because otherwise we are on a slippery slope. We are not going to divide on the clause, because we like it. I cannot even divide on the speech I have made to protest to the Government. But I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary, who has been courteous at all times, even when we have been a bit rough, will convey what I have said to his right honourable friend with my compliments, together with the other observations I have made about him, in the hope that he will be careful to preserve what was a great development, a great thing for London, and which nobody ought to upset.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord for welcoming this Amendment and agreeing to it, although he has done so by castigating me for something I have not yet done. But I will convey his remarks to my right honourable friend, and I can assure him that we are as attached to the preservation of the Green Belt as he is.


I should just like to say, in regard to the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, that my noble friend castigated the Government for something they have not yet done, that it is the case that the value of certain land in these areas has suddenly increased—a parcel of land has risen in value from £5,000 to £50,000. So if the Government have done nothing else, they have encouraged the owners of the land and speculators in the land who would like to buy it, to the belief that that land will be available for housing and industrial development. It would be a good thing, if the Government have no such intention of allowing that land to be so used, for them to say so at an early stage and clear up any doubt that might exist.


May I say one word to the Government on the Green Belt? There is often a tendency to say that this land has no amenity value, that it has no scenic value and it does not matter if it is built on. That, I think, is a deplorable attitude. It defeats the main object of the Green Belt. And so also would the gradual extension outwards of the Green Belt by allowing only building from the inside, eating into the Green Belt. You then have to extend it. There are proposals for extending it considerably outside. That is admirable, but it is of less use to the citizens of London. It is defeating the object of the Green Belt Act.

There is one other factor facing the Green Belt which I think is becoming more and more acute—namely, the need for building materials, and particularly the need for gravel in the Thames Valley. I believe it is a fact that supplies of gravel are getting rather short, and that the need for gravel for building is becoming more and more acute. Many tempting acres of the Green Belt in the Thames Valley are being watched anxiously by firms interested in the building industry; but I hope that the Minister will not sanction the use of land for extractive purposes, the extraction of gravel. No matter what the gravel firms tell one about their skill in restoring the land and in making boating lakes instead, that is not Green Belt. Again, it is destroying the object of the Green Belt Act. I hope that the Government will keep that fully in mind.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 59 [Functions with respect to public rights of way]:

5.27 p.m.

LORD HASTINGS moved, after subsection (2), to insert: (3) The London borough council to whom any functions of any county council other than the Middlesex county council are transferred by virtue of subsection (1) of this section may agree with the county council for the performance of any of those functions by that county council on behalf of the borough council; and where by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) of this section the said sections 27 to 34 for the time being apply to any part of any London borough or the City, the borough council or Common Council, as the case may be, may agree with the Greater London Council for the functions of the borough council or Common Council under the said sections 27 to 34 to be discharged by the Greater London Council, and while such an agreement with the Greater London Council is in force—

  1. (a) references in Part IV of the said Act of 1949 to the surveying authority shall be construed accordingly;
  2. (b) section 28(1) of the said Act of 1949 shall have effect in relation to a survey carried out by the Greater London Council as if the reference therein to the councils of county districts and parishes were a reference to the borough council or Common Council, as the case may be.
(4) In section 23 of the said Act of 1949, the reference to the local planning authority shall be construed in relation to land in a London borough or the City as a reference to the borough council or, as the case may be, the Common Council. (5) The provisions of Part V of the said Act of 1949 with respect to access agreements and access orders and section 90 of that Act shall not apply to the inner London boroughs or the City, and in relation to land in an outer London borough references in sections 64 to 82 and 90 of that Act to the local planning authority shall be construed as references to the borough council. (6) In section 89 of the said Act of 1949 the expression "local planning authority", and in section 99 of that Act the expression "local authority", shall include the Greater London Council, a London borough council and the Common Council; and in section 102 of that Act—
  1. (a) the expression "local planning authority" shall include the council of an outer London borough; and
  2. 778
  3. (b) the expression "local authority" shall include the Greater London Council."

The noble Lord said: This is an addition to the clause. Under subsection (3) a London borough council which has taken over survey functions from a county may have them performed by the county council under an agency agreement. This will provide for a county council to continue the survey, which is done in well-defined stages, to the most convenient stage for handing over. By this means we think there will be continuity of these surveys for bridle paths and public ways and so on. The proposed subsection also allows any London borough council to let the Greater London Council exercise their survey functions. Of course this refers to counties outside London, not merely the London County Council or the Greater London Council. It may prove convenient for an area overlapping more than one borough to be surveyed by the Greater London Council which could then make a comprehensive survey based on information from the London boroughs.

In regard to subsection (4), Section 23 of the 1949 Act makes it a duty of the Nature Conservancy to notify local planning authorities of areas of special scientific interest. Under other legislation local planning authorities are required to consult the Nature Conservancy about any development proposals affecting areas notified to them under Section 23. Therefore, the effect of this Amendment in this subsection is that the borough council, or the Common Council, who will be dealing with development applications, will receive notification from the Nature Conservancy. In subsection (5) the powers referred to enable local planning authorities to make agreements or orders, or to purchase land which falls within the definition of "open country" for the purposes of securing public access; also to make by-laws in relation to such land when the powers have been exercised. The powers are given only to the outer London boroughs because there is no "open country" in inner London.

Subsection (6) will give to the Greater London Council, the London borough councils and the Common Council the power now available to other local authorities under Section 99 of the 1949 Act to defray or contribute to expenditure by any other local authority under the 1949 Act. It also enables the Greater London Council to agree with an outer London borough council to exercise the borough council's powers in relation to national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and access to open country. There is also in this subsection a provision which I omitted to mention but which gives powers to the Greater London Council and the London borough councils, to plant trees, bushes, flowers and grass, and to treat derelict land. I hope that this Amendment will commend itself to your Lordships, both on the grounds of convenience and in the interests of amenity. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 77, line 13, at end insert the said subsections.—(Lord Hastings.)


My noble friend would not want to raise any objection to this clause at the present stage. I think it needs a good deal of detailed examination. Some words of the Minister struck me as needing clarification. He said "no open land in the inner London area." Is he sure about that? Even assuming that the parks, Hampstead Heath and Wimbledon Common are not considered as open land, is he sure that there is no open land in the boroughs of Greenwich and Woolwich?


I think the difference here is that we are not actually dealing with open parks and spaces. The clause is headed, Functions with respect to public rights of way. It is a technical matter in relation to "open country" in that legislation. Such "open country" does not exist in inner London. That is all it relates to—access and rights of way.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 59, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 60 [Miscellaneous local authority functions]:


This Amendment introduces a new Schedule on land drainage and flood prevention. It is as a result of an undertaking given during the Committee stage in another place that land drainage and flood prevention functions would be specifically dealt with in the Bill. They had not been so dealt with at that time, and the new clause which follows now does so. I think it will be more convenient if we treat this as a paving Amendment, and I will deal with the new Schedule when we come to it. I think that would be the best course. If, of course, the Schedule were not approved, this paving Amendment would drop out. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 77, line 27, at end insert— ("(1A) Schedule (Functions with respect to land drainage, flood prevention, etc.) to this Act shall have effect with respect to the discharge in Greater London and the adjoining areas of functions with respect to land drainage and flood prevention and other functions under the enactments therein mentioned.")—(Lord Hastings.)


We do not at this stage propose to debate this matter or indeed to oppose the Amendment, but we are not at all sure about it and will have to consider it. Perhaps we may reserve the position because we may have to put down an Amendment to this clause at a later stage in the Bill.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.35 p.m.

LORD STONHAM moved to leave out subsection (3) and insert: (3) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other enactment passed before or during the same session as this Act, the authority by whom there shall be exercised on and after 1st April 1965 any function conferred on local authorities by the enactments relating to weights and measures shall, as respects Greater London be the Greater London Council.

The noble Lord said: I am aware that there has been some discussion on an earlier Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Shepherd on the question of the authority to administer weights and measures in the area of Greater London; but that was on an Amendment which dealt with a number of services, while this particular Amendment deals only with weights and measures. Its purpose is to ensure that, notwithstanding anything that may happen in the Weights and Measures Bill which is now before Parliament, the Greater London Authority shall be the local authority for the whole of Greater London, including the City, for the purposes of the enactments relating to the Weights and Measures Act.

As we understand it, according to the pronouncement of the Minister in another place, it is his intention, if the Weights and Measures Bill becomes law unamended in this respect, to create 32 weights and measures borough authorities in the area of Greater London. In the event of a transfer of the weights and measures functions to these boroughs, the task of the inspector on the road will be greatly hampered by the comparative smallness of the area in which he will have to operate. I am speaking of the geographical smallness of some of these boroughs—boroughs, for example, like Shoreditch and Finsbury when they are combined. It is the case that modern methods of trading make it inevitable that the head offices of many shops will be right outside the area in which the inspector will be en titled to operate, and he can operate only in the area of his authority.


I am sorry to interrupt. Of course, the head office might well be in Birmingham, for example.


That is quite so, but in the event of the head office being in Birmingham, they would in all probability have a regional office in London with whom he could deal. But they would not have offices dotted all over London in many of these places, and in many cases it would add to the difficulty—and it is no use avoiding this fact—of bringing an infringement to the notice of a person in authority in a particular firm. This, of course, is going to result in a considerable loss of efficiency. At present the position is that a weights and measures inspector can make enquiries and can follow them up throughout London without any loss of time at all. He can get information from a central records office and, through that office, from all other London inspectors covering the whole of the present area of the London County Council.

One may have an example of where a shortage of weight in, say, an imported article of food found in one shop can be reported at once to the Central Office, with the result that all inspectors are warned to look out for that particular infringement. Any such arrangement between boroughs will obviously be very cumbersome and very much slower if, indeed, such arrangements are made at all or acted upon. Also, the position of multiple firms with branches in a number of London boroughs may be made difficult if there is any difference in the interpretation of the law, or any variations in its enforcement between one borough and another.

I submit that that objection cannot be overcome. It cannot be denied that there will be differences of enforcement as between one borough and another, if you have 32 comparatively small weights and measures authorities. The weights and measures staff of the London County Council, as with so many different types of their work—for example, the petroleum inspectorate—are specialised, qualified people doing a highly specialised job. They have a wide variety of practical experience and are available for duty at any time in any part of the county. The chain of organisation of the staff through local offices, independent within certain limits, up to headquarters at County Hall ensures a uniformity of treatment over a wide area, which cannot be maintained over a group of 32 boroughs.

The extension under the new Act, which this Amendment proposes, of the present uniform system of administration to the area of Greater London has many advantages. Among them I would submit are, first, that it will avoid the provision of unnecessary extra sets of local working standards; expensive apparatus which is made by a limited number of specialist firms, precision instruments and the like. Secondly, it will enable the authority to secure the full and economic use of buildings and of specialist equipment such as weighbridges and other testing units. Thirdly, it will provide greater control over the activities of traders who move quickly from one place to another—over coal merchants and their employees, over firms engaged in the conveyance of sand and ballast. I point out that they will not be restricted in their activities and their movements to a certain borough. They will, quite properly, be going from one part of London to another, maybe passing through the areas of three, four or half-a-dozen local weights and measures authorities, if the Bill as it now stands becomes law.

The Amendment which I am proposing will also simplify the investigation of offences under the pre-packed food regulations. This is a matter of importance, because an inspector's statutory powers are confined to the boundary of the employing authority. They are going to be very considerably hampered if they come up against the boundary wall of the borough and can go no further to pursue a known infringement. As I have already said, many of these boroughs are comparatively small, so that an inspector's legitimate activities in protecting the public will be quite unnecessarily hampered, and as a result it will be much easier for fraud to take place.

Finally, if the Amendment is accepted it will avoid variations in the enforcement of weights and measures Acts, which should be regarded not only as a nationwide service but as one in which there can be the maximum degree of uniformity. If this Amendment is accepted it will avoid, first, a very great additional expense. It will avoid the near certainty that the inspectorate will be seriously depleted, at least in the initial stages, because it is useless to argue that some of these boroughs could manage a complete unit of inspectors if they only had their share, one thirty-second part, of the present total of trained inspectors available. We know that the number of inspectors coming forward, of about 25, is small and quite inadequate for the job. I submit, therefore, that if the Bill in this present form became law, and unless this Amendment were accepted, serious damage would be done to the weights and measures regulations, the new Weights and Measures Act would be less effective in the area of Greater London, and the consumers would have less protection than we all want to provide for them. I hope, therefore, that in those circumstances the Amendment will find favour with the Government. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 77, line 32, leave out subsection (3) and insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Stonham.)


I should like to support my noble friend Lord Stonham, who made a very convincing speech in support of the Amendment on the Paper. I think it can be said that the proposal to distribute the functions of weights and measures over 33 units within Greater London is against all informed opinion. It is also against the course of commerce and distribution. In commerce there is a movement towards larger units, mergers and take-overs. Weights and measures are a part of commerce and should move in the same direction and follow the same trend. Indeed, the future of British industry depends upon its being modernised, as we are told by the Prime Minister, who has now become devoted to efficiency and invites us to go into the millennium in the 'seventies.

It cannot be efficient to break up the unified weights and measures system of the London County Council and to have 33 authorities in the intended Greater London. It means that there are 33 opportunities for different interpretations. There are 33 different opportunities for differences of opinion as regards enforcement. If there was a case for a unified service such as that of the London County Council in the past, certainly in the future, with the extension of the provisions for weights and measures contemplated under the Bill now before Parliament, the changes which have come over industry, the self-service, the supermarkets, the discount trading, the near revolution which has taken place as regards packaging, the task of those concerned with the enforcement of these provisions of the law with regard to weights and measures will be more complicated and more difficult, and will need to be concentrated rather than dispersed. As I have said, giving these functions to the boroughs is not modernisation, and it is not in any case likely to produce efficiency. It is fragmentation of the worst type.

Let us examine the consequences of the proposal. It will be costly, it will be inefficient, and there will be less protection for the consumer because of the inefficiency. And what will be the result in the terms of finding the necessary staffs? At the present time, there are 23 district inspectors of weights and measures in the County of London—that is to say, in that area which will henceforth be known as the inner London area. That 23 excludes the City. It is estimated that the proposed 12 new inner London boroughs would require at least 30 inspectors to cover the same area of ground—that is to say, 7 more than is the case at the present time. It is thought to be likely that the service in the inner London area, without taking into account the developments which will flow from the legislation now in process, cannot be operated, in these circumstances, with fewer than 50 to 60 inspectors. That is in respect of the inner London area alone: it does not take into account that portion of the Greater London area which is not within the inner area.

Then, if we look at the whole area, the 32 boroughs and the City of London, we find it estimated that each of the inner London boroughs will require 4½ to 5 inspectors. Therefore, to cover the 32 boroughs of Greater London, leaving aside the City in this case, would, on this basis, require 144 to 160 inspectors. They are not available. Recruitment even now is below the need; and the need, as regards Greater London, as I have indicated, is likely to be much expanded. They are not there, and, accordingly, the service will be undermanned; it will be not efficient and it will be unsatisfactory.

The circumstances being what they are, with a unitary system of weights and measures enforcement in the London County Council which could easily be expanded to cover and embrace the whole of the Greater London area, it is difficult to understand why the Government should proceed with their policy of splitting up, of demolishing, of dismantling almost everything which is of value within the local government set-up in Greater London. It is to be hoped that in this connection, at all events, seeing that, as I submit, the facts are all in favour of the Greater London Council being the authority for weights and measures, this Amendment may be accepted.

5.54 p.m.


I intend to answer both noble Lords in comparatively general terms. They have really produced no new argument today, except possibly in some small detail, which we have not already argued on the Weights and Measures Bill, and which we shall doubtless re-argue on the next stage of that Bill. I hold that the proper place to discuss what authorities shall exercise functions under the Weights and Measures Bill, which is at present before the House (I do not mean to-day, of course) is during the discussion on that Bill. And it is clearly appropriate that the Weights and Measures Bill itself, if it becomes law, should be the basic instrument governing the designation of weights and measures authorities throughout the country. The present weights and measures authorities under existing weights and measures enactments are county and county borough councils and the Common Council of the City of London. So far as I know, these county boroughs—I know that my own neighbouring one does—work very efficiently.

Outside the London area the Weights and Measures Bill provides that the counties and county boroughs, and non-county boroughs and urban districts with populations of 60,000 or over, shall be weights and measures authorities. In the Greater London area, the new London boroughs proposed by the London Government Bill will have populations ranging from three to five times that number. Both noble Lords have said that these are much too small for a weights and measures authority. I might add that this idea that the London boroughs should be the weights and measures authorities was also the recommendation of the Royal Commission on London Government. In the Government's view, the decision on the weights and measures authorities should be taken in the context of the Weights and Measures Bill, if it is passed. Orders made by the Board of Trade under that Bill designating these authorities in the Greater London area will be subject to annulment by Parliament, and Parliament will thus have the final say. The only reason (and it is becoming a less important reason than it was, perhaps, a month or two ago) why subsection (3) of Clause 60 is in the Bill at all—I am referring to this Bill—


And, if I may say so, being in this Bill we are not out of order in discussing it.


Nor am I out of order in discussing the two Bills together. The only reason why Clause 60, subsection (3), is in this Bill is that in the very unlikely event of the Weights and Measures Bill not being passed, some authority has to be given to the Board of Trade or to somebody to appoint weights and measures authorities; otherwise, they would not exist at all. That is why this particular subsection is in the Bill. But I resist the Amendment on the arguments I put forward on the other Bill. These authorities are not too small. Far smaller authorities work extremely well now. This was the recommendation of the Royal Commission. We believe it to be the right decision, and I must therefore ask the Committee not to agree to the Amendment.


I think that is a most unsatisfactory reply. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, said, "I shall answer the two noble Lords opposite in general terms"—


Comparatively general.


—which meant that it gave him the opportunity of refraining from answering the arguments at all. He has made no attempt to refute the irrefutable fact that there will not be enough inspectors, and that if the authority is split up in this way it will cost a lot more money and will make for a much less efficient service. There is no real reason in equity for this at all. That is why the noble Lord answered in general terms.

Then the noble Lord said he holds that the proper occasion on which to discuss weights and measures authorities is on the Weights and Measures Bill. I should have thought that the proper time to discuss the functions of the Greater London Council was on the London Government Bill, and that is precisely what we are doing. Naturally, in advancing the argument that the weights and measures authority should be the Greater London Council we have to say why. That was why my noble friend and I advanced these arguments, which the noble Lord has made no attempt whatever to refute. He referred, quite properly, to the fact that in the Weights and Measures Bill as it now stands it has been decided by a majority in another place, and so far has not been altered in your Lordships' House, that a local authority or a district authority with a population of no more than 60,000 can be a weights and measures authority.

My personal view, as the noble Lord is well aware—and which I expressed when we discussed the Weights and Measures Bill—is that this is far too small. But he will agree with me that in many cases the authority with a population of 60,000 which becomes a weights and measures authority is likely to occupy a much larger area than one of the Greater London boroughs with a population of 250,000.


I cannot agree on general terms. In certain cases the noble Lord is right; but in almost as many other cases I do not think that is true.


Since we are at least half-agreeing with each other, the noble Lord will say that that is, at least, half an answer to the point I made. It is the justification, if there is one, for making a smaller local authority with only a 60,000 population a weights and measures authority.

I think this is one of many retrograde steps that the Government propose to take in this particular Bill. It is no consolation at all to be told: "If we find you are right, then, of course, after some years and after all the damage is done, we shall take steps to put the matter right." That is exactly what the Government did over the Covent Garden Market Bill. We told them over two years ago that the market would never be built at Covent Garden. But they went on to reverse a decision that was made, and now another Act of Parliament must come in; and the market will not be built there but in one of the other places, where we said it would be built. All this wasted money and time is due simply to the fact that the Government would not listen to a reasonable case that was made on both sides of your Lordships House. This instance is another example when—if we are all in this House in a few years time and this Bill has become law—we shall have to take all the steps to put the matter right. It will be one more example of public money wasted and a misuse of the services of skilled and gifted men. I am on record as saying these things; and the Record will stand, irrespective of the way the Government uses its majority.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


Loan societies certified under the Loan Societies Act, 1840, are required under that Act to deposit their rules, and any amendments to their rules, with the councils of the counties or county boroughs in which they are situated. At the present time the functions under the 1840 Act in respect of loan societies in the Greater London Area are exercised by a number of authorities which under the previsions of the Bill will be abolished. Therefore this Amendment provides that, as respects loan societies in the Greater London area, those functions shall be exercised by the Greater London Council. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 77, line 38, at end insert— ("( ) The confirmation and record of the rules of loan societies under the Loan Societies Act 1840 shall as respects any such society, formed in Greater London be functions of the Greater London Council; and accordingly in relation to that Act sections 3 and 78 of the Local Government Act 1888 shall have effect as if Greater London were a county and the Greater London Council were the council of that county.")—(Lord Hastings.)


We regard this as a satisfactory Amendment and are glad to support it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD STONHAM moved to add to the clause: Notwithstanding anything contained in any other enactment, the Greater London Council shall be—

  1. (a) the licensing authority for the purposes of Part III of the London County Council (General Powers) Act 1921 (which provides for the licensing of employment agencies), and the said Pant III shall extend to the whole of Greater London and accordingly, so far as they relate to the said Part III—
    1. (i) in section 4 of the said Act of 1921 the expression "the county" shall mean Greater London, and the expression "licensing authority" shall mean the Greater London Council;
    2. (ii) in section 40 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act 1926, the expression "licensing authority shall mean the Greater London Council;
  2. (b) a registration authority for the purposes of the Theatrical Employers Registration Acts 1925 and 1928, and accordingly in section 13 of the said Act of 1925 for the words "As respects the City of London, the common council" there shall be substituted the words "as respects Greater London, the Greater London Council";
  3. (c) a licensing authority for the purposes of the Nurses Agencies Act 1957, and accordingly, in section 2(1) of the said Act of 1957 for the words "in relation to the City of London, the Common Council, in relation to the remainder of the administrative County of London, the London County Council" there shall be substituted the words "in relation to Greater London, the Greater London Council"."

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 232, which proposes that the Greater London Council should be the licensing authority for employment agencies and for the purposes of the Nursing Agencies Act, and also the registration authority for the purposes of the Theatrical Employment Registration Act.

The first function is one which is at present carried out by the London County Council; and it is thought appropriate to add the other two, in so far as the City of London is concerned, because they run together in this question of licensing of employment agencies, and we feel that it would be a convenient form of administration if, in future, the Greater London Council were responsible for the licensing of all these types of agencies. The object is to ensure that private employment agencies are properly and fairly conducted and to prevent undesirable persons from carrying on an employment agency business. Much of the administrative and inspection work involved is concerned with inquiry into suitability and character of applicants for licences, and into the activities of agencies whose conduct has given rise to complaint or suspicion. Inquiries include consultation with the police extending over the whole county of London, and some investigations necessitate inquiries beyond the county boundaries.

I think the whole case for this Amendment rests not only on its intrinsic merits, but on the present distribution of these agencies throughout London. There are at present 1,130 licensed employment agencies in the County of London. Of these, 440 are theatrical agencies. To supervise all these, six administrative staff and four inspectors are employed, and experience has shown that one inspector can adequately supervise about 280 agencies. The Committee will note that just ten people, four of whom are inspectors, are looking after all the work of 1,130 agencies. As the Bill now stands, without this Amendment, each borough would have to set up its own staff and be responsible for licensing its own agencies, for vetting applications, for approving them, and for looking after the delinquent, or badly behaved agencies.

The distribution of those 1,130 existing agencies is as follows. In one of the new London boroughs, Westminster, St. Marylebone and Paddington, there would be 716 agencies out of the total of 1,130—that is, 60 per cent. of all the agencies would be in one borough. In another borough, Holborn, St. Pancras and Hampstead, there are 144; in Chelsea and Kensington there are 91. Four boroughs would have between 20 and 40 agencies, and 5 boroughs fewer than 20. Only one of those boroughs would therefore require to employ full-time staff on employment agency work. As regards the other boroughs, the absence of full-time staff with experience and special knowledge of a large number of agencies would be a serious handicap in carrying out the objects of this legislation. I am sure that we are agreed that inspection and licencing is necessary to prevent innocent people who apply for posts from being exploited. It has been found so over a great many years.

The second argument against the division of the service which this Amendment seeks to avoid and which is proposed in the Bill arises where the question of refusing or revoking a licence arises; because the licensing authority must hold a quasi-judicial hearing and decide whether an agency is run by persons suitable to hold licences. It has happened that applicants who after investigation have been refused a licence in London have set up offices outside the county. If the London boroughs become licensing authorities, then it could happen that a person refused a licence in one borough because he was unsatisfactory or unsuitable, or who had his licence revoked because of malpractice, could set up office in a borough just over the border, and the border would not be far away. The evidence of his unsuitability to hold the licence at the time of his second application might not be available because of difficulty in gathering witnesses together again. Therefore, it is essential to the success of employment agency legislation that in the Greater London area there should be only one authority.

The licensing of employment agencies is carried on in the Greater London area outside the County, under local Acts, by the Middlesex, Surrey, Hertfordshire and Essex County Councils, by the West Ham and Croydon County Borough Councils and by Barking, Ilford, Leyton and Walthamstow Borough Councils, and domestic agencies, by the East Ham County Borough Council under the Public Health Act, 1907. I submit that any fragmentation of the administration of licensing of employment agencies can only lead to increased injury, increased cost and, what I think will be agreed is most dangerous, increased danger that unsuitable and unsatisfactory people would be able to get licences after they had had them revoked in another part of London. I am sure that this is undesirable and that the actual distribution of licences now in the boroughs of inner London proves this case beyond any shadow of doubt. I hope that the noble Earl will take that view. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 77, line 38, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Stonham.)

6.13 p.m.


We have discussed the allocation of public control functions already at some length and I do not wish to go over that ground again, but I would remind your Lordships that the public control functions in respect of employment agencies, nurses' agencies and theatrical employees are on the list of public control functions which the Royal Commission in general felt should go to the boroughs, subject of course to the Minister concerned deciding in each particular case that this was a sensible thing to do. In the three particular cases to which the noble Lord's Amendment is addressed, we have come to the conclusion that it is sensible to allocate this responsibility to the boroughs.

The noble Lord's speech was mostly concerned with employment agencies. I think that he would agree that for the most part these agencies deal with local matters. Most of them deal with the employment of clerical workers and fill more local vacancies than vacancies over the whole London area, and complaints which would be likely to cause an agency to be struck off would come for the most part from local people. Therefore, there are strong practical grounds for transferring this responsibility to the boroughs. As the noble Lord said, this function has been performed, and well performed, by the L.C.C., but if we are to make a change, I should have thought that there was a strong case for giving it to the more local unit, the borough, rather than to the larger unit, the Greater London Council.

So far as nurses' agencies are concerned, to which I do not think the noble Lord referred, I should have thought that there was a strong practical reason for transferring the responsibility to the boroughs. Under this Bill the borough will be the local health authority, and I would have thought that there was a lot to be said for the unit of local health authority to be the supervising authority for nurses' agencies. Therefore, it seems right on that ground alone to transfer this responsibility to the boroughs.

So far as theatrical employees are concerned, if we are going to give the responsibility of employment agencies to the boroughs, I think it is sensible to give the responsibility for the theatrical employees likewise to the boroughs. I am reinforced in this view by the fact that there has already been some considerable delegation of powers. The Essex County Council have delegated their supervisory duties over employment agencies to Barking, Leyton, Ilford and Walthamstow. I would have thought that that was a good sign that there was a good deal to be said for treating these on a local basis. I admit that there is apparent force in the noble Lord's argument that it is unwise to fragment the powers of control among the boroughs, since this would allow someone to apply for a licence who had already been refused or whose licence had been with, drawn in another borough. He could pop over to the next borough and apply for a licence. This is a problem which we have to deal with, in any event. We are not dealing with a static problem and existing authorities have found no difficulty in coping with it. So far as staffing is concerned, the idea here is that the existing L.C.C. specialist staff should go to the boroughs. I should have thought that the heaviest concentration of employment agencies would be in the boroughs which would need to acquire that specialist skill, and that there would be no real difficulty in other boroughs recruiting suitable staff.

To conclude my argument, the action which we have taken here follows the broad recommendation of the Royal Commission—though I know that this is no particular commendation to noble Lords opposite. The Ministers concerned have also considered the allocation of functions in this field and have come to the conclusion that it is right that these should go to the boroughs. In any event, your Lordships will remember that both yesterday and to-day the Committee decided that a large number of these public control functions should be given to the boroughs. In view of that, I would have thought that there was a lot to be said for grouping these public control functions in the boroughs rather than blurring the picture by having some with the Greater London Council and some with the boroughs. Surely this is so in the case of specialist functions, like petrol licensing, which we have dealt with at length, and I should have thought that it was also to the advantage of the citizen that he should know that, for the most part, it was to his local town hall that he should go for these licences rather than that he should not know whether to go to his local town hall or to the Greater London Council. For these reasons I cannot advise your Lordships to accept this Amendment.


I wish there were some consistency about the Government. When it suits them they drop on the Royal Commission as if it were the Law of the Medes and Persians; but time after time they have rejected the Commission's proposals. They have altered the area recommended by the Royal Commission for Greater London; they have altered very materially the areas and populations of the new London boroughs; and in education, too, they have departed from the Royal Commission's recommendations. I forget the others, but there are a number of other departures. It really tries one's patience that noble Lords opposite quote the Royal Commission when it suits them, yet when we quote the Royal Commission, they say: "You have no right to quote the Royal Commission, because you do not agree with it." We are both on the same footing there; neither of us agree with the Royal Commission about something or other.

For my part, I have the gravest suspicions about the Royal Commission on grounds of politics and knowledge of London—but that is another matter. The noble Lord should drop this reliance on the Royal Commission. Any Government who appoint a Royal Commission or a departmental committee always reserve the right to disagree with the recommendations which come before them, and they have often done so. I wish that the noble Lord would drop it, because it is trying, and there is an element of—




—uncertainty, or even humbug about it, and it is not decisive one way or the other. I am sorry that I missed most of the speech of my noble friend Lord Stonham, but the speech I am dealing with is that of the Minister of State, Home Office, I find it difficult to believe that the Home Office, which I knew pretty well, would disagree with us on the matter. It may well be that they are allowing themselves to be pushed around by this pantomime Ministry of Housing and Local Government; which is a great pity. The Home Office used to have a mind of its own, and I wish it still had.

Just look at the situation. There are 1,100-odd employment agencies of one sort or another in the County of London. Over 700 of those are in the new London borough that will probably be called the City of Westminster. That means that about 60 per cent. of the total are in one London borough. The other London boroughs, some of whom will have employment agencies—some may have none, and others very few—will have to appoint a staff for this purpose. The existing staff in the London County Council is 10 altogether, 6 administrative and 4 inspectors, to cover the whole County of London. If you pass this Bill as it is, the number may be not only doubled, but quadrupled—and perhaps even more—because each London borough will have to have its own unit of staff. That really is wasteful.

It is said: "But the bulk of the theatrical employment agencies are in the City of Westminster." That may be so. So are the bulk of the West End theatres. I am not sure that it is healthy to have the body that superintends theatrical employment agencies living cheek by jowl with the theatres and owners of theatres, because I think there needs to be impartiality on the part of the body supervising the employment agencies. That may be difficult when the employers are cluttered under your nose. But if the Greater London Council were responsible a degree of impartiality would be shown. On the grounds of public economy and the fair development and administration of a service in which the London County Council have great experience and which I imagine in one way or another will be passed on to the Greater London Council, I think this is the appropriate authority for the purpose, and I therefore think my noble friend Lord Stonham is right and, with great respect, the Government are wrong.

The truth is that the Government are running a dogma right the way through so far as they can. I give the Government credit for having made one or two concessions on this point, about whether it should be borough or Greater London; and it is true that we have sometimes stood up for the boroughs. But they are running a dogma all the way, arising out of their hatred of the London County Council. They want to see the Greater London Council given as little power as they can give it, irrespective of the merits of the case, and that the boroughs should have the greatest possible power. What they would have liked to do would be to cut London up into a crowd of county boroughs, and then there would be no London. They hate London. Well, I still say there will always be an England, and there will always be a London. I think this Amendment is right, and I would commend it to the favourable consideration of the Committee as a whole.

6.26 p.m.


I should like to say a word or two about the argument in respect of the licensing of employment agencies. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, argued that many of the employment agencies are supplying labour within the borough in which they have their offices. But I wonder whether he can give us any evidence as to what proportion of the employment handled through employment agencies is, in fact, local in character. My experience of a certain type of employment agency is that the employees for whom it provides employment do not live within the borough in which the agency is situated, and the employers to whom the labour is supplied are a long way out from the borough in which the agency is situated. I feel that in that case, if there is dissatisfaction with the agency, either from the employees' or the employers' side, the borough in which the agency is situated is not going to be greatly concerned about it.

I think it would he much more satisfactory from the point of view both of employees and employers if a body such as the Greater London Council were the licensing authority for employment agencies. I do ask the noble Earl if he can give us some justification for his statement that they are mainly local in their activity, because my experience is that many of them are far from local, and are, in fact, entirely unlocal in their activity and should not come under the local borough authority.


My noble friend Lady Wootton of A binger said yesterday that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, was as persuasive as he was unconvincing, which was another way of saying that he puts forward his arguments with such charm that they would almost persuade one. On this occasion he was neither persuasive nor convincing, and however gifted the advocate, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will agree, he cannot convince when he has a bad case. This is one of those occasions. As this is a Home Office matter, I would ask the noble Earl, if not now, between now and the next stage, to think about it again. As my noble friend Lord Archibald clearly pointed out, the noble Earl is quite wrong in saying that this agency business is a purely local function—he may have said "mainly local function", and I do not want to misquote him; but words to that effect. It is not. All the theatrical agencies will be virtually in one London borough, because that is theatreland. People come to these agencies from all over the United Kingdom. They are not local at all.

If you take the nurses' agencies (the noble Lord will be aware that here I know what I am speaking about), while they are in London, they are not local in the sense of being local to a particular borough. All the nurses of different nationalities would go to the Nurses' Co-operation, in Eccleston Street, or the one in Regent's Park. I should like to make it clear that I am not saying anything adverse to these agencies—they are first class. But they are not local. They are almost, in a sense, national, because if a hospital gets permission from the Minister of Health to engage what we call "co-operation nurses" to fill a temporary gap, or otherwise, the demand can come from any borough from any part of the country. So the agencies are not local. Therefore, the noble Lord is really quite wrong in what I thought was one of the main planks of his case for refusing this Amendment.

Again, he must think about the question of the staffs. There are only ten staff doing this job at present, and the existing staffs will go with the boroughs. It means that those ten people will all have to go to the Westminster-Marylebone borough. That is virtually the case. They have 60 per cent. of the agencies now, so they will need all those staff, and there will be no trained stall left with the other boroughs. Surely there is no justification for setting up an office in an area where there is so little demand for their services that at present there are 20, or fewer than 20, agencies. Surely the noble Earl is not going to advocate that as a sound proposition. That is what he is doing in turning this Amendment down. It is all very well to say there is a case for grouping these various functions or boroughs, but this function is another of the specialist functions. You will not get a social worker in some other sphere in the borough to take on this job as an extra. It is a specialist function which needs knowledge, and, surely, the Government, for what seem to me to be purely doctrinal reasons, are not going to turn down what honestly appears to me to be a cast iron case. If the noble Earl is not in a position to accept our Amendment now, whatever we do on this occasion I hope he will think about it in the meantime, because I feel sure we shall have to return to it.

6.32 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 232) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 19; Not-Contents, 60.
Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Lawson, L. Strabolgi, L.
Archibald, L. Longford, E. Summerskill, B.
Attlee, E. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Walston, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Morrison of Lambeth, L. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Champion, L. Shackleton, L. Williamson, L.
Henderson, L. Stonham, L. Wise, L.
Latham, L.
Ailsa, M. Effingham, E. Lothian, M.
Ailwyn, L. Ellenborough, L. Luke, L.
Atholl, D. Falmouth, V. Mabane, L.
Auckland, L. Ferrers, E. Margesson, V.
Beauchamp, E. Gage, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Bessborough, E. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Melchett, L.
Blackford, L. Grenfell, L. Molson, L.
Boston, L. Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Napier and Ettrick, L.
Brentford, V. Harcourt, V. Newton, L.
Carrington, L. Harris, L. Rockley, L.
Chesham, L. Hastings, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Cholmondeley, M. Hawke, L. St. Oswald, L.
Colgrain, L. Hereford, V. Salisbury, M.
Conesford, L. Hertford, M. Sandys, L.
Crathorne, L. Horsbrugh, B. Sinclair of Cleeve, L.
Cromartie, E. Howard of Glossop, L. Swinton, E.
Derwent, L. Howe, E. Templemore, L.
Devonshire, D. Ilford, L. Teynham, L.
Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Jellicoe, E. Wolverton, L.
Dundonald, E. Lambert, V. Yarborough, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 60, as amended, agreed to.

6.40 p.m.

LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH moved, after Clause 60 to insert the following new clause

Subsidiary functions of Greater London Council

Notwithstanding anything in section 4 or 84(1) of this Act, but without prejudice to the provisions of sections 80(2). 81(1) and (2) and 84(2), (3), (4) and (5) of this Act, in so far as any functions were exercisable by, or any rights or liabilities attached to, the London county council or the Middlesex county council immediately before 1st April, 1965, under the enactments specified in Part I or Part II of Schedule (Subsidiary functions of Greater London Council) of this Act, those functions, rights or liabilities shall, as from 1st April, 1965, become exercisable by, or attach to, the Greater London Council; and those enactments shall have effect with any necessary modifications including, in particular, the substitution therein for references (however expressed) to the London county council or the Middlesex county council of references to the Greater London Council, and any such functions as aforesaid shall be exercisable—

  1. (a) under the enactments mentioned in Part I of the said Schedule, in relation to Greater London other than the outer London boroughs; and
  2. (b) under the enactments mentioned in Part II of the said Schedule, in relation to Greater London.
  3. 800
  4. (c) in the definition of a "sanitary authority" in subsection (5), for the words "a sanitary authority for the purposes of the Act of 1936 other than the Common Council" there shall be substituted the words "the Council of a London borough within the meaning of the London Government Act 1963 or the Common Council of the City of London, as the case may be";

(3) Subsection (4) of section 18 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act 1958 shall cease to have effect."

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment, which has nothing to do with politics or policy, so far as I know, although it may turn out to have something to do with policy; but it is really a tidying-up Amendment. There are a number of Private Act and some Public Act powers which were exercised either by the Middlesex County Council or the London County Council, and, so far as we can see, the Bill is silent as to the intended effect on many of these powers. We have examined the powers concerned, and we think that those which are set out in the Government's new Schedule—at any rate, those we have in our possession—ought to go to the Greater London Council, which is not unnatural as they were formerly exercised by one of these two great County Councils. We want this Amendment because it will ensure that the powers are not lost to the Greater London Council simply because there may have been an oversight on the ministerial or departmental level to take action upon it.

I will give some samples of the legislation we have in mind. I do not necessarily want to read them all, because it is a pretty long list; but there are the Thames River (Prevention of Floods) Acts, 1879 to 1962 and Section 14 ("Warnings of high tides on the River Thames") of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1932, which I think followed on the great floodings which took place at Millbank and caused a great deal of public concern at the time. Then there is the London County Council (Subways) Act, 1893 and Section 27, charges in respect of subways of the Council under the General Powers Act, 1958.

There is the Thames River (Steamboat) Act, 1904; but here I ought to explain that this is not concerned with the actual running of the steamboats, because I made provision when I introduced the London Passenger Transport Act, 1933—which I introduced first of all and got Second Reading and through the Joint Select Committee—whereby that function would pass to the London Passenger Transport Board, because it was a passenger service, and I hoped the Board would be in a financial position to take it over because they might lose a little money. It was lost to the Council by the fact that it lost a farthing rate, and the Municipal Reformers, as they were called for some curious reason, decided they would not lose a farthing rate, even to save the steamboat service on the Thames, so they abolished it. Then there is legislation about London squares and enclosures and various other things. In the Second Schedule there are enactments relating to parks and open spaces and recreation grounds which were controlled and managed by the L.C.C. and the Middlesex County Council, and the Physical Training and Recreation Act, 1937, the London and Home Counties (Green Belt) Act, 1938, and so on.

I do not want to bore the House (I want to economise time) by reading the whole of the Schedule, but it may be that the noble Lord who is going to answer the debate will be able to show that there is some provision for some of these enactments in some part of the Bill. In so far as that is so, it may be that the Schedule we have in mind should be modified. But the principle is right: that all this legislation should not be allowed to lapse. We think, therefore, that this Amendment should be put into the Bill, so that powers which have been granted by Parliament in one form or another should be carried over to the care of the Greater London Council. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 60, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Morrison of Lambeth.)


I think the noble Lord who moved this Amendment said at the beginning that the purpose of it is to effect a general saving in favour of the Greater London Council of all the Acts referred to in the new Schedule, which is the subject of a later Amendment. Certainly I can agree with him straight away that Clause 84 does not contain a general saving of this kind in favour of the Greater London Council. Clause 84 says that the London boroughs should, in the absence of express provision in any order stand in the place of any county borough, metropolitan borough, or county district referred to in a Local Act in force in Greater London. While the London boroughs will take over all the functions which are exercised by county boroughs, metropolitan boroughs and county districts, and which are normally referred to in Local Acts, the Greater London Council will not be taking over all the county councils' functions. Many of the powers and functions given to the county councils in Local Acts applicable to Greater Landon will be going to the London boroughs. For this reason, a general transfer of Local Act powers from the county councils to the Greater London Council would be inappropriate—in fact, technically impossible.

Orders under Clauses 80 and 81 will make all the necessary adaptations to Local Acts after each have been examined in detail, transferring the functions either to the boroughs or to the Greater London Council as appropriate. There is just one thing I might point out, although I do not particularly make a point of it: I think I am right in saying that the proposed new clause and new Schedule make no reference to the Local Acts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent or Sussex, or to the functions of those county councils, and the same thing applies, of course, in their case. The Government have concluded, therefore, that it is not at this stage possible to attempt an omnibus transfer to the Greater London Council of functions which are exercised by county councils under other Acts.

So far as Public General Acts are concerned, the aim has been to give all the necessary powers to the Greater London Council by specific reference in the Bill, and there is provision in Clause 80 to make further adaptation of Public Acts to supplement the provision made in the Bill. Local Acts require detailed examination so far as county council functions are concerned, and these will be dealt with by order. This is, as the noble Lord said, not a political problem; it is a highly technical one, and I hope I have been able to make myself clear and that the noble Lord has been able to follow me.


Broadly, I think I follow, but what the upshot of it all is going to be I do not know. Each of these provisions which we think ought to go to the Greater London Council may be arguable, and need detailed examination, and I am not too happy about this matter being settled by Ministerial order, because that really is getting rather in conflict with our Parliamentary traditions. It is going a little too far with delegated legislation when a Minister has a free choice, subject to Parliamentary ratification—which is usually fairly certain—of whether or not to confer local, statutory, powers on any local authority in the area which has a mind to it. I do not like it. The other county councils are of course involved, which I was not able to speak about because I have not enough knowledge. The Government will have to look at that. I wonder whether in due course the noble Lord could let me have a note, as briefly as possible, though it will not be easy, indicating what the Government are going to do about allocation in London, Middlesex and other county areas, so that we are in a better position to know whether to continue our efforts on the Report stage. I do not feel I want to be over-dogmatic at this moment on what is a technical question which needs legal examination to ascertain the tidiest means of settlement. If the noble Lord would let one of us have that information in due course, we can look at it again and see whether we need to take action on the Report stage.


This is a highly complicated matter and these things are certainly being examined by the Departments, but I do not think I could hold out any great hopes that we could provide much information before Report stage, because it is a lengthy business. But I will make inquiries.


The noble Lord would not like this Bill to go out at the end of the day more imperfect than it is, so the Government must struggle to get this matter tidied up, if it needs it, and I think it does. If the noble Lord has to be ready for Report stage, we have to be ready for Report stage, too. Therefore, I should like him to try to do it so that we have all the information we can have, even if it is not complete. Will he do his best?


I am always glad to try my best, but these local Acts have to be considered in detail. The allocations will be ready, I hope, in April, 1964, but there is still some time to go before we reach that time. I will do my best.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Schedule 12 [Licensing of Public Entertainments in Greater London on and after 1st April 1965]:

6.53 p.m.

EARL JELLICOE moved, after paragraph 14, to insert: 14A. In relation to a licence under the said Act of 1843 falling to be granted by the Council, paragraph 9 of this Schedule shall have effect as if for the reference to paragraph 1 or 4 of this Schedule there were substituted a reference to the said Act of 1843, and section 9 of that Act shall not apply".

The noble Earl said: We are in a rather technical field here. Amendment No. 233A, and 233B which is linked to it, deal with the licensing arrangements regarding safety for places of public entertainment in the Greater London area. They cover the same ground as the Opposition Amendments Nos. 282 and 283, and perhaps noble Lords opposite would allow me to touch on those Amendments in my remarks. In the country as a whole safety requirements in this field are dealt with in what are called the conditions of licence, but in the L.C.C. area there is a special power under the Metropolis Management Act, 1878, to make regulations which operate separately from the conditions of licence.

The object of Amendments Nos. 282 and 283, the Opposition Amendments, which bite on this part of the Bill, is to preserve this power under the Act of 1878, and to extend the special power to all of Greater London. We believe it is unnecessary to extend this power so far as music and dancing, or places where people listen to music and dance, are concerned. I would remind your Lordships, in case some of you are not completely abreast of this subject, that paragraph 9 of Schedule 12 gives the Greater London Council power to make regulations laying down the necessary conditions. Paragraph 9 makes it clear that these regulations should be read as if they were conditions of a licence. There is also provision for a right of appeal in paragraph 18 of this Schedule. What we propose by Amendment 233A is to extend the cover of paragraph 9 to include theatres. At the present time it does not bite on theatres. We think this is a defect, and we propose to remedy it by Amendment 233A.

I think that would also be the effect of the Opposition Amendments. We should not wish to go quite so far as noble Lords opposite, since they would preserve intact the relevant parts of the Act of 1878 and thus cover, for example, initial structural requirements in a theatre or place of entertainment. We feel this would be covered quite adequately from the administrative point of view by the negotiations which would inevitably take place between the Greater London Council and the architects of whoever was proposing to do the particular piece of development, and the necessary guidance could be given by the Greater London Council, who would presumably put out a manual of guidance covering architectural requirement; in this field. So far as statutory means of control are concerned, they will be safeguarded in the fact that the licence could not be issued unless the building was designed to meet the requirements of the G.L.C. We think it unnecessary therefore to preserve the relevant parts of the Act of 1878, and we also prefer our own approach to this highly technical problem, because under it we preserve or introduce a right of appeal, which we think is desirable. I beg to move.

Amendment moved. Page 191, line 19, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Earl Jellicoe.)


This Amendment does go a fair distance to meet points which the Opposition have raised in this House or in another place, and I am much obliged to the noble Earl for the sympathetic consideration which has been given to these admittedly rather technical points by Her Majesty's Government. In all the circumstances, therefore, I would thank the noble Earl and support the Amendment he has moved.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 191, line 22, leave out from ("Act") to first ("or") in line 23.—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 12, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 13 [Modifications as from 1st April 1965 of Enactments relating to Food, Drugs, Markets and Animals]:


This Amendment corrects a drafting error. Consequential upon Clause 54(1), which gives the duty of enforcing Section 31 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1955, to the London borough councils and to the Common Council, as drafted the paragraph inadvertently deprives the county councils of their duty of enforcement and also gives the duty to the authorities of the Inner and Middle Temples, which are local authorities for other purposes under the Food and Drugs Act. The wording of the Amendment puts these matters right and brings the Schedule back into line with Clause 54 giving the county councils their proper powers. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 193, leave out line 39 and insert ("Councils of counties, county boroughs and London boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 13, as amended, agreed to.

7.0 p.m.

LORD HASTINGS moved, after Schedule 13, to insert the following new Schedule: