HL Deb 30 July 1964 vol 260 cc1310-2

7.45 p.m.


My Lords, before the House can consider the Motions on the Order Paper for Affirmative Resolution in respect of this Order and the three following Orders, I must make the following report from the Special Orders Committee which met this afternoon to consider the Orders. The reason why I have to make this oral report is that in the case of these Special Orders there had to be a fourteen-day petitioning period, which expired at 5 o'clock to-day, and the House cannot consider a Motion for Affirmative Resolution in respect of any Special Order until the Committee have reported on it.

The Committee reported as follows: The Committee have examined the Orders as required by the Standing Orders of the House and report: That no Petitions have been presented praying to be heard against any of these Special Orders: that in their opinion the provisions of the Orders do not raise important questions of policy or principle: that in the opinion of the Committee the Orders can be passed by the House without special attention, and that in the case of the Orders relating to Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely, and to Huntingdon and Peterborough, the Committee report that the Orders are founded on precedent, but in the case of the two Orders relating to the Thames Conservancy the Committee report that the Orders are not founded on precedent.


My Lords, in moving that these Orders be approved, I think it will be convenient if I deal with the first two on the Order Paper together as they make identical amendments to the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Order, 1964, and the Huntingdon and Peterborough Order, 1964, which the House approved in March of this year. It will be recalled that the main Orders provided for the creation, by amalgamation, of two new administrative counties which will come into existence on April 1, 1965. Article 8(2) of those Orders required the first elections for the new counties to be held between September 27 and November 22. This period had been fixed in consultation with the four county councils concerned. The amended Orders now before the House would alter the first of these dates to September 1. The exact date will still need to be decided by the returning officer for each county, but he will have more latitude in fixing the date and will be able to hold it before the General Election, if need be.

The Minister has made the amended Orders at the request of the present county councils. They think it would be preferable to bring the new county council into being rather sooner than originally planned, and fear that, if it has to be deferred until November, the new county will be short of time for making pre- parations for the appointed day, which is April 1, 1965. They have in mind the possible need for subsequent by-elections to fill vacancies caused by the elevation of councillors to the aldermanic bench. They are also anxious to appoint the council's chief officers well in advance. Firm decisions about these appointments and about other questions of staffing and organisation can be made only when the new councils are in office. I beg to move that the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely (Amendment) Order, 1964, be approved.

Moved, That the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely (Amendment) Order 1964 be approved.—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.