§ (1) The Minister may make Rules in relation to matters preliminary to the making of Orders and Orders in Council under this Act which authorise the acquisition of land or easements, or the breaking up of loads and the construction of works, including the publication of notices and advertisements, and the deposit of plans and sections and books of reference to those plans, and the manner in which and the time within which representations or objections are to be made, and to the holding of local inquiries.
§ Any Rules so made shall be laid before Parliament as soon as they are made and shall have the same effect as if enacted in this Act Provided that if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such Rules are so laid praying that any such Rule may be annulled, His Majesty may annul the Rule, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything done there under.
§ (2)The rules of procedure set out in the Second Schedule to this Act shall apply to the making of any Order under paragraph (d) of Sub-section (1) of Section three of this Act and of any draft of an Order in Council to be submitted to Parliament under Section nine of this Act.
§ (3)The Minister, on publication of notice of a proposal to make an Order under paragraph (d)of Sub-section (1) of Section three of this Act shall, except as hereinafter provided, send to the Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords and the Chairman of Ways and Means in the House of Commons a copy of the draft Order, and if within fourteen days of the receipt of the copy if Parliament is then sitting or within one month thereof if Parliament is not then sitting, either such Chairman reports to the Minister that he is of opinion that the proposals of the draft Order are of such a character or magnitude that they ought to be dealt with by Private Bill and not by such Order as aforesaid the Minister shall not make the Order, but in that case notices published and served, and deposits made for the purpose of the proposed Order shall, subject to Standing Order, be held to have been published, served and made for a Private Bill applying for similar powers.1589
§ Provided that this Sub-section shall not apply to any Order with respect to which the Minister certifies that the acquisition of the land or easements authorised to be acquired there under and the works authorised to be constructed there under do not involve an estimated expenditure exceeding half a million pounds, nor to any Order of any class which may be exempted from the provisions of this Sub-section by Rules made by the said chairmen."
§ Lords Amendment read a second time.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I beg to move, in Subsection (3), to leave out the wordsto be dealt with by private Bill and not by such Order as aforesaid, the Minister shall not make the Order, but in that case notices published and served, and deposits made for the purpose of the proposed Order shall, subject to Standing Order, be held to have been published, served and made for a private Bill applying for similar powers,and to insert instead thereof the wordsnot to be proceeded with without the authority of parliament, the Minister shall not make the Order unless or until the draft Order has been approved by a Resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament.The effect of that would be that if either the Chairman of Ways and Means or the Chairman of Committees is of opinion that the draft orders are of a character or magnitude that they ought not to be proceeded with without the assent of Parliament, then the Minister shall not make the Draft Order without a Resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament. The reason for the change is that the Lords have provided that it shall proceed by Private Bill. That is a very long and cumbersome procedure. The provisions of this Bill are for two years, and if a proposed Order of the Minister had to proceed by way of Private Bill it would mean that the whole two years would be gone before the Bill was through, whereas if it proceeds by Resolution of Parliament Parliament still retains control and the Order can be passed in time for the Ministry to carry it out within the two years.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I do not rise to object, but I should like to know what the effect is. I quite sympathise, in the circumstances, with the objection to Private Bill procedure. I know it is very lengthy, but, on the other hand, I think—at any rate I hope—the Home Secretary will agree with me that some kind of inquiry is the important part of these things. A mere Resolution of the two Houses will not be of any particular value. If there is to be any protection in the big cases with which this Amendment deals, it is essential there should be some kind of public inquiry into them. I do not know whether 1590 the right hon. Gentleman contemplates that that inquiry will take place by means of Select Committees, but if ho would explain I should be much obliged to him.
§ Mr. SHORTT
What the Government have in their mind is that if when the Resolution comes before the House it is seen that the question is of such magnitude or complexity that it requires some sort of investigation, the House will set up a Select Committee which will make the inquiry.
§ Mr. STEVENS
Here again it will have an opportunity of being considered by the Select Committee which the Government have undertaken to reappoint.
§ Amendment to Lords Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I beg to move, in Subsection (3), to leave out the words ''half a ["half a million pounds"], and to insert instead thereof the word "one."
The reason for this Amendment is that this money is not like the money that may be advanced which is public money, or the money which can be spent on new ventures which is public money. This is not necessarily public money at all, but money which can be expended by the railway companies themselves, but on purposes which require the Order of the Minister. In many cases the work which will have to be done is work that would not require much investigation. For instance, taking electricity along the line of a railway, it might be necessary in order to carry out that work to give instructions to take a piece of land adjoining the railway for a generating station, with, perhaps, a small way leave across a field. in that case the work would cost at least a million, but the proportion necessary under the Order would not be great. In several cases of that kind, however, a million is not by any means too much, and therefore I hope the House will accept that Amendment. It is not public money at all, but is really the railway companies' own money.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Economy is just as important in the case of a railway company's money as in the case of State money, and it is just as important that there should be checks on recklessness and extravagance with railway money as on the expenditure of public money. Indeed, there is really no distinction, as the railways are now under the control of the State. I do not follow the distinction, and I very much regret it.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
The capital of the railways, which is what is involved in such a question as this, has never been under the control of the Government. Their finances have always been entirely in their own hands.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I hear my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House remark that it could have been done without coming to Parliament. But I am perhaps a little more familiar with the procedure in these matters than he is, and I know that they could not have done that without coming to Parliament. They came to Parliament almost every year for further money powers in order to carry out works of this magnitude. They would, therefore, have had to come and have the matter properly investigated. But that is not the point. It is not what might have been done before the War, but what we ought to do now. In my view it is a great pity that this House, which talks so freely about economy in the abstract and in general, is so reluctant to take any active step to enforce economy. Before any expenditure is made, there ought to be proper checks, so that there shall be no reckless extravagance. I think that the half-million is a much better limit, and I regret that the Government have asked the House to disagree with the Lords Amendment. We are taking a view which is less enlightened than the view taken in the other House.
§ Amendment agreed to.