§ 1.—(1) The Treasury may upon the recommendation of the Development Commissioners appointed under this Act, make advances to a Government department, or through a Government department to a public authority, university, college, or institution, or an association of persons or company not trading for profit, either by way of grant or by way of loan, or partly in one way and partly in the other, and upon such terms and subject to such conditions as they may think fit, for any of the following purposes:—
- (a) Aiding and developing agriculture and rural industries by promoting scientific research, instruction and experiments in the science, methods and practice of agriculture (including the provision of farm-institutes), the organisation of co-operation, instruction in marketing produce, and the extension of the provision of small holdings; and by the adoption of any other means which appear calculated to develop agriculture and rural industries;
- (b) Forestry (including the purchase and planting of land, the conducting of inquiries, experiments, and research for the purpose of promoting forestry and the teaching of methods of afforestation);
- (c) The reclamation and drainage of land;
- (d) The general improvement of rural transport (including the making of light railways but not including the construction or improvement of roads);
- (e) The construction and improvement of harbours;
- (f) The construction and improvement of inland navigations;
- (g) The development and improvement of fisheries;
§ (2) All applications for advances under this Part of this Act shall be made to the Treasury in accordance with regulations made by the Treasury.
§ (3) No advance shall be made for any purpose which might be carried out under the provisions of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1908, upon any terms or conditions different from those contained in that statute except for some special reason which shall be stated in the annual report of the Development Commissioners.202
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said that before the noble Earl moved the Amendment of which he had given notice he wished to ask him a question with regard to some words which appeared in the Bill before the words dealt with by the Amendment. He would be glad if the noble Earl could inform him what precise meaning he attached to the words "or through a Government Department" at the commencement of the Clause. The word "through" was very ambiguous. Did it mean with the consent of the Government Department, or was it merely using the Government Department as a vehicle or channel for the advances?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (EARL CARRINGTON)
What is proposed is this. If any association of persons wish for an advance it has to go through a Government Department, and the Government Department are obliged to send it on though they may not approve of the scheme. They cannot hang up the scheme; they must send it to the Commissioners; but, of course, with the sending on of the scheme they would send their report as to whether they thought it advisable or a good or bad or indifferent scheme. The words are that the Treasury may make advances to a Government Department or through a Government Department to a public authority, college or institution, or association of persons or company not trading for profit. I hope I have made it clear that it must go through the intermediary of the Government Department, who send it on to the Commissioners, so that a person has a certainty of his scheme being considered by an authoritative body.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I understand then that the Government Department's consent is not required?
§ EARL CARRINGTON
That is so. Naturally if the Government Department thought that the scheme was a very bad one it is not very likely that the Commissioners would adopt it. Those words are for the purpose of making it absolutely straight and square and above board, that 203 every person's scheme should have a chance of going before the Commissioners whether they get the advance or not.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said the matter would arise on a subsequent clause, and he would postpone anything further he had to say until then.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I move to insert "school" after "college" in the list of bodies to whom grants can be made. I may say that the Amendment is in pursuance of a promise given to Sir William Anson.
In page 1, line 10, after the word 'college' to insert the word 'school.'"—(Earl Carrington.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY moved an Amendment substituting the words "body corporate" for "company." He pointed out that a company might be two or three persons, and it surely could not be the intention of His Majesty's Government to make advances to two or three individuals who might have some particular fad to forward. "Body corporate" was the phrase adopted by His Majesty's Government themselves in Clause 7, and therefore he thought there would be no objection to using the same expression in Clause 1.
In page 1, line 11, to leave out the word 'company,' and to insert the words 'body corporate.'"—(The Earl of Derby.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I am quite prepared to accept the Amendment if the noble Earl would be good enough to allow the two words "or incorporate" to go in as well.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY signified his assent.
§ On Question, Amendment as amended agreed to.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN moved the omission of the words "not trading for profit," which limited the bodies to which grants were to be made. He said 204 that his Amendment must be taken in connection with another Amendment which he had placed on the Paper to be inserted at the end of the clause providing for the particular cases with which he desired to deal. He did not at all wish that advances should be made generally to companies trading for profit, but he had had under his own control when he was at the Treasury the question of advances for light railways, and in deciding whether advances or loans should be made under the Light Railways Act for the construction of light railways this matter always had to be considered. It was reasonably easy to obtain some security from the promoters of a light railway that it should be made, but it was by no means so easy to obtain any security after it was constructed that it should be properly worked and maintained. He gathered that the intention of the clause was that in any case of an advance the application should be made by a public authority, and the case he wanted to deal with was where a public authority being a county council or a county borough council desired the construction of a light railway or tramway within its area, or it might be a grant for the construction or improvement of a pier or harbour. The public authority had to make the application for the advance; but could it under the Bill obtain from the Commissioners either a grant or a loan to a railway company or to a harbour authority for the purpose of the construction of the light railway, pier, or harbour? It would be obviously of great advantage in such a case, in fact it would be almost a necessary thing, that there should be some real security that the railway, pier, or harbour should be worked and maintained in the future; and what he hoped the Government might be willing to do would be to allow the Commissioners to make the advance in such a case although it might be made direct to a harbour authority or to a company trading for profit, provided the advance was applied for by the local authority for the benefit of the people in the locality. This matter had been raised in another place, and one of the representatives of the Government indicated that the Government were disposed to look favourably upon applications of that kind. As the Bill stood, however, he very much doubted whether such an advance could be made and any security obtained for the proper working and maintenance 205 either of the light railway or of the harbour or pier. He moved the omission of h words in this place with a view of the insertion at a later stage of the subsection of which he had given notice.
In page 1, line 11, to leave out the words 'not trading for profit.'"—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The noble Viscount has put the case so clearly that I need not trouble much with this point. What the noble Viscount proposes to do is to leave out the words "not trading for profit," and then, if I may be permitted to refer to his later Amendment, as the two hang together, he proposes to put in, "No advance shall be made to any association of persons or company trading for profit, except to enable a public authority to secure within its area the construction, maintenance, and working of a light railway by a railway company, or of a pier or harbour by a Harbour Board or Harbour Commissioners." As the noble Viscount said, Sir Samuel Evans in another place moved an Amendment which was almost practically the same as that of the noble Viscount's, but in view of the general opinion of the House it was withdrawn. In those circumstances I can leave it entirely and absolutely in the hands of your Lordships, saying for myself, although I do not press it, that there may be difficulties in regard to this clause to which I need not allude which might make it difficult for the House of Commons to accept it. With that proviso I will make no opposition to the Amendment, but leave it entirely in the hands of your Lordships to take out the words "not trading for profit" and to bring in the next Amendment, which, I think, carries out what the noble Viscount wishes.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD LOVAT moved to amend paragraph (b) by adding, alter the word "including," the words "the conducting of inquiries as to the amount and quality of land suitable for afforestation." In the past, he said, there had been a great deal of wild talk about afforestation, and much confusion of thought arose from the fact that no one knew the amount of land that was suitable for the purpose. It seemed to him only logical that before money was actually spent on afforestation there should 206 be a preliminary survey to find out the exact extent of land which was suitable for afforestation.
In page 1, line 25, after the word 'including,' to insert the words 'the conducting of inquiries as to the amount and quality of land suitable for afforestation.'"—(Lord Lovat.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I would ask the noble Lord if he would mind my taking Lord Derby's Amendments on this subject instead of his own. We all acknowledge that the noble Lord is a past master as regards the question of afforestation, but the two series of Amendments are very much the same, and the experts would rather take Lord Derby's Amendments than that of the noble Lord. If he would consent to withdraw his Amendment on the understanding that Lord Derby's Amendments, which run on all fours with his, will be accepted, it would be agreeable to us.
§ LORD LOVAT said he could not agree to that course. His Amendment went to a survey of the whole extent of land that was suitable for afforestation. Lord Derby's Amendment only referred to the planting of certain lands which had been found after inquiry suitable for afforestation. He thought it was very necessary to make the inquiry indicated by his Amendment. If their Lordships read the Report of the Erosion Committee they would find that they had the very foggiest idea of the quantity of land available for afforestation, some people suggesting two and a-half million acres and others suggesting nine million acres. No scheme could be carried out without first ascertaining how much land was available. On that point, as he had already said, the most divergent views were entertained, not only as to quantity, but as to the altitude at which trees could be grown, and so on.
§ *LORD AVEBURY said that as he had had the honour of presiding over two of the committees which had been appointed on the subject he hoped he might be allowed to say a few words, and he would venture to ask his noble friend not to press his Amendment. The effect of accepting the Amendment now before their Lordships would be to postpone afforestation until a very long inquiry had been conducted into the matter. Those of them who were anxious to see something 207 done as soon as possible concurred with the Government in preferring the Amendments of the noble Earl, Lord Derby, under which something could be done very soon.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
We are very anxious to get on with afforestation. I do, therefore, appeal to the noble Lord to be kind enough to withdraw his Amendment and we will try and meet him in every possible way by accepting the Amendments of Lord Derby.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ *THE EARL OF DERBY, in moving the first Amendment in his name, said that as he gathered that the Government were prepared to accept it he would only formally move it.
In page 1, line 25, to leave out the words 'the purchase and planting of land,' and to insert '(1).'"—(The Earl of Derby.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I understand the noble Earl breaks up paragraph (b) into two paragraphs, the first being "Forestry, including the conducting of inquiries, experiments, and research for the purpose of promoting forestry and the teaching of methods of afforestation." Then he has a further Amendment later on on the Paper to insert as a second paragraph "the purchase and planting of land found after inquiry to be suitable for afforestation." I am quite prepared to accept both those proposals.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY then formally moved his second Amendment.
In page 2, line 2, after the word 'afforestation,' to insert '(2) the purchase and planting of land found after inquiry to be suitable for afforestation.'"—(The Earl of Derby.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *THE EARL OF DERBY moved to omit from the clause the words "and for any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom." He mentioned that Viscount St. Aldwyn had put down an Amendment to 208 the effect that this purpose should he defined by Order in Council, that the Order should lie on the Table of both Houses of Parliament for thirty days during the session, and that if either House presented an Address to His Majesty against it no further proceedings should be taken on the Order. In ordinary circumstances he should be prepared to give way to his noble friend, but on this occasion he felt bound to adhere to his own Amendment and to ask the House to accept it. He doubted whether there had ever appeared in any Bill a clause containing such wide words as those which he moved to omit from this clause. He very much doubted whether even the noble Earl in charge of the Bill could give them any definition as to how many fads, as he might call them, could be roped into that net. He understood from an Amendment he saw lower down that it would be perfectly possible, not only to buy land under which rich minerals were but to work those minerals; and if they were to take it to an absurd conclusion, there was absolutely nothing in the wording of the clause which would prevent any Minister if he sat on one side of the House from subscribing to some Free Trade union, or if he at on the other side of the House from subscribing to a Tariff Reform league, both being claimed for the purpose of promoting the economical development of the United Kingdom. He ventured to suggest to the noble Earl in charge of the Bill that the words provided too large a scope, and he therefore hoped the Committee would accept the Amendment.
In page 2, line 9, to leave out from the word 'fisheries' to the end of subsection (1)."—(The Earl of Derby.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I am, of course, in the hands of the House, but I should be very much obliged to the noble Earl if he would give way to Lord St. Aldwyn. If he presses his Amendment, however, and is supported, of course we are nowhere; but I think we should be able to meet his objections. But Lord St. Aldwyn's clause, if I may be permitted to refer to it, proposes that these purposes should be defined by an Order in Council which is to lie on the Table of both Houses of Parliament for thirty days before coming into operation. We think that that would be quite safeguard enough, and therefore I hope the 209 noble Earl will, after all, change his mind and allow the noble Viscount's Amendment to be taken instead of his.
§ *THE EARL OF DERBY said nothing would give him greater pleasure than to afford satisfaction both to the noble Earl in charge of the Bill and also to his noble friend, but at the same time he could not agree to withdraw his Amendment. The Government had already in the sub-heads (a) to (g) innumerable objects on which to spend money, and he thought everything likely to arise was covered.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said that he put his Amendment on the Paper first because he did not think His Majesty's Government would accept the Amendment of his noble friend, Lord Derby, and secondly because he did think that there was some reason for giving the Government of the day the power of adding to the objects which might be aided, provided always that the control of Parliament was retained. The words as they stood in the Bill enabling the Commissioners to make advances for any other purpose calculated to promote the economical development of the United Kingdom were so vague as to be almost absurd. Practically Parliament would be asked to deprive itself of all control over the action of the Commissioners in dealing with the money which might be placed at their disposal, and therefore he suggested that any fresh purpose in addition to those which appeared in the Bill should be defined by Order in Council to be laid before Parliament from time to time, with ample opportunity for either House of Parliament to express an opinion in opposition to such a scheme if it desired to do so. Personally, he could see that the feeling of the Committee was rather in favour of the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Derby, and he did not wish to press his view as against that of the noble Earl.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved to amend subsection (3), which provided that "no advance shall be made for any purpose which might be carried out under the provisions of the Small Holdings and Allotments Acts, 1908, upon any terms or conditions different from those contained in that statute except for some special reason which shall be stated in the annual 210 report of the Development Commissioners," by omitting the reference to the Small Holdings Act and substituting the words "any statute." As their Lordships were no doubt aware, the subsection was inserted in the course of the passage of the Bill through another place. The object of the subsection as it stood in the Bill was not to allow the advances which were permitted under the clause to run athwart the provisions of the Small Holdings Act. That Act, as their Lordships would remember, was passed with every sort of precaution. Certain elaborate conditions were inserted, which it was not material for him to enter into, and upon the strength of those conditions the Small Holdings Act was sanctioned. The House of Commons thought, and no doubt their Lordships would be of opinion that they were quite right in so thinking, that now that it was proposed that advances should be made under this clause such advances ought to be subject to the same conditions as those under the Small Holdings Act, because it was evident that if those conditions were good in the case of the Small Holdings Act they must be equally good in respect of advances made for small holding purposes under this Bill. But the principle which the House of Commons had established in the subsection ought not to be confined to the Small Holdings Act, because the same argument held good in the case of any other Act. For instance, he would ask their Lordships to consider for a moment the Light Railways Act, to which attention had been called once or twice. There were provisions in that Act for advances for the purpose of making light railways, provisions which had been very largely availed of in the working of that Act. As much as £200,000 had been advanced under the Act for the making of light railways. Those advances were limited under the Act by a great many conditions which, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, must be assumed to be sound, and if they were sound they were good not only for the light railways but for advances under this Bill, and of course the argument might be extended to other Acts of Parliament. In a word, if the conditions under other Acts of Parliament for these special beneficent purposes were good, then they ought to be embodied in respect of advances under this Bill. His broad proposition was that the principle which had been assented to by the House of Commons in respect to the Small Holdings Act, in subsection (3), 211 was a general principle of wide application, and ought to be applied to any Statute.
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE wished to point out that the House of Commons had put in a provision in the Bill especially affecting the Small Holdings Act, which was quite a new Act only just beginning to get into working order, and therefore they might reasonably be expected to think that that Act should have a trial first. The noble Marquess had referred to the Light Railways Act, and had told them that Parliament authorised advances to light railways only under certain very strict conditions. Some of those light railways had been successful and some had not. There were districts in which light railways were desirable, but, owing to the poverty of the localities, advances could not be obtained under present conditions. Would it not be reasonable that the Development Commissioners should consider such cases with a view to granting additional advances?
§ THE EARL OF JERSEY quite agreed with what the noble Lord opposite had said. There was no doubt whatever that some of the conditions imposed by the Government of the day in the Light Railways Act caused that Act to be less useful than it might otherwise have been. One of those conditions was that no money should be granted by the Treasury unless the light railway was worked by an existing railway company, the effect being that light railways were placed entirely in the hands of great railway companies. He need hardly say that the result of that was not very beneficial to the light railways, and after ten years of that Act he thought everything went to show that it would be a good thing if the conditions could be somewhat lightened. He could not possibly agree, therefore, with what the noble Marquess had said.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
There seems to be a difference of opinion about this, and that rather strengthens us in the view that the course taken in the House of Commons was the right one. The noble Marquess's Amendment is practically bringing back the Amendment that Lord Robert Cecil moved 212 in the House of Commons. The noble Marquess wishes to include the Light Railways Act in this clause, and that has been violently objected to by two noble Lords who have expert knowledge on the subject. Therefore, although I did not think at first that it was a matter of very great importance, I am of opinion now that we should stand by the words of the clause.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN thought his noble friend the late Chairman of the Light Railway Commission and the noble Lord opposite had hardly sufficiently considered the words as they stood in the Bill, that "no advance shall be made for any purpose which might be carried out under the provisions of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1908, upon any terms or conditions different from those contained in that Statute except for some special reason which shall be stated in the annual report of the Development Commissioners." If such a case arose as his noble friend behind him and the noble Lord opposite had in their minds, and the locality could not provide the sum required by the Light Railways Act, the Commissioners might themselves make the advance, merely inserting their reasons for so doing in their annual report to Parliament.
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND thought that the matter was a rather more important one than it appeared to be considered by some of his noble friends. The doctrine apparently laid down was that whenever an Act of Parliament had been sufficiently long in operation to need some amendment, that amendment was not to be carried out by an amending Act but by putting unlimited powers into the hands of certain Commissioners. He spoke with no particular knowledge of light railways, and he dared say noble Lords were perfectly right in what they had said; but what they had said seemed to him to be only a reason for amending the Act of Parliament. The clause did not refer to light railways only, and it would mean giving a general roving commission to the Commissioners to modify Acts of Parliament as they pleased whenever Acts of Parliament had been in force long enough to have become practically obsolete. It was putting into the hands of bureaus of different sorts and kinds duties which had hitherto been carried out by Parliament. That seemed to him to be a very bad principle to establish, and he thought they ought to protest against it.213
§ THE EARL OF JERSEY pointed out that in Clause 1 of the Bill the general improvement of rural transport, including light railways, was mentioned as one of the objects of the measure. If the Commissioners thought that they could assist a light railway by giving a grant which was not obtainable at present, there would be no harm in their doing so; but the Amendment would act as a warning to the Commissioners not to touch light railways.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY repudiated the suggestion that his Amendment would warn the Commissioners from touching light railways. Light railways were specifically stated in the clause as one of the objects in view, and his Amendment did not mention light railways. His noble friend evidently had not done him the honour of reading the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF JERSEY pointed out that the speech of the noble Marquess was all about light railways.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said that it was not his speech but rather the words of the Act of Parliament that the Commissioners would look at.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.
In page 2, line 20, after subsection (3), to insert the following new subsection:
§ '(4) No advance shall be made to any association of persons or company trading for profits, except to enable a public authority to secure within its area the construction, maintenance, and working of a light railway by a railway company, or of a pier or harbour by a Harbour Board or Harbour Commissioners.'"—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved to insert a new subsection providing for the laying of any recommendation for an important advance on the Table of both Houses of Parliament. His proposal left it to the discretion of the Development Commissioners as to whether the advance was of so important a character as to make it desirable that it should be placed before Parliament, and if they decided that the undertaking was of such magnitude that it ought to be laid before Parliament they were to forward a draft recommendation to the 214 Treasury, which recommendation was to be laid on the Table of both Houses for thirty days. The Commissioners would have the indirect influence brought to bear upon them that if they were not to decide that a particular undertaking was of sufficient importance to lay before Parliament and it turned out to be so, they could be called to account for that; but their Lordships would observe that it was only a very mild influence which was brought to bear upon them by the proposed new subsection.
In page 2, after line 20, after subsection (3), to insert the following now subsection—
§ '(4) Before making any recommendation for an advance under this Act, the Development Commissioners shall consider the matter with special reference to the magnitude of the undertaking and the interests likely to be affected and the extent and situation of any land necessary for the undertaking, and whether such land is likely to be acquired by agreement, and if a majority of the Commissioners consider that their proposals should be laid before Parliament they shall forward a draft recommendation to the Treasury. The Treasury shall not act upon such draft recommendation until it has lain for thirty days during the Session of Parliament on the Table of both Houses of Parliament, and if either House during those thirty days presents an Address to His Majesty against the draft no further proceedings shall be taken thereon, but without prejudice to the making by the Commissioners of a new draft recommendation.'"—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I should like to call the attention of the Committee to the words "magnitude of the undertaking" in the noble Earl's proposed new subsection. If it was really a big scheme the Treasury would have to go to Parliament for the money, because the Development Commissioners have only altogether £2,500,000 to spend in five years, so that the most they could spend in a year would be half a million. They could not tackle a scheme of any great magnitude with that small amount of money, and would have to go to Parliament with any large scheme. If noble Lords will look at the words of Lord Camperdown's proposal, they are "if a majority of the Commissioners consider that their proposals should be laid before Parliament they shall forward a draft recommendation to the Treasury." That means, of course, that the minority are opposed. If they cannot make up their minds about the merits or the demerits of a particular scheme, their obvious duty, I should have thought, would be to refuse to sanction it, and knock it on the head at once. But it seems to me that 215 the Amendment of the noble Earl, if carried, would encourage a timid Commissioner, and I suppose we shall have such, to shirk his duty. I therefore hope your Lordships will not accept the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN thought that the noble Earl was under a misapprehension. The noble Earl had said that in the case of a really big scheme the Treasury would be obliged to go to Parliament for the money. They would not. Surely the £500,000 which was voted was to be applied in such a manner as the Treasury saw fit, on the recommendation of the Commissioner. The Treasury, therefore, if they approved
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.216
§ the recommendation, could find this money and give the money without the sanction of Parliament. With regard to the noble Earl's remark that the minority would be opposed to the scheme, there was always a minority in every case, and if the majority thought that the recommendation ought to be laid on the Table of Parliament, why should they not make the necessary motion? He asked their Lordships to accept the proposed new subsection.
§ On Question?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 99; Not-contents, 38.215
|Devonshire, D.||Goschen, V.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Northumberland, D.||Hardinge, V.||Ebury, L.|
|Rutland, D.||Hill, V.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Faber, L.|
|Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Ailesbury, M.||Iveagh, V.||Forester, L.|
|Bath, M.||St. Aldwyn, V.||Grenfell, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Hindlip, L.|
|Camden, M.||Bangor, L. Bp.||Kenyon, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Salisbury, N.||Abinger, L.||Knaresborough, L.|
|Addington, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Brownlow, E.||Allerton, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Ampthill, L.||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Camperdown, E. [Teller.]||Armstrong, L.||Lovat, L.|
|Carnwath, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Ludlow, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Atkinson, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Avebury, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Bagot, L.||Northcote, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Belper, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Derby, E.||Biddulph, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Borthwick, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Jersey, E.||Braye, L.||Rothschild, L.|
|Lauderdale, E. [Teller.]||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Sanderson, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Calthorpe, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Stalbridge, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clamwilliam.)||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Plymouth, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Sudeley, L.|
|Stamford, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Clinton, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Wharncliffe, E.||Clonbrock, L.||Waleran, L.|
|De Mauley, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Churchill, V.||Digby, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Dunalley, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||St. Asaph, L. Bp.||Haversham, L.|
|Wolverhampton, V. (L. President.)||Hemphill, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Airedale, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Allendale, L.||Marchamley, L.|
|Armitstead, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward).||Blyth, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Boston, L.||Pirrie, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Coleridge, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||St. David's, L.|
|Russell, E.||Denman, L. [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Eversley, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Glantawe, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Althorp, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Tenterden, L.|
|Morley of Blackburn, V.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L. [Teller.]||Weardale, L.|
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.217
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3:
§ 3.—(1) For the purposes of this Part of this Act there shall be established a Commission consisting of five Commissioners, to be styled the Development Commissioners and to be appointed by the Treasury, of whom one to be appointed by the Treasury shall be chairman.
§ (2) Subject to the provisions of this section, the term of office of a Commissioner shall be ten years. One Commissioner shall retire every second year, but a retiring Commissioner may be reappointed. The order in which the Commissioners first appointed are to retire shall be determined by the Treasury. On a casual vacancy occurring by reason of the death, resignation, or incapacity of a Commissioner, or otherwise, the person appointed by the Treasury to fill the vacancy shall continue in office until the Commissioner in whose place he was appointed would have retired, and shall then retire.
§ (3) There shall be paid to not more than two of the Commissioners such salaries, not exceeding in the aggregate three thousand pounds in each year, as the Treasury may direct.
§ (4) The Commissioners may act by three of their number and notwithstanding a vacancy in their number, and, subject to the approval of the Treasury, may regulate their own procedure.
§ (5) The Commissioners may, with the consent of the Treasury, appoint and employ such officers and servants for the purposes of this Part of this Act as they think necessary, and may remove any officer or servant so appointed and employed, and there shall be paid to such officers and servants such salaries or remuneration as the Commissioners, with the consent of the Treasury, may determine.
§ (6) The salaries of the Commissioners and the salaries or remuneration of their officers and servants and any expenses incurred by the Commissioners in the execution of their duties under this Part of this Act to such amount as may be sanctioned by the Treasury shall be defrayed out of the development fund.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said he had given notice of a verbal Amendment to leave out the words "part of this" in the first line of the clause with the view of raising the very important question whether a Road Board should be separately established, or whether the duties of the Road Board should be carried out by the Development Commissioners—whether, in short, one or two authorities should be constituted under the Bill. It was rather difficult, he admitted, to raise this question now, because they did not know what duties their Lordships would impose on the Road Board; and therefore he would ask the noble Earl in charge of the Bill where he thought the question could best be raised. He would be quite willing to pass by his present Amendment, which was really almost a verbal one, if in the opinion of the noble Earl the point could be raised on another clause. 218 It did not seem to him to be advisable to decide whether there should be a separate Road Board before their Lordships had decided what the duties of such a Board were to be, and it might be their Lordships would decide that the power of making new roads, and of making them nearly a quarter of a mile broad, was not to be entrusted to the Road Board. If their Lordships so decided, the Road Board would be simply a body authorised to make grants to local authorities for the construction of new roads or for the improvement of existing ones, and he submitted that it would be quite unnecessary to constitute a separate body for that purpose. That work might be done either by the Local Government Board or by the Commissioners.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I should almost think, if it suits the noble Viscount, that it would be as well to take the whole question at once on this Amendment, which is the first of a series of Amendments the object of which is to amalgamate the two bodies. I think the Committee should clearly understand that the question before your Lordships is to do away with the Road Board, to increase the numbers of the Commissioners, and to tack the powers of the Road Board on to the Development Commissioners. If your Lordships understand that that is really the question before you, I think perhaps it would be the most convenient and the best place to take the discussion at once, so as not to have any confusion, on the Amendment the noble Viscount now proposes to move.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said that in spite of what the noble Earl had stated, he thought the discussion of the question would be rather prejudiced until they knew what the duties were which the Road Board had to perform. He would prefer, therefore, that his Amendment should be passed by at the moment, letting the clause stand so far as he was concerned in its present state, and when they came to Clause 7, which constituted the Road Board, to move the postponement of that clause until they knew what the duties were that were to be cast upon the Road Board.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I understand the proposal to be that we should pass by all the noble Viscount's Amendments until we come to Clause 7.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said he proposed to postpone Clause 7 until their Lordships had settled what the duties of the Road Board were to be.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES said he thought he understood exactly what the noble Viscount proposed. The noble Viscount had several Amendments on the Paper, one, for instance, being that two of the Commissioners should be selected for their special knowledge of the construction of roads, and so on, and, as he understood, he did not intend to move any of those Amendemnts at present, and when they came to Clause 7 the noble Viscount intended to move that that clause be postponed and that their Lordships should consider Clause 7 later. Then their Lordships would come to the powers of the Road Board contained in Clause 8, and on that clause the noble Viscount proposed to raise the whole question as to whether the Road Board and the Development Commissioners should be amalgamated in one body.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN agreed that that was his proposal. He understood that it would be possible for their Lordships to postpone Clause 7 and take Clause 8 and settle the duties of the Road Board, and then go back to Clause 7 and consider whether there should be a Road Board at all, it being understood that various preliminary Amendments should, if necessary, be inserted on Report.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE moved an Amendment vesting the appointment of the Commissioners in the Crown by warrant under the sign manual, instead of in the Treasury. He said that one object of his Amendment was for the purpose of endeavouring to elicit from His Majesty's Government some idea of the relationship which was to exist between the Treasury, Parliament, and the 220 Development Commissioners. He had put down a series of Amendments which on the one hand would have the effect of considerably strengthening the Commissioners, and on the other hand would place them entirely under the control of Parliament. He candidly confessed that he was sufficiently old-fashioned to believe that anything which derogated from the effective control of Parliament over the finances of the country was a thing to be deprecated. He regretted that he appeared to be in a minority in holding that opinion nowadays. It seemed to him that the whole trend of modern legislation was to create new Government Departments and bodies which in some mysterious manner stepped between the vote of Parliament and the control of the finances of the country. He wanted to know what the precise relationship of the Development Commissioners was to be to the Treasury.
§ It seemed to him that the idea of the Bill was that there should be a minimum of Parliamentary control combined with a maximum of Departmental responsibility, and it was a little difficult to understand why it was necessary for the purposes of the Act that such a body should be created at all. If these great schemes were to be carried out he much preferred that duly prepared and well-considered estimates should be placed before the House of Commons, that the House of Commons should have full opportunity of expressing their opinion upon them, and that the money should be expended according to the instructions of Parliament. The House of Commons had apparently seen fit to dispense with the control of a sum of two and a-half millions of money which was to be spent over a series of years. The control as to how that money was to be allocated and how it was to be spent seemed to him to be almost entirely taken away from the House of Commons. They wished to know what the real views of the Government were as to the functions and the duties of the Development Commissioners; and if they were to have an independent body at all, he hoped their Lordships would agree that it was better to have a body which was really independent. He had no wish to find fault with the procedure of appointment by Treasury Minute; in fact, he had had the privilege of holding an office the appointment to which was by Treasury Minute, and he would be the last person 221 to suggest that in many cases that was not the most suitable procedure. But here a body was being created with, as it were, an odour of independence but composed of persons who, from the very nature of their appointment, could not fail to be more or less servants, of the Treasury, dependent upon their wishes and upon their views.
§ For the purpose he had indicated, he had ventured to place upon the Table of their Lordships' House a series of Amendments identical with those moved by Sir William Anson in the House of Commons, and he hoped if they were carried that they would result in making the body a really independent one. Although the body might be composed of exactly the same individuals, yet, with all respect to Treasury Minutes, he ventured to say that a body of men created and appointed, as he suggested, by His Majesty, with all the dignity and formality of a Royal Commission, would be a far stronger and more independent and capable body than a body which would be recognised as merely a Departmental Committee appointed by the Treasury. The language he had adopted in the series of Amendments which he had suggested was practically that which was utilised now, as he understood, in the appointment of Judges. There was a further precedent for his suggestion. Under the Charitable Trust Acts practically the same procedure was adopted, and he failed to see any reason why a body which was to have such vast and comprehensive powers and the control of such large sums of money, which, although limited at present to two and a-half millions would be bound to increase largely if the procedure continued, should not be appointed with all the dignity and formality that he suggested. Such a body would be far more capable of fairly and adequately carrying out such a work than a body which must be more or less liable to Parliamentary influence. He did not say that there was anything wrong in Parliamentary influence being brought to bear in certain circumstances, but in the case of such a body as the one in question there would be the greatest possible objection to it.
§ If the Government could not see their way to accept his Amendment, would they, at any rate, give him some idea of what their views were as to the relationship the 222 Development Commissioners would bear to the Treasury and to the Houses of Parliament? Even if they did not accept this proposal he would like to ask them a question with regard to one of the further Amendments he had placed on the Paper. If the scheme of the Government was adhered to, would it be possible for a paid member of the Commission to retain a seat in the House of Commons? There was some doubt expressed in the House of Commons on that subject. As far as he had been able to read from the reports of their proceedings, the Solicitor-General had expressed the opinion that a paid Commissioner would not be able to do so, but it was not an absolutely decisive opinion. He thought, as far as policy was concerned, that there ought to be a specific agreement that a paid Commissioner under the Bill ought not to be entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons. He did not know whether it would be necessary to move words to carry that into effect in the Bill, or whether it was covered by the existing law. He would like to know the view of His Majesty's Government with regard to it, and would withdraw his Amendment on the point if necessary. Meanwhile he would move the first Amendment standing in his name.
In page 3, lines 25 and 26, to leave out 'there shall be established a Commission consisting of,' and to insert 'it shall be lawful for His Majesty and his successors by warrant under the sign manual to appoint.'"—(The Duke of Devonshire.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
This point was very well thrashed out in the other House of Parliament. On Report, Sir William Anson moved a similar Amendment to that which the noble Duke has now moved, and there was a very long debate about it. The feeling of the House was very strong in favour of the present arrangement, and on the division the figures were, I think, 148 to thirty-two. There really seems to be hardly any necessity in this case why the appointment of these Development Commissioners should be treated in exactly the same way as that of Judges of the High Court. Of course, there can be no strong objection to the proposal of the noble Duke, though, as the House of Commons have declared their opinion with regard to it after a long debate on the subject, the Government would prefer to retain the words in the Bill.
223 The noble Duke asked what was the view of the Government as to the duties of the Development Commissioners. I am sure the noble Duke does not wish me to detain the House by going into that question again. I made it as clear as I could in my speech on the Second Reading. But I must join issue with him at once when he says that though there was an odour of independence about them—I think those were the words he used—yet they would be the servants of the Treasury. I can assure the noble Duke that they will not be servants of the Treasury of any sort, description, or kind. They will be chosen for their integrity and honour, and they will be, what they were chosen to be—the servants of the public at large. Perhaps they would not have the same dignity and formality and strength in their appointment as a Judge of the Crown appointed by His Majesty, but they would have the same dignity that most Commissioners created under similar circumstances would have. I cannot for one moment admit that these independent and honourable men would be in any way subject to Parliamentary influence or pressure. No man with any self-respect could undertake a business of this kind with any idea of suffering from Parliamentary influence; at any rate, not the men whom we hope to see filling these positions; and though there is no great objection, of course, to the proposal of the noble Duke, yet I hope, considering the expression of opinion of the House of Commons on the matter, that your Lordships will permit the clause to remain as it is.
There was one more question the noble Duke asked—whether it would be possible for a paid Development Commissioner to be a member of Parliament. The noble Duke has an Amendment dealing with that on the Paper. Perhaps I might answer the question now, as it has been raised. There is no possibility of any man holding a position of this sort being a member of the Commons House of Parliament. If he was a member of the House of Commons at the time he would have to resign his seat from the moment of accepting his appointment, because he would be holding an office of profit under the Crown, and since the days of Queen Anne no person holding an office of profit under the Crown can retain his seat in Parliament.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The matter has been looked into, and this is held to be an office of profit under the Crown.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I am sorry I am not in a position to argue the legal aspect. All I can say is that I am briefed, if I may use that expression, by the highest legal authority in the country to say that a man who holds the position of a Commissioner holds an office of profit under the Crown. That is all I have to say, except that the Government do not wish this Amendment to be carried. But, of course, having made our protest, we should offer no opposition.
§ *LORD ASHBOURNE said there was an obvious convenience in the proposal of his noble friend to make the Crown the source of the appointment, because that would confer certain jurisdictions and powers which would not otherwise be conferred. If a person was appointed by pleasure of the Crown it was as high a tenure as could well be asked for, and, as long as he conducted himself properly, the pleasure would not be determined. But there might be public grounds which made it desirable that it should be determined.
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE said that before the Committee accepted the Amendment he would like to know from the noble Duke opposite whether the other Amendments standing in his name were consequential or not. For his own part he had no very strong feeling one way or the other whether the appointment was by Commission established as in the Bill or by warrant under the sign manual of His Majesty, but he saw what he took to be a consequential Amendment on the next page to the effect that the Commissioners should hold office during good behaviour. This was a new thing, and it might be rather difficult to get five men who were really good at the business. The office of a Development Commissioner was going to require a special kind of man, and at the end of ten years, the term of office specified in the Bill, they would be able to find out whether a Commissioner ought to be retained or not. But by the Amendment of the noble Duke they were going to put in five men who were to hold office under the proposal perhaps for life; and in a few years time they might have a body of very old men, two or three of whom had shown their incapacity to do the work.225
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN confessed that he had not realised that the Amendment of the noble Duke behind him did imply that Commissioners appointed under the Bill should hold office for life. He was disposed to agree with the noble Lord opposite that if that were so it would be an objection. He had seen things himself in the constitution of the Railway Commission which induced him to think that tenure of office for a certain number of years was better than tenure for life. Whether the Commissioners should be appointed by the Crown or by the Treasury was another matter, and he gathered that His Majesty's Government had no very great objection to appointment by the Crown.
§ LORD WELBY pointed out that an appointment by the Crown would practically mean an appointment for life, whereas an appointment by Treasury Minute would necessarily mean retirement at the age of sixty-five.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE preferred that the Crown rather than the Treasury should have the appointment, but he quite appreciated the point that had been raised. He was quite prepared, therefore, to withdraw his future Amendment in that respect and have a limited number of years inserted instead.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved an Amendment providing that the names of the Commissioners should be inserted in the schedule. He said that on the Second Reading he ventured to ask the noble Earl in charge of the Bill whether he would be good enough to state on behalf of the Government the names of the Commissioners before the matter passed out of the control of Parliament. The noble Earl was kind enough to make a very sympathetic answer. He said it was not at all an unreasonable suggestion, and he would consider whether it was possible or not to comply with it. He thought that the easiest way of giving the noble Earl that opportunity was to move the Amendment in the form in which he had put it down, but it would be absurd to press it if the answer of the noble Earl was not a favourable one. If, however, it was favourable, he would ask their Lordships to insert the words in the clause, and then it would naturally follow that the names of the Commissioners would be stated in the 226 schedule. The control of very large sums of money, amounting to millions of pounds, was to be placed in the hands of these Commissioners, and their powers, even after the Amendment their Lordships had made to the first clause, would be very wide reaching. Such powers as those no doubt could be properly wielded by certain men and only by certain men; there were very few men who were really qualified to exercise them, and it would reassure their Lordships' minds very much if they knew who the Commissioners were to whom such enormous powers were to be entrusted. They were hardly giving any directions to the Commissioners as how they were to use their powers. They were in the position, he was going to say, of almost absolute monarchs, but certainly in a position of enormous independence. Of course, if they knew the names of the Commissioners they might be prepared to trust them with even greater powers.
In page 3, line 26, after the word 'Commissioners,' to insert the words 'named in the Second Schedule to this Act.'"—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
When the noble Marquess raised this question on a previous occasion I said the demand was certainly not an unreasonable one, and I am still of the opinion that it is reasonable to ask the names of these men who, as the noble Marquess says, are to have such large sums entrusted to them, and whose powers are to be so far-reaching. There is one great difficulty about this, however, and it arises from the very fact which the noble Marquess himself mentioned. He said, and said truly, that the Commissioners must be very exceptional men and that it would be very difficult to find men so qualified. I quite agree; and that being so it would be most undesirable to make any hurried choice. I know that from the experience I had in the case of the Small Holdings Commissioners whom I was permitted to appoint. There were an enormous number of applicants, and had I been obliged to come to Parliament and hurriedly give names, instead of being able after careful consideration to give the names of those men whom I was fortunate enough to secure, the consequences might have been very disastrous. I have thought this thing over and consulted with the powers that be, and at the present moment it is absolutely impossible to give 227 the names of the Commissioners, especially as, if the noble Viscount's Amendments are carried, the duties of the Commissioners will be to a great extent changed, and a different class of man, of course, would have to be appointed. I am therefore grateful to the noble Marquess for offering not to press his Amendment.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said that if one of the Amendments on the Paper was carried the office of Commissioner would be made even more important than it was at the present time, and that was an additional reason for his noble friend desiring to know the names of the Commissioners before proceeding with the Bill. When he knew the House of Commons a good many years ago that House never would have parted with a Bill of this kind without knowing the names of the Commissioners who were to be placed in so important a position as the Commissioners proposed by this Bill. Nowadays there seemed to be a change of opinion, but he would venture to press upon their Lordships, in the interests of both Houses of Parliament, not to part with the Bill before they knew who the Commissioners were to be. The appointment was one of grave importance, and these men would be entrusted, practically without any control, to carry out very responsible duties. The least the Government could do was to inform Parliament of the names of the Commissioners proposed before the Bill became law.
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE said the noble Viscount proposed to move an Amendment later which would give the Commissioners control of all the roads. How could the Government give the names of the Commissioners when they did not even know whether they were going to have the control of the roads or not? It also seemed to him that the names of the Commissioners who had control of the roads would be different from those who had not.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH moved to amend subsection (4) so that it would read "The Commissioners may act by three of their number, 'of whom one shall be a paid Commissioner,' and notwithstanding a vacancy in their number, and, subject to the approval of the Treasury, may regulate their own procedure." He said that he was in some difficulty with 228 regard to his Amendment, because it might have to be modified if the duties of the Commissioners were altered; but what he had to say might apply to one state of affairs as well as to the other. He thought that in public bodies generally the salaried officer almost always attended to the business in question, and from the nature of things was likely to be more conversant with the work than one who was not in that position. There might be arguments for and against his Amendment, but considering the extremely important nature of the work entrusted to the Commissioners and the great necessity that the public interest should be guarded as far as possible, he asked their Lordships to accept the Amendment.
In page 4, line 1, after 'number,' to insert 'of whom one shall be a paid Commissioner.'"—(Lord Zouche of Haryngworth.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he thinks this Amendment is absolutely necessary. If we insist upon one paid Commissioner always being present it might seriously hamper the work, as there might possibly only be one paid Commissioner and he might not be available on every occasion. He could not be expected to be present on every trivial occasion.
§ *LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH pointed out that the constitution of the Commissioners might be altered and there might be two salaried Commissioners appointed, and then it might be laid down that one of them should always be present. He quite saw that in more or less trival work it might hamper the work to insist on the salaried man always being there; but where the work was at all important it would be greatly in the public interest to secure his attendance. He desired to leave himself entirely in the hands of the House, and if the general feeling was against it, he would not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 4:
§ 4.—(1) Every application for an advance under this Part of this Act, whether by way of grant or by way of loan, by any body qualified to receive an advance under this Part of this Act, shall, if 229 the applicant is a Government Department, be referred by the Treasury to the Development Com missioners, and if the applicant is any other body or persons shall be sent by the Treasury to the Government Department concerned, to be by them referred together with their report thereon to the Development Commissioners.
§ (2) The Commissioners shall consider and report to the Treasury on every application so referred to them, and may for that purpose, if necessary, hold inquiries either by themselves, or by any of their officers, or any other person appointed for the purpose.
§ (3) The Commissioners may also appoint advisory committees, and may submit to any such advisory committee for their advice any application referred to them.
§ (4) The Commissioners may also frame schemes with respect to any of the matters for which advances may be made under this Part of this Act with a view to their adoption by a Government department or other body or persons to whom an advance may be made.
§ (5) Before making any recommendation for an advance for the purpose of the improvement of rural transport the Commissioners shall consult with the Road Board.
§ (6) The Commissioners shall make to the Treasury an annual report of their proceedings, and such report shall be laid annually before Parliament by the Treasury.
§ LORD KENYON moved to insert, after the word "referred" at the end of subsection (1) ["to be by them referred"] the words "if they think fit." He thought the noble Earl in charge of the Bill would be grateful to him for the Amendment, because it allowed the Department a great deal more latitude than was allowed in the Bill. There seemed to be nothing in the Bill to prevent all schemes, good, bad, and indifferent, being referred to the Treasury, and he thought it advisable, as possibly many of the schemes would be of a "wild cat" nature, that there should be some safeguard.
In page 4, line 23, after the word 'referred,' to insert the words 'if they think fit.'"—(Lord Kenyon.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I hope the noble Lord will not press his Amendment because it really would give a sort of idea that everything was not fair, square, and above board. It would be really better to have a "wild cat" scheme, if there was such a thing, sent up to the Treasury than to have people saying that they had been unfairly treated and had not had a chance. The noble Lord said that his Amendment would enable the Government Department to prevent an application from an outside body being sent up to the 230 Treasury if it was a foolish one. No doubt that is a very laudable intention; but, on the whole, I think it better to leave the clause as it is, so that everybody may be certain of getting fair play and in order that there may be no idea of any underhand or unfair treatment or lobbying of any sort or kind.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Drafting Amendments agreed to.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE moved to leave out subsection (4), which empowered the Commissioners to frame schemes with a view to their adoption by a Government Department or other body or persons to whom an advance might be made. He regarded the subsection as a rather dangerous extension of the policy of giving carte blanche to the Commissioners. Every apprehension that was entertained on that side of the House applied to the clause with very much greater force because it changed and enlarged the whole character of the Commissioners. At the beginning of the Bill they were to be a judicial body, and in that character had very large powers indeed; they were able to range over the whole gamut from (a) to (g) as provided in the first clause of the Bill; and now for the first time they were told that they ought also to have the power of framing and initiating schemes on their own account. Their Lordships would be constituting a new body over whom as a Parliament they would have practically no control whatever, except some ex post facto discussions of their proceedings.
In page 4, lines 33 to 37, to leave out subsection (4)."—(Lord Willoughby de Broke.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The noble Lord has moved to leave out subsection (4), which gives the Commissioners power to frame schemes. I do not possess the apprehensions that the noble Lord appears to have, and this really seems to me to be a very useful provision. The noble Lord said that the Commissioners were a judicial body. That is true in the ordinary sense of the word, but they ought to be given power, as they are in the Bill, to frame schemes as well. I may say that this proposal was very carefully gone into in 231 Grand Committee in another place. There was a long debate about it, and it was very carefully thrashed out and eventually carried by a large majority. The Commissioners have a right, as we all know, of modifying a scheme; but supposing that the body bringing forward the scheme would not accept the modification, and it was a good scheme in many ways; surely it ought not to be made impossible for the Commissioners to take up such a scheme and put it forward with the modifications and safeguards suggested by them. The Commissioners naturally would have to obtain Treasury sanction. I need not point out that the advance would not be made to the Commissioners qua Commissioners. The advance, of course, would be made to the Government Department concerned. I really do not think that there are the dangers in the clause that the noble Lord seems to think, and I hope he will not press his Amendment, as I am afraid I am unable to accept it as it stands.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU agreed with the noble Earl that if the Development Commissioners were to be amalgamated, as the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, proposed, they must have power of initiation as well as power of administration. He was inclined to leave the subsection in.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE pointed out that it was quite possible, when the Commissioners got together, that they might very much prefer to initiate their own schemes than to adopt those put forward by the various bodies cited in the first clause and for whom the Bill was devised. Personally he would prefer to see the subsection cut out, so that the Commissioners might remain a reference body and not an initiating one.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Your Lordships will, of course, deal with the subsection on its merits, but if we were to inquire into its history I do not think the result of our inquiries would be quite so reassuring as the noble Earl in charge of the Bill would have us believe. I am advised that this subsection formed no part of the original scheme of His Majesty's Government, but that it was introduced at a thinly-attended meeting of the Grand Committee and was accepted on that occasion by His Majesty's Government. It seems to me to be a very dangerous excrescence on the scheme of the Bill. 232 The Commissioners, as we understand, are to be, primarily at any rate, an advisory body, but this subsection as I read it confers upon them powers of initiation entirely distinct from the advisory functions which are naturally attributed to them. What would be the effect of the subsection? I think something of this kind, that the Commissioners under the subsection would be in the position of having their own scheme referred to themselves; they would initiate a scheme, that scheme would be referred to themselves for approval, and then recommended by themselves. That seems to me to be a very illogical and irregular arrangement and foreign to the principle of the Bill. I therefore will very gladly support my noble friend in deleting the subsection.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
This matter is not quite so important a one as some noble Lords opposite seem to think, and in my opinion the somewhat gloomy apprehensions of my noble friend Lord Ribblesdale will not be realised. I do not think the matter is one of the first importance. I think the subsection would be useful in this way, that after a certain number of years have passed and the Commissioners have examined a vast number of schemes of different kinds coming from different Departments and acquired a mass of knowledge which no individual Department possesses, they might be, and I think ought to be, in a position to formulate certain schemes, and particularly schemes which might overlap the work of several different Departments. I quite follow the objection which the noble Marquess who has just sat down has taken, that it does seem somewhat anomalous that the same body should at the same time be reviewing schemes and conceivably making schemes of their own. On the other hand, considering what the standard of the body will be, and bearing in mind, as I have said, that these gentlemen will be in the possession of an amount of knowledge which nobody else in the whole country will possess, I think the power would be a useful one and I should not myself dread its being abused.
§ LORD BELPER said the power proposed to be given to the Commissioners was quite foreign to the purpose for which they were to be created, which was that of an advisory body. To take the very first 233 purpose of the Bill for which money might be advanced by the Development Commissioners to a Government Department—agricultural education; it was quite clear that the scope of the Bill only put the Commissioners in the position of a go-between between the money they had and the Agricultural Department. The Agricultural Department had full knowledge of all the circumstances; they knew what money was required for the purposes of agricultural education and would draw up a scheme accordingly. If the Commissioners were not satisfied with that scheme, they might themselves draw up a scheme totally at variance with the one recommended by the Board of Agriculture. That was quite outside the duties for which the Development Commissioners were appointed, and he could not understand—although, of course, being a very responsible and clever body they might be able to make a good scheme—why such a power should be given to them when they were really an advisory committee and nothing else.
§ *EARL RUSSELL quite recognised that their Lordships looked with a great deal of suspicion on the Bill and the quarter from which it came, but he did venture to suggest that they had allowed their apprehensions to get the better of their business considerations. Even if the subsection were omitted, the Commissioners would not be prevented from giving the tip to a Government Department that, from the knowledge they had gained, a certain scheme was desirable. Under the subsection as amended the Commissioners would frame schemes and merely recommend their adoption by a Government Department. From an ordinary business point of view was it wise that people who had special experience should sit idle without power to turn their special knowledge to account? Whether the subsection were left in the Bill or struck out would make only a technical difference.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT HILL moved to amend subsection (6) so that it would read "The Commissioners shall make to the Treasury an annual report of their proceedings, 'including accounts showing the salaries of the Commissioners and their officers and servants and the expenses incurred by the Commissioners in the execution of their duties 234 under this Act,' and such report shall be laid annually before Parliament by the Treasury." He said that under the Bill the Commissioners would undoubtedly have a considerable amount of money to expend and he thought it advisable that, together with their annual report, the Commissioners should provide accounts showing the amounts expended.
In page 5, line 2, after the word 'proceedings,' to insert the words 'including accounts showing the salaries of the Commissioners and their officers and servants and the expenses incurred by the Commissioners in the execution of their duties under this Act.'"—(Viscount Hill.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I think the proposal of the noble Viscount is already covered by Clause 2, subsection (4). By that clause the Comptroller and the Auditor-General have to examine the accounts annually before the 30th of September and the Treasury have to lay the accounts and report on the Table of the House of Commons. I think the noble Viscount will be satisfied, therefore, that what he wishes done is already in the Bill.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY did not profess to understand Treasury practice like many of their Lordships but he should have doubted whether Clause 2 covered exactly the same ground as the Amendment proposed by his noble friend. No doubt the Treasury and the Auditor-General would have to be satisfied as to the payments in and out of the fund, but what his noble friend asked for was that in the annual report to Parliament there should be included those facts, which were very simple ones and which were within the cognisance of the Commissioners. He thought the Amendment was obviously not an unreasonable one.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
My great desire is to meet noble Lords on the other side of the House and I make every possible effort to do so, but in this case what the noble Viscount asks for is really already in the Bill. I am informed on the best authority that that is so, and as this is not a point of great importance I really hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ LORD WELBY pointed out that the proper place for any account of salaries and expenses was really in the report of the 235 Comptroller and Auditor-General and not in the annual report to Parliament of the proceedings of the Commissioners. The noble Viscount, he trusted, would take it from him that subsection (4) of Clause 2 satisfied the object of the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 5:
§ 5.—(1) Where an advance is made under this Part of this Act for any purpose which involves the acquisition of land, the Department, body, or persons to whom the advance is made, may acquire and hold land for the purpose, and where they are unable to acquire by agreement on reasonable terms any land which they consider necessary, they may apply to the Development Commissioners for an order empowering them to acquire the land compulsorily in accordance with the provisions of the Schedule to this Act.
§ (2) No land shall be authorised by an order under this section to be acquired compulsorily which, at the date of the order, forms part of any park, garden, or pleasure ground, or forms part of the home farm attached to and usually occupied with a mansion house, or is otherwise required for the amenity or convenience of any dwelling-house, or which at that date is the property of any local authority, or has been acquired by any corporation or company for the purposes of a railway, dock, canal, water, or other public undertaking, or is the site of an ancient monument or other object of archæological interest.
§ (3) The Commissioners in making an order for the compulsory purchase of land shall have regard to the extent of land hold or occupied in the locality by any owner or tenant and to the convenience of other property belonging to or occupied by the same owner or tenant, and shall, so far as practicable, avoid taking an undue or inconvenient quantity of land from any one owner or tenant, and for that purpose where part only of a holding is taken shall take into consideration the size and character of the existing agricultural buildings not proposed to be taken which are used in connection with the holding and the quantity and nature of the land available for occupation therewith, and shall also so far as practicable avoid displacing any considerable number of agricultural labourers or others employed on or about the land.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN wished to ask the noble Earl in charge of the Bill a question with regard to subsection (1). Neither in that subsection, nor, so far as he could make out, in any other part of the Bill, was there anything empowering the Commissioners to make the order, and he submitted to the noble Earl that at the end of the subsection, after the word "Act," he should add the words, "and the Commissioners shall have power to make such order." He believed in almost every Act of 236 Parliament, and he had looked at several, the actual power was conferred to make the order, and he could not find anything of the sort in the Bill before their Lordships.
In page 5, line 12, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'and the Commissioners shall have power to make such order.'"—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I quite appreciate the point raised by the noble Earl opposite, which I understand to be that the Department may apply to the Development Commissioners for an order, but, as he thinks, no specific power is given to the Commissioners to make the order. It is, of course, a question of drafting, or, if not simply of drafting, of Parliamentary usage, and I am not certain whether the mere fact of the order being mentioned empowers the Development Commissioners to issue it or not. If the noble Earl is right, clearly some words are necessary, and before Report we will inquire into it.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I see the noble Earl's point now, and I may say at once that I am able to accept his Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE moved an Amendment with a view to exempt from compulsory acquisition land in which minerals were being worked. He said he thought it must have been an oversight in the drafting of the Bill that the protection which was extended to a railway, dock, canal, water or other public undertaking had not been extended to the working of quarries. He hoped that His Majesty's Government would be able to accept this Amendment, although there might be some further questions arising as regards minerals; but if the noble Earl who was in charge of the Bill wished it to be left over, he was prepared to leave it over till Report. But he thought the whole question of minerals required consideration.
In page 5, line 18, after 'dwelling-house,' to insert 'or which is being used for the purposes of working minerals by the proprietor of the minerals, or which a lessee under a mining lease is entitled to use for such purposes,' and in line 22, after subsection (2), to insert the following new subsection—
§ '(3) An Order under this section shall not authorise the compulsory acquisition of any mines of coal, ironstone, slate, or other minerals under any land in respect of which an Order under this section is made except only such parts of any such mines as shall be necessary to be dug or carried away or used in the construction of works for which an advance is made under this Part of this Act.'"—(The Duke of Devonshire.)
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
Yes, if the noble Earl will undertake to look into the whole question of minerals.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Yes; but there is one question I should like to ask the noble Duke. This applies entirely to surface land, does it not?
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE replied that it did apply entirely to surface land. But he would like to ask the noble Earl if he had any intention of applying this Bill to underground minerals as well?
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE said that if the Government would look into the whole question he would leave his Amendment over.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
§ The consideration of Clause 7 (Constitution of Road Board) was postponed until Clause 8 (Powers of Road Board) had been considered.
§ Clause 8:
§ 8.—(1) The Road Board shall have power, with the approval of the Treasury—
- (a) To make advances to county councils and other highway authorities in respect of the construction of new roads or the improvement of existing roads;
- (b) Themselves to construct and maintain any new roads,
§ (2) In making advances to highway authorities in respect of the construction of new roads, the Road Board may, where they think it desirable, also contribute towards the cost of maintenance of such new roads.238
§ The sums expended by the Road Board out of income on the construction of new roads or the acquisition of land, or in respect of any loan raised for any such purpose, shall not in any year exceed one-third of the estimated receipts of the Road Board for that year.
§ (3) An advance to a highway authority may be either by way of grant or by way of loan, or partly in one way and partly in the other, and shall be upon such terms and subject to such conditions as the Board think fit.
§ For the purposes of this Part of this Act the expression "improvement of roads" includes the widening of any road, the cutting off the corners of any road where land is required to be purchased for that purpose, the levelling of roads, the treatment of a road for mitigating the nuisance of dust, and the doing of any other work in respect of roads beyond ordinary repairs essential to placing a road in a proper state of repair; and the expression "roads" includes bridges, viaducts, and subways.
§ *THE EARL OF DERBY moved an Amendment to Clause 8 in order to add to the power of the Road Board, with the approval of the Treasury, to make advances to highway authorities in respect of the construction of new toads or the improvement of existing roads, the power to contribute towards the maintenance of existing roads "provided that in making an advance for such maintenance the Road Board shall have regard to the additional expenditure incurred by the highway authority on the maintenance of roads in consequence of motor traffic." He said that much additional expenditure had been thrown on various counties as a result of the motor traffic over their highways, and before aiding the construction of new roads the State ought, from the money obtained by taxes on motor vehicles and petrol, to make grants to local authorities to assist them in repairing the destruction which had taken place in their roads through motor traffic. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Earl would see his way to accept this extension of the Road Board's powers.
In page 6, line 20, after the word 'roads,' to insert the words 'or the maintenance of existing roads. Provided that in making an advance for such maintenance the Road Board shall have regard to the additional expenditure incurred by the highway authority on the maintenance of roads in consequence of motor traffic.'"—(The Earl of Derby.)
§ THE EARL OF DUNMORE said that before the Amendment of the Earl of Derby was further discussed, he would like to draw the attention of their Lordships 239 to an Amendment standing in his name on the same subject, in which he proposed to use the words, "and an advance made to a highway authority for the purpose of such maintenance shall be based upon any additional rate per pound rendered necessary by reason of motor traffic." He fully agreed with all that the Earl of Derby had just said, and would not press his Amendment if it met with no support from the Committee. But he would point out to their Lordships that although the abnormal expenditure caused by motor traffic on the roads might be equal in two districts, the amount which had to be raised per pound in rating to meet that expenditure might vary in the two districts very considerably. He bad in mind some of the impoverished districts in the Highlands. Tourists who paid nothing towards the rates and who had no connection with those districts did considerable damage to the roads, and it required very little damage to the roads in some districts to make the rate per pound go up by shillings; whereas in another district the same number of pence per pound might cover the same damage. He thought that in allocating any money or advance on the principle that the noble Earl had just suggested regard should be had, not only to the expenditure of the district, but also to the capacity of the ratepayers of that district to bear the burden. He had, therefore, suggested in his Amendment that an advance made to a highway authority should be based upon the additional rate per pound rendered necessary by reason of motor traffic.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU said they had had an undertaking from the Government in the House of Commons precisely to the opposite effect of this Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was speaking about this scheme particularly stated—and he had his words spoken on the 16th of June—that he did not propose that any money should be spent on ordinary road maintenance. To take money from a special class and spend it on a road used by all classes of vehicles would be a manifest injustice. Reference had been made to Highland roads, many of which had fallen into disuse, but it would be in the competence of the Road Board to make special grants to get better material or to add to the width of the roads, and in that case it would be an advantage; but to insert 240 a clause, as the noble Earl wished to do, to make maintenance a charge on the funds of the Road Board would be, he thought, a great mistake. The roads had been brought up already to a very much better state, and not only motor traffic but many other kinds of traffic had increased. If they put in the word maintenance, the money for maintenance would only come from the light motors, and not from the heavy motors, which they all agreed did more damage than any other form of motor traffic. For instance, they might have a road entirely ruined by traction engine traffic, or by the running of motor omnibuses. Neither of those classes of vehicle, according to the decision in another place, would pay towards the funds of the Road Board. The inclusion of maintenance would be a breach of the agreement that the Government had entered into, which was that the Road Board should keep in view the fact that all this money came out of one special class of vehicles and should be used for the widening of roads, the diminution of dust, and the other objects set forth in the Bill. On these grounds he was sorry that he could not agree with his noble friends on the Front Bench.
§ LORD LOVAT said there seemed to be an understanding, judging from the noble Lord's speech, between those who wished for rapid running on the roads and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which indicated the existence of a sort of alliance between road-hogs and a predatory Chancellor. He failed to see why their Lordships should make themselves in any way a party to that agreement. He desired to put the point of view of the two parties who were mostly concerned in the road—firstly, the ratepayer; and, secondly, the non-road-hog motorists who used the local roads. With regard to the ratepayer, he would divide the districts into two. First, those which had big trunk roads through them; and, secondly, such districts as those which the noble Earl, Lord Dunmore, had quoted in the Highlands, the roads of which a large number of motor tourists used for a short period of the year. Over the trunk roads there was undoubtedly a very large number of cars running, not on six days of the week only, as was the case with ordinary traffic, but on the seven days of the week. It was a traffic which contributed nothing to the public purse or to the local authority. 241 Then they had in far-away parts motors which used the roads for two or three months, as in the case of the Highlands, and used many roads which were otherwise never used at all.
§ He would give them a concrete case—that of a road leading from Inverness to Perth, a road which ten years ago for a distance of about twenty miles had absolutely no traffic at all. Bridges were broken down and grass was allowed to grow in the road, because no one travelled over it. That particular road now had to have a very large sum expended upon it, because in one month there was an average of seventy-nine motor cars passing on that road in a day. That had, of course, added enormously to the local rates of Inverness and of Perth. There was a petition, he believed, handed the other day to the Chancellor of the Exchequer which showed that the cost of the roads of Perthshire had gone up by nearly thirty per cent., and the whole of that was ascribed to increased motor traffic. In the same way in Inverness-shire there were three or four roads upon which hitherto there had been practically no traffic, but now they had to be kept up entirely for motorists. Surely they had a right to expect, before any grants were given for the making of roads or the rounding off of corners, that they would get a grant to pay the local authorities for the damage actually done to the roads.
§ The rounding off of corners was really to suit the individual motorist, who wished to swish round the corner at top speed. The local man would have to pay more for the road, because all the motorists would then be running at a very much higher rate of speed, and would therefore do more damage to the surface of the road. Then the question would be raised as to how this damage was to be assessed. It was a point which was very often raised on this particular question as to how they were going to assess the damage done by motor cars. It was perfectly simple. The damage could be assessed on the principle of what was known as extra ordinary traffic. Many noble Lords had no doubt paid in this way in the case of cutting down woods or in connection with collieries. There was excessive traffic over a certain portion of a road and it was assessed, and the individual who caused the excessive traffic had to pay the difference. He had known cases 242 where the cost of roads had caused the rates to leap up twenty-five and thirty per cent., and he thought that the motorists ought to pay out of this grant those differences. He supported the Amendment.
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE referred to the statement of the noble Lord who had just spoken that in the Highlands there was a very large traffic that did not pay anything at all to the roads, and said he lived in a district of South Wales where they had to a less extent the same thing. But they had to remember this, that though those tourists did not pay anything directly to the rates, undoubtedly they brought an immense amount of money into the district. It was certainly true, in the county in which he lived, that little places by the seaside that practically never saw a tourist before, now did see tourists who came in their motor cars, and though the roads suffered to a small extent, there was a great deal of money brought into the districts, and in those places this traffic was not regarded unfavourably. At the same time, he would like to see the motor fund large enough to give grants where the local authorities suffered from the wear and tear of motors, but at present the fund was a small one and nine out of ten people would say that the first consideration was to deal with the dust nuisance. Tar ought to be laid down in every town and village, and for two miles outside the towns and one mile outside the villages. It had been calculated that £400,000 would be required for this purpose throughout the county and the Road Board might contribute £200,000 towards that amount. It was admitted that where tar was laid down the roads undoubtedly lasted much longer, and it was not only a benefit to the public in the summer but an actual economy in the winter. If the Road Board had power, as it would have undoubtedly under this Bill, to contribute largely to reduce the dust nuisance, he thought that the Road Board, and the motorists through the Board, would contribute largely to remedy one of the greatest grievances against motorists. The second object for using this money was the question of corners. The noble Lord opposite, Lord Lovat, spoke as if the rounding of corners was going to increase the speed of motorists enormously. In some cases that might be true; but, after all, the motorist did 243 not want corners rounded off so that he could go more quickly round them.
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE said he was afraid the noble Lord suspected motorists wherever he saw them. He had not the privilege of being in the House last week when the noble Lord spoke on this subject but he read his speech with great interest. It seemed to him (Lord St. David's) that if they put this question not only to motorists but to everybody who drove a vehicle on country roads, they would want corners not rounded off, but cut down. A motorist liked to know whether there was a cart coming round the corner, but the carter was much more anxious to know whether a motor car was coming round the corner. He thought that some noble Lords misapprehended the wishes of motorists in this matter. What they desired was not to be able to go quicker round corners, but that the corners should be cut down so that they should not be endangering their own lives, and still more, the lives of anybody else. If some of the worst corners in the country were cut down there would be in a very few years, and possibly months, a very marked diminution in the number of accidents. Subject to what he had said, he agreed with the noble Lord opposite that it would be only fair that grants should be made for the maintenance of roads. Lord Montagu had said that there would be cases where the owners of light motors, who at present were the only people taxed, would be called upon under this Amendment to provide for damage done by an entirely different vehicle. He had a case in mind on the road to Fishguard. On that road they had a very large number of motor cars. They had Irish and American motor cars and other tourists' motor cars going through the country, and they all ran on the same road and did a certain amount of damage. But on that road as a whole there was nothing like what was known as a motor track—they all knew what a motor track was—except in one particular place. There was a little bit of the road in Breconshire along which a motor omnibus ran all the year round. It was owned by the railway company and was run in the public interest between two points not well served by the railway, and where that motor omnibus ran there was a well-defined track all along the road. Under the Amendment 244 it would be rather unfair that a fund contributed to in the main by the owners of light motors should have to pay for damage obviously done in a particular place by one heavy vehicle. Any one who motored along the road to Fishguard could see that spot for himself. Subject to that he agreed with the noble Lord opposite that it was unfair that the owners of motors who lived in a town should run over the roads of the county and contribute nothing whatever towards them.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said he was not quite sure what the conclusion of the noble Lord's speech was, and whether he was going to vote for or against the Amendment. He agreed with most of what the noble Lord had said, but the conclusion brought to his mind was that they ought to support the Amendment and not oppose it, Lord St. David's had said with truth that the most important thing to do with the roads was to cover them with a treatment of tar, and the noble Lord thought that was secured by the Bill without the Amendment. He (Lord Salisbury) did not think it was. It was quite true that to cover the road with tar in the first place was included in the words of the Bill as it stood, but once the tar had been laid on the road, the maintaining of that tar application could not be paid out of the money of the Road Board. That would be ordinary repair, and the cost would have to be found by the ratepayers, He lived in a county where they suffered acutely through the wear and tear of the roads by motor cars. When motorists got to Wales or Scotland they could not get any further, and therefore there might be something in the noble Lord's plea that a great deal of money was brought by motor cars into the country. But, unfortunately, motorists rushed through Hertfordshire in large numbers, not, as Lord Lovat very rightly said, on six days of the week but on seven days, and the cost of their roads had gone up enormously entirely owing to the motor cars. They did not want what Lord Montagu seemed to suggest, payment for increasing their road accommodation, at least, not in the first place. What they wanted to-day was to be repaid the loss which they now sustained and which they ought not to have sustained by motor traffic. That was obviously an equitable proposition. They desired to maintain their roads in the highest condition of efficiency. Most of their Lordships who ran motors in the neighbourhood of London would agree 245 that the local authorities had succeeded in maintaining their roads in as efficient a condition as possible, but it had cost them an enormous sum of money, and they did think they were entitled to receive part of the money drawn from the motor cars. If he might give a word of advice to his noble friend who represented in their Lordships' House what he believed was called the "motor interest," he thought they would be wise not to resist this just demand and thereby endeavour to conciliate public opinion.
§ *EARL RUSSELL said that although motorists were desirous of conciliating public opinion in every possible way, yet he had never discovered how a motorist could do it, and he had never seen public opinion conciliated. They had had from the noble Lord below the Gangway opposite what he took it would be called by the anti-motorist Press a reasonable and temperate statement of the case for the public. The noble Lord began by saying that the roads he was speaking of in the Highlands were traversed by cars from a distance which contributed nothing to the rates. The noble Lord undoubtedly meant contributed nothing to the local rates. He did not suppose that the, noble Lord suggested that owners of motor cars did not contribute both to Imperial and local taxation, just as other people. He lived in London and contributed to the maintenance of the streets, and did not complain of it. Shoals of travellers in cabs, principally from the North, passed his door, and why should the noble Lord, because he lived in Perthshire, complain of him when he visited Perthshire? Surely it was an advantage that roads should be made, and he should have thought it was also an advantage that roads should be used, but one would not have gathered that from the speech of the noble Lord. One thing the noble Lord said was that before this shocking advent of motor cars, which caused such terror to the local inhabitants, these roads had not been used at all. What were roads made for? Were they made in order to be looked at or shown upon a map? What object was there in making a road except that it should be used by road traffic in going from one place to another? The noble Lord had said that these roads were so bad that they had fallen into disuse, and that the bridges had been broken down and the grass allowed to grow on the roads. He thought he understood Lord Lovat also to say that there was now a constant stream 246 of motor cars passing along the same road. Surely the question came naturally to one's mind, Why had that road been repaired and why had those bridges been put right for traffic? The local authority were free to leave the road in a state that it was not fit for traffic.
§ *EARL RUSSELL said that noble Lords said "No," but he heard no suggestion that the local authority had neglected their duty; but if they had neglected their duty all these years, all that the motor traffic had done had been to bring them to a sense of their duty. If the local authority were liable to be indicted for having neglected their duty, the noble Lord could not blame motorists for bringing them to a sense of that duty. Then it was said that these roads were kept up entirely for motorists. Why? Was it not the case that the population desired to have these visitors upon their roads? Motorists brought a good deal of money into these districts. Did the noble Lord think if he polled the people of Perthshire as to whether they would have motors there or not, they would vote anything but in the affirmative? If the noble Lord thought that, why did the local authorities keep up those attractive roads which brought large numbers of motorists into the country? It might just as well be argued that because somebody did not reside and pay rates in a seaside resort he should not be entitled to use the esplanade or promenade. Arguments of that kind suggested a policy of a community making a road only for the inhabitants. That was not the system on which we worked in this country. Local authorities fully recognised that it was their duty to provide and maintain roads not only for ratepayers but for visitors. There was a case in the Potteries where two large towns fairly close to each other were connected by a road maintainable by the county council. The traffic there was entirely the traffic of the towns, but the road had to be paid for by the county. He had always admitted that a county which had to incur a large expenditure for a road of that sort might naturally feel it had some grievance; but the remedy for that sort of thing was to place the main roads under the control of a larger body or to make them national roads. If they were to make the individual motor car pay, why not make the other 247 individual traffic pay? Large traction engines, which were not to be taxed one iota, did more damage to the roads than all the light cars had ever done.
§ The Amendment was that these taxes were to be used for the maintenance of the roads. He suggested that that in itself was not a reasonable proposition; but there was a stronger reason against considering any Amendment of this sort at this stage. The noble Lord poured scorn upon what he described as an alliance between road-hogs and a predatory Chancellor. But the road-hogs, as far as he knew, were distinguished members of the Automobile Club who had not previously been so named, and the bargain amounted in effect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying that he was going to take a certain specific tax from a specific class of the community for a specific purpose. The Amendment suggested, as the proper development of that, that the taxation should be taken from the specific class, but that it should be allocated to quite a different purpose. That would be contrary to the whole spirit of the arrangement, and he hoped the noble Lord would not insist upon his Amendment
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND denied that any body of motorists had any right to make a bargain with Parliament. That their Lordships were to be influenced in their decision on the assumption that a voluntary body, which chose to take up an expensive amusement, extremely obnoxious to their fellow-countrymen, had entered into a bargain with the Government was the most extraordinary argument he ever heard. They were sometimes told that their Lordships' House was out of sympathy with the people, that they I did not know what the people said or what the people thought that they did not know the people's grievances or what they wanted. He had always repudiated that accusation, but he must say that when he heard debates such as they had had that night he did not wonder that people outside held that opinion. And the most extraordinary part of it was that the speeches to which he referred came from the opposite side of the House, which usually arrogated to itself a knowledge of the wants of and sympathy with the people. Lord St. David's had told them what he regarded as the great grievance of the motor traffic——248
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND agreed; the grievance of the public in consequence of the motor traffic. According to the noble Lord, the main grievances were dust and comers. Dust was a horrible nuisance, and a great pecuniary loss to those who lived by the sides of the roads. As to corners, he was rather sceptical. He did not think that the carter whom the noble Lord spoke of as going round a corner in great terror would be in that terror if motor cars always went, as they should, at a proper pace round corners. Then as to the great benefit derived from tourists, he thought that was entirely a matter of chance. No doubt in some parts they did good, but in other parts that was not the case. He entirely corroborated what fell from Lord Lovat. He lived in the North of England in a very thinly-populated county. He granted that some of the inns on the high roads benefited by motor traffic, but what happened to the whole of the rest of the thinly-populated district? The real grievance of the present condition of affairs was the rising rates throughout the country. Farmers who were miles away from the road had to pay rates increased by a traffic from which they derived no advantage and never would. That was the universal cry. It had been suggested by Earl Russell that the cars or their owners contributed to the rates just as other people. Yes, but they did about three times the damage others did. The truth of the matter was that there was here a new development of a new form of locomotion, which had imposed not only dangers and inconveniences but a considerable annual loss upon the people of the country. It seemed to him but justice that those who had been responsible for producing that state of things should contribute to the relief of the excessive burden which their pursuit had imposed upon the country. He must say that it was a great pity that in that House motorists should show such little sympathy and such little understanding of where the shoe pinched their fellow-countrymen, though in their individual capacities he was sure they were as unselfish as any of the community.
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE said that at the risk of adding to what the noble Duke had described as the mischievous character 249 of this debate, he desired to say a few words. Like his noble friend he, too, lived in the North of England. He lived in a county which was supposed to have many amenities as regarded its scenery and peculiar unkindness as regarded its climate, but still a great many people came there in motor cars. He could not say he agreed with the noble Duke. He liked motor cars, and he believed other people liked them. They brought a certain current of life to lonely districts, and there was a willingness to share the money which the motorist was supposed to lavish in his progress through the various counties of England. But it was felt at the same time that those who ran their motors over the roads added a deal to the expenses of the locality, and he had considerable sympathy with Lord Derby's Amendment, though from its wording he thought it went rather further than he could wish. From the way the Amendment was worded, it seemed almost a direct instruction that the maintenance of the roads should be found out of moneys specifically granted for other purposes. He did not now whether the point could be made clear in any other way. He would like it more clearly expressed that the advances would be only "towards" the maintenance of these roads.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU said that if the noble Lord's Amendment was adopted he thought it was only just to the case as it stood to-day that they should insert the words "light motor car traffic," because at the present time it was not proposed to tax any commercial vehicles or traction engines, and these did an enormous amount of damage. He was sure the noble Earl did not wish to ask light motor car traffic to pay for the damage done by heavy motor car traffic.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I put "motor traffic" in and I hope it will stand, and that it will result in the taxation of these heavy motors of which such complaint has been made.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
Will you alter the Amendment so that it would read, "the Road Board shall have regard to the additional expenditure incurred by the highway authority 'towards' the maintenance of existing roads"?
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN suggested that after the word "roads" Lord Derby should 250 insert the words, "or towards meeting the extraordinary expenditure incurred by a highway authority on the maintenance of roads in consequence of motor traffic."
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN said that was practically Lord Lovat's Amendment, if their Lordships would look at the words on the Paper.
§ *THE EARL OF DERBY said his Amendment had this object in view, that the Road Board, in addition to making advances for new roads and for improving existing roads, should also have the power of making advances to those districts where on account of abnormal motor traffic abnormal damage was done to the roads. The Amendment did not compel them to give such advances, but if they thought that in a particular district this money could be justly applied towards meeting the additional expenditure involved by motor traffic, then he proposed that they should have the power to give such money. He did not see that the noble Lord's suggestion would really alter the sense of his Amendment. His Amendment did not provide that the Road Board should pay the whole of the increased cost, but that they should be able to make a grant towards it. It, however, the noble Lord opposite would like him to put in the word "towards," he did not see that it made any difference, and he would gladly accept it.
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE asked the noble Earl who moved the Amendment whether he would accept the suggestion about the light motor car traffic? He thought the noble Earl rather liked the idea that the heavy motor car traffic should pay, but as their Lordships' House had no power to make it pay, and the light motor car traffic was finding the money, it was only reasonable that it should be protected in this manner.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN confessed that the Amendment as it stood on the Paper did go rather beyond what he desired, because it would give the road authority power to make a grant for the maintenance of roads in ordinary circumstances. No doubt there was a proviso that the Road Board were to have regard to the additional expenditure incurred, but he did not think that his noble friend or their Lordships desired that in a case where there was no extra 251 ordinary expenditure a grant should be made for maintenance. He again suggested that these words would meet the position, "or towards meeting the extraordinary expenditure incurred by the highway authorities on the maintenance of roads in consequence of motor traffic."
§ *THE EARL OF DERBY said the noble Viscount's suggestion entirely carried out his wish, and he would be glad to substitute it for his Amendment. He therefore withdrew his Amendment, and moved it in a new form, which would make the subsection read as follows: "The Road Board shall have power, with the approval of the Treasury, to make advances to county councils and other highway authorities in respect of the construction of new roads or the improvement of existing roads or towards meeting the extraordinary expenditure incurred by the highway authority in the maintenance of roads in consequence of motor traffic."
§ EARL CARRINGTON
We have had a very interesting discussion on this clause, and I think the first thing I ought to say is that His Majesty's Government do sincerely recognise the very liberal way in which they have been met by the motorists of the United Kingdom. The motorists have come forward in a very generous way. They have cheerfully accepted a very heavy taxation for public purposes, and I think not only the Government but the country generally ought to recognise the way in which motorists have so generously faced the position. I need hardly say that any alliance between His Majesty's Government and motorists would be as much repudiated by motorists as by the Government. We all agree, of course, as to the hardships which have been so eloquently put forward by Lord Lovat and others; but, as Lord Ribblesdale said, the question really is that the noble Earl, Lord Derby, wishes advances to be made from the Road Fund for the maintenance of roads in consequence of motor traffic. That is what we have got to decide, and if I may respectfully say so all the other points raised are more or less side issues. What this Amendment really means, if it means anything at all, is a grant to the rates. That is the sole and only object of the Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has on several occasions pointed out that this is not a measure for the relief of rates. It is no more a measure for 252 the relief of rates than it is a Right to Work Bill. I made that as plain as I possibly could in my speech on the Second Reading, and I hope your Lordships will not lose sight of that. It is not a measure for the relief of rates, and it is not a measure to provide work in bad times. The road problem is an absolutely different problem altogether, and ought to be treated in a different way; and if I may venture to say so, this proposal is not the right way of facing it. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in Committee in another place, if this money is used for this purpose it will be thrown away. But still under the Bill the ratepayers will to a certain extent benefit, because it allows money to be spent towards the improvement of existing roads. The Board will be able to assist, as has been said, by making grunts for cutting off corners and making gradients easier, and so forth. There was one question asked that I think I ought to answer. It was whether tar sprinkling, which is of such enormous importance to the unfortunate dwellers on the roadside, would come under the category of the improvement of roads. I think there is no doubt about that, because in Clause 8, subclause (3), you will find these words—For the purposes of this Part of this Act the expression 'improvement of roads' includes the widening of any road, the cutting off the corners of any road where land is required to be purchased for that purpose, the levelling of roads, the treatment of a road for mitigating the nuisance of dust," etc.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If the noble Earl will look further on, he will see it is only "beyond ordinary repairs."
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Quite so; but as I read it road sprinkling can be safely done under Clause 8, subclause (3). In these circumstances and as the Amendment is simply and solely a grant to the rates, it would be impossible for His Majesty's Government to accept this provision. We have to take a very strong line upon this, and if the Amendment is persisted in I am afraid I shall have to put the Committee to the trouble of a Division.
§ On Question, whether the words "or towards meeting the extraordinary expenditure incurred by the highway authority on the maintenance of roads in consequence of motor traffic" be here inserted?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 80; Not-contents, 30.253
|Devonshire, D.||Wharncliffe, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Wicklow, E.||Faber, L.|
|Rutland, D.||Forester, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Grenfell, L.|
|De Vesci, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Goschen, V.||Kenyon, L.|
|Bath, M.||Hill, V.||Knaresborough, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Hood, V.||Lamington, L.|
|Camden, M.||Iveagh, V.||Lawrence, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||St. Aldwyn, V.||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Lovat, L.|
|Addington, L.||Ludlow, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Allerton, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway)|
|Camperdown, E.||Ampthill, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Mostyn, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Bagot, L.||North, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Barrymore, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Basing, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Derby, E.||Belper, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Calthorpe, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Jersey, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Kimberley, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Clinton, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Lindsey, E.||Clonbrock, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||De Mauley, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Digby, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Ebury, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Waldegrave. E. [Teller.]|
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Airedale, L.||Haversham, L.|
|Wolverhampton, V. (L. President.)||Allendale, L.||Marchamley, L.|
|Armitstead, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Atkinson, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward.)||Boston, L.||Pirrie, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Braye, L.||St. David's, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Denman, L. [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Russell, E.||Eversley, L.||Swaythilng, L.|
|Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Weardale, L.|
|Althorp, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Hamilton of Dalzell, L. [Teller.]||Welby, L.|
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ [The sitting was suspended at a quarter to eight o'clock and resumed at a quarter past nine.]
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN moved to leave out the words which gave the Road Board power "themselves to construct and maintain any new roads." He wished to make it quite clear that he did not at all desire to do what Lord Montagu of Beaulieu objected to—namely, deprive the Road Board of initiative in this matter. He spoke of the Road Board as it now stood in the Bill, but he referred to any authority who might be entrusted with this part of the Bill. As the Bill originally stood, the Road Board was entrusted with very great powers with reference to the making of new roads. The idea then was that the Road Board should, as it were, 254 map out the country and propose some great new roads such as from London to York, or from London to Exeter, and that these roads, when made, should not be general highways, but solely main ways for motor traffic. Motors were to be allowed to go at any speed they liked over those roads. It was a conception of an entirely different kind, he was glad to say, from anything that now existed in the Bill. That proposal was rejected in spite of Party ties, by the commonsense of members in another place, and they had now a very truncated form of the power originally proposed to be conferred on the Road Board. This power was solely for the construction and maintenance of new roads, which were to be ordinary highways, used like other highways for ordinary traffic.
§ He did not think it was advisable or 255 necessary to confer such powers on the Road Board. In the first place, he doubted whether they had, or would have, means at all sufficient for this purpose. They were already bound by the clause as it stood, and by the Amendment to which their Lordships had just agreed. In the first place, before they constructed or maintained any new roads, they had to make advances to county councils and other highway authorities in respect of the improvement of existing roads and towards the extraordinary cost of maintenance in consequence of motor traffic. Therefore, out of their £600,000 a year, there would necessarily be but a small amount that could be devoted to this purpose, and that amount was carefully confined under subsection (2) of this clause, to one-third of the estimated receipts of the Road Board for any year. It could not, therefore, in any way exceed £200,000, a year. Some persons, as he had observed in the Press that morning, had a very extended idea as to the possibilities of the construction of new roads by the Road Board. They had suggested, for example, a new road round Brentford, new roads to connect London with the North and West or South of England, and other proposals of that kind, which could not be carried out except by expenditure far in excess of anything that could possibly be available to the Road Board under this Bill. Practically confined as the Road Board were to a maximum of £200,000 a year, all that they could do under this Bill in the construction of new roads would be to construct a few new roads in country districts where land might be reasonably cheap, and where such new roads would certainly be less wanted than in more populous areas.
§ Now, was this the best way of improving the roads in England? He did not believe it was. If the Road Board took upon themselves to plan out a new road through the district of local authorities who did not approve of that road they would be from the beginning in practical antagonism to those local authorities, who would say "If you make this road you will make a road we do not require; you will impose on us (under the Bill as it stood) the liability for the future maintenance of the road; you will increase our rates to that extent, and you will do it against our will." He did not believe in the efficiency of that 256 kind of compulsion. What he did believe in was the power of the purse, which was really provided by subsection (1) of this clause. If the Road Board desired a new road to be made through the district of any local authority all they would have to do if, as he proposed, paragraph (b) were left out, would be to communicate in the first place with the local authorities concerned, and suggest to them that a road should be constructed between such and such places. If the local authorities were willing to undertake the work, the Road Board could under the Bill give them a grant towards the cost. The county council, necessarily and rightly fortified as it would be under the Bill with the power of compulsory purchase of land, would be able, aided by this grant, to construct the new road infinitely more to the satisfaction of the people concerned and infinitely more efficiently and cheaply than the Road Board could construct it. Every road authority had at its command a surveyor and a staff experienced in the construction and maintenance of roads, who would be able in such circumstances to give their services for this work; but the Road Board or the Commissioners, whoever their Lordships might decide upon as the authority under this part of the Bill, would have to form a staff of the kind for themselves at great expense, and, as he said, at an absolutely unnecessary expense as compared with the procedure he had just indicated. Surely before they gave a central board of this kind authority to construct roads against the wishes of the local authorities, they ought to try to see whether they could not persuade the local authorities to do the work themselves.
§ If anybody looked back at the history of the roads of England for the last twenty years and compared the state of those roads at present with the state in which they were before county councils were instituted, he would realise the extraordinary improvement that had taken place. He ventured to say that in no country in the world had the state of the main roads progressed more than in this country in the last twenty years. Could they say, then, that these county authorities which had already done so much were not likely to rise to what was necessary in the future, and, aided as they might be by the central authority under this Bill with grants from 257 the Imperial Exchequer, do all that was necessary for the improvement of the roads? All he contended was that they ought to try thorn first. If, having tried them, they found that the work could not be done, then Parliament might interfere and place greater powers, as some persons now desired, in the hands of a central road board; but, considering what had been done and the willingness of the county authorities to aid in this work of improvement, surely they ought to pause before placing in the hands of a central authority of this kind powers which were already so well exercised by the local authorities. The noble Earl the Lord Steward knew a new-road in the county in which he (Viscount St. Aldwyn) lived, Gloucestershire, towards which a very large grant had been made by the county council. There was no hesitation in granting what funds were necessary for the construction of that new road. He believed the same was the case all over England. Let them give the county councils what they would have under this Bill, compulsory powers for the purchase of laud at a reasonable rate, and they would make as many new roads, with the aid of a giant from the national Exchequer, as could possibly be desired.
In page 6, line 27, to leave out the words '(b) themselves to construct and maintain any new roads.'"—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The noble Viscount proposes an Amendment the effect of which would be to deprive the Road Board of the power of constructing new roads. In the powerful speech he made he said that you ought to try the local authorities first. But we must remember that in old days all the main trunk roads of the kingdom were made by turnpike trusts under Act of Parliament, and, in view of the national importance of these roads, I think the noble Viscount would be the first to agree that it would be impossible to allow one single authority to upset a scheme, though, of course, as I said before, the Road Board would go in the first place to the local authority and see what could be done to obtain the sanction of that authority. London is, of course, different from the country districts, but all those who have been on the London County Council know what terrible difficulty there was with the tramways owing to the borough authorities 258 refusing to allow the tramways to go through the areas of their different jurisdictions, and even when permission was given, conditions were exacted which enormously increased the cost of the undertaking. If that was done in London, although I agree that the conditions are dissimilar, I really do not see why it should not be done in the country; and therefore if we are ever to have these big roads in any particular district where they are wanted, would it not be much better to have some central authority to make them? I repeat that it is not in any way intended under the Bill to make it the first duty of the Road Board to construct great trunk roads, and to rush wildly into any great expense. The noble Viscount also pointed out the difficulty that might arise on account of the small amount of money there was to spend. One-third of the £600,000 is the limit under Clause 8, subsection (2), and therefore. I think that would be a guarantee that no immense expenditure would be run into. Though, of course, the money is a small amount, at any rate a beginning might be made towards carrying out a very big scheme which might be of great national importance. Then, of course, there are the safeguards which I have already pointed out, that before approving the construction of a new road the Treasury have to consult the Local Government Board, and objections raised by any highway authorities will be considered. I think under these conditions the objections of the noble Viscount are not perhaps as serious as he makes out. As this Amendment strikes really at the root of the whole Bill, it would be impossible for His Majesty's Government to accept it, and I must, therefore, ask your Lordships to adhere to the clause.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU said he had listened with the greatest interest to the noble Viscount, and he was glad to hear him say that he would not object to the Development Commission or the Road Board, or whatever authority was appointed, having the power of initiative. That, to him, was a most welcome admission; but in moving this particular Amendment, the noble Viscount was, as the noble Earl opposite had said, striking at the very essence of the Bill. Perhaps it was not generally recognised that in this country there had been no main road construction since 1837. While Governments of every country in Europe had encouraged 259 the making of new roads, this country, with its enormously increasing traffic, and a traffic which had become much more rapid in character, had stood still. Not a single mile of main road had been made for something like eighty years. He would take the concrete case which the noble Viscount mentioned—that of Brentford. He would assume for the sake of argument that some day this Road Board had the desire to make a road from the corner of Goldhawk road to Hounslow, where it joined the Southampton, Exeter, and Bath roads. If the Road Board, after consultation with the Local Government Board and having exhausted all the means of persuasion and pecuniary inducements failed to induce the local authority to make the road, the Road Board ought as a last resource to make the road itself. If the noble Viscount's Amendment were passed it would be entirely at the mercy of some small district council between these two points—a matter of some six miles apart—to block the progress of that road for an indefinite time. They had had experience of that in other directions.
§ He would recall a case in the Midlands. The want of a main road between Birmingham and Wolverhampton had become very great indeed. The result had been that a circuitous route had had to be used for years, a bad road along which horse flesh had toiled uphill and down. Only recently the two great towns had agreed with the authorities in between so that they were able to construct a trunk road. That was just the sort of case in point. He was informed that it had taken fifteen years to get the agreement through. Under this Bill the Road Board, after having exhausted all other means to make a new road, could construct it themselves. He could quote a number of other instances of short cuts between main roads which were in a similar condition; but it seemed to him that if the Development Commissioners or the Road Board were really to have any effective power and to be able to resist what he would call, without offence, the blackmailing of the smaller councils, they surely ought to have the power to construct new roads without appealing to other bodies. It must be remembered also in this matter that if the Road Board constructed these roads it would be out of money provided by one special kind of traffic, and that, although only one special kind of traffic was to pay for these roads, they were to be usable by the public at large, 260 to be subject to the general highway law, and a speed limit was to be imposed. These roads would be made really at the expense of the motorists largely for the benefit of the public at large. Motorists would contribute, moreover, in perpetuity, out of the special taxes falling upon them, towards the upkeep of the roads when made.
§ He could not see any great danger or anything revolutionary or Socialistic in the construction of roads at the expense of motorists for the use of the general public. To refuse roads made at the expense of one class of traffic for the benefit of all classes was to look a gift horse in the mouth. If the roads were going to be made out of the rates, the representatives of the ratepayers on the county councils would have the right to object; but under the circumstances he could see no reason for taking away from the Road Board or the Commissioners the power to make new roads. He had been recently in France studying some questions in a more or less official sense, and he could assure noble Lords that the desire of every civilised country in Europe to-day was to improve the facilities of roads. In the case of Vienna, Paris, and Berlin roads were to be constructed at the expense of the whole community; whereas the roads proposed to be made under the provisions of this Bill would be wholly constructed and largely kept up by taxes raised on one special class of traffic.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE said it seemed that this kind of enterprise was eventually bound to become a very serious burden on the rates. By Clause 10, subsection (2), where the highway authority to whom the advance was made was a county council the new road, when constructed, would be a main road and in any other case would be a highway repairable by the inhabitants at large. No matter from what source the money was derived in the first instance, this kind of enterprise would in the end become an additional burden upon the ratepayers. Their Lordships had no doubt listened with great interest to Earl Russell's speech, in which he pointed out that if they did not pay rates in one part of the country they did in another. That was a very old argument, and in a certain sense it was rather a plausible one; but those who used motor cars did not correspond with 261 the ratepayers, the majority of whom did not own motor cars. It was the non-motor owning portion of the community who felt the burden of the rates much more than those who owned motor cars, and upon whom eventually the burden would fall for all these new roads.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU pointed out that by subsection (2) of the clause under consideration the new authority had the power to contribute towards the maintenance of the new roads.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE said he did not contest that proposition for a single moment; but there was the fatal phrase in subsection (2) of Clause 10, "inhabitants at large." The noble Earl, Lord Carrington, had said that motorists had behaved extremely generously in this matter. He would not at all question their motives but he most humbly and most respectfully desired to register a protest against the argument of which they had heard so much lately, that because a particular section of the community who indulged in a particular kind of pastime contributed, whether by arrangement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer or not, some money towards the general taxation of the country, that that money should ipso facto be ear-marked for a particular purpose, and that they should stretch the maxim that "he who pays the piper calls the tune," and, having paid this money, should consider that they had a right to engineer and direct the public policy in matters of this kind. He could assure the noble Earl that if he would join with the rest of the community in making roads passable both for motorists and everybody else he for one would support him.
§ LORD BELPER said he did not like to allow the debate to pass without saying a few words. The noble Viscount had undoubtedly raised a most important point by his Amendment. This was not only a question whether the Road Board should have the power of making a new road or not; if this power were taken out of the Bill the noble Viscount proposed to do away with the Road Board so far as it was to be a road authority at all, and to have no board with administrative powers as to roads. In fact, any money that the Commissioners had to dispose of would be handed over to the county councils 262 to spend on improvements to their own roads.
§ He thought the noble Viscount had missed one point which was of some importance with regard to the future development of roads. In the last few years there had been a marked change in the traffic on the roads, and it was likely that in the next few years there would be a still greater change. Those who had studied the question were convinced that there must be some system of roads besides that now in existence—that there must be national trunk roads not paid for out of the rates but out of State funds. He was not merely giving his own opinion or the opinion of those who acted with him on the County Councils Association. Earlier in the year there was, as many of their Lordships might be aware, a road conference attended not only by all the road authorities in the kingdom, but also by those whose business it was to keep up the roads and by representatives of all the classes of people who used the roads. It was natural in such a large body as that, sitting for two days, that there must have been a great many differences of opinion, but to his mind it was extremely satisfactory that there were certain points on which there was a general agreement. One of the first of the resolutions passed by a very large majority was that the classification of roads should be undertaken by some Government Department and that they should be classified under two heads—primary and secondary roads; the former to be supported mainly out of a grant given by the Government. The point that ran through all the discussions which resulted in those resolutions was that there must be some system of roads beyond the system of local roads supported by local authorities. If they had an opportunity to start any system of that sort he very much doubted whether it would be wise on their part to take action which would at all events prevent it having a fair trial.
§ He could quite admit what the noble Viscount said as to its not being likely at present that there would be any very great trunk roads constructed throughout the whole of England; but what he thought likely was that if there were a road authority, and that authority consisted of gentlemen not only of ability but also of experience and thoroughly conversant with local conditions and local government, 263 a great deal might be done in the direction of carrying out the resolutions passed at the road conference, because use might be made of existing roads to some extent by making new pieces of road from one to another. There might be opportunities to a central authority of making through roads from great centres of population, but which no local authority had any chance of carrying out. If these roads were carefully thought out and well laid down they might not only be of great advantage to through traffic, but might relieve local roads of a great part of their traffic, and by that means a saving in the rates might be effected. Was it wise to look a gift horse in the mouth if they had an offer of a sum of money paid by the central authority not only to improve existing roads—and he understood that the sum given for that purpose would be handed over entirely to the county councils and the work would be carried out by them—but for making new roads which might be of advantage to the general traffic of the district? He himself hesitated about taking such a responsibility as would be upon them if they refused to give a trial to such a system.
§ The noble Viscount had stated his case, as he always did, with the utmost moderation and ability; but he (Lord Belper) was bound to say that he could not go quite as far as the noble Viscount in thinking that if a grant were made by the Government to a county council for a large road in their county, they would be willing to find the rest of the money to carry it out. His own opinion, founded on his knowledge of the funds of the county councils at the present moment, was that they would not feel justified in casting a greater charge on the rates than they were absolutely obliged to do. For that reason, at all events, if an offer were made to throw the whole cost upon a central fund they ought to accept it. The noble Lord who spoke last was entirely mistaken with regard to Clause 10. If the money were contributed by the Development Commissioners to the county council for making the road it would become a main road and would be repairable at the expense of the county council; but if the Road Board themselves made a new road they would be responsible for the whole maintenance of the road.264
§ LORD BELPER said he believed he was entirely right in that; indeed, they had had a deputation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon this very question of the maintenance of the roads. Where the new road had been made by the county council, either with a contribution or full payment from the Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer consented to insert a clause which was now in the Bill—namely, subsection (2) of Clause 8, to the effect that "in making advances to highway authorities in respect of the construction of new roads, the Road Board may—
§ LORD BELPER said he was perfectly aware of the word. That was the point. He did not think it was quite reasonable to say that in all cases it should be done; but the Road Board "may, where they think it desirable, also contribute towards the cost of maintenance of such new roads." In the case of a road constructed by the Road Board, he ventured to think—and the noble Earl opposite would make it clear if he were wrong—that that would be a trunk road, and that the expense would be borne by the road authority themselves, because the road would go through the districts of a great many local authorities, and it would be impossible for one local authority to undertake the work. If he were right in that contention, so far from its being a disadvantage for the Road Board to make the road themselves it would be a distinct advantage; and in the opportunities he had had of discussing this Bill with gentlemen who were thoroughly conversant with the matter he was assured that there was not the slightest idea either of interfering with the county council in the management of, or the carrying out of any improvements to, their own roads; nor was there any intention of putting any cost upon the county councils unless it was in respect of the roads they made themselves.
§ LORD BELPER said that was the contention; but he did not think it did. Under those circumstances he hesitated to support an Amendment which he was afraid would have the effect at all events of preventing this experiment from being tried upon the roads, and which experiment, if carried out with judgment, might prove of great advantage to the country.265
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE said he was not quite sure that he correctly understood the noble Viscount who moved the Amendment, and he would like to ask him one or two questions. If the noble Viscount got rid of the words which he proposed to omit by his Amendment, he assumed it was in the mind of the noble Viscount to get rid of Clause 7 altogether.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE said he understood that the noble Viscount's chief argument against the Road Board was that from the nature of things at present it would not be able to do very much; that it would have very little money to do all the great things expected of it, and that those things could be very much better done if the Commissioners allotted them to others such as the county councils. The question he desired to ask was whether, when he spoke of the insufficiency of the funds at the disposal of the Road Board, the noble Viscount contemplated that they would have to acquire the land on each side of the road. He quite realised that if they had to buy 220 yards on each side of the road, it was only in the outlying districts that anything could be done. Very little could be done anywhere else with the funds at the disposal of the Road Board, though he thought his noble friend below him looked at it very fairly when he said they could not do very much harm if they could not do very much good.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said he should be very happy to answer the noble Lord so far as he could. Of course what he had in his mind was the Bill as it stood. He did not know whether the Government would agree to the omission of the remarkable provision which would enable 220 yards on each side of the road to be taken by the Board. He had considered the matter from the point of view of the Bill remaining as it was, and he might say, further, that he could not agree with his noble friend Lord Belper that if a road were constructed by the Road Board it would necessarily be maintained in future by the Road Board. No doubt it might be so maintained if the Road Board desired it; but in Clause 9, subsection (1), were these words "Every road constructed by the Road Board under the provisions of this Act shall be a public highway, and the enactments relating to highways and bridges shall apply to such 266 roads accordingly." Surely those enactments involved a liability on the rate-payers to keep the road in repair. Of course, if His Majesty's Government were to tell him that they were prepared to agree to the omission of the provision enabling the Road Board to take a width of 220 yards on each side whenever they made a new road, and were also willing to make it compulsory on the Road Hoard either to maintain the roads constructed by the Road Board or to give such grants to the county councils as would enable them to maintain those roads, he would be quite willing to reconsider his Amendment.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE asked if he was to understand that the noble Viscount went so far with him as to say that if these expensive fringes were out of the Bill he would see no objection to the Road Board.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH asked if the noble Viscount had directed his attention to the first part of Clause 9, which said, "For the purpose of the maintenance, repair, improvement and enlargement of or dealing with any road constructed by the Road Board, the Road Board shall have the same powers (except the power of levying a rate) and be subject to the same duties as a county council." The duties of a county council with regard to roads was to keep them in repair, and it seemed perfectly clear in Clause 9 that if a road were constructed by the Road Board that Road would have the same powers and duties as a county council, and therefore the road would be a highway repairable by the Road Board and not by the county council.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I might make it perfectly plain that the Road Board will be responsible for the maintenance of new roads constructed by them.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
In all cases, because as regards those roads the Board will be subject to the same duties as the county council are subject to with respect to main roads. Clause 9, subsection (1), makes it perfectly clear, so that there can be no doubt whatever that the Road 267 Board will be responsible for the maintenance of the new roads constructed by them.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said they were very interested to hear what was in the mind of His Majesty's Government, because that was sometimes a little obscure. But the Bill seemed to be quite clear in the opposite direction. The paragraph which their Lordships were now discussing ran, "themselves to construct and maintain any new roads." Subsection (2) read as follows: "In making advances to highway authorities in respect of the construction of new roads, the Road Board may, where they think it desirable, also contribute towards the cost of maintenance of such new roads." That was the very point.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
But it is an entirely different thing. In one case the Road Board make the roads, and in the other they advance the money to the county council to make roads of their own.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said he was very much obliged to the noble Earl for his interruption. Could he take it from the noble Earl that His Majesty's Government would make it clear in the Bill that wherever the central authority made a new road they would be entirely responsible for its maintenance?
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
May I point out to the noble Marquess where that is provided for. Clause 9 says that, "For the purpose of the maintenance, repair, improvement, and enlargement of or dealing with any road constructed by the Road Board, the Road Board shall have the same powers (except the power of levying a rate) and be subject to the same duties as a county council have and are subject to as respects main roads." That is the liability to keep in repair.
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
How does the noble Earl interpret the words "the enactments relating to highways and bridges shall apply"?
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My impression was that the words were put in in order to make it clear that these roads were not to be kept for a particular class of traffic—that they were not to be motor 268 roads, but were to be used by the public in the ordinary way as highways.
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND asked how the noble Earl got over the argument that the enactments relating to highways made it the duty of the local authority to repair them. If every road constructed by the Road Board was to be a public highway and the enactments relating to highways were to apply to such roads, it appeared to be contradictory to the first part of the clause.
§ LORD said he rather agreed with Lord Belper. Clause 8 seemed to refer to roads apparently to be constructed by the county council, aided by grants from the Road Board. In that case the Road Board might subscribe something towards the maintenance of the roads. Clause 9 dealt with a different kind of road—namely, roads constructed entirely by the Road Board; and in that case the I expense of maintenance fell entirely on the Road Board. It seemed to him that the two clauses were quite distinct.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said they I ought to have this quite clear, and accordingly he suggested that if their Lordships agreed to retain the words he had moved to omit, there should be inserted at the end of the subsection: "Provided that it shall not be the duty of the county council or other local authorities to maintain any roads constructed by the Road Board."
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think the same result would be achieved by leaving out later on that part of Clause 9 to which the noble Duke has taken exception. I think we might have no objection to that.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said he had placed an Amendment on the Paper in the earlier part of the Bill for the purpose of combining the Road Board with the Commissioners, but he quite admitted that in doing so he had in view the possibility that their Lordships would omit the power of the Road Board to construct and maintain any new roads. The retention of that power no doubt, had to some extent, weakened his argument for the amalgamation of the two bodies; but he would move at this point to leave out "Board" in order to insert "Commissioners," with 269 the object of ascertaining the views of there Lordships on the subject. As he had placed the Amendment on the Paper he thought at any rate he ought to give their Lordships an opportunity of debating the point. His object was to avoid the unnecessary multiplication of authorities of this kind. This was not the only case in which there seemed to have been a desire on the part of the present Government to multiply central boards for the performance of duties which had hitherto been performed—and he believed on the whole satisfactorily performed—by local authorities.
§ There appeared to be a sort of notion prevalent in high quarters at present that the elected local authorities were incapable of properly performing their duties, and that they must be not merely supervised but compelled to perform those duties, by pressure from some central authority. He had had experience a long time ago of Irish Government, and he thought anybody who had that experience would be aware that if there was one thing more denounced than another in connection with Irish Goverment it was the multiplication of boards in Dublin Castle. He trusted a similar process was not to be repeated in England. If a new authority was to be constituted, for the sake of economy, if economy was any object to anybody nowadays, they should endeavour to place as many duties as possible under one board. The first part of the Bill proposed the appointment of Commissioners who were to be men of high standing and very considerable ability and experience to carry out a very varied list of duties. They had to consider the necessities of agriculture and all kinds of matters connected with that great industry; they had to consider forestry and the reclamation and drainage of land, rural transport, harbours, inland navigation, and fisheries. It would not be very much to add to this wide and varied list of work which was to be considered by the Commisisoners the question of grants to local authorities for the construction of new roads, and even administrative work in what he would submit were the rare cases in which it would be necessary and possible for this body to construct new roads themselves.
§ It had certainly been admitted in the course of the debate, and it must be 270 admitted by everybody who considered the possibilities and the amount of funds which would be at the disposal of this body, whatever it was, that the construction of new roads could be carried on by them to a very small extent, and therefore it would not be necessary for them to engage for that purpose any considerable permanent staff. He knew there had been a feeling in certain quarters associated with the motor industry that there ought to be, in the authority dealing with these matters, some special representation of the great interests in which they were concerned. He entirely agreed, but that representation could be given equally on the Commission as on the Road Board. Could it be said that men of the great ability and experience necessary for Commissioners would be incapable of all administrative work simply because under the first part of the Bill their main duties would be rather judicial than administrative? He did not believe it. He believed it would be perfectly possible for the Commissioners as constituted under the first part of the Bill, with the addition of a couple of members specially qualified by experience either in the construction or in the use of roads, to carry out the work. He would gladly see words inserted to enable the motor industry to be represented on the Commission. He believed it would be perfectly possible for such a body to perform satisfactorily all the duties which were imposed on the Road Board by the second part of the Bill. There would be also the great advantage that they would have one Department instead of two Departments. They would have one Department, perhaps, with a couple of additional members, possibly one of them paid, which would be a small matter, and they would avoid all the expense connected with the staffing and housing of two Departments. He believed one Department would be not only more economical than two, but infinitely more efficient. They were by the Bill conferring on two Boards powers with regard to rural transport, and surely nothing could be more inconvenient than to exclude from the power of the Commissioners anything connected with the construction or improvement of roads, although the Bill empowered them to deal with the making of light railways. Thanks to the great extension of motor traffic light railways were much less needed than they were twenty years ago. Practically they were conferring 271 by this Bill on two Boards powers with regard to rural transport which ought to be exercised by one only, and in consequence of that proposal they had actually to insert clauses in the Bill to require one of the boards to consult with the other before making any recommendation for an advance for the purpose of rural transport. He really thought that that subsection was almost enough to justify his proposal without any further argument.
In page 6, lines, 31, 34, and 37, to leave out 'Road Board' and to insert 'Commissioners.'"—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE said the agricultural ratepayer for many years past had been anxious that some of the main roads of the country, at any rate, should be taken over and managed at the expense of the Government. Was there any better chance for the rural ratepayer than this? If a Road Board was once established then those who represented in this country the great industry of agriculture would be far more likely than they ever were before to get the main roads made a national and not a local charge. From the point of view of agriculture, it was very advisable that the Road Board should be started. He could not help thinking that we would have in this country before long a demand for the construction of main roads from quite a different source. He was struck by a report in that morning's newspapers of a discussion the previous night at the United Service Institution on the need for motor traction for the Army. It was now admitted by soldiers that if there ever was a raid in this country the military forces would have to be taken largely, not by rail, but by road; that was a line of argument which was going on at the present time among military reformers. Therefore they were going to have a demand that roads should be made in this country for military purposes, and if those roads were ever to be made it was necessary that there should be a Road Board. He was convinced that a body of men who were not giving their whole time to this business would never be able to do this work.
§ The matter of the roads under this Bill, if attended to carefully, was going to be a 272 business that must take absolutely the whole time of those who attended to it. Some of the members of the Board were to be paid and some unpaid. He thought those who would be unpaid would be very self-sacrificing gentlemen. The work of the Board would involve an immense amount of detail. It was generally agreed that a good many corners of roads ought to be cut off. Supposing the sum of £50,000 was to be at the disposal of the authority to be given every year to local authorities to remove corners. The estimate was that a corner would cost about £50 to remove. As an average sum he thought that excessive, but at £50 a corner the sum of £50,000 devoted to this purpose per annum would mean one thousand corners. That would involve a great deal of detail work for the Board who would have to dole out the money to the local authorities and see that it was not wasted.
§ The other day Lord Willoughby de Broke had called attention to the great nuisance on the roads caused by great trains of trucks drawn by traction engines. They undoubtedly were a great nuisance; but, after all, this traction was connected with business. In going about the country most of their Lordships had seen places where there were large quarries worked, and the stone was conveyed from the quarries to the railway station two or three miles distant by means of these traction engines. The business in which they were employed was advantageous to the landowner, to the labour in the district, and to the industries they supplied. All these cases had to be gone into in detail on their merits. His own view was that if this work was to be done properly it would take absolutely the whole time of the gentlemen in charge, and he did not believe, speaking as a matter of business, that there lived a body of men who could do all the things set out in the first Part of the Bill and also manage in detail improvements all over the country of the main roads.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU entirely agreed with the noble Lord who had just sat down. He looked upon the setting up of the Road Board as one of the most essential parts, in fact the most essential part, of the Bill. He looked forward to the Road Board becoming eventually the central highway authority of this country. He hoped to see it eventually the parent 273 of national roads, paid for not by the local ratepayer but by the nation and the traffic using them. They were starting with an income of £600,000 a year, and this would probably increase to £1,000,000 a year. To hand that over to seven Commissioners, only two of whom would have any interests as regards roads, would be an unsound thing from a business point of view.
§ The study of roads and traffic was a very special study. For some years past he had devoted a good deal of time to it, and felt that he had just learnt a little about it. No one who had not attended the international conferences that had taken place on this subject and who had not followed the reports of the various commissions and committees that had reported in the last ten years, could have any real idea of the national importance of this question. The railways in this country might be taken as having twelve hundred millions of capital invested in them; the roads had at least three times as much as that invested in them in solid cash. Again, not only did the whole of the traffic using the railways make use also of the roads during some part of its transit, but millions of individuals used the roads who seldom used the railway. Good roads were a great asset to a country. It was quite impossible for this Bill to do any good either from the point of view of improving the roads for traffic, abating dust, or relieving danger if they did not have a Road Board. There was not a single Departmental Committee or Royal Commission from the time of the Departmental Committee on Highways in 1903, of which he had the honour to be a member, to the Royal Commission on London Traffic which had not recommended the establishment of a central highway authority; and even in the case of London, with its comparatively small mileage of roads, a Traffic Board was recommended for the metropolis in order to secure continuous, consecutive, and competent road policy. If the noble Viscount's suggestion were adopted the Bill would be of very little use so far as the highways of this country were concerned, and would make confusion worse confounded in the future.
§ He urged their Lordships before giving definite support to the noble Viscount to consider how very important the Road Board was. The noble Viscount had 274 named various duties of the Commissioners, which he said could easily be added to by putting the work of the Road Board upon them. He thought that was an argument in precisely the other direction. As the Commissioners were to have so much put upon them already, it was very inadvisable to add a new set of duties of a highly technical nature, and which could not be properly carried out except by an authority appointed ad hoc. Their Lordships would make a mistake if they refused to sanction the appointment of a Road Board, and he was sure the people of this country would regret it in the long run.
§ THE EARL OF JERSEY supported the view taken by the two noble Lords who had spoken last, and gave an instance in connection with the Light Railway Com-missioners. He said that in the early years of the Commissioners when there was a feeling in favour of light railways, they had from eighty to a hundred applications each year, and it was almost as much as the engineering member of the Commission could do to prepare the plans for their consideration. This Bill when it became an Act would be very popular in the sense I that there would be a great many applications under it. It would be impossible, he was certain, for those applications to be properly considered by the Commissioners under the first portion of the Bill. After ail, it must be borne in mind that the objections presented to applications would have to be considered. The Commissioners would have to go down in many cases and view the spot. He thought it would be quite impossible for sub-departments of the Commission to undertake the duty. He agreed with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu that it was essential in the interest of the public—he was not a motorist—that they should have a Road Department thoroughly to investigate these matters, to go all over the country, see the spots where improvements could be made, and in some cases perhaps to check the disposition of local authorities to get the money spent in their own districts. But to say all that could be done by adding two members to a Commission which had already very important duties of a different character allotted to them would not be wise on their Lordships' part. Therefore, he hoped the noble Viscount—although he was sorry to differ from him on matters of country life—would see his way to 275 withdraw the Amendment; and give to the country districts the only chance they had ever had to improve and widen their roads.
§ *LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH hoped the House would support the Amendment. Nobody was more keenly alive than he was to the great necessity of keeping the roads in this country in order, because, apart from what had been already said, they would see as the roads went on more and more traffic diverted from the railways on to the roads, and therefore it behoved all authorities, whoever they might be, to keep the roads in as good condition as possible. It seemed to him that the object of this Amendment was to do what he was sure all would wish to do, and that was to avoid the misuse and the useless and unnecessary expenditure of public money. The proposal of the Government was practically to start two entirely new Government Departments with their various expenses and salaries, and he did not think it had been proved to the satisfaction of their Lordships that the work proposed to be done could not be done quite as well by the Commissioners with perhaps a slight addition to their number. It could not be denied that the country was already fully equipped with roads, and he could not help thinking that the question of new roads, although important, might be rather a small one. It might be desirable here and there, perhaps, to construct new roads, but he thought the instances would be very few and far between, and in that case he did not see why the question of new roads should not be undertaken by the same Department as the Commissioners would preside over. In any case, he thought, where there was a question possibly of making a new road in any district or of improving an existing one, it was surely a question of which local authorities could judge for themselves equally as well as the central authority in London, and without putting the country to the very serious expense of an extra Department.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I think it must have struck every one of your Lordships who listened to the carefully-reasoned speech of Lord Zouche what a mercy it is that this question, which is one of immense importance, is in no way a Party question. It is simply a matter of administration, and simply as a matter of administration 276 it has been very calmly reasoned on both sides. The matter in my opinion is of the greatest possible importance. It is almost impossible to exaggerate its importance. The proof of that is the great interest it has aroused, not only in Parliament, but also outside, and, though I do not want to put it too high, I think I can fairly say that public opinion is on the whole in favour of two boards and against the idea of the two boards being rolled into one. We have heard to-night a powerful speech by Lord Belper, who spoke on behalf of the Association of County Councils and is in favour of two boards, and I may claim as being on our side The Times newspaper, which I suppose I may say under its new management represents a very large body of public opinion. The London County Council also, I believe, is in favour of two boards. Lord St. Aldwyn laid down the maxim that one board would be more efficient and economical than two. That would be so in most cases; but there are exceptions to every rule, and I venture to think that this case is an exception, and that two bodies are needed to carry out the provisions of the Bill as they should be carried out.
The noble Viscount asked whether it could be said that the Commissioners would be incapable of administrative work. Most certainly not; but the work which the Commissioners will have to do and the work of the Road Board are essentially different. The former will be a consultative and semi-judicial body, while the Road Board will be an executive body in part at any rate, with the power under the Bill to construct and maintain new roads. For this purpose they will have to acquire land compulsorily in some cases—I hope not in many—but an order will then have to be obtained from the Commissioners. The adoption of the Amendment would entirely upset that arrangement, which is a great protection to landlords. I happen to be a landlord myself, and I have a sneaking kindness for anything that is put in the Bill that may be a protection to myself and my fellow landlords. I should like to point out that the qualifications of these two bodies are very different. It is true that under the proposal of the noble Viscount two members of the Commission, which is to be increased if he has his way from five to seven, are to be road experts, and if the work is to be left to them there is no real advantage in 277 merging the bodies. It would be only two members as against five.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
That is economy. That is not my point. If the work is to be done well it would be hardly worth while skimping the expense. Many a ship has been spoilt for a ha'porth of tar, and I should recommend that if the work is to be thoroughly well done the money would not be wasted by paying well for it. If the work was left to the two expert road commissioners there would be no advantage in merging the two bodies, and if it was not they would be out-voted by people who admittedly had no special knowledge of roads or traffic. There is only one thing more I should like to say, although I am almost afraid of mentioning the subject. Motorists, though we hear they are very unpopular, have met the Government in the most fair way. I know that is received with merriment, but it is a fact, and we ought to acknowledge it. There is no suggestion whatever, good, bad or indifferent, as to these roads being motor roads only. They are to be public highways, and as the motorists have met us fairly I think we ought to meet them fairly. They are entitled to consideration. I have only to impress upon the House as respectfully as I can the absolute importance of this clause, and to say that the Government look upon the clause as vital, and hope it will be allowed to remain unchanged.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said there was one point in the noble Earl's speech with which he was prepared to agree, and that was that economy was not the only point to be considered in this matter. If it was clear that the Road Board would be more efficient for its purpose than the Commissioners, added to as he proposed, then be quite admitted that additional expenditure would be justifiable. It was not his opinion that this would be the case, but he recognised that it was a point which might fairly be argued. In the course of the debate on the Bill opinions had been expressed against his proposal. There was one school, he believed, who expected that the institution of a Road Board would lead to the assumption of the cost of maintenance of the main roads of the country by the State. He thought his noble 278 friend Lord Jersey, was a little influenced by that opinion, and certainly his noble friend Lord Belper was so influenced earlier in the evening. It might be that in days to come some Chancellor of the Exchequer would arise who would be prepared to undertake that liability, but he had certainly not had experience in the past of any Chancellor who would do so. He did not believe if they instituted a Road Board they would ever get the State to undertake so great an expenditure as that which was now discharged by the localities on the maintenance of the main roads. Still, he felt there was a great sympathy with the Road Board on that ground, and he quite admitted the force of that feeling.
§ Then there was the case of the motorist. His noble friend Lord Montagu of Beaulieu had placed that forcibly before the House. He hoped his noble friend would pardon him for suggesting that motorists were rather selfish in the matter because he (Viscount St. Aldwyn) could not trace in his noble friend's speech a feeling for anybody except the motorists. His noble friend alluded to the way in which His Majesty's Government had been met by the motorists. He hardly knew what his noble friend meant. Was the meeting on some backstairs? Where was the agreement arrived at? He need not add his voice to the protest made on that side of the House against the idea that their Lordships could in any way be bound by any agreement of the kind. The additional taxation on motorists had long been due. If the motor industry had been in its present position when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and motorists had used the roads to anything like the extent they did now, he was quite certain he would have imposed additional taxation on them without constituting a Road Board or confining the proceeds of the taxation to the purpose proposed in this Bill. He felt that his argument in favour of the amalgamation of the two boards was weakened by the fact that for reasons to which he had already alluded their Lordships had been induced to agree to the construction and maintenance of new roads by the Road Board. Having that feeling, and bearing in mind the high authority and experience of Lord Jersey, who had spoken against the Amendment, he did not wish to put their Lordships to the trouble of a Division.279
§ LORD BELPER said he only intervened to put himself right on one point. If he appeared to express any opinion in favour of the Government taking over main roads he was entirely misunderstood. His view was that there would have to be a new system of trunk roads constructed by the Government, and supported entirely by the Government, but the main roads would continue to be supported as at present by the county councils.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU wished, before the Amendment was finally withdrawn, to make one observation. The Road Board would be financed out of special taxation on motor cars, and there would be no charge on the public funds.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN moved to insert at the end of the first subsection of the clause a proviso that it should not be the duty of county councils and other local bodies to maintain any road constructed by the Road Board. He remarked that he had informed the House already that he attached great importance to the point raised in the previous discussion upon the construction and maintenance of new roads by the Road Board. The point he referred to was mentioned by his noble friend Lord Belper—namely, that the Bill could not impose any kind of liability on the county councils or other local authorities for the maintenance of roads constructed by the Road Board. He did not think that was at all clear in the Bill. Undoubtedly the Road Board had the power to maintain such roads, but the Bill did not say that they should do so.
In page 6, line 29, to insert: 'Provided it shall not be the duty of a county council or other local authority to maintain any road constructed by the Road Board.'"—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I should like to ask the noble Viscount what fault he finds with the first paragraph of Clause 9 as meeting his point. Surely the statement that the Road Board are subject to the same duties as a county council for the purposes of the maintenance of a road must mean that they are bound to maintain it.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I confess I find great difficulty in agreeing with the noble Viscount. It is quite true subsection (b) of Clause 8 does not say so.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said that undoubtedly the noble Viscount's words were much clearer than those of the noble Earl. That being so, it was evidently better that they should be put into the Bill.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *EARL RUSSELL moved an Amendment with the object of ensuring that the expression "improvement of roads" should include the permanent improvement or reconstruction of a road for mitigating the nuisance of dust. He confessed that, looking to the Budget speech, in which this taxation was first introduced to the public notice, and to the subsequent utterances of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he certainly understood the distinct intention was that this fund should be applied entirely for the permanent improvement of the roads and not for mere palliatives such as covering with tar. He rather regretted to see the word "treatment" in the Bill. It was not in the Bill originally, and he believed it was introduced in another place. He was quite sensible to the fact that the attitude of their Lordships, House had not been at all favourable to concessions to motorists, or even to carrying out the understanding that existed, and he did not, therefore, propose to press his Amendment if it was objected to. But he felt that the funds that would be at the disposal of the Road Board might very easily be frittered away, and be expended merely in temporary alleviation of the dust nuisance by such expedients as tar painting, which would have to be renewed two or three times a year. A far more proper method of dealing with the funds would be to apply them to really permanent improvements of the road which would have the effect of 281 mitigating the dust nuisance once and for all. As the amount of money at the disposal of the Board in comparison with the number of miles of road in the country to be dealt with was not very large it would be a pity if the money were wasted, and not put to the best possible use.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE
What is a permanent improvement which would mitigate the dust nuisance once and for all?
§ *EARL RUSSELL said that a permanent improvement would be effected by the well-known method of reconstructing the road with tar macadam. Under that method the road was not merely painted with tar, but it was reconstructed with macadam granite combined with the use of tar, and the surface was properly consolidated.
In page 7, line 8, to leave out 'treatment' and to insert 'permanent improvement or reconstruction.'"—(Earl Russell.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I am bound to confess that there is a great deal in what my noble friend Lord Russell has said, and of course he is an expert in these matters. I hope he will not press his proposal, however, because it would do away altogether with tar sprinkling. I am bound to admit that is only a palliative, but it is a very necessary one. If the Amendment were carried the effect would be to perpetuate the miseries of the unfortunate people who live on the side of the road, which I am sure my noble friend would be the last person to wish to do.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH proposed an Amendment in order to ensure that in connection with the improvement of roads under the Bill the Road Board might make a grant to a highway authority for the freeing of a bridge or the acquisition of a ferry. Obviously, he said, it would be very bad policy on the part of the Road Board to spend a large amount of money in improving a road on both sides of a bridge which was subject to a toll without first relieving the bridge of the toll. Many of their Lordships could no doubt recall instances of toll bridges, and they would agree that in nearly every case had the tolls been taken off 282 before the growth of population took place in the vicinity of those bridges the saving to the public would have been very great. It was obvious that in the case of a road improvement one of the things which it was most necessary to ensure was that the road should not be cut in two, as it were, by a toll-paying bridge, and the same argument would apply in a lesser degree as regarded the acquisition of a ferry.
In page 7, line 11, after 'repair,' to insert 'and a giant may be made to a highway authority for the freeing of a bridge or the acquisition of a ferry.'"—(Lord Clifford of Chudleigh.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Though there will be a good deal of sympathy with the object of the noble Lord's Amendment, I am afraid that it is clearly outside the scope of the Bill. The question was brought up in the House of Commons, I think by Mr. Renton, but the Solicitor-General could not accept the Amendment, as it was not within the four corners of the Bill. I hope the noble Lord will be satisfied with that and will not press his proposal.
§ LORD BELPER said that no doubt a grant for this purpose would have a very beneficial effect, because it was not easy for a county council to give a large sum to free a bridge. Such a grant as was proposed would act as an inducement to those using a toll-paying bridge to contribute to get the bridge freed for the use of ratepayers and others.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH had some difficulty in understanding in what way the proposal was outside the scope of the Bill, especially as power was given to the Road Board to make a grant to enlarge a bridge. Here the public was in possession of a bridge, with a right of way over it, but there was a certain want of property in the bridge represented by the fact that the people who crossed it had to pay a certain amount of toll. If the bridge were washed away or disappeared from some other cause, there was no question that the Road Board might give a grant to rebuild it. In this case they had a bridge a great part of which belonged to the public, and it was held to be outside the scope of the Bill for the Road Board to give a grant for the acquisition of that portion which was not 283 in the hands of the public. The object of the Bill was to improve the roads, and the improvement of a road could not be better carried out than by getting rid of what was essentially a hindrance to the traffic. He would not, however, press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 7 (the consideration of which had been adjourned), agreed to.
§ Clause 9:
§ 9.—(l) For the purpose of the maintenance, repair, improvement, and enlargement of or dealing with any road constructed by the Road Board, the Board shall have the same powers (except the power of levying a rate) and be subject to the same duties as a county council have and are subject to as respects main roads, and may further exercise any powers vested in a county council for the purposes of the maintenance and repair of bridges. Every road constructed by the Road Board under the provisions of this Act shall be a public highway, and the enactments relating to highways and bridges shall apply to such roads accordingly, and the Road Board shall have the same powers as a county council for the preventing and removing of obstructions:
§ Provided that—
- (a) Communications between a road or path and a road constructed by the Road Board shall be made in manner to be approved by the Road Board; and
- (b) The Road Board and any highway authority in whose district any part of any such road is situate may contract for the undertaking by such authority of the maintenance and repair of the part of such road in their district; and for the purposes of such undertaking the highway authority shall have the same powers and be subject to the same duties and liabilities as if the road were a road vested in the highway authority.
§ (2) Before the Treasury approve of the construction of a new road by the Road Board they shall consult with the Local Government Board and shall satisfy themselves that notice of the intention to construct the road has been sent by the Road Board to every highway authority in the area of which any part of the proposed road will be situate, and shall consider any objections to the proposed road which they may receive from any such authority
§ *EARL RUSSELL moved an Amendment in subsection (1), after the words "Every road constructed by the Road Board under the provisions of this Act shall," to insert the words "subject to the provisions of this section." This, he explained, was in itself merely a drafting Amendment, and he moved it in order to pave the way for the insertion of a new paragraph in the following terms: "The Road Board may, 284 subject to the approval of the Treasury, make by-laws for regulating the traffic on roads constructed by them, and may by such by-laws impose a penalty not exceeding forty shillings, enforceable on summary conviction for any breach thereof."
In page 7, line 21, after the word 'shall' to insert the words 'subject to the provisions of this section.'"—(Earl Russell.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY understood that the noble Earl the Leader of the House was going to leave out the words: "Every road constructed by the Road Board under the provisions of this Act shall be a public highway, and the enactments relating to highways and bridges shall apply to such roads accordingly, and the Road Board shall have the same powers as a county council for the preventing and removing of obstructions." He rather gathered in the course of the discussion that the noble Earl admitted, or at any rate did not deny, that the later words of the subsection were inconsistent with the former words, and therefore he proposed to strike them out.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess for reminding me on this point. Perhaps, if the noble Marquess will agree, the matter had better stand over until Report. It is quite true that the words to which the Duke of Northumberland took exception as to enactments relating to highways and bridges, which he was afraid conflicted with the words which went before, "subject to the same duties as a county council," might be spared; but I do not think it would meet the views of noble Lords opposite to omit the words saying that every road constructed by the Road Board shall be a public highway, because if they were left out the Road Board would be enabled to make one of the great trunk roads into a motor road only.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN observed that as the Road Board was to maintain the roads it should have the powers of a county council for preventing and removing obstructions.
§ *EARL RUSSELL thought it desirable to repeat that the particular Amendment before the House was only a drafting one, 285 and was moved for the purpose of introducing the second Amendment. If their Lordships would consider the matter for a moment merely as business men interested in the roads, without any question of prejudice against the origin of the Bill, or the motorists who were supposed to be at the back of it, he thought they would agree that it would be proper and useful for the Road Board to have the power of making some sort of regulations with regard to the user of these roads. He did not wish it to be supposed that the words he suggested were meant in any way to enable regulations to be made which would close a road to all traffic except motor traffic, or anything of that sort. Motorists were the first to say that they did not wish to have special roads which would be merely motor tracks; but it was not unreasonable when they were trying experiments that there should be some power to regulate the user of the roads. Some of the roads might be sixty or one hundred feet wide as was the case in Kingsway, and it might occur to the Road Board to lay down portions of the road in a different manner. One portion might be constructed in a way which would be suitable to rubber-tyred traffic, another portion might be constructed in the ordinary macadamised way, and a third portion might be constructed with stone setts for the purpose of traction engine traffic.
§ It was clearly desirable if they were going to make a road of a special character to have plenty of room alongside for ordinary traffic, and there should be power to apply special regulations. These observations applied to ail main roads which were of sufficient width to admit of discriminating treatment. The Highways Act, which now dealt with roads, was a little out of date. The fact was that when they had a track made up anyhow they did not want much in the way of regulations, but they now had special kinds of traffic, and the roads, therefore, must be dealt with in a special manner. A similar experiment was tried on the Champs Elysées in Paris, where a special section of the roadway had been set apart for motor traffic only. When they looked at the matter from an engineering and construction point of view, he thought their Lordships would admit that it was very proper for them to adapt the Bill to the way in which it was going 286 to be used for making a road in different kinds of ways for different traffic. As their Lordships knew, a very smooth and hard surface, which was suitable for rubber-tyred traffic, was not particularly safe for horse traffic. It might be desirable, for example, on some particular stretch of road where a particular kind of material was being tested for experimental purposes, to forbid the traffic altogether of traction engines which would destroy the value of the experiment.
§ It was not an unreasonable thing to give the Road Board power to make these regulations, which would be subject to the criticism of Parliament. He understood that the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself was not opposed to some regulations of this sort, and, indeed more stringent regulations were suggested in the first instance, but the matter did not receive adequate discussion in another place. It would be a pity, when they were doing a thing of this sort, to spoil the experiment by not giving the people who were conducting it all the powers they required. He did not suggest that the by-laws should be used to exclude any kind of traffic altogether from the roads, but they might be used for the purposes of differentiation. If their Lordships decided to adopt the Amendment and give the Road Board an opportunity of obtaining this power, he had reason to believe that the proposal would be agreed to in another place.
§ The experiments which would be tried in regard to the best methods for the construction of roads might have the result of saving thousands of pounds to the ratepayers. Lord Willoughby de Broke had already been offered by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill all the 220 yards on each side of the road for the purpose of hacking out to cover. He did not think, therefore, there need be any difficulty in allowing the Road Board to make these experiments in a reasonable manner, and to try to see what could be done in the new methods of road construction and the dressing of road surfaces in order to meet the needs of particular kinds of road traffic.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU entirely supported what the noble Earl opposite had said. He would like to give an instance of how special arrangements were already made in the case of some roads to meet the needs of particular 287 kinds of traffic. Until very recently on many of the London bridges crossing the Thames there was a sort of plateway at each side which was designed to carry the wheels of very heavy traffic. Supposing the roads were constructed of dustless material, it would be very destructive to the surface if they allowed traction engines to go down the middle of the road under certain conditions. The idea was merely to allow certain kinds of traffic to be confined to the sides of the road, and powers were only those which were asked for by borough councils with regard to approaches to piers and other places. He thought it might safely be left to the Treasury to see that the regulations did not interfere in any way with the access of the public to the roads.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I think your Lordships will agree that the two noble Lords have made out a very good case. I was very much struck with what Earl Russell said about the way in which the traffic was managed in Paris, and I believe in that city the method is a great success. But I would remind your Lordships that this question was discussed in the House of Commons. It was brought forward by Mr. Berridge, and, as my noble friend behind me says, it was inadequately discussed. Yet the feeling voiced by Lord Morpeth and others was so strong against the proposal that the matter was dropped. I think on the whole it must be acknowledged that public opinion at the present moment has not advanced so far in this direction as my noble friend has done. Therefore I should hope that he would not press his Amendment at this stage, though as years roll on he may see his wishes bear fruit.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said the Amendment would really enable the Road Board, with the consent of the Treasury, to prohibit all but motor traffic over the whole of these roads. That was what the Treasury proposed to Parliament, but they had to abandon it.
§ *EARL RUSSELL did not know why the noble Viscount should assume that the Treasury would consent to absurd regulations. He could not conceive that the Treasury would sanction any regulations which were universally distasteful. The noble Viscount went on to say, in effect, that some opinion was expressed against this proposal in another place; but surely 288 that was not a sufficient reason why their Lordships should not consider it on its merits. There might be the greatest possible use for these by-laws, and their Lordships could do no harm, if they took that view, in assenting to the Amendment. It would be unfair to deprive a Board, consisting of people who were to command confidence, of powers which might be of great use to them in the public interest.
§ *LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU suggested that the views of those who objected to the Amendment might be met if they put in the words "Not affecting the access of the public."
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 9 agreed to.
§ Clause 10 agreed to.
§ Clause 11:
§ 11.—(1) Where the Road Board propose to construct a new road under this Part of this Act the Board may acquire land for the purpose, and may in addition acquire land on either side of the proposed road within two hundred and twenty yards from the middle of the proposed road.
§ (2) The Road Board may acquire, erect, and furnish such offices and other buildings as they may require, and may acquire land for the purpose.
§ (3) Where a highway authority are authorised to construct a new road under this Part of this Act, or an advance is made to such an authority in respect of the improvement of an existing road, the authority may acquire land for the purpose of such construction or improvement.
§ (4) For the purpose of the purchase of land by agreement under this Bart of this Act by the Road Board or a highway authority the Lands Clauses Acts shall be incorporated with this Part of this Act, except the provisions of those Acts with respect to the purchase and taking of land otherwise than by agreement, and section one hundred and seventy-eight of the Public Health Act, 1875, shall apply as if the Road Board and the highway authority were referred to therein.
§ (5) Where the Road Board or any highway authority are unable to acquire by agreement on reasonable terms any land which they consider necessary, they may apply to the Development Commissioners for an order empowering them to acquire the land compulsorily in accordance with the provisions of the Schedule to this Act. Provided that the provisions of Part I of this Act prohibiting the compulsory acquisition of the classes of land mentioned in subsection (3) of section five of this Act shall apply to the acquisition by the Road Board of land on either side of a road proposed to be constructed by the Board.
§ (6) The Road Board shall have full power, with the approval of the Treasury, to sell, lease, and 289 manage any land acquired by them under this Part of this Act and not required for the new road, and any receipts derived from any such land, so far as they are applied for the purposes of the construction of new roads, shall not be treated as part of the expenditure of the Road Board on new roads for the purpose of the provisions of this Act limiting the amount of expenditure of the Road Board on new roads.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY moved to omit the following words from the first subsection, "and may in addition acquire land on either side of the proposed road, within 220 yards from the middle of the proposed road." He did not think any one realised the extent of the ground that would have to be taken by the Road Board were this proposal passed. He understood it was calculated that if they took 220 yards for a distance of half a mile it would mean forty acres on each side of the road. Therefore it would mean taking eighty acres for every half-mile, which their Lordships would agree was rather a formidable proposition. There appeared to be a great idea in the minds of some people of allowing public bodies to acquire land, and it seemed to him that under this Bill they were embarking upon a very dangerous policy.
Another question also had to be considered. If the Road Board were empowered to buy large quantities of land on each side of the road they would have it in their power practically to block the neighbouring occupants from getting to the road at all. He asked their Lordships to consider some of the statements made in the Memorandum which had been placed in their hands to explain the Bill, though how much of it held good now he did not know. The Memorandum stated—
A new road constructed by the Road Board will be primarily a road confined to motor traffic, and the speed limit will not apply on such a road. The Road Board will, however, have power to allow the road to be used for other kinds of traffic if it sees fit, and may impose charges for the use of the road on traffic other than motor traffic.
Another paragraph a little later on was to the following effect—
In addition to the power of acquiring land for the purposes of new roads proposed to be constructed by the Road Board, the Board is given power to acquire land in rural districts on either side of any such proposed road to the extent of 220 yards in depth. This power will enable the Road Board to a great extent to reap the increment in value of lands adjoining the new motor roads due to the construction of those roads, and
it is hoped that this source of revenue, as well as the charges for allowing private roads leading to houses in the neighbourhood to communicate with the new motor roads, may go some way towards recouping the Road Board for the expenditure on the construction and maintenance of the new motor roads.
If that was not an extraordinary interference with the right of every individual who lived in the country to use the public roads without being charged by the new Board for getting to those roads, he would like to know what it was. It was all very well to talk about recouping the Road Board, but he was sure that the ratepayers did not want to have motor roads made and then for a charge to be put on themselves for getting to those roads. Their Lordships ought to remember that there was a great possibility that houses might be built between the occupiers of the land at the rear and the road, thus destroying completely their amenities. It was quite unnecessary for the Road Board to acquire land to such a large extent.
In page 8, line 26, to leave out from 'purpose' to the end of subsection (1)."—(Viscount Galway.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The noble Viscount allows the Road Board to take land compulsorily for the road, but objects to the 220 yards on each side. The noble Viscount puts a very pertinent case. He said that the communication might be cut off between the road and all the hinterland left in the rear of the strip on each side taken by the Road Board. He argued that if the strip was taken it would be very hard for the landowner to have his land shut off from the road altogether. I may remind your Lordships that that point was brought out by Lord Sheffield the other night, and I frankly admit that it ought to be met. There must be some access to the back land, and if the noble Viscount will allow the matter to stand over I will consider it and see what we can do on Report.
It may be well to note what is done on the big roads on the Continent. Naturally it is perfectly impossible to live on the road itself, so it is intended there shall be nothing but these strips immediately alongside the road. On the Continent you will find the streets are driven out at right angles, right and left of the roads, and houses are built. The people, therefore, 291 have all the advantages of living on the main road without any of the discomfort of noise and dust, and the other concomitant horrors to which dwellers on motor roads are liable. Of course, we do not and we cannot permit that national money should be given to develop individual estates. I think everybody in the House will agree that that could not be right or fair. If an estate is developed the owner ought to pay a proper share of the cost of the improvement. On the other hand, we have no wish in any way to interfere with the rights of the landlord. I will make a note of the noble Viscount's objection and bring up the question again on Report.
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
Are we on the Housing and Town Planning Bill or on the Development Bill? It seems to me we are discussing a compulsory scheme for erecting houses with gardens and all that kind of thing in connection with the Development Bill.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN said it seemed to him that the noble Earl did not at all answer his noble friend Lord Galway. The point was not whether the Road Board should have power to make a road across a man's property or not, but whether, in making the road, they should take a tract of land so wide as 440 yards. He took it that the roads on the Continent which the noble Earl referred to were not 440 yards wide or anything like it. What was the necessity of taking that large area of property when a road was made? The noble Earl's argument with reference to developing a man's property at public expense did not apply; because the present proposal was made only in favour of the Road Board.
§ Supposing the Road Board made a new road across some country district and took a piece of land 440 yards wide; they might in that process cut off one portion of the landowner's estate entirely from the other, thus depriving his property of all the amenities it would otherwise enjoy and making it absolutely useless for purposes for which it was now used. As to the suggestion of the noble Earl that roads in the rural districts could be lined with villas and shops, it must be apparent to any one that that was a perfect absurdity. If the Road Board 292 chose to make a road to the property of a landowner, of course they were entitled to some advantage and that advantage should be obtained by making some charge to the landowner for access to the road, or by making him pay something for any improvement to his property, to be ascertained in the manner provided in the Schedule. All that would be perfectly fair; but why this extraordinary provision permitting 220 yards of land to be taken on each side of a road should be proposed except as part of the idea of the nationalisation of land he could not understand.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
There is no intention to put in the thin end of the wedge of land nationalisation. This is a new idea in this country, and, as is always the case with new ideas, there is thought to be hidden danger in it. In America land has always been bought on each side of the railway. There is really nothing new in the principle of the proposal. I am at a loss to understand the great alarm of noble Lords opposite. It would not interfere with a man's property. On the contrary, a road going through some of our agricultural properties would do an immense deal of good. I should welcome the proposal in the case of some parts of my own property, because it would be developed and increased in value to a very considerable extent. I cannot understand why there should be this terror of this proposal, because if there was any severance of the estate the landlord would be paid at a proper price for that.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said the noble Earl did not see any possible reason why the authority should not hold land. The view which noble Lords on the other side took appeared to be that in the case of local authorities the more land they held the better. There was, however, a good deal of risk of loss to the ratepayers in pursuing a policy of that kind. He would mention an instance of this which was within his own recollection. The London County Council in one case bought land largely on each side of the road in connection with an improvement, with the result that they had now property of the value of six millions which they could not sell. They thought to recoup themselves for the improvement which was effected and bought far more land than they needed 293 when they made the road. The result was, however, that for years the London County Council had paid £200,000 in interest; and that had been done at the expense of the ratepayers, who were the sufferers by the miscalculation. It seemed to him the idea was that they were to take a great wedge of land through half a county in order that at some future time the Government might reap increment value on it. Their Lordships ought to be informed what was the minimum of land really required for these new roads, and they should not sanction any proposal which might involve a serious loss and which would be burdensome on landowners.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think that a somewhat unnecessary amount of prejudice has been imported into the discussion of this question. The proposal of His Majesty's Government is undoubtedly one way of arriving at the process of betterment. The other way is the one which we had in the Housing Bill, a measure to which the noble Duke opposite referred as being in some way kindred to this Bill. It was strongly disapproved of by noble Lords opposite, and received the kind of treatment to which we are accustomed in the case of such proposals at the hands of noble Lords. The kind of betterment which was to be found in the Housing Bill is disapproved of. This is a different kind. Supposing you do not put something of the kind in the Bill, what happens? You reach this absurd result. Entirely at the public expense a road is made straight from Liverpool to Manchester, or from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. The land up to that time had only the most remote building value, but great blocks of it now become of the highest building value. As regards the land away from the main road, the landlord has to make the roads himself at his own cost, but you give him that splendid frontage for nothing. That seems a most strange and illogical proceeding. It is quite true there may be some other ways of arriving at the same result, and the area capable of being taken would no doubt only be desired to be taken in very rare cases. It must be remembered that it has to be paid for, and in many cases at a very high price. Then in running a road through agricultural districts I cannot imagine that as a rule the Road Board would wish to acquire any land at all. If noble Lords do not like our way of achieving the result which is aimed at they 294 can suggest something else; but we cannot admit that in every case where a road is made entirely at the public expense it is reasonable, in view of the opinions which are held not only by people of extreme Socialistic views but by people of moderate views on these matters, to hand over the whole of the value, which may be enormous, to the landlord without his making any contribution whatever towards the cost of constructing the road.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY did not want to revive the controversy over the Housing Bill, but there was no one in the House who defended the betterment proposal which the Government put forward in that Bill. It was universally condemned, and yet, though it was not defended by the Government themselves, it was a proposal which the noble Earl taunted the Opposition with not accepting. As regarded the present proposal, what they had to say was that if this were a Housing Bill it would, perhaps, be right and proper that they should consider what the enhanced value of the frontages might be to the landowners. But when one of these roads went through a country district it would if anything tend to deteriorate rather than to advance the value of the land.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said that in dealing with an urban district the Town Planning Bill was the proper measure to proceed under. In dealing with country districts under the Development Bill the noble Earl must remember the sort of confusion that would result from all sorts of motors rushing backwards and forwards over improved roads. It seemed to him that the result would be worsement, if he might use such a word, rather than betterment owing to the loss that would be caused to the landowner by reason of the spoiling of what would otherwise be a nice building estate.
§ LORD EVERSLEY could imagine that even where the roads passed through rural districts the frontage value would in many cases be considerably increased. Supposing a special road were made from London to Brighton, the frontages would everywhere be of great value and houses would spring up everywhere on the route.295
§ LORD EVERSLEY said there was no principle of private legislation more clear and certain than that when a town improvement was effected and a new street made the local authority was to have the frontage as well as the road itself in order that the full value given by the improvement might accrue to that authority. The clause was necessary for the logical extension of that principle to suburban and rural districts, and he hoped His Majesty's Government would adhere to their proposal.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE thought when he heard Lord Carrington replying to the arguments of Viscount Galway that he had been convinced by them and was going to consider the question of the road frontages when the Bill came up on Report. But he now understood that all the noble Earl was going to consider was the means of giving access to people who became sort of backwoodsmen by the taking of these strips of land between their property and the road. He was very sorry that the noble Earl was not disposed to go fully into the matter and he rather agreed with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that it was gravely to be questioned whether any one who owned land in a country district would, under the circumstances, find his property improved in value by the construction of these roads. When the noble Marquess made that remark the noble Earl the Leader of the House at once interjected "Why only in country districts," leaving it to be assumed that the object of providing for these large strips was to enable land to be bought in urban districts where it would be very expensive and its acquisition would cripple very much the beneficial operations of the Road Board. As he was anxious to see the Road Board entrusted with as much money as possible for what he conceived to be the properly defined duties which their Lordships had more or less settled that it should exercise, he was very much averse to the Board engaging in land purchase operations of a speculative kind which might end disastrously and prejudice its powers, of useful work in other directions.
§ LORD ST. DAVID'S OF ROCH CASTLE said the noble Marquess opposite appeared 296 to think that no one would want to live near a motor road, and that if a road were constructed through the property of a landowner the result would be not betterment, but worsement. The noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, had really given the answer to that argument, because his view was not at all the same as that of his noble friend. The noble Viscount, who was a business man and had experience of property, said it was very hard for the land behind the strips that were taken to be shut off from the roads and that the properties should be deprived of all their amenities. The two noble Lords, therefore, were actually answering one another The question had been asked why the right to acquire frontages should only be given where a road was constructed by the Road Board. The answer to that was that where a road was made by a local authority the cost of construction fell upon the ratepayers, and the landowners in the districts were necessarily rated on a large scale for the improvement. In that case it was fair that the frontages should not be taken from a landowner. But when the road was constructed and frontages were created entirely out of moneys provided by Parliament, surely there was a fair claim on the part of the public that they should be allowed to take at a valuation those pieces of land, which previously had not been frontages at all. He agreed that there would be a great value in those frontages in the neighbourhood of many towns, and when Parliament had given local authorities like the county councils power to take land for betterment purposes he did not see why the power should not be given to the Road Board in the present instance.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY considered that the question of laying out estates and building houses did not arise at all under this Bill. If there were improvements to be effected in that direction the Housing and Town Planning Bill would be available for carrying them out. He objected strongly to any attempt being made to turn the Road Board into a jerry-building and speculative body.
§ *EARL RUSSELL said that supposing a road of the kind contemplated in the Bill were going to be constructed by a private commercial syndicate the first thing they would attempt to do would be to get by means of an Act of Parliament a sufficient amount of land on either side of the road to 297 ensure that the scheme would be a benefit to them. The frontages of these roads would in many cases have a great value for shops for trading purposes, and it was an extraordinary proposition to say that if there was an advantage the State, which was making the road, should not enjoy that advantage. He doubted whether the fear of noble Lords as to the worsement and depreciation in value of these strips was so
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY moved to insert in subsection (5), after the words "Schedule to this Act," a proviso to the effect that "the provisions of Part I of the Act prohibiting the compulsory acquisition of the classes of land mentioned in subsection (2) of section five of this Act shall apply to the acquisition by the Road Board of land for the purpose of the construction of a new road." He said that in moving this Amendment he was guided by what had been provided for in Clause 5, which stated that "No land shall be authorised by an order under this section to be acquired compulsorily which, at the date of the order, forms part of any park, garden, or pleasure ground,298
§ genuine as they wished it should appear; and he hoped His Majesty's Government would in no circumstances depart from their proposal.
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 21; Not-contents, 64.297
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Allendale, L.||Marchamley, L.|
|Wolverhampton, L. (L. President.)||Blyth, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Boston, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Denman, L. [Teller].||Pentland, L.|
|Eversley, L.||St. David's, L.|
|Beauchamp, L. (L. Steward.)||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L. [Teller.].||Welby, L.|
|Russell, E.||Haversham, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Hood, V.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Rutland, D.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Harris, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Hindlip, L.|
|Iveagh, V.||Kenyon, L.|
|Bath, M.||St. Aldwyn, V.||Kesteven, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Camden, M.||Abinger, L.||Knaresborough, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Addington, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Allerton, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Bagot, L.||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Barrymore, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Basing, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Belper, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Derby, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Sanderson, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Stalbridge, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Onslow, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Rosslyn, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Clinton, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||Clonbrock, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|De Mauley, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Dunleath, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Hill, V.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
§ or forms part of the home farm attached to and usually occupied with a mansion house, or is otherwise required for the amenity or convenience of any dwelling-house." He was anxious that the same provision should be inserted in the clause under discussion, because he thought that it ought in all fairness to apply to land which was taken compulsorily for the construction of a new road.
In page 9, line 9, after the first 'Act,' to insert 'provided that the provisions of Part I of the Act prohibiting the compulsory acquisition of the classes of land mentioned in subsection (2) of section five of this Act shall apply to the acquisition by the Road Board of land for the purpose of the construction of a new road.'"—(Viscount Galway.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
This matter was thrashed out on the Small Holdings Bill, where in the case of a home farm it was decided to prevent the construction of a new road through the land adjoining the house, but not to compel the taking a long or inconvenient detour. Clause 5 does not apply to the construction of a road but to the 220 yards which has been struck out of the Bill. The difficulty of the noble Viscount's proviso would be found in an extreme case, such as in a road to be taken across a railway. The Road Board could not get across the line either by a bridge, or a subway, or still less by a level crossing, and that would put a stop to the road altogether.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY was afraid the Amendment was open to the objection raised by the noble Earl. But there was another objection. Although personally he was not in favour of these new roads being constructed by a central authority, yet if they were to be constructed they must presume it was for the public convenience. The Amendment laid down a doctrine it would be difficult to defend, and he hoped it would not be pressed.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY failed to see why the Bill should take away land in front of a man's house, and he was not prepared to waive the point.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN saw difficulty in the Amendment as it stood. It would not be fair to prevent the making of a new road merely because it crossed a man's park; but consideration ought to be had for the owner of the park, and to meet that point he had tabled an Amendment in the schedule providing for compensation for injury.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON moved a new subsection providing that no land should be authorised by an order to be acquired compulsorily which had at the date of the order been acquired by any corporation or company for the purpose of a railway, dock, canal, water, or other public undertaking, but such an order might contain power to acquire compulsorily an easement over such land for the purpose of carrying any new road over or under the same. He said it 300 must be allowed that any land taken for one authority by Act of Parliament should not be taken away compulsorily by another authority without the sanction of Parliament.
In page 9, line 13, after subsection (5), to insert the following new subsection—
§ '(6) No land shall be authorised by an order under this section to be acquired compulsorily which at the date of the order has been acquired by any corporation or company for the purposes of a railway, dock, canal, water, or other public undertaking, but such an order may contain power to acquire compulsorily an easement over such land for the purpose of carrying any new road over or under the same and shall in that case contain all such provisions as the Development Commissioners may deem necessary for the protection of the owners of such land and the prospective development thereof for the purposes of any such undertaking and for securing the safety of the public using the same and the free and uninterrupted passage of traffic thereover.'"—(Viscount Midleton.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I hope your Lordships will not accept this Amendment. This subsection goes a great deal too far. We must have the right to purchase land opposite the road, otherwise the road would come to an abrupt conclusion. The clause extends not only to railways but also to wider areas and to water companies. In a case where a water company are bound to protect their water supply an easement would hardly be sufficient for the purpose.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY saw no reason why one public undertaking should give up land to another public undertaking, except by the authority of Parliament. That principle was enforced throughout the Housing Bill. But there was a difficulty in the case where a railway or canal lay in the route of the road. That evidently ought not to stop the road; they might have to go either over or under the railway, and that would be provided for by the word "easement," which, in fact, would provide everything necessary to meet contingencies.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
So far as a railway is concerned the noble Marquess is quite right; but this would not meet the case of water or dock companies. Some dock companies might own a considerable extent of waste land through which the road had to be made. That would not be an easement, and it is such cases that the clause is intended to meet.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said he must press the Amendment, and if deemed necessary it could be further amended on the Report stage.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 12:
§ 12.—(1) All expenses of the Road Board under this Part of this Act, including the salary of the chairman or vice-chairman and the salaries and the remuneration of officers and servants, to such amount as may be sanctioned by the Treasury, shall be defrayed out of the road improvement grant.
§ (2) Any sums received by the Road Board under this Part of this Act shall, subject to regulations made by the Treasury, be carried to the account to which the road improvement grant is required to be carried under the Act under which the grant is provided, and shall be treated as part of that grant.
§ LORD HAVERSHAM moved an Amendment to Clause 12, in order to secure necessary precautions in dealing with the fund.
To insert the following new subsection: 'The Treasury shall cause an account to be prepared and transmitted to the Comptroller and Auditor-General for examination, on or before the thirtieth day of September in every year, showing the receipts into and issues out of the development fund in the financial year ended on the thirty-first day of March preceding, and the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall certify and report upon the same, and such account and report shall be laid before the House of Commons by the Treasury on or before the thirty-first day of January in the following year if Parliament be then sitting, and, if not sitting, then within one week after Parliament shall be next assembled.'"—(Lord Haversham.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I see no harm in inserting the Amendment, but the case has already been met by a provision in the Finance Bill.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON asked whether the salaries would be annually voted by Parliament, or removed altogether from the jurisdiction of Parliament.302
§ Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.
§ Clause 15:
§ 15. For the purposes of this Part of this Act the expression "highway authority" includes, as respects the administrative county of London, the London County Council.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH moved an Amendment in order to remove any doubt as to whether the county council was a highway authority.
In page 10, line 12, to leave out from 'includes' to the end of the clause, and to insert 'the council of every administrative county in England and Wales.'"—(Lord Clifford of Chudleigh.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I think the noble Lord will see that the Amendment is not really necessary, because county councils for the purpose of the Bill are to be treated as highway authorities. The London County Council are put in a special position because in London there was a doubt with regard to the maintenance of main roads.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY hoped the Amendment would be accepted. There was a little doubt upon the point, and it ought to be cleared up.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 15 agreed to.
§ Clause 16:
§ 16. This Part of this Act shall apply to Scotland, subject to the following modifications:—
§ The expression "highway authority" means a county or town council acting as, or possessing the powers of, a local authority under the Roads and Bridges (Scotland) Act, 1878, and the expressions "road" and "main road" mean a highway as defined in the said Act. References to a county council and to the powers and duties thereof shall as regards their respective areas be deemed to include references to a county road board and a district committee of a county council and to a town council being a highway authority and to their respective powers and duties:
§ The expression "county borough" means a royal parliamentary, or police burgh, the town council of which is a highway authority:
§ The expression "Local Government Board" means the Secretary for Scotland.
In page 10, to leave out lines 26 to 28."—(Earl Carrington.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD CLINTON moved the following Amendment at the desire of the county boroughs.
To leave out Clause 16, and to insert the following new clause:
§ 'This Part of this Act shall apply to Scotland, subject to the following modifications—
§ The expression "highway authority" means a county council or a town council, and the expression "road" means any road or street maintainable at the cost of a highway authority. References to a county council and to the powers and duties thereof shall as regards their respective areas be deemed to include references to a county road board and a district committee of a county council and to town council and to their respective powers and duties.
§ The expression "county borough" means a royal, parliamentary, or police borough.
§ The expression "Local Government Board" means the Secretary for Scotland.'"—(Lord Clinton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 17:
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 18:
§ 18. In approving, executing, or making advances in respect of the execution of any work under this Act involving the employment of labour on a considerable scale, regard shall be had so far as is reasonably practicable, to the general state and prospects of employment.
§ *EARL RUSSELL, who had an Amendment on the Paper to omit Clause 18, said that since putting it down he had seen an Amendment by the Marquess of Salisbury which he desired to support. By his Amendment to leave out the clause he did not desire to suggest that regard should not be had to the state of employment; but the direction as it stood in the Bill had been misinterpreted, and might be misinterpreted in the future. He was anxious that 304 the work under the Bill should not be carried out with undue expense. He would not, however, move his Amendment.
§ The MARQUESS OF SALISBURY then moved the omission of Clause 18, in order to insert a new clause providing that, in the execution of any work already approved which involved the employment of labour on a considerable scale, regard should be had to the general state and prospects of employment. He was anxious that nothing should be done by the operation of the Bill which could come under the scope of relief works, which had been universally condemned by the High Court; and with a view to translating the noble Earl's emphatic assurance, given on the Second Reading, into concrete shape, he had tabled his Amendment. If Clause 18 had been struck out the Commissioners or road authority would say that it was intended by Parliament that no notice should be taken of unemployment. Whilst they agreed that there must be nothing in the shape of relief works, it would be well if in the arrangement of the time at which the work should be executed some relief could be afforded to unemployment. He had expressly set out that the approval of the work must be independent to the question of unemployment.
To leave out Clause 18, and to insert the following new clause:
§ '18. In arranging the time for the execution of any work which has already been approved under this Act, and which involves the employment of labour on a considerable scale, regard shall be had as far as is reasonably practicable to the general state and prospects of employment in the district.'"—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I am glad there is no intention of leaving out Clause 18 after the most emphatic assurance which I gave on the Second Reading and which I now repeat. But I am not certain whether the noble Marquess is not defeating his own object by the words "in the district." That is taking rather too limited a view. The Government cannot accept the Amendment in those words.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY saw no objection to leaving out the words "in the district," and amended his Amendment accordingly.
§ On Question, Amendment, as amended, agreed to.305
§ *LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH had given notice to move the insertion of the following new clause after Clause 18—
§ ".—(1) Before making a recommendation for an advance under this Act which may involve a charge upon any local rate, the Development Commissioners shall send notice to the rating authorities of the area concerned, and if those authorities or any of them lodge an objection with the Commissioners in accordance with the form prescribed by the Commissioners to an advance being made for the purpose of the proposed undertaking on the ground that a charge would be thereby imposed upon a local rate in the raising of which the authority objecting are concerned or interested, the Commissioners shall refuse to make a recommendation for such advance.
§ (2) The expression 'local rate' means a rate the proceeds of which are applicable to public local purposes, and which is leviable on the basis of an assessment in respect of the yearly value of property, and includes any sum which, though obtained in the first instance by a precept, certificate, or other instrument requiring payment from some authority or officer is or can be ultimately raised out of a local rate as before defined.
§ He said that at that late hour he would not persist with his Amendment, but would withdraw it and move it at a later stage of the Bill.
§ Clause 19:
§ 19.—(1) Where an order made by the Development Commissioners under Part I or Part II of this Act authorises the acquisition of any land forming part of any common, open space, or allotment, the order, so far as it relates to the acquisition of such land, shall be provisional only, and shall not have effect unless and until it is confirmed by Parliament, except where the order provides for giving in exchange for such land other land, not being less in space, certified by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries to be equally advantageous to the persons, if any, entitled to commonable or other rights and to the public:
§ Provided that—
- (a) This provision shall not apply to the acquisition of any common land for the purpose of forestry if the order provides for the granting to the public of reasonable access to the land for air, exercise, or recreation unless the land has been dedicated to the public use and enjoyment or is a metropolitan common within the terms of the Metropolitan Commons Act, 1866, or is a suburban common as defined by the Commons Act, 1876, or is subject to a scheme of regulation made in pursuance of the Metropolitan Commons Acts, 1866 to 1898, or the Inclosure Acts, 1845 to 1899, or to a private or local Act of Parliament; and
- (b) This provision shall not apply to the acquisition of any common land for the purpose of the construction of a new road or the improvement of an existing road within a rural district; and
- (c) Nothing in this Act shall authorise the acquisition of land on either side of a new road to be constructed by the Road Board where the land forms part of a common, open space, or allotment.
§ (2) Before giving any such certificate of equality of exchange the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries 306 shall give public notice of the proposed exchanges and shall afford opportunities to all persons interested to make representations and objections in relation thereto, and shall, if necessary, hold a local inquiry on the subject.
§ (3) Where any order of the Development Commissioners authorises such an exchange the order shall provide for vesting the land given in exchange in the persons in whom the common, open space, or allotment was vested, subject to the same rights, trusts, and incidents as attached to the common, open space, or allotment, and for discharging the part of the common, open space, or allotment acquired from all rights, trusts, and incidents to which it was previously subject.
§ (4) For the purposes of this Act the expression "common" shall include any land subject to be enclosed under the Inclosure Acts, 1845 to 1882, and any town or village green; the expression "open space" means any land laid out as a public garden or used for the purposes of public recreation and any disused burial ground; and the expression "allotment" means any allotment set out as a fuel allotment or a field garden allotment under an Inclosure Act.
§ LORD MONK BRETTON moved an Amendment the object of which was to ensure that where the Development Commissioners wanted a part of common land in urban areas they must obtain the consent of Parliament. It would, he said, be a pity that a great area like Epping Forest should be at the mercy of the Board of Agriculture, who might make an experiment such as was tried in the New Forest with deplorable results. It was to prevent a repetition of that experiment that the Amendment was directed.
In page 11, line 13, to leave out from 'Parliament' to 'provided' in line 18,"—(Lord Monk Bretton.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Will not this Amendment cause more delay than the noble Lord would desire? It might mean a delay of several months and entail great expense. I think the preservation of the land is sufficiently provided for by the clause.
§ LORD MONK BRETTON said he must press the Amendment as the noble Earl's answer was not adequate. He objected to great areas like Epping Forest, which were the playgrounds of the population, being placed at the mercy of a Government Department for developing forestry or any other purpose they might have in mind at the time.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.307
§ THE EARL OF MEATH said that when the Bill was before the House on the Second Reading he drew attention to the fact that although Clause 19 professed to protect open spaces from being compulsorily taken by the Development Commissioners, rural commons were not so protected. They could be taken for the purposes of forestry or the making of roads without the consent of Parliament, or without anything being given in exchange. It seemed very wrong for that to be done, because in the present state of public opinion no railway company would venture to apply to Parliament for such powers. It was some time since commons had been cut up into ribbons by a railway, and that was simply because public opinion was so decidedly against it. He hoped the Government would not attempt to do what they would not permit a railway company to do.
In page 11, lines 19 to 31, to leave out paragraph (a), and to insert the following new paragraph:
'(a) No order of the Development Commissioners under Part I or Part II of this Act shall authorise the acquisition of any land which is a metropolitan common within the terms of the Metropolitan Commons Act, 1866, or is a suburban common as defined by the Commons Act, 1876, or is subject to a scheme of regulation made in pursuance of the Metropolitan Commons Acts, 1866 to 1898, or the Inclosure Acts, 1845 to 1899, or to a private or local Act of Parliament; and in lines 32 to 35, to leave out paragraph (b)."—(The Earl of Meath.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
The noble Earl's suggestion seems to be that common land should not be used for forestry unless an equivalent area of enclosed land is converted into common land. With the idea I am in sympathy; but does not the Amendment go too far? Take the forest of Brecknock, which has an area of many square miles and is well suited to forestry. Are the public to be shut off from that portion where trees are growing up? The interference would be quite unimportant; because different parts are planted at different times. There would be no intention of preserving it for game, or to interfere in any way with the pleasure of the public, and it would certainly be better and much pleasanter for the public when it is planted. Is it reasonable to say that no common land is to be taken on any terms? The addition of a few feet to a road would not hurt a common.
§ THE EARL OF MEATH pressed his Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN moved to delete paragraph (c), because it related solely to the provisions now out of the Bill, with respect to 220 yards on each side of the road.
In page 11, lines 36 to 39, to leave out paragraph (c)."—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD EVERSLEY proposed an Amendment to provide that where roads in future were constructed through a common they should not be fenced in and thus cut the common off from access to the public.
In page 11, line 39, after 'allotment,' to insert the following new paragraph—
'(d) Where any part of a common or open space is acquired for the purpose of a road or for the widening of an existing road it shall not be lawful for the Development Commissioners or the road authority to fence the road so as to prevent free access of the public to the common or open space.'"—(Lord Eversley.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I am afraid the Amendment goes too far, because I am informed that the word "common" means arable land; and some of these places have the right of Lammas grazing.
§ LORD EVERSLEY said he would withdraw the Amendment and introduce it later in an altered form.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining clause agreed to.
§ (1) An order by the Development Commissioners empowering a Government Department, body, or persons to whom an advance is made under Part I of this Act, or the Road Board, or a highway authority (in this schedule referred to as "the undertakers") to acquire land compulsorily shall incorporate the Lands Clauses Acts and sections seventy-seven to eighty-five of the Railways Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, and those Acts 309 shall apply accordingly, subject to the following modifications:—
- (a) Any question of disputed compensation shall be determined by a single arbitrator, who shall be appointed, and whose remuneration shall be fixed, as respects England, by the Lord Chief Justice of England, as respects Scotland by the Lord President of the Court of Session, and as respects Ireland by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and the arbitrator so appointed shall be deemed to be an arbitrator within the meaning of those Acts;
- (b) An arbitrator so appointed may, notwithstanding anything in the Lands Clauses Act, determine the amount of costs, and shall have power to disallow, as costs of the arbitration, the costs of any witness whom he considers to have been called unnecessarily, and any other costs which he considers have been caused or incurred unnecessarily;
- (c) In determining the amount of any disputed compensation under any such order, no additional allowance shall be made on account of the purchase being compulsory, and the arbitrator shall have regard to the extent to which the remaining and contiguous lands and hereditaments belonging to the same proprietor may be benefited by the proposed work or road for which the land is authorised to be acquired by the undertakers;
- (d) The provisions of the Lands Clauses Act, as to the sale of superfluous land shall not apply.
§ (2) An order authorising the acquisition of any buildings may, if a portion only of those buildings are required for the purposes of the undertakers, notwithstanding anything in the Lands Clauses Acts, require the owners of and other person interested in those buildings to sell and convey to the undertakers the portions only of the buildings so required if the arbitrator is of opinion that such portions can be severed from the remainder of the properties without material detriment thereto, and in such case the undertakers shall not be obliged to purchase the whole or any greater portion thereof, and shall pay for the portions acquired by them, and make compensation for any damage sustained by the owners thereof or other parties interested therein by severance or otherwise.
§ (3) In construing, for the purposes of this schedule or any order made thereunder, any enactment incorporated with the order, this Act together with the order shall be deemed to be the special Act and the undertakers shall be deemed to be the promoters of the undertaking, and the expression "land" shall include easements in or relating to land.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved to insert a new paragraph at the commencement of the Schedule; to omit from the first subsection in the Schedule the words "An order by the Development Commissioners empowering a Government Department, body, or persons to whom an advance is made under Part I of this Act, or the Road Board, or a highway authority (in this schedule referred to as 'the undertakers') to acquire land compulsorily shall"; and to insert the proposed new words at the end of his Amendment.310
In page 12, after line 25, to insert the following new paragraph—
§ '(1) Where a Government department, body or persons to whom an advance is made under Part I of this Act, or the Road Board or a highway authority (in this Schedule referred to as "the undertakers") propose to purchase land compulsorily under this Act, the undertakers may submit to the Development Commissioners an order putting in force, as respects the lands specified in the order, the provisions of the Lands Clauses Acts with respect to the purchase and taking of land otherwise than by agreement;' in line 26, to leave out from the beginning of the paragraph to 'shall' in line 30, and to insert—
§ '(2) The order shall be in the prescribed form and shall contain such provisions as the Development Commissioners may prescribe for the purpose of carrying the order into effect, and'"—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON accepted the Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ EARL CARRINGTON moved the following drafting Amendments—
In page 12, line 32, subsection (1), after the words 'Railways Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845,' to insert 'or in Scotland sections seventy to seventy-eight of the Railways Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act, 1845.'"—(Earl Carrington.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN hoped the Government would agree to the next Amendment, which appeared to almost speak for itself. As the Bill stood it was possible for a new road to be constructed through a man's garden, and yet the arbitrator would not be allowed to consider whether that man had been injured.
In page 13, line 17, paragraph (c), after 'benefited,' to insert 'or injured.'"—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ EARL CARRINGTON
I think the Amendment is unnecessary, because the case would be met by Section 63 of the Land Clauses Act.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN pressed the Amendment in order to secure the insertion of the words "or injured" in the Schedule.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.311
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved to insert a new paragraph after paragraph (d).
In page 13, after line 21, to insert the following new paragraph—
'The order shall be published by the undertaker in the prescribed manner, and such notice shall I be given both in the locality in which the land is proposed to be acquired and to the owners lessees, and occupiers of that land as may be prescribed.'"—(The Earl of Camperdown).
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN formally moved to insert the following new paragraph:
In page 13, after line 33, to insert the following new paragraph—
§ '(5) Where the land is glebe land or other land belonging to an Ecclesiastical benefice, the Order shall provide that sums agreed upon or awarded for the purchase of the land or to be paid by way of compensation for the damage to be sustained by the owner by reason of severance or other injury affecting the land, shall not be paid as directed by the Lands Clauses Acts, but shall be paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to be applied by them as money paid to them upon a sale under the provisions of the Ecclesiastical Leasing Acts of land belonging to a benefice.
§ 'The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to Scotland or Ireland.'"—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved the insertion of another new paragraph at the end of the Schedule.
After line 39, to insert the following new paragraph—
'In this Schedule the expression 'prescribed' means prescribed by the Development Commissioners.'"—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
§ Standing Committee negatived: The Report of Amendments to be received on Tuesday next, and Standing Order No. XXXIX to be considered in order to its being dispensed with, and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 203).