§ 42.—(1) Elsewhere than in Greater London or a National Park the functions conferred by section 2 of the Building Restrictions (War-time Contraventions) Act 1946 (power to sanction war-time non-compliance with building laws or planning control) on the authority responsible for enforcing planning control shall, subject to subsection (3) below—
- (a) in the case of works on, or a use of, land in which in the opinion of the district planning authority relates to a county matter as defined by paragraph 29 of this Schedule, be exercised by the county planning authority;
- (b) in any other case, be exercised by the district planning authority.
§ (2) In a National Park the said functions shall be exercised by the county planning authority.
§ (3) Every application made under section 2(1) of the said Act of 1946 to an authority responsible for enforcing planning control shall be made to the district planning authority who, in the case of an application falling to be determined by the county planning authority, shall send it on to the latter.
§ (4) A county planning authority determining any such application shall afford the district planning authority for the area in which the land to which the application relates is situated an opportunity to make recommendations to the county planning authority as to the manner in which the application should be determined and shall take any such recommendations into account.
§ (5) A county or district planning authority who have dealt with any such application shall notify the district or county planning authority, as the case may be, of the terms of their deter-has been referred to the Secretary of State, the mination or, in a case where the application date when it was so referred.945
§ (6) The validity of any determination made by a local planning authority under section 2 of the said Act of 1946 shall not be called in question in any legal proceedings, or in any proceedings under that section which are not legal proceedings, on the grounds that the determination should have been made by some other local planning authority.
§ 43.—(1) Elsewhere than in Greater London or a National Park the functions of a local planning authority of determining applications and issuing certificates under section 17 of the Land Compensation Act 1961 shall—
- (a) in the case of an application specifying only a class of development which appears, or classes of development each of which appear, to the district planning authority to relate to a county matter, be exercised by the county planning authority;
- (b) in any other case, be exercised by the district planning authority.
§ (2) In a National Park the said functions shall be exercised by the county planning authority.
§ (3) Every application mentioned in subparagraph (1) above shall be made to the district planning authority who, in the case of an application falling to be determined by the county planning authority, shall send it on to the latter.
§ (4) A county planning authority determining any such application shall consult with the district planning authority on the question whether planning permission for development of any class which appears to the former not to relate to a county matter might reasonably have been expected to be granted.
§ (5) A district planning authority determining any such application shall consult with the county planning authority on the question whether any permission for development of any class which appears to the former to relate to a county matter might reasonably be expected to have been granted.
§ (6) A county planning authority by whom a certificate is issued under section 17 of the Land Compensation Act 1961 shall notify the district planning authority of the terms of the certificate and the district planning authority by whom a certificate is so issued shall, if it specifies development relating to a county matter, notify the county planning authority of the terms of the certificate.
§ (7) In this paragraph "county matter" has the meaning ascribed to it by paragraph 29 of this Schedule.
44.—(1) At the end of section 6 of the New Towns Act 1965 there shall be inserted the following subsection—
(6) References in this section to the local planning authority shall be construed as references to the district planning authority and also, in relation to proposals for any development which is a county matter, as defined in paragraph 29 of Schedule 16 to the Local Government Act
1972, as references to the county planning authority.
§ (2) In section 23(2)(i) of that Act for the words "local planning authority" there shall be substituted the words "district planning authority".
§ (3) In section 53(5)(b) of that Act, for the words "local planning authority" there shall be substituted the words "county planning authority".
§ 45.—(1) Elsewhere than in Greater London or a National Park the functions of a local planning authority under section 8 of the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act 1972 (control of demolition of unlisted buildings in conservation areas) shall be exercised by the district planning authority and in a National Park those functions shall be exercised by the county planning authority.
§ (2) The Secretary of State may from time to time direct a district planning authority to submit to him for his approval within a period specified in the direction the arrangements which the authority propose to make to obtain specialist advice in connection with their functions under the said section 8.")—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ Schedule 16, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 178 [Discharge of functions of planning authorities]:
§ 6.25 p.m.
VISCOUNT RIDLEY moved Amendment No. 102J:
Page 129, leave out lines 20 to 24 and insert—
(1) Local plans under section 11 of this Act shall be prepared in accordance with the provisions of the scheme made under the following provision of this section.
§ The noble Viscount said: This Amendment has two main purposes. The first is to inquire from my noble, and I must now add clever and learned, friend why the Government departed from their clearly stated intention in the February, 1971, White Paper, when they said that the responsibility for broad planning policies and for the development of structure and local plans must rest with the county council. I would emphasise the words "local plans". This was a clear and definite statement, and it was generally welcomed and accepted by everyone at that time. The Government under this Bill have changed that intent and the Bill as drafted says that the subsection which my Amendment seeks to 947 alter means that the district councils will have responsibility for local plans in the future. I can probably answer my own question because I can say why I think the Government have changed their minds: it is because the Government have been under considerable pressure from the 83 former county boroughs who at the moment are planning authorities in their own right.
§ At this stage I am not seeking to question that, because I believe it is correct that they should so remain planning authorities. But what this Bill seeks to do is to extend the planning function not only to county boroughs but also to districts, all sorts of relatively small and various sized district councils. I know we are all aware that they are much larger than they were, and, therefore, ipso facto are supposed to be more efficient—but that remains very much to be seen. The plain, simple statistics of the situation are that instead of the present position, where we have 71 counties and 83 county boroughs, making 154 planning authorities in England and Wales, in the future we shall have 52 counties and 349 districts, giving a total of 401 planning authorities. I believe this is counter to the whole spirit of the Bill, which is aimed at reforming local government. To proliferate these authorities will undoubtedly lead to friction, squabbling, tensions, and tendencies to disagree with one's neighbour, which one can, I am afraid, see happening already in the country. I am not here talking about the development control planning function, which I entirely agree should be with the district council and always should have been.
§ The words I should like to introduce into the Bill in place of the few words I wish to delete would refer decisions as to who should make the local plans to the next subsection, 10C(2); and this is the secondary purpose of my Amendment. It says that a county planning authority, in making a development plan scheme, will say in that scheme who in the future is to make the local plan. This, to my mind, contradicts subsection 10C(1), but I have no doubt that that is not intended. I should like to see that, by agreement with the district councils, the county may designate some or all of 948 these districts as planning authorities for the purpose of making the local plans. This, I think, is the right and proper way to do it, because there will be here a neutral situation, the Government saying, "Get together among yourselves and decide who is to be the planning authority for this purpose"; and of course if there is no agreement the Secretary of State can always arbitrate. I hope your Lordships will therefore realise the logic of this Amendment, at least at this stage of the proceedings, and will enable the Government to remain neutral in the matter. It would also support the brave words of the Minister in another place when he said (I am horrified to see him here to be quoted) that he was frightened that a great many district councils who had never been planning authorities before would, in his own words, go dashing round and building up planning teams for themselves in order to get the prestige of planning their own areas, and that would be wholly wrong. I agree that it would be wholly wrong, but, so far as I see it, this subsection which I seek to amend would in fact assist the district councils in the future to do just that.
§ The proliferation of planning authorities in a situation where there is at the moment a grave shortage of qualified planners and expert planning staff has been recognised by the Government as being dangerous. There have been suggestions that there should be crash courses for planners, to increase the supply of these qualified people. The County Planning Officers Society, although they may be considered to be prejudiced in this matter, are a body of some experience and wisdom in the matter of planning, and they are very unhappy about the situation. Perhaps more important is the view of the Royal Town Planning Institute, which earlier in the year made it quite clear that all the dangers I have underlined are very serious. In fact they say that local plans cannot really be produced in isolation from structure plans, and there could well be a situation whereby a county council would have formally to object to a local plan. With my experience of planning, I am afraid I foresee that this could happen. I feel it would be totally wrong in this situation for all district authorities to be planning authorities for the purpose of this Act; 949 it should be left as a matter for agreement—and the agency agreements would come into it. I beg to move.
§ 6.30 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
An Amendment in precisely the same terms as this was moved in another place, which perhaps gave rise to the comment which fell from my right honourable friend. The difference is that the Bill to which the Amendment is now moved is not the same Bill as was at that time before another place. There was a full and helpful debate on the subject, as a result of which we now have some, I hope welcome, refinements which ought really, if they are properly explained, to go a long way, if not the whole way, to meet the noble Viscount's worries.
He stated that the White Paper said that the local plans were going to be prepared by the county councils. If one thing has been fairly apparent in the course of this legislation it is that this Government are prepared to change their mind. To be truthful, I do not know whether there was pressure from county boroughs. There may have been, but I have been subjected to a substantial amount of pressure from county councils this afternoon and so perhaps this is only a little fair counterbalancing. I should have thought that the obvious thing to do as a prima facie rule was to provide for the local plans to be prepared by the district planning authority. Anyway, that is what the Government have now decided, and I did not know that there was any particular objection to that as a main premise. However, there is no inconsistency between the new subsections (1) and (2) of the proposed new Section 10C in the 1971 Act, because that prima facie rule is subject to the "following provisions of this section", and the following provisions go on to explain the development plan scheme.
I do not want to have to go into this in enormous detail. Indeed, it will be explained for local authorities in what I should think will be an absolutely staggering circular which is to explain this Bill in all its aspects, and this point will certainly be included in it. It is intended to provide for exactly that sort of partnership that my noble friend Lord Ridley so earnestly desires. There may very well be instances where all a local 950 plan, part of a local plan, or a local plan on one occasion but not on another, should be drawn up by the county authority rather than the district authority; and there is in this flexibility, under the development plan scheme, whereby one can meet any possible aspect.
On the philosophical level, I have to say one thing to my noble friend Lord Ridley—perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, might agree with me on this. My noble friend was referring to the development control side, and said that that was rightly in the hands of the district councils. Now that is negative planning. I have always thought that when an authority has negative planning powers it is the greatest mistake for it not also to have the positive planning powers so far as these are properly in its hands, because if you are orientated solely to saying "Yes" or "No" to the citizen, and you are in no way concerned with the formulation of the context in which you are exercising development control, you have only half the picture in town and country planning. Therefore, as a first rule, if district authorities are to have the negative power then I think it is very salutory indeed, and part of a proper appreciation of the problems, that they should also formulate the positive side in the local plans. I may have got a little of agreement from the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, but I do not wish to press him any further.
§ LORD KENNET
The noble Viscount is doing me too much honour in supposing that the Committee would be interested in my opinion. For what it is worth, my opinion is that it is very doubtful whether the districts should have the negative power.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
That very handsomely begs the question. At any rate, I put that to my noble friend. So far as the other point is concerned, that we might get to a situation where the county council is objecting to a local plan, I should have thought that the certification scheme in my favourite Schedule 16, paragraph 2(3) and paragraph 3, would have gone a long way, if not the whole way, to preventing that happening, because by this provision you can make perfectly certain that there is 951 conformity between the local plan and the structure plan and the general policy of the county council. Even if this were not so, the whole essence of the development plan scheme is intended to provide for the local plan makers a procedure of being told by the county authority what are the strategic strands in the structure plan (which of course is not ordinance based), which will not then be upset, and cannot then be upset, by a local plan which is ordinance based and is much more like the sort of development plan we have been used to previously.
I think, therefore, this is an unlikely contingency and one that one would not normally expect. In fact, I would hope one would never expect this to happen. I hope that my noble friend will think that since this Amendment was discussed before we have gone a considerable way to provide for greater flexibility, greater partnership, a greater sharing of these functions, and whatever the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, thinks, that he will agree with me that there is a good case for keeping the positive side in planning, at any rate in the first place, in the hands of the same people as exercise the negative power.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I hesitate to speak on this Amendment. I would not do so at all except that it has been impressed on me that it is an important Amendment. I do not think that I can add anything very much because my noble friend Lord Kennet has only just returned to us, and my noble friend Lady Serota, who was to have been looking at these clauses, is engaged on the business of the House in the United States. Since the Bill was in another place I have not really had a chance to look at these rather technical planning clauses, and therefore I cannot say anything very useful. If the noble Viscount is satisfied with the reply that he has had from the Minister, we would not press the matter.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
First may I thank my noble friend for the great courtesy which he has shown in his detailed answer to my Amendment. I cannot find my way with his facility round Schedule 16. I doubt that I ever shall. I realise that he is a great expert in these matters. I will not take up the matter of negative and positive 952 development control either with my noble friend or with the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, because I do not agree with either of them. It is not the purpose of the Amendment to talk about that. I am grateful for being told that the Government change their mind, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 178 agreed to.
§ Clause 179 [National Park and countryside functions]:
§ On Question, Whether Clause 179 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ 6.38 p.m.
I should like to speak to the Question, That Clause 179 stand part of the Bill and I should like to speak at the same time to Schedule 17, which goes with it. Clause 179 and Schedule 17 deal with how the National Parks should be controlled. A Minister in another place described Schedule 17 as the "National Parks Charter". We also know it as the compromise that was achieved between the Countryside Commission and the County Councils Association, and also as the "Sandford package".
This has been debated at considerable length in another place and in your Lordships' House and outside it. Nevertheless, I want to remind the Government that many people think that they are wrong and that they are making a great mistake here. I not only want to remind the Government of this, but I want to remind colleagues with whom I work in other fields that they too, it seems to me, are wrong in supporting this. From 1947, when the Hobhouse Report came out, the weight of evidence has been that National Parks should be governed by an autonomous body and not by a committee of the county council. Nevertheless, this was never accepted in full after the first Parks—that is to say, the Peak and Lake District—were formed. But throughout those years it became apparent that the Parks were not really being administered as had been hoped, that they left a great deal to be desired, and that only those which had been formed on Hobhouse lines were at all good.
953 All the advice that came to the Government in the course of those 20 years has been rejected. The Government rejected the very strong views originally given by the Countryside Commission, in the shape of the Longland Report. They rejected the advice of the Standing Committee on National Parks. They rejected the advice given to them by the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, who made one exception to his dislike of ad hoc bodies in recommending that the National Parks should be administered by their own autonomous bodies. They rejected the suggestions made in the previous Government's White Paper of February, 1970. They rejected the advice from the National Trust and similar bodies, like Nature; and they even rejected the advice of those two county councils which are most closely involved with the running of the National Parks and which have autonomous bodies—that is to say, Derbyshire County Council and Westmorland County Council, which is in part of the Lake District National Park.
It was evident from the beginning that the concept of the autonomous Park would be contested by the County Councils Association. I think that Hobhouse would have been implemented, as it was in the Peak District, had it not been for the very strong opposition from the County Councils Association. In fact I think that in some cases, notably in the North and West Ridings of Yorkshire, and in Devon and Cornwall, the County Councils Association has been altogether hostile to the idea of National Parks. This must be said, because the Minister is now saying that these are the best people to run the National Parks. Indeed, even at this moment the C.C.A., I think, are opposing chief officer status for the National Parks officer. This is symptomatic of the way in which the county councils in general have approached this problem. The short-term local interest has been too much in evidence in the running of the National Parks: so much so that many people have felt that they were not national at all but were merely county parks. There have been occasions (I do not want to enumerate them, because that would be invidious) when developments which, quite clearly, should not have been accepted have been accepted, very often as a result of wrongly conceived ideas about employ- 954 ment or about growth. I quite agree that it is the duty of county councillors, as indeed of any elected persons, to watch the matter of their own local rates, but there are occasions when that cuts across the national interest.
All the evidence of the past 20 years of running these Parks has pointed to the inadequacy of the county councils as managers and planners of National Parks. They are not well run—I think everybody will accept that—except in the case of the Peak and, to a lesser extent, the Lake District; in fact, some of them are deplorably badly run. If the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, wishes to ask me whether I think Devon is badly run, I shall not dream of answering him.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
No; I did not intend the press the noble Lord on that point. I was going to say that I rather think he is overdoing it a bit. I cannot agree with what he said in general about the interest which county councils take in National Parks. I would refer him to the agreement which was amicably reached between the county councils and the Countryside Commission in favour of the present proposals. If the Countryside Commission had held the views which the noble Lord has just been outlining, I feel that they would not have agreed with the county councils as they have done on the shape they would prefer.
I have always felt, as have many others, that the Countryside Commission was put in a spot here and that they felt, or it came to their notice (I think this is how they expressed it) that their recommendations in the Longland Report would not be accepted by the Government. We do not know how they arrived at that conclusion, but they did. They went into consultation with the County Councils Association for fear that the views of that Association, in all their rigour, would prevail; and they then came out with a compromise which many of us did not think was a good one. I will not say that the Countryside Commission sold the pass, though that phrase has been used by some amenity societies; but at any rate they agreed to a compromise which was not in the best interest of the National Parks. I can say no more than that.
955 In answer to the noble Viscount's point that I am making too much of the badness of the way the county councils have operated, may I remind him of a letter which was written to The Times by the surviving original members of the Hob-house Committee, who regarded the failure to run the Parks as the Committee felt they should be run to be directly proportional to the dependence of those Parks upon the local authorities. Also, it is undeniable that the amount of money spent by county councils on National Parks has been deplorably small. I cannot remember the figures, but put in relation to the amount of money spent on the London parks the sum is absurd.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
Here again I think there are reservations to be made. I understand that some county councils have been spending more than the amount of money precepted by the ad hoc committees in the counties covered. I do not want to go on fighting the noble Lord on this question; but, without giving way to him at all on his view, I would ask him to remember that we are talking now, as the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, reminded us, about authorities which will be quite different from the old county councils, and will contain many new elements. So, while I do not at all agree with the noble Lord in the views he expressed, may I say that it is not very relevant to compare what the old county councils may have done with what the new bodies will do?
That is the one ray of hope. I hope that these new bodies will in fact give the lie to a great deal of what I have said about the old ones. Nevertheless, however good these new authorities may turn out to be, I still feel that the Parks should be run by an autonomous body and not by a committee of a county council. How the county councils persuaded the Government over the past 20 years to agree to go against all of this evidence from the amenity societies, from Hobhouse onwards, only the noble Lord, Lord Jacques (who is not here at the moment), can know. He described the County Councils Association as "drunk with power". The noble Lord himself created some confusion by suggesting that they are "punch drunk", when it is the other way round.
956 Let me come now to Schedule 17. This is, in effect, the compromise which was reached between the County Councils Association and the Countryside Commission. It has certain defects, about which I hope I shall receive a satisfactory answer from the Government. The first one is the question of the Park planning officer. What is to be his status? It is very important that it should be that of a chief officer. I think that this suggestion is being resisted at the moment, but I hope that the Government will make it quite clear that the planning officer must have chief officer status.
The next respect in which I feel Schedule 17 is defective concerns the question of the independent staff and its full-time work for a National Park. We already have anomalies where that does not happen; for example, in the case of the Lake District Planning Board. There the position is that the Lake District Planning Board itself opposes a certain road, whereas its staff, in this particular respect, belongs to the county council, which favours that road. I understand there is a similar case in Devon, where the clerk to the Devon Board is also the clerk to the river authority. I am not quite sure of my facts here, and it may be that my noble friend Lord Foot will confirm that. He does. This is the sort of thing which militates against the proper running of a Park. Thirdly, there is the National Parks plan; and I think this is really the centre of what I was saying to the noble Viscount, Lord Amory. I cannot see its being nationally effective in view of its subservience to a committee of even a reformed, new local authority. The independence of any committee running a National Park is an illusion. In the last resort it is going to be dependent upon the purse strings of the committee.
Lastly with regard to finance, I of course welcome the Government's offer to find 75 per cent. of this. This is a great step forward. Nevertheless, there is still 25 per cent. of the money to be found from local rates. That is a lot, and I think it will militate against certain expenditures which are very important—things like the purchase of amenity woodlands, and so on. Without the full powers of precept and independent boards employing their own staff fully in every way, the result we are going to have (even, as I say, with these new 957 and infinitely better local authorities) is that the running of a Park will be the running of a Park as a county park, and not as a National Park. It seems to me that this is something which ought to be said, and said again, in your Lordships' House or Committee.
§ LORD KENNET
Before the noble Lord sits down or anybody else gets in, may I ask him one question? I think he said he was going to speak to his Amendments at this stage, on the Question, Whether the clause shall stand part? I ask him, in all ignorance: when are we going to have the effects of the Amendments explained to us? Is it now or after the Question, Whether the clause shall stand part?
The noble Lord will be aware that I have expressed the view that it would not be sensible to divide upon this issue. It seemed to me that probably the right thing for me to do was to say (and to invite other noble Lords who agree with me to say so, too) on the Question, Whether Clause 179 shall part? that we do not think that the Government are doing the right thing. I propose to move the Amendments formally and not to divide on them. I propose to move them because I think they must be down in Hansard, so that those people who read this debate can see what I am suggesting should be the way the National Parks should be run. But it seemed to me possibly better first to discuss this subject in general, because I know there are one or two Members who want to say something about it; then to move the Amendments to the Schedule when we come to them; then, and if is the will of the Committee, probably to withdraw them.
It may indeed not be the wish of the Committee, but that is what I myself feel is the right way to do it. However, I am in your Lordships' hands.
§ LORD MOLSON
The noble Lord, Lord Henley, the Chairman of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, has covered this subject so fully that I shall confine myself to a few, rather brief, remarks upon the subject. I feel, however, bound to speak. My interest 958 in this matter goes back to the time when I was a Member of a Committee in another place dealing with the National Parks Bill, and I well remember that I then moved Amendments in order to try to ensure that the national interest was more strongly represented in the administration of the National Parks and that the power of the local authorities was correspondingly dimished. I took the view then that the late Lork Silkin would have gone further in the way of giving autonomous powers to the National Parks if he had not been the Minister who, two years before, had introduced the town and country planning legislation and given such very extensive powers to the county councils. I think he would have felt it very inconsistent if, two years after setting up that great and, I think most people would agree, surprisingly successful and satisfactory system of town and country planning, he had come and abstracted 9 per cent. of the area of the country from the planning authorities.
But when that Bill was passed through another place it was definitely contemplated that the normal procedure would be for there to be a joint planning board, and the Act provided that that should be the normal procedure. But it allowed the Minister,where … satisfied"—and I leave out some words—… that by reason of any special circumstances it is expedient so to do for securing efficient administration in the Park",to dispense with the independent joint board and to have resort, instead, to the combination of a joint advisory committee and separate planning committees. After the Peak Park and the Lake District Park were established, no further joint boards were ever established.
The only "special circumstances" to explain why the obvious intention of Parliament at that time was not carried out in the case of the other Parks was the opposition of the County Councils' Association. That opposition, which was so strong in 1949, has remained equally strong to this day; and they are, I think, entirely responsible for the provisions in the Bill as they are at the present time, with only one exception—that is, that the Government have continued the joint boards in the case of the Peak and the Lake District Parks. My noble friend Lord Sandford said in the debate on 959 February 15 that the reason for that was that they had not only worked extremely satisfactorily but also worked in quite satisfactorily with the existing local administration. He found himself, as no doubt he will again this evening, in a difficult position. He has to justify the continuation of the two joint boards, and in order to justify it he has to say how successful they have been. In order to justify the fact that the same kind of machinery, which was originally intended to apply in all the Parks, is not to be extended, he has to say how satisfactory the other procedure is.
Your Lordships may or may not be aware that the Peak Park has been twice awarded by the Council of Europe a special diploma or prize for being so particularly well administered. Most people would also agree that probably after the Peak District the Lake District is the most outstandingly well administered of the National Parks. In both cases they have joint boards but only in the case of the Peak District does the joint board have its own independent officers. In the case of the Lake District, they operate through the officials of the county councils. The very name "National Park" implies that these are outstandingly beautiful or interesting parts of the country and that they are of national interest and importance. That is why Parliament in 1949 contemplated that they should be taken outside the ordinary local authority administration.
I will not weary your Lordships with many figures, but the amount of money spent by those two administrations on their Parks is out of all proportion to what has been spent by those which are under the local authorities. Per square mile, the Peak District has spent £350 a year and the Lake District £235. In the case of two of the National Parks—and I hardly dare in the presence of my noble friend Lord Ridley to name those concerned—one spent only £58 per square mile and the other only £68. This is quite natural and inevitable. It is the duty of councillors elected by the ratepayers to have a great regard for economy in administration. A great deal of the expenditure in National Parks is intended to be, and is, in the interests of the visitors who come to those Parks. It 960 does not directly or necessarily conduce to the wellbeing of the ratepayers, either in the National Park—or still more, perhaps, in other parts of the rateable area which are outside the National Parks. Therefore there is a natural and inevitable conflict of interests between the elected representatives of the ratepayers and the original purpose of the National Parks. I make no complaint at all against the local authorities who are naturally concerned to discharge those statutory duties; but there is an inconsistency in having these areas which are intended to be National Parks and to serve national interests administered by the local authorities.
There was a remarkable consensus of opinion that when new legislation was introduced to deal with local government, the National Parks should be treated in a different way. The noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, in his Report, with his colleagues objected to different authorities. He made, so far as I know, one exception and only one; and that exception was in favour of the National Parks. The last Government accepted that recommendation and for a time we thought that all was going to be well. Unfortunately, there was a change of policy. On most matters I welcome that change of policy but on this particular matter I am convinced that the last Government were right and that this Government are wrong. The noble Viscount, Lord Amory, referred to an agreement having been come to between the Countryside Commission and the County Councils' Association and described it as having been amicable. When you find yourself in the position of being obliged to abandon your original proposals and to compromise, it is just as well to be amicable with those people who impose their will on you. But so far from it being amicable in the ordinary sense of the word, what Mr. John Cripps, the Chairman of the Commission, said about it at the Press Conference in January of this year was this:We had means of ascertaining that our preferred solution, incorporated in the Long-land Report, was (to say the least) almost certain to be rejected by the Government.So, since discretion is frequently the better part of valour, and since the art of successful administration by quasi-independent statutory bodies is to find 961 out what the Government of the day are going to impose and then to make friends with the "Mammon of unrighteousness", if so it may be, so it was that the Countryside Commission acquiesced in a compromise that was really completely different from the proposals made by the Longland Committee and by the Redcliffe-Maud Royal Commission.
If we do not divide the House against the Government to-night it is because we feel that the Government are friendly towards the National Parks. We very much appreciate the fact that they are making a more generous financial provision for the administration of the National Parks than has ever been made before. We also await the recommendations of the inquiry being presided over by my noble friend Lord Sandford and, hoping for great things, I should be the last to wish to provoke him into uncontrollable anger by criticising what his Government are doing to-night. So I speak rather in sorrow than in anger; but at the same time I am bound to say that the whole record of the National Parks and of those who have been responsible for legislation dealing with them has been grievously disappointing. We believe that a great mistake is being made at the present time and that it is not likely that there will be any very substantial improvement in the administration of the Parks under the present Bill. We believe that there was an opportunity for it and therefore we feel bound to express our bitter disappointment.
§ LORD MIDDLETON
Although on most matters that have to do with the economy and administration of rural England the views of Lord Henley and mine are identical, here I must join issue with him. Here I believe the Government to be absolutely right. I disagree with the object of the Amendment which I believe the noble Lord is going to move—not only in principle but in the way in which its provisions would apply were they applied in practice and were they not to sit in the pages of Hansard, which I believe is the noble Lord's intention. I am speaking of the way they would apply in practice in my own county of Yorkshire which the noble Lord said is dragging its feet in this respect. In principle, first, one of the main objects of this Bill is to strengthen local government structure. Here we have an attempt 962 to disperse over a whole number of new National Parks Boards the power of the county as planning authority. This will also surely mean the dispersal of scarce talent in the form of planning staffs. Secondly, under the Amendment which I believe the noble Lord will move, these boards would be, as he says, separate and independent entities with their own powers of precept. I do not believe, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Molson, has said, that there is any evidence that such boards would have more money to spend or would spend it more wisely than if the Parks were financed as part of the appropriate county budget of the new counties. Thirdly, we are not dealing with tracts of publicly-owned territory where the object of management is purely conservation and recreation. In the British parks the interests of recreation and amenity have to be balanced with the interests of those who live and work there. I believe the Government are right to say that this balance is more likely to be kept by the members of local authorities, elected by local people and guided by the Countryside Commission.
In practice, to take my own county as an example, since the Government have not allowed themselves to recognise the advantages in the proposals I offered to the Committee last month about boundaries I shall find myself in the new county of North Yorkshire and in it will be two National Parks, the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales Park. If this Amendment were to be moved and accepted, the new North Yorkshire would have no fewer than three planning authorities, three sets of planning staffs and three chief officers, all independent of one another and each responsible to three separate boards or committees as the case may be. I have no doubt that there would be as much co-operation as possible and that joint plans could be made. But this would be an awkward, cumbersome and unnecessarily uneconomic arrangement. It would be very difficult for each National Park board to prepare a National Park plan which conformed to the provisions of the county structure plan and did not conflict with the county development plan. It is far better for each Park to be administered by a committee of the county 963 council with a National Parks officer under the county planning officer using the county planning staff and facilities.
The uplands of England and Wales owe their beauty and amenities partly to nature but also partly to the art of the livestock farmers and foresters. That these people have special problems arising from topography and climate has long been recognised by Governments. I believe that their interests and the recreational interests of the huge majority of the population will best be served under the provisions in the Bill and I support the Government.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
I wonder whether I may rise to the fly "which my noble friend Lord Molson, has dragged across my nose. I shall only splash at it, but I think I am entitled to say a few words. I want to approach the Amendment on one or two grounds. We have to think, first, that the county in which the National Park is situated should be planned as a whole and not as two separate entities. This means that in the planning and recreational work, and the use of the countryside by people, you have to take into consideration not only the National Park legislation but all the other legislation passed since my noble friend Lord Molson was moving legislation in another place; that is to say, that concerning country parks, areas of outstanding national beauty and all the other things which must be looked at as a whole in the county area. The National Park boundaries are not drawn as administrative boundaries. In many places there are cases where towns are left out of the National Park as small islands within the Park boundaries, and it would be an impossible situation to think that there should be a special planning staff for the towns and another staff for the surrounding area. Those are the sort of things that we are trying to avoid by the provisions in this Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Henley, made the comment that Parks had not had enough money spent on them and that some Parks had been badly run. I do not think that the noble Lord produced any evidence to substantiate his statement. I am afraid that the noble Lord, Lord Molson, fell into a trap—and I hope that now he regrets it—when he said that we 964 must judge the results of the National Parks on the volume of money spent on them. I think that one of the better ways of wasting public money is to try to evaluate the product, as some people try to do, purely on the amount of money spent on it and not on the results which have been achieved. It may be that certain Parks have had less spent on them per square mile, and certain Parks may have more square miles of nothing but heather, which is another problem. I think, if this is not meaningless that it shows that the people responsible for the Parks who spend less are looking after public funds better than those who spend more.
Finally, may I say that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, in moving the Amendment, forgot that these Parks are operated very largely by county councillors who live and work in the areas. I think this is the right solution. I believe that local authorities should have democratic control exercised by councillors who live in and know of the problems of the areas rather than by an ad hoc board responsible to nobody.
May I make one plea to my noble friend Lord Sandford to clear up a point when he replies? And I should like to make one further point. In the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, some time ago I asked whether there was to be any provision in the Bill for changes in the structure of National Parks as we now know them. The present situation is a compromise and not a very good one, and nobody can pretend that it has produced the ideal solution for all time—with two boards of slightly different constitutions and a number of different committees. The noble Lord did not answer when he wound up that debate, but he has written to me since and I think it of sufficient interest for him to give the information to the Committee and also to make clear—I think this is right—that although there is provision in this Bill and in another Act for additional boards to be set up in place of committees. This is the case only where a National Park crosses a county boundary and forms part of more than one county.
There is also power in paragraph 2 of Schedule 17 for additional powers to be given to a planning board. Can my noble friend give us any idea of what 965 sort of powers were in the minds of the Government when they put those words in the Bill? I cannot believe that they had not fairly clear thoughts before putting in such specific words as these. Was there, for instance, any thought about highways?
My experience is a little different from that of the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley. I live near a National Park which in fact includes parts of three counties. The number of Cumberland county councillors who live in the National Park area is small and the interest of the Cumberland County Council in their one-third of the National Park has been pathetically small. I should feel much happier if they had taken a greater interest. And I must say that in practice we have not found what the noble Viscount has said will happen has in fact happened. When it is represented that a separate board for a National Park is in fact a splintering of the county's administrative powers we must not exaggerate. We could get over a good deal of this difficulty if only the county councils concerned would send the chairmen or the vice-chairmen of their planning and highways committees to sit on these planning boards. That has not happened in the Lake District. If very senior councillors such as those who are responsible for the thinking and policy in their counties in fact sat on the planning boards a lot of the present difficulty and rub between the two authorities would disappear. That may seem a small thing. It could be put into practice very easily and have a big effect.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Molson, on much of what he said about the Peak area and about planning. I know that area because years ago a large part of the constituency which I had the privilege to represent was in the National Park area. Much has been said constructively in this short debate. I should like to ask a couple of questions which I hope will prove cogent and to the point. In view of the importance of the National Parks to the tourist industry, what kind of powers will exist if, for instance the Peak, loses its former format? Will they be of a draconic kind, such as to stop dumping by motorists and others—
If I may interrupt the noble Lord, may I ask whether he is 966 aware that the Peak Park Planning Board will not lose its powers, but will remain as it is? This is one of the anomalies of the Government's suggestion: what has worked well they are agreeing will continue to work well.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
That is the compromise I was going to follow up, and I was about to ask whether it existed. My second point is, given all this legislation dealing with these Parks in Britain which earn so much money from tourism, when this local government reorganisation was being discussed, was there any discussion with tourist boards and people who may have some constructive points to make? Those are the simple points—I do not want to expand them—which I thought it worth while asking. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Henley for the clarification that he has made.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ LORD FOOT
May I make a brief intervention before the Minister replies. I speak as somebody who has served on one of these National Park Committees for the last ten years or so; that is, the Dartmoor National Park Committee. I would underline some of the things that have been said by my noble friend and by the noble Lord, Lord Molson. First, I wish to say that the decision which the Government have made in this matter, as incorporated in Schedule 17 of the Bill, is a decision, for better or for worse, of the greatest possible importance. Secondly, I fear that if a mistake has been made—and I believe that a grave mistake has been made—it may prove to be irretrievable. I say that for this reason. We have not had any major review of the working of the National Parks Act 1949 since the Act was passed. Many of us who have served upon Park committees over a period of years have felt gravely frustrated in the work that we do because we have often felt impotent; we have felt unable to cope with the problems that we have had to face; but we have always retained the hope that when the time came for the Government of the day to review the working of the National Parks Act, then the mistakes that were made in the past would be put right and the Park committees would be strengthened in their powers so that they would be appropriately equal to the problems with 967 which they have to deal. What is so despairing and deplorable to me about the decision that the Government have now made is that those hopes are proving to be unfounded.
I say that we may be making a mistake which is irretrievable for this reason. We are now reviewing the working of the National Parks over the last 23 years, and we may never get the opportunity of reviewing them again for another 20 or 25 years; it will probably be the turn of the century before we have the opportunity of reconsidering the decision that is now being made. I ask myself whether, if we adopt what the Government now propose, the National Parks in this country will exist by the turn of the century. I would remind your Lordships of some words spoken by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, in the debate we had some months ago on a Question put down by my noble friend. The noble Lord made two comments which I should like to quote. He said, first of all:I would submit that whatever decisions we take this year, or which the Government take this year and we approve, are likely to stand for a long time, and that if we make the wrong decisions it is not just going to call a halt to progress within the National Parks; it could mean doing them irretrievable damage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15/2/72; col. 126.]Later the noble Lord said:… I have come to the firm conclusion—and I am not alone in this—that if planning powers in the Lake District (and no doubt it applies equally to other districts) were returned to the county council, or to the successors to the county councils, there would soon be no National Parks as we now know them."—[Col. 129.]May I say that I do not think that that is a dramatic statement. From my experience, and with all respect, I would endorse every word the noble Lord said. Under the structure of the administration which the Government are now going to adopt, I have the gravest doubt whether the Dartmoor National Park can survive until the turn of the century. If that should happen, what it will mean is that this splendid experiment upon which we embarked in 1949 is, over the course of a half century, going to grind into the ground.
It cannot be pretended that the sort of Park committee which the Dartmoor National Park Committee is and which is the prototype for the committees that 968 the Government are now going to set up has any kind of independence of the council of which it is part. I should like to give two illustrations of that from my own experience. One is a trivial illustration, but possibly is the more important on that account, and the other concerns a matter of great importance. The trivial example is this. A short time ago, in the Dartmoor National Park, where we have adopted a policy of trying to maintain certain areas of the moor free of vehicles by denying them access, we were confronted with a case where there was a bridle way and vehicles were making use of it. We were anxious to see if we could stop it and to restore the bridle way to what it ought to be.
We looked around to see how it could be done, and we lit upon what I believe is called the Regulation of Traffic Act 1967 (or thereabouts) whereby the Minister or the county council have power to promote an order forbidding the use of certain roads to vehicles. When we came to look at this, we discovered that it was open to the county council, if they were so minded, to promote such an order; and it was open to the Minister, if he was so minded, on the advice of the Countryside Commission, to promote and make such an order. But it is not open to the body which has the statutory duty of preserving and conserving the National Park to make any proposal in the matter at all. We are completely impotent. We have not even the authority to make a proposal to the Minister that he should make an order, because we are a mere limb of the county council: anything that we recommend has to go through the channels of the county council, and if the county council as a whole do not approve, then that is an end of the matter.
That is the trivial example, but let me now take a matter of much greater moment. Some of your Lordships may be aware of the disaster which occurred in the National Park of Devon over the Meldon Reservoir and Dam. That now is an accomplished fact, and I do not want to speak about its merits. I should like to tell your Lordships, however, two things about the history of the Meldon dispute. What has happened here is that one of the most beautiful valleys in this country has been dammed and made into a reservoir. When this was originally 969 proposed by the North Devon Water Board there was of course a public inquiry. The Dartmoor National Park Committee were strongly opposed to the proposal and we wanted to be represented at the inquiry when the Minister's inspector came down. But in order to be represented we had to get the authority of the county council. We could not be represented, because we are not a legal entity; we have not any autonomy; we have no separate existence; we are a mere limb of the county council. Therefore, in order to get representation before the Minister, this statutory body, which is supposed to be the guardian of the Park, had to go cap in hand to the county council and say: "Will you please put up the money in order that we can be represented, and will you be an objector before the inquiry. "On that occasion the county council agreed.
Eventually the Minister received the report and he made his order—calamitous, as I believe it was—that the damming and the reservoir should proceed. Then, as a result of various arrangements, and particularly due to the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Molson, it was possible to bring that decision and the order before a Select Committee of this House. Then the question arose: Could the Dartmoor National Park Committee (who were still bitterly opposed to the reservoir) be represented before the Select Committee? And again we could only be heard before the Select Committee if the county council were prepared to take up our cause and themselves become objectors before the Select Committee. But the county council on this occasion said, "No", with the result that the proceedings before the Select Committee had to be pursued only by the amenity societies, and the body charged by Statute with the duty of protecting the National Park was mute and impotent and had to stand by without being heard. That is the level of impotence to which these committees—and, as I say, the Dartmoor National Park Committee is a prototype of what the Government are now going to set up for the eight National Parks which have not got a board—are so often reduced.
For those reasons, I regard the decision that has been made by the Government and which I suppose is now unalterable as a calamitous one. I very much doubt 970 —though of course I shall not be here to see it—whether, when we come to look at the National Parks again, both as a country and as a Commission there will be anything left which is worth talking about.
§ 7.32 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I live in the Exmoor National Park and that is where most of my work is done. I have a great fear that under the name of a national body, were it set up to control our Park in replacement of the county council, we should get one national interest dominantly attended to while the numerous other national interests would be neglected. In other words, we should get a sectarian body representing amenity, to the exclusion of everything else. These are areas where the dominating theme of the National Park is important for 12 weeks of the year. During the rest of the weeks of the year the people who live there work out their normal lives. It has been plain to me, moreover, studying the public relations of the organisations concerned with conservation in our part of the world (and I speak for no other) that the amenity bodies are themselves deeply divided. The main cleavage is surely between the naturalists' line of thought, which would preserve areas for the odd or the rare bird which cannot exist if the public share its nesting habitat, and the others who want to bring the tourist in.
I think the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, may remember the meeting in the Porlock Village Hall over which he presided, where the theme expressed by residents and retired people was almost wholly to resist the deemed threat of road development—not major road development, because as we know from our West Country debate in this House the main roads are not going to be even dual carriageways: the only thought in the minds of some people is that they should be adequate single carriageways (which they are not), that some of the bottlenecks should be removed and that tourists should be conducted round so that they can see without walking too many miles. These are the two interests between which the amenity societies are deeply divided.
I should be sorry, both from the point of view of the public—the tourist, that 971 is to say—and the many interests of the residents if in our particular case the county council, as the authority, were to be superseded by what I would regard as a sectarian body claiming to be national. Therefore I oppose this Amendment most strongly. I am reasonably content, in an imperfect world, with the administration such as we have had in the past. Were it a question of money, would it not be more appropriate that money paid for the national interest, for tourists from different districts, should not come from the local ratepayers? Is it not fair that they should be concerned principally with their own interests? Unless there is some financial development in the interests of the visiting public, is it not a more appropriate matter for general taxes and not for rates?
§ LORD REDCLIFFE-MAUD
I should like to add one word of appreciation of what has been said on both sides of the Committee. It is perfectly true that in view of the importance of the decision called for from the Government and which we have been discussing this afternoon, the Royal Commission gave careful attention to the question. We had the advantage of Sir Jack Longland as a member of the Royal Commission. I do not think he over-persuaded us, but it certainly was true that the only ad hoc body we suggested was an ad hoc body to look after the National Park. This was partly because we knew that extraordinarily good work had been done, or so we gathered from the evidence, in the two places where such a board actually existed. Therefore, however illogically, I am very glad that those two boards are surviving.
At the same time I am also glad that, if I understood the noble Lord aright, he is not going to move his Amendment or force us to a Division, because I feel very strongly that it is very important for the future that as far as possible all of us who are interested in amenity, the quality of life and of local government, should unite rather than remember old battles, some of which which I am glad to say are long ago and some not quite so long ago.
I am very much impressed, as a member of our Select Committee on Sport and Leisure, by the evidence we have 972 had from local government and from many amenity and other societies as to how much local government has to contribute in the area of recreation and leisure in the general field of the life that lies ahead for our children and for future generations. It is very important that local government should think of itself as being concerned increasingly with the people not only of its own area, whether district or county, but of the province, the region and the country as a whole. Therefore, it is important that those areas which have a National Park within their boundaries, whether in whole or in part, should feel that Park to be a part of their general responsibility, just as a great city, like Bath, regards itself as responsible for its treasures to the whole country and is not concerned only with tourists.
Therefore I believe it is a good thing, though it is bad from the point of view of the enthusiasts who are concerned with, let us say, only one aspect of Dartmoor. It is no good pretending that the county council, as it has been in Devonshire, has come up to the expectations of those who are particularly concerned with the National Park there. But I believe it is going to be of benefit in the long run if the enthusiasts for the National Parks can come as far as possible into local government, perhaps as co-opted members (and there is provision in the Bill for an injection of that particular type of enthusiast, after consultation with the Countryside Commission), with the democratic representatives of the other aspects of the good life.
I believe it is going to be very good for local government itself to integrate the National Parks with the country parks which are—and no one has disputed this—the responsibility of the county, and to integrate higher education and all the other aspects of recreation which are going to become increasingly important. The long-haired cranks were once thought to be out of step because they were interested in bird preservation, but now fortunately are regarded as having pioneered things which ordinary sensible people learn from and get great enjoyment from. The joining of so many reasonable and varied people on the bandwagon of environmental improvement seems to be one of the great measures of the past five years. I believe 973 that this Bill is going to improve that aspect and I hope that this part of the Bill will play its role.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I should like to ask the noble Lord to consider one small point. Both noble Lords sitting on the Cross Benches have referred to the fact that the National Parks also contain, as well as areas of outstanding beauty, Statutory Sites of Scientific Interest, and other places where nature can be very vulnerable. It occurs to me that it might be worth while to ask the Nature Conservancy as well as the Countryside Commission to nominate members of the appropriate Committees.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
This has been an extremely useful debate and the whole Committee will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, for having initiated it. We all wish our National Parks, which are quite exceptional and bear no relation to national parks elsewhere in the world, to succeed. We set ourselves a considerable challenge in designating them since we have here not ten tracts of virgin, uninhabitated land, but ten areas in which 250,000 people earn their living and in which agriculture and other established industries have a right to exist and have their interests safeguarded. At the same time, we regard them as places to which the public should have access, and in which they should be able to enjoy recreation in the open air. This is a challenge which no other country has accepted in respect of their national parks. It does not surprise me that having embarked on such a difficult, challenging exercise, the road has not been without its difficulties and setbacks.
The disagreement arises when we come to make a diagnosis of what is amiss and what the remedies are. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, mentioned a number of remedies which we have rejected; but the Government have accepted the remedy proposed to them by the County Councils Association and the Countryside Commission. There are no other bodies more closely connected with the administration of the National Parks than these. If you have to choose two bodies whose opinions should carry weight it is those two. In accepting these proposals, and giving force to them in this Bill, we are taking 974 one set of measures which we believe will lead to an improvement of the National Parks. I should like to remind your Lordships that in addition to that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has commissioned a review of the National Parks. He has done me the honour of asking me to chair it. The Review Committee is in the process of visiting all the National Parks, taking evidence from all the bodies that could possibly be concerned with them and producing a report. It is in that connection that I confirm the views, for instance, of the Tourist Boards have been fully taken into account in each of the Parks that we visited. I imagine that it will be as a result of some of the recommendations that we may make that my right honourable friend may well consider conferring upon the National Park Committees other functions such as those to which my noble friend Lord Inglewood drew attention. It may be that some of the highway functions of the county councils to do with footpaths and bridleways may be among those and that will cover the problem that the noble Lord, Lord Foot, mentioned.
In the past the administration of the National Parks has, in many cases, been divided between two separate authorities. There is certainly room for improvement here. In providing in the Bill for joint committees, joint executive committees, we are seeking to confer on all ten National Parks a benefit which is already held by the Peak Park. That is one of the reasons why their administration has been particularly effective. It was essential for the Peak Park to have this form of administration, otherwise their administration would have been splintered to a quite unacceptable extent. Another advantage claimed of the Peak Park is their power to precept. If it could be shown that with the exercise of that power they have been able to lay higher burdens upon the ratepayers that contribute to the administration of the Peak Park than those laid on any other ratepayers, there might be some force in the argument. But none of the authorities contributing to the administration of the Peak Park—although they are precepted upon—make a contribution anywhere near approaching the burden laid upon the ratepayers of Merionethshire. They make their contribution voluntarily and 975 by a decision of that county council far exceeding anything contributed by any of the authorities that constitute the Peak Park Planning Board. If we are talking about the burdens borne by the county councils for the sake of the Park we cannot sustain the argument that it is the power of precept enjoyed by the Peak Park Planning Board which makes all the difference, because it is not so.
It has not hitherto been the case that the administration of all the functions which go to make up the administration of the National Park has been the responsibility of a single officer who can give the matter his undivided and undistracted attention: that is with the exception of the Peak Park. This is another benefit exclusively enjoyed by them. Although the Lake Park has a single board, all their planning advice comes to them from the planning officers of Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland acting jointly. If I may say so, the claim by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, that Devon is a prototype of what we are proposing is not accurate in this respect. Devon does not enjoy the benefit of having a single statutory National Park officer administering its National Park. Our proposals will rectify this fault. All the Parks will have the benefit of such an officer only enjoyed hitherto by the Peak Park Planning Board. I believe that this will make a very considerable difference. We are prescribing that it will be only possible for this officer to have any other duties beyond that of administering the National Park after consultation with the Countryside Commission. His appointment will be undertaken by the county council concerned in consultation with the Countryside Commission.
Another aspect in which the administration of the National Parks can be improved in the future—and we are providing for it—is that the planning and management of the Parks should be conducted on a more comprehensive basis. And it is the requirement in the Statute that a comprehensive National Park plan should be produced which will secure that. That will be a document which will also form the basis of management.
Finally, I come to this point. The fact is that as a nation we have not been spending enough on the National Parks and the fact that two boards have pre- 976 cepting powers has nothing whatever to do with it. It is not a question of how much counties ought to have spent, or have spent or have not spent; the fact is that the national Exchequer has not been spending enough money on a national service; namely, the care, administration and planning of its National Parks. As the noble Lord says, this simply does not bear comparison with what has been spent in the municipal parks and particularly the parks in London. The noble Lord welcomed the 75 per cent. grant, but this is not what the Government are proposing. The fact of the matter is that there is a 75 per cent. grant at present but it is a specific grant available only for particular projects, with the exception, perhaps, of the warden service. But, apart from the warden service and one or two other relatively minor matters, this grant does not cover the costs of administration and staff needed to administer the Parks. The proposal by the Government, which will make a radical difference, is that henceforward the Exchequer will bear not the smaller part but the greater part of the overall administration of all the Parks. This is, in my opinion, what has been lacking hitherto and the matter which will make much the greatest difference of all.
That is, in our view, the diagnosis of the weaknesses in the Parks hitherto and the remedies that those weaknesses require. We do not hold the view that it is necessary to take this important function out of the local government hands in order to bring these remedies into effect. It would certainly be wrong to do so and thereby to disenfranchise 250,000 people who live in the Parks and who ought to have some say, through their elected members, about such important matters as development control which is an integral part of the administration of the Parks. I hope that, with that explanation your Lordships will not feel that the Government are in any way making a mistake. So far from that, we have we believe made an accurate dianosis of the weaknesses at the present prevailing in the National Parks, and have every earnest of improving them as fast as we can.
I should like just to thank the noble Lord for what he has said. What I wished to do has I think 977 been done, namely, to draw the Government's attention to the fact that there is and has been a very large body of people in this country who think that the Government are wrong. I am glad that the review of the National Parks is being undertaken by the noble Lord and I hope that certain things will come out of that: notably I hope that he will stress the point that I made before, that National Parks officers should have chief officer status and that their staffs should be full time on National Park work. One further word. I do not think there is any question of disenfranchisement or of local interest not being properly considered. The prototype that I wanted was that of the Peak. In the Peak two-thirds of the board are already elected representatives and I think that that must not be overlooked. We are not suggesting any change there. That does not mean disenfranchisement at all. I do not want to go any further than that. As I say, I remain as I was, unhappy; I still think the Parks should have been controlled by autonomous bodies, and with that I will say no more.
§ Clause 179 agreed to.
§ Schedule 17 [Functions with respect to National Parks and the countryside]:
§ 7.53 p.m.
I want merely to move this Amendment formally. The effect of Amendment No. 102VV is that it would make a joint board or a special board obligatory in all National Parks. In other words, it would do what exists in the Peak Park. I beg to move.
Page 296, leave out from beginning of line 26 to end of line 33 on page 300 and insert—
("1. Where a National Park lies within two or more new counties,
§ 2. Where a National Park is contained wholly within one new county,
- (a) if immediately before 1st April, 1974 there is an existing joint planning board constituted for the Park by an order under section 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, the Secretary of State shall by order reconstitute that board as a special planning board to discharge the functions to which this Part of this Schedule applies as respects the area of the Park;
- (b) in any other case, the Secretary of State shall by order constitute a special planning board to discharge the functions to which this Part of this Schedule applies as respects the area of the Park;
§ 3. The Secretary of State may by an order under paragraph 1 or 2 above or by an order under this paragraph confer on a joint or special planning board for a National Park, in addition to the functions of a county planning authority under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, any other functions to which this Part of this Schedule applies and any of the additional countryside functions as respects the Park.
§ 4. Where a joint or special planning board is required to be established by being constituted or reconstituted under this Part of this Schedule for any National Park, the requirement shall be deemed to be complied with in any case approved by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Countryside Commission if the board is established for the area of the Park together with other land.
§ 5. Not less than one third of the members of a joint or special planning board established for a National Park shall be persons appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Countryside Commission.
§ 6. Every joint planning board or special planning board established for a National Park shall after consultation with the Countryside Commission appoint a chief officer, to be known as a National Park Officer, for the purposes of the functions exercisable by them as respects the Park by virtue of section 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 or this Part of this Schedule, and a National Park Officer so appointed shall not be employed for any purpose other than one mentioned in this paragraph except after consultation between the board and the Countryside Commission.979
§ 7. Every joint planning board or special planning board established for a National Park shall—
- (a) within three years of 1st April 1974 or of being established, whichever is the later, prepare and publish a plan to be known as a National Park Plan formulating their policy for the management of the Park and for the exercise of the functions exercisable by them as respects the lark; and
- (b) review at intervals of not more than five years a National Park Plan published under this paragraph, making any amendments to it which they consider expedient, and publish a report on their review and any such amendments.
§ 8. Every such board established for a National Park shall in preparing or reviewing a National Park Plan send a copy of the proposed plan or review to the Countryside Commission and to any district planning authority whose area is wholly or partly comprised in the Park and take into consideration any observations of the Commission or any such authority thereon and shall send the Secretary of State a copy of a National Park Plan published under paragraph 7 above and of the report on any review or amendments so published.
§ 9. The functions to which this Part of this Schedule applies are all functions of a county council or district council as local planning authority under the 1949 Act, the 1968 Act and the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and any enactment amending any of those Acts.
§ 10. in this Part of this Schedule "addition41 countryside functions" means functions other than those mentioned in paragraph 9 above, which in the opinion of the council or councils concerned, or where the functions are ones which may be conferred by an order or determination of a Minister, of that Minister, relate to the countryside and are appropriate for reference to a board concerned with matters relating to the countryside.").—(Lord Henley.)
As I told the noble Lord before, as we have debated the subject extensively without the Amendment having been moved, I want to move it formally so that it appears in Hansard. I am not quite sure of the procedure. I intend to let it be negatived.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ 7.57 p.m.
This second Amendment would enable the Secretary of State to establish at any future date a special planning board for a National Park situated wholly within one new county. I move this Amendment merely to hear what the noble Lord has to say with regard to the suggestion in another place that the Minister did not shut the door on this. Is there anything further that the noble Lord can tell me about this?
Page 297, line 22, at end insert—
("4A. Where a National Park is contained wholly within one new county, the Secretary of State may by order constitute a special planning board to discharge the functions to which this Part of this Schedule applies as respects the area of the Park, and any enactment relating to joint boards constituted by an order under section 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 shall apply to a special planning board constituted under this Part of this Schedule and to the order constituting it as it applies to a joint planning board constituted under that section and to the order constituting it.").—(Lord Henley.)
§ LORD SANDFORD
No; we do not feel this is justified. I personally am willing to accept the anomaly that, after local government reform, there will in fact be a single Park planning board in the new county of Cumbria, but that Park planning board has demonstrated its quality and I see no reason to disturb it. I would much rather accept an anomaly, an illogicality, than accept a reserve power we do not think is necessary or disturb a board which has worked well.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ On Question, Whether Schedule 17 shall be agreed to?
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Before we accept this part of the Bill, might I ask the noble Lord a question about something which I am afraid I have only just observed. On page 300, line 3, I think there is an error which is no doubt a misprint. It refers to the "National Park Commission". Is this not the National Park Committee?
§ LORD SANDFORD
Is the noble Viscount suggesting it should read "National Park Committee"? It may well be.
§ THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (LORD CHAMPION)
The Question before the Committee was that Schedule 17 be added to the Bill. I had not collected the voices when I heard the voice of the noble Viscount behind me rather protesting and suggesting that he had something to say. I therefore sat down; he has said it, and I hope that is the end of it and that I may now continue.
§ Schedule 17 agreed to.
§ Clause 180 agreed to.
§ Schedule 18 agreed to.
§ Clause 181 [Traffic and transportation functions]
§ 8.0 p.m.
BARONESS PHILLIPS moved Amendment No. 102QQQ:
Page 133, line 13, after ("districts") insert ("parishes and communities").
§ The noble Baroness said: In moving this Amendment I will, with permission, speak to Amendment No. 102RRR. This is a modest Amendment after the major issues we have been discussing, but I hope it will commend itself to the Government. It deals with the powers of a parish or community council to provide parking places. As your Lordships will know, they already have powers to provide parking places for bicycles and motorcycles, but they desperately need nowadays also to provide car parks.
§ The issue is primarily one of amenity rather than of traffic. Extensive authorities shy away from providing them for a village save where there is a district interest—for example, if it is a market town or other place of general resort. For want of car parks, village greens and verges are being churned up and eroded and have in some places been totally destroyed. This occurs where a village has, for example, a popular "pub" or where there is a regular and widely attended function such as a cricket festival. In addition, some villages suffer from overnight lorry parking because they happen to be at the end of a driver's shift. Bylaws are ineffectual, and if physical barriers are used they may be unsightly and are often broken down. Even ditches are sometimes crossed by unscrupulous or desperate drivers of big vehicles. Great damage can be done in a very short time if the ground is soft or wet.
§ Your Lordships will know how effective a car park can be when it is sited at the top end of a village, as happens 982 in Cornwall where one has to walk down to the sea. We may compare that with the destruction which goes on in an attractive village such as Port Eynon in Wales where the car, which is a boon in many ways, is destroying grass verges and a great area of village amenities. Parish councils in seven counties have power to provide car parks under local enactments, all of which are recent. They are Durham, Cumberland, Devon, Somerset, Cheshire, Essex and Oxford. The recent succession of such enactments passed by Parliament may by itself be thought significant of the need to make the power general, yet Clause 249 may apparently have the effect of repealing even these by 1984. At present parish councils outside Essex and the five other counties provide car parks only for the users of village halls and playing fields, and these are mostly in the wrong places. This is an eminently practical Amendment. I hope that the Government will give it sympathetic consideration. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
The Government are attracted to this Amendment although they have been reluctant before to accept that quite such a direct power should be conferred on any other authorities, for instance the districts. But I observe that the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, is providing that in this case the power should not be available to parish councils. except with the consent of the county council. That puts a different complexion on the matter. I notice, too, that the noble Baroness has in mind that these car parks should be relatively modest affairs, and that parish councils will not be going in for multi-story car parks or anything of that sort. Although she did not say so, I hope that what she is talking about is off-street car parking, because if she is not, again it would not be acceptable.
Therefore I suggest that if the noble Baroness were to withdraw or not to press her Amendments Nos. 102QQQ and 102RRR, I also will take away the rather more elaborate arrangements which we had in mind embodied in Amendments Nos. 102SSS, 102TTT and 102UUU. The Government will endeavour to bring back on Report an Amendment which will secure what the noble Baroness shows that she wants by the simple, direct way she suggested 983 that we should accept. We shall have to put into it something to make sure that these are modest car parks and that they are off-street car parks, something which not only requires the county council to give their consent in the first instance before the parish can get on with the job, but also provides that the county council can exercise some sort of control which will be available to them after the car park is provided, in case it should develop in some way in which they would want to exercise their highways powers, which I am sure the noble Baroness agrees they should have, as there is no point in their having them if they cannot exercise them. I hope that on that understanding the Committee will feel that it is right for the noble Baroness and I to withdraw our respective Amendments for the time being.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
I am very grateful to the Minister. I almost thought that he was about to say that we should get together. I was looking forward to that, but he merely said that we should withdraw our Amendments. I think the Committee might be rather pleased about this because it will also speed up discussion generally. Of course I am delighted to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 181 agreed to.
§ Schedule 19 [Amendments of Enactments Relating to Road Traffic and Abandoned Vehicles]
§ 8.7 p.m.
THE EARL OF DUDLEY moved Amendment No.102VVV:
Page 306, line 16, leave out from beginning to end of line 7 on page 307 and insert:
(2) Subject to subsection (1) above, where a district council propose to make an order under section 28, section 29 other than subsections (3) and (7) to (9) thereof, section 29A or section 31(1) of this Act the district council shall submit a draft of the order to the county council who may within two months object to the making of the order and if objection is so made and not withdrawn the district council may not mae the order except with the consent of the Secretary of State.
§ The noble Earl said: I apologise to the Minister for the late arrival of my Amendment. The notice was so short that I was tempted to spare my noble friend and noble Lords, sated as no doubt they are 984 with the chops and changes of this Bill, had I not believed that the Amendment was a very useful one in an important area.
§ Like the Amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, my Amendment deals with the powers of local authorities and specifically in this case district councils with respect to the provision of off-street car parks, as does the part of Schedule 19 to which my Amendment applies. Time is short and the noble Baroness has already illustrated some of the problems involved, so I do not wish to say more than to remind noble Lords of how greatly the motor car is changing man's environment and his needs. One of the most urgent of these is the provision of car parks for his motor car when he and his family go about their business.
§ It would be a waste of time to discuss the merits and demerits of the motor car which is now as much a part of man as the shell is of the mollusc. This was acknowledged by the Minister in another place on February 29 when he referred to the congestion of our urban centres by the end of the decade and to those who are responsible for traffic management schemes and off-street and on-street parking schemes. The provision of off-street car parks will obviously be a very politically sensitive issue at district level. While it would be alien to the traditions of this House to reinforce my argument by quoting from the debate in Standing Committee D of another place on February 29, I would mention to noble Lords that the weight of opinion in favour of district councils retaining powers to provide off-street car parks was substantial and effective, in that the Minister was persuaded to give positive undertakings. I have tabled my Amendment because I have reasonable doubts—doubts shared by the outside body which supports my views; namely, the County Borough of Dudley—whether the effect of this Part of the Bill as amended is in line with the Minister's intentions and undertakings.
So perhaps noble Lords will bear with me if I bowl yet another ball in this over at the Government batsman; and as I hope to persuade your Lordships to share my views, and accept my Amendment, I should like to quote part of the Minister's statement verbatim which, I take it,
represented Government policy. The Minister said—and I quote from the Official Report of Standing Committee D in another place, at column 2125:
Although I still believe that the concept of a county transportation plan is right, I say at once that I think those districts should have the powers to provide off-street parking. I make that absolutely clear. We will introduce Amendments to do that. Although I have said that it will be within the county transportation plan, I go even further than I went before. If the district should feel that it is being oppressed unreasonably by the county, we will also provide for an appeal direct to the Secretary of State. I think this answers any possible doubt that my hon. Friends may have.
Following upon this statement, the Minister was asked whether the district council and the county council would have concurrent powers or whether the county council could control the number of car-parking places that the district council could provide. The Minister categorically replied:
that is, the districts—
will have concurrent powers, not only to provide off-street car parking but to make arrangements for others to provide it.
From this reply district councils would have been quite justified in assuming that they were to have direct responsibility for the provision of off-street car parking without being subject to the permission of the county council.
It seems likely that both the questioner and the Minister in his reply were using the word, "concurrent" in the general sense of "equal" or "shared" powers. But I have looked up the adjective in the Oxford Dictionary (and I do not want to take up the time of the Committee unnecessarily) where it is defined as meaning
running together as parallel lines, existing together, co-operating, agreeing".
This definition seems to me to be just as appropriate to the situation, since the Minister would presumably try to allocate powers between county and district so as to pave the way for their future cooperation and mutual agreement.
I listened with great interest to the inspiring remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, on the subject of the attitude that all the people playing their part in the new structure and new plan should have towards it, but I think it only fair to suggest that an integral 986 feature of mutual co-operation would be that the individual component parts should feel that they are getting a fair deal. It is against this background that I ask noble Lords to consider the text of the proposed new subsection to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967 to be written into that Act by way of Schedule 19 to this Bill, and to examine whether it will have the effect that might reasonably be expected.
On page 306 of the Bill, lines 16 to 22, the text of the subsection is:
Subject to subsection (1) above, a district council shall not exercise their powers under section 28, section 29 other than subsections (3) and (7) to (9) thereof, section 29A or section 31(1) of this Act without the consent of the county council, and any consent given by the county council may be subject to such conditions or restrictions as they think fit.
The net effect of this subsection is to make all powers with respect to off-street parking places only exercisable by district councils subject to the consent of the county council, with the exception of temporary parking places, filling stations and off-street car parks independently operated under leasing or agency agreements. This last function may or may not be in the national or local interest, but the powers are useless to a borough such as Dudley, where the council's policy is to provide off-street car parks free of charge in the town centre, to attract shoppers and department stores to the borough. Nor can the powers retained by the district councils under the Bill be fairly described as "concurrent"—in any sense of the word—with the effective blocking powers exercisable by the county councils. On the contrary, I believe there to be an imbalance of powers in favour of the county councils, which will place the district councils in a secondary position in this sensitive and important area.
As the initiative for the provision of off-street car parks is likely to continue to come from the district, it seems to me wrong that their urgent needs could be unreasonably obstructed by a county council hesitating over its transportation plan, or by the county's consent being made conditional upon the district accepting requirements unsuitable to it, such as car park charges, which Dudley fears might be imposed upon it by the West Midlands Metropolitan County. Nor, indeed, need the county council give a single reason for its refusal.
The Minister foresaw this danger when he further said:
The purpose of the right of appeal is to ensure that unreasonable policies are not pursued by the county council.
Although the right of appeal has, as promised, now been written into the Bill, it is a reasonable inference that the Secretary of State would prefer not to be inundated by such appeals; and would hope that agreement between county and district councils would normally be reached about the provision of off-street car parks without recourse to appeal. I believe that the Bill, as amended, in this Part of the Schedule—the proposed new Section 28A, subsection (2), of the Road Traffic Regulation Act—will not be helpful towards securing agreement. The Bill places the responsibility upon the district councils to obtain the county councils' consent. This seems to me to be unfair and likely to generate friction if the county unreasonably withholds its consent. The onus should in my view be upon the higher authority to prove its case if the district initiative is at cross purposes with the county plan.
This principle underlies my Amendment, while giving abundant safeguards to the county council, and there is precedent for it in Schedule 20 to the Bill, which adopts exactly the procedure proposed by me as follows—and I quote from Part I of Schedule 20:
1. Before exercising their powers under subsection (2) of section 182 above in relation to any such highway as is referred to in that subsection, the council of a district shall give notice of their intention to do so to the county council who are the local highway authority, specifying the highway or highways concerned.
2. If the county council are of the opinion that any highway specified in a notice under paragraph 1 above does not fall within section 182(2) above, they may, at any time, within the period of six weeks beginning with the date on which they received the notice, serve a counter notice on the district council…
I do not understand why there should be one rule for the district in one case and another rule in another case.
The difference between my Amendment and the wording of the Bill is quite simply whether the procedure is to be such that the county council is required to object to, or to give consent to, the district council's proposal. For the reasons stated, I favour the first alternative. The procedure recommended in 988 Amendment 122VVV would render superfluous subsections (3), (4), (5) and (6). Subsection (7) under my first consequential Amendment becomes subsection (3), while my further consequential Amendment takes care of the renumbering of subsections arising from Amendment 102VVV. I beg to move.
§ LORD WIGG
It would be absurd for me to delay the Committee for more than a few minutes, because having listened to the massive case so ably propounded by the noble Earl, Lord Dudley, if I were to intervene for more than a few minutes I should remove completely the compelling effect on the Minister's mind of the case that has been put. It is completely and absolutely overwhelming. I intervene only because for over twenty years I had the great honour of representing Dudley in the House of Commons and therefore I am wholly familiar with the circumstances that made Dudley, the centre of a great industrial area, develop the policy of free off-street car parking.
Under the weight of argument and force of opinion in another place the Minister was compelled to say that the districts—Dudley was one such district which those who had been discussing the matter had in mind—should have power to provide off-street parking. That was clear in the Minister's mind and that was the assurance he gave in the House of Commons. If the Minister believes that an area like Dudley should be free to make what arrangements it considers to be necessary in the light of the circumstances it faces and the problems it inherited, the onus must be on the county council to establish that that right should not be exercised. It is clear that that is what the Minister accepted. He did not go as far as some may have wished, but he said quite clearly that the power should be exercised concurrently.
Bearing that in mind, I suggest that this Amendment is completely reasonable. If an area like Dudley, with the problems it faces, makes a case for off-street parking, then it is right—the Minister was right to say the same—that it must fit in with the county plan and that the county should have the right to object. But having exercised that right, the matter would go to the Minister and it is for him to make up his mind. The converse may apply. The Minister, having given the House of Commons that 989 assurance and the House having accepted it, may find when he is away from the House, with the pressure which some of us know can exist in the other place taken off, that he wants to have second thoughts. He then lands himself in an extremely difficult position because he does not face up to the Government's intentions as expressed in the Bill or to the reality of the situation.
Of course there should be a transportation plan, but who will prepare it? The answer is the county; and if the county, for one reason or another, does not want to accept what Dudley or any other district wishes to do, it can simply drag out the preparation of the transportation plan for a few years. Those of us who have been engaged in Government business or who have a nodding acquaintance with the way in which local affairs are conducted know only too well (perhaps some of us have engaged in these activities) that if one wishes to proceed with haste one can hurry things along, while if one wishes to slow things down one can always find an excuse—if not the civil servants or local government officials will provide one—to slow things down or drag something out for a longer time. Dudley, particularly at the week end, is crammed with people. The population is frequently many times the normal at these peak periods. Dudley has gone out of its way to be far in advance of the national policy of providing considerable areas for off-street car parking. To subjugate Dudley to the will of people who have no concept of the problem and urgency of the matter and who may say, "You must fit in with somewhere else but you have a right to appeal" is not in accord either with the letter or the spirit of the words used by the Minister.
There is another point of which the noble Earl, because of his having in every sense a noble mind, may not be aware. The assurance given by the Minister came as a result of pressure from Members in many parts of the other House. Unfortunately the Report Stage arose in the early hours of the morning when most of those who had been putting on the pressure earlier had gone home to bed. When the relevant Amendment came up on Report the Minister was able to get away with it. It is not bedtime here and I hope that the Minister will accept the absolute logic of the case 990 that has been put to him—not by me, because I am indulging in special pleading, but by his noble friend Lord Dudley who has adduced a disinterested case, as it were.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
It grieves me, having accepted the principle of an Amendment from the Opposition Front Bench, to have to tell my noble friend Lord Dudley that I cannot accept his. The reason is that the noble Baroness, Lady White, rightly discerned the limits of what parish or district councils can do if there is to be a proper coherent county transportation plan, while, if I may say so, my noble friend did not. There is no doubt that if there is to be a coherent, workable county transportation plan it is not possible for any authority that has powers for off-street parking in that area to have completely unfettered control over how it runs and regulates its off-street parking, and particularly not if it is the avowed policy of Dudley, as my noble friend said it was, to provide large-scale off-street parking deliberately to attract people into its area to shop, because it is the unfettered use of powers for those exclusive purposes which can completely wreck a county transportation plan.
When noble Lords indicate the anxieties, unease and unhappiness of Dudley at being put in this position, they are forgetting—they certainly did not mention this fact—that the county which produces this transportation plan, in this case for the whole of the metropolitan area, is not the kind of authority with which they have been dealing hitherto when dealing with counties. This is not a country versus town affair. The authority which is producing this transportation plan is made up of other metropolitan districts such as Dudley, and Dudley will have a powerful voice in this policy. But because it is a comprehensive plan covering the whole of a metropolitan county, it is essential that any districts that are exercising powers to provide off-street parking must exercise them subject to the consent of the county authority, the metropolitan county, and also subject to continuing powers by the county to modify or revoke existing district car-park orders or to modify any proposed orders in the future.
991 Those are two of the conditions under which I was able to accept the principle of the Amendment proposed by the noble Baroness. It is essential that those conditions are maintained in any other proposal of that kind. It is for that reason—the need to safeguard the county transportation plan and to ensure that all off-street parking conforms to it—that I am not able to recommend the Committee to accept these Amendments.
§ LORD WIGG
Neither the noble Earl, Lord Dudley, nor I could have made ourselves plain. We did not ask that the district should have unfettered powers. On the contrary, we said that a place like Dudley, having made its plans, would then put them to the West Midlands metropolitan authority. That authority then, if it wished, could appeal to the Minister. In no circumstances can it be said that the powers are unfettered. It is not for that reason, however, that I rise. For the Minister to say that Dudley, because it has off-street car parking, is attracting motorists, all I can say is that he has never been to Dudley and his officials can never have been to Dudley, and his officials can never have gone to the West Midlands. I do not want to give the House a lecture in economic history—far from it—but it is a fact that the industrial greatness of this country was born in the Midlands, and over the centuries the guts were torn out of this area; its coal and limestone were taken and it was turned into an industrial slum. Because it became an industrial slum and had to be cleared there were considerable areas which were left. They were wisely turned into car parks, not to attract people but because people came. It was the only shopping centre of any size covering a very considerable area.
§ LORD SANDFORD
It would perhaps save the time of the Committee if I were to make it clear that in making those remarks I was only repeating what my noble friend behind me had said. I am not quoting from my experience; I was repeating his.
§ LORD WIGG
But again the Minister must take the responsibility for what he says. I am saying that the Government are neither being pressed for anything unfettered nor are they being asked to do anything that is going to attract 992 motorists into Dudley. The motorists are there, and therefore it seems to me utterly reasonable, that being the case, that the district proposes its plan, then goes to the county and there is then an appeal to the Minister.
Both the noble Earl—who can speak for himself—and myself are fully aware of the point the noble Lord makes about the West Midland authority. What we are putting forward is an essentially practicable, sensible way of removing a very deep-seated grievance. I am not saying it is going to go wrong, but it may go wrong, and therefore I would press the Minister again to see whether between now and Report Stage he would do no more than take it back and have another look at it. Would he go as far as that?
THE EARL OF DUDLEY
I think I should take the opportunity to say a few words about the comments of my noble friend on my remarks. I did not in fact refer to the car-parking facilities and car-parking policy in Dudley to advance reasons why the procedure should be changed in line with my Amendment, but merely to point out that the powers which are left with the district councils to lease off-street car parks to independent operators without reference to the county were of no use to a county borough such as Dudley, which does not take this arrangement as part of its car-park policy. Naturally Dudley accepts that there will be a county transportation plan and naturally I, in putting forward this Amendment, am not suggesting other than that there should be a general right for district councils to retain powers to provide off-street car parks without having to require the consent of the county council, but with the safeguard for the county council that they can object if these car parks do not fall within the overall county plan.
All I have asked is that in fairness to the district councils the procedure should be changed in line with the procedure adopted and proposed by the Government in the Bill under Clause 20, so that in fact powers should be available to the district councils provided that the county councils have the right to object. I feel that this is perfectly proper procedure and I cannot see why the Government should retreat from the position taken up in another place which indicated that this 993 kind of procedure would be offered to the district councils and that powers and rights of this type would be offered to the district councils. I should like to take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, for his inspiring support, for which I am extremely grateful, and to ask, with him, that the Minister should soften his attitude a trifle and see whether there is not something he could say or some way he could go towards restoring a position that I look on only as one of fairness and equity.
§ LORD SANDFORD
As I say, I cannot accept these Amendments as they stand. It is necessary for the county council to have positive control over these car parks and the way they are run, and that involves something other than the negative process of just objecting; it means consenting and having the power to modify or revoke existing or proposed orders. That is the position the Government takes and has taken. Of course I will undertake, as with all these issues, to keep them under review and look at them again between now and the next stage. But I have to do that without any commitment at all that the Government will come forward with anything different from what is in the Bill at present.
THE EARL OF DUDLEY
I am grateful for what I take as a little mild and gentle softening of the attitude of my noble friend. I did not intend to press this Amendment to a Division, but wished merely to give the Minister the opportunity to take a last look at a position which I feel was not perhaps fully restored in line with the Minister's undertaking on the Report stage in another place. If he will be kind enough to abide by his undertaking to look at that, I shall be happy to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 19 agreed to.994
§ Clause 182 [Local highway authorities and maintenance powers of district councils]:
LORD ROYLE moved Amendment No. 102YY:
Page 134, line 38, leave out ("have power to").
§ The noble Lord said: We now move from the car park back to the road, and my Amendments are concerned with the roads and not with the car parks. I beg to move the Amendment to Clause page 134, line 38, in my name. This is the first of several Amendments I have put down dealing with the provision and maintenance of footpaths and urban roads which in the Bill are to be the responsibility of counties, and which in my submission, without any "ifs" or "buts", should be the responsibility of smaller authorities, especially the district councils. The Amendments that I am moving if I can enumerate them for the sake of the record, are to Clause 182, page 134, line 38; Clause 182, page 135, line 9; Clause 182, page 136, line 11; Schedule 10, page 314, to delete Part II; Clause page 136, line 29; Clause 153, page 136, line 30; and in Schedule 21, pages 325 roughly to 330. I am advised that each of these Amendments is necessary to present the case and, if accepted, to put everything right so far as the drafting of the Bill is concerned. I always have inhibitions about addressing your Lordships at a late hour, and therefore I do not want to argue each Amendment individually. In fact it is not necessary; most of them are consequential on the main contention, and I agree that if one were to fall they must all fall, and, conversely, if one is accepted it follows that they all, roughly speaking, must be accepted.
§ Yesterday in the course of our deliberations on this Bill the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, mentioned a miracle that had occurred. The county councils and district councils, that is to say the A.M.C., the rural district councils and the urban district councils, had all got together on something and had agreed, and he regarded it as a miracle. In this case I cannot go that far, but what I am suggesting is the united opinion of the Association of Municipal Corporations, the urban district councils and the rural district councils, and I am trying 995 to express their view in these Amendments. As suggested in previous discussions on the Bill—and we have had this ad nauseam—it is desirable, as we all accept, that a constructive and fruitful partnership should be established between the counties and the districts. This is the Government's declared aim in the introduction of the Bill, and I move my Amendments in that spirit.
§ So I take up the subject of roads. It may be that this is the most important question exercising the minds of existing county boroughs and non-county boroughs et cetera in regard to the removal of functions, which this Bill accomplishes at their expense. I believe that district councils should and must have the right to maintain urban roads, and that this should include construction, improvement, lighting, and allocating direct financial responsibility for these matters to the district councils. In addition, I seek provision for the making of county highway schemes which would define those roads in each county, other than urban roads, for which district councils would use their established engineering staffs (which in many cases may be very great) to look after, as the highways authority, and for district councils to be responsible for new streets and private street works. These Amendments have been framed, therefore, in the conviction that the district councils alone will possess the detailed local knowledge which will enable highway and traffic management functions, particularly in towns, to be carried out sensibly and effectively in the detailed application of the strategic general transport policy, which must itself be determined over wider areas by county councils and by the Government.
§ I know how very strongly many of the districts feel about the responsibilities for traffic and roads being taken from them. I ask your Lordships, how can a somewhat remote county know the problems of traffic and roads as well as the local council which is controlled by knowledgeable members of the council and their officials? Obviously, when one seeks an illustration for an argument which one is putting forward, one thinks in terms of local matters that one knows best. With my accent, coming as I do from Lancashire, I am taking the illu- 996 stration of Brighton and Hove. That may seem extraordinary, but that happens to be where I live now and know most about. Thinking of Brighton, traffic management, parking restrictions, no waiting, one-way streets and meters, the control of car parking, all are vital matters of local concern. They may be a matter of life or death to a seaside resort like Brighton with a shopping centre such as Brighton possesses. Insensitive treatment, or the putting of traffic movement before amenity, could repel visitors and shoppers and inflict untold harm on the life of the town.
§ So far the Government have given one minor concession only, which was referred to in the Amendment proposed by the noble Earl, Lord Dudley, namely, that districts shall have power to provide and operate off-street car parks but only with the consent of the county. I think this is a very meagre offering to towns such as Brighton, and I want to suggest to your Lordships that there is no similarity at all between the special problems of, say, Brighton and those of the rest of East Sussex. As for highways, the puny power given to districts to repair minor urban roads will be frustrating, and virtually useless in helping to sustain the viable engineering and technical departments of the districts. Without such departments many facets of the work of districts will suffer, especially in coastal districts such as I have mentioned, which need a powerful engineering department for coast protection works, but will not be able to attract and hold top class engineers for that purpose alone. So many aspects are being removed from local public service, that there appears to be an attack on the spirit which is required for this Bill. Again in that district, if the area of Lewes rules Brighton and Hove roads, who in the Brighton administration will want to know anything about it? In my view, it is ridiculous for the county to maintain Brighton promenade or plan the main road going along the front, the A.259. I know this is very local stuff, but what I am using as an illustration can be multiplied very many times throughout the country. However, I happen to know Brighton best. No action would give more satisfaction to the district councils than the acceptance of this group of Amendments.997
§ So that there is no doubt about what I am doing, might I briefly say what each of these Amendments does? Amendment No. 102YY says "shall do" rather than "shall have power to do". Amendment No. 102ZZ deletes from the Bill the power to reimburse expenses for highway work carried out for the county council by the district council. Number 102BBB—this reminds me of the phrase "the best blooming bugler in the Bessies of the Barn Band"—establishes the principle of district councils carrying out the highway functions which are in the district council area. Amendment No. 102CC deletes Part II of Schedule 20, which again deals with reimbursement for work done by the district councils. Amendments Nos. 102DDD and 102EEE would make the district council the highway authority under Section 40 of the Highways Act 1959. Finally, Amendments Nos. 102FFF and 102GGG to Schedule 21 replace the provisions for the county councils.
§ I do not wish to go on. I think I have taken a few minutes longer than I anticipated, but I hope that my brevity does not detract from my sincerity. I beg the Government seriously to consider accepting these proposals.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
The Amendments that the noble Lord, Lord Royle, has asked us to consider are the same as those that were debated on Report stage of the Bill in another place on July 19 after being introduced there by a group of Back Benchers from both Parties. They are designed, as he says, to give district councils the right to carry out very substantial highway functions. He has just mentioned them. They thus run counter to the highway provisions of the Bill, which place the control of the highway system in the hands of the new county councils. The Amendments were defeated in another place, and I am afraid that I cannot tell the Committee that the Government's reflections, or any other consultations or representations they have had, have led the Government to change their view.
Rather than going through each of the nine sets of Amendments, I would just sum up the main points of the Government's attitude towards the division of powers in respect of the highway func- 998 tions. In our view the county, as the structure planning authority, must be responsible for the planning and control of an integrated and adequate transportation system over the whole of its area. I have just been explaining, in dealing with the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Dudley, the importance of safeguarding the coherence and integrity of that system. Roads form a single, inter-connected, indivisible network, which needs coordinated control by a single local authority for each area. The Amendments that the noble Lord has proposed would deprive counties of functions which they need to exercise in order to discharge that role, and functions they have been exercising successfully for a number of years.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I am just coming to that very point. That is so. But on the other hand, it is not that the county boroughs will be deprived of exercising these functions; they will be part of the county which is exercising them. It is in that way, and in that form, that they will bring their very valuable experience and expertise to bear, rather than by trying to continue to operate as a whole lot of separate units so far as this function is concerned. In other functions, we think that it is desirable that the function should continue to be exercised at the district level.
Nevertheless, county councils may make arrangements in appropriate cases under Clause 100, which we have already discussed, for district councils (particularly those like county boroughs, or that correspond to the old county boroughs), where there is relevant experience to exercise a wide range of highway functions as agents. There will be a right of appeal to the Secretary of State on the initial distribution of functions after reorganisation, under the new clause that we have inserted under Clause 108. There will be no restriction of the highway functions that can be exercised by a district council under those agency arrangements under Clause 100 or, following successful appeal to the Secretary of State, under the new clause we have inserted. In addition to that, a number of, albeit minor, functions remain to the district council to exercise in their own 999 right; the one we have just been discussing to provide off-street car parks, provided they are in accordance with the overall transportation policy laid down by the county, and their power, which they have in their own right, to maintain footpaths, bridleways, and unclassified urban roads as defined in the Bill.
I have to tell the Committee that these are Amendments which have been fully considered. The Government have given their full attention to them. They were defeated in another place, and I really cannot encourage the noble Lord by saying that we can accept them here. I hope, with that full explanation that I have given and repeated as to the reasons why we think the single, comprehensive, integrated transportation policy must be safeguarded, that he will not feel it necessary to press his Amendments.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
Before the Minister abandons the clause, may I ask him one simple question which I think is important? May I ask about the power over lighting. Local knowledge of lighting, in these days of motoring, is of some importance, and especially in county areas. You may have local spots which are 50 miles away, and where there are popular village pubs, or monuments, that are visited, and local lighting on sometimes unclassified roads may be of paramount importance. Unfettered agency powers do not exist under Clause 100. Was lighting considered as being part of the highway system that would go into the county areas?
§ LORD SANDFORD
I do not know whether the noble Lord was in the House when I was discussing this particular matter in connection with Amendment No. 102TTT, which I think goes some way to answering his point.
§ LORD ROYLE
I read the debate in another place on this subject, and I thought that it was a very disappointing result in that House. I had hoped that the Government might have given some consideration to the matter between its leaving the other place and coming here. I am deeply disappointed that the noble Lord does not feel inclined to encourage 1000 me in any way at all. It is late, and I am not going to say anything more except that I am not withdrawing the Amendment because I know that I am right. That being so, I leave it to your Lordships to negative it.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 102AA:
Page 135, leave out lines 36 to 47 and insert—
("(7) The Secretary of State may by regulations empower district councils, in relation to highways in respect of which their powers of maintenance under subsection (2) above are exercisable, to exercise subject to such terms and conditions as may be specified in the regulations such additional powers as appear to him—
and accordingly in this section (other than this subsection), in Schedule 20 to this Act and in any other enactment referring to the powers of district councils under subsection (2) above, the expressions "maintenance" and "maintain", where used with respect to the powers of district councils under subsection (2) above, shall be construed as extending to the carrying out of operations in the exercise of powers conferred on district councils by regulations under this subsection; and a statutory instrument containing any such regulations shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.")
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 102AA, which is needed to ensure that district councils have the powers to carry out all the maintenance functions which they may be entitled to exercise under regulations made by the Secretary of State, and that the Secretary of State has the power to define these powers appropriately.
§ Clause 182, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 20 agreed to.
§ Clause 183 agreed to.
§ Schedule 21 [Amendments of enactments relating to highways]:
§ 9.0 p.m.1001
Page 333, line 47, leave out from ("under") to end of line 48 and insert ("subsection (1) of this section").—(Lord Sandford.)
§ Schedule 21, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 184 [Commons]:
§ LORD SANDFORD
I beg to move Amendment No. 102CC. This is a technical Amendment to do with the vesting of unclaimed village greens in London.
Page 138, line 5, after ("council") insert:
("(b) if the land is in a London borough, the council of that borough").—(Lord Sandford.)
§ Clause 184, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 185 [Sites for gipsy encampments]:
VISCOUNT SIMON moved Amendment No. 102KKK:
Page 139, line 17, after ("county borough") insert ("or").
§ The noble Viscount said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Avebury, I rise to move this Amendment and suggest that it would be convenient to take with it the next four Amendments, Nos. 102LLL, 102MMM, 102NNN and 102PPP, because they all stand together. In order to understand them and in order to understand Clause 185, I must refer your Lordships to the Caravan Sites Act 1968, and particularly to Section 6, which deals with the provision of caravan sites for gipsies. In passing, may I remind your Lordships that in this context "gipsies" means not only persons of a particular racial background, but anyone who has chosen to lead a nomadic life.
The provisions of the Caravan Sites Act are, very briefly, as follows. First of all, all local authorities—county councils, county boroughs and the London boroughs—are required
so far as may he necessary to provide adequate accommodation for gipsies residing in or resorting to their area.
Subsection (2) then lays down that the councils of county boroughs and also of London boroughs
… shall not in any case be required to provide accommodation for more than fifteen caravans at a time".
In addition to that, the Minister—I suppose it is now the Secretary of State—can give an exemption to a county borough or a London borough from this requirement to provide up to 15 caravan sites. I have assumed in studying that Act—perhaps the noble Lord can either correct or confirm my assumption—that the power of the Minister to give exemption means not merely that he has power only to exempt a local authority entirely, but to say, "If there is insufficient space for 15 caravans, you can provide for ten." That seems to be reasonable, because there is no obvious reason why he should have a power to give complete exemption but not a power to give partial exemption.
§ Under Clause 185 of this Bill, county boroughs will disappear, and the provision that county boroughs should not be required to provide more than 15 caravan sites has been changed so that the same requirement applies to metropolitan county districts. My noble friend Lord Avebury, who has taken a great interest in gipsies, observed that there are metropolitan county districts which embrace more than one county borough. There are only four of them—Merseyside District (a), which embraces Bootle and Southport; Merseyside District (e), which embraces Birkenhead and Wallasey; West Midlands District (d), which embraces Worley and West Bromwich and West Yorkshire District (d), which embraces Dewsbury and Huddersfield. So the position is that, whereas in those areas at present there is a minimum requirement—unless exemption has been given—of 30 caravan sites, that will be reduced by the Bill to 15. Furthermore, the metropolitan county districts include not only these county boroughs but also land which was formerly part of the county, where the county was under an obligation to provide adequate accommodation.
§ So it appears that the hard won battle to find "pitches", as I believe they are technically called, for gipsies will be partly lost as a result of this Bill. Therefore my noble friend has put down this Amendment, which proposes that within metropolitan county districts the upper limit should be raised to 30. This may seem a rather clumsy way of dealing with only four cases, but it appears that while the Minister has power to reduce the maximum figure, he does not have 1003 power to increase it. Therefore my noble friend felt that the only way by which this point could be adequately met was by increasing the responsibility of metropolitan county districts to 30, leaving it to the Minister to give exemption in cases where it was not possible to provide for 30. It is a fairly rough and ready arrangement, but both my noble friend and I feel that this is probably the best method.
§ I know that my noble friend has been in communication with some of the organisations which represent the gipsy community and they are very much concerned at the position in some of the conurbations, particularly in Lancashire, and, I should have thought, probably in West Yorkshire as well, where there are considerable areas of land which are not built over and which are probably attractive to gipsies. In so far as that land now falls within a metropolitan county district, the requirement to provide accommodation for the gipsies would be limited under the Bill to 15 caravans in each district. Noble Lords may wonder why we do not worry about the county boroughs outside, in the non-metropolitan counties, but, of course, this is all right, because the non-metropolitan county already has the obligation under the Bill to provide such accommodation as is required. Therefore, whether they provide it within what was formerly a county borough or in other parts of the county is really irrelevant. I have tried to explain this as briefly as I can, looking at the clock, and I beg to move.
§ LORD SOMERS
There are one or two points on this subject that I should like to have cleared up, if possible. I think I should declare an interest, because we have recently been told that there are plans for a gipsy caravan site only about five minutes away from where I live. But it is not for that reason that I am speaking about this. What I should like to know is whether there is anything in the original legislation about this which specifies that the gipsies shall be true gipsies—in other words, members of the Romany population—or whether just itinerant tinkers will count as gipsies. So far as the question of non-metropolitan districts is concerned, if they are urban districts, as Epsom is, it seems to me that it is a most inappropriate place for a 1004 gipsy caravan site if they are true gipsies, for their occupation is practically entirely rural and they will not find very much work to do in a well built-up area. What is more, they will have difficulty in finding schools for their children if they want their children to go to school; and they will find that the shops in such a district are extremely expensive, whereas I should think that probably they would want to find cheap ones. I should have thought that the most suitable place for them would be in the rural areas; but, of course, I have not any idea as to what the original legislation on this is, so I leave it to the noble Lord who is to reply to make that clear.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Perhaps I might answer the noble Lord straight away, in case the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has not got the answer beside him. The definition is:'gipsies' means persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin, but does not include members of an organised group of travelling showmen, or of persons engaged in travelling circuses, travelling together as such.So it does include, I think, what the noble Lord described as tinkers, but it does not include travelling showmen.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I think that, on the whole, it would be better to stick to the discussion on the Amendment of the Local Government Bill, rather than to the Caravan Sites Act 1968 or the problems of establishing a site at Epsom. On the question of the effect of this Bill on the provision required from the county boroughs in the new metropolitan counties, I have had a long conversation with the noble Lord's noble friend on this subject and have explained to him exactly what the effect should be. We were able to do it with the help of maps. It is going to be a little more difficult for me to give the same explanations to the Committee, but I shall seek to do it.
The fact of the matter is that the new metropolitan districts which will, as it were, inherit and take over the responsibilities in this field, as in many other fields, from the county boroughs that are within the boundaries of the new metropolitan counties. The provision required from the new districts in the new metropolitan counties will be for 510 pitches for gipsies, whereas previously their responsibility ran to only 480. 1005 So I think the Committee will see that, as a result of these changes, the gipsies in the metropolitan counties will be better off, not worse. For instance, in Greater Manchester there will be nine metropolitan districts where there were previously eight county boroughs. The provision for which they are responsible is 135 pitches in place of 120, but in addition to that I can tell the Committee—and this goes for some other authorities—that Manchester City itself, in making provision for their gipsies, have provided a site with 20 pitches, which is five more than they are statutorily required to provide, and to that extent the provision will be greater than the 510 that I have just mentioned.
Furthermore, a number of other authorities have been able to satisfy my right honourable friend that the provision required of them is not needed because they have been able to show (and the Gipsy Council have agreed) that there were not sufficient gipsies resorting to their particular area to require provision. In view of these facts, it would be unreasonable to accept an Amendment which would have the result of the districts that make up the metropolitan counties having to provide no less than 1,020 pitches, which would be one-third of all the gipsy families for whom provision has to be made in the whole of the country. We should be laying upon the metropolitan counties—where, as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said, it is hardest to find suitable sites for these nomadic people—the duty of providing for one-third of all the gipsy families that have to be provided for. I hope the Committee will accept that under the provisions of the Bill and the changes effected among the county boroughs in the process of their becoming districts of the metropolitan counties, the gipsies are not worse off but better off; and that it is not necessary to increase the burden of responsibility on the metropolitan districts to the extent of providing 1,000 pitches where up to now they have had a responsibility for providing only 180.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am obliged to the noble Lord for the explanation. I should not wish to press this Amendment any further. I would say only this. The noble Lord spoke of the present commitment of the areas which will become metropolitan county districts, but it did 1006 not seem to me that he took account of the fact that within those areas part of the county's liability might be provided. But as he says, if there is not the demand in these areas for more than the number of people he described, it is clear that the position is satisfactory and I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 185 agreed to.
§ Clause 186 [Education]:
§ 9.17 p.m.
BARONESS BACON moved Amendment No. 103:
Page 140, line 9, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
("(1) The local education authority shall be outside Greater London the county council").
§ The noble Baroness said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name and in those of some of my noble friends. I am sorry that this Amendment, which is a far-reaching one, is being discussed at a time when so few noble Lords are able to be in their places. The effect of the Amendment is to transfer the reponsibility for education from the Metropolitan district councils to the Metropolitan county councils. Throughout the whole of this Bill the Government have been arguing with two voices. They have been arguing one way for the Metropolitan counties and another for the non-Metropolitan counties. It seems a long time ago—for we have been sitting here for so many days on this Committee stage—since some noble Lords were moving Amendments to give powers to Southampton and Portsmouth to manage their own education systems instead of those being left in the new county of Hampshire. Yet the Government resisted those Amendments and so left the new county of Hampshire as an education authority, even though it has a population of 1½ million.
§ At the same time as the Government were resisting those Amendments and were making big education authorities in Hampshire, Kent and other places, in the North of England the industrial areas of the North were split up into small local education authorities, some of 200,000 and several of below 300,000. As I said during the Second Reading, what was the West Riding county area has now gone 1007 fourteen different ways. But it is not a problem only for the West Riding; there is the same position in Lancashire, in the North East of England in Durham and in parts of Northumberland. I know that the Government will say that in every case these districts included a small county borough which hitherto has been a separate education authority. I admit that that is so; but still these authorities in the industrial areas in the North will be smaller and poorer than any others in the rest of the country. I believe that several of these districts are too small and too poor, having regard to their rateable value, to give the children of their areas the same facilities and opportunities as those children in the bigger and more prosperous counties. This is not a question of good or bad authorities. I know that all education committees are good and devoted to their work. Also there are devoted teachers and staff. But, with the best will in the world, can they provide an adequate education service?
§ I do not say that "big" necessarily means "good". But neither do I accept that a big organisation is impersonal and ineffective because of its size. I believe that in education there is a certain size for local education authorities below which it is less likely that an authority will provide adequate opportunities for children, and many people agree with this. The Department of Education and Science, giving evidence to the Redcliffe-Maud Commission, said that an education authority, to be viable, should have a population of at least 500,000 and that they would accept a figure of 300,000 in a sparsely populated area. The Association of Education Committees gave evidence that in their opinion the minimum should be a population of 400,000 and the County Councils' Association gave evidence that the minimum should be 500,000.
Recently noble Lords will have received a communication from the County Councils' Association asking them to vote for this Amendment. They say they hope that noble Lords will support the Amendment which, by making metropolitan county councils responsible for education, would avoid the unfortunate proliferation of education authorities within continuous built-up urban areas whose particular need is an all-encom
passing educational approach. There was also a survey carried out by the Department of Education and Science for the Redcliffe-Maud Commission. Chapter IV, paragraph 131, of the Commission's Report says:
The Department told us in its written evidence that it had made an assessment of every local education authority outside Greater London. The general conclusion had been that the best authorities were among the largest, the worst among the smallest, and that between the best and the worst efficiency was broadly related to size.
In paragraph 132 it went on:
Very broadly the findings of the survey were that the least efficient education authorities were concentrated among those with populations of less than 200,000; that most authorities with populations ranging from between 200,000 and 250,000 to around 500,000 provided an acceptable standard of services or higher; and that the best average performance of any single group of authorities came from those with populations of around 500,000 and upwards.
This, then, is the expert opinion as given to the Redcliffe-Maud Commission.
§ If we look at what is happening in the South, the East and the West and in most of the Midlands, we see that this Bill puts together big and prosperous local authorities to form education authorities. Leicester is combined with Leicestershire. We have a big authority in Kent. Yet in the Northern Industrial areas, not sparsely populated, we have this proliferation of small and poor local authorities who will be at a great disadvantage. Why do I say that they will be at a great disadvantage? I wish to be as brief as I can because the hour is late, but I could say much more about this. First, there are the specialist services which can be provided by the bigger authorities: specialist services for handicapped children; specialist services as organisers, as I described them in my Second Reading speech.
§ We have all had a communication from several chief education officers in smaller local authority areas. I should expect that kind of document to come from them because there is a certain vested interest in this matter. But if we look at some of the things that are said in this document, we can see how fallacious the arguments are. On Second Reading, I quoted the West Riding as having a great many organisers who could advise teachers on almost every subject 1009 in the curriculum, including music and practically every instrument of music. In this document which has been sent to us from the chief education officers of some of the smaller areas, it says that one authority has a number of organisers, but if we add together the number of organisers in a number of smaller authorities, then perhaps the smaller authorities come out better. This is a completely fallacious argument. If you have 40 local authorities each having one organiser, the children of those areas get the services of one organiser. But if you have one big authority with 40 organisers, then the children in that big authority get the services of 40 organisers. Indeed, as I said on Second Reading, it might be uneconomic for smaller authorities to provide some of these specialist services.
§ There is a double disability for these areas, because we have not to look at theory, but at practice. If we look at these smaller education authorities, metropolitan district councils in the North of England, we see that not only are they small, but they are among some of the lowest rated areas in the country. I have the figures here, but I will not quote them. The three lowest rateable value areas in the country are three of these small education authorities. The Northern counties have been so divided up that the poor have been added to the poor. The prosperous Harrogate has been taken out of the West Yorkshire metropolitan area and pushed into the North Yorkshire non-metropolitan area. We have these poor mining areas put together as education authorities. But as I said, in the South and the Midlands the prosperous counties are put with the prosperous cities.
§ There is then a treble disability, which I think is most important, and that is with regard to staffing. I am not now talking about teachers, but about the administrative staff. I believe that in the future the plum job in the educational world will be the chief education officer for Hampshire. And chief education officers are most important: they make all the difference between what is happening to education in a particular area. But what is going to happen to poor, small authorities? District councils of 200,000 will be competing for chief staff with the very prosperous and big authorities like Hampshire, Kent, Leicestershire 1010 and others. These smaller authorities will stand no chance in the competition for good staff. Already some of the architects and senior staff from the North of England are busy applying for new jobs. But they are not applying for jobs in the district councils. They are first of all applying for jobs in Hampshire, Kent, Devon and places of that kind. I believe that the best of the staff will go to the bigger areas, and we shall have the small, impoverished district councils not only having this disability of being small and poor, but also of not getting the best staff.
§ Even within each metropolitan county there are certain inequalities, because some of the districts are three times the size of others. There has been a document published by Mr. George Taylor entitled The Threat to Northern Education. It has been alleged in some quarters that Mr. George Taylor has exaggerated the position. I happen to know him well, because for some years he was the chief education officer for Leeds, and I do not know of anybody more moderate in his views and less given to exaggeration. He wrote this pamphlet for a body which has been formed called The Campaign To Save Education in the Conurbations. I am not a member of this body and have no vested interest in it, but according to the notes with which the Government have provided us it is said that those taking part in the campaign include Lord Boyle, Professor Donnison, Sir Ronald Gould, Lady Plowden and Professor Vaizey—a formidable list, and again not a list of people given to exaggeration so far as educational matters are concerned. They are all people who have been vitally concerned with education.
§ I have said that the Government speak with two voices. Actually they speak with three, because in addition to the White Paper issued by the Government on the Reform of Local Government in England and Wales there is another document on the Reform of Local Government in Scotland. I know this refers to Scotland and we are discussing England and Wales, but it is the same Government who have produced the Scottish Paper as produced the Paper on England and Wales.1015
§ from the principles underlying this Bill. They went for unitary authorities. The Committee would do well to remember that. I am sorry the noble Lord has intervened on this Amendment in the way he has, because I thought my noble friend Lady Bacon had made a very powerful case. This question needs to be asked because it needs to be answered: What is the advantage of the Government's present proposal? What is the advantage for children? I have an idea there is too much thinking about the powers to be enjoyed by the different levels of local authority. There is too much thinking that we ought to give this power to the metropolitan district councils in order, as it were, to give importance to their position in the sphere of local government.
§ All that matters in this present issue is what is best for children. How can anyone justify the breaking up of the service of education into small compartments in the areas indicated by my noble friend Lady Bacon? What is the need for breaking up the services of education in those compact urbanised conurbations? What advantage will there be to children? It will possibly mean that children living on one side of a street will be subject to one education authority and that children on the other side of the street will come under the service of another education authority. What different principles will they bring into operation? Will the services of education in the non-metropolitan district councils be different? Will they be so varied?
§ Let us recognise the fact that coming as they do under one education authority in the areas mentioned by my noble friend the children enjoy education based on the same principles at primary and secondary level where authorities have developed existing specialised services. This proposal is a breakdown in control and means considerably increasing the cost of running the services. One cannot duplicate the number of chief education officers without substantially increasing the cost of the service. Anyone who has had experience of what has happened in the Greater London area is well aware of this. Not only is the financial impact felt in the areas so dealt with, but there is a washback in the surrounding areas. I 1016 speak from some experience of what has happened in Surrey and in that part of Surrey taken from Surrey County Council.
§ My noble friend has dealt with the difficulty of running the full range of specialist services to meet the needs of children suffering from one or another handicap. Would anyone pretend that a specialised service is the better for being run by smaller authorities who have to work together rather than by a large authority which can provide the whole range? If I may say so, I think there is a lesson to be learned here from what has happened in London. I cannot see any cause for regret; indeed, quite the opposite. I see cause for pleasure that the Inner London Area Education Authority has prevailed. I believe it offers in this country pioneering leadership. Unless the Government change their mind, I believe that in the areas vitally concerned by this Amendment the service of education will suffer. That means that children in the area will suffer. I hope that the Government will have second thoughts. Speaking quite personally, unless the Government show a willingness to think about this matter again I should not be at all disappointed if my noble friend pressed the Amendment to a Division.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
Noble Lords may not be surprised that I violently disagree with the County Councils' Association on this subject and with the noble President thereof. The Amendment does not seek to break up education authorities but to join them together. I do not think it right at this stage that we should seek to demote the authorities of great cities which have been education authorities for so long, such as Leeds and Newcastle. They have been extremely successful. I do not think that in these circumstances such a course would greatly assist or lead to greater efficiency. There is a danger that an education authority can become too large and thus become remote from the people who are using the service. Although of course the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, was right in saying that children are the important people in this matter, I think he forgot that parents are very nearly as important and accessibility to people who run the service is something which we must not 1017 forget. As a final suggestion, could not responsibility for ordinary education up to school-leaving age be a district function, and that for further education in due course become a metropolitan function?
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
This Amendment refers to the areas of the six new metropolitan counties, which will range in population from about 1¼ million people to nearly 3 million, and the effect of the Amendment would be to make each of these very large metropolitan authorities the sole local education authority for their area. I would ask your Lordships to consider clearly that the new metropolitan counties are not, I submit, the same as the new counties outside the metropolitan areas. In a way it seems to me that the Bill creates four different sorts of authority, for in character and in size metropolitan counties differ from the non-metropolitan counties and in turn the metropolitan districts differ quite fundamentally in character and in size from the non-metropolitan districts. For this reason, I submit that the placing of functions within the metropolitan counties really cannot be tackled on exactly the same basis as the placing of functions in the non-metropolitan counties.
May I remind the Committee of paragraph 13 of the Government's White Paper, which said:The Government obviously must seek efficiency, but where the arguments are evenly balanced judgment will be given in favour of responsibility being exercised at the more local level.So the Government's conclusion for the six metropolitan areas, ranging from 1¼ million to nearly 3 million in population, was that it was the districts within those areas which really ought to have responsibility for education. The basic reason for this conclusion is that which has just been put forward by my noble friend Lord Ridley, that the metropolitan counties really are too large, whereas we submit that the metropolitan districts are reasonably compact localities, all substantial enough in terms of resources.
On Second Reading, the noble Baroness asked what advice my right honourable friend had received generally on this matter, and she touched on this again this evening. At the request of the Redcliffe-Maud Commission the Depart- 1018 ment conducted a survey of authorities outside Greater London—and I am referring to the second survey carried out in 1967 through the Inspectorate, the findings of which are produced as Appendix 2 of Volume III of the Redcliffe-Maud Commission's Report. I think it is fair to say that the three main conclusions were these: that factors other than size affect the performance of the L.E.A.s; secondly, that good authorities can be found in all size ranges but the weak ones are all below 100,000 population and other less acceptable authorities are all below 200,000; and, thirdly, that although the probability of a good education authority increased with its size, the conclusion of the Commission was that there was no such thing as the "right size" for any local government service. But the noble Lord's colleagues gave as their guideline that an authority responsible for education and personal social services should have a minimum population of about 250,000 and a maximum population of 1 million. In all fairness, I must say that I do not accept the thesis propounded by the noble Baroness that whereas the minimum ought to be looked at with close attention, really the maximum does not matter.
I do not have to draw on the imagination of your Lordships in any great degree to ask your Lordships to envisage the difficulty in terms of communication for people—for parents—for matters concerning the family when the size of the authority passes the 1 million mark. Of the metropolitan counties two are approaching 3 million, West Yorkshire tops 2 million, and Merseyside, South Yorkshire and Tyne-Wear are way over the 1 million mark. If the 36 metropolitan districts assume responsibility for education, 22 will have populations of over 250.000. As my noble friend Lord Ridley said, some are enormously bigger than this—and he enumerated Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, and of course there are also Sheffield and Bradford. Eight will have populations of between 200,000 and 250,000 and the remaining six, it is perfectly true, will be just under the 200,000 mark, of which five are already local education authorities. I think it is worth mentioning that the average population of these 36 metropolitan district authorities will be about 328,000, which compares to a present
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ BARONESS BACON
Nothing that I have heard during this debate convinces me that my Amendment is wrong. I must say that I was rather surprised to hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, because his Report was quite different from this Local Government Bill. His Report was based on unitary authorities, whereas in this Bill we have the two-tier system and we have the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.
§ LORD REDCLIFFE-MAUD
I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I did not want to interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, when he made the same remark, but of course we are here only discussing the metropolitan areas, and in our Report we did not make the proposal of unitary authorities for the metropolitan areas. We proposed two levels and that education should be at the second level; and that is in fact what the Bill proposes for the metropolitan areas this evening.
§ BARONESS BACON
That may be, but I think the noble Lord will also admit that there was a considerable minority in his Committee who would not have agreed with that proposal. However, I was sorry, too, that he raised the question of my noble friend Lady Serota, who, had she been here, would have been making a speech in support of this Amendment; she was very keen on it indeed.
The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, referred to the fact that the metropolitan counties were very big, and he mentioned the figure of three million population, which I think applies to only one of them. But, of course, the Government have divided the country into these areas without reference to the functions they have to perform, and the fact is that the metropolitan county of South Yorkshire, which is to be divided into districts for educational purposes, has fewer population than the non-metropolitan county of Hampshire, which is to be an education authority. This really is most inconsistent. Under this Bill we are going to have local education authorities with populations varying from 200,000 to 1½ million, and that seems to me quite unnecessary. If it had been in the sparsely populated areas there 1024 might have been some excuse for it, but we are talking about the industrial areas of the North of England, Lancashire, Yorkshire, the North East and the Birmingham area—not sparsely populated areas but built up conurbations. That is why they have been made into the metropolitan counties.
The noble Lord talked about advice. I did not, in fact, mention any advice that I had received. I referred only to the evidence given by the Department of Education and Science to the Redcliffe-Maud Commission. But, as regards advice, I know that just over two years ago, when I was at the Department of Education and Science, the advice I was then receiving from the experts was that if we were to have non-metropolitan and metropolitan counties, education should be in the top sphere of the metropolitan county and not in the districts, and I should be very surprised indeed if those experts had changed their opinions so soon after the advice I was given.
I found the last part of the noble Lord's speech about finance most interesting. He said that when extra money was forthcoming the Government would have it in mind to give some of these local authorities extra finance. It is not only that these local authorities are small. I have here a list of those local authorities who are £6 or more below the national average in rateable value. While Hertfordshire has a rateable value of £62 per head, there are three at the bottom of the list, Dewsbury and Huddersfield with £30 one of those already quoted; Halifax with £29 rateable value per head; and Barnsley with £29 per head. Every one of those three at the bottom of that list are to be district education authorities under this Local Government Bill. At a future date we shall need to know a little more about the financial help which those very small and poor local authorities are to get.
I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, when he says that there is very little for the metropolitan counties to do. Someone told me recently that he was at a Party committee when they were considering nominations for the new local government areas. This was in the metropolitan county areas. While there was great competition to be a candidate for the district council, nobody wanted to 1025 be a member of the metropolitan county council. This was not because of inaccessibility—they were very near the centre—but simply because the men and women who would normally be elected to these authorities considered that there was going to be so little for the metropolitan counties to do.
I should have thought that this great service of education would have been quite naturally put in the metropolitan county area. I am not very impressed with the prospect of having joint committees of district councils for this, that and the other. How ridiculous to make small local authorities, and then have joint planning authorities for specialist 1026 services for this, that and the other, when it could all be done much better by making the metropolitan county the education authority! We have listened to what the noble Lord has said, and we do not find it very convincing. We will carefully study what he has said, and we hope to return to this subject at a later stage in the Bill, when we shall no doubt have a longer debate, a debate which is better attended, and with a Division at the end of it. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment, but on the understanding that we shall return to it at a later stage in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1031
§ demanding the same treatment—Norwich, Nottingham and so on. One could go through a whole list, and Stoke would be one of them. So I think I can assure the noble Lord that, whatever time of the day or night he had made his speech, I should still have been quite unable, for the reasons that I have given, to accept this Amendment. I think all of us would recognise that Stoke, just as many of the other county boroughs that exist at the moment, has amply fulfilled its duties in the past as a county borough with responsibility for education and social services, and would fully recognise the tributes paid by the noble Lord to those achievements. But it really does strike at the root of the Bill to suggest that a non-metropolitan district shall be an education or social services authority.
§ So far as I know, there has been no dispute that both the education authority and social services are correctly placed in the non-metropolitan counties as county powers. The noble Lord referred to Clause 100. Under that clause agency arrangements are possible, but specifically not in the cases of education and social services but that does not mean to say that a county which is responsible for education and social services cannot make arrangements which result in delegation of functions. The clause enables an authority to delegate functions to its officers and there is nothing to prevent the establishment of area or district offices nor of advisory committees such as are permitted under Clause 101(4). If the noble Lord were to read the debates about Portsmouth and Southampton he will see that I cannot possibly give way on this Amendment. The best that I can do is to suggest to him that there are powers for the delegation of functions which may go some way towards meeting his requirements.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
I thank the noble Lord for his reply. I should like to make it clear to noble Lords who may live in Stafford that despite my appeal for the city of Stoke-on-Trent and the social services and education there, I do not wish to pour scorn on or to underestimate the value of the work that has been done by the education committee of the county of Stafford. In view of the reply and of the fact that possibly some 1032 formula can be found by co-operation to enable some of the social services (and I am thinking particularly of libraries and of clearing the tips of that area) to be looked upon as special local functions through agency work, I think that the wisest thing is to thank the noble Lord and to beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 186 agreed to.
§ Clause 187 agreed to.
§ Schedule 22 agreed to.
§ Clause 188 [Reserve powers of county councils in relation to housing]:
LORD ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 103B:
Page 142, line 7, after ("council") insert ("or councils").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment 103B and, with permission, would speak to Amendment No. 103C at the same time. They are simple drafting Amendments. Clause 188(2) deals with requests by a district council or district councils. The second half of the clause does not at present adequately reflect the case of the district councils.
§ Amendment moved.
§ Page 142, line 9, after ("council") insert ("or councils").—(Lord Aberdare.)
§ LORD ABERDARE
The effect of this Amendment is to lay on the Secretary of State a statutory obligation to consult those district councils which appear to him to be concerned with the exercise of county council reserve housing powers in any particular case before he gives his consent or approval. Under the subsection the powers cannot be actuated without his consent or approval, and so the Amendment ensures that the interested districts will always be fully consulted by the Government before the county council can go ahead. I beg to move Amendment No. 103D.
Page 142, line 15, leave out from beginning to ("may") in line 17 and insert ("The Secretary of State shall not give his consent under subsection (2) above or his approval under subsection (3) above except after consultation with those district councils who appear to him to be concerned and any such consent or approval").—(Lord Aberdare.)
§ 10.31 p.m.
BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 104:
Page 142, line 36, at end insert:
("(7) The council of a county may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, undertake the provision of such housing accommodation as may be required to enable that council to carry out the social service functions of the council.")
§ The noble Baroness said: Once more I must express our great regret that my noble friend Lady Serota is absent on business of the House and is not able to move this Amendment which was put on the Marshalled List at her request. I think that is of some significance, because my noble friend was a member of the Seebohm Committee and also is one of the most experienced persons in your Lordships' House in these matters of local government. Therefore any Amendment which she particularly urged is, I think, one to which we should pay considerable attention. I had some talk with her before she left for the United States and she asked me to move the Amendment. It is plain from what she told me that the noble Baroness is much concerned about the efficacy of the reserve powers in relation to housing bestowed on the county councils in Clause 188. No one would quarrel with the intention of the Government in giving county councils these reserve powers, because, in spite of all we have heard about the necessity of having education, social services and housing in one tier where the metropolitan districts are concerned, when it comes to the non-metropolitan counties we have the separation of functions in the two-tier system and the social services as well as education are at county level and the housing provisions at district level.
§ The noble Baroness, Lady Serota, was concerned not only because of the great discussion which went on among members of the Seebohm Commission to 1034 which I will refer in a moment, but also because of her own experience in local government. She related to me a particular case which had impressed her very much in which, because there was a complete lack of understanding between the housing authority, on the one hand, and the social welfare on the other, there rose a situation where the housing authority, for reasons which seemed good to themselves, were evicting a family. This family included no fewer than nine children, and the expense on public funds which would have ensued had the eviction been carried out was out of all proportion to the amount of rent arrears which was the reason why the family was to be evicted. Not only that, but the housing authority, having no responsibility for anything other than the tenancy aspect of the family, did not take into account that had the eviction taken place the husband would have had to live in one place, the wife in another, the eldest son in a third and the remaining eight children divided between three different local authority homes; so the effect on the family would have been disastrous. In fact, because of the intervention of my noble friend, this did not happen, and, under great pressure, the housing authority was finally persuaded to put the family into a large flat. A rent guarantee was given, in this case by the London County Council, as I think it still was at that time, and so the housing authority were prepared to take that step.
§ I had a similar case—not quite on such a vast scale as nine children—just before I ceased to be the Member for the East Flintshire Division, in which a housing authority, one of the district authorities in the constituency, was faced, I admit, with a difficult tenant. He insisted on keeping bees and he was possibly mildly eccentric in other respects, but he was a completely harmless man, with a wife and four children. Nothing that I could do would persuade the housing authority not to evict him because he refused to stop keeping bees. It sounds funny in a way, but it was very serious, because what happened was that the man on eviction moved to Liverpool; he failed to keep a job and went on to supplementary benefit; his wife was so upset by the whole occurrence that she went into a mental hospital, and the four1039
§ the housing authority on the other, and one could not succeed. I tried for two years to do this. I doubt whether the noble Lord himself could succeed. A housing authority may be determined that for various reasons, it does not like particular tenants. But although it has no further responsibility for them, it appears to me that there should be some statutory obligation to consult and not just to say, "We hope you will get on together".
§ LORD ABERDARE
I know the difficulties. At least in the new arrangement the housing authority will be responsible for housing the homeless, so in effect they will have a continuing responsibility and should be able to discharge it. Where there are social inadequacies or illness, where social services departments come into it, one can only hope for liaison and consultation. Another hope one can express is that with fewer and stronger districts in the future the problems will be successfully overcome. It is important in our view that the two functions should be kept separate. It should be clearly defined that the county should perform the social services function and the non-metropolitan district should fulfil the housing function, and every effort should be made to avoid difficulties between the two. Certainly we should not wish to accept an Amendment which allowed the blurring of the clear definition of the two functions. I hope that the noble Baroness will agree not to press this Amendment, and that the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, will accept that this is a satisfactory answer. May I finally say that I was including London in the 20 million. I now have the figures: the metropolitan counties 12 million, and London, 7½ million.
§ 10.50 p.m.
THE EARL OF BALFOUR
I wonder whether I may say a few words here because I have had exactly the same problems in Scotland of people being evicted out of their council houses, and in the last 12 months I have so much admired the really magnificent work that has been done by the local welfare officers. This is a case where we have three or four counties combined together with the one social welfare organisation dealing with that area. In some cases, with 1040 some of the worst problem families, where they literally have not bothered even to pay the rent or anything else, the social welfare officers have virtually taken over the council houses in which they are living and have taken these rather unfortunate problem families completely under their wing, with our blessing as a local authority, and things seem to be working out very well.
It is worth reminding your Lordships that the 1965 Rent Act expressly exempted local authorities from its provisions of security of tenure for any of their tenants. On the whole this was right; we are dealing with public money. But there are occasions when a local authority has to set an example. I can well remember that we had a complicated case where 17 people were living in a three-apartment house. Naturally, we had to evict the lot to get something done. Equally, I know of another case where a man evicted his wife and two children because he got fed up with them—which of course he could do, unfortunately—and the next day we were able to evict him and reinstate the wife and two children.
I hope that I can allay many of the fears of the noble Baroness, Lady White, over this matter by saying that I have been most deeply impressed by the work of the local welfare officers. They really are helping in a far better way than has ever been done before in problems we have in all types of housing. The efforts they have made, and the arrangements they are making, for keeping an eye on problem families are something for which they deserve the highest credit. Unfortunately, much of their very excellent service is not fully known even to some of the smaller authorities. This kind of work is available and they are there, but they must be called in. Often a welfare officer cannot take action in trying to bring a family under control unless there is some court action. It may be for Wee Willie throwing a stone through a window or his non-attendance at school. Possibly your Lordships who have local authority experience may find that you have virtually to go through the procedure of taking a family to court for, say, failure to pay rent or for some such matter before the welfare officer can really step in and take action; otherwise it is an infringement of one's private life. I hope 1041 that I have explained the position to your Lordships. This is the position as I understand it.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
The intervention of the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, causes me to say that the kind of remarks he has been making are the reason for disquiet on this side. If a housing authority feels itself forced to take action to evict a family, what happens to the children? They have to be taken into care. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, suggested that there was no difficulty and it was not a difficult matter to get cooperation between the first-tier authority and the second-tier authority. I wonder why it is that the Government see that there is necessity to give reserve powers to county councils if district councils ask them to take action, but are unwilling to see the advisability of giving the county councils the reserve power to build where they are satisfied and can satisfy the Secretary of State that the district council is not providing housing to meet social need.
As your Lordships know, I live in Surrey and I suppose few people would imagine that we have a considerable problem of homelessness there. In point of fact we do and we never come anywhere near taking into temporary accommodation all the families that make application. Having got them into temporary accommodation the problem is how to get them into permanent accommodation. I must say that in regard to most of the district authorities the county council can get co-operation, but from a number of district councils we cannot get the degree of co-operation we should like to have. I know that this is the kind of problem with which my noble friend Baroness Serota is deeply concerned. I hope that we shall have a really authoritative statement before this Bill has completed all its stages so that we can be satisfied that children will not need to be taken into care because no accommodation is available for the family as a family unit.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I must confess that while I may be dewy-eyed I was a little disappointed in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy. I can remember many years ago, when county councils did have default powers, 1042 an occasion when a district council so neglected its duties that the county council, of which I was a member, had to threaten to use default powers. Indeed, if it had not been due to the outbreak of war we would have had to put them into operation to get the housing conditions thought to be necessary in one part of our county area where they were very bad. That was a very long time ago. It was nearly 40 years ago. Since then there has been quite a different outlook on the part of almost everybody. I feel that the time when that sort of power was necessary has long passed, and I should not like to see introduced into the Bill some form of clause which I think is no longer necessary and referring to long dead conditions which I do not think will recur.
§ LORD REDCLIFFE-MAUD
I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, will confirm or deny the interpretation of subsection (3) of Clause 188. I read it myself as being different from subsection (2), which starts with the words:If requested to do so by the council of the district,…I thought subsection (3) had no such words, but at the beginning it says:With the approval of the Secretary of State given on an application… by the council of the county…Am I wrong in thinking that under subsection (3) the county can undertake provision of housing accommodation in any manner in which the council of the district might do so?
§ LORD ABERDARE
That is perfectly correct. Under subsection (3) there is a reserve power. The other reserve power is under subsection (2), "when requested by the district". It is perfectly true that there is a third subsection which gives the council of the county the right to undertake provision of housing accommodation in the same manner as the council of a district do so with the consent of the Secretary of State. So the power is there, but I think it is very much in reserve and one would hope would not be activated too often.
§ Health (Scotland) Act 1960 provides for the welfare of certain patients suffering from mental disorder who are in a hospital or nursing home in Scotland. Such patients may include those under the guardianship of a local authority in England or Wales under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1959 (which applies in England and Wales) or those in cases where the nearest relative has been transferred under the Act of 1959 to a local authority.
§ The Scottish Act of 1960 refers to local health authorities, but in England and Wales the functions in question have now been assumed by local social service authorities under the Local Social Services Act 1970. So the words "local health authority" are accordingly to be replaced wherever they appear in the Act of 1959 by the words "local social service authority"—that is, in paragraph 9 of Schedule 23. This Amendment merely tidies up the matter. If it were not to be inserted the Scottish Act of 1960 would continue to refer to local health authorities in England and Wales. I do not suppose that this would cause any practical difficulty, but it would mean that the Scottish Act was not strictly in accordance with the expressions now used in English law. I am sure it would be better if we made this very small Amendment which does not affect Scottish law.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 23 agreed to.
§ Clause 190 [Police]:
§ 11.14 p.m.
LORD CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 105:
Page 145, line 12, after ("counties") insert ("or parts thereof").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this Amendment I start by saying that having heard the Second Reading arguments and submissions by the noble Lord, Lord Saint Oswald, I rather feel that I have not very much to say. But I must say that I am sorry he should have been kept here for all these hours on his birthday. It is getting a little bit late to wish him "happy birthday", but what I can do is 1048 to wish him a happy outcome of this Amendment which I am about to move.
§ As the Committee may know from my Second Reading speech, I strongly favour the interposition of a stage of government between the central Government and the county councils. Indeed, I believe that this will follow from the Report of the Crowther Commission although I must admit to having no advance knowledge of what the Commission will recommend. But, if that does happen it would be a step in the logical progression from the county police authorities to the creation of larger police authorities under the Police Act, 1964, and on to the regional police force.
§ The amalgamation that took place under the 1964 Act, as Mr. Roy Jenkins said in 1966, came about with the single object of securing the efficiency and wellbeing of the police service. There is in this country a very strong objection to the creation of a national police force, and I have considerable sympathy with that point of view; but I must admit that I would have no objection at all to the creation of regional police forces under the control of elected regional authorities, such as I think will follow Crowther. Indeed the more we see of the activities of the criminal element in our society and the more they make use of the products of modern technology, the greater the need for a force with a wider area of operation and possessing equipment to at least outmatch that of the criminals. If that is to be the future of the police force, this is certainly not the time to interfere with the existing set-up, which has only just been settling down to the system created so recently as the period following 1966 and the Act of 1964. To subject it again to a major upset in a few short years would be a move that ought to be avoided. So many police officers and their families have just undergone the upheaval that we must if possible avoid asking them to do so again as the result of this Bill.
§ As your Lordships know, this Bill proposes that police forces will become coterminous in area with the new counties. Some of the forces created under the 1964 Act cross the new boundaries, and what this Amendment seeks to do by a few simple words is to make it possible for a force to cover not only a county or 1049 amalgamation of counties but also a part of a county, so that a county and a part of a county, or two counties or parts of two counties could in fact amalgamate to form a police force. The Bill itself makes provision for counties to bring about an amalgamation of two or more counties. What the Amendment proposes is that a new county or counties may join with other parts of counties and by so doing maintain the structure so very recently established. The Police Act 1964 made provision for a combined police authority to be a body corporate, and so far as I can see, under Clause 100 and Part VI of the Bill it would be possible for the new county to arrange for the discharge of its police functions by another county even if that other county undertook the function for only a part of the delegating county's area. It appears to me that that would be possible under the Bill if it were not for—and this is what I have to stress—the tight wording of the subsection we are seeking to amend.
§ I never feel that there is the slightest necessity for a Member of this House to apologise for moving an Amendment on the ground that it has been considered in the other place, both in Committee and on Report. When Ministers say that and infer that the matter is now virtually closed because it has been so discussed I am never impressed, for it is our job to look at legislation from a new standpoint. But in the case of this Amendment I feel justified in calling the attention of the Committee to the fact that on this Amendment there was a tie in Standing Committee D and only a narrow majority against it on Report. It does not seem to me that there is any need for be to expatiate further on the possible effects of this Bill, particularly on the morale of the forces, as the noble Lord, Lord Saint Oswald, is to speak in the debate. We still have in our memories the powerful speech he made on Second Reading, and I look forward to hearing him again, I was going to say "to-day" but I will say "to-night". I beg to move,
§ 11.20 p.m.
LORD SAINT OSWALD
In following the noble Lord, Lord Champion, and expressing my gratitude for the kind words he has expressed towards me, I find myself at variance with him in only one particular, having a minimal bearing on 1050 the purpose of this Amendment and no bearing at all so far as the police themselves are concerned. I am supporting this Amendment in the conviction that it will help the present Government, who have so far shown scant sympathy towards it. It will help them and any successor Governments. I am one of those who would like to see the present Administration confirmed in office again and again and entrusted with the affairs of the nation, including the maintenance of law and order. As much as anything, I should like to see my noble and scintillating friend, Lord Colville of Culross, who is to respond to this debate, continue to serve in his present office, in which service I am sure he finds great satisfaction. What baffles my comprehension is that so far, to judge by the Government's attitude in another place and the response of my noble friend Lord Aberdare, who actually called my remarks on Second Reading "harsh", he and his colleagues seem bent on making their own task needlessly harder in this important responsibility of government.
On Second Reading I shortened a speech in which I could have given a great deal of detail as to the manner in which the provisions of the Bill, as it stood and as it stands, would adversely affect West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire, but I preferred, and I still prefer, to treat this as a means of discussing a national problem rather than arguing a local issue, even as part of the whole. I will try not to repeat or expand upon what I said then, or on what the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has so eloquently said to-night. I know that what has brought the supporters of this Amendment together is a shared concern that police morale is being undermined at a time when all their faculties and resources and determination are fully stretched and needed to the full. I was struck by the information given to me recently that crime shows a national growth rate since 1961 of an annual 7 per cent. That is an average over 10 years. Would that other industries could equal this! The crime figures for the nation in 1971 were 1,646,081. On Second Reading I foresaw that the Government would argue that the police areas substantially affected by the Bill were comparatively few, but I made the point that the areas affected were the ones where crime
§ new amalgamated forces, and this is described at paragraph 8 below".
Paragraph 8 below lists the forces and expresses the hope—and I quote again:
that in these cases it will be possible to reach agreement between the existing authorities, their constituent councils and existing local authorities whose area will form part of the new force …
§ Agreement has not been in the air so far. What happens if agreement over this is not reached by the necessary date? It is far from clear why it is necessary for present police forces which will remain unaffected by the provisions of this Bill to require to become new legal entities. This is read as taking away much of the assurance of continuity in present police establishments—continuity of command and of finance, for instance—and has caused great despondency, which I hope my noble friend will be able to allay in his reply. What is the effect of this, for example, on Regulation 23, which is of such importance to individual police officers and their families?
§ In ending, I make a plea directly to the Government. It is not as if this Amendment sought to force or bind the Government in some particular course of action. The purpose of the Amendment is, somewhat exceptionally, the opposite. It is to free the Government, to loosen the clamp in which they have placed themselves. It is they, in essence, who are saying: "We, in Government, and our successors, must not, shall not, cannot depart from the formula of police boundaries being precisely coterminous, across the whole land, with local government boundaries." It is the rigidity, the self-imposed rigidity of this method which we, the supporters of this Amendment, wish to relax. We are, in effect, asking the Government to grant themselves a dispensation for their own comfort.
§ 11.36 p.m.
§ BARONESS BACON
I should have thought that the Government could accept this Amendment. My noble friend Lord Champion and the noble Lord, Lord Saint Oswald, have said that the idea at the back of this Amendment is to retain the police forces as they are for the time being. I would put it to the noble Viscount who is to reply that he could accent this Amendment, while not necessarily accepting everything which has 1056 been put forward by the two noble Lords who have spoken, because I believe there is point in this Amendment for the future of any Home Office Minister. I was one of those who helped to do the preliminary work for the amalgamation which took place from 1967 to 1969. We were often in difficulty. We wanted, for instance, to combine two county borough police forces; but because there ran between these two boroughs one small strip of county authority land we were not able to combine those police forces because of the terms of the 1964 Act. If this Amendment were accepted it would mean that no Home Secretary would be hampered in this way in any future amalgamation. So, apart from everything that has been put forward by the two noble Lords who have spoken, there is point, I think, in this Amendment.
Having said that, I think there is some point in what they have said. My noble friend began by saying that there was not much support in this country for a national police force. I am one of those who thinks that a national police force would be beneficial and I think that in the end we shall get there. There was a considerable body of opinion for this in the Royal Commission on the Police. All the arguments in the Royal Commission were in favour of a national police force; but at the end they went away from that and came down in favour of local police forces. But, as I have said, we are to have the Crowther Report. It may be that we might have regional police forces. That would make a great deal of sense.
I would see this merely as a holding operation until there were some other examination as to what is the right organisation for the police forces in this country. I have never been entirely happy about the local authority police forces. I believe that there is a good deal to be said for a regional or national police force. I think that there is a good deal of point in saying that the police forces are only just settling down after the last reorganisation. If we are to have more proposals in the Crowther Report this would mean three upheavals within a few years. I should have thought that the noble Viscount could accept this Amendment quite easily without necessarily accepting all the consequences that have been put forward by the two noble Lords who have spoken.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
I have long had great regard for the Police Federation and have friends among its leading officers. I take this Amendment very seriously. I have every sympathy with those who wish to see strength, contentment and stability in the police forces of this country; but that is one of the reasons why I believe, on balance, that it would be right to follow the Government path rather than the path the noble Baroness has just described. She spoke of the idea behind the Amendment as a "holding operation". I believe that that is the last thing one needs at this stage. There have been great police changes in the last few years stemming from the 1964 Act and I am sure we ought to try to bring about a long-term stability now in the police structural arrangements. We shall not get that long-term stability; we shall not get any certainty about the future, if we are now to have a holding operation, leaving the police to expect that there will be further changes when the Crowther Report is published. It seems to me unlikely that the Crowther Report will reorganise the police, whatever else it may do. As I say, I am intensely sorry for those police officers, mainly concentrated in Lancashire and Yorkshire, who may face considerable upheaval as a result of the change in local government boundaries brought about by this Bill, but I would put to them that what Parliament is trying to do now is to draw a local government map which will last for years. I hope it may last in its essentials for much more than the 10 or 15 years the noble Baroness mentioned, though I am sure it is right that there should be the necessary adjustments from time to time.
I would ask the police officers who are so concerned about this to bear in mind the alternatives. One is to have a holding operation with the possibility hanging over them of further changes within a short period. The other is to face those known changes now and to be able to go forward with their work with a good assurance that there will be no further structural changes in county boundaries for a considerable period. I do not believe, moreover, that one would obtain stability in the minds of policemen if they were to realise that the departure of police boundaries from local government boundaries would itself create uncertainty. If we are to continue to have local police forces—I accept the view of the noble 1058 Baroness that one day this may be an open question, but so long as we are to accept the principle of local government police forces I believe it would be unsettling if police boundaries were to become, for a long prospective period of time in the eyes of some people, different from local government boundaries. I do not believe it would be a long period; I believe the inconvenience would be found to be such that in a comparatively short time it would be deemed necessary to restore the congruance between the police and the local government boundaries. So there is no escape from change. There must be change, and I am suggesting to the Committee that it would be better to have the known changes now rather than to face the prospect of unknown changes stretching into the future.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
The noble Lord, Lord Champion, and my noble friend Lord Saint Oswald and the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, have been enticing me with dulcet temptations to accept this Amendment; and somehow I have to resist it, and if I cannot convince those noble Lords and the noble Baroness perhaps I can at any rate convince the Committee that there is a great deal in what my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor has said. Indeed, there is a great deal more that I could add, although I will try to do it briefly, and in particular by way of answer to some of the points made by my noble friend Lord Saint Oswald.
I am very much aware of the importance of this whole point about the morale of the police and the certainty that we are not reducing their effectiveness in dealing with crime. And I take very seriously the suggestion about the effect of the Bill as it stands. I do not believe that it would be so. Let us first get this into perspective. There are not very many parts of the country where the existing police authorities are going to be changed. It is true that round the new conurbations, the new metropolitan counties, it will be so. There is also a problem in the county of Avon, and there is a problem in the new county of Humberside. But otherwise the country is going to be virtually untouched and the existing situation will continue.
§ local government links of the effective sort that I believe we need, or do we abandon them with the anomalies that would flow?
§ I come to the crucial question of the individual police officer. There are three things we are now in a position to do. I entirely understand why it was that the Federation, hoping that this Amendment would be passed in another place, either on Committee or Report, did not wish to come and have converse with us on these details until quite recently. Somebody said that it was their only invitation. Well, it was, but I should have thought it was the important invitation that these matters of conditions of service should be discussed with the officials of the Home Office and, if necessary, with Ministers. But they have come now.
§ We have arrived at this position: Regulation 23 is going to be amended again. The situation is that a man who joined a borough police force cannot be moved out of the borough into a new combined force unless he agrees. Exactly the same applies where you amalgamate two county forces, say, Devon and Cornwall. A man who joined the force of Cornwall cannot be moved so that he is stationed in Devonshire, unless he agrees. That is the existing provision in Regulation 23. There is, however, a gap. Where somebody joined a county police force, say Lancashire or one of the Yorkshire constabularies, and then there is a change whereby a new police authority is created with a different area, at the moment there is no protection whereby he can rely on not being transferred unless he agrees.
§ We have been talking about this now that the Federation have come forward. There is no difficulty in amending Regulation 23, so that we can give exactly the same protection to people who join the forces now in existence so that they will not against their will be transferred away from the area of the force they joined. I believe, so far as the individuals are concerned, that that is a complete answer to this point. I appreciate that families do get upheaved from time to time. But this will prevent it happening unless the man so wishes. If he 1064 wishes to have promotion, whether it is in the future pattern or the present one, it often means a move for the man and his family, in the circumstances, whatever they may be. I believe that we have met that.
§ The second thing was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Saint Oswald. As from November 1 we are asking chief constables not to transfer from one part of their area which they are going to lose to another police officers stationed in that part. They will not be able to "cream off" or remove the people that they want against the spirit of the Regulation 23 performance that I have been mentioning.
§ There is a third thing, and this is what the Police Federation themselves have asked for; that there should be set up "guardian boards", as they call them, which are of Police Federation rank officers, who will look after the welfare of the people who come into the new combined forces—I take Humberside as an example, I have been concentrating on that. From both sides of the Humber there will be set up a new board, unofficial but important. to look after the welfare of the future officers who will be in the Humberside police authority, and at the same time—and this is extremely important—be in on the planning of the operational side of that new authority. That, again can be done without the slightest difficulty by the ordinary administrative means.
§ I believe that those three measures, which we have now been able to discuss and thresh out with the Federation, ought to go a long way indeed towards removing some of the underlying fears. I cannot pretend that there will not be upheavals in some areas: I cannot pretend there is going to be 100 per cent. satisfaction with the situation. We have done our best to mitigate the troubles. For all these reasons, and for the basic principle that I tried to outline at the beginning, I hope that the Committee will resist even the blandishments of the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, and the other two noble Lords who have spoken and will feel that we really must stick to the principle we have adopted in this Bill and must not make the Amendment they have suggested.1065
§ 12.2 a.m.
§ LORD CHAMPION
The noble Viscount said at the outset that he did not feel he could scintillate tonight. I must say he was not short of words. He has covered this Amendment pretty thoroughly. Of course, that was his job, in the circumstances of the nature and importance of the Amendment that has been moved. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said he was particularly anxious to ensure that there would be long-term stability. That is precisely what those of us who are behind this Amendment were trying to achieve. But this is all a matter of how we see the future. I do not see the future of this police force as having been rightly fitted into local government areas instead of into police areas as they are now and into regional areas as I think will inevitably come. That is the real difference between us.
I am sure that we cannot resolve this matter here tonight. Time is late. But I think that this issue is something which deserves the attention of this Committee even at this late hour. The noble Viscount told us that there are not many parts of the country where the force areas are to be changed. I can only say that there are too many for the good of the Force. This was brought out by the intervention of my noble friend Lady Bacon, who pointed to the fact that in the areas she knows well they are going to have an unnecessary upset so soon after the changes that were introduced by the 1964 Act. I am sure that I cannot persuade the Government to accept this Amendment, but I am not going to withdraw it. I will not ask the Committee to troop through the Division Lobbies at this time of night: it would be unfair to the staff and to everybody else. But I am going, so far as lies in my power, to negative the decision; that is, to try to force the issue to some extent to have what is proposed in the Bill negatived. That is all I have to say. I cannot withdraw this Amendment—I believe it is too sound, too good, to do that—but, as I say, because of the lateness of the hour I will not ask noble Lords to troop through the Division Lobby.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 190 agreed to.
§ Clause 191 agreed to.1066
§ Clause 192 [Food and drugs authorities]:
LORD CHAMPION had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 106:
Page 147, line 15, leave out ("in England")
§ The noble Lord said: Before we get on to Amendment No. 106, I wonder whether we could hear from the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who is in charge of the Bill, what his intentions are about tonight. We have spent a long time to-day—we have been sitting here since three o'clock—on this Bill. In my opinion we have been flogging willing horses and that is an unwise thing to do. Throughout the Committee stage of the Bill we have co-operated with the Government in an endeavour to ensure that they get the Bill by Friday afternoon. I think the noble Lord will agree completely on that. I have been looking through the Amendments which remain on the Marshalled List and I am very much of the opinion that if we have a reasonable period on Friday we can get through those which remain. If we did that and decided now to end the Committee sitting at this point I believe we should be reasonably fair to Members of your Lordships' House. What matters more, we should be fair to the staff which we are keeping about this place in a period when normally they would be on holiday. This seems to be something which we should take into consideration and I appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. I can assure him of at least our co-operation on Friday. Although I know that I cannot speak for everyone in this House, because this is not a Party Bill, we on this side have some say in the progress and manage to talk at great length or to move Amendments rather briefly, and I can give him that assurance. I think the noble Lord could now decide to end the Sitting at this point, on the understanding that, at least so far as we are concerned, we shall not drag out unnecessarily any discussion of Amendments in which we are interested. I hope that the noble Lord will listen to this appeal and accede to the request that this Sitting should end now.
§ LORD ABERDARE
I readily acknowledge the extremely close co-operation and help we have had and which I have had personally from the noble Lord, Lord
§ and drugs authorities outside Greater London. This has led to divergencies in enforcement and lack of uniformity in the application of these complex regulations. The result is that the consumer is not fully protected and the industry suffers much inconvenience and some unnecessary loss. The Bill, as drafted, will reduce these authorities to 44, whereas the Amendment, if accepted, would increase them again to 74 and in addition any designated non-metropolitan districts. The fourth reason that we prefer the county level is that it keeps at the same level the control of trade descriptions and the responsibility for weights and measures. I would emphasise again that the placing of this particular type of power at the county level does not affect the equally important duties of the public health inspector at the district level, in ensuring food safety and hygiene and inspecting slaughterhouses—matters which I thoroughly agree with the noble Lord are best placed at the local level.
§ It would be quite against the spirit of the Bill which we are putting before your Lordships that we should provide for non-metropolitan districts to be designated by order. We believe it is right to allocate the functions to the county or district unequivocally and allow the appropriate local authority to make such local arrangements as may be desirable for co-operation or agency arrangements. Of course, county councils have ample powers under this Bill to decentralise the administration of their services. So we believe it essential, in this very important and highly complex matter relating mainly to the enforcement of Government regulations, that the responsibility should be firmly placed at county level. I recognise that the treatment of Wales is different. I can only suggest—and the noble Lord will agree I am sure that Wales is in many ways a special case. I am pretty sure that even in Wales the cases where a district will be designated for food and drugs powers will be very exceptional, but I think there are exceptional reasons in Wales. There are certainly some former county authorities which are going to form future districts. But in England we feel that the Bill provides for the right allocation of these functions.1072
§ LORD CHAMPION
I have listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has said. I must admit that he has not said very much with which I would quarrel violently. I think there is something to be said for the Amendments I have moved, and I think also that there is a lot to be said for placing this function firmly on the county council. It is just a balance of which side you tip. I tip rather towards giving this function in certain cases to the district councils. But, having regard to the reply of the noble Lord, which I think is reasonable in the circumstances, I do not propose to take this Amendment any further. I am bound to say here that the considerations which apply to food and drugs apply also to weights and measures. And, as I would undoubtedly get the same sort of reply from the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare to the Amendments that I propose to move to Clause 194, I can give him the happy news that I do not now propose to move the Amendments I have down to Clause 194. That does not apply however, to the library clause, and I rather hope that we can begin on Friday with the library clause. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare must consider that again, of course, as the clock ticks on. I now withdraw the Amendment which I previously moved.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 192 agreed to.
§ Clause 193 agreed to.
§ 12.25 a.m.
LORD ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 113A:
After Clause 193 insert the following new clause:
§ Power to confer on district councils in Wales certain functions relating to agriculture
§ ".—(1) The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State acting jointly may make an order conferring on the council of a district in Wales, with respect to the district, the functions which, apart from the order, would be exercisable by the county council under sections 4 and 5 of the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act 1928 (cold and chemical storage of eggs in registered premises).
§ (2) The Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State acting jointly may make an order imposing on the council of a district in Wales, with respect 1073 to the district, the duty which, apart from the order, would be imposed on the county council by section 67 of the Agriculture Act 1970 (enforcement of provisions of that Act relating to fertilisers and feeding stuffs).
§ (3) The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food may make an order imposing on the council of a district in Wales, with respect to the district, the duty which, apart from the order, would be imposed on the county council by section 108(8) of the Medicines Act 1968 (enforcement of certain provisions made by or under that Act).
§ (4) If and so long as an order under subsection (1), subsection (2) or subsection (3) above confers any functions or imposes any duty on a district council in Wales, references in the enactment or enactments to which the order relates—
- (a) to the county council shall be construed as including references to that district council, and
- (b) to the area of the county (however expressed) shall be construed, in relation to the council of the county in which the district is situated, as references to the area of the county exclusive of that district.
§ (5) The power to make an order—
- (a) under subsection (1) above conferring functions on a district council in Wales, or
- (b) under subsection (2) or subsection (3) above imposing a duty on a district council in Wales,
§ shall cease to be exercisable on 1st April 1974, but an order made under any of those subsections may be revoked at any time after that date, by a further order made under the same subsection.
§ (6) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1), subsection (2) or subsection (3) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
§ (7) Notwithstanding anything in section 5 of the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act 1928, in respect of any period during which, by virtue of an order under subsection (1) above, functions under sections 4 and 5 of that Act are conferred on the council of a district in Wales, any expenses incurred under that Act by the council of the county in which that district is situated shall be treated as special expenses chargeable only on the remainder of the county.
§ (8) In any case where, by virtue of an order finder subsection (1), subsection (2) or subsection (3) above revoking a previous order under that subsection, functions conferred or a duty imposed by that previous order on a district council in Wales cease to be so conferred or imposed, anything done before the date on which the order takes effect by, to or before the district council shall have effect for the purposes of the enactment or enactments to which the order relates as if done by, to or before the county council by whom those functions become exercisable on that date or, as the case may be, on whom that duty is imposed 1074 on that date; and any proceedings under that enactment or those enactments which on that date were pending by or against the district council may be continued accordingly by or against the county council."
§ The noble Lord said: Under Clauses 192(3) and 194(3) the appropriate Ministers may by order at any time before April 1, 1974, designate a Welsh district council as a food and drugs authority and weights and measures authority respectively, as the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has just reminded us. But no such corresponding provision has been made in the Bill in respect of functions concerned with fertilisers and feeding-stuffs, medicated feeding-stuffs, the marking of preserved eggs and the cold and chemical storage of eggs. The purpose and effect of these Amendments is to make such provision so that the consistency of these closely allied consumer protective functions may be similarly allocated. I beg to move.
§ BARONESS WHITE
All I should like to say at this hour of the morning is that I do not like the idea of cold and chemical eggs, but apart from that I see no reason why we should not accept this proposed new clause.
§ Clause 194 [Local weights and measures authorities]:
THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 113B:
Page 149, line 7, leave out ("this section") and insert ("sub-sections (2) to (4) below").
§ The noble Earl said: This is a drafting Amendment. As originally drafted Clause 194 consisted of only the first four subsections, which amend the provisions relating to local weights and measures authorities in the Weights and Measures Act 1963. Since then the clause has acquired additional subsections which do other things, and reference to this section in the first line of the clause has therefore been amended to refer to subsections (2) to (4) only. I beg to move.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 121A:
Page 150, line 4, leave out ("Act 1968") and insert ("Acts 1968 and 1972").
§ The noble Earl said: The Trade Descriptions Act 1972 is also enforced 1075 by local weights and measures authorities and it is therefore necessary to include a reference to it. Paragraph (a) of subsection (6) preserves for any district council in Wales designated as a weights and measures authority the provisions of section 41 of the 1963 Act whereby the expenses incurred by the council of the county in which the district council is exercising the function shall be treated as incurred for special county purposes and that the district shall not have to contribute to the county council's expenses. This provision also applies to expenditure incurred under the Trades Descriptions Act 1968. The 1968 Act was extended by the 1972 Act and will require certain names and marks applied to imported goods to be accompanied by certification of origin. I beg to move.
VISCOUNT HANWORTH moved Amendment No. 121B:
Page 150, line 15, at end insert—
("( ) A local weights and measures authority may make, or assist in the making of, arrangements to provide advice to or for the benefit of consumers of goods and services within the area of the authority.")
§ The noble Viscount said: At this early hour I think I can move this Amendment extremely briefly. Its object was to facilitate the obtaining of finance for consumer advice centres. I say "facilitate", which is not a word I like normally, but in this particular context I think it is correct. The situation is somewhat easier since we have produced an Amendment which raises the ½p rate to 2p. So far as I know, this was the only means of financing these centres. Nevertheless, think it is desirable that one should have other methods of financing them, and also that the weights and measures people should be brought into this sort of operation if it is so desired by the council.
§ Very briefly, these advice centres are intended to give advice to consumers of all classes, from the very poorest upwards, when they are going out to buy expensive products. There are now six of them in existence, each doing extremely well, and it is thought that there will be perhaps 20 by the end of 1973. In the debate in March on consumer affairs, the noble Lord, Lord 1076 Drumalbyn, was quite keen on such centres, and he hoped that they would progress. Given more time, I was going to quote what he said, but in view of the early hour, I will leave it at that. I beg to move.
§ 12.31 a.m.
THE EARL OF COWRIE
I am only sorry that, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Saint Oswald, it is not today the noble Viscount's birthday, because the Government have great pleasure in accepting this Amendment. I recognise the growing need for consumer advice, which the noble Viscount mentioned, and take note of the encouraging response he earlier received from my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn. We recognise, too, the greater willingness by local authorities to help, and we hope that the Amendment will encourage more help to the citizens' advice bureaux and to the consumers direct.
§ Clause 194, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 195 agreed to.
§ Schedule 24 agreed to.
§ Clause 196 agreed to.
§ Clause 197 [Licensing: licensed premises, cinemas, theatres and refreshment houses]:
BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 122:
Page 154, line 36, at end insert ("provided that any person aggrieved—
§ The noble Baroness said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friends. I do so because we are very anxious that justice should be done in this Bill. By the provisions of the Bill, and particularly of this clause, we are changing the basis on which music and dancing licences are issued in the four Home Counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Kent, as your Lordships will see if you refer to subsection (7). Hitherto, it has been the county authorities who have been responsible for licensing in these 1077 areas. The county authorities do not themselves operate dance halls or similar establishments, and therefore there has not been, in these particular counties, any conflict of interest. But, under the new provisions, it will be the district councils who will be responsible for licensing functions, and a number of these councils or areas, which will be included in them and which will be effectively the district councils for this purpose, do run such establishments. They will, therefore, in the matter of licences, be in the position of being judges in their own cause. In every other part of both England and Wales, including Greater London, if there is an aggrieved party in a matter concerning licensing they can appeal to the courts, but unless we make this Amendment as I understand it in the four Home Counties concerned there is no provision for any such appeal.
§ It seems to us that if we are altering the conditions, as we are fundamentally doing in this matter in this Bill, then we ought to make provision at the same time for an appeal where there is, or could be, a grievance. I understand that there has been correspondence with the Home Office in this matter and that the Home Office attitude has been, "It is hoped that there is going to be some general legislation in the near future dealing with music and dancing and the licensing thereof, and that it will be desirable to wait for that". Quite frankly, I do not think that this is good enough. No Minister can guarantee when he is going to bring legislation forward, however keen he may be on it.
§ By this enactment we are creating a situation which will cause a grievance, so the remedy ought also to be included in this Bill. I believe that this Amendment will meet the case, because in the four counties concerned it allows an appeal to the Crown Court—an appeal which is, I would emphasise, available in all other parts of the country. Therefore, it should not be difficult for the Government to accept this Amendment. They have created a very good precedent by accepting the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, and I have every hope and expectation that they will accept this one, too. I beg to move.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
Although in this Bill, as in all others, 1078 justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done, I have just a vestige of doubt whether new appeal procedures fit very happily into the general scheme of the Bill, and I must make that reservation. As for tile rest of what the noble Baroness has said, I think there is a great deal of substance in it. I would much rather not accept this Amendment today, first, because I should like to consider the question of putting appeals to the Crown Court—which is really very foreign material—into this Bill, though it may be justifiable; and, secondly, because, as ever, drafting problems arise on this method of phraseology. Would the noble Baroness allow me to consider this before the Report stage to see whether the anomaly to which she has drawn attention most clearly is something which we ought to clear up, and can do so?
§ BARONESS WHITE
Of course it goes without saying that, as regards any question of drafting, I shall be most happy to comply with what the noble Viscount has requested. But I hope he will not be unduly inhibited by notions of tidiness when this is a question of justice being done. It may or may not seem appropriate, but if you are creating a situation which causes an injustice then you must supply the remedy and not wait till some indefinite time in the future. So I hope the noble Viscount will take that point very seriously to heart in his consideration. But with his guarantee that he will do so, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 197 agreed to.
VISCOUNT SIMON moved Amendment No. 122E:
After Clause 197 insert the following new clause:
§ House to house and street collections
§ ". The functions of making regulations under section 5 of the Police, Factories, &c. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 and of issuing licences under the House to House Collections Act 1939 shall be exercisable by district councils, and accordingly in their application to England and Wales the said section 5 and the House to House Collections Act 1939 shall have effect subject to the following modifications:—
- (a) for the words 'police authority' in each place where they occur, there shall be substituted the words district council',
- (b) for the words 'police area' in each place where they occur, there shall be substituted the word 'district', and
- (c) section 1(4) of the House to House Collections Act 1939 shall be omitted."
§ The noble Viscount said: I am moving this Amendment formally, only for the purpose of asking the noble Viscount whether he can confirm what I understand to be the case, that the Government are proposing to put down an Amendment to cope with this point at the next stage of the Bill. I beg to move.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
Yes. I do not think it will look quite like this, but in substance it will do exactly the same.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I beg to move Amendment No. 122A. From time to time I come back to my computation of time Amendments, which are attached to Amendment No. 125S. There are now four more of them.
Page 345, line 37, leave out from beginning to ("Subject") in line 43 and insert—
("8.—(1) For paragraphs 1 to 3 of Schedule 8 there shall be substituted the following paragraphs:—
'1'").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
Page 346, leave out lines 3 and 4 and insert—
(" 2. Subsection; (1) and (3) of sections 237 of the Local Government Act 1972 shall apply to the day fixed for the poll under section 66 of this Act as they have effect by virtue of paragraph I above and to the day or last day on which anything is required or permitted to be done by this Schedule as they apply to the day or the last day on which anything is required or permitted to be done by any provision to which the said subsection (1) applies, and references in subsections (4) and (5) of this section to any rules mentioned in subsection (2) of that section shall be construed as including references to any such rules as they have effect by virtue of paragraph above.")—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
Page 346, line 6, leave out ("2") and insert ("1").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
Page 346, line 11, leave out ("2") and insert ("1").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ Schedule 25, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 198 agreed to.
§ 12.40 a.m.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Before I call the next Amendment, I should point out to the Committee that if this Amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 123A.
§ Clause 199 [Public libraries and museums (England)]:
THE EARL OF CRANBROOK moved Amendment No. 123:
Page 156, line 14, leave out from (" be") to end of line 18.
§ The noble Earl said: Before I move this Amendment perhaps I may say that I heard the noble Lord opposite suggest that this clause was so important that he would wish to discuss it on Friday morning. I feel the same thing myself. Here we have two major questions of principle which it is very difficult to discuss at this very late hour in a very small Committee. I do not know what the noble Lord on the Front Bench would think about that suggestion, but it seems an unfortunate time to discuss something about which I think feelings run quite high.
§ LORD ABERDARE
I am grateful to the noble Earl. We had had conversations with the noble Lord on the Opposition Front Bench, and in our desire to be sure that we finish the Committee stage of this Bill on Friday I think it really is most important that we press on a little further. I know how important this matter is. I have some fear that, if we left it until Friday, it is so important that we might never get through the rest of the Committee stage. But I hope the noble Earl will feel it is worth while putting his points now. He will 1081 at least get the Government reply, and he can return to the matter on Report if he is not satisfied.
§ LORD CHAMPION
Those were the considerations which caused me to feel that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, was right about this. I hope the noble Earl will accept it, and that we will dispose of this Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
If both Front Benches are agreed, what is a Back-Bencher to do but to fall into line? I shall be as brief as I can, but this is quite an important matter from the point of view of the arts and sciences in this country. I would remind your Lordships that the larger museums run by the State are only one part of our museum service, and that there are also university museums, which are quite frequently opened to the public; there are local museums run by voluntary organisations, usually subsidised by a local authority; and, finally, there are the municipal museums, to which this Amendment refers. Like other organisations, the museums have an association, the Museums Association, on which are represented most of the museums in this country; and there is also a statutory body concerned with museums in the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries, which has the function of advising Her Majesty's Government on museum problems and which visits museums all round the country. I suppose that those two bodies between them know more about museums than almost any other body of people in this country. I say that with some diffidence, because I should explain that I am myself a member of the Standing Commission. I am also president of two local museums: one a municipal museum run by a county borough about to become a district; the other founded by a voluntary organisation but supported almost entirely by three county councils, two of which are to be turned into one.
Now the national museums are not only specialised in themselves—you have the Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert and the Natural History Museum as examples—but they have staff within them who are also specialised. You have your man who knows all about French Impressionists or about silver or about snails; and in each of these museums 1082 there are ancillary staff who repair pictures or deal with such finds as the Mildenhall Treasure or the Sutton Hoo boat, or taxidermists working with the Natural History Museum. Most municipal museums are maintained by bodies which cannot have more than one museum or, at the most, two, which have to cover all specialties. They have a relatively small staff who have to be jacks-of-all-trades and can only be master of one; and very few of them indeed are able to employ the ancillary staff which are necessary to maintain their collections. Yet these municipal museums have literally priceless collections of the greatest importance to the culture of this country and which desperately want properly looking after.
The difficulty is that the museums today are supported by bodies which they have grown away from. They were started in towns because it was ridiculous to try to start them in country districts. They were started in the centres of population at a time when the whole concept of museums was static. You got together collections of the materials of arts and sciences to which people went to satisfy their aesthetic longings or curiosities and the duties of the staff were practically entirely custodial. I am afraid that today most people still look upon museums as collections of curiosities and the staff as mainly people who look after them.
But this last generation has seen a tremendous growth in the work of all museums, particularly in research carried out by the staff and, inevitably in municipal museums, carried out very largely in the rural hinterland: excavations of Roman villas or Anglo-Saxon settlements, visits to the North Sea gas lines to see what is produced, the collecting of barn tools and outdated farm implements and research into the geology and natural history of the county. And that is nearly all carried out in the county around the town. County people come much more into town to look into museums, and we are beginning to get the real marriage between town and country that this Bill is supposed to promote.
All that material must be preserved for study and exhibition and the material already in the museums which, I am afraid in the vast majority of cases is rapidly deteriorating, must be looked 1083 after, too. They have very valuable material indeed" because local patriotism has been strong, local rich men have given pictures, local naturalists their collections. I do not think that there is a single local museum of all the many I have visited whose director does not tell you that he has valuable pictures which are deteriorating, and furniture and even fossils which are rapidly requiring more and more repair. I can give an example. One of the most important collections of fossils in the whole of the North of England has become virtually useless because it is so attacked by pyritism as practically to have disintegrated from lack of attention. Everywhere similar disasters are just around the corner; the average small local museum cannot justify the employment of the necessary conservational staff and the authorities concerned could not afford it if it were justifiable.
The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lee, between them have done much to encourage co-operation between museums, but it is no good trying to get co-operation in that sort of way if those who wish to cooperate cannot afford, and have not got the necessary staff, to join together in sharing. I think it quite clear that in the vast majority of cases there is not enough money to pay for it. It is equally clear that if you could get the larger resources which are available in the counties as opposed to the districts, you could start to build up the professional and ancillary staff necessary, which would make co-operation more possible in the running of the museums and the preservation of their material. What I am suggesting is that museums should be a county as opposed to a district function, and obviously if that were so the local people, the clients of the museum concerned, would gain enormously and lose nothing. Their museum would still be where it is to-day and it would be improved by the work of the additional staff which the larger resources available for running it would doubtless provide. If all the museums in a country were run as a single service the smaller ones could be vastly improved by the provision of material on loan from the larger ones to make up their deficiency. The local people would gain enormously by the burden of maintaining the museum being spread over the wider area.
1084 In my own county of Suffolk we have a municipal museum at Ipswich. If it were maintained from county funds when the few county is brought into being, only one-third of the cost would be paid by the Ipswich citizens, and they would have the same museum as they have today. In short, if you look at the museum service as a service, it is crying out for the larger resources which it could get from the county. I cannot believe it right to allow the status quo to continue, particularly when we know that valuable collections are falling into disrepair all over the country collections which, if they finally disintegrate, our grandchildren will not be able to replace because in a great many cases the material which is in those collections is unique.
As I have said, the Museum Standing Commission and the Museum Association both recommend strongly that the museum service should be a county instead of a district function. I hone that no one will say in reply that you cannot take away from the ancient "Borough of Utopia" the museum of which it is so proud, because no one is going to take away that museum. It will still be available for the citizens of "Utopia" but it will be paid for by the citizens of the whole of "Utopiashire". I hope I have said enough to show that there is a real problem here, a real lack of money for the museum services which can be met only from the larger resources of the counties, and I hope that the Government will accept the Amendment.
§ LORD STRANGE
In supporting the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, I must say that I think he is voicing what everyone else in the Committee thinks about the preservation of these relics in the counties where they were found and for the people who found them and who are interested in the counties. I hope that noble Lords will vote for the Amendment. I have been counting the number of people present in the Chamber; I feel that that there may be some noble Lords who will come in from the coffee room, and possibly from the bar, to support the Amendment and then I believe that we shall have enough to carry it. This Amendment must be carried.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I hope that we shall not be put to the necessity of going 1085 through the Division Lobbies at this hour in the morning, because I hope that the Minister will be willing to accept the Amendment. Museums are on a different footing from libraries—and we can argue the case of libraries later. But I have great sympathy with the propositions put forward by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, for rather the same reasons as one was concerned with on ancient buildings, conservation areas and so on, what seems many hours ago. This is a question of highly specialist work, where expertise over a wide range is required and cannot be available, from the nature of things, in our small authorities, or even the enlarged districts, as they will be: they will still not be able to have the sort of expertise which the noble Earl has indicated.
One is often painfully aware of the lack of resources of many local museums. This does not mean that one would in any way discourage local patronage and local interest. Quite the contrary. This is where one would hope that the county authorities would be imaginative and sympathetic in their relationship with the second-tier authorities. But that one does need something at county level in the museum service is, I think, plain to many people far more expert than I am. I do not wish to prolong the argument, because I hope that we can terminate it happily by the Minister accepting at least the sense of the Amendment.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I bow to the expertise of my noble friend Lord Cranbrook. I know that his experience in this field is very wide, and mine is very narrow. But, so far as I can see, it may be possible to meet what my noble friend wishes without accepting his Amendment. I will nut before your Lordships the reasons why I do not think the Amendment should be accepted. I understand my noble friend's point that the museum or gallery may have grown away from the locality which originally initiated it. I certainly take his point that some collections may not be receiving the care which they require. But surely this can be met in that this should be for voluntary agreements to be made in the future between the county and the district museum. After all, I think I am right in saying that Clause 14 of the Libraries and Museums Act 1964 provides precisely 1086 for authorities to help each other financially.
I know my noble friend did not wish me to say this, but it is a fact that to remove museums and galleries from district control, let alone metropolitan county control (I do not think my noble friend means that by his Amendment, but if he does not mean it, then the Amendment is defective, and I hope he will forgive me for saying so), would remove some very remarkable collections from the people who have begun them. I think there is something in this. My noble friend of course knows better than I do the Norwich Museum collection. There are also Leicester and York and countless other collections which illustrate that you simply cannot lay down hard and fast rules about museums and galleries. As my noble friend has said, they are started for a variety of reasons: it may be private benefactions or it may be local enthusiasm. There is no duty laid on authorities concerned for these things.
This, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, has said, is in direct contradiction to the situation with libraries, where there is a statutory duty to see that libraries are efficient. So we have the whole system which is set up when there is a duty to see that standards are carried out. I really would put it to your Lordships, because I know that my noble friend feels strongly about this, that this is very different from the other severe approach which he is taking in this Amendment over the power to provide museums and galleries, which I am suggesting to your Lordships can so easily be improved in the way that my noble friend wants it to be improved, by voluntary agreements.
May I just add that the Committee concerned with museums and galleries is currently sitting, and by the end of the year I hope that my right honourable friend the Paymaster General will be in a better position to give some advice on structure. However, I should make it clear to the Committee that at the moment it is the Government's view and policy to see that there should be concurrent powers for both tiers of local authorities to run museums and galleries, and it is basically for this reason—but also because I believe that the noble Lord's objective 1087 can be achieved by voluntary means—that I would beg the noble Earl not to press his Amendment this evening.
§ 1.0 a.m.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I think that whoever wrote the noble Lord's brief had very little knowledge of the way in which local government works. Of course it is true that for a very long time indeed the counties have had the power to make grants to museums and to run museums themselves. But the Department apparently has never heard of the slight jealousy which sometimes exists between counties and boroughs, and does not realise that it is very difficult to get a local authority to pay as much towards a service for which it is not basically responsible as it is to pay for a service which has been put upon it by Parliament. The best example I can think of in my own experience is the old Act under which the Poor Law was taken away from the Guardians and given to the county councils. Certainly, in my experience the benefit to the poor was enormous and the Poor Law outlook was radically changed in a way that could not possibly have been done had the counties not been given the duty of doing it, had accepted the duty and tried to perform it to the best of their ability. Had they merely been allowed to make a small grant to the Guardians, that improvement would never have taken place; and it is quite ridiculous of the noble Lord, if he does not mind my saying so, to suggest that you would get, or indeed have got, the sort of advantages which all of us who are keen on museums want to get, by just saying that it is possible for the county to subsidise the museum authorities as they exist at the moment.
A radical change in the outlook of almost everybody is going to take place after next Friday, when the Amendments put down to Schedule 30 by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, are passed. There will be a very great alteration in the financial climate of museums generally. I believe the change that those Amendments are likely to bring are being brought about already. I am led so to believe by some correspondence which I have had about these Amendments in the last few days. There is a certain county borough, the Corporation of which is 1088 exceedingly (and rightly) proud of a very good museum and is very loath to see its chances of running it possibly being taken away and given to the county. The staff of that museum are wholeheartedly in favour of my Amendment, because they believe it is the right way to manage museums in the future, and as I came into the House this afternoon I had a letter from the Member of Parliament for that area handed to me, saying that the feeling for my Amendment in this town was very strong indeed and continuing:We hope that you will not withdraw it and that it will be carried.That, I believe, is basically the feeling of most people who know about museums.
I accept what the noble Lord says, that my Amendment is badly drafted and does not do exactly what I wish it to do. I would not want to divide the Committee on an Amendment which is badly drafted, and which would be useless if it were carried. I will see that it is re-drafted so that it does exactly what I wish it to do, and I will put it down at the Report stage. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will make more inquiries of the local authority associations; and I think they will find that there is much more support for this Amendment generally than they feel at the moment. I hope that they will realize that concurrent powers will not do the trick in this case. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment on those conditions.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 1.5 a.m.
LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 123A:
Page 156, line 15, leave out from first ("councils") to ("and") in line 17 and insert ("the Greater London Council, London borough councils, district councils, the Common Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 123A, and if your Lordships agree to this Amendment I propose to move a manuscript Amendment, of which I have given notice, which will make the drafting of this part of Clause 199 correct. Amendment No 123A is designed to deal with certain anomalies; namely, the omission of the Greater London Council, and the Council of the Isles of Scilly. Among other things, this Amendment will ensure that it will no 1089 longer be the case that the only museum to which the G.L.C. can contribute is the Museum of London, which is authorised by another Statute. The Amendment will also exclude parish councils from the authorities competent to maintain and assist museums. At the moment no parish runs a museum, at least not within the provisions of the law—(that is, Section 12(1) of the 1964 Museums and Libraries Act)—and the Government's view is that increasing requirements for effective standards and staffing make the support of a museum or gallery beyond the resources of any parish council and that to retain the existing law would lead to fruitless applications to the Secretary of State. There are powers elsewhere, namely, in Clause 142, for parish councils to arrange exhibitions, displays and centres for the arts in which exhibits can be a temporary or incidental part. I beg to move.
§ LORD CHAMPION
We think that this is a sensible Amendment. When I saw it first and saw the way it was drafted I realised that something had been left out, and I am glad that the noble Lord is to put this right by a manuscript Amendment which will be moved after we have disposed of this one. The Amendment is a sensible one. The functions are being given to the people who can carry them and not just to authorities who quite clearly could not. If I may mention the previous Amendment, I hope that when the noble Earl comes to consider his Amendment for the Report stage he will manage to extricate libraries from museums because we have a different point of view on museums. Perhaps he will look at that.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
We shall be dealing with libraries quite soon; they will probably be kept quite separate. I should like to point out to my noble friend Lord Belstead that a parish council could drive a coach-and-horses through this clause. It will now have a 3p rate which it will be able to spend on anything. It can suborn some voluntary organisation to run a museum in the parish and happily support it until the end of time. I hope that a great many of them do. Parish museums are altogether admirable; they are never likely to have material which is likely 1090 to matter very much but it will amuse the parishes quite a lot.
§ LORD CHAMPION
They will have only a 2p rate now, having regard to the manuscript Amendment to the appropriate clause that was moved and accepted by the Committee.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I beg to move Manuscript Amendment No. 123D. This does not in any way alter the sense of the Amendment which I have just moved and to which your Lordships have agreed, but it perfects the drafting which otherwise would not make sense. I beg to move.
Page 156, line 17, leave out ("that section") and insert ("section 5 of that Act").—(Lord Belstead.)
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Have we got this quite right? Read with the previous Amendment, have we abolished the joint boards established under Section 5? They do not appear in the previous Amendment. I thought they had somehow disappeared from the clause.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I think precisely not. They would have done. Without the manuscript Amendment the text of the Bill would not make sense. I think I am meeting the noble Viscount's apprehensions and making sense of the text by this Amendment.
§ 1.12 a.m.
VISCOUNT SIMON moved Amendment No. 123B:
Page 156, leave out line 19 and insert— ("(a) the council of a district;").
§ The noble Viscount said: We now come to an Amendment dealing with libraries. This Amendment was put down by my noble friend Lord Avebury, and I added my name to it after considerable correspondence with the Association of Municipal Corporations, the Urban District Councils' Association and the Rural District Councils' Association. The main purpose of this Amendment will I think be quite clear to your Lordships: it is that the district councils should be the main library authorities. I know that very strong views are held on both sides about this issue, and it is obviously an issue on which people are perfectly en- 1091 titled to hold different views. After reading the discussions that have taken place and listening to discussions and reading correspondence, I have come to the conclusion that this is largely a question of method of approach. Those who believe that the libraries should be run by the counties are concerned, and very rightly concerned, that the counties have greater resources, and can run a more efficient (shall we say?) library service, while those who believe that the library functions should be with the districts are thinking more of the customer and of his ability to get what he wants from an authority which is much closer to him.
In the Government's White Paper these words are used in regard to the allocation of functions:
The allocation of functions to the districts should be as broad as possible to ensure responsibilities and powers sufficient to make the service a reality both for members and for officers".
I emphasise the words "as broad as possible". It is very difficult to argue that it is not possible to give the library function to the districts. In discussing the matter in another place the Secretary of State made the point that the great majority of library facilities were at present provided by the counties. This seems to me to have been, though I am sure not intentionally, a rather misleading statement. I think he said that 80 per cent. of the present library facilities were provided by the counties. From information I have been given it seems that the statement is at present factually correct, because of course the county boroughs are counties for that purpose. In future, the great majority of county boroughs will be non-metropolitan districts, and it would not be true to say that in the new set-up if the libraries continue as at present the majority will be run by counties.
In my view, the new districts are mostly large enough to support library services. In the few cases where they are unable to do so they can of course use Clause 100, which I understand is a two-way clause, and get the county council as their agent to operate them. But I should have thought that there are very few cases where that will be necessary. Many district authorities, urban district councils and boroughs today provide effi- 1092 cient library services. They have shown great imagination in developing the services. Reference was made in another place to Thurrock Urban District Council, which I happen to know, and the excellent library—indeed, more than a library; a complex of library and arts centre—in Thurrock. There are other districts which have organised mobile library services.
It seems undoubted that the districts will for a great part be in a position to perform this service, and therefore they should be allowed to do so. It seems rather illogical that library responsibilities given to metropolitan county districts should be denied to non-metropolitan county districts, because I should have thought it much more likely that people in the metropolitan counties living in one area would go to a library in another, as the areas are much closer together, where in rural areas people generally rely on a local library.
It has been suggested that Clause 100 could be used the other way round: that the counties could be given the responsibility to delegate, as they thought necessary or appropriate, to districts that were capable of running a service. I am not sure how effective that would be because delegation in that way would presumably merely be asking the district officers to act for the county. It would not leave any discretion with the district as to how a library should be developed, because they would not have any money. They could only, in effect, act as agents carrying out the functions which the counties ask them to perform. It is interesting to see—I was looking at some statistics the other day—that if my view that county boroughs will in future be largely in non-metropolitan districts, rather than in metropolitan districts is accepted, the expenditure on libraries per head of the population in the county boroughs and urban districts and rural districts is found to be actually higher than expenditure pre head in the counties.
So much has been done by the districts, or what will now constitute districts, that it seems a great pity to throw them over without going back to the principles of the White Paper and the desire of the Government to give as much responsibility as possible to the districts. I readily admit that the subsequent Amendment in the names of the noble 1093 Lord, Lord Champion, and his noble friends is another way of dealing with the matter and that that Amendment has great merit. It has the merit that it merely applies to English districts what is already applied to Welsh districts. Of course if the Government were to indicate a willingness to accent that Amendment, I would not wish to press my Amendment any further.
In the meantime I do not know whether it will be convenient to discuss the Amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Champion, along with this, but if so I shall be glad to move and allow the discussion to proceed. I beg to move.
§ 1.20 a.m.
§ LORD CHAMPION
The course proposed by the noble Viscount is one that I would be prepared to accept. It seems to me to be reasonable to discuss his Amendment together with the Amendment that I have on the Marshalled List. They are closely linked. It is true that they are alternative ways of dealing with the library services, so that if the Government spokesman cares to indicate that the course suggested is agreeable to him I am prepared to speak to the noble Viscount's Amendment, but to make my own points on my own Amendment now.
§ LORD CHAMPION
That seems to be agreeable to the Minister and therefore I shall speak on my Amendment. It seems that there are three points of view about the allocation of the library service. For England the Government would allocate the library function to county councils, the Greater London Council, London borough councils, district councils, the Common Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly; and, as I understand it, the reference to district councils is included in line 26 to cover the subsequent mention of a council of a metropolitan district. I think that perhaps is the case.
The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, would make no bones about it but would allocate the function to the district councils and the equivalent councils in London, cutting out entirely the county council. Our point of view, as expressed in our Amendment, is that there is a place in England for the county council to be the 1094 library authority, excepting in those areas where, in the opinion of the Secretary of State (as in the case of Wales) the function ought to be given to the district council. Although I am the President of the Urban District Councils Association and know the view of that Association, which coincides completely with that of the noble Lord whose name appears on the Amendment now before us, I cannot persuade myself that the library function ought to be exclusively that of the district tier of local government.
On the other hand, there is clearly a place for district councils in selected districts to exercise the library function. The very last thing I would attempt to do would be to decry the county councils as library authorities, but I have no doubt whatever that there is a place for both, depending entirely on the nature of the area to be covered. In this I agree with what was said in another place by Mr. Gibson-Watt, speaking of the Welsh Consultative Document. He said—and I quote from column 2320 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee of March 7:In paragraph 16 of that document we indicated that where a district council … had a sufficiently large population to provide libraries, weights and measures, trade descriptions and food and drugs authorities' services economically and efficiently and their provision by the district council would not substantially damage the service in the remainder of the county, the district council should be allowed to provide the service.It was made clear in that paragraph that it was very unlikely that there would be more than a few places where those conditions would be met. We are really arguing that the system that is to operate in Wales shall also operate in England in respect of libraries. We think that if it is right to be able to give the library service to, say, Cardiff, it must surely be right to be able to give it to Southampton, Plymouth, Bristol, Reading—to mention only a few towns.
One of the arguments used by the Government in the other place was that under the Welsh proposals quite a few counties were being made into districts, and that because they had been counties with the education service the library function was needed in those districts. Underlying that argument was the suggestion that the situation in Wales 1095 differed from that in England. I do not agree with that view, which in any event is rather thin when one remembers that many county boroughs—I have mentioned a few of them—are ceasing to be counties with the education service and are to be districts in England. Important districts which up to now have been carrying out their library function very well will be expected to hand over that function to the counties. This is the wrong way to approach this matter.
Another argument used in another place was that the agency clause, Clause 100, could take care of those places. I do not agree; and the argument is the poorer when one remembers that the agency clause is not recommended for this purpose in Wales, for in the case of Wales there is a suitable provision in the Bill. Where there is a difference between Wales and England in the allocation of functions, as in the case of East Glamorgan and, say, Plymouth, the Government are arguing one way in one case and in the opposite way in the other. I hope that that type of arguing will not occur when Ministers comment on the Amendments that are now before the Committee. Things might have been different had we had arguments of that sort on two separate Bills; when we came to the second Bill we might have forgotten the arguments used by the Government on the first. But that cannot be said when their arguments are adduced on the same Bill, one following close on the heels of the next.
As for these Amendments, as was the case in the discussion on refuse disposal, we are arguing that the districts should be such as to ensure for them responsibilities and powers sufficient to make service for them a reality for their members and officers. The desire for genuine local democracy implies that decisions should be taken, and be seen to be taken, as locally as possible. These arguments have been lifted by me straight out of the Government's White Paper of February, 1970, which stated clearly and in a few words that district councils should have the sort of powers for which we are arguing. We are, however, realists enough to appreciate that in the case of the library function, it should be allocated only after the most careful examination by the Secretary of State. In respect of 1096 Wales, the Consultative Document, referring toLibraries, weights and measures, trade descriptions and food and drugs",said:In these services the Government think it right to allow for the possibility that where a district council has a sufficiently large population to provide them economically and efficiently and their provision by the district would not substantially damage the service in the remainder of the county, the district council should be allowed to provide the service.That is exactly our case in discussing this Amendment.
I have received a letter from the Society of County Librarians telling me that my Amendment would fragment potentially effective library systems over a multiplicity of units and that that would not improve the quality of the service. The Society further argues that, if adopted, the Amendment would make the service unjustifiably expensive. I have always thought that exaggeration was the language of the politician, but, judging by the submission of this Society politicians have no corner in the doubtful art of exaggeration. Does anyone seriously argue that if the library function were allocated to say, Southampton, the quality of the rest of the service in Hampshire would be lowered, or that the service would be more expensive? Frankly, I do not believe it. The links between the education service and the library service are used to justify placing both at county level. In point of fact, the operational links between the education service and the library service are tenuous and becoming increasingly more slender. Indeed, local authorities which are at present without education functions operate an efficient library service, often in association with other activities, for some of which their successor authorities will have continued authority.
One could quote extensively from the Wheatley Commission which sat on local government for Scotland. In their Report it is made quite clear that the sort of thing for which I am arguing would be acceptable in Scotland and would be the right thing for Scotland. What I am saying here is that if it would be the right thing for Scotland and the right thing for Wales to have the sort of thing suggested in my Amendment, I cannot see 1097 why it should not be an advantage to have the thinking of Wales applied to England in this case. I shall, if necessary, move my Amendment later, but I take it that the noble Lord will now reply to both of us.
§ 1.32 a.m.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I should like just to say a word before the noble Lord replies. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has thought of the effect of his Amendment upon scholarship generally. There are two, or perhaps three, things in a library provision: first the book store and the system of distributing it to the clients. So far as possible one wants to have as large a book store as possible, and that means a large authority. I agree that the type of authority which the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has in mind, the type of district which he has in mind (I think they were towns of the nature of a quarter of a million, or something like that) is probably big enough to provide its own book store.
But there is another point: the larger districts like that—and I am thinking particularly of the county boroughs in the middle of a county—are likely to have an absolutely unsurpassed reference library in their area. It is vitally important that the reference library in a county should be accessible and managed on behalf of the whole county. I know that in my own part of the world the reference library of the borough has a superb collection of early printed books and the like, printed in the district which surrounds it, to which all of us who are interested in the history of scholarship in our county are inevitably drawn. I should be very sorry to see that collection separated from the greater resources to which I was referring just now and which are available in the county. I do not see how one can separate the book store side, and the distribution of books in the ordinary way, and the provision of a first-class reference library, including all the historical books and the books published in the county—early printed books, printed in local presses, and the like. I should be very sorry to see that separated from the whole of the library service.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I do not know that I can completely answer the noble Earl. I have in the past been the chair- 1098 man of a library committee of a town of some 40,000. I know that the resources of the whole of the library service of Wales were available to that library if they were called upon by anyone using the library. The librarian took care to ensure that what was available in the Museum of Wales, or the Library of Wales, and what was available in the various libraries of the local authorities throughout Wales, would be placed at one's disposal. I do not know whether that completely answers the point made by the noble Earl, but it is something which is part of the general service which can be provided by the libraries, no matter where they happen to be.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I quite agree. I am myself a Trustee of the National Central Library. Nothing really takes the place of being able to browse through a complete collection of all the books printed in the 18th century in your own part of the world. You may know them, and you may get them from elsewhere; but to have them there in your reference library is worth anything to a scholar.
§ 1.35 a.m.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, is correct in saying that the proposals in the clause reflect the Government's view that larger authorities commanding more resources will be increasingly needed if these responsibilities are to be carried out efficiently and economically. I know that this is something to which the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has just been referring, and in a moment I will come back and pick up the noble Lord's point rather more methodically. I do not want to give the Committee the impression that larger always means better. But we are dealing here with a service which is increasingly not only expanding but diversifying; it is dealing not only with books but also with things like magnetic tapes and audio visual aids of various kinds. I think it is not unfair to say that no one knows, no one in this Committee knows, exactly the exciting ways in which the library service may go in the next 25 years. For the benefit of all readers and clients the library service at county level seems to us, at any rate at first sight, to make good sense.
1099 Not in the interests of time, but in view of the fact that I have laid these facts before the Committee a few days ago on an Amendment to which the noble Viscount also had his name on the Welsh clauses, may I seek to put two or three points in rather capsule form to the noble Viscount.
We feel that there are the circumstances of the public library service to be considered. There has been a large increase in the use of libraries—a 36 per cent. increase in the total of books on loan between 1964 and 1969. We believe that the role of the library service alongside other closely related services ought to be considered. The noble Viscount said he was surprised to see that the service would go to the metropolitan district level in England. The reason for that, whether noble Lords agree with it or not, is that it makes the service coterminous with the education authorities in England. This, we feel reflects the fact that schools and colleges are now making increasing demands on library services; and, rather picking up my noble friend's point about scholarship, when the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, moved the Welsh Amendment last week I put it to noble Lords that it was surely important that the people who use the libraries should have the benefit not only of a marvellous collection of books, if possible, but also of expert staff—expert perhaps in children's books, expert perhaps in technical subjects. If one does not achieve that, it may be that a local education authority on its own has to provide its own back-up services, in wasteful duplication of the expertise and facilities which are already available on the other side of the fence in the public library.
May I attempt to say a word or two in reply to Lord Champion's Amendment? It emerges strikingly from a study of local authorities that outside the Greater London area and the counties only 286 out of 1,334 local authorities, or 21.4 per cent., have in fact been exercising separate library powers. The remainder have been served by the county library services. And out of a total of 278 proposed new districts in non-metropolitan counties in England, 127 will consist wholly of areas presently being served by county libraries. Out of a total 1100 of 278, a further 112, though containing boroughs and urban districts currently administering their own library services, will in many cases include very substantial proportions of population at present also served by county library services. Therefore, in only 38 districts will the new areas be coterminous with areas at present served by locally administered library services. What I am suggesting is that to allocate library powers for all, or most, districts—all if it is the noble Viscount's wish in his Amendment; many districts perhaps, if it is the option which is being given in Lord Champion's Amendment—could threaten to dismember a great many of the existing unified county library services.
I assure the noble Lord, Lord Champion, that careful consideration has been given to the possibility of introducing in England arrangements analogous to those in Wales, by reference to the considerations embodied in the Bill for Wales. The capacity of the applicant district to provide an efficient service and the effect on the service provided by the county, have to be taken into account. The Secretary of State would clearly need to be satisfied that the county service would not be prejudicially affected, and the service provided in the district would have to be improved. The noble Lord, I know, referred to my first point by talking about Hampshire and Southampton, and maybe he has a point there; but the second point I put to the noble Lord is a serious one.
In the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, I think I am right in saying, and certainly in Clause 200 of this Bill, the words are used that, "there shall be an efficient library service". Indeed, in this Bill it is said that there should be a more efficient library service". This criterion would be taken into account by the Secretary of State in looking at approaches from authorities. More particularly, the practical criteria for judging the merits of applications would include regard to previous experience of running a service; whether the district had sufficient size and resources to provide the comprehensive and efficient service required by the 1964 Act; and the relationship between the district and the remainder of the county in the matter of resources to avoid impoverishment of the latter. In practice, consideration of 1101 these criteria—and they would have to be considered as a whole—indicates I think, that they would be unlikely very often, if at all, to apply together. In addition, I must point out that the Welsh considerations are not present in weighing the merits of the Amendment. In Wales there are inevitably severe communications difficulties in severe winter conditions, which certainly, in a great many parts of this country, are not present in England. In Wales there are language variations, about which the noble Baroness, Lady White, will know much more about than I do, between different parts of the Principality. Those, too, of course, are considerations which are not present in England.
May I, before I sit down, put one point which I have to put? On July 20, on Report stage of this Bill in another place, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment referred at column 1020 of Hansard, to:the unanimous view of those professionally engaged in the library service and the degree to which the last conference of the Library Association, which has members operating in district councils at the present time, voted for the service to be at the county level.In other words, my right honourable friend was saying that the Library Association unanimously, by a resolution at their last conference, agreed with the line which the Government are taking and not with the line which is being taken in either of the two Amendments. Since that debate the Library Association have written to my right honourable friend explaining that a vote was not taken at their last conference, and of course it is regretted that my right honourable friend inadvertently gave the impression that one had been taken. However, the Association do say that there was overwhelming support at the conference for the Government's proposals. Moreover, before the debate the Association had told the Government that their Council had been virtually almost unanimous in this matter. My right honourable friend appreciates the different views of the smaller public libraries group. We respect their opinion. Nevertheless, the Government were bound to reach decisions on considerations affecting the service which the public are demanding and are likely to demand in the years to come. May I, on behalf of the Govern- 1102 ment, apologise for that misunderstanding which arose, and ask the Committee to accept the clearing of the air on that matter?
May I add this last point, which is really in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Champion? On the Welsh Amendment last week, I sought to lay before the Committee the future considerations for the library service. I dare say that the arrangements for library functions in this Bill may last for very many years. Meanwhile, the work of the libraries is daily becoming more diverse. I firmly believe that it is for the benefit of library users that library authorities should be coterminous with local education authorities, and the Government are convinced that it is for the public benefit that there should be sufficient resources to develop specialist advice and the stock of audio visual material, as well as continued development of the stock of books. It is for these reasons that we feel we cannot accept the noble Viscount's Amendment. And, regretfully, because it is a very reasonable Amendment, we also feel that we cannot accept the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Champion.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am greatly obliged to the noble Lord for the careful way in which he has dealt with these Amendments. I am particularly glad that he was able to "come clean" on the Secretary of State's statement in another place about the Library Association. I have a note about that, but in the interest of time I did not read it out. However, I am very glad to know that the Secretary of State realises that he was incorrectly informed about what took place. My informant did not quite agree with what was said by the Secretary of State's informant. After saying that no resolution was tabled and no vote taken, he said, "Had it been, I have no doubt it would have been heavily defeated." That is the opinion of one man. The other opinion was that the resolution would have been carried.
In the same way, my informant called attention to the statement of the Minister that there was a unanimous view of those professionally engaged. As the noble Lord, Lord Champion, said the other day, that is probably a politician's exaggeration. Here again, my informant thinks that the majority were against it. I think 1103 that very likely, for the reasons stated by the noble Lord. Lord Belstead, it was the smaller authorities who were against it. At any rate, I shall not press this Amendment. If the noble Lord, Lord Champion, chooses to press his Amendment I shall certainly join him. But I accept the view that the Amendment which I have put down with my noble friend Lord Avebury is probably too radical. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My difficulty is that because the noble Viscount withdrew his Amendment I was prevented from saying a few words in reply to the noble Lord in respect of my own Amendment, No. 125. I shall not take this opportunity to do so, except to remark on the fact that he said that the Amendment of the noble Viscount was a very reasonable one and did not say the same of my Amendment. I disliked that very much, because I thought that mine was a very reasonable Amendment. I thought the Government would have jumped to accept it. In the circumstances, I do not propose to move the Amendment which is in my name, but I may return to it on Report.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
Before the noble Lord sits down, may I say that I regret that I was less courteous to the noble Viscount, but I did say that the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Champion, was very reasonable and that I was sorry that I had to refuse it.
§ Clause 199, as amended, agreed to.
§ LORD BELSTEAD
I beg to move Amendment No. 125A. This is consequential on the Amendment made to Clause 199.
Page 157, line 45, leave out from ("1964") to ("to").—(Lord Belstead.)
§ LORD BELSTEAD
This Amendment, No. 125B, is consequential on that made to Clause 199. I beg to move.
Page 158, line 14, leave out from ("Act") to ("whether") in line 15.—(Lord Belstead.)
LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 125C:
Page 158, line 27, at end insert—
("(d) in section 6(6) after the word `above' there shall be inserted the words ' or under section 200 of the Local Government Act 1972'.")
§ The noble Lord said: Section 6(6) of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 as amended by the Bill will provide that on the council of a district in Wales ceasing to be a library authority under that Act—and, of course, this may be by voluntary relinquishment or it may be as a result of failure to carry out its duties—its library officers, assets and liabilities will be transferred to the county council or joint board assuming the functions previously exercised by it. The effect of this Amendment is to make that provision applicable in a case in which the council of a district in Wales ceases to be a library authority under Clause 200(5) of the Bill; that is, where it is deprived of its powers for the purpose of improving the library facilities in the area as a whole. The Amendment will also have the effect of making applicable provisions of the Act of 1964 as to the conditions of employment, compensation, superannuation and other benefits of transferred officers. I beg to move.
LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 125D:
Page 158, line 35, leave out from ("in") to end of line 37.
§ The noble Lord said: This is a technical Amendment. The words to be left out are not required as their effect is achieved by the Interpretation Act 1889 and Clause 258(2) of the Bill. I beg to move.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Before I call the following Amendment, I should point out to the Committee 1105 that if this Amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 125BB, 125F or 125G.
§ 1.52 a.m.
LORD BELSTEAD moved Amendment No. 125E:
Page 158, line 41, leave out from beginning to end of line 46 and insert—
§ The noble Lord said: The purpose of the new paragraph (f) is to enable an authority to establish a fund for the purchase) of objects for exhibition in a museum or art gallery before it is actually in existence. Under the present law, an authority must be maintaining a museum or gallery before it can establish a fund, and this almost always guarantees an unsatisfactory collection, at any rate usually at the start. The new paragraph (g) is consequential on other Amendments made to the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, the general effect of which is to remove from the control or supervision of the Secretary of State the exercise by local authorities of functions relating to museums and art galleries. The power to hold inquiries is therefore being restricted to library functions. The Secretary of State has a specific duty, of course, to superintend the library service, and has the power to hold inquiries on any functions of local authorities under the 1964 Act.
§ The new paragraph (h) confines the operation of the first sentence of Section 1106 21(1) of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to Wales, as district councils in England are not to be library authorities. The Amendment to Section 21(3) is similar, and is consequential. Under that power, Section 21(1) of the Act of 1964, which is to cease to have effect, the expenses of a county council relating to the provision and maintenance of a museum or art gallery, or in respect of contributions towards expense incurred by others in doing so, or in providing advisory or other services or financial assistance for the benefit of museums or art galleries, may not be charged on the area of any local authority within the county which itself maintains a museum or art gallery unless that authority consents. This could result in a situation in which it is possible for an area to benefit from the service provided by the county with having to contribute to its cost, even where the provision made by the local authority is of little significance. If any noble Lord would wish to make any observations or to cross-examine me on this part of the Amendment I will be pleased to try to give a little more information in a moment.
§ I come now to new paragraph (i). The Council of the Isles of Scilly will, by virtue of Clause 199, as amended, be a local authority for the purposes of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and will be able to provide and maintain museums and art galleries without any order being required under Section 24(1). Accordingly, the effect of the new paragraph (i) is that an order under that section will be restricted to making applicable to the Isles, subject to modification, the provisions of the Act relating to libraries.
§ The effect of new paragraph (j) is to remove the limits imposed by paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 2 to the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 on the maximum annual sum which may be paid by a local authority into its art fund (at present the product of a rate of 0.1p) and on the maximum total amount which may be in the fund (at present the product of a rate of 0.4p in the pound). The removal of the limit is in accordance with Government policy.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I should hate to cross-examine the noble Lord on this, for 1107 I am afraid that his reply would be as thorough as his introduction of the Amendment.
§ Clause 201, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 202 agreed to.
§ Clause 203 [Charities]:
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 125H:
Page 159, line 23, at the beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (2A) below")
§ The noble Viscount said: This is a paving Amendment to the following one which ensures that the property which is at the present moment owned by an educational charity shall go to a local authority which is the local education authority. The two Amendments go together. I beg to move.
Page 159, line 44, at end insert—
(" (2A) Where the property is held by an existing county council or county borough council for the purposes of a charity registered in the register established under section 4 of the Charities Act 1960 in any part of that register which is maintained by the Secretary of State by virtue of section 2 of that Act (educational charities) then—
§ Clause 203, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 205 and 206 agreed to.
§ Clause 207 [Cemetaries and Crematoria]:
§ LORD SANDFORD
We discussed the substance of this Amendment during the debate on Clause 107. I beg to move.
Page 165, line 18, at end insert—
("(5A) A burial authority may contribute towards any expenses incurred by any other person in providing or maintaining a cemetery in which the inhabitants of the authority's area may be buried.")—(Lord Sandford.)
§ Clause 207, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 26 agreed to.
§ Clause 208 [Maintenance of a closed churchyard]:
§ 2.0 a.m.
LORD TEVIOT moved Amendment No. 125BBB
Page 166, line 29, at end insert—
(" ( ) A parochial church council or a local authority having responsibility under this section for the maintenance of a closed churchyard or ecclesiastical premises no longer in use as such shall be responsible also for the care and custody of any existing list or document recording memorial inscriptions in church or churchyard and in the absence of such list or document for the compiling and preservation of an adequate record of such inscription.")
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 125BBB. I should like to start by thanking my Front Bench for being kind enough to allow me to move this Amendment. I apologise for ending this morning's business on such a macabre subject as redundant churches. I trust that it will not give your Lordships too many nightmares, or "morning mares" or whatever they may be. The Amendment is self-explanatory and meets with the full approval of such august bodies as the College of Arms, the Institute of Genealogical and Heraldic Research and the Society of Genealogy. Therefore I shall be extremely brief in introducing it.
§ Redundant or disused churchyards will conjure up in your Lordships' minds a picture of extreme dereliction, a place where the grass is overgrown, with nettles six feet high, and a mass of broken old tombstones. It has ceased to become a haven of retreat where the dead have been laid to rest and peace. I ask your Lordships to let us know who they all were, all these people who were laid to rest. The churchyards that I have just described are full of historical and genealogical knowledge and contain on the memorials inscriptions that should be preserved for posterity's sake. In the past, a great deal of work has been done 1109 by amateurs in recording this information, and tribute must be paid to them; but we must have more adequate safeguards on this subject. I believe that, of all the redundant or disused churchyards, only 10 per cent. of them are recorded so I feel that this Amendment adequately serves its purpose.
§ BARONESS WHITE
From this well-populated Bench I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, on his persistence and stamina in moving his Amendment at this hour in the morning. I think it extremely appropriate that we should have reached a closed churchyard, I am feeling rather corpse-like myself and we have nothing but commendation for the Amendment.
§ LORD SANDFORD
We sympathise with the motives of the noble Lord, but however well supported his Amendment may be I cannot accept it now because the parochial church councils and the local authorities have not been consulted on the matter. I am very happy that they should be consulted, and if the noble Lord would like to come and discuss the matter more fully with me we can set all that in motion. I hope that, with that assurance, he will not press his Amendment.
§ LORD TEVIOT
I thank my noble friend, and I should very much like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady White, for an unexpected contribution from the Opposition Benches: I am absolutely delighted. I should like to have an assurance from my noble friend the Minister, and perhaps we could get this matter settled before the next stage of the Bill or before Third Reading. If my noble friend can give me that assurance I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I can give my noble friend an assurance that we can 1110 embark on the exercise, but the process of consulting bodies representative of all the church councils in the land and the local authority associations may take more than a month. However, we can make a start.
§ LORD TEVIOT
On that assurance, for which I thank my noble friend, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 208 agreed to.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (EARL JELLICOE)
I hope that my rising for the first time on this Bill will not be taken amiss. I am not going to ask a question of my noble friends on the Government Front Bench. I am going to thank all those noble Lords who have sustained this debate until this comparatively early hour. And I should very much like also (I hope I do not sound patronising) to thank noble Lords opposite, the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and the two "stalwarts" on the Opposition Front Bench, for the way they have kept this debate going, and also for the tolerance and forbearance they have shown in enabling us to get through this Part of the Bill. It may well have saved us from coming back next week, and if so I think it has been well worth while.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I am grateful to the noble Earl. I hope he will keep in mind when we make our next application for an increase in the allowances all the things that he has now said.
§ LORD ABERDARE
We have reached the point that we said we would reach at the right time, and I hope that we may now resume the House.
§ House resumed.
§ House adjourned at three minutes past two o'clock a.m.