Orders of the Day — Surrey County Council Bill.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 17th February 1931.

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Photo of Mr John Llewellin Mr John Llewellin , Uxbridge

I do not wish to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill, but I feel that there is considerable weight in the criticism that was brought to bear by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne). A Departmental Committee of which I am a member is sitting at the Ministry of Health trying to co-ordinate a larger number of the powers and duties of local authorities. They find, as the Ministry do, that there are different qualifications and disqualifications for parish councils, rural district councils, borough councils, county councils and so on; and if Bills like this are to be brought in, a similar committee will have to be set up some day to see if they can co-ordinate all the different powers which have been given to local authorities. I hope that some Measure dealing with rural amenities will be brought in to cover the country as a whole. This Bill contains a Clause dealing with a matter which I have very much at heart, that is, the dumping of refuse. Clause 89 will be a very good thing for the county of Surrey, and it ought to apply to every county round London, but it will mean that if it is passed for Surrey, every county round London, a part of one of which, Middlesex, I represent, will be left as dumping grounds for the London refuse.

If every county round London had a clause passed in exactly the same words as Clause 89, there would be nowhere possibly where London boroughs would be able to dump their refuse, because there is no overriding power in this Clause given to the Ministry of Health, as I should like to see, to provide that in certain waste areas dumps might be allowed for the refuse of London. I should like to see these questions, such as the question of the dumping of refuse, dealt with by the Government in a short one-Clause Measure bringing in very similar provisions to the one contained in this Bill. I do not want to see this one county favoured in this matter so as to leave the rest as dumping grounds for refuse.

Of the other powers in the Bill, Clause 144 will be completely ineffective to preserve the woodlands in the county, for the simple reason that it is only provided that when the trees are felled the county council may say that nothing else can be done with the ground except to plant further trees; and if the owner of the ground does not wish to plant further trees, the place will remain derelict with only stumps of wood round about. Another Clause to which I want to draw attention is Clause 62. I see no reason why the county council should have the power compulsorily to acquire land round the existing country roads. If they were limited to using such land for open spaces, it would not be objectionable, but if a county council acquire land along the roads, it is obviously much more economical for them to put up their houses there and to be ribbon developers themselves.

It is far cheaper, once you have a road, to put the houses by it, and it may be found that a perfectly good landlord who would not have encouraged or allowed ribbon development, will have his land taken by the county council and they will put up some of their council houses alongside.