Clause 1. — (Power to adopt standard widths for roads.)

Orders of the Day — RESTRICTION OF RIBBON DEVELOPMENT BILL [Lords]. – in the House of Commons on 29th July 1935.

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3.52 p.m.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

I beg to move, in page 2, line 16, to leave out "in the London Gazette," and to insert: to be sent to any person whose name and address are for the time being entered in the register kept by the highway authority for the purpose in accordance with the provisions of this Act. During the course of the Committee stage the Government accepted an arrangement whereby a register was to be kept of all persons who might be interested in the roads, so that they could receive notice of what was to happen under the resolution, and this Amendment is merely consequential upon that arrangement.

3.53 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

So important a matter as this should not be allowed to pass without thanks being given to the Minister. This is not one of the essential matters of the Bill or even of this particular Clause, but, in view of the difficulties which many of us have had with regard to the Bill, we ought to be willing and ready to pay a tribute to the Minister for having met this point with regard to the register. The making of a register of those who are concerned in this matter is of vital importance to those whose property is nearby or adjacent to the road to be dealt with. Many of us objected to the original provision, and considered that it was bad drafting to leave out of account those who are primarily interested on one side of the question. The concession which the Minister has made will be most helpful to many small owners of property, and, speaking entirely on my own behalf, I would like to thank the Minister very sincerely for what he has done in this concession, and to assure him that I am deeply grateful.

3.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

I do not quite agree with my hon. namesake the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) in this connection. It is true that a register has to be drawn up, but if the name of a person has to go on that register, it will be necessary to make, in the case of large corporate bodies, for example, like the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or a railway company, thousands of requests to be registered before they will have any assurance that there is a proposal under the Clause to pass a resolution. Though the actual mileage likely to be dealt with under the Clause will not be very great, nevertheless, in order to protect themselves they will have to register all property included in the maximum width of 160 feet on every road. Everybody concerned with respect to every road in the country will have to make application to be put on the register before they have any assurance that, if a resolution is brought forward, they are likely to hear of it.

Surely it is better that the words "in the London Gazette" should remain? Organised bodies such as the Surveyors' and other institutions would make a practice of studying what appeared in the London Gazette, and would take appropriate steps to warn people who might own property in the district concerned, so that persons likely to be affected would know about it. The Amendment is definitely a reactionary one, and in actual practice will be very difficult to work. Interests or persons who may have land in various parts of the country will have an intolerable burden put upon them under Clause 5, if they have to make sure that they are adequately protected against what may happen under Clause 1. I very much regret the form of the Amendment. If the words "in the London Gazette" were retained, with these additional words the matter would be more satisfactory.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

As one of those whose names are down to this Amendment, I wish to thank the Minister for undertaking to accept it. The short answer to the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) is that, if work has to be done to secure the registration of any land, it will have to be done in order that a check can properly be kept of any announcement made in the London Gazette. It is far simpler that the form of the Amendment should be adopted in order that all rights should be equally safeguarded.

3.57 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Levy Mr Thomas Levy , Elland

This question was fully discussed and voted upon in the Committee upstairs. The vote showed that the majority of Members of the Committee, after having heard the full discussion, came to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that notice should be put in the London Gazette. Now that the Bill has come down on to the Floor of the House, we find that, without those hon. Members who voted in favour of the inclusion of the London Gazette being consulted, an Amendment has been moved which is an absolute reversal of the vote which took place upstairs. I hope that I shall not be considered offensive when I say that this is reducing the Committee stage of the Bill to a farce. The Bill was sent upstairs for adequate and proper discussion, and after a discussion the majority of the Members of the Committee voted for a certain thing, which, in this instance, was against the Minister. Now when the Bill comes up on Report we find that that upon which the Committee voted is being reversed. The Amendment is certainly not as good as the provision to leave in the London Gazette, and I shall vote against it.

4.0 p.m.

Photo of Sir Adam Maitland Sir Adam Maitland , Faversham

I think that the hon. Member has given only a partial account of what happened in the Committee, and that he could not have been present there when the matter now before the House was discussed on a second occasion. The Amendment is really part of a concession made by the Minister, and certainly there is no question in this instance of his changing, or attempting to change, a decision of the Committee. In fact the Amendment now before the House was accepted by the Committee, but rules of procedure did not permit of it being disposed of in the Committee stage.

4.1 p.m.

Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

Actually the Amendment goes a great deal further than that on which the Government were beaten upstairs. The Minister has done his very best to meet the objections raised. Not only does the Clause provide that the notice is to be sent to two of the local papers, but it is also provided in the Amendment that the notice must be sent to the person in question. Therefore, the objections of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) and the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) are entirely unjustified.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

I beg to move, in page 2, line 18, after "specifying," to insert: the places and times at which plans may be inspected, showing.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

I think we might have an explanation from the Government as to exactly how this will be done. I know that this is in the nature of a concession which many of us wanted, but we ought to know what kind of proposals the Minister has in mind. The Minister is not usually averse from publicity, and I think he might tell us how these matters are to be dealt with.

4.3 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir ARNOLD WILSON:

May I point out that the inspection will be very inadequate unless there is some means whereby the owner or occupier of the land can obtain a copy of the plans? It would very greatly help society at large if the local authority could be required by a ruling or by a circular from the Ministry of Transport to place copies of plans, at a, reasonable charge, at the disposal of persons as required. That would be an easy thing for the Ministry to secure by circular and it would be very easy, too, for the local authorities to comply with. If it is merely a question of inspection, it is not possible, in practice, to copy the plans; and the ordnance maps for the most part show none of the 500,000 houses built during the last five years. It is urgent that there should be some means of getting plans circulated to those concerned. If the Minister could undertake by circular to get the local authorities to provide photostats, or copies made of plans in some other way, he would save a lot of trouble to those who have to deal with local authorities.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 2, line 20, leave out from "made," to "to," in line 21.—[Mr. Hore-Belisha.]

4.5 p.m.

Photo of Sir Austin Hudson Sir Austin Hudson , Hackney North

I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, to leave out from "widths," to "which," in line 28.

The House will see that this means leaving out the words "not exceeding one hundred and sixty feet," and it must be read in conjunction with the next Amendment. The reason is that if you have an embankment or cutting it will be necessary for the foot of the embankment or the top of the cutting, if you are to have a 160-foot road, to have more than 160 feet. In Committee it was decided that the Minister should not have power to exceed 160 feet for a road and for that reason it is necessary to make this Amendment.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

I wish to thank the Minister for moving this Amendment, in response to a suggestion which I made to him in the Committee stage. I think it will fulfil the object in view.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

I am very much obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 2, line 37, at the end, insert: and(b) if any such regulations prescribe a standard width exceeding one hundred and sixty feet, the regulations shall direct that such standard width may be adopted only so far as may be necessary for making provision for any embankment or cutting required for the road as respects which it is adopted."—[Captain Hudson.]

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

I beg to move, in page 3, line 15, at the end, to insert: (5) In determining the standard width to be adopted as respects any road, a highway authority and the Minister shall take into account the requirements of all classes of traffic, including foot passengers and cyclists, likely to use the road, and shall consider the provision of margins for the accommodation of ridden horses and driven livestock. It is essential that in any provision we make in regard to roads we should give consideration to all classes of road users. In the past, unfortunately, many of those who have a legitimate right to use the roads have felt, and with great justice, that their rights have been somewhat neglected by the application of conditions suitable only for motor traffic. Particularly is this so in regard to pedestrians and cyclists, and perhaps more still with regard to ridden or driven horses and livestock. In addition, it is in the interests of the motorists themselves that horses and livestock should be, as far as possible, removed from the traffic centre of the road, because there is nothing more difficult for the motorist than to have to negotiate herds of driven stock or horses which are being ridden. It is very much better to have roads which will serve the interests of all users, particularly as the surface of the road is not always suitable for horse traffic. I should like to thank the Minister for the intimation he has given that he would be prepared to accept this Amendment, in carrying out the pledge given to the Committee upstairs on this point. On reading the amended form of the Amendment which I have on the Paper I must confess that I thought it perhaps weakened my original Amendment, but I shall rely on the Minister not only to accept the Amendment as it is, but to act upon it in the spirit in which he expressed himself in the Committee.

Photo of Mr Samuel Rosbotham Mr Samuel Rosbotham , Ormskirk

I beg to second the Amendment, which, I think, contains a very valuable principle.

4.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

I feel that the Government would go back on their word if they did not advise the House to accept this Amendment, especially as on the Committee stage of the Bill my hon. Friend urged that all classes of road users should have consideration, and particularly those who are sometimes forgotten—those classes of road users who ride horses or drive livestock. I shall be pleased to accept this Amendment.

4.11 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

I should like to thank the Minister for a concession which will be much appreciated in the rural districts and in other places as well, but I think that the expression "ridden horses" might lead to difficulty if it is held to exclude horses which are led. This is rather a question for lawyers. If I can be assured that led horses come under the heading of "driven livestock" I am quite content. If it does, it only remains for me to thank the Minister. I think he is making the Bill in this respect more practical and more in the interests of the public welfare.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

May I suggest that some time before the Bill is submitted for the Royal Assent the Minister should strike out the jargon "as respects," and put in the word "for"?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), it might be that led horses would not be included either under "ridden horses" or "driven livestock." It occurs to me that it is quite possible that regulations might be framed which, unintentionally, might allow of horses being ridden on the margin, and which would not allow a man to lead a horse at the same time.

4.13 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

In thanking the Minister for this valuable concession, I should like to point out that the Postmaster-General's telephone poles are by far the most serious obstacle to the use of the verges of roads. These poles are being put up in increasing numbers close to the verges, or within six inches of them, and unless the Postmaster-General seeks fresh powers to take telephone wires across country and avoid the verges on existing and new roads, there will be little improvement, in practice, in spite of the efforts of the Minister of Transport. The real obstacle to using the verges of roads, in nine cases out of ten, is the constant interposition of the stays of poles or of the poles themselves in ever increasing numbers. I hope that the Minister of Transport will take up this matter with the Postmaster-General as soon as possible.

Amendment agreed to.