Clause 1. — (Advances to Minister of Works.)

Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th December 1945.

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Photo of Mr Henry Willink Mr Henry Willink , Croydon North 12:00 am, 7th December 1945

I beg to move, in page I line 17, after "of", insert "and at the request of."

My hon. Friends and I are moving this Amendment because, in the course of dis cussion in the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Works indicated that he would reflect and consult upon an identical Amendment that we moved in the Committee and which was eventually withdrawn. The point we made was this. There is a severe risk that, if the words are left as they are, an arbitrary Minister of Works—I am not necessarily applying that adjective to the present holder of that Office—might say, "Here is a local authority which is falling down on its job; I propose to do its work for it, whether it wants that or not." The Minister of Works would then be doing work on its behalf in the performance of its function. I ventured to give a warning that a situation of that sort is one that should not be made possible or encouraged by an Act of Parliament. I gathered that the intention of the Government was that the Minister of Works, with his flying squads, should not intervene in that sort of spirit, but that the intervention of the Minister of Works to do housing work, which normally is not only the function but the actual operation of a local authority, should be done only with the consent of the local authority, and if it consented, of course, it would request. I hope that this question has been re-examined by the Government and that, if there is any vestige of doubt in the advice which they have received, they will accept this Amendment, which makes the matter clear beyond all possible doubt.

The Minister of Works (Mr. Tomlin-son):

Having promised both to reflect and to consult, and having both consulted and reflected, I have discovered that, according to my information, in law the situation is as I outlined it, but that in fact it might be advantageous to include the words of the Amendment. This is Friday morning, and I am in a conciliatory mood. I realise that we promised to do this if it was found that it would be advantageous to all concerned and I accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.