Clause 4. — Power of Secretary of State to make amalgamation schemes.)

SUPPLY [11th March] – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th March 1946.

Alert me about debates like this

7.0 p.m

Photo of Mr George Oliver Mr George Oliver , Ilkeston

I beg to move, in page 4, line 26, after "a," to insert "county or."

I would ask the House also to consider the following Amendments—in page 4, line 28, at the end to insert "county or "; in line 30, after the second "the," to insert" county or "; and in line 32, after "the," to insert "county or."

These Amendments represent the fulfilment of the undertaking which was given in the Standing Committee that the proviso to Clause 4 (1) would be extended to apply to counties with a population of 100,000 as well as county boroughs. The effect is to give an absolute guarantee to counties with a population of 100,000 that they cannot be amalgamated against their will with an area with a larger population than their own.

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

As the hon. Gentleman says, this Amendment is the fulfilment of an undertaking, given in the Committee, to cover this point of bringing in counties as well as county boroughs, and I should like to thank him for it.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

I beg to move, in page 4, line 27, to leave out" one hundred," and to insert" sixty."

Photo of Mr Peter Roberts Mr Peter Roberts , Sheffield Ecclesall

On a point of Order. I would like your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on whether it would be in Order to discuss, with this Amendment, the Amendment which stands in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake)—in page 4, line 31, to leave out from "area" to the end of the Subsection.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I think it might be convenient. I think the two Amendments cover the same ground.

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

When this Bill first went upstairs, there was no limitation on the scope and size of the amalgamations which might be brought about under it. In response to the feeling, which existed on all sides of the Committee, that this was too wide a power, and might leave the door ajar to too large amalgamations over the country, the Home Secretary met the Committee by inserting the proviso at the end of Clause 4 (1). Another Amendment was moved, also on the lines of that which we are now discussing. Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee, if I indicated the difference between the two. Under the proviso which the Home Secretary has inserted, no county borough or county, in accordance with the Amendment which has just been accepted, with a population of 100,000 or more, can be amalgamated compulsorily with a county or county borough larger than that. Of course, that does go some distance in limiting the size of these amalgamations For these small mercies we thank the Home Secretary. In my opinion, however, it does not go far enough. I would prefer an absolute limitation of the size of amalgamations which can take place This would be achieved by the Amendment to which the hon. and gallant' Member for Ecclesall (Major Roberts) has just referred. I would prefer that, but I want to say a word or two about the Amendment which I am moving. It would apply the Home Secretary's principle to boroughs and counties of 60,000 people. Here let me interpolate that the Home Secretary is again flying in the face of the recommendation of the Select Committee of this House which reported in 1932. It said: … your committee therefore recommend that no county borough should be deprived of its rights to maintain a separate police force. Perhaps I might add also that we are, in some degree, departing from this recommendation, because within certain limits we are prepared to deprive county boroughs of that right. I would like to read to the House a list of the county boroughs which may be affected if the provision is left as it is with the limit of 100,000. They are county boroughs which may be compulsorily amalgamated against their will if the Bill is left in its present form. They are Newport, Wallasey, Burnley, Halifax, Reading, Northampton, Rochdale, York Grimsby, Ipswich, Wigan, Warrington, Oxford, Southport, Bootle,Rotherham Barnsley, Merthyr Tydfil, Bath, Lincoln, Barrow, Hastings, Tynemouth, Exeter and Don-caster. I think the House will agree that those are boroughs of importance. I know that misgivings have been aroused in their minds—if a borough can have a mind; the House will understand what I mean—by reason of some remarks which the Home Secretary made in the Committee. During that particular discussion it was thought that the right hon. Gentleman indicated that they were all going to fall under consideration for compulsory amalgamation. The purpose of this Amendment is to give those important places the same rights as those which places of 100,000 population now have under the proviso.

There is another reason, which is that the instructions which have been given by Parliament to the Boundary Commission are to the effect that no county borough should, ordinarily, be deprived of its status as a county borough, unless its population is less than 60,000. I think it is wholly reasonable that the figure which has been chosen by Parliament, above which a county should not be deprived of its status, should also be incorporated in this Bill, and that county boroughs, of the size and importance I have indicated, should not be forcibly amalgamated with places larger than themselves without their consent. I believe that, without doing any damage to intentions, from the point of view of the efficiency of the police forces, the Home Secretary would do well to reduce this figure, particularly as it will bring the Bill into line with the instructions which Parliament has given as to status to the Boundary Commission.

This to my mind is only a compromise. We would like to go further and give an absolute guarantee that there should be no amalgamations of county boroughs without their consent. I have given up any idea of the Home Secretary agreeing to that, but I think that we ought to insist that he goes this step further, and makes this provision that he has introduced applicable to places of 60,000 people, and over, instead of only to those of 100,000 people and over.

Photo of Mr Peter Roberts Mr Peter Roberts , Sheffield Ecclesall

I support the Amendment. My constituency is part of the city of Sheffield, which has a population of over 500,000, and, adjoining it, is the area of Rotherham, which has a population of under 100,000. I understand that, with regard to this Amendment, the figure chosen is 60,000. In the Committee upstairs, the hon. Member for Clayton (Mr. H. Thorneycroft) said that, if this Clause went through as it was, it would be possible for Rotherham and Sheffield to be amalgamated by the Home Secretary, because Sheffield, being above the size of Rotherham, could say nothing about it, and Rotherham, being below the size of Sheffield, could also say nothing about it. After reading the speech of the Home Secretary in Hansard, I thought that he showed no intention of trying to join Rotherham and Sheffield, but he went further and said there was a corridor, or some geographical area between the two. In point of fact, that is not so and there is a boundary of about three miles between Rotherham and Sheffield.

Sheffield citizens, as far as I know, are very satisfied with their police force, which is very efficient and very well run, and I do not think that there is a desire on the part of anybody for a combined authority to be imposed upon them. I understand that the Minister does not intend to do this, but the Clause as it now stands will enable powers to be given into the hands of the Home Secretary, not, possibly, the present right hon. Gentleman, but those who come after him, and I can see no reason whatever why, if the right hon. Gentleman has these ideas, they should not go down in the Bill. I hope he will reconsider the matter and be able to accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

I want to say a word on this Amendment. I do not entirely support it because I find myself in some difficulty in deciding what the figure should be. I do not really know how the Secretary of State arrives at the figure of 100,000; I am more in doubt how the proposers of the Amendment arrive at 60,000. My constituency has received honourable mention from the mover of the Amendment. We are in the somewhat precarious position that we now have a population of 93,000 with our boundaries about to be extended, and so, while I should not like to tie the Home Secretary down to a particular figure, I should have thought that it was reasonable to ask him to have regard to the circumstances of each case, and that, where there are populations very nearly approaching the figure which the right hon. Gentleman fixes, some assurance should be given to these county boroughs that they will not be forcibly amalgamated with other areas.

7.15 p.m

Photo of Mr Edgar Grierson Mr Edgar Grierson , Carlisle

I have been requested by people in my constituency to emphasise the view that the population figure ought to be nothing less than 60,000. Carlisle is a very ancient city, with a long historic background. I believe it is true to say that we have had organised government since the year 1240. We have a long tradition and a great deal of civic pride. Carlisle, geographically, is in an isolated position, and we feel that, in view of the importance of the city, which is the gateway to Scotland and has many problems which need a special organisation, we are definitely entitled to some consideration.

The estimated population at the present time is somewhere in the region of 70,000, but it is true to say that, at the weekends, in our city, there is regularly a population of at least 100,000 people. During the war, we had an exceptional experience. We were a reception area, and, at that particular time, it was our duty to receive at least 7,500 evacuees. Furthermore, we have employed in that area, in the various factories that were commenced during the war, at least 3,500 people. I was at a meeting a few weeks ago, as a member of my local authority and there were at least go representative's present. I was amazed at the support given by the delegates present to the view that this amalgamation scheme ought to be annulled, but I feel that, in the circumstances, after having heard what was said, if I put the point of view of the city of Carlisle, I shall have played my part.

We, in Carlisle, have been able, during the last few years, to build a modern police and fire station, equipped with all the modern amenities, as far as police work is concerned. In view of that, and of the fact that we have made special efforts in order to educate the members of the police force and give them all the necessary facilities, we may feel that, in Carlisle, we were playing a very important ' part in regard to police duties. We have, on many occasions, had various difficulties in the regulating of our traffic, and members of our police force have had to specialise in order to make themselves conversant with this particular aspect of their work. We have certain old charters and by-laws of a special character in our city, and I feel, therefore, that we would be doing a grave injustice if this Bill was passed in its present form limiting the population to 100,000. I sincerely hope the Home Secretary will give this point his very favourable consideration. I have, during the last few weeks, been approached by the Watch Committee with a view to ventilating their feelings here this evening, and I feel that, having done so, I have played my part.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

I would like to urge that the Home Secretary should give way on this particular Amendment. I represent one of the cities that has received honourable mention, and I have been specially asked to urge the Home Secretary in this particular direction. The right hon. Gentleman has chosen the figure of 100,000, and the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has asked why it should be 60,000. It is not merely that the figure of 60,000 suits all the parties interested, but it is, I understand, laid down in the instructions given to the Boundary Commission by this House that the particular figure of 60,000 was chosen as the one for which no loss of county borough amenities or rights should be suffered. Therefore, I very much hope that the right hon. Gentleman will adopt that precedent and choose the figure of 60,000.

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you have ruled that a discussion may take place on the following Amendment standing on the Order Paper in my name and in the names of some of my hon. Friends—

In page 4, line 28, after "upwards,'' insert or where a county borough has an authorised establishment of more than one hundred. —during the discussion on the Amendment which is now before the House. The purpose of the Amendment standing in my name is to limit the powers of the Home Secretary in ordering a compulsory amalgamation in the case of county boroughs which have a police establishment 01 over 100 persons. In Committee the Home Secretary, in dealing with this particular point, said: It will be noticed that in the two following Amendments a further criterion is estab- lished—a police force with an establishment of 100. The reason I did not include that in my Amendment is that the size of the police force is determined by the Secretary of State. He authorises the establishment, and therefore, if there were a police force with, say, an establishment of 102, it would not be within the power of this hypothetical Secretary of State, who was anxious to do the unreasonable thing, to reduce the size of that police force to 99." —[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee B), 31st January, 1946; c. 87.] I agree that that is absolutely true, as the Home Secretary has stated, but I do feel that the right hon. Gentleman who endeavoured to reduce a police force from 102 to 99 under conditions such as that, would be seriously challenged by this House before it would permit him to do such a low-down, dirty trick. I am perfectly certain that the present Home Secretary, by including in the Bill the words suggested in my Amendment, would carry out the intention quite honourably and I am sure he would not resort to the trick of reducing an establishment, so as to effect amalgamation.

My own constituency and that of Hastings axe county boroughs, and we cater very largely for holiday traffic. We have a winter season and a summer season. During the year there are very few months when our population is not over 100,000 persons. Our stable population is only 59,000, so that we are not covered by the 60,000 Amendment. Our average all the year round population is clearly in excess of the 100,000 mentioned and that is why in my own constituency, in Hastings and in other county boroughs, we have what appears to be a very large police force for the size of the borough. This is an extremely reasonable Amendment, and I hope the Home Secretary will deal with the case when he comes to reply. There is one further point I. would make. The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Grierson), said that, having ventilated the case of his constituency, he thought he had done his duty and need do nothing more about the matter. May I assure him that his duty is not completed until he goes into the Lobby, to support the views, which he has so ably expressed in the House?

Photo of Mr George Deer Mr George Deer , Lincoln

I appeal to the Home Secretary to give consideration to the question of the status of the county boroughs which have for so long had police powers and have used those powers reasonably and satisfactorily, even if he cannot give consideration to the figure of 60,000 mentioned in the Amendment. I raise this question because my own constituency, the City of Lincoln, was mentioned by the Mover of the Amendment. In the case of Lincoln, which is both a Cathedral city and an industrial city, we are surrounded by a large rural area whose problems, both in regard to police and everything else, are entirely dissimilar to that of my constituency. I mentioned the fact upstairs that we were regarded as an oasis in a desert. Politically speaking, the deserts are beginning to alter, but the important thing is that we should be very upset and worried if we had to give up a very efficient police force and transfer, at the behest of the Home Office, to a standing joint committee who are not so democratically controlled and whose functions are run by a nominated body, partly elected by county quarter sessions and partly by county councils. I am convinced that if the Home Secretary will give us the assurance we need, he can have a speedy passage of the general provisions of his Bill.

The important thing to me is that although a case may be made out for joining authorities who have common interests, a case cannot be made out for the amalgamation of a long established county borough whose interests are entirely different from the police authorities surrounding it. That sort of thing does not make for efficiency, because both the county authorities and the county borough authorities have to use the services of the special departments, such as the forensic laboratory at Nottingham, and so on, in pursuance of their ordinary work. But we are placed in the dilemma of having to vote against the Government on this because, although many of our constituencies are controlled by people of the same complexion as those on this side of the House, they feel that if they give way on this issue they will put themselves under the control of very reactionary rural and county authorities. I hope that the Home Secretary will have special regard to this plea. Even though he cannot accept the figure of 60,000, he ought to give us an assurance that county boroughs will not lose their status. The fact that in the Boundary Commission's recommendation no authority of over 60,000 is to lose its county borough status ought to be sufficient for him to give consideration to the plea put forward by both sides of the House to see that the very efficient police organisations of county boroughs are maintained.

7.30 p.m.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

Unlike some hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, my constituency is not in the least interested in this matter and, therefore, perhaps, I may put another point of view. I very well remember the discussions in this House when the recommendation of the Boundary Commission was under review. I would ask the Home Secretary to consider taking no action in regard to this Bill which might prejudice the position of county boroughs which are at present immune from the consideration of the Commission. I recognise the importance of police mobility and such things, and that one does not want to multiply police forces unnecessarily. The county boroughs which were particularly excluded, which were, in other words, made safe by this House, should not now be placed in jeopardy. It would be very difficult for those who appeared before the Boundary Commission and gave evidence if we now prejudiced the situation by any action contrary to what this House then decided. It is wrong for Parliament to override a decision which was reached after a great deal of discussion, when the figure 60,000 was arrived at.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Younger Mr Kenneth Younger , Grimsby

I wish to associate myself with the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Deer). I represent another borough in the county of Lincoln. I would ask the Home Secretary to explain exactly why he alighted upon the figure of 100,000. I agree that it is difficult to hit upon any particular figure, but I should have thought that the 60,000 of the Boundary Commission had distinct relevance. If that figure is not to be maintained we should be told why by the Home Secretary. If my right hon. Friend should think it impossible to insert 60,000 into the Bill I would ask him to let it be placed on record, and that he should give us some assurance, that in considering county boroughs with a population of less than 100,000 he will take into account special circumstances relating to those boroughs. My constituency is a seaport and fishing port. Its police problems would be unfamiliar to any police personnel who might come in from outside. If the Home Secretary would give us the assurance that conditions of that kind will be taken fully into account he would allay the very real fears that exist in many county boroughs. No doubt those circumstances would be taken into account in a local inquiry, but it would be helpful if my right hon. Friend could make a statement on the subject

Photo of Mr John Maude Mr John Maude , Exeter

I would like to present one farther argument in favour of the alteration of this figure. Can Lincoln speak, and Exeter remain silent? Lincoln is a parvenu compared with the great cities of Exeter and Carlisle. Nevertheless, I look across to the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Deer) with great affection and admiration for what he has said on behalf of the other cities besides his own. I am prepared to admit that 100,000 is a good round figure and that it is probably helpful to have something in hand in this matter. It is not unhelpful for some of these boroughs, even if they are very ancient, to have something in hand so as to keep up to the mark. I do not think it would be unfair to say that simply to sing"Auld Lang Syne" and get away with it, is completely out of date. One must face facts and recognise that we may have to have changes. Nevertheless, Exeter is not an oasis in the middle of the desert. We are rather a desert in the middle of an oasis and are having a miserable time trying to rehouse ourselves. I am making no capital out of that fact and am not trying to blame anybody. We are having a very thin time. I do not want to see', at the end of this Debate when the Bill passes on, my city in a position to say, "Good gracious, now we may be faced with forced amalgamation of our police force."

Our citizens feel very strongly, because they have done well with their city. They have a first-rate police force. They do not base their arguments only on that ground. They say: "We are coming somewhere near the border line and we do not believe that the Home Secretary intends to amalgamate us. On the other hand, we appreciate that it is very difficult for him. At some later stage it might become expedient." I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give all of us some assurance that the attitude of mind of himself may be represented in this way: "I have plenty of material here for the experiment "—it is largely an experiment—" and there is no reason to feel apprehensive. If, in fact, it should be a very successful experiment it might nevertheless still be true that there is no reason for apprehension on the part of these county boroughs who are on the border line. Indeed, they may remain quite calm and they may be satisfied that at the present moment there is nothing at all to worry about."

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to go as far as that. It is rather farther than he has been urged heretofore. He has been asked to take into consideration special circumstances, but this is something rather more than that. We do not want to be bothered with something extra put on the local authorities and upon the minds of the citizens in the shape of extra worry and annoyance which will only cause local strife. I therefore support the plea which has been put forward humbly, with great reasonableness and with great good temper.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I represent the ancient and famous borough of Northampton and I rise to say that it is worried. The trouble is that at the last estimate by the Registrar-General, our evacuees had left us and our Service people had not came pack and that, although our average population is over 100,000, our particular population, as referred to and defined in the Clause, was shown to be just under 100,000. My watch committee are very proud, justifiably, of a well-organised police force, which has served the borough well for a large number of years. It has very different problems from those of the rural police force of the county. The watch committee are worried that the fate of the police force should even be threatened. They were anxious that I should put down an Amendment to the Clause, after Registrar-General" to add: at any time within a period of five years preceding the appointed day. I did not think it necessary to do so, because I feel confident that the Home Secretary will give us an assurance that, in the application of this admittedly arbitrary figure of 100,000, our average population will be taken into consideration and that advantage will not be taken of a temporary decrease in population which will be altered at a subsequent date. I earnestly ask the Home Secretary to give Northampton that assurance and to say, without any necessity for my going in for an Amendment, that the average population will be taken into consideration and that the decrease will not be a ground for partial amalgamation.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Rees-Williams Lieut-Colonel David Rees-Williams , Croydon South

I am sorry to introduce a different" note into these very harmonious proceedings but I propose to ask the House to reject the Amendment. I believe that, in the interests of good government, it is important that police forces should be larger than some of them have been in the past I realise that many hon. Members feel strongly on this matter and I sympathise with them. Local patriotism is very important and we should encourage it, but I want to assure them that their fears are not justified and that if these proposals go through, they will lose nothing at all. I represent one half of a county borough of 211,400 people, and we have no police force at all under our jurisdiction. Therefore, if a county borough of that size can be run happily and without any trouble, why should there be qualms about county boroughs of a much smaller size? The police in our county borough come under the Metropolitan Police Force. There is no chief constable, but there is a superintendent. I regret to say I cannot tell the House the strength of the police force. I have inquired from the local police, from Scotland Yard and from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, but none of them can, or will, tell me the strength. I cannot imagine that they do not know and, therefore, I must assume that the barbarous wartime practice of maintaining secrecy is being continued into the days of peace. However, I think it can be assumed that it consists of a superintendent, a few inspectors, some sergeants and a number of men, and they function very satisfactorily indeed. When we have civic functions, the superintendent takes the place of the chief constable in other forces.

If these small boroughs lose their forces, what difference will it make? It will not make a scrap of difference to them. Not a single undergraduate more will go to Oxford if there happens to be a local force there, and not a single undergraduate less will go there if there is not a local force in control. Is anyone going to tell me that people are going to Eastbourne, because there is a local police force there, or that people are not going to Eastbourne because there is not a local police force there?

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

We have been amalgamated during the war for wartime purposes. We have had experience of amalgamation and we have had experience of having our own police force; we prefer to have our own police force.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Rees-Williams Lieut-Colonel David Rees-Williams , Croydon South

I think it is a dangerous argument, because it seems to me that the duty of a police officer is to carry out the law. What is the point in objecting to an amalgamated force? Is it thought that if these amalgamated police forces have full control, the police will carry out the law? Is that the fear? For these reasons I ask this House to consider this matter very seriously, because it is an important matter of administration. Having had some experience of association with the police, I know the big forces feel strongly in this matter when they see chief constables of little forces, with not nearly as many men in them as an ordinary inspector in the Metropolitan Police has under him.

745 P.m

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

Like the constituency of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), my constituency has no direct interest in this matter, although the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) did list it among those boroughs with a population of less than 100,000. In fact, it has a population of much more than 100,000, but, at least, the hon. Gentleman's error was unwitting and drew attention to an important point. The hon. Gentleman's error was unwitting, because this is a borough whose population has changed markedly and in a short time, and this is only one example of a number of causes of population change. We have heard from the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor) of seasonal population changes, and we have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Grierson) of weekend population changes, no doubt due to the amenities of his city partly as a result of an experiment in nationalisation which attracts people from North of the city. We have heard also from my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) of anomalies in populations which are very close to a given figure, and we have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) of a population which fluctuates just above and just below a given figure.

The arguments for this Amendment have tended to support not a figure of 60,000 as against 100,000, but the contention that any arbitrary figure must be wrong and must create anomalies. If this is so, and since the function of the House at this moment is to decide only between two figures, then let us choose the figure which will create fewer anomalies. The lower one goes down the population scale, the more boroughs are affected, and, therefore, the greater is the number of potential anomalies arising out of the enforcement of an arbitrary boundary. On those purely technical grounds alone, I would say that a figure of 60,000 is not as good as a figure of 100,000 and, for that matter, a figure of 100,000 is not as good as a figure of 200,000. For that reason, I beg the Home Secretary to resist the Amendment.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I will endeavour to restore to the proceedings the harmony which was so rudely disturbed by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams). I accept all the testimonials that have been given to their constituents by the hon. Members who have reason to feel grateful to their constituents. I would point out that some of the arguments that have been adduced can hardly be regarded seriously. I am told to have regard to the fact that at weekends Carlisle has a population of 100,000. I live in the borough of Epsom, and on the first Wednesday in June we shall have a population rather larger than that of Birmingham. I make no claims in respect of that. I have been asked to give attention to the claims of cathedral cities, but I thought the days for taking restrictive action against turbulent priests had long since passed.

Let us examine exactly what is proposed to be done. The argument has proceeded on the basis that some Secretary of State will descend on a county borough of between 60,000 and 100,000 in population, will promote a compulsory amalgamation scheme, and forthwith the borough will be amalgamated. That is not by any means the situation. Let us assume that a compulsory amalgamation scheme is, in fact, promoted. If the authorities to be amalgamated agree, the scheme can then go through, but if one of them disagrees an inquiry has to be held. I have gone further than any Minister has previously gone in my endeavour -to ensure that the inquiry shall be held by a person of as complete impartiality as it is possible to obtain. I did agree on the Second Reading that it should not be an inspector of police or an officer of any Government Department. In the Committee stage of the Bill I suggested that this person should be taken from a panel, to be drawn up in consultation with the Association of Municipal Corporations and the County Councils Association, so that the person holding the inquiry would be one whose efficiency and knowledge would already have been approved by the local authority associations most concerned.

I think that was a concession which ought to be made in view of the anxiety which is felt by many hon. Members of the House that this Bill might be used to promote a national police force, or possibly large forces outside the Metropolitan police area of the same size as the Metropolitan Police Force I have no such desire myself. I have as great a dread of the "police State" as any hon. Member in the House, and perhaps with more reason than some That is not the end of it. The report of this inspector has to be presented to the House, so that the Secretary of State cannot smother the findings of the inspector if they are unfavourable to his views The House of Commons will then have in front of it, before the scheme comes into operation, the findings of an inspector who has been selected from the panel which I have described. I think that that indicates it will not merely be the desire of some Secretary of State that will determine whether these amalgamations take place or not.

I am bound to say that I am almost overwhelmed by the compliments that have been paid me with regard to my own good sense in the matter. I recognise that lion. Members opposite really dread what may happen when in the distant future they have to provide a Secretary of State to carry out the powers that I am going to confer upon him by this Bill. However, it is not, as might have been thought from a good many of the speeches, the mere -whim of a Secretary of State which is to determine this matter. It will be only after an inquiry, more protected from Government prejudice than any similar inquiry that has ever been held under a Statute of the House, that any amalgamation can possibly take place. I hesitate to call this a wrecking Amendment, because the hon. Gentleman and I got on so well upstairs that it would be almost imputing a motive to suggest that this was designed to wreck the Bill. However, I would point out to him—and it is a thing that has been forgotten in the course of this Debate—that I have included already in the Bill, on the motion of my hon. Friend the Undersecretary, an Amendment to the part of the Bill we are now discussing, which brings the counties as well as the county boroughs into the 100,000 limit. If I were to accept this Amendment of 60,000 it would apply to counties as well as to county boroughs. It is safe to say that the effect of this Amendment would be that no amalgamation scheme worth while could be carried through in the country at all, because it limits it with regard to both counties and county boroughs.

I have been asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) and others to give an assurance that the special circumstances of a borough would be taken into account. Let me assure him, and also the representatives of the counties, that before promoting a compulsory scheme, the first step will be, if a voluntary scheme is not brought forward by adjoining authorities, that a conference will be held with the authorities whom the Secretary of State may desire to amalgamate, to put before them the reasons why in his opinion it is desirable that in that particular area a joint police force should be set up. If they consent, again all will be well. If not, there will still be all the processes which I have indicated to be gone through. One must assume that in all these matters the special circumstances of areas will be borne in mind before any consideration is given to whether an amalgamation scheme ought to be promoted or not. For instance I cannot think that the people of Northampton are really as worried as my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) represented. Fancy the constituents of Bradlaugh and Labouchere being worried about a matter of this kind, especially when they are represented by my hon. Friend. After all, it is an ascending order of merit which I have mentioned. A very good case to take here is, I think, a county borough which has at the moment approximately 100,000 people. I do want to point out that I have endeavoured to ensure that the utmost reason shall be observed in the matter. It is the last Registrar-General's estimate which is to be taken. That is to say, the moment the Registrar-General estimates that a borough has over 100,000 people it will become exempt from compulsory amalgamation.

The hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) referred to the question of the considerations given to the Boundary Commission. Do let us be quite clear what they are. They are, that no authority which has now the status of a county borough council should be reduced below that status to non-county borough status if its population is over 60,000. Many county boroughs are in all sorts of joint schemes, not merely for police but for other purposes. It does not by any means prove that an authority is not capable of exercising county borough council powers merely because, for one reason or another, it has agreed to take part in a joint scheme with neighbouring authorities. There is a very wide range of public services over which joint committees operate, and to which the various county boroughs, county and other councils appoint their representatives without anyone suggesting that the appointing council is incapable of discharging its proper functions.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

If the right hon. Gentleman would forgive me for interrupting, may I say the point is the question of a compulsory scheme? I quite agree there is nothing to stop them getting together on a voluntary basis.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I do not think the hon. and gallant Member will find that is so always. There are plenty of provisional order schemes that have been promoted to cover these cases. Already eight county boroughs have voluntarily amalgamated themselves with the counties in which they are situated, and I should hesitate to think that Bournemouth, which is one of them, is not as efficiently policed as either Eastbourne or Hastings.

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

The right hon. Gentleman is not comparing Bournemouth with Eastbourne, is he?

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I am. I have been to both places, and for more than a weekend, and I doubt very much whether any one going into either place could tell that the one was policed by an amalgamated constabulary while the other used to be policed by its own independent constabulary.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Deer), and one or two other hon. Members, used the argument that this would place the county under what was described as "a reactionary police authority." It was because of that anomaly that the Bill was drafted as it is. At the moment, the only way in which an amalgamation can take place is by the absorption of a borough force in a county force. The eight county boroughs to which I have alluded have all had to agree that their borough force shall be absorbed into the county police force. I desire to avoid that situation, and that is why I have drafted the Bill in the way I have. In the case of an amalgamation, whether voluntary or compulsory, the effect of the wording of the Bill will be that in future the two or more police authorities to be amalgamated will retain the right of appointing their own representatives to the police authority. It will not be an absorption of a borough into a county, if the arrangement is that a county borough and county are to be amalgamated; there will be so many representatives for the county borough and so many for the county, and, as I explained on an earlier Amendment, I am very anxious to leave the arrangement so wide that the best possible people from each of the constituent authorities can be selected to sit on the joint police authority.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Mervyn Wheatley Lieut-Colonel Mervyn Wheatley , Dorset Eastern

Does that mean to say that only a portion of the standing joint committee will be the police authority?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Member was present earlier in the evening when I dealt with the question of the way the representatives might be selected. Let us suppose that an amalgamation is proposed involving a county borough and a county. have promised this evening that the representatives of the county borough shall be selected from members of the county borough council. The representatives of the county police authority will be drawn from the members of the county council and from the justices sitting in Quarter Sessions, so that the representatives of the county borough will all be county borough councillors and the representatives of the county will be drawn from those people who, at the moment, are responsible for appointing the members of the standing joint committee.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

Are we to understand that the future standing joint committee will not be composed of, say, one half elected representatives of the people and the other half nominated persons? If I understand what the right hon. Gentleman says, the representatives of the county borough which is amalgamated or absorbed into the county will be elected representative of that borough council. If the elected representatives of the borough council sit side by side with the standing joint committee, am I correct in inferring that there will be a majority of elected representatives on the standing joint committee?

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

No, Sir. I do not think the hon. Member has quite realised exactly what I have said. It would all depend upon the respective size of the county borough and the county. I think, in most cases, the effect would be that on the new joint police authority a majority of the members would be either county borough councillors or aldermen, or county councillors or aldermen, with, in most cases, a number of county justices equal to the number of county councillors and aldermen, selected in reference to each of the counties concerned. If the amalgamation is between a county borough and a county of approximately equal size, that would mean that two-thirds of the representation would be from local authorities and one-third from the county justices. It would in every case depend upon the proportionate representation assigned to the county borough and county concerned, and that in the main would be arranged roughly in proportion to the populations involved.

I have given very careful consideration to this figure of 100,000, and I have selected it because it is the figure at which, it has been decided by this House, a new county borough shall be constituted. Existing non-county boroughs and urban districts with populations of under 100,000 cannot be made into new county boroughs, and it is therefore quite clear that this House, which has steadily raised this figure since 1888, when it started at 50,000, has decided that 100,000 is the figure at which an area can expect to get and retain county borough status. The House has also stated that only under exceptional circumstances should county boroughs with a population of less than 60,000 be allowed to retain that status. The effect of this Amendment, therefore, would be, when the boundary commissioners have completed their report, that it would be impossible to amalgamate any county borough, no matter how strong the case and no matter what the report of an inspector if he was allowed to go and hold an inquiry. In this matter it is essential that we should have regard first to the .public service. It is the efficiency of the public service which alone is a justification for government, either national or local. As one who has given 40 years to local government, I want to say in all sincerity that one of the things that sometimes makes it very difficult to justify the continuance of certain local government powers is the way in which the very often legitimate pride of a local authority causes it to stand in the way of efficient amalgamation and efficient co-operative and joint use of powers with surrounding authorities.

The House may rest assured of this, that these powers will not be put into motion except after the most careful scrutiny and consideration. If any Secretary of State, having given that careful scrutiny and consideration, should propose a scheme for any local authority whose population is less than 100,000, and that local authority does not like it, his proposal will have to stand the scrutiny of the investigation that I have described. I venture to say that that is an ample safeguard to ensure that the particular requirements of seaport towns, or cathedral cities, and other places with peculiar problems, will be legitimately considered before any decision is taken in the matter.

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

I have a great admiration for the Parliamentary gifts of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. I nearly always find his arguments persuasive, and sometimes I have very nearly found them convincing. But I have never heard him less persuasive or less convincing than he has been this evening in answering this Amendment. He stresses the safeguards in the Clause. There is to be a local inquiry; the inspector has to make a report; there is provision for a negative Resolution of the House of Commons. That is true. But if there are all these safeguards in the Clause why has the right hon. Gentleman introduced the limitation of a population of 100,000 into the Bill? Let hon. and right hon. Gentlemen cast their minds back to the origin of this Amendment. The House discussed the Second Reading of this Bill on 1st November last. This question of police amalgamations is an issue which cuts across party lines. There was a general desire in the Debate on the Second Reading, therefore, upon a subject possibly embarrassing to hon. Members, that we should, if possible, avoid a Division.

At that time the Clause we are now discussing contained no ceiling whatsoever to the size or scale or the numbers of the amalgamations which might be carried through on the instigation of the Home Secretary. The hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary wound up the Debate with his usual charming and bluff good humour, but he did not answer the one important question which was put to him for an answer. It was, Would he introduce some limitation into the Bill to the scale of the amalgamations which might be undertaken? At the end of the Debate I rose in my seat and asked whether he would be kind enough to answer the question I put to the Government, whether they would set some limit to the objectives they had regarding the size of amalgamations. The hon. Gentleman replied that we should have an opportunity of discussing this matter with the local authorities. I thought that was treating the House of Commons rather badly. We were not to be told whether the Government would or would not introduce any limiting Amendment. We were told it was a matter which would be discussed with the local authorities. During the Committee stage, presumably after discussing this matter with the local authorities, the right hon. Gentleman inserted in the Bill a ceiling to these powers of amalgamation.

He has chosen a yardstick of the population of the area and given protection to those police areas where the population exceeds 100,000. For my part I should have much preferred the yardstick embodied in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor) which is also, I understand, being discussed along with the Amendment now before the Committee. That yardstick is the numerical size of the police force concerned. After all, if one was seeking for the efficiency of the police by means of amalgamation, I should have thought that the number of police officers in the force was a better yardstick to choose for putting a limit to units than the population of the area which that police force has to look after. However, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary turned down the yardstick of the numerical strength of the force in the Committee stage, and brought forward this proposal for a limit of 100,000 with reference to the population of the area. The effect of his proposal is to give absolute protection against amalgamation against their wishes to a substantial number of county boroughs and county police forces. It protects 38 out of 73 county borough forces and it protects all but 15 out of a total of 58- county forces. The question before the House at this moment, is therefore, Is that degree of protection sufficient?

8.15 p.m.

Our Amendment is to set the population limit at 60,000 in place of 100,000 proposed by the Home Secretary. Incidentally, our proposal would result in giving protection to a very large number of those police forces where the strength is over 100 constables, which are not protected in the proposal made by the Home Secretary. Our Amendment would, as my hon. Friend, in moving it, told the House, protect an additional 25 county boroughs. My hon. Friend gave the list, and I do not think I need give it again since most of the representatives of those county boroughs are in the Chamber at the moment. Further it would protect five more of the counties, making all the county forces safe from amalgamation except 10.

I cannot understand the right hon. Gentleman saying that this Amendment would wreck the Bill. After all, this Bill contains a good many other Clauses besides Clause 4. Clause 1, as we know, abolishes non-county borough police forces altogether. That will be left to the right hon. Gentleman. Clause 3, which widens the scope for voluntary amalgamation, will still be left to him, and there will still be a considerable field for amalgamation put forward by the Home Secretary under Clause 4 of the Bill. Since the declared object of the right hon. Gentleman is to build efficient units broadly on the structure of the county boroughs and of the counties I really cannot see why he should not accept this Amendment. After all, it was the ineptitude or inexperience of -the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary which forced us into the Division lobby on the Second Reading. A Division could easily have been avoided, had he said that the Government proposed, during the Committee stage, to set some ceiling to the size of the amalgamated force. The right hon. Gentleman is, I am afraid, going to force us into the same position again tonight. I could have hoped that he would put up his Under-Secretary this evening to make good the error into which he fell during the Second Reading Debate, to say that the Government are prepared to accept this Amendment giving protection to the additional 25 county boroughs and five counties.

What is the argument in favour of compulsory amalgamation over a wide area? The whole object of this Bill is to promote efficiency in the police force, but, in promoting efficiency, you must have regard to local pride and local traditions. In most of these 25 county boroughs, whose police forces may be abolished if our Amendment is not incorporated in the Bill, it could be said that they are places with a long history and tradition; one could go further and say that nearly all of them have had police forces for more than 100 years—I think all of them have had police forces for more than 80 years. They are all substantial places, and many of them have more than 100 constables in their forces. I am of the opinion, and I do not speak without some little experience at the Home Office, that a force of 100 constables could be a highly efficient force If the right hon. Gentleman will permit some forces of the size of 80 or 100 constables to remain in being, he would not in any way be prejudicing the efficiency of the police. The argument was produced during the Committee stage, that police areas must be increased because of the mobility of the modern criminal. The idea seemed to be that the police constable, chasing a thief on a motor bicycle or in a motor car, stopped at the borough boundary and waved him good-bye. That, of course, does not happen, because there is admirable liaison between the different boroughs and county police forces; they are heavily interlocked in districts such as the West Riding of Yorkshire, or the County of Lancashire.

Then, there is the argument that you must have bigger units because all sorts of means and methods are at the disposal of the criminals today which he could not have employed before. I venture to say that that also is a completely fallacious argument. Never in the course of our history has a burglar been at such a disadvantage compared with the police than at the present time. In the days of Dick Turpin the criminal had a horse and the policeman had a horse; in the days of Charles Peace, I do not know what they had, but they certainly had no motor-cars or motor-cycles. Not only have the police all the equipment at their disposal which the criminal has, but they are a long way ahead of the criminal. There has been much complaint for a long time past from the burgling fraternity that methods like finger prints, blood tests and radio are most unfair and quite out of keeping with the principles of the game as it used to be played. The argument that because we have the telephone, the telegraph and the radio the burglar is at a greater advantage than he was in the past, is completely fallacious. It is possible to have a highly efficient police force of 70, 80, 90 or 100 constables, all of which are sufficiently large to give a good man a chance to come forward and obtain promotion.

The right hon. Gentleman used two other arguments about which I think I ought to say a word. He said, if our Amendment were accepted, that no scheme of amalgamation which was worth while could be made. Really that, I think, is a considerable over-statement. This narrows the field of compulsory amalgamation to a certain extent, but it does not shut it completely. It still leaves a field in which compulsory amalgamation can operate. The right hon. Gentleman went on to argue that he had chosen 100,000 because it had been laid down for the guidance of the Boundary Commissioners, that they should enforce the county borough status in future upon any area which did not have a population of that size. This is a case of abolishing a police force, and that rule does not apply. The rule laid down for the guidance of the Boundary Commissioners is that they must not recommend the deprivation of county borough status for any area which has a population of more than 60,000. Surely that is exactly comparable with the case which we are putting forward; that is to say no area shall have its police force taken away against its will if the area has more than 60,000. For myself, I would have preferred a yardstick based on the number of constables in the force. The right hon. Gentleman has refused that, and he has taken the yardstick of population, setting his figure at 100,000. If we are to have a yardstick based on population, then 60,000 is a better number to choose than 100,000 It will preserve a number of admirable police forces, and will not wreck the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman has presented.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

Unlike a number of my hon. Friends. I did not have the pleasure and enjoyment of taking part in the discussions on this matter in Committee. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend is leaving the House. [Interruption.] I am not asking him to come back.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Will the hon. Member address his remarks to the Chair:

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

I must avail myself of this opportunity to say how profoundly and absolutely I disagree with my right hon. Friend and with the case which he has attempted to make out this evening. If my right hon. Friend continues to resist this Amendment it will considerably affect Wales. There are seven counties there whose population is under 100,000. These seven counties are adjoining, and each one varies extensively in size and population. Each one can be deprived, if this Amendment is not accepted, of any control which they have as counties over their present police forces. I know that my right hon. Friend has a considerable sense of humour, and I think it must be that sense of humour which prompted him this afternoon to describe this Amendment as being almost a wrecking Amendment. That is rather amusing having regard to what has already happened in the House today. Already he has deprived every borough in this country, notwithstanding any pride which it may have in its own police force, of any control over that force, and now he is afraid of another wrecking being perpetrated as the result of this Amendment, when he has already wrecked as many county boroughs as he can.

8.30 p.m.

There are 34 county boroughs whose control over their police forces is threatened if this Amendment is not accepted. If it is accepted, that number will be reduced to nine. This Bill, from beginning to end, is a wrecking Bill. My right hon. Friend knows that only too well, and the only excuse he has given us in resisting this and other Amendments is that he stands for the efficiency of the police forces. Not once during the long discussion on this Amendment has he given, if he could give, any idea as to what he understands by the word "efficiency." I am driven to the conclusion that the reason why he resists this Amendment is because he confuses efficiency with size on the assumption that the more numerous and more congested a population, the more efficient is its police force.

I ask my right hon. Friend to reconsider his attitude on this matter. His stonewalling of these major Amendments —this is one of them—will, to put it mildly, not endear him to hon. Members in this House. My right hon. Friend took a great deal of time to tell us, "I have done more in this Bill than has any other Home Secretary to protect the police authorities in this country." That, I would say, is a piece of effrontery. What he should have told us is this: "I am doing more than any other Home Secretary in the history of the police forces of this country to wreck those police forces." [Interruption.] I am not getting in a bad temper because my own police force is being threatened. But I am entitled to ask the Home Secretary why he should threaten that police force and threaten to merge it and lose it in a county police force.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

What I am doing is to protect the Merthyr Tydfil force from suffering on the assumption—and it must not be taken that the assumption is a sound one—that if Merthyr Tydfil were amalgamated with either of the counties which it adjoins, the police force would not be amalgamated with and absorbed into the county police force but would become part of a joint police authority on which the Merthyr Tydfil Council would have the right of appointing representatives. If it would help the hon. Member, I will promise him that, in the unlikely event of such an amalgamation taking place, I will see that a seat on the new police authority is reserved for the mayor of the borough.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

I shall be very happy to convey to the Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil the kindly concern which my right hon. Friend has shown for him. I do not think that any of us is impressed by the promise made by my right hon. Friend that it will not be a merger but an amalgamation. The sprat will be amalgamated with the shark. A county borough of 70,000 population cannot be amalgamated with a county with a population approaching 1,000,000. Only one thing can happen—it will be swallowed by it, and the county borough knows it only too well: I am sorry my right hon. Friend has been so obdurate. I dislike the Bill intensely and I hope to have something more to say on that later. I am surprised and disappointed that he is resisting without reason, without argument and without case the Amendments which have been submitted, most of which have been inspired not that this borough or that county borough may retain its police force, but because of the profound fear that exists that this is but the first step towards the destruction of local government in this country.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I have no constituency matter to raise in relation to this Bill or this Amendment but I hope very much that when the Home Secretary replies, which I imagine he will do—

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I have already replied.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

In that case I hope that a supplementary reply will be forthcoming on this question of identifying size with efficiency. There is no more vulgar modern heresy than that which confuses size with virtue. It is a very pronounced heresy and a very widespread one, and it may be that it is invading the terms of this Bill. It is not true to say that a big country is necessarily better than a little one. I think that the world owes much more to Greece than to America. It is not true to say that a big union is better than a small one or a big shop is better than a little one. I call Heaven to witness that no man conducts his courtship on the basis that the bigger the woman the better. I do not say that efficiency and virtue reside in size. I am open to conviction. If the Home Secretary or the Undersecretary can convince me that a unit of 100,000 is better than 60,000 then I am willing to be convinced, but I am not at all impressed that we ought to pass it, because to my commonsense and practical mind it appears to be probable that there is some relation between the number of '' coppers '' and the size of the population. It is not a mathematical relation. Speaking for myself, I may say that I find the degree of attention which I get from the police is pretty uniform no matter which part of the country I go to. On this point of whether 100,000 or 60,000 makes the better force I am open to conviction, but I would say that there is truth in the poet's remark:

" The Lord speaks in the voice of little things."

If I may also quote from a great fellow-countryman of the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. S. 0. Davies): The world owes much to little nations and to little men.

As I have said, I am open to conviction on the argument that the larger unit makes for efficiency. That is the point of the Amendment. I think the House does require to be convinced that a force of 100,000 makes for greater efficiency than one of 60,000, and that we are not crushing local associations of long standing and merging little police forces in wider bodies on the plea of higher efficiency. I do not know whether any Government spokesman is going to speak. [Hon. Members: "Vote."] Hon. Members want to vote? [Hon. Members: "Yes."] Then Heaven forbid that I should stand in the way.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 261; Noes, 112.

Division No. 100.]AYES.[8.43 p.m.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Collick, P.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Adamson, Mrs. J. L.Collins, V. JGriffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)
Allen, A C. (Bosworth)Colman, Miss G. M.Guest, Dr. L. Haden
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Comyns, Dr. L.Gunter, Capt. R. J.
Attewell, H. G.Corlett, Dr. J.Guy, W. H.
Austin, H. L.Cove, W. G.Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)
Ayles, W. H.Daggar, G.Hale, Leslie
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Daines, P.Hall, W G. (Colne Valley)
Bacon, Miss A.Davies, Edward (Burslem)Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R
Baird, Capt. J.Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Balfour, A. Davies, Harold (Leek)Hardy, E. A.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. JDavies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Barstow, P. G.Diamond, J.Haworth, J.
Barton, C.Dobbin, W.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Battley, J. R.Dodds, N. N.Herbison, Miss M
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.)Douglas, F. C. R.Hewitson. Capt. M.
Bechervaise, A. E.Driberg, T. E. N.Hicks, G.
Belcher, J. W.Durbin, E. F. M.Hobson, C. R.
Bellenger, F. JDye, S.House; G.
Benson, GEde, Rt. Hon. J. C.Hoy, J.
Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)Hubbard, T.
Binns, J.Edwards, John (Blackburn)Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Blackburn, A. R.Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Blenkinsop, Capt. A.Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Hughes, Lt. H D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)
Blyton, W. R.Ewart, R.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Fairhurst, F.Irving, W. J.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Fletcher, E. G M. (Islington, E.)Isaacs, Rt. Hon G A.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)Follick, M.Janner, B.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Foot, M. M.Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)
Brooks, T J. (Rothwell)Foster, W. (Wigan)Jeger, Dr. S. W (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Brown, George (Belper)Fraser, T. (Hamilton)John, W.
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Freeman, Maj. J (Watford)Jones, A C. (Shipley)
Buchanan, G.Gallacher, W.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Burden, T. WGibbins, J Keenan, W.
Burke, W. A.Gibson, C. W Kenyon, C.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Gilzean, A.King, E. M
Champion, A. J.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Kinley, J
Chetwynd, Capt. G. RGooch, E. G.Kirby, B. V
Clitherow, Dr. RGoodrich, H. E.Kirkwood, D.
Cluse, W. S.Granville, E (Eye)Lavers, S.
Cocks, F. SGreenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J
Coldrick, W. Griffiths, D (Rother Valley)Lee, F. (Hulme)
Leslie, J. R.Paget, R. T.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Levy, B. W.Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Lewis, T. (Southampton)Palmer, A. M. F.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Pargiter, G. A.Thomson, Rt Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.
Logan, D. GParker, J.Thorneycroft, H.
Longden, F.Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. TTiffany, S.
McAdam, W.Paton, J. (Norwich)Titterington, M. F.
McAllister, G.Pearson, A.Tolley, L.
McEntee, V. La T.Peart, Capt. T. F.Tomlinson, Rt Hon. G
McGhee, H. G.Perrins, W.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Mack, J. D.Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)Usborne, Henry
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Popplewell, E.Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Porter, E. (Warrington)Viant, S. P.
McKinlay, A. S.Porter, G. (Leeds)Wadsworth, G.
Maclean, N. (Govan)Proctor, W. T.Walkden, E.
McLeavy, F.Pursey, Cmdr. HWalker, G. H.
MacMillan, M. K.Rankin, JWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Macpherson, T. (Romford)Rees-Williams, D. R.Warbey, W. N.
Mainwaring, W. H.Reeves, J.Watkins, T. E
Mallalieu, J. P. WReid, T. (Swindon)Watson, W. M
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Rideaigh, Mrs. MWeitzman, D.
Mathers, G.Robens, A.Wells, W T. (Walsall)
Mayhew, C. P.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Messer, F.Rogers, G. H. R.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Middleton, Mrs. L.Sargood, R.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Mikardo, IanSegal, Sq.-Ldr. S.Wigg, Col. G. E.
Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. RShackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. AWilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Mitchison, Maj. G. R.Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.Wilkes, Maj. L
Monslow, W.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Wilkins, W. A.
Montague, F.Shurmer, P.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Moody, A. SSilkin, Rt. Hon. L.Willey, 0. G. (Cleveland)
Morgan, Dr. H. B.Simmons, C. J.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Morley, R.Skinnard, F. W.Williams, W. R (Heston)
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)Williamson, T.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Willis, E.
Moyle, A.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Murray, J. D.Smith, T. (Normanton)Wise, Major F. J.
Nally, W.Snow, Capt. J. W.Woodburn, A.
Neal, H. (Claycross)Solley, L. J.Woods, G. S
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Sorensen, R. W.Wyatt, Maj. W.
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Stamford, WYates, V. F.
Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Steele, T.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
O'Brien, T.Stross, Dr. B.Zilliacus, K.
Oldneld, W. H.Stubbs, A. E.
Oliver, G H.Symonds, Maj. A. L.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Orbach, M.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Captain Michael Stewart and Captain Bing.
NOES.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Molson, A H. E.
Amory, D. HeathcoatFraser, Maj. H. C P. (Stone)Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)Gage, Lt.-Col. C.Nield, B. (Chester)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Gammans, Capt. L. DNoble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Astor, Hon. M.Gates, Maj. E. E.Nutting, Anthony
Baldwin, A. E.Glyn, Sir R.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H
Barlow, Sir J.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. HGridley, Sir A.Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Bennett, Sir P.Grimston, R. V.Peto, Brig C. H. M.
Birch, Lt.-Col. NigelHannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Pitman, I. J.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Bossom, A. C.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Bower, N.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Raikes, H. V.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Jarvis, Sir J.Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Keeling, E. H.Ropner, Col. L.
Butcher, H. W.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamScott, Lord W.
Carson, EKingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.Shephard, S. (Newark)
Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.Lambert, Hon. G.Shepherd, Lieut. W. S. (Bucklow)
Clarke, Col. R. S.Langford-Holt, J.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GLaw, Rt. Hon. R. KSmith, E. P. (Ashford)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Lindsay, Lt.-Col. M. (Solihull)Smithers, Sir W.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Linstead, H. N.Snadden, W. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Spearman, A. C. M.
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.Spence, Maj. H. R.
Cuthbert, W N.Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Darling, Sir W. Y.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. HaroldStuart, Rt. Hon. J.
Digby, Maj. S. W.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Studholme, H. G.
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Marples, A. E.Sutcliffe, H.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)Marsden, Capt. A.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Drayson, Capt. G. B.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Maude, J. C.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Duthie, W. S.Medlicott, Brig. F.Touche, G. C.
Eccles, D. M.Mellor, Sir J.Turton, R. H.
Walker-Smith, D.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.York, C.
Ward, Hon. G. R.White, J. B. (Canterbury)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Wall, Sir G. S. HarvieWilloughby de Eresby, LordSir A. Young and Mr. Drewe.

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

I beg to move, in page 4, line 28, after "upwards," to insert: or where a county borough has an authorised establishment of more than one hundred.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 109; Noes, 261.

Division No. 101.]AYES.[8.55 p.m
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Gates, Maj. E. E.Peake, Rt. Hon. O
Anderson, Rt. Hn Sir J (Scot. Univ.)Glossop, C. W HPeto, Brig. C. H. M.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Glyn, Sir R.Pitman, I. J.
Baldwin, A. E.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Barlow, Sir JGridley, Sir A.Prior-Palmer. Brig O
Beamish, Maj. T. V. HGrimston, R. V.Raikes, H. V.
Bennett, Sir P.Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Birch, Lt.-Col. NigelHarvey, Air-Comdre. A V.Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CRobinson, Wing-Comdr Roland
Bossom, A. C.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Ropner, Col. L.
Bower, N.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Sanderson, Sir F
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Scott, Lord W.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WJarvis, Sir J.Shephard, S. (Newark)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Keeling, E. H.Shepherd, Lieut. W S. (Bucklow)
Butcher, H. W.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
Carson, E.Kingsmill, Lf.-Col. W. H.Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.Lambert, Hon. G.Smithers, Sir W.
Channon, H.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Spearman, A. C. M.
Clarke, Col. R. S.Linstead, H. N.Spence, Maj. H. R.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col GLucas-Tooth, Sir H.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)Studholme, H. G
Crookshank Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. HaroldSutcliffe, H.
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.Maitland, Comdr. J. WTaylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Cuthbert, W. NMarples, A. E.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Darling, Sir W. Y.Marsden, Capt. A.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Digby, Maj. S. W.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Touche, G. C.
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Maude, J. C.Turton, R. H.
Dower, Lt.-Col [...] V. G. (Penrith)Medlicott, Brig F.Walker-Smith, D.
Drayson, Capt. G. BMellor, Sir JWard, Hon. G. R
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)Molson, A. H. E.Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Duthie, W. S.Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Eccles, D. M.Nield, B. (Chester)White, J. B. (Carterbury)
Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Noble, Comdr. A. H PWilloughby de Eresby, Lord
Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)Nutting, AnthonyYork, C.
Gage, Lt.-Col. CO'Neill, Rt. Hon Sir H.TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Gammans, Capt. L D.Orr-Ewing, I. L.Sir A. Young and Mr. Drewe.
NOES
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Brook, D. (Halifax)Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)
Adamson, Mrs. J. L.Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Diamond, J
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Brown, George (Belper)Dobbie, W.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Brown, T.J. (Ince)Douglas, F. C. R.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Driberg, T. E. N
Attewell, H. CBuchanan, G.Durbin, E. F. M.
Austin, H. L.Burden, T. W.Dye, S.
Ayles, W. H.Burke, W. A.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs B.Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Bacon, Miss AChampion, A. J.Edwards, John (Blackburn)
Baird, Capt. J.Chetwynd Capt G REdwards, N. (Caerphilly)
Balfour, A.Clitherow, Dr. R.Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. JCluse, W SEwart, R.
Barstow. P. G.Cocks, F S.Fairhurst, F.
Barton, C.Coldrick, W.Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E)
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.)Collick, P.Follick, M.
Bechervaise, A. E.Collins, V. J.Foot, M. M.
Belcher, J. W.Colman, Miss G M.Foster, W. (Wigan)
Bellenger, F. JComyns, Dr. L.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Benson, GCorlett, Dr. J.Freeman, Maj. J (Watford)
Binns, JCorvedale ViscountGallacher, W.
Blackburn, A. R.Cove, W. GGibbins, J.
Blenkinsop, Capt. A.Daggar, G.Gibson, C. W
Blyton, W. R.Daines, P.Gilzean, A.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Davies, Edward (Burslem)Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Davies, Ernest (Enfield)Gooch, E. G.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)Davies, Harold (Leek)Goodrich, H. E.
Granville, E. (Eye)McLeavy, F.Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)MacMillan, M. K.Simmons, C. J.
Grey, C. F.Macpherson, T. (Romford)Skinnard, F. W.
Griffiths, D. (Rather Valley)Mainwaring, W. H.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon J. (Llanelly)Mallalieu, J. P. W.Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S.)
Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Guest, Dr. L. HadenMathers, G.Smith, T. (Normanton)
Gunter, Capt. R. J.Mayhew, C. PSnow, Capt. J. W.
Guy, W. H.Messer, F.Solley, L J.
Haire, Fit.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)Middleton, Mrs. L.Sorensen, R. W.
Hale, LeslieMikardo, IanStamford, W.
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. RSteele, T.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Mitchison, Maj. G. R.Stross, Dr. B.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Monslow, W.Stubbs, A. E.
Hardy, E. A.Montague, F.Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMoody, A. S.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Haworth, J.Morgan, Dr. H. B.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Morley, R.Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Herbison, Miss M.Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Hicks, G.Morrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, E.)Thorneycroft H.
Hobson, C. RMoyle, A.Tiffany, S.
Holman, P.Murray, J. D.Titterington, M. F.
House, G.Nally, WTolley, L.
Hoy, J.Neal, H. (Claycross)Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Hubbard. T.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Hudson, J. H. (Eating, W.)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Usborne, Henry
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)O'Brien, T.Viant, S P.
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Oldfield, W. H.Wadsworth, G.
Irving, W. J.Oliver, G. H.Walkden, E.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Orbach, M.Walker, G. H.
Janner, B.Paget, R T.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Warbey, W. N.
Jeger, Dr. S W. (St. Pancras, S.E.Palmer, A. M. F.Watkins, T. E.
John, W.Pargiter, G. A.Watson, W. M.
Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Parker, J.Weitzman, D.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. TWells, W. T. (Walsall)
Keenan, W.Paton, J. (Norwich)White, C F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Kenyon, C.Pearson, A.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
King, E. M.Peart, Capt. T. F.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Kinley, J.Perrins, W.Wigg, Col. G E.
Kirby, B. V.Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)Wilkes, Maj. L.
Lavers, S.Popplewell, E.Wilkins, W. A.
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Porter, E. (Warrington)Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Lee, F. (Hulme)Porter, G. (Leeds)Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Leslie, J. R.Proctor, W. T.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Levy, B. W.Pursey, Cmdr. HWilliams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Lewis, T. (Southampton)Rankin, J.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Rees-Williams, D. R.Williamson, T.
Logan, D. G.Reeves, J.Willis, E.
Longden, F.Reid, T. (Swindon)Wills, Mrs. E. A
Lyne, A. W.Rideaigh, Mrs. M.Wise, Major F. J.
McAdam, W.Robens, A.Woodburn, A.
McAllister, G.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Woods, G. S.
McEntee, V. La T.Rogers, G. H. R.Wyatt, Maj. W.
McGhee, H. G.Sargood, R.Yates, V. F.
Mack, J. D.Segal, Sq.-Ldr. S.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.Zilliacus, K.
Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McKinlay, A. S.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Captain Michael Stewart and
Maclean. N. (Govan)Shurmer, P.Captain Bing.

Question put, and agreed to.

Photo of Mr George Oliver Mr George Oliver , Ilkeston

I beg to move, in page 4, line 28, at the end, to insert "county or."

This and the next Amendment are drafting Amendments consequential on an earlier one to which I have specifically referred.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments' made:

In page 4, line 30, after the second "the," insert "county or."

In line 32, after "the," insert "county or."—[Mr. Oliver..]

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

I beg to move, in page 4, line 42, at the end, to insert: Provided that a person appointed under this Subsection to hold a local inquiry shall be selected from a panel of persons prepared by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Association of Municipal Corporations and the County Councils Association. This Amendment arises from a discussion which we had on the Committee stage, to which the Home Secretary has already referred. The point was raised that where these compulsory amalgamations are initiated by him, there should be a person appointed to hold the inquiry who should be acceptable to the local authorities concerned. After some discussion, the Home Secretary accepted a suggestion, which I think came from an hon. Gentleman opposite that a panel should be set up from which he could draw. We thank him for that concession.

We believe it will be a very good thing to have this panel set up and agreed ' with the Association of Municipal Corporations beforehand, so that in the event of an inquiry having to be held, he can select a person from the panel to hold the inquiry. We would rather like to see this put in the Bill. I would remind the Home Secretary that in the course of the Committee stage he said: I prefer to leave it in the form of the pledge I have given to the Committee. If hon. Members feel they would like to see it embodied in the Bill, they can put down an Amendment on Report Stage."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B., 5th February, 1946, col. 120.] That is what we have done on the invitation of the Home Secretary and, without more ado, I would invite him to see if he cannot accept it.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I am really grieved about this. We have had a very pleasant evening. The only person who I gather has any ill-feeling towards me is the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. S. O. Davies). I made this concession in Committee. I stand by what I said with regard to using this machinery, but I would suggest that it is hardly appropriate to put it in the Bill because, after all, both the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations are voluntary associations which may disappear or be altered in name, and then the words of the Statute might become meaningless and even embarrassing in certain circumstances. I have no hesitation whatever in repeating on the Floor of the House the pledge which I gave in Committee that this will be the machinery which will be adopted. As soon as the Bill becomes law, I will take steps to set up the panel, and I hope that that assurance will be sufficient for hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

I am obliged to the Home Secretary for the assurance he has given, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.