Local Government Boundaries (Sheffield)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th February 1967.

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10.22 a.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Sheffield Order 1967 (S.I., 1967, No. 104), dated 31st January 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th February, be annulled. There are manifold reasons why we are praying to have the Sheffield Order annulled. During the debate I and other hon. Members will attempt to outline the reasons, both human and economic, and I hope that at the end of the debate the Minister of Housing and Local Government or the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will see reason and will agree with us. I see the Leader of the House looking at me through his spectacles very attentively as if suggesting that the Whips are on and that, "You have not got a chance, old boy".

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Richard Grossman):

That is not true.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

The Sheffield Order will, of course, increase the population of Sheffield by a considerable number and the rateable value by a considerable amount of money. The total population that will be taken out of the County of Derbyshire will be 33,000, and the rateable value taken out of the county—all of this from the Chesterfield Rural District—will be £850,000.

As the House will realise, these changes cannot be effected without a considerable upset of the population in the affected area. Let us look at the geographical position of the villages affected by the Sheffield Order. Beighton Village, a mining village, with its centre of community built up by its own residents, is approximately 8 miles from the city centre and it has nothing at all in common with the city.

Holbrook and Halfway, other mining villages with their usual traditions, are again 8 miles from the city centre and again they have no interests in common with Sheffield. Mosborough, again a mining village, with very long traditions in the mining industry, is completely divorced from Sheffield in every respect.

These villages, with Hackenthorpe, Gleadless and Frecheville, represent a large area in the County of Derby served by the county council, the Chesterfield Rural District Council, and last but not least, the Beighton and Eckington Parish Councils.

Paragraph 58 of the Inspector's Report emphasises the importance to the local inhabitants of the three-tier system which has worked so admirably in the county up to date. I quote from paragraph 58 of the Inspector's Report on the York and North Midlands General Review Area: The second general objection was based on the contention that the three-tier system, now operating in the areas to be transferred, was superior to the one-tier county borough organisation. This contention is, of course, based on the view that under the former system the citizen is more involved in local government and is in closer touch with his representative and most of the matters which affect him personally. In the case of Beighton parish for example there was a Parish Council of fifteen members, with seven members on the rural district council, a county councillor and a county alderman. In addition, in the field of education they had thirty representatives on the boards of governors and managers of schools, and were represented on the north divisional executive and had two members on the county education committee. If the parish were to become part of Sheffield, they would probably have three or four representatives on the city council none of whom might live in the parish, and they would have no direct voice on education. Here again I do not feel that any elaboration of the argument is necessary. The merits claimed for the three- or two-tier system as against those of the one-tier system are all known to the Minister. I will only add two comments:—The first, that these merits were strongly urged by all local authorities appearing as objectors and by the voluntary societies and individuals who spoke at the Inquiry. Secondly, in this area the parish organisation seems to play a significant part in local government. All four parishes have substantial populations. They all raise a 4d. rate, have considerable revenues, and are active in the performance of their duties. I suggest that this paragraph alone is sufficient. If the Minister had taken cognisance of that paragraph alone, it would have been sufficient for him not to have made an Order in this present form.

To reinforce the argument in that paragraph of the Inspector's Report I quote from what my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Housing and Local Government said: It must never be forgotten that local government above all concerns people as individuals, not just as economic units. Government policy must inevitably be decided in broad terms and based on statistics and averages; this makes it all the more essential for local authorities to apply that policy with full regard to the human and individual needs of the people in their areas. That paragraph and the quotation from the present Minister of Housing and Local Government are very well put, and I contend that if no other case were made out, that would be sufficient.

A number of referenda have been held during the period of crisis in the villages and 95 per cent, of the population have voted against the take-over outlined in the Sheffield Order. They have voted to stay in Derbyshire mainly because the services provided by the existing authorities—that is, the three-tier authorities—are considered to be better than those provided by the Sheffield authority. A matter of great importance is that the rates are considerably less in Derbyshire than in Sheffield.

My right hon. Friends and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) may argue that there are advantages to be gained from living in Sheffield, but I must remind the House that, with the exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Winterbottom), not one of them has the courage to live in the city he represents.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The habitation of Members of Parliament does not come within this Order.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. Nevertheless, your Ruling does not alter the facts.

Never before has such indignation been shown by the people in the affected areas as is being shown about this Order. Every village is up in arms. A considerable number of public meetings have been held, the average attendance being between 350 and 400, and no one at these meetings has expressed himself in favour of the Order.

It is argued that in a democracy the will of the people shall be paramount. We contend that the will of the people as expressed at the public meetings and as expressed in the referenda has been completely ignored by the former Minister in making this Order which the present Minister has to endorse.

I have here a letter which I hope I may read within the rules of order. It is from a constituent of mine, and I think, Mr. Speaker, after hearing it, you will assume that my constituent is a reasonably intelligent man. There is an old saying about Derbyshire people being strong in the arm and weak in the head, but I think this letter proves that that saying is wrong.

He started by saying, "Dear Mr. Swain", and went on to say some nice things about me, which of course are deserved. He then said: When you face the Commons you will have the County's good wishes, hopes and prayers supporting you as well as the moral and, I do indeed hope, the outspoken backing of Parliamentary colleagues to whom this proposed act of territorial brigandage, against the majority will of the people and in curious conformity with the capacious lebensraum, living space, policy of Hitler will be both abhorrent and a serious encroachment upon the rights and privileges of a free democratic society. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will listen to the next part of the letter, because it refers to him: I wrote personally to the then Housing Minister, Mr. Crossman, at the time of the Boundaries Commission finding, and told him frankly what was felt locally about Sheffield's proposed encroachment. He did not even acknowledge my letter."— I am led to believe that this used to be a common habit of the Ministry— But in the Commons shortly afterwards he announced a Ministry inquiry—ostensibly to get a cross-section opinion.As you know, public meetings in the area were unanimous in condemning the take-over and left the Ministry man in no doubt about their feelings. The representative in his report to the Minister referred to the strong feeling locally against the plan. Why did Crossman ignore it? That finding was and is correct. I'm told that rather than work under Sheflield,"— and these are very important points— Mosborough fire brigade crews"— at a new station provided by the county council— are inclined to move out into Derbyshire; that some teachers from the rapidly expanding Westfield Comprehensive School—the second of its kind in the country—"— and I might add that in our opinion it is the finest comprehensive school in the country— are desirous of not accepting Sheffield domination and are considering their positions in the light of developments …It may help the case to remember this: that at the Sheffield inquiry an expert engaged by the county said Sheffield had ample room within its own boundaries to cater for its overspill. I honestly believe that the report of the inquiry proved this beyond doubt.

He went on: To Mr. Wilson I mentioned Fulwood in particular. To the earlier Housing Minister I had referred also to Stannington who were clamouring for no building sites in their wonderful countryside, but who were and are prepared to see every bit of green between Intake and Mosborough and Hackenthorpe and Beighton and Frechville, hamlets which are large villages, converted into Sheffield suburbs overnight. He then made a few derogatory remarks about the people in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), which I shall not read for the record.

He continued: It is a case of no matter where they build so long as they do not spoil our rural scenery. I ask, what about the working man's walks between Mosborough and Hackenthorpe and Hackenthorpe and Ridgeway and Mosborough to Beighton? Are they to be denied? Has he no eye for natural beauty?Seeing that Sheffield has built thousands of houses, Gleadless, Risley and Hackenthorpe way—always south or south-west—why can't she, if she must cross her boundaries, do so elsewhere, say eastwards, to Todwick—on the land she seems now not to require for an airport? There are thousands of acres in the area just praying for houses to be built on them.

He went on to say: Sheffield's one great aim is to eclipse Leeds in size and natural importance, and she will not be satisfied until she does. She wants the land and the population. But above all she wants the extra financial considerations her increased stature will assure her.But what of the will of the small minorities around her? Peoples of other counties who will not lightly give up their heritage?Has Parliamentary Government no interest in them? No help to offer? No shield for ones oppressed?Can they no longer look in hope to the Mother of Parliaments? Is their faith, their hope in vain?Or on the contrary, will the outcome of this issue prove that, after all, in this former bastion of freedom the essence of its pure democracy is still 'government of the people by the people for the people'. That is a very long and thoughtful letter from one of my constituents who lives in the village of Mosborough. He has lived there all his life, and taken a keen interest in local affairs. He sincerely believes that the Order is wrong.

Let us look at the position with regard to schoolchildren in the area. The villages affected by the Order, Eckington, Ridgeway, Renishaw, Marsh Lane and Handly, are, and have been since its erection, served by the Westfield Comprehensive School. Large-scale extensions have taken place at this school, and we are very proud of the fact that here we cater for children from such a large area of intake.

When Sheffield takes over this comprehensive school, as it will do under this Order, the children in these villages will be prevented from having a right of access to it. The villages which I have mentioned are extremely widespread. The distance between the two villages at the extremities is about six or seven miles. As a consequence, it will be impossible to build a comprehensive school in the County of Derby in the sense of the Westfield Comprehensive School.

The people of the county, besides my hon. Friends and I, feel that by taking over Mosborough, with Westfield Comprehensive School, Sheffield will be causing the biggest setback in education that north-east Derby has ever suffered. In my opinion the Minister made a wrong decision in this case. He did not take into account the effect of the Order upon Chesterfield Rural District Council.

I contend that this was not a Minister's decision. It was first inspired long ago by the then Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Housing. I do not wish to use any critical terms in speaking of an ex-civil servant who has been promoted, but I suggest that some time ago that Permanent Secretary categorically instructed the Sheffield Council, at a meeting at which it had stated its aspirations in connection with catering for overspill in Derbyshire, to go away and think bigger. In my opinion, the then Tory Minister of Housing took cognisance of what the Permanent Secretary said.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I hope that the hon. Member will not attack civil servants who cannot defend themselves. He can attack the Minister as much as he likes.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

The civil servants are categorically stated by name in the minutes of the meetings which took place leading up to the making of the Order.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

The hon. Member's remarks are in order. I was only expressing a hope.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

A lot of us live in Hope and die in Hathersage.

Another important fact, as Derbyshire states, is that: The decision to make this Order was published in a letter dated 6th April, 1966, some two months after the appointment of the new Royal Commission on Local Government was announced in the House of Commons on 10th February, 1966. On 31st October, 1966, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary said that the Torbay Order ought to be accepted by the House because the decision was arrived at before the appointment of the Royal Commission. The Sheffield decision however was made subsequently to the appointment of the Royal Commission and it is proper, therefore, to consider the matter on its merits and to decide whether the impending reform of local government is likely to affect the question. The County Council are of the opinion that this must be so, particularly as it is now accepted on all sides that single-tier autonomous county borough administration must be reorganised in some form of two-tier administration with a reallocation of major functions. This view is supported by the County Councils Association who have resolved to represent to the Minister and to Members of Parliament when this Order is tabled that, pending the report of the newly appointed Royal Commission on Local Government in England, there should be a standstill in connection with the creation of new authorities and the large scale transfer of populations from one authority to another, either of which might prejudice the future position. In my opinion the Sheffield Order definitely prejudices the future position of the people affected by it.

Finally, the Minister did not take into account the will of the people. He arro- gantly disregarded this vital factor and acted in complete contradiction to his own statements and actions in the past. I understand the position of the present Minister, but I accuse the whole Department of wilful disregard of the facts, both human and economic, and some of my hon. Friends and I will divide the House at the appropriate time. The Whips are on for the Government, but I hope that the House will vote for my Prayer, thereby casting a vote for democracy and human rights.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

I want to make two observations. First, many hon. Members from Sheffield on the one hand and Derby County on the other wish to take part in the debate. It will help if speeches are reasonably brief. Secondly, I shall try to balance the debate, which obviously cuts across party lines.

11.45 a.m.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

I rise to oppose the Prayer. I have no intention of attacking my hon. Friends and their defence of Derbyshire. I shall not describe them as Hitlers, or use any other offensive terms, or even cast a doubt on their motives, as doubt was cast upon the motives of Sheffield by my hon. Friend. This is clearly one of those cases that we have had over and over again in this Parliament where there has been a clash of local interests in connection with a matter where some sensible readjustment is involved.

I recall that in 1951 the House carried overwhelmingly the then draft Sheffield Extension Bill. Of many such Bills it was the only one to be carried in the House at that time, although it was rejected later in another place. That, in itself, is evidence of the fact that there was already a recognition of the special situation of Sheffield in comparison with the many other big cities which found themselves involved in a similar situation from time to time.

What is the special situation of Sheffield? Like many other towns, Sheffield was created during the Industrial Revolution. It is a city engaged in heavy industry, surrounded by tightly packed houses and full of the smoke, fumes and noise of factories. The very commercial and economic success of these large factories in the new and expanding world of today has called progressively for more space for expansion, while, at the same time, enlightened conceptions have called for better houses for the working population, and the growth of the motor car has created a greater demand on the city for more adequate streets and roads.

Hence we have had the great housing and planning drives of the last 20 years, involving the tearing down of countless obsolete and squalid slums and the creation of vast new housing estates to accommodate the people of our industrial cities. That is the general picture of concentrated industrial cities in the North. The problem has not been insuperable for many of them, but it will be for Sheffield unless a solution on the lines proposed in the Order is found.

Sheffield is peculiarly situated. It is enclosed in a narrow valley, pressed in on the west and north-west by the Peak National Park, with many hills and mountains, and squeezed to the northeast by neighbouring industrial Rother-ham. Sheffield's only outlet to the southeast is into Derbyshire, where already, in new estates, 4,600 Sheffield-built houses have brought new life and wealth not to Sheffield but to the County of Derby. Sheffield has already made a unique contribution to our national and economic prestige and is still poised to continue to do so in the future. It is now becoming progressively threatened by strangulation as a result of its industrial dynamism. It is this very success of the city's industry which has created new demand for her products and her exports, involving more space for the developing industries which manifestly is not there.

Yet this city, in contrast with many other great cities, has a declining population. It is left with an ageing population, of which the proportion of younger people is already threateningly low. Sheffield has not only suffered her share of the general drift from the north, but the necessity of building many thousands of houses outside her boundaries has already taken large sections of her younger married people, who are now more mobile than before and many of whom are still working in the city, outside her boundaries and administration.

The 1951 census of population showed that there were 512,850 people. By the middle of 1966, it was already down to 486,000. This is a picture of threatened deterioration of a great industrial city, whose existence and expanding activity are vital not only to Sheffield but to the whole region. Her great world-famed factories, hemmed in as they are, are restricted in their opportunities to expand to face modern conditions.

The Order, therefore, is the result of the growing appreciation by successive Governments of these facts. Its rejection would have the most serious effects not on Sheffield alone but on the whole region and the whole country.

This problem has been examined by one Government after another, probed by the local Government Commission, investigated by inspectors and subjected to public inquiries, representations and deputations over the past six years, but no effective alternative solution has been offered to that which each successive Minister has eventually come to accept as providing the essential conditions laid down in the directions to the Local Government Commission in 1958, namely: …to have regard to effective and convenient local government throughout the whole of the review area and not merely in individual areas of local government. Paragraph 58 of the Inspector's Report, read by my hon. Friend, was not the inspector's views. It begins: the second general objection of the county was based on the contentions that"— and there followed the points read out by my hon. Friend.

That was the natural case put up by the county, but, having regard to the "effective and convenient local government" throughout the whole of the review area, as instructed in the local Government Commission's mandate, he came to the conclusions embodied in the present Order.

It will be recalled, further, that the Commission was required to take into account, in seeking its objectives, among others 1. Community of interests (not just a balance of competing local financial interests);2. Development and expected development;3. Economic and industrial characteristics of the area concerned;4. Financial resources related to financial need;5. Physical features, including suitable boundaries, means of communication and accessibility to administrative centres and centres of business and social life. This has been done. These factors have been examined and re-examined by inquiries, deputations to the Minister, the investigations of the inspectors and by one Government after another.

The same conclusions have been reached and the Order is the result. It does not represent the whole of Sheffield's requirements or the whole of the plan which Sheffield needs, because it has taken account of these special considerations in reaching a balanced view for the good of the entire area. Nevertheless, Sheffield has accepted the Report as it stands, recognising that her neighbours, too, have rights, and has shown herself ready to co-operate in the full recommendations. Unfortunately, Derbyshire County Council has not.

Derbyshire's objections are set out in a document which has been circulated to and closely studied by hon. Members.

They are: 1. That there is no need for the boundaries of Sheffield to be extended in order to allow Sheffield to make progress with her plans for overspill housing;2. That since the Royal Commission on Local Government may be expected to report in about two years' time, there is no urgency, and the whole thing can well be deferred until then"— The point made by my hon. Friend— 3. That the Ministers' (all the Ministers') decisions are inconsistent with those they gave in the case of Rotherham and Doncaster;4. That the extension would be contrary to the wishes of the inhabitants of the areas to be affected. As regards the comparison with Rother-ham and Doncaster, the House will see that this, in itself, is evidence of the recognition by Ministers of the present Government and past Governments of the special feature of the Sheffield case and not an argument against it.

As for the need for Sheffield's extension beyond her boundaries, it is agreed by all, even by the County Council, that Sheffield requires space outside the city to accommodate an overspill population of between 84,000 and 90,000 people by 1981. There is no dispute about this. Again, successive Ministers have accepted this estimate, as they have accepted that the need has become progressively more urgent. The county council deputation to the Minister on 6th March, 1963, admitted that this overspill constituted an urgent problem and they even conceded the principle of the Order by the offer of space for 40,000 of the overspill by 1971.

After the public inquiry of February 1961, the then Minister concluded: …that, up to 1981, the main provision for overspill from Sheffield must be made in North Derbyshire"— because there was no alternative—and that the proposals made by the County Council … are demonstrably inadequate for the purpose … The County Council's proposals would leave the problem of 44,000 people unsettled, creating insuperable problems for both Sheffield City Council, in regard to the housing and slum clearance programmes and for Sheffield industry, which must plan its development on realities and not on uncertainties for 1971.

It would still leave, in any event, the main problem which we are facing to be settled in even more difficult conditions, because in 1971, after the partial adjustment and consequent administrative adjustments had become consolidated the problem would obviously be infinitely more difficult than it is now.

Futhermore, one must take serious note of the Minister's evidence to the Royal Commission on 12th January this year, which I assume most, if not all, hon. Members have noted and will endorse. … the areas of many local authorities, including major authorities, in different parts of the country are ceasing to match the realities of economic and social life, and in particular the division between counties and county boroughs is out of date. … Local authorities, confined by the straitjacket of built-up areas, with long waiting lists for houses, should not be driven to unduly expensive clearance work and high density housing, regardless of financiaol and social consequences. Decisions in favour of house-building on the edge of the cities and big towns … may threaten precious open space and should be taken on a proper balance of consideration and not as the outcome of a conflict of interests between neighbouring authorities".

Photo of Mr Ronald Lewis Mr Ronald Lewis , Carlisle

My hon. Friend mentioned the Minister having given evidence to the Royal Commission. When I put a Question to the Minister, I discovered that he had not given any evidence and that it was the Department itself. Will my hon. Friend be a little more explicit?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Perhaps that was a slip. I am talking about the Ministry's evidence to the Royal Commission and I do not quarrel with what my hon. Friend has just said. The argument I have adduced remains firm.

It is precisely this question—a vital and urgent question, as I have shown, in the case of Sheffield—that we must face and solve, and, in facing and solving it, we must take into account all the interests concerned and try to make whatever adjustments are necessary in the interests of all. What is now before us is not just a question of reconciling local financial interests of individual local areas.

The County Council's second objection is that there is no hurry and that the matter can be left for two or three years until the Royal Commission has reported. Incidentally, the Royal Commission's purpose is not to draw a balance between local authorities but to review the whole structure of local government. But, as I have pointed out, the pressures on Sheffield resources have been gathering weight and momentum now for over 25 years. The County Council itself has admitted that it is urgent.

Whatever may emerge from the Royal Commission on the structure of local government, Sheffield will still need to find land for houses and for her developing industries, and, as has been made abundantly clear, this land can only be found outside the present boundaries, in the only area open to her, as has been confirmed by Minister after Minister, by inspectors and at local inquiries. I would only say that whether it is for the inadequate 40,000 houses offered or the 84,000 houses to 1981 which are necessary, it is there that the houses will be built and the factories erected.

It is therefore surely inconceivable that any revision of boundaries in 1970 or 1971 which may result from any Royal Commission Report—and are such revisions likely to follow so immediately on such a general Report, or will not the details of the drawing of local boundaries following upon the general change in the whole principle of local government be debated for further years, as this case and other cases have been debated for years, before the detailed drawing of the line has been achieved?—that the development having taken place, within whichever administrative boundary it may be by 1971, any recommendation arising from the Royal Commission or otherwise would seek to cut through the middle of continuous industrial and housing developments that would already have taken place and which are clearly continuous developments of the city area.

What the Order represents, therefore, is not a fundamental change in local government structure, which is the task of the Royal Commission, but a domestic adjustment to make sense of the inevitable and, indeed, essential developments of a great city and a great industrial complex that have nowhere else to go.

It has been suggested by the county council, but no one else, that Sheffield has sufficient space within its existing boundaries—and my hon. Friend made a very great point of that—to cope with these extensions. That claim is demonstrably false. Successive Ministers have agreed on the need for an overspill of 84,000, and the Inspector's report states: The Corporations estimates appear to have been based on a most careful analysis of all factors involved". I will not go further into the detail there, but will quote from the Minister's letter of 26th March, 1963, to the county council, in which he stated: The Minister is concerned lest shortage of land should cause the urgent slum clearance programme of the Sheffield Corporation to run down. He is satisfied that any land available within the City boundary could not make any significant contribution towards requirements …". This is not a Sheffield claim but the result of careful assessment and inquiry by successive Minister's representatives, inspectors and others. In his decision following the public inquiry, the Minister made it clear that a run-down of Sheffield's housing and slum clearance programmes would be a disaster for Sheffield and for her industry—and that, as I have said, could happen within two years from now.

One of the few alternative suggestions that have been made—namely, the removal of the overspill to a new town mentioned by my hon. Friend to be created somewhere in the region of Gains-borough in Lincolnshire—has been shown to be equally unrealistic and, as such, has equally summarily been rejected by Ministers for the very substantial reason that the population about which we are talking consists mainly of people employed in Sheffield industries; that these industries are mainly heavy industries that are, by general consent—including that of the Derbyshire County Council—not movable. I do not think that the county council itself would claim that the imprint of "Made in Newtown, Lines." would be an adequate alternative to the "Made in Sheffield" sign that has attracted so much business in the export world.

Again, I would quote in evidence the Report of the Ministry inspector who examined the proposal for the new town.

He stated: The City's heavy industries are essentially immobile and there is such a close integration with the light and medium industries … that this area must be located within close proximity to Sheffield. For associated reasons the overspill population must also be accommodated close to the city. The loss of as little as 2 per cent. of the labour force would be disastrous to the industrial economy. That is fairly clear, and I am surprised at my hon. Friend insisting that this would not be the case. This is not a Sheffield case, but a case that has been made by Ministers and their inspectors—

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

I am afraid that I must not give way. I would otherwise take too long.

The fact is that there are some 543 acres available within the city for industrial expansion by 1981, but only because of the vast slum clearance programme now in progress. The people de-housed from these slums still work in these expanding industries and have to be rehoused somewhere, which means outside the existing city boundaries—but not as far as Lincolnshire.

Sheffield's heavy industries cannot be moved. Such light industries as she has are largely servicing these heavy industries, and the city's need is by general consent not the removal of such light industries as she has but the injection of more if she is to have that diversification on which her future must now more and more depend in a world where steel is in a growing surplus.

In the interests of time-saving I will leave the less controversial matters, such as the question of the 300 Wortley houses, to other speakers. I would only point out that I am informed that the net result of this transfer of mainly pre-war council houses between Wortley and Sheffield would be that Wortley would have 10 more council houses with no additional population—in fact, with 14,000 less—which would represent an increase of 40 per cent. in its stock of council houses in relation to population. It would result in Sheffield suffering a loss of 3 per cent. in her stock of council houses in relation to population, which hardly seems to be a convincing case for requiring Sheffield to transfer 300 additional council houses to Wortley. However, I leave that aspect and other aspects to other speakers and will now turn to the question of financial gain or loss.

The House should know, when Derbyshire talks about loss of rateable value, and the rest, that Sheffield has already been forced to build some 4,600 houses in Derbyshire, which represent a rateable value of £262,000 and an estimated net gain to the county of £100,000; and that as a result of Sheffield development and Sheffield-built houses Sheffield has lost by this migration not only the rateable value of the houses but an additional annual sum of about £105,000 in respect of general grant and another £204,000 in rate deficiency grants.

These new estates that are already built—or which are to be built—are part of Sheffield. They have been built by Sheffield for the people of Sheffield who work in the industries of Sheffield. They represent, as various reports have borne out, a natural, continuous development of the city's activities. The Minister told the County Council in his letter of 29th March, 1962, that this … development will follow the main trend of Sheffield's post-war housing and industrial development and in his conclusions, which were circulated to all parties concerned on 6th April last, the present Minister said: Development at Mosborough would to all intents and purposes be a part of the town area of Sheffield. Most of the new residents would come from Sheffield and they would have a strong community of interest with the city. It would be desirable that the services of the area should, as far as possible, be integrated with the existing services of the city". One could go on quoting, not the case of Sheffield, but the conclusions of all the experts who have examined all the considerations which have been put forward by my hon. Friend, by the county council and by others. But the Commission has rejected some of Sheffield's case—and we accept that rejection—in the general interests. The County Council has not accepted the conclusions of these authorities.

This is not, therefore, a case of a big city wanting to dominate her neighbours. It is a case of a great city of the highest importance to our history and our national future which is struggling to adjust itself to the existing confines imposed by our local government structure under special difficulties imposed by her geographical situation aptly described by the Minister's evidence to the Royal Commission in these words: The mounting of schemes for reception of overspill by county district authorities at a distance from the town, involving difficult negotiation between the three local authorities concerned—the urban, county planning and receiving authorities—has proved particularly troublesome and has wasted effort and time"— he might have said "over many years". Councillors and their officers have been struggling against the pressures and obstacles of the existing system of local government. We are dealing with a city which, as has been demonstrated over and over again to the satisfaction of practically everyone concerned, faced with its unique difficulties and forced by the very success and power of its industrial potential, which is a national potential, has no available alternative to this most urgent problem, which is not hers alone but a problem of national significance which we cannot afford to ignore.

The rejection of this Order would therefore be a calamity for Sheffield, for its immediate neighbours, including the county, and for us all.

11.12 a.m.

Photo of Mr Harold Neal Mr Harold Neal , Bolsover

I am acutely conscious of the number of Members who wish to participate in the debate. I promise to comply with the wishes of Mr. Speaker and to confine my remarks to the shortest possible time consistent with clarity.

I have a reputation for being a supporter of the Government, and it is a rare occasion when I find myself in the opposite Lobby to that of the party which I support. However, in this matter, I claim to be an irreconcilable rebel. I should feel that I was failing in my duty if, as a senior Member representing a constituency in the County of Derby, I did not oppose the Order.

This so-called Sheffield Order—I prefer to call it "Whitehall Order"—is ill-conceived and ill-considered and is calculated to do enormous harm to the good government of the County of Derby. In a fairly wide experience of the House, I have examined many Orders laid before it, but I have never known an Order so biased and brutal as this Order. Its effect is to transfer 33,000 people and £850,000 in rateable value from the County of Derby to the City of Sheffield.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) talked about the strangulation of the City of Sheffield. I hope that he realises that the strangulation is self-inflicted and that Derbyshire is in no way responsible for it. It looks as though it wishes to overcome the strangulation by this proposed land grab. The area concerned is almost entirely within the rural district of Chesterfield. In addition to development areas, the City of Sheffield will gain a considerable area of farmland on which it is intended to provide large-scale peripheral housing estates. It is proposed that these estates will accommodate the major part of the city's overspill up to 1982.

It will therefore be understood by hon. Members who are not familiar with Derbyshire and its environs that the City of Sheffield will take over a considerable part of the County of Derby under this Order. Indeed, in the area with which the Order is concerned is situated the village of Beighton. which is nine miles from Sheffield. It has no community of interest with Sheffield. What argument can logically be produced in favour of taking over a village which is that distance from the city. How long will it be before the village of Beighton can share in the amenities of the City of Sheffield—its art galleries, music, welfare services and the like. It will take a generation for Beighton to be fuly integrated with the City of Sheffield.

The mistake was that consideration was given to Sheffield taking over this part of Derbyshire. The solution was to provide a new town or an expanded town in the north of Derbyshire. There is not a new town along the eastern side of this county between Corby in Northamptonshire and Peterlee in Durham. It would have been a splendid solution and would have made a much more tidy geographical area if a new town had been built instead of pinching this part of Derbyshire.

My colleagues and myself protest at the manner in which the Order was published. The decision to make it was published in a letter dated 6th April, 1966, two months after the appointment of the Royal Commission on Local Government was announced in the House on 10th February, 1966.

At the conclusion of the debate on the Torbay Order, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government—not the one who is in his place at present—said that the Torbay Order should be accepted because … the decision … was arrived at before the appointment of the Royal Commission".—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 31st October, 1966; Vol. 735, c. 202.] The Minister and his subordinates cannot have it both ways. If the Torbay Order should be accepted because the decision was arrived at before the appointment of the Royal Commission, then there should be a standstill on the Sheffield Order until the matter has been dealt with by the Royal Commission.

These things surprise us since the Minister and his predecessor spent quite a long time in considering the Order and yet did not see the errors which have been made. How large does the Minister conceive that the City of Sheffield will become? If the logic of this appeasement is to be continued, the urban district of Dronfield and the Borough of Chesterfield must ultimately accept absorption by the City of Sheffield. There will be no end to this land grab if every time the need to house overspill population arises it is said, "We must take over some of your neighbouring territory". This is centralisation run mad.

I wish that the Lord President of the Council were in his place because he bears a tremendous responsibility for the error made in this Order. He has displayed a tendency to introduce the Order with an utter disregard for the feelings of the local inhabitants, perhapes with the same nonchalance with which he rides roughshod over the House of Commons at times.

My hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe spoke about the careful investigation which was made by committees, inspectors, and Ministers before the Order was laid. It is natural that it should turn out that everybody follows the line of the Minister, because he was afflicted with Sheffield myopia from the very beginning and showed his bias towards the city whenever this problem was discussed with him.

I know of no precedents for this great land grab that is proposed. I have known amalgamations of local authorities where larger portions of land have been taken over, but never a transfer from one local authority so glaring as this. I know that in this matter we are on the losing side and that the Government will use the juggernaut of their majority to carry the Order through when the time comes to go into the Lobbies.

I beg the Minister, even at this late stage, to take another look at the Order. It is ill-conceived and ill-considered, and it is unjust. I borrow the words once used by the late Sir Winston Churchill on a famous occasion when he was offering his objections to a piece of legislation. I say to the Minister, "Take this Order back and cut its dirty throat".

11.22 a.m.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

I rise somewhat earlier than I had expected, but I believe that the case for Sheffield must be made. I urge my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) to take note of the debate very carefully, and I hope that this time he will join me in supporting the Government in the Lobby. This is a very peculiar request for a member of the Opposition back benches to make to a member of his Front Bench. This time I have strange bedfellows in the persons of the hon. Members for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) and Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Winterbottom). I must support their view. On this occasion, unusual as it is, I endorse and support the very good case which was advanced by the hon. Member for Attercliffe, because he covered much of the ground I would have wished to cover. Therefore my intervention will be brief.

Both before this debate and during it I have felt uncomfortable. As the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain) pointed out, I no longer live in Sheffield. Perhaps the reason for that is that we are thrusting for room in Sheffield and there is more room outside. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am sorry to evoke such opposition in certain quarters. My own Member for Parliament, my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Crawley) is sitting on these benches with me. I am convinced that on this occasion he will not support me. This, too, is a very unusual event.

I think that the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East wanted to point out that I had a vested interest in this problem. A company with which I was associated about 10 years ago wished to expand. I think it is relevant to talk about the industrial problems inherent in the expansion of Sheffield. As a representative of this company I approached the Sheffield City Engineer. Undoubtedly there was but limited land for the expansion of industry within the city boundaries. The West Riding, the Derbyshire County Council and the Chesterfield Rural District Council were approached. As an industrialist—I was not then a politician—I found the Chief Planning Officer for Derbyshire and his colleagues in the Chesterfield Rural District Council very helpful help for which I, and the company with which I was associated were very grateful, because they were then putting forward concrete proposals which were discussed in the 1961 inquiry for industrial expansion in the Mosborough and Eckington area and in the Dronfield area, both of which have been of vital concern in the Report of last year and in the Order.

Therefore, the industrial side must also be considered, because Sheffield's prosperity undoubtedly depends upon its industry. The type of activity in which I was interested at that time was alloy steel castings, a combination of a worldwide manufacturing process of the alloy steel techniques of Sheffield. There were medium-term proposals to expand and develop the high quality projects typical of Sheffield.

There were various alternatives. Mention has been made of a new town in Gainsborough. That proposition was put to me by the leaders of the steel industry in South Africa. They asked, "If we could develop a steel industry in South Africa, why are you in Sheffield frightened of even going out to Gainsborough?" I had to make a choice. There is immense inherent known-how amongst those with certain skills in Sheffield. As a manager of a project, I wanted Sheffield skills to be associated with this industrial expansion and naturally looked to closer at hand rather than further away.

I have been able to read the evidence given at the Public Local Inquiry in February, 1961, by Mr. William Gregory Ibberson on behalf of the objection by the Sheffield City Council to the Derby County Development Plan. Mr. Ibberson is a Past President of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers (Incorporated) and is known to me personally. I want to read two paragraphs of the evidence he gave. These paragraphs are relevant to Sheffield's industry and repeat many of the factors that decided expansion near Sheffield in the case in which I have, and in which I have declared, a vested interest: Looking next at medium industry, much of this works in close collaboration with local heavy industry. As an example, we quote the case of a medium-sized steel plant well known to us, which specialises in melting, forging and rolling. This plant works on hire for thirty-seven customers, rolling, forging and even melting steel for them. In a typical case, a much larger concern in the heavy category comes to this medium-sized plant to roll material in quantities or sizes that it (the big concern) could not economically tackle. He says this about the cutlery industry: The lighter industries of the city are also mainly 'geared into' the others, looking to them for raw materials, etc. Furthermore, units in the lighter industries are often very much dependent on one another. For instance, six specialist forges supply rough blade forgings to practically the whole of the cutlery industry; and it is desirable on grounds of efficiency and economy that the location of these forges be near that of the bulk of the remainder of the industry. It is a known fact that a feature of the Sheffield steel industry is that companies take in each other's washing, so to speak, and a company specialising in activities relating to the high-quality products of Sheffield would want to expand in the immediate vicinity of Sheffield and "Made in Sheffield" requires a company to be in or near to Sheffield.

I want to make two references to failures. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East talked about the territorial brigandage of the Sheffield City Council. I shall revert to this later. A similar phrase has been used to me at various times. The hon. Gentleman might evoke a certain amount of sympathy even from his own Front Bench, judging from comments I have had from these who gave evidence to the Ministry at the inquiry.

The Conservative opposition on the city council has condemned the activity of the Socialist council for, first, building houses outside the city; secondly, complaining at the loss of rateable value, which I will deal with later; and thirdly, making this a reason for extending boundaries. I hope that the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) will note, for example, that the decision on Stannington has caused a certain lack of confidence in certain areas and that that weakens rather than strengthens Sheffield's argument.

The second failure, which is a matter of deep regret to me, is the perpetual conflict between Sheffield City Council, Derbyshire County Council, and the West Riding. I noticed this as an industrialist and a citizen about 10 years ago. I welcomed the fact that there was a working party of officers established. I have a report here which gives the terms of reference of the working party— to consider the decisions and observations of the Minister of Housing and Local Government upon the draft town maps for North-East Derbyshire areas and to make recommendations regarding the further action to be taken thereon. I thought that this showed signs of hope, but I had even bigger hopes when the present Government decided to form the economic regions. Together with the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside, I pressed the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown), then First Secretary of State, to create a sub-region based on Sheffield. The trouble at the moment is that, under the Yorkshire and Humberside region, the normal channels of communication between Sheffield and Derbyshire have never been worse and, indeed, the difficulties have been exacerbated as a result of that decision. I hope, therefore, that the Parliamentary Secretary will in due course press his right hon. Friend to consider a sub-region for this area so that the whole area's economic and town and country planning problems can be looked at as a whole.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that the channel of communi- cation has broken down mainly because of Sheffield City Council's refusal to discuss round the table the vital matters affecting the county and Sheffield on the periphery of both authorities?

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

I do not agree. I regard this breakdown as most unfortunate, and in this connection I quote from a statement made by the officers of the Sheffield City Council: It will be noted that, with a few minor reservations, the Minister accepted the proposals of the Corporation and directed the County Council to produce new town maps to give effect to his decisions. Although nearly five years have passed since the Minister first announced his decision, the County Council has not produced any new town maps. That is a statement by the officers of the city council on the reason for the breakdown—no co-operation from the Derbyshire County Council. I cannot comment on the rights and wrongs of the issue. All I can do is to give the positive evidence which has been given to me by Sheffield.

The second hope for the future is that, as a result of the Royal Commission on Local Government, there will be larger local authority areas involving both cities and the rural areas. It is my sincere hope that this will help to bring together the whole neighbourhood. But, unfortunately, this is some time off, and Sheffield cannot wait for the outcome of the Royal Commission and positive decision. It is urgent that Sheffield be given a decision, and I support the Measure now before us. I have no hesitation in supporting the Government on it.

The chronology of events is interesting. Although the result of the immediate decision is that certain areas will come into Sheffield that might have been outside—the Minister will, no doubt, comment on that—the crux of the issue is that Sheffield must now extend its population by 43,000 by going into other areas, and Dronfield, Mosborough, Eckington and Killamarsh are undoubtedly the correct areas to be considered for this purpose. As has been explained, there was a slight breakdown here. According to the information which has been given to me, at the public inquiry into the final recommendations of the Local Government Commission a measure of agreement was reached in that both sides accepted estimates of the city's housing needs up to 1981 and of the capacity in terms of dwellings of the lands within the city at present allocated for housing. The figures showed a deficiency of sites for 27,680 dwellings or 83,000 persons. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will confirm that that is so.

Now, the problem of finance. The hon. Member for Attercliffe pointed out that there are 4,600 houses in West Derbyshire and a loss in rates of £262,000. But this is not all. Taking the calculation on 14,000 people, the loss of grant in respect of general grant is £105,000 and rate deficiency grant £200,000, making £305,000 in total. The other matter which should be borne in mind is that Sheffield has considered transitional arrangements for Beighton and the other areas, so that there will be a transition period for balancing the existing rates with the rates which would be required when Beighton and other areas come into Sheffield.

The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Neal) talked about a new town. When I began, I discussed the factors which caused the company with which I was associated not to go to Gainsborough or further afield, but the report on the Humberside Region is very interesting in this connection. Although I have criticised it to a certain extent, there are some interesting factors which should be considered. I quote here from the end of paragraph 338 and the beginning of paragraph 339: Of the bigger towns, only Hull, Sheffield and York seem likely to be unable to accommodate their estimated 1981 population …(339) The recent decision decision of the Minister of Housing and Local Government to extend the boundary of Sheffield to include the Mosborough area to the south-east of the city will have the effect of relieving Sheffield's shortage of housing land. But until detailed plans for the development of the new area are prepared, it remains uncertain whether Mosborough, together with the areas allocated for housing in town maps in the adjoining county area, will meet the city's need up to 1981. "Thus, there is even doubt about whether the city's needs will yet be met.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

Is not the implication of the paragraph which the hon. Gentleman has read from the Yorkshire and Humberside Review that what is necessary to relieve overspill in Sheffield is a new town?

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

Yes, but a new town takes time. It is urgent that we deal with the problems we have now. The hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) has me on a weak spot there, I admit, because I have been aware of the need for a city such as Sheffield to consider that. It will have to be considered, but there is no case for considering it as an immediate short-term measure.

In paragraph 416 of its Report, the Yorkshire and Humberside Economic Planning Council says: As regards South Yorkshire, the council considers that the proposed extension of the Sheffield boundary should solve the city's short term population problem. It sees the possibility that, in the longer term, it may be necessary to make provision for large scale accommodation of industry and people farther afield The longer term requirements of Sheffield therefore need to be kept constantly under review. As a Member of Parliament who has read that Report on the Yorkshire and Humberside area, I shall not ignore the recommendations there, but I put a plea—

Photo of Mr Richard Winterbottom Mr Richard Winterbottom , Sheffield, Brightside

Is it not also a fact that the recommendations in the Report have also been taken into consideration by the Minister when the year 1981 was fixed as the time at which provision had to be made for Sheffield's overspill?

Mr. Osbom:

Yes, obviously we must make plans up to 1981, plans of a positive nature. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will confirm that this is the case.

I have taken the opportunity to listen to the argument put forward by the city council, by the Conservative opposition as well as by the ruling party, and I am convinced that this is the right short-term measure for Sheffield. I welcome the fact that the Minister has made an immediate decision and that this Order is before us now. Sheffield must have space for its housing in the short term and it must have space for its population. Therefore, I support this Order and, unusual as it is, I support a Government whom I normally oppose.

11.42 a.m.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

Quite a few of my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite wish to take part in this debate, so I shall try to reduce what I want to say to the minimum. The main burden of the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) is that the matter is urgent, that it is a question of dealing with the overspill problem as quickly as possible, and, as a consequence, there must be territorial extension into the boundaries of Derbyshire.

Those hon. Members appeared to suggest that at this time there is no alternative. I say straight away that I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain), who said that this Order emanated not from Sheffield City Council—I acquit the city council of any complicity in this matter—but from the meeting which took place of Sheffield City Council, leaders of Derbyshire County Council and the Minister in 1960. I have no desire to attack civil servants, but permanent civil servants and the chief planning officer of the Ministry of Housina and Local Government told the City Council to make a greater claim for parts of Derbyshire.

I have no desire to attack them, and I leave it at that, but since that meeting at the Ministry there have been extensive offers of land both by Derbyshire County Council and the West Riding County Council with a view to accommodating Sheffield's overspill. The City Council has ignored those offers and said that it must have territorial gain before dealing with the overspill outside its own boundaries, and over the last 15 years it has managed to build within the city boundaries. It is clear that the City Council has made no attempt to take up the offers from Derbyshire County Council and the West Riding County Council.

It would have been much more sensible to have approached this matter on a regional basis. Derbyshire County Council suggested such an approach on many occasions. I intended to quote paragraph 339 of the Yorkshire and Humberside Economic Planning Council Report, which has been referred to by the hon. Member for Hallam. That paragraph suggests that a new town would be the only answer to Sheffield's overspill problem.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

I should like the hon. Member to realise that the difficulty is that it is a Yorkshire and Humberside Report and that council has no power to deal with overspill into Derbyshire. It was limited in the locality it could cover. Does not the hon. Member agree that it is a pity there has not been a sub-region to cover part of the Chesterfield area as well as the West Riding?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

Probably a case could be made for a sub-region, but there is also a case for a new town. My hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe made a point about industries having difficulty in moving out of Sheffield. I believe that Turton's have moved into my constituency with their heavy drop forging activity. The hon. Member for Hallam declared an interest in regard to Samuel Osborn's, which has moved to North-East Deryshire.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

That is quite true, but one point which I did not mention and which I should emphasise is that that area would be within the city boundary as a result of this Order.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I make the point that industry can move out of Sheffield and that this is not so difficult as has been suggested. My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East said that 95 per cent, of the population are opposed to this Order. That is perfectly true. At the inquiry held to hear objections to the transfer of parts of Derbyshire into the Sheffield area, Mr. Jack Longland demonstrated that Derbyshire County Council gave broadly based and imaginative services which were far superior to those which Sheffield provided. This contention was not challenged by the City Council.

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Birmingham, Perry Barr

I think it fair to say for the record—I must declare my interest here as I am an ex-deputy chairman of Sheffield education committee—that it was severely challenged from the Sheffield education side.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I have read the Report of the inquiry from cover to cover and I do not find that there was any challenge made. I do not know what my hon. Friend from Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price) is doing in this debate, for Birmingham does not come into Sheffield. Primary, secondary and further education facilities provided by Derbyshire are good. Many local people fear that there would be a levelling down as a result of this Order. Many of the 33,000 would be affected. Mention has been made of West-field Comprehensive School, which was a pioneer in comprehensive education. Local education authorities are extremely chary about setting up comprehensive schools but Derbyshire went ahead with that project despite the great displeasure which must have been expressed by the then Conservative Government. It went ahead with the project in accordance with Labour Party views. I wonder what the Conservatives would say about this if they were ever to take over the City Council of Sheffield.

Photo of Mr Richard Winterbottom Mr Richard Winterbottom , Sheffield, Brightside

There is not the slightest hope of that.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

My hon. Friend says that there is not the slightest hope of that, but would they alter the structure? I wonder if my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary can tell us what will happen about the school children in the affected area if this Order goes through. Will they still be eligible to attend West-field school? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] The parent-teacher association and the association of teachers in Derbyshire are opposed to this Order. They fear that local educational democracy will go as a consequence of the Order.

The Order will have an effect on Chesterfield Rural District Council. That council will be weakened considerably if the Order goes through. This is bound to happen when we consider that £850,000 of rateable value will be taken over. It is bound to weaken some of the council's services. Although I am sure that the remaining councillors will do their best to deal with the situation, during the transitional period there will be great difficulties.

The crux of the matter is seen in the setting up of the Royal Commission on Local Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Neal) pointed out that the decision to set up that Commission was announced on 10th February last year and my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, who was then Minister of Housing and Local Government, gave his decision over the Sheffield Order about 6th April, 1966.

Photo of Mr Richard Winterbottom Mr Richard Winterbottom , Sheffield, Brightside

Is my hon. Friend aware that before an Order is issued by the Minister of Housing and Local Government an indication has to be given by the Home Secretary and the indication that the Order would be issued by the Minister was given before Christmas?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I have looked at the Minister's letter. It is dated 6th April, 1966, and the Royal Commission was announced on 10th February. If that is not undermining the Royal Commission and prejudging the matter, I do not know what is. Many people speculate that the Royal Commission will recommend a two-tier system of local government in the area effected by the Order, but it already has a three-tier system, which is very effective, and admirable for local representation and local democracy.

The wishes of the 33,000 people ought to be heard, as they are demonstrably against this. After the inquiry held in Sheffield, paragraph 57 of the inspector's report says: I do not think it is necessary to give detailed accounts of the speeches and arguments, and, in taking this course, it is not my intention to detract from the force of the objections. It is simply that the opposition to the proposals was so unquestionable that I see no point in taking time on a matter which is so abundantly clear as to require no elaboration. Even at this late stage, there should be co-operation between the Sheffield Council and the Derbyshire County Council. Consultations are already taking place at a technical officer level about the possibility of housing in the Mosborough area. Providing that the City Council is prepared to co-operate, this could go ahead with the minimum of delay. Sheffield cannot come to terms with its overspill except by the unnecessary territorial gains of extending its boundaries. For all these reasons, and for those given by my hon. Friends the Member for Derbyshire, North-East and Bolsover, I support the Prayer and will vote against the Order.

11.52 a.m.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

I intend to mention the particular interest of the Wortley Rural District Council on the other side of Sheffield and to introduce a new factor into the debate, which so far, quite naturally, has ranged between hon. Members representing Derbyshire and those representing Sheffield.

The Order will affect the rural district of Wortley in this way. It is estimated that, of a total population in the rural district of 51,000, 27.6 per cent, will be absorbed into the corporation of Sheffield. The rateable value will be reduced by 15 per cent. The rural district council does not see the necessity for a boundary alteration in advance of the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government, although we will accept the Order as such if we get satisfaction on one point—but this should not be taken as agreeing with the Government's haste in this matter at a time when the Royal Commission is meant to take a general look at our whole system and when one of the bold purposes claimed by my right hon. Friend who is now Leader of the House when he announced the Royal Commission was that we should not be tied hand and foot by the fact that other inquiries had been made. He claimed that as a peculiar advantage of his decision to set up a Royal Commission.

We feel, therefore, that it would have been much better if the Order had been withheld and the Royal Commission allowed to report, after which the whole matter could be looked at comprehensively. I fully appreciate the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) and other hon. Members representing Sheffield Corporation about the urgent housing problem there. I also accept their case about the importance of a great industrial area and its contribution to our national economic life. I think that everyone will have to accept this part of the case.

But it does not follow—this is the intellectual sleight of hand which I cannot accept—that, because Sheffield is important economically and has an urgent immediate housing problem, we should throw to the winds the superior wisdom of waiting for the comprehensive review.

There has been an interesting interchange across the Floor about a new town. I profoundly believe that the logic of events will prove that we need a new town in this area. There has been a peculiar contradiction between the views of some hon. Members for Sheffield. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) seemed strongly to favour a new town, but my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe thought that it was not the logical solution. In fact, the new town might be the best long-term solution and it would have been possible, to put it no higher, to look at all these problems comprehensively if the Government had awaited the Report of the Royal Commission.

I hasten to the particular case concerning the Wortley Rural District Council. The opposition which I put forward to the Order is based on a point of detail, but a very important one. The Order proposes to take into Sheffield the bulk of an extensive corporation housing estate erected in the rural district. So far, so good—but the Order also proposes to take into the city 300 houses erected by the Wortley Rural District Council.

Almost the same number of corporation houses will be left in the rural district, and the rural district council maintains—I believe rightly—that if it is right for their houses to go into the city and to be vested in the corporation, it is equally right for the similar number of corporation houses left in the rural district to belong to the rural district council.

I come now to the history of the efforts which we have made, and which the rural district council has made, to achieve, by negotiation with the corporation, what the rural district council desires. It is not a very good story. Talking with many of my colleagues and knowing many of the people involved on the Sheffield City Council over many years as personal friends, I must, none the less, put on record my disappointment that they have not been more forthcoming in starting earlier negotiations with their colleagues from the Wortley Rural District Council. This is a matter of good conduct between neighbours. What ever future system of local government we may have, it is important that there should be proper conduct between neighbours—

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

It might save time later if I answer my hon. Friend now. The authorities to which he has referred were asked for their comments on this detailed Order last August and at no time did they raise the question of these 300 houses; the Department knew nothing about this dispute until January this year. That should be on the record, as my hon. Friend seemed to be impugning other people's good faith.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

I am glad that my hon. Friend has intervened now, because that gives me an opportunity to put the record straight. I thank him for his fairness, because I might not have had that opportunity if he had left this to the end.

His point is covered by what I have to say. This is the history of the matter. The Minister sent copies of the first draft of the Order on 14th July, 1966. Particularly important, in his covering letter which went with this draft Order, in paragraph 11, referring specifically to special circumstances affecting property, he said: In general, it is hoped that authorities will reach agreement in regard to special provisions, whether for exceptions from normal transfer or for special arrangements, and it is helpful if the proposals are submitted by one authority on behalf of both authorities concerned. In the event of disagreement, the Minister should be supplied with details of the conflicting views, so that the matter may be determined for the purposes of the Order. On receipt of this covering letter, the Wortley Rural District Council naturally assumed that Sheffield Corporation would make the first move about those houses left in the rural district, and it therefore delayed for two months after receiving the draft Order until taking the initiative itself on 14th September when it suggested that it should take Corporation houses in exchange for its own council houses which were going into the city.

The corporation's reply, refusing this request, was sent more than one month later, on 27th October. Within a few days of receiving that letter, the rural district council wrote to the corporation on 2nd November asking for a meeting, and it was more than two months later—and this is the reply to my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary—on 3rd January, 1967, that Sheffield Corporation replied, agreeing to the meeting but saying that the earliest possible date would have to be 13th January. It was right for the rural district to try to get this meeting and these negotiations before approaching the Minister. That is the history of the matter and it completely establishes the case of the rural district, and the timetable conclusively proves that the rural district acted properly and without undue delay.

I am very glad that I have been able to clear up this matter. The end of the story is no better. I have said that the corporation suggested that 13th January would be the earliest date for the meeting. A meeting was held on that day, but without a satisfactory conclusion, and the rural district council wrote to the Minister on the same day asking for a provision to be made in the Order.

I think that it will be generally agreed that what has occurred has been an unwillingness by the Corporation to come to terms with the rural district in time, and in these circumstances it is only fair to submit that the Government have a duty in this connection. It is unfair to leave the position as it is. The Government ought to give a promise either to withdraw the Order and submit an improved Order, or, if that is impossible, to undertake to the rural district council that it will reconsider the matter and find another method, as they could, of seeing to it that Sheffield Corporation is obliged to negotiate properly with the rural district council, or, failing that, to see that the 300 houses remain with the rural district. That would be a proper and fair solution—either for the corporation to be obliged to come to terms with the rural district in negotiation, or for the Minister to ensure that the rural district receives justice and fairness.

12.4 p.m.

Photo of Mr Richard Winterbottom Mr Richard Winterbottom , Sheffield, Brightside

I have only two minutes in which to speak and I have many things to say which I shall not be able to cover in that time. I will therefore confine my remarks to the Wortley case, with which I have some sympathy, especially about the timetable, as this has all been a matter of squeezing as much as possible into a limited time.

In discussing the Wortley case, we have to consider the offer which Sheffield Corporation has made about 310 houses on one side and 490 on the other. There cannot be a simple exchange, for in value terms an older house cannot be exchanged for a modern house. Rightly or wrongly, Sheffield feels that the difference has been taken into account in the offer which it has made to Wortley, not only in the immediate but in the long run.

It is intended that some of the 27,000 houses which Sheffield will have to build outside the new boundaries will go to the Wortley district, and if more houses are added to those already there, surely there can be no claim about houses. Under Article 45 of the Order, Sheffield has offered transitional financial assistance amounting to £60,000. We offered to consider average re-lets on both sides of the boundary in the transitional period—10 re-lets—to meet the requirements of Wortley not only for re-lets as houses became empty, but also to meet the demands of children growing up in the area and who were to have the same rights as those living in the Sheffield area.

We offered differential rating, with a rating standstill for 1967–68, under Article 48, giving a concession to people coming into the city from Wortley. Those were far-reaching concessions. Time will not permit me to deal with some of the other matters, but at any rate I have shown that the corporation tried to meet the awkward situation which had to be faced in this boundary revision with adequate sympathy and understanding.

12.7 p.m.

Photo of Mr Aidan Crawley Mr Aidan Crawley , West Derbyshire

I have an equally short time in which to speak, but I am glad to be able to do so, if even for only two minutes, in order to show that those who support the Prayer do not belong to one party. I differ from my constituent, even though I may lose his vote as a result.

I have a peripheral interest in this matter in only one sense, because no rural district in my constituency is directly affected. However, Derbyshire County Council headquarters at Matlock are the very heart and soul of my constituency and, naturally, I am deeply concerned not only about the County Council's point of view, but about its future. I will leave aside the arguments so admirably put by hon. Members opposite and deal with only two matters which have not yet been mentioned.

Why is the Ministry—and this is a Ministry plan—so keen on this change? I believe that it is simply the townsman's view triumphing over the view of the countryside. The green belt has been discounted. Although it may be small, it is of tremendous importance to those who live there. Secondly, the plan will lead to the building up of another of those enormous conurbations of which we have some to the north and some to the south. That is especially serious for my constituency because of the Peak Park.

I do not have time to describe the Peak Park on a Sunday afternoon in summer when there are cars queuing for miles and miles on the roads leading to it and thousands of cars parked in it. That is exactly what we want and it is splendid that people should come to the Peak Park, but it will be throttled if these conurbations continue to grow. This is why the idea of a new town further afield is so desperately important in the general view of regional planning.

The only other point which I have time to make is slightly different. It is not impossible to make intelligent guesses about the sort of recommendations which the Royal Commission will make. There must be either a great expansion of city units or local government or what is called the continuous county where there will be two-tier government. As a person who has lived in the country much of his life and represents a country constituency, I have no doubt which I hope it will be. In this country, which is a great industrial country, the countryside is always fighting a tremendous battle against the ill-planned encroachment of cities. To prejudge the issue before the Royal Commission reports by allowing the city of Sheffield to expand in this way, creating the beginning of another of these conurbations, seems to me the negation of all sensible planning.

12.11 p.m.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

The House is faced with another difficult decision to make on a local government alteration of area Order. The Government have created the difficulties by destroying the Local Government Boundary Commission and setting up the Royal Commission with a fanfare of political trumpets. This could have been a policy: no local government reform until the Royal Commission reports. But I understand that that is not the policy. It is a policy with no real principle behind it, but just an arbitrary date line of taking into account certain decisions of the Ministry and reports of the Commission made up to the present time. On that basis, this Order is on the wrong side of the date line and therefore, prima facie, the reforms should wait until the Royal Commission makes its recommendations.

We on this side of the House would have liked the Local Government Boundary Commission to continue and complete its work. But, faced with the Royal Commission, I approach these Orders biased against alteration when the structure may be completely altered by the Royal Commission's report and recommendations. This has been said by hon. Members, including the hon. Members for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain) and Penistone (Mr. Mendelson).

Only by proof of immediate urgency can an Order of this sort be justified without awaiting the outcome of the Royal Commission. In this case the immediate housing and industrial urgency has been proved. The question is whether the problem should be solved by territorial acquisition, by overspill, or, perhaps, by a new town. Those seem to be the three possibilities. The House might be greatly attracted by the new town idea—I am myself—but it has not been, and it could not be, possible to debate that fully today. I merely express the personal opinion that in this case overspill would be the worst of both worlds and the case for it has not been proved. Therefore, territorial acquisition seems to be the only course before the House today.

I adopt the words of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd): this is a domestic adjustment. There is no national policy behind the Order. The Minister disclaims his Ministry's evidence as given to the Royal Commission. We do not know, therefore, what the Government's national policy is towards local government reform. We have no lead from the Government on their policy for local government reform and therefore we have to decide these Orders as they come before the House on an ad hoc basis.

I express the personal opinion that the case has been made out for immediate urgency in dealing with the housing and industrial problems and that territorial acquisition seems to be the only solution.

12.16 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

Listening to the intense verbal conflict not only between hon. Members on the same side of the House but across the Floor of the House, I wondered whether I should be allowed to intervene at all. I am very grateful for all the views which have been expressed, even though some of them have been expressed with considerable passion and almost violence. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain), who moved the Prayer, will acquit those of us who may not be able to agree 100 per cent. with him of following the Hitler tradition. I assure him that that is not so.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

It was not the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East, who said that. I was quoting from a letter; and, incidentally, I believe every word written in the letter.

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

My hon. Friend has endorsed the view which I attributed to him. I hope that on reflection he will reconsider it, because, whatever view one takes on this kind of problem, one makes the very best judgment possible in the light of all the decisions and factors. Certainly in this case, and indeed in the case of most of the other Orders of which I have some personal knowledge, no one could pretend that a Department, inspector or authority has ridden roughshod over another. I shall say something in a moment or two, as I did on the Gloucester Order, about the extraordinarily lengthy procedure which all attempts at change involve.

When a proposal of this sort is put forward, it is obvious that to those who have worked in an authority and have lavished their care and devotion—"affection" is not too strong a term—on the inhabitants and electors in it, any change is bound to be repugnant. Often very strong feelings are aroused. Sometimes, there are feelings of bitterness. I met some of the local representatives of Derbyshire during the weekend, and I can well understand how they felt.

However, when we have recorded the history of this matter and the reasons why this decision had to be taken, which were largely summarised by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) in his concluding remarks, I hope that if people do not agree with the decision—I would not expect that—they will realise that it has been taken after very careful thought and a great deal of work and consultation at every level. I trust that they will acquit those of us who have had to make these decisions of having made them in bad faith or negligently or without adequate reason.

Perhaps I can say to my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East, in a slightly more generous way than the spirit with which he responded to my invitation just now, that the fact that changes are being proposed is no criticism of the excellent work of the representatives of the authorities concerned or of the services. What any Government must do when faced with matters of this kind is to look at the position as it has developed over the years and to consider what it is likely to be in the immediate future. If the Government failed to take that into account or did not propose a structure which was adequate, they would be failing in their duty and we should be rightly criticised in the House for allowing to develop a situation in which there was no administrative framework which would give relief fairly soon to the city of Sheffield, particularly in housing. The Government would be open to severe censure if they did not act in this way.

Photo of Mr Trevor Park Mr Trevor Park , Derbyshire South East

My hon. Friend is talking as though the changes proposed by this Order are to be the only changes made in local government in this region in the near future. But the Minister has said that it is the Government's intention to encourage the Royal Commission to issue its report as quickly as possible. Once that report is issued one presumes that the Government will decide to act on it as quickly as possible. Has my hon. Friend taken these factors into account?

Photo of Mr Arthur Skeffington Mr Arthur Skeffington , Hayes and Harlington

My hon. Friend might well have thought that I would deal with the Royal Commission's Report. I have only ten minutes in which to speak and I wish to deal with the points raised in the debate as fully as possible. Perhaps I can develop that point later.

There has been talk about the question of the wishes of the inhabitants of an area, which are always an important factor when framing regulations. However, there are many other factors which must be taken into consideration, first, by the Commission and certainly by the Government—community of interest, development and expected development, which is extremely important in this case, economic and industrial characteristics, financial resources, and so on.

One or two hon. Members have talked about a rushed decision in this case. Consultation with inhabitants is an important part of this procedure, and this was responsible for an extremely lengthy procedure. The Commission started its review in the spring of 1960. It visited the area and had many consultations with the inhabitants involved. It published its draft proposals in September, 1962. It then held statutory conferences with the local authorities representing the people concerned. That took five months, which brought it to 1963. Finally, after other consultations, it published its report in June, 1964. There was a public inquiry into the objections by the inspector in July, 1965.

Subsequently a number of deputations were received by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and others, and finally the decision was published about a year ago, on 6th April, 1966. We have now arrived at February, 1967.

There have been seven years in which there have been consultations of every kind at all levels, and it is quite beside the point and not true or relevant to say that there has not been continuous consultation with the inhabitants. Their wishes have been taken into account in the decisions which have had to be taken.

Reference was made to the question of rates. I am very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Bright-side (Mr. Winterbottom) drew attention to the cushioning arrangements in Article 48 of the Order. At present the Sheffield rate is 12s. 10d. in the £, and the rates, for the two other authorities concerned are 10s. 2d. and 10s. 10d. The city corporation, in view of the economic circumstances, is anxious to get a standstill for rates, and there will be no increase as a result of Article 48 for the year 1967–68. Thereby and afterwards it will be confined and limited to an amount of 6d. in the £ per year. At present the transferred areas will be paying less rates because they will take advantage of the 5d. as a result of the Local Government Act of last year. If, as seems likely, the transferred areas take advantage of the 5d., in the standstill area they will get a reduction in the rates, but if the other two authorities were to put the rates up, they would get an even greater advantage. Therefore there is no very strong case on rates.

We fully understand that there is a strong case regarding the school. I indicated to the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) that the city authority had given an undertaking that pupils from Derbyshire will continue to be received. My right hon. Friend consulted his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science, and they sympathise with the view of the Derbyshire County Council. This is a splendid school, and Derbyshire has a splendid record, but they took the view that as the new school will be serving transferred areas as well as the new development of Mosborough, it would be very much better if the school were transferred now to prevent any feeling of uncertainty in the future. In view of the undertaking I have given about the pupils, I hope that this will be satisfactory.

The dominating issue and the major reason for dealing with this Order now is the need for housing land. I could not understand those hon. Members who suggested that this was not the case. It certainly is the major part of the reconsideration of the draft proposals in paragraph 357 of the Commission's Report: The biggest single issue is the proposed extension to the South-East of the city to take in land for overspill development". This is based on the decision given by the Minister of Housing and Local Government in the previous Administration in 1962, that most of the city of Sheffield overspill would have to be in the area or should be in the area of Mosborough. That was the decision taken in 1962 and confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

Derbyshire County Council was asked to provide plans for accommodating over 80,000 people by 1981 or 1982, of whom 65,000 would be in this area. For per- fectly honest and sincere reasons, Derbyshire County Council thought it might be possible to have development elsewhere and its plans have not been prepared. Sheffield has to deal with its appalling housing conditions—there are 25,000 unfit houses. I will not add to the powerful speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd), but a large number of houses are growing older every year and they will soon come into this category. If we are sincere in our plans—and I hope that both parties are sincere in their desire to deal with the situation—my right hon. Friend has come to the conclusion that the planning decision, given as long ago as 1962, must be brought into effect as soon as possible.

The Minister agrees also with the Commission's view that Gleadless, Frecheville, Birley and Hackenthorpe were substantially a continuation of Sheffield. There are 7,300 houses in this area over 4,000 of which are owned by the city. Therefore the city ought, in his view and in the view of the Order, to be extended.

This brings me to the position of Beighton. It would be quite impossible. In view of the planning decision about Mosborough which will have to take in this large community of some 60,000, to leave Beighton outside. We would have an area almost bisecting the city. If the major plan is right, and I submit that it is right, then this other area, which is quite small, must also go into the city.

A number of hon. Members asked why we should do all this ahead of the setting up of the Royal Commission. It is very important that one should read what the Minister said on 10th February, 1966. Only part of what he said has been read out. I will not read the part that was read out about decisions which were completed before the Commission was set up. The then Minister, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, went on to say: Where decisions have already been announced on proposals by the Commission, the necessary orders will be brought before Parliament as soon as possible. Other proposals on which decisions have not yet been taken will be considered on their merits, in the light of the decision to appoint a Royal Commission."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February. 1966; Vol. 724, c. 644.] If we are sincere in our desire to deal with housing, we know that even if the Commission reports early next year, as I think it will, there will be bound to be at least one year or 18 months of consultations and then a year or two years before legislation is introduced. Are we to say that Sheffield's housing situation, its population and the other development in the area, will have to wait for another four or five years? And this is not solely in the interest of Sheffield. That would make a mockery of our attempt to get on with housing. I sincerely hope that this view will not be supported in the Lobbies if this matter is unfortunately pushed to that length.

My hon. Friend the Member for Penis-tone (Mr. Mendelson) asked whether the 300 houses, the main subject of his argument, could remain with the rural district authority. We cannot provide for that in this Order. If my hon. Friend cares to bring some hon. Members to talk to me, we will see if anything can be done, but it cannot be done within the confines of this Order. In view of the proposed administrative set-up, whereby this great area will be able to organise itself properly, I hope that the House will give the necessary assent to the procedure.

12.29 p.m.

Photo of Mr Trevor Park Mr Trevor Park , Derbyshire South East

Despite the remarks of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, I should like to support my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain) in moving this Prayer against the implementation of the Sheffield Order. He produced a number of very cogent arguments and, as a former citizen of the county borough of Sheffield, I thought that those arguments carried much more weight than those put forward by the representatives of the Parliamentary constituencies in the county borough who have spoken. It seems to me that we should take very careful note of the fact that the Order before us today is the product of a process of inquiry and decision which the Government and the vast majority of hon. Members have now admitted to be gravely deficient. The Order proposes to give effect—

Photo of Mr Ronald Lewis Mr Ronald Lewis , Carlisle

On a point of order. In view of the fact that in Standing Order No. 100 provision is made only for Prayers to be concluded at half-past Eleven in the evening, and no provision is made in the Standing Orders for morning sittings, may I respectfully submit that as a large number of hon. Members still wish to take part in this debate it should be adjourned?

Photo of Mr Sydney Irving Mr Sydney Irving , Dartford

Standing Order No. 100 was modified by the Sessional Order which we passed on 14th December. Paragraph 8 substitutes the time of 12.30 p.m. for 11.30 p.m. with regard to Prayers. The Chair therefore has a responsibility to put the Question at 12.30.

Photo of Mr Trevor Park Mr Trevor Park , Derbyshire South East

Further to that point of order. I understand that under the terms of the Standing Order to which reference has been made the occupant of the Chair has a discretion in determining whether he should put the Question, in the light of the importance of the business and the number of hon. Members who wish to participate. Quite a number of hon. Members who have been present throughout the morning awaiting an opportunity to speak in this debate have been denied it because of the shortage of time. This applies both to Members who are in favour of the Order and those who are against it. In the circumstances, I submit that you should exercise your discretion and adjourn this debate to allow it to be resumed at a later stage.

Photo of Mr Sydney Irving Mr Sydney Irving , Dartford

I thank the hon. Member. The Chair does not determine the matter solely by considering the number of hon. Members waiting to speak but by whether it considers the Prayer has been adequately debated. Until the Sessional Order was passed, the normal time for praying against an Order was an hour and a half. This Prayer has been discussed for more than two hours this morning. Using the discretion of the Chair, I judge that the matter has been adequately debated.

It being after half-past Twelve o'clock, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question pursuant to Standing Order No. 100 (Statutory Instruments, &c. (Procedure)).

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER'S opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Proceedings stood deferred pursuant to Order (Sittings of the House {Morning Sittings)).