Boundaries Extension (Local Inquiries — Cost).

Oral Answers to Questions — Housing. – in the House of Commons am ar 27 Hydref 1920.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr William Lunn Mr William Lunn , Rothwell

41.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will defer any inquiry into schemes of such magnitude as the Leeds and Bradford boundary extension inquiries until a Royal Commission or a Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament has been appointed, and reported on the whole question of local government areas?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I am not prepared to adopt the course suggested.

Photo of Mr William Lunn Mr William Lunn , Rothwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very strong feeling against these extension schemes in every one of these areas that are affected, and will he meet a deputation of West Riding Members of Parliament and others from the areas affected on this subject at an early date?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I am well aware there is strong feeling, and I am afraid it is often, in fact always, aroused by these extensions. I have in fact this morning directed a communication to be sent to the West Riding City Council, I think, about a deputation, but I can only see them on general questions relating to costs and so forth. I cannot have a preliminary hearing of the cases, which have to be dealt with by inspectors according to the Statute.

Photo of Mr Thomas Grundy Mr Thomas Grundy , Rother Valley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the cost to these localities in opposing these extension schemes, and does he not think that the money could at the present time be better spent than in this way? Surely some scheme could be brought about that would obviate this tremendous and wasteful expenditure?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I entirely agree that there is a gross waste of money in these inquiries, and the object that I hope to attain in the deputation which I sent for this morning is on that very point, to try and avoid all this gross waste of public money.

Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD:

Will the right hon. Gentleman take care to see that the failure of the Yorkshiremen to combine together for the extension of their boundaries in a sensible and reasonable way shall not injure Staffordshire in attempting to do the same?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

In view of the great cost to county councils of these inquiries, which is estimated at about £100,000, can the right hon. Gentleman see his way to defer granting the inquiry until it is more thoroughly gone into?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I really cannot overrule Acts of Parliament. The Act of Parliament requires that we shall hold an inquiry in certain circumstances. If those circumstances arise, I have no option but to hold an inquiry. I hope at the deputation that we shall have, where I hope many of the parties will be present, to try and arrive at some sensible arrangement to save this wasteful expenditure, but while the Act stands I am bound to see that it is administered.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

Has he not the right under the Act, if special reasons are shown, to defer granting an inquiry?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I am well aware of that, but the presence of opposition is not a special reason. It is always present.

Photo of Mr William Lunn Mr William Lunn , Rothwell

42.

asked the Minister of Health whether or not, if the Leeds extension inquiry proceeds, he will fix a specific date for hearing the case and taking evidence for and against the city administration, and separate dates for hearing the case and taking evidence for and against the two boroughs, eight urban, and three rural districts whose administration is sought to be interfered with, in order to prevent the waste of time and money and reduce the length and cost of the inquiry?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I am advised that the arrangement suggested would not be practicable and would not be likely to shorten the proceedings at the local inquiry or reduce the expense.

Photo of Mr William Lunn Mr William Lunn , Rothwell

May I again ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that this Leeds extension inquiry, which affects all these local authorities, may last something like 50 days, that some of these urban districts have employed two counsel, engineers, and experts of all kinds, and that it may mean to them a 2s. or 3s. rate fighting at this inquiry, at a time when the money is needed for housing, for health purposes, and for unemployment?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I entirely agree, and it would be a useful thing if these councils would not rush into the cost of employing expensive counsel and expert witnesses. I am informed, as a matter of fact, that the West Riding Council were prepared to come to an agreement with the City of Leeds that they would not employ counsel and expert witnesses, but these various councils persisted in this extravagant course, and that is what I am hoping we shall get them out of.

Photo of Mr Henry Rae Mr Henry Rae , Shipley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the City of Bradford have refused to come to such an arrangement with some of the small authorities who are willing to work on those lines?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I know there are a lot of Yorkshiremen who seem anxious to spend a lot of money fighting one another.

Photo of Mr William Lunn Mr William Lunn , Rothwell

And you help them.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I am doing all I can to try and get them to arrive at some more sensible arrangement.

Photo of Mr Henry Rae Mr Henry Rae , Shipley

Is not that all the more reason why the right hon. Gentleman should exercise his powers to defer the inquiry until the special Committee has been appointed to report to the House on the whole question?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I cannot use powers I do not possess. I have to administer an Act of Parliament. The Act of Parliament requires me to hold an inquiry, and I have no option in the matter. Until the Act is altered I am bound to administer it.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS:

Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that this very extravagance to which he has alluded constitutes a special reason, which he has admitted would entitle him to postpone the inquiry?

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I have answered that. Opposition, of course, is constantly present.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS:

Extravagance.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Shoreditch

I cannot be a judge of extravagance before it is incurred. I am doing everything I can to induce authorities to avoid incurring these great costs. If I could prevent them I would, but I have no power to do so.

Photo of Mr James Thomas Mr James Thomas , Derby

In view of that statement and the general sense of the House that he ought to have this power, will the right hon. Gentleman bring in an Emergency Bill?