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Private Bill Procedure (Committee's Recommendations)

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 31 July 1956

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

47.

asked the Prime Minister what action the Government propose to take on the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure.

The Report of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure, presided over by the right hon. Gentleman, contains valuable recommendations which have engaged the close attention both of the Government and of the authorities in the two Houses. The right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means has informed me of the progress made on the recommendations which concern him. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement indicating the action taken on a considerable number of the recommendations. Those not referred to in the statement are still under consideration.

I should like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the members of both Houses who served on this Committee.

Can those parts of the Joint Committee's recommendations which require legislation be included in any legislation which the Government may promote later on the White Paper which is now in the Vote Office?

I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would let me consider that. What I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT indicates the action which we have already taken on a considerable number of these recommendations. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are more than twenty of them. I think that I should like consideration about the legislation point.

Following is the statement:

Report Of The Joint Committee On Private Bill Procedure (H C 139)

Recommendation (2)

The Chairman of Ways and Means has indicated that he prefers the existing procedure, which, though open to some criticism, effectively safeguards the rights both of the individual Member and of the promoters. He has added that he is unwilling to exercise the discretion which the second part of the recommendation seeks to give him. The exercise of a discretion such as that suggested by the Joint Committee would, in his view, often conflict with the non-political character of the office of Chairman of Ways and Means.

Recommendation (5)

This recommendation has been carried out.

Recommendation (6)

The Chairman of Ways and Means has indicated that the difficulty of obtaining a quorum in Committees on unopposed Bills has been overcome by other methods, and in his opinion no action on this recommendation is necessary.

Recommendation (7)

The Chairman of Ways and Means has given instructions that, from the beginning of next Session, a sufficient record of the decisions taken by Committees on unopposed Bills in this House, and the reasons therefor, should be kept and made available to Members of the Committee who wish to consult it.

Recommendation (8)

The Chairman of Ways and Means takes the view that this recommendation should not be carried out. The double Committee stage proposed by the Joint Committee would add to the expense of the promoters; and the view of the Chairman of Ways and Means is that consistency in private legislation is sufficiently ensured by the fact that the advice of the Speaker's Counsel is by Standing Order made available both to unopposed Bill Committees and to opposed Bill Committees which contain local legislation clauses.

Recommendation (9)

This recommendation was carried out by the amendment by the two Houses of the relevant Standing Orders on 21st February, 1956.

Recommendation (10)

The principle of this recommendation has been accepted. Acting in conjunction with the authorities of the House of Lords, the Chairman of Ways and Means has proposed that the saving which results from re-arranging the printing charges in pursuance of this recommendation should be divided equally between the Stationery Office and the promoters of Private Bills.

Recommendations (11) and (12)

The Chairman of Ways and Means takes the view that these two recommendations should not be carried out.

Recommendation (14)

The Chairman of Ways and Means has indicated that the revision of the fees charged by both Houses has been completed, and it is hoped to give notice of the necessary amendments to the Standing Orders of this House before the summer Adjournment.

Recommendation (15)

This recommendation has been carried out in both Houses; completely revised and modernised lists of Agents' charges have now been agreed to by Mr. Speaker and the Clerk of the Parliaments respectively.

Recommendations (17) and (18)

The Chairman of Ways and Means and the Lord Chairman of Committees have agreed that a review of the Standing Orders should be undertaken by the officers of both Houses.

Recommendation (19)

The Model Clauses Committee, which operates under the direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Lord Chairman of Committees, has decided to carry out this recommendation in future editions of Model Clauses. The Committee has already drawn the attention of all the Parliamentary Agents to the recommendation.

Recommendation (20)

The preparation of the material for this Bill is well advanced. No indication can be given at present as to its introduction.