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Clause 34—(The Covent Garden Traffic Committee)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

I do not think this Clause was amended in the Select Committee. I do not know whether it is in order to say this, but I hope it is, because it bears upon a question I want to ask. I should like to protest at the way in which all of us here have had to operate on this Bill, without any explanation of what the Select Committee did or did not do. This Report of the Select Committee covers hundreds of pages, but it does not give any summary of any kind of what the Select Committee did. This makes the life of a humble Member of Parliament very difficult when he is trying to understand a Bill with these complications. I for one am grateful to the Minister for the way in which he has co-operated, but he is very lucky to have many people behind him—first-class people who are backing him up. I wish we had one of them to help us.

From our point of view, this is a great difficulty, and I am therefore asking this question on Clause 34. I hope that the Minister might like to say a word about this. He says that this Clause is the means by which he will co-operate with the Minister of Transport about the congestion arising from this new market and how it will in fact be obliterated. I hope that when he replies he will agree with me about the Select Committee.

7.45 p.m.

Before my right hon. Friend replies, perhaps I may be of assistance to the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish). I rather think, though I stand to be corrected, that the Members of the Select Committee, of whom I had the honour of being one, are not permitted, or at least are not expected, to give their reasons for the changes which are made. That does not necessarily mean that the Minister is not able to make some explanation of the changes, but I think I am right in saying that the Members sitting on a Select Committee on a hybrid Bill, after taking their decisions, are not required or expected to give reasons for those decisions.

I would remind the Committee that we are on Clause 34.

This is the second of the three Committees to be set up under this Bill. The first is the Management Committee, the second is the Traffic Committee under this Clause, and the third, under Clause 35, is the Workers Committee. This Committee is to consist of a chairman, who will be the managing director of the Authority, and from nine to 12 other members appointed by the Authority who are to be traffic experts. Nine of these experts are to be nominated by Ministers and other interested bodies. The Authority's duties in relation to the relief of traffic congestion, which are set out in Clause 17, are duties to which we attach the greatest importance, and this Traffic Committee will provide expert advice in connection with this important aspect of the matter. The Minister of Transport will nominate two persons, and seven other are to be nominated, respectively, by the Minister of Agriculture, the Home Secretary, the London County Council, the Westminster City Council, the Holborn Metropolitan Borough Council, the British Transport Commission and the T.U.C. I think this is a fairly broad and satisfactory cross-section of the traffic interests, so that they should be well represented on the Committee.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.