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Clause 1

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 8 March 1977

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Revocation Or Variation Of Orders Relating To New Towns

7.33 p.m.

I beg to move Amendment No. I, page 1, line 6, leave out "any" and insert "all".

It has been suggested to me that this amendment would make a small improvement in the drafting of the Bill. I readily agree that this matter should have been dealt with in Committee, but it had not been drawn to my attention at that time. Therefore, I ask the House to consider it now.

In the Bill as drafted the Secretary of State is required to consult
"with any local authorities who appear to him to be concerned"
before introducing an order under this legislation. There is the qualification that it is only
"local authorities who appear to him to he concerned"
which have to be consulted. Therefore, I do not think it is an objection to this amendment to states that the Secretary of State might be obliged, as a result of the amendment, to consult all kinds of local authorities which he might think had no real standing to be consulted.

That point is safeguarded. The object of the amendment is to make it clear that the Secretary of State must consult every local authority which he considers to be concerned in the matter. I should have thought that that was a reasonable suggestion. I hope that the Minister will accept it.

As the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) said, the Secretary of State is under an obligation to consult

"any local authorities who appear to him to be concerned"
before judging whether it is expedient to proceed with the development of a new town.

To substitute all "for" "any" would not alter the Secretary of State's discretion. This is the form of wording used in the New Towns (Scotland) Act 1968, Section 1 of which lays on the Secretary of State the obligation to consult
"any local authorities who appear to him to be concerned"
before making an order designating an area as the site of a new town. It has always been in his mind to do that. In the case of any designation order, the Secretary of State will consult the local authorities concerned.

Would it be open to the Secretary of State to decide that a number of local authorities were concerned, but to consult only one or two which were convenient for him to consult? We must enact legislation which will cover all eventualities. Is the Minister satisfied that the wording, as it stands, obliges the Secretary of State to consult absolutely all local authorities which he considers to be concerned?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman on that point. The Secretary of State consulted all the local authorities which were concerned with this legislation. My right hon. Friend consulted all local authorities, not only those which might give him the right answers. Some were not as pleased as others, as the hon. Gentleman might have expected. The legislation, as drafted, covers the point made by the hon. Gentleman.

I thank the Minister for that explanation. With the assurance that the clause, as drafted, has the effect which I wish to achieve, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.