Skip to main content

Local Authorities (Restoration Of Works Powers) Bill (Procedure)

Volume 931: debated on Thursday 12 May 1977

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

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I raise a point of order that does not, I suggest, require a reply from you today. That is because the substantive matter is not on the Order Paper today, tomorrow, or Monday. On the following grounds I respectfully submit that the Local Authorities (Restoration of Works Powers) Bill is prima facie hybrid and ought to be referred to the Examiners before proceeding to Second Reading on the Floor of the House.

First, the current doctrine on recognising the characteristic of hybridity in a Public-General Bill was set out with clarity and authority in the Statement of Reasons for the Certificate from the Examiners concerning the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. House of Lords Paper No. 71 of 17th February1977.

Second, on page 11 of that statement appears the following:
"But one must assume that those who framed the Bill shrank from a bare naming of the ship-repairing companies that the Government wanted to take, with or without some such description of them as 'the major ship-repairing companies', because to do so would be to make a naked selection and so hybridise the Bill."
Third, the promoters of the Local Authorities (Restoration of Works Powers) Bill took special care to draw attention to the hybridity of the Bill in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, wherein they declare not that the Bill applies to any recognisable class of district councils but, on the contrary, to
"25 specified district councils in England and Wales."
Fourth, this is a good example of a "naked selection" that the Examiners identify as a sufficient condition of hybridity.

Fifth, in the text of Clause 1, the naked selection made by the Government is described as
"the councils of certain districts, in each of which is included the whole or part of the area of a former county borough or boroughs."
Sixth, unless the class described by the criteria is exhausted, the Bill will be hybrid.

Seventh, Clause 2 of the Bill does not identify any class into which these district councils fall and which is exhausted by them. Instead, it identifies them by reference to portions of three different Statutory Instruments.

Eighth, in no one of these Statutory Instruments as quoted in Clause 2 is any one class of district council either created or exhausted. Article 3 of Statutory Instrument No. 339/75 names 14 district councils but does not name other district councils that fall in the class of
"councils of certain districts, in each of which is included the whole or part of the area of a former county borough or boroughs."
Article 8 of Statutory Instrument No. 944/75 similarly names 10 district councils, but does not name others falling within the same criteria. Article 8 of Statutory Instrument No. 315/76 names one district council, but does not name other district councils fulfilling the same criteria.

My ninth point is that, taken together, the 25 district councils so named do not exhaust the councils falling within the class whose criteria are set out in Clause 1. For example, the district councils of Langbaurgh, Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees meet the criteria set out in Clause 1 and could have been included within the articles of the Statutory Instruments quoted above, but those district councils and many others were not so included.

My tenth point is that a class that escapes the characteristics of hybridity cannot be created merely by agglomerating three arbitrary collections of district councils that do not, either as individual groups or taken together, exhaust any class.

The eleventh consideration is that, in the words of the Examiners that I have already quoted, the promoters of the Bill made a "naked selection" from within a class and by "bare naming" rather than the construction of a class embodied their selection in three different Statutory Instruments.

Lastly, though Statutory Instruments are incapable of being hybrid, the embodiment of such a naked selection in a Bill creates no class on any available precedent, and the Bill is in consequence hybrid.

I have today, Mr. Speaker, deposited in the bag behind your Chair a petition praying that the Bill may be referred to a Select Committee so that petitions for relief against its arbitrary provisions may be considered in the proper way. I respectfully submit that the Bill should be referred to the Examiners, whose unique duty it is to determine whether the Bill is actually hybrid.

I am obliged to the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) for the submission that he has advanced. The House will not be surprised when I say that I should like a little time to consider it. I shall give my ruling on Monday, having had an opportunity to consider the issues that have been raised.