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Local Authorities (Restoration Of Works Powers) Bill (Mr Speaker's Ruling)

Volume 932: debated on Monday 16 May 1977

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On Thursday last the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) made a submission that the Local Authorities (Restoration of Works Powers) Bill was a Hybrid Bill and should be referred to the Examiners. He has also sent me a letter, which I have also considered. I undertook to consider the matter and to rule on it today.

Under the Local Government Act 1972 the Secretary of State made three orders giving 25 specified local authorities permission to enter into building agreements with other local authorities for a limited period. This period has now expired, and the sole purpose of the Bill is to give the same powers to the same local authorities for an unlimited period by amending the relevant provisions in the three orders.

These orders, which were made in 1975 and 1976, were subject to annulment at the time but went unchallenged in the House.

The recent statement by the Examiners on the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill, which was referred to by the hon. Member, draws attention on page 5 to two rulings, one by Mr. Speaker Clifton Brown and another by Mr. Speaker King, in these words:
"The effect of both of them is that the category or class that is relevant is the one selected by the promoters of the Bill."
This selection is precisely what has been done in this case, the class formed consisting of all the local authorities which were given identical special powers by orders under the 1972 Act.

The hon. Member claimed that the list of 25 authorities contained in the orders was not exhaustive. It may be true that other authorities could have been included originally, but, as Mr. Speaker King said in 1966,
"Fortunately, it is not for me to consider the reasons why these particular criteria are chosen."—[Official Report, 25th July 1966; Vol. 732, c. 1222.]
The Bill has been drafted by reference to the orders made under the 1972 Act, and it is only those authorities and powers covered by the orders with which it is concerned. By relating the provisions of the Bill exactly to those in the orders, a recognisable class has been created, in my opinion. It is not, in my opinion, an example of "naked selection" referred to in the Examiners' Report which was quoted by the hon. Member.

I therefore rule that it does not appear that the Standing Orders relating to Private Business may be applicable to this Bill and that Standing Order No. 38 does not require it to be sent to the Examiners.