Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1960 Oct 25 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

HC S HL amendments [Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Bill]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons Speech
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [627/2244-47]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Around 1940-1950.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1089
Themes: Local government, Media
[column 2244]

Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Bill

Lords Amendments considered.

Clause 1.

—(Admission of Public to Meetings of Local Authorities and other Bodies.)

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 14, at end insert:

“(8) The provisions of this section shall be without prejudice to any power of exclusion to suppress or prevent disorderly conduct or other misbehaviour at a meeting.”

Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

The purpose of the Amendment is to relieve some of the apprehensions expressed by local authorities that, as the Bill secures the right of the public to attend local authority meetings, it may deprive local authorities of the right to exclude members of the public who behave in a disorderly manner or in any way obstruct the meetings.

It was the opinion of such of the legal Members as I consulted that the Bill did not deprive the local authorities of any common law powers which they might have had in that direction. As, however, those authorities were still apprehensive, their Lordships thought it best to include the Amendment in the Bill. I hope that this House will think fit to pass it, because it makes it clear that the common law powers still remain, either with the chairman or with the authority.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

I have particular pleasure in supporting the hon. Lady the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) in what she has just said, because in Committee on the Bill I had an Amendment down of similar effect though rather different words. I had the misfortune that the Amendment was not even called by the Chairman of the Committee, and when I managed to raise the matter later in discussion of the Schedule to the Bill I was told, in effect, by the Government that what I had in mind was neither necessary nor, perhaps, possible I am, therefore delighted to find that their Lordships have found it possible [column 2245]and have considered it necessary, and I trust that this House will agree to it.

Question put and agreed to. Clause 2.—(Application of Act, and consequential provisions.)

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 36, leave out from “instrument” to “House” in line 37 and insert:

“but a statutory instrument made by a Minister under this section shall be of no effect unless it is approved by resolution of each” .

Mrs. Thatcher

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment is designed to secure that orders which add bodies to the Schedule shall be subject to the affirmative instead of the negative Resolution procedure. This will be a substantial advantage to any body whose proceedings it is proposed to bring within the ambit of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to. Schedule.—(Bodies to which this Act Applies.)

Lords Amendment: In page 5, line 11, leave out from beginning to end of line 14.

Mrs. Thatcher

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

I trust that it will be in order, Mr. Speaker, if I refer at the same time to the Amendments in page 5, line 33, at end insert “(other than police authorities)” , and in line 36, at end insert:

“(other than joint police committees constituted under the Police (Scotland) Act, 1956)” .

All three of the group of Amendments are designed to secure that neither the public nor the Press is admitted to the proceedings of any bodies which are acting as police authorities. I believe this to be in accordance with the consensus of opinion expressed in this House on Report and Third Reading, although the Amendments then before the House were not adequate to give effect to the views then expressed.

The first of these three Amendments cuts out from the Bill police authorities in England and Wales. The second Amendment is necessary because those authorities, having been cut out, might [column 2246]then be inadvertently brought in on the ground that they have power to Ievy a rate. The third Amendment excludes police authorities in Scotland from the ambit of the Bill. The total effect, therefore, of the three Amendments together is to exclude all police authorities from the operation of the Bill.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I support the proposition made by the hon. Lady the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher). It may be recalled that, on Report, we had great difficulty in dealing with this matter because a Member who had undertaken to move an Amendment did not do so when he first had the chance. Many local authorities would, I think, have been compelled to oppose the Bill had the Bill as it left this House not been amended in another place.

While I generally approve of the admission of the Press to meetings of local authorities—in fact, I introduced a Bill myself in 1930 to do that—I never contemplated that police matters were suitable subjects for public discussion. I imagine that the Home Secretary, whom I see favouring us temporarily with his presence, would have been considerably embarrassed had this Amendment not been introduced.

Mr. M. Stewart

The hon. Lady the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) said that the effect of the Amendment would be to exclude the Press and public from meetings of police authorities. I think I am right in saying that that is not quite correct. It would still be open for a police authority to let the Press and public in if it wished. What the Amendment does is to avoid putting that authority under any obligation.

Mrs. Thatcher

indicated assent.

Mr. Stewart

As such, for the reasons mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I consider it a worthy Amendment. It is a little ironical that some of the agitation which led to the Bill began with criticisms of the watch committee of a certain authority and some harsh things were said about it. It is entertaining to notice that the Bill ends with their Lordships ensuring that watch committees [column 2247]and other police authorities shall be outside the purview of the Bill. That seems to me on the whole to be a happy as well as an ironical result, and I trust that the House will agree to the Amendment.

Question put and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to: In page 5, line 33, at end insert “(other than police authorities)”

In line 36, at end insert:

“(other than joint police committees constituted under the Police (Scotland) Act, 1956)”