The Appellants, who are the owners and occupiers of dwelling-houses and land situate at Stevenage, challenge the validity of the Stevenage New Town (Designation) Order, 1946, made on the nth November, 1946, by the Respondent, under the New Towns Act, 1946, which had received the Royal Assent on 1st August, 1946. This challenge is made under section 16 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944, which provides by sub-section i (b) that the Court, if satisfied that the order or any provision therein is not within the powers of the Act or that the interests of the applicant have been substantially prejudiced by any requirement of the Act or of any regulation made thereunder not having been complied with, may quash the order or any provision contained therein, either generally or in so far as it affects any property of the applicant.
The relevant provisions of the New Towns Act, 1946, are as follows:
1.—(1) If the Minister is satisfied, after consultation with any local authorities who appear to him to be concerned, that it is expedient in the national interest that any area of land should be developed as a new town by a corporation established under this Act, he may make an order designating that area as the site of the proposed new town.
(2) The provisions of the First Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the procedure to be followed in connection with the making of orders under this section; and sections sixteen and seventeen of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944 (which relate respectively to the validity and date of operation of orders under section one of that Act, and to the registration of such orders in the register of local land charges) shall apply to an order made under this section as they apply to an order made under section one of that Act."
The relevant provisions of the First Schedule as to orders under section one are as follows:
1. Where the Minister proposes to make an order under section one of this Act, he shall prepare a draft of the order, describing the area to be designated as the site of the proposed new town by reference to a map, either with or without descriptive matter (which, in the case of any discrepancy with the map, shall prevail except in so far as may be otherwise provided by the draft order) together with such statement as the Minister considers necessary for indicating the size and general character of the proposed new town.
2. Before making the order the Minister shall publish in the London Gazette, in one or more newspapers circulating in the locality in which the proposed new town will be situated, and in such other newspapers, if any, as he considers appropriate in the circumstances, a notice—
(a) describing the area to be designated as the site of the proposed new town;
(b) stating that the draft of an order under section one of this Act has been prepared by the Minister in relation thereto and is about to be considered by him;
(c) naming a. place within the said area where a copy of the draft order (including any map or descriptive matter annexed thereto) and of the statement required by the foregoing paragraph, may be seen at all reasonable hours) and
(d) specifying the time (not being less than twenty-eight days from the publication of the notice in the Gazette) within which, and the manner in which, objections to the proposed order may be made, and shall, not later than the date on which the notice is published in the Gazette, serve a like notice on the council of the county and of the county district in which the land, or any part of the land, to which the order relates is situated, and on any other local authority who appear to him to be concerned with the order.
3. If any objection is duly made to the proposed order and is not withdrawn, the Minister shall, before making the order, cause a public local inquiry to be held with respect thereto, and shall consider the report of the person by whom the inquiry was held.
4. Subject to the provisions of the last foregoing paragraph the Minister may make the order either in terms of the draft or subject to such modifications as he thinks fit:
Provided that, except with the consent of all persons interested, the Minister shall not make the order subject to a modification including in the area designated as the site of the proposed new town any land not so designated in the draft order."
Section 16 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944, thus incorporated by section i (2) of the Act of 1946, restricts the remedy open to any person desiring to challenge the validity of an order, or of any provision therein, to the ground that it is not within the powers of the Act or that some requirement of the Act has not been complied with, so that he must proceed by application to the High Court, as therein provided, and he requires to satisfy the Court that the order is not within the powers of the Act, or that his interests have been substantially prejudiced by any requirement of the Act not having been complied with.
On 3rd August. 1946, the Respondent prepared the Draft Stevenage New Town (Designation) Order, 1946, and, on or about 6th August, 1946, he caused the same to be published and notices to be given as prescribed by paragraph 2 of the First Schedule to the Act of 1946. Thereafter objections were received from a number of persons, including the Appellants; accordingly, the Respondent instructed Mr. Arnold Morris, an Inspector of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, to hold a public local inquiry, as prescribed by paragraph 3 of the said Schedule. Mr. Morris held the inquiry at the Town Hall, Stevenage, on the 7th and 8th October, 1946, and on the 25th October made a report to the Respondent, in which he set out a summary of the submissions made and the evidence given by and on behalf of the objectors and attached thereto a complete transcript of the proceedings, which began with an opening statement by Mr. Morris giving a brief recapitulation of the reasons that had led to the designation of Stevenage as the site of a new town.
As already stated, on the nth November, 1946, the Respondent made the Order, which is under challenge.
On the 9th December, 1946, the Appellants, by notice of motion, applied to the High Court to have the Order quashed, on the following grounds:-
(1) That the said Order is not within the powers of the New Towns Act, 1946, or alternatively that the requirements of the said Act have not been complied with and the interests of the Applicants have been thereby substantially prejudiced in that—
(A) before considering the objections of the Applicants the Minister stated that he would make the said Order, and was thereby biassed in any consideration of the said objections; and
(B) the Minister did not before making the said Order cause a public local inquiry to be held with respect thereto; and
(2) that the New Towns Act, 1946, impliedly requires that the objections of the Applicants should be fairly and properly considered by the Minister and that the Minister should give fair and proper effect to the result of such consideration in deciding whether the said Order should be made and that such implied requirements were not complied with.
There does not appear to be much dispute as to the facts, but a great deal rests on the proper inference to be drawn from these facts, which may be stated chronologically as follows :
On 21st January, 1946, a committee appointed in 1945 by the Respondent, as Minister of Town and Country Planning, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, known as the Reith Committee, made an interim report, dated 21st January, 1946, and published as Command Paper 6759, in which it is stated in paragraph 16, (1) Stevenage is suggested in the Greater London Plan, 1944, as one of the new towns in the outer ring round London. We are informed that the development of this town is a matter of urgency, and that the agency must be chosen before legislation can be obtained. (2) It is possible that by a special arrangement with the Hertfordshire County Council, at the request of the Minister of Town and Country Planning, the necessary land may be acquired for the County Council under section 35 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932, the Exchequer providing the necessary finance. We recommend that there shall be an arrangement between the County Council and a government sponsored corporation established by Royal Charter, which will enable the latter to proceed in advance of legislation. (3) A draft charter for this corporation, drawn up at our request by the Treasury Solicitor, is in Appendix 4 (Note: Charters for corporations established after legislation has been passed would derive from that legislation and be different in content)." The committee recommended in the ninth place, Stevenage. Arrangements should be made for setting up immediately a public corporation for the development of a new town at Stevenage to proceed with the necessary work in advance of legislation—paragraph 16.
The New Towns Bill was introduced by the Respondent in the House of Commons on 17th April, 1946, and was ordered to be printed.
On or about 24th April, 1946, the Respondent sent letters to 179 owners of land at Stevenage inquiring whether they were prepared to sell land to the Respondent, with a view to the development of the area as a garden city, as provided by section 35 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932. There is no evidence that any land was acquired by the Respondent as the outcome of these letters, and we are entitled to assume that the Minister was acting on the suggestion of the Reith Committee, and that the proposal was superseded by the passage of the New Towns Act.
On 6th May, 1946, the Respondent attended and spoke at a public meeting in Stevenage Town Hall, called to consider a proposal for designating an area of land in the neighbourhood of Stevenage as the site of a new town. The Appellants base their case mainly on the statements made in an advance Press notice issued by the Respondent prior to the meeting, and statements made by the Respondent in the course of his speech, as evidence that the Respondent had by that time completely made up his mind that the designation of Stevenage as a new town would be carried through, whatever was said at the meeting or subsequently. Both the Press notice and the speech gave a somewhat detailed statement of the development of the plans for relief of density of the population of London by the formation of new towns, and the particular advantages of the Stevenage area for such a purpose, but it is unnecessary to do more than quote the passages founded on by the Appellants as demonstrating the state of the Respondent's mind along with some of the immediate context. All such passages in the Press notice are to be found in the Respondent's speech, but the speech contains one short additional passage, and the report of the speech also gives some of the interruptions of the audience, and the reactions of the Respondent thereto, and records that the Respondent, on rising to begin his speech, was greeted with cheers from the platform and some booing from the hall. It seems that the meeting might fairly be described as a lively one. The relevant passages are as follows:
1. After review of the Abercrombie Plan for Greater London, the interim reports of the Reith Committee, the unanimous approval given to build the first new town at Stevenage, and the consideration of the matter by the Government and inter-departmental committees, the Respondent said,
I have now had the advantage of two interim reports—both unanimous—from this Committee (the Reith Committee), and based upon these reports the Government has decided to introduce legislation to facilitate the creation of these new towns.
The New Towns Bill, published twelve days ago, will receive its Second Reading on Wednesday, and I am here to-day—(Voice: You are leaving it a bit late.)
In anticipation of the passage of the Bill—and I have no doubt that it will go through—certain preliminary steps have been taken regarding Stevenage by way of discussion with local authorities concerned—(Voice: There has been no discussion with the Stevenage Local Authority)—and the preparation of a plan, and the giving of notices for the acquisition of land under powers which I already have in pursuance of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932."
2. In reference to the choice of the Stevenage area, I think you will agree that if we are to carry out our policy of creating a number of new towns to relieve congestion in London we could hardly have chosen for the site of one of them a better place than Stevenage.
Now I know that many objections have been raised by the inhabitants of Stevenage, perhaps not unnaturally.”
3. Later the Respondent said, in two passages,
I want to carry out in Stevenage a daring exercise in town planning—(Jeers). It is no good your jeering: it is going to be done—(Applause and boos). (Cries of ' Dictator ')."
After all this new town is to be built in order to provide for the happiness and welfare of some 60,000 men, women and children.
For a number of years we in this country stood together and suffered together, whilst fighting for an ideal, for a democracy in which we believed. I am sure that this spirit is not dead in Stevenage, and if you are satisfied that this project is worth while, and for the benefit of large numbers of your fellow human beings, you will be prepared to play your part to make it a success.
The project will go forward because it must go forward. It will do so more surely and more smoothly and more successfully with your help and co-operation. Stevenage will in a short time become world famous—(Laughter). People from all over the world will come to Stevenage to see how we here in this country are building for the new way of life.
4. In answer to a question as to whether the rates would be increased by the development, the Respondent said, No, in due course Stevenage will gain. Local authorities will be consulted all the way through. But we have a duty to perform, and I am not going to be deterred from that duty.
While I will consult as far as possible all the local authorities, at the end, if people become fractious and unreasonable I shall have to carry out my duty—(Voice: Gestapo !)."
The New Towns Bill received a Second Reading in the House of Commons on 8th May, 1946, and received the Royal Assent on 1st August,1946. The statutory duty of carrying out the designation of new towns thus became imposed on the Respondent as Minister of Town and Country Planning.
Under paragraph 1 of the First Schedule to the Act, the Respondent prepared, on 3rd August, 1946, a draft order for the designation of the Stevenage area, and on or about 6th August, 1946, caused the Draft Stevenage New Town (Designation) Order, 1946, to be published and notices to be given as prescribed by paragraph 2 of the Schedule. As already stated, objections were thereafter received, and on the instructions of the Respondent, a public local inquiry was held by Mr. Morris on 7th and 8th October, 1946, and Mr. Morris made a report to the Respondent on 25th October, 1946. It was conceded by the Appellants that there was no evidence of any person having been deterred from lodging objections by any of the facts already stated, and there is no criticism of the conduct of the inquiry by Mr. Morris except that which is involved in the other contention of the Appellants as to the range of the inquiry, which is claimed by them not to have been in compliance with the statutory requirements. On the 8th November, 1946, the Respondent caused a letter to be sent to the objectors, in which, after stating that he had considered Mr. Morris's report, and that, after giving careful consideration to the various submissions made to him on behalf of interested Local Authorities and Statutory Undertakers and by private individuals affected by the proposals, he had decided to make the Order, the Respondent, in fourteen paragraphs, dealt in turn with the main objections raised. The Appellants sought to maintain that, in paragraph 13, the Respondent had not effectively dealt with the objections raised by the Metropolitan Water Board, the Lee Conservancy Board and the Lee Conservancy Catchment Board as to water supply and sewage disposal, which the Appellants contended were vital to the practicability of the whole proposal, but only stated that he had appointed a consultant to examine the possibilities of a scheme which will apply to a much wider area than that of the immediate vicinity of Stevenage. In my opinion this contention of the Appellants was correctly disposed of by Lord Oaksey L.J., who pointed out that none of these authorities had ever suggested that it was an entirely impracticable scheme, and that it really raised a question of expense. The Respondent said that these problems had been taken into account from the beginning and had been the subject of discussions with the Ministry of Health from an early stage and subsequently with the Metropolitan Water Board and the Lee Conservancy Board. (The Appellants seek to throw doubt on the statement as to discussion with these two Boards.) The Respondent adds that he feels justified in going forward with the establishment of a properly planned community and would maintain close contact with the Ministry of Health and the Statutory Undertakers at every stage of the development. From this it is clear that the Respondent, after very long and full consideration of the matter, came to the conclusion that these objections were in no degree fatal to the scheme, but were matters to be examined and determined during the stage of development of the new town, which comes after the making of the Order, when the development corporation is established under section 2 of the Act. The Appellants admit that, if the Respondent did so decide, his decision is not open to challenge by them. It may further be observed that, during this later stage, the Minister of Health, under section 9 of the Act, has the power, on his own initiative, of constituting larger areas than the designated area for the purposes of public health. It appears to me that the Respondent's letter of 8th November not only does not support the Appellants' contention, but that it is evidence that the Minister had properly considered the objections.
As already stated the Stevenage New Town (Designation) Order was made by the Respondent in terms of paragraph 4 of the First Schedule to the Act, and its validity is the subject of challenge in these proceedings.
Henn Collins J. upheld this first contention of the present Appellants on the ground that the Respondent's functions in considering the report of Mr. Morris's inquiry were quasi-judicial, that he did not consider the objections with an open mind, and that he did not consider or decide the question Aye or No should the Order be confirmed with an open mind, but that he meant to confirm it whatever the force of the objections might be, trusting that some solution might be found. The learned Judge based his view on the Respondent's speech of 6th May, 1946, and on paragraph 13 of the Respondent's letter of 8th November. As regards the former he says, If I am to judge by what he said at the public meeting which was held very shortly before the Bill, then published, became an Act of Parliament, I could have no doubt but that any issue raised by objectors was forejudged. The Minister's language leaves no doubt about that. He was not only saying there must and shall be satellite towns, but he was saying that Stevenage was to be the first of them. But, when he made that speech, and gave his answers to questions which were asked, he had no administrative functions in relation to the Act in question, for the Act had not then been passed. But though that was his attitude two days before the Bill received its Second Reading, it is upon the objectors to prove that the Minister was in a like mind, or at least had not an open mind, from and after at latest the inception of the public inquiry, which was held in October. As regards the letter of 8th November, 1946, the learned Judge says, In this case, however, as was only to be expected of him, the Minister has dealt, in writing, with the substance of the objections—with one exception, namely, that directed to the difficulties of water supply and sewage disposal. It is obvious that those difficulties must be met before the scheme can go through. The Minister acknowledges that they have not been met, and that he is taking advice as to how it can be done. Non constat that any way will be found. And yet, with that fundamental problem still outstanding, the Minister confirms his Order How can it be said that he weighed the objection with an open mind when he acknowledges that he did not and does not know the force of it? When, therefore, I ask myself whether the objectors have satisfied me that from and after the inception of the inquiry up to and including the moment at which the Minister decided to confirm his Order, he had not an open mind, my answer is that they have. It is clear that had the learned Judge appreciated, as was pointed out in the Court of Appeal, that no witness had suggested that the scheme could not go through, unless the suggested difficulties of water supply and sewage disposal had been met, and had he realised that he had put a wrong construction on paragraph 13 of the letter of 8th November, 1946, he would not only have been left without any evidence that from and after the inception of the inquiry up to and including the confirmation of the Order the Respondent had not an open mind, but he would have had the evidence of the letter of 8th November, 1946, that the Respondent had so considered the report, and he should also have taken account of the unchallenged affidavit of the Respondent on 21st January, 1947, referred to by the Court of Appeal, that before causing the said Order to be made, I personally carefully considered all the objections made by the objectors including the present applicants, together with the submissions made and evidence given on their behalf as appearing in the said transcript. I also carefully considered the report of the said Arnold Morris. The learned Judge makes no reference to this affidavit. In that aspect of the evidence it appears that the learned Judge, in view of his reasoning, as above quoted, would not have quashed the Order.
The Court of Appeal accepted this view of the reasoning of the learned Judge, and, while assuming that his inference from the Respondent's speech of 6th May, 1946, that the Respondent had not then an open mind, and that any issue raised by the objectors was forejudged was well-founded, held that the learned Judge's statement of the evidence of the objectors as to water supply and sewage disposal was incorrect, it not having been suggested that the scheme was entirely unpracticable, and on his erroneous construction of the letter of 8th November, 1946, set aside the decision of Henn Collins J. and restored the Stevenage New Town (Designation) Order of the present Respondent.
My Lords, I agree with the decision of the Court of Appeal, but I am of opinion that an incorrect view of the law applicable in this case was taken by the learned Judge, and I feel bound, despite the assumption of its correctness by the Court of Appeal, to examine the correctness of the learned Judge's view as to the proper inference from the Respondent's speech of 6th May, 1946.
While the fact that the speech was made just before the second reading of the Bill, and some months before the statutory duties as to designation of new towns was imposed on the Respondent, has some bearing on the fair construction of the speech, I am prepared to assume in favour of the Appellants that, under the Bill as introduced, it was proposed to impose these duties on the Respondent, as Minister of Town and Country Planning, and that these duties presented no material difference from those contained in the Bill when passed into law. It could hardly be suggested that, prior to its enactment, he was subject to any higher duty than is to be found in the statute.
In my opinion, no judicial, or quasi-judicial, duty was imposed on the Respondent, and any reference to judicial duty, or bias, is irrelevant in the present case. The Respondent's duties under section 1 of the Act and the First Schedule thereto are, in my opinion, purely administrative, but the Act prescribes certain methods of, or steps in, discharge of that duty. It is obvious that, before making the draft order, which must contain a definite proposal to designate the area concerned as the site of a new town, the Respondent must have made elaborate inquiry into the matter, and have consulted any local authorities who appear to him to be concerned, and obviously other departments of the Government, such as the Ministry of Health, would naturally require to be consulted. It would seem, accordingly, that the Respondent was required to satisfy himself that it was a sound scheme before he took the serious step of issuing a draft order. It seems clear also, that the purpose of inviting objections, and, where they are not withdrawn, of having a public inquiry, to be held by someone other than the Respondent, to whom that person reports, was for the further information of the Respondent, in order to the final consideration of the soundness of the scheme of the designation; and it is important to note that the development of the site, after the Order is made, is primarily the duty of the development corporation established under section 2 of the Act. I am of opinion that no judicial duty is laid on the Respondent in discharge of these statutory duties, and that the only question is whether he has complied with the statutory directions to appoint a person to hold the public inquiry, and to consider that person's report. On this contention of the Appellants no suggestion is made that the public inquiry was not properly conducted, nor is there any criticism of the report by Mr. Morris. In such a case the only ground of challenge must be either that the Respondent did not in fact consider the report and the objections, of which there is here no evidence, or that his mind was so foreclosed that he gave no genuine consideration to them, which is the case made by the Appellants. Although I am unable to agree exactly with the view of the Respondent's duty expressed by the learned Judge, or with some of the expressions used by the Court of Appeal in regard to that matter, it does appear to me that the issue was treated in both courts as being whether the Respondent had genuinely considered the objections and the report, as directed by the Act.
My Lords, I could wish that the use of the word bias should be confined to its proper sphere. Its proper significance, in my opinion, is to denote a departure from the standard of even-handed justice which the law requires from those who occupy judicial office, or those who are commonly regarded as holding a quasi-judicial office, such as an arbitrator. The reason for this clearly is that, having to adjudicate as between two or more parties, he must come to his adjudication with an independent mind, without any inclination or bias towards one side or other in the dispute. As Lord Chancellor Cranworth says in Ranger v. Great Western Railway Company, (1854) 5 H.L. 72, at p. 89, " A judge ought to be, and is supposed to be, indifferent between the parties. He has, or issupposed to have, no bias inducing him to lean to the one side rather than to the other. In ordinary cases it is a just ground of exception to a judge that he is not indifferent, and the fact that he is himself a party, or interested as a party, affords the strongest proof that he cannot be indifferent." To this may be added the statement by Lord Hewart C. J. in Rex v. Sussex Justices. McCarthy, Ex parte, (1924) I K.B. 256, at p. 258, " It is said, and, no doubt, truly, that when that gentleman (the deputy clerk) retired in the usual way with the justices, taking with him the notes of the evidence in case the justices might desire to consult him, the justices came to a conclusion without consulting him, and that he scrupulously abstained from referring to the case in any way. But while that is so, a long line of cases shows that it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. The question therefore is not whether in this case the deputy clerk made any observation or offered any criticism which he might not properly have made or offered; the question is whether he was so related to the case in its civil aspect as to be unfit to act as clerk to the justices in the criminal matter. The answer to that question depends not upon what actually was done but upon what might appear to be done. This was followed in Rex v. Essex Justices. Perkins, Ex parte, (1927) 2 K.B. 475. But, in the present case, the Respondent having no judicial duty, the only question is what the Respondent actually did, that is, whether in fact he did genuinely consider the report and the objections.
Coming now to the inference of the learned Judge from the Respondent's speech on 6th May that he had not then a mind open to conviction, the learned Judge states it thus:— If I am to judge by what he said at the public meeting which was held very shortly before the Bill, then published, became an Act of Parliament, I could have no doubt but that any issue raised by objectors was forejudged. The Minister's language leaves no doubt about that. He was not only saying there must and shall be satellite towns, but he was saying that Stevenagewas to be the first of them." It seems probable that the learned Judge's mind was influenced by his having already held that the Respondent's function was quasi-judicial, which would raise the question of bias, but, in any view, I am clearly of opinion that nothing said by the Respondent was inconsistent with the discharge of his statutory duty, when subsequently objections were lodged, and the local public inquiry took place, followed by the report of that inquiry, to genuinely consider the report and the objections.
The only passages in the speech quoted in the Appellants' case are contained in the third quotation I have made from the speech, and are as follows: —
I want to carry out in Stevenage a daring exercise in town planning (Jeers). It is no good your jeering: it is going to be done . . . After all, this new town is to be built in order to provide for the happiness and welfare of some 60,000 men, women and children . . .
The project will go forward, because it must go forward- It will do so more " surely and more smoothly and more successfully with your help and co-operation. Stevenage will in a short time become world famous. People from all over the world will come to Stevenage to see how we here in this country are building for the new way of life.
The only two additional passages founded on by the Appellants' counsel at the hearing before this House were the sentence in my first quotation, In anticipation of the passage of the Bill—and I have no doubt that it will go through," and, in my fourth quotation, But we have a duty to perform, and I am not going to be deterred from that duty. While I will consult as far as possible all the local authorities, at the end, if people become fractious and unreasonable I shall have to carry out my duty—(Voice: Gestapo !) ".
My Lords, these passages in a speech, which was of a political nature, and of the kind familiar in a speech on second reading, demonstrate(1) the speaker's view that the Bill would become law, that Stevenage was a most suitable site and should be the first scheme in the operation, and that the Stevenage project would go forward, and (2) the speaker's reaction to the hostile interruptions of a section of the audience. In my opinion, these passages are not inconsistent with an intention to carry out any statutory duty imposed on him by Parliament, although he intended to press for the enactment of the Bill, and thereafter to carry out the duties thereby involved, including the consideration of objections which were neither fractious nor unreasonable.
I am therefore of opinion that the first contention of the Appellants fails, in that they have not established either that in the Respondent's speech he had forejudged any genuine consideration of the objections, or that he had not genuinely considered the objections at the later stage when they were submitted to him.
The remaining contention of the Appellants is that the inquiry held by Mr. Morris did not comply with the statutory requirements for such a local public inquiry, in respect that no evidence in support of the draft order was led on behalf of the Respondent. This contention rests on paragraph 3 of the First Schedule to the Act of 1946, read along with section 19 (3) of the Act, which incorporates inter alia as to local inquiries section 41 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1944, which, in turn, incorporates subsections (2) to (5) of section 290 of the Local Government Act, 1933, which relate to the giving of evidence on, and defraying the costs of, local inquiries. The terms of paragraph 3 of the First Schedule to the Act of 1946, may conveniently be recalled,
3. If any objection is duly made to the proposed order and is not withdrawn, the Minister shall, before making the order, cause a public local inquiry to be held with respect thereto, and shall consider the report of the person by whom the inquiry was held."
It has been held in both Courts below that the words with respect thereto mean with respect to the objections, and the Appellants did not challenge that construction in this House. In the only analogous case of In re the Trunk Roads, Act. 1936, and the London-Portsmouth Trunk Road (Surrey) Compulsory Purchase Order (No- 2) 1938, (1939) 2 K.B. 515, generally known as the Kingston Bypass case, it was held that, under similar statutory provisions, other than the absence of the words in respect thereto, it was not the duty of the Minister to call evidence before the inquiry, but the duty of the objectors to state their objections and call such evidence as they might be advised. While I find no reason to doubt the correctness of that decision, which was admittedly contrary to the present Appellants' contention, the words in respect thereto, here present, definitely limit the scope of the inquiry, and none of the general procedural provisions of section 290 of the Local Government Act, 1933, can be held to extend its scope. As I have already pointed out, the object of the inquiry is to further inform the mind of the Minister, and not to consider any issue between the Minister and the objectors; that is for the Minister thereafter to consider and decide. Accordingly, I am of opinion that this contention of the Appellants also fails.
In my opinion, the appeal should be dismissed and the judgment of the Court of Appeal should be affirmed. The Appellants should pay the Respondent's costs of this Appeal.
My noble and learned friends Lord Porter and Lord Uthwatt have desired me to express their concurrence in the Opinion which I have just delivered.
Lord du Parcq
My Lords, I concur.
My Lords, I also concur.