HC Deb 01 November 1909 vol 12 cc1528-30

An improvement scheme under Part I. of the principal Act may provide for any exceptions, restrictions, or modifications in the application of Section twenty-two of the principal Act (which vests in the local authority pipes, sewers, and drains), and that Section shall take effect subject to any such exceptions, restrictions, or modifications.

Lords Amendment: After "may," insert "with the consent of the person or body of persons entitled to any right or easement which would be extinguished by virtue of Section twenty-two of the principal Act."

Mr. BURNS moved to agree with the Lords Amendment.


I am sorry that the Government have not seen their way to restore the Clause to the position in which it left this House. The marginal note is entirely illusory. If the municipality is desirous of acquiring an area it is necessary under the law at the present time that it should compensate all water pipes and easements whether they require to take them or not. The absurdity of that position is best shown by acquiring an area of rotten property and leaving it as an open space. The authority which does that will still have to compensate the owner of the property for all pipes and easements. Under the Clause as originally drafted, it was open to the municipal or local authority when they did not want to take over those rights, to appeal. The House of Lords has insisted by this Amendment on giving to the owners of the premises a right to compensation for these easements and rights. The result is that any person selling a property to a municipality to be kept as an open space will, although the rights will not be interfered with at all by the scheme of the local authority, have to be compensated. I do not know the reason why the President of the Local Government Board has given way on this point. He has fought hard on one or two questions. I suppose his idea is that the smaller the number of matters he will have to come to an arrangement upon with the other House the better it will be for him. I think in dealing with a question of this sort that it is a principle which should be insisted upon. It is absurd that municipalities or local authorities should have to pay in respect of these matters, and unless the Clause is reinserted in its original form municipalities will continue to suffer as they do at the present time.


Perhaps my hon. Friend wishes me to say a word or two in explanation of the attitude which the Government have taken with regard to the particular Amendment. My hon. Friend has forgotten what invariably happens with regard to a Bill of this kind. Immediately a Housing Bill is broached in Parliament a number of very excellent people and most worthy associations always regard a Housing Bill, not as an ordinary omnibus which carries 26 passengers, but as a motor omnibus which is capable of taking on board a large number of passengers which it is not the business of anybody in charge of an ordinary 'bus to attempt to take, and, anxious as I am to assist corporations, I do not see why my Housing Bill should be made the corpus vile for the improvements which they ought to get in another way. We cannot accept my hon. Friend's view, because a statement of the facts of the case will, I think, answer him. What does the original Act of 1890 say with regard to pipes, sewers, and drains? It provides that where a local authority takes an easement as to drains and pipes and sewers, the pipes and sewers shall themselves vest in the local authority, and that is to be the position. Of course, the original Clause of this Bill proposed that exceptions might be made. Here is an exception: Take, for instance, the Metropolitan Water Board. It is the municipal authority in London for the supply of London water. It not only supplies it within the County of London, which is 113 square miles, but supplies water in a larger area of 400 or 500 square miles. It does seem to me absurd that the local authority in whose area a town-planning scheme would operate, say, Richmond, Croydon, or elsewhere, should ask that the water works of the Water Board should be vested in them. The proper authority in whose jurisdiction these pipes should be vested would be the Water Board. In that and in similar cases that were pointed out to me, and I am one of the most susceptible persons and amenable to reason, and I decided to listen to that argument and to surrender, as every reasonable man ought to, on facts shown and evidence proved, and I am sorry that the facts and evidence in support of this Amendment are much stronger than those which have been adduced by my hon. Friend; and considering the generous way in which I have met the Municipal Corporations Association in other portions of this Bill, I do ask my hon. Friend to extend to me a slight modicum of that generosity which I have given to his clients, and he will not insist on my giving him all that he could wish.

Lords Amendment: Leave out "of Section twenty-two of the principal Act (which vests in the local authority pipes, sewers and drains)," and insert "to that right or easement of that Section."

House agreed with Lords Amendment.