§ Sub-section (1). Where property is alleged to be injuriously affected by reason of any provisions contained in a town planning scheme no compensation shall be paid in respect thereof if or so far as the provisions are such as could reasonably have been inserted in bye-laws made by the local authority.
§ Lords Amendment: Leave out "reasonably have been inserted in," and insert "be enforced by."
§ Question, "That the House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.1598
§ Mr. BURNS moved to leave out the words "could reasonably have been inserted," and to insert "would have been enforcible if they had been contained in."
§ The object of this Amendment is to provide that no man should receive compensation in respect of matters which would not have been enforcible if reasonable bye-laws had been made.
§ Amendment to Lords Amendment agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment: At end of Subsection to insert "or are similar in effect to any enactment which would have been in force within the area to which the town planning scheme applies but for the operation of such scheme."
§ Question, "That the House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.
§ Sub-section (2).—Property shall not be deemed to be injuriously affected so as to give rise to any claim for compensation under this part of this Act by reason of the operation of any provisions inserted in a town planning scheme, which, with a view to securing the amenity of the area included in the scheme or any part thereof, prescribe the space about buildings or limit the number of buildings to be erected, or prescribe the height or character of buildings, and which the Local Government Board, having regard to the nature and situation of the land affected by the provisions, consider reasonable for the purpose.
§ Lords Amendment: Leave out "so as to give rise to any claim for compensation under this Part of this Act."
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment: Leave out "operation" ["by reason of the operation of any provisions"], and insert "making."
§ Question, "That the House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment: At end of Sub-section insert: "Provided that if it shall appear to the arbitrator that such provisions are unusual and impose excessive restrictions upon the use of the property, and that under all the circumstances compensation should be awarded, he may, notwithstanding anything in this Sub-section contained, award such compensation as he may think just."1599
§ Mr. STEWART BOWLES
May I ask the Government whether this matter has been fully considered. It appears to me that the Amendment suggested is really reasonable. The House will see that the second Sub-section of the Clause is very drastic and most arbitrary. Nobody can doubt that covenants which restrict the space about buildings, or limit the number of buildings to be erected, or prescribe the height or character of buildings on any given property, may certainly injuriously affect the character of the property, and in equity set up a reasonable claim on the part of the owner to some compensation for the clear loss which in many, and I fear most cases, he must suffer. Where an arbitrator has fully considered the matter, and comes to the conclusion that they are excessive and unusual, there should be power to grant compensation. The word "unusual" is a very strong word for an arbitrator to use, and in giving any award he would have to say that the restrictions are unusual according to the practice which will grow up under schemes of this sort. There should be power in such cases to give a man compensation. The Government might at least give effect to the principle underlying the Amendment.
§ Mr. BURNS
I admit that the point raised, in the Amendment is a serious one. If the House were to agree to it, it would mean an addition to the number of houses that might be put upon an acre of ground in excess of what the arbitrator considered reasonable in all the circumstances. It would mean the difference say between 19 and 45, which perhaps would be the maximum. That would render town planning and sanitary and hygienic conditions wholly impossible. The question is whether the arbitrator appointed by the Local Government Board is to say that upon an acre of ground he would as a reasonable man allow 15, 19, or 20. As Ibsen says, men don't do these things, at least whenever they come to the Local Government Board. Would any town planning scheme be worth having if on every acre of ground you were able to pile long rows of brick backs with slate tops, irrespective of the amenities of the whole plan. We have reason to believe that if we resist this Amendment the Lords may possibly adopt a more reasonable view and leave it to the arbitrator to determine the reasonableness or otherwise of the number 1600 of buildings. It must be remembered that in the London Building Act it is laid down that no building shall be erected with a Mansard roof more than 86 feet from the ground. I can conceive cases in which owners, but for the sensible provisions which do not allow compensation over 86 feet, would consider themselves entitled to the difference between 86 feet and the 140 feet of that structural abomination known as Hankey's Mansions. If we have no power to determine the number of houses per acre, the Bill will not be worth the paper it is written on.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman's speech had nothing whatever to do with the Amendment. The Amendment does not provide that in any case where regulations are made limiting the size or number of buildings, the landowner shall be entitled, as a right, to compensation. What this provides is this, that the arbitrator who is appointed by the Local Government Board—and therefore presumably a person of fair and impartial character—if he finds certain provisions are unusual and impose excessive restrictions upon the use of the property shall award such compensation as he thinks just. He has got to find that that is a fact first. Then he may, if he thinks it just, take all the circumstances into consideration and grant compensation to the landowner affected by these unusual and excessive restrictions. There is all the difference between that position and what has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman. This is a perfectly rational and reasonable proposal. The real question is whether you are going to say that under no circumstances whatever is a certain type of restrictions to be granted under a town planning scheme, and that under no circumstances is it to be a matter for compensation?
§ Mr. BURNS
I will read to him the second section—"Property shall not be deemed to be injuriously affected so as to give rise to any claim for compensation under this Part of this Act by reason of the operation of any provisions inserted in a town planning scheme, which, with a view to securing the amenity of the area included in the scheme or any part thereof, prescribe the space about buildings or limit the number of buildings to be erected, or prescribe the height or character of buildings, and which the Local Government Board, having regard to the nature and situation of the land affected by the provisions, consider reasonable for the purpose."
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
There is to be a universal appearance of the Local Government Board. We are to have absolutely unlimited confidence in the Local Government Board. But the point is this: if the right hon. Gentleman will stretch his imagination he will see the possibility of the Local Government Board making a mistake. If the Local Government Board does make a mistake and does sanction a set of restrictions and they are unreasonable and excessive is it not proper that the arbitrator should have power to award such compensation as he may think just? I do not wish to discuss this at length. My only excuse for discussing it at all is that this provision was introduced under the closure by the Government and was never discussed or considered by this House at all, and this is the first time we have had any opportunity of considering this provision. The first time—on the 1st of November at twenty minutes past one o'clock in the morning. In the circumstances I think this Amendment is a reasonable one and I support it.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
The only case in which the arbitrator is to be given discretion to award compensation is when the provisions are unusual, and impose excessive restrictions. That seems to me to be quite reasonable. In the vast majority of cases the limitation of the height of buildings is a disadvantage, and in many instances the limitation of the number of houses is by no means a disadvantage. I think the Amendment indicates a reasonable way to endeavour to meet the difficulty, and I am rather surprised that the Government do not see their way to accept it.
§ Mr. HERBERT LEWIS
The Amendment gives power to the arbitrator to override the Local Government Board. That is absurd.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
I cannot be accused of possessing no sympathy with efforts to restrict the number of houses to be placed on the acre; but I think the hon. Member is unreasonably afraid of this Amendment. All it seems to guard against is the imposition of restrictions which are unusual and excessive.
§ Question, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.