HC Deb 22 July 1919 vol 118 cc1319-22

The council of every borough or other urban district, the population of which exceeds twenty thousand, and any other local authority which the Local Government Board may require, shall, within three years after the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, prepare and submit to the Board a town planning scheme, in accordance with provisions to be determined by the Board with reference to any land within the area of the local authority.

Lords Amendment:

Leave out CLAUSE 41.


Everyone who has attended this subject will agree that if a clause of this kind had been in operation twenty years ago a great deal of this Bill would not now be necessary, and that it is vital to make an effort in future town planning to secure that buildings will be put up in proper positions, not overcrowded, and of a suitable kind. It was represented in the Lordships House that this Clause would impose a great burden of expense on the local authorities. With the modification introduced into the process of town planning that will not be so. We have no desire to put local authorities to expense, but wish simply to secure that town-planning schemes shall be practical and sensible and not encumbered too much with detail and all the processes which make it practically impossible in many cases. Therefore we propose in reinserting the Clause to make it quite clear that we do not intend that the old elaborate provisions should be followed. The Clause in the form in which we propose to reinsert it provides:

  1. " (1) The council of every borough or urban district containing on the first day of January, 1923, according to the last Census for the time being of more than 20,000, shall within three years after that date prepare and submit to the Local Government Board a town-planning scheme in respect of the lands in the borough or district in respect of which town-planning schemes may be made under the Act of 1909.
  2. (2) Without prejudice to the powers of the council and the Act of 1909, every scheme to which this Section applies shall deal with such matters as may be determined by regulations to be made by the Local Government Board."
    • That is to say, we can make out by those Regulations a simpler form of town planning than is at present adopted. Therefore I propose:
  3. (3) Every regulation so made shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as 1320 may be after it is made, and if an Address is presented by either House within twenty-one days from the date on which that House has' sat next after any such Regulation is laid before it, praying that the Regulation may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the regulation, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done there under."
I propose to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment in order to reinsert the Clause in the form I have read.


If this House disagree with the Lords, then Clause 41 will remain in the Bill, and it will not be open to the right hon. Member to insert a new Clause. What he wants to do is to agree with the Amendment of the Lords, and then to insert a new Clause.


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


I hope the Minister of Health will insist on getting this new Clause included, and that he is not going to give way, as he did on the Ministry of Health Bill. A Noble Lord stated, in asking for the rejection of this Clause, that it was the most startling proposal ever met with in any House of Parliament. If the House of Lords had been an elected body like this House they would have found, on visiting the constituencies of the country, that the people required this Clause 41. If we had had a town-planning scheme in the past, we would have saved millions of money and hundreds of thousands of lives, and would also have prevented many accidents, for in many streets in different parts of the country you cannot to-day shove a handcart, much less carry on any business. Another important point is this—it was mentioned yesterday from this side of the House by an hon. Member for Manchester —that comradeship and friendship had been shown between the sons of lords and "Tommies" in the trenches, and the hope was expressed that, now the War was over, the same comradeship would continue between the rich classes and the poor. The lords have their houses in the country where their children have plenty of fresh air and plenty of room to play, but the children of the working classes, living in congested areas, in slums, have no chance of fresh air or of living a healthy life. The object of this is that town planning will be carried out where you can get suitable recreation grounds and everything else for the children. It is recognised that the children of to-day are to be the men and women of the future, I hope the Minister of Health will insist on his Clause. If this is going to be the battleground on which we are to fight this non-elected body, I hope we are going to fight to the death.


I think that this is so important that we must make it perfectly clear to the Lords in disagreeing with the course they take and in reinserting the Clause in its new form that we on all sides of the House feel deep indignation at the rejection of this Clause and at the language which was used in doing it and particularly by one Noble Lord who said that lids Clause had been rushed into the Bill by a few well-meaning enthusiast. As one of those, I feel that the whole altitude of their Lordships to this Clause was most out of sympathy with the demands of the country. I was down in my Constituency only recently at a housing conference of the local authority and they attached the greatest importance to this provision. When they saw that the other House struck it out two of the councillors came to me on Saturday last and pointed out what they called the wrecking work in striking out this Clause. We never can go ahead unless we give some date at which universal town planning is to come, so that local authorities may prepare for this great reform. It is the only chance we shall get of having towns properly developed, and I hope this House will stand firm on this proposal.


The Lords have treated us in a way which can only be described as reactionary. France in its town planning Bill adopted a measure exactly on the same lines and it is only common sense that towns should be planned in advance. We have suffered now for centuries in this country for the very reason that towns have not been planned in advance. This is the first Clause in our legislation which has ever provided for anything like efficient town planning. We must have it.

Question put. and agreed to.

Amendment proposed: Instead of Clause 41, left out of the Bill, to insert Clause [Preparation of Town-planning scheme] — [Dr. Addison.]


I entirely agree with the proposal contained in the new Clause, but I would like to ask, supposing during the period mentioned a borough extends its boundaries, is it the intention of the Government that the Clause should operate as affecting not only the borough but the extension? That, I think, is a matter for consideration, because we all desire that the scheme should apply to the extension.


It would apply to those areas.


The original Clause reads: The Council of every borough or other urban district, the population of which exceeds 20,000, and any other local authority which the Local Government Board may require. That last sentence, ''and any other local authority which the Local Government, Board may require," is omitted in the amended Clause. I should like to refer to the Scottish conditions as affected by this Clause, because later on, when the Scottish Bill comes up, we will be informed that this Clause has been passed in the English Bill and that we in Scotland must abide-by the conditions of the English Bill. It was urged in the Scottish Grand Committee that it was important that the words "and any other local authority which the Local Government Board may require" should be included, because it was maintained that there were a number of boroughs which might contain inhabitants of a lesser quantity than 20.000 and yet which ought to prepare town planning schemes. I would therefore ask my right hon. Friend whether it would not be possible to include in this amended Clause the same provision which is included in Unoriginal Clause?


In answer to my hon Friend I would point out that the reason; why the words in question are omitted from this Clause is that they are included in the following Clause, Clause 42.

Clause agreed to.