HC Deb 15 July 1930 vol 241 cc1127-8

A local authority, in preparing any proposals for the provision of houses or in taking any action under this or the principal Act, shall have regard to the natural amenities of the locality and the desirability of preserving existing works of architectural, historic, or artistic interest, and shall comply with such directions, if any, in that behalf as may be given to them by the department.—[Mr. Johnston.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

Sub-section (3) of Clause 22 makes provision for safeguarding "the natural amenities of the locality," and taking into account, and, so far as possible, preserving existing works of architectural, historic or artistic interest. When the Bill was going through Committee, it became apparent that the terms of the Bill were not sufficiently protective, and, indeed, I think that was the view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for Scotland. The terms of the Bill do not safeguard or preserve architectural or historic buildings under previous Acts. It does not safeguard, for example, the house of John Knox against the operations of the principal Act of 1925, and so we have put down this Amendment with the object of making it clear beyond doubt that the local authorities under whatever Act they proceed must have regard to buildings of architectural, historic or artistic interest. The Amendment is put down in order to meet the views generally expressed on all sides during the Committee stage.


I am grateful to the Government for having endeavoured to deal with an admittedly very difficult problem. We are all anxious that ancient buildings which have a great deal to do with the past history of our country should, as far as possible, be preserved, and those of us who are aware of the difficult circumstances which attend the maintenance of these ancient buildings and at the same time endeavour to conform with modern requirements to ensure decent living know that in cities like Edinburgh and Stirling these matters are very difficult. I observe that this new Clause gives very wide powers to the Department. I presume, of course, that the Department would be in close consultation with the Ancient Monuments Commission and that they would be largely guided by their advice. Obviously, the Department themselves would not perhaps be competent judges of these matters except upon representation from outside bodies, and, if it be the intention of the Department to work in close co-operation with the Ancient Monuments Commission, I shall be satisfied.


I should like to support the new Clause. It fulfils what was promised in the course of the discussion upstairs. I think it covers, for instance, the points which were raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Dr. Hunter). Under the Measure as it stood, there was no guarantee that in any housing scheme of that progressive borough which is represented by my hon. Friend the historic house or home of Robert Burns would be immune from the depredations of any un-historically-minded local authority. Under this Clause there will be full consultation with great authorities like the Ancient Monuments Commission and people who are interested in the history and traditions of the country. I am certain that the Department will be very careful that none of these ancient landmarks is destroyed by any local authority who might in the interests of modernisation desire to get rid of buildings of that character. I therefore welcome the Clause, and I am glad that the Government have seen their way to meet us in this handsome manner.


I want to assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Sir J. Gilmour) that the point which he has in view will be fully met, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) that it will be one of my duties to safeguard such points as he has raised.

Clause added to the Bill.