§ Order for Consideration of Lords Amendments read.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Hilton Young)
I beg to move, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered,"
It will be for the convenience of the House if I mention which are the Amendments of some interest. There are no Amendments with which it will be my duty to ask the House not to agree. I am prepared to agree to all the Amendments. Five-sixths of the Amendments are purely drafting or grammatical Amendments or Amendments which are consequential on other Amendments. On Clause 6, which deals with the category of land which is plannable, an Amendment, in page 5, line 41, proposes to extend the planning powers to land for which a town planning scheme is proposed by the owners of two-thirds of the land and approved by three-fourths of the owners of such land.
The second Amendment of substance is an Amendment to Clause 10, which deals with interim development, and the 1048 effect of it is to carry out an undertaking given by me on Report. It has now been incorporated in another place, and its effect is that where land under an interim development order is reserved for a public open space the owner is entitled to call upon the authority to acquire the freehold of the land. The next Amendment to which I need direct the attention of hon. Members is also to Clause 10, and also carries out an undertaking given by me on Report. It deals with the case where an owner has been called upon to incur certain expenditure its connection with the requirements of a scheme as originally proposed and those requirements are not included in the scheme as ultimately passed. It provides that where as a consequence the expenditure has been abortive on the part of the owner he shall be entitled to compensation.
The next Amendment of substance is in Clause 11, which deals with the contents of a scheme. The effect of the Amendment is to delete from the Bill the power of a local authority to control the materials out of which a building is to be constructed, and it is expressly accepted by the Government on the ground that it makes no essential difference, because the Clause already secures to the planning authority power to control the design and external appearance of the building, and such control as is useful or necessary in respect of materials to be used in the building is really secured by the power to control the design and appearance. The next Amendment to which I need call attention is in Clause 17, which deals with the preservation of a building. The effect of the Amendment is to limit the power of control of ancient historical and interesting buildings for their preservation to a, power to prevent demolition, leaving out the power to control alteration. The next Amendment is to insert the words:Provided that where a disposition is by way of lease or tenancy agreement for a term of less than seven years, the claim shall be made not earlier than the expiration of the seventh year from the date on which the said term commenced.This is an Amendment to the betterment Clause. Under the Bill as it went to another place the planning authority had power to claim betterment when the land was disposed of under a lease of three years. It is thought that this period is too short, and to meet the criticisms on this ground this Amendment 1049 has been inserted, which has the effect that claims for betterment cannot be made until a period of seven years has run, in order to ascertain the full extent of betterment.
The next Amendment to which I direct attention is on page 10, to leave out Clause 46 and to insert a new Clause. The new Clause is to deal with the novel and rather difficult matter of power to control woodlands for their preservation. What has been done in another place is to leave the control of woodlands, after they have been reserved by the planning authority—to leave their control, from the point of view of forestry, and such operations as cutting, to the owner of the woods, but to reserve to the planning authority power to secure that they shall be preserved as woodlands and power to secure that, if cut, they shall be replanted. That is thought to be adequate for the purpose of the Bill.
The next in the list of significant Amendments is in page 59, line 29, of the Bill, to leave out Clause 52. In another place Clause 52 has been struck out. That Clause is the Clause which imposes upon certain of the smaller planning authorities the obligation, within a limited time, to produce a planning scheme. That obligation will disappear with the Clause. I do not propose to ask the House to dissent from that Amendment, because it is thought that there is adequate power to secure the efficient discharge of planning duties on the part of an authority under another Clause which gives the Minister power to default an authority if it does not fulfil its duties in that respect. So, if the Minister has power to step in where an authority does not fulfil its planning duties, and either say, "You shall," or discharge those duties over the head of the authority, this general obligation imposed upon a limited class of authorities is not perhaps essential.
The next and last Amendment to which I need direct special attention is in page 71, line 6, to insert the words:The reservation of sites for places of religious worship or for houses for the residence of officiating ministers, or burial places in connection therewith.We are dealing here with the First Schedule, and its second part, which relates to the purposes for which planning schemes can be made. It was desired in another place to insert the 1050 express provision that there shall be power on the part of planning authorities to reserve sites for places of religious worship and for ancillary purposes. Although it was the case that there were general powers under the Bill to fulfil those purposes, nevertheless so much emphasis was laid upon it in another place, that there could be no objection to making an express provision. There are various other Amendments made in another place, which perhaps are more than drafting but are minor alterations in the Bill, and I need not detain the House with them at this stage. We are prepared to offer an explanation of them if one is required later.
Those Amendments to which I have referred, some nine in number, are Amendments of some substance and interest to the House. For the rest, the Amendments are of a drafting or verbal nature. They are undoubtedly rather numerous, and if there is any way in which we could deal with them, with economy of time, at this late hour, it would ho for the convenience of the House.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Before I put the Question, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered," I think I ought to say something to the House in regard to these Amendments. It seems to me that where there is a large number of Amendments from another place—in this ease there are something like 150—many of which are either drafting or verbal Amendments, much time is wasted by putting each Amendment separately to the House. If, therefore, it is the wish of the House, I am perfectly willing to put those Amendments which are of a drafting or verbal nature, and also consequential Amendments, in blocks. There are, however, the Amendments to which the Minister has referred, which do make some alteration in the Bill. These, of course, I shall put separately so that Members who desire to do so, can speak or vote upon them separately. There are also various Amendments among the number, which raise the question of Privilege, and to these I shall likewise give special attention, and bring to the notice of the House, as they are reached, the fact that they do raise the question of Privilege. If it is in accordance with the general wish of the House, I am quite willing to put the Amendments in that way, instead of putting each Amendment separately.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
We have no desire that the House should have to go formally through all the Amendments but I am not sure that the Minister's list of Amendments which raise questions of substance would tally with our list. If we have your permission, Mr. Speaker, to say something on the Amendments, which in our view raise points of principle, we shall be quite satisfied.
§ Sir H. YOUNG
I quite understand that there are other Amendments, besides those which I specified, about which explanation may be required and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that such explanation will be forthcoming to the best of our ability.
§ Question, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered," put, and agreed to.
§ Lords Amendments considered accordingly.
§ Lords Amendments to page 5, line 21, agreed to.