- Where provision is made in a scheme for the construction, widening, or improvement of any road or street, and for charging the cost, or any part of the cost thereof upon the owners of adjoining land or other persons deriving benefit therefrom, the scheme shall secure that the cost so charged shall not exceed the amount which would have been the cost of the street works executed in the course of the construction, widening, or improvement if it had been carried out so as to comply with any enactments, bye-laws, or regulations for the time being in operation in the area and, as respects matters for which no provision is made in any such enactments, bye-laws, or regulations, so as to comply with such specification as the highway authority for the area would have required as a condition of declaring the street to be a highway repairable by the inhabitants at large.
- (2) In this section the expression "street works" means the sewering, levelling, paving, metalling, flagging, channelling and making good a road or street or part of a road or street and providing proper means of lighting therefor, and the expressions "construction" and "improvement" in relation to any road or street include the planting, laying out, maintenance and protection of trees, shrubs, and grass margins, in and beside the road or street.— [Sir H. Young.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
Sir H. YOUNG
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The new Clause looks formidable, but it is really on a very small point in connection with the scheme of the Bill. It is to meet a point raised in the Committee by the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. McKeag) and upon which there was general agreement that such a Clause should be inserted. This is the kind of 1481 Clause which required rather careful consideration and drafting in order to have it ready for the Bill, and I apologise for the necessity of bringing it forward for the first time at this stage. The object of the Clause is as follows: It is now provided in schemes of planning that, where roads or streets are made or improved, the local authority, in anticipation of development, may recover from frontagers or persons benefiting a reasonable part of the cost. The object of the Clause is to meet the objection taken in the Committee, and to make it quite sure that the part of the cost which the planning authority is empowered to recover from the frontagers and other persons benefiting in respect of streets is not greater under the plan than it would have been under the general law, the Private Street Works Act and so on. It was thought right in Committee that we should not give the planning authority power to recover more under the plan than it would have had power to recover under the general law. The effect of this provision in the matter of recovering part of the cost of the improvement is to confine the powers of the planning authority to the powers established by the general law.
§ Mr. CAPORN
While I support the Clause, I wish to ask the Minister one or two questions. I should like to know how it is proposed to carry out the provision that there shall be no greater charge than that under the present law. For instance, under the Private Street Works Act it rests with the magistrates to say what are reasonable works. How, under this Clause, can an owner secure a decision of the magistrate whether the works which the local authority has carried out, or proposes to carry out, are reasonable, having regard to the user of the street which would be required by the frontagers as distinct from the user which would be required by the general public at large? Is there any provision which would prevent the frontagers from being called upon to pay the charges at an earlier date than they can be called upon to pay them either under Section 150 of the Public Health Act or under the Private Street Works Act? One of the questions which arises, at any rate under the Private Street Works Act, and which magistrates have to decide is whether or not the proposed works are 1482 being carried out at a reasonable time, having regard to the user of the traffic. It seems to me that nothing in this Clause could prevent the owners of frontages being called upon to pay more than a reasonable charge at an earlier data than they would otherwise have to pay under present legislation.
Sir H. YOUNG
The reply to my hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Caporn), is that the planning schemes, in accordance with the procedure established under the Statute, would apply automatically the provisions of the general law, the Acts of 1875 and 1892. Therefore, the procedure under the scheme would necessarily follow the procedure as laid down in the general Statutes to which I have referred.
§ Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
I beg to move, in line 5, after the word "would," to insert the words:at the date of the commencement of the works".I move the Amendment in order to try to ascertain the date at which this provision is intended to operate. I am not certain whether the right hon. Gentleman had the intention, in fixing the provision of the cost, to cover the cost at the date of the scheme or at the date of the commencement of the work. We might have a scheme forecast into the future where the figures might be very different. The cost at the date of the scheme and the cost 20 years afterwards when the road has really been made might be very different. I conceive that there might be a good deal of discussion in the courts upon the question as to the date at which this is intended to operate. I have merely put down the Amendment in order to get an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman so that appropriate words may be inserted.
Sir H. YOUNG
The intention of the Clause is that to which the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has referred, and desires to secure by the Amendment, namely, the cost of street works to be charged to frontagers is the cost at the commencement of the work. That being the intention, the words should be as clear as possible, and I do not think that any words could be 1483 more appropriate for the purpose in mind than those which the hon. and learned Member has suggested, and I am prepared to accept them.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In line 10, after the word "would," insert the words:
at the date of the commencement of the works.".—[Sir S. Cripps.]
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
On a point of Order, I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the House if the new Clause—(Recovery of betterment from owners of property increased in value)—next upon the Paper, were moved as an Amendment to the existing betterment Clause—Clause 21—of the Bill. Clause 21 is of very great importance indeed and was discussed in the Committee stage, and the proposed new Clause which has been placed upon the Paper is the result of a promise by the Minister to bring forward certain Amendments. Owing to the difficulties about time, the Clause was only put upon the Paper the day before yesterday, and the bodies interested in matters of this kind, and Members of the House, have only had an extremely limited time to consider the new Clause, which is of very great importance. I therefore suggest that it would be for the convenience of the House if it were moved as an Amendment to the existing betterment Clause rather than as a new Clause at this stage of the Bill.
Sir H. YOUNG
There is a great deal in what has been said by the noble lord. I considered it appropriate and correct to put this matter down in the form of a new Clause, because it stands by itself and the House might have been justly surprised if such a substantial matter had been put down in the form of an Amendment.
Having done that in the first place, it is undoubtedly desirable that more time should be allowed for consideration of the Clause, and, if it is not out of order, I shall prefer to withdraw it as a new 1484 Clause and to move it as an Amendment to Clause 21, which it is possible we may not reach to-day.