HC Deb 06 June 1932 vol 266 cc1688-710

I beg to move to leave out the Clause.

We who propose this Amendment are not opposed to town planning. So far as England is concerned, we regard the Bill as a satisfactory, or at any rate a praiseworthy, endeavour to solve the problem of town planning. But we do not want the Bill to apply to Scotland. We want an independent and a separate Bill expressed in Scottish legal phraseology and one that has been dealt with by the Scottish Standing Committee, This method of legislation by adaptation has evoked a storm of protests, and the local authorities who will have to administer the Bill if it becomes law have passed a resolution condemning this method of legislation. We Scottish Members have received a memorandum from the Association of County Councils, which represents all the county councils in Scotland. They say that in their opinion the Bill should be dropped as regards Scotland and they go on to say: This method of legislation by adaptation is an unsatisfactory method of legislation for Scotland. It does not give adequate opportunity for consideration of the provisions of the Bill as applied to Scotland, and it involves risks of administrative difficulties and possibly litigation. The Convention of Royal Burghs is a body which includes the whole of the burghs in Scotland large and small. At their annual meeting at Edinburgh last May they passed a resolution directing a committee to maintain a continuous endeavour to have Scottish legislation supervised by Scottish Members of Parliament. Most recently of all, we Scottish Members have had a communication from the Scottish Law Agents' Society. That is to say, the Scottish solicitors. It is almost a cry of despair. Their opinion is entitled to have weight, because they will in large measure have to interpret and administer the Bill if it becomes law. They say: The Bill will be considered by Parliament primarily, if not entirely, from the point of view of English law and will be debated as an English Measure and will not receive consideration from the point of view of Scots law and Scottish conditions, nor will it come before the Scottish Grand Committee. They conclude by saying: This method of legislation is both prejudicial and disrespectful to Scotland. It is treated as a mere appendage of England. No Town Planning Bill can ever be a satisfactory Measure unless it has been dealt with by the Scottish Committee. Our system of land tenure, methods of conveyancing, and institutions of local government are entirely different from those of England. I, no doubt in common with other Scottish Members, looked up the OFFICIAL REPOET because I was anxious to discover the composition of the Committee which set out to fashion and to mould the law of Scotland, and effect our town planning for us. I do not for a moment intend to criticise those who were responsible for selecting the Committee. I do not intend any reflection upon them. We complain that the Bill ought never to have been sent to an ordinary Standing Committee but straight to the Scottish Committee. I found that the Standing Committee consists of 66 Members, including the Chairman, five of whom are Scottish. Members and 61 are English Members. I suppose that the proportion of five Scotsmen to 61 Englishmen is that to which we are entitled on a basis of population. That is not our complaint. It is that it ought not to have been sent to such a Committee, but should have been dealt with by the Scottish Committee.

Town planning presents problems of very great complexity, and raises questions sometimes of very considerable legal difficulty, so I looked with anxiety to see whether Scottish lawyers were sufficiently represented on the Committee. I speak with entire freedom although I belong to that maligned class, because I am no conveyancer and no contribution from me would have been of the slightest value. But there are others. I found that there were two legal Members on the Committee, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and the Solicitor-General for Scotland. Everybody who knows them has complete confidence in their competence and fair-mindedness. We are completely assured as to that, but what deprived their presence on the Committee of most of its value was that there was no contradicter. After all, criticism from competent sources, from other lawyers is not necessarily hostile but useful and sometimes essential.

If our complaint was merely a complaint of that sort, I could well understand the House becoming impatient. The House might well say that this is another lawyers' squabble, but the matter does not end there. So far I have used language of studied moderation, and I shall continue to exercise the same restraint. But when I tell the House of the next discovery I can only say that I was amazed. The Town and Country Planning Bill raises the question of the jurisdiction of competing local authorities, and the main question, perhaps the only question as affecting Scotland, is the controversy which has arisen between the county councils on the one hand and the small burghs on the other. "Small burgh" is a technical term. It means a burgh with a population under 20,000. The controversy is still raging. I went to the pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT to try to learn the arguments presented by the county councils on the one hand and the case advanced by the small burghs on the other. I found that there was not a single representative of the Scottish county councils upon the Committee, and that there was not a Member representing the small burghs. The Standing Committee contained five Scottish Members, one of whom is a representative of the Scottish Universities, and the other four Members divide between them the representation of the great cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Is it to be wondered at that the proposal to adapt the Bill to Scotland has been received with profound dissatisfaction in Scotland, and that the county councils refuse to recognise this illegitimate offspring?

I have been reasonable in this matter. At least we hope that it may be possible for the Secretary of State for Scotland to give an explanation, and an assurance for the future. We understand the difficulties with which the Government are faced and realise the tremendous pressure under which Parliamentary business has to be conducted at present. We realise the difficulty in finding time for the most essential legislation, but we remember that only recently the time of the House was occupied with a Cinema Bill which concerns London and the South of England alone, while only last week we were informed that the time of the House was to be mortgaged in part for the London Transport Bill. We do not grudge London and the South of England these amenities, but we should welcome an equal solicitude for Scotland. May I make a very respectful suggestion to the Secretary of State for Scotland? Parliament assembled last October. The Scottish Standing Committee has sat for only five days, or, to be quite accurate, for four mornings and part of a fifth. We Scottish Members often, with not enough to occupy our time, can only twiddle our thumbs, and I suggest that the remedy lies at hand. Set in motion the existing machinery of the Scottish Committee once again. There are Committee rooms upstairs standing unused and empty, and here is a grand opportunity to find jobs for the unemployed. Unlock the door and let us get on with our work.


I beg to second the Amendment, from a slightly different point of view, perhaps, than that of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Milne). I do not think the hon. Member meant, and I certainly do not mean, to suggest that every Measure that affects Scotland should be in the form of a separate Bill. Very far from it. There are many Measures in regard to which it would not only be no advantage to have a separate Bill for Scotland but it would be a great disadvantage, because it is essential that the law in the two countries should be kept in accord. There are Measures where there is, let us say, a marginal case and strong arguments either way. But there is a particular class of Measure, particularly a Measure which deals, as this does, with local conditions, in which the arguments are all in favour of having separate legislation for the two countries. At one time, I think, Scotland had a very real cause of complaint in that this House, if I may say so without disrespect, did neglect the interests of that country; but of recent years I think we have noticed a tendency towards much greater consideration of Scottish problems. However, the fact that Scotland has been tacked on to England in this Bill has undoubtedly caused some apprehensions, and I think legitimate apprehensions, that that tendency towards giving greater consideration to Scottish problems has for the moment been reversed. I trust that the Secretary of State for Scotland will be able to assure us that that is not the policy of the Government for the future.

There is one novel feature about this Bill that deserves passing comment. In the past when Scotland has been included along with England in one Bill we have simply had a Section which applied the Scottish terms of art and the Scottish procedure to the English part of the Bill. In this Bill there is a proposal that separate Acts should be printed for Scotland and for England. Speaking for myself, if it is necessary to have only one Bill for the two countries I rather welcome that as a concession towards convenience in Scotland, but it does, I think, carry a certain state of danger latent in the method, because in the present Bill, for instance, it will be very difficult, looking at the extensive alterations that have taken place in the Report stage, to assure ourselves that this Bill leaves the House with the appropriate alterations made in the Scottish section. Further than that, I think the fact that in order to make the Bill intelligible in Scotland a separate Act is to be printed is at least a strong consideration which should be borne in mind when the Government are deciding whether or not it shall have one or two Bills.

I realise, like the hon. Member for West Fife, that this is a time of crisis and that it would be unreasonable to ask for things to-day for which one would be entitled to ask in normal times. One realises that questions which are not of immediate national importance in the sense that financial questions are at the moment cannot receive the same full and adequate consideration that they otherwise would, and the people of Scotland may have to suffer along with other people for the time being, in view of the national crisis. But if we cannot have a separate Bill on this occasion I do ask the right hon. Gentleman to assure us that this will not be regarded as a precedent for the future and that there is no intention to reverse the tendency to which I have referred, namely, that Scotland was getting more and more separate treatment in this House as time went on. On the contrary, I hope that in future when legislation is being considered each case will receive the fullest consideration on its own merits and that the ruling consideration will be not a question of convenience but what is in the best interests of Scotland, as to whether Scotland shall or shall not have a separate Bill.

8.30 p.m.


Before the Clause is passed I should like to ask the Government for an assurance on one or two points. I understand that there is a certain amount of anxiety that this Bill will lead to a dangerous increase of staff in the Government Departments in Scotland. Industry is at the moment groaning under taxation and to a large extent that taxation is to pay for the staffs of various Government Departments. There appear to be a number of points in the Ball which are likely to lead to the necessity for supervision from Edinburgh, and I would ask the Secretary of State if he. can give us an assurance that there is. not likely to be any increase of staff in consequence of this Bill and that his Department will use the utmost effort to avoid such an increase during this time when economy is so essential. The town councils of the small burghs have felt anxiety in regard to the alterations and the way in which they will affect their powers, and I would like to ask if the Government have gone as far as they possibly can in the best way possible to meet the points that have been put before them.


I listened with interest to the appeals put forward that the smaller burghs and counties in Scotland should be excluded from the Bill. I speak as one who has served on the council of one of the larger burghs, and that council feels very strongly on this subject. It feels that in the interests of Scotland, Scotland ought to be included in the Town Planning Bill. I say this on behalf of a burgh which perhaps stands to lose more than most, because we already have our private Act, which gives us wider powers than this Bill will give. Proceeding under the Town Planning (Scotland) Act, 1925, we obtained our private Act, which gave us powers considerably wider than are given by this Bill over all the land within our area, powers whether the land was developed, undeveloped or ripe for development. Those powers were got by a private Bill which was approved by this House.

Acting on that legislation we have gone forward with our scheme, feeling that the long-range scheme and the wide area is the thing which is required. We sot into consultation with the district committees of the County Councils of Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire and as a joint committee we have been working at the scheme. We have got into touch with the landed interests round about and have come to an agreement with most of them, and we hoped that before long our scheme would come into effect. We have tried in the areas round about to plan, to zone and to see that traffic communications with the city are made in the undeveloped land, and that in the built-over area in the city the streets are planned out to correspond. All this work that we have put in, or a good deal of it, we realise is likely to be lost, but my council feel strongly that, in the interests of Scotland generally, it is of the utmost importance that town planning powers should be extended. My council has considered this matter very carefully and feels that it should give its approval to the Bill, although it does not go as far as it would like in certain particulars. In regard to Clause 6, it considers that further powers should be given. Possibly this may be done at a later stage of the Bill, but in the meantime we consider that we ought to accept the Bill as it stands, or as it may be amended, as a valuable contribution towards the very important principle of town planning.


In replying to the case put forward by the Amendment, which I hope will be withdrawn, I should like to congratulate the mover on his admirable maiden speech, and also congratulate the hon. Member for Stirling Burghs (Mr. J. Reid) for the way in which he seconded the Amendment. Both these hon. Members are brothers and friends of mine at the Scottish Bar, and although I feel a slight hesitation in congratulating the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Milne), I am sure that the House would not wish me to pass a most clear, admirable and vigorous maiden speech without a few words of praise.

My hon. Friends have urged that the Bill should not be applied to Scotland. In the first place, may I say that in all their speeches there has been a singular absence of any criticism of the detailed provisions of the Measure, and that follows precisely the course of events in Committee. It is true that there were only two Scottish private Members on the Committee, but one of them, the hon. Member for Cathcart (Mr. Train) was an extremely active and valuable Member. He did not find it necessary to put his part in the Committee in what I may call a Scottish setting. The views he held in regard to the improvement of the Bill he found it easy to expound in the English Clauses, and it shows that there is not that profound difference between Scotland and England in regard to town planning which some hon. Members would lead us to suppose.

If there was a difference between the two countries which could not be overcome by a necessary alteration in the legal phraseology, then I agree that it would be absolutely essential to have a separate Bill for Scotland, but the. hon. Member for Cathcart found it unnecessary to make any Amendments with regard to Scotland specifically except one, that Scotland should be omitted. The same thing is true when you come to the Report stage. With the exception of this Amendment and certain drafting Amendments which the Government have put down, there are no Amendments dealing with Scotland at all, and although on Report every Scottish Member has an opportunity of putting down any Amendment for consideration which he thinks necessary to improve the application of the Bill to Scotland, they have not found it necessary. It has not been found necessary because the Bill, as it will leave the House after the insertion of our Amendments, is in my judgment as applicable to Scotland as it is to England. Indeed, if one contrasts the vast number of Amendments moved by English Members in Committee and on Report with the very small number of Amendments moved by Scottish Members, one would rather suppose that what was needed was that England should be omitted from the Bill rather than Scotland.


Hear, hear.


That is a suggestion which meets with a ready response from a well-known quarter. Let me say one word upon the position of the small burghs. That is indeed a purely Scottish question, and one which needed adjustment. It is true that the question was not raised by the small burghs on the Second Reading or Committee stage of a similar Bill in the last Parliament, but it was raised after this Bill was read a Second time, and we felt that it was necessary to meet the question. Let me state the problem in a sentence or two. The House will recollect that in 1929 Acts were passed reorganising local government in England and in Scotland. The Scottish Act handed over many of the powers of the smaller burghs to the county councils, reinforced by representatives of the small burghs. Among the powers which were specifically left to the small burghs was that of housing. Town planning in those days was confined to undeveloped areas. Town planning was removed in 1929 from the small burghs. This Bill extends town planning to built-up areas and, therefore, it brings the question of town planning much more closely home to the small burghs. We felt that to leave the small burghs with housing powers over their own built-up areas and give them no town planning powers over the same areas was to invite confusion and dissipation of effort.

After the Second Reading of the Bill, negotiations were opened with the representatives of the small burghs, the Convention of Royal Burghs, as to what powers should be given them in the matter of town planning. I do not say that every small burgh or every town councillor of every small burgh is satisfied with the solution, but I do say that the Convention of Royal Burghs has expressed in general terms its approval, and in answer to the Noble Lord it seems to the Government the correct solution, from which they do not propose to move. In the first place, the solution is on these lines, that where a small burgh thinks it would be advisable to have general town planning powers of its own it may apply to the Department of Health. The Department of Health may or may not give those powers. Some of these small burghs have populations just short of 20,000, and others have populations of not more than a few hundreds. The House will appreciate that it is necessary that the Department of Health should have a final word as to whether or not a small burgh should become a town-planning authority. It would not be wise or economical or in the interests of the small burgh of a few hundred inhabitants that it should become a town-planning authority, clad with all the panoply of power which this Bill gives. Similarly where in a general county scheme a built-up area of a small burgh will be affected by the scheme, the small burgh has a word to say on the subject. That is a really sound solution of the problem.

These provisions were inserted in Committee on my Motion, and there has not been, on Report, any Amendments to this solution put down by any Scottish Member. Although there may be still some mutterings of the storm, because every one cannot see alike, the solution which we propose has on the whole commended itself by its reasonableness and common sense to the small burghs and counties of Scotland. In practice I am satisfied that it will work. If this Amendment were accepted and if Scotland were omitted from the Bill, we would be doing not a good day's work but a bad day's work for Scotland. In the first place the Bill provides much more carefully than does existing legislation for the compensation of the private citizen who is affected by town planning. I deprecate very much the idea that the private citizen in Scotland should have his interests in regard to compensation, even for a year, less carefully guarded than are those of his opposite number in England. Therefore I hold that the Bill's provisions should be applied to Scotland forthwith and that England should not be left in a favoured position.

Secondly, the Bill applies to built-up areas as opposed to undeveloped areas. I cannot reconcile myself to the view that Scotland is less interested than England in the proper planning of built-up areas or that there is any reason to suppose that we should be neglectful of the interests of Scottish towns while the interests of English towns are regarded. Speaking as a citizen of the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is a city full of interesting historical houses, in spite of the deprivations of past generations, yet those houses are in the middle of slum or poor areas. It would be difficult to find in the whole length and breadth of England a city which seemed to call more urgently for the application of town planning. The same thing is true when you come to small burghs like Stirling and St. Andrews. Enormous damage has been done in the past by the ruthless destruction of historical buildings in Scotland, and he would be a rash man who said that this Bill is less needed in Scotland than in England.

My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment seemed to desire that only in exceptional circumstances should legislation be common to the two countries. The seconder of the Amendment analysed that point rather more carefully, and divided it into three—one case where the two countries should go step by step in a common Bill; the marginal case where the needs of each country should be dealt with on their merits; and the third case where the conditions in the two countries were so different that separate legislation was urgently necessary. There is nothing in the condition of the two countries which makes it essential to have different town-planning Bills. To the Mover of the Amendment I would say that every Secretary of State for Scotland desires that where there is any advantage at all in the procedure a separate Bill for Scotland should be presented to the House. Even where you have some real advantage in a separate Bill, you have always to consider whether you run the risk of postponing necessary legislation for Scotland; you have to consider the balance of advantage. Every one is aware that at the end of the Session there is a long list of Bills which are sacrificed. They are not exclusively Scottish Bill. In the old days it used to be called "the massacre of the innocents." So skilfully has the National Government applied the time at its disposal this Session that I do not believe there will be any noticeable massacre of the innocents.


They were never born.


Those that were born are doing very well. It must be recognised that within the limits of Parliamentary time one cannot always be sure of passing in a given Session a particular Bill for Scotland. My hon. Friend rather suggested that in the matter of separate Bills Scotland was being ill-treated as compared with England. I think he forgets that it is not only for Scotland that there are separate Bills but that there are also separate Bills for England as well as Bills common to both countries. But with regard to separate Bills, how do the two countries stand this Session? There have been or will be five Bills this Session which are exclusively for England. At the same time there will be three Bills exclusively for Scotland—not a bad proportion. Of those Scottish Bills one deals with Educational Endowments; a second is the Scottish Universities Bill, which deals with the organisation of theological training, and the third, the Hire Purchase Bill, deals with a matter of practical importance in the life of the working people of Scotland and carries out a reform of the law which was urgently recommended by a powerful committee. In a Session so largely taken up with Bills of vast importance common to both countries, that proportion of separate Bills for Scotland shows that the Secretary of State and myself have not been so unfortunate after all in our efforts to-secure a due proportion of separate Scottish legislation. Indeed it is only because my right hon. Friend and I are men of the most modest type that we do not take even greater credit to ourselves.

9.0 p.m.


I do not wish to seem ungrateful for the many Amendments which were down in my name and were given effect to in Committee, but, as the Under-Secretary of State has said that the Scottish question was not raised by any Scottish Member in Committee, may I point out that in the OFFICIAL REPORT [(Standing Committee A), 10th May, 1932, col. 919] he will find that he himself, in moving an Amendment, said that it dealt with a matter which had been raised by me, in reference to the Schedule as applying to Scotland. Further down, he will find reference to another matter which I raised affecting Scotland and in connection with which, I may say, I was told by the learned Attorney-General that I was entirely wrong, but some of the town clerks of Scotland put us right on that point of Scottish law. I made my protest vigorously in the Committee on this question, and I do not wish to repeat my arguments, but there never was a subject upon which it was more necessary that Scotland should have a separate Bill than town planning. The County Councils Association of Scotland, no mean body, which represents all the councils in Scotland and is the biggest local government bodies association in Scotland, has expressed its opinion upon this Bill and the council of the county of Lanark on which I served for some years has told us that they do not want the Bill. As regards Glasgow, the second city of the Empire, I have been told that its town planning will be completed under the 1925 Act before this Bill can get on to the Statute Book. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Burnett) has told us that Aberdeen is going on finely with its town planning. Why then is this Bill necessary? The local authorities are doing all they want to do under the 1925 Act.

The local authorities in Scotland to-day are suffering from too much legislation. The county councils have taken over the work of the parish councils and the education authorities under the 1929 Act. At the moment they are suffering from legislative indigestion, but now they are to be forbibly fed with this Measure. They do not want it, but it is being thrust upon them. The Under-Secretary referred to the case of the small burghs. They had power under the Town Planning Act from 1925 until 1929 and not one of them put up a scheme. They lost their power, certainly, under the 1929 Act and now they have asked to be included in this Measure as town planning authorities. Some of them, the Under-Secretary told us in Committee, could not raise £60 a year with a rate of a penny in the pound, yet they want to be town planning authorities in urban areas where they may have to pull down buildings worth possibly £10,000 for which compensation will be payable. But my hon. Friend explains that he has arranged the matter in such a way that they will not be responsible for the compensation which will be spread over the county. There is a fine piece of legislation. You give them authority to carry out town planning, but the financial responsibility is to be spread over the county.

In Committee I missed the help of many of my hon. Friends from Scotland who are able lawyers but I did my best to put forward Amendments of a practical character. I could not, however, argue these matters from the legal standpoint. I have no fault to find with those who selected the Committee but from the Scottish point of view it would have been better if we had had on that Committee one or two Scottish Members who have a good knowledge of conveyancing. Our Scottish system differs entirely from the English system. Our legal terminology is different. Our local government is different and it would be better for Scotland if both housing and town planning enact- ments were kept separate from those of England. Even our system of constructing houses in Scotland is different from the English system and this Bill deals with the construction of houses and the materials used in the construction of houses. A house which can be built in Glasgow for £250 or £275 would cost £500 in Inverness simply because the materials are not available in Inverness which can be obtained in Glasgow. There is no brick-making so far north and the transport increases the cost. We had evidence in the Committee on Rural Housing of the effect upon costs of applying the English system to Scottish housing. If these people in Inverness and the North could have built their houses of the materials to hand, they would have been very much cheaper than building them on the English system.

What has been the result in Scotland of housing coming under the scheme that was brought about after the great Lloyd George Act of 1909, when town planning was first mooted and Form IV was brought out? We have the same thing under this Bill with regard to betterment as we had under the 1909 Act, which stopped all private enterprise in Scotland from building houses to let, because there was nothing left in it for the builder or the man who was making his living at it. We find that in 1917 a commission was set up to tell us all about housing, and the local authorities began in 1919 under the Addison scheme, and to-day what is it costing the country to house the people under those Acts in Scotland. Over £2,000,000 a year from the Treasury, to say nothing of the local rates in some instances being over Is. in the £ for housing. Ten years ago there was not a penny of that, because private enterprise could find it all. We were able, by feuing land and plotting it out, to give good trustee security from those feus or ground rents, as they are called here, and—


I think the hon. Member is attempting to deliver the speech which he was not allowed to deliver in Committee.


It may be that my enthusiasm was running away with me. I apologise, and I will come back to earth. Maybe I can get in a speech on the Third Reading. While I am not ungrateful for the various Amendments that have been given effect to, the Bill is not the Bill that it was originally. It has been amended, and a lot of time and care have been spent upon it in Committee, but I would like to have some assurance from my hon. Friend or from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. I prophesy that we shall have a Bill very shortly for Scotland as well as one for England. We shall not be satisfied with this Bill. We shall never have proper town and country planning until we divide the country by watersheds, and -when that comes along we shall get a separate Bill for Scotland.


As a mere Sassenach, I would not have ventured to intervene in this dispute among giants if it had not been for a few remarks which fell from the lips of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. He made an eloquent appeal with regard to the preservation of old buildings in Scottish burghs. I congratulate him on his optimism, if he really thinks, as he would lead us to believe, that he is going to preserve them by this Bill, that is to say, by extending very vastly the powers of those who were responsible for pulling down the Town House in Dundee. If that is the way in which he hopes to preserve the ancient buildings in these Scottish burghs, he is an even greater idealist and visionary than I have always believed him to be.


I rise to oppose the Amendment to exclude Scotland from the benefits of this Bill. The existing powers in Scotland are merely to plan suburban areas. It has been found in nearly all countries of the world, and my own practical experience confirms it, that it is necessary to plan the built-up area along with the suburban area, to have a complete scheme for a town as a whole, and that nothing less can give a satisfactory result. This Bill will enable us to do that. It has been said that there is no urgency for this Bill in Scotland. Well, there are several reasons for immediate application, but to my mind the most important is the economic reason. This Bill enables us to do what is called regional planning. A regional plan is based upon an economic industrial survey. It shows the development of an area, it shows the communications, the sites for light and heavy industries, the power and water supplies and the drainage, and it also shows the areas available for residential purposes.

In England, during the past 10 or 12 years, nearly one-third of the whole area of the country has been so planned, and it covers many, if not most, of the industrial counties. This has been done entirely voluntarily, by groups of local authorities, and the reports accompanying these schemes indicate the advantages of the areas for new industries. In Scotland, practically nothing has been done on these lines. There is a Clyde Valley scheme, but that is merely the suggested lay-out of main roads. It is not a regional plan on the lines that I have indicated. The hon. Member for Cathcart (Mr. Train) referred to Glasgow, which has shown considerable courage in planning, under inadequate legislation; but it is by no means a complete town planning scheme, as understood in the world to-day, although the hon. Member for Cathcart rather imagines that it is. It is a scheme more or less for the unbuilt areas, and a certain amount of planning in the built areas, but it is by no means a complete town planning scheme for the city such as other large cities in the world possess to-day.

Although these regional plans in England have no statutory authority, they have, I submit, a strong psychological bearing. They provide all the information required by manufacturers looking out for sites for new industries. I do not assume for a moment that they have a determining influence, but they have probably a very strong influence in deciding where manufacturers will eventually put their works. It is very interesting to note that new industries in England since the War have mainly gone to those areas which have been so planned. I admit that there may be a strong economic pull, but the existence of these plans taken on a balance of consideration, along with economic reasons, may have influenced many manufacturers to go to those areas in the South and in the Midlands rather than to the North, where no plans exist. Under this Bill this regional planning will now be possible. In Scotland the plans will be statutory instead of being merely volun- tary, and therefore will be much more valuable; and I submit that this work in Scotland, coupled with the work of the Development Councils recently formed, may play a very strong part in inducing new industries to come to Scotland, without which we can have no prosperity. I therefore hope the Amendment will be rejected.


I support the Amendment because I want to join in the protests of my Scottish colleagues with regard to the operation of this Clause. I do so principally upon the ground that it is another attempt, which, is made far too frequently, to legislate for Scotland by reference. This Clause cancels out the Town Planning Act of Scotland of 1925. We have before us now a very contentious Measure, the complexity of which can be realised when we remember how many Amendments have been made by the Minister and by other Members. There is the strongest possible resentment in Scotland at this method of legislation. In Scotland, we have an entirely different judicial system from that in England, and a land system which is entirely different from the English land system, and yet the House is asking that this contentious Measure should be administered in Scotland by a system of reference. We have had many complaints in past years on the operation of this system, and, so far as I am aware, there is not a local authority or a county council in Scotland but takes strong exception to that method of legislation.

It is our view that a town planning scheme for Scotland should be drafted along the lines of Scottish requirements and not served up in this particular manner, which is bound ultimately to result in litigation and confusion of all kinds. I am aware that there is a scheme of interpretation Clauses which may apply in. certain directions, but, generally speaking, the interpretation and administration of this Bill is to be directed from the official Scottish Department. I have nothing to say against these Departments, but, if opinion in Scotland is of any value,, the result of the passing of the Bill is viewed with considerable apprehension. In the local authorities and county councils of Scotland are men who are spending their leisure time in trying to administer the existing Acts in the interest of public affairs, and their efforts will be very largely discounted by the adaptation of this Measure to Scottish needs. While we have no chance of forcing this Amendment through, I urge that the protests which have been made by my colleagues and reinforced by what I have been able to say shall have the urgent attention of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who, after all, is the principal custodian of this House for Scottish interests.


I had not intended to intervene in this Debate when I came to the House, but I feel that I should like to say a word in support of the argument which has been adduced by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Dr. McLean). There is no doubt that in Scotland we are having a great fight to retain industries, and in fact to attract fresh industries. It will be a great mistake from the Scottish point of view if we allow our friends south of the Border to steal a march on us by having a Measure of town planning, such as is proposed, which will result in the better planning of their towns, and will thereby act as a still greater magnet to industry. We Scottish Members, therefore, should not oppose the passage of this Bill, because it will result in substantial benefits to Scotland. There can be no doubt that some of our Scottish cities are just as much in need of town planning as are English cities. I might go further and say that some are even in more need of town planning, but with the Scottish national genius we shall perhaps be able to make better use of this Bill than the English people. I will not follow the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. J. Wallace) on the merits of this particular system of legislation—I do not wish to express any opinion about that—but I hope that the Scottish Members will not force this Amendment to a Division and give- the English people a chance of depriving us of some of the benefits that they will get from this Bill, which, whatever its defects, will I believe prove very beneficial to our country.

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOT-LAND (Major Sir Archibald Sinclair)

The speeches to which we have listened from the Scottish standpoint have fallen into two categories. There have been criticisms of the Bill on its merits, and protests by some of my hon. Friends against the method which has been adopted of adapting the Bill to the necessities of Scotland. The Noble Lord the Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk (Earl of Dalkeith) felt some anxiety whether the Bill would not result in a certain increase of expenditure and staff at the headquarters of the Department of Health. That is an aspect of the Measure which we have carefully considered, and we believe that there will be hardly any, if any, increase of staff at all at the headquarters. I am glad to give that assurance, and I am grateful to the Noble Lord for raising the point, because I know that these anxieties have been felt by a number of people. We have been told that there are some people who do not want this Bill. I have read very carefully the memorandum of the Association of County Councils which has been quoted, and all the hostile representations which have reached me on the subject. There have been very few, but such as have reached me I have read. The majority, including that of the Association of County Councils, have been based, in part, at any rate, upon misapprehensions of what is in the Bill—misapprehensions which, I think, must have been allayed as the result of the Debates which have taken place on the successive stages of the Measure.

As against these criticisms of the Bill which I think are ill-founded, we have received a large body of support for the Bill. May I say how gratefully we welcome the speeches of the hon. Member for Kincardine (Mr. Barclay-Harvey) and of the hon. Member for Tradeston (Dr. McLean) whose work as a practical but imaginative town planner is known in three Continents. We welcome, in particular, the support which he has brought to the Bill on the most practical ground that it is a weapon which we are placing in the hands of municipalities and enlightened Scottish industrialists which will actually add to the strength of and expand the facilities for industry in our great cities. We have had, too, the support of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Burnett). Aberdeen has set an example of altruistic and patriotic support of this Measure which is the most remarkable testimony that it has received from any single place. Aberdeen is a city of very remarkable and austere beauty, and it possesses a municipality which has set an example to Scotland in its progressive enthusiasm for town planning under the separate Act which it possesses and under which it has proceeded in close co-operation with the county of Aberdeen. Nevertheless, Aberdeen wishes Scotland to have the benefit of this Measure and looks forward to it as a useful addition to the Statute Book. On the other hand, I have no information to corroborate the information of the hon. Member for Cathcart (Mr. Train) about the position in Glasgow. I can hardly believe that that great city will really have completed the whole of its town planning before this Measure gets on to the Statute Book.

Further, we have received important support for this Measure from the Town Planning Institute of Scotland on which there are a large number of people who know most about the subject in Scotland and who are keenest about it. We have also had strong support from the Housing and Town Planning Association, of Scotland which comprises representatives of every local authority. The hon. Member for Cathcart, who possesses a knowledge of practical building problems which is almost unique in this House, put a number of very practical questions and said that questions as to the materials which were suitable for building in Scotland and the methods to be employed were peculiarly Scottish problems which demanded specifically Scottish solutions. Those are the solutions which these problems will receive at the hands of the Scottish town-planning authorities under the terms of this Bill. Therefore, I suggest that on merits the case for the application of this Bill to Scotland is definitely made out, and more than that, that there is a demand from those who are most zealous in the cause of town planning in Scotland that Scotland should not be deprived of me advantages of this Measure.

9.30 p.m.

I should like to say a few words in reply to my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment, not that there is much for me to say after the speech of the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Skelton) who covered the ground so very completely. The hon. Member for Cathcart complained, as other Members have done, I will not say that the Committee was badly constituted, but that it was unfortunate that Scotland did not enjoy a greater measure of representation upon it. We all know that when a group of Members, a geographical group, or a group interested in a particular subject, want to obtain representation upon a Committee, there, are means and methods in this House of conveying to the Selection Committee which appoints the Committee, the fact that they want representation. I have not the slightest doubt that if they had adopted those methods the Scottish Members would not have found any difficulty at all in getting a larger share of representation. The hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) said I ought to have regard to the protests against this Bill which had been expressed in certain quarters. Not only have I had regard to those protests but I have out down Amendments to meet them. Those Amendments, which are contained in Schedule 6, represent a very honest and sincere effort to meet the criticisms, and so satisfactory do they appear to have been that they have not been challenged at any stage.

Therefore, I do hope my hon. Friends will see their way to withdraw this Amendment. I can assure them that I fully realise the desirability of having a Scottish Bill where it is possible, but, as has been pointed out, there are occasions when it is desirable to include Scottish interests in a common Measure. We have to consider in each case where the balance of advantage lies, and where we have a Measure in regard to which there is such a real and genuine desire on the part of those who know the problem best in Scotland, and where we think there is likely to be on the side of the Bill in Scotland, not merely opinion from the point of view of preserving amenities—though I am not ashamed to say that that is a point of view which appeals very much to me—but from the most practical point of view, not only of the future development of the civic life of Scotland but the practical point of view which is occupying all our minds at present, namely, the industrial development of Scotland—where we have a Bill which presents such advantages as this Bill does to the life of Scotland, then I hope my hon. Friends will feel it would have been wrong to have risked the possibility that we might lose the Bill this Session, and that they will join with us in facilitating its passage.


In view of what has fallen from the Secretary of State, and with the approval of the House and the consent of my Seconder, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.