HC Deb 10 July 1939 vol 349 cc1992-4

Lords Amendment: In page 59, line 37, after "cease" insert: and any such directions may require the lands or buildings to be restored, to such extent as may be specified, to their former condition.

Mr. Speaker

I have to inform the House that this and the next Amendment raise questions of Privilege.

Sir J. Anderson

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

Under the Clause as it left this House the Minister had power to require the use of premises under the control of the local authority for Civil Defence purposes to be discontinued. The effect of the Amendment is to add to the powers of the Minister and to enable him to give directions requiring the land or buildings in question to be restored to such an extent as may be specified in the directions, or to their former condition, on ceasing to be used for Civil Defence purposes. The Amendment seems to be a reasonable one, and I think we should agree with it.

Lords Amendment: In page 59, line 40, insert: (4) In this Section the expression 'use, in relation to lands owned by or leased to a local authority, includes the erection of buildings and other structures thereon, the making or excavations therein, and the alteration and maintenance of any such buildings, structures or excavations, and, in relation to buildings owned by or leased to an authority, includes the alteration and maintenance of those buildings.

Sir J. Anderson

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

The purpose of this Clause is to clarify the position as to the power of local authorities—which is purely permissive—to erect buildings on lands under their control, to maintain them, or to make alterations in existing buildings. In substance the Amendment defines the expression "use."

1.31 a.m.

Mr. Ede

I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman why this Amendment is confined to the lands owned or leased by local authorities, because the Clause was made in the Committee stage to include any public utility undertakers also. I suppose it will be argued by the courts that inasmuch as in the earlier part of the Clause it says "local authorities or public utility undertakers" and as here it is strictly confined to local authorities this particular Sub-section will not apply to lands used by public utility undertakers. I do not know whether it was an oversight or whether it has been done by design, but it does seem highly desirable that, if possible, all classes of premises should be borne in mind. I am sorry I noticed it only as the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, but clearly it is an oversight on somebody's part that it does not include public utility undertakers as well as local authorities.

1.32 a.m.

Sir S. Cripps

Perhaps I may explain this to my hon. Friend. I think that the position as regards local authorities and public utility undertakers having power to use lands are probably slightly different. Whereas there might have been a doubt as to local authorities which have statutory powers to use land by way of making excavations or otherwise, there would not be any doubt as to public utility undertakers who have these powers already under the words "using their own land." They are using their own land and can use it under the existing powers.

Sir J. Anderson

I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Member.

Subsequent Lords Amendment, in page 61, line 18, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 61, line 19, at the end, insert: