HC Deb 18 October 1944 vol 403 cc2429-32

1.41 p.m.

Mr. Silkin

I beg to move, in page 17, line 4, at end, insert: (3) The powers of this Section shall not be exercised except in agreement between the local planning authority first mentioned in Sub-section (1) of this Section, and the local planning authority in whose area the land is situated. This is a manuscript Amendment, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I have another one which refers to the same matter.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

As they come in the same place perhaps the hon. Member would read both, and they can be taken together.

Mr. Silkin

My other Amendment is, in page 17, after new Sub-section (3), insert: The powers of this Section shall not be exercised unless the Minister is satisfied that development of the land by the planning authority in whose area the land is situated will be in conformity with any proposals submitted to the Minister by the local planning authority first mentioned in Sub-section (1) of this Section, and approved by him, and will achieve the object of those proposals. These formidable words can be explained simply. Clause 11, as it now stands, authorises the Minister to say to a local authority which desires to acquire land outside its area, "We shall not give the land to you, we shall give it to the authority in whose area the land is proposed to be acquired." That may be a perfectly reasonable thing to do, provided conditions are attached to it. In the first instance, the local authority which desires to acquire land outside its area is not doing it for fun. They are doing it for a specific purpose, to carry out the task which has been imposed on them by Statute. They may require that land for other purposes but the Minister may say, "You may need the land for your planning purposes, but we are not going to give it to you. We are going to give it to the other local authority." But the Minister has to be satisfied that the other local authority will, in fact, develop that land in the manner which the first local authority proposed to develop it; in other words, that the land will be so used regardless of ownership as to satisfy the requirements of the authority which was proposing to acquire it. If the Minister accepts that he will be meeting one of our objections.

The other Amendment proposes that he should not exercise this power except in agreement both with the local authority proposing to acquire it and the local authority in whose area the land was proposed to be acquired.. In other words, he ought to get the two local authorities together and secure their agreement. I have no doubt that in every reasonable case that agreement will be secured. Without these Amendments it looks as though this is merely an arbitrary power which the Minister is proposing to exercise.

Mr. Woodburn

I beg to second the Amendment.

1.45 p.m.

Mr. Morrison

I have not had time to consider this proposal in detail and I could not accept the words as they stand without examining them. I think the Amendment may have been proposed under some slight misapprehension of what may happen under Clause 11. The Minister would see to it that the land, whoever owns it, is developed in accordance with proposals which the Minister regards as desirable, but the point that occurs to me is that those proposals might not be exactly those submitted by the authority which in the first place applied to purchase the land. In other words, there may be two authorities after the same land and there may be a solution of their joint needs which is not that put forward by either of them. So I should not like this power to be limited in advance to an absolute agreement, such as I gather the hon. Member suggests, because I can well conceive cases of conflicting needs for the same land where it would be the duty of the Minister to settle the matter. But I am bound to say that, in envisaging the operation of the Clause, I cannot conceive it possible that the Minister would exercise his powers without the fullest consultation not only with the authority which asked for the land in the first place but also with the authority whose land it normally is, and it would have to be done in that way. I do not like to accept the Amendment without proper consideration nor do I like to turn down the idea without further examination, but, if the hon. Member lets me consider it between now and later stages of the Bill, I will see if there is anything that can be done.

1.47 p.m.

Captain Duncan (Kensington, North)

I hope my right hon. Friend will be careful, when considering it, about the word "agreement." He used the word "consultation." I am afraid that the effect of the Amendment, as I understand it from hearing it, would be seriously to delay the development not only inside but outside the first local authority's area also. I hope the hon. Member will not be responsible for causing any unnecessary delay in insisting on the word ".agreement."

Amendment negatived.