§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
I beg to move, in page 5, line 32, at the end, to insert:unless the land is land to which Section eighty of the said Act of 1947 applies.The Committee may recall that under Clause 7 of the Bill, in assessing the rental compensation which will be paid 1918 the development values are excluded. We had some discussion upon that in the earlier stages in Committee and arguments were put forward with regard to the matter, but I think it was overlooked by the Solicitor-General in drafting the Bill that, in fact, under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 there is still one category of land—which we who were on that Committee commonly referred to as ripe land—where the owner would have no claim on the £300 million created under the Town and Country Planning Act for compensation for loss of development value.
If this Subsection of this Bill operates to deprive the owner of ripe land coming within Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act of the element in rental compensation due to development value, it is doing him an injustice in that he is automatically deprived by the Town and Country Planning Act—because he comes within Section 80—of any claim on the £300 million fund. Therefore, although this is rather a technical Amendment it is one of some importance. I move this Amendment in the hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman has been able to follow the arguments I have endeavoured to put and that he will except from the general application of this Clause which eliminates the development values from the rental compensation, this particular class, namely, those who are owners of ripe land coming within Section 80. If this Amendment is accepted it will do no more than to bring this part of the Bill into line with the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Frank Soskice)
I am sorry I did not hear the whole of the arguments advanced by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller), but I have only just come from another place where I had to be. I think I know the gist of the arguments he has presented to the Committee. The object of his Amendment is to remove what he conceives to be an inconsistency between Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act and Clause 7 of this Pill. My answer is this: I think the Amendment is based on a slight misconception of the effect of Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act as taken in conjuction with Clause 7 of this Bill.
1919 If the hon. and learned Member will look more closely at it—I am not suggesting that he has not already looked closely at it—I think he will find the position is this: Clause 7 imposes this restriction, if one looks at Subsection (2, b), in relation to land where the requisition is carried out before the appointed day for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning Act. The two provisions, therefore—Subsection (2, b) of Clause 7 and Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act—are really not dealing with the same period. Section 80 is dealing with the case where application is made for a certificate after the appointed day for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. Of course, until the appointed day one does not really know what the situation will be. Section 80 deals with dead-ripe land and with the case of a person who is able after the appointed day to satisfy the conditions set out under the Section, that is, to establish that there was the requisite building contract, or by-law application, and that the development value is attributable to the particular development expected to accrue.
The Clause and the Section are not dealing with the same situation. One envisages a state before the appointed day and the other a state after the appointed day. The hon. an learned Gentleman will no doubt ask what will be the position in the case of land which had been requisitioned before the appointed day but which remains under requisition at the time of the appointed day and thereafter. In the case of land of this sort there is nothing at all to prevent the owner of that requisitioned land from asking for Section 80 treatment and, if the appropriate conditions are shown to exist, Section 80 treatment can be given.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I have been following the arguments of the Solicitor-General. Surely in that case he will get a lower rate because of the elimination of the development value to which he is still entitled if he comes under Section 80?
§ The Solicitor-General
As from the appointed day his position under Section 80 will be exactly the same. That is the position of the land which remains under requisition, but if the land does not remain under requisition but is com- 1920 pulsorily acquired, he will still not suffer because, if the hon. and learned Gentleman will look at Section 51 (4) of the Town and Country Planning Act, he will see that the compensation that he gets on compulsory acquisition will include and reflect that development value. Therefore, the inconsistency upon which the argument is based does not exist at all. The Section and the Clause are dealing with different states of affairs and where the owner of the land finds himself still subject to the requisition when the appointed day comes, he can ask for Section 80 treatment. For these reasons I would submit that this Amendment is unnecessary.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am sorry the hon. and learned Gentleman was not here for the whole of my argument which I put very shortly. That may account for the fact that he has not met my point and I would like to put it quite shortly to him. Under Clause 7 of this Bill we are dealing with rental compensation. Under Clause 7 (2, b) we deduct from the rental compensation the development value of the land—the element due to the development value of the land. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree with that. It is quite true that that Subsection applies only where possession was taken before the appointed day; but the appointed day may be quite soon, and even before this Bill becomes an Act. Where after the appointed day the owner of the land brings himself within Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act, the owner has no claim on the £300 million fund, although he is entitled to his development value.
That is the effect, broadly, of coming within Section 80 of the 1947 Act, but what we are concerned with here is the question: What is the effect so far as rental compensation is concerned upon the man who, after the appointed day, brings his requisitioned land within the framework of Section 80 of the 1947 Measure? This is the point with which the hon. and learned Gentleman did not deal. My view is that, as this Clause now stands, that particular owner who, on the hypothesis I have put and the hon. and learned Gentleman has put, brings his property within Section 80, and is entitled to the development value, not having to pay anything in respect of 1921 that, but with no claim upon the £300 million fund, will be entitled only to get under this Bill rental compensation which ignores the development values which still remain to him. I think that is wrong.
Where I think the hon. and learned Gentleman missed the point is, that, in relating this Bill to Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act, I am dealing solely with the question of rental compensation. If under the Town and Country Planning Act, by which we take away from owners the development values that attach to their land, we leave this particular category who retain their development values, then I contend that, when their property is requisitioned before the appointed day under the Town and Country Planning Act, and when that requisition carries on after the appointed day, and they bring themselves within Section 80, there is no moral ground at all for paying for that particular limited category a rent which deducts in the assessment of the rent any element due to development values. I think it is a point which is worthy of careful consideration. I hope I have made it clear and that the hon. and learned Gentleman, even if he cannot accept the Amendment today, will say that he will look into it very carefully indeed, so as to bring this Clause of the Bill into line with the Town and Country Planning Act.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
I am not at all clear what the hon. and learned Gentleman means, although I am trying to follow his argument. Suppose development took place after requisition, is he arguing that that should be taken into account? Suppose development took place prior to requisition, would it not increase the rental charge?
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am afraid I have not made my point clear to the hon. Member. I am dealing only with the particular category who are specifically provided for in Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act. That category does not depend upon whether development has, in fact, at that moment taken place. The hon. Member will, perhaps, recollect that the marginal note of that Section is, "Land ripe for development before the appointed day." It is the ripeness of the land for development—and the various other conditions in the Section to which I need not refer—which 1922 brings that particular land quite out of the ordinary sphere of the Town and Country Planning Act. The owner of that land does not have to pay the sum for development, but also he is not entitled to any compensation out of the £300 million fund. He is taken out of the scope of that. That is why I say that, in assessing the rental compensation of requisitioned land that comes within Section 80, it is not right to take from that rental compensation the element due to development value.
§ The Solicitor-General
I certainly appreciate the point the hon. and learned Gentleman makes, and will bear in mind what he says. This Section 80 treatment relates to a particularly narrow category of cases; that is to say, there must be a building contract or by-law submission, and the development value must be mainly attributable to the prospect of carrying out of the building, and there must be the granting of a certificate. It is in that narrow category of case that what one can describe virtually as a special bargain comes into operation. The owner of the land forgoes his claim upon the £300 million fund, but he is allowed to carry out his development free of the development charge. That is the case where a certificate is granted after the appointed day.
What the hon. and learned Gentleman is asking is this. He is claiming that the owner of the land, before he is qualified by obtaining the certificate, and before any development has been carried out—should be treated more generously, in the matter of the rental compensation that he gets in respect of requisitioned land, than other owners of requisitioned land. There is, I respectfully submit, no justification for that. What case can be made for preferential treatment in the case of that owner? If he qualifies for his certificate and gets his special Section 80 treatment, a particular bargain—the counter-cancelling of his claim on the £300 million fund and his liability to development charge—operates in relation to him. But surely there can be no claim in the case of that owner, before the development has taken place which is envisaged in Section 80, to any special consideration in the matter of the rental compensation he receives.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. and learned Gentleman asks what ground is 1923 there for giving more generous treatment to the land which comes within Section 80 than to the ordinary class of owner whose land is requisitioned. The answer to that, I should have thought, is quite simple. First of all, from the ordinary class of owner whose land was requisitioned we deduct from the rental compensation—because he loses the development value—all element of rent which is due to development possibilities. We deduct that from the general class. That particular class of individual has his claim against the £300 million fund. We are paying him, having taken into account the effect of the Town and Country Planning Act, a lower rent than his land would normally fetch in the open market if it had development value. That is what Clause 7 (2, b) provides. That is all right in the ordinary class of case. The owner claims against the £300 million fund.
We have the anomaly, which the Amendment is seeking to correct, of the case of a man who brings his land within Section 80, who gets a certificate in due course under the Section because he cannot claim against the £300 million fund, who, when he gets the land back, executes development without paying development charge, but who, pending getting back his land, has not had the development value taken away from him by the Town and Country Planning Act. We have taken from him that element of rent attributable to the development value, as in the case of the other class; but unlike owners in the other class, he will not have the right of claiming compensation for that land from the £300 million fund. That is the point. The hon. and learned Gentleman asks, Why should he have different treatment? My submission is that the answer is obvious—because the other general class has this claim against the £300 million fund.
So far as the Town and Country Planning Act itself is concerned, the development charge is balanced against claim on the fund. Under this Bill, however, if a man's land is requisitioned, he is adversely affected and differently treated from the general class of case. While he is put in the general class for the purposes of this Bill, he has still got his development value and he gets no compensation for getting a lower rent, that is, the rent which would normally operate, 1924 and which would be regarded as a fair rent. That is the point. I do not want to press the Solicitor-General further upon this. I am quite certain that if he says he will give it very careful and detailed consideration—there is, in my opinion, real substance in the point—he will so do, and I should be quite willing not to take up further time, and to ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am not giving any sort of promise or undertaking beyond the promise I am always ready to give, namely, to consider, as I would quite independently of any promise, what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry. I will certainly do that. I must confess that at the moment I am not convinced by the argument, and beyond saying that I will read what the hon. and learned Member has said, I am not to be taken as holding out any sort of hope that we can do anything in the direction he has indicated.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I hope that prolonged study will induce the Solicitor-General to adopt a different attitude. Relying on the attention which I know he will give to the matter, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.