HC Deb 04 May 1949 vol 464 cc1182-4

Lords Amendment: In page 11, line 6, leave out subsection (1) and insert:

  1. "(1) Subject to the provisions of this section the power of a special road authority to acquire land under section thirteen of the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act, 1935, shall include power to acquire any land which in the opinion of the authority is required—
    1. (a) for the improvement of an existing road which is included in the route of the special road but has not been transferred to the authority by an order under this Act;
    2. (b) for the purposes of any order made in relation to the special road under section three of this Act; or
    3. (c) for the provision of service stations or other buildings or facilities to be used in connection with the construction of the special road or the use or maintenance thereof.
  2. (2) A special road authority shall not be enabled by virtue of this section to acquire otherwise than by agreement any land lying more than two hundred and twenty yards from the middle of the special road or, where the land is required for the construction, improvement or alteration of any other road, from the middle of that other road."

11.15 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. James Callaghan)

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

Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary for an explanation in regard to the interpretation of the Amendment. Briefly speaking, the Clause is to give additional powers of acquiring land for special roads to a special roads authority and the question I wish to ask is as to the extent of the powers given under this new Amendment. I do not think there is any doubt that the new form of the Clause is preferable to the original Clause as it stood in the Bill when it left this House, but I am in substantial doubt as to the real limitation, if any, of the powers which a special roads authority will have under Clause 10 (1, c). If I direct the attention of the House to the terms, hon. Members will see the reason for my inquiry. The new Clause is to enable a special road authority to acquire land for the provision of service stations or other buildings or facilities to be used in connection with the construction of the special road or the use or maintenance thereof. The special road authority would have power to acquire land for the provision of service stations to be used in connection with the construction and, generally speaking, the service of a special road. One would visualise from that something in the nature of dumps of road materials or places for roadworking machinery, or a similar type of building, but the initial use referred to in the Clause is substantially enlarged by the subsequent words, or other buildings or facilities. The land can be used not only in connection with the construction of a special road or its maintenance, but also in connection with the use of a special road. The original rather limited words are extended to read, for the provision of facilities to be used in connection with the use thereof. That seems to me to be exceedingly wide. It might go as far as the provision of land for the building of hotels, and even cinemas—in case one wants to rest and refresh oneself physically while using the road—or for any other cognate purpose. Therefore I think we should have some indication from the Parliamentary Secretary as to the intention behind the use of these words. I appreciate that not even he can tell us what definition the law courts, if called upon to do so, might put upon these words.

The second matter is, for whom, or by whom, will the service stations or other buildings or facilities be operated when the land on which they are built has been acquired by the Special Roads Authority. Are these buildings, etc., for which the land has been acquired to be used by the Special Roads Authority which has the power to acquire the land, or are they to be used by the hon. Gentleman's Department or by any other authority; or is it open to anyone, for instance, myself or you, Mr. Speaker, to come along to the Special Roads Authority and say, "I consider that there is a nice site there for a cinema or for a petrol station or for something else, and I shall be grateful if you will com- pulsorily acquire the land so that I can utilise it for that purpose"? I do not think the ultimate ownership of the buildings to be put on the land is clear, and I think we are entitled to some observations from the Parliamentary Secretary upon these two aspects of the matter.

Mr. Callaghan

The Amendment which has been put down in fact does not concern subsection (1, c), to which the hon. Member has referred. If he will look at the original Bill, he will see that the words which are repeated in the Lords Amendment are the same as those in the original Bill, upon which we had a discussion in Committee on 7th December. The Amendment affects not subsection (1, c), at all, but the amount of land, or the width of land, which can be acquired compulsorily by the Special Roads Authority.

Under the original Bill, the Special Roads Authority could acquire, otherwise than by agreement, land lying more than 220 yards from the centre of the road. The purpose of the Amendment is to alter that so that the Road Authority can acquire only, otherwise than by agreement, if the land is within 220 yards of the centre of the road, and can acquire beyond that distance only by agreement. The other parts of the Clause are not altered, and the discussion which we had in committee on 7th December upon the point which the hon. Member has raised really has not been widened. It would be incorrect to suggest that we had widened the provision taken in the original Bill. But I can briefly repeat the assurance given by my right hon. Friend the Minister on that occasion, that this is no backdoor way of securing an extension of municipal trading, or something of that sort. That was not his intention. The words have not been altered from those in the original Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to. (Several with Special Entries.)

Resolved "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Pearson.]

Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-six Minutes past Eleven o'Clock.