HC Deb 24 July 1950 vol 478 cc175-9

10.59 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Miss Herbison)

I beg to move, That the Town and Country Planning (Development Charge Exemptions) (Scotland) Regulations, 1950, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12th July, be approved. These Regulations are similar in content to those which the House has just discussed and agreed to.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Angus, North and Mearns)

We on this side of the House have upon occasions thought it our duty to criticise His Majesty's Government for following too slavishly the precedents set in English and Welsh legislation, but I think we would have just cause for complaint upon this occasion if the Scottish Office had not followed the precedent set by the Minister of Town and Country Planning in England and Wales. We welcome these Regulations. We think that perhaps they do not go far enough in certain respects, but we welcome them none the less. For my part, I am glad to see that they include many of the alterations for which I asked in a speech that I made in the House in opening the Debate on 13th June last.

There are one or two things that we cannot, perhaps, understand. It is still not possible to change a wholesale repository to a warehouse, or vice versa, without the liability to development charge. It is still not possible to change from a cinema to a dance hall without incurring the liability to development charge. But these are matters of detail, and broadly we welcome the Regulations.

I am not inviting the hon. Lady to make another speech, but I hope that she will look at paragraph 17 when it comes to be worked in practice. Under this paragraph a local authority is allowed to erect things like 'bus shelters, cattle troughs, or public drinking fountains without incurring liability to development charge. So is a public undertaker, but a private individual is not. There are many cases in rural areas in Scotland where landowners or farmers, with the approval of the local authorities and after securing planning permission, have erected small 'bus shelters for the benefit of children in the neighbourhood waiting in inclement weather for the school 'bus.

That is a desirable thing, and the erection of these shelters, subject to the appropriate planning permission being obtained, should be encouraged and not discouraged. I hope that some means—no doubt the Lord Advocate could suggest some legal method—can be found whereby local authorities or the statutory undertakers can act as agents for private individuals desiring to make these developments without any liability for development charge arising. Again, this is a matter of detail in Regulations which, broadly speaking, we welcome.

11.4 p.m.

Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Angus, North (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) in his remarks about the similarity of these Regulations to those for England. There are eight pages to the Scottish Regulations and only six in the English ones. Perhaps the hon. Lady could indicate what advantages we are getting.

The only point I wish to take up relates to the general line of argument that there has been too slavish a copying of the English pattern without regard to Scottish circumstances. There is no use in having special legislation for Scotland unless, if there are distinctions, they are set forth in the appropriate Regulations. Paragraph 3 (3) of the Schedule contains a reference to something which I know does not exist in Scotland, and I challenge the Lord Advocate or the Joint Under-Secretary to tell me where it exists. I know of no such place in Scotland as a cat's-meat shop. It is a typical English characteristic, and the introduction of these places is an irrelevancy as far as Scotland is concerned.

That is slavish copying under the influence of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, and the hon. Lady will find it difficult to give me any address of such a place, if I should want it. This new departure is unsought, undeserved and undesirable. If these are the greater freedoms she wishes to confer on us, I beg her to think again, and to read Scottish history.

The other odd reference occurs in paragraph 10 (3), which contains the right to erect a stand for a milk churn without development charge. There will be much joy in the agricultural community tonight when they know that this new freedom is being conferred upon them. Paragraph 10 (3) says that in future the erection and other alteration of roadside milk churn stands will be free from any development charge. This is a great achievement, and I congratulate the hon. Lady on conferring it on Scotland. Her name will be long remembered as that of the hon. Lady who freed milk churn stands in Scotland.

11.6 p.m.

Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)

The first paragraph of these Regulations states: In exercise of the powers conferred on me by proviso (b) to subsection (2) of section 66 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act, 1947(a), and of all other powers enabling me in that behalf I hereby with the consent of the Treasury make the following Regulations:— Can the hon. Lady inform the House what those powers are? I personally am in doubt about what they may be.

I would also like to call attention to the words in paragraph 17. It had always been my impression that where farmers introduced water into their fields, it was free of development charge, and in fact received assistance from the Department of Agriculture to the extent of half the cost. But now I am in doubt whether this is so, because I find in the paragraph that the erection and construction by local authorities or statutory undertakers of horse troughs is free from development charge, which would seem to imply that where these are put in by private persons they are subject to the charge. Could the hon. Lady explain whether private persons putting water into their fields for the use of their cattle and horses can do so without this charge?

11.8 p.m.

Miss Herbison

Few points have been raised by Scottish Members. The one raised by the hon. Member for Angus, North (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) was a fair one. I find, on taking advice, that the type of case of a private person putting up a shelter for children would attract no development charge, and that if it did it would be covered by a local authority or possibly by a statutory Undertaker; but it certainly would not attract development charge. In regard to the first words, I am informed that they appeared in previous Regulations, and there does not seem to me to be any important reason for them other than making these Regulations apply with the others. These 1950 Regulations really combine all other Regulations made previously, and for that reason the statement has been put in the first paragraph.

Commander Galbraith

But what are the "other powers"? Can the hon. Lady tell us? If there are no other powers these words should not be repeated just because they have been in some previous Regulations.

Miss Herbison

They refer to the general regulation-making powers that we have under the Act. The only other point that has been raised which is important is the one on development charge to farmers. The case is that all agricultural developments are really free of development charge.

Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)

Is the hon. Lady certain about the accuracy of the information she has given? She said these Regulations are bound up with earlier Regulations, and are to be read with them. But these Regulations revoke the earlier Regulations, and must be regarded as standing on their own feet. Therefore, the query of my hon. and gallant Friend still surely stands: what are the other powers to which reference is made? We understand the powers in the Act, but what are the "other powers"? I am bound to say in fairness to the Scotsmen that I ought to have made the same query on the English Regulations. We should be interested to know what are the other powers, both in Scotland and in England, to which reference has been made. We believe that there are not any other powers.

Miss Herbison

I explained that these covered the general powers under the Act for the making of Regulations.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved: That the Town and Country Planning (Development Charge Exemptions) (Scotland) Regulations, 1950, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12th July, be approved.