HC Deb 12 June 1953 vol 516 cc631-7
5 In any highway for which there is a highway authority other than the local authority, or on land abutting on any such highway. The highway authority.
10 In any highway belonging to and repairable by any railway, dock, harbour, canal, inland navigation or passenger road transport undertakers and forming the approach to any station, dock, wharf or depot of those undertakers. The undertakers.
15 On any bridge not vested in the local authority or on the approaches to any such bridge. The authority or other person in whom the bridge is vested.
On any bridge carrying a highway over any railway, canal or inland navigation, or on the approaches to any such bridge, or under any bridge carrying a railway, canal or inland navigation over a highway. The railway, canal or inland navigation undertakers concerned.
20 In a position obstructing or interfering with any existing access to any land or premises abutting on a highway. The owner (as defined by the Public Health Act, 1936) of the land or premises."

Although this Amendment is long, it is in effect part of a drafting arrangement, and the only new point in it is a very small one, namely the insertion of the word "harbour" among the undertakers to cover some cases where harbour undertakers are not also dock undertakers.

Mr. Gibson

I beg to second the Amendment.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause" put, and negatived.

Mr. Hay

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in column 1, line 22, after "existing," to insert "or future."

The House will see that the particular section of the table concerned in this matter requires the consent of the owner

(3) A local authority shall consult the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis with regard to the position of any shelter or other accommodation which they propose to provide under this section in a highway in the metropolitan police district.

I think these words are perfectly clear. It is desired to give a right of consultation to the London Police with regard to the siting of these bus shelters or other accommodation of the kind.

Mr. Gibson

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

to be obtained if it is proposed to erect a shelter in a position which will obstruct or interfere with any existing access to land or premises abutting on the highway. It is in a slightly different form to a subsection which was adopted in Standing Committee by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and for which I am very grateful. But I feel on reconsideration of the matter since the Committee stage was concluded that we might also deal with the position of future means of access to property.

It is quite possible a bus shelter would be erected not only in a position where it might obstruct an existing means of access to land which adjoins the highway, but in a position where it might obstruct a future means of access. At some time when that land is developed there might easily be a bus shelter standing at the place which happens to be the only spot where a future means of access could be driven through to the new houses or buildings.

It is only a small point and I do not wish to develop it at any length, nor do I think the hon. and learned Gentleman would want me to. I hope it will be acceptable and perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will say whether he agrees with it so that there should be preservation of future means of access and bus shelters should not be erected in positions where they interfere or obstruct such future means of access without the consent of the owner of the land concerned.

Mr. Graeme Finlay (Epping)

I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

Mr. Mitchison

I very much appreciate the way in which this Amendment has been moved by the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay), but I am afraid I cannot accept it. If the hon. Member would consider the effect of it he might see there would be difficulties. There is no limit as to the future in this case. There is no indication of this being some place particularly suitable for an access. What happens is that the need to do something in certain circumstances is defined with reference to any future access to any land or premises abutting on the highway. I do not believe that it would be possible for anyone to work on a phrase of that sort, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will feel able to accept from me that it is impossible as a matter of practical sense to put those words in, and perhaps he will then withdraw the Amendment. We dealt with a rather similar point though not quite the same in Committee about accesses to dock undertakings or factories, and he will probably recall the arguments that were developed.

Mr. Hay

I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I have not gone so far in considering this matter as obviously the hon. and learned Gentleman has, and in the circumstances I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Hay

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in column 2, line 22, after "1936)," to insert: and, where the land or premises concerned consists of business premises and the owner is not the occupier, the occupier. This Amendment is somewhat similar to the one which was moved and discussed at some length in Committee and I will not detain the House with a long discussion on it now. However, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) gave a promise that he would look at it again although he gave no definite undertaking. Since then I have reconsidered the matter myself for this reason, that during the Standing Committee proceedings several hon. Members pointed out that it would be quite impossible if one required the consent of the occupier of the premises as well as the owner, if the two persons were not the same, before a bus shelter could be erected. It would be quite possible for one person occupying one room in a large block of flats to object to a bus shelter being put up outside. Therefore, the Amendment proposed in Committee was much too wide.

The basis upon which I moved that Amendment was not so much with regard to residential premises of that kind, but rather the difficulties of some business people. For example, I had in mind the situation of a parade of shops with a narrow pavement, where the erection of a bus shelter would cause inconvenience to the shopkeepers and it would seldom be the case that the occupiers of the shops would be the owners as well. Therefore, I felt that it would be necessary in such cases to get, not only the consent of the owner of the building in which the shops were situated, but also the occupier. That was how the matter came before a Standing Committee and the Amendment was then withdrawn.

12.45 p.m.

The House will now see that we have limited this matter to land or premises consisting of business premises. The purpose of the Amendment is clear. Its effect would be that the occupier would have to be consulted by the local authority before the bus shelter was erected and his consent would have to be obtained. Lest hon. Members might think that this would place an intolerable burden upon local authorities who wish to put up bus shelters and, to use a colloquialism, would make the game not worth the candle, I would point out again, as I pointed out in Standing Committee, that the later provisions of the Bill make it clear that consent to the erection of a shelter is not to be unreasonably withheld by the owner, and, if my Amendment were accepted, by the occupier, too. I believe that would act as a considerable deterrent to people who have no real and satisfactory reason for objecting to the erection of a bus shelter outside the premises.

I would point out again that it is not every shopkeeper who objects to a bus queue outside his shop. It might have certain commercial advantages. But there is a possible risk, and I see no reason why we should not bring the occupier into the matter if he is not the owner. I hope the House will accept that situation, otherwise I am afraid we may subsequently be frequently worried by constituents where these bus shelters are erected in front of business premises.

Mr. Finlay

I beg to second the Amendment to the (proposed Amendment.

Mr. Mitchison

I entirely agree with the clear account that the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) has just given of what happened in Committee. I did, in fact, look into the matter as I promised to do. I think I proposed to look into it sympathetically, but whether I did or not, I certainly considered it sympathetically. But I am afraid I must tell the hon. Member that the difficulties that I mentioned in Committee with regard to a block of buildings seem to be insuperable in a case of this kind. It is for that reason perhaps that we find that in similar legislation the occu-

piers' consent has not been required, and the hon. Member is recognising that difficulty in the case of a block of residential flats. For that reason the Amendment is confined to business premises.

If I remember rightly, Henley does not contain many very large blocks of business premises. I hope it will flourish, but whether or not that flourishing takes that particular form is a matter about which the hon. Member is more interested than I am. But they do exist in many large towns, and exactly the same difficulty is met in regard to blocks of business premises such as one finds in London or in other big cities as with a block of residential flats.

For this reason, I can only repeat what I said in Committee. In my view this is a case in which consent ought not to berequired. As the hon. Member himself indicated, one has to draw a line between the proper protection of property on the one hand and, on the other, not asking the local authorities to go through too many hoops when putting up a bus shelter. After all, they are elected and responsible bodies and, let us hope, it will be a good shelter. It is not a major undertaking and one cannot anticipate that in all cases at any rate it will make much difference to the houses behind it.

I am sorry that I cannot accept this Amendment and, since we had the principle of it ventilated in Committee and since I have carried out my undertaking to the hon. Member, though from his point unsuccessfully, I hope he may feel able to withdraw his Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 14; Noes, 49.

Division No. 185.] AYES [12.52 p.m.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Boyle, Sir Edward Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fort, R. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Mr. Hay and Mr. Finlay.
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Medlicott, Brig. F.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Champion, A. J. Grimond, J.
Beswick, F. Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Hastings, S.
Blackburn, F. Davies, Harold (Leek) Henderson, Rt. Hon A. (Rowley Regis)
Bowden, H. W. Deer, G. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr G. (Bristol, N.W.) Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Brockway, A. F. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Janner, B.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok) Jeger, George (Goole)
Johnson, James (Rugby) Morley, R. Taylor, Rt. Han. Robert (Morpeth)
King, Dr. H. M. Paget, R. T. Turner-Samuels, M.
Langford-Holt, J. A. Porter, G. Viant, S. P.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Rayner, Brig. R. Wallace, H. W.
MacColl, J. E. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Wells, William (Walsall)
Marples, A. E. Ross, William White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Mikardo, Ian Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Mitchison, G. R. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S) Williams, W R. (Droylsden)
Molson, A. H. E. Sparks, J. A.
Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. West and Mr. Gibson.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.

1.0 p.m.

Amendment made: In page 5, line 32, leave out subsection (4).—[Mr. Mitchison.]