HC Deb 12 April 1957 vol 568 cc1437-40

Amendments made: In page 3, line 15, at end insert: and at the end of the said subsection (3) the following words shall be inserted:— '(k) in a case where the local authority, being satisfied—

  1. (i) that more than three-quarters of the aggregate length of all the frontages on both sides of the street, or of a part of the street not less than one hundred yards in length and comprising the whole of the part on which the frontage of the building will be, consists, or is at some future time likely to consist, of the frontages of industrial premises, and
  2. (ii) that their powers under the appropriate private street works code are not likely to be exercised in relation to the street. or to that part thereof, as the case may be, within a reasonable time,
by resolution exempt the street, or that part thereof. from this section. (4) Where a sum has been paid or secured under this section by the owner of land in relation to a building proposed to he erected thereon, and thereafter a notice is served under the last preceding subsection exempting the building from this section, or a resolution is passed under paragraph (k) of that subsection exempting the street or part of a street on which the building will have a frontage from this section, the local authority shall refund that sum to the person who is for the time being owner of the land or shall release the security, as the case may be. Where the said sum was paid, and after the payment thereof but before the service of the said notice or the passing of the said resolution, as the case may be, the land in respect of which it was paid was divided in two or more parts each having a frontage on the private street in question, the sum shall be treated for the purposes of this subsection as apportioned between the owners thereof according to their respective frontages'". In page 5, in line 29, at end insert: (5) In section six of the principal Act, the words "and the payment has not been refunded, or the security released or realised, under subsection (4) of section one of this Act, or under section four thereof." shall be inserted at the end of subsection (1).—[Mr. Royle.]

Mr. Maddan

I beg to move, in page 5, line 42, at the end to insert: (c) the following subsection shall be inserted after subsection (4):— (4A) Where this Act is in force in any area by virtue of an order made under this section, references in this Act to the commencement thereof shall be construed, in relation to that area, as references to the coming into operation of the order This Amendment particularly concerns the application of the 1951 Act to rural districts. Whereas the Act gives power to the Minister, on the application of a county council, to allow rural district to apply it in areas or parts of areas, for various reasons this has not been at all widely done. One of the effects of the Amendment will be to improve that position. The principal Act automatically applied to boroughs, apart from the Metropolitan boroughs, and urban districts in England and Wales, but it did not automatically apply to rural districts.

Section 9 enables the Minister of Housing and Local Government, on the application of a county council and after consultation with the rural district council, to apply the Act to a rural district council by order. There were initial difficulties connected with the operation of the Act, and I think I am right in saying, if I can read this into his acts, that the Minister seems to have been reluctant to apply the Act in its present form to these rural areas, and with very few exceptions the Act has not yet been operative in rural districts.

I think the reason for those difficulties has now been largely dealt with owing to the co-operation between local authorities, on the one hand, and the builders, on the other hand, and when the present Bill passes into law I hope that more applications will be made to the Minister and that he will make more orders under Section 9 (2) of the principal Act. I know that the Kent County Council has already made such an application in respect of certain rural districts of the County of Kent.

In view of the long lapse since the Act was passed, there would, however, be serious difficulties if it were suddenly to sweep into operation in the rural districts without the Amendment being accepted. Section 1 (3) of the principal Act lists ten, and with the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle), which we have incorporated, eleven, cases where the general requirement as to the payment or securing of sums in respect of the cost of the street works is not to apply. There are three particular cases in paragraphs (c), (g) and (h) where there is a reference to the commencement of the Act. In other words, the question whether these exceptions will or will not apply is made dependent on the situation which existed when the 1951 Act came into operation, which was 1st October, 1951, and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.

In particular, Section 1 (3, c), which is the first of these paragraphs, provides exemption in cases where plans for the building have been deposited with the local authority in accordance with building byelaws before the commencement of this Act. Undoubtedly the intention of the Act was to exempt any cases which were in hand or where the plans had been passed at the time the Act came into operation. If the Act were now applied in its present form to a rural district this intention would in many cases be frustrated, for in no case where buildings are still to be erected would the subsection apply unless the plans had been deposited before 1st October, 1951. If we are to hope that the intention of the 1951 Act is now to be fulfilled in the rural districts, we should take the oportunity of bringing the situation up to date.

There will be very serious practical difficulty in the operation of Section 2 (1) of the Act which provides: In any case to which the preceding section applies, the local authority shall, within one month after the plans of the building deposited in accordance with building byelaws have been passed, serve a notice on the person by or on whose behalf the plans were deposited requiring the payment or the securing under the preceding section of a sum specified in the notice. It is obvious that the local authority could not comply with this provision where plans have been passed, perhaps, in 1954, and yet the owner would be committing an offence if he commenced to erect the building prior to paying or securing a sum in respect of the street works. This Amendment is therefore important.

There is another particular aspect to which I should draw the attention of the House and it arises from paragraphs (g) and (h) of Section 1 (3) of the principal Act. Both these paragraphs contain exemptions which depend on the extent of building development which had already taken place at the time of the commencement of the 1951 Act. In many cases it would now be very difficult to say whether on 1st October, 1951, the street was built up to the extent required for the exemptions, and the fact that it has since been built up to some extent could be taken into account only if this Amendment is passed.

In short, the purpose of the Amendment is to overcome difficulties in operating Section 1 (3) of the 1951 Act in the rural districts and also in the Isles of Scilly. It is obviously desirable that where those references are made in Clause 1 (3) in paragraphs (c), (g) and (h) to the passing of the Act, we should amend that to say that they will take effect from the date when the Act was made to apply to the particular rural district in question. By making it workable we shall be forwarding the principle and intention of the promoters of the 1951 Act.

Mr. Richard Body (Billericay)

I beg to second the Amendment.

Clause 5 seems to grow longer and longer as this Bill proceeds and, finally, it will probably be about ten times longer than it originally was. But each Amendment has been an improvement, and this Amendment will be of great value to rural districts. It will enable them to apply the provisions of the 1951 Act with greater advantage.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Royle

I beg to move, in page 6, line 1, after "Act," to insert:

  1. (a) after the definitions of "building bye-laws" and "owner" there shall be inserted the following definition—
    • "'industrial premises' means premises used or designed or suitable for use for the carrying on of any industrial process within the meaning of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, and includes premises used for purposes ancillary to the carrying on of any such process;
  2. (b)"
As I have already stated, the Amendment is the one which defines industrial premises within the terms of this Bill.

Mr. Parker

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.