HC Deb 29 April 1958 vol 587 cc299-301

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Amery

I beg to move, in page 15, line 22, after "chattels", to insert or would, but for subsection (7) of this section, have been entitled to a remedy for the breach of a covenant or agreement prohibiting or restricting the taking of that action". I think it will be for the convenience of the House if we discuss this Amendment with the following one, in page 15, line 24.

These two Amendments to Clause 10, standing in the name of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air, are designed to meet the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington) in the discussion in Committee. My hon. Friend then inquired whether someone having a favourable covenant would receive compensation if the covenant were abrogated. Under subsection (5), as originally worded, compensation would be payable where the covenant amounted to an interest in the land in question—where, for example, the owner of the land had made his covenant with a reservation that, say, the timber on property leased by him would have to be preserved. In that case, there would be a reversionary interest in his favour and this could be compensated under the heading of "depreciation on value of land".

Difficulty arises where the covenant does not constitute an interest in the real sense of that word, when the person having the benefit of the covenant is neither the owner nor occupier of land on which stands the obstruction which has to be removed. This might happen in the case of a former owner selling the land and losing all title to it. Nevertheless, he has imposed a restrictive covenant that certain trees which afford shelter and privacy to retained land shall not be cut down. If the trees were then cut down as the result of an order under Clause 10, this former owner would lose his shelter and privacy but, having no interest in the land on which the trees stood, he would not as the Clause stands be entitled to compensation for the loss of his shelter and privacy under subsection (5). Nor as the result of subsection (7) would he have a remedy in damages against the person who infringed the covenant. This seemed to us on examination to be unfair, and the purpose of the Amendment is to enable the Minister to pay compensation in the case I have described.

We are grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot for having drawn our attention to this point.

Sir F. Soskice

I agree entirely with the Minister that his Amendment seems to cover a case which was not provided for, which I understand from his speech is one in which the person who is damnified cannot complain of an infringement to an interest which he has in land but can complain of being deprived of the advantages of a covenant which otherwise he would be able to enforce.

It seems to us on this side of the Committee that this is a case in which injustice might have been done as the Bill stood originally, and it seems to me, and I hope to my hon. Friends, that the change which the Government propose prevents the possibility of such an injustice. Speaking for myself, therefore, I advise my hon. Friends to support the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 15, line 24, after "disturbance", insert: or in respect of the loss of that remedy".—[Mr. Amery.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.