HC Deb 16 June 1958 vol 589 cc773-6
Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in page 39, line 27, to leave out paragraph (a) and to insert:

  1. (a) for any purpose in connection with, or preparatory to, an application for an authorisation under section one of this Act or the making or confirmation of any order under Part I of this Act; or
  2. (b) (where an authorisation under section one of this Act has been granted) for any purpose in connection with, or preparatory to, the carrying out of any authorised operations or the performance of any functions under Part I of this Act, not being a purpose for which a right of entry is exercisable apart from this paragraph; or.
This Amendment is necessary because the purposes for which the Board is empowered to enter land under Clause 36 (3) are not held to cover all the purposes for which it may, in fact, need to exercise that power if the Bill is passed. I can give one or two examples of things which are not covered. They include the conduct of informal negotiations with local authorities, the preparation of maps and plans which have to accompany the application for authorisation and the recording of the condition of the land. The Bill as at present drafted does not cover those purposes.

The Amendment is of fairly general character. We considered for some time whether it was possible to specify all these various purposes, but we found it impossible, in practice, to do so and we thought it better to draw up this more general Amendment. The list would have been fairly long and there might have been a danger of omitting some important points.

The Coal Board has, however, given the Government an assurance that it will be very careful in its use of these powers and will always try to make entry by agreement with the owners and occupiers before resorting to compulsory powers. When the Board enters land under this Clause it is only for the purpose of survey; it is not allowed to take borings or to sink trial pits. For that the Board has to have the direction of the Minister under Clause 36 (1).

If by any chance the Board causes damage or disturbance it will be liable to pay compensation under Clause 36 (7). This extension of the purposes—it is not an extension of the power—is necessary to carry out the procedure of the Bill, and in the light of what I have said I hope that the House will accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 39, line 38, leave out from "with" to "this" in line 40 and insert any of the provisions of the First, Second or Ninth Schedule to".—[Mr. Maudling.]

Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in line 45 after "thereon" to insert: or while remaining thereon". This Amendment carries out an undertaking given by the Parliamentary Secretary on the question of the authorisation of people to enter on land and of their producing evidence of their authority. The Bill as drafted provides only that a man should produce his evidence of authority on entry, and once he is on the land he cannot be asked under the Bill to produce his authority. It was pointed out in Standing Committee that this was inadequate.

Under the Amendment a man who enters on land and remains on it will have to produce his evidence of authority if challenged at any time. I suppose that it introduces a certain risk that people may constantly be asking for evidence of authority, but, in practice, this risk is very remote. This is a proper protection for the citizen, and I hope that the House will accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in page 40, line 1, to leave out "twenty-eight" and to insert "forty-two".

This, again, is put down as the result of an undertaking given by my hon. Friend that he would consider whether local planning authorities should be given more than 28 days' notice of prospecting projects in their area so that they would have adequate time to decide whether to issue a direction under the town and country planning general development order. That undertaking affects primarily the order amending the general development order which the Minister of Housing and Local Government is now preparing. To be consistent, however, it seems desirable to provide in the Clause that the notice of entry for the owners and occupiers of land which is entered for prospecting under compulsory powers should also be increased to 42 days, and this is done by the Amendment.

During the discussions in Standing Committee my hon. Friend undertook to ask the Coal Board for a specific assurance that it was the Board's intention to make administrative arrangements to notify other local authorities of prospecting projects. I can inform the House that the Coal Board has told us that it is willing to notify all local authorities, except parish councils, in whose areas this prospecting will take place, at the same time as it gives its formal notification to the local planning authority under the general development order. That, again, meets wishes expressed in Standing Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 40, line 6, leave out from "purpose" to end of line 7 and insert: of affixing on land any notice in accordance with any of the provisions of the First, Second or Ninth Schedule to this Act". —[Mr. Maudling.]

Mr. Maudling

I beg to move, in page 40, line 11, after "therein" to insert "(a)".

This Amendment should be taken with the following Amendment, in line 14. Together, they fulfil another undertaking given by my hon. Friend to the effect that the Board cannot enter on to land owned by statutory undertakers for opencast prospecting if those undertakers object, except with the authority of the appropriate Minister. This point was put to us in Standing Committee and we thought that it should be met. We feel that it has been fully met by these two Amendments.

Mr. MacDermot

The acceptance of this Amendment by the Government has, I understand, given great satisfaction to the undertakers, who were most concerned and who had approached us in the first place—in particular, I think, the water authorities. Once again, I should like to thank the Government for having taken the point.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 40, line 14, at end insert: and (b) if the land in question is held by the persons carrying on a statutory undertaking, or a sewerage undertaking or sewage disposal undertaking, or is held by a river board or other drainage authority, and those persons or that authority object to the proposed operations on the ground that the carrying out thereof would be seriously detrimental to the carrying on of their undertaking, or, in the case of a river board or other drainage authority, to the performance of their functions, the operation's shall not be carried out except with the consent of the appropriate Minister".

In line 30, at end insert: (10) Any reference in this section to Pant I of this Act, or to the First or Second Schedule thereto, includes a reference to the provisions of any enactment as applied by the said Part I, or by that Schedule, as the case may be.

In line 31, leave out subsection (10).—[Mr. Maudling.]