Lords Amendment: In page 37, line 37, at end insert:
C.—(1) Any land belonging to a parish council which is not required for the purposes for which it was acquired or has since been appropriated may, subject to the following provisions of this section, be appropriated by the council for any other purpose approved by the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the parish meeting.
(2) In the case of a rural parish not having a separate parish council, any land belonging to the parish meeting which is not required
for the purposes for which it was acquired or has since been appropriated may, subject to the following provisions of this section be appropriated by the parish meeting for any other purpose approved by the Minister of Housing and Local Government.
(3) A parish council or parish meeting shall not create or permit any nuisance on land appropriated by them under this section.
(4) The appropriation of land by a parish council or parish meeting under this section shall be without prejudice to any covenant or restriction affecting the use of the land in their hands.
(5) In the case of an appropriation under this section of land acquired under any enactment or order incorporating the Lands Clauses Acts, any work executed on the land after the appropriation has been effected shall, for the purposes of section sixty-eight of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, be deemed to have been authorised by the enactment or order under which the land was acquired.
(6) Where, by virtue of any enactment other than this section, a parish council have power, with or without the consent of a Minister, or may be authorised, to appropriate land for any purpose, the power conferred by subsection (1) of this section shall not be exercisable by the council for that purpose in relation to that land.
(7) The power conferred by subsection (2) of this section shall not be exercisable by a parish meeting in relation to any land for any purpose for which the parish meeting are or could be empowered (subject to the requisite consents) to appropriate that land under section twenty-two of the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, 1919, or for which they may be authorised to appropriate that land under section forty-two of the Act of 1947.
(8) Subsections (1) and (2) of section twenty-two of this Act shall apply in relation to an appropriation of land by virtue of this section, as if parish councils and parish meetings were authorities to whom this Part of this Act applies.
(9) This section shall not apply to Scotland.
§ Mr. H. Brooke
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
This is a new Clause which gives to parish councils, and to parish meetings where there is no parish council, a general power to appropriate land, which is not required for the purpose for which it is already acquired or appropriated, for another purpose approved by the Minister and approved by the parish meeting. The Clause, as the House will note, follows the pattern of the general power in Section 163 of the Local Government Act, 1933, which is available to local authorities other than parish councils. Parish councils have got some limited powers of appropriation at present, but 1721 they are sometimes embarrassed by the absence of a general power.
I should like the House to know that this new Clause was moved into the Bill in response to a request from the National Association of Parish Councils. I am sure, with the feeling on both sides of the House towards parish councils, that though the House may wish to debate it, it will be willing in the end to agree with the Lords in this Amendment.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine
As I understand it, this involves the disposal of land and appropriation of land by parish councils to a use different from the use for which the land was originally acquired. The acquiring authority in most cases will have been the county council, one would conceive. We have land acquired by the county council, or one of the acquiring authorities for certain purposes, no doubt in association with the parish council, and the purpose of this provision is to deal with the case where it is desired to appropriate land for a different use. It is surely of some interest to the House to know in those circumstances whether the county councils are in agreement with the extended power of parish councils. Would the right hon. Gentleman indicate whether the county councils, or some body speaking generally on their behalf, have given approval to this change?
§ Mr. Brooke
I am certainly not aware of any opposition which has been raised to this Clause. The hon. and learned Member will appreciate that the power to appropriate given by this Clause is subject to the approval of the Minister. So there is Ministerial control.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that most of us in the House are likely to agree with the general purpose of this Clause and I think that on both sides of the House we have considerable sympathy with what I may call, I hope politely, the aspirations of parish councils and parish meetings expressed through their National Association, a body which has done a very great deal to help individual parish councils, but I must say that I really do not know why this Clause is here. If it had been intended to give additional powers to parish councils, really it ought to have been done in the course of the passage of the Bill through this House.
1722 11.15 p.m.
Moreover, we are being asked to do something which has only the most slender connection with town and country planning. As the right hon. Gentleman indicated, we are being asked to amend provisions relating to local government and occurring in local government Acts. It is quite wrong, however meritorious the purpose may be, that the Government, in another place, should slip in a Clause relating to another matter and bring it back here and give us no more opportunity for detailed consideration than one can have in the somewhat summary procedure appropriate to Lords Amendments.
I do not think that it is a reason for dividing against the Clause, but it is a reason for registering a protest against it. It does not do, at the end of a Parliamentary Session, for the Government to slip into a Bill something quite different and bring it here at a quarter past eleven, which is all the opportunity we have of considering it. It is we and not another place who represent the parish councils, the parish meetings, and the people in them, and it is not right that this kind of provision should be brought forward in this way. If, without wasting time on other contentious Measures, the Government had used their time to bring this provision forward earlier, it would not have met much opposition. It would have gone through quite quickly. It would have had proper consideration and would have been dealt with on proper lines.
§ Question put and agreed to.