§ Lords Amendments again considered.
§ Question again proposed, That the consideration of the Lords Amendments in the Title, lines 8, 10 and 14, be postponed till after the consideration of the subsequent Amendments.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I was explaining to the House that it seemed to me that a good deal of time might be saved by not accepting the proposals which the Minister has made, that consideration of these Amendments be postponed, because we might decide that we might not wish to enlarge the scope of the Bill in this way.
I need not detain the House much longer on that, but I would like for a moment to give an illustration of what I mean. Of the three Amendments to the Title which are proposed, the first, relating to the word "and", is, no doubt, in the strictest sense of the word, purely drafting, but the other two are not. They are substantial and independent of one another.
To illustrate my argument, I pick out only one of them, although the point would equally apply to both. I pick out the second one, in line 10, after "Acts". insertand as to enforcement notices thereunder".Unless at some time or other we amend the Title of the Bill to introduce those words, we shall not be entitled—because the scope of the Bill as originally drawn did not enable us to do it—to deal with enforcement notices.
It may be asked why that is so serious a matter. It is a serious matter for 1616 this reason, among others. I need mention only one reason for the purposes of my present argument. In this House, we have always regarded it as, although within our power, highly undesirable to have retroactive alterations in the criminal law. That is what the other place wishes us to do and the Minister is asking us at this moment to postpone consideration of it.
How does it work? A local authority serves an enforcement notice on a man against whom it alleges that he is using his land in a way not authorised by the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. The man takes the enforcement notice to his solicitor, and his solicitor says, "You can ignore this. There have been recent decisions which provide that although you may not have applied for, and may never have obtained, actual permission to use the land in the way that is now complained of, nevertheless there was a general order which permitted you to do it for twenty-eight days in any one year. The enforcement notice that has been served upon you alleges that the use is unauthorised, and that you never had permission for it, but the courts have decided that an enforcement notice in that form is invalid because it is untrue. It alleges that there was no permission when in fact there was permission." So the man goes away with that advice and ignores the enforcement notice. If he is prosecuted by the local authority on the basis of existing law he must be acquitted, and he will be. The advice given to him about the existing law is correct advice.
But what is proposed by the Amendment? It is proposed to alter that, so that such an enforcement notice, although invalid under the present law, will be valid after we pass this Measure. That might be all right; it is a matter for consideration on principle, but we are invited to make that retrospective.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
We are now deciding whether or not to postpone the Amendments to the Title. The Amendments which will cause the amendment, if necessary, will come later.
§ Mr. Silverman
I appreciate that, and I have no desire to abuse the process of 1617 the House or to duplicate discussion of the matter. I was only illustrating my argument that there are some Amendments of such a character that the House might prefer to deal with them here and now rather than in their proper place on the Notice Paper and then alter the Title at a later stage.
It would be much better if the Minister would tell us now which Amendments require these Amendments of the Title. Let him explain those to us and tell us, in general outline, why they are thought desirable. When we have heard his explanation we may decide to postpone it, or to alter the Title now. It might
|5||"(6A) In determining, for the purposes of the issue of a certificate under this section, whether planning permission for any particular class of development might, in the relevant circumstances, reasonably have been expected to be granted in respect of any land, the local planning authority shall not treat development of that class as development for which planning permission would have been refused by reason only that it would have involved development of the land in question (or of that land together with other land) otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the development plan relating thereto."|
§ Read a Second time.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment, in line 5, to leave out "not".
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think it will be convenient to consider, together with this Amendment, the following three Amendments, in line 7, leave out "by reason only that" and insert "if"; in line 10, at end add:Provided that if, by reason of special circumstances which have arisen since those provisions applied to the land in question, the local planning authority consider that permission for development of the land in question (or of that land together with other land) otherwise than in accordance with those provisions might, in the relevant circumstances, reasonably have been expected to be granted, the local authority may certify accordingly, setting out the special circumstances in their certificate.and in line 10, at end add:Provided that if, by reason of special circumstances, the local planning authority consider that permission for development of the land in question (or of that land together
§ be that we would save a considerable amount of time. I hope that the Minister will appreciate the spirit in which I make this proposal to him. It is wrong to alter our criminal law retroactively, and I do not think that in this case we should be invited to do that first and then to consider whether to amend the Title later.
§ Question put and agreed to.