HC Deb 26 October 1966 vol 734 cc1204-8
Mr. Speaker

The next Amendment selected is Amendment No. 207: In page 11, line 25, after "and", insert "(d)", with Amendment No. 208: In page 11, line 31, at end insert, and the provisions of paragraph (d) of the foregoing subsection shall not apply where a notice of objection to severance has been served on the Commission in terms of the said Schedule", to which Amendment No. 207 is a paving Amendment.

Mr. Baker

In view of the fact that Amendment 207 is a minor drafting Amendment and Amendment 208 follows on, may I have your permission, Mr. Speaker, to move it formally?

Mr. Speaker

The correct thing to do would be to speak to the second Amendment while moving the first.

Mr. Baker

I am much obliged for your guidance. I beg to move, in page 11, line 31——

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member misunderstood me. He will move the first Amendment and in moving it will speak to the greater Amendment to which it is a paver.

Mr. Baker

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. I beg to move Amendment No. 207: in page 11, line 25, after "and" to insert "(d)."

The difficulties in Scots law practice vis-à-vis this Bill do not end with the Amendment I have just moved, because under Schedule 3 the provision for service of notice of objection to severance may result in variation of the land to which title is to be obained. This may occur in one or other of a number of ways. If the Land Commission acts under paragraph 6(a) of Schedule 3, the Commission shall serve notice on him withdrawing the notice to treat deemed to have been served on him in respect of his interest in the land proposed to be severed, or be deemed to have so acted under paragraph 7, which states: If the Commission do not take action in accordance with the last preceding paragraph within the period allowed by that paragraph, then at the end of that period they shall be deemed to have acted in accordance with subparagraph (a) of that paragraph. Notice to treat is thereby dropped altogether and therefore a recording in the general register of the Court of Sasine must also be dropped. Unless this is done, title to land will be obtained by operation of the general law despite the fact that the Bill provides that it should not be. That is one of the main reasons for moving this Amendment. Recording will have to be prevented, which it is not at present. The House may wonder why. The answer is to be found in the addendum to Clause 10(a) which does not amend subsection (2). In essence, therefore, it is necessary to prevent the recording or the Commission will obtain the title specified in the general vesting declaration.

Schedule 3(6, b) provides that the Commission shall: serve notice on him that the general vesting declaration shall have effect, in relation to his interest in the land proposed to be severed, as if the whole of that land had been comprised in the declaration (and in the compulsory purchase order, if part only of that land was comprised in that order), We shall be wanting a title to the land which is not covered in the general vesting declaration, and this is simply not good enough for the General Register of Sasines of Scotland.

The alternative would be to provide for the recording of the general vesting declaration in addition to any notice under paragraph 6(b) of Schedule 3. Clearly it is better to start afresh with a new general vesting declaration. If any variation results from the remit to the Lands Tribunal under paragraph 6(c) of Schedule 3, which reads, refer the notice of objection to severance to the Lands Tribunal and notify him that it has been so referred", the general vesting declaration then becomes superseded, and it should then be redrawn afresh if the tribunal is to make a change under paragraph 11 of Schedule 3.

I should emphasise that we are dealing with cases of severance only. These Amendments, if accepted, would stop recording of general vesting declarations whenever a question of notice of objection to severance arises. Thus, the existing provisions are unworkable as they stand, and if they reach the Statute Book in their present state, I am advised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Wylie), they will make complete nonsense of land registration in Scotland.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

For the benefit of our English colleagues, I should explain that recording is a Scottish speciality and there is no analogous step in England. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Baker) and his hon. Friends, particularly the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Pent-lands (Mr. Wylie), for drawing our attention to what is undoubtedly a defect in the Bill, but their attempt to remedy it does not go quite far enough. There are at least three other Amendments which may have to be considered if we are to take the logic of the hon. Member's argument to its proper conclusion.

The defect to which the Amendment calls attention is the lack of any provision for delaying the recording of a vesting declaration when a notice of objection to severance has been served. In order to cure this defect, however, we should have to do at least two things. It is necessary to deal with the case in which the objection is upheld and also the case in which the objection is rejected. What is required is that the recording of the declaration should follow the determination by the arbiter of the objection, and in the case where he decides that severance is not to be permitted and the Commission proceed to acquire a larger area than that which they had originally proposed to acquire, a description of the whole area will be substituted for the description first contemplated.

I am advised that to achieve this we should have to promote Amendments to Clause 10(4) and to paragraphs 5 and 11 of Schedule 3. I am prepared to advise my right hon. Friend that these Amendments should be made. I am grateful to hon. Members for pointing this out. It makes a better Bill. While I do not suggest that we should accept this Amendment at this stage, I hope that hon. Members are satisfied by my assurance.

Mr. Baker

The hon. Member speaks of a larger area. Do I understand that although a larger area is taken, any of the individual parts of it will still be recorded in detail?

Dr. Mabon

That will have to be dealt with as in the matter which we discussed previously—how we should proceed. I said that I accepted the last Amendment in principle subject to consultation with the Lord Advocate as to the precise insertion to be made. We shall take advantage of another place, perhaps, to make the Amendment.

Mr. Speaker

In view of what has been said, does the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Baker) wish to withdraw the Amendment?

Mr. Baker

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.