HC Deb 26 October 1966 vol 734 cc1247-50
Mr. Willey

I beg to move Amendment No. 55, in page 41, line 7, leave out from 'who' to end of line.

Perhaps it would be convenient for this Amendment to be discussed together with Amendments Nos. 56 and 57.

These are drafting Amendments. We accepted an Amendment from the Opposition in Committee and these are drafting upon their Amendment.

Mr. Graham Page

I was pleased to allow through the series of Amendments with which we have just been dealing, because I had marked them as drafting Amendments. But this one is an alteration of an Amendment proposed by the Opposition in Committee and accepted by the Government. The Government have "mucked about" with our wording and I am not sure why. Perhaps the Minister could make it clear.

Mr. Willey

This is purely on the narrow point that the Amendment makes it clear that the Clause is concerned with the projects started and not with the ownership of the land on or after the appointed day.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In line 12, after 'begin' insert 'on or after the first appointed day'.

In line 14 at end insert 'on or after that day.'—[Mr. Willey.]

Mr. Willey I beg to: move Amendment No. 58, in page 41, line 18, after "section" insert "(a)".

I suggest that it might be convenient to discuss at the same time Amendments Nos. 59 and 60.

This also arises out of an Amendment in Committee and upon the assurance that I gave. This is the notice of intention to start a project having to be made within six weeks. I said that this was really a case of whether or not there was planning permission. If there was planning permission there was no ground for rejection. I accepted the point of view expressed by the Opposition and the Amendment gives effect to that undertaking.

Mr. Rossi

My hon. Friends and I are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for implementing the undertaking he gave in Committee. Our anxiety was to see that the developer was given as much flexibility as possible and that he should not be required to give at least six weeks' notice before he began his development. Six weeks appeared to us to be more a period of administrative convenience than anything else, particularly since getting the development built and removing all possible red tape from the developer is the important consideration. We are glad that the Government have accepted our idea.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Rossi

I beg to move, Amendment No. 192, in page 41, line. 19, to leave out "twelve months" and to insert "three years".

This is concerned with precisely the same point as the six weeks' notice, with which we were dealing in the last Amendment, except that here we wish to extend it at the other end of the time scale. The object is again one of flexibility and we ask that a developer be allowed to give up to three years' notice of his intention to development.

Many large developments are in the nature and scale of operations which need very long-term planning indeed and we believe that it should be open to a developer to get his plans in order at the earliest possible opportunity; and three years is not an unusually long period in the circumstances of very large-scale developments.

Mr. Skeffington

I regret that the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) moved the Amendment so briefly, although I will not take long to explain why I must resist it. Certain discussions I have had with developers have led me to believe that there is no excessive enthusiasm for the proposal. The Government take the view that the Amendment is unnecessary and would probably hinder the work of the Commission.

It is unlikely in many cases that anybody would know, three years before a project was started, what all its details would be. If they were known, the Commission would not want to begin assessing the levy based on facts which might completely change by the time the project came to fruition, or was even started, There would be no advantage to the Commission in doing so because the land values involved in such a project might completely change in the intervening three years.

3.15 a.m.

Furthermore, apart from this consideration, a notice given under this provision might have to be withdrawn and a fresh one substituted because of changed circumstances during such a period. We have considered this matter carefully and while not being unsympathetic to the proposal, because this is not a point of doctrine, we consider that because of the difficulties I have mentioned, as well as other practical difficulties, the period in the provision as drafted is reasonable and there would be no great advantage to a developer or the Commission in accepting the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: In page 41, line 19, leave out "or less than six weeks".

In line 20, at end insert: and (b) shall not have effect if it is served less than six weeks before that date, unless planning permission authorising the carrying out of the whole of the project is in force at the time when the notice is served".—[Mr. Willey.]