|(1) Regulations made under this section may specify descriptions of dispositions to which subsection (2), subsection (3) or subsection (4) of this section applies and provide that the making on or after the first appointed day of a disposition of any description so specified—|
|5||(a) if notified to the Commission in accordance with the regulations, or|
|(b) (in the case of a disposition of any description in relation to which the regulations so provide) whether it is so notified or not,|
|shall constitute an act or event designated for the purposes of Case F, as mentioned in section 27(2) of this Act.|
|10||(2) This subsection applies to any disposition which (not being a disposition to which section 29, section 30 or section 34 of this Act applies) is made for valuable consideration and fulfils either or both of the following conditions, that is to say,—|
|(a) that it renews or extends a tenancy;|
|15||(b) that it varies the terms and conditions of a tenancy by releasing or modifying a covenant or agreement whereby the development of any land comprised in the tenancy is restricted.|
|(3) This subsection applies to any disposition which (not being a disposition to which section 29, section 30 or section 34 of this Act or the last preceding subsection applies) is made for valuable consideration and is a disposition granting to a government department,|
§ office is entitled to delay the administration of an estate for three years but, as we have seen from a previous Schedule, the levy payer may have to pay up the levy right away.
§ The principle that runs all through this Schedule, which deals with death, bankruptcy, winding up and floating charges, is not only prejudicial to the levy payer but to the public in general. The levy is to take priority over all other debts. We have recognised for some time in tax law that taxes due from an insolvent estate, from a man who has gone bankrupt, or from a company that is being wound up have a certain priority against other debts, but as we have been told again and again that this levy is not taxation there seems to be no reason why it should not take its place with other creditors of the estate or in bankruptcy or in winding up.
§ We were told in the Standing Committee that the Commission is a commercial undertaking, so it should take its chance with other commercial undertakings and come in with others. There is no reason why it should not rank with the ordinary creditors of an estate. It should not pinch the assets and leave the other creditors with nothing to come to them. That is the principle running through the whole of the Schedule. We shall wish to deal with it in detail later, but there is something basically wrong in this continual favouritism of the Commission, even though it is to carry out commercial transactions.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.1095
|20||statutory undertakers or any other body a right to place, construct or maintain a main, pipe, cable, wire or other apparatus in, on, over or under land; and for the purposes of this section any instrument whereby such a right is compulsorily acquired by a government department, statutory undertakers or any other body shall be treated as a disposition granting that right for valuable consideration.|
|25||(4) This subsection applies to any disposition which (not being a disposition to which section 29, section 30 or section 34 of this Act applies) is made for valuable consideration and fulfils any one or more of the following conditions, that is to say—|
|(a) that it waives or modifies an obligation on a vassal imposed by a superior or mid-superior;|
|30||(b) that it imposes an augmentation of feu-duty;|
|(c) that it conveys the estate or interest of the proprietor of the dominium directum or of the creditor in a contract of ground annual.|
|35||(5) Regulations made under this section may specify enactments (other than those specified in section 33 of this Act) under which a right to compensation for depreciation of the value of an interest in land can accrue, and provide that the accrual on or after the first appointed day of a right to compensation under an enactment so specified, in so far as it is a right to compensation for such depreciation,—|
|(a) if notified to the Commission in accordance with the regulations, or|
|40||(b) (in the case of a right accruing under an enactment in relation to which the regulations so provide) whether it is so notified or not,|
|shall constitute an act or event designated for the purposes of Case F, as mentioned in section 27(2) of this Act.|
|(6) Where levy is to be charged in respect of—|
|45||(a) a disposition of a description specified by regulations made in accordance with subsection (1) of this section, or|
|(b) a right to compensation under an enactment specified by regulations made in accordance with subsection (5) of this section,|
|the levy shall be charged at the prescribed rate on an amount determined in such manner as may be prescribed by the regulations.|
|50||(7) Regulations made under this section shall be of no effect unless they are approved by a resolution of the Commons House of Parliament.—[Mr. Willey.]|
§ Brought up, and read the birst time.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
I think that it would be for the convenience of the House if with this new Clause we discussed the Amendments standing in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon): In line 3, after 'after', insert:'the date of approval by the resolution mentioned in subsection (7) of this section but not before'.In line 13, at end add:'and that such renewal or extension is for a term of years certain of not less than seven years or (if notified in accordance with the following provisions of this Part of this Act) for a term of years certain of less than seven years'.
§ Mr. Willey
This Clause deals with Case F. The original provisions gave a residuary power at large. I indicated at the start the categories of cases I had in mind. I said in Committee—and I now am doing so—that I would be prepared to bring in a new Clause which would limit the Regulation making powers to these three categories.
1096 The first category is variations of tenancies where the leaseholder pays, for example, a substantial sum to the freeholder so that either a covenant in the lease against development may be waived, or the lease be extended so that the proposed development becomes a worthwhile operation. Such a payment would be a payment for development value and should be leviable. Notification of such payments would entitle the leaseholder to have them taken into account when he came himself to be assessed for levy at the start of development.
The second category is where payments are made by local authorities, statutory undertakers and other bodies for rights to lay pipelines and cables over another person's land. Such payments, obviously, could include substantial sums. This arises when these rights are obtained by acquiring a right which would not fall within the present provisions.
The third category consists of cases where Statutes authorise payments to be made because of the depreciation of value of land because of actions of various authorities but where no action or right arises is given over the land. This could arise under the Public Health Act, 1936, where a local authority has a right to 1097 lay a sewer but if the exercise of the right causes a depreciation of value the local authority has to pay compensation.
These are the three categories of cases in regard to which it was generally accepted that we should provide for powers to provide by regulation. The new Clause removes the open-ended powers that were originally in the Bill. I have also provided, as I said in Standing Committee I would, that this shall be done by way of affirmative Resolution, I believe this to be appropriate in this case.
I would be quite prepared to accept the first of the two Amendments standing in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon). The second Amendment would be more restrictive than the present provision which I think it better to leave as it now is. In fact, this position will arise only in case of notification.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member cannot move that Amendment until the Second Reading of the Clause has been disposed of.
§ Mr. Allason
I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I welcome the Clause with faint praise in that it certainly is an improvement on the ridiculous Clause 35, which allowed the Minister by regulation to bring anything within the scope of the levy. Now he has confined it to certain particular elements and that certainly is an improvement.
It involves making Regulations to cover cases not sufficiently defined under Cases A, B and E. I am very glad to hear that the Minister is to accept our first Amendment. Otherwise the way he has provided this Clause would mean that he would be entitled to make Regulations some time after the first appointed day and they would then be retrospective to the first appointed day. That would be quite improper. A perfectly valid transaction could take place and perhaps years afterwards a regulation could be made that this was a chargeable act and the Commission would charge a levy on an operation which had finished and which perhaps the people involved would not have 1098 undertaken had they known that there would be a levy. That would be unacceptable and I am glad that the Minister has met that point.
Under subsection (2) we get the question of a disposition made for a valuable consideration excluding Cases A, B or E, that is cases of a sale of the freehold or cases of lease or where there is a wayleave. Nevertheless, there may be other classes which the Minister brings in by regulation. He has pointed out particularly the case which renews or extends a tenancy, or varies a tenancy, or modifies a restrictive covenant.
Here we have to consider cases where the lease is less than seven years. The second Amendment has relevance to this. Normally in Case B a lease of less than seven years is excluded unless the lessee asks for it to be taken into consideration and the levy assessed because of later interests which are likely to arise. That is an entirely voluntary act, but here leases of less than seven years are to be covered by these Regulations, and deliberately.
It is rather interesting to examine carefully exactly what sort of things there are to be. On the question of renewing a tenancy for less than seven years I think the Minister said that it might be to make development worth while. With a long lease where the tenancy is renewed and then it becomes a feasible proposition for the tenant to undertake development, a simple case would be an extension of, say, 14 years on an existing lease of a shop, in which case the tenant might be prepared to undertake extensive modifications to the shop because he knows that he will have sufficient security of tenure to get his money back. But it is difficult to consider it in less than seven years. I fear that the Minister, in order to wrap up everything and to take care of every possible contingency, is legislating so that every possible, conceivable event will have to be reported.
The alternative is on the question of lifting a ban for development where it is less than seven years. Is it a feasible proposition that in a lease of less than seven years one would change a restrictive covenant and this would make all the difference and a chargeable act or event would be likely to take place as a result? 1099 That seems highly improbable. I suggest that the Minister is legislating in ever-decreasing circles. He is chasing his own tail and trying to legislate for absolutely everything.
Under subsection (3) we have the way-leave of a public body. I think the Minister suggested the case of farmland where a line of pylons has been erected or a pipeline has been laid and blight might ensue. This is far better put in Clause 34. It seems terribly untidy to have Clause 34, where wayleaves and that type of thing are dealt with, and then for the Minister in an omnibus Clause to say, "I also have power to make Regulations which will catch particular rents I have half thought about. I have described them, but I am not quite ready to describe them in detail." It would be more tidy as the provision was in Clause 34.
Subsection (6) says:the levy shall be charged at the prescribed rate on an amount determined in such manner as may be prescribed by the regulations.Is "the prescribed rate" the rate prescribed in these Regulations or a rate prescribed in another part of the Bill? From the wording it is not at all clear. The inference seems to be that it is possible by regulation for the Minister to have a different rate of levy in these cases than the rate of levy operating for the rest of the cases within the Bill.
Subsection (7) says that the Regulations will be subject to affirmative Resolution. This we heartily welcome. I am grateful to the Minister for meeting us on this. I hope he will not content himself with one Regulation of enormous length and expect it to get through the House in one day. I hope that he will bring his Regulations forward at intervals and give us plenty of time to have good discussions on them.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
I cannot allow this proposed Clause to pass without some reference to the proposal that under Case F should come payments received by landowners and farmers for such trivial matters as electricity way-leaves and telephone wayleaves. I must protest most strongly at their inclusion because the payment which a farmer receives for a couple of electricity pylons on his land cannot be in any way suggested as a return for material development. 1100 They are merely payments received as compensation for inconvenience caused to the farmer by the added difficulty he has in fanning land over which the electricity lines pass. In no way can such receipts be classed as material development.
I give as an example the case of a field I know very well where there are no fewer than three large electricity pylons. The field is regularly put down to arable for the purpose of growing corn. Every time it is sown, every time it is harvested, and worked, the tractors have to go round those pylons. They leave a certain amount of land sterile and un-worked. Purely to compensate the farmer for the difficulty and inconvenience, a fairly small sum is paid, in the nature of £2 10s. or a few shillings per annum, as compensation only. This is not material development, nor is it beneficial development. It is merely compensation for inconvenience caused. As such I suggest that these wayleaves should not rank for levy.
§ Mr. Skeffington
My right hon. Friend is pleased with the reception the new Clause has received. On various matters certain undertakings were given in Committee. In addition, as in all the other cases, we carefully considered all the points which were made. Some of them are incorporated in the Schedules.
When I spoke just now I omitted, though not through discourtesy, to reply to a point made by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi). Either my right hon. Friend or I will reply to that point when we reach the Schedule.
The hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) asked, in relation to subsection (5), what is the governing factor for the rate of levy. As I think the hon. Gentleman will probably have supposed, that is in accordance with Clause 28. The hon. Gentleman raised one or two points on subsection (3). This specifically provides thatany instrument whereby such a right is compulsorily acquired by a government department, statutory undertakers or any other body shall be treated as a disposition granting that right for valuable consideration.Thus the Clause does not only cover the voluntary grant of wayleaves to an approved operator but also the compulsory acquisition of wayleaves under the Pipelines Act.
1101 As has been indicated, the Amendment in line 3 is accepted by the Government. The Government resist the Amendment in line 13, on two grounds. It is unnecessary and in part it is technically incompetent, because it seeks to write in an express limitation which is already implied from the reading of the whole Clause. The wordsin accordance with the following provisions of this Part of this Actare wrong, because these provisions will be contained in Regulations.
The Regulations will provide for the type of case the hon. Gentleman mentioned—the case of a lease for less than seven years. The Regulations will provide that acts or events falling within Case F will be chargeable acts or events only if they are notified to the Commission. Thus, the way in which the Regulations will operate will be a good deal less onerous than the proposition of the Opposition.
For these reasons, although we accept the first Amendment, for the very good reasons I have outlined we cannot accept the second Amendment.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time.
Amendment made: In subsection (1), after "after" in line 3 insert:
the date of approval by the resolution mentioned in subsection (7) of this section but not before."—[Mr. Alfason.]
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.