HC Deb 10 November 1967 vol 753 cc1513-6

Queen's Recommendation having been signified

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to enlarge the functions of the Commission established under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and to make provision as respects the countryside, it is expedient to authorize—

  1. (a) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase in the expenses incurred by the said Commission or in payments to the Commission's members, officers or servants, but so that financial assistance given by the Commission by way of grant 1514 shall not exceed three-quarters of the expenditure in respect of which the grant is made,
  2. (b) any increase in sums payable out of money provided by Parliament—
    1. (i) under the said Act of 1949,
    2. (ii) to the Natural Environment Research Council under the Science and Technology Act 1965,
    3. (iii) under the Forestry Act 1967,
  3. (c) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of grants to local authorities in respect of expenditure incurred—
    1. (i) under the said Act of the present Session,
    2. (ii) under section 24 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960,
    3. (iii) for the purposes of Part V of the said Act of 1949 (access to open country),
    4. (iv) under section 89(1) (tree-planting) or section 92 (appointment of wardens) of the said Act of 1949.
    5. (v) where the local authority are acting in pursuance of a scheme approved by the Minister for the removal of things disfiguring the countryside or otherwise in the interests of amenity, under any enactment,
    6. (vi) under section 28 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1962 (discontinuance of or modification of uses of land and alteration or removal of buildings) or under Part VIII of that Act,
    7. (vii) in the case of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, under the Lee Valley Regional Park Act 1966,
    8. (viii) in or in connection with the acquisition of land for the purposes of any of the provisions mentioned above,
    9. (ix) by way of administrative expenses connected with any of the expenditure described above,
    but so that a grant shall not exceed three-quarters of the expenditure in respect of which it is made,
  4. (d) any increase in rate support grants attributable to any additional expenditure by local authorities,
  5. (e) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any administrative expenses incurred by any Minister,
  6. (f) any payment into the Exchequer.—[Mr. MacDermot.]

4.1 p.m.

Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)

I do not wish to delay the House at this hour of the day, but I did make some points about the Money Resolution and perhaps the Minister of State might feel inclined to answer them.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Niall MacDermot)

The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) asked two questions. The first was whether the Money Resolution would exclude Amendments designed to allow a higher grant than 75 per cent. The answer is that it has that effect. As a former Financial Secretary, may I say that we do appreciate the importance, in the traditions of this House, of not drawing Financial Resolutions narrowly so as necessarily to exclude debate and Amendments. There is one well recognised exception, which is that the Government have the right, and indeed the duty, to draw Money Resolutions in such a way as to protect the Exchequer in the way that I find necessary. It would not be right to bring the Bill forward in any misleading way. We think that a 75 per cent. grant is a generous one and we cannot contemplate a higher percentage than that.

May I take this opportunity of saying one thing to clear up any possible misunderstanding. I appreciate that some of the areas where we might hope these country parks will be sited may well be poor areas where a 25 per cent. contribution would mean a very heavy rate burden. I do not see things working that way. In those circumstances, what I would expect and hope for, and what we will certainly do all we can to further, is that there would be an agreement between that authority and the neighbouring urban authority from which the likely urban users of the park would come, under which the urban authority could either just agree to make a grant towards the cost or itself participate in running the park, or even take it over and be entirely responsible for the remaining 25 per cent. I am glad to have this opportunity to show that this does not mean that a 25 per cent. burden has necessarily got to fall upon the county or county district in which the park would be situated.

The hon. Gentleman's second question was whether the Money Resolution is drawn in such a way as to prevent an Amendment being discussed recommend- ing some form of compensation for owners against malicious damage to property. As I read the Money Resolution, and on the advice which I have received, I see nothing whatever to limit such debate.

Question put and agreed to.