HC Deb 20 May 1968 vol 765 cc73-93


  1. (1) This section applies to the following planning decisions, namely—
    1. (a) any decision made in accordance with section 159 of the principal Act (statutory undertakers' planning applications and appeals in respect of operational land to be dealt with by Ministers), whereby planning permission is refused or is granted subject to conditions; and
    2. (b) any decision made by a Government department in a case where the department's authorisation is required for the development of operation land of statutory undertakers, being a decision—
      1. (i) to refuse the authorisation on the grounds that planning permission ought not to be granted for the development, or
      2. (ii) to grant the authorisation and direct that planning permission shall be deemed to be granted subject to condition other 74 than conditions imposed as part of the authorisation.
  2. (2) Regulations under this Act may specify the descriptions of development which, in the case of named statutory undertakers or statutory undertakers of any specified class, are to be relevant for the purposes of entitlement to compensation for decisions to which this section applies.
  3. (3) Regulations made for the purposes of this section shall be made—
    1. (a) by the Minister, if he alone is the appropriate Minister in relation to statutory undertakers named, or belonging to a class specified, in the regulations; and
    2. (b) in any other case by the Minister and any other Minister of the Crown who is the appropriate Minister in relation to statutory undertakers so named or belonging.
  4. (4) Subject to subsection (6) below, where after the first coming into force of regulations made for the purposes of this section there is made in respect of any development by statutory undertakers a planning decision to which this section applies, the undertakers shall be entitled to compensation under section 170(1) of the principal Act only if the development is (whether wholly or in part) of a description specified by regulations made for the purposes of this section as relevant in their case for the purposes of entitlement to compensation; 75 and if the development is not wholly of that description, the compensation shall be assessed by reference only to the part of it which is of that description.
  5. (5) Subject to subsection (6) below, where statutory undertakers are entitled to compensation in respect of a planning decision to which this section applies, being a decision made after the commencement of this section (whether before or after the first coming into force of regulations made for the purposes thereof), the amount of the compensation shall, instead of being an amount calculated in accordance with section 171(2) to (5) of the principal Act, be one half of an amount so calculated.
  6. (6) Subsections (4) and (5) above shall not apply in the case of a decision made in accordance with section 159 of the principal Act refusing planning permission for the development of operational land of statutory undertakers, or granting such permission subject to conditions, where—
    1. (a) planning permission for that development has been granted by a development order, but has been withdrawn by the issue of directions under powers in that behalf conferred by the order; and
    2. (b) the development has not received specific Parliamentary approval (within the meaning given to that expression by section 58(3) of this Act).
  7. (7) Section 119 of the principal Act (compensation on refusal of planning permission or its grant subject to conditions) shall not apply in relation to planning permission for the development of operational land of statutory undertakers.
  8. (8) If any question arises whether development proposed to be carried out by statutory undertakers falls within a description specified by regulations made for the purposes of this section as being relevant in their case to entitlement to compensation under section 170(1) of the principal Act, the question shall be determined by the Minister, if he is the appropriate Minister in relation to those undertakers and, in any other case, by him and the appropriate Minister in relation to them.
  9. (9) In section 221(2) of the principal Act (determination of questions relating to position of statutory undertakers under the Act) for the words from 'determined by the Minister' onwards there shall be substituted the words 'determined by the Minister, if he is the appropriate Minister in relation to those undertakers and, in any other case, by him and the appropriate Minister in relation to them'.—[Mr. MacDermot.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this new Clause we can take the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), to leave out subsection (8).

5.15 p.m.

Mr. MacDermot

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

This Clause is intended to take the place of Clause 60 in the Bill as it stands. Clause 60, which was introduced in Committee, reduces from 100 per cent. to 50 per cent. the compensation payable to statutory undertakers in respect of two kinds of planning restrictions on the development of their operational land. It reduces the compensation where planning permission, or a direction that it shall be "deemed" to be granted, has to be sought and is refused, or granted conditionally after appeal to Ministers jointly.

Secondly, it reduces the compensation where a general authorisation under a private or local Act or Order to carry out development has been made and automatic permission is withdrawn by direction and specific planning permission is refused or granted subject to conditions. In other cases—for example, the revocation of permission—the compensation remains 100 per cent. as in the case of people other than statutory undertakers.

The Clause received a general welcome in Committee, but there was also virtually unanimous feeling at the end of the discussion that it did not go far enough. Hon. Members were not quite so unanimous about what should take its place and how it should be extended. The hon. Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg) wanted to remove statutory undertakers altogether from the provision. Some, such as the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page), proposed that compensation should be calculated by reference to a sliding scale relating to the rateable value of the local authority. As an alternative, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. E. Rowlands) suggested at one point a ceiling relating to the authority's resources.

These suggestions would produce highly arbitrary results inconsistent with the special compensation basis. I undertook to look at the matter to see if we could find a way of meeting the feeling of the Committee and to confine the statutory privilege, reduced as it is to a 50 per cent. compensation right, to what seemed to be the more meritorious cases.

Another suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North was that we should seek to draw distinctions between different types of development on operational land. The basis of this argument was to point out that there are at the moment a number of developments on what qualifies as operational land which are hardly within the spirit of the original statutory undertaker privilege. They are not matters which relate to any of the primary functions of statutory undertakers. Some may be very ancillary to their main functions. Nor are they necessarily matters in which the statutory undertakers are inhibited by technical considerations from carrying out an activity at one of quite a number of different places.

The proposal we put before the House in this Clause is to provide for the making of regulations jointly by the appropriate planning Minister and the appropriate sponsoring Minister to specify types of development for each class of statutory undertaker, or even for single undertakers. Where the development is covered by the regulations 50 per cent. compensation will be payable in the circumstances to which the present Clause 60 applies. In the same circumstances, if the development does not fall within the limitations, there will be no right to compensation.

The House will want to know something about the general principles the Government propose to adopt in framing the regulations. It is worth while to go back to the ideas which were in the mind of the Government when the special statutory undertakers' privileges were first laid down in 1944. The Government were influenced by two main considerations. First, there was the extent to which statutory undertakers had statutory duties to provide public services often at prices regulated by the Government, or by a Government agency. They were not free agents like shopkeepers or manufacturers. Secondly, they tended to be influenced to an unusually high degree by technical considerations as a result of which they could not easily pick and choose where to place a development.

One cannot put new railway sidings just where one chooses. They have to be alongside an existing railway. A power station has to be sited where fuel can be brought to it in the prodigious quantities which it consumes without making nonsense of the network of operations. This is the kind of development one usually associates with statutory undertakers.

The legislators of 1944 foresaw situations in which planning control might frustrate the duties of statutory undertakers and provided machinery by which they could be relieved of statutory obligations. It is an indication of the good sense with which planning control has been exercised that this provision has not been needed. Not all these developments by statutory undertakers concern railway sidings or power stations. Many other things have to be considered such as administrative offices, showrooms, and houses or canteens for employees.

Within reason, developments like this can usually be sited almost anywhere and, if planning control were applied to them, statutory undertakers could not really say that the consequences would be embarrassing to them in financial terms or that they were being impeded in carrying out their statutory duties.

That is the conception to which the definition of operational land was intended to give effect. All development was to be subject to planning control, but where the proposed development formed part of the undertakers' primary business, they were given special safeguards against unreasonable restrictions. On the other hand, these safeguards were not thought necessary where a development was not part of the primary business—for example, showrooms.

The Clause deals not with operational land but with certain kinds of development on operational land. These kinds of development, which are to be described in regulations, are the only kinds of development which will qualify for compensation on a simple refusal of planning permission. For convenience, I shall call any such developments specified development. In framing the regulations, the Government propose to follow the principles underlying the original 1944 legislation. Specified development will be development necessary to enable an undertaker to carry out a primary statutory function and, in particular, in the siting or design of which operational considerations seriously limit the undertaker's freedom of choice.

It may help the House if I give some examples. I have already mentioned houses for employees. If a water board wished to build a house within the precincts of a waterworks for an employee for security or for round-the-clock duties, that would probably be specified development because that house must clearly be on the site. Houses for general employees, on the other hand, would not be specified because there is no need for them to live on the site. Next, an example from the transport world. Under the Transport Bill, now before the House, the proposed new passenger transport executives will be statutory undertakers. They will have a wide variety of powers and they will certainly have operational land. I should expect a general extension to a city bus station to be specified development because the station is necessary to enable the executive to do its primary job, and the places where the extension could be sited would be considerably limited.

Equally, I think that a new waiting room building at the station would be specified development. But a petrol filling station at a car park serving private car owners would not be. It would not be part of the primary function to provide transport services, and, if there were objection to it by the local planning authority, I do not think that the executive could claim that the primary operations for which it was set up would be seriously or unreasonably impeded.

Now, an example from airports. The British Airports Authority is a statutory undertaker and its airports, or the greater part of them, are clearly operational land. Equally clearly, the terminal buildings would be specified development, and I imagine that we should all accept that reasonable facilities for refreshment are essential in the terminal buildings. But if the Authority wanted to provide entirely separate facilities solely for spectators such as a viewing gallery with its own restaurant and car park some distance away from the terminal buildings that might well be a different matter.

From what I have said about houses for employees and restaurants at airports, the House will appreciate that whether a development is specified development or not may depend upon whether it serves the primary function and where it is to be sited. This illustrates why it is neces- sary to go into some detail in order to produce fair and sensible results. That is why we have to provide for the making of regulations. Before the regulations are made, we shall consult the local authority associations and the statutory undertakers or their representative associations. I hope that the explanation I have given will show the House the lines on which my right hon. Friends intend to work.

It will take some time to negotiate all the regulations with the other Departments. The effect of subsections (4) and (5) of the new Clause is that, between the time when the Clause comes into force and the time when regulations come into force for any particular statutory undertaker, that undertaker will in the cases to which the present Clause 60 applies receive only 50 per cent. compensation. In other words, these subsections keep alive the present provisions in Clause 60 until they are replaced by more restrictive provisions under the regulations.

The Amendment to the new Clause would omit subsection (8). Taken at its face value, this would be unacceptable as it would leave out the provisions for determining who should decide a dispute about whether or not a particular development fell within the regulations. Some provision must be made, and I suspect that the Amendment is probing. Perhaps I should explain the reason why it is proposed that this matter, like planning appeals in this field, should be determined by the planning Minister and the sponsoring Minister jointly instead of, as at present, by the sponsoring Minister alone. In this respect, we are going back to the 1944 legislation, which made it a joint responsibility of the two Ministers. We think this the better way for two reasons.

First, it will enable the planning Minister to see that there is general uniformity in the application of the regulations among the different activities of statutory undertakers. Second, it will enable the planning Minister to see that planning interests are taken properly into consideration in the application of the regulations.

Mr. Lubbock

I have one question to put to the Minister about power stations. He said that, because of the restrictions on their siting, power station developments would be specified in the regulations and would qualify for compensation. He explained that a power station consumes enormous quantities of fuel which must be brought to it, generally speaking by rail, sometimes by water, and this imposes considerable restrictions on the choice of land to be used for operational purposes by any generating board.

Will a distinction be made in the regulations between conventional stations, which do require an enormous amount of fuel and which require land associated with the station where supplies of the fuel can be stored for periods of up to several weeks at a time, and stations fuelled by nuclear means which do not carry any of these limitations? I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Minister of Power has recently relaxed the siting restrictions for nuclear stations so as to permit them to be constructed closer to large centres of population. Thus, the only remaining restriction on the siting of nuclear stations depends upon the availability of water. So long as a nuclear station is on an estuary or a river with a substantial flow of water, its siting requirements are properly met.

Is it the Government's intention to make that distinction in the regulations? I ask that question haying particularly in mind the example which the Minister of State gave, in which he put great emphasis on the need for rail access for supplies to be brought to power stations.

Mr. John Ellis (Bristol, North-West)

I direct attention to subsection (2) of the new Clause. The Minister of State has not yet mentioned the position of lessees of statutory undertakers. I should not wish to detain the House with a constituency case unless I thought that it impinged on the general principles which we are discussing, but I have a matter to raise which, I think, the House will regard as demonstrating a point of some importance and on which I want an assurance.

In my constituency, there is a small railway yard and station at Shirehampton. The railway undertaking was a statutory undertaker enjoying the privileges to which we are now referring. Because of the centralisation of its handling methods, the railway no longer wanted this yard and it negotiated a lease—I do not know the terms of it—with G.T. Western, a company concerned with fuel oils for domestic heating appliances. We are about to see a gas holder type of fuel tank, 30 to 40 feet high, go up in a residential area.

There is no doubt that but for the provisions relating to statutory undertakings this development would not have been allowed, but because the company was lessee of the statutory undertaker it has the same kinds of privileges as the statutory undertaker. There was no necessity for it even to consult the planning authority. It merely started to make what was in effect a major fuel bunkering station. Other developments could take place were it not for an agreement with British Railways, which has now given certain pledges that it will at least consult the local planning authority.

5.30 p.m.

Therefore, I ask whether the Bill also covers lessees. I notice that in the Clause the considerations likely to be taken into account when regulations are being considered are not spelt out though some instances have been given. Would the kind of case I have mentioned qualify? I believe that with British Railways increasingly centralising its operations it will be giving up many more station yards and buildings, as in the case to which I have referred. G.T. Western acquired the lot; it took the station buildings for administration purposes as well. I foresee that when British Railways centralises its shunting yards it will no longer use many small and medium-sized yards. It may be that they will be in areas where there is industrial development, but, as in the case I have mentioned, they may be in an area otherwise designated, or which may be designated for housing development and certainly not for industrial purposes.

We must tighten up the legislation here. I do not think that it is realistic to expect the local authority to find the compensation, even at a 50 per cent. level. As matters stand, I can go into a residential area and get a lease from British Railways, and as lessee I do not need to apply for any kind of planning permission; so long as I leave one railway line down to say that I am using the railways, I can build a biscuit factory over the whole of that operational land, and I have only to say that I will bring in my raw materials to take out my finished goods by rail.

The new Clause is good, and goes some of the way to what we want to see. But it is urgent that we press on with negotiations on the Minister's regulations. I should like the assurance that this legislation, even as it is now before us, will include lessees in its provisions, and that when the Minister considers the kind of orders he will make under the Clause his consideration will cover the point of British Railways getting rid of land that it no longer uses, and which is made available to lessees who do not need planning permission on the tenuous ground that they still have some connection with bringing in their materials by rail. I hope that he will see to it that the legislation is so tight that it is not possible to go so far away from the primary functions of railways as has happened at Shirehampton in the recent past.

Mr. Oscar Murton (Poole)

The speech of the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Ellis) gives great point to the anxiety which all of us feel about the problem of compensation and what a statutory undertaker can do at present. I feel very tempted to recount the story of the long and anxious struggle I had on behalf of some of my constituents over the question of a coal concentration depot. But I have already told it once in Committee, and I believe that the matter is now going the way I would wish.

I am rather disappointed with the form of the new Clause after the long and full discussions we had in Committee. I should almost say that it is a defeatist Clause in many ways, because I believe that a simpler and better method of compensation could have been worked out. I fear that we shall be completely bogged down by a series of complex regulations. However brilliant may be those occupants of the Treasury Bench who will have some say in the formulation of the regulations, and however talented may be those in the Ministry who will assist them, I have great fears as to whether the regulations can be made comprehensive enough to cover all the possible aspects and facets of the various plan- ning problems which can arise in the future. I cannot see that in all respects the Clause will do what it is intended to do. There will be many loopholes, and many cases will arise from it.

The Minister said that he disapproved of our Amendment proposing to leave out subsection (8), and gave the reasons why he thought it wrong to do so. We think that it should be left out because it seems totally wrong that a Minister, or a Minister acting with a second Minister, should be both judge and jury in an important case such as might well arise over the question of compensation. We believe most strongly that this is a matter which should be considered only in the courts. It is wrong in principle that a Minister should be able to make a decision in a matter affecting a Department in which he has a direct interest. Therefore, we strongly press that the subsection be removed and that a court should decide where there is a conflict of interest.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

My hon. and learned Friend very helpfully gave examples of distinctions between one kind of development on operational land and another. I want to give others for consideration by the House. Going out of London on many of the main railway lines, one sees archways beneath the lines where engineering and other fairly noisy activities take place. I understand the posititon to be that, because the railway line is operational land and zoned for railway purposes, there is no control over the commercial use of the archways beneath. Nor is there any control over the use of the railways above. This is one example of the use of railways above and a yard below.

Another example is that of the development of the periphery of railway land which may have grave effects on residential amenities. For example, in such a case the planting of a screen of trees or the erection of some screen or barrier bordering the operational land and the statutory undertaker could make a great deal of difference to the amenities of the adjoining residential land.

Thirdly, there are coal yards where tippers' coal loading devices can be installed and will not be refused by the local authority for fear of having to pay compensation. There is, therefore, a case for distinguishing between coal loading which could go to a more convenient place and the use of the sidings by the railways.

I do not ask for answers to these examples at the moment, but I do ask for an undertaking that my hon. and learned Friend will receive a deputation from local authorities about the way in which the regulations are to be drafted and that there will be negotiations with the statutory undertakers themselves.

Mr. E. Rowlands

I do not share the disappointment about the Clause expresed by the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Murton). I think that the Minister has achieved a remarkable feat by drafting a Clause which in any way covers the problems which faced us on this issue in our tortuous Committee stage. I am glad that my hon. and learned Friend translated it. I had difficulty in appreciating fully what the Government have been able to do until he did translate it.

My hon. and learned Friend said that he would embody in the Clause the philosophy of the responsibilities given to statutory undertakers by Parliament but would distinguish between those services which, by statute, they have to provide and those which are permissive. This is a most valuable step forward. There will be a great sigh of relief from many local authorities when faced with these sports of situations and the reduction in compensation will be most valuable.

Finally, may I ask my hon. and learned Friend whether, in the case which has been discussed and which I shall not go over again, the regulations would include the gas holder as being one where there would be no compensation, or whether there would be 50 per cent. compensation?

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page

With respect to the Minister, I think that he has funked the issue. He has produced an admirable Clause empowering him to make regulations but that is not what we wanted. This matter has been under discussion for a considerable time—since before this Bill and then in detail during the Committee stage. The principles have been thoroughly thrashed out. Yet we are now presented—and such a situation puts the House into considerable difficulty—with a Clause which says that the Minister will make regulations.

Until the Minister spoke a few moments ago, as far as I know no one in the House had the slightest idea of the principles on which the regulations were to be made. We are to decide, not even with a piece of paper before us setting out the principles, whether we give the Minister a blank cheque to make these regulations. Listening to what the hon. and learned Gentleman said, and speaking off the record, I would agree with the way his mind is working in thinking about the preparation of the regulations. But it is difficult to ask us to commit ourselves to the spoken word across the Floor of the House without having had an opportunity to consider the matter in detail.

This is a very technical and important matter. Large sums of money are involved, as we know from cases in the past few months. This is not a small matter of planning procedure but a major problem of policy and finance. We should have had an opportunity of considering on paper exactly what the Government intend in these regulations.

The new Clause describes operational land in subsection (1). It then goes on to describe what is to be development. The Minister made an important point concerning categories of development which will be compensatable development. If I understand him correctly, in future the consideration is not to be whether it is development on operational land but what is to be the development. This will meet the point put by the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Ellis). I understood his case to be that the railways can develop anything on their operational land under the law as it stands. If, indeed, in future it is not the fact of operational land but the nature of the development on it that is to be considered, this will, I think, meet the point he made. I hope that it will.

It may also meet the case put by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. John Fraser). I almost called him the hon. Member for "Flanagan and Allen" after the way be talked about "underneath the arches". I did not realise until he spoke that these are not the subject of planning permissions. These places are really not on operational land, and surely the nature of the development should be taken into account. If such development is to be the subject of planning permission, it will meet many difficulties. Undoubtedly there is a clear distinction, if one can define it, between such development and the operations or developments which there is a statutory duty to carry out and for which there are technical reasons for their being carried out in a certain way. If statutory undertakers are obliged to carry out development of that kind, they should not be frustrated by planning control.

Indeed, Parliament should not be frustrated by planning controls because those cases in which Parliament has given the statutory undertakers the right and duty to carry out this work will be those which, I should think, will be defined in the regulations as compensatory. How the definition is to be drawn is the Minister's duty to decide.

I remind the House that the regulations will not necessarily come before Parliament. They are to be subject to annulment procedure and will not require affirmative Resolution. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to consider this matter again. We should require the regulations to be by affirmative Resolution, since they will be very important. They will not merely set out a procedure for planning or for some scheme. They will be a major change in the policy of this House and we should be asked to pass an affirmative Resolution in respect of them and not merely have them rest on the Table until some hon. Member sees fit to initiate a Prayer against them.

Subsection (6) refers to the previous subsections, which relate to the types of development which shall be compensated, and says that they … shall not apply in the case of a decision made in accordance with section 159 of the principal Act …". If the compensation provisions do not apply, does that mean that, in those cases, statutory undertakers will get 100 per cent., or nothing? If they do not apply and the present law continues in respect of these events, it means that statutory undertakers would get 100 per cent. On the other hand, had it said that the compensation provisions did not apply, one would normally think that they would not get any compensation. I am not sure of the meaning of subsection (6) in this respect.

The Opposition Amendment would delete subsection (8). If the Minister makes regulations and the House approves them, either by an affirmative Resolution or by not laying a Prayer against them and annulling them, it seems that the Minister is then overriding the decisions of Parliament by interpreting the regulations as he chooses. Subsection (8) allows him to determine a matter If any question arises whether development proposed to be carried out by statutory undertakers falls within a description specified by regulations made for the purposes of this section…. If the right hon. Gentleman makes an ambiguous description in the regulations, he will then be able to decide what he meant by the regulations and not what the House meant should be passed by way of delegated legislation. This is a wrong constitutional principle of which the House should not approve. If the Minister is to make regulations and if they are passed by the House, either specifically or passed by not being objected to, then they become law. It should not be for the Minister, but for the judges in the courts, to decide what the law is.

We are put in the gravest difficulty in considering an important new Clause of this sort by not having before us something to study so that we can consider, with the care this important matter deserves, the intentions of the Government when they come to make these regulations. We are asked to give a blanket cheque merely on listening for the first time today to the Government's intentions by word of mouth. It is not easy for us to legislate on a matter of this sort on that basis.

Mr. MacDermot

This is not an easy matter on which to legislate on any basis. One of the few matters on which we were agreed in Committee was that the complexity of this problem is considerable.

The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) asked which side of the line nuclear power stations would fall under the new regulations. I believe that what he had in mind was a new nuclear power station, and he may have missed the fact that, under other provisions already written into the Bill, the power of statutory undertakers to acquire land and then say, "We want this for our operational purposes", and thereby avoid the need for planning permission, is being removed. Consequently, if a statutory undertaker wants to set up a nuclear power station in future he will have to get plannng permission like everybody else, and if permission is refused he will not have any right to compensation.

Mr. Lubbock

Is that so?

Mr. MacDermot

Yes. It comes under Clause 58. In other words, as soon as planning permission is given in respect of any new land to be acquired or acquired by a statutory undertaker which can then qualify as operational land, privileges will attach to it; but he cannot claim compensation just for the refusal of planning permission on newly acquired land. I believe that that covers the point the hon. Gentleman had in mind. If one had the situation of an existing nuclear power station, which is already on operational land, and in respect of which a developer wanted to expand, by way of further development, it would then depend on the nature of that development, on the principles I have explained, whether or not a refusal of compensation would qualify under the new system of regulations for compensation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Ellis) raised a question which was raised in Committee, as the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Murton) pointed out, and which I know is concerning many people: the planning privileges attaching to the lessees of statutory undertakers in some cases. These privileges derive from Class 17 of the General Development Order. The regulations which are proposed under the new clause would not touch or deal with the problem because where statutory undertakers have rights which, broadly speaking, are co-extensive with the rights of other industrialists which are not statutory undertakers, then if those rights are withdrawn—for example, by an Article 4 direction—they will be entitled to full compensation, just as an ordinary industrialist would be.

Class 17 is, broadly speaking, comparable to rights which other industrialists have under the General Development Order. I say "broadly speaking" because I agree that in some respects it goes further than the rights which other industrialists have, and the case to which my hon. Friend referred is probably the type of case which gives rise to the most worry and objection. I repeat what I said in Standing Committee, that it is our intention, when the Bill becomes law, to review the provisions of the General Development Order; and I assure my hon. Friend that we will look at the point that he raised in that review and consider whether the wording of Class 17 in the General Development Order should be so wide so as to cover the sort of case to which he referred.

The hon. Member for Poole said he was disappointed at the form in which our solution was presented and that a more simple method would have been better. I entirely agree and I was looking forward expectantly, hoping that he was about to propound that which has eluded us all—namely, a simple method of solving this problem—but I notice that he kept a discrete silence.

6.0 p.m.

The argument about the Amendment to leave out subsection (8) is whether the courts or an appeal to Ministers should determine a dispute between a planning authority and a statutory undertaker as to whether a class of development for which planning permission is refused should attract compensation under the new regulations. The hon. Gentleman argued that it was wrong to have the appeal to the Minister for the sponsoring Department and suggested that the Minister would have a financial interest. That is not the right way to put it. He may be the Minister for the sponsoring Department for a public corporation whose interests are at stake, but it is in order, to see that his concern with protecting the legitimate interests of the statutory undertaker is balanced by an equal concern to uphold proper planning principles, that we propose that this should be done jointly by the two Ministers.

It may be asked whether this matter is better dealt with by Ministers or by the courts. I suggest that it is better done by Ministers; otherwise it will mean a tremendous burden for planning authorities who would have to fight what would necessarily be long and extensive litigation to determine an issue. One of the complaints, particularly for smaller planning authorities, is that there is too much pressure on them and we are seeking to remove some of it, particularly in the 50 per cent. provisions. But if we compel them to take any disputed case to the courts, that would be a very heavy burden. This can surely be much more simply and fairly determined by the two Ministers jointly. There is a precedent in the appeals system for planning applications, which is from statutory undertakers to the two Ministers jointly and that works satisfactorily on the whole.

My hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. John Fraser) mentioned a number of examples, like railway arches and coal yards where tipping devices are used. These are cases of rights arising from Article 17 of the General Development Order and they will be carefully considered when we review the provisions of that Article.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. E. Rowlands) gave a general welcome to this Clause, for which I am grateful, and asked what would be the position under it of the Abingdon gasholder case. I think that that is a case to which the 50 per cent. compensation provision would apply under the proposed system.

The hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) was a little unkind to say that I had funked the issue. We have grasped it, and in a way which will, I am afraid, put a lot of work on us in preparing these regulations. However, as I said in Committee, I could find no simple formula which could be embodied in a statute to draw a distinction between those classes of activity by statutory undertakers which should be "compen-satable" and those which should not. I then drew attention to the fact that we have already made provision under the 1962 Act to define by regulations for the National Coal Board which classes of activity should attract these privileges, and I am afraid that it is inevitable that we must seek a solution along those lines. I would have liked to be able to write in simple criteria, but I cannot do so.

The hon. Gentleman suggested that the matter should be dealt with by affirma-

Division No. 146.] AYES [6.7 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Barnett, Joe!
Allen, Scholefield Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Beaney, Alan
Armstrong, Ernest Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bessell, Peter

tive rather than negative Resolution. There will be quite a number of these Orders, however, and they will all relieve the ratepayer and will not put any additional burden on the citizen. In that case, it is proper that they should be dealt with by negative Resolution.

Subsection (6) deals with the situation to which I referred in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West—the kind of case in which a statutory undertaker has planning permission, under the General Development Order, which is withdrawn by an Article 4 direction, and where it falls within Clause 17, which is, in general parallel with a similar class which affects private industry and in which it is, therefore, right that they should have 100 per cent. compensation. I know that there is a general feeling that that class is perhaps too widely drawn, and we will therefore look at that when we review the General Development Order.

Mr. Rippon

I thank the Minister of State for that reply. We all understand that the Government have made a real effort to improve the law in this regard, but although it is right to cut down the special privileges of the statutory undertakers, many people still hold that they should enjoy no privileges at all, compared with other developers. This is more arguable but, with the best will in the world, the Government have not yet succeeded in making the law entirely satisfactory.

I am disappointed that the Minister of State cannot accept our Amendment to leave out subsection (8), which would have been an improvement. We are not happy about the limitation which he mentioned of a 50 per cent. grant in the case of the Abingdon gasholder. That needs looking at again. Therefore, it may be for the greater convenience of the House if we do not press the Amendment, but in view of the hon. and learned Gentleman's answer, simply divide the House on the Clause.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 158, Noes 117.

Bidwell, Sydney Henig, Stanley Pavitt, Laurence
Blackburn, F. Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hooley, Frank Pentland, Norman
Boyden, James Horner, John Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hoy, James Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Huckfield, Leslie Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Price, William (Rugby)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hunter, Adam Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Irvine, Sir Arthur Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Roebuck, Roy
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stecnford) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Carmichael, Neil Kelley, Richard Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Chapman, Donald Kenyon, Clifford Sheldon, Robert
Coe, Denis Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Darting, Rt, Hn. George Ledger, Ron Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Skeffington, Arthur
Dempsey, James Loughlin, Charles Slater, Joseph
Dewar, Donald Lubbock, Eric Small, William
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Snow, Julian
Dickens, James MacDermot, Niall Spriggs, Leslie
Doig, Peter Macdonald, A. H. Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Dunnett, Jack Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Mackie, John Swingler, Stephen
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th&C'b'e) Mackintosh, John P. Symonds, J. B.
Eadie, Alex McNamara, J. Kevin Taverne, Dick
Edwards, William (Merioneth) MacPherson, Malcolm Thornton, Ernest
Ellis, John Marks, Kenneth Tinn, James
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Marquand, David Tomney, Frank
Fernyhough, E. Mayhew, Christopher Urwin, T. W.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mendelson, J. J. Varley, Eric G.
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Millan, Bruce Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Miller, Dr. M. S. Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Fowler, Gerry Milne, Edward (Blyth) Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Freeson, Reginald Moonman, Eric Wallace, George
Galpern, Sir Myer Moyle, Roland Watkins, David (Consett)
Gardner, Tony Newens, Stan Whitaker, Ben
Garrett, W. E. Norwood, Christopher Whitlock, William
Gourlay, Harry O'Malley, Brian Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Gregory, Arnold Orbach, Maurice Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Grey, Charles (Durham) Orme, Stanley Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Winnick, David
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Owen, Will (Morpeth) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Grimond, Rt. Hn, J. Paget, R. T. Woof, Robert
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Hamling, William Pardoe, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Park, Trevor Mr. J. D. Concannon and
Haseldine, Norman Parker, John (Dagenham) Mr. Joseph Harper.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Eden, Sir John McAdden, Sir Stephen
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Marten, Neil
Astor, John Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Maude, Angus
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Emery, Peter Mawby, Ray
Bell, Ronald Errington, Sir Eric Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Biffen, John Farr, John Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S, L. C.
Biggs-Davison, John Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Foster, Sir John Monro, Hector
Boardman, Tom Goodhew, victor More, Jasper
Bossom, Sir Clive Grant, Anthony Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Murton, Oscar
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hall, John (Wycombe) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Onslow, Cranley
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hill, J. E. B. Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Bullus, Sir Eric Holland, Philip Percival, lan
Burden, F. A. Hordern, Peter Peyton, John
Cary, Sir Robert Iremonger, T. L. Pink, R. Bonner
Channon, H. P. G. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pounder, Rafton
Clegg, Walter Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Cooke, Robert Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Prior, J. M. L.
Costain, A. P. Kershaw, Anthony Pym, Francis
Crouch, David Kirk, Peter Quennell, Miss J. M.
Currie, C. B. H. Kitson, Timothy Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Dance, James Lancaster, Col. C. G. Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, 8tr Henry Langford-Holt Sir John Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Speed, Keith Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Robson Brown, Sir William Stainton, Keith Walters, Dennis
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Stodart, Anthony Ward, Dame Irene
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Tapsell, Peter Webster, David
Russell, Sir Ronald Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Scott, Nicholas Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Sharples, Richard Temple, John M. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Silvester, Frederick Tilney, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Sinclair, 8ir George Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Smith, John (London & W'minster) Mr. Humphrey Atkins.

Clause added to the Bill.

Forward to