HC Deb 07 November 1968 vol 772 cc1199-202

Queen's Recommendation having been signified

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make further provision in relation to tips associated with mines and quarries and to prevent disused tips constituting a danger to members of the public, it is expedient to authorise—

  1. (1) the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of grants in respect of any expenditure incurred in or in connection with the carrying out of—
    1. (a) operations to determine whether a disused tip, as defined in that Act, is stable,
    2. (b) operations to ensure the stability of such a tip, and
    3. (c) works of reinstatement consequential on any such operations as are referred to in paragraphs (b) above; and
  2. (2) any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable under any other enactment out of moneys provided by Parliament.—[Mr. Mason.]

9.32 p.m.

Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)

I want to put to the Minister the position we shall find ourselves in with regard to amenity questions during the Committee stage. If I understand the situation correctly, in agreeing to the Money Resolution—which we shall do in a few moments—we may debar ourselves from even discussing or putting Amendments in Committee which would widen the scope of the Bill to include amenity. This is a big problem.

9.33 p.m.

The Minister of Power (Mr. Roy Mason)

Obviously, we cannot go beyond the three headings mentioned in the Money Resolution, but I can give an assurance on the question of amenity and dereliction. Hon. Members may be under a misapprehension and, if so, it is obvious that they have not kept up with recent legislation.

Reclamation, dereliction, eyesores and amenities are already covered by Acts on the Statute Book—the Local Government Act, 1966, the Industrial Development Act, 1966, and the Countryside Act, 1968—which give local authorities all the powers they require and, indeed, grants from the Government to deal with amenities. The Bill deals purely with safety and stability and seeks to ensure that an Aberfan slide will never occur again.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

That is not good enough. We have been very fair with the right hon. Gentleman, but those Acts do not give opportunity for the removal of tips.

Mr. Mason

The hon. Gentleman has not kept up to date. There are many tips throughout the country, and not just in Wales. In Wales, there is a special position, of course, since the tips are on hillsides and are, therefore, likely to be less secure than, for example, in Yorkshire and the Midlands, where the tips are usually on flat land. For many years, local authorities, sometimes assisted by Exchequer grants and sometimes by the Coal Board, have been beautifying spoil heaps and blending them into the landscape. I myself have been partly responsible for assisting in this campaign. Only in 1964 the West Riding County Council—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot discuss, on the Money Resolution, the merits of some subject which hon. Members are saying may not be found within the scope of the Resolution.

Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

May I press the Minister one stage further? During the debate a number of hon. Members from both sides of the House said that the Bill did not go far enough and did not cover amenity problems. The Minister may be right, but back-bench Members may be right. We want to have an assurance that the right hon. Gentleman will not use the Money Resolution to ensure that this matter is not covered by the Bill when many hon. Members think that it should be.

Mr. Mason

I cannot give a ruling on that, but no doubt the Chairman of the Committee will.

Mr. John Fair (Harborough)

The Minister has just referred to the Midlands. May I send him an example of some outrageous quarry tips in the Midlands, in the heart of England, which have remained in their present dilapidated condition and in a dangerous state for many years, and ask him whether he will see whether he can do something about that?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That speech was quite out of order.

Mr. Emery rose

Mr. Speaker

We are not in Committee. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to speak, he must ask leave of the House.

Mr. Emery

By leave of the House?

Mr. Speaker

If the House wishes to give it, but it is not usual to do so in these circumstances.

Mr. Emery

Have I the leave of the House?—I thank the House for its generosity.

Of course, I accept that it is not for the Minister to say how the Chairman of the Committee will interpret the Money Resolution, but he is expecting much of me if he thinks that I will take what he said as a direct answer to my question. I was asking whether he would ensure that the Money Resolution would not be used to prevent many relevant issues from being raised in Committee, issues to which hon. Members have referred in the speeches today.

Mr. Mason

No doubt those points will be made in Committee, but I cannot enlarge the Money Resolution to cover amenity and dereliction and reclamation of spoil heaps when it is precisely worded to cover security. In other words, expenditure incurred by the Exchequer will be going to local authorities which will be spending it to determine whether a spoil heap is safe and to take remedial action as a result. That is all it covers.

Question put and agreed to.