HC Deb 17 February 1970 vol 796 cc256-7
Dr. Dickson Mabon

I beg to move Amendment No. 13, in page 6, line 29, leave out from "land" to "suffers" in line 30.

Again, a generous Government honour their undertaking given in Committee. We are complimenting ourselves for what was done in Committee, I understand. This Amendment fulfills a Government undertaking to consider whether the phrase 'not being waste land or a common was necessary.

The wording of Clause 10(5) was modelled on the comparable English provision in Section 103(3) of the Highways Act, 1959, which barred the owner or occupier of waste land or a common from receiving compensation for damage done by drainage works. The object was to exclude claims which in the nature of things are likely to be abortive. Waste land by its nature is worthless, and compensation for damage therefore should not arise. In the case of a common, ownership might be very difficult to establish, and a claim would therefore be dubious.

On consideration, however, it appears to be unnecessary in the Bill to refer to waste and common land. For waste land there is no need to bar claims for compensation. If the land is really worthless and no compensation therefore payable, that will emerge in considering the claim. As to common land, it is still unlikely that a single owner will be found but common land could be the responsibility of someone, for example, a community, for upkeep and maintenance, and it seems more equitable that these persons should be able to claim for any damage caused by drainage works. If the words proposed to be omitted are retained in the Bill it is just possible that they may exclude a legitimate claim for compensation. If they are omitted they are unlikely to open the way to a large number of unjustified claims.

Mr. Wylie

I thank the Minister of State for promoting this Amendment. I think it is in precisely the same terms as the Amendment which we moved in Committee. While we are congratulating ourselves on these matters, may I say how very much my hon. Friends appreciated the contributions made by the UnderSecretary in Committee and his approach to drafting Amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

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