HC Deb 20 October 1971 vol 823 cc739-40

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

4.2 p.m.

Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)

During the Second Reading debate I recognised the narrow scope of the debate permitted on a Bill of this nature and asked the Government to keep an open mind on changes where required. I hope the House will accept that in drafting my Amendments I tried to keep strictly in order. However, I do not quarrel with the fact that my Amendments have not been selected, because I received a courteous and full explanation why, despite my care, they were still out of order.

I feel that on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" I should say that the reason these Amendments were out of order highlights my earlier point, that there is a need for a change in the law. I tried to cover the point that at the moment there is need for a notice to be exhibited on the land when planning permission is applied for, and I tried to draft Amendments so that there should be a notice or notices as appropriate. However, these matters are out of order because this would mean a change in the law.

The House will recognise that in the case of a small plot one notice may well be adequate, but for a large plot one notice is not adequate. The area concerned may have many sides accessible to the public and it is possible to place the notice on the least frequented side. The object of the notice is to protect the public, yet at present an unscrupulous or slipshod developer can observe the letter rather than the spirit of the law. I ask the House to recognise that an early change is required since at the moment the public are not being properly protected. The public are not generally aware of their rights in this matter, and often the time and opportunity for objection has passed before they become even aware of what is happening.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)

The point raised by the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) was mentioned by him on the Second Reading of the Bill. For reasons which have been explained to him, any Amendment in the context of a Consolidation Bill would be inadmissible because we are here concerned simply to see whether or not Section 28 reproduces the existing law. It reproduces the corresponding provisions of the Civic Amenities Act. 1971, introduced some years ago by my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), and at this stage one cannot go beyond saying that that is what it does. The point the hon. Gentleman raises is one on which more than one hon. Member has expressed concern and it is a legitimate point to be considered.

Section 28 applies to the duty of local authorities. Secion 26 applies to the duty of individual developers. So within the limits of Section 28 one can expect a local authority to be that much more energetic and effective in discharging its duty. It is right to say that the hon. Gentleman's point has caused concern and is under consideration by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State; but it would be wrong for me, with the limited authority I have in the context of these proceedings, to make any grandiloquent promises on behalf of my right hon. Friend. Certainly the point has been noted and is understood in the context of this limited debate.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 29 to 184 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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