HC Deb 26 February 1975 vol 887 cc637-56

Lords Amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 8, leave out from "for" to "the" in line 11 and insert; purposes relating to exploration for or exploitation of offshore petroleum in

10.15 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. John Smith)

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The effect of the amendment is to restrict the purposes for which land may be acquired under the Bill to those specified in subsection (2) that is, platform sites, pipelines, terminals and infrastructure. It would similarly restrict the application of other provisions of the Bill relating to the carrying out of works, the making of loans or guarantees, and reinstatement.

Such a definition of purposes would be too limiting. The purposes mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (2) are, in aggregate, narrower than the overall purpose set out in subsection (1) and do not detract from its generality. They are separately listed in this way simply to identify them as the purposes for which expedited acquisition orders may be made, if the acquisition is a matter of urgency.

There may well be occasions in the future when the Government would wish to facilitate oil operations by acquiring land and making it available for other purposes relating to the exploration for or exploitation of offshore petroleum but to which no particular degree of urgency of acquisition attaches. Such purposes might include, for example, service bases, pipe-coating yards, general warehousing and storage facilities, testing or research facilities for underwater operations, or a repair yard for semi-submersible drilling rigs. All of these fall within the scope of subsection (1) as in the Commons print of the Bill, but none of them would be included in the formula proposed by the amendment.

It is worth emphasising that the amendment would prevent the acquisition of land by the Secretary of State for these purposes even with the agreement of the owner. The effect of the amendment, therefore, is to make the Bill a less versatile tool for the Government's task in helping to ensure development of, and securing lasting benefit from, our offshore oil. This is not a drafting point; it is a matter of substance.

Subsection (2) is concerned with developments where land may be needed as a matter of urgency. It represents the Government's well-considered and strictly limited list of such developments. We have no wish to add to it, nor need we do so, since subsection (1) permits the Secretary of State to acquire land for the other purposes I have mentioned, either by agreement or under normal compulsory purchase procedures.

I have tried to give concrete examples of what will be cut out if the amendment is made. As we have said on previous occasions—the matter has been debated at length in the House—we must also bear in mind that we are operating in a field of rapidly changing technology, and in five years' time there could be needs relating to the exploration for or exploitation of oil that we cannot possibly be expected to identify in detail at present. The Government therefore remain convinced, despite the consideration given to the matter in another place, that it is necessary to have the general power of land acquisition in subsection (1) to give a degree of flexibility to meet land requirements arising from future offshore technology.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

As the Minister said, we debated the matter at length in our previous consideration of the Bill. He said nothing tonight to justify the Government's having their powers so broadly drawn. I do not intend to rehearse the earlier arguments, but I believe that the Bill has largely been overtaken by events. It is questionable whether there will be orders to fill the berths at some sites. Therefore, to extend the Bill is to be out of touch with the present situation in the oil industry.

The hon. Gentleman asks that we keep the additional powers in the Bill because they may be needed in the future. That may be the case, and I can understand the Government seeking for their own convenience to have flexibility in the future. However, I remind the hon. Gentleman that the powers that he is taking are wide and compulsory and of a fairly drastic nature. The proper thing is not for the Government to seek blanket powers now but to return to the House

and seek whatever powers are needed in future.

For those reasons, plus the fact that the Government have not said anything tonight to justify why they have to have these additional powers, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the Lords in their amendment.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 161, Noes 142.

Division No. 113.] AYES [10.21 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Fraser John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Archer, Peter George, Bruce Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Armstrong, Ernest Golding, John Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Ashley, Jack Gould, Bryan Newens, Stanley
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Gourlay, Harry Noble, Mike
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Grocott, Bruce Oakes, Gordon
Bates, Alf Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Orbach, Maurice
Bean, R. E. Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Palmer, Arthur
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Hamling, William Park, George
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Hardy, Peter Parker, John
Blenkinsop, Arthur Harper, Joseph Parry, Robert
Boardman, H. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Pendry, Tom
Booth, Albert Hatton, Frank Phipps, Dr Colin
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Hayman, Mrs Helene Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Price, William (Rugby)
Buchan, Norman Hunter, Adam Radice, Giles
Buchanan, Richard Janner, Greville Richardson, Miss Jo
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Robertson, John (Paisley)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Jeger, Mrs Lena Roderick, Caerwyn
Campbell, Ian Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Rooker, J. W.
Cartwright, John Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Roper, John
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Jones, Barry (East Flint) Rose, Paul B.
Clemitson, Ivor Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Kaufman, Gerald Sandelson, Neville
Coleman, Donald Kerr, Russell Selby, Harry
Conlan, Bernard Kinnock, Neil Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Lambie, David Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Corbett, Robin Lamborn, Harry Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Lamond, James Sillars, James
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Skinner, Dennis
Crawshaw, Richard Leadbitter, Ted Small, William
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Lee, John Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Cryer, Bob Litterick, Tom Snape, Peter
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Loyden, Eddie Spriggs, Leslie
Dalyell, Tam Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Davidson, Arthur McCartney, Hugh Strang, Gavin
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McElhone, Frank Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund MacFarquhar, Roderick Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Dempsey, James McGuire, Michael (Ince) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Doig, Peter Mackenzie, Gregor Tinn, James
Dormand, J. D. Mackintosh, John P. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Maclennan, Robert Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Dunn, James A. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Wellbeloved, James
Dunnett, Jack McNamara, Kevin White, Frank R. (Bury)
Eadie, Alex Madden, Max White, James (Pollok)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Magee, Bryan Whitehead, Phillip
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Marks, Kenneth Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Evans, John (Newton) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Woodall, Alec
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Mikardo, Ian Young, David (Bolton E)
Flannery, Martin Millan, Bruce
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Ford, Ben Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Mr Laurie Pavitt and
Forrester, John Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Mr. David Stoddart.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Henderson Douglas Penhaligon, David
Bain, Mrs Margaret Howe Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Percival, Ian
Beith, A. J. Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Hunt, John Rathbone, Tim
Benyon, W. Hurd, Douglas Reid, George
Biffen, John James, David Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Blaker, Peter Jessel, Toby Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Boscawen, Hon Robert Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Bradford, Rev Robert Jones Arthur (Daventry) Rifkind, Malcolm
Brittan, Leon Jopling, Michael Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Brotherton, Michael Kaberry, Sir Donald Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Kilfedder, James Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Budgen, Nick Kirk, Peter Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Bulmer, Esmond Kitson, Sir Timothy Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Lamont, Norman Sainsbury, Tim
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Latham, Michael (Melton) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lawrence, Ivan Scott-Hopkins, James
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Lawson, Nigel Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Cope, John Le Marchant, Spencer Shepherd, Colin
Cormack, Patrick Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sims, Roger
Corrie, John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sinclair, Sir George
Crawford, Douglas Luce, Richard Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Crowder, F. P. MacCormick, Iain Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) McCusker, H. Sproat, Iain
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Macfarlane, Neil Stanbrook, Ivor
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Drayson, Burnaby Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Mather, Carol Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stradling Thomas, J.
Fairbairn, Nicholas Mayhew, Patrick Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fairgrieve, Russell Meyer, Sir Anthony Tebbit, Norman
Fookes, Miss Janet Moate, Roger Temple-Morris, Peter
Fowler Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Monro, Hector Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Freud, Clement Montgomery, Fergus Thompson, George
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Townsend, Cyril D.
Goodhart, Philip Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Gower Sir Raymond (Barry) Mudd, David Viggers, Peter
Gray, Hamish Neave, Airey Watt, Hamish
Grieve, Percy Nelson, Anthony Weatherill, Bernard
Grimond, Rt Hon J Neubert, Michael Welsh, Andrew
Grist, Ian Newton, Tony Wigley, Dafydd
Grylls, Michael Normanton, Tom Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Onslow, Cranley Winterton, Nicholas
Hampson, Dr Keith Osborn, John Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Paisley, Rev Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hawkins, Paul Pardoe, John Mr. Cecil Parkinson and
Hayhoe Barney Pattie, Geoffrey Mr. Fred Silvester.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords Amendment: No. 2, in page 2, line 26, leave out subsection (7) and insert; (7) Any such statutory instrument on the expiry of 28 days from the laying of the draft thereof in a House of Parliament shall, whether or not it has been referred to a Committee of that House as aftermentioned, proceed in that House as if its provisions would, apart from this Act, require to be enacted by a public Bill which cannot be referred to a Committee under Standing Orders of that House relating to private Bills.

10.30 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. Bruce Millan)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

As the House knows, there are procedures under the Standing Orders in another place for dealing with hybrid orders which can involve the hearing of petitioners by a Select Committee. In Committee when we moved the provision to make orders for expedited acquisition subject to the affirmative procedure, we disapplied the Lords hybridity procedure because we were apprehensive that in certain circumstances that procedure might involve unacceptable delay.

The matter was argued at considerable length in the other place and strong feelings were expressed that it would be wrong to disapply completely the Lords hydribity procedures because there was a considerable attachment to them as protecting the rights of individuals. What eventually has resulted is a compromise which contains the normal hybridity procedure except that orders will be treated as hybrid for a period of 28 days from: the date on which they are laid.

In the normal course of events it takes a number of days for an affirmative resolution to come before the House or before the other place simply because of the difficulty of finding parliamentary time. But a hybridity procedure involving a period of 28 days from the date of the laying of the order will involve little extra delay. The Government are, therefore, willing to accept the amendment, which I hope will commend itself to the House—not least to the right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East (Miss Harvie Anderson), who moved the original amendment in Committee, and who, I know, feels strongly about this matter.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: No. 3, in page 2, line 34, at end insert; ( ) An expedited acquisition order shall not be made in respect of any land or part thereof which has been declared to be inalienable by virtue of any enactment.

Mr. Millan

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

With this we shall discuss Lords Amendment No. 14, in page 10, line 41, leave out subsection (3).

Mr. Millan

This amendment deals with the question of inalienable land which was discussed in Committee.

The effect of the amendment which was accepted in the other place would be expressly to prevent the Secretary of State from making an expedited acquisition order in respect of any inalienable land. "Land" for the purposes of the present Bill means land owned by the National Trust for Scotland and land which the Trust's Council, by virtue of its own legislation, has declared to be inalienable.

Since the substance of the amendments was debated in Committee, I hall not deal with the matter in detail. I made clear on an earlier occasion that there was no intention to take over inalienable land of the National Trust in the foreseeable future. I said that none of that land at present appeared to be a candidate for an oil-related development but that it could not be excluded completely. We thought that in principle it was wrong to exclude inalienable land of the National Trust. What we are providing for in the Bill is another parliamentary procedure—the affirmative resolution procedure—in substitution for the special parliamentary procedure which applies at present.

However, the view in the other place was that, even so, there should be a special exception for inalienable land. The Government do not accept that. We do not believe that the provisions of the Bill strike basically at the concept of the inalienability of National Trust land. The amendment just accepted introduces a further procedure in the other place. There will therefore be a further protection, in the case of inalienable land, in that the hybridity procedure in the other place will apply. Therefore, with the affirmative procedure and the amended hybridity procedure in the other place, we are very near the present position regarding inalienable land. The only difference is that there is a time limit on the procedure which does not apply to inalienable land. However, in principle and in terms of the practicality of the situation, we are virtually back to the present position.

It was made clear in Committee, and during the other stages of the Bill, that the land must have gone through the normal planning procedures. Taking account of the safeguards of the affirmative procedure, and of the amended but still substantial hybridity procedure in the other place, we see no reason to change our basic view about inalienability in relation to the Bill. I therefore ask the House to disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Nothing that I have said is in any way to be taken as indicating that the Government do not attach great importance to the work of the National Trust. As an indication of the importance which we attach to this, we have arranged liaison on the matter with the National Trust, which should avoid any practical difficulty in the future.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

I appreciate that the amendment to which we have just agreed gives an extra safeguard. We are grateful to the Government for that. That amendment was moved in the other place on behalf of some of the conservation societies. However, I am not wholly reassured by the Minister's statement that he foresees no likelihood of taking over National Trust land. This misses the point. It does not meet the danger which some hon. Members foresee in this provision of the Bill.

The history of the Bill is strange. The Bill was gestated for a long time in the Scottish Office and was not even mentioned as a possibility in the House until 18 months or two years after oil was known to be abundant in the North Sea. The Bill did not reach this House until the autumn of 1974. We were then told that it was so urgent that all the remaining stages must be taken in one day. However, that idea was dropped, and the Bill has taken its normal course. When it was brought out it seemed to me that the Bill was misdirected and too late. I hold that view even more strongly now, having watched its course through both Houses. I fail to see how the Government can say that the emergency is so dire that the special provisions written into existing National Trust legislation must be repealed.

The danger is not, as the Minister says, that the Bill will necessarily be used to take over National Trust land. Indeed I think that it will be of little use for the purposes at which it was directed originally. The danger is that it will give the idea that what was thought to be an almost certainty—that land handed over as inalienable would remain inalienable—is no longer the case. It will sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of people who may be contemplating giving their houses or property to the National Trust that, although there is no dire, immediate crisis and immediate use for it, the Government could take powers to acquire the land, side-tracking the very strict safeguards which existed previously.

As a previous Secretary of the National Trust for Scotland, I say in all sincerity that it may be that land and property of various kinds which otherwise would have been available to the nation may now not be given to the National Trust. I should regret that. The National Trusts are an effective way of preserving land and houses for the benefit of the public at large.

It was my hope that the Government would agree with the Lords in this respect and take a wider view of the possi- bilities which may flow from this Bill, especially in view of the fact that I do not believe that the Bill will fulfil the functions for which it was meant. I fear that, like much legislation, it may be used for different purposes. That has happened before, and I fear that it may happen again.

Mr. Iain MacCormick (Argyll)

The present situation is quite different from that of the white heat in which these proposals were conceived originally, and there is little likelihood of any encroachment on National Trust land at present. But we are here talking about the encroachment upon the principle of the inalienability of land, and I am certain that the rejection of this Lords amendment will sow the seeds of doubt in people's mind and possibly lead in the future to an encroachment on such inalienable land.

I have had the opportunity of speaking in this House before about the offshore petroleum Bill and of pointing out what was happening in places like Argyll where the Government were convinced that we had to have sites as soon as possible, and where sites are now available with no orders forthcoming for the companies operating them.

This has led to a remarkable state of affairs if what we read in the Scotsman is to be believed. We are told that a technical study was commissioned by the Offshore Supplies Office designed to find out what else these sites could be used for if no orders were forthcoming. I was even more amazed to read that if no order comes to Portavadie the Government have one consolation in that the technical study uncovered the fact that the site was suited to the construction of large oil tankers in the dry dock. I should have thought that a shipyard was the best place to build oil tankers, especially when firms like Scott Lithgow are not building them because there is no demand.

This will lead to future encroachments on inalienable land. In order to protect their investment, even though there is no need for the site in question to be available for building platforms, the Government may say that they have to save their money and that, although the land is inalienable, they will have to build large tankers there.

I am convinced that it will be singularly dangerous and, more important, singularly unnecessary for us to reject the amendment. I am sure that hon. Members will see fit to accept it.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

I spoke on this subject on the last occasion. My reason for speaking now is partly to say that I am pleased to see that, when certain of the interests of Scotland are involved, the Scottish National Party has decided to attend—unlike last night, when Scottish National Members were conspicuous by their absence, when we discussed important industrial policy. I welcome them here tonight.

I have spoken in favour of the amendment. It is true, as the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. MacCormick) said, that the situation has changed. I hope that the Government have recognised this. It is difficult to envisage a situation now in which National Trust land will be required for the purposes set out in the Bill. None of us can take a "Medes and Persians" line in future. National Trust land is unlikely to be needed for oil-related development, particularly on the northern part of the West Coast and it would be wrong to go ahead with this proposition.

I accept the Government's view that the power sought is unlikely to be used. It is clear that certain people who have devoted a lifetime's work to the National Trust, and often quantities of land, are anxious. Those of us who care about Scotland feel that we cannot be devoured completely by the oil monsters with which Tory Members are so keen to despoil our countryside. I hope that the Government will ensure that certain Scottish values are cherished and will set at rest the fears of conservationists and many others in Scotland.

If the Government took such a step it would be an encouragement to those people in Scotland who struggle against heavy odds to prevent our countryside being despoiled. Such a move would not affect the Government's aims.

Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrewshire, East)

I have already expressed my great concern about the situation concerning inalienable land. I am distressed by the Minister's emphasis, by way of assurance, that this provision will not be needed. This is probably true. At the time when this provision was inserted into the Bill there may have been a different situation. The Minister has told us that we need not worry because he does actually want this provision—

Mr. Millan

I did not say that.

Miss Harvie Anderson

The Minister redoubles my fears. If he wants this provision I hope that he will say plainly that the Government intend to use it. Whether or not he intended it, the impression given by the Minister was that it was not the Government's intention to use it at present—that the Government saw no need for such a provision. If that is so it seems extraordinary to ask the House to put it into the Bill. If we are to break the principle of inalienable land we must do so on a more realistic occasion. I hope that we never do so because it is one of the principles which has led to the acquisition, through the National Trust, of a variety of lands of national importance. I think that less will be offered in future if we break this principle tonight.

I add my voice to the plea that has already been made by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) that even at this late stage the Government should change their mind on what appears to be a far less urgent matter than they represented at an earlier stage. If the Government persist in their attitude, the consequences for Scotland and for the benefits which can be bestowed through such organisations as the National Trust will be most unfortunate.

Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop (South Shields)

I share the anxiety that has been expressed by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew-shire, West (Mr. Buchan) and others who have spoken. As a member of the executive of the National Trust for Scotland, I understand the reasons for that anxiety.

The major reality has been met by the concession in the previous Lords amendment. I welcome the fact that there will now be an opportunity for the National Trust for Scotland to petition the Lords and have its case considered by a Select Committee. Therefore, there is nothing between us on the land. However, there is the psychological effect. If there is so little, in fact almost nothing, between us on the ground, why cannot we make the concession so that the anxiety that might deter donors making land available to the National Trust for Scotland or, indeed, the National Trust for England can be avoided? There is still anxiety which even the useful concession that has already been made does not wholly meet.

The position of the National Trust is now threatened. Therefore, even now, I appeal to the Government, as they would lose little or nothing by conceding this point, to agree to the Lords amendment.

I welcome the assurance that I have had from the Minister that there will be further discussions with the National Trust for Scotland and that the Government will seek to reach an understanding about the treatment of inalienable land. I should make it clear that I give a strong welcome to the action that the Government have already taken over Drumbuie where they have preserved a position that was under threat.

The Conservative Government introduced a measure in this regard which would have been far more damaging to the National Trust for Scotland. Therefore, because the record of this Government is so much better than that of the previous Government, and because I entirely trust the intentions and good will of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I expect them to recognise that in the course of, I hope, a very long history there may be others in their office whom we cannot trust to the same extent who may, alas, use this power to act in ways which I am sure they would never dream of acting. That is why I appeal to them to think of the possibility of this unhappy change, and even at this late moment to accept the amendment and preserve the position of the National Trust.

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)

Since Committee we have moved from one bad principle to another. In Committee, the principle was that inalienable land would require compulsorily to be alienated. It was regrettable, but it was necessary. Tonight, the Minister has put forward a different proposition—that there is no expectation that it will ever be necessary to alienate inalienable land, and that even if the Government were going to alienate inalienable land they would have the decency to discuss it with those whose inalienable land they intended to alienate. That is a quite different position from that stated in Committee, and a worse principle.

The Minister is saying, "Although we do not foresee a requirement for this statutory power, lest we ever should require it we shall take it." That is like saying, "We do not foresee the possibility that we shall have to execute you, but in case we ever want to, we shall take that power." That is a bad basis for legislation, particularly legislation which contravenes such a principle of inalienability. It is even worse when one intends to discuss with the prospective deceased how he shall be executed.

If the Minister does not think the power will be necessary, it would be reasonable and sensible to accept the amendment. The Minister is a noble and decent man—"noble" with a small "n"—but he may be succeeded by people with infinitely worse motives. No doubt he thinks that he might be succeeded by Members of the Conservative Party, or even, if he has nightmares, by Members of the Scottish National Party.

It is wrong to take powers which the Minister does not think he will need and which contravene a major principle. I invite him in all conscience to accept the amendment.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I compliment my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) on his tongue twisters and the way he got his tongue round them at this hour.

I have considerable sympathy with the points made by the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. MacCormick) about land which may be acquired for land development and in future returned to another use. The hon. Member is right to worry about this because he knows the position of Portavadie, where there has been talk of an alternative use being surveyed and considered for berths at the site. On practical grounds, I share his concern.

My main concern is on two points. The Minister has said that he sees no necessity immediately or in the foreseeable future for the use of these powers in relation to inalienable land. That was the main point of the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop). If that is the case, and there is no urgency, we have the rest of the Bill and I would ask the Minister to consider again whether it is necessary to take these powers in relation to inalienable land. We are prepared to grant the Government the substantial powers necessary for expediting the development of offshore sites, but where there is no urgency—and the Minister has said there is not in relation to inalienable land—I ask the hon. Gentleman again to consider whether these powers are necessary.

In this amendment it is the National Trust we are concerned about and I ask the Minister to remember that in the debate in another place this amendment was not supported just by my party; the support went across the parties. Those involved feel that the Lords should be supported in this and that inalienable land should not be treated as the Government propose.

If he is not prepared to reconsider this because there is no urgency, the Minister should remember that it will still be possible to take inalienable land. Where there is no urgency it is better to leave the situation where it is and if the Minister is not prepared to reconsider, I ask my hon. Friends to support the Lords in their amendment and to oppose the Government in their attempt to reject it.

Mr. Millan

Since reference has been made to Portavadie by two hon. Members, I want to say something about it although it is strictly nothing to do with inalienable land. Reports in the Press this week that studies have been carried out by the Department of Energy into alternative uses of Portavadie are completely without foundation.

An Hon. Member

In the Scotsman.

Mr. Millan

I do not know where it was. It is not true. I hope we shall have no more of it.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) made the point that this Government's record is good on the question of the National Trust land involved in the Drumbuie inquiry.

I hope that that fact will be kept in mind by both sides of the House, because the fact that the Drumbuie land was owned by the National Trust and was inalienable land was a factor that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State weighed heavily, and it had an important influence on the decision he took on the Drumbuie inquiry.

The main point to which I wish to draw attention is that raised by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith). There is an implication in what some hon. Members have said that once land has been declared inalienable by the National Trust, nothing can ever happen to it—that it can never be changed in any way. That is not so. First, having declared it inalienable, the National Trust can reverse the procedures, and, in fact, has done so. Some of the land in the Balmacara area around Drumbuie has been sold, as I recollect, by the National Trust.

The first point I make is that it is a matter for the National Trust procedures. Secondly, it is possible at the moment compulsorily to acquire National Trust inalienable land. That has to be said. It is nevertheless accepted that it is possible for compulsory acquisition to take place of inalienable National Trust land, for the very good basic principle that it ought not to be possible for any individual or group of persons, however distinguished and however good their record has been, to set themselves aside from the general law of the land in an important matter of this sort. It would be wrong that there could be an absolute inalienability. That is not recognised in the present law.

The Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) (Scotland) Act 1947 provides procedures for the compulsory acquisition of National Trust or any other inalienable land. It is true that these procedures involve something other than the normal public local inquiry which applies for compulsory purchase generally. There has to be an inquiry before Parliamentary Commissioners, and the inquiry then reports to Parliament and the final decision is taken by Parliament.

There is a procedure where the final decision is taken by Parliament. That is exactly the end result of this Bill. It is reached by a rather different route and it is reached rather more expeditiously, but the end result is a parliamentary procedure where the decision is ultimately taken by this House and the other place, and, because of Amendment No. 2, with all the protections of the hybridity procedure, as amended, that I have described tonight. We are dealing with a comparatively narrow point here.

It has been asked: if the point is so narrow, why are the Government persisting in dealing with this matter in this way? First, there is a point of principle involved, which I have indicated and which I shall not elaborate. Secondly, we are dealing here essentially with a situation which, if it arose, would be, by definition, a situation of urgency. The whole procedure could not arise under the Bill unless there were a situation of urgency, because the procedure does not bite unless urgency is involved.

I did not say on Second Reading or in Committee, or tonight, that National Trust land would never be required. All I said was that I see no particular piece of National Trust land which is likely, in the foreseeable future, to be required for oil-related development, as I see the situation today. But I cannot and will not guarantee that the situation will not arise when a piece of National Trust land will be required in a situation of urgency. I hope it does not arise, but if it does arise and the urgency is there, it seems to me perfectly consonant not only with the general principles of the Bill but also with the way in which we have treated National Trust land in the past that there should be an expedited acquisition procedure after the full planning procedures have been gone through and in a way which

allows ultimately for parliamentary approval, with the necessary hybridity procedure applying if necessary in the other place according to the rules of the other place in these matters. I have no doubt that in the actuality, if the situation ever arose, this would be the kind of case in which the other place would want to operate the hybridity procedure. That is not, however, a matter on which I can commit the other place at all. That is my estimate of the situation.

Having given that explanation, it seems to be quite wrong to say, even by implication, that this is a case of the Government's setting oil-related development before questions of amenity, environment, and so on. That is certainly not the situation. If that impression were to get about, and if unnecessary fears—as I think them to be—were raised in the minds of potential donors, I suppose that some damage could conceivably arise to the National Trust. But I do not believe that there is any real ground for apprehension. I hope that those who have the interests of the National Trust at heart—I hope I may include myself among them—will not give an exaggerated impression of what the Bill is doing in a way which would cause unnecessary damage, because that would be doing a disservice to the National Trust.

However, for the basic reasons of the possibility—I put it no higher than that—of a situation arising in which the urgency which is part of the basis of the Bill might apply, I cannot do other than continue to recommend the House to disagree with the Lords in the amendment.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 135, Noes 121.

Division No. 114.] AYES [11.12 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Campbell, Ian Dempsey, James
Archer, Peter Cartwright, John Doig, Peter
Armstrong, Ernest Clemitson, Ivor Dormand, J. D.
Ashley, Jack Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Ashton, Joe Coleman, Donald Dunnett, Jack
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Eadie, Alex
Bates, Alf Corbett, Robin Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)
Bean, R. E. Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Boardman, H. Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Booth, Albert Crawshaw, Richard Evans, John (Newton)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cryer, Bob Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Cunningham, Dr J. (Witeh) Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.
Buchan, Norman Dalyell, Tam Flannery, Martin
Buchanan, Richard Davidson, Arthur Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Ford, Ben
Forrester, John McCartney, Hugh Roderick, Caerwyn
Fraser John (Lambeth, N'w'd) McElhone, Frank Rooker, J. W.
George, Bruce MacFarquhar, Roderick Roper, John
Golding, John McGuire, Michael (Ince) Rose, Paul B.
Gould, Bryan Mackenzie, Gregor Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Gourlay, Harry Mackintosh, John P. Selby, Harry
Grocott, Bruce Maclennan, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Hamling, William McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Hardy, Peter McNamara, Kevin Sillars, James
Harper, Joseph Madden, Max Skinner, Dennis
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Marks, Kenneth Small, William
Hatton, Frank Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Snape, Peter
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Mikardo, Ian Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Hunter, Adam Millan, Bruce Stoddart, David
Janner, Greville Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Strang, Gavin
Jeger, Mrs Lena Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Tinn, James
Kaufman, Gerald Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Kerr, Russell Newens, Stanley Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Noble, Mike White, Frank R. (Bury)
Kinnock, Neil Oakes, Gordon White, James (Pollok)
Lambie, David Palmer, Arthur Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Lamborn, Harry Parker, John Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Lamond, James Parry, Robert Woodall, Alec
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Pendry, Tom Young, David (Bolton E)
Leadbitter, Ted Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Price, William (Rugby) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Loyden, Eddie Richardson, Miss Jo Mr. James Hamilton and
Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Robertson, John (Paisley) Mr. Laurie Pavitt
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Hunt, John Penhaligon, David
Bain, Mrs Margaret Hurd, Douglas Percival, Ian
Beith, A. J. James, David Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Benyon, W. Jessel, Toby Rathbone, Tim
Blaker, Peter Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Reid, George
Boscawen, Hon Robert Jones Arthur (Daventry) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Bradford, Rev Robert Jopling, Michael Rifkind, Malcolm
Brittan, Leon Kilfedder, James Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Brotherton, Michael King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Kirk, Peter Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Kitson, Sir Timothy Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Bulmer, Esmond Lamont, Norman Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Carson, John Latham, Michael (Melton) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Lawrence, Ivan Sainsbury, Tim
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lawson, Nigel Scott-Hopkins, James
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Le Marchant, Spencer Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Cope, John Lester, Jim (Beeston) Shepherd, Colin
Corrie, John MacCormick, Iain Sims, Roger
Crawford, Douglas McCusker, H. Sinclair, Sir George
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Macfarlane, Neil Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Sproat, Iain
Drayson, Burnaby Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stanbrook, Ivor
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Mather, Carol Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stradling Thomas, J.
Fairbairn, Nicholas Meyer, Sir Anthony Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fairgrieve, Russell Moate, Roger Tebbit, Norman
Fowler Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Monro, Hector Temple-Morris, Peter
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Montgomery, Fergus Thompson, George
Goodhart, Philip Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Townsend, Cyril D.
Gray, Hamish Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Grieve, Percy Mudd, David Viggers, Peter
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Neave, Airey Watt, Hamish
Grist, Ian Nelson, Anthony Weatherill, Bernard
Grylls, Michael Neubert, Michael Welsh, Andrew
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Normanton, Tom Wigley, Dafydd
Hampson, Dr Keith Onslow, Cranley Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Osborn, John Winterton, Nicholas
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Hawkins, Paul Paisley, Rev Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hayhoe Barney Pardoe, John Mr. Richard Luce and
Henderson Douglas Parkinson, Cecil Mr. Fred Silvester.
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Pattie, Geoffrey

Lords amendment disagreed to.

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