HC Deb 11 November 1975 vol 899 cc1383-403

Lords Amendment: No. 83, in page 16, leave out lines 39 to 43 and insert the desirability—

  1. (a) of securing the proper planning of their area and
  2. (b) of bringing development land into public ownership and of developing that land themselves or of making it available for development by others in accordance with such planning."

Read a Second time.

Mr. Raison

I beg to move, as a manuscript amendment to the Lords amendment, leave out from 'area' to end.

It is our intention to leave out the whole of paragraph (b)—namely, to delete: the desirability of bringing development land into public ownership as one of the criteria for local authorities in the exercise of their functions. This would leave only the desirability of securing the proper planning of their area in the exercise of their functions.

In another place their Lordships originally carried an amendment which reversed the order of the two requirements in the Bill and included the word "then" at the end of the planning consideration. In other words, the amendment from another place provided that every authority shall have regard to (a) the desirability of securing the proper planning of their area and then (b) the desirability of bringing development land into public ownership. Their Lordships later agreed to the dropping of the word "then". I have asked myself why they agreed to that, but it has become apparent that they took the view that it was not for them to try to undermine one of the principles of the Bill. I have no such inhibition. We are concerned with a thoroughly odious principle. The manuscript amendment seeks to establish clearly and unequivocally the overwhelming priority of planning and to do away with the ownership consideration.

Of course, we are also discussing Lords Amendment No. 83. I support their Lordships in saying that if we are to have the ownership criterion it should follow rather than precede the planning criterion. I should point out that Baroness Birk said: we are prepared to accept the Amendment as we feel it is some improvement on the one moved before."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 5th November 1975; Vol, 365, c. 1236.] Baroness Birk was talking about the dropping of the word "then". She referred to the Government's position on this issue. I hope that the Minister will tell us why the Government are trying to reverse Amendment No. 83. I can see no reason for doing so. I understand that it can be argued with a good deal of logic that Clause 17(1) does not have much significance in any event. I am sure that some of my learned colleagues will be able to correct me if I am wrong, but I suspect that the phrase shall have regard to the desirability would cut very little ice in any court of law. I cannot believe that that phrase imposes a strong onus on anyone to do anything when it comes to a legal test.

4.0 a.m.

The real punch behind the Bill lies in the reserve powers that the Secretary of State proposes to give himself in Clause 47. In that case the decision lies not with the courts, but with the Secretary of State. That is clearly in keeping with the ultimate dictatorial tone of the entire Bill.

However, let us assume that the provision has some kind of symbolic significance. It is an invitation to local authorities to use their powers to acquire for acquisition's sake rather than for planning purposes. But this purely ideological consideration should not be allowed to prevail. Surely it should be made clear that planning considerations are paramount.

The Government in their White Paper—a document that was introduced in the hectic run-up to the October election—laid emphasis on two matters—first planning and, secondly recoupment of development gain. At that time they were not laying emphasis on ownership for ownership's sake. The truth is that the Government's Bill is concerned primarily with ownership for ownership's sake. The cat was let out of the bag in the Lords debate on 28th October when Lord Melchett, replying for the Government, said that the Bill dealt with community land ownership and not with planning in itself. In other words, what the Government are interested in is community ownership rather than in good planning. That is the truth and the public should realise it.

Let us be charitable and assume that planning plays some part in the exercise. Despite that assumption, the Bill is wholly unnecessary to achieve good, positive planning. The power needed to achieve this so-called positive planning already exists. I quote from Section 112 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. I am sure that this quotation will meet the approval of my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), who was the architect of that legislation. Indeed, I believe that it was a consolidation measure and, therefore, some Labour Members no doubt had a hand in it too.

Section 112 of the 1971 Act is headed "Acquisition and appropriation of land" and reads: The Secretary of State may authorise a local authority to whom this section applies to acquire compulsorily any land within their area if he is satisfied—(a) that the land is required in order to secure the treatment as a whole, by development, redevelopment or improvement, or partly by one and partly by another method, of the land or of any area in which the land is situated; or (b) that it is expedient in the public interest that the land should be held together with land so required; or (c) that the land is required for development or redevelopment, or both, as a whole for the purpose of providing for the relocation of population or industry or the replacement of open space in the course of the redevelopment or improvement, or both, of another area as a whole; or (d) that it is expedient to acquire the land immediately for a purpose which it is necessary to achieve in the interests of the proper planning of an area in which the land is situated. To quote extracts from that Act is not perhaps the most agreeable way in which to entertain the House, but I am making an important point. For the benefit of those Labour Members who, understandably, find a certain drowsiness coming over them, I wish to illustrate the point by quoting a line or two of a document issued by the Central Office of Information entitled "Town and Country Planning in Britain". It was published this year and sums up what I have just quoted from the 1971 Act. It states: Since the Town and Country Planning Acts of 1947, local planning authorities have had general planning powers (subject to ministerial approval) to buy land compulsorily in order to secure the comprehensive development or redevelopment of land in their areas (other powers are used to provide specific public services such as housing, roads and public open spaces). The Town and Country Planning Act 1968 (now consolidated in the 1971 Act) extended the planning purposes for which land in England and Wales can be compulsorily purchased…Compulsory purchase powers have been used extensively to promote the comprehensive reconstruction of commercial and civic centres in urban areas (in many cases those damaged during the second world war) and to re-plan other areas of large cities and towns to support a growing population, to provide better living conditions, and to cope with the increasing volume of motor traffic. It is quite evident that this Bill is wholly unnecessary for good planning. All the powers for such planning already exist. Not only that, but they have been exercised time and again by local authorities. The planning aspects of the Bill are entirely fraudulent because they are unnecessary. Why do we need the Bill? We have never been told, except perhaps by Lord Melchett.

In legislative terms this is a measure which could be very easily repealed. One of the characteristics of it is that there are only two relatively minor appeals to do with blight in the repeals provisions. The business of repeal is something which we take seriously. We would be open to discussion about what, if anything, is needed in planning terms. We have the Bill and must try to let it do as little damage as possible if it reaches the statute book. One way to do this is to do what we are proposing in the manuscript amendment and what the Lords propose in their Amendment No. 83—namely, to assert quite clearly the supremacy of planning considerations over "land grab" considerations. It is important that we have an effective planning system and that that system should not be vitiated by the philosophy behind the Bill.

The Bill will do a great deal of damage to confidence. To a large extent planning depends on mutual confidence between local authorities and the public. The local authorities are deeply worried, if they have any sensitivity, about the damage to this relationship which the Bill is liable to cause. Both the manuscript amendment and Lords Amendment No. 83 are of great importance. They give us a chance to prevent the Bill wrecking the relationship which has existed for a long time and which is so important to the well-being of the country. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will support me in the Lobby on this issue.

Mr. Oakes

It will come as no surprise to Opposition Members to be told that I am asking my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject both the manuscript amendment and the Lords amendment. I do not want to reply at any length to the fifth Second Reading speech of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) because I replied to the fourth one 12 hours ago. This is basically—

Mr. Hastings

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely, if my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) had made a Second Reading speech this time, the last time or the time before—I think that the Minister accused him of making four Second Reading speeches—

Mr. Sedgemore


Mr. Hastings

That would make it even worse. Surely, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would have called him to order. If he is not out of order, what does the Minister mean?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I was just about to say that every time the word occurred I translated "Bill" into "amendment". That put the speech made by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) in order.

Mr. Oakes

You have a charming and convenient way of dealing with the procedure, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I shall deal first with the manuscript amendment. The Government have never concealed the fact that the Bill is about the public acquisition of land, based on a planning framework. The object behind the Bill which left this House for the other place was the public acquisition of land. That object applies to both the short-term and the long-term provisions.

The philosophy of Labour Members is that it is in the best interests of the community as a whole that land should be developed by the community as a whole rather than by the individual, except in special cases, and that development should take place within a planning framework, not in grabs. We are talking not about confiscation, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen), but about acquisition by the local authority with a proper price for the land being paid to the person who sells it. In that way the local authority and the community are able to benefit from the development.

The amendment to the Lords amendment is a wrecking amendment in that it makes changes in the Bill which left this House for the other place. The Bill is about public ownership, and it is right that it should impose the duty which it contained when it left this House.

I come to the curious Lords amendment, which may at first sight seem to be semantic, which changes the order of precedence between planning and public acquisition. The Bill is primarily concerned with public acquisition, and it is right that acquisition should come first in the order of precedence. We have made clear in Committee, on Report, in another place and again in this House that the basis of the acquisition is the planning of the area. Planning considerations must be taken into account before there can be public acquisition.

This seemingly semantic Lords amendment turns the formulation of the duty completely on its head. We have emphasised that public acquisition is the handmaiden of planning, but that does not mean that the Bill is wholly a planning Bill. It is specifically a Bill about public acquisition and it is, therefore, right that the public ownership of development land should be mentioned first in the statement of the general duty in subsection (1).

The hon. Member for Aylesbury implied that Conservative Members were concerned that planning considerations should be placed second, but those fears were not shared by the main organisations concerned with planning when the original amendments to the general duty were under discussion. The Royal Town Planning Institute was content with the form of the subsection as it left this House. The Town and Country Planning Association also said that the amendments made to Clause 17 met the concern it had earlier expressed about the link between the Bill and planning.

4.15 a.m.

There is a subtler objection to the amendment, and it might find more favour with the Opposition than the objection I have just posed. If the general duty is to secure proper planning and to bring development land into public ownership in accordance with such planning", the duty of securing proper planning seems to be related essentially to the acquisition of development land. But this is not right, because authorities have other functions under the Bill in addition to the acquisition of development land—and, indeed, in relation to development land there are already valuable planning safeguards written into the Bill in subsection (2) of the clause.

One example of a function that might be left unqualified by planning considerations if the amendment were adopted is the acquisition of land that is not development land as it is now defined in the Bill. The House will recall that development land is now defined as land needed for relevant development within 10 years. But the acquisition power goes wider than this and may cover, for example, land needed for excepted development in certain circum stances.It is clearly important that authorities' purchases of such land should also take place within the framework of established planning policies, and this could be lost in the reordering of the duty proposed by the Lords.

Another example is the management and disposal of land. Clearly it is important that here, too, authorities should have regard to planning considerations in exercising functions that do not consist of the acquisition of development land. The clause deals with disposal, but only in a broad sense—that is that authorities should acquire development land with a view to disposing of it for development by others or developing it themselves. The words would not cover the method of disposal, which might specifically be designed to help towards the achievement of planning objectives.

The Lords amendment is therefore objectionable both on the general grounds that it makes nonsense of a duty which is to be included in a Bill dealing with public ownership and because, like some of the other Lords amendments to be discussed on Schedule 6 and on Clause 23, it would be likely in practice to be actively harmful from the point of view of achieving a proper relationship between the operation of the scheme and the planning system.

I therefore ask the House to reject the amendments proposed in the other place and doubly to reject—if that is possible—the manuscript amendment proposed at this late stage by the hon. Member for Aylesbury.

Mr. Michael Latham

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) for moving the manuscript amendment to which, for all I know, my name ought to be added—we can discuss that later. It was a matter of total indifference to me whether we accepted the Lords amendment to put (a) before (b), or left the Bill as it was and put (b) before (a).

We are now discussing the most ideological part of this horrible Bill. We are discussing the proposition that every local authority should have regard to the desirability of bringing development land into public ownership and develop the land itself, or should make it available for development by others. I do not regard it as desirable that local authorities should bring development land into public ownership. Least of all do I regard it as desirable to bring development land into public ownership if the objective is to bring about the proper planning of the area. I have heard nothing from the hon. Gentleman or from the right hon. Gentleman earlier, to imbue me with any confidence that local authorities will bring about the proper planning of their areas by taking development land into public ownership.

The existing planning system does not seem to work very well. Is it cheap? Does it save staff? Does it work fast? Is the planning system responsive to public opinion? Is the system of planning appeals in the Minister's own Department satisfactory? There are many parts of the planning system that are so manifestly unsuitable that there is absolutely no reason to believe that local authorities are likely to improve discharging their duties under the Act by bringing development land into public ownership. All we have seen from the use of the existing powers of local authorities in many ways has been muddle, delay, cost and waste.

If hon. Members support the manuscript amendment, they will be saying very firmly that they disagree with the central principle of the Bill. We do not believe that it is desirable to bring development land into public ownership. In the present situation we consider that the local authority planning system is already breaking down and will be made even more chaotic by the Bill. The sufferers will be those who need houses. Their situation will be worsened by Clause 17 if it remains in anything like its present form.

Mr. Graham Page

My hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) argued strongly in favour of the amendment, but the Under-Secretary argued even more strongly for it. He said that the whole purpose was to take development land into public ownership. Why mention that at this point in the Bill? Clause 17 says that the acquiring authority must consider the desirability of the whole purpose of the Bill in taking development land into public ownership. But if it has already been decided by the Government that local authorities must take the land into public ownership, what is the point of repeating that injunction in this clause? We are really concerned at this point that when local authorities are carrying out the order of the Government that they shall take land, they should do so in a way which fits in with proper planning.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) attributed to me the appropriate section of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, but it was the Town and Country Planning Act 1968—passed under the last Labour Government—which gave local authorities power to acquire land when it is expedient to acquire the land immediately for a purpose which it is necessary to achieve in the interests of the proper planning of an area in which the land is situated. Surely all that was necessary in this clause was to repeat that provision, if it was thought necessary, although I think it unnecessary. Surely the local authorities are still bound to look at their acquisition of development land from the planning point of view.

In Committee we were assured that the Government appreciated that acquisition should be for the proper planning of the area. The Minister said that it would all be done within the planning framework. That is what the manuscript amendment is intended to stress—that is to say, that a local auhority must have proper regard to the proper planning of its area. The clause does not need to be messed up with what the hon. Gentleman says is the whole purpose of the Bill. It is clearly desirable that, if a local authority is to take development land into public ownership, it must have regard to the proper planning of its area in doing so.

Mr. Mayhew

There are two ways of considering the drafting of the clause. The first is that there is a fundamental flaw in it which will prevent the Government from achieving their object. If one legislates that a council shall have regard to the availability of something, it is open to the council to conclude that whatever one has in mind is not available and to act accordingly.

The clause as drafted requires councils to have regard to the desirability of bringing development land into public ownership. On that view of the matter, since 95 per cent. of the councils would consider it undesirable that such land should be brought into public ownership, they may proceed accordingly. Are the Government satisfied that this drafting will achieve their purpose? The other view is that it is a statement in an operative clause of the Bill—a statement of purpose which, for the reasons just given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), is wholly unnecessary. The powers are provided. The purpose of the Bill is set forth in the preamble. This is a wholly otiose statement of a principle which will be obnoxious to 95 per cent. of councils and it ought to be deleted.

Mr. Sainsbury

I am puzzled why the Minister finds this amendment, either in its original form or in its improved manuscript version, difficult to accept.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) has quite rightly pointed out that when we look at these amendments, in both original and manuscript form, we ought to look first at the sentence that comes before the position in the clause where the amendment would be made. The heading is "Duties of authorities" and the clause reads: In exercising their functions on or after the first appointed day every authority shall have regard to….". As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Royal Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Mayhew) pointed out, we may or may not approve of the functions that the local authorities have been given under the Bill. They are set out very clearly. We do not have to repeat them at this point. Surely the Minister, with his acknowledged affection for town planning—I do not know whether it extends to local authorities, but perhaps they are included—could find our proposal acceptable.

Having put in the preamble something about the exercise of functions, we should ensure that regard is paid to "proper planning". I admit that that phrase is perhaps not very well defined, but it has respectable parenthood in Section 112 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. Subsection (1)(d) states: that it is expedient to acquire the land immediately for a purpose which it is necessary to achieve in the interests of the proper planning of an area". It is rather more fully described in that section. I suspect that this phraseology may go right back to the 1947 Act, where similar powers were first to be found. The Minister would normally wish to acknowledge with pride anything that was in that Act. Therefore the words "proper planning", although perhaps not particularly well defined, can be found in the legislation dating back quite a long time. The definition seems to be recognised, perhaps, by the reaction of the professional bodies to which the Minister has referred as being one which they find acceptable and reassuring.

The history of this part of the Bill is strange to say the least, because although we are now quite rightly and property talking about how we ensure that planning is given its right place in the scheme of things, or a slightly better place, when we first gazed with astonishment at what was presented to us in the Bill we found that reference to planning was almost entirely absent.

Mr. Graham Page

May I remind my hon. Friend that it was not absent from this clause? It was said deliberately in the original clause that the local authorities should disregard planning.

4.30 a.m.

Mr. Sainsbury

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. That came a little later in the clause. But it has been added here to meet the numerous objections that were raised. As my right hon. Friend said, local authorities were invited specifically to disregard proper planning.

The modestly favourable reactions from the professional bodies to the amendments now made are perhaps attributable to their sense of relief that the Bill is not quite as horrid as before and is now merely nasty. In my view, we should not attach too much importance to this apparent approval. It may also be accompanied by the feeling of some professional associations that no Ministry will try to implement all the parts of the Act. There is a widely held professional belief that it is unworkable and, therefore, that no one will try to carry out the full panoply of it.

We cannot take that attitude. If we are asked to enact a measure, we must have regard to what may eventually result from it. The power may become the duty, with the local authorities having to acquire all land on which virtually any development is to be carried out.

The Minister said that the Bill was about public ownership. We ask, public ownership of what? If, after the second appointed day, the duty is to be laid on local authorities to acquire all development land, they will have to decide what is to be development land. Therefore, they are brought up against the dual responsibility which remains one of the fundamental criticisms of the Bill and which, I suppose, we can remedy only if we accept the manuscript amendment. It is the dual responsibility of being both the developer and the planning authority.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) referred to the damage to confidence. My hon. Friend for Melton (Mr. Latham) spoke in very uncomplimentary terms of the public view of the town planning mechanism and said that it was not regarded with universal approval as being a cheap and efficient system or one which produced the right result. I hope that we shall find ways of improving it.

The damage to confidence which would result from the dual responsibilities of local authorities as both developers and the bodies controlling development could be very great unless we make it clear that, in carrying out the functions which unfortunately they will be saddled with under the Bill, the local authorities must first have regard to proper planning. For that reason I welcome the manuscript amendment, which is a further improvement to the Lords amendment, in that it makes proper planning the first and most important consideration.

If we accept the amendment, we shall go some way to reassuring those who are seriously concerned about the ability of an authority to carry out this dual responsibility of development control and development without damaging the planning mechanism of which we are justifiably proud, even though it needs improvements, and which has worked better than anything in most of the developed countries since 1947. I do not believe that we should do such damage lightly. We must carefully consider an amendment of this type which is likely to help to mitigate that damage. Therefore, in my view we should welcome the amendment.

Mr. Hastings

My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) made a powerful speech in support of the amendment. Of course it is undesirable that land should be taken into public ownership, and that is the first principle behind the amendment. To do such a thing would be a monstrous mistake. Indeed, the statistics support the argument that the reason why we have a housing shortage is precisely the extent to which we have always involved local authorities in development. The Bill will make the situation 65 times worse. That is undesirable and the Minister cannot be surprised to learn that we object to it.

Moreover, there is a question of priority. That theme runs through all the speeches that I have heard. The amendment seeks to lay the emphasis on planning. The Minister said "There is no need for this. The Bill is about the acquisition of land. Planning will take care of itself. There will be planning in any event." That is exactly what we doubt.

I should like to quote an example. In my constituency there is a village with a population of just over 2,000. In that village an enormous development on about 50 acres is to take place because of some calculations made by the Land Commission years ago. The Land Commission was the last fatuity introduced by the Socialist Government which is comparable with the present business. The calculations were made so long ago that the authorities do not even remember why they thought they wanted the land. However, since then several developments have gone broke, partially due to the machinations of the Government. The plans were changed, and instead of the density being so many houses to the acre, the figure has now practically doubled to save the situation for those who have invested. In effect there was no plan; acquisition came first.

The unfortunate people who live in this small place now see the prospect of their village being more than doubled in size for reasons which no one can explain. They come to me and say "Please, can we have a town plan or something similar?" This is not really the fault of the county authority or of any other authority. The proposals were put forward by a Government who thought that it would be a good idea at some stage in the game, because of some macro-plan concerning the South-East. That is precisely the type of situation which my hon. Friends envisage if the Bill is passed without this amendment. I do not believe that that is an exaggerated fear. I hope that when the Minister replies to this debate, which concerns a matter of principle, he will not try to sweep that fear away by accusing my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) of making Second Reading speeches.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury made a good speech and pointed out that the heart of our objection to this miserable measure is contained in and could be put right by the amendment. The arguments are in no way complex. It is a matter of basic principle. We say that the plan must come first and that if there is to be acquisition it should be in terms of the plan. To amend the Bill in the way suggested in another place would achieve that situation. I hope that the Minister will address his mind to this matter and give us a more adequate answer than the one he put forward in his original rejection of the amendment.

Mr. Crouch

I cannot understand the Minister's rejection of the amendment from the other place. I felt that he was saying that the Government accepted that proper planning was a premise which came first and that the subsequent desirability of bringing land into public ownership was the meaning of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman spoke of proper planning first and then said that the objective of the Bill was to bring land into public ownership—in other words, that the Bill was to work under the umbrella of the overall premise of proper planning.

That is what has emerged from the other place. I did not take part in the Committee stage, but I have read the debates and heard this short discussion on the amendment. In effect, the other place has said that there is a better way of doing what is proposed in the Bill. We have argued strongly why proper planning should come first and the bringing of land into public ownership should come second. We are saying not that one is more or less important than the other but that one should come first. That is precisely what has been suggested in the other place. We have another place for mature consideration of some of these factors. I suggest that this amendment provides a better piece of drafting than is in the Bill.

I thought that the Minister in his opening speech—I listened carefully; I hope that I am not sleepy—said that the Government regarded proper planning as a first requirement and that the Bill was designed to bring about the development and public ownership of land. That is the purpose of the amendment. We expect the Government to accept wisdom from the other place—sometimes we get wisdom from there—and not to reject it out of hand.

Mr. Oakes

I agree with the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) that sometimes we get wisdom from the other place. Indeed, we have already accepted some Lords amendments.

I turn now to the manuscript amendment and the amendment from the other place. I apologise to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if there was any implication in what I said that you were in any way remiss when I referred to a Second Reading speech. I think you have known me long enough to know that I would not make that kind of accusation. However, it is implicit in a manuscript amendment when it goes to the root of the Bill. Therefore, any hon. Member who moves a manuscript amendment will find himself in Second Reading territory almost immediately. I suggest that we passed that stage long ago and are now dealing with amendments from the other place.

The effect of the manuscript amendment would be to cut out everything except planning responsibility in Clause 17.

I repeat that the Bill is concerned with the public ownership of relevant land and that that public ownership shall take place within a planning framework. We have tried to make that clear throughout all stages of the Bill.

Mr. Fairbairn rose

Mr. Oakes

I do not propose to give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has just walked into the Chamber. This has been a long debate.

It is a matter for the House how long we go on with this debate. Opposition Members know that they will not convince the Government about this matter, because it affects the principle of the Bill. Equally, I know that we shall not convince them.

There are a number of important amendments from the other place which merit considerable discussion. We can discuss them when we are even more tired this afternoon or we can do it before we reach that state. I suggest that it is better to concentrate on arguments which might produce some benefit than to have a futile, continuous discussion of principles in which neither side will convince the other.

4.45 a.m.

I would be the first to admit that out planning system has faults. However, for the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham)—whose knowledge of planning matters, as I have said before, is probably second only to that of the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page)—to criticise the system really surprised me. Although our system has its imperfections,

Division No. 401.] AYES [4.40 a.m.
Adley, Robert Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Hurd, Douglas
Aitken, Jonathan Elliott, Sir William Hutchison, Michael Clark
Alison, Michael Emery, Peter Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Arnold, Tom Eyre, Reginald Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Fairbairn, Nicholas James, David
Awdry, Daniel Fairgrieve, Russell Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)
Baker, Kenneth Fell, Anthony Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Banks, Robert Fisher, Sir Nigel Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jopling, Michael
Benyon, W. Fookes, Miss Janet Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Biffen, John Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Biggs-Davison, John Fox, Marcus Kershaw, Anthony
Blaker, Peter Freud, Clement Kimball, Marcus
Body, Richard Fry, Peter King, Evelyn (South Dorset)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Bottomley, Peter Gardiner, George (Reigate) Kitson, Sir Timothy
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Knight, Mrs Jill
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Knox, David
Braine, Sir Bernard Glyn, Dr Alan Lamont, Norman
Brittan, Leon Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Langford-Holt, Sir John
Brotherton, Michael Goodhew, Victor Latham, Michael (Melton)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Goodlad, Alastair Lawrence, Ivan
Bryan, Sir Paul Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Lawson, Nigel
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Loveridge, John
Buck, Antony Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Lure, Richard
Budgen, Nick Gray, Hamish McAdden, Sir Stephen
Bulmer, Esmond Grieve, Percy McCrindle, Robert
Burden, F. A. Griffiths, Eldon Macfarlane, Neil
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Grist, Ian MacGregor, John
Carlisle, Mark Grylls, Michael Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hall, Sir John McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Channon, Paul Hall-Davis, A. G. F. McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Churchill, W. S. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Madel, David
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hampson, Dr Keith Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Clark, William (Croydon S) Hannam, John Marten, Nell
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Mates, Michael
Clegg, Walter Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Mather, Carol
Cockcroft, John Hastings, Stephen Maude, Angus
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Havers, Sir Michael Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald
Cope, John Hawkins, Paul Mawby, Ray
Cormack, Patrick Hayhoe, Barney Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Costain, A. P. Heseltine, Michael Mayhew. Patrick
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Hicks, Robert Meyer, Sir Anthony
Crouch, David Higgins, Terence L. Mills, Peter
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Holland, Phillip Miscampbell, Norman
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hooson, Emlyn Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hordern, Peter Moate, Roger
Drayson, Burnaby Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Molyneaux, James
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Howell, David (Guildford) Monro, Hector
Dunlop, John Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Montgomery, Fergus
Durant, Tony Hunt, John Moore, John (Croydon C)

it is one of the finest town and country planning systems in the world and it has been improved by Governments of both parties—including the right hon. Member for Crosby when he was a Minister. I do not like the general condemnation of the system that we have heard tonight. I do not believe that the hon. Member for Melton or the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) meant that, but others did.

I could argue longer about the amendments, and hon. Members opposite may want to renew the case. But if they mean business, let us have the vote now and get on to amendments on which we might even convince one another.

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 244, Noes 260.

More, Jasper (Ludlow) Ridley, Hon Nicholas Stradling Thomas, J.
Morgan, Geraint Ridsdale, Julian Tapsell, Peter
Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Rifkind, Malcolm Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Tebbit, Norman
Mudd, David Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Temple-Morris, Peter
Neave, Airey Ross, William (Londonderry) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Neubert, Michael Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Thomas, Rt Hon p. (Hendon S)
Newton, Tony Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Townsend, Cyril D.
Nott, John Royle, Sir Anthony Trotter, Neville
Onslow, Cranley Sainsbury, Tim Tugendhat, Christopher
Oppenheim, Mrs Sally St. John-Stevas, Norman van Straubenzee, W. R.
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Scott, Nicholas Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Pardoe, John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Viggers, Peter
Parkinson, Cecil Shelton, William (Streatham) Wakeham, John
Pattie, Geoffrey Shepherd, Colin Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Penhaligon, David Silvester, Fred Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Percival, Ian Sims, Roger Wall, Patrick
Peyton, Rt Hon John Sinclair, Sir George Walters, Dennis
Pink, R. Bonner Skeet, T. H. H. Weatherill, Bernard
Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Wells, John
Price, David (Eastleigh) Speed, Keith Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Prior, Rt Hon James Spence, John Wiggin, Jerry
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Spicer, Michael (S. Worcester) Winterton, Nicholas
Raison, Timothy Sproat, Iain Young, Sir G. (Ealing. Acton)
Rathbone, Tim Stainton, Keith Younger, Hon George
Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter Stanbrook, Ivor
Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Stanley, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rees-Davies, W. R. Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) Mr Spencer Le Marchant and
Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Mr Anthony Berry
Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Stokes, John
Abse, Leo Davies, Ifor (Gower) Huckfield, Les
Allaun, Frank Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Anderson, Donald Deakins, Eric Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Archer, Peter Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Armstrong, Ernest Delargy, Hugh Hunter, Adam
Ashley, Jack Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Ashton, Joe Dempsey, James Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Doig, Peter Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Atkinson, Norman Douglas-Mann, Bruce Janner, Greville
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Duffy, A. E. P. Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Dunn, James A. Jeger, Mrs Lena
Bates, Alf Dunnett, Jack Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Bean, R. E. Eadie, Alex John, Brynmor
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Edge, Geoff Johnson, James (Hull West)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Johnson, Walter (Derby s)
Bishop, E. S. English, Michael Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Boardman, H. Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Booth, Albert Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Judd, Frank
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Kaufman, Gerald
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Kelley, Richard
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Flannery, Martin Kerr, Russell
Buchan, Norman Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Buchanan, Richard Foot, Rt Hon Michael Kinnock, Neil
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Forrester, John Lambie, David
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Lamborn, Harry
Campbell, Ian Freeson, Reginald Lamond, James
Canavan, Dennis Garrett, John (Norwich S) Latham, Arthur (Paddington)
Cant, R. B. Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Leadbitter, Ted
Carmichael, Neil George, Bruce Lee, John
Carter, Ray Gilbert, Dr John Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Ginsburg, David Lever, Rt Hon Harold
Cartwright, John Golding, John Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Gould, Bryan Litterick, Tom
Clemitson, Ivor Gourlay, Harry Loyden, Eddie
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Graham, Ted Luard, Evan
Coleman, Donald Grant, George (Morpeth) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Concannon, J. D. Grant, John (Islington C) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Conlan, Bernard Grocott, Bruce Mabon, Dr J. Dickson
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McCartney, Hugh
Corbett, Robin Hardy, Peter McElhone, Frank
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Harper, Joseph MacFarquhar, Roderick
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Crawshaw, Richard Hart, Rt Hon Judith Mackenzie, Gregor
Cronin, John Hatton, Frank Mackintosh, John P.
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Hayman, Mrs. Helena Maclennan, Robert
Cryer, Bob Healey, Rt Hon Denis McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Heifer, Eric S. Madden, Max
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Hooley, Frank Magee, Bryan
Davidson, Arthur Horam, John Mahon, Simon
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Marks, Kenneth
Marquand, David Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Tierney, Sydney
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Tinn, James
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Robertson, John (Paisley) Tomlinson, John
Maynard, Miss Joan Roderick, Caerwyn Tomney, Frank
Meacher, Michael Rodgers, George (Chorley) Torney, Tom
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Rodgers, William (Stockton) Tuck, Raphael
Mikardo, Ian Rooker, J. W. Urwin, T. W.
Millan, Bruce Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Rowlands, Ted Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Sandelson, Neville Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Molloy. William Sedgemore, Brian Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Moonman, Eric Selby, Harry Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Ward, Michael
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne) Watkins, David
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Short, Rt. Hon E. (Newcastle C) Watkinson, John
Moyle, Roland Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Weetch, Ken
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Wellbeloved, James
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Newens, Stanley Sillars, James White, James (Pollok)
Noble, Mike Silverman, Julius Whitehead, Phillip
Oakes, Gordon Small, William Whitlock, William
Ogden, Eric Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Willey. Rt Hon Frederick
O'Halloran, Michael Spearing, Nigel Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Orbach, Maurice Stallard, A. W. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Stoddart, David Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Ovenden, John Stott, Roger Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Owen, Dr David Strang, Gavin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Palmer, Arthur Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Woodall, Alec
Park, George Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Wool, Robert
Parker, John Swain, Thomas Wrigglesworth, Ian
Parry, Robert Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Young, David (Bolton E)
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Price, William (Rugby) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Radice, Giles Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) Mr. J. D. Dormand and
Richardson, Miss Jo Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Mr. Laurie Pavitt

Question accordingly negatived.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

Lords Amendment: No. 86, in page 17, line 23, at end insert functions concerning the acquisition, management or disposal of land".

5 a.m.

Mr. Oakes

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

With this amendment we may consider Lords Amendments Nos. 87 and 88.

Mr. Oakes

The amendments limit the functions under other Acts to which the general duty would apply to functions concerning the acquisition, management and disposal of land. It was always the Government's intention that that should be so, but in another place it was specifically put in the Bill. The amendment makes absolutely clear what was in any event the Government's intention, and therefore I see no reason why we should not agree with the other place in these amendments.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

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