§ Mr. John Silkin
I beg to move Amendment No. 295, in page 54, line 37, at beginning insert—'(1) Subject to sub-paragraph (2) below,'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
I understand that it will be convenient to discuss at the same time Government Amendment Nos. 296 and 297.
§ Mr. Silkin
Paragraphs 2–4 of Schedule 4 set out the three major changes in compulsory purchase procedure—the stating of reasons rather than purposes, the discretion for the Secretary of State on the holding of an inquiry or hearing, and the power for him to disregard certain objections. The purpose of these amendments is to provide that these changes shall apply only where an authority is using compulsory purchase power to buy land for development which is now defined as being within the normal scope of the scheme.
The desired effect is achieved by Amendment No. 296. This provides that the major changes are to apply only where the authority certifies that the land comprised in a compulsory purchase order is development land. Clearly, if an authority is seeking to buy land for excepted development, perhaps for a small housing project, it will not be able to claim that the land is development land within the meaning now to be given to the terms by virtue of Amendment No. 284—that is land "needed" for "relevant" development. By definition, if it is buying the land for excepted development it cannot be needed for relevant development.
The effect will, therefore, be that, where an authority seeks to buy compulsorily land for excepted development the compulsory purchase procedure will be precisely the same as if it had acted under its planning powers, and there will be no provision enabling it not to state the purposes of acquisition, or the Secretary of State to dispense with an inquiry or disregard objections. It is an essential feature of the new approach that authorities should still have the power to buy land for excepted development. For 1054 example, they might be requested to use their power in order to facilitate development, or they might wish to use it for reasons of positive planning, or they might need to use it to prevent erosion by fragmentation. In these circumstances, where the authority would not be able to state that the land was development land, the normal compulsory purchase procedures would apply.
§ Mr. Rossi
We have now reached that part of the Bill that the Opposition find the most objectionable—the cutting back of the rights of citizens to appeal against or object to the making of a compulsory purchase order. Even under the existing law, hon. Members know from constituency cases the heartache and hardship caused by the making of compulsory purchase orders, even where there is a right of appeal to a public inquiry, even where the full market price is to be paid, even where local authorities have to be put to the proof of the purpose for which they require the land.
The schedule takes away a number of the existing rights of the citizen. It takes away the right to a public inquiry at the whim of the Secretary of State and certain grounds of objection to the making of a CPO. He can no longer require the local authority to state the purpose for which it requires the land, although under the amendment he can require it to show a "reason"—a subtle distinction. He can no longer argue that the making of the order is unnecessary or inexpedient. Powerful grounds of objection are removed from him.
So any amendments to the schedule which limit the powers of local authorities and the Secretary of State are welcome. Inasmuch as there is now a range of exempted development which can take place to which these procedures do not apply, we welcome it. But I do not follow how any additional protection is given to a private citizen by the simple issue of a certificate by a local authority that the land in question is development land.
It is the same local authority that is making die compulsory purchase order which cannot be resisted under this schedule in the same way as it can be under the present law. It is the authority seeking to use these extreme powers that 1055 now gives the certificate saying that those powers can be used in the circumstances envisaged under the schedule. This does not help the citizen in any way. One wonders what the point or value of a certificate of this kind is.
§ Mr. Graham Page
This is a most preposterous amendment. Earlier today we discussed excepted development. We were told that if a private owner wished to carry out any of the developments set out in the exempt schedule, if he wanted to build a single dwelling-house, or if he wanted to develop under any of the classes which the Secretary of State may put into some regulations at some time, he could go ahead without being caught by the local authority stepping in or by his land coming within the terms of the Bill as development land.
We have been told at this late stage, and long after we have debated what should be excepted or exempted development, that the land can be considered to be development land and that the exceptions can be disregarded altogether provided that the local authority gives a certificate that it is development land. No one can question the certificate—it is conclusive.
What have we been arguing and debating all day? It is said that the local authority, purely on its own initiative and without any question arising in the courts or elsewhere, can say that the private owner shall not be allowed to develop under the exceptions given in Amendment No. 261 because it is development land. Amendment No. 284 defines "development land". It says:In this Act 'development land' means land which, in the opinion of the authority concerned is needed for relevant development within ten years from the time at which they are acting".We should warn the public that all the advertisement about being able to build a single dwelling means nothing because at any moment the local authority may say "Yes, you have that plot. The building of a single development on that plot is excepted from the Bill, but, sorry, we shall say that it is development land. We are allowed to say that if, in our opinion, it is needed for development. If we give a certificate that in our opinion it is needed for development there can be no public inquiry about its compulsory purchase and it 1056 cannot be questioned in court whether it is needed for development. The opinion of the deputy assistant planning officer in the local authority can deprive you of all the rights given you earlier under the Bill."
At this late hour this is an amendment which the Minister should be ashamed to bring before the House.
§ 12.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael Latham
Has the right hon. Gentleman submitted the amendment to the Council on Tribunals? We know that the Council was extremely critical of earlier parts of the Bill and as a result of its criticisms some provisions regarding compulsory purchase had to be changed. I should be interested to know the council's views on this proposed certification procedure, in particular, the statement that it:shall be conclusive evidence of the facts stated in it".That is a very wide and unusual power in the making of a compulsory purchase order. I hope that we shall have a statement from the right hon. Gentleman that he has submitted this certification procedure to the Council on Tribunals and that the Council has raised no objection.
§ Mr. John Silkin
I am always greatly impressed when the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) gets into a paddy, partly because I like to see it and partly because a certain frisson goes through the Chamber as we listen to him and everyone says "Graham is at it again". Thank heaven he settles down quietly and happily when he has exhausted himself and waits patiently for an answer.
Before I come to that I want to say to the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) that he has "unnecessary "and "inexpedient" slightly wrong, but we shall debate that on a later amendment, and to the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) that I shall be dealing with the Council on Tribunals in a later amendment.
There is only the question of the value of a certificate on which the right hon. Member for Crosby became so worked up. Development land is land which in the opinion of the authority is land needed for relevant development, so only the authority can say whether the land is or is not development land.
1057 Throughout our discussions on the Bill the right hon. Gentleman has claimed some curious friendship with the deputy assistant planning officer to whom he is for ever talking. That does not mean that the Secretary of State has to dispense with an inquiry any more than he has to confirm a compulsory purchase order. If there were the slightest doubt the Secretary of State would insist on an inquiry. I also have not the slightest doubt that if there was the slightest doubt the right hon. Gentleman, members of our profession or someone else would be only too willing to point out that this was a case in which the Secretary of State should intervene.
§ Mr. Graham Page
How does the Secretary of State know that there is any doubt about it? The certificate is given by some official in the local authority office. There is no doubt about that. The certificate is given, and that is that. Nobody can question it, not even the Secretary of State, because it is conclusive.
§ Mr. Silkin
He can, because he has to confirm. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have forgotten all those letters that came on to his desk two years ago telling him to call in various inquiries. That
|'(2) In relation to the Scottish Act of 1947, the paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 set out above|
|shall have effect as if for the reference to the Act of 1971 there were substituted a|
|reference to the Scottish Act of 1972 and for the reference to paragraph 3(1)(b) of|
|Schedule 1 there were substituted a reference to paragraph 3(b) of Schedule 1.|
|5||4.—(1) If the Secretary of State considers it necessary to do so in the public interest,|
|he may from time to time by order direct that for such period (not exceeding five years)|
|as may be specified in the order the paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 set out above shall have|
|effect as if the references to the development plan in sub-paragraph (2A)(c) included|
|10||(a) to any local plan which has been prepared by the local planning authority and as|
|respects which the purposes of paragraphs (a) to (c) of section 12(1) of the Act|
|of 1971 (publicity in connection with the preparation of plans) have in the opinion|
|of the confirming authority, been adequately achieved by the steps taken by the|
|local planning authority, and|
|15||(b) to any other plan which has been so prepared and as respects which, if it had|
|been a local plan, those purposes would, in the opinion of the confirming authority,|
|have been adequately achieved by the steps so taken.|
|(2) Where the land comprised in a compulsory purchase order consists of a dwelling-|
|house and the occupier of the dwelling-house duly objects to the order and that objection|
|20||is not withdrawn, the Secretary of State shall not rely on the modification made by an|
|order under this paragraph.|
|(3) Where the land comprised in a compulsory purchase order comprises a dwelling-|
|house together with other land and the occupier of the dwelling-house duly objects to the|
|order and that objection is not withdrawn, then, if the Secretary of State relies on the|
|25||modification made by an order under this paragraph, he shall not confirm the compulsory|
|purchase order without a modification excluding the dwelling-house from that order.|
|(4) In this paragraph "dwelling-house" means any building or part of a building|
|in which a person is residing, and includes any other building or part of a building in|
|which a person normally resides but from which he is temporarily absent.|
|30||(5) In relation to the Scottish Act of 1947, this paragraph shall have effect as if, in|
|sub-paragraph (1) above, for the reference to section 12(1) of the Act of 1971 there were|
|substituted a reference to section 10(1) of the Scottish Act of 1972'.|
§ goes on every day of the week, and that will continue to happen.
§ Amendment agreed to:
Amendments made: No. 296, in page 54, line 40, at end insert—
'(2) The modifications made by paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 below shall have effect unless—
(3) A certificate under sub-paragraph (2) above shall be conclusive evidence of the facts stated in it'.
§ No. 96, in line 42, after second 'the', insert 'Scottish'.—[Mr. John Silkin.]
§ Mr. John Silkin
I beg to move Amendment No. 98, in page 55, line 2, leave out 'paragraphs' and insert 'paragraph'.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)
With this we are to take the following amendments:
Government Amendments Nos. 100, 102, 106.
Government Amendment No. 108, in page 56, line 45, leave out from beginning to 'and' in line 12 on page 57 and insert—
1059 No 108(b), in line 18, after '(2)', insert'An order made under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph shall not apply'.No. 108(c), in line 20, leave out from 'withdrawn' to end of line 21.
No. 108(d), in line 22, after '(3)', insert'An order made under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph shall not apply'.No. 108(e), in line 24, leave out from 'withdrawn' to end of line 26 and insert'unless the Secretary of State refuses to confirm the compulsory purchase order except with a modification excluding the dwellinghouse therefrom'.Government Amendment No. 109.
§ Mr. Silkin
The Bill as introduced gave the Secretary of State unfettered discretion in deciding whether or not to hold a public inquiry or hearing into objections to a compulsory purchase order under Clause 18 of the Bill. I made it clear on Second Reading that guidelines for the operation of this discretion would be laid down. I said that I had it in mind, in particular, that it should not be necessary to hold a public inquiry where a planning inquiry had already taken place.
The Opposition put down a considerable number of amendments to this provision in Standing Committee. After considering these amendments, and after consultation with the Council on Tribunals, the Government brought forward amendments in Committee which had the effect of writing into the legislation the guidelines that I had referred to and always intended should be used. The major provisions added by the Government amendments were the new paragraphs 4A and 4B to be inserted into Schedule 1 to the Acquisition of Land Acts by paragraph 3 of the schedule.
In Committee I made it clear that I had it in mind to introduce further amendments. In dealing with questions about the position of residential owner-occupiers, for example, I indicated that I would consider writing into the Bill special safeguards for the position of such occupiers.
The Government have considered the position further in the light of discussion in Committee, and there have been further consultations with the Council on Tribunals. These amendments, which 1060 also fulfil the undertaking concerning the position of residential owner-occupiers, are the result.
The effect of the Bill as amended in Committee is broadly as follows. The Secretary of State may dispense with an inquiry or hearing where the planning status of the land has been settled in one of the following ways: (a) by the grant of planning permission by the Secretary of State; (b) by an allocation in an adopted or approved local plan; and (c) where there is no adopted or approved local plan, by an old-style development plan, by a draft structure plan, or by a local or non-statutory plan, which has been subject to adequate public participation procedures.
The Bill does, however, provide for the possibility of returning to a position of unfettered discretion, by means of an affirmative resolution order under paragraph 4B.
The major effect of the amended provisions is to remove draft and non-statutory plans from the main provision and to put them on a "reserve" basis as in the previous paragraph 4B, and to do away altogether with the concept of an unfettered discretion.
Amendments Nos. 100 and 102 qualify the discretion concerning the holding of public inquiries or hearings broadly in the way proposed in the old paragraph 4A(1)—that is to say, they enable the Secretary of State to rely on a planning permission granted by himself after an inquiry, on an adopted or approved local plan, or, where no such local plan exists, on the development plan. The only modification here is that it is now made clear in (a) of the new subparagraph 2A that in the case of a planning permission granted by the Secretary of State there must actually have been a public inquiry for the permission to qualify.
Amendments Nos. 106 and 108, apart from the first four lines of No. 106, which belong with the previous amendments, set out the new provisions concerning draft local plans and non-statutory plans.
The provisions as set out in the amendments represent a compromise that is acceptable to the Council on Tribunals, though it still has reservations on two points—the status of structure plans, and the circumstances in which the "reserve" power in paragraph 4 might be used.
1061 I should like to make clear the decision we have reached with the Council on Tribunals.
The Council has all along maintained that the provisions in Schedule 4 should be such as to ensure that land is not acquired compulsorily without the owner, lessee or occupier having, or having had, an effective opportunity of challenging the proposed acquisition at an inquiry or hearing. It was in the light of this view, among other things, that I introduced in Committee amendments which are now incorporated in the Bill.
I should like to set the record straight on the Council's view of these amendments. In introducing them I said that the proposals in paragraph 4A(1)(a) and (b)—those dealing with planning permissions and adopted local plans—were thought to be acceptable to the Council. But later on, following an intervention by the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham), I may have given the impression that the Council was satisfied with the whole of paragraph 4A. In fact, the Council did not feel able to agree with the provisions concerning draft structure or local plans for non-statutory plans which had been through public participation.
I do not believe that the Committee was misled because it had heard my earlier statement, and recognised that the later reference was simply a badly chosen use of words. But the statement that the Council was content with paragraph 4A has, of course, appeared—belatedly because of troubles with which we are all familiar—in Hansard, and I ought, therefore, to set the record straight.
I should add that the Council does now accept, subject to some points of detail, that the amendments now brought forward represent a compromise that is acceptable to it. I am grateful to the Council for the co-operative attitude that it has shown in arriving at this common view.
§ Mr. Michael Latham
Could the right hon. Gentleman answer the question which I asked on a previous amendment, when he said that he would defer the answer until we reached this amendment; namely, whether the Council has given its blessing to the certification procedure contained in Amendment No. 296?
§ Mr. Silkin
I had put the answer aside and left it on the Dispatch Box. The answer is that there was no discussion specifically with the Council on Tribunals, but the Council has accepted the general position, and these amendments only take things out of the special procedures.
§ Mr. Rossi
I tried to follow what the right hon. Gentleman was saying, and I hope he will forgive me if I did not get it completely right because of the lateness of the hour.
Was I correct in understanding the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Council on Tribunals still has reservations at this stage on the question of structure or on the reserve powers, or is it now completely satisfied on those two points? Could the right hon. Gentleman answer that before I proceed any further?
§ Mr. Rossi
I am not surprised that there are still doubts about this matter. What is the situation as we are having it explained to us now? It is that where there have been planning procedures under a structure plan, the Secretary of State may deny a public inquiry to a private citizen who has had a compulsory purchase order served upon him. The basis for the denial of a public inquiry on a compulsory purchase order is that there has been some kind of public participation on the structure plan, that there has already been an inquiry and, therefore, the citizen concerned should not expect to have another inquiry when he has his compulsory purchase order.
In practical terms, what protection does the procedure on a structure plan afford the citizen? What happens when a structure plan is published and the public are invited to go along to the town hall and be told about it, make representation, and listen to the experts? How many private citizens, for example, went along to County Hall across the river when the Greater London development plan was being investigated and discussed before Layfield for however long it was—18 or 24 months?
The situation in relation to a structure plan is much the same, because the people interested in a structure plan are 1063 the professionals, the planners themselves, the amenity bodies, the public utility people, the transport people—London Transport in the case of London—British Rail, the statutory undertakers and so on, all of which have land which may be affected by a structure plan which determines tthe land use in a particular area. But for John Smith living in No. 10 Acacia Avenue it is all esoteric and of little interest. He will not pay a planner, a solicitor or a member of the Bar to attend the inquiry day after day, month after month, just to be told at the end of the day that there has been general zoning under the structure plan which may or may not affect him.
The ordinary citizen will be interested in what happens when the compulsory purchase order drops on his door mat—not before—and all the other business of a structure plan inquiry is of no use to him. It is cold comfort for him to be told when the compulsory purchase order arrives, "We are terribly sorry, but you cannot have a public inquiry into this. You cannot complain to that extent, because you should have sent somebody along to represent your interests on the structure plan."
No wonder the Council on Tribunals has reservations, and grave reservations, I should imagine. What the right hon. Gentleman has put to us is no answer—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk), who is muttering from a sedentary position, knows very well what the situation is. Whether or not we have a Division does not affect the argument. If he thinks that our case is wrong, let him get to his feet and answer it. Let us hear from him a rebuttal of the argument which I am putting. Let us hear the logic of his argument. Let us hear what he has to say about the rights of private citizens in the sort of situation I am describing. If he has the courage to get to his feet and answer the argument, we shall welcome it. But let him not gibe across the Chamber, half lying on his back—
§ Mr. Rossi
We can carry on to a late hour if that is the way hon. Members opposite wish to behave. Those who sat 1064 on the Committee know that we have plenty of stamina in such situations, and we can carry on to a late hour.
I ask the House now to return to the serious argument and to ignore the irrelevancies, absurdities and petty remarks of certain hon. Members opposite. Let us deal with the rights of the private citizen, which is what concerns us and concerns the Council on Tribunals. The Council has reservations, and we have reservations, and the right hon. Gentleman has not satisfied us on the point at all. These are autocratic powers taking from the ordinary individual the protection which hitherto the law of the land has afforded him.
The Minister says that we have made extreme statements about the effects of the Bill, but the Council on Tribunals agrees without reservations as to the effect which the legislation will have on the rights of citizens.
§ Mr. Rossi
It is not a compromise by any means when a citizen is left without a right of appeal or public inquiry into a compulsory purchase order on his property, with the excuse that at some time or other at his town hall some planning jamboree took place—a jamboree which to that person in question at the time was of little or no interest. Labour Members should talk to their constituents about these matters. How many of them wish to discuss structure plans? How many of them will have lawyers to fight these matters on their behalf?
§ Mr. Corbett
The hon. Gentleman should know that one can take a horse to water but cannot make it drink. If we followed the hon. Gentleman's sentiments, no planning decisions would ever be made. It does him no credit to criticise those who do not take part in the democratic process. The logic of the hon. Gentleman's arguments is that we should never make planning decisions but should keep the options open for ever. That argument is totally illogical.
§ Mr. Rossi
I am not criticising those who do not go to structure plan meetings, nor do I expect the ordinary citizen to spend his time at discussions of structure plans at town halls. The citizen wants to get on with his life. My argument is that that man does not go to those 1065 meetings because they are of little interest to him at that stage. However, I believe that he should be given a full and proper opportunity to be involved when a matter touches him and concerns him personally. That point is the time at which a compulsory purchase order is made in respect of his property. He should then be given a full opportunity for a public inquiry—and that opportunity is now being denied him.
I wish to ask the Minister about the wording of the paragraph and the way in which it is now to be amended. If we refer to page 55 of the Bill, line 10, we see that…the confirming authority may if it considers it expedient to do so, and shall if paragraph 2A applies "—I am there picking up Government Amendment No. 100—(a) cause a public local inquiry to be held, or(b) afford to any person by whom an objection has been duly made as aforesaid and not withdrawn, an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed by the confirming authority for the purpose.So far as we can see, paragraphs (a) and (b) offer an alternative to the Secretary of State. He can either order a public inquiry, or he can afford to the individual concerned the opportunity of being heard by some person appointed by the Secretary of State in private. So there is an option there. A public inquiry does not necessarily follow.
What is the obligation created by Amendment No. 100? I assume that it is for the Minister to exercise his discretion either to hold a public inquiry or to have a private hearing. In that context it does not seem that the provision will carry us much farther forward, because all that the amendment says is that there shall be an option to do one thing or the other applies and we are still left with the situation that it is possible for there to be no public inquiry. Will the right hon. Gentleman assist us to interpret the meaning of these words?
§ Mr. Budgen
A structure plan has three main characteristics. It deals, first, with general propositions as to the proposals of a planning nature for an area. It cannot deal with individual plots, nor with the circumstances of individual plot owners. Secondly, it is an extremely expensive procedure. It is no secret that 1066 members of the planning Bar are among the most highly paid of those who are professionally involved in this area.
§ Mr. Budgen
No. I agree that there is a free market in wages for them. It is in everybody's interests that structure plans should remain of a general nature, otherwise inquiries like the Layfield Inquiry, if they have to inquire into the circumstances of each house and each individual house owner, will go on not for 18 months but for 18 years.
Thirdly, structure plans necessarily must look towards the future and take a broad sweeping view of what will happen to wide areas. They cannot deal with the circumstances of individual plot owners. Indeed, if some system is injected into the structure plan procedure by which individual house owners are informed in advance that this may be the only time at which they can object to the plans for their homes, the whole nature of structure plans will change and what started as a sensible broad sweep planning inquiry will end up as being no more than the bringing together of a vast number of compulsory purchase inquiries. It will be a very expensive, illogical and cumbrous procedure.
The only way is to give to the individual citizen the right in all circumstances to his own inquiry at which he makes his objections. He must be able to make objections which relate to his plot and his circumstances. It is ridiculous that he should have to make his objections at a structure plan inquiry, because he may be objecting to something which may happen in five years' time. In five years' time the granny who is living with him may be dead; his children may be grown up. All the circumstances which he would wish to advance as reasons for objecting to a compulsory purchase order may well have changed. It would be pointless for him to bring forward the details of his life at a structure plan inquiry. He can do so sensibly only at a purpose-built individual compulsory purchase inquiry just before he is required to give up possession of his 1067 land. It is nonsense to pretend that a structure plan is in any sense an alternative forum to the right that the individual citizen should have to his own compulsory purchase inquiry.
§ 1.15 a.m.
§ Mr. Clegg
I had not intended to intervene in the debate until I heard the seated interjections of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk). He should be more careful when he makes remarks concerning the rights of private individuals. Let the hon. Gentleman remember that the rights of many of his constituents are being discussed. Such remarks as the hon. Gentleman made tend to make my hon. Friends go on rather longer than they otherwise would. We would welcome an intervention, of course, from the hon. Gentleman or from the hon. Members for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) or Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore). They have sat in the Chamber jabbering away like so many apes without getting up to make an intervention. They are entitled to get up and take part in the debate.
§ Mr. Budgen
I do not know whether my hon. Friend would agree with the description "the creaking of their jackboots"?
§ Mr. Clegg
I hoped to get through these proceedings without reference to jackboots, but I am glad that my hon. Friend has mentioned the matter.
This is a serious proposition, and I wish to reiterate what has been said by my hon. Friends. We all know that at a major planning inquiry into a structure plan or local plan the average working man who has his own house is not to be found in attendance. That is because he does not believe such proceedings will involve him. It is only when, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) said, the compulsory purchase notice comes through the door that he realises that there is a problem to meet. Any hon. Member who has had to deal with constituency problems knows in his heart of hearts that that is correct. How many hon. Members have had their constituents come to them in such a predicament? How many hon. Members have asked "Did you not realise long before this that your position was threatened?" 1068 They reply "No, of course we did not." There are reservations about these matters, and it is appropriate that they have been voiced tonight.
§ Mr. Michael Latham
One of the reasons for us being in this difficult position, apart from the fact that we should not be considering such important matters as this in the middle of the night, is that the Labour Party never intended that there should be compulsory purchase proceedings. When it first drew up its proposals in Opposition it did not appreciate that there was no way to bring about a major amount of acquisition of public land except by taking over every plot by compulsory purchase. It realised with horror that if that was to be so there would be many public inquiries and it would be years and years before any land passed into public ownership as nobody would sell their land willingly on the basis of the compensation payable.
The Labour Party came to the conclusion that if that were so it would get round the problem by taking away the right of a public inquiry. At that point it ran into trouble with the Council on Tribunals. Although the Minister gave a courteous reply to the House, as he always does, he did not deal fully and fairly with the fact that the Council on Tribunals has by no means wholly agreed with the amendments that he has brought forward. It has said that they are compromises.
We must understand that this is a serious matter. The House set up the Council on Tribunals to be the public watchdog on exactly this sort of matter—namely, administrative inquiries and tribunals. The House cannot be continually looking at the conduct of individual inquiries. The late Mr. Richard Cross-man had to face a censure debate when he overrode the findings of the Council over the Packington Estate in Islington back in 1965. It was a difficult and strongly worded debate. The Minister manifestly does not have the full support of the Council on these matters.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi), not wishing to prolong the debate, did not mention the comments of Justice.
The amendments tabled are still defective. I draw attention particularly to 1069 Amendment No. 102 standing in the name of the Secretary of State, subsection (a) of which states:that planning permission for relevant development is in force in respect of the land comprised in the order".When I first read this in one of the consultation papers the Government circulated to members of the Committee I immediately wrote by the side:Change of use? Different density?Justice has made exactly the same point. In its latest memorandum it says:A further reason why the amendments do not achieve their object is that the development referred to an paragraph 3(2A)(a), (b) and (c) is described simply as 'relevant development' not 'the relevant development'. 'Relevant development' is all development except such as may be excluded by ministerial order…no major exclusions are at present proposed so this, in effect, means any development. The result is, to take an example, that in the case of a compulsory purchase order under the Bill for industrial development a public inquiry can be dispensed with if the land is shown in the develoment plan as zoned for residential purposes or vice versa.This seems to be such an obvious error that I am amazed that the Government have not rectified it. What they are trying to do is to say that if someone has had the chance to put his case as to why his land should not be zoned for housing, then, when the land is zoned for housing, there does not need to be another inquiry. I do not agree with that, but it is the Government's position. But they have so worded the Bill that if, at the public inquiry stage into, say, a structure plan, the question was whether the land should be zoned for housing and it was subsequently decided to re-zone it for, say, industrial purposes, there would be no right of public inquiry for the individual.
That seems to be an utterly disgraceful situation which can be amended by leaving out the word "the" as Justice has proposed.
The structure plan has been referred to. I wish to add that the Town and Country Planning Act, 1968, which was piloted through the House by Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, was specifically designed so as not to have private individuals discussing their circumstances at structure plan hearings. That was the whole purpose of the Act, to have a two-tier planning system. It was to emphasise that that my right hon. Friend the Mem- 1070 ber for Crosby (Mr. Page) took through this House the Town and Country Planning Act 1971—to try to prevent situations like the Layfield Inquiry ever arising again.
Amendment No. 108 deals with the subject of non-statutory plans and matters which have just had a general public consultation but have not actually been approved by the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman says in his guidance notes:Where this procedure was in operation the Secretary of State would not be able to dispense with an inquiry or hearing when he was dealing with an objection from a residential occupier.I entirely agree that residential occupiers should in no circumstances have their houses taken away without a right to a public inquiry. I think it is wrong to limit that to residential occupiers. What about farmers or business men? No one should have their land taken away from them without the chance to have their case properly and fairly heard. That is the crux of the opposition to these proposals.
The right hon. Gentleman has said, with regard to certain amendments dealing with charities, that he has not got them right yet and so has not tabled them. They will go to another place. The Council on Tribunals is not fully happy with these amendments. There is still time to reconsider them and to have more public debate on the matter. I suggest that the amendments be withdrawn and tabled in a better form in another place.
§ Mr. Graham Page
The Minister will have to take this matter back and think about it. I know that he has made some effort to meet the objections, not only from those of us on the Committee or those who took part in the Second Reading debate but objections from powerful outside sources. I refer not only to legal sources but to those who consider the constitution and civil liberties. The idea that it is sufficient to give someone who is having his property taken away from him by compulsory acquisition the opportunity to put some case at an inquiry into a structure plan is wrong.
As my hon. Friends have said, there is no detailed inquiry on a structure plan. The structure plan is intended merely to set down the general strategy for development of an area. As the Minister 1071 knows, the instructions issued from his Department on how a structure plan inquiry should be conducted provide that the Secretary of State chooses the issues to be discussed at an inquiry on that plan. It is not an inquiry into all the plan. It is an inquiry into the major issues, and those are chosen by the Secretary of State. There is no question of anyone being able to discuss his plot or even his estate, if he is lucky enough to have one, within the structure plan area. So not only is the structure plan inquiry inadequate; it is not an inquiry into a person's property or the acquisition of that property.
The inquiry into the local plan goes much more into detail, and it may be that the individual would have an opportunity at a local inquiry into a local plan to raise objections to his own plot being within a compulsory purchase area. But, even so, I doubt whether that would be satisfactory. If we are to rely on any general inquiry to satisfy the individual's right to inquiry, it would have to be an inquiry into an action area. I do not know how many of those will be made throughout the country in the next few years, but I imagine not all that number, and certainly not covering the whole country.
Then we come to the case where there has been no development plan at all—neither a structure plan, nor a local plan, nor a consideration of an action area. This is the case where there has been publication of the intentions of the local authority for the development of its area on an informal basis. Sometimes the local population join in with that and there is a very satisfactory inquiry as to the development of that parish or small town. But again there is no satisfactory inquiry into individual plots and no opportunity for the individual to say why his land is not development land or why it is not land needed for development and, therefore, coming within compulsory purchase.
I hope that the Minister will take this debate to heart. This is not destructive of his Bill. It may be that in too many cases the Opposition have tried to be constructive to the Bill. We have declared our abhorrence of the Bill but, if we have to have it, we have tried 1072 to make it as reasonable as possible. In this case, we are repeating words from very reasonable sources outside this House. My hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) quoted Justice, which is a very formidable organisation. But it is not only from there that objections to this procedure have come. Why cannot the Minister return to the normal procedure for compulsory purchase inquiries? He would lose nothing by it. He would gain tremendous respect outside the House.
§ Mr. John Silkin
I listened with enormous interest to the debate and the points raised by the Opposition, although they seemed to be slightly off key.
I begin with the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham). He quoted Justice, and this was taken up by the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). Neither of them bothered to point out that justice moves very slowly in this country and that Justice's objections to the Bill were based on the Bill unamended—
§ Mr. Silkin
It is true. The Justice comment is based on the situation before the excepted development changes. There will now be significant exceptions from relevant development.
Then let us take the Council on Tribunals. The hon. Gentleman said that this House had appointed the council as a watch dog. I might remind the hon. Gentleman that it is a good idea if you have a watch dog not to bark yourself. The Council on Tribunals is broadly content with the Bill as it is proposed to be amended, and it has said so.
The question of the structure plan was raised, but the right hon. Member for Crosby and most hon. Gentlemen answered their own points and those of the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi). They gave the hon. Member for Hornsey in part, at least, the very answer that my right hon. Friend gave to the Council on Tribunals; namely, that the structure plan is not a detailed plan except very occasionally.
The struture plan is an over-lay on the old style plan until we get the new structure and local plans. The structure plan 1073 is intended to be diagrammatic. I remember the right hon. Gentleman giving a lecture in Oxford in which he explained in minute detail how it was quite wrong that the structure plan in general terms could be anything other than diagrammatic. It could not give detailed points. He said that the local plan gave the detailed points, but he went on to say that there were occasions—just a few—when a structure plan was fairly detailed. It did not happen very often, but occasion ally it did. On most occasions the structure plan was diagrammatic. Of course, this is a comprehensive provision. My right hon. Friend has to be satisfied—
§ Mr. Graham Page rose—
§ Mr. Silkin
The right hon. Member for Crosby and many of his hon. Friends have done a lot of talking. It seems to me that I should be allowed to have two minutes in which to answer them. That is all I require, and then the right hon. Gentleman, by leave of the House, can come back.
It seems reasonable that, in including the planning basis, my right hon. Friend should include the structure plan. Of course he says "If I am not satisfied that it develops the situation in sufficient detail"—in 999 cases out of 1,000 it will not—"I shall not confirm it". That is precisely the case and the argument that we put forward to the Council on Tribunals. Hon. Gentlemen have answered themselves and also the hon. Member for Hornsey. In all my life I have rarely come across such unanimity throughout the House.
We are all agreed that the structure plan is not, in general terms, the basis for sufficient delineation. However, the right hon. Member for Crosby—not the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen)—put his finger on the matter because he fairly said that it is the local plan that one would go to. He went on to say "Mind you, I happen to believe that a man's plot, as it were, should be protected for himself." I understand that point. We differ in the sense that this Bill is about the public ownership of development land. The right hon. Gentleman prefers private ownership. That is a fair difference between us.
1074 The right hon. Gentleman was equally fair to me when he pointed out that it is on the local plan, not the structure plan, that one would look for the detail. As I have said, there will be occasions when some elements of some structure plans may be sufficiently detailed for the Secretary of State to be able to say, "Yes. I shall confirm", but in general he will not do so. That is what we told the Council on Tribunals, and that is why I suspect, among other reasons, that the Council is broadly content with our proposals.
§ Mr. Graham Page
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, how does any owner of property get to the Secretary of State to persuade him that the proper inquiry was not made on the structure plan? The Secretary of State can make this decision without hearing anybody and thereby deprive the individual of his right to an inquiry.
§ Mr. Silkin
I had not expected the right hon. Gentleman to ask me that question, particularly at 1.35 in the morning, because he has much better and earlier experience than I have. He knows that structure plans come to the Secretary of State for modification, approval and disapproval. He knows in what respect they are or are not detailed. I recall again that admirable lecture which the right hon. Gentleman gave at Oxford in which he pointed out that structure plans will differ from county to county, and they will. In some areas they will literally almost be on one sheet of notepaper, so lacking in definition will they be, and in others they will be much more defined. But the Secretary of State will know to what extent they are or are not so well defined that they can be used as the basis for saying that there has been sufficient inquiry.
My feeling—I am sure that it is the Secretary of State's feeling, too—is that this will happen only in the rarest of cases. What we have been discussing for the past 40 minutes is so rare that it is unlikely to happen perhaps in a generation. But it might. Therefore, it is wise to protect ourselves in the legislation. I repeat: the chances of it happening are extremely rare.
§ Amendment agreed to.1075
§ Amendment proposed: No. 100, in page 55, line 11, leave out 'paragraph 4A' and insert 'sub-paragraph (2A)'.—[Mr. John Silkin.]
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 167, Noes. 15.1075
|Division No. 333.]||AYES||[1.38 a.m.|
|Allaun, Frank||Grant, John (Islington C)||Ogden, Eric|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Grocott, Bruce||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Ovenden, John|
|Bates, Alf||Hardy, Peter||Owen, Dr David|
|Bean, R. E.||Harper, Joseph||Palmer, Arthur|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Park, George|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Hatton, Frank||Parry, Robert|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hayman, Mrs Helene||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Booth, Albert||Heffer, Eric S.||Phipps, Dr Colin|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Hooley, Frank||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Horam, John||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Buchan, Norman||Huckfield, Les||Rooker, J. W.|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Campbell, Ian||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hunter, Adam||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Carter, Ray||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Cartwright, John||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Sillars, James|
|Clemitson, Ivor||John, Brynmor||Silverman, Julius|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Coleman, Donald||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Small, William|
|Corbett, Robin||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Snape, Peter|
|Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Judd, Frank||Spearing, Nigel|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Kaufman, Gerald||Stallard, A. W.|
|Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Kelley, Richard||Strang, Gavin|
|Cryer, Bob||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Swain, Thomas|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Kinnock, Neil||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)||Lambie, David||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Lamborn, Harry||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Lamond, James||Tierney, Sydney|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Tinn, James|
|Deakins, Eric||Leadbitter, Ted||Tomlinson, John|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Loyden, Eddie||Urwin, T W.|
|Dempsey, James||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Dormand, J. D.||McCartney, Hugh||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||McElhone, Frank||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Dunn, James A.||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Ward, Michael|
|Eadle, Alex||Maclennan, Robert||Watkins, David|
|Edge, Geoff||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Weetch, Ken|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||McNamara, Kevin||Wellbeloved, James|
|English, Michael||Madden, Max||White, James (Pollok)|
|Ennals, David||Mahon, Simon||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Marks, Kenneth||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Flannery, Martin||Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole)||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Meacher, Michael||Wise, Mrs. Audrey|
|Ford, Ben||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Woof, Robert|
|Forrester, John||Millan, Bruce||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Miller, Dr M. S. (E. Kilbride)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|George, Bruce||Newens, Stanley||Mr. David Stoddart and|
|Gould, Bryan||Noble, Mike||Mr. Tom Pendry.|
|Graham, Ted||Oakes, Gordon|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Budgen, Nick||Penhaligon, David||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Clegg, Walter||Raison, Timothy|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Mr. W. Benyon and|
|Latham, Michael (Melton)||Sainsbury, Tim||Mr. Fred Silvester|
|Morris, Michael (Northampton S)|
§ I beg to move Amendment No. 101, in page 55, line 13, leave out subparagraph (b).
§ During the discussion on the last amendment, I asked the right hon. 1077 Gentleman to explain line 10 on page 55, as amended by Amendment No. 100. It seemed to us that it gave him an option either to hold a public inquiry or—
§ Mr. John Silkin
I must apologise. I had meant to deal with it, but I was diverted. Those are the words of the 1946 Act and have been right the way through.
§ Mr. Rossi
I was not criticising but merely introducing the amendment because it should give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity to explain the situation. For him to say that he has followed the 1946 precedent does not carry the matter much further. Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain the 1946 precedent, if he wishes to explain it. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Rossi
Labour Members seem to want to get back to the bar. Perhaps it would be of help to them if they did.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain in more detail than he did in his last intervention why there should be an option of either holding a public inquiry or an inquiry in public? In one instance it is discretionary for him to do so and in another instance, under paragraph 3(2) it is mandatory upon him to exercise discretion. It is not perfectly clear why that should be the case. Therefore, the objective of Amendment No. 101 is to remove from the paragraph the situation whereby the inquiry takes place in private behind closed doors.
Conservative Members believe that it is undesirable that in circumstances in which a private citizen's rights are being affected and in which he is being subjected to a compulsory purchase order the Secretary of State should have the discretion of ordering that his protests be dealt with simply behind closed doors. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take this opportunity of giving us a more detailed explanation of the meaning of this paragraph.
§ Mr. Oakes
My right hon. Friend the Minister explained in his brief intervention to the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) that this clause and procedure 1078 had been in existence since the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) Act 1946. Neither Labour Members nor Conservative Members when in Government in all the planning Acts that they introduced ever sought to come before the House and change it.
I shall explain to the House the different procedures. Before doing so, lest the Opposition should suspect in any way that the Secretary of State intends to opt for hearings behind closed doors rather than public inquiries, it can be stated categorically that there is no intention to depart from the present practice. When the Secretary of State is required to hold an inquiry or hearing or in other circumstances in which he considers it expedient to do so, his choice will be an inquiry unless there are exceptional reasons why a hearing would be more suitable. The difference between the two is that at a hearing only the statutory operators—that is, objecting owners, lessees and occupiers—would be invited to attend and be heard. A public local inquiry is open to the general public, and persons other than statutory objectors can also attend and, at the inspector's discretion, be heard.
It is rare that a hearing, as distinct from a public inquiry, is held. There are conceivable circumstances in which the Secretary of State, who is responsible to this House, may wish to invoke the procedures laid down under the 1946 Act. This is all that the amendment is about.
I ask my hon. Friends to resist the amendment if, as I do not suspect it will be, it is pressed by the Opposition.
§ Amendment negatived.
Amendment made: No. 102, in page 55, line 16, at end insert—
(2A) This sub-paragraph applies unless the confirming authority is satisfied either—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this we are taking the following amendments:
No. 104, in line 31, after 'period', insert:'not being less than 28 days'.No. 406, in line 32, after 'specify' insert:'not being less than 28 days'.
§ Mr. Oakes
Amendment No. 104 is a similar amendment to the amendment pressed in Committee by the Opposition. The only difference between us is that Amendment No. 104 refers to a periodnot being less than 28 days",whereas the Government amendment makes the position clear by addingfrom the date of the requirement".I said in Committee that I had considerable sympathy with what the Opposition sought, and the Government amendment puts in proper form what the Opposition sought to do.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Rossi
I beg to move Amendment No. 105, in line 38, leave out sub-paragraph (b).
Here we are dealing with the grounds upon which a private citizen can object to the making of a compulsory purchase order on his own property. Paragraph 5 of the schedule states that it is no longer to be in law an objection to the making of a compulsory purchase order that the acquisition is unnecessary or inexpedient Those are the chief grounds upon which objections to compulsory purchase orders are founded today in law in most public inquiries. The Government propose to remove those grounds of objection, we feel without just cause or reason. The amendment seeks to remove that part of Schedule 4 which takes away that ground for objection so that it continues to remain available to the citizen.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
One reason why we need to look carefully at whether it would not be right to accept the amendment is what we have recently agreed in respect of Clause 18. In that clause as now amended an authority has power to acquire land that is necessary to facilitate development of the land which it wishes to develop. There is the difficulty of how to object to an authority's application to acquire such land if one cannot object on the ground that it is unnecessary or inexpedient. What one will be saying in that objection is that the authority does not require the land to facilitate the development of the other land which it already owns, and that is a rational, reasonable ground of objection. I do not see how one could object on any other ground.
The alternative is either to accept the amendment or to look at the circumstances of Clause 18 in another place to ensure that there are proper and reasonable grounds of objection for persons wishing to object to the exercise of the authority's powers under Clause 18.
§ 2.0 a.m.
§ Mr. John Silkin
It is as well if we first understand what it is we are talking about. The hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) showed much more clearly than the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi), who simply moved the amendment formally, that there was a misconception and misunderstanding. We are dealing with power to disregard objections on the ground that the acquisition of the land is unnecessary or inexpedient. It will still be open to the objector or anyone else to argue that the development for which the land is required is unnecessary or inexpedient and such an objection cannot be disregarded under this power. Let us see why we want this power.
The passing of the Community Land Bill—and I am encouraged by the enormous percentage of the population, particularly in this House, which wants the Bill to be passed, for it is something like 11 to one, which is overwhelming—so enthusiastically by the House and the country at large will constitute acceptance by Parliament that virtually all development land is to be taken into public ownership, and that ultimately development other than exempted or excepted 1081 development is to take place only on land which is in or has passed through public ownership.
The same situation exists to this day in the new towns, where, in accordance with the objective of securing the lay-out and the development of the new town any land in its area is liable to acquisition by the development corporation. In considering a compulsory purchase order relating to land within the area of a new town, the Secretary of State, if he is satisfied that an objection is made on the ground that the acquisition—not the development—is unnecessary or inexpedient, may treat that objection as irrelevant for the purpose of making a final decision.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman because he seems to be bearing out my point. According to the explanatory note, the effect of the amendment—referring back to Clause 18—empowers the authority to find land which is not in itself suitable for development. How is one to object to such acquisition unless on the ground that it is unnecessary for the local authority to acquire it because it is not suitable for development?
§ Mr. Silkin
The hon. Gentleman really must listen. I patiently explained to him that it is possible to object on the ground that the development is unnecessary or inexpedient. Let us stick to the question of acquisition.
We have decided to stick with the new town precedent. I have heard it argued that one cannot really choose the new town precedent as a valid one because there there is a planning framework, a designated area. But, of course, the position is altered in this Bill. Now we have written into it that under the Bill the acquisition must take place against the planning framework. It is therefore totally on all-fours with the new town precedent. I ask my hon. Friends, if they, as I very much doubt, are challenged in the Division Lobby, to record the same overwhelming result that they achieved last time.
§ Mr. Graham Page
Is the right hon. Gentleman really splitting these hairs between development and acquisition for development? He is putting to us that one can argue that the land is not needed 1082 for development, but the whole point is to acquire it for development. Is not he arguing that the acquisition is unnecessary to achieve what one is precluded from arguing by the schedule as it stands? It is an amazing argument that one can say, "No, I cannot argue on the basis that the acquisition is unnecessary but I can argue on the basis that the development is unnecessary." But under Clause 17 and 18 acquisition is for the purpose of development. Surely that is the same point.
§ Mr. John Silkin indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Graham Page
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Will he then put into the Bill what he has been telling the House, so that he makes certain that we can object to compulsory purchase orders on the basis that they are unnecessary?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendments made: No. 106, in page 56, line 6, leave out from beginning to 'In' in line 37 and insert '(8)'.
No. 108, in page 56, line 45, leave out from beginning to 'and' in line 12 on page 57 and insert—
'(2) In relation to the Scottish Act of 1947, the paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 set out above shall have effect as if for the reference to the Act of 1971 there were substituted a reference to the Scottish Act of 1972 and for the reference to paragraph 3(1)(b) of Schedule 1 there were substituted a reference to paragraph 3(b) of Schedule 1.
4.—(1) If the Secretary of State considers it necessary to do so in the public interest, he may from time to time by order direct that for such period (not exceeding five years) as may be specified in the order the paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 set out above shall have effect as if the references to the development plan in sub-paragraph (2A)(c) included references—
§ (2) Where the land comprised in a compulsory purchase order consists of a dwelling-house and the occupier of the dwelling-house July objects to the order and that objection is not withdrawn, the Secretary of State shall not rely on the modification made by an order under this paragraph.
§ (3) Where the land comprised in a compulsory purchase order comprises a dwelling-house together with other land and the occupier of the dwelling-house duly objects to the order and that objection is not withdrawn, then, if the Secretary of State relies on the modification made by an order under this paragraph, he shall not confirm the compulsory purchase order without a modification excluding the dwelling-house from that order.
§ (4) In this paragraph "dwelling-house" means any building or part of a building in which a person is residing, and includes any other building or part of a building in which a person normally resides but from which he is temporarily absent.
§ (5) In relation to the Scottish Act of 1947, this paragraph shall have effect as if, in sub-paragraph (1) above, for the reference to section 12(1) of the Act of 1971 there were substituted a reference to section 10(1) of the Scottish Act of 1972'.
No. 109, in page 57, line 16, at end insert—
'(6) An order under this paragraph shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.'.—[Mr. John Silkin.]
§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move Amendment No. 110, in page 57, line 17, leave out paragraph 5.
The purpose of paragraph 5, if I understand it correctly, is that if the Secretary of State thinks that part of the land sought to be acquired compulsorily shall be so acquired but that another part shall not be acquired, he can make half an order and hold the sword of Damocles over the head of the owner as regards the rest of the land for an indefinite period.
Could the Minister tell us the purpose of this provision? Surely it is grossly unfair to someone who is subjected to a compulsory purchase order and who is prepared, as it were, for having the whole of his plot of land taken away from him, that when the matter goes to the Secretary of State for confirmation the Secretary of State says "No, let the local authority take half of the land." He does not say that the local authority shall not take the other half. He can say "I am thinking about the other half. I am not sure whether I will confirm the order relating to the other half." He can hold it over the man for a period of time which is not 1084 stated in the paragraph. I cannot see the necessity for having such an unfair procedure to the unfortunate owner who is subjected to a compulsory purchase order.
§ Mr. Oakes
I thought that this was introduced in Standing Committee as a probing amendment; but the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), having put down an identical amendment in Committee and having probed, and having been given his answer, now puts the amendment down again on Report.
I tell the right hon. Gentleman once again that this has a respectable history going back to 1947 and was, incidentally, included in his planning Act of 1971. The reason for this order is that there can be instances—they would be very rare—where part of the land is urgently and obviously needed for development, but another part of the land less so because planning considerations have yet to be considered.
This provision in the schedule allows for the Secretary of State to confirm the urgent part and to leave in abeyance the other part. Were it not so, the whole lot would be subject to considerable delay, including the urgent matter, while the Secretary of State considered the less urgent or less obvious matter.
What I will say to hon. Members opposite if they are so concerned about this matter, even though it has this long history in planning legislation, is that we will be prepared to issue an administrative direction to local authorities. We give this assurance, that an administrative guide line for the exercise of the power would indicate that it is to be used only where a compulsory purchase order has been the subject of an inquiry or hearing, and then only in the most exceptional circumstances. Those exceptional circumstances can arise. That is why this power has been included in legislation for the best part of 30 years.
§ Mr. Graham Page
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I should have preferred to see it in the Bill itself, but if those administrative directions are to be given that gives us some relief from the effect of the clause. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1085
§ Mr. Clegg
I beg to move Amendment No. 111, in page 57, line 29, at end insert—'(2) If no notice to treat has been served upon the owner of the land in question within three months of the confirmation of any compulsory purchase made in pursuance of this Act, then the owner may give the acquiring authority notice that he requires a Notice to Treat and at the expiration of the month from the service of such notice by the owner the Notice to Treat shall be deemed to have been served by the acquiring authority'.I have always felt that our proceedings on the Community Land Bill have been better in the early hours of the morning. I can barely remember the discussions which took place in daylight, but those in the deep hours of the night stick in my mind, as, I am sure, they stick in the mind of everyone who has suffered in having anything to do with the Bill.
The purpose of the amendment is clear. As the Bill stands, the Minister will confirm an order for part of the land. The local authority will be left with part of its order confirmed and part not, and there may therefore be a tendency on the part of the authority to delay service of the notice to treat. That would be unfair on the owner, and in our view there should be a time limit within which the local authority should act.
Anybody who has been concerned with compulsory purchase orders has often been struck by the suffering caused to owners by delay in service of notice to treat after orders have been made, and the amendment is designed to cure that evil.
§ Mr. Oakes
The amendment is technically defective, but I do not oppose it merely on that ground. The hon. Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg) will remember that this matter was raised in Committee, and I draw his attention to Government Amendment No. 304, which we shall shortly reach, which reduces the period to 12 months.
An amendment to the same effect as the one now before us was withdrawn in Committee, after my right hon. Friend had undertaken, without commitment, to consider the arguments advanced in support of a shorter period. Again I draw attention to our Amendment No. 304. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press his amendment. We cannot accept that, as a general rule, authorities should be forced to the notice to treat stage in 1086 any period less than 12 months, but it should be remembered that residential occupiers and others in statutory blight cases will be able to arrive at that stage much earlier since they are entitled to serve blight notices as soon as the making of a compulsory purchase order has been published, without waiting for the order to be confirmed.
I assure the hon. Gentleman that a lot of his argument is met by the reduced period provided for in our Amendment No. 304. Certainly his argument in Committee is.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment made: No. 297, in page 58, line 20, leave out '(1) and (7)'.—[Mr. Harry Ewing.]
§ Amendment made: No. 113, in Schedule 4, in page 59, line 34 leave out 'its' and insert 'their'.—[Mr. Oakes.]
§ 2.15 a.m.
§ Mr. Rossi
I beg to move Amendment No. 114, in page 59, line 43, at end insert'but shall not be given until after the proposal and any objections thereto have been heard at a public inquiry and the Secretary of State has been advised of the proceedings at such inquiry'.We are now dealing with Part III of Schedule 4 which relates to the extinction of certain rights over land on acquisition by a local authority under its power in Part III of the Act.
The Secretary of State is given the power in paragraph 10(2) of the schedule to supervise the exercise of those powers in as much as his consent is required before local authorities can extinguish rights over land and can take into their own ownership any apparatus on the land. The consent under paragraph 10(2) may be giveneither in respect of a particular operation or in respect of operations of any class, and either subject to or free from any conditions or limitations.The Secretary of State is given considerable powers over local authorities when they seek to extinguish certain rights over land acquisition.
Our amendment seeks to introduce another element into the process of checks and balances by requiring that there should be a public inquiry in which the parties concerned can have their 1087 rights ventilated properly and fully, so that after the public inquiry has taken place a recommendation or report will be sent to the Secretary of State and he will then act on the advice which he receives as a result of these proceedings. It is a further check and balance that we consider to be desirable in the circumstances, and we hope that it will commend itself to the Government.
§ Mr. Oakes
I am afraid that the amendment is not acceptable to the Government because we do not accept that any additional proceedings are justified.
The Opposition are in many respects returning to arguments advanced in Committee. Those arguments are misconceived on two counts. First of all, there is nothing in the 1971 Act which says that before land can be acquired, either by agreement or compulsorily, or appropriated for planning purposes planning permission for its development must first have been obtained. But if a local authority proposes to acquire land compulsorily under the Planning Act, the long-established practice of the Secretary of State is not to confirm a CPO unless he is satisfied that the planning aspect has been properly covered. If land is acquired for planning purposes by agreement, it would of course be unlawful for the authority to develop it unless planning permission has been granted after any procedures applicable to the grant of such permission—including, where relevant, an inquiry—have been carried out.
However, that is not the whole point. The fact that land has been acquired, whether for planning purposes under the Planning Act or under the Bill as land which is suitable for development, does not override the need to obtain planning permission before development can be carried out. If it has not been obtained beforehand, as could be the case where acquisition was by agreement, it must be obtained subsequently. Furthermore, in both cases if the procedures precedent to the grant of planning permission involve a planning inquiry, an inquiry must be held.
I hope the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) will accept that the opportunities for owners and the general public to object to development proposals on planning grounds will be neither more 1088 nor less for land acquired under the Bill which is proposed to be developed under the powers of paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 than for land acquired or appropriated under the Planning Act, where Section 124 of that Act applies. Therefore, it is unnecessary for the procedures proposed in the amendment to be introduced.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendments made: No. 298, in page 64, leave out lines 14 to 23.
§ No. 117, in page 65, line 7, leave out from 'the' to '1947' and insert 'Scottish Act of'.—[Mr. John Silkin.]
§ 'Notice for some purposes as paragraph 18 but given by statutory undertakers to authority
§ 19A.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, where any land has been acquired by an authority under Part III of this Act and—
- (a) there is on, under or over the land apparatus vested in or belonging to statutory undertakers; and
- (b) the undertakers claim that development to be carried out on the land is such as to require, on technical or other grounds connected with the carrying on of their undertaking, the removal or re-siting of the apparatus affected by the development,
§ (2) Where, after the land has been acquired as mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) above, development of the land is begun to be carried out, no notice under this paragraph shall be served later than 21 days after the beginning of the development.
§ (3) Where a notice is served under this paragraph, the authority on whom it is served may, before the end of the period of 28 days from the date of service, serve on the statutory undertakers a counter-notice stating that they object to all or any of the provisions of the notice and specifying the grounds of their objection.
§ (4) If no counter-notice is served under sub-paragraph (3) above, the statutory undertakers shall, after the end of the said period of 28 days, have the rights claimed in their notice.
§ (5) If a counter-notice is served under sub-paragraph (3) above, the statutory undertakers who served the notice under this paragraph may either withdraw it or may apply to the Secretary of State and the appropriate Minister for an order under this paragraph conferring on the undertakers the rights claimed in the notice or such modified rights as the Secretary of State and the appropriate Minister think it expedient to confer on them.1089
§ (6) Where, by virtue of this paragraph or an order of Ministers made under it, statutory undertakers have the right to execute works for the removal or re-siting of apparatus, they may arrange with the authority for the works to be carried out by the authority, under the superintendence of the undertakers, instead of by the undertakers themselves.
§ (7) Where works are carried out for the removal or re-siting of statutory undertakers' apparatus, being works which the undertakers have the right to carry out by virtue of this paragraph or an order of Ministers made under it, the undertakers shall be entitled to compensation from the authority.
§ (8) Sections 238 and 240 of the Act of 1971, or as the case may be sections 227 and 229 of the Scottish Act of 1972 (measure of compensation for statutory undertakers) shall apply to compensation under sub-paragraph (7) above as they apply to compensation under section 237(3) of the Act of 1971, or as the case may be section 226(3) of the Scottish Act of 1972'.
§ The effect of the amendment is to confer on statutory undertakers the right to remove their apparatus from land which has been acquired by an authority under Part III of the Bill, if the proposed development necessitates this on technical or other grounds connected with the carrying on of the undertaking.
§ The procedure is that the undertakers serve notice of their claim on the authority not later than 21 days after the beginning of development. If the authority serves a counter-notice of objection and agreement is not reached the undertakers may apply to the Secretary of State and the "appropriate Minister", as defined in Clause 7 for an order conferring the right claimed.
§ Where works for the removal or re-siting of apparatus are carried out under rights conferred by this paragraph or an order of Ministers the undertakers would be entitled to compensation from the authority in respect of any expenditure reasonably incurred in removing apparatus acquiring other apparatus and erecting buildings, together with the equivalent of any decrease in net receipts directly attributable to the removal or re-siting.
§ Paragraph 18 of Schedule 4, corresponds with Section 230 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and Section 219 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 allows an authority which has acquired land under Part III of the Bill to extinguish the rights of statutory undertakers in the land or require removal of their apparatus if it is satisfied that this is necessary for the purpose of carrying out any development.1090
§ Since the Bill was introduced the Government's attention has been drawn to the fact that Schedule 4 does not import the reverse provision—Section 232 of the Act of 1971 and Section 221 of the Act of 1972—under which statutory undertakers may claim rights to remove their apparatus where this is necessitated by the development.
§ This amendment rectifies that omission.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendment made: No. 300, in page 69, leave out lines 5 to 13.—[Mr. John Silkin.]