HC Deb 14 October 1975 vol 897 cc1260-323

1. Development for which planning permission is granted by a general development order for the time being in force and which is carried out so as to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission is so granted.

2. The carrying out, on land which is used for the purposes of agriculture or forestry, of any building or other operations required for the purposes of that use, other than operations for the erection of dwelling-houses or operations for the erection, improvement or alteration of buildings used for the purposes of market gardens, nursery grounds or timber yards or for other purposes not connected with general farming operations or with the cultivation or felling of trees.

3. The winning and working, on land held or occupied with land used for the purposes of agriculture, of any minerals reasonably required for the purposes of that use, including the fertilisation of the land so used and the maintenance, improvement or alteration of buildings or works thereon which are occupied or used for those purposes.'.—[Mr. John Silkin.]

Brought up, and read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Order for Third Reading read.—[Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, and Prince of Wales's Consent signified].

9.8 p.m.

Mr. John Silkin

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I have been told that no Government have ever before consulted on a Bill as widely as we have on this one. The Secretary of State and I were, I believe, among the earliest in our party to advocate public ownership of development land. We believe that the result of those consultations has been a better Bill, and we want to take this opportunity to thank those professional bodies, local authorities and individuals who have assisted us with their constructive proposals.

It is cheering to know that bodies such as the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Town and Country Planning Association, which at the beginning had reservations about certain aspects of the Bill, now give their whole-hearted support to what we are doing.

The changes we have made have been designed to bring greater clarity to the Bill. For example, on Second Reading I said that acquisition of development land must be planning led. Indeed, it is surely a cardinal principle that a Bill aimed to promote positive planning must rely upon the planning framework. This has been spelled out in the Bill itself.

By incorporating this change we have also been able to clarify the changes on compulsory purchase procedure. Our aim has always been to strike a proper and fair balance between the interests of the individual and the interests of the community at large.

The effect of these changes is that the owner of land will have the opportunity to put his case before a public inquiry on how his land may be used. But one public inquiry—not two. To insist on two inquiries, both at the planning stage and at the compulsory purchase stage—two inquiries dealing with exactly the same point—is bureaucratic nonsense.

For home owners, I want to emphasise that the compensation provisions remain essentially as they always were, and they will continue to receive the proper price for their land in accordance with the Compensation Acts of previous Governments.

I was impressed in Committee by the need to make changes on blight procedure. We have done this. Where planning permission is suspended, and the owner cannot therefore get the land developed until the suspension is lifted, he may have some difficulty in disposing of his land in the meantime. We have provided that he can serve a blight notice during the period of suspension.

We promised on Second Reading to give help to Churches and charities. The Bill now provides that they can proceed with development without local authority intervention, and, together with the provisions on development land tax, we have given recognition to the special function of Churches and charities in the life of the community.

Consultations also convinced us that we needed to clarify the provisions, and, indeed, the very names of what are now "exempt" and "excepted" development. I should say that I, like the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), had no great affection for the term "permanent non-designated relevant development", and I am delighted that we need no longer use it.

The scheme was never concerned with every bit of development with which owners might wish to proceed. The land problem needs to be dealt with strategically, and it has never been part of our aim that all land on which minor development is to take place should have to pass through local authority ownership. This, too, is now spelled out.

With these modifications I believe that the Bill is better placed than ever to bring life to our key proposals. Through it we are giving the community the power to control and initiate the development of land in accordance with its needs and priorities.

There may be hon. Members who would wish to dismantle the whole planning system, but I do not believe that this is typical of the overwhelming majority. If we are agreed that market forces, commercial interests and short-term benefits must not be allowed to destroy the heritage that has been handed down to us, then planning we must have. The question is whether the system that we have employed for the past 30 years is now sufficient to protect our towns, our cities, and our countryside.

The Opposition's argument throughout the various stages of the Bill has been that negative planning plus taxation are enough, and yet they themselves by implication have realised the inefficiency of that approach: that is why they took steps to encourage the use of Section 52 agreements under the 1971 Planning Act—to strengthen the protective rôle of local authorities. Now, put baldly, a Section 52 agreement enables a local authority to initiate development of a sort that is required in return for granting planning permission to the developer for a project which may or may not be desirable. I do not want to suggest that all such agreements are undesirable. That would be unfair.

But Section 52 has often worked to the advantage of the large, wealthy development company and the large, monumental style of development now, perhaps rightly, out of fashion. It has often worked to the disadvantage of the small company whose economic power to buy a planning permission has not been sufficient. Like the sale of indulgences, Section 52 agreements still the conscience but offer no proof that they are really effective.

Whatever else such agreements may achieve, they cannot meet the needs of the community and control the pace and form of development. They are at best palliatives. But of course it is the failure of mere control and the weakness of the attempts to strengthen it that makes positive planning necessary—that is to say, the planning by an authority which—as the Uthwatt Report recognised so long ago—is the owner of the land on which the development takes place and, therefore, ipso facto, is able to be the initiator rather than merely the controller of the development.

To steal an analogy from transport, there is a need for traffic wardens who give parking tickets—even at £6 a time—but the important question is who directs the traffic.

Added to this, no solution must ignore the just pressure of ordinary people to exert their influence in the planning of their own environment. The local people have to live with mistakes long after the landowner and the developer have taken their profit and departed. That is why I want the democratically elected local authorities to play their full part in the ownership and planning of the development land in their own areas and, by this means, to control and initiate development.

For the clearest of tactical reasons the Opposition have spent much of their time in attacking the capabilities and, in a few regrettable cases, the bona fides of local authorities. In fact, the tradition of local democracy in our country is older by a thousand years than that of democracy in central Government, and, dare I say it, the local authority is sometimes more sensitive and responsive to the immediate needs of the local people whom it represents.

But, of course, local authorities certainly differ in their capabilities and their resources and in their expertise. We have made it clear from the outset that the Community Land scheme will not be implemented in full in every local authority area from the date of Royal Assent. The Bill enables local authorities to go at their own pace, and specific provision is made for local authorities under the land acquisition and management schemes to work together in order to avoid a dupli- cation of effort in planning. Whatever else the Local Government Act of 1972 did, it did not exactly discourage such duplication, and it is to the credit of our land acquisition and management schemes that they may succeed in reducing this duplication.

Incidentally, one benefit in which the local authorities will all share is that, immediately the scheme comes into operation, purchases of land needed for their own use to fulfil their present functions will be bought net of development land tax. At a time of public expenditure constraint this is particularly important and has, I know, been widely welcomed.

But, as I have said, in the acquisition of land for private development, some local authorities will be much better placed to take full advantage of the scheme than others, and they will be given the duty, not just the power, to acquire development land early on. The time scale depends on the ability to do the job. This gradual, flexible implementation of the scheme was deliberately decided upon, and it is a measure of its strength that the Opposition have had to juggle with statistics in an attempt to discredit it.

I have heard figures quoted that the scheme will cost over £1 million a day. The Opposition know perfectly well that that is not a true estimate of the first year's full operation of the scheme —to quote the words of their television broadcast of a fortnight ago. Certainly, it would be the cost after the Second Appointed Day; but the broadcast omitted to point out that, at that time, for every £1 million spent by local authorities, the community will on the very same day be receiving back nearly £4 million, which is not a bad deal.

I have never objected to reasoned criticisms of this Bill. Indeed, some of the criticisms, as I have tried to show, have been helpful in our aim of producing constructive proposals. But the kind of scaremongering which has been used in the latter stages for party political purposes is not intended to assist but only to destroy.

I find it particularly disquieting when this kind of propaganda is used without any justification whatsoever to frighten the ordinary owner-occupier into a belief that his home and garden are threatened and, in defiance of all the compulsory purchase statutes of the past hundred years, insinuates that the price to be paid for his house will be at the whim of the council and not as prescribed by law.

Right from the days of the White Paper and throughout we have emphasised, re-emphasised and re-re-emphasised that it is not part of the Community Land Scheme to threaten the owner-occupier. Rather the scheme will help him. A stable land price with lower costs for schools, roads and other facilities where he lives will be of enormous value to him.

As to those who seek a home of their own for the first time, the ability of local authorities to see that land for private house building is made available at the right time and in the right place is an infinitely better solution than the half-baked, half-hearted £80 million scheme which the party opposite introduced when they were in power in an effort to get the local authorities to provide land for private house building. But perhaps we should not be too surprised at the Opposition's tactics: it was they, after all, who produced a White Paper dealing with the land hoarding charge, a policy produced in desperation, and then dropped because it was totally unworkable.

So, we are left with one final piece of scaremongering—the argument that enormous quantities of skilled manpower that do not exist will be needed for the scheme. At a time when, understandably, we are all concerned with the size of the staffs of local authorities, there appears to them to be good political mileage to be made from bandying about nonsensical figures which bear some relation only to the ultimate estimates of manpower when the scheme is operating in every part of the country in respect of all relevant development land, and applying those calculations to the present, immediate, situation. This particular scare totally ignores the step-by-step and area-by-area approach on which the whole scheme is based—and of course it is intended to do so.

On the contrary, because the authorities in each area must draw up a land acquisition and management scheme which takes account of the needs of their areas and the manpower available, I believe that we shall see a keener scrutiny of the resources and of how they are being employed and the more effective use of highly-trained staff. I believe that we shall see throughout our local authorities the same sort of highly successful and well-established system that now prevails in our new towns. I am not aware that it has been a source of grief to house-owners or to industrialists, or to those engaged in commerce, that the land on which they carry out their undertakings in the new towns came to them through public ownership.

I do not wish to blur the clear difference in philosophy that exists between the two sides of the House: between those who believe that ownership of land should remain subservient to private interests and those who, like ourselves, believe that it should be used in the service of the community. But, when I consider the oft-repeated threat of the party opposite to repeal the Bill if ever they should come to power again, it seems to me that their case against the Bill can be summed up in one sentence used by an hon. Member opposite: It is a useless and wicked measure, a dead letter; and the Minister's policy will soon be on the scrapheap"—

Mr. Raison

indicated assent.

Mr. Silkin

The hon. Gentleman agrees—but that remark was not made about this Bill at all. It was made about the New Towns Act nearly 30 years ago. The hon. Member who made that remark has left the House, while the new towns remain and flourish. I am content to rest my case and my belief in the future of the Community Land Scheme on the same vision and realism that made the "new towns experiment" one of the greatest of our post-war successes. I call on my right hon. and hon. Friends to support me tonight.

9.25 p.m.

Mr. Raison

The right hon. Gentleman was obviously facing something of a problem in making his speech tonight. If we think back to the Second Reading it will be remembered that he ended his speech then with a bit of a bang. He was faced with the fact that tonight he was bound to end his speech with a whimper. He naturally decided that the obvious tactic was to try to stir things up a little.

He decided, for example, to suggest that the Conservative Party is anti-local government. I say at once that that is completely untrue. There has been nothing in the conduct of our campaign against the Bill to justify that charge. We believe profoundly in the importance of local government. The only point that we have had to make repeatedly is that the Bill is damaging to the relationship which local government has with the people as a whole and that it imposes on local government burdens which are quite unfair. The right hon. Gentleman also resorted to the alleged scaremongering on the Conservative side. Let me say flatly that his charges do not begin to be substantiated. What he has seen throughout this long campaign has certainly been hard and justified opposition. All the time it has been based on a realistic appraisal of the Bill.

What the right hon. Gentleman ought to have done tonight is the one thing which he has never done, namely justify the Bill by detailed argument. He did not do that on Second Reading. He did not do it in Committee. He has not done it tonight.

The House knows that this Bill started its life with two avowed objectives. The first was to recoup development gains and the second was to promote positive planning. The history of the passage of this Bill so far is the history of the Government's failure ever to justify the need for the Bill even in terms of their own objectives. The fact is—and it has been said again and again—that the recouping of development gains can easily be done by tax. I believe that at one point the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged that. There is clearly absolutely no need for the Bill on that score.

What about the promotion of positive planning? The case has never been made out to show that this cannot be done by a combination of existing local authority and new town powers and development control. We do not dispute that this system may need examination and improvement. Anyone who suggests that this sort of power is perfect is foolish. What has never been done is to show that the existing pattern is incapable of doing the job. Certainly the effectiveness of some of the existing powers has been much argued about in the last year or two.

We are all agreed that the present pattern of development control needs reviewing. The fact is that it has been reviewed by Mr. George Dobry in his report. The fact is also that his work has been largely sabotaged by this Bill, above all with its creation of new categories, relevant, exempted and excepted development. Most people with an interest in this subject felt that when the Dobry Report came out we had something constructive to work on. We did not necessarily accept every word of it but it was something that made sense in the eyes of professional people.

Yet the fact is that by coming up with this new classification, the Government are trying to throw the whole thing back into the melting pot for no conceivable advantage. Far from improving planning, the Bill will clearly make it more difficult because it will make the whole thing more contentious. I say to the Minister that even if the Bill goes through Parliament the likelihood of the second appointed day—with a duty to acquire—ever being reached is slender because the system that the Government are putting forward is too bizarre, too totalitarian ever to work.

Against this—and this is the tragedy—the Bill is already causing upheaval and a serious loss of confidence. As the Bill has gone through Committee the Government have been making concessions. The right hon. Gentleman started by talking of these concessions and no one for a minute would deny that some substantial concessions have been made in some cases. When the right hon. Gentleman started his campaign to get this Bill through the House, his approach seemed to be to try to cloud things in a rather vague atmosphere of good intentions. I believe that as a result of the highly effective campaign carried out by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) and some of my other right hon. and hon. Friends who served on the Committee, the Government were forced to change tack. I pay a clear tribute to my hon. Friends for their work in Committee.

What happened was that they provided an analysis and a critique of the Bill of unparalleled vigour. At the same time I acknowledge that they were helped by a mass of detailed, expert and impartial criticism from outside. I do not believe that any Bill can ever have been subject to such a detailed appraisal—or for that matter such a highly critical one.

The Opposition welcome the concessions. We are pleased that we have won them from the Government. I only add that any criticism that the right hon. Gentleman may make about our campaign is negated by the fact that our campaign has led to these concessions.

However, the fact remains that the Bill is, in our eyes, still deeply wrong. It is not just flawed but fundamentally wrong in a number of important principles. During the next few minutes I wish to revert to some of the original objections put forward by the Opposition on Second Reading and by other critics of the Bill. Then I wish to see what has happened to those objections during the passage of the Bill in Committee and the House.

The first objection was that there was a confusion over the planning powers and the development rôle of the local authority. There was a disruption of the kind of counterpoint which exists between these two aspects under our present system. Local authorities were being asked to do two things which were in essence mutually contradictory.

Secondly, the argument was put forward and, indeed, it has grown in vigour, that the Bill is, in a number of ways, constitutionally objectionable. For one thing, too much of it depends on regulations. Moreover, there was the loss of individual liberty in its provisions for compulsory purchase powers. Also there was, in effect, the retrospective clause about the LAMS.

Another objection on Second Reading was that the Bill had a thoroughly bureaucratic approach. The more one listens to the proceedings the more one realises that the elaborate rigmarole requires a substantial number of new staff at a time when we are trying to keep down the number of public servants, especially in the local authorities. It also puts on to local government a rôle which, by and large, it is not at present equipped to perform.

The next line of criticism is that it will not in any way help home ownership or encourage development. Houses for sale would not become cheaper—indeed, the reverse. Furthermore, it would discourage people from bringing forward land for development.

There was also the public expenditure aspect. There is no doubt that especially in the early stages there will be a considerable public expenditure burden. It is not only a matter of borrowing the money with which to launch the fund, but also a matter of staffing. Any additional gains in revenue said to come about will in reality be largely a transfer from tax in the Exchequer to local government rather than real gains.

Another line of criticism on Second Reading and early in the summer was the damage the Bill would do to Churches, charities, pension funds, agriculture and many other interests. Moreover, there was the damage it would do to industrial investment, not least in the nationalised industries. There was the threat of a worsening local authority relationship with the public, which is a very serious matter.

The Bill is odious to the people of Wales, who were never able to understand why Welsh local government was not to be trusted in a way in which apparently English local government was to be trusted. There was the risk of corruption. Finally, there was the wholly unnecessary spread of public ownership and the loss of freedom which the Bill is fundamentally about.

I have mentioned only 10 of a very large number of criticisms that have been made. I wish to examine these criticisms briefly to see how far they have been removed as a result of the pressure to which the Bill has been subjected. I shall deal first with the planning problem. It is certainly true that the planning emphasis has been much strengthened. I acknowledge that and I am glad that it is so. The fact remains that the conflict between the two roles of the local authorities is still clearly there. They will still have to operate both as planners and as developers.

It is worth pointing out that the new towns, about which the right hon. Gentleman is fond of talking as a kind of prototype for his Bill, do not have this problem. They do not exercise the ownership power and the planning power as well, so they are not a fair comparison.

I turn now to the constitutional objections to the Bill. Again, I acknowledge that we have had a real improvement in the compulsory purchase procedure, but it is limited. The right of appeal and hence a public inquiry are not always guaranteed, for instance, where land is in the framework of a structure plan. This part of the Bill is still an affront to justice. My right hon. and hon. Friends have made that point forcefully in the last couple of days.

Next, there is the objection that far too much is left to regulations and not spelt out in the measure itself. Again, regulations constitute too large a part of the Bill.

We welcome the fact that there is a schedule for exempt development, but excepted development is put in the regulations. However, as I pointed out last night, it was all published in a Press notice a few days ago. We have never had a satisfactory answer to the question why the Minister can put something in a Press notice but not in a schedule to the Bill. That is absolutely wrong.

We deplore the serious failure on the part of the Government to deal effectively with the question of how acquired land is to be sold. This issue has not featured as prominently over the last couple of days as some of the other issues, but it is very important and some of my hon. Friends have pressed it hard.

Turning to the attitude towards the land acquisition management scheme and the date by which it had to be prepared, the House will recall that when the Bill was brought in there was an expectation by the Government that it would have reached Royal Assent some time ago. In fact, that has been delayed, if it is ever to come about. Indeed, it will not come about until some time in November. To allow time between November and the end of December to require the local authorities to draw up their schemes seems quite wrong. I say clearly now that at 2.30 this morning there occurred what I thought was an absolutely disgraceful episode. I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will read it in Hansard. When we debated the date for the LAMS, the Minister replied with what was frankly a threat of blackmail to the local authorities. It was abso- lutely outrageous I ask hon. Gentlemen to read Hansard to find out what happened. [HON. MEMBERS: "We were here."] If the Secretary of State thinks that his colleague behaved well, he should be ashamed of himself. The Secretary of State may have heard it; I hope he was as embarrassed as he should have been.

The next point about the constitution is that the position regarding the disposal notification areas is still highly unsatisfactory in its impact on the rights of citizens and on the value of their property. This, again, has been argued very effectively today by my hon. Friends.

I turn now to the charge that, in essence, this Bill is a thoroughly bureaucratic monster. We have gained from the removal of the smaller categories from the scheme, and we acknowledge that, but the Bill will still need—the Government never attempted to deny this—a massive increase in staff and bureaucracy. There are still doubts about the ability of the local authorities to operate as developers. Some of them may be able to do it. I do not deny that some of them have experience. However, to impose on every local authority the special skills will be very difficult.

The position regarding home ownership has been improved for the smaller developments, and we acknowledge that. But basically there is no encouragement to bring land forward for the bigger and, indeed, the medium-sized schemes. I suggest that homes will not be cheaper but will, if anything, be dearer.

Mr. Michael Latham

And slower.

Mr. Raison

And, as my hon. Friend said, slower. The fact is that as a result of taking away from builders the possibility of land profit, but charging them the full value of the land that they buy, builders will have to put up their prices. There will be more expensive housing as a direct consequence of this Bill.

As the Minister must know, the public expenditure objection remains strong. This is no moment to launch into this kind of scheme, assuming that there is ever a moment to do so.

The strength of objections from Churches, charities, pension funds and agriculture remain. Again there have been concessions, in some cases important concessions, but they are still inadequate, particularly in relation to pension funds. The position of Churches and charities has not been safeguarded either. I hope that, at the very least, the Government will be prepared to look again at all these matters when the Bill reaches another place.

Objections based on the worsening relationship between local authorities and the public remain valid as does the odiousness of the Bill to Wales. The risk of corruption when local authorities are put in a monopoly vendor position also remains. I am not saying that it will be widespread, I do not believe for one minute that it will. But the risk remains.

Objections to the unnecessary spread of public ownership and the loss of freedom remain, too. There have been concessions here, but the fundamental objection remains and, in addition, the Secretary of State has been given excessively Draconian reserve powers with inadequate rights for local authorities—though the Parliamentary Secretary made some sort of gesture in what was almost the last debate on Report.

The Bill is still essentially odious, unworkable and unnecessary. The final stage of the full duty to acquire would be a monstrosity if it ever came about.

The question before Parliament—and this relates to our whole parliamentary system—is what should be done. I suggest very seriously to the Minister and Secretary of State that they make one more concession, the greatest and most valuable concession that they could make, and withdraw the Bill in this Session of Parliament. I suggest that they go away and try to produce something which would be acceptable and workable and which could remain on the Statute Book indefinitely, as this Bill cannot.

This issue has been going backwards and forwards in British politics for a very long time and there is a widespread feeling among the public that it ought to be settled. The number of people outside the dogmatists of the Tribune group and those who aspire to win their favour who believe that this Bill provides the right solution is very small. The reaction of nearly all interested parties is that the Bill is still an inadequate measure.

We want to show that Parliament is capable of looking at the problem again and coming up with an answer that can remain on the Statute Book. This means going back to everyone whose criticisms have been so strong and re-thinking the problem. How do we get good planning, effective development and a fair return for the community while, at the same time, preserving reasonable liberty for the individual?

These problems can be settled and we would be happy to take part in the search for a solution. I beg the Government to think very deeply about this. They have a grave responsibility in this matter. The Bill is not the right way to deal with it and I call on the House to reject it.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)

We have listened to an incredible speech from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) but before I comment on it I should like to say how grateful I am to have the opportunity of making a brief contribution to the debate on the Bill. As the Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary, right the way through to the end of July, I had to live under an enforced silence during the Second Reading debate and the 156 hours that the Bill was considered in Committee upstairs, and I am grateful at last to have the opportunity of saying a few words about the Bill which, needless to say, I support wholeheartedly, not just because I happened to be the PPS to the Minister, but because I believe it to be a thoroughly good Bill. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the way in which he has conducted this measure through the House.

All that I can say to the hon. Member for Aylesbury is that if he had sat through the 156 hours in Committee through which I sat he would have made a rather better informed speech than the one to which we have just listened. I do not want to say any more about the hon. Gentleman's speech, except that I was astonished at his claim that the Tories believe in local government. After all, the hon. Gentleman supported a Government who took powers away from local government on an unprecedented scale by the Housing Finance Act, by the Counter-inflation Act and by other pieces of legislation such as the Water Act. They removed power from democratically elected local authorities.

One of the things of which I am proud is that the Labour Government and this Minister are carrying out the devolution of power to local authorities, and in this Bill my right hon. Friend has given them enormous responsibility and power. I recognise the fear that the hon. Member for Aylesbury expressed about the Bill and about the power that is being granted to local authorities, but at last we are granting power to democratically elected bodies. There may be complaints about local authorities. There may be a suggestion that local authorities sometimes are not as responsive to the communities that they represent as they might be, but the answer to that problem is to give local authorities not less power but more power.

By giving local authorities the kind of powers that the Bill gives them we shall give them responsibilities that will make local government more interesting than in some ways it has been to some of the electorate, and that is one of the important factors in the Bill. Not merely does this measure give responsibility to local authorities, but it gives them power to carry out positive planning on the lines that many local councillors whom I know want to be able to do. That is one of the powerful advantages of the Bill.

I believe that, as we give power to local authorities, it is important to ensure what the Opposition have never admitted, namely, that this is a community land Bill, that it is a measure that will enable the ordinary citizen to play the sort of part that he wants to play in the planning process. One of the enormously important developments in our society—and we can all speak of this from knowledge of our constituencies—is the development of residents' associations, conservation societies, tenants' associations and other similar bodies. Some of them have almost reached the stage of development where they could evolve into neighbourhood councils on a statutory basis.

This development is of immense importance, in the sense that this is the kind of response that the community is already making to dealing with the problems of its environment. By giving local authorities the powers that we are providing by this measure we are recognising the positive interest that the community is showing in its environment. We can look forward to an exciting stage in the development of local government, in the sense that by giving local authorities the powers that they are to gain under the Bill, and by the development of neighbourhood councils and other organisations to which I have referred, we shall see the development of public participation in planning and in control over the environment in which people live in a way that has never been possible before. Therefore, this is a first-class piece of legislation.

We have listened to a destructive and negative speech from the Opposition Front Bench. It has been typical of much of the opposition that we have heard and of the scaremongering tactics to which the Minister referred. I refer, for example, to the broadcasts, which went as follows: Do you own a house, a garden, or a piece of land? If so do you know what this Government has in store for you? You may have heard about the Community Land Bill but decided it's got nothing to do with you. You couldn't be more wrong. Let me explain. So it goes on—scare, scare, scare.

I sat through two sessions of debates on Clause 25 on denotification areas. I noted the degree to which the Minister over and over again was able to reassure the Opposition in Committee that the fears which they were expressing were virtually without foundation. I am sure that the sort of scare tactics that have been used by the Opposition will rebound on them in the end.

When the Bill becomes an Act it will transform many of our towns, improve our environment and for the first time give to ordinary citizens an opportunity to play a positive part in the determination of the environment in which they live.

9.52 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Ross

It is true that since the Bill was first introduced it has undergone a considerable metamorphosis, for which we must thank the Minister. It is to operate within existing planning procedures, and that is a great improvement.

There has been the concession to the Churches and charities, although, as I pointed out yesterday evening, I would have preferred that those caught up at the end of the 10-year period—there are bound to be Churches and charities caught up otherwise there will be an unseeming rush—should have received the reassurance I sought that they would be compensated out of a global fund.

For my pains I have been connected with a church for 15 years. I can remember vividly that we had some land to be developed. I was ashamed of the fact that we were putting it on the market at an exorbitant sum in order to build 10 executive type houses. When I challenged this I was told that I should form a charitable housing association which I ultimately did. Many people connected with churches and charities have disliked having to put property on the market and receive the full speculative price for it in order to carry out the development they wish, for example, the building of new churches or charitable homes. The sooner charities are out of this sort of game the better. We should reassure them at the end of 10 years that they will not lose a valuable asset.

We have received assurances and concessions for the agricultural industry which I greatly welcome. They could have gone further but the Minister's words were reassuring and I am sure that they will be noted in Hansard.

Developments have been written into the Bill which will be exempted and we have received information as to those that are likely to be excepted by regulation. It is a fair criticism that far too much is being left to regulation and too little is being written into the Bill. We have been assured that all this is in the interests of flexibility. I am all in favour of flexibility but that is going too far.

We are bound to question whether such a complicated measure is needed to deal with what was, by common consent, a scandal in the early 1970s, namely, the exploitation of development values which had been created by the community. It is interesting to note that at this moment legislation is being introduced in France on the land question. One of the most favoured amendments calls for a site value tax. Surely this is a simpler way. It is not Common Market thinking. It happens to have been good Liberal policy for many years. Fortunately, the French are looking across the Channel this time to see the right way to do it. If there is a simple way to go about things, it should be tried. This country is already punch-drunk with legislation and incomprehensible definitions.

As far as existing building land is concerned, it is still our contention that the introduction of a variable site tax based on annual value of the land is all that is needed, as this not only reduces land prices but gives real power to local authorities to see their proposals—the land development schemes they agree with builders and others—implemented and not left lying around while someone sits on the land until the price goes up.

If it is claimed that the Bill gives the land to the people, the people are going to have to pay a hefty price for the right to develop it. If land is to come in at existing use value, it is going to be planned by local authorities and then sold, and they will not give it away. They will look for the top price. As the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) said, that certainly will not reduce the price of houses.

One can see the sort of problems which will arise in local government when it realises that 30 per cent. of the realisable price will come back to it. I do not think that this will lead to positive planning but rather to positively bad planning. Why cannot this land be passed at cost-plus the overheads of the local authority? The present proposal is a bad way for local authorities to obtain finance.

As far as newly released land is concerned—land which local authorities have decided to include in a town boundary—I believe that the authorities should be able to purchase at existing use value, or at least the cost prior to 12th September 1974, whichever is the higher. They should have three months' option in which to do it. If after that they have not decided to take up the option, the owner should be entitled to deal with that land as he likes and be exempted from acquisition for a five-year period.

On Second Reading, the Liberals voted against the Bill largely because of its cost at this time of economic stringency and its lack of likely effects on the house market. That is still very much the case today, despite the revised estimates of the manpower required.

I consider it very foolish to talk about complete repeal. We cannot just go on proceeding as we have in the past with a succession of measures. I want to quote from what The Times said on Monday. The hon. Member for Aylesbury likes quoting from this newspaper so I shall quote it back at him. The article said: The ideological approach of both the Government in presenting the Bill and of the Conservative Party in its relentless decline into root and branch condemnation and shameless panic-mongering in party political broadcasts, have helped to surround it with a miasma of bitterness. The real nature of the problem is becoming lost to view. I was a supporter of the old Land Commission but I do not support the idea of a betterment levy. It was a pity that the Land Commission was wiped out in 1970. I said consistently in Committee on the Bill that I believe some sort of regional structure will have to be set up if this Bill is to work. If the local authority is to be the planner and also the developer, who is to safeguard the interests of the community? The rôle of the local authority is surely to preserve the existing interests of the present community by whom it has been elected.

This responsibility may lead to inertia and may stultify development. There may also be a conflict of interest between the counties and the district. A land action board or a similar body should be established. At first it would have to be appointed, but perhaps in time if we get elected regional councils the board could be elected. A lot of work needs to be done on a regional basis to translate national and regional policies into a local context transcending local boundaries and prejudices.

It being Ten o'clock the debate stood adjourned.


That the Community Land Bill may be proceeded with at this day's sitting, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Harper.]

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Mr. Ross

The rôle of the board, which I put forward seriously—I believe that the Government have considered it—would be to act as a catalyst in bringing land to the market, to act as an arbiter in cases of dispute that hinder development and occasionally, in the last resort, to be the initiator of projects for development. It would also act as a funding agency for local authority development projects.

I make a plea for the wider exploration of the benefits to the community to be gained by the further use of selective partnership schemes operating between local authorities and development agencies, some of which have been successful in various cities in this country. These schemes at least ensure that the benefits gained from the market mechanism, such as the adventurous initiation of development, the stimulation of innovation, the efficient rationing and allocation of resources, the promotion of consumer preference, the accumulated skills of project management, the implicit tests of feasibility and the facilitation of funding are not lost.

Finally, I reflect that the speculative nature of subsisting land and property values is frequently a function of the poor performance of past planning policies and the uncertainty of future ones.

Much as I admire the ability, affability and skill of the Minister, I have to say that my hon. Friends and I shall join the Opposition and vote against the Third Reading of the Bill.

10.3 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Irving (Dartford)

The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) said that the matter will be settled shortly in the Division Lobby. I believe that the will of the House will be decisive in supporting the Bill.

I welcome the amendments moved by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Planning and Local Government during the last two days. They put the position of the owner-occupier and the owner of a small piece of land beyond doubt. There has been a great deal of misrepresentation during the past few months which should now be at an end.

It should be possible lot housing schemes for 10 or 12 houses and up to 20 flats to go ahead without the acquisition by the public of the land, as all development under 10,000 sq.ft. and all industrial buildings under 15,000 sq.ft. are exempted from the scheme. We hope that up to one acre of land will also be exempt from the development charge.

Contrary to what has been said by many opponents of the Bill, I believe that the scheme will bring benefit to owner-occupiers and the community in the long-term stabilisation of the price of land, and in better planned and better located housing, schools and other local amenities when local authorities no longer have to pay the speculative prices charged. The Municipal and Public Services Journal described the Bill as the most exciting thing to happen to local government for decades. Contrary to all that has been said by Opposition Members, local government will vigorously accept the challenge.

One reason for my intervention tonight is the indignation I feel as a member of a local authority at the outrageous statement in the Estates Times of last Friday: There have been too many cases of corruption in local government for the general public to have any confidence that their powers under the Bill will be properly exercised. That is a disgraceful attack on the integrity of members and officers alike. Despite the difficulties that some members of some local authorities expect in operating the Bill, they will operate it with honesty and fairness.

My own county of Kent, through the County Joint Committee—of which I am chairman—which links together counties and districts, has already decided in principle to set up its county-wide land acquisition and management scheme. I believe that many other local authorities will take speedy steps to follow suit.

I congratulate the Minister on getting the Bill so far. I believe that it will be successful in its other stages, and I am pleased to support it tonight.

10.5 p.m.

Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)

I want to speak about a different part of the United Kingdom from that admirable area about which the right hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Irving) has spoken—namely, Wales. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) said, the Opposition—and I include Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Party—are still concerned about the Welsh aspects of the Bill, which sets up in Part II a statutory body, small in membership—a minimum of six—and very different from the democratically elected bodies which the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) was talking about earlier. It is a small, compact body nominated by the Secretary of State, which has to comply with directions given to it by the Secretary of State. My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Nicholas Edwards) was right yesterday to describe the Land Authority for Wales as a creature of the Secretary of State.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) questioned in Committee whether Clause 10(3) was constitutional. Subsection (3) reads: The Authority, in the performance of their functions under this Act, shall comply with such directions as may be given to them by the Secretary of State". My right hon. Friend asked whether that was constitutional because the directions are totally unspecified. We have not had an answer to that charge.

We have been told by the Government that the Authority must comply with the Secretary of State's directions because he is answerable to the House. That being so, one would have thought that the Secretary of State would have been anxious to assist the House to exercise its function of supervising the discharge of the Secretary of State's responsibilities by laying copies of his directions before the House as he is prepared to do in connection with the Welsh Development Agency set up by the present Government. But no, we must await the Authority's annual report before we know what directions have been issued.

The Government have made much of the fact that the meetings of the authority are to be open to the public and to the Press. They seem to have forgotten that the original Bill contained no such provision and that this concession of open Government was wrested from them by an Opposition amendment in Committee. Nor are we unaware that a great deal can still happen behind closed doors.

Here we have a compact and powerful body that will be tightly controlled by the Secretary of State for Wales. It is to acquire, manage and dispose of land in Wales on an unparalleled scale. It will have a staff of 750 and will cost £4 million a year to run. It will be able to borrow up to £40 million and with further parliamentary approval, £60 million. After yesterday's reduction in the initial debt of the Authority from, £750,000 to £100,000, as a result of a Government amendment, we are at a loss as to how much reliance to place on Government estimates.

As to how the Authority will work in practice, we were told in Committee that during the initial period—namely, before the second appointed day—the Authority might acquire about 5,000 acres at between £10,000 and £15,000 per acre, and that the total outgoings will amount to between £70 million and £90 million.

During the same period the Authority may dispose of 1,500 acres at £20,000 an acre. The difference between these disposals, amounting to £3 million, and the outgoings gives a borrowing requirement of between £40 million and £60 million in the Bill. That is what we were told. The arithmetic is incredibly simple. Incidentally, I am surprised that there has been no reduction in the borrowing requirement in view of the recently announced and incorporated exceptions to "relevant development". Surely they must reduce the amount of land that is required by the land authority.

One matter is clear even from the Government's own figures, and that is that every acre acquired will increase in price by 20 per cent. simply by passing through the hands of the Authority and before the Authority has taken any profit. We fear that the Authority, despite being a monopoly dealer in land, will be very slow to make a profit, if indeed it ever does. Meanwhile, it will require an enormous amount of capital, just as the Land Commission did, although that was on a much smaller scale. The price charged by the Land Authority for land is likely, in my opinion, to be way beyond the means of many developers and possibly beyond the means of certain local authorities which presumably will have to purchase from the Land Authority.

The Bill has two major functions, one of which relates to planning, but the Land Authority for Wales is not a planning authority. Although in England and Scotland ownership of land and planning go together under the local authorities, in Wales they are divided. Baroness White in another place queried the sense of such a division between planning and ownership. She also wanted to know about the relationship between the Land Authority and the local authority. We have asked that question time and again and we are tired of waiting for a clear answer.

The relationship between the Land Authority and the local authorities in Wales is in a frightful muddle. Who is to do what is still a mystery, and the rapid introduction of the Bill, which the Secretary of State for Wales had hoped for, will not, I believe, be achieved because of the confusion about the relationship between the Land Authority and local authorities.

The truth of the matter is that the Secretary of State for Wales on an inadequate basis of reasoning, as we found on Second Reading, opted for a centralised land agency against the advice of the rest of the White Paper on land simply so that we in Wales should be different from England and Scotland. I suspect that he is now beginning to regret it and is looking to the Welsh local authorities to bail him out when they act for the Land Authority on an agency basis.

If he were wise he would now admit, at least to himself, that it is all a big mistake. I am afraid that it is one mistake that is liable to be very costly indeed to him in every sense, financially and politically. We shall remind him time and again of other more urgent priorities on which to spend the £40 million to £60 million that is to be expended under the Bill on a bureaucratic body whose name will become anathema in Wales. While the Land Authority indulges in a buying spree, we know that people in Wales will lack local authority mortgages to buy houses.

The local authorities themselves are starved of money to build on the land they already own. Never was a body created more at variance with and superfluous to the real needs of the people of Wales than this bureaucratic nonsense, which can add only a few thousand acres to those thousands already held by the Secretary of State for Wales, and which his civil servants failed to count for me when I asked him in a Parliamentary Question how much land he held in Wales.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop (South Shields)

At least we can be grateful that the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) thoroughly approved of the position as outlined in the Bill in regard to England. No doubt he will be supporting many of us in the Lobby tonight.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

As a member of the Committee, the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) will recall our precise position on this. We do not like the Land Authority. If we are to have any kind of authority we would prefer these powers to go to the local authorities, but we do not like that either.

Mr. Blenkinsop

I do not want to provoke a lengthy further intervention. I was somewhat surprised that the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross), after he had made some quite interesting and very proper comments about the urgent need to come to a decision on the whole issue of land and its use in the future, should nevertheless have made a rather surprising recommendation about voting against this Bill, for it seems to me that this Bill is the best hope we have had of a solution which can stick and mean something, not only in this House but throughout the country, offering some excitement and hope for the future.

His own recommendations seemed to suggest no more than going back to the Land Commission. It was one very good and sincere effort to deal with this problem, and one of the reasons for its failure, according to Opposition Members, was that that provision did not allow adequate power to the local authorities, so they should be the last people to object to the choice of the local authorities as the instrument in this case.

I have been in this House, with one or two interruptions, for some while, and I apologise, perhaps, for that, but I well remember the first attempt of the Silkin Act, the Town and Country Planning Act, to deal with this matter. It was accorded world-wide support and interest and achieved a very great deal. It was a very complicated measure. But it was destroyed. The main virtue—in a sense the guts—of that measure was torn out by the Tory Party, when they came into office, by the financial amendment that they made. This meant the destruction of the possibility of real positive planning in this country, and was responsible for a great deal of the ill-will that has developed since towards the planning profession.

A great deal stemmed from that great disaster of the withdrawal of the effective financial powers. The Tory Party can claim credit for that, and the sadness of tonight is that the spokesman for the Conservative Party seems to have learned nothing over this period. The most he can say about the possibilities for the future is that we should reconsider the recommendations of the Dobry Report.

I pay tribute to the work that was done by the Dobry Committee. But to imagine that that is a sufficient answer for all our planning problems is quite unreal and shows how narrow and limited is the approach of the Opposition. The Dobry Report makes many valuable suggestions about administrative detail of one form or another which I hope will be carried into effect, but it neither attempts nor was the Dobry Committee asked to deal with the fundamental problems tackled in the Bill.

As one who has seen the other attempts brought forward in this House, I pay credit to the fact that in my view this is the most realistic set of proposals that we have. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) had the impudence to suggest that the Bill would increase house prices. If any body of people are experts on that, it is the Opposition. They have the greatest experience of all. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that the Bill would stir up difficulties in local government. The greatest award there must lie again with the Opposition, for they have presented us with a form of local government which is not what we asked for and which we regret in many ways. But we are accepting the necessity of working within the framework that we have, and we are trying to ensure that despite the difficulties this will provide the kind of agency that we need.

I am sure that it is right to use local government for this purpose. I regret only that the administrative set-up that we have been given through the reorganisation of local government is not what many of us wished to see. Nevertheless we accept the situation, and we shall ensure that the Bill as presented enables the set-up that we have in local government to operate satisfactorily and above all to give a new and exciting opportunity to elected members and staff alike to carry out what they have wanted to do for years in tackling the priorities in their areas.

The fact of our economic and financial difficulties merely adds to the necessity for an answer of this kind. Of course, we have to be careful to scrutinise the provisions about staff and the rest, and we shall do that. But this enables us to tackle the problems in a way which previous provisions did not, and it enables us to give a positive view to planning which I know that many people in the planning profession have wanted for years. This at last gives them the opportunity for which they have been waiting.

I welcome the Bill wholeheartedly, though I hope that some of the excessive comments which have come from the Opposition, presumably stimulated by the winds of Blackpool, with their wild talk about abolishing the Bill and about trying to prevent it coming into operation in the local authorities will be seen merely as a temporary aberration and that they will recover from it and accept the need on their side to ensure that this legislation is given a fair chance of full operation in order to meet the needs of people who have been clamant since the end of the war.

10.25 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Crawford (Perth and East Perthshire)

As I heard the honeyed words of the Minister for Planning and Local Government introducing the Third Reading of this Bill I wondered whether he was talking about the Community Land Bill. When the Front Bench Conservative spokesman, the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison), spoke he almost made me change my recommendation to my hon. Friends about how they should vote on the Bill. The political arguments about the Bill seem, once again—the same thing happened on Second Reading—to have moved from the extreme right to the extreme left and back again.

My party reserved its position on the Second Reading in the hope that something would be done to alleviate the worst effects of the Bill and that some common sense would be written into it. The draftsmen of the Bill appear to have been moved by the aphorism of the West Highlands gentleman who stated, "These are the conclusions on which I base my facts." As I said on Second Reading, there is in Scotland a vast local authority land bank, vacant and unused, which could be used without the provisions of the Bill.

My party's objections to the Bill are primarily threefold. The first concerns the Churches. I should declare an interest, as I did last night. I am a "son of the manse." My father is a Church minister. Last night we discussed the ten-year rule. That was agreed. The Church has operated for a long time in this manner and I hope that it will continue to do so. I agree with the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) that the Churches need more reassurance on this matter.

Mr. Harry Ewing

I did not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman last night. I thought that between then and tonight he would at some time make his usual distorted speech. I thought that he would perhaps check his facts. Is he aware that following the Committee stage of the Bill the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to which he says his father belongs, wrote to my noble Friend, Lord Hughes, the then Minister of State, thanking the Government for the concessions that had been granted and saying that the Government had acted in the best interests of the Churches? The hon. Gentleman continually presents a distorted picture which does not represent the views of the Churches in Scotland. They are delighted with what the Government have done. While I am on my feet—

Hon. Members

Too long.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)

Order. It is not for the Chair to time interruptions. It is for the hon. Member who has given way and the hon. Member who has the Floor.

Mr. Ewing

I understand that the Scottish National Party is to vote against the Bill tonight. I hope that in the weekend speeches the SNP will tell the people of Scotland why it has said that the people ought not to have the land.

Mr. Crawford

I will not go into that last point. I will refer the hon. Member to the fact that further representations have been made by the Church of Scotland and to the fact that the Moderator of the Church of Scotland does not necessarily represent all the views of that Church. The Church of Scotland is a democratic body.

My party's second objection to the Bill relates to farming and forestry. It is not always realised that Scotland is a self-supporting country in terms of agriculture. We export £30 million worth of agricultural goods per annum. We have a net balance of £30 million worth of agricultural goods whereas the United Kingdom has a net deficit of £1,000 million per annum.

Scotland also has great forestry potential. The provisions of the Bill would effectively sterilise large areas of good farming land around such places as the city of Perth in my constituency. It is important for Scottish working farmers, and presumably English and Welsh working farmers, to have freedom to develop their own land.

The third objection concerns the ability of local authorities to administer the scheme. Perhaps in Scotland we have more experience on this point although the North-East of England has a considerable amount of experience in this respect. There is a certain lack of ability on the part of local authorities to administer their affairs as efficiently as possible. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) has experience of a local authority which is not wholly capable of exercising its duties with total efficiency. I hesitate to say that local authorities are capable of exercising their duties in this respect. The bona fides of local authorities are not always "bona"

The SNP manifesto of last October said: The land of Scotland is its most important material resource. Perhaps this answers the Minister's point. The SNP has always held that ultimately the land belongs to the people. In order to do this it is necessary to balance against the collective rights of the people the rights of the people as individuals. It is my party's opinion that the Bill does not strike that balance. In the pursuit of unnecessary aims, the Government have gone too far. They are throwing a desirable baby out with an awful lot of undesirable bath water.

Mr. Harry Ewing

The hon. Gentleman is peddling his usual Conservative capitalist line representing the interests not of the people of Scotland but of big business which finances the Scottish National Party. It is those interests which are being peddled in this House tonight, not the interests of the people of Scotland.

Mr. Crawford

I am peddling the interests of my country, and my country is Scotland.

It is too much to hope that Conservative Members will be present in the Division tonight. As the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said, they were noticeable by their absence in the vote on the Counter-inflation Bill. I should like to quote the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) who, a few months ago, said that the only opposition to the Government had come from the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Party. The SNP will vote against the Bill for one reason, and one reason only: that it is against the interests of the people of Scotland.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) has sat down.

Mr. Cryer

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask the hon. Member not to gabble when he makes a reference to me, because I can hardly understand what he says.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is very clever, but he knows that that is not a point of order.

10.32 p.m.

Mr. Fairbairn

When the Minister for Planning and Local Government spoke earlier in the proceedings on the Bill he corrected me in my wrong assumption that he was a member of the senior half of my profession. The members of the junior half of my profession in Scotland are also called solicitors. There is a saying that they never waste an estate on the beneficiaries. If ever there were an Act of Parliament which did not waste its estate on the beneficiaries, it is this one. It is conceived out of jealousy of the concept of profit.

The Bill was brought in because somebody on the Government side, stimulated by whatever thought, said to himself, "It is wrong that anybody should make a profit out of his land". The word "land" has a terrible connotation for hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is something that they hate, despise and resent, even though none would be there if they did not eat what was grown in it. It was out of the resentment of profits made out of land—with your honourable exception, Mr. Deputy Speaker—and even made out of slag heaps that some people forget that this Bill was conceived.

I heard a delicate and generous term come from the rather resentful lips of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland: why should not the people have the land? Let us be clear about this matter. This Bill does not transfer any land to any people. It is not meant or designed to do so. It does not remove the profits on any land transaction to any people. It merely removes a jealousy that Mr. Slag Heap makes a profit from an armchair. Provided that Mr. Slag Heap is not Lady anybody else, they resent it.

Let us be clear about this matter. [Interruption.] I did not serve on the Committee on this Bill, but I read the proceedings from beginning to end. I doubt whether any hon. Gentleman below the Gangway on the Government side of the House have done that. I may be wrong. There is one thing about a Scot—he always rights a wrong and if I have said something about hon. Members which is unjustified, I withdraw it.

This long and complicated Bill is intended to remove resentment of the concept of profit made out of land. If there is one thing this country needs from any source, it is wealth and profits. Hon. Members opposite want and need it for those they expect to vote for them.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

Will the hon. and learned Member declare his interest and tell us how many acres of land he owns and how many castles there are on those acres?

Mr. Fairbairn

I did not hear the whole of the question. I thought the hon. Member asked how many cattle I had on my acres. My education made me incapable of understanding his linguistics. There is one castle on the acres I own. I bought it for £100. I declare that interest. I did it up with my own hands and employed a lot of people who were unemployed to help do it up. There are 3,000 similar houses in Scotland which could be done up in this way if the Labour Party was interested in employment.

Just because my house happens to be called a castle—though it started as a ruin—hon. Members opposite are jealous. If it were called a council house, they would not be jealous.

The Bill is complicated and bureaucratic. It deals identically with every land transaction, whether big or small, in Scotland or in Wales, in town or in country, and it deals with them in a bureaucratic way. There is an important principle which ought to be of concern to giggling hon. Members like the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) who is likely to lose his seat at the next election to those who are more interested in Scotland than he is.

Planning decisions on development are being taken out of the hands and minds of those who will be affected by them and put into the hands and minds of those who will not be affected by them. I am immensely unimpressed. One of the dangers in this country since the war has been that when there is a problem, it is handed over to the bureaucracy or an extension of the bureaucracy—carcinoma bureaucratica. Decisions are taken by people who will not be affected by the results of taking them.

That is a dangerous choice: it is the choice that Russia has taken. Russia, Hungary—all those countries—are bureaucratic countries. All choice is in the hands of people who are unaffected by decisions they take. The Bill—rightly or wrongly, but I ask hon. Members to think about it—puts into the hands of people who will not be affected by planning decisions, the decisions which should be taken by people who will be affected by them.

Hon. Members opposite resent the party political broadcast which has been mentioned, but they do not know what form the regulations will take, how they will be applied in North Wales, South Wales, my constituency or theirs, by this planning officer or that. I was called here to represent not a constituency, not a party or a country, but each human being—Mrs. MacGregor, Mr. Snodgrass, Mrs. Smith. We are interested in Mrs. MacGregor's garden. It may be said that the Bill is not intended to apply to Mrs. MacGregor's garden, but it does—[Interruption.] I am surprised that hon. Members opposite are so derisive when one mentions the individual. We are all sent here to represent the individual and no-one else, from whatever party or country we come.

It is because the Bill will affect the tax that the individual will have to pay, the rights the individual has, the land the individual owns—however large or small—and affect them adversely and wrongly and stupidly and blindly and purblindly, out of a desire of Labour Members to curb the profits which they so resent unless they make them themselves, that the Bill is an obscenity. Let it go out from the House tonight that the Bill stands head and shoulders on the neck of every individual—rich or poor, big or small, Tory or Labour, Scottish, English or Welsh. It has that effect, regardless of its purpose.

10.43 p.m.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)

If I agreed with any part of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn), it was his last point—that the Bill will affect every citizen in the community, wherever he lives and whatever his station in life. That is one of the happiest recommendations that I have heard for the Bill, and I am sure that the hon. and learned Member will vote with us tonight for precisely that reason.

I apologise to the Minister for not having heard all his speech. Having read the weekend Press and the reports of the gales of jubilation from Blackpool last week, I thought that Third Reading would not be reached before ten o'clock on Wednesday morning, so I had hurriedly to rush down to hear his last thrilling notes.

My right hon. Friend is to be congratulated. We were told that the Bill was a Communist Bill, that it represented the dead hand of bureaucracy on the necks of the British people, that it was the worst possible Socialist measure we could have. Yet it has now reached its Third Reading and the guillotine has not been used. The saga of the poor Industry Bill must pale into insignificance beside this measure. Despite the trumpeting of the Opposition that they would fight the Bill line by line, from Second Reading, through Committee and Report, we have reached Third Reading without the guillotine.

My right hon. Friend the Minister and my comrades on the Front Bench are to be congratulated on their skill in handling the Bill, which is a most controversial and complicated measure, and getting it through the House. I say nothing about the conduct of the Opposition. I was disappointed that we did not have a guillotine. I was disappointed that the Opposition gave in so easily. That made me worry at times about the content of the Bill. Was it as good a measure as I thought it was, I wondered, but having heard some of the Opposition speeches on Third Reading I am reassured.

The hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire said that the Bill was conceived out of jealousy of profit. That is an interesting concept. During the Second Reading debate I spoke of the profits that had been made by faceless landowners who, quite fortuitously, had bought swampy land within my constituency and then reaped enormous profits when it was designated as housing land for council tenants. The drains, the roads, the schools, the houses and all the other development there came from the community, and it is not because of jealousy but because we want to see the profit going to the people who create it that we support the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) has an equally scandalous example in his constituency of vast profits being made by faceless landowners because of planning decisions so that Mrs. MacGregor, Mrs. Snodgrass and Mrs. Smith could each have a decent house with an inside toilet and bath, and a decent environment for their children to enjoy.

That is what the Bill is about. It is about ordinary people having an opportunity to live their lives in decent surroundings, and if we can achieve that by the Bill, as we think we can, by having proper planning procedures, by getting rid of excess profits, and by ensuring that the community gets the profits that it creates, my right hon. Friend and my Government will have done a lot of things of which they can be proud.

My right hon. Friend has gone a long way to meet the needs and requests of the Churches and charities. I listened with amazement to the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) who put his name to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Grocott) and myself on the subject of Churches and charities. We should have loved to have the hon. Gentleman battling side by side with us on behalf of the Churches and charities, but where was he? He was at home in bed.

Then we had the crocodile tears from the Opposition. One Tory Member derided the simple letters that were received from humble churchgoers throughout the land asking the Government to consider their situation. The hon. Gentleman referred to their letters as "grubby little pieces of paper". That is the kind of concern that Tory Members have for the ordinary people of this land.

My right hon. Friend has gone a long way to meet the legitimate interests of the Churches and charities. It is right that these bodies should be in a position to organise their land holdings and so order their affairs as to be able to make proper use of their land, but it is not right that they should be a privileged section of the community and be able to make speculative gains out of land because they are treated separately and differently from others. That is why the 10-year rule is a reasonably coherent and sensible provision. It will enable men of good will to sit down and work out their priorities so that in the end nobody is able to make a speculative profit, be it the Churches or any charity.

It has been said that the Bill is over-bureaucratic and puts too heavy a demand on local government. I reiterate the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett). The Bill gives local government a real opportunity to plan how the community should develop, how it should use its land and how to make the best use of the resources that are available to it. The Humberside County Council has already set up a committee which is actively working on plans for the benefit of the whole community of Humberside. I hope that this will be an example which will be followed throughout the country. It is already being followed in many counties and districts.

My right hon. Friend the Minister is to be congratulated on the courage and the perseverence that he has shown in carrying out this important Manifesto commitment. If for the first time we can get land out of the grip of the speculative developers, if land is used in the interests of the community with long-term interests being taken into account and not quick profits, and if we can give people an opportunity to be decently housed, to work in a decent environment, for their children to go to proper schools without being in the slum buildings that exist at present, we shall have achieved a great deal.

The Bill is about ordinary people being given an opportunity to live their lives in a decent, well-ordered environment, to own their houses, to rent their houses, to seize opportunities for their children and to work and retire in decent conditions. I commend the Bill to the House.

10.51 p.m.

Mr. Michael Morris

It is 159 days since the first meeting of the Standing Committee which, according to the Minister's statement in the early stages of the Committee, means that the Bill is about 90 days behind its original schedule, and that without the guillotine.

I find it surprising, but I enjoyed the proceedings in Committee. I am sorry that we have left a wound on the right hon. Gentleman and I hope that he will be back to full health and strength before too long.

We have come a long way since the early meetings of the Committee when the right hon. Gentleman made it clear to the Opposition that only a few meetings, discussions and minor amendments were necessary before the Bill would be on its way to the Report stage. It was made clear that the Minister hoped to get the Bill on Report by the middle or late June.

I take some pride in the Opposition. It is an Opposition that has flushed out the Government on a number of issues. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) made a gallant effort to pick up the threads of why the Government forgot about the charities and Churches in the White Paper, but he bungled it. Labour Members are kidding themselves if they believe that there is a charity in this country that would rather not be without the Bill. Charities do not want the Bill.

Mr. McNamara

How does the hon. Gentleman reconcile that with what was written on many of the grubby pieces of paper he received saying that people do not object to the principles of the Bill?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman knows very well that we dealt with that at great length in Committee. If he cannot remember what was said, he should go back and read it.

It is the Opposition that has pointed out to the public the loss of rights under the compulsory purchase orders. There is a genuine loss of freedom there. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that loss of freedom will be sorely felt by members of the public.

Even this evening when we were debating the disposal notification areas the Under-Secretary did not know what was in the Bill. He does not know what a definition of "land" is. I refer him to page 7 of the Bill.

Mr. Oakes

I have read it.

Mr. Morris

I am glad that the Under-Secretary has read it. He will know that the word "building" is included which includes every home owned by anyone in the country. There will hardly be a town that does not have a disposal notification area after a year or so. That is not scaremongering. We shall have a review after a couple of years—if the right hon. Gentleman is still here—and see how many there are.

We understand the right hon. Gentleman's filial obligation, but what we cannot understand is that this is supposed to be the total solution on land, yet we spent next to no time on agriculture which has a primary requirement for land. The Government have paid no attention to the warnings given by the people who build houses that the Bill will slow down house building, increase unemployment in the building industry and increase hardship amongst those who want a new home.

The Labour Government has listened to the unions' pleas for investment, and I find it amazing that the sole concession the Government have made to British industry in its drive for further investment is the 15,000 sq.ft. limit. That shows the Government's lack of understanding of industry.

The Conservative Opposition have made clear that we believe that the gain element in land should be taxed, but from consultations we have had with professional bodies—and I place on record our thanks to those who have given their help and support through many long hours—we know that there is hardly a professional body involved in land which has not come out against the Bill. Even some local authorities have reservations. That is perhaps not surprising. One has only to go round North London and the disgusting deserts of Glasgow—knowing which party has controlled Glasgow for many a long year—to see how good Socialist planning is. It has never yet provided a decent home for anyone and it never will.

The costs of the Bill are too high in human terms and in pounds and new pence. We are told in the Bill that 14,000 civil servants will be needed. Despite the exemptions, exceptions, amendments and undertakings, that number is still 14,000, which suggests either that 14,000 was an underestimate or that we now have a surplus. Perhaps that figure will be changed yet again in another place.

Some day the humbug of Socialism will come through and people will see that the individual freedom they have lost through the Bill—if it becomes an Act—is one of the greatest losses we have had in the last generation. The only saving grace is that there will be local elections next spring and the following spring. Thank goodness for the element of discretion for local authorities in the Bill. I suggest that the second appointed day will be a long way off as the Conservatives win authority after authority.

10.57 p.m.

Mr. Durant

We have been told that the Bill is far-reaching and is the final solution. There is the usual Labour Party belief in "positive planning", a phrase which fills me with horror. I have seen some results of positive planning in towns in which a local authority has taken over an area, been undecided what to do about it, moved people out in an ad hoc way, boarded up buildings and left the place like a slum. That is what the Labour Party calls positive planning, and that is what will occur in our towns and cities if the Bill goes through.

We know of local authorities which are sitting on large tracts of land not even knowing that they own them. It took me four years to prize out of officials information about the land owned by my local authority. We did not know we had that land. Therefore, once again, we shall have land banks and we shall not be sure whether the local authority owns them or not. This Bill is an attack on the individual and ownership, and I deplore it.

I want to deal with the question of disposal notification areas. I said earlier that this was one of the most Draconian measures. The Under-Secretary of State attacked the use of the word "Draconian". But anything which affects an individual is important. Of course I have faith in local government; it does a good job in many ways, but in other ways it does not. One has seen different sorts of local government in different sorts of area. We have seen corruption and we know that once this Bill becomes law we shall see corruption of the planning queue as people try to get in earlier to get their plans through.

The Minister says that everyone is to participate. He spoke of residents' associations. Are they all to go to the planning committee and have their say? If so, it will be an interesting exercise. But it will not happen. The matter will remain in the hands of the planning committees and the council as owners.

We shall have a new host of bureaucrats—12,000, 14,000, whatever it may, we do not know just how many. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that only over a period will the figure of 14,000 be reached. But it is a lot of bureaucrats by any yardstick.

The timetable is made. They all have to produce their plans by the end of December. December will be full of little men in bowler hats driving round measuring up in order to get their plans ready in time. Local government will not be able to cope.

We have not heard what will happen if there is no profit. What happens if the local authority takes on development land and cannot sell it at a profit? Who stands the loss? That question was not answered in Committee. It could happen. Plenty of people are losing money in developing land at present, and the local authorities can do the same.

Socialists seem to think that the only way to solve problems is by passing legislation. Then we get another long and involved Bill. This one will have the usual result—less land available, fewer houses built, more muddle, bureaucracy, with the poor citizen left muddled, bemused and sickened. This Bill is another in the long saga of interference with human rights and the need for decent housing.

11.3 p.m.

Mr. Sainsbury

My hon. Friends the Members for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) and Northampton, South (Mr. Morris) have rightly emphasised the effect of the Bill on the individual. I am sorry that they did not join in the congratula- tions to the right hon. Gentleman on his achievement in getting the Bill to this stage. It is a remarkable achievement. He has met the most massive, sustained and informed criticism of his Bill—he frequently calls it "his" Bill—from all sorts of quarters, and 156 hours were spent on it in Committee.

These were some of the criticisms. The Observer said: This is a bad Bill which should never have been introduced. It ought now to be withdrawn. Justice said: … unacceptable from the Constitutional point of view. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said: We still believe that the scheme will be counter-productive to achieving development which accords with the social and economic needs of the community. These are important criticisms from informed sources—sources which, I regret to say, are not noted for their affiliation with or support for the Conservative Party. They are criticisms to which most people would have listened. That is just the first of the many obstacles over which the right hon. Gentleman has leapt. Perhaps it was in so doing that he sprained his cartilege.

How did he do it? The silky skill at soft soaping has been very effective, and with local authorities, sometimes I fear, there has been the iron fist, a little blackmail—rather nasty blackmail we heard last night, blackmail of the local authority associations, "If you do not play the game on this Bill it will be the worse for you because we shall give you another Land Commission and you will not have the opportunity to make a muddle yourselves. You will have another body outside to make a muddle of your land for you."

He got over that hurdle, but one can imagine the scene in Marsham Street with the conversation, "We have this Bill for nationalisation of land. It will call for many experts, to make a list for the great, the good and the gullible, but that is not enough. How do we get over the problem of title?" I suspect that in Marsham Street there is a word expert for whom they send on these occasions. They say, "The Minister wants to nationalise land", and he says "Nationalisation? Not acceptable" and adds, "Community, that is the new word". They reply "Well done. The Community Land Bill. You can have next Saturday off".

But that is not the end of it. There is worse to come. This would give local authorities control over every single bit of land in the country—or it would have done originally. It is fractionally better now. They say "Local authority control is definitely not acceptable". In comes our expert again, and we have "positive planning". That is splendid.

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman. The members of the department for nice words have done a fine job and have succeeded perhaps all too well. In the early stages, the public—and I suspect to some extent the media—were taken in as they had not read the Bill, or, understandably, had not understood the Bill as presented and did not recognise the implications.

But there were other obstacles the right hon. Gentleman had to face. There was his own side of the House. How was he going to sell this fundamental bit of Socialism? [Interruption] I am told that it is alleged that there are opposite some Social Democrats. They are extremely hard to discern. I suspect that they are like those distant objects of the solar system whose existence can be deduced only from the movements of other objects, although not actually observable themselves. How to get those alleged Social Democrats to accept this Socialism—that was the question. What were the words the right hon. Gentleman used? "Do not worry, it will only be strategic land. It will not be implemented in full. Step by step. "I use his words. "Step by step"—but to where? Do those Social Democrats never stop to ask what they might unhappily find if the legislation were ever to reach the statute book?

Surely there must be another obstacle, almost insurmountable, to which he paid tribute: the Treasury. Are we not led to believe that the Treasury has everything in this country under control—except, perhaps inflation? How can the Treasury possibly allow on to the statute book a piece of legislation which spends public money as if it were going out of fashion? I suppose that it is possible that the Treasury believes that money is going out of fashion. Surely the Treasury could not have been taken in by the Minister's juggling with the figures, by his failing to allow for any interest on acquisition costs in the cost figures he gave to the House, by his failing to make any assumption of the length of time for which local authorities, with their speed of action and reaction, would hold this land?

Surely it cannot have been that the Treasury has not learned a little about property development recently, bearing in mind its experience of the banking sector, does it still think that property is the certain way of making money? The chairman of a most important and stable company, respected throughout the world, pointed out that property today is a very different ball game. Interest rates are now 16 per cent. or 17 per cent., not just 6 per cent. or 7 per cent. Labour costs are astronomical. Very few development projects are worth anything like their cost at the end of the day.

How in the face of that knowledge could the Treasury let the Bill go through? I suppose that, like others, it could have been taken in by the kind words, the soft sell and a few behind-the-scenes assurances. Now we are all being urged to give a Third Reading to this dangerous, damaging and odious piece of legislation.

The fundamental criticism of the Bill is not the bureaucracy, not the cost, not the infringement of human rights; it is something that goes back, as few people suspect, to our old friend Karl Marx and his theory that control of the land is control of the people. I am sure that some Labour Members know the text from Das Kapital better than I.

I give a brief example or what I mean. Recently I visited a nice, large, new shopping centre which had been developed by an authority of the type of which the right hon. Gentleman is proud, an authority set up under the new town legislation. It was a very fine and expensive shopping centre. It was only a local shopping centre, but a great deal of money had been spent on it. The authority could be justly proud of the centre, but sadly it had some 20 or more empty shops. I inquired why there were lovely supermarkets but no greengrocer, no butcher, no baker, not even a candlestick maker. This was very strange, because those Members who bother to find out how housewives shop will realise that many housewives rather like buying their vegetables in a greengrocer's shop rather than in supermarkets. They prefer to buy their meat in a butcher's shop rather than in a supermarket. They prefer to buy their bread in a baker's shop rather than in a supermarket. But in this shopping centre there was no butcher, no baker and no greengrocer. Instead there were two large super stores.

I asked why there was no butcher baker or greengrocer. I said "Surely some of them would like to trade in your lovely new shopping centre". I was told "We do not want them. We do not think that they are the right sort of shops for our shopping centre. We think that people should buy their meat in the supermarket. We think people should buy their greengrocery in the supermarket. We think people should buy their bread in the supermarket. We are not going to give them a choice. We own this shopping centre and all the land around, and no butcher, baker or greengrocer can trade in the area".

That is an example of what is meant by control of the land being control of the people—namely, control of the detail of people's lives. That consequence of the concentration of economic power in the hands of the State is why the Bill must be condemned. It is that concentration which leads me to ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject it. If it is not rejected, we must repeal it.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

I am participating in this debate to declare my belief in the concept of the private ownership of land and property. Perhaps it is a concept that does not appeal very much to Labour Members, but I assure them that it appeals very much to the majority of my constituents in Uxbridge. I believe strongly that the Briton's home is his castle and that he should not be dispossessed of his home by any Government, let alone by a Labour Government. I believe that an Englishman, a Briton, should be dispossessed of his home only if there is some overriding national objective of supreme importance to make such a move essential in the national interest.

It so happens that I represent the constituency of Uxbridge which is part of the London Borough of Hillingdon. That borough will be familiar to the Minister for Planning and Local Government because it has the unenviable reputation of being known in some parts of the country as "The CPO borough"—a borough in which more compulsory purchase orders have been applied for than is good for the health of the people who live there.

The Secretary of State for the Environment and his Labour colleagues are doubtless aware of the London Borough of Hillingdon. Since I have been the Member responsible for that constituency, I have become familiar with the sabrerattling tactics of the Socialist-controlled council which tries to dispossess people of their homes by threatening and cajoling them to move and to make their homes available for development. My constituents are deeply disturbed by the provisions of the Community Land Bill, which I have been studying with great care.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

They are appalled.

Mr. Shersby

I agree with my hon. Friend. They are appalled, angry and distressed, and they look to me to put forward their point of view, and I shall do so.

A visitor to the London Borough of Hillingdon can see for himself the great gaps that exist in the rows of houses following acquisitions by Hillingdon Borough under existing powers on the statute book. I refer to houses which have been destroyed, pulled down, and are no longer available for occupation by my constituents and by the constituents of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Crowder).

In short, my borough is under siege and attack by those who believe that it is right for a local authority to decide that it knows best who shall live where and in what house, and who should be allowed to maintain his freehold and who should not. The Bill is not an insidious attack but is a frontal attack on the whole concept of property ownership. Therefore, I oppose the Bill root and branch.

I read with interest the proceedings before the Standing Committee and I have also listened to the debates on the Bill in the last two days. I have been unable to find any feature in the Bill or in the proceedings so far which would encourage me to support it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] Those Labour Members below the Gangway who jeer and shout know nothing about the interests of owner-occupiers in the London Borough of Hillingdon. They have made no study of the problems affecting my constituents. They sit there smiling smugly thinking that, with the aid of their parliamentary majority, they will pass the Bill into law.

Let me pass on to Labour Members this message. Come the local government elections and the next General Election, they will be swept away. They will be replaced in this House by a Government led by people who believe in the rights of Britons to live in their own homes without disturbance so that they may pursue their own lives without the threat of compulsory purchase. They will be swept away to the ignominy they deserve. They will be replaced in this House of Commons by a Government led by people who believe in the right of the Briton to live in his own home without disturbance and to be able to pursue his own life without threat of compulsory purchase.

It is all very well for Labour Members to snigger and smile tonight. I shall look forward to standing here in two or three years' time, when they no longer occupy the benches above and below the Gangway, and when the Government which I shall support, and which my constituents will support, will repeal this odious Act of Parliament now being foisted on the House of Commons.


Mr. Rossi

I should like to begin, as the right hon. Gentleman who opened this debate on Third Reading began, by thanking various people. He thanked all those who had helped him with the Bill. He thanked them for the consultations he had with them. I give my thanks to those who helped me.

First of all, I thank my right hon. and hon. Friends who sat with me through the long, hot hours of May, June and July, discussing this Bill in great detail. We considered some 700 amendments altogether. As a result of that—as the right hon. Gentleman has been generous enough to admit, both in Committee and throughout yesterday and today, when he was bringing forward other amendments based on undertakings he had given us—we have played a part in amending this Bill and removing some of the rough edges and ugly corners that we saw in it. I thank my right hon. and hon. Friends for all they did in that respect.

They also, in carrying out this detailed examination right through those summer months, caused the Bill to be delayed a little. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman does not thank us for that. He had hoped that it would receive Royal Assent some time at the end of June or the beginning of July, and here we are still debating the Bill after the recess. Depending on what the other place will do with it it may or may not be at a certain amount of risk.

My right hon. and hon. Friends, in their detailed examination and exposition of the Bill, have also in the course of the past few months alerted the country to the enormity that is being perpetrated by this Parliament in the name of the people of this country.

I also thank the representatives of the various outside bodies who sat with us for several hours each week in between Committees—representatives from the local authority associations, statutory undertakers, pension funds, representatives from the Churches and charitable organisations, the various professional bodies all concerned with land questions, the house builders' associations, the representatives of the National Farmers' Union and the various amenity bodies throughout the country. They gave us invaluable assistance in analysing and dissecting this Bill in the way in which we have been able to do.

One feature concerning this Bill stands uppermost in my mind. When we started the consideration of the measure we found that there was a general feeling of acceptance amongst the various representatives—indeed, even of approval—because they had read the White Paper, published some four weeks before an intended General Election. Of course, the phrase? in that White Paper were intended to influence, and did so. People approached the Bill with the idea that it was seeking to return to the community wealth created by the community, and also to improve the planning system, of which there had been a considerable amount of criticism in this country over the years. There was acceptance of those concepts.

But as they began to look at the Bill in detail and study what it was all about, they found that it was sometimes entirely different. Horror upon horror sank into their minds as they proceeded with their discussions. We started our consideration in this atmosphere of public acceptance. We ended with every professional and informed body concerned with land matters dedicated in its hostility to this measure and, apart from the planning associations, which have accepted the planning background which the right hon. Gentleman says that he has incorporated in the Bill, that attitude of hostility and objection by every informed opinion in the country remains.

Between the two major parties in this House, there is an underlying philosophical disagreement which we shall never bridge. Government supporters, in all sincerity, believe that the cure to the country's problems is to be found in more and more State ownership and State control. The Opposition take a different view. We place a greater reliance upon the individual, his endeavour, his enterprise, his worth—

Mr. Robin Corbert (Hemel Hempstead)

His greed.

Mr. Rossi

I wish that the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) would not be quite so childish. He reminds me of the classical definition of a baby—an alimentary canal with a loud noise at one end and no responsibility at the other—except that the hon. Gentleman has progressed beyond mere babyhood. Now both attributes apply to both ends.

Apart from the underlying philosophical divide separating the two sides of the House, there are fundamental objections to the Bill which exist, even apart from all party considerations. First, there is the constitutional point. Here I am indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg), who raised this matter in Committee. He drew our attention to the work of Lord Hewart in 1929 entitled "The New Despotism". That famous former Lord Chief Justice said in his analysis of our constitution that if a Minister wished to possess himself of arbitrary power, he could do so simply under our parliamentary system by producing a Bill which was a skeleton of law, clothing the framework with powers to make regulations reserving to himself a discretion in all important matters, and in such a way that his discretion could not be interfered with by the courts.

That is precisely the framework of the Community Land Bill. It is the worst kind of constitutional measure that could be expected to be produced to this House, and it has tremendous inherent dangers in it. That is not only the view of the Opposition. One would expect us to be critical. But it is also the view of Justice, of which Gerald Gardiner, a former Socialist Lord Chancellor, is President. Justice has condemned the Bill on precisely that constitutional ground.

During the passage of the Bill, the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) was PPS to the Minister for Planning and Local Government, and I suppose that to some extent he speaks with the voice of his right hon. Friend. He said that this was "a great measure" in as much as it devolved tremendous responsibilities and powers to local authorities and gave local authorities a discretion, a freedom to act that had been denied them in the past by the Conservatives when they were in Government. That argument is not tenable when we see what are the powers reserved by the Secretary of State in the Bill for the control of the activities of the local authorities.

First, it is the Secretary of State who, apart from a small exemption which he has now written into a schedule, determines what is relevant development. He does that by regulation under Clause 3. Relevant development determines the area within which local authorities can exercise their acquisitive powers. The right hon. Gentleman defines their area of operation by his power to make regulations dealing with what is relevant development.

Having done that, the right hon. Gentleman then controls what land the local authorities can acquire under Clause 18 because ultimately he has the last word in the exercise of their compulsory purchase powers. Not only does he control what they can acquire but he also controls that of which they can dispose. To this extent he has considerably altered existing legislation. Under the Local Government Acts as at this moment a local authority is free to dispose of its land in any way it wishes provided that it obtains the best market price. If it does not wish to obtain the best market price for any reason, it applies to the Secretary of State for his consent.

Clause 43 of the Bill amends Section 123 of the Local Government Act. The effect of that amendment is to take away this discretion of local authorities to dispose of their land in any way they wish. They must now apply to the Secretary of State for consent. He has stated that he will lay down regulations and issue circulars directing local authorities as to how they may dispose of their land. Not content with that, he gives himself another power, under Clause 46, to order local authorities how they may dispose of their land. Not content with that, he also has powers under Schedule 5 to direct how the functions of local authorities shall be allocated as between district and county councils under their management and acquisition schemes.

Finally, as the ultimate deterrent, if the local authorities do not carry out his will in the way in which he wishes it to be carried out, the Secretary of State may reserve and bring back unto himself all the powers and functions of the local authority—bring them back into Marsham Street and the Department of the Environment. Or he may create another body to exercise those powers on behalf of the local authority. And in Wales, as my hon. Friend the Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) has said, the local authorities do not even have that power because a land authority is set up.

Local authorities, with great respect to the hon. Member for Greenwich, do not have this great trust reposed in them by the Secretary of State. They are his puppets on a string. They are that and no more.

Let us not have any of this nonsense from Labour Members. It does not begin to stand up. In so far as local authorities do have a discretion, that discretion relates not to their dealings as between themselves and the Secretary of State. It relates to their dealings between themselves and individual private citizens. There they have a discretion because they can declare whether in their opinion any man's property is suitable for relevant development purposes.

For all those platitudes, those bromides that have been issued concerning the home-owner, any home-owner can be affected by that determination by a local authority. There is absolutely no protection for him at all under that formula and discretion. We have also discussed the effect of disposal notification areas where local authorities can require every owner of every house, of every piece of land, every garden, within an area it deems to declare a disposal notification area to inform it of their intention to sell. An owner cannot even put the place in the hands of an estate agent without first notifying the town hall of the intention to sell. Then the local authority has four weeks to hold up the transaction while it makes up its mind whether to buy. As I said in the party political broadcast on radio, to which the hon. Member for Greenwich took exception, the result is to debase the value of every house and garden within the disposal notification areas, because buyers are bound to be frightened off when they know that the local authorities will exercise their powers in this way. There it is. Between the powers of central Government and local government, this is an oppressive, autocratic measure which we cannot begin to accept in any circumstances whatsoever.

Another fundamental matter which concerns not only us but people outside this House, is that local authorities are now to be both planners and developers of land. Local authorities will now go into the land market as developers in the expectation of making a profit. I say "expectation", because, as everyone knows, land development can be a very risky business. Looking at some city centre developments which have been carried out, we see that some local authorities have already burned their fingers very badly. In fact, the authority within whose area my constituency lies has not shown itself to be over-bright in the way it is seeking to carry out a development of that kind.

Local authorities are exercising or using the profit motive for themselves and at the same time they are the planners who are to act in a semi-judicial capacity to protect the environment, the amenity, for all the people who reside in or wish to enjoy a particular area. That is why the conservation societies, the amenity societies and the farmers' union are extremely anxious, to put it in a neutral manner, about the fact that local authorities are to have this dual capacity of action.

Another fundamental objection to the Bill is that in future planning decisions will not be decided purely on the basis of planning criteria as in the past.

Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)

Would the hon. Gentleman prefer what he has just criticised to the present system whereby Lord Wimborne sold for £7 million to Poole Borough Council land which he had acquired from his father seven years earlier worth £200,000? How does the hon. Gentleman justify that situation?

Mr. Rossi

If there is time, I will deal with that suggestion at the end. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] My immediate answer, as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench know because they have heard it time and again, is that this can be dealt with very simply through the taxation system without all this paraphernalia of bureaucracy and public ownership about which we are talking.

Another matter which is fundamental to the Bill to which we object concerns the terms of compensation, which are confiscatory. I will not go into detail on that matter, because of the time.

We have also discussed the compulsory purchase order procedures whereby the citizen is to be denied the protection which he now enjoys against autocratic action against him. His right to a public inquiry is to be denied. The grounds upon which he can object to compulsory purchase orders are being seriously eroded and taken away from him.

Another fundamental objection is to the disposal notification areas, of which I have already made mention today.

As far as house owners are concerned, even the exemptions given for single-plot owners are not sacrosanct. A local authority can produce a general development plan which would override their rights.

It is a very curious Bill that requires the setting up of a hardship tribunal to mitigate hardship caused by the measure that is being put on the statute book. That is the ultimate absurdity. The Government see that so much hardship will be caused by this Bill that they have to set up the tribunal and give it power to pay up to £50,000 to mitigate hardship.

The Bill will be a very bad thing for this country. It will stultify development and stop house building. It will make property development much more expensive. The alternative is to use the tax system and it was explained in an admirable paper produced by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. It is a pity that the paper came out after publication of the Bill. If it had come out before then, I am sure the Government would have had second thoughts about the approach to the land problem.

There should be common ground between all parties in seeking to arrive at a solution to the land problem. There are strong indications of how it could be done, but as long as the Labour Party is wedded to its doctrinaire attitudes and is prepared to try to deal with the problem not in a practical and human way but only by using the power of the State to crush the individual, we shall oppose and resist as far as we are able in this House and, ultimately, when we have the opportunity, we will do away with this Bill altogether.

11.42 p.m.

Mr. Oakes

Any Bill relating to land is inevitably complex and complicated and the greater the degree of change affecting land, the longer and more complicated the Bill is bound to be.

I want to pay tribute to all those who have assisted the Government with this Bill, whether within the Government service or outside. I pay a particular tribute to my hon. Friends who sat day and night through the Committee stage. [HON. MEMBERS: "They were silent."] Yes, they were silent because they wanted to get the Bill through. They were some of the most capable hon. Members in this House and they sacrificed their contributions to the debate in order to make sure that this Bill became law.

I would like to join my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) in paying tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Planning and Local Government. He conceived and introduced this Bill. It was his vision, and he was prepared to translate that vision into reality. He had the dedication to do so in order to restore to the public and the people something that was stolen from them after his distinguished father had provided it several years ago. It is a great tribute to my right hon. Friend that we have reached this stage, and we have done so in the face of the most strident hypocrisy and humbug we have known in this House for a long time.

On 29th April, the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) described the Bill as the "Communist Land Bill" and went on: It would take away from the individual, without any real right of appeal or protest, that upon which his independence and ultimately his freedom depends. It would give the State a complete monopoly in the basic wealth of this land, to be administered by faceless bureaucrats, and give the most terrifying powers to politicians. It is a denial of basic human rights. "—[Official Report, 29th April, 1975; Vol. 891, c. 246.]

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Oakes

I take it from those noises—one could not call them intelligent comments—that Tory Members are still of that view. Their conference was of that view last week. Many speakers got cheap cheers by saying how bitterly they would oppose this Bill. Yet within the last 24 hours a vital amendment to the Bill was moved by the hon. Member for Hornsey, and fiercely argued, at 1.30 in the morning—not an unearthly hour by our standards—and what was the result? Fifteen Opposition Members went through the Lobby in its support. On this "Communist Land Bill", this denial of basic human rights, an official Opposition amendment—not a maverick—could not attract more than 15 of them.

Some of their supporters at the conference last week must have been misled by those on the platform, who said, "The Government are in the majority and we cannot always win. "They must be thinking some peculiar thoughts about the standard of opposition here. I remember—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) will explain to his constituents why he was not here last night supporting that amendment.

Hon. Members opposite have said that they will repeal the Bill when they return to power. That is what they did in the 1950s with the bulk of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act. They took away betterment value, so that by 1960, local authorities—the community itself—which had conferred benefits on land by planning permission were heavily penalised by the price of land that they needed for their own requirements, by their own decisions.

We tried to put that right in 1967 by the Land Commission Bill, which, as the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) said, would have worked, given a chance. But it was strangled in its infancy by an impatient Conservative Government as one of their first acts in 1970—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I gather from the cheers of Conservative Members that they are proud of the level that land prices reached in 1970, 1971 and 1972 as a result of the repeal of that Act.

This is the third attempt by a Labour Government and this time I am convinced—no matter what threats the Opposition may make—that this Bill will have permanence. The local authorities to which we are giving these powers—their own local authorities—will bitterly resent any Conservative Government taking them away.

What does the Bill do? It gives the community a share of the benefit that the community itself has conferred on the area. That is the main concern of the Bill. The hon. Member for Hornsey says that what we seek to do can be achieved by taxation. It is true that Lord Barber as he now is, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer in the dying days of the previous Conservative Government, imposed an 80 per cent. tax on land speculation and land development, but that was too late. Taxation is not the whole point.

What we are concerned with is not merely taxation and not merely with money coming to the Government. The Labour Party believes in democracy and local government, and it is proud of local authorities. Members of my party do not regard anyone who works in a town hall as a faceless bureaucrat in a bowler hat, as those who work in our town halls have been called in this debate, or think that every councillor is corrupt and unable to carry on his public duties, as is often implied in the speeches of Opposition Members. What we are saying is that it is a question not merely of taxation but of local communities getting benefit from as well as some control over their own environment. That is why, particularly in view of the contributions made to our debate by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight, I am sad that members of the Liberal Party will not find it possible to join us in the Lobby tonight.

I am sad, too, that members of the Scottish National Party will not find it possible to come into the Lobby with us, especially when one considers the urban deprivation that one finds in the cities of Scotland, because that is where the Bill will help most.

It is not only a question of financial benefit. It is also, and I proudly repeat the phrase, a question of positive planning by local authorities. I do not know why Conservative Members sneer at positive planning. Perhaps it is because many of them do not understand it. Positive planning means the development of those empty areas in city centres that could be used for the benefit of the community as a whole. It means the use of those areas which could not be bought either because the local authority could not afford them or because it did not have sufficient power to acquire them. These areas have remained sterile and empty while someone waited to make a profit on them when the land could be used for some purpose. I do not absolve some of our nationalised industries from blame in this respect. They have been as bad as some private individuals.

The purpose of positive planning is to allow the community as a whole to decide the development of its own environment in the best possible way through its democratically elected councillors. That is what the Bill does. As my right hon. Friend said, this is the first major legislation for 30 years that has given powers to local authorities instead of taking powers away from them.

The hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) mentioned Wales. Wales has been given different treatment because it is different. The problems in Wales are different. [Interruption.] Some of the ideas about Wales that we have incorporated in the Bill might have been valuable ideas for regions within England, had regions existed and had the Redcliffe-Maud Report been accepted instead of mutilated, as it was by the previous Conservative Government.

However, at present the local authorities are getting on with the job of creating the land acquisition management schemes because not only the officers but councillors, many of whom are Conservative councillors, on those authorities can appreciate the benefits to their community that the Bill confers. No matter what advice they receive from Conservative Central Office, no matter how slanted it may be and no matter how it may misinterpret the facts, those councillors will nevertheless want to pursue the Bill and would bitterly resent any Conservative Government who tried to take these powers away from them.

The hypocrisy that has been shown is the defence that we would expect from the Conservative Party—a defence of power, prestige and privilege, hiding when possible behind the owner-occupier, Churches and charities. The essential reason for the Tory Party opposing the Bill is the defence of the ancient privilege of land owners. This lies behind their whole objection to the Bill. We want to give powers to the community to develop its land and to benefit from the profits derived from the planning and the development of that land.

At the end of a long road from Second Reading, through night and day sittings of the Committee, I am proud to have served on the Bill and to reply to the Third Reading debate. I confidently ask my hon. Friends to give it a triumphal majority through the Lobby.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 279, Noes 264.

Division No. 335.] AYES [11.58 p.m.
Abse, Leo Armstrong, Ernest Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)
Allaun, Frank Ashley, Jack Bates, Alf
Anderson, Donald Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Bean, R. E.
Archer, Peter Atkinson, Norman Benn. Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood
Bennett, Andrew (Slockport N) Hardy, Peter Moyle, Roland
Bidwell, Sydney Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hart, Rt Hon Judith Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Boardman, H. Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Newens, Stanley
Booth, Albert Hatton, Frank Noble, Mike
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Hayman, Mrs Helene Oakes, Gordon
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Healey, Rt Hon Denis Ogden, Eric
Bradley, Tom Heffer, Eric S. O'Halloran, Michael
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hooley, Frank O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Horam, John Orbach, Maurice
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Ovenden, John
Buchan, Norman Huckfield, Les Owen, Dr David
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Padley, Walter
Campbell, Ian Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N) Palmer, Arthur
Canavan, Dennis Hughes, Roy (Newport) Park, George
Cant, R. B. Hunter, Adam Parker, John
Carmichael, Nell Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Parry, Robert
Carter, Ray Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Pendry, Tom
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Perry, Ernest
Cartwright, Joan Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Phipps, Dr Colin
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Janner, Greville Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Clemitson, Ivor Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Price, C, (Lewisham W)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Jeger, Mrs Lena Price, William (Rugby)
Cohen, Stanley Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Radice, Giles
Coleman, Donald Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Richardson, Miss Jo
Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen John, Brynmor Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Conlan, Bernard Johnson, James (Hull West) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Corbett, Robin Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Roderick, Caerwyn
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jones Barry (East Flint) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rooker, J. W.
Crawshaw, Richard Judd Frank Roper, John
Cronin, John Kaufman, Gerald Rose, Paul B.
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Kelley, Richard Ross Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Cryor, Bob Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rowlands, Ted
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Kinnock, Neil Ryman, John
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Lambie, David Sandelson, Neville
Davidson, Arthur Lamborn, Harry Sedgemore, Brian
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Lamond, James Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Davies, Denzil (Lianelli) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Leadbitter, Ted Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Deakins, Eric Lee, John Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Delargy, Hugh Lever, Rt Hon Harold Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Sillars, James
Dempsey, James Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silverman, Julius
Doig, Peter Lipton, Marcus Skinner, Dennis
Dormand, J. D. Litterick, Tom Small, William
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lomas, Kenneth Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Duffy, A. E. P. Loyden, Eddie Snape, Peter
Dunn, James A. Luard, Evan Spearing, Nigel
Dunnett, Jack Lyon, Alexander (York) Spriggs, Leslie
Eadie, Alex Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Stallard, A. W.
Edelman, Maurice Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Stoddart, David
Edge, Geoff McCartney, Hugh Stott, Roger
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) McElhone, Frank Strang, Gavin
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) MacFarquhar, Roderick Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
English, Michael McGuire, Michael (Ince) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Ennals, David Mackenzie, Gregor Swain, Thomas
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Mackintosh, John P Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Maclennan, Robert Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) McNamara, Kevin Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Madden, Max Thorne, Stan (Praston South)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Magee, Bryan Tierney, Sydney
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) Mahon, Simon Tinn James
Flannery, Martin Mallalieu, J. P. W. Tomlinson, John
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Marks, Kenneth Torney, Tom
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Marquand, David Tuck, Raphael
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole) Urwin, T. W.
Ford, Ben Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Forrester, John Mason, Rt Hon Roy Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Maynard, Miss Joan Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Meacher, Michael Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Freeson, Reginald Mellish, Rt Ron Robert Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mikardo, Ian Ward, Michael
George, Bruce Millan, Bruce Watkins, David
Ginsburg, David Miller, Dr M. S. (E. Kilbride) Watkinson, John
Gould, Bryan Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Weetch, Ken
Gourlay, Harry Molloy, William Wellbeloved, James
Graham, Ted Moonman, Eric White, Frank R. (Bury)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) White, James (Pollok)
Grant, John (Islington C) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Whitehead, Phillip
Grocott, Bruce Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Whitlock, William
Willey, Rt Hon Frederick Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton) Young, David (Bolton E)
Williams, Alan (Swansea W) Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch) Wise, Mrs. Audrey TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford) Woof, Robert Mr. Laurie Pavitt and
Williams. W. T. (Warrington) Wrigglesworth, Ian Mr. Joseph Harper
Adley, Robert Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mates, Michael
Aitken, Jonathan Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Maude, Angus
Alison, Michael Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Mawby, Ray
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Arnold, Tom Glyn, Dr Alan Mayhew, Patrick
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Meyer, Sir Anthony
Awdry, Danrel Goodhart, Philip Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Goodhew, Victor Mills, Peter
Baker, Kenneth Goodlad, Alastair Miscampbell, Norman
Banks, Robert Gorst, John Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Beith, A. J. Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Moate, Roger
Bell, Ronald Grant Anthony (Harrow C) Molyneaux, James
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Gray, Hamish Montgomery, Fergus
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Grieve, Percy Moore, John (Croydon C)
Berry, Hon Anthony Grimond, Rt Hon J. More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Biffen, John Grist, Ian Morgan, Geraint
Biggs-Davison, John Grylls, Michael Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Blaker, Peter Hall, Sir John Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Body, Richard Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Bottomley, Peter Hampson, Dr Keith Mudd, David
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Harmam, John Neave, Airey
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Nelson, Anthony
Braine, Sir Bernard Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Neubert, Michael
Brittan, Leon Hastings, Stephen Newton, Tony
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Havers, Sir Michael Nott, John
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hawkins, Paul Onslow, Cranley
Bryan, Sir Paul Hayhoe, Barney Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Heath, Rt Hon Edward Page, John (Harrow West)
Buck, Antony Henderson, Douglas Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Budgen, Nick Heseltine, Michael Paisley, Rev Ian
Bulmer, Esmond Higgins, Terence L. Pardoe, John
Burden, F. A. Hordern, Peter Pattie, Geoffrey
Carlisle Mark Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Penhaligon, David
Carr, Rt Hon Robert Howell, David (Guildford) Percival, Ian
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Churchill, W. S. Hunt, John Pink, R. Bonner
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hurd, Douglas Price, David (Eastleigh)
Clark, William (Croydon S) Hutchison, Michael Clark Prior, Rt Hon James
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Clegg, Walter James, David Raison, Timothy
Cockcroft, John Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Rathbone, Tim
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Jessel, Toby Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Cope, John Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cordle, John H. Johnston Russell (Inverness) Reid, George
Costain, A. P. Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Jopling, Michael Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Crawford, Douglas Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rifkind Malcolm
Critchley, Julian Kershaw, Anthony Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Crouch, David Kilfedder, James Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Kimball, Marcus Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Kitson, Sir Timothy Ross, William (Londonderry)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knight, Mrs. Jill Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Drayson, Burnaby Knox, David Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Dunlop, John Lamont, Norman Royle, Sir Anthony
Durant, Tony Lane, David Sainabury, Tim
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Langford-Holt, Sir John St. John-Stevas, Norman
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Latham, Michael (Melton) Scott, Nicholas
Elliott, Sir William Lawrence, Ivan Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Emery, Peter Lawson, Nigel Shelton, William (Streatham)
Eyre, Reginald Lester Jim (Beeston) Shepherd, Colin
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shersby, Michael
Fairgrieve, Russell Lloyd, Ian Silvester, Fred
Farr, John Loveridge, John Sims, Roger
Fell, Anthony Luce, Richard Sinclair, Sir George
Finsberg, Geoffrey MacCormick, lain Skeet, T. H. H.
Fisher, Sir Nigel McCrindle, Robert Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) McCusker, H. Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fletcher-Cooke, Chasles Macfarlane, Nell Speed, Keith
Fookes, Miss Janet MacGregor, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sproat, lain
Fox, Marcus McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Stainton, Keith
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Stanbrook, Ivor
Freud, Clement Madel, David Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Fry, Peter Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D Marten, Nell Stewart, Donad (Western Isies)
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Tugendhat, Christopher Wells, John
Stakes, John van Straubenzee, W. R. Welsh, Andrew
Stradling Thomas, J. Vaughan, Dr Gerard Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Tapsell, Peter Viggers, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Taylor, R. (Croydon NW) Wakeham, John Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Tebbit, Norman Walder, David (Clitheroe) Winterton, Nicholas
Temple-Morris, Peter Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret Wall, Patrick Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S) Walters, Dennis
Thompson, George Warren, Kenneth TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon) Watt, Hamish Mr. W. Benyon and
Townsend, Cyril D. Weatherill, Bernard Mr. Cecil Parkinson.
Trotter, Neville

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

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