HC Deb 08 July 1980 vol 988 cc424-58
Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

I beg to move, amendment No. 158, in page 56, line 11, leave out Clause 71.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take the following amendments:

Government amendments Nos. 159 to 164.

Amendment No. 289, in page 56, leave out lines 33 and 34.

Government amendment No. 165.

Mr. Ross

Many hon. Members have already said that this is a bad time, late at night, to debate an innovation in planning law that will introduce planning charges for all forms of applications to local authorities for planning permission.

I realise that this results from a request by local authorities, and presumably that is the reason why there are many hon. Members present, but I do not think that that should be a reason why hon. Members who feel strongly that this is a retrograde step should not make their feelings known.

In clause 71 we are assured that the regulations will be brought before the House and will have to be approved by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament. A Government amendment uses the word "each" House. I am not sure whether that means that there is a different variation, but I take it that that still holds good and that the regulations will ultimately be laid and the House will be allowed to vote on them. That did not happen with the building regulations that came into force in most parts of the country on 1 April—I accept that there were charges in the London area and elsewhere—which added substantially to the cost of new properties. They added about £200 to the price of a house costing £25,000. Here, another charge is being imposed that will add even more to the costs. At a time when we are trying to reduce the cost of housing, and at a time when the cost of housing is so frightening to the younger generation and to those of low incomes, extra charges are being imposed.

I am not satisefied that the introduction of these fees will work satisfactorily. Their introduction is mistaken and misdirected, and I oppose the whole concept, as I did in Committee. It is an infringement of civil liberty. It is a charge for a restriction that has been introduced for the benefit of the people as a whole. It will establish a bureaucracy that will have to be set up to collect the fees. There will be delays, because people will not be able to pay the charges on the spot. They will not appreciate what has happened to them.

The same argument can be used against the introduction of these fees as was used against the proposed introduction of school transport charges and which convinced the other place to throw them out. A whole new group of snoopers will be introduced. There will be informers telling on their neighbours who have gone ahead and done extensions without getting planning permission. That is what people will be encouraged to do when they find out the sort of fees with which they are faced.

12 midnight

Since the Committee stage, we have had published, on 17 June, some idea of what the charges are likely to be. There will be a charge of £30 for a house extension, and £40 per house or flat for a new residential development. For a quite minor shop with a flat over it, the figure will be £80. Mineral extraction could cost up to as much as £20,000. That would be the top figure. For a small builder who might buy five acres of land and wish to develop it, his outline application will cost him about £1,000.

Those are substantial figures. Frankly, some of the business is very simple. If the land is already scheduled for residential development, I cannot really see why a charge of that kind should be imposed. Nevertheless, I accept that we shall be given a second chance to debate the charges themselves. What I am now opposing is the very intention to introduce these charges. The proposal to charge for planning applications is contrary to the fundamental principle that the applicant has a right to carry out development unless there is a good planning reason to the contrary. Imposition of a charge will encourage property-owners to proceed without consent, resulting in an extension of enforcement activity. I know the pressure that has been put on my local authority recently to employ more enforcement officers. The general public expect this to be carried out, and I think that authorities will have to meet that demand.

The House-Builders Federation has consistently opposed the principle of charging, on the ground that the planning system is not a service to the individual applicant but operates entirely for the benefit of the public at large. It seems that the Government are intent on introducing these charges. It is the federation's concern that there should be commensurate proposals in the Bill for improving the efficiency of the system. That is a fair comment. The House-Builders Federation is convinced that this improvement can only be achieved if local authorities are required to meet performance criteria and are made responsible for the full costs of unnecessary delay which they impose on developers. I am sure that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) would agree with those sentiments, because if authorities are grossly inefficient and keep everybody waiting just as long as they are waiting now, surely the people who are at the end of the line should start asking for some repayment for the time taken to deliver. The federation says: This will, at the very least, involve provision being made in the Bill for cost sanctions against those authorities whose performance is consistently frivolous and vexatious and preferably should be allied to a far stricter system of timetabling of applications than exists at present. My greatest objection is to the intention to charge for planning appeals. We raised this matter in Committee and I understood that it was under further consideration. I think that the Minister took on board the point that we clearly made, that someone who may be refused a planning permission purely because of very strong lobbying by neighbours against one particular councillor who may be able to sway a committee to make a decision which is unfair, undemocratic and obviously palpable nonsense to someone who looks at the matter with a totally independent outlook will find himself not only having to pay for that—£40 or whatever it may be; it may be more—but having to pay on an appeal.

I accept that the Government have tabled an amendment on this matter. It appears that the Under-Secretary does not know about it, but it is on the Amendment Paper. I gather that Government amendment No. 159 cuts that out; there is no longer a fee for appeal to the Secretary of State. But Government amendment No. 162 says that the Secretary of State may by regulation prescribe the fee for appeal to him or may by regulation also provide for remission or refunding in prescribed circumstances.

We should like to know more about that. When the regulations are drafted, is it intended that this will be set out in them? Government amendment No. 160 takes out the chances of any remission or refunding in regard to planning applications, which seems to make the situation worse.

The House-Builders Federation was very vocal in its support for the present Government when they were in opposition. I cannot think of the number of times that the chairman of Wimpey was in my office, as no doubt he was in other offices. Mr Ron King, presumably no relation to the Minister, urged Members of Parliament to support the amendment and to throw out the charges.

I sincerely believe that it is wrong to introduce such charges—which the public are unaware of—after midnight. The Bill is important. and I hope that other hon. Members will support me. If they do not, I warn them that if the legislation is enacted their mailbags will be full of complaints. People have long understood that they have a right to put in planning applications, but they will now find that they have to write cheques for £40 or more. That may not sound very much to some hon. Members, but it seems a great deal to me.

I should have thought that a payment of £5 would have ensured that an application was not frivolous. The inspector has the right to award costs against the applicant if he considers the application to be frivolous. That is not a bad system. it should be used more frequently. I accept that local authorities should be able to get money from planning permission. Local authorities become frustrated when they find that, despite planning permission, people have not carried out the intended development.

Local authorities could impose a site tax. Such a suggestion never goes down well with Governments. It did not go down well with the Labour Government. However, it is a most sensible proposition, and would produce positive planning. If a tax is imposed on an increasing scale, people will develop the land, or sell it. I should have thought that the Secretary of State would accept that. I am sorry that the Government have not considered it. It would provide a better means of raising money from those who hold up the system.

I commend the amendment to the House. However, in the meantime, I utterly oppose the introduction of planning charges.

Mr. Graham

We have been given an opportunity to listen to the Minister rehearse the arguments that he addressed in Committee. He may take the opportunity to reflect that Opposition Members oppose the charging principle. Since Committee, a consultative document has been brought forward. Despite the remarks that the Under-Secretary made in Committee about the future of charges for planning appeals, the consultative paper makes no bones about the fact that the Government intend to allow local authorities to charge for permissions, consents, approvals, determinations or certificates under the Town and County Planning Act 1971. Under the same Act. the Government also intend to allow local authorities to charge for planning appeals, other appeals and advertisements.

The Minister has not got a bad record. In the light of reasoned argument from the Opposition in Committee, he often proposed variations. I am sorry that the consultative paper does not diverge from the Minister's comments in Committee. In Committee, the Minister and the Under-Secretary said that the only purpose of the charges was to reduce central Government expenditure. They said that, no matter what flowed from the charges, the central purpose was to reduce Government expenditure. Indeed, the Under-Secretary had the audacity to state: We believe that we shall reduce the work load."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 17 April 1980; c. 2199.] I should like to know how such charges will reduce the work load on planning departments.

It was interesting that the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross), in looking at the annex in the consultative document, was able to draw attention to the fact that, for example, for residential outline planning permission £40 would be charged. I have done a quick sum. The total that the Government have said they wish to recoup is £30 million. The total here is £29.5 million. The total which it is expected local authorities' planning departments will get for individual applications—residential, outline, detailed and extension—is £16.2 million. The Government intend that more than half the money that is expected to be raised from this will come from the ordinary individual for an ordinary house or extension. If the Government were serious about differentiating between the small and the big, and between the individual who is building his own house and the big developer building a large development, they would take the opportunity to make charging less punitive on the individual.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Am I correct in thinking that under the general development order there will be an extension of the additions that can be put on to an existing house or structure, and that that will not fall under the new charging?

Mr. Graham

It is the Government's intention to amend the general development order so as to allow a 50 per cent. increase in the present permitted development. At present it is 10 per cent. The increase will mean that it will be 15 per cent. When that matter comes before the House, there will be a vigorous debate. If it then becomes permitted development, no application will be required. That will cause a whole series of problems, because the argument then will be that because a larger extension will be permitted without permission it will diminish the amount of work that is required in the planning department to process the applications. I can assure the hon. Member and the Minister that the number of neighbours who will call for advice from the planning department on whether the application is within or without will increase and the amount of time that is taken—let alone the amount of money—in order to satisfy the individual will be very great.

The main Opposition argument here is a distaste for the basic philosophy behind the charges and also for the fact that this could be the thin edge of the wedge. Not for the first time, in looking at an important part of this Bill, we find that the Government are virtually friendless. I know that the Minister is likely to say that certain local authorities, and perhaps even associations, have said that they want charges. But the CBI, the Town Planning Institute, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are opposed to the charge in principle. Also, the House-Builders Federation is opposed to it. At a time when the costs of building are high, the construction industry is in a state of crisis, there is an increase in interest charges and taxation and more difficulty in getting loans, there is to be the added impost of a charge on planning applications.

The Minister will probably say, as he did in Committee, that in the end the individual who gets the benefit will have to pay. That is nonsense. In my authority of Enfield the planning department has cut its staff to the bone year after year. It is not possible to carry out the work without additional staff. The Secretary of State does not waste a moment in urging Enfield and other councils to reduce their staff, yet to carry through the principle will require more staff. Local authorities will bitterly resent the measure.

12.15 am

The consultation paper mentions a discretion that will be given to local authorities to waive fees in certain cases, but states that none of the enumerated classes will be exempted. I do not for one moment commend the principle of charging, but where is the local authority's freedom and discretion to raise its portion of the £30 million? Why not allow a local authority to waive charges for residential applications or extensions? So much for discretion.

Once the principle of charging is established, people will be careful before submitting applications. Enfield has a courteous staff in its planning department. A great deal of time will be taken up in discussions with developers and individuals anxious to make certain that when their application is submitted it will not be rejected. We have always held that the planning system should be designed to benefit the local community and should be financed accordingly. These changes will lead to a disincentive to development control. They overturn principles that have been upheld for over 50 years. Planning is for the community, and the community should pay for it.

I referred to the Minister's remarks about appeals. In Committee he stated that there would have to be considerable justification before the Government introduced a charging system for planning appeals. A lead has been given by the Prime Minister this week in reneging on earlier commitments. The Minister has followed suit by introducing the consultation document only this week.

I endorse the remarks for the hon. Member for Isle of Wight with regard to charges for planning appeals. Will justice now be rationed according to the purse? Whoever has the cash, staff and patience will win. Whoever has a good case but no cash is likely to lose. Is that the Government's idea of planning, moral or British justice? Are planning appeal costs designed to pay for inspectors and civil servants, deter appeals or deter an individual from even starting the process? Why have the Government decided to single out this area for charges? Why not change for other community services, such as the Factory Inspectorate or the Alkali Inspectorate, or individual use of the police or ambulances in emergencies? I have never had faith in the Government's good sense to leave the community need alone. None will escape the rapacious eye of the Secretary of State if there is a possibility of yielding money to help to reduce central Government expenditure.

The Government are facing great opposition to their plans and opportunities will be presented when the Bill is considered in another place and when its reflections come back here. The views of local authorities are due to be returned on 22 August, and we hope that before those views are made known the Government will have the good sense to reflect again on the appalling principle of charging for planning permission and appeals.

Mr. Durant

I assume that if a planning application is turned down on technical grounds—perhaps because it is a highway matter—and there has to be a fresh application, the applicant will have to pay again. That would be an invitation to a local authority to turn down as many planning applications as possible in order to raise as much revenue as possible.

I do not feel that that is the Government's intention. The Government are trying to speed up planning matters. but if the situation that I have outlined could occur it will be an incentive to local authorities to go slow on planning.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

Even with the lengthy and confused amendments that the Government have tabled to their confused Bill, power is to be given to the Secretary of State to levy charges for planning applications.

It is worth estimating what sort of costs are involved and looking at the experience of the Department of the Environment which has already ventured into this territory. The House ought to be told that the Secretary of State has already tabled regulations to allow local authorities to make charges in connection with building regulations.

The Secretary of State has sent out a consultative document that includes estimates of the charges involved in the Bill. For the average new house, applications for outline permission and later for the individual dwelling will involve an additional charge of about £80. The Government claim that the fact that house prices are levelling off is an indication of progress in the fight against inflation, but by this Bill, as by other legislation such as the increase in VAT, the Government are making sure that house prices will start rising again.

In addition to the charges under the Bill, which are bad enough, the Department of the Environment has produced the Building (Prescribed Fees) Regulations 1980, which provide that an inspection to see whether plans conform to building regulations will cost £58. After the first inspection, the fee will be £116. That is on top of the fees that the Secretary of State is proposing to charge under the Bill. A fee of about £250 will be charged on houses costing between £18,000 and £21,000.

One would be lucky to construct a house in London or the South-East for under £20,000. Under the table of prescribed fees in the building regulations we are talking about £200 per loan—and so the cost increases.

What is the experience of the Department of the Environment in producing regulations? It produced the Building (Prescribed Fees) Regulations 1980, which were examined by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, which drew the attention of both Houses to the instrument on the ground that its drafting appeared to be defective. The twenty-fifth report stated: The Regulations prescribe the fees that local authorities may charge for performing their functions under the Building Regulations 1976. The fees are payable when plans for a building project are first deposited and after a first inspection of the work is carried out. In oral evidence to the Committee witnesses from the Department of the Environment have admitted that in certain circumstances the intention of the Instrument is not clear. For example where the plan deposited includes more than one building the Table of prescribed fees does not indicate whether a single fee is payable for the whole project or whether each building is subject to a separate fee. The Department of the Environment submitted the instrument which is acknowledged to be defective by its own officials and refused to revoke it. It is still in force. I understand that the Department plans to table a new instrument. What a botched-up way of legislating for local authorities which are looking for a prescribed opportunity. Local authorities can charge only prescribed fees.

I have no doubt that the regulations in this legislation will involve the Secretary of State laying down prescribed fees. The experience is that the Department of the Environment is careless and slipshod about its administrative power. The Department should not have the extra powers. It cannot carry them out. It is not helping local authorities.

I tabled a question about the number of local authorities which are using the regulations. I was told that not one makes charges. The reason is that the scale of prescribed fees is so vague and ambiguous that the authorities might have to give refunds. That means more work, not less, for local authorities.

We are discussing a building process with applications and charges for outline planning permission, for detailed planning permission, for deposited plans and for first inspections. We are talking of four stages of fees. They have to be levied, collected and supervised. That means more work, not less, for local authorities.

What about appeals against the Secretary of State when he levies a particular charge? Will the regulations include the right of appeal? If so, will it be to a tribunal or direct to the Minister? Will he be judge and jury? That would be unsatisfactory. There must be another form of appeal if the Secretary of State is to go into this matter with a sense of fairness and justice. I know that that is foreign to the Secretary of State's nature. Let us assume that he yields to his better but shrivelled nature. That means more people, more tribunals and more applications to review, counter-review and so forth. At the end of the day, will it encourage building? Of course it will not.

12.30 am

There are 200,000 building workers on the dole. Will small builders be encouraged to put up a few houses if they must now cope with four stages of application, charging and approval? I should think that it is more likely to discourage them. What about the prospective home builders? I suppose they belong to the category that the Secretary of State would wish to encourage. We certainly wish to encourage the couple, or the cooperatives, prepared to put up their own house or group of houses in building associations. Will they be encouraged? On the philosophy of the Government, I should have thought that form filling, applications, charges, reviews and counter-reviews would act as a measure of discouragement.

The Secretary of State for Industry says that small businesses should have to fill in fewer forms. That would leave them to get on with the job. If that is true for small firms in industry, is it not also true for small firms in the building industry—an industry which, I understand, has a large number of small firms? Is the Secretary of State intending to encourage those businesses to grow up into the McAlpines, the Taylor Woodrows and the Costains? It seems to me that small firms will be discouraged because of the plethora of charges and applications.

There are now four stages and it is as well to remind the House that the Secretary of State already has two of those stages in operation and that he has made such a botch of them that they are not even being applied.

Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)

My hon. Friend was the Minister with responsibility for small businesses in the Labour Government and the House will have listened with interest to what he has been saying. The scale of charges suggested in the consultative document published by the Government covers commercial, industrial and other buildings and plant and machinery. What sort of encouragement is that to any small business and the employment that we hope for from small businesses? I am sure that that is a matter to which my hon. Friend will wish to address himself.

Mr. Cryer

It seems to me that in this legislation the Government are simply refuting the claims of the Secretary of State for Industry that the Government are trying to get rid of forms. The Labour Government tried to do that because they genuinely did not wish to burden small businesses with needless and useless forms. We got rid of thousands of forms which burdened small businesses.

I do not believe that any Government would seriously wish to burden any business with unnecessary administrative forms and information requirements of one sort or another. This is really an exercise in charging gone mad. It will yield a small amount of revenue and cause a great deal of dissension at local authority level. Those authorities will take the brunt of the dissension that will come about as a result of this proposal and it will destroy a system which has been accessible and effective for many years.

It will certainly do no good for the building industry. It will not encourage individuals who wish to build. It will not encourage firms which wish to build and it will certainly not put any more "brickies", carpenters and joiners back to work where we need them, thus encouraging growth in the building of houses and other facilities. It will be a useless bureaucratic intrusion by a Government who seem to have their values completely upside down. Therefore. I shall vote against this clause.

Mr. Rippon

If one thing is clear, it is that this is a feature of the Bill which will have the most immediate and noticeable impact. As the hon. Mem- ber for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) said, there is likely to be a good deal of correspondence. This is a change in our planning law that I feel strongly should not be considered at this time of night. It should be dealt with separately at an earlier hour.

Clause 71 gives the Secretary of State exceptionally wide powers to carry out a number of acts by regulation. It is important to divide the power to make regulations into two distinct parts. The Secretary of State may make such provision as he thinks fit for the payment of a fee to a local planning authority in respect of an application made to it under planning enactments for any permission, any consent, any approval, any determination or any certificate. Even more controversial is the right that the Secretary of State is given in the Bill to prescribe a fee of any amount that he may suggest in respect of an appeal to him under the planning enactments. There is great force in the argument that a fee, whatever the merits in other cases, should not be charged when someone is making an appeal under the planning Acts.

The introduction of such charges has been justified by the Secretary of State on the intriguing ground that he sees no reason why prospective developers should not pay for the service that their demands create. He claims that such charges will speed up the system. I see no reason why they should do so. The Secretary of State says that that will be the effect because charges will reduce the number of applications. He suggests that local planning authorities will be given to work more quickly. However, once they have their fee there will be no need for them to work so hard.

I understand that a case can be made for these fees as they fall into the first category, but there is no justification for the width of the enabling power, which is restrained only by the need to secure affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament. Many of us know how much weight can be attached to that. There is nothing in the Bill that excludes regulations being drawn by the Secretary of State on any basis that he thinks fit to adopt. We have the helpful consultative document, but that is not the last word on what the present Secretary of State may do or what a future Secretary of State may do.

The Bill reveals nothing about the scale of the charges, the revenue that they may provide, or the principles in accordance with which the charges will be made. The Government have merely said that the scheme will be simple, universal and mandatory. They say that the aim is to recover a substantial proportion of the money that it costs to run the development control system. That cost is now estimated to be about £50 million a year.

The Government's aspirations may or may not be realised. No one who considers the Bill is able to say with certainty what the scheme is or what it is likely to be. The one certainty is that there is bound to be increased bureaucracy. One observation can safely be made even before we know the nature of the scheme. The proposal appears to give rise to the curious anomaly that a person may be subjected to no charge if he carries out development in breach of planning control and receives an enforcement notice. That is because he will have made neither a planning application nor an appeal.

It may be said that one incentive that the provision offers is not to apply for planning permission, a section 53 determination, an established use certificate or anything else. There will now be a financial motive on the other side to wait for the local planning authority's decision whether to serve an enforcement notice. That might require more detective work in development control, which will increase costs, and any such costs could be recovered only by charges against those who made application or appeal. It seems that the Minister might give some help on this point. Otherwise it seems that those who comply with the requirements of planning law will be made to pay for those who do not.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

Is my right hon. and learned Friend saying that a developer will proceed with a development or an individual with the construction of a single dwelling or the modification of a flat to avoid the payment of a fee? Surely, if he were to do that, he would be likely to run into considerable difficulties, which would far outweigh the modest fees proposed in this scheme, which has been widely canvassed.

Mr. Rippon

It depends on the nature of the fee and the nature of the development. If someone is dealing with a substantial application, that will not apply. Not long ago a developer withdrew altogether from the planning process because his costs, before the inquiry had been concluded, had already exceeded £1 million. No doubt a modest charge for application would not deter him. But we are dealing with large numbers of small applications, and people are reluctant to pay out £40 if they think they can avoid doing so. Some of us who are lawyers may be able to help them in that regard.

Mr. Guy Barnett

One irritant which affects local planning committees and employees of local authorities is the repeated application for planning permission for the same development on a particular piece of land. Every hon. Member and every councillor is aware of that problem. I suspect that one of the motives behind this clause has to do with the fact that a developer repeatedly applies for planning permission for a development because, under present law, he is permitted to do so. As a consequence, he wastes the time of planning officials and committees on every occasion he makes application.

It seems to me—this was echoed in other parts of the House, and particularly by the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr.Rippon)—that the proposal that we are considering is in flat contradiction to the principle lying behind our planning law. The assumption behind the law is that individuals, companies or groups of people have a right to do what they wish with their land. That right has to be limited to protect the interests of the community as a whole. There has been misunderstanding about that. That is the basic principle upon which the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 was founded.

It seems odd that a Conservative Government, who believe in the principle that I have enunciated, should come forward with the proposal to charge individuals or companies or groups of people for obtaining what I should have thought they would regard as their absolute right, to be limited only by the perfectly proper demands of the community as a whole. Because the community has an interest, because it is properly interested in the consequence of development on the community, it seems right that the community should pay, as it always has, for the price of development control. There seems to be a basic logical fallacy in the introduction of charges which are made upon those who make application for development.

12.45 am

The right hon. and learned Gentleman made a very valuable point when he suggested that these proposals can have one consequence only, namely, that of encouraging the evasion of planning control. Planning departments throughout the country already have to cope with the considerable problem of the evasion of planning control. It is not easy to police. It is a considerable problem to ensure that individuals and companies who want to develop particular pieces of land apply for planning permission.

One of the ways in which planning departments are able to encourage that sort of application is by demonstrating that as planning departments they are willing to discuss planning proposals prior to an application actually being submitted. Sometimes the consequence of those discussions is that the individual discovers that in fact he does not need to obtain planning permission, because his proposal is acceptable within the general development order; or, indeed, he may discover from an official to whom he has spoken in a local authority planning department that if he alters his proposal slightly it is more likely to receive the approval of the planning committee.

All the preliminary discussion that goes on between the person applying for planning permission and a planning department is very valuable, but it seems to me that the proposal that we are discussing will discourage people from even approaching the planning department. It will certainly discourage them from making a planning application, and it may even encourage them to evade planning permission, if the Minister is right in his suggestion—I can only believe from the consultation document that he is right—that enforcement control will not involve any planning charges whatever.

I have before me the annex to the consultative document. On the subject of charges for planning applications, there is no reference in this annex to any charge for enforcment control. So if this legislation goes through, or if the regulations go through in the form suggested in this document, it will be an open invitation to anybody who wishes to undertake any form of development not to apply for planning permission but to wait for enforcement action to be taken against him.

I underline the very important point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer). This is, after all, a Government who have invented the idea of the enterprise zone, the objective of which is to diminish the quantity of planning control, forms and the rest of it which impede the development of small firms and of industry generally. Yet here again we have a Government who are now demanding £40 per square metre of development from small firms that wish to develop. That is the charge that the Government are proposing for small firms that want to develop their premises in order to expand their production and perhaps even to take on extra labour. I presume that these charges apply to enterprise zones as well as to other parts of the country.

Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)

Is the hon. Member aware that if the enterprise zone wishes to have a flagpole to show that it is an enterprise zone there is another £30 for the application and another £30 if it is carried on appeal?

Mr. Barnett

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right; and if it wanted a radio aerial that would add another £30 to the cost.

I cannot for the life of me understand why this Government, who profess to be in favour of enterprise and development and to be on the side of the small builder and the small firm, should come forward with proposals of this sort, which can do nothing but act as a disincentive to development. In addition, they fly in the face of every principle that the Conservative Party is supposed to support, namely, the right of the individual and of groups to do what they wish with their own, limited only by the rights of the community, and certainly not to pay charges in order to obtain the necessary permission to do so.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I have no doubt that these charges will come as a pretty nasty shock to a lot of people in the country, and I am quite sure that it is good advice to my right hon. Friend that he should take pains to explain very carefully to the country why it is necessary—and, as I see it, right—to make charges for the basic planning applications and consents.

What was wrong with the arguments from the Liberal Bench and with the eloquent speech of the spokesman for the official Opposition, the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham), was that they were in favour of general economy but of particular expenditure. The planning system that Parliament, for good reasons, has imposed on the nation is expensive, and it is simply a matter of difference, I presume, between the two sides as to who should pay.

The hon. Member for Edmonton and the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) seemed to think that it could be free, but nothing is free; everything has to be paid for by somebody. There is some merit in more of the cost being borne by those who stand to benefit than by the general public. That may well be the difference between us. But I see nothing wrong in principle in the notion that we should move towards charges.

Mr. Stephen Ross

I hope that the hon. Gentleman listened to my speech. I put forward some rather more sensible suggestions, I thought, as to how local authorities could raise finance. One of them was site value rating. I believe that it would be a sound way to do it. I agree with what was said about second or third applications for the same piece of land. I cannot, however, understand the argument about private individuals and making a charge of £30 or £40.

Mr. Griffiths

I am not quite sure what was the purpose of that intervention. We could all debate for ever how local authority revenues can be maximised, whether by sales tax, income tax, charges or whatever the method might be. I am simply saying that this is an expensive business, and it is not unreasonable that those who stand to benefit should make some contribution towards it.

I hope that the charges to be made will be held to the absolute minimum and used sparingly. They will not in any way cover the real cost; they will be merely a token contribution at best. I do not believe that they will cover the true cost that will be involved.

In an intervention I said that it was quite wrong to suggest that small house improvements made by individuals will be caught. Since, in a later stage of the legislation, we shall find that the general development order enables people, in the case of residences, to increase and extend the size of their premises by significantly more than they are allowed to do at the present time—this will apply also to industrial and commercial premises—it follows that all those improvements and extensions will not come within the charges that are to be made.

Mr. Guy Barnett

For the information of the hon. Gentleman and of the House, I point out that the Government's consultative document contains the item: Householder (house extensions and alterations not adding to the number of dwellings)—£30.

The expected national revenue is £6 million.

Mr. Griffiths

We must leave it to the Minister to advise the House correctly. The general development order will increase by 50 per cent. the amount of the area that can be added to a house, and will allow commercial and industrial premises to be dealt with in a similar way. But none of those things will be caught in the charges. To that extent, to make a case for the small man is sheer humbug, or lack of homework on the part of Opposition Members.

My final point is a plea to my right hon. Friend the Minister. I share the views of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) about appeals, as opposed to planning permissions. Where an individual is affronted by the refusal of his application by a local council and he takes the trouble to brief expensive lawyers and to go to the Secretary of State to make his case, who comes to the conclusion that the council is in error and has wrongly refused him, it is unfair that, in addition to the extra costs incurred by the successful applicant, there should be lumbered on to him the fee for proving that he is right and the local council wrong. That would be to pile an offensive charge on top of the costs that he has already incurred through no fault of his own, but through a local council, in many cases, being perverse.

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary knows, only recently a case in Islington was brought to my attention, although it was not in my constituency, because of my general interest in planning matters. The council had perversely refused a planning application, and the matter went to appeal. The council behaved badly and cost the potential developer large sums of money. Thanks to the diligence of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and his Department, that council was found to have been utterly wrong in its approach. The firm in question has already paid many thousands of pounds in additional fees and has lost the use of its capital due to a delay of two or three years on the application. It would go a little far to ask it to pay a fee for something that the council, not the firm, had caused to happen. I ask my right hon. Friend the Minister to think again on that point.

Mr. John Evans (Newton)

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate briefly in the debate. I fully agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) that it is appalling that such important matters should be debated at this late hour.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

Where has the hon. Gentleman been all evening?

Mr. Evans

Will it be in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I explain the parliamentary duties that I have been performing today, including "whipping" a Committee? I remind the hon. Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) that Report stage allows hon. Members who did not have the opportunity to serve on the Committee to speak when clauses of interest to them and their constituents are being debated. Even though I come here at this hour of the morning to debate the issue, I shall be glad to go through my parliamentary day if the hon. Gentleman wishes to press me to do so.

When I came to the House in February 1974, I believed that it was essential that a Member of Parliament should have served a fairly long period—a long apprenticeship—as a member of a local authority. I was staggered to find how few hon. Members had served on local authorities. I am sure that the House will agree that the Bill is evidence that the Secretary of State has very little idea about local government in Britain. Anyone with any knowledge or understanding of local government work would not have produced such an appalling Bill. I wonder how many Conservative Members will have the courage to reject the monstrous clause 71, which Liberal Members are seeking to delete.

It is significant that we have not only the Liberal amendment, which sensibly seeks to remove this appalling clause, but a considerable number of amendments tabled by the Government which seek to amend their own clause. I suggest that the sensible course would be to remove the clause altogether.

Mr. Latham

Where are the Labour Members?

1 am

Mr. Evans

They are in varous parts of the House, waiting to vote. I do not know precisely where they are. However, it is interesting to note how many Conservative Members are present. I hope that some of them will for once have the courage to go into the Lobby and to reject a clause which is an affront to local government.

I may not be unique in the number of local authorities with which I have to deal in my constituency, but I am sure that very few Members of Parliament have my experience. My constituency spreads across three county councils, two of which, Merseyside and Greater Manchester, are metropolitan county councils and the third, Cheshire, is a shire county council. My constituency also spreads across four district councils—Wigan, St. Helens and Salford—which are metropolitan district councils with a variety of responsibilities in planning, and Warrington which is a district of a shire county. It also has a new town county council and 10 parish councils. They have all written to me at length about various provisions in the Bill and clause 71 in particular.

I suggest that most Members of Parliament who attend to their duties will acknowledge that probably the first item in their postbags which concerns their constituents is housing repairs and that the second is undoubtedly planning applications. Planning applications range from major items, such as the building of a new housing estate on a green field site or a proposal to extend an existing village—for example, from Warrington new town to Warrington district council—to a proposal by a water authority to build a sewage works in a village, which would presumably fall within the terms of clause 71.

I am sure that most hon. Members accept that the items which most occupy their postbags are the minor planning applications to extend a lounge or a bedroom or to build an extra bedroom over a garage. It is in that context that problems are created for planning departments. I have at least six cases on my hands of neighbours objecting to planning applications. People are already concerned about plans to develop or to build extensions to adjacent properties, the delay in getting planning consent and the additional cost involved. Yet clause 71 proposes that people should not only have that problem but should pay for the privilege of submitting planning applications to the council in the first instance.

I suggest that Conservative Members should bear in mind the wise words of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham, who has considerable knowledge of these matters and has been an honourable critic of this horrendous Bill throughout all its stages, that the vast majority of people who will be concerned about the implications of clause 71 will be owner-occupiers. I am sick and tired of the number of times that Conservative Members claim that owner-occupiers in the main vote for them. If there is any truth in that argument, I suggest that they should start to pay attention to those whom they claim to represent. Undoubtedly, those people will be affected by the application of clause 71. It is important that the Secretary of State, who has come back into the Chamber, should start telling the House about the amount of charges that could be involved.

Mr. Cryer

In addition to the charges under clause 71, the Secretary of State is determined to replace the Building (Prescribed Fees) Regulations 1980, and to make owner-occupiers pay an additional fee on all work in excess of £1,000. They will have to pay four fees instead of two.

Mr. Evans

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I accept his point.

My hon. Friends and I tend to ensure that our constituents are aware of what the Government are doing in this respect. It is not a question of people having to pay for the planning departments. I accept the general principle that one gets nothing for nothing, and that planning departments have to be paid for. This money will not go to the local authorities to build bigger planning departments. It will go to the Treasury. Acording to subsection (5), Any sum paid to the Secretary of State …shall be paid into the Consolidated fund. Conservative Members must recognize that while there have been problems and difficulties in the past in relation to planning delays, those delays have not been capricious delays because planning officers throughout the country were sitting on plans. The problem is, and has always been, that there is a shortage of planning officers, which means that planning applications cannot receive the urgent and immediate treatment which applicants feel they are entitled to. There is no provision in the Bill that would put right that difficulty and increase the number of planning officers, which would be beneficial. The Bill and the whole thrust of the Secretary of State's arguments seek to cut down the number of local authority staff and thereby further delay the planning applications.

At this late hour we are discussing whether people should be charged for the privilege of submitting a planning application to the local authority. While there is much in the Bill that is obnoxious and repugnant to most people—I have been dumbfounded by the number of local authority associations, county and district councils and parish councils that have written to me asking me to oppose certain sections of the Bill—clause 71 is undoubtedly one of the worst sections of it. It is apparent from the phraseology of the clause and from the number of amendments that have been tabled by the Secretary of State attempting to make sense of it that the right hon. Gentleman has no knowledge of the planning procedures that affect local government and people. It is a tragedy that he is attempting to place such an appalling Bill on the statute book.

I have a feeling that most, if not all, Conservative Members will not vote against clause 71 because they hope that because of the lateness of the legislative timetable and the pile of Government legislation in the House of Lords the Bill will never reach the statute book. They trust that this Bill, and clause 71 in particular, will disappear into the dustbin, where it belongs.

Mr. David Penhaligon (Truro)

I never thought that the day would come when a Government proposed that a constituent of mine or of any other hon. Member would have to pay a local council, say, £30 to discover that he is not allowed to erect a flagpole. I can tell the Minister what the good, honest, sensible folk of Cornwall will do. They will put up the post in any case. When the council serves them with an enforcement notice, they will say "The post has been there, we think, since 1834. It is true that it is a bit taller than it was. It has been painted recently, and it has generally been sorted out." The argument will go on for a very long time.

This provision is a major encouragement of people simply to avoid the sense of planning permission. In some of the really rural areas of my constituency, the simple fact is that planning permission in real terms has existed only since the Local Government Reorganisation Act 1974. After that Act, the Restormel council, in my constituency, decided to survey to see how many illegally parked caravans there were within its area. After it passed 200 without planning permission, it decided to stop the exercise. The council will pursue the matter of planning permission in relation to caravans brought into the area from now onwards, as opposed to doing it retrospectively.

The Bill is an encouragement to go back to the old days—days that I would regret—because the system works only if the mass of the people are willing to support it.

The specific point that I wanted to raise is that I see, with considerable horror, that there is a serious possibility of charging up to £20,000 for planning permission for mineral development. It is worth recognising just how planning permission has affected mineral development over the years. A hundred years ago in Cornwall, if people had permission for access to the land they simply dropped a shaft and took out the minerals, if they were there. Some of the evidence of those days is to be seen in the county. As some of the shafts collapse, people's houses are affected by earth movements, and so on.

Planning permission was implemented, quite rightly, in order to stop people having the right simply to extract minerals from any area whatsoever. The Minister must ask himself who has benefited from that procedure of planning applications for the exploitation of minerals. Is it the company that wants to exploit the minerals? Or is it the people who, at long last, have got a defence against their rights being taken away, against their houses being eroded and against their general environment being destroyed?

The answer must be that it is the people who have benefited. In that case, why charge the company that is making the application?

I do not know what the present Government have got against mineral exploitation, but already, for reasons that I have never understood, they forget that minerals in the South-West are in the South-West when it comes to application for development area status, the argument being that for that process of business the South-West is not a development area. Now we are told that the one industry in my constituency which provides jobs, which helps the balance of payments and which produces just the sort of economic viability that this country wants could have to pay sums of up to £20,000, and not for its own benefit, because it gains not by this planning permission. A hundred years ago there were no difficulties at all. The shaft was simply dropped. Now companies are told that they will have to pay up to £20,000 because of the general objections that will be lodged in that locality.

I see no logic or reason in this charge. That is the basis of the whole argument tonight. I read in one newspaper that £27 million is the sort of figure that it is hoped to raise. This is a general tax on development and initiative. I raise the point about mineral rights because they seem to have much the largest figure applied to them.

Mr. Cryer

Would there not also be a possibility that, because a mining company has paid about £20,000, a local authority, when considering a planning application, would take the view that since the company had paid such an enormous sum it had better accept the application? Would not the involvement of such a large sum tend to blunt the objectiveness of some local authorities in examining the application?

1.15 am
Mr. Penhaligon

I have no doubt that the possibility of raising revenue will change local government's neutral attitude to most applications. I do not know whether that applies to mineral applications. Traditional mining areas such as mine, are too restrictive about applications to develop minerals. However, that is not the subject of debate.

A process exists to guard people against ludicrous folly. It has developed over the years, and is rightly on the statute book. The Government say that it is not the people who will pay for that process, but the individual or company making the application. I see no logic in that. I shall vote against the measure.

Mr. Freud


Mr. Fox

If I sense the mood of the House correctly, it expects me to deal as expeditiously as possible with the majority of points that have been raised.

In Committee, Parliament gave full consideration to the Bill. The fact that no guillotine was needed is proof of that. Those hon. Members who have read closely the reports of the Committee proceedings realise that that is a fact.

Mr. Freud

Will not the Minister accept that Parliament had no say in Committee?

Mr. Fox

Of course I accept that. As three days were spent discussing provisions on the Floor of the House on Report, I should have thought that hon. Members had had adequate opportunity to have their say. The Liberal Party has had a fair share of this debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) described clearly the problem that faces the Gov- ernment. It should come as no surprise that we intend to reduce public expenditure. If it is possible to charge for local authority services, we shall scrutinise that possibility and, where necessary, bring forward proposals. We have therefore brought forward a sensible measure. A contribution by those who benefit from planning approval must be made to the £50 million paid by the ratepayer and taxpayer. It is a departure, and perhaps it should have been done a long time ago.

There are certain benefits. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds was right to suggest that we are removing many small applications from the planning field. There is no question of such charges being applied to the applications that some Opposition Members have described. I was amazed that the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) should criticise the amendment of the general development order. The previous Labour Government tried to do this. Our proposals will be far better considered.

Mr. Guy Barnett

I did not criticise the change of the general development order. I asked why the consultative document, issued by the Government, suggests that the income per annum from household extensions and alterations will be £6 million.

Mr. Fox

I question the figure that the hon. Gentleman has given. I accept that it is in the consultative document. However, other figures show that the amount is in excess of that.

There is a side benefit to the provision. A local authority has the benefit of the income. We are talking in terms of £30 million. The Government's suggestion that this will benefit the planning system will deter certain people. If the charge is kept at a modest level, it will not deter sensible applications. In the past many local authorities have complained about ill-considered applications being put forward which were a source of considerable expenditure for those authorities.

The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham) made a number of mistakes in his speech. He said that the consultative document referred to charges for appeals. It does nothing of the sort. We have made it quite clear, and we gave a commitment in Committee, that we would take appeals quite separately, and that in no circumstances would the permission to charge for applications also apply to appeals.

Mr. Graham

Will the Minister allow me to read from the consultative document: The Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill proposes power for the Secretary of State to prescribe charges for: applications to local planning authorities for any permission, consent, approval, determination or certificate under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and its orders and regulations; planning appeals and other appeals under the same Act, orders and regulations.

Mr. Fox

The implication of the hon. Member initially was that the consultative document was concerned with appeals as well. I am simply making the point that the Secretary of State in Committee gave an assurance that we would bring forward an affirmative resolution for appeals quite separately from the one charging for planning applications. No consultation paper has gone out on appeals. I said in Committee that it was our intention to listen very carefully to all the representations made to us and that we understand the difference that many hon. Members make about charging for applications and charging for appeals.

The hon. Member also said that the local authorities would resent charging. So far they have all been in favour, as far as we can tell, and we shall await the results of our consultations to prove it.

Mr. Cryer

If local authorities are so enthusiastic, why do they not charge under the Building (Prescribed Fees) Regulations, which came into operation on 1 April 1980? Apparently not one local authority has made a charge under them.

Mr. Fox

I shall dispose of the hon. Member's point. He made a number of allegations in his earlier contribution. Our information is that a number of local authorities are charging for building regulations. The hon. Member made some nasty insinuations about the Secretary of State. My right hon. Friend made it clear that after six months' operation of the charges we shall review them. That seems a sensible policy.

Of course, half the income will come from individual house owners, but my information is that only a minority of applications for outline and detailed permission for new houses come from individuals. I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant) that we cover his point in the consultation paper. Where there is a possibility of dual charging, the local authority will have permission to waive any extra fee under the small changes that may be necessary in the application.

On the point raised by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), we think that these charges are too modest to encourage the sort of evasion that he spoke of. I was surprised to hear him suggest that there would be evasion of any magnitude. To meet such a problem, it is not outside the realms of possibility that we shall charge for permissions granted as a result of a successful enforcement appeal. There are all sorts of opportunities open to us. In the past, Parliament has always been able to come up with the answer, right or wrong.

The opposition of the hon. Member for Greenwich to charging was well known in Committee. He will be aware that it is our intention to relax planning applications in enterprise zones.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds mentioned the question of appeals. It is a difficult matter, and we had some hesitation in dealing with it. There can be no question of payment in the manner that my hon. Friend described. There is already permission for awarding costs. We are considering carefully whether we can introduce a wider award. If and when we bring forward proposals, my hon. Friend will be able to make a further contribution.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Where a local authority has misdirected itself, a charging master is brought in who can allocate costs against that authority. However, that is not my point. How can it be right to charge a fee for the services of the Secretary of State if he finds that the council has been doing wrong and has caused the applicant a great deal of cost and delay? If such a fee is to be charged, surely it should rest with the council that has caused the problem.

Mr. Fox

I accept that. My hon. Friend illustrated the difficulty of such proposals.

I emphasise that we are carrying out our promise to leave appeals as a separate issue. There are a number of Government amendments that carry out the commitments that we gave in Committee, the principle one being that we shall bring before the House separate proposals for appeals.

Mr. Freud

I am sorry that I was not called earlier, as I had a number of questions for the Minister arising directly from what has been said. Perhaps the Minister will respond when I have asked the questions.

The Minister states that there is no question of charges for small applications, and clause 71 clearly states that: The regulations may provide for the remission or refunding of a prescribed fee. There is an annex for the scale of charges in which the Government estimate roughly what the income will be under the different headings. Can the Minister explain briefly how he arrives at £6 million for house extension and alterations not adding to the number of dwellings at £30 a throw for 200,000 applications? Bearing in mind the Secretary of State's right not to charge, how many more applications will be made than those that the hon. Gentleman estimates will be charged?

The hon. Gentleman says that these are small charges. In the case of commercial and industrial extensions, I do not believe anyone would object to commercial developers paying a charge. However, for radio aerials and flagpoles he has estimated an income of £600,000 a year, which means 20,000 applications. I believe that the hon. Gentleman will admit that the average cost of a flagpole is less than £30. Does he therefore expect someone to pay £30 for an application for a £10 flagpole?

1.30 am
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Does my hon. Friend realise the full enormity of the indignity involved? In many cases the poor fellow will be refused permission to put up a flagpole. Is it not extraordinary to suggest that the State, when imposing such a petty restriction on an individual, should charge him for the privilege of having an application refused?

Mr. Freud

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am also grateful for the fact that this flagpole legislation does not appear to apply to Northern Ireland.

The Government believe in home ownership and are encouraging people to buy houses in the public sector. Is it not right that those who buy a council house should be able to add a garage or an annexe without having to pay £40 or more for an application? What percentage of applications that the Minister expects for minor alterations, extension and garages does he anticipate will be charged for?

Mr. Fox

The hon. Member has raised a number of interesting points. Let me deal first with flagpoles, which seem to be the most important question, in the view of the Liberal Party. If the flagpole is part of a dwelling, there will be no question of a charge being made. A charge will be made only when a flagpole is used as a form of advertising.

The figures that were arrived at come from the broad knowledge of my Department of the number of applications submitted each year. The figures in the consultation paper are as accurate as possible.

There are more than 250,000 householder applications each year. We assume that about 200,000 will be removed once our amendment to the GDO goes through. By far the greater number of such applications will be removed from the system.

Mr. Stephen Ross

Of course local authorities will support the introduction of planning charges. They are hard up and will look at anything that will make them a few pence. However, I can think of many better ways in which we could save money on planning. If we considered planning in a more regional context and set up planning staffs to deal with a whole county, instead of each local authority having its own planning department, we could save a great deal of money.

There has been no answer to the point about the increased bureaucracy that will be created. Of course the Government's proposal will result in increased staff. Chief executives will say that they will have to employ one or two more people to collect the money and police the system.

Charges for appeals should not be proceeded with. We have not had that assurance, but at least the matter is to be covered in separate regulations. The Minister did not deal with the charge that the proposal will add to the cost of new building. It is wrong that at a time when we are trying to cut prices we should add a charge of £200 or £300 per house.

We should divide on the amendment, because the Government are introducing a new principle.

Mr. Freud

Will my hon. Friend consider the Minister's answer that, of 250,000 applications, 200,000 will not be made when the clause is passed but that

the Government will receive £6 million from the outstanding 50,000?

Mr. Fox

In the heat of the moment I made a mathematical error. I meant to say that out of the 250.000 applications about 200,000 would remain.

Mr. Ross

If the Minister thinks that the fees are modest, he is in for a shock. Hon. Members who live in a country area, like the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) and myself, know that if someone says that planning applications involve fees of £30 or £40 the people will make a gesture with two fingers and do it their own way.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 20, Noes 210.

Division No. 395] AYES [1.36 pm
Alton, David Howells, Geraint Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Leighton, Ronald Sheerman, Barry
Canavan, Dennis McKay, Allen (Penistone) Steel, Rt Hon David
Cowans, Harry McQuade, John Stott, Roger
Cryer, Bob Paisley, Rev Ian
Cunliffe, Lawrence Pendry, Tom TELLERS FOR THE AYES
English, Michael Penhaligon, David Mr. Alan Beith and Mr. Clement Freud
Evans, John (Newton) Robinson, Peter (Belfast East)
Adley, Robert Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hawkins, Paul
Alexander, Richard Clegg, Sir Walter Hawksley, Warren
Ancram, Michael Colvin, Michael Heddle, John
Arnold, Tom Cope, John Henderson, Barry
Atkins, Robert (Preston North) Corrie, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Costain, A. P. Hicks, Robert
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Cranborne, Viscount Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Banks, Robert Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dorrell, Stephen Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hooson, Tom
Best, Keith Dover, Denshore Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Bevan, David Gilroy Dunlop, John Hunt, David (Wirral)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Biggs-Davison, John Durant, Tony Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Blackburn, John Dykes, Hugh Jessel, Toby
Blaker, Peter Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke) Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Boscawen, Hon Robert Eggar, Timothy Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Elliott, Sir William King, Rt Hon Tom
Bowden, Andrew Eyre, Reginald Kitson, Sir Timothy
Bradford, Rev. R. Fairbairn, Nicholas Knight, Mrs Jill
Braine, Sir Bernard Faith, Mrs. Sheila Knox, David
Bright, Graham Finsberg, Geoffrey Lamont, Norman
Brinton, Tim Fisher, Sir Nigel Lang, Ian
Brittan, Leon Fookes, Miss Janet Lawrence, Ivan
Brooke, Hon Peter Forman, Nigel Lee, John
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Fox, Marcus Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Browne, John (Winchester) Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Bryan, Sir Paul Garel-Jones, Tristan Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Buck, Antony Goodhart, Philip Loveridge, John
Budgen, Nick Gorst, John Luce, Richard
Bulmer, Esmond Gow, Ian Lyell, Nicholas
Butcher, John Greenway, Harry Macfarlane, Neil
Butler, Hon Adam Grieve, Percy MacGregor, John
Cadbury, Jocelyn Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmonds) Mackay, John (Argyll)
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gummer, John Selwyn McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hampson, Dr Keith Major, John
Churchill, W. S. Hannam, John Marland, Paul
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Haselhurst, Alan Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Marten, Neil (Banbury) Pawsey, Jamas Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Mates, Michael Percival, Sir Ian Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Mather, Carol Pink, R. Bonner Stradling Thomas, J.
Maude, Rt Hon Angus Pollock, Alexander Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Porter, George Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Proctor, K. Harvey Temple-Morris, Peter
Mayhew, Patrick Raison, Timothy Thompson, Donald
Mellor, David Rathbone, Tim Townend, John (Bridlington)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch) Rees-Davies, W. R. Tripper, David
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Renton, Tim Trotter, Neville
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Rhodes James, Robert Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Rifkind, Malcolm Viggers, Peter
Moate, Roger Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Waddington, David
Monro, Hector Rossi, Hugh Wakeham, John
Montgomery, Fergus Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Waldegrave, Hon William
Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Ward, John
Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester) Shelton, William (Streatham) Warren, Kenneth
Murphy, Christopher Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Myles, David Shersby, Michael Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stevn'age)
Neale, Gerrard Silvester, Fred Wheeler, John
Needham, Richard Smith, Dudley (War, and Leam'ton) Whitney, Raymond
Nelson, Anthony Speller, Tony Wickenden, Keith
Newton, Tony Spence, John Wilkinson, John
Osborn, John Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire) Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham Sproat, Iain Young, Sir George (Acton)
Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire) Squire, Robin Younger, Rt Hon George
Parkinson, Cecil Stanbrook, Ivor
Parris, Matthew Stanley, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Steen, Anthony Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Anthony Berry
Patten, John (Oxford) Stevens, Martin
Pattie, Geoffrey

Question accordingly negatived.

1.45 am

Amendments made: No. 159, in page 56, line 19, leave out paragraph (b).

No. 160, in page 56, line 21, leave out from beginning to 'of' in line 23 and insert— '(2) Regulations under subsection (1) above may provide for the transfer— (a)'.

No. 161, in page 56, line 27, at end add— '(b) of prescribed fees received in respect of any application or class of applications by a district planning authority in Scotland to a regional planning authority where the regional planning authority have exercised the powers conferred upon them by section 179(1) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.'.

No. 162, in page 56, line 27, at end add— '(2A) The Secretary of State may by regulations make such provision as he thinks fit for the payment to him of a fee of the prescribed amount in respect of an appeal to him under the planning enactments. (2B) Regulations under subsection (1) or (2A) above may provide for the remission or refunding of a prescribed fee (in whole or in part) in prescribed circumstances.'.

No. 163, in page 56, line 28, after 'under' insert 'subsection (1) or (2A) of '.

No. 164, in page 56, line 30, leave out from 'No' to second 'of' in line 32 and insert 'such regulations shall be made unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House'.

No. 165, in page 56, line 41, after 'under' insert 'subsection (1) or (2A) of'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

Clause 72