HC Deb 07 July 1989 vol 156 cc628-9

Lords amendment: No. 5, in page 2, line 6, after "also" insert "(a)".

Mr. Favell

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendment No. 6.

Mr. Favell

Under Lords amendment No. 5, regulations will be made to provide for the type of evidence to be produced in support of an application for a property to be removed from the register. Obviously, it is important that before any common land is removed from the register the commons commissioner should be satisfied that all the requirements of the Bill are met. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will he able to lay regulations to ensure that that is done.

Lords amendment No. 6 is important because it ensures that any application for common land to be removed from the register is properly advertised and brought to public notice and hopefully to the notice of the Open Spaces Society. I will be lobbying my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to ensure that that is done. This is to avoid the reverse of the situation which led to houses and gardens being registered in the first place because some people did not know what was going on. The amendment will ensure that the public are now aware of what is going on and that organisations interested in such matters are aware of any such applications so that they can consider them before any deletion is made from the register.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

These amendments improve further the powers of the Secretary of State to ensure that they will cover all regulations that are to be considered, which will be necessary when dealing with this problem. During our earlier discussion of the Bill, much was made of the steps that we had taken to advertise properly the fact that a property was to be deregistered. That difficulty emerged largely because of ignorance of the land in question. Some householders did not know that their houses and the gardens in which they stood had been registered as common land because it was not properly advertised. It follows that it is particularly important that during this three-year period, which will affect those homes registered as dwelling houses which existed before 1945, all the proper steps are taken to ensure that this is done fairly and effectively and all those affected are made aware.

It will be necessary to inform all the appropriate local authorities and we agree that the Open Spaces Society, on behalf of the amenity bodies, should be informed when it is proposed to deregister houses or gardens. Excellent progress has been made in drawing up the regulations. We are extremely keen to make these available at the earliest opportunity. We shall, we hope, shortly be consulting local authorities, the National Farmers Union, the Country Landowners Association, the Law Society, the Open Spaces Society, the Countryside Commission, the Council on Tribunals and any others with a legitimate interest to ensure that the proper measures and all the necessary powers are in place.

We shall prescribe the form in which the objections must be made and make clear what is the necessary evidence that will be required to prove a case. We hope that, after sufficient consultation, it will be possible to lay regulations well before the end of this year. They will be subject to the negative resolution, but we very much hope that on the basis of this, and together with the further Lords amendments that increase the powers of the Secretary of State, it will be possible for the Bill to come into force effectively and usefully before the end of the year.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 6 and 7 agreed to.

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