HC Deb 22 May 1990 vol 173 cc246-8 8.45 pm
The Solicitor-General

I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 230, leave out lines 36 to 39.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) will understand when I say that this amendment would remove the privilege amendment moved in another place.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

This Bill has been rushed through. Some hon. Members expected more time to prepare. [Interruption.] Indeed, I did not even have time to dress for dinner this evening; I was forced to appear like this.

The amendment would remove the provision (4) Nothing in this Act shall impose any charge on the people or on public funds, or vary the amount or incidence of or otherwise alter any such charge in any manner, or affect the assessment, levying, administration or application of any money raised by any such charge. Those words are important to the Bill. I ask the Solicitor-General seriously to answer my question.

There is much in planning legislation that requires public expenditure. There is also much in planning legislation that is rechargeable to applicants. I have some knowledge of planning legislation as a former chair of a borough planning committee, so I have looked into the details of the matter. I was also the chair of the London Labour party committee that drew up the planning policy for the Greater London council.

Mr. Tony Banks

If my hon. Friend can chair that, he can chair anything.

Mr. Corbyn

As my hon. Friend says, if one can chair that, one can chair anything.

Is an informal subsidy being proposed through not fully charging planning applicants, particularly when major developments are involved, or is the matter to do with the enforcement of planning restrictions? I give an example that is very pertinent and of great concern in my constituency.

We have advertising hoardings all around London. Some of them are put up legally—some of them have planning permission. Some have historical planning permission in that they existed as advertising sites before the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. There is also in London a big business whereby people are making a great deal of money by putting up illegal advertising hoardings. Companies exist solely to go around fly-posting advertisements for pop concerts, holidays, loan sharks, bits of merchandise and so on. It is big business. Those hoarding companies operate an illegal trade in that they are illegally fly-posting or illegally advertising across London. It falls within the purview of planning law to exercise control over the disfigurement of our streets.

Some parts of London are very beautiful. Some parts of London are made unnecessarily ugly by the imposition of unauthorised fly-posting and advertising. For example, I drove along Kingsland road the other day. Potentially it is a very beautiful road. It is a broad street with nicely proportioned buildings on either side. It has been absolutely ruined by hoardings. Some of them are legal, but a large number of them are illegal. The area I live in in Finsbury Park is plagued by such hoardings. In many parts of London—I hesitate to say in the poorer working class areas of London—there is disfigurement of our environment by such hoardings.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. I must remind the hon. Gentleman that we are dealing with a consolidation measure. I have allowed him to develop some of his arguments, but he must now come to the main point, which is whether the law should be consolidated.

Mr. Corbyn

The amendment states: Clause 337, page 230, leave out lines 36 to 39. I read out clause 337(4) for the convenience of hon. Members who may not have a copy of the Bill or the amendment in front of them. The amendment would leave out the guarantee in the existing town and country planning legislation that Nothing in this Act shall impose any charge"—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is misinformed. We are discussing a purely technical device.

Mr. Corbyn

I understand that. I do not want to create any problems for you, Sir Paul, or for the Solicitor-General. I am sure that he is well briefed, although the Civil Service Box appears to be empty apart from one person. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) assures me that there is one person in the Box.

We are told that there will be no charge on public funds through removing a piece of legislation. What is behind what is being done? Will a massive bill descend on local authorities or even on central Government? I am endeavouring to raise a matter of great concern to me, which is illegal fly-posting in London and the disfigurement of the capital by unauthorised and illegal hoardings. Can they be removed and, if so, would that become a charge on public funds?

The Solicitor-General

If the hon. Member took a closer interest in planning matters and parliamentary procedure, he would appreciate that the provision which we are removing was inserted to prevent the Bill from being a money Bill in the House of Lords. It has nothing to do with fly-posting.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 337, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 1 to 15 agreed to.

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