HL Deb 28 June 1932 vol 85 cc210-78

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Power to alter constitution of joint committees]:


The Amendment to this clause which I have put on the Paper is the first of sixteen drafting Amendments either to correct or perpetuate the grammar of the Government according to the view which your Lordships take. I wish to enter a strong protest at the slovenly drafting of Bills which, after passing all stages in the House of Commons, come before your Lordships' House. I do not believe that to be entirely the fault of the Government draftsmen, for I believe they are understaffed and overworked because they are forced to produce a lot of legislation which nobody except perhaps the Government Department desires. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 15, leave out ("has") and insert ("have").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


I congratulate the noble Viscount on his custodianship of the grammar of recent Bills. We accept his suggestion.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6:

Preparation or adoption of schemes.

6.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a local authority or a joint committee duly authorised in that behalf may, by resolution, decide—

  1. (a) to prepare a scheme with respect to any land within, or in the neighbourhood of, the district of the authority or, as the case may be, the districts of the constituent authorities; or
  2. (b) to adopt, with or without modifications, a scheme proposed by all or any of the owners of any such land.

(2) A resolution passed under the foregoing subsection shall not take effect unless and until it is approved by the Minister, and the Minister shall not approve any such resolution unless he is satisfied—

  1. (a) in the case of any land already built upon, that public improvements are likely to be made, or other development is likely to take place, within such a period of time and on such a scale as to make the inclusion of the land in a scheme expedient, or that the land comprises buildings or other objects of architectural, historic, or artistic interest, or that the land is so situate that the general object of the scheme would be better secured by its inclusion;
  2. (b) in the case of land which is neither already built upon nor in course of development, nor likely to be developed, that the land is so situated in relation to land which is already built upon, or in course of development, or on which development is likely to take place as to make its inclusion in a scheme expedient, or that it comprises objects or places of natural interest or beauty.

(3) A local authority or joint committee, before passing a resolution which will apply to—

  1. (i) any land not within the district or, as the case may be, districts aforesaid; or
  2. (ii) any land to which either a resolution to prepare or adopt a scheme, or a scheme, being a resolution or scheme passed or made by another authority or committee, applies,
shall consult with every authority or committee which will be affected thereby.

(4) The Minister may, in giving his approval to a resolution to prepare or adopt a scheme, but subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, vary the extent of the land to be included in the area to which the resolution is to apply.

(6) In giving his approval to a resolution under the last foregoing subsection, and in making an order thereunder, the Minister shall by the imposition of conditions or, as the case may be, by the terms of his order secure that—

  1. (i) any person whose property has been injuriously affected by reason that since the commencement of this Act the Minister has refused, on an appeal made to him under an interim development order, to grant an application for permission to develop the property, or that the Minister has imposed any conditions on the grant of an application made since that date; and
  2. (ii) any person who, for the purpose of complying with any conditions imposed on the grant of such an application, has since the commencement of this Act incurred expenditure which is rendered abortive by the revocation of the resolution to prepare a scheme;
shall be entitled, if he makes a claim for the purpose within twelve months from the date when the resolution is approved or the order is made, as the case may be, to claim compensation from such authority as may be specified in the condition or order:

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in subsection (1) (a), to leave out "or in the neighbourhood of". The noble Viscount said: In the Socialist Bill of 1931 as introduced in the House of Commons Clause 1 originally contained these words, "or in the neighbourhood of", but they were taken out in Standing Committee. They also appeared in Clause 5 of that Bill, but owing no doubt to an oversight, a consequential Amendment was not passed to that clause. Now in the present Bill they have been reinstated in Clause 6 but not in Clause 1. I hope your Lordships will leave them out in all material clauses of the Bill for several reasons. In the first place, if the scheme was a reasonable one it would be approved by the neighbouring authority, and there should be no difficulty in persuading them to join in, but if the scheme is bad an adjoining authority should not be forced to approve or to have their preserves poached upon.

Further, there is no definition or limitation of what "neighbourhood" means. If your Lordships will refer to Stroud's Judicial Dictionary you will see under the heading of "neighbourhood"—"according to the best rules of husbandry practised in the neighbourhood; custom of the country." Therefore on that definition they would be able to go all over the country under the definition of "neighbourhood." Then it states that "an agreement by the seller, on the sale of a business, e.g., a milk business, not to carry on a like business 'in the neighbourhood' of the places where the business sold is carried on is not too vague to be specifically enforced,—'neighbourhood' there means, the immediate neighbourhood of the stated places and is equal to a distance sufficient to prevent competition." If that be the case the neighbouring authority might be put out of the matter altogether and for those reasons I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 13, leave out ("or in the neighbourhood of").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


I hope the Amendment will not be agreed to. There is nothing new in this wording in such a Bill. Your Lordships will find that in Gas Bills, where the local authority is asked to take up a gas scheme, there is always this sort of clause. The reason for the local authorities is one of convenience. If they were in watertight compartments the whole effect of keeping them as local authorities would be destroyed. I hope your Lordships will not agree to the Amendment.


I do not think it is necessary to add much to what the Earl of Halsbury has said. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment is, I think, under some misapprehension. Actually this provision has been in town-planning legislation from the beginning and it is really for convenience that this procedure is made possible. Really I think it would be almost impossible for a local authority to plan an area outside its jurisdiction without the consent of the other local authority as the local authority making the scheme would have no power to levy a rate on the other local authority. I do not think that the noble Viscount need have any fear of any difficulty.


I will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF LISTOWEL moved to leave out subsection (2). The noble Lord said: I would draw the attention of your Lordships to some of the more important implications of this subsection to show you that they seriously detract from the value of the Bill, and ask your Lordships if you can see your way to endorse public opinion in this matter. In the first place at the beginning of the subsection the wording is: A resolution passed under the foregoing subsection shall not take effect unless and until it is approved by the Minister. This means that every resolution to adopt a scheme of town planning and every scheme prepared has, before it becomes operative, to be approved by the Minister of Health. In other words, immediately the local authority adopts a resolution to prepare a plan this resolution is referred to the Ministry of Health and thereupon, one assumes, a public inquiry would be set up so that the Minister might find out whether or not the plan is within the limits of the law. This means that at least nine months to a year would elapse between the time the resolution was passed and the time when it became possible for the local authority to put its scheme in operation. A considerable opportunity would thus be afforded for serious damage to be done by speculative builders, and it would be a serious encumbrance and hindrance to the work of local authorities. In point of fact, this is indeed a retrogression from the Act of 1925 to the Act of 1909, for under the latter it was necessary for local authorities to refer every plan or scheme to the Ministry of Health.

I will pass on to paragraph (a) of subsection (2), which states that the Minister has to be satisfied: in the case of any land already built upon, that public approvements are likely to be made, or other development is likely to take place, within such a period of time and on such a scale as to make the inclusion of the land in a scheme expedient. Only on these terms is the Minister allowed to give his consent to a scheme presented by the local authorities. It is indispensable nowadays for local administrators in planning for the future to be able to draw up schemes which will operate for a period of years, but this makes what is known as long-distance planning quite impossible. In the second place the local authorities are not allowed to interfere in urban areas unless development is taking place on a large scale. The words are "on such a scale as to make the inclusion of the land in a scheme expedient." This means that a casual incursion of shops, business premises or small factories into residential areas could not be prevented by the local authority because they would obviously be developments, changes and alterations on a small scale.

I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that all the countryside, outside land which is adjacent to some building scheme, outside land that is fraught with historical, archælogical, or æsthetical interest, is by the Amendment withdrawn from the purview of the local authorities. In other words, it will be impossible for the local authorities to protect a large portion of the English countryside. It seems to be unreasonable that any part of our unspoiled countryside should be at the mercy of people who erect posters and advertisements, or ugly bungalows, and so ruin the beauty that otherwise would attract the spectator. These are the most important consequences of this Amendment to the Bill. I should like to suggest that this Amendment is not in accord with public opinion, expressed either inside or outside Parliament.

Your Lordships will remember that in the Committee stage under the recent Government the Bill as presented in another place by the present Government was accepted without the Amendment we are discussing this afternoon, and that on this Committee there was a majority of Conservatives and Liberals. You will remember that the Second Reading of the Bill was not disputed in another place, and if I may draw your Lordships' attention to some of the opinions expressed outside Parliament I should like to do so. The Council for Town Planning, which represents local authorities and town planning experts throughout the country, passed the following resolution: The conference, after careful consideration of the whole situation, records the opinion that the Amendment made in Clause 6 of the Bill will seriously prejudice, and in many cases render impossible, the effective replanning of built-up areas and the preservation of amenities in rural areas. The Royal Institute of British Architects has passed a resolution, which has been sent to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Health, objecting to this proposal. The Council for the Preservation of Rural England also expressed the view that it would seriously detract from the value of the Bill. I would therefore suggest that the action which was taken on the Committee stage in another place is not the expression of public opinion at the present moment, and I would excuse the lengthy and detailed discussion of this matter on the ground that it is perhaps the most important point which will arise in the course of our discussions. I would ask your Lordships seriously to consider this matter, to consider the opinion that has been expressed in other quarters, and finally, if you see your way to doing so, to delete this subsection from Clause 6 of the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 19, leave out subsection (2).—(The Earl of Listowel.)


In the first place I would like to correct a statement made on the Second Reading from the Benches opposite and repeated in a more courteous manner by the last speaker—namely, that these words were put in owing to the irresponsible prompting of Tory diehards. This subsection was introduced by the Minister himself after discussion in Committee, and the Amendment now moved by the noble Earl was defeated in another place by a majority of 250. The real object of putting in the subsection is to prevent the making of ridiculous schemes, and if there is anything which is going to hurt town planning more than another it is attempting to do ridiculous things. Without this subsection it would be possible for any authority, which happened to be over zealous and a little indiscreet, to subject the owners to things which would be turned down by the Minister or Parliament. I think it is possible that such things would be rare, but in cases where it happened to be done it would have a disproportionate effect in discouraging town planning, and I think it would be better to adopt the procedure which has recommended itself to a majority in another place. Should the things which the noble Earl fears be proved in practice, it would be an easy matter for this Amendment to be made at some later date.

I should just like to correct one statement that tile noble Earl made. I think he said that it would be impossible to plan land in rural areas unless it was in the sphere of influence of a building scheme. I would draw the noble Earl's attention to the fact that the clause also says the Minister must be satisfied "that the land is so situated in relation to land which is already built upon." I think it gives the Minister fairly wide discretion. In regard to the point which he made about the time that it would take to prepare a scheme, I think it would be very useful in the majority of cases that sufficient time should be allowed for proper investigation of the scheme to be made. I suggest to your Lordships that you should not accept the Amendment.


I cannot help regretting that the Government are not able to accept the Amendment, because we regard it as a very important point. It rather spoils what otherwise will be a very useful Bill. I cannot say that I think the noble Viscount met the arguments advanced by my noble friend who moved the Amendment. He dwelt on how disadvantageous it would be that long-distance planning should be discouraged, and we all of us know how necessary it is to make schemes long in advance. The noble Earl quoted only two or three prominent associations who have expressed themselves very forcibly on this point, but I am sure he could have quoted many others to show that really knowledgeable public opinion is seriously concerned, and has expressed

itself very forcibly on this particular point. I certainly wish that the noble Viscount could have accepted the Amendment, and I am afraid that in the circumstances we shall have to put the House to the trouble of a Division.


Of course, one recognises the spirit in which the noble Earl introduced his Amendment, but years ago there was an Act of Parliament passed with regard to vexatious actions. You cannot have a municipality proposing huge schemes without having some authority able to say: "You must stop this and you must prepare certain schemes which will have some chance of fructifying and of bringing something good into the general use of the country." Here is a Bill which for the first time prepares town planning on a large scale, and you are proposing to take away from the Minister in charge any chance of being able to stop futile schemes and possibly the flying of kites by exuberant municipal councils.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 68; Not-Contents, 8.

Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.) Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Fairfax of Cameron, L.
Wicklow, E. Forester, L.
Bedford, D. Gage, L. (V. Gage.)
Wellington, D. Allendale, V. Hampton, L.
Bertie of Thame, V. Hayter, L.
Linlithgow, M. Bridgeman, V. Jessel, L.
Reading, M. Cecil of Chelwood, V. Lawrence, L.
Salisbury, M. Exmouth, V. Lovat, L.
Hailsham, V. Marks, L.
Bathurst, E. Hereford, V. Meldrum, L.(M. Huntly.)
Bradford, E. Mersey, V. Mount Temple, L.
Buxton, E. Phillimore, L.
Cavan, E. Addington, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Halsbury, E. Askwith, L. Rhayader, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Banbury of Southam, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Lucan, E.[Teller.] Clanwilliam, L. (E.Clanwilliam.) Saye and Sele, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Somerleyton, L.
Morton, E. Clinton, L. Stafford, L.
Onslow, E. Cranworth, L. Stanmore, L.
Peel, E. Cushendun, L. Strachie, L.
Plymouth, E. Danesfort, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Radnor, E. Darling, L.
Rothes, E. de Clifford, L. Templemore, L.[Teller.]
Stanhope, E. Dynevor, L. Wharton, L.
Strafford, E. Ernle, L. Wynford, L.
Arnold, L. Hay, L.(E. Kinnoull.)> Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Boston, L. Marley, L.[Teller.] Snell, L.
Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)[teller] Noel-Buxton, L.

Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

THE EARL OF KINNOULLmoved, at the beginning of subsection (2), after "A resolution," to insert "applying to any land not within the district, or, as the case may be, districts aforesaid." The noble Earl said: The object of this Amendment is to put the Bill back on its original footing. When Clause 6 was re-modelled in another place I could not see that the Government ever gave any explanation or indeed any good reason why local authorities should have to ask the approval of the Minister of Health of a resolution applying to land within their own district. It seems to me totally unnecessary. It is surely only in the case of a district lying outside that of a local authority that the approval of the Minister need be asked. The original Bill was welcomed by every municipal and local authority, and by all associations connected with housing and the right development of the country. Parliament in the past in local Acts has countless times given power to local authorities imposing no limitation on the kind of land they should be allowed to plan.

Why does the Government imagine that local authorities should wish to plan areas without the slightest justification? Where is the necessity for putting a brake on enthusiastic local authorities? Is there one case under the 1925 Act where local authorities have been over-eager to exercise their powers? What reasons have the Government for insisting on an expensive inquiry by the Minister, and an inquiry there must be by the Minister or how he is to form the judgment required under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b)? Not one of the noble Lords here who own many thousands of acres would agree that only part of a particular estate should be planned without regard to the amenities of another part. Many, when developing their own estates, have sought agreement with adjoining landowners. I desire in this Amendment to help the progressive authorities who are taking steps to prevent the despoiling of the countryside. Cases must often arise where the planning will effect an adjacent area. Even under the Local Government Act, with the reorganisation of the areas now being carried out by the county councils and local authorities, there are districts where a part of one local authority penetrates into the area of another local authority, and where, if the planning authority could not submit a scheme covering the area of the other authority, all their efforts to provide rational development would be set at nought. In the interests of the countryside and of reasonable development I ask your Lordships to be good enough to accept this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 9, after ("resolution") insert the said words.—(The Earl of Kinnoull.)


Your Lordships will not expect me to make the same speech as the one I have just made. The effect of the Amendment would be to put the Bill back as it would be under Lord Listowel's suggestion, with the exception of the small and rare pieces of land which are being planned by other authorities. With that small exception the question that the noble Earl wishes to raise is one on which your Lordships have already given a decision.


Might I ask the noble Viscount if he will give me an answer to my questions?


I think the general principles of this matter have been debated, and we have had a Division upon them. I say the only part of the Bill which will be really affected by the noble Earl's Amendment is that part which is dealt with by schemes made by authorities outside their own areas. I suggest that that is a very small consideration, and I do not think it is worth while making a special exception for these particular cases.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

VISCOUNT GAGE moved, in subsection (2), after "by the Minister and, "to insert" the Minister in giving his approval may vary the extent of the land to be included in the area to which the resolution is to apply, but." The noble Viscount said: This is really a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 21, after ("and") insert the said words.—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD PHILLIMORE moved to insert at the end of subsection (2): Provided that nothing contained in this subsection shall prevent the Minister from approving a resolution adopting a scheme in the case of land described in this paragraph proposed by the owners of not less than two-thirds of that land and approved by not less than three-fourths of the owners of that land. The noble Lord said: The subsection we are considering provides that the Minister shall not approve of a planning scheme and resolution unless he is satisfied that it does not come within the category of what has come to be known in the other place as a static area. The object of my Amendment is to take out of this category of static areas such land as the great majority of the persons concerned with that land wish taken out and planned. I have in mind such areas as the English lakes, and, if I may venture to cross the Tweed, the Trossachs, and many other wild and comparatively remote bits of country in which a very small change may have a most devastating effect, long before the Minister can be got to work, a scheme be prepared, a resolution passed and the necessary formalities gone through.

In such a, case the landowners concerned are not only trustees for themselves, but, as we freely recognise, trustees for the general benefit of the country, and they would be in a position to act with much greater celerity and much greater local knowledge, probably knowing beforehand the danger which is threatened. I do not say those cases would be very numerous, but I do say that there are many cases where even a sympathetic Minister might find it extremely difficult to bring such areas within the four corners of the definition laid down in paragraph (b) of this subsection. I also submit that my Amendment is an extension of the principle of consent, that without this principle no planning scheme, as I ventured to point out on Second Reading, can work, and that consent in a general planning scheme will be economical and useful. I also hope—and I have some reason for holding—that this Amendment is in no way contrary to the ideas of those who pressed in another place for some such provisions as are contained in paragraphs (a) and (b). On the other side of the House I trust my Amendment may also find favour, inasmuch as it is, to however small an extent, an extension of the scope of the planning. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 41, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Phillimore.)


I would like to support this Amendment of my noble friend. While I do not agree entirely with the unlimited extension of planning, I can see no reason why, if a group of landowners desire to preserve the beauty of the countryside from desecration by one individual in their midst, any obstacle should be put in their way. I think this Amendment provides that they can preserve such a stretch of country, and I hope the Government will consider it favourably.


I think the object of the noble Lord is one with which many of us would feel sympathy, but there are certain practical difficulties. For instance, there is considerable difficulty about the ascertainment of any given numerical proportion of the landowners. It is quite true that if you could ascertain the views of two-thirds of the owners it might be a fair indication of the feeling in the neighbourhood, but cases might perhaps occur when all the value of the property was in one particular part which might belong to the recalcitrant owner. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he does not think that in the event of a preponderating number of owners in a given area being in favour of the inclusion of land in a scheme, that there will probably be some very good reason for it, sufficient in fact to justify the Minister in approving the resolution, even without exactly estimating the number of landowners who are involved. I do not wish to resist this Amendment but I cannot definitely accept it. I would prefer to leave the matter until Report stage for further consideration.


I cannot quite understand why the noble Viscount who has great sympathy with this Amendment cannot accept it. He says there are great difficulties in the way. Surely it is not impossible to find out what the landowners of this particular district want? If you have two-thirds of the landowners asking for this scheme, and then afterwards three-quarters have to agree, that is no reason why they should not have the approval of the Minister. I should have thought that it was all to the advantage of this Bill, which professes to be in the interest of maintaining the amenities and beauty of the countryside. The objection of the noble Viscount seems most extraordinary.


I would appeal to the Government to accept this Amendment and, if it is necessary to make any change, to make the change on Report. Everybody agrees that the object of the Amendment is an excellent one. It is only put in to strengthen paragraph (b) and to remove any possible doubts in the mind of any Minister of Health as to whether he has power to do what the Amendment says. It is always best to put these matters clearly in the Bill. Any necessary change can be made on Report.


I do not object to the Amendment, but I would like the noble Lord who proposed it to explain how his speech was related to the Amendment. Paragraph (b) gives the Minister the right of dealing with land which comprises objects or places of natural interest or beauty. I understand my noble friend's desire to save such places, but surely the Minister has power to deal with that already. I may have misread the Bill, but it seems clear on the face of it.


May I correct a misapprehension? There may be minor matters which it is desirable to consider in connection with this Amendment, but the principle we accept. I only put it in that form as a safeguard against any minor alterations that may be necessary on Report stage.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 11, leave out subsection (4).—(Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved, in subsection (6) (i), to leave out "since the commencement of this Act." The noble Lord said: The effect of this Amendment will be to give to people, who have been refused an interim improvement, the same compensation as is given to those who have been refused an improvement after the passing of the Act.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 42, leave out ("since the commencement of this Act").—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


I regret that we cannot accept the Amendment and I will tell the noble Lord why, because I am sure that, when he appreciates the reason, he will not desire to pursue the Amendment. The noble Lord is perfectly right in thinking that this provision gives compensation to the class of cases to which he refers. It was a new provision which was inserted on recommittal of the Bill in the Commons. For the first time it enables an obligation to be imposed on an authority, if it revokes a resolution to prepare a scheme, to pay compensation to suitable cases. The position is this. At the present moment a man may suffer a very grievous injustice. He may apply under the Act at present in force to build and he may be refused because, for example, the local authority proposes to put a road over the place where he proposes to build. As the Act stands at present, most unjustly, the man does not get a sou of compensation. Under the new Act, when we pass this provision, he will be enabled to get compensation. The new Act merely remedies a very great injustice to people who, under the old Act, did not get compensation. In a case like that the man will get the benefit of the new Act and, if the local authority changes its mind, he will get the compensation of which he was unjustly deprived under the old Act. I do not want to say too much about that Act. Some people think it is rather harsh to the landowner. This is one of the few cases where there is a tardy recognition of the landowner's claim and where an injustice under the present law is remedied. In those circumstances I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw his Amendment.


I am very much obliged to the noble Viscount for his kindness in so lucidly explaining what has taken place in regard to this matter. My recollection is that in Committee the Government were defeated and this was put in. I do not quite understand whether, if my Amendment is rejected, a person, who under the old Act has been refused permission to develop and in consequence suffers a loss will suffer that actual injustice.


No. He will not; that is the object of this provision.


In those circumstances I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment. The following Amendments standing in my name are consequential, and I do not move.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to

Clause 7:

Notices in relation to the making of, or under, schemes.

(2) A notice required by the last preceding subsection to be published and served in the manner therein mentioned shall be published in the London Gazette and once at least in the local newspaper within fourteen days, and be served within six months, after the date when the resolution takes effect, and shall contain—


My Amendment to this clause is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 33, leave out ("of the passing of the resolution") and insert ("on which the resolution takes effect").— (Viscount Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in subsection (2), to substitute "three months" for "six months." The noble Viscount said: In the 1931 Bill there was some reason for saying that the notices should be served within six months because it was to be served on the ratepayers. In this Bill it is the occupier, as shown in the Schedule A list, and not the ratepayer, and therefore the reason no longer exists for the period of six months. My noble friend Lord Gage said on Second Reading: It seems wrong, if you are going to subject a certain area to control, not to let the owner know as far in advance as possible … I agree that the owner of the property in question should be put out of his agony as soon as possible, and I propose that these notices should be served within three months instead of six months in order to attain that object.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 38, leave out ("six") and insert ("three").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


The object of this period of six months rather than three months is to ensure economy. The noble Viscount has said that the necessity for this period has now been lessened because notices have to be sent according to the Schedule A assessment. In the majority of the cases the notices would still go out to ratepayers with the rate notices and therefore it would save a considerable amount in postage. Your Lordships will observe that public notice of the passing of a resolution has to be given in fourteen days, and therefore there will be ample time for people to realise what is being done.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8:

Approval, validity, coming into effect, variation and revocation of schemes.

8.—(1) A scheme prepared or adopted by a local authority or joint committee shall require the approval of the Minister, and the Minister may approve any scheme either with or without modifications:

Provided that, before making any modifications in a scheme, the Minister shall inform the local authority or joint committee, as the case may be, of the modifications which he proposes to make, and shall cause a local inquiry to be held into the matter if within twenty-eight days the local authority or joint committee request him so to do.

(2).The provisions of the First Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the laying of schemes before Parliament, the validity of schemes, and the dates on which schemes are to come into operation.

(4) The Minister, on an application made in accordance with the provisions of the next succeeding subsection, may, if he thinks that in the special circumstances of the case a scheme ought to be varied or revoked, himself make a scheme varying or revoking that scheme:

Provided that the Minister shall not make any variation in a scheme unless he is satisfied that it will not involve substantial additional expenditure by any responsible authority under the scheme who object to the variation being made.

THE MARQUESS OF LINLITHGOW moved, in subsection (1), to insert: Provided that where the resolution passed by the local authority or joint committee in pursuance of Section 6 of this Act was a resolution to prepare a scheme, the draft scheme prepared in pursuance of the resolution shall before submission to the Minister be adopted by resolution of the local authority or joint committee at a meeting specially convened for the purpose.

The noble Marquess said: The object of this Amendment, the purpose of which indeed is evident on the face of it, is that members of the local authority should have an opportunity of knowing the scheme in detail and of forming a view of the effects which that scheme may have. Parties interested would also have an opportunity to discuss whether they would be prepared to support it. Further, the Amendment, if accepted, will ensure reasonably long notice to all members of the local authority who are anxious to be present so that, if they think proper to oppose the scheme, they shall have an opportunity of doing so. It seems to me a very reasonable Amendment and I trust that my noble friend in charge of the Bill will be ready to accept it.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 28, at end insert the said proviso.—(The Marquess of Linlithgow.)


I very strongly support the proposal of my noble friend the Marquess of Linlithgow. There is a very good arrangement under the Local Government Act whereby a county council must hold a special meeting when they are considering questions of altering boundaries, whether to add an area to a large town or to de-urbanise a district and put it into a rural area. All such questions have to be considered at a special meeting of the county council, and I think we should do well to follow that practice in this Bill, under which local authorities will have to consider very intricate questions of town planning. I hope my noble friend will accept this Amendment.


I cannot speak with experience of county councils, but I have had some experience of district councils, and I know that when a special meeting is called people in the district hear about it—it gets about that something is going on—whereas in the case of ordinary meetings that happen regularly people do not think anything about them. I think it is important that people should know what is proposed to be done before it is done. This is an excellent Amendment which I hope the noble Viscount will accept.


It is considered somewhat undesirable to ask important bodies like county councils or county borough councils to follow instructions on these comparatively minor matters. One would think that important responsible bodies would be able to lay down rules for themselves in this respect. As regards smaller local authorities I very much doubt whether there would be a better attendance at a special meeting than at an ordinary meeting when full notice had been given of the subjects for discussion. The Government cannot accept the Amendment, and I must resist this effort on the part of the noble Marquess to alter the ordinary procedure in this matter.


I listened with care to the observations of the noble Viscount and I am bound to say I remain entirely unmoved by what he said. I shall abide by the decision of your Lordships.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved, in subsection (1), after the last "committee," to insert "or any person affected by the scheme." The noble Lord said: The result of inserting the words which I propose would be that the clause would read: Provided that, before making any modifications in a scheme, the Minister shall inform the local authority or joint committee, as the case may be, of the modifications which he proposes to make, and shall cause a local inquiry to be held into the matter if within twenty-eight days the local authority or joint committee or any person affected by the scheme request them so to do.'' This seems to me a reasonable Amendment, because, after all, who are the people who are most affected by the scheme and who are the people who ought to be given notice of the scheme? Surely they are the people affected by the scheme.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 34, after ("committee") insert ("or any person affected by the scheme"):—(Lord Banbury of Sautham.)


The object of reserving to the local authority alone the right to claim a local inquiry in respect of a modification made by the Minister is really in the interest of economy. Whereas the local authority is only one body there are numerous owners and if they were to exercise the right to demand a local inquiry there might be a lot of superfluous local inquiries. It is obvious that if this Amendment were passed an owner might for some quite trivial reason demand a local inquiry. It is thought that the rights of owners are sufficiently safeguarded by the provision that a local inquiry must be held into any draft scheme where any objection is made and is not met or withdrawn. If your Lordships will look at Part I of the Fourth Schedule you will see that and you will also see that paragraph 4 (v) provides also for publication by advertisement of any modification that the Minister proposes to make. I think that owners are given sufficient notice and every opportunity of stating their objections at the local inquiry when the draft scheme is prepared.


I do not think that the Amendment of my noble friend ought to be dismissed in this summary way. It is quite true that before the scheme is submitted to the Minister the individual is given every opportunity of making his views heard, but as I read it what we are dealing with now is not the original scheme but a modification of the scheme. A scheme may be sent up to the Minister with the full approval of every one of the landowners in the district, but what we have to deal with now is the case where the Minister, probably for some very good reason, proposes a modification of the scheme. Under the Bill as we have it before us the only people who are to be consulted by the Minister, in order that if they wish a local inquiry may be held, are the local authority or the joint committee. It may well be that some modification by the Minister, done in perfectly good faith, may injure a local landowner or landowners although the local authority would not be affected in any way. In that case, although they have been told by the Minister what is proposed to be done, they might not demand a local inquiry. It seems to me that some machinery ought to be devised—in fact must be devised—to enable a local landowner to put his views before the Minister.

I quite see the point of the noble Viscount that it may be going too far to say that one landowner can call for another local inquiry. He might be a crank and there might be unnecessary public expense incurred in order to meet his whim. I would suggest, however, that before the Report stage the Government should see whether an Amendment could be made so that, say, five or ten people, or at any rate a certain number of people, affected by the scheme, if they wished to have another local inquiry, should be able to put forward their views and not to have to rely entirely upon the local authority.,


I am glad to hear what the noble Viscount said about economy. I am a strong supporter of economy myself, but I did not know the noble Viscount was. Though I am a supporter of economy I am not a supporter of economy if injustice is connected with it, and unless my Amendment is inserted I think injustice may arise under this clause. I do not propose—I am not sure I ought not to have done so—to insert in lines 33 and 34, "or any person affected"—


But you do.


The effect of my Amendment would simply be this. Now, if the local authority had made a scheme which affects, let us say, Viscount Cecil, and the Minister modifies that scheme, then the noble Viscount would know nothing about it, and I propose that my noble friend should be informed of the Minister's modifications. That is all. I might have gone further and said that he should ask for an inquiry, as I think the noble. Viscount probably would do. But as far as I read it at present, all I do is to say that when the Minister has modifications of a scheme, which I presume has been submitted by the local authority to the owner of the land, the owner of the land should know that the Minister has made modifications in the scheme submitted to him.


Since my noble friend has been good enough to take me as the person on which this experiment is to be made, may I point out that this Amendment is on line 34 and not on line 30? If it had been on line 30 I should have seen great objections to it, because it would mean that unless every possible person who regarded himself as a person interested had notice the scheme would be void. On line 34 it seems open to the objections raised by Viscount Gage, but they are not so vital as if the Amendment had been on line 30.


Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Banbury of Southam, has not quite borne in mind that under the Schedule, as he will see if he turns to page 78, these are the provisions as to the matters in which regulations shall be made: that if the Minister proposes to modify the scheme a copy of the scheme as proposed to be modified is furnished to the local authority or joint committee and notice by advertisement is given by the local authority or joint committee of the intention of the Minister to approve the scheme with modifications and of facilities for inspection of the scheme and map and for making objections to the scheme as intended to be approved. And in sub-paragraph (vi): that objections to any proposed modifications of the scheme made within the time specified in the notice are taken into consideration by the Minister. So that before it is possible to proceed with modification, just as when a scheme is going to be started, notice must be given by advertisement and facility given to anybody who thinks he is affected by it to take objection. I hope that may possibly meet the objection of my noble friend.


I admit that what Viscount Cecil says is right. I was misled by a noble Lord who said that my Amendment did not do what it intended to do. I am not sure that I think the noble and learned Viscount has entirely met me, but in the circumstances, and as I always desire to support the Government if I possibly can, I will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT GAGE moved, in subsection (2), after "The provisions of," to insert "Parts I and II of." The noble Viscount said: This is a consequential Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 36, after ("of") insert ("Parts I and II of").—(Viscount Gage.)


I do not know that I entirely agree that this is consequential and I should like to guard myself in the matter; it may not, I think, be consequential.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE EARL OF HALSBURY moved, in subsection (2), after "of" ["laying of schemes"] to insert "opposed." The noble Earl said: The very small word that I am suggesting here no doubt gives the idea that this is an Amendment of a small character. As a matter Of fact it is an Amendment which raises a very big question indeed. Your Lordships will see that the subsection on which it is moved begins: "The provisions of the First Schedule," and this is an Amendment which deals with, and is necessary for, a very large Amendment that comes under the First Schedule. I have had an opportunity of talking with the noble Viscount who is dealing with this Bill and with this particular Amendment, and in agreement with him, and if your Lordships are of the same opinion, I think it is much more convenient to take the broad question here instead of merely dealing with the one word that is the subject-matter of the Amendment.

This is the broad question. In this Bill, as in many other Bills, we have legislation delegated to the Minister and the Minister having and being able to exercise certain powers. Those powers should be controlled, and controlled in someway by Parliament. The question is how far should they be controlled and in what way? What the question really comes to is that there are two ways in which Parliament can deal with the control of Ministerial powers. One is by what is known as the annulment procedure; that is to say, that any orders made may be laid before the two Houses of Parliament and unless by a Resolution of both Houses they are annulled they become effective; or they may come before both Houses for an affirmative Resolution before they become effective.

There was a very great desire in the Committee stage in the House below to put in the powers of the affirmative Resolution. That was opposed by the Government and was not carried. One of the big arguments put forward by the Government against that procedure was the fact that a Committee had been sitting for two years, a Committee called together by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, and had not given their Report and therefore it would be rather unfortunate to insist on the affirmative Resolution until it was seen what the Report was. Since the Committee stage in the House below the Report of that Committee has come out and we now know what it has reported. I think if can summarise it shortly. They first of all said that delegated legislation was necessary in modern circumstances, but it had to be carefully guarded. The main point that they rested their views upon with regard to guarding it was the old principle of natural justice, that no man ought to be a judge in his own cause.

I am quoting from the Committee's Report. They pointed out—they quoted the historic case of Lord Cottenham—that there would rarely be such a crude bias as a pecuniary bias, but they pointed out that there was a very much more subtle and dangerous bias likely to come about in the case of a Minister who was at the head of an able and loyal Department, and who, carried away by the perfectly honest and very enthusiastic views of that Department, might be biased unconsciously against the individual. They said that the better the Minister the greater would be the danger. If you had a cynical Minister he would probably be a good judge, but if you had a good and enthusiastic Minister he would be insensibly biased for the Department and against the individual. They said that for that reason it was absolutely necessary there should be a proper safeguard against the Ministerial power, and they said it should be by the two Houses of Parliament.

Then they dealt fairly frankly with the possible ways of doing it. When they got to the way which we had in this Bill, by annulment, they said it was most unsatisfactory. I am not going into the details of the broad decision of that Committee, but I will put it simply in this way. Owing to the procedure of the other place it is very difficult to raise the point and get it absolutely discussed. Under the 11 o'clock rule it may not be possible to get a House, and, further, the matter may be talked out. They come down to the point which I think is the real point. Leaving out all the questions of why and wherefore it is unsatisfactory and difficult to do, they say that this should never be left to individual effort—that if these things are to be brought forward and put before the House properly they should be brought forward not by individual effort but by the Minister who is responsible for the matter. They go on to suggest a Committee who could deal with the matters by the good will of the Speaker and the Lord Chairman of Committees—a Joint Committee of the two Houses. I am not saying whether that is a good idea or not. All I am saying is that that procedure does not exist now, and it is not unfair to say, having regard to the business that must be done in these times, that one cannot expect that representations will be considered and disposed of in a short time. Therefore we start with this, that the annulment procedure is a procedure which the Committee have said is not satisfactory. They have not criticised the affirmative Resolution procedure. That procedure, so far as I can see, cannot possibly hurt anybody, and it is a procedure which is free from the difficulty that the matter is being left to individual effort to bring these things up when they occur.

With your Lordships' indulgence I have dealt with the broad principle, and I now come to the particular Amendment. Is it advisable to bring every single scheme up to the House? I venture to think not. If you have a scheme that is agreed by the local authority, by the Minister, and by everybody who has any interest in the matter at all, what is the use of bringing it up to this House? If you do, and you bring up every scheme, may I suggest that familiarity breeds contempt? Your Lordships, because humanity is the same in every sphere of life, will come to the conclusion that these things are just ordinary things, which go through as pure formalities. If, however, you confine it to schemes which are opposed and say that those have to be brought up before the House, then you get both Houses interested in those schemes, and those are the only schemes which matter. That is why I have begun my campaign with regard to affirmative procedure by my Amendment confining it to opposed schemes. I would rather see this Amendment go through, and have opposed schemes, even with the present negative Resolution, than let negative Resolutions apply to all schemes, when I am perfectly certain the whole thing would be more illusory than it is now.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 37, after ("of") insert ("opposed").—(The Earl of Halsbury)


I am sure the House is indebted to the noble Earl for a very interesting and instructive speech, and I quite agree with him that the point at issue here is one of very great and constitutional importance to our system of Parliamentary Government. In order to make my meaning clear, will you permit me to explain, as lucidly as I can, what are the two competing proposals that are now before the House. The Bill as drawn makes three proposals. First of all it says that all schemes must come before Parliament. Secondly, it says that certain provisions in schemes—provisions referred to in the First Schedule of the present Bill—must have an affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament, before that part of the scheme can become valid. Thirdly, it says, in respect of all other schemes, that they must be subject to what is called the negative or the annulment procedure, that is to say, that they pass into law unless within 21 days Parliament in its discretion sees fit to negative them.

Just one other point. The Bill also proposes this, that in cases where Parliament gives its sanction to a provision that provision cannot be challenged, but where Parliament only gives its assent negatively, that is, by not disapproving, that scheme can be challenged. That is the proposal in the Bill. What is the competing proposal of my noble friend? First of all he says that unopposed schemes ought not to go before Parliament at all. He says pertinently, why should a scheme which nobody opposes from beginning to end ever be brought before Parliament? He further says that other schemes to which there is opposition must have an affirmative Resolution of Parliament, passed by both Houses.

There are, first of all, certain practical points which I will deal with and, secondly, certain constitutional questions, to which I will address myself quite briefly when I have dealt with the practical questions. I should think it would be obvious to your Lordships that Parliament is already overworked and has not the time to go into these schemes. What is Parliament for? Is Parliament to discuss every sort of petty detail that must come up in every scheme, or is Parliament to be the vehicle by which the country expresses its view as to policy, leaving it to other authorities to fill in the details of the picture? The affirmative procedure will throw a very heavy burden of work on both Houses. Fancy, every scheme has to be brought before Parliament and has to obtain Parliamentary approval before it becomes valid ! It might be said that the number of schemes might be small. That may be true but one objection would be sufficient to require the full affirmative procedure.

And this is a point of great constitutional importance. Supposing, for example, a scheme enacted a building line and there was a frontager upon that building line who only held, we will say eighteen or twenty feet, and supposing there were dozens and dozens of other frontagers of different amounts. If one person objected to that scheme under the proposal of the Amendment that scheme would have to be brought before Parliament, and not only so, but I suppose that if things are brought before Parliament, Parliament considers that it has an obligation to discuss them. Not only will it take a very great amount of time in the House of Commons and here, but what is to happen if the two Houses disagree? I am sure I cannot tell your Lordships.

The first practical difficulty is the great amount of time which would be consumed and that both Houses of Parliament will be at the mercy of a single objector. I do not want to call a single objector a crank, though cranks are entitled to have justice just as much as anybody else. But at the same time you must consider the question of public time, and you must not put upon Parliament an obligation to decide these questions if you can relieve it by making quite sure that the objection of a crank will be properly dealt with and due justice will be shown to him. I ask your Lordships: Is it not a danger that the time of Parliament will be taken up by small matters, which might encroach unreasonably upon the time available for large matters of policy, which are really the matters to be considered by this House and another place? There is another matter. I should be sorry to think that either House of Parliament should deal with anything which appeared before it in a slap-dash, perfunctory manner, and it would be wrong, if these schemes have to be brought before Parliament, that Parliament should treat them in a way which was really not consistent with doing justice to the case. Parliament must do its work well, or Parliament will cease to retain the confidence of the public.

Now with regard to the scheme itself. A scheme is a complicated whole, and the parts fit into one another. It is quite impossible that an objection of any moment can be considered in isolation. If you make a small alteration in a Bill, as your Lordships know perfectly well, though the alteration may seem very small it may throw out of gear a great number of other clauses. And any objection would have to be dealt with in relation to other proposals in the scheme. It would be necessary to consider them, and the House might find itself committed to examining the whole of a scheme. Is it to have maps, expert witnesses and evidence? Is it to have the same procedure as a Private Bill of many details? It really would be impossible, first of all, for Parliament to give the time to it, or for Parliament to do full justice to the matter before it.

Might I just put one other practical consideration before your Lordships? To adopt the alternative procedure would have this unfortunate result. The legal validity of any provision in a scheme which has been passed by a Resolution could not be questioned in the Law Courts, and a contradictory position might arise. Scheme A has to come before Parliament because an objection is made, and Parliament passes the scheme by Resolution. The provision which it so passes cannot be questioned in the Court; but if Scheme B were not objected to and therefore did not come before Parliament, the provision in Scheme B could be upset by the Courts if in their view it was invalid notwithstanding that in Scheme A it was outside their jurisdiction. You therefore might get into this unfortunate conflict of jurisdiction, that Parliament might have said a thing quite rightly and yet in another scheme say just the opposite. I would suggest to your Lordships that that is not the way to deal with these matters.

I have dealt with two practical difficulties and they are real difficulties: (1) the time; (2) that in the time that Parliament has it really could not do justice to the merits. Let me come to the question of the constitutional functions of Parliament. We may be at the parting of the ways and we may have to decide whether Parliament is to be a legislative body or an administrative body, because if you are going to take into your consideration now all these various schemes and all the various details of them you will really be administering the law. What is your function? I suggest that it is to decide the policy and not to discuss details. Something has been said about the Donoughmore Committee's Report, which dealt with these matters. May I suggest to your Lordships that a proper analysis of this part of the matter is this? Having regard to the great amount of social legislation nowadays, and its intricate character, it is impossible for Parliament to deal fully and accurately with details. A great deal of legislation must not only necessarily be done, but is better done, by delegation, though the risks of this are obvious and safeguards have to be provided. Your Lordships will find on consideration of the matter that Parliament will be obliged, as time goes on, to delegate more and more to what, may I say for a moment, are inferior authorities, and the real solution is to see that the powers given to the Minister shall be regulated, and that safeguards are provided against their misuse.

The issue at the bottom of this—and it is a grave issue—is whether Ministerial government, with responsibility to Parliament, is to prevail, or whether Parliament is to become part of the administrative machine, thus entering more and more into the details of local administration, just as if it was a local authority and its committees. I submit to the wiser consideration of your Lordships that this latter part is one of extreme danger to the country, and that the more Parliament is induced to enter into details of administration the less efficient is the government of the country likely to become. The present time more than ever, when conditions are necessarily complicated and more intricate than they have ever been before, is a time when Parliament should be very chary of doing anything which may render less effective its control over the big issues of policy on which the political well-being of the country chiefly depend.

What your Lordships will have to decide here is whether all these schemes shall require an affirmative Resolution of Parliament, or whether the proposal, which I venture to think is a half-way proposal but a more important part, should be submitted to what I call the negative procedure. With regard to the negative procedure, it is perfectly true that the Donoughmore Committee have said that it is not satisfactory. With that, I think, one would agree. They do not recommend, however, as far as I read the Report, that it should be scrapped, but simply that the procedure should be rendered more effective. Any improvement in that negative procedure is a general question which should be dealt with as a whole and not in a piecemeal fashion by reference to this Bill. Therefore I suggest that the proper way of dealing with this question, when you really have not sufficient information, is to let the matter stand as it is in the Bill. I hope that at no distant date one will be able to do something with regard to the whole of this part of legislation, and to put the delegated legislation of this country on a proper footing. I would ask your Lordships, in the present state of affairs, to say that it is impossible to place the burden upon this House and upon the other House which the affirmative procedure, as at present constituted, would place upon it.

There is just one other point. The noble Earl indicated that he wishes the obligation to submit schemes to Parliament to be confined to schemes to which objections are made and not met or withdrawn. The Minister, in the discussion in the Commons, stressed the value of submitting every scheme, because it would bring every scheme within the purview of each House, and tend towards greater care in dealing with the making of schemes. May I add that experience shows that too harsh a criticism of the negative procedure is not warranted. The annulment procedure now applies to many regulations made by the Minister, and in recent years regulations to which objections were raised have in fact been questioned in Parliament and have had to be withdrawn. It would be quite easy for anybody who wishes the matter to be brought before Parliament to get that done. I submit to your Lordships that at the present moment it is better to let this Bill stand as it is with the proposals as they now are, which is certainly a compromise, and that in due time—the sooner the better—the whole question of delegated legislation should be considered in all its aspects, and this Bill and any other Bill to which it applies, if it be found necessary, should be brought within any new scheme for delegating authority.


I know something about this subject because it is really a very old one. The relative merits of the negative or annulment Resolutions of schemes or orders laid on the Table, and of affirmative Resolutions have been the subject of discussion in your Lordships' House for many years. It was found many years ago that the annulment power was a practically useless power. I speak in the presence of a great many noble Lords with as much experience in your Lordships' House as I have, and they will know that when orders or schemes were laid on the Table and it was left for private Peers here, or it may be for private Members in another place, to raise objection to them, in practice that usually never happened. That may be a weakness on the part of ourselves and members of another place or it may be the fault of the system, but in point of fact it is of no use. That being so, Parliament began to consider whether it could not establish a more effective system, and it invented the affirmative Resolution, which was put into a great number of Acts of Parliament. I believe it was effective but, as indeed the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has just said, the difficulty was that the enormous number of them might over-weight the Order Paper of your Lordships' House, and the system might become a form, just as the negative system became a form, and that, therefore, even the affirmative Resolution might become useless.

It is very important, may I say parenthetically, that we should find some method, because the legislative process of your Lordships' House and of the floor of Parliament is so extremely clumsy and awkward, and all ordinary legislation which does not raise any Party question at all never gets through, and it would be immensely in the public interest if some shorter method of legislation could be discovered. It has been thought by many people that if you could have established a system under which a minor authority could "rough out" a scheme, which should be laid upon the Table of both Houses, and should only become law upon a definite affirmative Resolution of both Houses, then you would, for a large number of minor matters of legislation, find a short cut which would be immensely valuable and in the public interest. Therefore the question which the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, has raised, is really of very great importance.

I come back to my main point. These affirmative Resolutions became so numerous that they themselves formed a difficulty, and so your Lordships established a procedure which is called the Special Orders Committee procedure—there is a Committee of your Lordships' House called a Special Orders Committee, before which all affirmative Resolutions come. If the Amendment of my noble friend were carried, all the affirmative Resolutions which he leaves in the Bill would come before the Special Orders Committee. The Special Orders Committee are instructed to go through all the schemes and orders and, if they are found to be in the ordinary course normal exercises of the particular power of making schemes and orders, then they so report to the House and many of those schemes, electricity schemes, gas schemes, etc., go through without any question at all. If there is any special question about them, if they turn out to be on a very large scale, or if they raise any novel point, or if in any respect they ought to receive special attention, a special Report is made by the Committee to the House, and only those schemes are a matter of consideration and discussion in the House. In that way the difficulty of affirmative Resolution orders being overweighted by their numbers is eliminated, because they are sifted in the Special Orders Committee and only those which it is obviously necessary for your Lordships' House to consider are left I think we have instituted a very good system, though I do not know how it works, because I have had not much time to study the proceedings under that Standing Order since it was instituted some years ago.

My noble friend in his Amendment wants a certain number of schemes to be submitted to the affirmative Resolution process. What is the objection to that? It is the objection that they may be too numerous. That was the objection of the Lord Chancellor in his speech just now. Then my noble friend suggests that we should limit them and that only the opposed schemes should go through the affirmative Resolution process. That seems a very reasonable proposal. There are not likely to be many of those schemes. I do not know if the Government have formed any estimate of the number but I do not think that many of them will be opposed. Almost all of them—to use a colloquialism—will be "squared" in the gradual process as a scheme is agreed upon, "squared" either in the locality or by the central body. The ultimate result will be that very few opposed schemes will be left. Even those opposed schemes, if they have to have an affirmative Resolution, will go before the Special Orders Committee and be sifted out. The ultimate number that will come before your Lordships' House will be very few. I should be sorry to pronounce a definite opinion on the matter and I should be glad if a final decision were postponed until a later stage. The Amendment raises very important constitutional matters. If it turns out that my noble friend's Amendment does really involve a very large number of schemes, or that it still involves too large a number of schemes and that some schemes ought to be eliminated, then I hope the Government will take the House into their confidence and tell us the decision at which they have arrived.

I do not believe the annulling Resolution is of any value whatever. The only real resource is in the affirmative Resolution. There is the point which the Lord Chancellor made as to the consideration by the Courts which is left with an annulling Resolution. That is not of the same value. The Courts do not deal with the same point but with the point whether the scheme is ultra vires or not. Parliament takes a much wider view than this, not only whether it is ultra vires under the law but whether it is advisable in all the circumstances of the case. That is a very different proposition. In other words, the Parliamentary method is partly legislative, as it ought to be, whereas the Courts are only there to interpret the law as it stands. Your Lordships will forgive me for having detained you so long but I was largely the author of the affirmative Resolution method and therefore I felt that it would not be amiss if I troubled your Lordships with an explanation of its working.


I am very glad that the noble Marquess has intervened and has thus assisted your Lordships to understand the position. Certainly, as far as I am concerned, I was very glad he made the statement he did on the procedure which, largely at his instance, has prevailed in connection with these Resolutions. The difficulty is a very real one and I do not propose to go at any length into the discussion. The noble Earl was quite right in raising a point of this importance. The word he seeks to introduce does not convey anything unless one has the explanation which he afforded to your Lordships. I only rise to endorse as far as I can the explanation of this Bill and the views which the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor put forward to your Lordships on the constitutional position. The point raised is an extremely important one and it is not quite as easily disposed of as the noble Marquess suggested, though he will forgive my differing from him. You may have a large number of schemes coming up, even if you introduce the word "opposed," and you would have to pass in this House a number of affirmative Resolutions. Gradually there may be more time taken up in this House than would be desirable if a proper procedure could be devised.

I do not want to discuss the various distinctions that were made by the Lord Chancellor because I agree with him. I only desire to draw your Lordships' attention to a point which has escaped attention as indicating the importance of the affirmative Resolution in certain cases. There are provisions in this Bill which provide that a scheme may suspend the provisions of an enactment actually in force. These provisions occur on various clauses and provide that a scheme— may provide for suspending the operation of any provision, whether contained in a Statute or in an order, by-law, or regulation. Obviously, that raises a most important constitutional point because it will enable the Minister, by approving a scheme or modifying or dealing with a scheme, to suspend the operation of a Statute actively in operation which had been passed before this measure. Under this Bill, if the clause stands and is made effective, the result would be that past enactments could be over-ridden by the Minister in a scheme without, of course, bringing the matter before Parliament by an affirmative Resolution.

The noble Marquess has referred to the annulment provision, as it has been called as a comprehensive term for the negative procedure by which a scheme can come into operation unless within a certain number of days either House of Parliament expresses a different view and refuses its approval. On the other hand, there is a provision in the Bill which deals with the more serious constitutional point to which I have just called attention, which is in the second paragraph of the First Schedule on page 67. It lays down definitely that: A scheme which contains a provision suspending the operation of a statutory enactment, other than an enactment which is an excepted enactment for the purposes of this paragraph, shall not be capable of coming into operation until a Resolution approving the suspensory provision has been passed by each House of Parliament. There is no question of conflict between the two Houses. Both Houses must pass a Resolution. That is the affirmative procedure and, of course, it is a very necessary safeguard when you have such far-reaching provisions as are contained, for example, in Clause 11 of the Bill to which I have already called attention, which give power to the Minister when dealing with a scheme to suspend the operation of a statutory enactment.

I merely refer to that for the purpose of drawing the attention of your Lordships to the importance of considering whether the procedure should be in the negative form or the affirmative form. Obviously when we are dealing with such an important matter as the overriding of a statutory enactment it is necessary to have an affirmative Resolution. I gather that His Majesty's Government, after a good deal of consideration, came to the conclusion that it was necessary and put in the Schedule a provision which seems to me to meet the graver constitutional point which we have been discussing, because under that provision a statutory enactment cannot be suspended in any form by any scheme which is brought forward unless there is an affirmative Resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament. That is a very wise provision.

With regard to what the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor called "administrative procedure," all that I would desire to say at this stage is that whilst agreeing with much that fall from the noble and learned Marquess and from the noble Earl and from the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, it does seem to me that it is not possible at this moment in this Bill to deal with so wide and important a matter. It requires very careful consideration and we shall have to evolve some plan regarding what one may call for the moment administrative legislation in order to see whether we can devise a better procedure. I am glad the noble Marquess expressed approval, as I followed him, of the idea that this matter should be most carefully considered and should not be insisted upon at the moment. I will not go into details of the argument upon this particular Amendment because I think it is apparent that its importance only arises from the fact that it has evoked the important constitutional discussion to which we have listened. I hope we shall come to the conclusion, after the observations which have fallen from the noble Marquess who has so much experience and who led the House for so many years, that it would be far better to leave the matter to be dealt with in the manner suggested by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, contenting ourselves with the definite affirmative principle laid down on the important constitutional point to which I have already alluded and upon which it is not necessary to say more at the moment.


May I add a word or two to what was said by my noble friend below me? I remember extremely well the discussion as to annulment or affirmative Resolutions and I rather understood that so far as your Lordships' House was concerned that question had been generally settled. I am also aware, of course, of the working of that system in Committee and I have myself sat on the Committee several times. But listening to the speech of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, I was not quite clear as to the exact importance he attached to the proposal in the Bill—that is to say, the annulment Resolution. He gave us a powerful argument, no doubt, about Parliament usurping administrative functions and suggesting that legislation was its proper duty, but I could not understand from that what importance he attached to the annulment Resolution itself. The whole tendency of his argument, I thought, was that Parliament should abstain from administrative interference and that the annulment Resolution was a polite way of putting something into the Bill which did not matter much because its effect is very small both in another place and in this House.

When the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor criticised the affirmative Resolution he said: "Oh, but what would happen if the two Houses differed and an affirmative Resolution was passed in one House and a negative Resolution in the other?" I suppose the matter would fall to the ground. Surely exactly the same thing happens as regards the annulment Resolution. It is just as much an argument against the one as against the other. If, in this House say, there was an annulment Resolution and a scheme was condemned, there might be a difference between the two Houses and it seems to me the effect would be very much the same. Does the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor really mean that we can have practically no control over these schemes? Does he accept the statement made by my noble friend the Marquess of Salisbury, to which I myself subscribe, that really the annulment Resolution is of very little value? If he does mean that then I think he ought to state it clearly. Does it mean taking this matter practically out of the hands of Parliament and having it settled either by the Minister or in some way by the Courts through an appeal, I understand, under the annulment Resolution? I am not sure that this appeal to the Courts fills me with the same enthusiasm as it does him. I should have thought it better to have it settled by Parliament.

I certainly think that we ought to have a clear lead from the Government. I understand, of course, that there is a good deal of control possible under the affirmative Resolution and that is the only way of Parliament asserting itself. I am a little nervous about the proposal of the noble Earl as to only opposed schemes being dealt with in that way. There might be certain schemes which, though not opposed, would be suitable schemes upon which Parliament should express an opinion. According to him, however, only opposed schemes would come before us. Any scheme that was not opposed would not be brought before Parliament and might pass sub silentio. I think that that leaves too great power in the hands of the Minister, and I only support the affirmative Resolution procedure with that qualification and feeling a shrinking of the heart. Really I rose to get a statement from the Government as to what is their view as to the real effectiveness of this annulment Resolution procedure and of the power which it gives to Parliament.


I am very glad to respond to the appeal from my noble friend Earl Peel. Everybody in the House, I think, will feel that the matter which has been raised is a matter of real importance and that the discussion has been useful in eliciting some very valuable expressions of opinion. No doubt there is an important point involved and no one can fail to have been interested by the explanation which my noble friend the Marquess of Salisbury gave of the system which prevails with regard to affirmative Resolutions in this House—a system which he was largely instrumental in bringing into effect.

I would like to remind your Lordships of the fact which has been a little obscured in the debate, that we are not discussing really what form of Resolution shall be adopted in this House. We are discussing what form of Resolution, negative or affirmative, shall be adopted in each House, and I think it is well to remember that, although the procedure originally devised by the noble Marquess which prevails in your Lordships' House has been found to work here in a way which safeguards the situation and at the same time does not overburden the business of your Lordships' House, the same is not true in another place. Any of your Lordships who have served an apprenticeship, as I have done, in another place will remember the great congestion of work which prevails there, a congestion certainly not less now than when we were present, and they will realise that the condition of affirmative Resolutions in another place, where they have not the procedure which the noble Marquess introduced here, does involve a very great addition to the work in that House and creates a very real difficulty in applying this procedure to that House, which is what this proposal seeks to do.

Says my noble friend Earl Peel—and I appreciate the pertinence of the question —what value is there in the merely negative form of Resolution, because if it is of no use when you allow for a negative form of Resolution then you are not providing any effective check? That was a consideration which was, I think, brought before bath Houses of Parliament some little time ago and as a result of which the Committee was set up to which attention has been called. The position with regard to that is that the Commit- tee has only just issued its Report. I think it had not been issued when this was discussed in another place. It is obvious that the criticisms to which the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, called attention are criticisms which the Government cannot possibly ignore, and that in the light of those criticisms it will be necessary for the Government to examine into the exact value of the two forms of Resolution and the best plan of making effective the control of Parliament in cases where it is not desired to have the cumbersome form of affirmative Resolution which, if adopted in every case, would even further clog the legislative machine and practically make the proper conduct of business in another place an impossibility.

I am not going to tell my noble friend that I have a ready-made solution—I wish I had; but most certainly the matter will be investigated by the Government and not merely with regard to this Bill, which is only one illustration of the two forms of Resolution, but with regard to the whole situation created by the existence of this form of negative Resolution in a great number of other Acts of Parliament passed very largely in recent years. There are some particular schemes to which the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, called attention, in which there is some interference with legislative enactments, where it is plainly, I think, the duty of Parliament to insist that they shall not become effective without their being examined and affirmatively approved by each House of Parliament, and if either House refuses assent the effect is that the scheme fails. That is already provided for in this Bill in paragraph 2 of the First Schedule. With regard to others, what I would like to suggest would be that for the time being we adopt what I understand to be the suggestion of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, and that is that we should allow the proposals to stand as they are for the moment, but that the Government, in the light of the Report of the Committee, shall investigate the whole question of how to make these negative Resolutions an effective check so as to ensure that they shall not become a mere formula, a mere excuse for seeking to give to Parliament a control which it does not possess.

What means we are going to find I do not pretend to be able to tell your Lordships at the moment, and I do not think your Lordships would expect it of me. It is only within the last few days that the matter has been reported on and obviously the Report is one dealing with questions of great difficulty which have puzzled wise heads for a considerable time and require to be carefully weighed. In the circumstances I would suggest that your Lordships should be willing to accept the position outlined in the present proposals of the Bill and that the Government should undertake, as I understand the Lord Chancellor is willing to do, that the whole question of these Resolutions should be investigated with a view to a more effective check being provided.


The principal argument of the noble and learned Viscount seems to be that we should not pass this Amendment because if the schemes have to be affirmed in another place it would mean great congestion of business. I had a much longer apprenticeship there than the noble and learned Viscount, and had not the pleasure he had of always sitting on the Treasury Bench. It seems to me that there would be no congestion caused because when these questions come before another place they come after 11 o'clock and therefore do not interfere with Government business, while on the other hand, private members get an opportunity in regard to them. I hope the noble Earl will go to a Division because this Amendment seems to me to raise a very important point.


I have heard with some disquiet the reply of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. As far as I can make out all he has said is: I agree with you, and I agree with everybody that the negative Resolutions are of no value. The noble Viscount who leads the House says that the Government have not had time to consider the Report. If I thought it worth while I would ask him to look at

the Report for ten minutes and then tell us if he has not convinced himself that the Report says that the negative Resolutions are futile as they stand at present. We are told that at some time, unspecified but hopefully put forward, something will be done to find something which will make negative Resolutions less futile than they are now. The Report has not said that affirmative Resolutions are futile and they have not been criticised in the Report. The Lord Chancellor puts forward the case of a frontager and says that of course the man may have been right, but if you are going to have an affirmative Resolution what will happen? —time will be taken up to see that a man who is in the right gets justice done. What therefore is to be done? Have a negative Resolution and we shall not be bothered with it. Is that really the way that Parliament or this House ought to deal with the matter?

Then we are told it is going to take so much time. Let me give one instance. We have the Electricity Act with the affirmative Resolutions. There have been a thousand schemes put forward under it up to date and the total number asking for an affirmative Resolution is four. It is nonsense to say this is going to take up too much time. The real vice is that if these affirmative Resolutions are not passed you are giving the whole thing into the hands of the Ministry and they want you to do that; they do not want you to keep a hold on them. Here I would quote the words of the Report of the Committee: If we do not take care we shall find that the servant has become the master.


I should not have intervened but for the words which fell from the noble Earl. As one who put through nearly a thousand Electricity Orders in another place, I would wish to point out that those Orders are very different things from a scheme under the Town Planning Act.

On Question, Whether the word "opposed" shall be there inserted?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Not-Contents, 65.

Argyll, D. Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Mar and Kellie, E.
Bedford, D. Midleton, E.
Halsbury, E. [Teller.] Morton, E.
Linlithgow, M. Iddesleigh, E. Radnor, E.
Lindsay, E. Selborne, E.
Bertie of Thame, V. Biddulph, L. Lawrence, L.
Hereford, V. Fairfax of Cameron, L. Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)
Novar, V. Forester, L. Remnant, L.
Forteviot, L. Sinclair, L.
Annaly, L. Greenway, L. Strachie, L.
Askwith, L. Harlech, L. Wharton, L.
Banbury of Southam, L. [Teller.] Jessel, L. Wynford, L.
Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.) Churchill, V. Greville, L.
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Hampton, L.
Somerset, D. Hailsham, V. Hare, L.(E. Listowel.)
Wellington, D. Mersey, V. Hayter, L.
Heneage, L.
Bath, M. Winchester, L. Bp. Howard of Glossop, L.
Reading, M. Luke, L.
Addington, L. Marks, L.
Balfour, E. Alvingham, L. Marley, L.
Bradford, E. Amulree, L. Mildmay of Flete, L.
Cavan, E. Arnold, L. Mount Temple, L.
Denbigh, E. Boston, L. Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Brancepeth, L.(V. Boyne.) Phillimore, L.
Pembroke and Montgomery, E. Chesham, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Clanwilliam, L.(E. Clanwilliam.) Redesdale, L.
Plymouth, E. Rhayader, L.
Powis, E. Clwyd, L. Rochester, L.
Rothes, E. Conway of Allington, L. Snell, L.
Stanhope, E. Cushendun, L. Stafford, L.
Strafford, E. Danesfort, L. Stanmore, L.
Vane, E.(M. Londonderry.) Darling, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Allendale, V. Ernle, L. Templemore, L.[Teller.]
Bridgeman, V. Faringdon, L. Wargrave, L.
Cecil of Chelwood, V. Gage, L.(V. Gage.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE EARL OF RADNOR moved, in the proviso to subsection (4), to leave out "substantial." The noble Earl said: So far as I understand it this provision gives the Minister power to vary or alter a scheme, and it imposes as a restriction on increased expenditure that such increase shall not be "substantial." The word "substantial" is capable of varying interpretations, and one's past experience of Government Departments shows that their ideas of substantial do not always coincide with the views of the ordinary individual on that subject. The Minister might quite easily, under this proviso, impose what in his opinion is not a very substantial increase of expenditure, whereas to the local authority it might seem to be expenditure which was out of all reason, and they again, so far as I can see, have no appeal against that increased expenditure. I hope that in the interest of economy the Government will agree to delete the word "substantial."

Amendment moved— Page 12, line 10, leave out ("substantial").—(The Earl of Radnor.)


I should like to support my noble friend. I do so out of sympathy for the Minister. The unfortunate Minister has more and more work put upon him apparently from year to year, and this particular word will add to his work. Every time a scheme has to be varied the Minister will have to spend anxious hours in deciding whether the variation will give rise to a substantial addition of expenditure; and whereas one Minister might well say £1,000 was substantial might say that £10,000 would properly be called substantial additional expenditure. Of course, the noble Viscount, Lord Gage, may tell me I need not worry about that because it would only mean three or four additional clerks who will do the worrying for the Minister. But I am afraid that is the whole trouble of these curious words: they do not really mean anything. But this will, in fact, involve some additional clerks and that is how the staffs of all Government Departments swell from day to day.


I think this is the first occasion that any sympathy has been expressed for the Minister and I am grateful to my noble friend. But actu0ally I do not think that anything very sinister is intended by this word. It really is a safeguard against some meticulous person who might insist that a sum of £1 or £2 was an additional expenditure in connection with the modification. I think I am right in saying that if there was any real question of the meaning of the word "substantial," if, for instance, the Minister puts what might be considered a ridiculous interpretation upon it, the person aggrieved would have a right of appeal under the general powers relating to validity. And, in answer to my noble friend Lord Cranworth, may I point out that it would take just as many clerks to see that the modifications did not actually entail £1 or £2 more expenditure as it would in deciding whether the expenditure was substantial? I hope that the noble Earl will not press the Amendment.


I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 [Supplementary schemes for areas Comprised in regional schemes]:


The next Amendment is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 13, line 9, after ("made") insert ("whether under this Act or under any Act repealed by this Act.")—(Viscount Gage.)

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 10:

Interim development orders.

(4) In any case where such an application is refused or is granted subject to conditions, the authority may, if they think fit, make a contribution towards any damage or expense which the applicant shows to their satisfaction that he is likely to suffer by reason of their decision.

(5) An applicant who is aggrieved by the refusal of the authority to consent to his application, or by any conditions imposed by them, may within twenty-eight days from the date on which he received notice of the decision of the authority, or such longer period as the Minister may allow, appeal to the Minister, and the Minister, after taking into consideration any offer by the authority to make a contribution under the last preceding subsection, may dismiss or allow the appeal, either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as he thinks proper to im- pose, but the Minister, before deciding any such appeal, shall, if either the appellant or the authority so desire, afford them an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed by the Minister for the purpose.

The decision of the Minister on an appeal under this subsection shall be final and conclusive and shall have effect as if it were a decision of the authority.

(6) An interim development order may empower any authority specified in the order, with the consent of the Minister, to suspend the operation of any enactments contained in local Acts and of any orders, by-laws or regulations, under whatever authority made, so far as such suspension may be necessary in order to promote or expedite development permitted by or under the order.

(7) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply in any case where the scheme for the preparation or adoption of which a resolution has taken effect is a supplementary scheme within the meaning of the last preceding section of this Act.

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved, in subsection (4), after "contribution," to insert "the payment of which shall not be unreasonably delayed." The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment is to secure prompt payment of the contribution made by a local authority to any person who has suffered damage or expense by reason of the decision of the local authority to reject an application for interim development. The clause probably intends that this should be done, but there may be cases of poor persons who are seriously injured by a delay in the payment, and we know that all authorities, not even omitting the Inland Revenue Department, sometimes take a considerable time in making a payment for which they admit responsibility.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 9, after ("contribution") insert the said words.—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


Subject to your Lordships' consent, I accept this Amendment.

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved, in subsection (5), to leave out all words after "authority" where that word secondly occurs, and insert "appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction for the petty sessional division or place within which the property to which the notice relates is situated." The noble Lord said: If your Lordships will look at the beginning of the clause you will see that the Minister first of all makes the order. You will then see by subsection (3) that: Where an application for permission to develop land is made to the specified authority in the manner provided by the order… that is, I understand, the order made by the Minister, then certain things shall take place. Then you come to subsection (5), which says that an applicant who is aggrieved by the refusal of the authority to consent to his application may within twenty-eight days from the date on which he received notice of the decision of the authority appeal to the Minister. Thus, the Minister makes an order, the local authority acts on it, a person is aggrieved by the order, the right of appeal is given, but it is to the person who makes the order. It does not seem to me that that is likely to be a very efficient right of appeal. If in a Court of law Mr. Justice So-and-so makes an order the appeal does not lie to Mr. Justice So-and-so but to other Justices learned in the law in the Appeal Court.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 17, leave out from ("authority") to the end of line 30 and insert the said new words.—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


At the first blush the noble Lord's proposal does not seem unreasonable, but when I have put the considerations to him I will venture to ask him whether he thinks he will persevere with it. The object is to provide that interim appeals should be determined by a court of summary jurisdiction, not by the Minister. The provision that appeals in interim cases are decided by the Minister has been in town planning law right from the outset. I am quite sure the noble Lord is not one of those who wishes to alter a thing because it has been a long time in existence. Further, it has always worked well.

The next point is this: with all deference to the justices—and nobody thinks more highly of them than I do, because I know that the amount of work they do unpaid in this country is beyond all praise, and they do it extremely well—this is not quite the sort of case to throw upon them. The kind of case adapted for courts of summary jurisdiction is where definite criteria are laid down in the law and the task of the court is to ascertain facts and to apply the criteria. The issues here are issues of administrative policy, not as to whether a man is guilty or not guilty. For example, take the case of whether a factory or a commercial garage should be allowed in an area which is intended for residences, or whether bulding development should be refused because the land should be preserved for open spaces and the like. I do not want in any way to decry the justices of the peace—I have already said what admirable work they do—but I think your Lordships will agree that not all justices of the peace up and down the country are familiar with that sort of work. May I also put this? A further consideration is that many of the issues which will have to be decided have to be decided with professional advice, which is not always available to the justices, and if it were available to them you would probably have to have counsel there and solicitors, and it would increase the expenses enormously.

The Ministry, on the other hand, have officials with the necessary qualifications, and one result of that is that a very large proportion of these cases are settled to the satisfaction of all parties, and that does save—perhaps I ought not as a lawyer to say this—a great deal of legal expense. Another point is that where you entrust it to the Minister you can get a reasonable amount of uniformity throughout the country. You do not get one decision in one case and a different decision in another, and so forth, and—this is important—the Ministry are able to guide local authorities so that regulation during the interim period may be carried out with the least trouble and to the greatest advantage of all. A still further consideration is that decisions during the interim period may vitally affect the ultimate scheme, which, of course, it is not for the justices to have anything to do with. Therefore, although I have the highest opinion of the work done by the justices of the peace, this is not quite the sort of work they are familiar with, or, indeed, could do as well as the Ministry does it. As I said at the beginning this has never been the law since town planning has been in force. The Minister has always decided the cases satisfactorily, and I hope the noble Lord will, for these reasons, not press his Amendment.


The noble and learned Viscount commenced by saying that he was sure I would agree with him because I was always in favour of any law that had been in existence for a long time and which had worked well. If he will pardon me, I am not always in favour of the law which has existed. I think very often that the laws which have existed for the last thirty or forty years are mostly bad, and I should repeal not one but the whole of them, Therefore I much prefer my point of view. I would also point out that one of his learned predecessors, the late Lord Birkenhead, said in my hearing: "Because you have a bad precedent once there is no need to have another one afterwards." That was an extremely able and clever thing to say.

I am not moved by the eloquent speech of the noble and learned Lord Chancellor, but I must admit that it is possible the justices of the peace may not be the best tribunal. There are cases, no doubt, where they would not be able to give an altogether satisfactory verdict. On the other hand, the great number of them are responsible in the localities where the Minister is not, and they do know the needs of those localities. I do not like the idea of the Minister appealing to himself, which is really what it comes to. If I withdraw my Amendment could the noble and learned Viscount give me any assurance that he would consider between now and Report whether it would be; possible—I do not ask for a pledge—to introduce some other authority so that the Minister does not appeal to himself, which seems to me (and I think the noble and learned Viscount will agree) to be contrary to all principles of English justice.


I will consider it.


In those circumstances I withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT GAGE moved, after subsection (5), to insert: (6) Where an appeal to the Minister under the last preceding subsection is dismissed on the ground only that the land to which the appeal relates, though otherwise suitable for immediate development, ought to be reserved by the scheme for a public open space, and the Minister is satisfied that, if the appeal had been allowed, the development for which permission was sought would have taken place within a reasonable period, the appellant, if he is entitled to dispose of the fee simple of the land with vacant possession, may, by notice in writing given to the authority within six months from the date of the Minister's decision, require the authority to purchase the land at a price to be agreed, or in default of agreement to be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, and the authority shall purchase the land accordingly.

The noble Viscount said: This is an Amendment which is moved to meet a pledge given in another place. It provides that if an owner is prevented by an interim order from building on land suitable for development on the ground that it is required for an open space, he might require the local authority to purchase the land. I think an open space is really on a different level to any other kind of reservation, because it stops building upon it in any form. By this Amendment the owner is now given the right to compel the authority to purchase.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 30, at end insert the said subsection.—(Viscount Gage.)

VISCOUNT GAGE moved, in subsection (6), to leave out "so far as such suspension may be necessary in order to promote or expedite" and insert "where it is expedient in order to promote the." The noble Viscount said: This is really a technical Amendment, arrived at as the result of an agreement come to in another place. It is felt that the word "necessary" was too limiting, and that the word "expedient" would serve the purpose better.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 35, leave out from ("made") to ("development") in line 37, and insert ("where it is expedient in order to promote the").—(Viscount Gage.)


The next Amendment is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 41, leave out from ("scheme") to the end of the section, and insert ("or a scheme varying an existing scheme").—(Viscount Gage.)

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11:

Contents of scheme, and authorities responsible for enforcing them.

11.—(1) Every scheme shall define the area to which it applies, and specify, in accordance with the provisions of the next succeeding subsection, the authority or authorities who are to be responsible for enforcing and carrying into effect the provisions of the scheme and—

  1. (a) shall contain such provisions as are necessary or expedient for prohibiting or regulating the development of land in the area to which the scheme applies and generally for carrying out any of the objects for which the scheme is made, and in particular for dealing with any of the matters mentioned in the Second Schedule to this Act; and
  2. (b) where it is necessary in order to promote or to expedite development, may provide for suspending the operation of any provision, whether contained in a statute or in an order, by-law, or regulation, under whatever authority made, in so far as that provision is similar to, or inconsistent with, any of the provisions of the scheme.

THE EARL OF RADNOR moved, in subsection (1) (a), to leave out "prohibiting" and insert "planning." The noble Earl said: "This Bill is one which is essentially constructive in its intention, and you have effective schemes in this clause. One of the first provisions has the words "shall contain such provisions as are necessary or expedient for prohibiting," which are essentially unconstructive. I feel certain that the noble Viscount's reply will be that it will be necessary to prohibit development, or possibly necessary to do so, in certain areas within the scheme, but the mere fact of the prohibition of certain forms of development is in itself a planning and not a prohibition, and it is for that reason I move that the word "prohibiting" should be deleted and the word "planning" inserted instead. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 9, leave out ("prohibiting") and insert ("planning").—(The Earl of Radnor.)


This is really a matter of words. It is quite true, as the noble Earl said, that this is a Bill to plan, but it is also necessary to have power to prohibit, as in the case of buildings which it is proposed to put on land that is subject to planning. I suggest that the noble Earl should be content if we kept in the word "prohibiting," and also put in the word "planning." If I may I would incorporate words to that effect on Report.


I hope the noble Viscount will take out prohibiting, because prohibition has such an unpleasant sound now.


I should like to see the word taken out, because in the case the noble Viscount quoted that is in itself planning, it is not prohibiting. You are planning that land not to have buildings on it. It may be actually prohibiting building, but all the same it is planning.


It seems to me that from the point of view of an owner an instruction that that owner was not to build there would be in fact a prohibition, but it is a comparatively minor matter. I think it is necessary to keep "prohibiting" in but I am willing to accept the word "planning" as well.


I should like to ask the noble Viscount if he could not accept the Amendment. It would be a great mistake if it was to be considered up and down the country that development always referred to building. Why should there not be agricultural development as well as building development—at present a much more necessary thing? If he is talking of prohibiting he is obviously thinking of nothing but building. On that score, and if it were only on that score, I would support my noble friend.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


The next Amendment is a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 16, leave out from ("is") to ("development") in line 17 and insert ("expedient in order to promote proper planning or").—(Viscount Gage.)

LORD PHILLIMORE moved, in subsection (1) (b), after "may" to insert "subject to the provisions of Part I of the First Schedule to this Act." The noble Lord said: Subsection (2), paragraph (1) of the First Schedule provides that a scheme containing a provision suspending the operation of a statutory enactment shall not be capable of coming into operation except after a Resolution by both Houses of Parliament. The only point in this Amendment is whether or not a reference to that portion of the Schedule should not be here inserted.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 17, after ("may") insert the said words.—(Lord Phillimore.)


I am instructed that this Amendment is quite unnecessary because Clause 11 deals simply with the contents of schemes, and the manner in which schemes are to be made is dealt with in Clause 8, subsection (2), which provides that the First Schedule is to have effect with respect to the laying of schemes before Parliament and so forth. As the Bill now stands, there is no doubt that a provision under Clause 11 (1) (b) suspending an enactment requires an affirmative Resolution unless it falls within the exceptions set out in paragraph 2 (2) of Part I of the First Schedule.


On that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12:

Provisions in schemes with respect to buildings and building operations.

12.—(1) The provisions to be inserted in a scheme with respect to buildings and building operations may include provisions—

  1. (c) regulating, or enabling the responsible authority to regulate, the size, height, design and external appearance of buildings and, so far as is necessary for the regulation of their external appearance, the materials to be used in their construction;
  2. (d) imposing restrictions upon the, manner in which buildings may be used, including, in the case of dwelling-houses, the letting thereof in separate tenements: and

Provided that where a scheme contains a provision enabling the responsible authority to regulate the design or external appearance of buildings or the materials to be used in their construction, the scheme must also provide that any person aggrieved by any decision of the responsible authority under the provision aforesaid may appeal against the decision either to a court of summary jurisdiction or to a tribunal to be constituted for the purpose under the scheme, as may be thereby provided, and the grounds on which such an appeal may be brought shall include the ground that compliance with the decision would involve an increase in the cost of the building which would be unreasonable having regard to the character of the locality and of the neighbouring buildings.

THE EARL OF RADNOR moved, in subsection (1) (c), to leave out all words after "buildings." The noble Earl said: This Amendment deals with the powers which may be inserted in the scheme regarding buildings. The powers as printed in paragraph (c) are very drastic indeed. Apparently you cannot build a house without having the plans and everything else approved by the local authority, whether they have a knowledge of architecture or not. Secondly, this was not in the 1925 Bill, which did not contain anything like these drastic powers. Probably many of your Lordships are very much in sympathy with the whole of paragraph (c) and more particularly the portion I would like to see deleted, principally because you do not want to see much more of those bungalows of a rather unsightly nature being erected of rather indifferent material. I am very much in sympathy with that point of view, but, on the other hand, there is undoubtedly a demand for cheap houses, and unless people are allowed to use a cheap material in building their houses we cannot get cheap houses. The æsthetic point of view may result in the demand for cheap houses being unfulfilled because the local authority desires to see nice looking houses. It has to be borne in mind that there are two sides to the question, the æsthetic point of view and also the increasing demand by a large number of people for cheap houses. If you accept this Amendment, you will give considerable satisfaction to those who desire to own their own houses and to live in them without undue financial burden.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 15, leave out from ("buildings") to the end of line 18.—(The Earl of Radnor.)


I hope the Committee will not accept my noble friend's Amendment. He seems to be afraid that new buildings will suffer because the price of the erection of these houses will be put up. I do not think that is so and, if your Lordships would look at the bottom of page 17, you will see that an appeal may be lodged, and that one of the grounds for an appeal is that the decision to regulate the design of the buildings and to deal with the material would involve an increase in the cost of the building which would be unreasonable having regard to the character of the locality and of the neighbouring buildings. We all want to see beautiful houses erected and we do not want the cost of building to be put up, but this provision amply safeguards the question of cost and, if that is safeguarded, we ought to go as far as we possibly can to ensure that the buildings put up in the future are not as ugly as the buildings put up in the past.


I am not sure that my noble friend who moved the Amendment is not right and I am inclined to differ from the noble Lord who has just sat down. The Bill leaves it in the power of the local authority to say "We happen to think that stone is better for houses than bricks and that Portland stone is better than Bath stone, which in certain climates deteriorates, and therefore the houses must be built of Portland stone," which is very expensive.


If the noble Lord would look at the bottom of page 17, he would see that they may decide that one stone is better than another but only if it is not unreasonably more expensive than the other, and that there is an appeal.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord for asking me to look at the bottom of the page and I would draw the attention of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor to that passage. The Lord Chancellor told me a little while ago that a court of summary jurisdiction was not a proper tribunal to which to refer matters of this sort, but if he will look at the bottom of the page, he will see that the proviso says: ….the scheme must also provide that any person aggrieved by any decision of the responsible authority under the provision aforesaid"— that is as to the building, erection, site and everything connected with the house— may appeal against the decision either to a court of summary jurisdiction"… which the Lord Chancellor told me only a quarter of an hour ago was not a proper tribunal on such matters. Yet here in his own Bill is an appeal on the same thing: to a court of summary jurisdiction or to a tribunal to be constituted for the purpose under the scheme. The Lord Chancellor has kindly given me the assurance that he will consider whether or not he can meet me on the Report stage. He may be able to meet me by inserting the words— or to a tribunal to be constituted for the purpose under the scheme. I am much obliged to my noble friend for enabling me to understand the Bill.


I fail to understand why it should be assumed that local authorities are reliable custodians of beauty and public taste. The most hideous collection of buildings ever erected in these islands are the houses begun under Dr. Addison's scheme which have been perpetuated ever since. The only chance it seems to me to get any architectural beauty is to give liberty for the individual and so get some variety. What the noble Lord said just now about the use of costly material and about costly plans is also àpropos because the greatest difficulty I experienced when I had to deal with municipal affairs was to obtain liberty for my fellow citizens to use cheaper materials instead of those which the builders upon the town council had prescribed.


Surely this is an extremely important Amendment and if accepted would seriously detract from the value of the Bill. There cannot be any real conflict between cheapness and beauty and fitness and if there were then, as the noble Lord opposite pointed out, the guarantee against it is contained in the words at the bottom of the page. I should like to point out that the clause as it stands is really directed to preventing materials being used which would depreciate the value of the property and produce further ugliness in our country. This would inevitably happen if local authorities were not allowed to control the materials used in building schemes. I have it on reliable authority that villages in Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Cornwall have been ruined by the intrusion of buildings in which the material used was foreign to local building tradition. I hope your Lordships will reject this Amendment.


It seems to me that a great deal more importance has been attached to this clause than perhaps was anticipated because the intention is really to apply these powers only in special circumstances. I would take as an example of the kind of thing to which it is in- tended to apply, the Edinburgh town-planning scheme in which it was found desirable to preserve the special characteristics of Charlotte Square, which I believe is one of the outstanding architectural features of Edinburgh. There are several local Acts enabling local authorities to preserve the harmony of some special part of their area by means of a provision of this sort. It is true that an appeal is provided to a special tribunal. What is called "the Bath clause" is incorporated in several Bills which give power to appeal to a special tribunal. All the provisions in regard to this question of the materials to be used in construction would appear in the scheme and could be submitted to Parliament for consideration.


I should be glad if my noble friend would explain what is really the purpose and meaning of the words proposed to be omitted, because in the earlier part of the clause power is given to regulate the design and external appearance of buildings. What more do you want? Of course if you are going to regulate the external appearance of buildings you must do whatever is necessary to regulate that external appearance. The only thing that gives me a certain amount of apprehension is that you might have someone with a fancy against a particular kind of material. Architects are very fanciful about these things. An architect might have a fancy against some particular material and persuade the local authority never to sanction the use of that material in any part of the district. It is just the kind of thing an architect would do, and it is a thing that might involve expense. I should have thought the words unnecessary and I should like to know why they are thought to be necessary.


I hesitate to intervene at this point, but as the noble Viscount has asked why it is thought necessary to put in these words "materials to be used in their construction" I would simply ask him, if I may, a question in rhetorical form. I expect he knows Dean's Yard. It is only about fifty yards from here and no doubt he has frequently been there. Dean's Yard has a most beautiful facade on the terrace, one of the most beautiful brick facades in London. If this was going to be rebuilt would my noble friend like to see it rebuilt in stucco, or ashlar, or with the old bricks which are there at present and which would remind him of generations of people who have gone through Dean's Yard? That is regulation of material.


The noble and learned Viscount has put a rhetorical question and perhaps he will allow me to answer not rhetorically, but as a matter of fact. It seems to me that whether you have these words in or not he would be able to regulate the external appearance, that is to say, to make any regulation necessary to retain the general aspect of Dean's Yard. The question I asked, which he did not answer, was why it is necessary to have this additional provision with regard to materials specifically.


The noble Viscount in charge of the Bill said that this provision is only meant to apply to special circumstances, but the Bill does not say so. If it did one would perhaps appreciate it better, but in fact it says that it may apply to any scheme or any part of any scheme. When I originally saw the paragraph I wanted to move an Amendment to it to remove all words after "height" because I considered that the remainder of the paragraph would mean a most unwarrantable interference with the rights of the individual. Incidentally these amenities which it is desired to preserve have been created in the past by the individual and I have no reason to suppose that the transference of that responsibility to any great extent from the individual to the public authority is going to achieve any better result—in fact, one has strong reason to believe that it has achieved very indifferent results. I hope therefore that the noble Viscount will accept this Amendment. As I have pointed out I should have liked to move it in a stronger form. If he cannot see his way to accept it in the way I have moved it I am afraid I shall have to put the House to the trouble of a Division.


I always regret insisting on any provision of this sort against the wishes of the representatives of the landowners who are, of course, largely affected, but as the noble Earl has accepted the words "external appearance" and as my noble friend Viscount Cecil says that expression means the same thing as "materials to be used in their construction," I suggest that he might be willing to retain the paragraph in its present form. As for any unreasonable use of this power the provisions to be inserted in a scheme must affect this particular point and this question of what buildings should be regulated in respect of materials used in their construction will always have to be submitted to Parliament.


I think we have some reason very respectfully to criticise the way in which this Amendment has been treated. It has been put before the Committee in speeches of studied moderation and it is clear that the subsection as a whole has been accepted with some regret. These final words, which have an extremely vague and ambiguous meaning, have been definitely challenged. My noble friend and relative on the Cross Benches has asked the Government what they mean and what effect they have, and has received no reply. I am sure I am only saying what is well known in this House when I suggest that the Government are bound to give a reason for what they do. It is no use merely saying they are not prepared to give way. If they are not prepared to defend these words I would suggest that they should strike them out. They are putting us in a very great difficulty.


May I make an explanation?


I would rather have it from the Government.


After what has been said by noble Lords I do not think the Government ought to be unreasonable in insisting on this and I think that on the whole we will accept the Amendment to omit the words.

THE EARL OF RADNOR moved, in subsection (1) (d), after "used," to insert "but not." The noble Earl said: This Amendment rather bears on the meaning of the word "tenement." I should like to ask whether the clause covers, for instance, the case of a widow whose husband has just died and who wants to continue to live in her house, but is unable to do so unless she takes a few lodgers; or a case where she has nowhere else to live, but is unable to sell her house and finds it necessary, to keep her head above water, to let to lodgers. One understands that the ordinary sense in which the word is used is that of large tenement houses, but there is this case of the individual who desires to let one or two rooms. If the paragraph covers that I would like to insist on my Amendment and I hope the Government will accept it.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 20, after ("used") insert ("but not").—(The Earl of Radnor.)


My information is that the words "the letting thereof in separate tenements" do not include lodgings. In all these questions of definition there is considerable difficulty in saying exactly what words mean, but I think that in all the cases my noble friend referred to there would be no interference. It would only be in the case of conversion to the large tenement houses that some provisions could be legitimately incorporated in the scheme.


I do not think it concerns large tenements; you have that under other provisions.


If you expressly exclude restrictions connected with the letting of separate tenements and the number of people occupying a house you would be likely to crystallise the present development of slum conditions. The noble Lord says he does not know the meaning of the word. That can be interpreted by the Courts, but I think the Government should explain more clearly what they mean.


It seems to me clear that this paragraph has no reference whatever to lodgings in the sense referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Radnor. It is obvious that persons are at perfect liberty to allow lodgers to come into their houses. What is provided for is the definite letting of portions of houses for various terms. One of our great fears is that unless there is some such provision there may be reproduced the conditions of overcrowding from which we are hoping to be delivered. If you allow persons to let houses in various separate tenements for various periods you are encouraging the possibility of overcrowding.


I have heard the last speakers explain this particular clause, but I have not got that explanation from the noble Viscount, Lord Gage. All I want to know really is whether this particular clause does prohibit, say, a widow from letting a room to one or two tenants. If it does not, I am satisfied.


When I said I thought there might be some difficulty in defining "tenement" of course I was only referring to the precise legal definition, but in reply to the point specifically put I should say it has no application whatever to the letting of lodgings in such cases as those to which my noble friend referred.


If the legal definition of "tenement" includes letting a single room in a house to somebody—


It does not.


Then I am prepared to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved, in subsection (1) (d), to insert: Provided that in the case of any church, educational establishment or licensed premises no restrictions shall be imposed which conflict with any directions given by the ecclesiastical or educational authority or by the licensing justices as the case may be; The noble Lord said: If your Lordships will look at Clause 12 you will see that it provides for schemes prescribing the space about buildings, limiting the number of buildings, and imposing restrictions upon the manner in which the buildings may be used. The result of that might be that the local authority and the scheme might be in conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities, or the educational authorities, or the licensing justices, and where permissions have been given by the existing authorities to do certain things with particular buildings, it does seem to me that it is beyond the intention of the Bill to bring in provisions which would prevent arrangements already sanctioned by the local authori- ties being carried out. I hope the Government will accept my Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 22, after ("tenements") insert the said proviso.—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


As I understand the noble Lord's object it is to exempt from control, under a planning scheme, any church, educational establishment or licensed premises, by preventing the imposition by the planning authority of restrictions which would conflict with the directions of the ecclesiastical or educational authority, or the licensing justices.


I wish I could put it as clearly as the noble and learned Viscount.


I am obliged to the noble Lord. The objection to the Amendment is this. It is said, and I suggest to the noble Lord it is truly said, that the Amendment would make effective planning not only difficult but impracticable. Let me tell you why.


I did not say that.


No, but I say it. The "it" did not refer to the noble Lord. I would not address him in the neuter. In preparing a scheme for a new town or suburb the planning authority, if this Amendment were passed, would have to ascertain what "directions" had been given by these authorities, and draft their scheme to harmonise with those directions. I am not quite sure whom he means by the ecclesiastical authorities, but let us go on for a moment. I do not wish to take debating points. The scheme having come into operation, the authority responsible for carrying it into effect would be unable to prevent a great number of things. May I give him an example? It would be unable to prevent the erection of a public house in a residential area, which might be seriously detrimental to the area and depreciate the value of neighbouring property. I know that the noble Lord does not want to do that. The main object of the scheme would in a case like that be prevented.

May I suggest to the House that what is needed to secure the best results is not the "direction" of authorities of this kind, but their active co-operation and assistance? It is the duty of the planning authority to see—and I attach great importance to this—that suitable provision is made for enabling the various social requirements of the area to be adequately met, including accommodation for churches, schools and public houses. That duty could not be properly discharged if the planning authority is hampered by bodies who represent particular interests. That is the real vice of the Amendment. In some areas the permission of a planning authority, subject to a right of appeal (which there is here) against refusal of permission, would be required, and restrictions on the legitimate control of the planning authority and the appellant authority in favour of particular interests, would merely result in the unfair treatment of the other interests affected, and bitter complaints from the latter. What would happen if we gave these particular interests—they are interests with which I personally sympathise—this privileged position? What would the other interests say about unfair treatment? I rather think that probably what this Amendment is intended primarily to consider are the licensed premises.




Let us suppose it were so. I would put the position of licensed premises. They come under the jurisdiction not only of the planning authority but of the licensing justices. So far as the licensing justices are concerned they have their particular ambit of power and their ambit of rights, which are strictly licensing considerations, as to the permissible number of licensed houses, questions of morals and moral influence, the conduct of the licensed premises, the size of the bar, and so forth. All that is done by the jurisdiction of the licensing authorities, and will not be interfered with here. The only object is that there should be a control over all interests as to where these particular sites should be, and how things are to be carried out. None of these interests will be at all hampered by the Bill as it stands. On the other hand we want to consult them, and have their co-operation. Once we begin to make exceptions in the case of particular authorities we have to make exceptions in the case of a great many authorities, and that is the real objection to the Amendment. I trust that in those circumstances, although it appeals to me personally, the noble Lord will not press his Amendment, which is really for the benefit of these privileged persons.


I do not know whether the right rev. Prelates have anything to say on this matter, because it affects the Church. May I be allowed to answer the Lord Chancellor? He said that probably the real reason at the bottom of the Amendment was the licensing question. I can assure him it is not. The real reason at the bottom of it is that I do not like this continual interference with existing institutions, and where they have been in existence and sanctioned by the licensing justices, or anybody else, I do not think they should be interfered with. There is another reason. Your Lordships will remember that only a few moments ago I objected to a clause because I think it is wrong that the Minister should appeal to the Minister. It was contrary to my idea of justice. Now, if you will look at this clause, you will see this. The Lord Chancellor says that the licensing justices have in the case of licensed buildings given a license to the person holding it. Now comes the Town Planning Bill. They may say: "We are going to prevent your holding this license, because we think your building"—I think the words of the Lord Chancellor were—"injurious to the neighbourhood." To whom is the appeal? The appeal under my Amendment is to the licensing justices, who, the Lord Chancellor told us, have themselves given the licence. That is a fact which I submit cannot be got over. Therefore my Amendment is one which the Lord Chancellor ought to accept. The Bill is taking away from the licensing justices the appeal which he says they ought to have. I hope that on further consideration the Government will accept my Amendment.


As the noble Lord has made an appeal to this quarter, may I say that I am not one of the parties interested in licensed premises, and therefore I cannot speak about that? But, as far as the other interested parties (as the Lord Chancellor described them) mentioned in his Amendment are concerned, I am bound to say the interpretation of the Amendment might give rise to very considerable difficulty. "Any church"—what is a church? I suppose it is a building put up by any number of persons who can allege that it has some kind of religious significance. But I can imagine buildings put up by various bodies which might be used for purposes very detrimental to the amenities and quiet of the district which it is proposed to protect by these schemes.


If the most rev. Primate looks at my Amendment he will see it is limited by the words "no restrictions shall be imposed which conflict with any directions given" by the ecclesiastical authority—which must be either the Church of England or the Church of Rome.


That is an illustration of the difficulty of interpretation. I think it must give rise to a good deal of misunderstanding, to put it mildly, to say that nothing was ecclesiastical except what was ordered by the Church of England or the Church of Rome. My point is that you might have meeting houses put up which would claim to be churches, and quite rightly and naturally claim to be churches in that sense, whose use might, as I say, be very detrimental to the peace and quietness of the district. Then "educational establishment" what is an educational establishment? It might be a dancing academy, where proceedings might go on till all hours of the night, where those who attended were supposed to be learning that admirable art. That might not commend itself to the residents within the area protected by this scheme. And does "educational authority" mean the local education authority which has charge over the elementary schools, or the authority which is responsible for the management of that particular educational establishment? I only mention these difficulties because they would have to be very carefully considered, and I doubt very much indeed whether, in view of the disputes which might be raised over this interpretation, or of the uses to which churches or educational establishments might be put, the admirable purpose which I know the noble Lord desires to promote would really be promoted.


Apparently my desire to help the Church and to help education is not received with As far as the owners of licensed premises are concerned they have an appeal to the very people who have given them the power. I do not think they matter at all, because they will appeal to the authority which has given them the permission, and the licensing justices will probably say: "Oh bother the Town Planning Act and the local authority. We have given the permission and we shall stick to it." In the circumstances I will not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The next Amendment is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 28, leave out from ("buildings") to ("the") in line 29.—(The Earl of Radnor.)

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13:

Power to enforce and carry into effect schemes.

13.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the responsible authority may at any time—

  1. (b) remove, pull down or alter, so as to bring into conformity with the provisions of the scheme, any building or other work, not being an existing building or an existing work, which does not conform to those provisions, or in the erection or carrying out of which any provision of the scheme has not been complied with; or

(5) If on any such appeal the court of summary jurisdiction are satisfied that the responsible authority are entitled to take the proposed action on the grounds specified in the notice, they shall dismiss the appeal and shall by their order empower the responsible authority, after the expiration of the period aforesaid of six months or twenty-eight days, as the case may be, to remove, pull down, or alter the building or work, or reinstate the land or execute building required work, or, as the case may be, shall by their order prohibit the building or land from being used in contravention of the scheme after the period aforesaid, but, if they are not so satisfied, they shall allow the appeal:

Provided that the court by which an order is made under this subsection may, if they think fit, direct that the order shall, instead of taking effect after the expiration of the period aforesaid of six months or twenty-eight days, take effect at such later date as they think fit, being a date not more than six months or twenty-eight days, as the case may be, from the date of the order.

THE EARL OF RADNOR moved to leave out paragraph (b) of subsection (1). The noble Earl said: I put this Amendment down, not because I object to the substance of the contents of this particular paragraph, but because I object most strongly to giving power to a local or responsible authority to "remove, pull down or alter" non-existent buildings, which is what the paragraph says. It is not till page 63 in the Bill that you find out what this particular paragraph means. Many people will never read page 63 and will therefore have an even greater contempt for the wording of Parliamentary Bills than they have at present. I hope that before the Report stage the noble Viscount will consider whether he cannot alter the wording of this paragraph so as at least to make it English, because it is not English at the moment. It may cause a certain amount of amusement, and possibly annoyance, to people who already have their knife in Governments generally. I would suggest for the noble Viscount's consideration that perhaps the wording covering this point in the 1925 Act might be more appropriate. It is shorter, and it will cover possibly paragraph (a) and paragraph (b).

Amendment moved— Page 18, line 34, leave out paragraph (b).—(The Earl of Radnor.)


I do not say any more than that I will consider that suggestion. The noble Earl has been accusing me of not being sufficiently clear about some definitions, and now when we define a thing he complains about that too.


I beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The next is a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 19, line 22, leave out ("proposed") and insert ("propose").—(Viscount Gage.)

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved to leave out subsection (5). The noble Lord said: This clause deals with the removing, pulling down or altering so as to bring into conformity with the provisions of the scheme any existing building or other existing work which does not conform to those provisions or the demolition or alteration of which is necessary for carrying the scheme into effect. The result is that it gives power to the local authority to remove, pull down or alter any such existing building. It seems to me rather a large order, and my doubts are a little bit removed when I see later on that there may be an appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction. But in subsection (5) I see that If on any such appeal the court of summary jurisdiction are satisfied that the responsible authority are entitled to take the proposed action on the grounds specified in the notice, they shall dismiss the appeal…. I presume as a magistrate that if a man comes before me and asks me to do a certain thing, and the person who objects appears either by himself or by counsel and says that what some person objects to his doing he is obliged to do by Act of Parliament, I have no jurisdiction.

I therefore do not understand what is the point of putting in those words. If the magistrates are to have jurisdiction, well and good. You are giving them the power to do certain things and I would appeal to my noble friend Lord Cecil, who is a legal authority, to say what actually is the point of those words. Do they really mean anything at all? One of the things I have learned in Parliament is that it is of no use putting into Acts of Parliament words that mean nothing, except from the point of view of the lawyer. I am sure the noble and learned Viscount does not wish to do that. I beg to move my Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 19, line 42, leave out subsection (5). —(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


My noble friend has made this out to be rather a serious matter. We regard it as purely a machinery provision. It is laid down that the authority shall have certain powers against which an appeal shall rest with the magistrates. If the magistrates decide that the appeal is not one which they can uphold, then there must be some provision enabling the local authority to carry out or enforce their authority. I think that is the intention of Clause 13. The particular part of it which the noble Lord proposes to leave out simply says what happens. The court of summary jurisdiction decides whether the matter put before them is in fact worthy of upholding or not. We regard it as nothing more or less than machinery.


As I understand him, the noble Viscount say the clause really means nothing or very little, that if, when an aggrieved person goes before the justices, the justices think that he has not a good case, they will dismiss. They will do that in any case. Therefore it is not necessary to have these words in.


With all respect I beg to differ from the noble Lord. It gives the justices the power to extend the date by which this order should be carried out. Everyone knows something must be done in regard to what is to happen if the justices do dismiss the application.


Would the noble Viscount consider it and introduce words to carry out its effect on Report?


I am sorry that this clause should have excited the apprehension of the noble Lord, because we were of opinion we were doing in this clause exactly what he wanted us to do in another clause, but in that particular clause the justices were not a proper tribunal. All that is done here is this. Clause 13 empowers an authority to require, for example, that a building which is not in conformity with the scheme should be removed, pulled down or altered. We are all agreed upon that. Then it is thought that there ought to be somebody to whom you can have an appeal. Therefore we are going to give an appeal here to the court of summary jurisdiction, and it is the sort of case where it is quite fit for the court of summary jurisdiction to have jurisdiction, but what we define here is the particular sort of jurisdiction which they are to have, and what their order is to be. This makes it plain to the court what their powers are; in fact we are directing them what, on an appeal, their powers are. Without this subsection, which the noble Lord wishes deleted, there would be no appeal at all to the court of summary jurisdiction. I am sure he does not wish that. If he will read the clause quietly he will see it really carries out his intention, only at the same time defining the sort of jurisdiction we give to the summary court.


I do not think the argument against me amounts to very much, but I do not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Amendment is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 20, line 12, leave out ("which") and insert ("whom").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


I think this is one of the grammatical mistakes that we agreed to correct.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 16 agreed to.

House resumed.