§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I beg to move that this House do again resolve itself into committee on the Town and Country Planning Bill.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
After the statement we have just heard it does not appear to me out of Order to support the Amendment moved with regard to economy. Some seven hours have recently been expended by your Lordships in talking about economy. The country is a little tired of hearing economy talked about and not seeing it practised. It appears to be somewhat deplorable that twice as many members of your Lordships' House are prepared to come here to talk about economy as are prepared to come here to practice it. In the Second Reading debate on this Bill I listened with admiration to more than one noble Peer commending this Bill on the ground of economy to your Lordships with great eloquence and high-souled feeling. There are some of 455 us, whose soul is not so high and whose eloquence is certainly a great deal less and who have yet given a good many years to public service, who do not believe that we shall ever see economy where publicly-elected bodies administer public funds. It is not possible for this reason, that elected bodies as a whole owe their election to the sums they give or promise out of public funds to the people who have elected them. That seems to me to render economy in the public service extremely hard. Your Lordships' House is one of the few places, perhaps the only place, where a position is not owed to promises of public money. It might be suggested that that is the chief reason for your Lordships' existence and a not unimportant one. I hope that on this question you will remember that economy does not consist entirely in words, but occasionally in deeds.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I am painfully aware that I possess neither the high soul nor the gift of eloquence which have been referred to. I regret to find myself differing from noble Lords, but I rise to beg your Lordships not to accept the Amendment. A great deal you have heard of the economy to be effected by the Amendment is beside the point. If it was intended to accept this Amendment I think the straightforward course would have been to throw out the Bill on Second Reading, because this is really a wrecking Amendment. It will postpone the great bulk of the action under the Bill for three years or more. We really did pass the Second Reading because we wished that something should be done effectively about town planning. We have all heard of the cases where failure adequately to town plan has involved enormously increased expenditure afterwards—on roads, sewers and public services. The figures which have been given about debt by the noble Earl who maved the Amendment are also beside the point. It is because I believe that when your Lordships passed the Second Reading you did not intend to be put out of court by a side wind that I beg you to refuse the Amendment.
I think I may perhaps save time by intervening now. The debate has travelled over rather wide ground. I thought most of the general considerations were debated on the matter on which we divided just before dinner. I would point out that this 456 Amendment would lead to the position that the powers which authorities have now under existing Town Planning Acts would cease to be available because they would be repealed by the Bill. For most purposes local authorities would have power with the sanction of the Minister still to borrow under General Acts and in particular under the Public Health Acts, and to force them to borrow under those Acts and not under this might result in waste, as more advantageous terms might be obtainable under this Bill. I think something like 7,000,000 acres of England are covered by town-planning schemes in one stage or another of completion and during the five years ended March 31, 1930, the annual expenditure out of loans raised under the Town Planning Acts was less than £400. As to the statement that this Bill will compel local authorities to spend money, except for Clause 52, I should like to point out, any power of compulsion which there is in this Bill can only be exercised under the default clause, Clause 36, and there would be no question of that being exercised for the next three years. I hope I shall be excused from mentioning the general consideration of economy and extravagance in local authorities, but I just wanted to point out those facts in connection with this particular Amendment, and we cannot really accept it on those special grounds.
THE EARL OF RADNOR
If I rightly understood the noble Viscount, he told us that if this Amendment were agreed to local authorities would be able to borrow under other Acts for the purpose of this Act. I do not think that that is possible, but apart from that, in reply to Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who said that this was a wrecking Amendment, I do not think it is a wrecking Amendment in any way at all. It will check the exuberance of local authorities. I think we were told by the Lord Chancellor, or the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill, on the previous Amendment, that there was not any likelihood of expenditure on the ordinary working of a scheme above a penny rate, but there are powers in the Bill, as we were told by Lord Halsbury, for the purchase of land, and it is a check as to that which I understand is placed on local authorities by this Amendment. Personally it seems to me an extremely moderate Amendment, and one which should be in every way accept- 457 able to the Government, because the Lord Chancellor mentioned those words "wise spending." We have heard a good deal about wise spending from the Government in the past few weeks, but we have experienced in the past few years a great deal of unwise spending by local authorities, and my own personal experience is that the power to spend unwisely has been used far more than the power to spend wisely. I hope the Government will see their way to accept this extremely moderate Amendment. Their objection to the previous Amendment was that it was a mechanical check. This is not a mechanical check, but it is undoubtedly a check upon unwise expenditure not connected with the actual machinery of a scheme.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
The noble Earl who has just spoken says this is a moderate Amendment. It seems to me that if this Amendment is carried, I do not say the Bill will be killed but it will be very seriously mutilated. Noble Lords who support the Amendment have done so on the ground of economy. Nobody pretends that such a Bill as this can be put into operation without spending some money, but we who support the Bill whole-heartedly contend that at no distant date that expenditure will be amply repaid, and in the future there will be a very great diminution in expenditure because activities will be regulated, extravagances will be eliminated and law and order will prevail where now chaos prevails. It is quite right for any noble Lord who objects to this Bill to vote for this Amendment, but I do not see how any noble Lord who agrees with the principle of town planning could possibly vote for it because it puts off in practice the operation of the Bill for three years.
I do not know whether Lord Radnor or Lord Gage was right but if it be true, as Lord Radnor says, that an authority could not borrow under the Public Health Acts, then I must appeal to the movers of this Amendment to leave room for the cases where already public authorities are obliged to do this, that and the other under existing schemes. After all, the 1925 Act has been going for some years and ever since it started schemes have been put on foot. Those schemes involve negotiations with landowners many of which have been committed to paper, and even in some cases 458 entered into as legal agreements, but others are merely verbal arrangements, and if you are going to withdraw the powers of the local authorities to borrow for purposes of town planning then you may put them in many cases in the position of having to repudiate bargains under the 1925 Act which they have already made. I would therefore suggest that the Amendment might be altered in such a way as to leave borrowing available in respect of such schemes as have been initiated under the 1925 Act to cover existing liabilities.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
I am perfectly certain that I can promise on behalf of my noble friend Lord Askwith that he will consider most carefully and sympathetically any Amendment that is necessary to safeguard schemes made under the 1925 Act. If indeed those Amendments are necessary it would be perfectly easy to deal with the matter on Report, and I am sure he will do so. As for the contention of Lord Gage that the Amendment is ineffective, since powers exist to borrow what local authorities want under General Acts, that again is a matter which we shall be most happy to deal with on Report.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
I must apologise to the noble Viscount because I did not understand that they were under the Public Healtlh Acts, and that argument is a perfectly valid and proper one. But I must answer Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who suggested that the Amendment was designed to kill the Bill. I am fairly certain that my noble friend has no such idea, nor have I either. As for the suggestion that this prohibition of borrowing is going to postpone the bulk of action under the Bill, is it really the case that the bulk of action under the Bill is going to be undertaken on borrowed money? Because, if that is so, I feel it to be a distinctly alarming possibility, in view of the figures I have already given of local indebtedness. While I very much regret that the Amendment is not as complete and perfect as it should be, my 459 noble friends feel so strongly on the matter that I really must put your Lordships to the trouble of dividing.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
May I ask why the necessary modification should not be put in on the Report stage? The noble Viscount in charge of the Bill said you cannot in this Bill bring in the Public Health Acts. You can. You can put in any amending section you like on Report, and on Third Reading too if you like, and you can incorporate the necessary amount of those Acts, or put in sections of your own to do exactly what you want.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I do not want to engage in an altercation or discussion wih my noble friend Lord Halsbury. I think there are great difficulties in inserting in this Bill the limiting powers of borrowing of another Act of Parliament. I do not want to intervene for more than a few moments, because the matter has been fully debated. I would appeal to your Lordships not to accept the Amendment, and not allow yourselves to be led astray by the specious cry of economy which is used. When anybody wants an Amendment nowadays, they say: "This is an economy." In fact, it will cost more money rather than less. It will make the people take the more expensive way instead of taking the cheaper way of doing what is required. My noble friend Lord Iddesleigh has said this Amendment is not intended to kill the Bill. Of course I accept that entirely from him, but those who have had charge of the Bill throughout its passage in another place are quite confident that its effect will be to destroy the utility of the Bill, and if it is not intended to kill the Bill it is at least a coincidence that those who have shown least enthusiasm for the merits of the Bill are those who seem most in favour of this Amendment. I do hope that your Lordships will not, especially at this moment when I had hoped His Majesty's Government had gained some credit for their enthusiasm in the cause of economy, proceed to pass an Amendment which is said to be an economical one but which in fact is not.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 49, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 50 [Special provisions as to Administrative County of London]:460
Page 56, line 24, leave out ("which") and insert ("whom")
Page 56, line 25, leave out ("is") and insert ("are")
Page 57, line 2, leave out ("is") and insert ("are").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
VISCOUNT GAGE moved, after subsection (4), to insert:
(5) The provisions of Section seventeen of this Act shall apply in relation to any building of special architectural or historic interest which is situated within the City of London as if that city were a county borough and as if the Common Council of the City of London were the council of that borough, and those provisions shall apply in relation to any such building which is situate within the County of London as if that County were a county borough and as if the London County Council were the council of that borough.
The noble Viscount said: This is really consequential. I beg to move.
Page 57, line 43, at end insert the said subsection.—(Viscount Gage.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 50, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 51 [Compensation to officers]:
Page 58, line 40, leave out ("as") and insert ("an").—(Viscount Gage.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 51, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 52:
§ Duty of certain councils to prepare schemes.
§ 52. The council of every county borough or urban district containing a population according to the census taken in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-one of more than twenty thousand shall before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, or such later date before the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and thirty-eight, as the Minister may in any case allow, prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme in respect of all land within their district in respect of which a scheme might have been so prepared and submitted under Section one of the Town Planning Act, 1925, if this Act had not been passed, and containing provisions with respect to such scatters as may be prescribed.461
LORD STRACHIE moved to substitute "may" for "shall". The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment which is put down in two forms by myself, and the second form is supported by a large number of other Peers. My Amendment is rather letting the Government down in the easiest possible way by not rejecting the whole of their clause, but simply saying "may" instead of "shall". I base myself mainly upon the statement made by the Minister of Health in another place upon the Second Reading of this Bill. He said:
It is a Bill simply to put powers which the people want into their hands to use as, and only where, they desire to use them. It is not a Bill to force down the throats of the local authorities.
I think my Amendment exactly carries out the statement made by the Minister of Health in another place. All it does is to give a permission whether they bring forward these things or not.
The clause as it stands is mandatory, and nine months after the passing of this Bill it would be necessary for local authorities to deal with this matter. On the other hand, if my Amendment is carried or accepted by the Government, as I hope it may be, then it will be simply optional on the part of the authorities whether they shall put this clause into effect or not. That does not seem to be an unreasonable thing. Instead of having these mandatory powers—I should think that there were already sufficient mandatory powers in the Bill—the Minister might be willing to assent to this. I think it is interesting to remember that when this Bill was before a Standing Committee in another place this clause only remained in the Bill because the Chairman of the Standing Committee by his casting vote supported the Government. The reason for that was, as old members of the House of Commons will be well aware, that the Chairman of a Standing Committee always votes for the Government if it is necessary for him to give a casting vote. It seems to me that that is a very strong argument, not for striking out the clause, but for leaving it optional so that the local authorities may deside whether or not to put it into force.
Page 59, line 39, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may").—(Lord Strachie.)
We look on this Amendment as equivalent, if it were 462 carried, to leaving out the clause. Your Lordships are aware that an authority with a population of over 20,000 can at any time make a scheme except in the rare cases where it may not be covered under Clause 6 (2). I really think such a condition would be almost impossible. Therefore we look on this Amendment as exactly equivalent to the next Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE of THAME
I look on this as an extremely reasonable Amendment. Your Lordships will observe that the population of these towns of 20,000 and over is to be taken from the census of 1921. I believe it is an undisputed fact that many of these towns since then have fallen much below 20,000 owing to various industrial catastrophes. Therefore if you leave it for the authorities to decide they will know whether the population has decreased by many thousands, in which case it does not seem to me to be reasonable that they should be forced to carry this out.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
I cannot quite agree with the noble Viscount in charge of this Bill that this Amendment is exactly the same as the next. I agree that it has exactly the same effect, but I think it is neater and more tactful than the one I ventured to put down. If your Lordships will consider for a moment, surely you will agree that it is a very reasonable thing that it should not be absolutely cast-iron that this has got to be done within a certain time. I do not want to weary your Lordships—I am not going to say at this time of night, because that is not the right atmosphere—after long and very careful consideration of this Bill by going into matters which have been gone into before, but may I point out that this originated in 1919? A similar section was put into the Act of that year, and a certain date was put in. Then in the 1925 Act there was the same section, but they had to push on the date. Then came the Act of 1929. The same section was put in, but the date was pushed a bit further. Now the date in the 1929 Act is retained, although it is perfectly obvious that it cannot be the real date. Would it not be better for your Lordships to accept the Amendment and say that the local authority "may" instead of making it "shall" at a cast-iron date?
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
With great respect, the noble Lord's history is wrong. It so happened that it was at my instance that your Lordships agreed to put it in in the 1929 Act. The noble Lord says it was "shall" then. My recollection is that it was "may" in 1929. Mr. Neville Chamberlain was Minister of Health then and it was at my instance that your Lordships agreed to put in the date in 1929. There is nothing new about this; it is simply retaining the provisions in the existing Act.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
It was altered and made "shall" at my instance and it was the only Amendment that your Lordships accepted. Therefore, this provision is reproducing the provisions of the 1929 Act. As a matter of fact, 75 per cent. of the authorities referred to in this clause are already producing schemes. If the noble Earl, who prefers this neater and more tactful way of despatching the Bill—he has told your Lordships that he is trying to wreck the Bill, though he never made much concealment of it—had his way, it would only affect 25 per cent. of the authorities. If ever an Amendment was torpedoed, this one is, and I hope your Lordships will blow it out of the water.
THE EARL OF RADNOR
The question of 25 per cent. and 75 per cent. hardly applies here because this is a much wider Bill than the previous Act. Let me give two cases from my own experience. In one place they deferred a town-planning scheme for a considerable time on the ground that they could not afford the expense. In another place, which comes under the 20,000 provision, they have not complied with their statutory obligation of producing a town-planning scheme because they said they could not afford it. In these days it is very hard to impose on a comparatively small community of the size of 20,000 persons the expenditure entailed by a measure like this. There is a further argument against compulsory schemes. It is that, where a local authority is entirely satisfied with the development in their area, they should not be compelled to go to the expensive procedure of a town and country planning scheme. Where they can come to an agreement with the local landowners and are assured that the development in their 464 area is satisfactory, there seems no adequate reason for incurring the unnecessary expenditure of going through all the rigmarole of Ministerial acceptance and public inquiries to get what is agreed by everybody to be working perfectly smoothly without Parliamentary procedure. I hope the noble Viscount will feel that this compulsory procedure is entirely unnecessary in the circumstances.
I would appeal to the Government to accede to this very reasonable Amendment. I have no right to speak for Scotland except as one of the members of the County Councils' Association, but one of the matters which makes the County Councils' Association in Scotland more prejudiced against this Bill than anything else is this insistence upon uniformity in everything. There is no doubt that your average official lives in Whitehall and regards every part of the country as exactly the same; he has only one rule, which must be applied right throughout whatever happens. In these days, when the permanent official is getting more and more powerful, partly from the amount of work thrown on the public Departments, this desire for uniformity is becoming more and more universal. In much of our recent legislation the method of the carrot and the stick is applied. In this case you have the stick without the carrot, the intervening animal in all cases being the local authority. The Amendment should be seriously considered because undoubtedly there is a very large number of small local authorities who do not wish to add to their herd of officials. We have seen inspection grow—biennially for one thing, triennially for another—and it all adds to the number of officials and means more correspondence and expense. I think that a Government which has so pledged itself in words to economy should certainly accept this reasonable Amendment, which would give great satisfaction to many small local authorities.
§ LORD DYNEVOR
On the Second Reading I expressed disapproval of Clause 52. Why should places with a population of 20,000 be compelled by a. specified date to make a scheme? I think I heard the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, express a hope that he would not hear many of us talk much more about economy, but I cannot 465 avoid talking about economy especially when there is a clause like Clause 52. These large towns may want to practise economy. Their rates may be extremely high at present. They may not want to be compelled to bring in a scheme by a specified time. And I know that the Government has circularised local authorities asking them to cut down. I am a member of my county council and we have received requests from Government Departments to curtail expenditure as much as possible.
It will be said that the provisions of this clause were in the Town Planning Act, 1925, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, has reminded us that they were in the Act of 1929. But it is no argument to say that you are always to keep going past legislation. You may find that such legislation is not always up-to-date. Has not the House of Commons just passed a. Bill to repeal an old Act of Parliament which tells people how they are to observe the Sabbath? We might use the same argument about the old Town Planning Acts. I say: Let the large towns come under Clause 36 and then they can carry out their negotiations with the Minister and fight him as much as they like.
I was not preparing to consider a comparison between the Town Planning Acts and Sunday Observance Acts. Town planning has not been in existence as long as those Acts. All we say is that if this Bill were an amending Bill only, this clause would never have appeared at all and unless your Lordships had raised the subject in a separate way I imagine the debate would never have taken place. In the circumstances there seems to be no case for the omission of the clause.
§ LORD STRACHIE
I fear the noble Viscount does not appreciate the difference between my Amendment and the drastic one of throwing out the clause—a difference between saying that the duty should not be put on these local authorities at all and leaving them an option to prepare schemes if they like. The noble Viscount seems to think it makes not the least difference. To my mind it makes a great difference. All I am suggesting is that the local authorities ought to have the option whether or not they will put the clause into force.
I think we appreciate the difference really. All I say is that power is given under Clauses 1 to 6 to county councils to prepare schemes, and if you repeat in this clause that they may make schemes you are repeating something already in the Bill.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 52, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 53 [Transitional provisions]:
Since I put down my Amendment to subsection (2) my attention has been called to the final paragraph of that subsection, where I see that a certain amount of elasticity is given in dealing with whether a scheme is conducted under the Act of 1925 or the new Act, and in these circumstances I do not move.
§ Clause 53 agreed to.
§ Clause 54:
§ "The material date" means, in relation to any provision contained in a scheme, other than a supplementary scheme or a varying scheme, the date on which the resolution to prepare or adopt the scheme took effect or such later date as may be fixed by the scheme, either generally or for the purposes of any particular provision thereof, and in relation to any provision contained in a supplementary scheme or a varying scheme or a supplementary order means the date on which the scheme or order came into Operation, or such later date as may be fixed by the scheme or order, either generally or for the purposes of any particular provision thereof:
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in the definition of "the material date," to leave out "resolution to prepare or adopt the scheme took effect or such later date as may be fixed by the scheme, either generally or for the purposes of any particular provision thereof," and insert "Minister gives his approval to the preliminary statement of the scheme." The noble Viscount said: The material date is now the taking effect of the resolution, after which no owner can develop unless he obtains an interim development order, and the examination of the document prepared by the Ministry showing the progress of all schemes discloses that very few of a large total have yet reached the stage of final approval by the Minister. This means that development is being impeded in all the areas to which this long list of resolutions applies. This 467 Amendment advances the material date to the date of approval of the preliminary statement by the Minister. If town planning is to be made practicable in its application to built-up areas a responsible authority ought to have a preliminary statement ready before it passes a resolution. This Amendment will go some way to ensure this.
The effect of the Amendment is to advance the material date on which the dead hand falls to the date on which the Minister gives his approval to the preliminary statement of the scheme. In a document prepared by the Ministry of Health the progress of all town-planning schemes throughout the country from the date of the resolution to prepare the scheme to the date of final approval of the scheme is set forth. And an analysis shows that the number of resolutions to prepare schemes amounts to between 1,150 and 1,200. Of these only 362 preliminary statements have been submitted to the Minister of Health for approval, and of these 362 only 34 reached the final stage of approval by the Minister. In Ruislip a town-planning scheme took fifteen years from the passing of the resolution to the final approval of the scheme—from 1915 to 1930. In Leeds a town-planning resolution was passed in May, 1913, and the scheme was not finally approved until October, 1921. If you subtract 34 from 1,150 it leaves 1,116 areas which have been sterilised by the passing of the town-planning resolution, with the prospect in many cases of the scheme never reaching final approval. Failure of progress is obviously due to the responsible authority not knowing its own mind by the preparation of a preliminary statement before passing the resolution. Clearly the dead hand should not fall until the Minister has approved a preliminary statement.
Page 62, line 34, leave out from the second ("the") to ("and") in line 38 and insert the said new words.—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)
§ LORD DYNEVOR
I think this is a very important Amendment. The material date under the Bill is when the resolution by the local authority to prepare or adopt a scheme takes place. It may be years before the local authority does anything more, it may be years before the Minister gives his assent; and when he 468 does so it may not be the same scheme as was put forward by the local authorities. Meanwhile every land developer would proceed at his peril, and if he did anything which was outside the provisions of the scheme as approved by the Minister he would be liable and would possibly be put to very great expense. Probably the land-developer would sit still. The land would be sterilised and unemployment in the building trade would be increased. Why not be quite straightforward and say that directly a scheme has been approved by the Minister in its preliminary form everybody must obey it? Then they will know where they are. Until the Minister can make up his mind as to what scheme he wants, then let everyone go on developing his land under the existing by-laws of the local authority.
The object of this Amendment is, I quite understand, to give the owners a still further protection against the possibility of arbitrary action on the part of a local authority. It is obviously impossible to accept the Amendment proposed, firstly, because the preliminary statement is really an optional stage in the procedure, and it is thought, in order to expedite town-planning in the future, the preliminary statement may, with increasing frequency, be omitted from the procedure of preparing a scheme. I think the suggestion of the noble Viscount would also be open to this very strong objection, that if it was once known there was to be a period between the date when the preparation of the scheme was started and the date when the control was actually exercised, people who wished to do things they ought not to do would obviously take advantage of that period knowing they could not be prevented from doing so.
I think I can give a good illustration. Take the case of land subject to flooding. Anybody who reads this Bill will see that under it a scheme may provide for prohibition of building on land which is subject to flooding on the ground that it will afterwards put the local authority to undue expense in providing services. I think that is a provision which has been accepted by your Lordships' House with perfect satisfaction. But if you announce that you are about to control such land, and if you do not actually reserve powers to exercise control, from the moment you 469 announce your intention some person might seize the opportunity to do the very thing you wish to prevent, because after he has started his plans the safeguards regarding existing buildings would come into operation. I am a little disappointed that my noble friend Lord Dynevor did not give us any credit for the extra safeguards we have put into this Bill with regard to the interim period. The owners are far better protected during the interim period than they have ever been before. I wish to point out that under paragraph (4) of the Fourth Schedule approved schemes must be submitted within three years. That reduces very substantially this long period which my noble friend Viscount Bertie has been complaining about in regard to the owner's application for permission to build.
§ LORD DYNEVOR
You only quote the time of the local authority, three years. There is no time-limit within which the Minister must give approval.
I am, not quite sure exactly how long the Minister is given, but. I do not think there is any doubt the Minister will exercise his decision in a reasonable time. By no stretch of imagination could the time be extended from three to fifteen years by the Minister.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
Supposing there were a lot of applications there might not be time to attend to them.
I think we must give the Minister some credit. He does not get much. I was pointing out that if the owner does not receive a decision in answer to an application for a development order within two months the application is deemed to have been granted, so that the owner gets that advantage. A very important thing is that if the applicant suffers injurious effect by reason of an interim decision he
§ can obtain compensation when the scheme is complete, except in cases where he would not have obtained compensation under the scheme. I think that is an intelligible exception. For the first time the applicant, if he can prove that he has suffered injury by reason of this interim order, can claim compensation to which before he was never entitled. I should like also to point out that in hard cases an authority can make a grant during the interim period. I really think that the owner has been put in so good a position that the noble Viscount ought to be grateful. Under the regulations of the Fourth Schedule the procedure is to be tightened up considerably.
I am not sure that my noble friend Viscount Bertie quite appreciates the effect of his Amendment. If he will turn back to Clause 10, which deals with the interim development of land, he will see that subsection (1) reads:The Minister shall make a general order with respect to the interim development of land within the areas to which resolutions to prepare or adopt a scheme apply ….You start off at the point of having passed your resolution. If you are going to take your date for all these purposes from your preliminary statement, I am not at all sure that you are not going to interfere with a very valuable protection afforded by Clause 10 under the interim development order. It is common practice that an interim development order is made out in all cases to cover this halfway period. As I say, if you are going to start off with the preliminary statement everything else will have to start from that same point, in which case I think you will lose more than you will gain.
§ On Question, Whether, the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 42; Not-Contents, 6.471
|Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Mar and Kellie, E.||Addington, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Alvingham, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Plymouth, E.||Banbury of Southam, L.|
|Radnor, E.||Biddulph, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Stanhope, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)|
|Grey, E.||Cranworth, L.|
|Iddesleigh, E.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Hailsham, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.)||Mount Temple, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Heneage, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Jessel, L.||Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)||Rochester, L.|
|Lovat, L.||Phillimore, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Marks, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Stonehaven, L.|
|Marley, L.||Rathcreedan, L.||Templemore, L. [Teller.]|
|Linlithgow, M.||Morton, E.||Dynevor, L. [Teller.]|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Bertie of Thame, V. [Teller.]|
On Question, Amendments agreed to.
Page 63, line 30, leave out ("any such building as aforesaid") and insert ("a previous building").—(Viscount Gage.)
VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved to insert:
'Change of use' means—
The noble Viscount said: A responsible authority can recover a betterment on a change taking place in the use of property, but this phrase is not defined in the Bill and property owners find the position difficult to understand. Consider the case of a building in which a butcher leaves and the shop is taken by a baker. Is that a change of use? I think it might be more satisfactory if "change of use" was defined in the Bill and I beg to move.
Page 64, line 28, at end insert the said definition.—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)
I am informed that with this definition the Bill would be more obscure than without it. I will consider the question of the exact meaning of these words and should it be found necessary to give a more accurate definition I will consider doing so, but I can give no pledge on the matter.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
I am grateful to the noble Viscount for saying that he will look into the matter and I beg to withdraw.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 54, as amended, agreed to.472
§ Clause 55 [Repeals]:
Page 64, line 35, leave out from ("locality") to ("are") in line 37.
Page 64, line 39, leave out ("any resolution passed or")
Page 65, line 2, leave out ("but") and and insert ("and").
Page 65, line 2, leave out ("resolution").
Page 65, line 4, after ("be") insert ("enforced and carried into effect as if this Act had not been passed but may be")
line 5, after ("repealed") insert ("or")
leave out ("or enforced").—(Viscount Gage.)
VISCOUNT GAGE moved to add to subsection (1):
(d) The provisions of a local Act, in so far as they effect a transfer of functions exerciseable under the Town Planning Act, 1925, from one authority to another or regulate the manner in which any such functions are to be exercised where such a transfer has been so effected, shall be excepted from tile repeal by this section of the provisions of local Acts.
The noble Viscount said: This is not exactly a drafting Amendment. It is designed to safeguard the case where boundaries have been altered.
Page 65, line 24, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Viscount Gage.)
§ Clause 55, as amended, agreed to.
§ LORD HENEAGE moved to insert the following new clause after Clause 55:
§ Saving as to the Sandhills in the Parts of Lindsey Lincolnshire.
§ ".Nothing in this Act shall affect the provisions of any Act of the present Session to provide amongst other purposes for regulating certain lands in the Parts of Lindsey Lincolnshire known as the Sandhills."473
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move this new clause which I understand will be accepted.
§ Amendment moved—
§ After Clause 55, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Heneage.)
§ Clause 56.
§ Application to Scotland.
§ 56.—(1) This Act shall apply to Scotland subject to the adaptations and modifications specified in the Sixth Schedule to this Act
§ (2) A copy of this Act as applying to Scotland by virtue of the provisions of the last preceding subsection, but with this section and the said Sixth Schedule omitted therefrom, shall be prepared and certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments as if it were a separate Act which had received the Royal Assent on the same day as this Act and shall be deposited with the Rolls of Parliament, and thereupon this Act shall cease to apply to Scotland and the Act as certified as aforesaid shall take effect as a separate Act of the present session and may be cited as the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act, 1932, and may be printed as a separate Act by the Printers to His Majesty as a chapter of the statutes of the session distinguished by the number next following the number of the chapter assigned to this Act.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LINLITHGOW moved to omit the clause. The noble Marquess said: At this late hour I do not propose to repeat the grounds on which on Second Reading I voiced the complaint of Scotland about the treatment that country has received under this Bill. I gave good reasons, I still think, for claiming that Scottish Bills in another place should go before a Scottish Committee. It is quite clear to all of us that no one Bill could at one and the same stage of its progress through either House of Parliament be committed to two separate Committees, which is the same thing as saying that any Bill applying both to England and Scotland, and in which the special method of procedure which is embodied in this Bill, as regards its application to Scotland, finds a place, could go before a Scottish Committee in another place. It could only go before the one Committee, and that inevitably the main Committee. I hope very much that that is not going to mean that Bills so important to Scotland, and dealing with a subject which varies so much as between the two countries as does this 474 Bill, will not be put before the Scottish Committee in another place.
§ That, I think, would be deplorable. I myself remain very strongly of opinion that this Bill by its nature is one which ought to have been put before Parliament, as regards its application to Scotland, in a separate Bill from the first, so that, Scottish members in another place and your Lordships' House might have a chance of looking into the Bill from a purely Scottish angle. In any case I think it would have been a courtesy to have the Bill printed embodying the Sixth Schedule as it stands, so as to simplify the work of Scottish members in Committee. That is a matter of which the Government might care to take note. It is a matter which would have been appreciated not only by Scottish members but by Scotland as a whole. In any case I deeply regret that Scottish opinion has been ignored by a course of procedure designed to save Parliamentary time, which has, I am convinced, deprived Scottish members and Scottish local authorities of the opportunity of making adequate criticism of the measure and of bringing proper influence to bear on the shaping of its terms. I shall listen to observations from the Front Bench before I ask your Lorships, if the Government resist my Amendment, to divide upon it. I have had some indication that some measure of encouragement might be given to us, and I was greatly obliged to the Lord Chancellor for the courteous way in which he was able, privately, to offer me some degree of solace.
Leave out Clause 56.—(The Marquess of Linlithgow.)
THE EARL OF KINNOUL
Do I understand that the noble Marquess approves of the principle of the Bill as regards Scotland?
THE EARL OF MAR AND KELLIE
Your Lordships will recollect that last week the noble Viscount, Lord Ullswater, called attention to the pernicious and growing habit of legislation by adaptation; that is to say, in other words, the tacking to an essentially English Bill of a short clause and a schedule applying the Bill to Scotland. This is a far more glaring case of tacking than the Bill we were debating last week, the Children and Young Persons Bill. This Bill affects 475 local government, land tenure, conveyancing, valuation, and rating, all of which systems in Scotland are extremely different from the systems in England, and it has been extremely difficult for members of this House from Scotland, in plodding through these Amendments, to understand what effect they would have on the Bill as applied to Scotland. In another place when this Bill was under discussion what happened? It was remitted to a Grand Committee of sixty-six members of whom only five were Scottish members, and of those five not one, I think, represented the Association of County Councils of Scotland or the Convention of Burghs. My noble friend Lord Crawford, on the Second Reading, said that the need for town planning in Scotland was even greater than it was in England. That, I think, is perfectly true, but it is a strong reason why there should be a separate and independent Bill for Scotland.
Your Lordships know that at present there is a Party in Scotland which calls itself the Nationalist Party. That is a Home Rule Party. It does not cut much ice at the present time. The candidates usually forfeit their deposits. But if it comes to be thought that Scottish interests are being neglected at Westminster and that Scotland is merely an appendage to England in the matter of legislation, then that Party will increase by leaps and bounds to the great embarrassment of the older Parties. Individual county councils as well as the Association of County Councils in Scotland have passed resolutions craving that this Bill may be withdrawn as applied to Scotland and a new and independent Bill be introduced for Scotland, and I must say that in twenty-five years experience as a member of the Association of County Councils of Scotland I have never known the Association so unanimous about anything. This Bill if it passes will not come into force until April, 1933. There will be ample time during the autumn and winter months to introduce and pass a separate Bill for Scotland. I therefore ask the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill if he cannot accept the Amendment to strike out the clause and give us a promise that without undue delay a Bill for Scotland will be introduced.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
If I might put it arithmetically, with nearly 476 99 per cent. of what noble Lords have said I find myself in complete agreement, and I am very glad indeed that they have raised this point, because I think it is an important point in the interests of Scotland. I thought I gathered, however, that the noble Lords did not challenge so much the Bill as applying to Scotland as the procedure under which the Bill has been applied to Scotland. I need not explain that to the noble Lords, because it was explained very lucidly by the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House in connection with the Children and Young Persons Bill. What he there pointed out was that we had, as we have here, provided that the Bill shall apply to Scotland subject to the adaptations and modifications specified in the Sixth Schedule. Then there is a clause saying that for the convenience of Scottish lawyers certain steps shall be taken so as to make a copy of the Act as applied to Scotland. In coming to that method of procedure we were not acting upon any English idea to deprive our Scottish friends of any opportunity of discussing the Bill. We had the express approval, as Lord Hailsham pointed out, of two or three responsible Scottish authorities. The Faculty of Advocates expressed their view that it would be a convenience to the profession and an improvement on any former system. The Glasgow Faculty of Procurators said the same thing, and the Association of the Clerks of the Peace in Scotland also said the same thing.
But in spite of what those learned bodies have said I have a great deal of sympathy with what both the noble Lords have said, and I think it would be an unfortunate precedent if this were always observed, and therefore what I propose to do is this. I propose to read a statement in the form of an undertaking which I am quite sure will satisfy your Lordships. What we propose to do is this. While the Government are in favour of securing, wherever it is practicable, that legislation affecting Scotland should pass through the Scottish Grand Committee, they are satisfied that, if the legislative proposals of the present Session regarding children and young persons and town and country planning had been embodied in separate Bills for England and Scotland, it is certain that these proposals could not have reached the Statute Book during the present Session. The Scottish 477 Grand Committee could not have dealt within the limits of a single Session with two Scottish Bills dealing with the subjects mentioned, in addition to the other Bills which came before it—as it was, the two Bills were dealt with by different Committees sitting at the same time—and it would have been impossible to find time in the House of Commons to pass four Bills—two English and two Scottish, dealing with these subjects. Even if that is so, I quite see what noble Lords say regarding the inconvenience of this practice.
When legislation for both countries on substantially the same lines is proposed, although it cannot be carried out in identical terms owing to differences in the two countries in matters of law, administration, local government and even nomenclature, and although differences in circumstances may even involve slight differences in substance as well as in form, it would obviously involve waste of Parliamentary time to debate and pass the same proposals (subject only to modification in matters of detail) twice. But I give this undertaking, that when there are material differences on grounds of policy between the proposals for the two countries, or when the application of the similar proposals involves complex and extensive adaptation or the provision or utilisation of different machinery, it is certainly the desire and intention of the Government that there should be separate legislation for Scotland and ample opportunity for full discussion in the Scottish Grand Committee.
That is the procedure which ought to take place in the future. I am sorry it has not taken place on the present occasion, but I do not think any harm has been done, and I think it would be unfortunate, if noble Lords will allow me to say so, in the interests of Scotland if this Bill were not accepted under those conditions. We will say that it is not, a precedent, but where there are real differences there should be separate legislation. As I do not gather that your Lordships wish to hang up the Bill and as I gather that you want most of it to apply to Scotland, I trust that will be a satisfactory explanation.
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
I am very glad to have heard the explanation of the Lord Chancellor. I do not say that it satisfies us but we poor Scots- 478 men are humble people who are accustomed to be done by everybody and, as your Lordships know, we are always put off until a late hour when there is no one here. There is a good deal of feeling in Scotland among lawyers that they will not be able to understand the Bill, but it will soon be known whether that is a real grievance or not. I hope the assurances of the luminaries on the Government Bench will turn out to be correct. Of course there is also great feeling in Scotland against the Bill altogether. A great many people think that Scotland, with a dwindling population, is not ready for it. However, I suppose we shall have to submit to the inevitable. We always take it very mildly and meekly. We mast still make a protest and hope it will not occur again although I am quite certain it will.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 56 agreed to.
§ Clause 57 agreed to.
§ First Schedule agreed to.
§ Second Schedule: