HL Deb 01 August 1935 vol 98 cc1054-9

Clause 10, page 12. The Commons have re-inserted Clause 10 (which was formally omitted by the Lords, on Third Reading, as a Privilege Amendment) in the following form:

Power to acquire land for road purposes.

(".—(1) Any highway authority May acquire any land within two hundred and twenty yards from the middle of any road the acquisition of which is, in their opinion, necessary for the purposes of the construction or improvement of the road or of preventing the erection of buildings detrimental to the view from the road and, if they are unable to do so by agreement on terms which are in their opinion reasonable, they may purchase the land compulsorily by means of an order (in this Act referred to as a "compulsory purchase orders") made by them and confirmed by the Minister and the provisions of Sections one hundred and sixty-one and one hundred and sixty-two, one hundred and seventy-four and one hundred and seventy-five of the Local Government Act, 1933, and of paragraph (a) of Section one hundred and seventy-nine of that Act, shall apply with respect to any such order in like manner as they apply to orders to be confirmed by the Minister of Health under that Act:

Provided that the Lands Clauses Acts and the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, as incorporated in the order, shall be subject to the following modifications, that is to say, in determining the amount of any compensation—

  1. (a) the arbitrator shall have regard to the extent to which the remaining contiguous lands belonging to the same person may be benefited by the purpose for which the land is authorised to be acquired, and in particular (without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this paragraph) shall in the case of land authorised to be acquired for the widening of any road, set off against the value of the land to be acquired any increase in the value of other land belonging to the same person which will accrue by reason of the creation of a frontage to the road as widened; and
  2. (b) the arbitrator shall take into account and embody in his award any undertaking given by the highway authority as to the use to which the land, or any part thereof, will be put.

(2) Any highway authority may acquire by agreement any land in the neighbourhood of any road being land which they consider it desirable to acquire for the purposes of preserving the amenities of the locality in which it is situated (including the purpose of preventing the erection of buildings detrimental to the view from the road).

(3) The following provisions shall have effect with respect to the acquisition of land under the powers conferred by this section, and with respect to land acquired under those powers—

  1. (a) except for the purposes of the construction or improvement of a road a highway authority shall not, under the said powers, acquire compulsorily any land which is required to be retained as part of a park, garden, pleasure ground, or home farm attached to and usually occupied with a mansion house, or is otherwise required for the amenity or convenience of any dwelling-house existing when the compulsory purchase order is made or which is for the time being subject to conditions restricting the planning, development or use thereof imposed by any agreement enforceable under Section thirty-four of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932;
  2. (b) whenever land is acquired by a highway authority under the said powers the authority shall furnish to the Minister, 1056 in a form approved by him, sufficient particulars of the purposes for which the land is acquired and of the manner in which it is intended to be used for those purposes and the said particulars shall be so furnished in the case of land to be acquired by means of a compulsory purchase order by specifying them in the order submitted to the Minister, and in any other case in such manner as the Minister may direct;
  3. (c) a highway authority shall not have power to use in any manner other than that specified in the particulars furnished under the last foregoing paragraph or to let, sell, or exchange any land which has been acquired by them under the said powers for the purposes of preventing the erection of buildings detrimental to the view from a road or for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2) of this section unless they are authorised to do so by an order made by the Minister of Health and, except in the case of an order authorising the letting of such land for a term not exceeding seven years for purposes specified in the order, being purposes which, in the opinion of the Minister of Health, are consistent with the preservation of the amenities of the locality, any such order shall be provisional only and shall not have effect unless and until it is confirmed by Parliament.

(4) The powers conferred upon highway authorities by Section one of the Roads Improvement Act, 1925 (which relates to the planting of trees and shrubs and the laying out of grass margins), may be exercised upon any land required by a highway authority under this section notwithstanding that the land does not form part of a highway.

(5) Where any highway authority are authorised by an order confirmed under this section to purchase land compulsorily, then, at any time after notice to treat has been served, the authority may, after giving to the owner and to the occupier of the land not less than fourteen days' notice, enter on and take possession of the land or such part thereof as is specified in the notice, without previous consent or compliance with Sections eighty-four to ninety of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, but subject to the payment of the like compensation for the land of which possession is taken, and interest on the compensation awarded, as would have been payable if those provisions had been complied with.

(6) Save as is provided in the section of this Act next following nothing in this section shall authorise the compulsory acquisition of any land which is the property of any local authority (including any drainage board) or has been acquired by any statutory undertakers for the purposes of their undertaking.")


My Lords, as it appears on the Paper this Amendment contains a misprint. If you look at page 12 of the Paper, you will see in paragraph (c), the ninth line down, the words "subsection (1) of this section." It should read "subsection (2) of this section."


My Lords, you will recognise that this clause differs in material respects from Clause 10 as we knew it. Of course this clause had in any case to be brought up in the other place for reasons of Privilege, the Bill having come originally from this House. So far as concerns acquisition of land for construction or improvement of roads, the clause gives no new powers, and merely codifies existing procedure. Since 1875 highway authorities have possessed compulsory purchase powers for road purposes; since 1909, under the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, the Provisional Order procedure has been replaced by an Order of the Development Commissioners in any case where grant is made from the, Road Fund; and since 1930, under the Public Works Facilities Act, an Order confirmed by the Minister of Transport has been an alternative to the Development Commissioners' Order.

Criticism of the clause was mainly, if not exclusively, directed to the proposed power to purchase, firstly, for control of development of frontages, and secondly, for preservation of amenities. Of these two, the first has been dropped entirely from the Bill; the second has been limited, so far as concerns compulsory purchase, to the prevention of erection of buildings detrimental to the view from the road. The purpose for which the land is to be acquired is now required to be stated fully in the Order itself, and the authority can only alienate the land with the express consent of Parliament. Short period lettings, for example, for agricultural purposes, may be permitted by the Minister of Health, but only if he is satisfied that such lettings will not interfere with the purpose for which the land is acquired. Cattle may well form a pleasant feature of the landscape. As suggested by Lord Phillimore, very wide exemptions from liability to compulsory purchase for prevention of erecting detrimental buildings have been introduced; for example, gardens and the like, and all land which is the subject of a planning agreement. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Earl of Plymouth.)


My Lords, I will only say one word in order to thank the noble Earl for having reconsidered one of the worst portions of this clause, because I should have thought that no one could be a worse judge of amenities than the Minister, who could not possibly go throughout the country hearing discussions on the subject. Now that the matter has been brought down to what is really wanted, for the view of the road or a building which may be erected detrimentally to the landscape, I think it will have much more sympathy in this House than it had when it was defended by my noble friend with all the power at his command, although without his having convinced me that he was himself satisfied with his own argument. I hope that we shall accept the clause, as amended.


My Lords, perhaps I may be permitted to say a few words while Clause 10 undergoes emasculation. I would still rather be without the clause at all. Lord Plymouth has assured us that so far as the powers taken for the highway authorities are concerned it is mere codification of the existing law, and that bears out what I said at an earlier stage—namely, that it is merely redundant. For the rest, nearly all the objectionable features of the old clause have gone. There is retained the power to prevent the erection of buildings detrimental to the view from the road. Of course there will still be open a wide field of argument as to whether buildings are or are not detrimental to the view, and that I take it will be a matter much welcomed by the legal profession; but so far as the objectionable features of the clause are concerned they have been really removed.

It is not unreasonable that within certain limits the authority should be given power to prevent the erection of detrimental buildings. I do not object to it in the slightest degree, particularly now that the highway authority are debarred from becoming dealers in land, and that the purpose for which the acquisition is made will have to be adhered to during the period for which the authority remain owner. There is also a most valuable introduction into the clause which meets one of the major objections, in that a great number of private residences are situated at a less distance than 220 yards from the middle of the road, and the interference with the liberty of the subject as proposed under the old clause was of a very drastic kind. Now it is no longer going to be possible to take land off the grounds attached to these residences otherwise than for the purpose of widening and improving the road. In truth, the old Clause 10 is dead; and whereas it was only kept alive in this House with the aid of the votes of those noble Lords whose most pleasant dream is of a large body of rural landowners hunger marching to Hyde Park, it has met with its clue fate in another place, and common sense has at last been allowed to prevail. I am very grateful that it is possible for us to accept Clause 10 in its present form, and I trust that nothing in the nature of the old Clause 10 will ever again reappear in this House. I welcome the amended clause.


My Lords, the noble Earl was good enough to say that he thought this clause had been improved in certain directions to which I called the attention of the House. I entirely agree with him. I am grateful to him for his help, and I am sure that is so. The point, however, that I want to make is this. The interpretation (or shall I say, the working of this clause?) the giving life to it, has been left to the wrong authority, and before this Bill finally passes all its stages I want to place that on record. This Bill has to a certain extent dealt a death blow at the town planning authority. Already we are finding that the moral authority of the town planning authority has been gravely injured by the fact that powers have been handed for amenity purposes in the main to the highway authority. It is a grave mistake. I wish to emphasise that it was a mistake and I hope it is one that will not be repeated in any subsequent legislation.

On Question, Motion agreed to.