HL Deb 26 June 1947 vol 149 cc453-502

8.30 p.m.

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

Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF DROGHEDA in the Chair.]

Clause 2:

The Central Land Board.

(3) The Ministers may appoint a Secretary to the Board and the Board may appoint such other officers and such servants as the Ministers may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine.

(4) There shall be paid to the members, officers and servants of the Board such remuneration (whether by way of salaries or by way of fees), and such reasonable allowances in respect of expenses properly incurred in the performance of their duties, as may be determined by the Ministers with the consent of the Treasury; and any such remuneration and allowances as aforesaid shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament.

(5) The Ministers may make regulations with respect to any of the following matters, that is to say:—

  1. (a) the appointment of members of the Board, and their tenure and vacation of office;
  2. (b) the quorum, proceedings and meetings of the Board, and determinations of the Board; and
  3. (c) the execution of instruments by or on behalf of the Board, and the proof of documents purporting to be executed, issued or signed by the Board or by a member, officer or servant thereof,
and subject to the provisions of any such regulations as aforesaid, the Board shall have power to regulate their own procedure.

(6) The Board shall, as soon as possible after the end of each financial year of the Board, make to the Ministers a report on the exercise and performance by them of their functions under this Act during that year; and the Ministers shall lay a copy of every such report before each House of Parliament.

THE EARL OF RADNOR had given notice to move, in subsection (2) to leave out: "Ministers may appoint a Secretary to the Board, and the Board may appoint "and insert: "Board may appoint a Secretary from amongst persons recommended by the Ministers and". The noble Earl said: With your Lordships' permission I propose to move the first Amendment which stands in my name, and also the second, in a slightly different form from that which appears on the Marshalled List. My Amendment on page 2, line 10, should now read: "leave out Ministers' and insert Board, with the approval of the Ministers.' "In the next Amendment I shall ask the Committee to leave out "The Board may appoint" in line 11. The effect of these is that the subsection would read: The Board, with the approval of the Ministers, may appoint a Secretary to the Board and such other officers and such servants as the Ministers may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine.

Amendment moved,— Page 2, line 10, leave out from the first ("the") to ("such") in line 11 and insert ("Board may, with the approval of the Ministers, appoint a Secretary and").—(The Earl of Radnor.)


This is the first Amendment on this Bill, and I always like to start well, at any rate. Therefore I should like to say that I am prepared to accept this Amendment, it being understood, of course, that the noble Earl will allow me on the Report stage to look at the words which have been rather hurriedly put together, to see if they are quite right. I have been somewhat criticized for not being in my place on the Transport Bill yesterday. May I say that I was not at the Lincolnshire. I was, in fact, working behind the scenes on this Bill, trying to make myself available to those of your Lordships who wished to come and see me on various difficulties. I was not at Lord's nor at Wimbledon, though I would very much rather have been at either place. But I was not in any way neglecting my duties.

It is extremely important that this Board should be a really good Board. If, by any chance, we get—but thank God! we have not got in this country—any sort of funny business, or dirty work creeping into our scheme, the scheme would go to pieces, and it is right that the Civil Service rule should apply that the head of a Department such as this should be appointed by the Prime Minis- ter himself, or at any rate with his approval. He will be an Accounting Officer, and the Prime Minister must have the last word. But in accepting this Amendment, I thought it would not matter very much whether the formal appointment was made by the Board with the approval of the Minister, or by the Minister who certainly would have the approval of the Board. In any case, the Minister, before deciding, would according to Civil Service practice, have to have the approval of the Prime Minister. This relates to the appointment of a very important officer, and if the noble Earl thinks it is no improvement I am willing to be guided by him. I am very ready to accept it.


If I may say so, I think the noble Viscount, although he started somewhat over promptly, has started very well. I thank him for having accepted the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE EARL OF SELKIRKmoved, after subsection (3) to insert: (4) For the purpose of the performance by the Board of the functions assigned to them by any provisions corresponding to the provisions of this Act which may be enacted in relation to Scotland the Board shall appoint a Committee which shall consist partly of members who are members or officers of the Board and partly of members, not exceeding three in number, who are not members or officers of the Board, and the Board may delegate, subject to such restrictions or conditions as they may think fit, any of their functions to the said Committee. The Committee so appointed shall be a body corporate.

The noble Earl said: We had an equivocal statement from the noble Viscount on the Second Reading, giving one reason for the divorce of Scotland from the Central Land Board. I gave two more in my Second Reading speech, but I am sure that only one reason for divorce is necessary. It is adequate in itself. I do not propose to recount the reasons for the divorce. The only question on this Amendment is the nature of the terms of that divorce. The terms which are proposed in this Amendment are substantially drawn from the model existing in the Forestry Act, 1945. It is not exactly the same, because it was felt, from the way in which the Bill was drafted, that it would be more suitable for Scotland if the Forestry Committee were to continue to exist and to carry out their functions separately. This seems to me, if I may say so, a compromise that meets the essential feature, and the essential feature which the Lord Chancellor has already emphasized is the Central Land Board for dealing with certain factors which require consideration for the whole of the United Kingdom. This is for administration locally, but no doubt the Central Board will have a good deal of administrative control in one way or another. The Bill says that the Secretary of State for Scotland is the central figure for planning for Scotland. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 13, at end insert the said subsection.—(The Earl of Selkirk.)


As I said before, from the planning point of view, speaking for myself, I see no objection to a divorce, but the Amendment which the noble Earl has moved is not a divorce, it is merely a separation; it is not even that. He contemplates one Central Land Board for the two countries, but he contemplates that a Committee should be set up under that Central Land Board for Scotland. The noble Earl, if he remembers his Biblical history—I have not verified my references—may remember that when Balaam the son of Beor was called upon by Balak, the son of Zippor, to curse the children of Israel, he said he could speak only what the Lord put into his mouth. The Lord in this case is the Secretary of State for Scotland, perhaps tinged with a little Minister of Town and Country Planning. So far as I am concerned, I think that this particular Amendment should find its place in the Scottish Bill. After all, the noble Lord is not here proposing separation; he is proposing one Central Land Board, and that the Central Land Board, so far as it operates in Scotland, should operate by means of a Committee.

There is now under consideration—I think it is still before the Grand Committee—the Scottish Town and Country Planning Bill, and in a few days' or a few weeks' time we shall consider it here. It seems to me that that is the proper time at which to move this Amendment. Speaking for myself, so far as I am responsible for planning, it does not matter what is done. I must, however, leave this to the Secretary of State for Scotland, to take whatever decision he thinks right on the Scottish Bill, because it is purely of Scottish application. If he, and your Lordships, think that this is the best way to do it for Scotland, I have not the slightest objection. I would only add this, and I am sure that the Earl of Selkirk would agree with me: that whether we have one Central Land Board or two separate Boards—and the present proposal is for one Board—it is essential to observe that, so far as possible, the same sort of principles should apply both in England and in. Scotland. We want neither an injustice to Scotland nor an injustice to England. That is why presumably the noble Earl has left the idea of the one Board, in order to ensure that there may be that unity of outlook, though for practical local and administrative purposes he suggests that there should be a Scottish Committee on an analogy to the Forestry Commission.

I am not at all unsympathetic to the Amendment, but I think it is really a matter upon which I ought to get instructions from the Secretary of State for Scotland which I have not yet had. If the noble Earl had suggested splitting the Central Land Board into two, then that would have arisen on this Bill, but, as his Amendment is for keeping one Central Land Board and having, so far as Scotland is concerned, the machinery of the Committee, it seems to me that it is a Scottish question which had better be debated on the Scottish Bill. I would ask the noble Earl not to press his Amendment now. We are in no way disposed to quarrel with his Amendment, but I have no authority to accept it so far as Scotland is concerned.


While thanking the Lord Chancellor for his reply, I am not at all clear as to how strong the assurance is that the point can be met in the same way. I hope it will be open to us on Report stage to press this matter further, if we are not able on the Scottish Bill to secure our objective. I would like to support my noble friend, and in doing so I would say that I am certain the feeling throughout Scotland would be very strong indeed that we in Scotland should have our own organization, whether a sub-committee or a Board. What we desire is something which is probably quite as far as separation, but not quite the same as divorce. I think something between the two is essential. The question of distance and the question of differences have been referred to before; and also the great difference in land laws. I do not think a Committee composed almost entirely of Englishmen, sitting in London, would be well qualified to deal with that, or that they themselves would want to do so. I do feel, also, that reference to the Forestry Commission is very appropriate. Without a national committee in Scotland we could not possibly handle the forestry affairs in Scotland. This will also be on a large scale, and I am sure we shall need our own people there to deal with it.


May I give the noble Duke this reassurance. I am satisfied that it would be quite in order to move this Amendment on the Scottish Bill. It is entirely a Scottish matter, and the proper vehicle for this Amendment is the Scottish Bill. So far as I am concerned, if I am in charge of the Scottish Bill when it is introduced, and I receive instructions to accept this Amendment, I shall do so very readily. I have no idea what instructions I shall receive, and I have no reason to suppose that shall have them one way or the other. I am sure that the Scottish Bill is the proper place to move this Amendment, and not this Bill. The noble Duke knows that it was always contemplated that the Central Land Board should have an office in Edinburgh and conduct from Edinburgh their Scottish business. That is why I presume the noble Earl did not move that the Central Land Board should be split in two.


I am sorry to prolong this matter. I am quite satisfied with what the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, has told us. I would, however, through the noble and learned Viscount, put one point to the Secretary of State for Scotland. In the course of my life I have often had occasion to discuss Scottish legal matters with English lawyers, and very often land matters. My feeling is that they always tend to assimilate points in our Scottish system to something of which they have experience, and to argue it on the lines of those legal principles of which they have experience. If I may give your Lordships my own feelings on that matter, it is supremely irritating to deal with a man who thinks he understands you, when you are quite confident that he never does quite understand you. The Scottish land system is well understood by a large proportion of the Scottish people (I do not mean that everybody understands it, but a large proportion of the population do) and it would be supremely irritating to people in Scotland who had matters to represent to feel that they were not properly understood. If you feel that you have been, heard, you may take a decision you do not like with comparative equanimity; but if you feel your case has not even been understood, you feel a grievance. I hope I have not detained your Lordships too long in putting that point, which does seem to me to be of some importance.


I do not know if I understood the noble and learned Viscount correctly. If there were an Amendment moved in the Scottish Bill to meet this point, do I understand that no consequential Amendment would be necessary in the present Bill?




As I am assured on that point, it does seem to me that perhaps this is largely a Scottish question and had better be discussed on the Scottish Bill. Perhaps we should be well advised to leave it now. But I very much hope that the right honourable gentleman, the Secretary of State for Scotland, will bear in mind what has been said in this House in regard to giving some kind of a separate body, but largely connected with the other, for Scottish affairs. For myself, I do not see why we do not do something on the lines of the Amendment proposed by my noble friend, because then, with the three additional members appointed to act in Scotland, there would obviously be people who knew Scottish law and who knew Scottish customs. That seems to me to be highly important for the proper functioning of this Land Board in respect to Scottish affairs. I hope noble Lords opposite will press upon the Secretary of State the deep feeling which I know exists in this matter in this House, and will not take it that because we have shortened the discussion to-night it is any the less deeply felt.


I am pleased to have the noble and learned Viscount's sympathy, but I am afraid I must take a very brave course and differ fundamentally with him in regard to the impossibility of imposing an Amendment of this nature in another way. I must draw the noble and learned Viscount's attention to Clause 2, which says: For the purpose of the performance of the functions assigned to them"— that is, the Central Land Board— by the following provisions of this Act, and by any corresponding provisions which may be enacted in relation to Scotland… Unless there is a divorce at this stage, it is quite impossible to get away from that.

I would also refer the noble and learned Viscount to Clause 3 (1), which says: The Central Land Board shall, in the performance of their functions under this Act, comply with such directions of a general character as may be given to them by the Minister. It is perfectly clear that that refers to the Minister of Town and Country Planning. If it is not put in this Bill it will be ineffective.


Would the noble Earl forgive me? I quite agree with him if he is proposing that there should be two Central Land Boards. He is not suggesting that. His Amendment is proceeding on the basis that there is one Central Land Board, and the passage he read out is consistent with their being one Central Land Board. But having secured and retained one Central Land Board he is then suggesting, by his Amendment, that there shall be a Committee, sub-committee or whatever you call it, of that Land Board in Scotland for Scottish purposes. All I am saying is that it is perfectly consistent with there being one Central Land Board. This is purely a Scottish question to be dealt with by a Scottish Bill.


I regret that I did not hear the beginning of this discussion, but what has been said by the noble and learned Viscount does not, if I may say so with the greatest respect, seem at all satisfactory. In Scotland, if you take this Bill as it stands, it says that there shall be a Minister and the Secretary of State in charge of certain functions connected with Scotland. Unless you have a Board or Committee in Scotland it will be quite impossible for Scotland to deal with her own affairs on a Scottish basis. What the noble and learned Viscount says is that you have a Central Land Board or Committee, or whatever it may be, and that that Committee will be able to deal with these affairs under the Bill as it stands. As my noble friend Lord Selkirk points out, in Clause 3 of this Act it says that: the Central Land Board shall, in the performance of their functions under this Act, comply with such directions of a general character as may be given to them by the Minister. It does not even say "the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland." It throws back to the Minister alone all these functions which are to be exercised under Clause 5. Why is it necessary, in the first instance, to have a separate Town and Country Planning Act for Scotland and at the same time to bring into this Bill part of their functions? Why not give to Scotland everything and not only three-quarters?


The reason for that is that we are proposing by this Bill to set up a Central Land Board and the Central Land Board are to operate in both countries; no one has any Amendment down to alter that. Will the noble Viscount realize that? No one is proposing to alter that Amendment. There is to be in this Bill, therefore, unamended as it is, one Central Board for the two countries. All that is proposed is that one unified Land Board shall have power in Scotland to appoint a Committee or sub-committee. All I am suggesting, and it seems to me obvious, is that this is a Scottish matter, to be dealt with in the Scottish Bill. If you were to split up the Land Board, then I quite agree it would have to be in this Bill; but in view of the fact that everybody is accepting the idea of a unified Land Board for the two countries, and all you are seeking to do is to set up a Committee for Scottish affairs, I suggest that that is a matter to be dealt with in the Scottish Bill and that no Amendment whatever is necessary to the present. Bill.


In view of the noble and learned Viscount's explanation, may I suggest to him that Clause 2, so far as that wording is concerned, would not fit in with what he suggests? If Scotsmen are suspicious that they will not obtain their rights, surely it is perfectly obvious that Clause 2 is the cause of these suspicions. I hope the Lord Chancellor will now say something about Clause 2 as well as Clause 1.


I have said it, and I really cannot say it all over again. There really is nothing between us here. I wish the noble Viscount would not be suspicious of me.


I cannot help it, because the noble and learned Viscount is so persuasive.


The only way to be persuasive for any length of time is to be always completely candid. If there is any trick I assure the noble Viscount I will tell him, because I know that if I trip him up once I shall never do it again. I assure hire there is no trick. If he were moving to split up the Central Land Board I would tell him he ought to do it in this Bill. But as he is proposing to have one unified Board, then I say that so far as the Board in Scotland is concerned that is a matter for the Scottish Bill.


May I ask whether the Secretary of State is to be included with the Minister?


The noble Viscount will see that the word is in the plural, "Ministers."


It is quite clear that the noble and learned Viscount has not received his instructions from the noble Lord. I shall return to this on the Report stage because I am not convinced that this is a matter which can be settled simply in the Scottish Bill. I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.2 p.m.

LORD LLEWELLIN moved to leave out paragraph (b) of subsection (5). The noble Lord said: Mine is a simple Amendment to leave out paragraph (b) in subsection (5) of Clause 2. The effect of it is that if this Amendment be accepted the Board, which equally with the Lord Chancellor I hope will be strong and independent, and a thoroughly good body, will be thought fit to regulate matters such as its quorum, meetings, proceedings and determinations of the Board. That is the reason why I move this Amendment. Personally, when a body of this sort are set up, I like to be able to trust them to be able to do the things that any ordinary board in other walks of life do. I do not think I need take up the time of the Committee any further. With those few words I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 26, leave out paragraph (b).—(Lord Llewellin.)


I am happy to emulate the noble and learned Viscount by starting with an acceptance. I am quite prepared to accept the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment standing in the name of my noble and learned friend is really consequential on the acceptance of the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin. Now that that Amendment has been accepted there will be no power to make regulations for prescribing the procedure on the determination of the Board. It is therefore necessary to make the Amendment in order to empower the Board to fix their own procedure in determining questions under the Bill. Similar words are included in paragraph 6 of the First Schedule of the War Damage Act, 1943. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 34, at end insert— including the manner in which matters subject to the determination of the Board are to be determined by or on behalf of the Board."—(Lord Henderson.)


I am obliged for this. As the noble Lord said, it is consequential on what has been accepted.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


By the next Amendment I propose to leave out "Under this Act." This is a little more than a drafting Amendment. This part alone (and the £300,000,000) applies to Scotland. The rest does not.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 38, leave out ("Under this Act").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT ELIBANK moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "Minister" and insert "Ministers." The noble Viscount said: On behalf of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, I am moving this Amendment because I believe that it affects the whole principle of this Bill so far as Scotland is concerned. I do not propose to reiterate the arguments which I made just now, and I will ask the noble and learned Viscount to say what are his reasons for not accepting this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 47, leave out "Minister" and insert "Ministers."—(Viscount Elibank.)


I think I can give a very simple explanation why this Amendment is unnecessary. The Bill, as it stands, gives the Minister power to issue directions to the Board so far as this Bill is concerned; it does not apply to Scotland, except in so far as the Board covers both countries. Clause 1 (3) of the Town and Country Planning Bill (Scotland), which applies only to Scotland, provides that the Secretary of State may issue directions to the Board in relation to land in Scotland, and gives the Minister, under this Bill, no power to issue directions in relation to such land. So there are corresponding clauses in the two measures, one enabling the Minister in this country to be responsible for dealing with land in this country, and a corresponding clause in the Scottish Bill which gives the Secretary of State power to deal with it so far as it affects Scotland.


As I understand the Bill, this clause, as the noble Lord has said, gives the Minister power to issue certain directions. Those directions are bound up with the finances of the Bill. From what I understand of the finances of the Bill, there are so many millions of pounds which are allocated between the three countries, and the Minister has full power to decide with regard to that finance. If the Minister, under Clause 1, has the right of direction, in consultation with the Secretary of State, in regard to those other finances, why should the Secretary of State not have the power of direction in regard to the amounts allocated to Scotland? I do not know what they are, whether they are going to be the old Goschen eleven eighty-ninths, or not. I hope, at least, that they will be the Goschen equation. But, whatever they are, I submit, with great respect, that the Secretary of State for Scotland has as much right as the Minister here to decide how those moneys are to be allocated. Will the noble Lord say whether the Secretary of State, under this clause, will have the right to give directions so far as allocations of those moneys are concerned?


We English are very slow to wrath, but really, I do think, if I may say so with great respect, that this is getting a little hard. Does the noble Viscount suggest that a Secretary of State for Scotland should be concerned in the issue of directions concerning England and Wales? Because I do not suggest that the Minister of Town and Country Planning should be concerned in any directions to Scotland. This is a direction to the Central Land Board, and anybody who has read this Bill—I say it with the greatest respect—must know that this direction to the Central Land Board is in no way concerned with the splitting of the£300,000,000, which is to be done by the Treasury and not by the Central Land Board. This is a question of directions to be given to the Central Land Board by the Minister of Town and Country Planning in England and Wales, and, under the corresponding Bill, the Secretary of State for Scotland in Scotland. Unless the noble Viscount is going to say that the Secretary of State for Scotland should have the right to concern himself in directions given in regard to England and Wales, I do not understand the scope of this Amendment. I certainly do not suggest that the Minister of Town and Country Planning should have any lot or part whatever in directions to be given to the Central Land Board in regard to Scotland.


I have not suggested for one moment—and I do not know why the noble and learned Viscount should have taken this view of the remarks I made—that Scotland should have anything to do with the direction or allocation or the moneys allocated to England or Wales. The point I made was that Scotland should have the right to have some directive in regard to the moneys to be allocated to Scotland. What the noble and learned Viscount says is that the Treasury has the right to decide that; but surely the Treasury must get the guidance and direction of the Government as to how they wish the money to be allocated and whether it is to be for England or Wales or Scotland. It is not for the Treasury to decide to allocate so much to this country or that. I cannot accept the noble and learned Viscount's suggestion. It is quite a new idea. I have been connected with Governments and with public affairs for a great many years and I have never heard that it was the Treasury that directed the policy of the Government with regard to moneys to be allocated. I should like to hear the noble and learned Viscount say more about it.


I will try once more. Will the noble Viscount look at Clause 3? He will see: The Central Land Board shall, in the performance of their functions under this Act, comply with such directions of a general character as may be given to them by the Minister. It is in the singular. Now we have to consider what other functions there are under this Bill. What I have not been able to get into the mind of the noble Viscount is that the functions have absolutely nothing to do with the division of this £300,000,000. If the noble Viscount will be good enough to turn to Clause 55 which sets up the Fund he will see that it is for the Treasury to divide the £300,000,000 between England, Wales and Scotland. This is in subsection (2). All I am saying is that this is not one of the functions of the Central Land Board and cannot be affected by any directions to be given by any Minister.


The noble and learned Viscount suggested in his reply that the Treasury give the directive in this matter. He did not refer to Clause 3 in his reply to me. He has now referred to Clause 55 and I agree with him that under that clause the Treasury give the directive in the allocation of this money. All I can say is that that is an entirely new form of policy for any Government. I agree that it is there, but I do not agree with the policy.


Perhaps I may say that I think my noble friend's Amendment is misconceived. If we were to put in here, as is attempted by this Amendment, that the Secretary of State for Scotland is to control the Central Land Board in regard to dealing with England and Wales, when the Scottish Bill comes before us I should join with the Lord Chancellor in putting in that the Minister of Town and County Planning together with the Secretary of State should deal with Scottish affairs. I do not think Scotland would like that. The Amendment is really misconceived. It is quite true that both are going to have a say in setting up the Central Land Board. When it receives directions as to its functions, there is one Minister, the Minister of Town and Country Planning, dealing with England and Wales, and, as we shall see when the Scottish Bill comes before us, there is another Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland, dealing with Scotland. That will be the position and, if I might suggest it, having explored the position thoroughly well, perhaps the noble Viscount would be good enough to withdraw his Amendment so that we may proceed to the next.


In view of what has been said, I withdraw the Amendment, but as a great deal of money is concerned in this matter, I hope that what I have said will not be overlooked.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 [General provisions as to functions of Central Land Board]:

On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?


I understood the Lord Chancellor to say that the financial section, Part VI of the Bill, was entirely out of the purview of the Central Land Board, but surely they come into it in some respect in Clause 57. I find that the Central Land Board come into Clause 57, both in subsection (1) and subsection (4), and I rather think they also come in later in Clause 59, but I cannot immediately trace that. It is so in Clause 61. I cannot help thinking that the statement from the Lord Chancellor, as I understood it—but perhaps I did not understand it—was rather the opposite.


I think the noble Lord has misunderstood me. Viscount Elibank seemed to think that the Central Land Board were in some way concerned with the splitting up of the £300,000,000; they are not. What the Treasury has to do is to formulate a scheme under Clause 56, subsection (4) (line 20, at page 66). The scheme has to be laid before Parliament and Parliament can annul it. All I was concerned to show for the moment was that the Central Land Board have nothing to do with the alloca- tion of the £300,000,000. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that £250,000,000 is allocated to England and Wales and £50,000,000 to Scotland. The £250,000,000 for what is English or Scottish, as the case may be, is allocated and the Central Land Board do come in, because they have to present claims. But they are not concerned with the allocation of the two sums of money, and therefore there is no injustice to Scotland in Clause 3.


They do not come in, as I understand it, on the allocation of the global sum, but they do come in so far as claims under that sum are concerned.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Local planning authorities.

4.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the local planning authority for the purposes of this Act shall, for each county or county borough, be the council of that county or borough.

(2) If it appears to the Minister that it is expedient that a joint board should be established as the local planning authority for the areas of any two or more such councils as aforesaid, or for any parts of those areas, he may by order constitute those areas or parts as a united district for the purposes of this Act, and constitute a joint board (in this Act referred to as a joint planning board) as the local planning authority for that district:

Provided that the Minister shall not make such an order except after holding a local inquiry unless all the councils concerned have consented to the making of the order.

LORD BROADBRIDGE moved, in subsection (1), after "section" to insert "and section III." The noble Lord said: In moving the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper, it is only necessary for me to say that its object is to strengthen the relationship between Clauses 4 and III. I assume that any discussion that is to take place will take place on Clause III. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 21, after ("section") insert ("and section III").—(Lord Broadbridge.)


I entirely agree with the noble Lord. Let us have a discussion of this matter on Clause III and then, if the noble Lord carries what he wants on Clause III, we can easily put in whatever Amendment is necessary here at a later stage.


I am very much obliged to the noble and learned Viscount.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD ADDINGTON moved, in subsection (2) to leave out "such councils as aforesaid" and insert "county, county borough or county district councils." The noble Lord said: Under this Bill, as your Lordships know, the county councils and the county borough councils are the future planning authorities, and the Minister has taken power to make joint planning boards consisting of those two authorities. What is suggested here is that it might also be convenient in certain cases, where expedient to the Minister, for him to make a joint planning board out of authorities that are part of a county, as well as out of those that are already planning authorities. I think the example given is the case of Middlesex and seven other urban areas, where certain parts of the county, particularly urban parts, have worked together as a whole, somewhat independently from the rest of the county, with very great success. It is thought that in some other districts of England it might be convenient to establish separate planning authorities for part of a county that has rather a special character, with unity of interest, but with less unity of interest with the rest of the county. It is a permissive power to be exercised by the Minister in a case where he thinks it is expedient. The Minister would not be able to do that, even if he wanted to, unless this Amendment were put in the Bill. It is a suggestion thrown out for that purpose, and I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 27, leave out ("such councils as aforesaid") and insert the said new words.—(Lord Addington).


I am obliged to the noble Lord for the suggestion which he has made, but I think it is quite unnecessary under the Bill as it now stands. As the noble Lord rightly said, in the Bill the planning authorities will be the county councils and the county borough councils. The main principle which the noble Lord has in mind was met by the Government in an Amendment to the First Schedule in another place. The noble Lord will remember that the First Schedule enables a county council or a joint board to set up committees and sub-committees; and in the particular case to which the noble Lord referred, of an area of a county council being brought in, it is quite obvious that a committee appointed would be able to include, and is intended to include, a generous representation of the county district representatives. I think that broadly what the noble Lord has in mind is provided for by the Bill as it stands, and, in the circumstances, I hope he will not press the Amendment.


As I say, it is merely put forward as a suggestion, and I do not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT RIDLEY moved, at the end of subsection (2) to insert: where an enquiry has been held under the provisions of this subsection the order shall be laid before Parliament and if either house, within a period of 40 days after the order is so laid before it, resolves that the order be annulled, the order shall thereupon cease to have effect, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder or to the making of a new order.

The noble Viscount said: This is quite a simple Amendment. It provides that, in a case where the Minister makes an order for a joint board of two or more authorities, they can, if they wish, as it were, appeal to Parliament against an order made contrary to their expressed opinions. Many of your Lordships will be familiar with the difficulties which arise in local government when joint boards are set up for various purposes. I think these difficulties have been experienced particularly in connexion with planning. This is such a simple Amendment that I hope very much the Government will be able to accept it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 35, at end, insert the said words.—(Viscount Ridley.)


I am obliged to the noble Viscount for the suggestion he has made in his Amendment, and I have pleasure in accepting it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is a drafting Amendment, and is required simply to correct an oversight consequent or the introduction in another place of a new Part II of the First Schedule. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 44, leave out ("Part III of").—(Lord Henderson.)


May I inquire of His Majesty's Government whether the spelling of the word "inquiry" is correct as it appears in the Bill, or as it appears in the Amendment of my noble friend, Viscount Ridley, because they are different?


Whichever is the correct form will appear in the Bill.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

9.25 p.m.

Clause 5:

Surveys of planning areas and preparation of development plans.

5.—(1) As soon as may be after the appointed day, every local planning authority shall carry out a survey of their area, and shall, not later than three years after the appointed day, or within such extended period as the Minister may in any particular case allow, submit to the Minister a report of the survey together with a plan (hereinafter called a "development plan") indicating the manner in which they propose that land in that area should be used (whether by the carrying out thereon of development or otherwise) and the stages by which any such development should be carried out.

(2) Subject to the provisions of any regulations made under this Act for regulating the form and content of development plans, any such plan shall include such maps and such descriptive matter as may be necessary to illustrate the proposals aforesaid with such degree of particularity as may be appropriate to different parts of the area; and any such plan may in particular—

  1. (a) define the sites of proposed roads, public and other buildings and works, airfields, parks, pleasure grounds and other open spaces, or allocate areas of land for use for agricultural, residential, industrial or other purposes of any class specified in the plan;
  2. (b) designate, as land subject to compulsory acquisition by any Minister, local authority or statutory undertakers any land allocated by the plan for the purposes of any of their functions (including any land which that Minister or authority or those undertakers are or could be authorised to acquire compulsorily under any enactment other than this Act);
  3. (c) designate as land subject to compulsory acquisition by the appropriate local authority—
    1. (i) any land comprised in an area defined by the plan as an area of comprehensive development (including any land therein which is allocated by the plan for any such purpose as is mentioned in paragraphs (b) of this subsection), or any land contiguous or adjacent to any such area;
    2. 472
    3. (ii) any other land which, in the opinion of the local planning authority, ought to be subject to compulsory acquisition for the purpose of securing its use in the manner proposed by the plan.

(3) For the purposes of this section a development plan may define as an area of comprehensive development any area which in the opinion of the local planning authority should be developed or re-developed as a whole, whether for the purpose of dealing satisfactorily with extensive war damage or conditions of bad lay-out or obsolete development, or for the purpose of providing for the relocation of population or industry or the replacement of open space in the course of the development or redevelopment of any other area, or for any other purpose specified in the plan; and land may be included in any area so defined, and designated as subject to compulsory purchase in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, whether or not provision is made by the plan for the development or redevelopment of that particular land.

(4) The Minister may approve any development plan submitted to him under this section either without modification or subject to such modifications as he considers expedient:

Provided that—

  1. (a) the Minister shall not approve a development plan which designates any land as subject to compulsory acquisition as aforesaid if it appears to him that the acquisition is not likely to take place within ten years from the date on which the plan is approved;

LORD ADDINGTON moved, in subsection (1) at the end, to insert: In preparing such development plans a local planning authority shall take into account all existing agreements under Section thirty-four of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932, and every such agreement shall remain in force until the consent of the Minister has been obtained to its variation or abrogation. The noble Lord said: This Amendment concerns agreements under Section 34 of the Act of 1932. It has been pointed out that considerable concern has been expressed that under the present Bill agreements relating to the use of land between local authorities, county councils, and other authorities such as the National Trust, are to be terminated automatically; and those bodies entered agreements restricting the use of land.

A number of landlords and public authorities have taken advantage of it, and the results have been beneficial to the public. Very little or no compensation was involved in the provision of open spaces, such large preservation schemes as, for instance, downland, the scheme of Lord Astor's at Cookham, and Cliveden Reach in the Thames, have come under such agreements. I am in a little difficulty, because I understand that this was raised in another place, and it is only this afternoon that we have been able to see the Amendments which the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, has put down. I am afraid that neither I nor those interested in this matter have had an opportunity of considering the Amendments that have been put down, and therefore I do not know the most convenient course to take on this subject. I will move my Amendment formally, and perhaps receive a little guidance when the noble Lord replies.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 39, at end, insert the said words.—(Lord Addington.)


The object of this Amendment is twofold. It seeks to preserve agreements made under Section 34 of the 1932 Act until the Minister has agreed to their rescission or modification. Secondly, it seeks to secure that development plans do not conflict with any such agreements in force. The first of those two objects is met by the proposed Government Amendments to paragraph 10 of the Tenth Schedule on page 157, to which the noble Lord has referred. These Amendments provide, among other things, that these agreements shall continue in force until the Minister, on the application of one of the parties, varies or rescinds them on the ground that they are inconsistent with proper planning. The second object is not in terms secured by the Government Amendment, but is hardly worth providing for specifically. All the proposed development plans and amendments thereto will be the subject of discussion before the Minister's representative, and any owner may then object that the plan purports to override an existing agreement to which he is a party. It will then be for consideration whether the agreement ought to remain in force; and as a general proposition the Minister will no doubt allow it to remain in force unless there is a definite reason why it should not.

In the result, therefore, the local planning authority will find it necessary to review all existing agreements as part of the process of preparing their development plan. The decision will have to be taken about some agreements while the plan is being prepared, but for the most part the agreements will come up for review when the first plan for the area is being considered. It necessary, however, to leave the local planning authority with a free hand to plan their area properly; the fate of any Section 34 agreement must then be decided in the light of practical requirements. Moreover, the Government Amendment also enables the landowner to take action to have an agreement cancelled. I hope that in the light of that explanation the noble Lord will be willing not to press his Amendment.


I quite see, and I think everybody in the Committee will see, that if you are replanning the country entirely, existing agreements cannot be held to override the needs of modern planning. But there are, of course, a great many cases in this country where landowners had a choice between two things: they could have sold land for development, or they could, for more patriotic reasons, have made it a private open space. Some landlords have taken one course and some the other. In quite a considerable number of cases they have taken the second course, and denied themselves considerable pecuniary advantage for the benefit of the countryside and the health of the community. Therefore, while these agreements cannot be held to override any important extensive plans under this Bill, it is important from their point of view that the Minister should take account of these agreements, and, where it is in any way possible, should observe them. In view of the advantages which the landowner hoped to gain for the community by his action, it would be sad in every way if the agreement were nullified entirely and unnecessarily.


I find myself entirely at one with the noble Marquess. I think he will see an Amendment on page 157 which provides that all these agreements are to continue unless and until the Minister alters or modifies them. I agree that the Minister should be required to observe these agreements, particularly in the sort of case of which the noble Marquess gives what I think is a difficult instance.


I am very grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for his reply. Perhaps he will consider the matter, and if necessary put down some more Amendments to the Schedule when it comes along. I will certainly not press my Amendment at this stage and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD HAMPTON moved, in subsection (2) (a), after "grounds" to insert "nature reserves." The noble Lord said: I put this Amendment down at the instance of the Wild Life Conservation Committee for the preservation of nature reserves. That Committee was set up by the predecessor of the present Minister; and is, I believe, about to make a report. The object of the Amendment is the conservation of nature and natural objects of scientific value, and to secure that these should be recognized as a practical purpose within the meaning of the Bill. I am sure your Lordships will agree that in view of the threats to our nature reserves that are constantly cropping up, it is important that we should focus the attention of local authorities, wherever we can, on the need to protect such nature reserves as we have left and which are within their purview. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 6, after ("grounds") insert ("nature reserves")—(Lord Hampton.)


I thank the noble Lord for the suggestion he has made and the trouble he has taken, and I have pleasure in accepting the Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD SAVILE moved, in subsection (2), to leave out paragraph (b). The noble Lord said: We now come on to a whole crop of Amendments dealing with designation of land as "land subject to compulsory acqusition." My purpose is to restrict the designation of land so designated. The type of land referred to in subsection (2) (c) (i) is: any land comprised in an area defined by the plan as an area of comprehensive development. which I believe in ordinary language means blighted or blitzed area. I also understand that in the Town and Country Planning Act of 1944, designation applied only to blitzed and blighted areas and to areas of land close by which were used as an overflow to house the homeless people from the blitz. I think it is reasonable and justifiable that the same provisions should apply to this present Bill. No one would argue about that. But when we look at paragraph (b) it seems that designation has exceeded these limits.

The Minister has told us that no local authority or statutory undertaker is going to designate land just for the fun of it, or to annoy the owner; but, on the whole, the power is still there. We have been told also that owners will definitely get security from such a thing, that they will know the worst with the ten-year limit as proposed in the Bill, and that they will not be under suspense any more. The noble lord, Lord Henderson, said the same thing in his Second Reading speech. But we on these Benches do think that there is no certainty in designation, because it is possible, as a last resort, for any Minister or local authority compulsorily to acquire land under these statutory powers, whether the land has been previously designated or not. We think designation is bad for the land and the public as well. Taking the rural and the agricultural point of view, I consider that no owner or tenant is likely to embark upon a large scale improvement scheme or new methods of cultivation if the fear of designation is there; and farmers are going to lack a certain amount of enthusiasm in keeping the land in good heart and acquiring new machinery. I do not say they are right, but can you blame them? I do not think anybody can blame them.

Now take the urban point of view. Suppose there is a shopkeeper or a business man in premises, who sets up a business of his own with plenty of goodwill attached to it. Then the fear of designation comes along, and he feels he is kicked out, and he goes somewhere where he can get a certain measure of security. What happens to the business? The business will probably be let to an undesirable, who probably would want to do nothing more than coin as much money as he possibly can and as quickly as he possibly can, and that again is very bad. The noble and learned Viscount in his opening speech on the Second Reading of this Bill said these words: If there is complete power to prevent designation in the wrong place, surely there must be also equal power to secure development in the right place. Everybody must certainly agree with that. It is most important in planning to get co-operation with everybody all round, and at times it is extremely difficult to do it. Nobody would appreciate that more than the noble and learned Viscount. I feel that too wide and indiscriminate use of designation is apt to stifle development. There is nothing we want less than to get development held up at the right place, but we want it to take place at the right time. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 9, leave out paragraph (b).—(Lord Savile).


Might I at this stage intervene to suggest that, as we have a certain number of Amendments down on this question of designation, it might be convenient to your Lordships generally that we should discuss the whole matter more or less at large and then perhaps have Divisions on the individual Amendments? I do not know whether that would be convenient to the Committee, but I suggest that that is probably the most sensible way of dealing with this matter.


I think, if I may say so, that that would be a very convenient course to follow. May I say that I am very anxious that your Lordships should think as I do, that designation properly applied, and with proper safeguards, is intended to be a help and not a hindrance to the landlords. I quite agree, and I admit it at once, that the fact that your particular land is not designated is not and cannot be an absolute guarantee that your land will not be taken. On the other hand, there is a risk that any land anywhere may be taken. I want, if I can, to reduce the chances of a lot of land being taken, and to indicate as plainly as I can what land is likely to be taken. The point of this subsection which the noble Lord is moving to leave out (and I think that probably he is moving it in order to get a general discussion on the whole matter) is to enable local authorities or Ministers or statutory undertakers to acquire land for the purposes of their functions.

You must differentiate in your planning between short-term and long-term programmes. A long-term development programme may easily cover a period of fifty years or longer. The designated areas will show the land which the authority hopes to develop within the next ten years. The short-term programme must obviously indicate, or should obviously indicate, what land is likely to be developed by public authorities under statutory powers. You cannot begin to reach finality until you show on your plan where the local authorities intend to site new schools under their statutory powers, or public libraries, or where the Post Office or Labour Exchange are to be built, or, indeed, to take a more obvious case, where the railway station is to be built. All those things clearly should be shown on your plan. Unless they are, your plan is a rather meaningless thing. These are the key points, the basic frame work, and we are very anxious to get all the authorities responsible for these services to play the game by us and to indicate so far as they possibly can what their future intentions are with regard to their various functions.

Accordingly the designation machinery mentioned particularly in this clause is designed to encourage public authorities to co-operate in the preparation of development plans, and thus to enable the merits of their proposed development to be properly examined at the plan stage in the proper context of the wider plan, instead of, as at present, at a series of separate and possibly unrelated inquiries held at different times under different Acts and by different Ministers. One knows how in the past authorities who had the right to take up the roads always seemed to do it in turn. First it was done by the electricity people, then by the sewage people, then by the gas people, and so on. If we could always work according to plan, how much better it would be! Having settled at the plan stage, after full and appropriate local inquiries, and so on, that certain land should be reserved for certain purposes, it is obviously necessary to have power to purchase the land and ensure that it is made available for that purpose. Of course, local authorities and most Ministers have certain powers already, but there are certain Ministers, notably the Minister of Works and the Postmaster-General, who have at present no powers of compulsory purchase. The case of statutory undertakers is much the same; if the inquiry on the development plan reveals that they ought to be able to develop certain land, then they ought, equally, to be able to acquire it.

Accordingly designation will enable statutory undertakings to be authorized to acquire compulsorily land reserved for their purposes and designated in a plan. But in addition to settling the short-term programme of development, a plan under the Bill must be of much broader scope. It will indicate, so far as it is possible to do so, the wider planning objects for a generation or more ahead and may tentatively indicate land as likely to be acquired for long-term statutory purposes. In this respect a plan must be regarded as flexible and subject to review from time to time. It is for that reason that we have thought it right to limit designation to that land really to be used within the period of ten years, though there is no absolute certainty about it. I hope no land will be compulsorily acquired, whatever the powers under the various Acts may be, unless it is so designated, and that owners of land not so designated may sleep tight in their beds.

What effect has designation on land? In the great majority of cases I believe this designation is in regard to land to be developed in the next ten years—it will not be agricultural land, it will be land already built over by unworthy buildings, but of course there will be some cases in which it will be agricultural land —probably near a town—and I am not going to pretend to your Lordships that I do not appreciate that agricultural land so designated will be adversely affected. The noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, in a very fair speech on this topic on Second Reading, pointed this out. I realize that where a tenant sees his land coloured red (or whatever it may be) on the plan, to show that it is designated, he will become rather restive, realizing that he will not have indefinite security of tenancy, and you will often have to put up with a much less desirable tenant. The Minister has drafted an Amendment to try to fall in with the suggestion put by Lord Llewellin. The effect of my Amendment is that if at the end of twelve years this land which has been designated has not been taken, then the land owner is entitled to give six months' notice and tell the Minister he must do one of two things—either buy him out or remove the designation. I am not going to say "undesignate" or "de-designate."

Again I point out—and the noble Lord, Lord Savile, appreciates this because he knows the point well—that the effect is not of absolute security, because the Minister would have the right to designate or acquire the land again. If the Minister were doing what he intends to do, however, he would be slower thereafter to exercise his power to designate this land once again. The noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, has countered my Amendment by an Amendment to it. He obviously feels that my twelve years, although they may not be unreasonable in the case of built-up land, are excessive in the case of agricultural land. I will not say more than that I realize there may be a case for saying a short time is appropriate to agricultural land. I have no instructions from the Minister about this Amendment because it came in comparatively recently, and I have had so many things to do that I have not been able to embark upon this matter.

I think, however, there may well be a case that a shorter time ought to apply to agricultural land and I am quite willing, if the noble Lord will not press me at the present stage, to take this to the Minister and to discuss it with the noble Lord on Report stage. Assuming that my Amendment is accepted, I can put down some Amendment on the lines of that of the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, although I do not think I can accept the short space of time he is suggesting. As I said before, I want your Lordships to realize that designation is not something designed to tease or make the landowner's position more miserable than it is to-day. It is designed to help him, and, properly directed, I believe we can make it help him.


My Lords, both in the closing words of the noble and learned Viscount's remarks, on the question of designation, and also in another place, considerable, and, as I think, undue emphasis has been laid on the value of designation to the landowner. I look at it largely from the agricultural landowner's point of view, but the same applies, though perhaps in a lesser degree, to the owner of urban land. But something that the noble and learned Viscount said rather gave me the real clue —at least I hope I am right; if I am wrong I hope I shall be put right—as to why, in fact, the Minister is so anxious to get designation. The noble and learned Viscount said that the Minister is anxious that the planning authorities, or the public authorities, should indicate what their intentions are. He knows that under planning schemes before the war sufficient building development was planned, I believe, to house something like 350,000,000 people in this small island; and obviously, as a greater need occurred, the enthusiasm of local authorities increased. The case, of course, does not have such force now that the planning authority will be the county rather than the district councils, because the rating influence will not have such a weighty effect.

But quite obviously the real object behind designation is that the Minister may have a curb upon the planning authority rather than to confer a benefit upon an owner of land. As Lord Llewellin pointed out on the Second Reading of this Bill, with far greater force from the point of view of the agricultural landowner, designation puts a blight upon any agricultural land which is so designated, and will make the management impossible. It is quite true that in his subsequent Amendment the noble and learned Viscount has gone so far as to suggest that the owner of any land which is designated can, if the land is not purchased by the end of twelve years after the designation, compel the planning authority to purchase. Twelve years is an interesting period of time, because land has to be designated if it is to be compulsorily acquired in the next ten years after the plan is made. There is nothing in this Bill which prevents the planning authority—and the Minister can agree—from re-designating (not de-designating, but re-designating) at the end of the quinquennial review which will take place at the end of the ten years. It is therefore fixed at twelve years, so that the local authority can re-designate.


That is what I meant: I did not mean to be tricky in this way—to have twelve years in order to do it again.


Thank you; we will, perhaps examine that later. So far as agricultural land is concerned, I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for his suggestion that he will examine the five years. I am not entirely happy about five years, because the ordinary agricultural tenant will give his landlord only one year's notice from the due quarter day, or whatever it may be. That unfortunate landowner may be left with land for which he has to find a tenant for a very short period of time, which it will be very difficult for him to do. In fact, he may have to farm it himself, and this may involve him in considerable expense, as it is not a very profitable business to lay out money for farm land when you have it only for four years or less.

The alternative is that the agricultural production of the country will suffer severely. That, I think, is much more important than the woes of the unfortunate landlord, great though they may be. It is a very important thing—we appreciate it now, and we shall appreciate it more next winter—that our agricultural production should be kept as nearly as possible to its absolute maximum. I should like to see agricultural land taken out of designation altogether. But if that is impossible, then we must fall back on the second best, which is the much shorter period. I hope that when that comes up for decision your Lordships will insist on the shorter period being inserted in the Bill. Before I conclude, I would once again emphasize the fact that the real point that matters is that agricultural production should not suffer as a result of designation.

9.57 p.m.


I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, who initiated the general discussion, did not wish to deprive anyone of the opportunity of argument on his own individual Amendments. I find it difficult to be persuasive to the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, when he is so extremely persuasive and so willing to meet any argument which is put up. It is not my purpose to weary your Lordships with a long dissertation on designation, or its evils, particularly when applied to agricultural land. The position is quite clear and could not be more ably described than it has been. There are, however, one or two aspects of the matter to which I would like to call your Lordships' attention. In the first place, if the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will allow me, I would like to correct what I believe to be a lapse on his part on the Second Reading of the Bill. He said, speaking of farms: If any cases do arise—and they will be few and far between—where an owner can show that because of designation his land is no longer capable of reasonably beneficial use as a farm, then Clause 18 of the Bill enables him to require the local authority to buy the land. If I understand the Bill aright. Clause 18 does not deal with that point at all. It deals with land where the development permission is refused. The noble Lord will forgive me if I call attention to what I think is a slip that any one of us might make.

May I now address myself to the two Amendments I have in mind—it does not matter about their sequence? One was to reduce the term of designation from ten years to five. With respect, even if the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, were accepted, it would not meet my point. If you have a man owning a farm, wanting to remain in possession of that farm, to keep it in hand and farm it himself, he does not want it to be designated. The fact that you tell him—assuming that the noble Lord's Amendment is accepted—that at the end of five years he can compel the local authority to acquire it does not meet the case; he may not want to be bought out and would much rather not be designated at all. Therefore, if he is going to be designated I do urge that the period of designation in the case of agricultural land should be five years and not ten years. I hope I have made myself clear to the noble and learned Viscount, even if he does not accept the point.




The other Amendment deals with the words "any other land." I do suggest that if the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Savile, be rejected, you have in paragraph (b)—which the noble Lord is asking to have removed—ample powers for the local authority. There is no need to say, as you do in subsection (2), that they can designate "any other land." That, I suggest, is a direct incentive to them to designate more land than they need at the moment, and I do not think it is necessary to the Bill. I feel that paragraph (b) gives the Government all the power that they need.

I might point out also that I have the greatest respect, if I may say so, for the present Minister of Town and Country Planning, but he may not be there in perpetuity. Another Minister may not be so reasonable, and I do not think it wise to extend these powers any further than we need. We have to consider the position of the local authorities who are making their planning schemes. If we take a town like Oxford, they have to consider the future. They say to themselves: "This is a great and a growing town. We have to plan for a large and expanding population." If you give them a long term, and at the same time the incentive given in this clause, I suggest that they may very well designate a great deal more land than they need.

I would like, if I may, to borrow a point made by my noble friend Lord Radnor on the Second Reading and amplify it slightly. He pointed out that year by year at the present time 45,00o acres of agricultural land are actually taken and used. If you multiply that by ten you get 450,000 acres, but if you accept my argument that the local authority, dealing with potential demands based on a possible increase of population, may designate more land than it needs, you may very easily—and I am not prone to exaggeration—find that something not less than 1,000,000 acres of agricultural land is going to be designated and depreciated in its value, and suffer so far as production of food is concerned. On the understanding that the noble and learned Viscount is very kindly looking into the matter again, I shall not move the two Amendments which stand in my name.

10.4 p.m.


I would like to make a few observations on the question of designation from the point of view of a planning authority. The noble Earl, Lord Radnor, has said—and I have heard it to-day not for the first time—that under planning schemes before the war provision was made for the building of houses and dwellings for a population of ten times the present size of the population of this country.


I think those figures were taken from the Minister himself.


That is so, and I was just going to explain one of the reasons which led to that situation. It was not the insatiable desire of the local authorities to plan and designate the maximum areas of land, but it arose from the defects in the then existing town planning law. Town planning at that time was largely regulatory. If a town planning authority sought, within the very limited powers which existed at that time, to prevent land from being built on, then they had to zone it for residential user and they did it in this way. They zoned large areas of land for development residentially for not more than five or six houses to the acre, and by that means they made it unprofitable to develop that particular land for residential or any other purpose. That was one of the reasons why we have the state of affairs which has, not for the first time, been prayed in aid of the suggestion that local authorities are insatiable in their desire to acquire other people's land. I think I have given the main reason for that condition of affairs.

As the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, pointed out, this paragraph (b) does not give the local authorities, nor is it intended to give the local authorities, any powers they do not at present possess. What it does propose to do, however, is to enable local authorities to fit in, as it were, and co-ordinate the land that they may require for other purposes, such as education, housing, libraries and baths, into the general pattern and composition of their plan, and to designate not only the land that is needed for the plan but also the land which will be needed for those other particular specialized services. Paragraph (b) says quite plainly that designation can apply to any land allocated by the plan for the purposes of any of their functions—that is, any function of the local authority. Later it goes on to say that it includes "any land which that Minister or authority or those undertakers are or could be authorized to acquire compulsorily under any enactment other than this Act." I submit, therefore, that in fact this clause can be of substantial benefit to the landowners and is not intended to give, nor does it give, any additional power to the local authorities.

One of the serious defects of the present law is that it requires the planning authority to deal separately with blitzed land, blighted land, and overspill land. Overspill land need not, and for most areas will not, be near to either the blitzed or the blighted land. It cannot normally be so. It is needed outside the urban area. The proposals in this clause enable the local authority to acquire by the same method of designation, not only land that is blitzed and land that is blighted, but also other land which is necessary, either for the purposes of the plan or for the authorized powers and functions of the local authorities. For the first time, therefore, local authorities can plan and provide for services as one co-ordinated composition. I suggest that that marks a step forward. The landowner is not thereby in any worse position; he is, in point of fact, in a better position, because he is to be on notice, whereas if you acquire land compulsorily for housing you need not put a landlord on notice years before. You have only to come to a decision when a housing estate is needed that it should take a certain form, that certain land is required, and then you can decide to make a compulsory purchase order in that particular case. You do the same for a school, and for any other laud that you may need, without any long prior notice; whereas under this paragraph the landlord will have prior notice, which I submit is an advantage to him.

I wish to offer no comments at this stage upon the proposal that agricultural land should be treated differently as regards designation, although if it were treated differently it might not be without its repercussions on the activities of the London County Council, not perhaps as a planning authority, but as a housing authority compelled to go outside its area into Greater London to find land upon which to build housing accommodation. But I do wish to make this point, particularly for the London County Council and for the other urban areas, cities and towns: that if the period of ten years now proposed in the Bill is reduced to five years, it will make it substantially impossible for any real planning to be done. I am not saying that is the case in the rural areas, or in areas which are not heavily built up, but it certainly will be the case as regards the towns and cities and the congested areas, and notably London.

A local authority, if it is to do planning in any real sense, must not only have a long-term plan which may take thirty, thirty-five, forty or fifty years, but it must have within that plan, or within the schemes of that plan, a number of projects which may take ten years, or indeed longer, to work out and to come to a decision upon. I ask your Lordships to contemplate the present circumstances—and they are not likely to improve very substantially for a number of years, I fear. Those circumstances are the almost universal shortage of technical staff. We in London have declared, under the 1944 Act, an area of 2,000 acres in Stepney and Poplar—three times the size of the Borough of Shoreditch—for substantial reconstruction. Not every building will be demolished, but a large proportion will be when the plan is finally completed. It is estimated that the property comprised in this plan will cost about £45,000,000 to acquire. We have to proceed, under the legislation now contemplated, to designate the various areas for compulsory acquisition, and if at the end of ten years—and this will be much more so if it is five years—our right of designation ceases, the owner can give us notice and require us there and then to buy or to release the property from designation. It will very seriously hamper, if indeed not defeat, planning on a large scale, such as is essential if London is to be rebuilt and reconstructed as I believe everyone in your Lordships' House would desire to see. If the period is reduced to five years it is certain to make real planning almost impossible.

When you are dealing with planning and the acquisition of land you are dealing very largely with human beings. You are dealing with the people in their little cottages, dilapidated, grim and drab as they may be. You are dealing with the man who has a little shop, with the man who has a little workshop, with the man who has a larger factory and so on, and you have to provide alternative accommodation, not only for the people who are resident in the area, but also, under the new schemes, for the little shops, for the workshops, for the factories and for the many other things which go to make up a community in modern days. And you cannot shift people about as you can machine tools. It takes a long time for instance—as the noble Earl, Lord Munster, well knows—to provide alternative accommodation for the people who are removed from slum dwellings. You cannot just say to a family: "We have got accommodation for you here and here you must go." Accommodation must be related to where the children go to school, where the husband works, where the children who work are employed. All those factors have to be taken into account, and they are factors which go to make it impossible for a local authority to be always in a position at the end of five years to say: "Well, we designated this land; we are now ready to acquire and go on."

I hope that, at all events as regards urban areas, the minimum period of ten years will remain in the Bill. I took part with others representing local authorities in the country in making representations to the Minister, at the time when this Bill was under consideration, that this period of ten years was the minimum period which would enable local authorities in the built-up areas to do their job. It is, as the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, has said that although there will be development in rural areas and there will be certain agricultural land designated, I venture to say that in the next twenty years most of the reconstruction and planning in this country must be in the congested over-built areas of our cities and towns and the areas which adjoin them, if we are to remove the existing blot.

If we are to have well-planned instead of disordered communities, local authorities must be given adequate powers. I assure you, as one who is acquainted with no mean local authority, a local authority which carries the largest burden of re-planning in this country, and, which has inherited one of the worst legacies of disordered planning, that we are not anxious to buy more land than we need. In point of fact, I have at times resisted the blandishments of landowners who have come along and shown anxiety that the London County Council should acquire their land. I have noticed, sometimes, that they have worked out a good planning scheme which is not always unrelated to the ownership of their own particular plot of land. So I ask your Lordships not to be influenced in reducing this period by the view that local authorities are insatiable.

The noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, rather criticized the fact that local authorities take a long view in planning. I am glad that they do. There can be no thoroughly satisfactory planning in this connexion unless it is based on a long view. The trouble in the past has been that when there was planning—and there was precious little—it was very short-term planning. I believe that local authorities should have an incentive towards planning, and the best incentive is imagination. Imaginative planning is what is needed. I hope that we shall not seek to remove that incentive, and, in conclusion, I beg the Committee not to reduce the period of ten years, at least so far as urban areas are concerned.

10.18 p.m.


No doubt the considerations which the noble Lord, Lord Latham, has urged are very germane to the problem and cannot be lost sight of and I am sure your Lordships are happy in having him among us to help us in regard to this Bill, on a matter of which he has so much knowledge and experience. At the same time, I must ask him, from the agricultural point of view, to look at the other side of the problem. Our duty will be to reconcile the claims of town and country in this respect. As the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, has pointed out, the Bill as it now stands may affect a very big agricultural acreage indeed, which my noble friend estimates as something in the neighbourhood of 1,000,000 acres. Consider the position of a farmer and landlord, living and working near a big city. His land is designated. I was speaking the other day to the owner-occupier of a farm of some 300 to 400 acres in the neighbourhood of one of our towns, which had designated his farm. He said to me: "What is my position? I cannot make a single improvement to this farm from this day onwards and get compensation for the money I spend when the land is taken over."

The noble and learned Viscount will correct me if I am wrong, but, so far as I can make out, the position of a farmer or landlord farming agricultural land which has been designated, is that if during these ten to twelve years he makes any improvements to capital equipment, he will get no compensation for that improvement when he gives up the land. If the land is designated to-day and to-morrow he puts up a new cow shed or Dutch barn, he will get no compensation for that when the time comes to take the land over, because he has made that expenditure in face of his notice to quit. The noble Lord, Lord Latham, seemed to think it was an advantage to the agricultural landlord to have notice. I suggest it was not of much advantage to Damocles to have the sword hanging over his head. I personally would have preferred it to fall quickly. It is this paralysing effect which is so unfair to the landlord and so prejudicial to agriculture. From the point of view of the landowner it would be far better that the London County Council should acquire that land compulsorily and farm it themselves if they like—


We do a little farming.


—for ten years before the time comes to develop it, than to be asked to farm property without any security of tenure and to be denied any compensation for any improvements made after the designation notice has been served. This makes the position of the farmer impossible, and I hope the Government and especially the Lord Chancellor, will give attention to this point. I would remind your Lordships that it is now practically impossible to make any capital improvement on one's property without the permission of half a dozen authorities. You have to get the consent of some planning authority- and the county agricultural committee; accordingly we can assume that the improvement has been sanctioned by all the required authorities, and is therefore a reasonably legitimate improvement. I would remind His Majesty's Government that their Minister of Agriculture is beseeching landowners to improve the capital equipment of their farms; and nobody is more eloquent or stronger on that point than the noble Viscount who leads this House. In order to increase the food production of this country, a large amount of capital equipment and capital expenditure is undoubtedly necessary. Do not in this Bill make it impossible in the designation areas—


If I might interrupt, several times the noble Earl has said that where a man has made authorised improvement to his land, he receives nothing for it. As I apprehend the Bill—I may be wrong—I do not understand that to be the case at all. After a notice to treat, which is a different thing altogether, you take over the land in the condition in which it is at the time of the notice to treat. If the land is designated, and thereafter improvements are made and a Dutch barn is put up, when the local authority buy the land they have to pay a fair price for it; and in that price would be included the price of the Dutch barn. I am not going to assert anything about this Bill, but I believe I am right in saying that when a man comes to sell he receives that price for it.


I am very glad to hear what the noble and learned Viscount says; I did say that I was speaking subject to his correction. I was relying on the testimony of an owner-occupier who found himself in this predicament and he was firmly under the impression that this was his position. It is a most important point and I hope that, when the noble and learned Viscount has been able to look into the point, if he thinks there is any doubt about it, he will make it abundantly clear in this Bill. Apart from that, there is this question of the five or ten years. The noble Lord, Lord Latham, in his eloquent speech, was talking about the human aspect of town planning, but he must not forget the human aspect in agriculture. Those landlords who do not farm their own farms are afraid of tenants walking out directly a designation notice is served. The question is how they are to farm the land in those circumstances.


Perhaps I might say a word also about this clause. Quite clearly under this Bill we are considerably extending the scope of designation, and it is said in justification for that that it is largely to the advantage of the owner. It is of advantage to the owner, as I gather, in that having had that notice he does not go on spending money on his property or on his ground—as he might do on a long-term basis. That is, I suppose, the advantage that he receives. He knows that he is under this kind of notice. I myself—and I certainly am not an authority on this Bill—take the same view as the Lord Chancellor, that if he does go on improving things up to the notice to treat, that is the time when the clamping down for valuation purposes comes. But be that as it may, he is not likely to take all the trouble to obtain the various permits and to have things built if he is under notice to quit.

I can see there is quite a considerable advantage in giving this notice to landowners in built-up areas. I am quite at one with the noble Lord, Lord Latham, on that, and I am quite at one in thinking that the right way to deal with those areas is to designate wide parts of them. It may be that he is right, too, in saying that a period of five years would not be adequate for the purposes of a body like the London County Council. But, as I say, I think the whole of this discussion is boiling down rather to the fact which the noble Lord himself recognized, that there are different conditions in rural areas from those obtaining in built-up areas; I am quite certain of that. It is extraordinary how quickly land can go back if nothing is done. In a year, or less than a year, arable land can go completely back.

What many of us greatly fear is this. An owner-occupier, who is farming his own land, may be under notice to quit and he may be looking round all the time for another farm, because he wants to go on farming. If he gets one, he will probably abandon the farm which he has and do his work elsewhere; and he will leave this land rather derelict. It is even worse for the landowner who has a tenant farmer who, as the noble Lord has said, can give one year's notice. He will not want to go on farming under an insecure tenure, and would much rather settle in a new place. It will be very difficult then to get anybody else to come in and farm that land for the remaining period of two or three years.

To make this a practical proposition, and in order not to hamper local authorities in the work they have to do in rebuilding many of our blitzed cities, I should like the Minister to have this point in consideration from the start: "Will you want this within a period of five years if it is agricultural land?" If it is other land, let him have a different test. After all, what harm is done, from the point of view of the local authority if the agricultural land is not designated? It cannot be built over without the permission of the planning authority, even if it is not designated. All that is happening is that they are giving advance notice, with, as I say, this really detrimental effect on the food production of this country, and without, in the case of agricultural land, any corresponding gain to anyone.

I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, not only for putting down the Amendment that he has about removing designation, but also for his words regarding the five years in relation to rural land. I would like the period of ten years mentioned in subsection (4) (a) considered. It should be a question for the Minister as to whether agricultural land will be used within five years, leaving the period of ten years in the case of non-agricultural land. The noble Lord, Lord Latham, desires that period for planning in the main part of the planning area—as he says, the rehousing will be in the urban districts—but let it be five years in the case of agricultural land.

I am certain that if these two Amendments can be met—and I do not see that any harm will be done to anybody by meeting them—we shall have done a good service for the future supplies of this country, and we shall not in the least have hampered anybody in the proper planning which we all wish to see take place. I would like both those points to be considered, and when we come to the Amendment in the name of the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, perhaps he will be able to say something more definite about my Amendment. At any rate, I hope that by the Report stage we shall be able to do something in complete harmony in regard to the five years for agricultural land, both in subsection (4) (a) and also in my Amendment to the noble and learned Viscount's Amendment lower down on the Paper. I hope that a course of that kind will at any rate be considered by the Government, and that eventually we shall be able to agree upon it and feel far happier in regard to the whole of Clause 5.

10.36 p.m.


I should like to address a few observations to your Lordships, and I will be very brief. I would like to make two points. In the first place, I wish to support as strongly as I can the plea of the noble Lord, Lord Latham, that it is essential that the local authorities should be granted very wide powers. Reference was made in the early part of this discussion to the Act of 1944, and it was pointed out that although that Act was limited to the blitzed and blighted areas, this Bill has no such restriction. Many of us, when that Act was introduced, expressed our great disappointment that it was not a general Statute, but was so limited. We recognized that perhaps the most urgent cases had to be dealt with first, and in war-time it was difficult to give sufficient time and attention to enable a really comprehensive measure to be brought forward.

At the same time that was a very great disappointment, and we rejoice that those powers may now be made general. Indeed, it is obviously essential that they should be, because otherwise you would have two different classes of towns all over the country in another twenty or thirty years: those which had had the misfortune—or good fortune—to be destroyed or injured in the course of the war and whose authorities had been given extraordinarily wide and extensive powers which had enabled them to rejuvenate themselves and to present themselves as models of construction and proper planning, and those which had had the privilege—or the disadvantage—of being uninjured or slightly injured—which is the case with the great majority of our towns —who would still be restricted to the old laws and hampered in every turn in their efforts to secure better conditions for their future residents in future generations.

The second point deals with this question of agricultural land, which is unquestionably one of great and immediate importance. Several noble Lords have spoken on it, noble Lords who are closely acquainted with it, and who have themselves the ownership or administration of large estates. But this is not only a matter of personal or financial interest; it is unquestionably a great social and national problem. Only two days ago, this House passed with unanimous approval an Agriculture Bill, designed to do all that the State can do to promote the success and prosperity of agriculture. It would, indeed, be very inconsistent if, in the same week, we were to introduce another Bill which inflicted grave injury upon the same industry. The point I would like to raise is this—and it has not previously been referred to in this discussion. It is of great importance that there should be no conflict between the movement for planning, which is supported in the main by public opinion throughout this country, and the movement in defence of the legitimate interests of agriculture. The two must be reconciled.

The planning movement has proposed as part of its aims the creation of a system of green belts round our cities. They are either green belts, or sometimes green wedges which run into the cities, and they are an essential part of the aims of the modern town planner in this and other countries. It is sometimes thought that these green belts are to be merely areas for recreation, open spaces, parks, camping grounds, playing fields; perhaps some woodlands, and the like. But that, of course, is impossible, because these areas would be far too large, taken in the total, to make it conceivable that this country could afford to use for such purposes such large expanses of land, both from the economic point of view that it would be taking too much land from productive purposes, and from the point of view of amenities generally. It would be too costly an enterprise. Hundreds of square miles are concerned, perhaps thousands. It has always been contemplated that the greater part of these green belts should be used as farm land, smallholdings, market gardens, and other productive areas of that kind.

The question I want to address to the Government is this—and perhaps the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, would like time to consider it. At some stage of this Bill, will the Government not tell us how this general question of green belts and the reservation of agricultural land relates to this clause and to other clauses? The Lord Chancellor may say that this is limited only to compulsory acquisition, where land is compulsorily acquired for green belt purposes. What would be the position of the agriculturist? Probably be would be much better protected than ever before. But where it is not compulsorily acquired but placed under restriction and zoned, what would be his position then, his degree of security, and his financial position? That is the question I want to address to the Lord Chancellor. Without going into legal or technical questions, what is the general policy of this Bill with regard to green belts round our great towns in relation to agriculture; what are its economic and financial policies?


I think we are all in sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Latham, said about the difficulties of local authorities. The real point about this Amendment, I suggest, is to ensure that agricultural land which has been designated shall be in a position to be farmed, without hurt to the tenant or owner during the period from designation until it is taken over. As the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, said, land can go back very quickly; in a year or two years it will get back into good heart again and should not be designated. I would ask the Government to address themselves to that point. Perhaps later they could give us some indication as to how there may be a safeguard to keep in heart agricultural land under designation or threat of designation and with no harm to the owner and occupier. That is very important, because in a small way it is already happening. Land which has been found not economical for the farmer to farm has been asked for by authorities all over the country to build on. For some reason the land has not been built on and you have got bits here and there. There is a large area near Kingston, which is now a sea of weeds. I am sure His Majesty's Government would not like that sort of thing to happen.


I would willingly defer my remarks to the discussion of the Scottish Bill, but it is hardly to be expected that any improvement would be allowed in that Bill unless it is first conceded on this occasion; and this is a matter of great and justifiable concern. I still feel that the designation proposals go further than is necessary. However good a case has been made out for the blitzed and blighted areas and for the larger cities, I still maintain that a case has not been made out for the landward and rural areas. The noble Lord, Lord Latham, has strengthened the case for the City of London and the cities generally and the surrounding areas. From the exactly opposite position, as chairman of a typical landward rural county council and planning authority, I feel there is little need to have designation on our side, as it is well realized that in that sort of country land can be acquired by local authorities for housing and for public purposes without difficulty and at the valuation arranged by the valuer.

I am sure it would be an advantage to confine this designation to as small an area of the country as is possible. I quite see that there is difficulty about that, but why should the country district always be made to suffer because people have concentrated their ideas on the large towns and populated areas? This is another case of what is happening so often in our legislation. Reference has been made to the removal of incentive to landowners and farmers to improve their agricultural equipment, their farms, and their production; and I was very glad to hear the remarks of the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, on that point. I still feel, however, that there will be a difficulty in valuing the land and the farms, and in assuring the additional value for any fresh equipment. I would like that to be looked into further, and, if possible, some greater assurance given as, to whether the farmer and the landowner would recover expenditure for improvements.

I would like the Government also to bear in mind in this designation the fact that there will be quite a number of financial penalties on the people in these landward areas; and also, if I am right in saying so, that these are the very people who will be eliminated from any claim to compensation because of the elimination of small claims. They will not come in for any payment under the compensation clause. I think this is the only occasion, when one can refer to it. We country people find it very difficult to keep up with all the legislation which comes from Parliament, and I hope you will bear that in mind in this Bill and the Agriculture Bill, because however many and however great certain blessings may be—or at any rate one hopes they will be—it is becoming extremely difficult for us ordinary people in the country to attend to our jobs without spending far too much time on trying to keep up with the laws which we have to understand—not only the laws but all the directions and White Papers, and forms with which we have to know how to deal. I hope you will bear these matters in mind; hope that this designation can be confined to the smallest possible area, and that that matter will be considered further.


There are one or two points which I would like to refer to which have arisen out of this debate. I was struck by what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said—namely that it would be inconsistent one day to pass unanimously an Agriculture Bill on Second Reading and then to put obstacles in the way of the development of agriculture. I hope the noble and learned Viscount will be impressed by the views of people with some knowledge, that designation is not regarded favourably by owners of land. I hope he will listen to them, although probably he will not be impressed by them. What it really comes to is that, although most of us believe that good planning is in the interests of the country, it must be within the knowledge of everybody that there is necessarily a conflict of interest in this matter, and it is the duty of Parliament to resolve that conflict in the fairest manner possible, having regard to the interests concerned. It seems to me, with respect to this question of designation, that in both urban and rural areas the burden of planning is being carried by those people who own or occupy land or houses.

The local authority, quite properly, wishes to make a comprehensive plan of development, but land which comes under the shadow of that comprehensive designation is really, in effect, doomed in its present user; and it is impossible that people who live on that land, whether in the city or in the country, can take a very long view about the use of it. Even though the planning authority is not greedy—and we must take the noble Lord, Lord Latham's assurance, that these authorities do not want to designate more than they wish to develop—it means that for the period during which designation hangs over that part of the city or country, no one can use that land or those houses to the full. And I think that in urban areas you will get undesirable occurrences. I think you will find owners of small shops being badgered by speculative gentlemen to give up for a song what they have, so that speculators can claim the ultimate compensation. I think that that is a very real risk which does exist.

Noble Lords may say that it has occurred already, but we are trying to improve conditions; we are trying to learn from experience and to put into practice the lessons we have learned. If a man knows that the shop he has now in law has virtually a maximum twelve-years' lease, it may be that someone may come along and say: "Much better take a nominal figure now and put up a shop somewhere else, and we will claim the compensation when the time comes." I may be wrong but I think that that is possible under the Bill, and I do not think that it should be possible. I think that the Government should consider how far owners and occupiers of land should be compelled to carry the financial burden of planning. Remember that on the whole—we must not now look ahead in the Bill to matters relating to compensation and betterment—the Government are making a jolly good thing out of this Bill. And in recognition of that they should not try to put on people in what I like to call the "blighted areas" the burden of planning, which we all agree is a proper development in our social life.

10.50 p.m.


I intend to say only two or three words upon this, as it is now approaching eleven o'clock. I think we have had an extremely interesting and—as I hope and believe the Government will think—an extremely valuable debate upon this point. I do not suppose there is anyone in this House, on whatever side he may sit, who does not agree with the objects which designation seeks to achieve. We are equally in agreement, I think, with the principle of town and country planning, and that does mean not only short-term planning, but long-term planning. It is the long-term planning that designation is aimed at furthering. At the same time I thought, listening to the debate, that what has been brought out is that designation is not so easy as the planners seem to think, or would like to think. I believe the reason is that planners are nearly always urban people. I am sorry that Lord Latham has left the Chamber. I am sure we all enjoyed and admired the delightful, and in many ways moving, plea that he made for housing. But that is perhaps natural on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Latham. I was going to say that he was the pundit of urban planners. He is much more than that. He is a sort of Cham, the head of the greatest local authority in the world. He has responsibility for millions of people in the L.C.C. area.

I was struck by the fact, however, that there was no mention in the noble Lord's speech of agriculture, except in so far as it might conceivably affect the plan of the L.C.C. I had the impression from him that his conception of agricultural England was a potential overspill area; when he looked at a cornfield or pasture his only thought was how many houses an acre would that carry. It is very natural to him and I do not blame him for putting forward that point of view in your Lordships' House. Designation is undoubtedly open to considerable dangers. They have been stressed this evening, and I do not want to go over the ground again. But in the case of tenant farmers and owner occupiers there will be great discouragement. In the case of tenant farmers, who are nearly all on yearly tenancies, there will be a tendency not towards a flight but certainly towards a drift from designated land. The land will have either to be farmed by the landlord or to lie fallow and grow weedy and rough, like the wastes in England in the past.

I do not know if your Lordships are as familiar with the Barnet By-Pass as I am—I go along it on my way home—but up to the beginning of the war there was an area of miles on either side of the road which had gone back to complete jungle. It was potential building sites; it was in nobody's interest to farm it, and it was not farmed. That danger may threaten hundreds of thousands of acres. The position of the owner occupier will be identical or worse. He will not be able to hand it over to a landlord but will have to stay on the land and will starve it. If he puts up buildings he might be compensated for that, but that is not the aim of farming, to put up a few buildings. A farmer becomes passionately attached to his land and seeks to improve it year after year. Under designation he will tend to lose interest in the farm which he owns.

I do not know if the Government know how much agricultural land is likely to be designated. I think they ought to try and make some sort of calculation to see how big this problem is. I think this is an important problem. We in this House are always regarded as looking at these problems as landlords; of course we are landlords, and it is natural we should look at it from that point of view. But we are not discussing this from the point of view of the landlord. I do not know what the Government think about the immediate future of this problem. They seem to be happy about it, but there are many people who are not happy about it, and anything which may tend to decrease food production in this country might do much more harm in this emergency than planning will do good. I hope the Government will look at this equally from the agricultural as from the planning point of view. I hope they will not be proud but will consider the necessary Amendment.


I take it that some more Amendments are to be moved individually after this. In view of that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

House resumed.

House adjourned at eleven o'clock.

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