§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to signify to the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Town and Country Planning Bill, has consented to place Her Majesty's interest, so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall, at the disposal of Parliament for the purpose of the Bill. I now move that the Bill be read a third time. I understand that it will be for the convenience of your Lordships if the Third Reading is taken formally. I will then move the Amendments which stand in my name, and which carry out promises which I gave yesterday, and the general debate will follow on the Motion "That the Bill do now pass."
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a;—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.
§ Clause 35 [Additional payments in cases where no claim has been established]:
THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, in subsection (1) (b), after "opinion" to "insert:
,after giving the person entitled to the relevant interest an opportunity to present his case,
§ The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, I beg to move the first of the Amendments standing in my name. This Amendment is designed to make it clear on the face of the Statute that, before issuing the certificate for which the clause provides, the person acting on behalf of the Treasury—that is, in fact, the district valuer—is to give the owner of the interest being acquired an opportunity of presenting his case. I have examined the matter overnight, and I am in no doubt that, even without the words of the Amendment, every opportunity would be given; but as it seemed to the Government that an Amendment on the point would allay anxiety, this Amendment has been put on the Paper. Your Lordships will see that it is substantially in the 1494 words suggested by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, and I hope they will be found acceptable to both sides of the House. I beg to move.
Page 45, line 16, after ("opinion") insert the said words.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, we are grateful to the Government for putting down this Amendment. The noble and learned Viscount will understand if I say that I do not agree with him that the words are not necessary. I think they are; but they are there now, and we need not say any more about it. This was what I had suggested, and what my noble and learned Leader had actually drafted in terms and, therefore, we have at any rate accomplished something.
My Lords, as one who had something to say on this clause yesterday, and speaking on behalf of my noble friend Lord Hylton, who has, I think, been a victim of this rearrangement of our business, I should like to express our gratitude to the noble and learned Viscount for going some way to meet the views which we put forward. I do not know whether it will avoid my having to make a still further speech, but I should like to pay tribute, on behalf of my noble friends, to the great courtesy that we have received in this and other matters from the noble and learned Viscount, and to express our appreciation of the fact that in many of these matters the noble and learned Viscount has made a genuine effort to meet our views. I ant afraid he has not been able to go very far in that direction, and the apprehensions that we quite genuinely feared with regard to the results of this Bill have not been entirely allayed. Nevertheless, if those fears which still remain are found to be groundless, I can assure the noble and learned Viscount that nobody will be more pleased than those of us who have to try to administer this Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, before I put the question, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to express my gratitude for what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and my noble friend Lord Gage. I should like to assure your Lordships that my services inside and outside the House are always at the disposal of your Lordships if I 1495 can do anything to help the business of the day. I am very grateful.
§ On, Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, this Amendment is moved in order to implement the undertaking which I gave on behalf of the Government on the Report stage yesterday, in answer to the point made by my noble friend Lord Ridley on the Amendment which he withdrew. I hope your Lordships will agree that it accepts the spirit of my noble friend's Amendment by laying down that payment of the specified amount is to be made unless the appropriate authority thinks it is just and reasonable not to do so. It places heavily on the appropriate authority the onus of justifying a refusal to pay. The wording differs slightly from the wording of the Amendment which was withdrawn yesterday, but I hope that my noble friend Lord Ridley will feel that it covers the spirit of what he desired to see incorporated in the Bill. I beg to move.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 45, line 22, leave out from ("afore-said") to end of line 30 and insert ("that amount shall be added to the compensation payable in respect of the acquisition of the relevant interest apart from the provisions of this section:
Provided that if, after taking into account all the circumstances, the appropriate authority is of opinion that it is not just and reasonable that the whole of that amount should be so added or, as the case may be, that any amount should be so added, the said authority may direct that such lesser amount as he may specify shall be so added or, as the case may be, that no addition to the compensation aforesaid shall be made.")—(The Lord Chancellor.)
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Ridley, I should like formally to acknowledge the good offices of the noble and learned Viscount in this matter.
My Lords, I should like to say one word, on behalf of a great many people, both in this House and outside it. I should like to express appreciation of the way in which this Amendment has been put forward by the noble and learned Viscount, for which I am sure we are all grateful. I cannot speak directly for others, but I know that this concession will be greatly appreciated and of great value throughout the country.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1496
§ Clause 50 [Exchequer grants to local authorities]:
THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved to add to subsection (4):
Provided that, in relation to—
§ The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment is introduced in pursuance of the undertaking which I gave and, as I informed your Lordships yesterday, in deference to the very strong feeling which has been expressed in favour of increased Exchequer grant towards the provision of playing fields. In spite of my own views about the importance of an overall 50 per cent. grant to local authorities in relationships between the Exchequer and local authorities, I thought it right to provide for Ministerial discretion to pay a higher rate of grant for public open space in the circumstances which are set out. As I said yesterday, I felt that there was a universal feeling in your Lordships' House on this point. I think all your Lordships, and certainly I myself, attach so much importance to anything which will improve the position of playing fields, with its resultant good effect on the rising generation, that, despite my administrative misgivings, I have introduced this Amendment, which I now beg to move.
Page 66, line 32, at end insert the said proviso.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I am sure the House will greatly appreciate the fact that the noble and learned Viscount, possibly against his better judgment, has accepted what I regard as the universal feeling in this House. I am sure that in this case his second thoughts are better than his first, and I am certain that he will not regret having made this concession. Of course, it all depends upon 1497 whether the local authorities take advantage of the increased grant and decide, because of that, to provide playing fields which otherwise they would not have done. It is the view of most noble Lords that the provision of an increased grant will, in fact, tend to cause local authorities to consider the provision of these playing fields. If they do not do so, in spite of the improved grant, then nobody will be the worse off financially, although I am sure that the country would be the worse off through the lack of playing fields. This Amendment has been given to me personally in pursuance of an undertaking in response to an Amendment which I moved on the Report stage yesterday, but the credit for it is entirely due to the noble Lord, Lord Luke, who unfortunately was not able to be present yesterday, but who raised the matter on the Committee stage. As we all know, the noble Lord has devoted himself enthusiastically to the cause of the provision of playing fields, and it is a great pleasure to me to have been associated with him in this matter. I think that between us we have achieved something, although it does not go as far as we would have liked.
§ LORD LUKE
My Lords, I should like to add a few words to what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, to whom I am extremely grateful for his support in this particular Amendment. I wish to thank the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, and Her Majesty's Government, for this concession, which I think will be not only of great value but also of great encouragement to all local authorities throughout the country in this vital matter of the provision of playing fields.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 3.0 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I rise to move that this Bill do now pass. We have now expended twenty-one and a half hours of oratory on this Bill in the course of its passage through your Lordships' House, and we have considered 232 Amendments. Therefore, this is no time for further oratory. I will content myself with saying very little. I think most of us sympathised last night with the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, when he referred to the complexities of this Bill. It is indeed a terribly difficult Bill, and I feel in duty bound to try to say a word 1498 in defence of the draftsman, who has had many bricks thrown at him, not only in your Lordships' House but elsewhere, concerning the complexities of this Bill. He is by no means wholly to blame. This Bill, I suppose, will not be considered as one of the finest examples of the draftsman's art—that, I am afraid, must be admitted. It will not go down into history with Acts like the Partnership Act, the Sale of Goods Act, the Indian Independence Act, 1947 and, the best one of all, the Income Tax Act, 1948. Those are indeed fine examples of the draftsman's art.
Considering the task that we set him, I think the draftsman here has been very ingenious in carrying out what was required of him. That is the real reason for the complexity—not the draftsmanship but the nature of the task which has been set the draftsman. As those of your Lordships who are familiar with these problems realise, few things are more complicated than land law and town and country planning law. The initial task—to get rid of the development charge and suspend the distribution of the £300 million fund—was not difficult, but those objectives were achieved in the Act of 1953. What was more difficult was to adapt for use as a foundation for the compensation scheme of this Bill the claims for loss of development value which were made on the £300 million fund.
As your Lordships have realised only too well in the course of the debate, the difficulties have been twofold. The first was this. The claims on the fund were personal property which had to be converted into a form of realty in order to provide a basis for a scheme of ad hoc compensation. There was no precedent for such an undertaking. Novel problems, for which novel solutions had to be found, have been raised, some of them at an advanced stage in the Bill's career. The second point was this. The future compensation scheme alone would have been a source of plenty of substance for an ordinary Bill—and this is no ordinary Bill, as your Lordships realise, because it caters for past events as well as for future events. Hence, two whole Parts of the Bill deal with the past only, including many miscellaneous provisions which will not have very much future importance.
1499 The root of our difficulties which contributes so much to the complexity of the Bill is, of course, the Government's insistence on using the claims on the fund as their basis. There is no practical alternative that I can see. A great deal of money is owed to a lot of people in respect of their claims, and we want that paid out as soon as possible. At the same time, the incubus of development charge had to be removed. Those are the difficulties which the Government and the draftsman had to face. That is the reason for the very large number of Amendments with which we have had to deal, particularly on Committee stage and Report stage. I hope that the House does not think that the time has been wasted in this work. We have seen, certainly with this Bill, the House of Lords as a Revising Chamber at its most industrious. All the Amendments with which we have dealt have not been mere drafting Amendments, or Amendments of little consequence. Amendments of real importance, notably the "Pilgrim" Amendment, have been inserted in this Bill; and the Amendments to this Bill have not, as your Lordships may have noticed, come solely from one side of the House. If any of your Lordships may have wondered why it is that the association of noble Lords who sit on the Benches behind me goes by the rather cumbersome title of Association of Independent Unionist Peers, your Lordships will by now have observed just how independent they are. The title is no mere formality.
We are also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and his colleagues opposite for the great help that they have given, particularly in matters where their professional experience has been brought to bear. As the noble Viscount, Lord Gage, has already pointed out, we are also very grateful to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor for the skilful and most accommodating way in which he has addressed himself to genuine points of difficulty put to him from all sides of the House. As I ventured to observe on Second Reading—in the face of a certain contradiction from noble Lords opposite—I think this is a good Bill. I now think that it will leave us an even better Bill. There is now a matter of urgency that payments due under the Bill should be made as soon as possible. My 1500 right honourable friend the Minister and the Central Land Board want to begin making payments as soon as they are empowered to do so. The laying and approval of regulations will take some time, but I make this pledge: that, so far as the Government have any control in the matter—and they have—the time taken in these matters will now be reduced to the absolute minimum. Once again, I wish to thank your Lordships on all sides of the House for the industry and the enthusiasm with which this Bill has been considered and amended. I now hope that your Lordships, having left such a marked imprint upon it, will be good enough to send it on its way rejoicing. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Mancroft.)
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has given this Bill rather fulsome praise. He, at any rate, has no criticisms or doubts about it. I should like to say that I thought it was a bad Bill when it was introduced, and I still think it is a bad Bill. I will not repeat all the reasons which I gave on Second Reading, or on the Second Reading of the Scottish Bill, but the fundamental defects of the Bill, as introduced, remain. Having said that, however, I am bound to admit that, during its passage through this House, some Amendments have been made which have, to a certain extent, mitigated some of the evils. The "Pilgrim clause" is certainly a substantial improvement. It is a far better clause as it leaves this House than it was when it was first introduced. That is due to the efforts of noble Lords from all parts of the House. They were not content with the clause as it arrived here; they were not content with the clause as it left the Committee stage or the Report stage, and to-day we believe that it is as good a clause as it is possible to have, having regard to the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
We have been helpful, I think, in getting something done, though not as much as we should have liked, in respect of playing fields and for the protection of purchasers. Clause 33 is a very much better clause now than when it arrived from another place. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, in saying (and I think it is right that it should be 1501 said) that the way in which this Bill has been conducted through this House shows this House at its best. Having had occasion, on previous Bills, to say something very different, I think it only right that I should pay tribute to the way in which this Bill has been dealt with. It is largely due to the courtesy, the consideration and the conscientious way in which the noble and learned Viscount has handled it. Those of us who knew him in another place expected that he would deal with a complicated measure of this kind, or indeed with any measures, in the way in which he has done; and we are not disappointed. I believe that every undertaking which he gave to consider every point raised has been duly honoured. And if the results are not to the complete satisfaction of those who raised the matters, at any rate we are all satisfied that he did conscientiously apply his mind to any matters to which we directed him—and, after all, that is all we can ask.
I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft paid a tribute to the draftsman of the Bill. Those of us who have had any experience of drafting Bills know the great difficulties under which the draftsman labours. It is not his fault that a Bill emerges in a manner which makes it difficult for the ordinary person to understand it; it arises from the material with which the draftsman has to deal. The complexity inherent in any questions of law of land inevitably makes it difficult to draft a measure of this kind, and when one has regard to the great pressure under which the draftsman has to work, it is amazing to me that he should have been successful in getting this Bill on its feet, as he has done. We had 200 Amendments passed through this House on one day, and the next day we had a new print of the Bill, with all those Amendments incorporated. It really is an amazing piece of work, and I think we ought to pay the fullest tribute to the draftsman responsible for it.
Then I think we ought to pay a tribute to noble Lords who have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, time and time again moving an Amendment and saying "this is little more than drafting," or "this is consequential," and who, in all simplicity, took him absolutely at his word, challenging him only once. We have been very trustful, and we are 1502 hoping that our trust has not been misplaced.
§ LORD SILKIN
Now, we part with this Bill. As I say in a good many respects, it is a better Bill than when it arrived here, but I cannot pretend that, fundamentally, it deals with any of the criticisms which I and certain of my noble friends levelled against it when it arrived. That was Government policy, and perhaps it was not to be expected that the Government would depart fundamentally from that policy; but in its drafting and in the way its language has been made easier for the subject to "swallow," it is a better Bill, and I hope that it will have an easy passage in another place.
§ 3.13 p.m.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, like everybody else who has taken a major part in regard to this Bill, I should like to ally myself almost entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has said, particularly in regard to what my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack did. I think that the way in which he conducted this most complicated measure through the House was amazing, and I hope he will not feel that in what I am going to say I am in any way criticising the manner in which this Bill has been presented to the House. I feel, however, that it is necessary and advisable to refer to the general situation in the administration of our legislation. This seems to me to-day to be well-nigh chaotic. I am only an ordinary, common man, like everybody else in the street, and that is how I feel about the legislation of the present day. The distress and the anxiety caused by it is prevalent all over the country. I am certain that noble Lords in this House have the same experience as I have—that of receiving many letters from humble people, asking for help in regard to legislation which, in a great many cases, they describe as tyrannical in its treatment of the men and women of our country. I feel that that is very nearly the right word to use.
The Bill which we are about to pass is so complicated that even those who are responsible for it sometimes seem worried as to what it means and what its effect will be, not only on the authorities but, still more, on the individual 1503 citizen. My noble and learned friend on the Woolsack has mentioned a circular. But that is to be sent to the authorities, including Government Departments. What about the ordinary man and woman in the street? Is there to be no circular to them? Are they to go on not realising what this Bill and many other Bills mean, and without getting some perfectly plain and simple indication of what they should do in certain circumstances? Many terrible cases appear in the Press almost daily, and have been quoted to us, showing the suffering and anxiety which has come into the lives of our people. I hope that the law will be couched in language that the ordinary citizen can understand without his having to go to the so-called expert, who, of course, wants his fee and is often just as fogged about the meaning of the legislation as we all are. I beg the Government to issue a statement in language which will enable common people to understand the meaning of the law.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD MILNER OF LEEDS
My Lords, I do not wish to detain your Lordships for more than a few moments. I agree so much with all that my noble friend Lord Silkin has said that I do not need to repeat it. I should, however, like to be associated with what he said, and with what has been said from the other side of the House, in regard to the debt that we owe to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack for his considerate treatment of the various Amendments which have been put forward in connection with this Bill. I agree also with the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, that this is an extremely complicated Bill. No one would be happier than the lawyers if it were possible to put it in a plain and simple form for the man in the street; but I very much doubt whether that would be possible because, like so many other matters of law, the question is one of interpretation, which depends not only on the written word but on the particular facts of each case. However, many noble Lords would be grateful if such a statement could be made. I am sure that we on this side—indeed all those who have any association with this matter, would be only too happy if that were done.
1504 I want to call attention to three matters which, to my mind and to the minds of those who are more expert than I am and who have given some study to this Bill, are still left in some considerable doubt. Your Lordships may remember Clause 34 under which, on application being made, a local authority has to indicate within 28 days whether it is proposed to acquire a particular piece of land, although that course may involve delay to any purchaser. That matter is still in doubt, in that the Bill is not at all clear as to whether the answer should be given at once on receipt of the application, whether it should be given at the end of 28 days, or whether, if the reply is given in the first instance and something comes to the knowledge of the local authority that some other authority, or that authority, intends to acquire the particular piece of land, a further reply should be sent, or exactly what action the local authority should take. The matter remains in doubt. I should have thought the best way was to give an answer on the last of the twenty-eight days, so as to cover all the intervening period. The matter ought not to be left in doubt so that one answer may be given at the beginning of twenty-eight days and another, possibly different, answer at the end of twenty-eight days. That is a point which will have to be altered by legislation or by some regulation one of these days.
Another point to which I would call attention is that the Bill as it comes before your Lordships to-day differs in the treatment it offers to public authorities on the one hand, and to the individual on the other hand. For example, a public authority may apply to the Central Land Board for information about the unexpended balance of established development value, and the Central Land Board is under an obligation to give information, not only as to the original established development value but also as to the unexpended portion of that established development value; whereas when an individual asks for information the Central Land Board is under an obligation merely to give information as to the original amount of the unexpended development value and such other information as it deems fit. There would not appear to be any need for that differentiation. If the information can be given 1505 to a public authority, one would have thought it could equally be given to a private individual.
There is considerable doubt also on a matter arising out of an Amendment made at the Committee stage of the Bill. Noble Lords will remember that Clause 20, subsection (1), provided that:Compensation … shall not be payable in respect of the refusal of permission for any development which does not consist in the carrying out of building, mining or other operations. …In Committee, on the Motion of the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, we amended that clause to read:Compensation… shall not be Payable in respect of the refusal of permission for any development which consists of or includes the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land. …In moving this Amendment, the noble and learned Viscount described it as a "drafting" Amendment merely substituting a positive for a negative form of words. Some of us think the Amendment went a great deal further than mere drafting and may have the effect of excluding from compensation even the great majority of refusals of planning permission. This is due to the fact that the Amendment uses the words "or includes." Without those words the new form would have had the same meaning as the old.
The use of those two words has the result that wherever the use of a piece of land, after the physical development has taken place for which permission as sought differs materially from what it was at the time the application for permission was made, then the development would "include" a material change of user and no compensation would be payable upon the refusal of permission. This would be so even if the change of user were not expressly referred to in the application. Section 18 (3) of the 1947 Act provides that:Where permission … is granted under this Part of this Act for the erection of a building, the grant of permission may specify the purposes for which the building may be used; and if no purpose is so specified, the permission shall be construed as including permission to use the building for the purpose for which it is designed.That is a little complicated, but it appears to mean that the grant of permission to erect a building includes permission to 1506 use it for a certain purpose, and under the Amendment inserted by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, if that purpose differs materially from that for which the land has previously been used a material change of use occurs. It follows, therefore, that if permission is refused, compensation will not then be payable.
May I take a simple example? The owner of a piece of farm land applies for permission to build dwellinghouses upon it. If permission were granted, it would, under Section 18 (3) of the 1947 Act, include permission to change from agricultural to residential use when the houses are erected. If permission is refused, therefore, there will be no compensation payable under the present clause, and that may have very wide application indeed. It may apply to farmland, the grant of applications to build in the Green Belt and so on, and may be a serious matter. The noble and learned Viscount may reply to my suggestion, as he did at the time it was made in Committee, that the difficulty is met by the definition of "use" in Section 119 of the 11947 Act. That definition reads:'use,' in relation to land, does not include the use of land by the carrying out of any building or other operations thereon.With respect, I submit that that definition does not go far enough. It affords no assistance in a ease of the kind I have mentioned, because it does not touch the change of use which occurs after the 'building operations have been completed, when the buildings are put to the use for which they are designed. It is as well to have that point on the record, because I feel sure that, with other matters in this Bill, it will have to be dealt with at no distant date. With those few remarks, and thanking your Lordships for your patience in this rather complicated argument, I hope the Bill will now pass.
§ 3.29 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, may I first say how grateful I am to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for the words he has said about my conduct of the Bill. In thanking him, I should like to express my gratitude to your Lordships for the great kindness, patience and indulgence you have shown me in this first Bill which I have had the honour to conduct in your House. I should like to say a word on the matter on which 1507 my noble friend, Lord Teviot, has spoken. The burden of his speech has been very much in the minds of us all during the hours that we have spent on this Bill, and the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, last night suggested one approach which I should be very happy to consider; that is, the approach of consolidation and simplification in the course of that process. I cannot give any exact undertaking on so immense a task, but I can promise to consider it, and I hope that may do something to meet my friend's point. It is one of the great difficulties and responsibilities of 20th Century legislators that, as the State interferes and takes responsibility for an ever-growing complexity of the nation's activities, our legislation should be at once competent to cover the problems and something which ordinary people will be able to understand. All I can say is that our efforts in the alterations which we have asked your Lordships to make in this Bill have been efforts in that direction. But I should like my noble friend to know how conscious I am that we have not yet reached anything like the satisfaction which we should desire in that regard.
The noble Lord, Lord Milner of Leeds, raised three points. In regard to the first, that concerning the twenty-eight days, I hope that local authorities will deal with the matter—as I expect they will—with common sense and a desire to help the inquirer. I am sure they will want to give information as early as possible; but if, as I said during the Committee stage, information which they have given on the first day is falsified by information that comes to them on the second or third day, I am sure that, in their great tradition, they will see that they have a duty to keep the inquirer informed on that point. With respect to the second point, I do not think that I can help the noble Lord further. With regard to his third apprehension, may I say that, although the noble Lord, Lord Milner of Leeds, was kind enough and courteous enough to bring it to my attention as soon as he possibly could, that was only a short time before your Lordships' House sat. Therefore, if my explanation is not so extensive as it might have been, I am sure that the noble Lord will forgive me.
1508 I should like him to consider two aspects of this difficulty. The first, I think, may be summarised by considering what is the meaning of the word "consists," which, as he remembers, occurred in the original words to which he referred. Without tying either myself to finality, or your Lordships' House to agreement, I would suggest that "consists" means "co-extensive with"; and if it has that meaning, as I respectfully submit it has, then a refusal of permission for a scheme of development which included an element of change of use was excluded from compensation under the old wording as it would be under the new. In that sense, and on that view, I think I was right in saying that it was a drafting Amendment. But my comfort to the noble Lord is not quite so cold as that, and I suggest to him that the implications of the case are by no means so far-reaching as suggested. May I put this point to him? The form of words now in the Bill comes from the definition of "development" in Section 12 of the 1947 Act. I suggest to the noble Lord that the word "other" is, in fact, significant. There are two categories—building and other land—and we may have a change of use inside either. But, in my view, use of a building cannot be said to represent a use of the land different from the previous use of the site, because that involves a mixing of the two categories. As I say, I merely wish to bring that point before the noble Lord for his consideration. I think he will find it helpful in assuaging some of the doubts felt on the matter. I regret that, in the half-hour available, I have not been able to give him a lengthier discussion on the point.
May I, in conclusion, say just a word with regard to your Lordships' treatment of the Bill as a whole and your Lordships' performance of (if I may be allowed to mention them) the functions of your Lordships' House? The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, accepted—as indeed, I think anyone who considers the matter must—that on the major questions of policy involved in a Bill, a Government cannot accept alterations, because to do so would be to alter the major policy for which the Government stand; and the way to sustain an objection to that major policy is to change the Government. That is only one function of legislation. There are, in my view, two other important 1509 functions. The second is what I might call the secondary policy point. Within the framework of the broad policy of the legislation, there are many points in which a Bill can be improved or worsened. In that field, I respectfully believe that your Lordships' attention has greatly improved the Bill. Even where I have not agreed—as in the case in which I indicated my doubts about an important point introduced by my noble friend Lord Luke, with whose purpose I sympathised so much—the composite will and desire of the House has secured what your Lordships are convinced is an improvement, and what has, I am sure, given great pleasure to my noble friend. I think that we could go on—though I certainly shall not worry your Lordships by doing so—and find at least half a dozen instances where the Bill has been improved in that field.
The third aspect of legislation which is equally important, and is sometimes forgotten, is the adjusting of policy to the needs, wishes and daily round of the ordinary man and woman in this country. That is so important an aspect of legislation that I might almost have put it first in my trio. I think that in the many hours we have spent on this Bill we have tried, not only by improvements in the clarity but by improvements in the way the Bill will apply to ordinary life, to make it a better Bill and for the greater advantage of those who will be affected by it. Noble Lords have been good enough to express gratitude to me, and I should like most sincerely, on my own behalf, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Mancroft, who has helped me so stoutly throughout the stages of this Bill, and on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, to express our respectful gratitude to the House for its co-operation in this task.
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.