HL Deb 29 June 1961 vol 232 cc1166-73

4.42 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Earl Waldegrave.)

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 33 [Power of local authorities to undertake drainage works against flooding]:


Under Clause 33 of this Bill, local authorities are being given powers to undertake drainage works against flooding in their own districts; and they are being given approximately the same powers as internal drainage boards to carry out this work. In the original drafting of the Bill, it was considered that the powers of entry in Section 43 of the 1930 Act would be adequate for this purpose; but it may be, of course, that these powers are too limited. It has been said that they really refer only to entry for surveying, taking levels, and such limited purposes, and should be widened. This Amendment proposes that the local authorities should have the powers of entry they need and which are available to internal drainage boards under Clause 39 of this Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 23, line 9, at end insert ("section thirty-nine of this Act shall apply in relation to the council as it applies in relation to a drainage board")—(Earl Waldegrave.)

Clause 33, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 34 to 37 agreed to.

Clause 38:

Collection of drainage rates by owners

(2) Where, by virtue of subesction (1) of this section, an occupier's drainage rate is assessed on the owner, and he pays She amount due before the expiration of one-half of the period for which the rate is made or such later date as may be specified in the resolution, the internal drainage board shall make to him an allowance equal to ten per cent. of the full amount of the rate.

VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH moved, in subsection (2), to leave out "full amount of the" and to insert "amount of the occupier's". The noble Viscount said: I apologise to the Minister, because the other Bill took much longer than we expected, and my noble friend Lord Williams of Barn-burgh has had to catch a train, so I have, rather imperfectly, to fulfil his duties this afternoon. Therefore, I want all the sympathy I can have from the Minister. With regard to Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15, I think it was the intention of my noble friend to take them all together. What he has been concerned about is that there is some ambiguity in Clause 38, and his Amendments were put down in order to try to get some explanation from the Minister and to see if something could be done to remove the feeling of ambiguity felt by those who have been considering the matter, especially with regard to what the landlord can claim in this respect. If the noble Earl could give us an explanation on this, then we shall not need to give the Minister any more difficulty. I hope he can explain. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 27, leave out from first ("the") to ("rate") and insert ("amount of the occupier's")—(Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)


I think I can give an explanation which will be clear and helpful. I am grateful to the noble Lord for having tabled these Amendments, because it has enabled us to look again at the drafting of this clause, and there may be certain ambiguity. Therefore, I am grateful that this has been brought to our attention. While it is a good point which has been made, I should like to have time to look at the actual words proposed, and it may be that a consequential Amendment will have to be put down to Clause 14 itself. If the noble Lord will agree, I will come back at Report stage with words which I hope will meet this point. I do not agree, as a matter of fact, that subsection (2) is ambiguous.

If the noble Viscount would look at the clause, on page 26, at lines 22 and 23, he will see that it says: Where, by virtue of subsection (1) of this section. an occupier's drainage rate …". The whole clause is about occupiers' drainage rates, and I think the first Amendment moved is not necessary, as then!is no ambiguity. I do not think that subsection (2) could be held by anyone to refer to anything except occupiers' drainage rates, as it says. However, I agree that subsection (3) does not make the position completely clear that the owner will receive the 10 per cent. allowance for paying the occupier's drainage rate. Whilst these words, as I say, may not be absolutely good as they are now, if the noble Viscount would see fit to withdraw these three Amendments, I would certainly come back at Report stage with words to cover the second point he has made.


I am much obliged, and on that basis I shall be glad to withdraw the Amendment and deal with the matter on Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 39 [Powers of entry]:

VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS BOROUGH moved, in subsection (1), after "drainage board" to insert "other than a river board". The noble Viscount said: The intention of my noble friend Lord Williams of Barn-burgh was to put this point. His Amendment seeks to exclude river boards from the scope of the clause, since the powers of river boards in this connection are derived from Section 16 of the River Boards Act, 1948. With the Amendments in paragraph 31 of Part II of the First Schedule to this Bill, it was thought that to leave the clause unamended could lead only to doubt and confusion if parallel powers, but differing in certain aspects from one another, were available to river boards.

The present position is that Section 43 of the Land Drainage Act, 1930, which confers powers to enter and survey land and inspect documents, is applicable only to internal drainage boards, and not to river boards, by virtue of Section 4 and paragraph (2) of the Third Schedule to the Act of 1948. Section 16 of the 1948 Act is of much wider scope and in substance includes the powers of Section 43, but it is available only to river boards. Therefore, while the internal drainage boards welcome the powers proposed by Clause 39, the river boards say that they already have them under another Act but in a slightly different form. The difference between Section 16 and Clause 39 is that where I an officer of a river board is obstructed in the exercise of his right of entry under Section 16, subsection (5) of that section enables an application to be made to a Justice of the Peace for a warrant authorising that person to enter if necessary by force. Clause 39 (5), which imposes a fine for obstruction, is thought to be a less satisfactory alternative. If, however, the river boards can still use the power under Section 16, perhaps that can be construed as being satisfactory.

Secondly, where Section 16 contains no provision for compensation for injury arising from the exercise of powers, Clause 39 (4) gives a specific right in any such case. Although the River Boards Authority have no desire to restrict that power, they feel that it could upset the present arrangements, which are founded on free negotiations. No serious complaint has arisen in relation to the present practice and they wish to preserve the happy relations which exist between the river boards and the general public. For these reasons, my noble friend hopes that the noble Earl will look at this clause again and make sure that river boards can continue with their present practice. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 33, after ("board") insert ("other than a river board")—(Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)


In looking at this Amendment I think that we must read the first line of Clause 39, which says: Without prejudice to any other enactment. And in looking at this Amendment, one thinks at once of Section 16 of the 1948 Act. Of course, this clause is without prejudice to the powers contained in Section 16 and I do not think that river boards need be concerned about Clause 39 because it does not specifically exclude them. Incidentally, if this Amendment were accepted, catchment boards would be excluded from powers of entry under Clause 39 and we should have to do some consequential work to bring them back. I would advise your Lordships that this Amendment is really unnecessary and I hope that the noble Viscount will feel able to withdraw it.


I must say that what the noble Earl has said sounds reasonable, but I am not sufficiently expert on the differences between the powers in the 1948 Act and those in this Bill to be able to answer right away. However, I shall ask my noble friend to look at this matter again and, if he is not satisfied, he can put down the Amendment again on Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.55 p.m.


This Amendment is to extend the minimum period of notice that drainage boards must give before entering upon land. Clause 39 was criticised at considerable length in another place because it was said that it did not provide that adequate notice of entry would be given to occupiers by drainage boards, particularly when they propose to enter residential land, and my right honourable friend promised to look at this matter and see whether it would not be possible to make the notice longer. This Amendment implements that undertaking. It provides that, except in emergency, seven days' notice will be given for entry on to residential property or on other land with heavy equipment. Under the 1948 Act, the notice was only 24 hours.

In connection with this Amendment and with the Amendment which the noble Viscount withdrew, I promised the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Barn-burgh, in a private discussion, to give him a table showing all the different periods of notice. The table shows that internal drainage boards, local authorities, catchment boards and river boards will now all have to give seven days' notice, except in an emergency, for entry on to residential property and there are parallel periods of notice for other land. We have gone through this carefully and if your Lordships pass this Amendment, I think that we shall have all the periods of notice in proper order.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 34, leave out from ("after") to ("producing")—(Earl Waldegrave.)


This Amendment is consequential to the previous one. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 26, line 42, leave out subsection (3) and insert— ("(3) Except in an emergency admission to any land shall not be demanded as of right under this section, unless notice in writing of the intended entry has been given to the occupier. and, if the land is used for residential purposes or the demand is for admission with heavy equipment, has been given not less than seven days before the demand is made.")—(Earl Waldegrave.)

Clause 39, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 40 to 53 agreed to.

First Schedule. [Minor amendments]:


I think that I can almost describe this Amendment as consequential on Clause 22, which was added to the Bill in the House of Commons. It introduces procedure which experts on rating call the "tone of the list". Under Section 29 of the 1930 Act internal drainage boards have power to determine the annual value of land not assessed to income tax for the purpose of levying drainage rate. The Amendment provides that in determining the annual value of land the drainage boards shall have regard to the values of comparable neighbouring property. The Amendment will therefore avoid the anomalous position caused by drainage boards' adopting current rental values for the purpose of levying drainage rates. This determination does not often have to be done; it is usually done only when the internal drainage board cannot identify an assessment on the list with a particular property. Therefore there has to be the same procedure for them determining the value of the property. When they determine its value now, we should wish them to use the "tone of the list" procedure. I should perhaps add that why I said it was consequential was that if your Lordships look at Clause 22 (3) you will see that these words are used in that part of the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 34, line 20, at end insert— (". At the end of subsection (2) of section twenty-nine (which requires drainage boards to determine the annual value of land not assessed to income tax under Schedule A) there shall be added the word having regard to the annual values, for the purposes of income tax under Schedule A, of comparable land in their district, other than those which have been ascertained by reference to rents fixed by agreements commencing after the end of March, nineteen hundred and forty-six '.")—(Earl Waldegrave.)


This is almost a drafting Amendment. It is to ensure that the procedure used by local authorities in making by-laws under the Bill will be the same as that under their ordinary by-law-making powers. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 36, line 26, gat end insert— ("(4) Subsection (2) of that section, except in so far as it requires byelaws to be confirmed by the Minister, and subsections (3) to (7) thereof shall not apply to byelaws made by virtue of section thirty-three of this Act; and subsection (8) of the said section forty-seven shall apply in relation to such byelaws in substitution for section two hundred and fifty-one of the Local Government Act, 1933.")—(Earl Waldegrave.)


The purpose of Amendments Nos. 21 and 22, which, with your Lordships' permission, I propose to move together, is to empower public utilities and similar undertakings to attach reasonable conditions when giving consent to drainage works affecting their property. The Bill amends Section 61 so that public utility undertakings shall not unreasonably withhold consent to work affecting them proposed by drainage boards. The arbitration provisions in the clause are similarly extended. These Amendments will make it clear that public utilty undertakings can attach reasonable conditions to their consent, and that such conditions can also be subject to arbitration. I beg to move.

Amendments moved—

Page 36, line 43, at end insert ("may be given subject to reasonable conditions but") Page 36, line 52, at end insert ("or whether any condition subject to which any consent was given was reasonable").— (Earl Waldegrave.)


The purpose of this Amendment is to protect public utilities and similar undertakings against entry on their land by private persons empowered by agricultural land tribunals to carry out improvement work. It will ensure that the "saving for public utilities in Section 61 of the 1930 Act will apply to Clause 45 of the Bill. Public utilities will be safeguarded against Tribunal Orders giving private persons the right to enter their land to undertake ditch improvement work. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 36, line 52, at end insert— ("(5) The references in the said section sixty-one to the Act of 1930 shall be construed as including references to section forty-five of this Act.")—(Earl Waldegrave.)


This is a purely drafting Amendment to reinstate the definition of "expenses" which has been repealed by the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 38, line 8, leave out ("the end of the subsection") and insert ("river board area")—(Earl Waldegrave.)


With your Lordships' permission, I will move Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 together. They are consequential on Amendments Nos. 17 and 18, which we have already passed. They extend the minimum period of notice that river boards must give before entering land. I beg to move.

Amendments moved—

Page 38, line 34, leave out ("except in an emergency")

Page 38, line 35, at end insert ("after the words 'shall not' there shall be inserted the words 'except in an emergency', and for the words 'twenty-four hours' there shall be substituted the words 'seven days'").—(Earl Waldegrave.)

First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining Schedule agreed to.

House resumed.