HL Deb 14 April 1965 vol 265 cc397-9

My Lords, I beg to move that paragraph 6(b) of Schedule 1 to the Land Drainage (Scotland) Act, 1958, shall be amended by substituting in sub-paragraph (2) for the figure of twenty pounds the figure of forty pounds. The purpose of this Order is to increase the maximum estimated cost per acre which limits the power of the Secretary of State to make an Improvement Order without the agree ment of all the owners involved. When Parliament passed the Land Drainage (Scotland) Act, 1958, it was subject to the Secretary of State's approval that a majority of interested proprietors should not be prevented from improving their land by the opposition of a minority, but it was also necessary to have certain safeguards for the minorities. These safeguards included the provision that, where there was not unanimity, the Secretary of State would make an order only if a majority were liable to meet more than half the cost of the work, and provided that the estimated cost of the work did not exceed £20 per acre.

This limiting figure of £20 was first mentioned in the Duncan Committee Report of 1950, and although when, some eight years later, the Act was passed the money value had so changed that £20 was no longer actually a relevant amount, discussions had taken place on that figure and it was found desirable to let it stand. We are, therefore, not merely considering changes in the value of money since 1958, but really the changes in the value of money since 1950. The figure of £40, in substitution of £20, has been accepted as being a reasonable figure by all those who have been consulted, and it is for this reason, and for no other, that this is suggested. I am well aware that it would be just as easy to suggest that the figure should be £30, £35, or £45; but £40 has been chosen as the figure which is acceptable to the parties and is likely to remain reasonable for some years ahead. I do not wish to suggest to your Lordships that this alteration is likely to result in a great increase in the number of schemes taking place, because the Act has been rather disappointing, and the number of schemes have been very few. If, however, any change for the better can take place, the substitution of this more realistic figure may well help to bring that about. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Land Drainage (Scotland) Amendment Order 1965, laid before the House on March 31 be approved.—(Lord Hughes.)


My Lords, may I for my part say that I welcome very much the announcement the noble Lord has made? We see no objection whatsoever to the change he is proposing. Indeed, we hope that the results may be better than he expects and that more schemes will now be made with the new level of £40.

On Question, Motion agreed to.