HL Deb 03 August 1965 vol 269 cc200-6

[The references are to Bill [101] as first printed for the House of Commons]

Clause 1, page 1, line 11, leave out paragraph (c) and insert— ("(c) persons claiming to be or found to be owners of such land or becoming the owners thereof by virtue of this Act;")

Clause 4, page 3, line 6, leave out ("if the land") and insert ("which")

Clause 4, page 3, line 9, leave out ("so registered") and insert ("registered under this section")

Clause 5, page 3, line 34, leave out subsection (2)

Page 4, line 8, leave out ("or") and insert ("and to any person")

Page 4, line 8, line 23, at end insert— ("(9) A registration authority shall take such steps as may be prescribed for informing the public of any objection which they have noted on the register under this section and of the times and places where copies of the relevant entries in the register may be inspected. (10) Where regulations under this Act require copies of any entries in a register to be sent by the registration authority to another local authority they may require that other authority to make the copies available for inspection in such manner as may be prescribed.")

Clause 8, page 5, line 30, leave out third ("the") and insert ("that")

Clause 8, page 5, line 34, leave out first ("the") and insert ("that")

Clause 8, page 5, line 44, leave out ("it") and insert ("the land")

After Clause 8, insert the following new Clause—

Protection of unclaimed common land

". Where the registration under section 4 of this Act of any land as common land has become final but no person is registered under this Act or the Land Registration Acts 1925 and 1936 as the owner of the land, then, until the land is vested under any provision hereafter made by Parliament, any local authority in whose area the land or part of the land is situated may take such steps for the protection of the land against unlawful interference as could be taken by an owner in possession of the land, and may (without prejudice to any power exercisable apart from this section) institute proceedings for any offence committed in respect of the land.")

Clause 10, page 6, line 15, leave out from ("prescribed") to end of line 18

Clause 10, page 6, line 29, leave out subsection (4) and insert— ("(4) The Minister shall, before dealing with any application under this section, send copies thereof to the registration authority and to such other local authorities as may be prescribed, and shall inform those authorities whether he has granted or refused the application; and those authorities shall take such steps as may be prescribed for informing the public of the application and its grant or refusal.")

Clause 12, page 7, line 18, after ("are") insert ("varied or")

Clause 14, page 7, line 40, leave out from ("number") to end of line 41

Page 8, line 4, at end insert— ("(3) When the registration of such a right has become final the right shall accordingly he exercisable in relation to animals not exceeding the number or numbers registered or such other number or numbers as Parliament may hereafter determine.")

Clause 16, page 9, line 25, after first ("order") insert ("but subject to any modifications specified in the direction")

Clause 18, page 10, line 28, leave out from ("act") to ("ecclesiastical") in line 29 and insert ("with respect to any land or rights belonging to an")

Clause 18, page 10, line 31, leave out ("preventing the making of") and insert ("treating")

Clause 18, page 10, line 32, leave out ("except where objection is made") and insert ("as an objection")

Clause 21, page 11, leave out lines 31 to 33


My Lords, in moving that these Amendments be now considered, I would remind you that they are Amendments to a Bill which originated in your Lordships' House. I hope your Lordships will give leave for these Amendments to be considered en bloc. They raise a few substantial points, while some of them are drafting Amend ments. I will mention the substantial points and indicate their character, and if any noble Lord requires further information, I will, of course, do my best to give it.

The first substantial point is in the first Amendment. It is a provision for registering ownership arising from a claim to owner or the registration of persons found to be owners or whose ownership is established by this legislation. It seems to me that the point is raised, both here and in another place, without disturbing the position of the Land Registry. The second point (I am taking them in the order on the Order Paper) is in Amendment No. 10, which is about the protection of unclaimed common land. When we considered the Bill at an earlier stage it was pointed out that there were difficulties about people coming on to land and doing damage during the period when there might be no one in a position to protect the common rights and other rights concerned. This gives any local authority in whose area the land or part of it is situated powers to protect the common, as regards criminal proceedings. There was a suggestion here, which has received most careful consideration, that it might be possible to extend this protection to civil actions; but on looking into the matter it proved impossible to deal with questions of trespass and the like, which are civil proceedings, because of the position of the owner of the common lying low, if I may so put it, or being unknown at the moment.

Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 deal with the question which was referred to frequently below as quantification—put shortly, the question of the number of beasts which any complainant might be entitled to put on the common. The matter has for the moment been dealt with in this way, registering a number or numbers, as the Royal Commission suggested, but leaving it open at a further stage to revise the figure registered. That is the meaning of the last line …such other number or numbers as Parliament may hereafter determine. It has now been agreed with the National Farmers' Union that this is the right way of tackling the problem. I do not think that it is in any sense their Amendment, but it evoked a good deal of discussion elsewhere. Amendment No. 16 deals with costs, which also was raised in this House. In general, costs are to be county court costs, but there is power by virtue of this Amendment to give directions for a higher scale of costs in cases where it might be appropriate.

The last point is perhaps of less importance, but I will mention it. By virtue of Amendment No. 20, some lines are left out because the Law Society pointed out that in substance they might apply to cases which would be quite different from those to which they were intended to apply, and interested bodies, such as the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, were unable to suggest any cases in which they would apply as regards commons. Accordingly these words are omitted. It is almost a drafting Amendment.

There is one other type of Amendment that I should mention before I sit down. Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 to Clause 5 and Amendment No. 12 to Clause 10 are designed to cover publicity arrangements. Perhaps I need not go into them in detail, unless I am asked about them. I think I can fairly and properly describe all the other Amendments as Amendments of a drafting character. With that and any further explanation that may be called for, I hope that your Lordships will feel that these are reasonable Amendments arrived at after full discussion in another place and meeting the views of the various interests concerned and the views expressed by honourable Members and right honourable Members below on both sides.

Now that this Bill comes back to your Lordships' House, I still feel that it is only the first step towards dealing with commons. What is done under this first step, still more what may fall to be done by way of preparation and shaping of legislation for the second step, will largely depend on the co-operation of the local authorities, particularly local authorities of the first grade (if I may so put it), and also of other local authorities. I feel sure that there is no great bone of contention between us in this matter, but a common interest in the preservation of the amenities and uses of the country before these amenities and uses are too interfered with by development, not only of motor cars but of modern life gener ally. The complexity of modern life is clashing with the old institutions which are part of the country, but it is in this case not so much the institution as the purposes of the institution that deserve our protection. I feel certain that I can appeal to noble Lords opposite as well as to my noble friends to do what they can personally—and it should be a very great deal—to see that the purposes of this and succeeding legislation are fully and zestfully carried out. If we do not act now, if we wait any longer, we may well be too late.

Moved, That the Commons Amendments be now considered.—(Lord Mitchison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House agrees with the Commons in the said Amendments.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.—(Lord Mitchison)


My Lords, assuming that your Lordships agree that the Amendments should be taken together, the Question is: That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments?

6.48 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, is always generous in his description of Bills and the Amendments to them, and we are grateful to him this evening for the details which he has given us with regard to the Amendments put forward in another place. This is a new Bill, touching new ground, and it must have given a great deal of anxiety to the people in the noble Lord's Department who had to prepare it and cover all eventualities. We are extremely grateful for the time which I know the noble Lord himself has given to this Bill and I only hope that, now it is about to become an Act, the Bill will work with the success with which the noble Lord hopes it will work.


My Lords, I should like to express my appreciation of what the Government have done. Several of the important Amendments which have been carried in another place deal with matters which were raised in this House first. I would point out that the first one dealt with a matter which I not only raised but pressed very much on Report. I pointed out to the noble Lord on that occasion that my Amendment was taking almost exactly the words which he himself had used in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on this matter. I am extremely glad, though I was not able to persuade the Parliamentary draftsmen, that an Amendment has been brought in, although it is in a different form, dealing with the matter of claims to ownership, because it really was obscure in the original draft of the Bill, when paragraphs (a) and (b) dealt with definitive title and paragraph (c) was not dealing with it.

I should especially like to express my appreciation of the new clause dealing with the protection of unclaimed common land. This was a matter which we came to refer to as the lacuna. The noble Lord promised me that he would see that a clause was devised in order to give protection. I am sorry that it does not include civil protection and gives only criminal protection, but I am sure that the Government, and particularly the Parliamentary Secretary, have done their best to meet us upon this matter.

We also emphasised very much the great importance of publicity if the necessary claims were to be made, because, under this Bill, if they are not made in time they are extinguished for ever. I think we can claim that in your Lordships' House we raised nearly all the points of substance, and if it was only in another place that the Amendments were finally moved and accepted it is none the less satisfactory to us to find that they have now been accepted and are being incorporated in the Bill. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will accept the Amendments which have been made by another place.


My Lords, may I, with any necessary leave, thank your Lordships for the careful attention that has been given to this Bill. I think we have a common cause in the matter. I was once told, "No names, no pack drill", but I might perhaps be allowed to say how much we were indebted to the suggestions of the noble Lord, Lord Molson, in this matter. He spoke, I think, for the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, and the work of that Society—now, I think, celebrating its centenary—has really been singular and valuable to the whole country and those who live in it. Therefore, the thanks that I offer to your Lordships on both sides of the House are very sincere. One does not get into a subject of this kind without developing a certain enthusiasm for it, and I am extremely glad personally that the Bill has been passed. This is a difficult matter, and this is, after all, only a preliminary Bill. I am glad, however, that it has met with general approval and has, on the whole, reconciled the views of noble Lords here with those of Members of another place.

On Question, Motion agreed to.