HL Deb 30 January 1967 vol 279 cc770-3

[Nos. 6 and 7]

Clause 8, page 9, line 1, leave out subsection (4).

Clause 8, page 9, line 10, leave out "subsection" and insert "section".

The Commons disagreed to these Amendments for the following Reason: Because the Bill already makes appropriate provision for Parliamentary control of orders.

3.36 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 to which the Commons have disagreed.

Moved, That this House doth not insist on Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 to which the Commons have disagreed.—(Lord Kennet.)


My Lords, this is a simple issue. Your Lordships took the view that to make an Order which would deprive citizens of their right to a public inquiry if land was to be purchased compulsorily was a serious matter which deserved the procedure of an Affirmative Resolution in both Houses of Parliament. As your Lordships will remember, Clause 8 and Schedule 2 provide for an expedited procedure by which the Land Commission can compulsorily acquire land without the usual procedural safeguards which have been accepted for years in the matter of compulsory purchase. In the Bill as it came to your Lordships' House, an Order bringing into force the special expedited procedure could have been made for all acquisitions throughout the country. The Bill also provided that such an Order could be challenged in Parliament only by a Prayer, and did not require an Affirmative Resolution.

Under pressure from my noble friends, the Government acceded to the proposition that such an Order should no longer be able to be made to apply to the whole country, and we were grateful to them for that. But it is still possible to make an Order for any special class of acquisition, whether geographical or otherwise, and our case has been—and your Lordships approved it by a majority—that this was such an important issue that if the Government wished to deprive citizens of their normal rights, the Government should come to Parliament and ask Parliament specifically to approve the Order.

Our Amendments have been disagreed to in another place. A Minister, speaking on these, said that the Affirmative Resolution procedure was appropriate to major matters. By implication this is, in the Government's mind, a minor matter. Indeed that is made clear, because the Commons reason for disagreeing to these Amendments is that "the Bill already makes appropriate provision for the control of Orders". It seems to me a most extraordinary state of mind, to think that it is an appropriate provision if the Government can obtain for the Land Commission powers to use this expedited procedure without specififically getting an Affirmative Resolution from both Houses. This is in line with the attitude of mind which I described when speaking on the first Amendment. This is another case of this imperious attitude which pays scant regard to Parliament and less to the rights of citizens.


My Lords, this subject has been debated on two occasions in this House and on more than one occasion in another place, and therefore I will not go over the ground again, but I agree that the special procedure is very important and that we should watch carefully the rights of the individual citizen. I should still prefer the Affirmative Resolution procedure. Challenging an Order by way of Prayer is not an ideal system at all. It is difficult for Parliament to keep an eye on the stream of Orders that are being made, and many more will be made under this Bill. Personally, I would rather see some kind of all-Party watchdog committee set up to keep an eye on Orders that are being made. Even the Affirmative Resolution procedure is not a perfect method for dealing with this outpouring of Orders. But I think there is no doubt that the Affirmative Resolution procedure is preferable, and therefore I am sorry that this Amendment, which was accepted in this House, has not proved acceptable to another place.


My Lords, I, too, am sorry that another place have not seen fit to accept this Amendment, because I believe it is an eminently reasonable and constructive one. I agree with other noble Lords who have said that the Negative Resolution procedure is not so good as the Affirmative Resolution procedure. I listened to a great deal of the debate in the other place, where it was said that this is not a major matter. But I should have thought that it was a major matter to try to protect the citizens of this country, and in this respect Parliament has a duty. But another place does not seem to think so, and we can do no more.


My Lords, the charges made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, that the Government have adopted an extraordinary and imperious attitude in this matter do not, I submit, hold water anymore now than they did on the other occasions when we discussed it. If I may, I would, by the addition of one letter, counter charge him with being "impervious" to the Government's argument. The argument is exactly the same. It is that if we make the Special Procedure Orders subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure, the Government in both Houses, whatever colour they may be, will be bound to make these Orders fewer and larger. They will not be able to put down so many in any year, because there will not be the necessary Parliamentary time. They will know that they will get only one or two "goes" at it in each Parliament, and they will be tempted, and will succumb to the temptation, to put down larger Orders, for more purposes and for longer duration.

I should also repeat what I have already stated twice in this House—and I hope that if the Press are going to take notice of our discussions to-day they will take notice of this point. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, is incorrect in saying that the Special Procedure will deprive the citizen of his right to a public inquiry; and he is incorrect in referring to that right as the usual safeguard which has been accepted for years. I repeat it for the third time. The citizen does not at the moment have a right to a public inquiry in cases of compulsory purchase and, so far as the householder is concerned, under the Land Commission Bill the citizen's right to a public inquiry or to a hearing is not altered.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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