HL Deb 08 July 1968 vol 294 cc679-733

4.28 p.m.

House again in Committee.


I hope that this Amendment will be resisted. The primary object of this Bill is to try to tidy up the present position with regard to outstanding planning matters and to shorten the period taken to complete planning procedure. The procedure proposed in the Amendment, however skilfully it may be argued, would undoubtedly result, if accepted, in an increase in the amount of time taken to deal with planning applications. It would, incidentally, place a parish council in a stronger position with regard to planning than a district council is at the present time. Surely that would be a little topsy-turvy, to say the least.

At present the law requires that a county council or planning authority (which may be a county council or a county borough council) shall consult with a rural council or an urban district council—at any rate, a county district council—with regard to these matters. In many cases, as your Lordships will be aware, there are schemes of delegation by which the district council itself deals with a number of planning applications. Where there is no delegation the planning authority must consult the council in connection with these matters. This system, by and large, works fairly well, but it still takes up a great deal of time. Let us take the position with regard to planning and see exactly what happens.


If the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter, would permit me to intervene, may I say that I think he is missing the point of the Amendment completely? He keeps on talking about consulting but if he looks at the Amendment he will see it is a question of notification, which is entirely different.


I have read the Amendment, and what I see is that it places on planning authorities an obligation to take certain action with regard to parish councils which they are not required to take with district councils. The effect would be to lengthen the proceedings. What happens with regard to planning applications is complicated. After the plan is put in, and the comments of those concerned have been obtained, there is often a general requirement for the applicant to agree to an extended time limit, because two months, or in certain cases three months, is the limit and after that the applicant has the right to deem his application to have been refused and to go to the Minister. That is the last thing that planning committees want to happen. They want to get decisions without going to the Minister. The application is subject to considerable negotiation between the planning authority, the district council and the applicant, who is perhaps asked to modify his application to make it more acceptable.

Again, the difference between an outline consent and a detailed planning consent causes a considerable amount of discussion and takes time. There is no short cut. We are trying to take cogs out of the planning wheel, and this Amendment would put another one in.


I wonder whether the noble Lord would explain how. Under this Amendment the applicant would have the duty to inform the parish council, and if the council commented upon his application, it would be the duty of the county council, as planning authority, to take account of their representations. The only delay can be five minutes, or more perhaps in the county planning committee, to take account of the representations received from the man on the spot.


I hardly share the noble Lord's optimism that it will take place so quickly, or that the parish council would be treated so cavalierly by the planning committee that their representations would be disposed of in five minutes. It would take more time than that. The applicant already makes three or four copies, but he would now have to submit additional copies and see that the parish council is notified. It is not a simple question. In the majority of cases, these applications are considered by the parish council and in some cases there would be a parish meeting. No doubt in many cases, there is dual membership between parish councils and rural districts councils. Altogether it cannot be said that machinery by which the parish council can make their views known is lacking.

But the Amendment places a definite statutory responsibility, in the last analysis, on the county planning authority. Surely it would be much better to leave a system that is operating satisfactorily. I recognise that probably parish councils desire to have more responsibility, but this is not the right place to give them greater statutory responsibility, because here it can be done by consultation. Planning authorities know that it is as well to have as wide a consultation as possible with everybody interested, and they do this almost automatically. There is no sense in their not doing so, because they know that if they do not the matter will catch up with them at a subsequent stage, and it will then take considerably longer than if there had been consultation at the beginning. I hope that your Lordships will not accent this Amendment, which can only add a further period to the time already consumed in dealing with planning consents.


I am all for parish councils knowing everything that is likely to affect their interests, whether they originate within the district or outside it. I am of the opinion that the present arrangements for consultation with, and for hearing the views of, parish councils are not everywhere what they should be, although I recognise that in some places they work in a satisfactory way. I also think that if those authorities where the arrangements are not good can be persuaded to adopt the methods that prevail satisfactorily elsewhere, that would be better than going in for some new form of procedure.

I have three objection to the proposals in the Amendment for formal notification. In spite of what has been said—and I appreciate that there are safeguards against delay—I think that there be delays. I can only say, after being for 20 years chairman of a county planning committee, that I have attended a number of rather stormy parish council meetings. The reason for their stormy nature was not because they had not heard of the applications but, every time, because they had heard of them and did nit like them. If we say that the planning authority must take account of what the parish council says, there may well be a good deal of difficulty about what that means. Does it mean registering the parish council's opinion or "steamrollering" it. I do not think that that would be accepted. I think that this will tend to delay proceedings, and it must be remembered that parish councils have no particular interest in getting these questions settled quickly. It will also tend to increase the number of appeals.

My second objection is on an entirely different line. The procedure proposed in the Amendment is not a very efficient way of informing parish councils. In my own county we have 109 parish councils, and that means 109 parish boundaries. I can imagine something happening outside one of those parish boundaries— perhaps an industrial chimney will be put up—and the parish council ought to know about it; but, sticking strictly to this Amendment, they may not hear about it because it is; not within their area. The third point is simply that this moment, just before the whole of our local planning structure is likely to be thrown into the melting pot, is a bad time to introduce this innovation.

What then can one suggest should be done? It is difficult to generalise, having regard to the fact that there arm so many different schemes of delegation of planning powers throughout the country. I believe that where rural district councils have schemes delegated to them every councillor should have knowledge of any proposition likely to affect his area, irrespective of whether he is a member of the planning committee, and, further, that he should have at his discretion complete power to discuss such matters with the parish councils in his area.

Equally, I think that this ought to be a two-way process. Parish councils should be encouraged to have a closer liaison than they do with their rural district council representatives. I would not mind guaranteeing that in the whole range of parish councillors quite a proportion would not even know the names of their district council representatives, and that a far larger number would have no idea of the names of their county council representatives. The one individual they do know about is the Member of Parliament, and disgruntled people, whether parish councillors or not, usually write to him. A Conservative Member told me only the other day that about half of his correspondence with constituents concerned planning matters. I think this is all wrong, and I suggested that he should refer them to local representatives. But it is difficult, perhaps, for a Member of Parliament to disregard any request from any of his constituents.


Perhaps my noble friend will allow me to interrupt. He has referred to Members of Parliament. Many of the letters that a Member gets in reference to planning decisions are not sent to members of the county council because people think that the county councillors are too much influenced by their officials.


This is an argument that I do not think it is easy to carry on, because one might easily say that Members of Parliament are affected by other things, such as Party considerations, or something of that sort. I hope my noble friend will agree that fundamentally these are wrong questions to be addressed to Members of Parliament, who have many other things to think about.


I entirely agree. They should be passed back.


My suggestion is that, with the aid of the good services of the Rural District Councils Association, where you have these delegated powers a circular should be devised to try to encourage all rural districts possessing these powers to adopt the same methods, which work satisfactorily in some cases and, where there is no scheme of delegation, perhaps to consult with the County Councils Association to see whether something like the Oxford principle could be introduced. For myself, I think it would be better to have that system, although I can see that some of the enthusiastic parish councillors, who want the semblance of power besides what they ask for here—who want parish council power, like student power—may not be satisfied. But, on the whole, I think they would get a better deal in the way I suggest.


I have no wish to discourage my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, who has made the cause of parish councils his own. I am bound to say that I hope your Lordships will not adopt this Amendment. One of the purposes which the Minister has in view in promoting this new legislation is speeding up, if he can, the making of decisions in regard to town planning applications. I am bound to say to my noble friend—I have studied this procedure carefully—that it seems to me to be almost inevitable that the notice which will have to be given to the parish council, and the subsequent proceedings, will lengthen the process of obtaining a town planning decision.

I do not know how much we should gain by adopting the procedure which this clause proposes. There is no reason why the parish council should not submit their observations to the planning authority as they stand. If their feelings were strong about it, it might well be that if their views were communicated direct to the planning authority they would receive more attention than they would if they reached the planning authority through the process of compulsion which this Amendment proposes. In the authorities which I know most we have no parish councils, and so perhaps I am not the right person to assure my noble friend that they are not held in the degree of contempt to which he referred in his speech. Indeed, my experience of county councils and district councils has been that they welcome the co-operation of the parish councils. So far as policy is concerned, we have no dealings with parish councils, and perhaps I should be going too far if I were to assure my noble friend that in the boroughs there is certainly no feeling of criticism against them. Indeed, I think everybody wishes to see them succeed. They are really local government, and, after all, local government is the purpose that we all have in view.


I should like to intervene briefly to say a word on behalf of the applicant for planning permission and in support of what Lord Gage and Lord Ilford have just said. One can, I think, see the intention of this Amendment, but I believe that it is not workable. The planning application is made on forms, and the local planning authority can ask on the form for what information they wish. One has to give information (I am speaking as a planning applicant now) on a number of points, and if the local planning authority wish to ask on the form that you should state whether the parish council is aware of the proposal, or whether any discussions have taken place, they can do so.

I cannot support the Amendment for two reasons. First, the application is accompanied by a certificate, which is yet another piece of paper, possibly in triplicate or quadruplicate, that has to be produced. Secondly, it places the onus on the planning authority that they shall not entertain are application. That is a delicious word "entertain", but it means that it puts in the Bill that they cannon look at it without a certificate. It seems to me too formal and too time consuming. I suggest that the same result would be gained by the local planning authority simply asking for this on the form.

4.47 p.m.


I should like to support the Amendment. I apologise to the Committee for not being in my place when the Amendment was moved by my noble friend Lord Grimston, to whom I am grateful. To the one speaker who has spoken against this Amendment on the question of delay in planning I would point out that it is not consultation, but notification. The parish councils have only 14 days to consider, and it is then up to them to advise the planning authority whether or not they wish to make a comment on the application.

There are two other points in the clause to which I should like to draw attention. The first is under subsection (1)(a)(ii) where it says that any parish council may opt out of this scheme if they wish. This, I suggest, answers the criticism of those who may say: "What about parish councils who have not the facilities to consider the scheme?" They may opt out of it. Secondly, the local planning authorities themselves, under subsection (2) may prepare a scheme defining what type or class of application should be notified to the parish council. In other words, it would limit the number of applications that would necessarily be referred to the parish council only to those which the local planning authority really feel the parish councils should know about. I do not think this has been mentioned, but it is important.

The principle behind the clause is to keep the parish council informed of what is going on in their area. I suggest that this clause would strengthen the first fundamental of the Bill—namely, the quality of the decision making—without weakening the secondary aim of obtaining quick planning decisions. The noble Lord, Lord Sandys, has said that a certain number of enlightening planning authorities have already introduced a volunary system of notification based very much on the principle of this Amendment. There are, I think, 7 county councils out of 59, and 50 rural district councils out of 350, such as those with delegated powers, who practise a system of notification to parish councils. In other words, one-sixth of all the planning authorities practise this system voluntarily.

Because of the honest criticism that has been voiced, that such notification to parish councils would cause delays in planning, I took the opportunity last week of talking to one of those who operate this voluntary system. The clerk of the council concerned has devised a simple application form—which I would advise the noble Lord, Lord Ward, is not in triplicate—needing only the name of the applicant, the date of the application, the address and location a id the description. There are only four simple questions to be answered. In my professional capacity I have had to fill in many such forms, and I have found that it takes just two minutes. The clerk of this council was kind enough to write to me, and he said: I am writing to let you know t tat the operation of the scheme of consultation with parish councils on planning applications does not delay the reaching of planning decisions by my council's area planning sub-committees or the issue of decision documents, except in the very rare case where an applicant refuses to send brief particulars of his proposal to the parish council concerned. He went on: Partly as a result of this scheme, by and large our relations with parish councils have developed on most friendly and helpful lines. One might ask: if this voluntary scheme works so well, what is the purpose of introducing a compulsory scheme? The reply is simple. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, will know that for the past seven years planning authorities throughout the country have been urged by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to introduce a voluntary system, and nothing has happened, apart from these seven county councils and 50 rural district councils—in other words, only a sixth of the total have taken note of it. I think it was in 1961 that the Ministry sent round a circular, urging local authorities to adopt the system. I am sure we all know cases where, through a lack of local knowledge, planning committees sometimes come to what might be termed difficult and awkward decisions on amenity in certain areas. Without wishing, to cast any aspersions on area planning officers, on whom planning committees rely so much, I am sure they would agree that, due to lack of time and pressure of work, they themselves sometimes come to wrong planning conclusions. I have evidence of a number of examples of planning decisions which all stem from a lack of knowledge of the area and which would have been prevented if parish councils had been notified.

I have in mind one particular case in the village of Long Marton in Westmorland. Here stands an old Norman church, on a 4th Century Romano-British site, and it contains two Saxon arches and a Saxon nave. It is one of the few churches in the country built with an outward sloping chancel wall, said to represent Our Lord's head hanging on the Cross. But its most remarkable feature are two Tympana, which are certainly pre-Conquest and possibly Scandinavian. It is undoubtedly a most important Christian monument, standing on a site of great antiquity in most charming unspoilt countyside beneath the Pennine fells of North Westmorland. A planning application by a neighbouring farmer was made to erect two 80 ft. tower silos 150 yards away from the church, and it was granted before any effective local opposition could be marshalled. A complaint was made to the Minister. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, knows about this case. The Minister took the view that he could not interfere, so to-day in Long Marton we have this beautiful old Norman church, which has stood proudly for over 1,500 years, now overshadowed by hideous, large, although no doubt economic, 20th century grain silos—a monument for all to see for years to come of a travesty of good planning. This would not have happened if the parish council had been notified of the application.

The Committee will already have read that a Private Member's Bill was moved in another place in similar terms to this new clause, and, in fact, received its Second Reading there on March 1. The Bill was unopposed, and went to Committee on June 19. It passed through the Committee stage with one or two minor drafting Amendments, but I understand that, due to pressure of time, it has no chance of making further progress this Session. Therefore I suggest it is most important that this clause, even if the drafting is a little wrong, should be incorporated in this Bill. The grounds of objections raised against compulsory notification, as I understand it, are those of time and of cost: that the parish council could not easily partake in such a procedure; that all the local authority associations are opposed to it; that the Management Study Report is against it, and, finally, that the Skeffington Committee are at this very moment considering the question of public participation.

I should like briefly to deal with these points. The first, with regard to time and cost, I personally cannot accept, because I do not think that a mere notification made to the parish council wastes any time or money. I think it is valuable because, as the clause states, from that moment on it is entirely up to the parish council, which has 14 days in which to submit its views to the local planning committee. No consultations take place, no delays are incurred. Yet for the sake of this little extra effort certain important information and views may be made available to the planning committee. It was said in another place that this may be a burden, but I think the size of the burden on parish councils could be described as follows. Of the approximate total of 450,000 planning applications made every year, 90,000 of them, on average, affect villages; and there are 7,600 parish councils. So if we divide the number of parish councils into the number of applications, it comes to only twelve a year. That is not a great burden.

We then look at the local authority associations, who oppose it. We know already that the County Councils Association and the Rural District Councils Association are against it, but the Urban District Councils Association are for it, as also are the Civic Trust, some ratepayers' associations and the Women's Institutes—the latter being an important body. The Report on Management Study on Development Control came down against parish councils' being consulted. On page 36, under subsection (8) ("Consultation with Parish Councils"), it is stated: There is no statutory need to consult parish councils and it is considered that any advantages in consultations on general development control applications are more than outweighed by the delays that can occur. It seems that the right time to consult parish councils is at the development plan stage or before non-statutory maps are produced. We therefore recommend that in the interests of efficient management, parish councils should not be extensively consulted on development control applications. I am not saying that I disagree with that statement, but in this Amendment it is a question not of consultation but of notification.

We then come to the Skeffington Committee. The setting up of this Committee was announced last January, at the time of the Second Reading of this Bill in another place. As I understand the position this Committee are looking into ways and means of achieving more public participation during the formation of the structure and local plans. These structure plans, will, of course, designate land use generally, but there will still be a necessity for specific land use, such details of specific applications as siting and amenity and design. These matters will still require to be discussed, and the notification of parish councils could be very important. I believe there is a real need for this statutory obligation to notify parish councils. It is said that one of the real problems that faced the architects of this Bill was deciding on the delicate balance between the speed of decision and the breadth of consultation, and I believe that this Amendment would achieve yet another vital factor in the balance of good planning legislation; namely, that of improving communications. I hope that my noble friend Lord Grimston will not withdraw this Amendment because I believe that it is of vital interest and value to planning.


I should like to support this Amendment from a different angle; and I declare my interest as chairman of a parish council in Kent. I am slightly surprised to hear some of the criticisms from noble Lords on this side about parish councils. We have grown since those days. The parish clerk has a telephone, and if there is a neighbouring parish council which has in a planning application which is likely to affect us the clerks get together and I, as chairman, am told about it that very night. We are one of those lucky areas which are informed, but not consulted, which gives us a chance to put in an objection if we feel strongly about it, and at least two parish councillors will go and see the site the day we hear of the application coming in. It at least takes some of the frustration away from the people on the ground, that is, the parish itself, the last remnants of democracy in this country, the grass roots. Before we turn down this Amendment let us have some faith n our parish councillors.


When I saw this Amendment down on the Marshalled List I read it carefully because I am always attracted by any proposals to help and encourage parish councils, for the reasons we have heard. It must be admitted that they vary greatly in their tradition, their interest in affairs generally, the experience of their members and in particular of their chairmen. If some parish councils have not taken advantage of all the powers they possess, that does not mean that we should treat them lightly. Having read the clause, I had some misgivings on the lines of those expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Holford. I was wondering whether the interests of the applicant were perhaps not going to be encumbered by this procedure, but even though the drafting of this clause might not be as good as it could be, that does not mean we ought not to do something. I am sure we ought not to leave things as they are, and after hearing the two speeches in the interests of the county councils by the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter, and the noble Viscount, Lord Gage, I became convinced that this House ought to do something in the interests of the parish councils. I hope my noble friend will forgive me for interrupting as I did, but it is in fact the case, as any Member of Parliament would confirm, that after—not necessarily before, but after—decisions have been given the disappointed people write to their Member of Parliament, because they feel that the planning committee of their local authority will say, "We have looked into this carefully and we have come to what we believe is the right decision".

I am not going to be drawn into another discussion about something that happened at one time in what was my constituency. I believe the case which has been quoted is a difficult one, and I doubt whether the key to the whole solution would have rested with the parish council. On the other hand, that does not mean that there is not considerable merit in this clause and the idea that lies behind it, and I am sure we should do what we can to encourage parish councils to take a greater interest in this very important part of what ought to be their work.


I find myself very much in sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. This clause seems to me altogether too complicated. It seems that there is great value in the parish council being seized of these matters. At the Council for the Preservation of Rural England we have frequently found parish councils bringing this sort of matter to our attention, and it has quite often enabled us really to take hold of a matter which was of very great importance from the point of view of safeguarding of the English countryside. I should have thought this could have been secured by a mere notification, making it necessary that a copy of the application be sent to the parish council interested without all the complications provided by this particular proposal. I should have thought that this would get rid of a great deal of the objections very properly put forward by a number of noble Lords who are very experienced in these planning matters. Obviously, as Lord Gage said, the whole object, or one of the basic objects, of this Bill is to simplify the planning arrangements, and this obviously adds a cog there; and I should have thought it could have been got rid of, and that the sponsors of this Amendment might withdraw it and put down something simpler to secure the object without adding to these complications. I should have thought this would provide a solution.


I hope this Amendment will not be pressed. I feel that the introduction of the parish councils in these matters is really the fifth wheel to the coach. I have no doubt that has already been said. The fact is that an application goes to the county council; it then goes to the district council who are their agents and already the county council are obliged to hear the comments of the district council. If now you add the parish council as well it is really going to complicate things. In fact anybody can object to a planning application; there is no difficulty about making representations to the county council or the district council if a planning application is regarded as being one which will adversely affect an individual or a community. And there is no difficulty about it becoming known. I hope very much that this Amendment will not be accepted either in principle or in any other way. Apart from the fact that the whole question of administration is in the melting pot, it would he much more difficult if there were three local authorities to deal with rather than two.


There is a genuine problem here, as my noble friend Lord Gage clearly realised. I feel that I must speak up for him. I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that these things will get known in good time. The truth is that they do not. Some years after he retired from active membership of your Lordships' House, I remember going to stay with a greatly respected former Member of this House, Lord Woolton, at the village to which he retired. I found him and all the inhabitants of the village furious at a decision having been taken above their heads which was going materially to alter the character of the village and on which the parish council had neither been consulted nor even informed. These things happen, and it is desirable that there should be a safeguard against them. Nobody wants to over-burden the whole system, but so far as I can see the new clause moved by my noble friend Lord Grimston is very closely modelled on what is working smoothly and satisfactorily on a non-statutory basis in Oxfordshire and not causing difficulty to the applicant (whom the noble Lord, Lord Holford, very rightly reminded us we should consider) or to the county council as the planning authority.

I was a parish councillor once. I have not been one for nearly forty years, so I do not think I need declare an interest there. I live in a small village, and having moved from a great city to a small village I am so conscious of the extent to which the character of a village can be drastically altered by a decision, which may be taken without the local people having had any opportunity to express a view on it. Maybe the decision was a right one which had to be taken for overriding reasons. But that is no ground for arguing that there should have been no public participation in this locally.

The reason why I hope so much that the Government will be able to offer some constructive solution to this problem is that the Minister of Housing and Local Government, when moving the Second Reading of this Bill in another place on January 31 of this year (I quote from column 1362 of Hansard) said: Above all, I am determined that there should be more real public participation in planning. I want people to have a much better chance of being involved in the planning of the area they live in, and of influencing it. I commend the Bill for what it does to that end in Clauses 3 and 7. But those clauses are concerned with development plans and local plans; whereas what is overwhelmingly important to many a village is the individual planning application on which the planning authority has to take a decision. It is just as important that the people in that village who are going to live with the development, should have the opportunity of expressing a view before a decision is reached, as that the people in great cities and smaller towns shall be able to express views on the structure plans and local plans. There is a genuine problem here, and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, will appreciate that, despite one or two opposing speeches, the majority view in this debate is that a constructive solution should be found by the Government.


May I ask the noble Lord this question? Does he not think that the district councils, to whom planning is delegated in the vast majority, if not all, cases, are in a position to deal with the very thing that this Amendment seeks to do? After all, the district council consists of people from all parts of the district or area, including the village which may be affected. Surely they are in a position to know what is going on.


I would entirely agree, if we were all perfect in this world. But there are many district councillors who have not all the time in the world to go round to each village in the area they represent, to look at what is going to be the effect of proposed developments, and to consult the people in the village. I agree entirely that in an ideal world this would happen. I am sure that the noble Lord, with his experience of local government and planning, will agree that we cannot count on all district councillors being universally wise and universally energetic.


Surely anybody who objects to a proposal writes readily to his district councillor and tells him what his objections are.


Yes. But you cannot write and object if you have not heard what the proposal is.


May I say just one word in support of what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, has said and in contradiction of what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said? District councils often do not consult parish councils before a decision is taken. That is the trouble. I have been on a parish council, a county council and a town planning committee for several years; and I know that often there is a lack of communication between the district council and the parish council, in spite of the fact that there might be a representative from the village concerned on the district council. Things sometimes happen so quickly that a decision is taken before the parish has a change of seeing a proposal, or of objecting to it, or of suggesting alterations. I am sure it is this lack of communication that needs to be put right.


I should like to add one word in reply to my noble friend Lord Silkin. In England, local conditions differ enormously from one part of the country to another. I know parts of the North of England where villages are small, and the idea of having a district councillor living in each village, or, as is frequently the case, a hamlet, is just unrealistic. In other parts of England the villages are large, and no doubt there are district councillors in a great many of them. But what we need is an arrangement that satisfies the requirements of the whole country and is not applicable just to those parts in which the villages are large and there are local district councillors.

5.16 p.m.


As in every Amendment and clause of this Bill, we find ourselves in a situation where I think all sides of the Committee are agreed on what ought to happen. I do not suppose any noble Lord present would dissent from the proposition that every citizen ought to be able to know of any planning proposal which is going sensibly to affect the quality of his life.

It is our purpose to reach this situation. What we are in disagreement about—and I must say at once that I disagree with the noble Earl and his Amendment —is whether this situation can most expeditiously and justly be reached by writing certain statutory obligations into the Town and Country Planning Bill. I think it cannot, for various reasons. First of all, there is the question of whether or not there is an extra cog in the machine if the Committee adopt this Amendment. No noble Lord has mentioned that although all the district council have to do, apparently, is to sit back and receive the observations of the parish council if the parish council wishes to send any (if you put it like that, it sounds quite simple and something which is not going to add to anybody's burden) as the new clause is drafted, first of all, it makes it obligatory for notification to be given by the applicant to the parish council. That is a burden of the applicant: Lord Holford's point.

It then enables planning authorities to make a scheme for defining types of application for which notification would not be needed. These schemes would only become compulsory when the majority of the parish councils in an area have acceded to them. That is to say, first of all, all applicants have to tell the parish councils about everything. Then, because that is going to be too much (and the noble Earl admits it is too much) the planning authority have to sit down and say, "We do not think that the following sorts of cases need be communicated to parish councils". They have then to present a draft list of the sorts of cases to the parish councils. They have to wait until 80 per cent. of the parish councils have agreed with the draft list. They can then compel the other 20 per cent. to agree not to receive applications on these. I ask your Lordships, is this or is this not a cog in a machine? I think it is certainly adding a big cog to the machine. As it is seen by the planning authorities it is quite a big cog.

Then there is the question of the Report of the Management Study on development control. I do not think this is of the highest relevance, because although they talked about the possibility of consulting parish councils, they did not talk of the possibility of informing the parish councils. They said that that would be a bad plan because it would "gum up the works". It is only common sense to say that if that would "gum up the works" to a certain extent, then a duty to inform them would also "gum up the works", to a lesser extent. If you bring them in at all the extent will be less, but it is still adding a complication.

Now let us turn to the position of the applicant. It is said that all he has to do is to fill in one more copy of his application and send it off to the parish council.


Not one more copy of the application. It is a separate, small application, asking four questions: it is not the huge application in triplicate.


A separate small application, the form for which I think he would get from the planning authority. That is one more thing for the planning authority to do: they must have a separate form. Then he will have to find out where the parish council is, and whether there is one. That is going to be more work for him—unless indeed the planning authority were to adopt the wise precedent set by the Oxfordshire County Council and have on the back of this application form a list of all the parish councils, in which case it would he more work for the planning authority again to get that list and keep it up to date.

That is all very well. The applicant has sent his special small form to the parish council, but what happens in the very common case where he gets into a negotiation with the planning authority? The planning authority say, "No, you cannot do that, but if you change it this way and that way, it will be O.K."; and he puts in an amended application. He then has to go back and tell the parish council again. But supposing the parish council liked his first one and did not like his second one, then the planning authority would have to wait for their observations. They would realise that they had run into the objections of the parish council simply because of what they had said to the applicant about his amending his plan, and possibly the county councillor, or district councillor who represents the parish concerned would urge the case of the parish council against the amended plan, and so on. I think it is difficult to sustain the argument that this procedure would not complicate the machinery.


Will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I apologise for interrupting. What we are talking about is a 14-day period, and I believe I am right in saying that most local planning authorities require 14 days before an application can be considered by their sub-committee. During that 14-day period you have plotting and registratiton, the necessary consultations with the county surveyor on the highway problems, and so on. It is during this period of their own consultations that the parish council have the opportunity of making their comments.


That is no doubt so, but I think it does not affect what I was saying about the complications of letting the parish council know again if there is a negotiation between the applicant and the planning authority. Such is the view not only of the noble Lord, Lord Holford, who has a good deal of experience of these matters, but also of the two institutions in the country which are per- haps best qualified to speak for applicants as a class, because their members have to submit so many applications—I refer to the Confederation of British Industry and the National Federation of Building Trade Employers. They know what it is to apply for planning permission, and how much work it is. And they are of the opinion that this Amendment would add to it and are therefore against it. Given the diversity of the parish council system it seems to the Government better to leave it to voluntary notification. However, I am coming in a minute to something constructive.

As the noble Earl said, there are something over 10,000 parishes in the country. They vary in population from a handful, or two handfuls, at one extreme, up to tens of thousands, in the case of the very biggest parishes. They vary in area from a few acres to, in some cases, nearly 100 square miles. Of that total of 10,000-plus parishes, about 3,000 have no parish council at all, and parish councils are not required by law to meet more than four times a year. Now this gives a patchwork of very different sorts of parish councils, or of absence of parish councils, as part of the wealth of local government in England; and we have the highly variegated grass roots of this country. It seems to me that, given this enormous variety and given the added work, it would be better to leave this notification on the voluntary footing that obtains at present, rather than to seek to apply a statutory duty which, I submit, would be notable as much by the exceptions that would have to be made to it as by the degree to which it could be observed.

Several noble Lords have said that it is the policy of the present Minister, and has been the policy of several preceding Ministers, to favour voluntary information of planning applications to parish councils. I confirm that this is still the policy, and that it will be the business of the Government to make this clear in an appropriate way after the Bill is through. The noble Earl rather brushed the point aside, but I think there also a point about the right kind of consultation with parish councils being a t the stage when the development plan is being produced.

Virtually all the discussion this afternoon I think has been about villages. Nobody has talked about the large urban parish, and I do not imagine many people would hold that with an urban parish with a population of 10,000 or 20,000 that it is important that the parish council should be consulted over every single proposed development in it. But consider the development plan for a village which will say whether or not the village is to be increased in size. It will say whether or not there is to be in-filling in the village. It will say whether or not there are to be extensions behind that village street, or in one corner, or out into the fields in one direction. It will say whether or not new development in the village is to use local stone or to observe any special style of architecture in accordance with the tradition there. It will say all these things. The people who live in the village will have the opportunity of saying through their parish council, if they have one, "We don't like this", or "We do like that". They will be able to talk it out and the decision will be reached. After that they will know that applications for single developments will be allowed or disallowed in accordance with their policy. They will not be surprised to see in-filling in local stone going on, or to see no in-filling going on because there is a marsh there, or a nice duck pond, but a housing estate going out in this direction. They will not be surprised about this because they will know all about it under the new style development plan.


Could the noble Lord clarify one thing. He has been speaking about development plans. The development plans are disappearing and under this new Bill we are to have structure plans and local plans. Surely a structure plan will not go into such detail as to the type of facing to be used in a particular village. As to local plans, we have no assurance that there will be local plans extending over all the villages in every county.


I apologise. It is due to my neo-classical education; I was speaking a nearly dead language. I should have said structure plans and local plans. As a matter of fact, the new language is coming in by degree and the old style development plans will continue for a time, possibly for a longer time in rural areas than in cities. Even under the new plans we certainly hope that planning authorities will produce local plans which will show precisely this sort of point; or, if they do not, they will even show up on the structure plan. There is no reason why they should not. But parish councillors will be on firm ground in demanding that there is some plan in operation which will show this.

May I come now to what ought to be done. I agree with those noble Lords who have said that the right answer to this is to make the district councils real. District councillors ought to be doing this job. If they do not, their electors ought to insist that they do. Where planning is not delegated by the county council to the district council in the countryside, this is of course a more difficult problem, but where a county council chooses not to delegate, it must accept the duty of seeing, through it own councillors, that people are informed by their councillors of the kind of things which are going to interest them.

The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, objected to this and said that that would be all very well if all men were perfect, and that district councillors were not perfect, at any rate not more perfect than other men. To this I would answer nor are parish councillors. It is conceivable that the parish councillor himself would not get round to telling everybody in the village. It would he easier for him to do so, but in a very large parish he might find it difficult. He might find it as difficult as a district councillor in a rather small district council with delegated planning powers. It all fits together in such diverse ways in different parts of the country that it would be really wrong to put down this blanket statutory obligation. There will be a circular of advice from the Minister to all planning authorities about how this new system should be worked when the Bill is through. The best solution to this problem, which is a real one, is that there should be words in the circular to bring home to planning authorities the desirability of keeping parish councils aware of planning applications which affect the look of their parishes. I can assure the Committee that that will be done.


As I originally introduced this clause on behalf of my noble friend, may I say that although we have had an interesting discussion on this matter, in the back of my mind is the thought that in matters of planning it is important that people who are to be most affected by what is going to happen should at least know about it. That was the underlying object of this new clause. I was interested to hear what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Holford. I have great sympathy with him, since he speaks with considerable knowledge as somebody who makes planning applications. He seemed to think that this was a comparatively simple problem and that all one had to do was to see that it was on the form that the parish council should be informed.

It may be said that this new clause is a cumbersome and tiresome way of covering this matter, but I must confess that a great many of the arguments put by the Minister in attempting to destroy this new clause were almost to the effect that the parish council should not be brought in at all. But I know that that was not his object. I do not wish to delay the Committee, but it has emerged from this discussion that there is a problem in this respect. I therefore suggest that, if my noble friend agrees, the Amendment might now be withdrawn on the understanding that further thought is given to this matter and that if we cannot find an agreeable solution we may return to it at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 67 agreed to.

Clause 68 agreed to.

Clause 69 agreed to.

LORD KENNET moved, after Clause 69, to insert the following new clause:

Procedure in connection with making and confirmation of tree preservation orders

(".—(1) The provisions which may by virtue of subsection (1)(c) of section 29 of the principal Act (tree preservation orders) be applied by such in order in relation to any consent thereunder shall include section 69 of this Act.

(2) Regulations made by virtue of section 29(5) of the principal Act may (without prejudice to the generality of that subsection) make provision as follows:—

  1. (a) that, before a tree preservation order is submitted to the Minister for confirmation, notice of the making of the order shall be given to the owners and occupiers of land affected by the order and to such 702 other persons, if any, as may be specified in the regulations;
  2. (b) that objections and representations with respect to the order, if duly made in accordance with the regulations, shall be considered before the order is confirmed by the Minister;
  3. (c) that, if no objections or representations are so made, or if any so made are withdrawn, the order may, instead of being confirmed by the Minister (as required by section 29(4) of the principal Act) be confirmed (but without any modification), as an unopposed order, by the authority who made it; and
  4. (d) that copies of the order, when confirmed by the Minister or the authority, shall be served on such persons as may be specified in the regulations.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 73. At the moment all tree preservation orders made by local authorities have to be confirmed by the Minister before they can have permanent effect. Local authorities are now making about 1,000 tree preservation orders each year, and of these about three-quarters attract no objections or representations of any sort. Accordingly, this new clause provides that those orders to which there are no objections or representations may be confirmed by the local authority who made them. No change at all is proposed in the rights of those who wish to object. They will continue to make their objections to the Minister as before. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 69 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 70 agreed to.

Clause 71 [Partial abrogation of dual control of office development]:


Amendment No. 74 is a procedural Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 60, line 8, after ("application") insert ("a copy of").—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The object of subsection (2) of Clause 71 is to make it unnecessary to obtain an office development permit for industrial offices for which an industrial development certificate containing a condition limiting office space has been issued. But it is an undesirable consequence of that subsection, as it now stands, that such development might in certain circumstances become what is called related development and so have to be taken into account if the same user or developer later made a planning application for a nearby development which was itself below the exemption limit. This Amendment rectifies that undesirable situation. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 60, line 24, at end insert:— ("(5) Development in respect of which there has been issued by the Board of Trade an industrial development certificate with conditions attached thereto by virtue of subsection (1) of this section shall be treated as not included in any reference to 'related development' in section 2 of the Act of 1965 (which makes an office development permit unnecessary if the amount of office floor space to be created is below the prescribed exemption limit, but for this purpose requires that space to he aggregated with office floor space created or to be created in the course of other development affecting the same building or site).")— (Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 71, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 72 to 76 agreed to.

BARONESS SEROTA moved, after Clause 76, to insert the following new clause:

Transfer of Ministerial functions as to stopping up etc. footpaths and bridleways

(".—(1) Section 153 of the principal Act (power of Minister of Transport to make orders authorising the stopping up or diversion of highways in order to enable development to be carried out) shall be amended in accordance with this section.

(2) The Minister with power under that section by order to authorise the stopping up or diversion of a footpath or bridleway shall, instead of being the Minister of Transport, be the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

(3) Subsection (2) of the said section shall not apply to an order made thereunder by the Minister of Housing and Local Government; but an order so made may make such provision as appears to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the creation of an alternative footpath or bridleway for use as a replacement for the one authorised by the order to be stopped up or diverted, or for the improvement of an existing path or way for such use.

(4) In relation to an order made by the Minister of Housing and Local Government under section 153 of the principal Act, subsection (3) of that section and section 154 of the Act (procedure and publicity for orders under section 153) shall apply with the substitution of references to that Minister for references to the Minister of Transport; and in subsections (4) and (5) of section 153 references to the latter shall be construed as including references to the former.

(5) In this section and in sections 78, (Powers for local authorities analogous to s.153 of the principal Act), (Extinguishment of footpaths etc. over land held for planning purposes) and (Confirmation, validity etc, of orders under two preceding sections) below, "footpath" and "bridleway" have the same meanings as in the Highways Act 1959.

(6) Nothing in this section applies to or affects an order made by the Minister of Transport before the commencement of this section or an order with respect to which he has, before that commencement, published in the London Gazette the notice required by section 154(1) of the principal Act.

(7) This section shall not apply to Wales.")

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this new clause is to transfer from the Minister of Transport to the Minister of Housing and Local Government the power to make orders under Section 153 of the 1962 Act, authorising the stopping up or diversion of a footpath or bridle-way in order to enable this development to be carried out. The power to make orders stopping up or diverting other highways will remain with the Minister of Transport. I think that the new clause is self-explanatory, but in relation to subsection (7) should the Committee wonder why the clause does not apply to Wales, the reason is that the jurisdiction under Section 153 of the 1962 Act is already with the Minister responsible for planning; namely, the Secretary of State. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 76, to insert the said new clause.—(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 77 [Procedure for making orders for stopping-up and diverting highways]:


Amendments 77 and 79A hang together, and it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I deal with them together. Amendment 77 is a paving Amendment to expand the reference to subsection (2) of the present clause in order to accommodate the two new subsections which form the subject of Amendment No. 79A. This was foreshadowed in the Standing Committee, and I hope that it will be acceptable to your Lordships. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 64, line 34, leave out ("subsection (2)") and insert ("subsections (2) to (4)")— (Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The effect of this Amendment, No. 78, is to extend the categories of authorities in respect of whose applications these provisions apply to include the National Coal Board. The National Coal Board are not statutory undertakers and are therefore not included within the terms of the provisions at present. But the Board enjoy the status of a statutory undertaker for some purposes by virtue of the Town and Country Planning (National Coal Board) Regulations 1963. It is therefore felt that they should be included in the list of persons whose applications may be the subject of concurrent procedures with respect to the application to develop and the related draft order for stopping up a highway. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 64, line 41, after ("undertakers") insert ("or the National Coal Board")—(Baroness Scrota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 79A.

Amendment moved—

Page 65, line 6, at end insert— ("() The responsible Minister may publish such a notice as aforesaid where—

  1. (a) the relevant development is to be carried out by a local authority, statutory undertakers or the a National Coal Board and requires, by virtue of an enactment, the authorisation of a government department;
  2. (b) the developers have made application to the department for that authorisation and also requested a direction under section 41 of the principal Act or, in the case of the National Coal Board, under section 2 of the Opencast Coal Act 1958, that planning permission be deemed to be granted for that development.
() The responsible Minister may publish such a notice as aforesaid where the council of a county or county borough, the Greater London Council, tie council of a London borough, a joint planning board, or the Inner London Education Authority certify that they have begun to take such steps in accordance with regulations made by virtue of section 42 of the principal Act (application of planning control to local planning authorities) as are requisite in order to enable them to obtain planning permission for the relevant development.")—(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I wonder whether I may ask your Lordships once again to consider two Amendments together—namely, Nos. 80 and 82. These two Amendments are concerned with the definition of the "responsible Minister", which has to be redrafted as a consequence of the introduction of tile new clause after Clause 76 which I have just moved, transferring jurisdiction from the Minister of Transport to the Minister of Housing and Local Government in respect of Section 153 Orders dealing with footpaths and bridleways. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 65, line 15, leave out subsection (4) and insert— ("(4) In this section 'the responsible Minister' means, except in relation to Wales,—

  1. (a) in relation to an order authorising the stopping up or diversion of a foot path or bridleway, the Minister of Housing and Local Government: and
  2. (b) in relation to an order authorising the stopping up or diversion of any other highway, the Minister of Transport;
and in relation to Wales means the Secretary of State.")—(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 77, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 78 [New powers to authorise stopping-up and diversion of highways]:

5.41 p.m.

LORD CHORLEY moved to aid to subsection (1): Provided that in determining to make an order under this subsection the Minister shall have regard to the interest of the users of the subsidiary highway". The noble Lord said: We now come to an important clause which confers new powers on the Minister in connection with the stopping-up and diversion of highways. Of course, there has been considerable movement in the post-war period in connection with this problem. When I was a young lawyer, it was very difficult indeed to get anything of that sort done, but in the modern community this is obviously very important, and I am sure everybody will agree that these new and considerably wider powers are needed.

This clause is a very valuable one, and your Lordships will see that the Minister is now given very substantial powers in connection with the construction and improving of highways. But in this connection he is, in effect, mandated to look at two matters set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1). He has to look at whether what he is doing is in the interests of the safety of users of the main highway or is to facilitate movement of traffic on the main highway. Of course, that is very important and very useful, but it seems to those of us concerned with the problem of the walker, the cross-country hiker, and those of us who use footpaths and bridleways, that our interests are also very much at stake.

We consider that the clause is too narrow as it stands at the present time and, in effect, confines the matters which the Minister has in mind to the questions of safety of those on the highway or of facilitating movement of traffic upon the highway. Surely the Minister ought also to take into account those who are using the bridleways or footpaths, or even byroads leading into the main road with which the Minister is obviously principally concerned. I imagine that, in practice, the Minister will probably consider these other matters as well, but it seems to us only right that this should, in fact, be provided for in the Bill itself. Therefore, this Amendment has been drafted and I hope that the Minister can see his way to accepting it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 65, line 30, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Cliorley.)


The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, may be aware that an identical Amendment to this was moved in another place at Report stage, and I believe it was withdrawn after discussion on the assurance that it was unnecessary. I hasten to assure him that it is still unnecessary. As I understood his remarks, his concern was in relation to Orders under subsection (1) of Clause 78. Under that subsection the responsible Minister (as defined in Clause 77) has power in certain circumstances to stop up or divert any highway which enters or crosses the route of a highway which is being constructed or improved. The Amendment is designed to secure that, in making an Order under the subsection, the responsible Minister shall have regard to the interests of users of the subsidiary highway.

Clause 78(5) applies to these Orders the provisions of Section 154 of the principal Act, and the procedure laid down in that section enables the responsible Minister to take account of the interests of any person affected by the Order and to hold a public inquiry if necessary. I hope that in view of those remarks the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, will agree that there is no need for a specific protection for the "users of the subsidiary highway" or their interests, as they are already covered in legislation.


I am grateful to the Minister for reminding me of that, although I am quite well aware of it. I am not really surprised that the Government should take this view. However, I suggest it is desirable that this specific direction to the Minister to have regard to this matter should, in fact, be in this clause. It is quite true, of course, that Clause 78(5) of this Bill and Section 154 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1962 contain the terms to which the Minister has referred. None the less, decisions on issues of this nature surely depend on the Minister balancing, so to speak, a number of conflicting interests. As the clause now stands it is quite clear that it is the interests of the users of the main highway which are made paramount, and the interests of the users of the subsidiary highway—the hikers and even the equestrians using the bridlepaths and people of that sort—who really are deserving of consideration are, so to speak, put on one side.

I suggest it should be remembered that, if a stopping-up Order is made, the users of the main highway are simply being enabled to travel faster without very much attention being paid to the interests of the pedestrians and those who like to take their exercise on horses. The result of this over-emphasis, as I suggest, on the traffic aspect on the main highway will undoubtedly be that the interests of the pedestrians and the other people, on whose behalf I am moving this Amendment, will be neglected. In these circumstances, I suggest again to the Government that they should accept this Amendment because it would provide a more balanced situation. I hope they will be able to see their way to do so.


I am sorry that I have been unable to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. I speak as a hardened pedestrian and one who is therefore very much biased in favour of the users of subsidiary highways, as opposed to those who wish to speed along motorways. I am sure my right honourable friend will take due note of the noble Lord's remarks, and will exercise his powers bearing in mind the interests of all affected by any change, be they on the major or the subsidiary highway. But I can only repeat what I said at the outset: namely, that there is no need to embody the principle in this legislation as it already exists. In those circumstances, I hope the noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment.


I am very disappointed. This is a very simple Amendment which the Government could quite easily have accepted, but I do not wish to push it against that decision. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 82.

Amendment moved—

Page 65, line 30, at end insert— ("(2) In this section and section 79 below, `the responsible Minister' means, except in relation to Wales, the Minister of Transport and, in relation to Wales, the Secretary of State.")—(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.50 p.m.


moved in subsection (2), after "authority" where that word occurs a first time, to insert "or a highway authority". The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 83, and it might be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss Nos. 84 and 85 at the same time. The noble Lord was pointing out a moment ago that Clause 78 gives the local authorities very important new powers to close or stop up highways.

The Bill provides that upon the application of the local planning authority the Minister may change to a footpath or a bridleway a highway over which the public has the right to pass with vehicles.

That means the Minister will be able to form what are called pedestrian precincts and to restrict the use of the highway to pedestrians. I believe that process is sometimes called "pedestrianisation"— I do not know what my noble friend Lord Conesford would say to that expression, but it is a very convenient way of explaining what is being done. Local authorities have been pressing for these powers for a long time. Indeed, a number of local authorities have promoted private Bills in order to obtain them. But a difficulty arises as to whether the power to make representations to the Minister should be restricted to the local planning authority or whether the highway authority should have the same powers, so that representations may be made either by the local planning authority or by the highway authority.

Of course, in a county borough where the authority is the same it makes no difference. But in the counties, the position is quite different. There, the county council are the planning authority and the district council the highway authority. The Amendment seeks to bring in highway authorities as well as local planning authorities so that either would be entitled to approach the Minister and set the machinery in motion.

The rather anomalous situation the Bill creates is this. The highway authorities already have very similar powers under the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1967. They can exercise those powers as the traffic management authorities in the interests of controlling the traffic. They cannot exercise them to secure or form amenities in their areas. What the highway authorities desire to do is to be able to exercise these powers for amenity purposes, as they do now under the Road Traffic Regulation Act for road management purposes. They desire to be able to exercise these powers for planning purposes in improving the amenities of their neighbourhood. It is altogether anomalous that they should have substantially the same powers for one purpose and not be able to use them for another. This is really the sort of legislation which makes local government law look so very obscure and which pm events the public from understanding it. People just do not understand why the county planning authority should be able only to exercise these powers in the interests of planning and that the highway authority, who have very similar powers, should be restricted to exercising them only for traffic management. I hope your Lordships will take that view and that the power to make representations to the Minister on amenity grounds to close a highway will be extended to the highway authorities. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 65, line 31, after ("authority") insert ("or a highway authority")—(Lord Ilford.)


As the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, has pointed out, these three Amendments really hang together. As I understand him, he is making a plea in these Amendments for either the local planning authority or the highway authority to be enabled to initiate action and to apply to the responsible Minister to change a highway into a footpath or bridleway. As noble Lords are aware, and indeed as the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, has pointed out, in many cases highway authorities and planning authorities are in fact the same body and this problem does not arise except in terms of inter-departmental consultation.

Quite irrespective of this, it is the Government's view that it would be wrong to place the initiative in the hands of the highway authority, in view of the purposes which this provision is intended to serve. The proposal giving rise to changing highways into pedestrian-ways—the word I should use in preference to "pedestrianisation"— must surely be one to improve the amenities of the local authority area, including highway questions, and it is surely, in its widest aspects, a planning decision.

Clearly, the proposal affects traffic matters. The highway authority must be consulted, but it is their responsibility to take the initiative where the decision depends upon the appraisal of the full range of planning matters, and it will be the responsibility of the planning authority alone to adopt the proposal for improving amenities of the area. In these circumstances it must surely be for them to pursue the necessary action flowing from that proposal.

For the reasons I have given, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, will not press this Amendment. I appreciate his concern and I think I know what he is aiming at. I think we have the same objects at heart; namely, that there shall be the closest possible consultation between the highway authority and the planning authority in matters of this kind. But it is our view that the local planning authority should be responsible for taking the initiative in the development and improvement of amenities in the areas.


The noble Baroness has not given me very much. I am bound to say that I cannot follow her in regard to these two functions of the exercise of planning powers and the exercise of highway powers and I cannot believe they are as different as she seems to think. I have no wish to press the amendment on the Committee, and in those circumstances I ask for leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The effect of this Amendment is to replace the provision for regulations on this point under the Bill and to substitute a reference to regulations made under the 1962 Act. The intention is that the arrangements and procedure for claiming compensation should be identical with those under the 1962 Act; and it will be a convenience to claimants and their advisers if the matter is dealt with in the same body of regulations made under the 1962 Act. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 66, line 6, leave out from ("authority") to end of line 7 and insert ("within the time and in the manner prescribed by regulations under the principal Act").—(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 78, as amended, agreed to.

6.0 p.m.

BARONESS SEROTA moved, after Clause 78, to insert the following new Clause:

Powers for local authorities analogous to section 153 of principal Act

" —(1) Subject to section (Confirmation, validity etc. of orders under two preceding sections) below, a competent authority for the purposes of this section may by order authorise the stopping up or diversion of any footpath or bridleway if they are satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to enable development to be carried out—

  1. (a) in accordance with planning permission granted under Part III of the principal Act or the enactments replaced by that Part of the Act; or
  2. (b) by a government department.

(2) The competent authorities for the purposes of this section are—

  1. (a) the local planning authority; and
  2. (b) in relation to development for which planning permission was granted by another authority to whom had been delegated the power of granting it, that other authority.

(3) An order under this section may, if the competent authority are satisfied that it should do so, provide—

  1. (a) for the creation of an alternative footpath or bridleway for use as a replacement for the one authorised by the order to be stopped up or diverted, or for the improvement of an existing path or way for such use;
  2. (b) for authorising or requiring works to be carried out in relation to any footpath or bridleway for whose stopping up or diversion, creation or improvement, provision is made by the order;
  3. (c) for requiring any person named in the order to pay, or make contributions in respect of, the cost of carrying out any such works.

(4) The powers of a competent authority under this section shall include power to make an order authorising the stopping up or diversion of a footpath or bridleway which is temporarily stopped up or diverted under any other enactment.

The noble Baroness said: This new clause and the next following new clause give effect to undertakings given in another place on the Third Reading of the Countryside Bill and the Report stage of the Town and Country Planning Bill. I should also like to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that they connect with Amendment No. 90 and with the new schedule set out as Amendment No. 103. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 78, insert the said new clause. —(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This new clause empowers a local authority holding land for planning purposes to extinguish a footpath or bridleway over that land subject to a provision for an alternative right of way where that is thought necessary. I should perhaps add that Section 155 of the 1962 Act confers an identical power on the Minister. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 78, insert the following new clause:

Extinguishment of footpaths etc. over land held for planning purposes

—(1) Subject to section (Confirmation, validity etc. of orders under two preceding sections) below, where any land has been acquired or appropriated for planning purposes and is for the time being held by a local authority for the purposes for which it was acquired or appropriated, the authority may by order extinguish any public right of way over the land, being a footpath or bridleway, if they are satisfied that an alternative right of way has been or will be provided, or that the provision of an alternative right of way is not required.

(2) Any reference in subsection (1) above to the acquisition of land for planning purposes is a reference to the acquisition thereof under section 68 or 71 of the principal Act or section 26 of this Act; and any reference to the appropriation of land for planning purposes is a reference to the appropriation thereof for purposes for which land can, or could have been, acquired under those sections. —(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 90, and in moving it I should like to point out that your Lordships may wish to consider this clause in association with the new Schedule set out in Amendment N D. 103. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 78, insert the following new clause:

Confirmation, validity, etc., of orders under two preceding sections

—(1) An order under section (Powers for local authorities analogous to s. 153 of principal Act) or (Extinguishment of footpaths etc. over land held for planning purposes) of this Act shall not take effect unless confirmed by the Minister, or unless confirmed, as an unopposed order, by the authority who made it.

(2) The Minister shall not confirm any such order unless satisfied as to every matter of which the authority making the order are required under section (Powers for local authorities analogous to s. 153 of principal Act) or (Extinguishment of footpaths etc. over land held for planning purposes) (as the case may be) to be satisfied.

(3) The time specified—

  1. (a) in an order under section (Powers for local authorities analogous to s. 153 of principal Act) above as the time from which a footpath or bridleway is to be sopped up or diverted; or
  2. 715
  3. (b) in an order under section (Extinguishment of footpaths etc. over land held for planning purposes) above as the time from which a right of way is to be extinguished,
shall not be earlier than confirmation of the order.

(4) Schedule (Procedure in connection with orders relating to footpaths and bridleways) to this Act shall have effect with respect to the confirmation of orders under section (Powers for local authorities analogous to s. 153 of principal Act) or (Extinguishment of footpaths etc. over land held for planning purposes) of this Act and the publicity for such orders after they are confirmed."—(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 79 [Miscellaneous amendments of Part IX of principal Act]:

LORD CHORLEY moved to add to subsection (1): and shall include provisions requiring the applicant to erect at his own expense a direction post on any length of highway diverted by virtue of such an Order".

The noble Lord said: Clause 79 is directed to making a number of amendments to Part IX of the principal Act. This Amendment is intended to make a small improvement. It may be argued—I expect the noble Baroness will argue—that it does not follow on very logically at the end of the first subsection of Clause 79 that it is not concerned with what is in that subsection, and deals with a different matter. I suppose that it might have been better to put it in as a new subsection, but I am afraid I had placed it on the Paper before I quite appreciated that this was so.

The point arises in this way. When land is developed, very often what one might call the footpath pattern has to be altered, and in the principal Act arrangements are provided under which new routes of paths can be set out and the footpath pattern altered in that sort of way. I understand that in this situation the Minister frequently makes a request to a planning applicant to erect signposts, which obviously will be very useful. I am informed that these requests by the Minister are generally agreed to by developers. It is very much in the developer's interest, I suppose, to do so. To erect signposts at this stage will very often save him £4 or £5 each signpost, rather than wasting time and indeed money when he possibly has to do it later on.

But the important point is that at the moment the Minister seems to have no power to direct a developer to do this. The Minister merely makes a request, and I gather that from time to time these requests are not met. It may well be that it is just carelessness by the developer, but there clearly ought to be a power of this kind. At present, the Minister may make an order containing—and this is a quotation from the existing law— such incidental and consequential provisions as appear … necessary or expedient to him. That is in subsection (3) of Section 153 of the principal Act. But it is very doubtful whether this includes the power to order the erection of a signpost, and the object of this Amendment is a very simple one. It is to provide the Minister with the necessary power to do so. I beg to move.

Amendment moved․ Page 66, line 24, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Chorley.)


May I once again hasten to assure the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, that the point he is anxious to establish has already been provided for. I must confess that I myself should have had difficulty in sorting out how and where, but I am advised that Section 153 of the principal Act, which applies to orders under Section 153 and, by virtue of subsection (5) of Clause 78 of the Bill, to orders under Clause 78, provides that orders may include such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister of Transport to be necessary or expedient. In these circumstances, both the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, and your Lordships' Committee can be assured that the Minister is advised that there is no reasonable doubt whatever that an order can require the erection of a direction post on a diverted highway at the expense of the applicant. I hope that, with that assurance, and having disentangled the sections and subsections of the various clauses, the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, will withdraw his Amendment.


I am very glad to know that the Minister's advisers have no doubt whatever that they have these powers. As a lawyer, and having been in consultation with other lawyers, I should not have taken that view. But if the Minister's advisers are quite satisfied about it we can only hope that if the matter ever comes before a court of law the Minister's view will be taken to be correct and not the view which we feel might easily be accepted by a judge. However, in the circumstances I do not propose to press the Amendment, and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.8 p.m.

LORD CHORLEY moved, after subsection (2), to insert: () An order made under section 153 of the principal Act or section 78 of this Act shall cease to have effect if the relevant planning permission is terminated by operation of section 57 or section 60 of this Act.

The noble Lord said: This is another attempt to give the Minister something which he will no doubt say he does not want. This Amendment is really consequential on Clauses 57 and 60. An order made under Section 153 of the principal Act has the object of creating a new highway network or pattern to serve the proposed development in connection with which the planning application is put forward. It often happens that for one reason or another the development does not take place and the planning permission is terminated by operation of the Statute. In that case it follows that the Section 153 order should also cease to have effect, but it does not seem to he provided very clearly that that should be so.

Indeed, it would appear to be important that this should be done, not only as a matter of filling in what one might call a gap in the drafting but because it might be very important physically, since often the route of a path is diverted in such a way as to be tied to the proposed development. For example, a path might he made to run between the backs of houses, to provide a way down between two rows of houses. That having been done, suppose hat the development is given up and the two rows of houses are not built. It would then seem very important, from a physical point of view, that there should be power in the Act to bring the whole thing to an end. So it is not just a question of drafting tidiness; it might be a matter of practical importance. I hope the Minister will feel that we are offering some help. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 66, line 28, at end insert— ("() An order made under section 153 of the principal Act or section 78 of this Act shall cease to have effect if the relevant planning permission is terminated by operation of section 57 or section 60 of this Act.")—(Lord Chorley.)


I listened with great interest to the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. There are, I understand, practical difficulties in writing into the Bill this particular kind of provision. Because of the technical complexities and the rather late hour, perhaps the Committee will not wish me to go into them. We see the possibility of considering the point that the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, has made in relation to footpaths and bridleways where 'we feel the circumstances might be different. Footpaths and bridleways are more often diverted for reasons of smaller-scale development, which may more often fail to come to fruition than the typical large urban project for which a town street is closed.

I suggest that we look at this point between now and the Report stage. But I suggest that this matter would fall rather under Clause 57 than Clause 60. I hope, with that undertaking, that the noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that assurance. Certainly it is the footpaths and bridle-ways aspect of this matter that prompts me to put forward this proposal. In the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 79 agreed to.

Clauses 80 and 81 agreed to.

BARONESS SEROTA moved, after Clause 81, to insert the following new clause:

Miscellaneous amendments of principal Act.

".—(1) Section 187 of the principal Act (power of Public Works Loan Commissioners to make loans to local authorities for the purpose of the discharge of their function; under provisions of the Act specified in paragraph 1 of Schedule 8 thereto) shall cease lo have effect.

(2) An agreement made by the Crown Estate Commissioners under section 200 of the principal Act (whereby a government department may agree with local planning authorities to secure the use of Crown land in conformity with the development plan) shall not require the approval of the Treasury; and accordingly in subsection (2) of that section the words 'the Crown Estate Commissioners or by' shall cease to have effect."

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment, which hangs with Amendments 114A and 114B provides for miscellaneous amendments of the 1962 Act in two separate repeals. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 81, insert the said new clause. —(Baroness Serota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 82 and 83 agreed to.

6.14 p.m.

LORD ILFORD moved, after Clause 83, to insert the following new clause:

Amendment of existing provisions for appropriation of open space land

"—(1) Any appropriation of land held by a local authority which is or forms part of an open space either

  1. (a) under section 163 of the Local Government Act 1933 (which deals with the power of a local authority to appropriate land) or
  2. (b) by order made and confirmed under subsection (2) of section 73 of the principal Act (appropriation of land for planning purposes)
shall be effective notwithstanding any beneficial interest which, by rule of law or otherwise, the public may have in such land.

(2) Subsection (3) of section 73 of the principal Act shall cease to have effect."

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this new clause is to overcome a difficulty which has caused local authorities a good deal of concern and trouble during the past few years. This appears to be a convenient opportunity to put right something which is in urgent need of putting right. The position is a little complicated, but I will endeavour to make it as clear as I can.

Under Section 163 of the Local Government Act 1963 a local authority which owned open space land in excess of their requirements were able to appropriate it to another purpose. That was done, and things went on merrily, and everybody was quite happy, until 1961 when the courts gave a decision. I am not going to enter into the details of that decision to-night; but the effect of it was that the Minister felt that he was bound to interpret it as meaning that where public rights were enjoyed they could not be overridden by an Act of Parliament which dealt primarily with other matters not directly concerned with modifications of the right of access.

Accordingly, the Minister felt he could not continue with the procedure under which these applications for appropriations were submitted to him by the local authority and to which he gave his consent and under which appropriation could be made. The result is that since 1961 that form of procedure has been impossible and the local authorities have had to find other means of disposing of open space land in excess of their requirements. Normally, they would have to get a modification of the development plan and they would then have to follow special Parliamentary procedure. The whole process was very long, very clumsy and very inappropriate. We hope by this Amendment to put that right.

I should like to give the Committee one or two examples of the sort of difficulties to which this situation has given rise. They illustrate very well what has happened. My first case is of a local authority who wished to appropriate open space which adjoined a public path on a housing estate for housing purposes. The open space afforded ample open space for the housing estate, but the Minister would not agree to the appropriation unless further open land was provided. In another case a similar attitude was adopted in attempting appropriation of allotments where the need for allotments proved to be non-existent—as indeed it is non-existent in many places to-day. In that case the Minister felt unable to follow the old procedure and Special Parliamentary Procedure had to be adopted. Again, any appropriation of open-space land for car parks, or for similar town centre purposes has to go through Special Parliamentary Procedure, if suitable open-space land cannot otherwise be provided.

These cases illustrate the sort of difficulties encountered as a result of the interpretation placed, rightly or wrongly, upon the decision of the courts I hope the Committee will feel that this is a convenient opportunity to put this right and to revert to the procedure which will be the procedure of the Local Government Act 1933. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 83, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Ilford.)


The noble Lord, Lord Ilford, has explained that the object of this clause was, broadly, to put the position back to whore it was before the Blake v. Hendon decision. That, I think, is the burden of his argument to-day and the reason he has submitted the new clause for consideration. I think I should be right in saying that this decision altered what had been understood to be the law, because the court decided that the open-space land held in that case was dedicated to the public without the need of a formal act of dedication, so that the local authority's power to dispose of it was subordinate to the public's overriding rights. The construction put upon this decision is that if land is held under any of the Public General open space Acts, and the public have free and unrestricted access to it, then the land cannot, under the 1933 Act powers, be sold, let, exchanged or appropriated for any purpose detrimental to the public's rights.

The only way of effecting a change of use is therefore, as the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, has just pointed out, by means of a compulsory purchase order or appropriation order, which brings into play the machinery of the 1946 Act. Many noble Lords may be aware that the local authority associations do find difficulties on occasions, with the restrictions on their powers, when they wish to dispose of open-space land. But it is the view of the Government that the safeguards for amenity which the 1948 provisions entail should be retained.

On the other hand, it is recognised that the present situation imposes certain constraints on local authorities, and two changes are being made in the Bill to ease the position of local authorities. The noble Lord, Lord Ilford, is probably aware of them. The first is in Schedule 6, paragraph 24, and the second change, which we have already made, is embodied in the new clause to follow Clause 28. This assists the position which is at present concerning local authorities, in that it will amend the ministerial certificate procedure of the 1946 Act so that the Minister may give a certificate and thereby exempt the local authority from going through the Special Parliamentary Procedure for a widened category of cases.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, and the Committee will take the view that these changes, taken together, will ease the position of local authorities which concerns the noble Lord, while reserving the very necessary defence of amenity interests. I also hope that, with this explanation, the noble Lord, Lord Mold, will agree to withdraw his Amendment.


I am not sure how far the noble Baroness has gone to meet my case, but I will withdraw my Amendment now, and examine what the noble Baroness has said. I hope I shun find that it gives us the 1933 procedure, which is what the local authorities really want. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.22 p.m.

Loan ILFORD moved, after Clause 83, to insert the following new clause:

Parking of vehicles

".—(1) Where planning permission for development of land in the area of a highway authority has been given, the authority may by notice served on the applicant require the payment of such sums as in the opinion of the authority would be the cost per parking space which would be incurred by them if they were to provide a suitable parking space for vehicles, multiplied by such number as does not exceed the number of parking spaces which would otherwise have to he provided to comply with the conditions imposed on the planning permission under which the development is being carried out.

(2) In calculating the cost of prodding a suitable parking place for vehicles the market value of the land needed for such purpose shall be included.

(3) Any person served with notice under subsection (1) may, not later than one month from the date of service of the notice, appeal to the Minister who may confirm the notice with or without modification or determine that the notice shall be of no effect.

(4) On any appeal as aforesaid the Minister shall give the appellant an opportunity of being heard by a person appointed by the Minister."

The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with a much simpler matter the question of the provision of parking space in new buildings. It often happens that when a planning authority is asked to give consent for a new building, one of the conditions is that garage space should be provided in the building. That is commonly done, but there are cases where the local authority is in a position itself to provide parking space outside the new building in a public car park. If that can be arranged, obviously it is to the advantage of the developer, because he gets the whole of the area of his building available for the purposes of the building and does not have to devote any part to the provision of un-remunerative garage space. It is also to the advantage of the local authority, because it enables the authority to maintain a public parking place perhaps at a lower cost than might otherwise be the case, in a place where it might have been thought to be too expensive in other circumstances.

When a local authority can do that and arrange for a parking space to be provided in a public open space, it goes to the owner of the building to require him to make a contribution to the cost of providing a parking place outside the building. There is no legal sanction for that. Local authorities have no power even to make an agreement of that sort, and the purpose of the Amendment is to give them the necessary power to carry out what they are doing, very reasonably, now, and to provide parking space in their own area, having come to some arrangement with the owner of a building about the contribution which he will make. It seems a sensible and business-like arrangement. I hope that the Committee will say that it should be properly clothed with law and that the local authorities should have power to do this voluntarily if they so desire. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 83, insert the said new clause. —(Lord Ilford.)


I hesitate to disagree with any point raised by my noble friend, Lord Ilford, but one thing occurs to me. On the face of it his suggestion is entirely reasonable, but one must remember that once a house is built with- out a garage one can never be added, because the house is probably too close to the next-door building. Suppose some- thing happens to the covered garage space or it is taken over for other purposes? There are a variety of things which might happen. All the houses built without garages would be permanently without them, as is unfortunately the case with houses in many parts of London to-day. I wonder, therefore, whether this is an altogether entirely safe proposal.


I gather that this new clause is an attempt on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, to enable highway authorities to oblige developers to make a contribution to the cost of public car parks in lieu of the provision of parking space on a development site or, alternatively, on land adjacent which is in the ownership or under the control of the developer. The noble Lord is probably aware that one of the Ministry's planning bulletins, Bulletin No. 7, recommended that, as a voluntary arrangement, it might sometimes be to the advantage of a developer and the public that an increased demand for car-parking engendered by the development should be met in a public car park rather than in a privately-owned one. I understand that occasionally the application of this policy has given rise to difficulties, and a circular issued in August of last year drew the attention of local authorities to the limited scope of this recommendation. The Amendment would remove the voluntary nature of these arrangements.

While we recognise that provision for planning control would be met by the imposition of a condition which it is within the power of the developer to meet, it would enable a highway authority to substitute an obligation to discharge this condition by a money payment, and this, we feel, would be wrong in principle. Also, if this new clause were added to the Bill it would create a new class of appeals to be determined by the Minister. This would run counter to the policy on which the Bill has been drafted, and indeed to the intention of my right honourable friend as expressed in the Bill, which is to reduce the involvement of the Minister in matters of only local significance. If the Amendment were accepted, the Minister would become involved in adjudicating on car park standards which, as I think all noble Lords would agree, is a very local matter.

We are all concerned with the problem of car-parking in our cities and it might interest the Committee to know that the parking policy, including the financing of public car parking, has recently been jointly reviewed. My right honourable friend the Minister of Transport will shortly be considering, in the light of the points made in debate on these matters here and in another place, what further action may be taken and what may be necessary to enable local authorities to provide parking facilities commensurate with the capacity of their road system. We feel that the substance of the Amendment is not really a matter for a planning Bill, and I hope, in the light of the explanation I have given of the consequential problems which the acceptance of an Amendment of this kind would cause, and also in the light of the fact that the parking policy as a whole is being reviewed, the noble Lord will feel that his Amendment has served its purpose by initiating a debate on the matter, and that he will be prepared to withdraw it.


I am glad that my noble friend raised this matter, because the Guildford Corporation included a clause of this character in their Private Bill in the last Session of Parliament. That clause was disallowed by the Committee in another place, but only on the understanding that the matter should be pursued and dealt with as a matter of urgency. That was more than a year ago and, with respect to the noble Baroness, she seems to have been asked by the Minister of Transport to make a delaying speech on a matter which a Committee of Parliament said more than a year ago should be pursued and dealt with as an urgent matter. I think that my noble friend is right to press the urgency of it. It may be that this is not the right place to deal with it, but I do not think that its importance should be lost sight of, and it would greatly help us if the noble Baroness can say that the Government accept that the point underlying this new clause is an urgent matter which must be dealt with.


The noble Lord is quite right in saying that several authorities have sought Private Act powers, usually to give effect to an agreement entered into between developer and local planning authority as contemplated in the voluntary arrangements to which I have referred. The noble Lord is again right. The review promised in another place has been carried out and the recommendations resulting from it are shortly coming before the Minister. It is clear that local planning authorities will need to work out plans both for off-street and on-street parking. We feel that it would be better for a conscious policy to be adopted, including a financial policy, for the provision of public car parks rather than to apply a piecemeal policy if and when development takes place. I think that noble Lords with experience in planning and especially in dealing with this very difficult question of car parking, particularly in congested city centres, would agree that it is better dealt with in a general policy review rather than by adopting an Amendment of this kind which provides merely for a payment of money by a developer to the highway authority.


I think that the noble Baroness intends to convey that this matter is being treated as one of urgency, and in the light of that I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 84 and 85 agreed to.

6.32 p.m.

BARONESS SEROTA moved, after Clause 85, to insert the following new clause:


".—(1) This Act shall come into operation on a day appointed by an order made by statutory instrument by the Minister, and different days may be appointed under this section for different purposes and, in particular, different days may be so appointed for the coming into operation of the same provision in different areas.

(2) Any reference in this Act to the commencement of any provision thereof shall he construed as a reference to the day appointed for the coming into operation of that provision or, in the case of a provision which comes into operation on different lays in different areas, shall, in relation to any area, be construed as a reference to the day appointed for the coming into operation of that provision in that area.

(3) An order under this section may make such transitional provision as appears to the Minister to he necessary or expedient in connection with the provisions thereby brought into force, including such adaptation of those provisions or any provision of this Act then in force as appear to him to be necessary or expedient in consequence of the partial operation of this Act (whether before or after the day appointed by the order).

(4) The Minister of Housing and Local Government shall, for England, and the Secretary of State shall, for Wales, each maintain and keep up to date a register showing the effect of orders made under this section in such a way as enables members of the public to inform themselves—

  1. (a) as to the provisions of this Act which have come, or are to be brought, into operation, and on which dates and in relation to which areas; and
  2. (b) as to whether, in the case of a particular area, any transitional provision has been made by such an order.

(5) The register maintained by the Minister of Housing and Local Government under this section shall be kept at his principal offices in London, and the register so maintained by the Secretary of State shall be kept at his principal offices in Cardiff; and both registers shall be available for inspection by the public at all reasonable hours."

The noble Baroness said: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I explain Amendments Nos. 93A and 93B together. They both consist partly of material already in the Bill and partly of new material. The first three subsections at present appear as subsections (3) to (5) of Clause 89. The last two are new, and are introduced into the Bill to implement an undertaking given at Report stage in another place. Amendment No. 93B is consequential, following the incorporation of this new clause in the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 85, insert the said new clause. —(Baroness Scrota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 86 to 88 agreed to.

Clause 89 [Short title, citation, commencement and extent]:


I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 69, line 6, leave out subsections (3) to (5).—(Baroness Scrota.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD MERRIVALE moved, after subsection (3), to insert: () Notwithstanding anything in subsection (3) above, the day appointed for the coming into operation of sections 6, 7, 8 and 9 of this Act shall be not earlier than 31st December 1970.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 94. This Amendment follows up the thought I expounded, in connection with Clause 9 in regard to local plans, on June 18 last. At that time the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, replied: I do not think there would be any case for singling out Clause 9 of this Bill for special review in that context,ߪ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18/6/68, col. 635.] The context he referred to was the repeal of the modifying clauses of this Bill in the light of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Local Government. I am hoping that since June 18 Her Majesty's Government and the noble Lord have had second thoughts on this matter. I expect that the wording will probably be faulty, but the Amendment is designed to draw from the Government a statement on whether local planning procedure will be modified in the light of the probable reconstruction of local government.

The effect of this new subsection would be to prohibit the Minister from bringing into operation, under Clause 89, those clauses which deal with local plans until the date when it might be expected that the recommendations of the Royal Commission would have been implemented. The date given is of necessity a cockshy, but as it has been announced that the Commission will probably report in the autumn of 1968 this Amendment allows two years for the system to be changed.

Amendment moved— Page 69, line 11, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Merrivale.)


I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, used words in his speech which mean precisely the same as the words in the Amendment. He said that this would delay, or give an opportunity for delaying, the operation of this clause until after the local government reorganisation scheme had been implemented. Had he said, "Until the time of the Report of the Royal Commission," we could have visualised some action in the next six or nine months. We have been told from time to time that the implementation of this scheme might take five, six or seven years, and to postpone the beneficent features of this Bill for five, six or seven years would, I think, be going beyond what most of us would like to see.


I have little to add to what my noble friend has said. There is unfortunately no guarantee that action can be taken on the Report of the Royal Commission by the end of 1970. In an ideal world, one would like to say that two years would be enough. But we know from experience that when a Royal Commission turns in a Report on a matter like this (and we must not forget that this is a survey of the entire system of local government, which has been in operation for nearly a hundred years), its recommendations are not discussed by Government, public and Parliament, or public opinion farmed on them and legislation drafted, passed and brought into effect, in less than two years. It is because the Government know full well that this is not possible that they have introduced this Bill quite a while before a general reform of the local government system can be expected as a result of the Royal Commission's Report.

I would remand the Committee that the Ministers intend to bring the new planning drill contained in this Bill into operation in suitable areas; that is, where the authorities have staff, skill, size,et cetera to do it, and where they are in the right place in the development plan cycle to do it. They plan to bring it into operation before any possible reform of local government, and are convinced that this is a good thing to do. The Government would be reluctant to see those measures postponed until the end of 1970. I hope that with this explanation the noble Lord may see his way to withdraw the Amendment.


I can well understand the attitude of the Government on this Amendment. As I said, two years was just a random period, and has no particular merit. If this would delay the adoption of this for a number of years, I agree that it would be most undesirable. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 89, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Special Provisions as to Development Plans in Greater London]:


This is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 71, line 34, after ("area") insert ("or is to be treated as an action area") —(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This, too, is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 71, line 41, after ("area") insert ("or for an area which is to be treated as au action area").—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 [General Vesting Declarations for Land Compulsorily Acquired]:

6.43 p.m.

LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR moved, after paragraph 9, to insert: . At any time after a general vesting declaration has been executed in respect of any land a person entitled to compensation arising out of the acquisition by the acquiring authority of his interest in that land may require that authority within fourteen days to pay to him on account of compensation a sum not exceeding nine-tenths of the amount which the District Valuer certifies to be props r compensation in respect of that interest.

The noble Lord said: I attach great importance to the purpose underlying this Amendment, but I have no wish to initiate a lengthy debate on it now for reasons which I will explain. Schedule 2 is linked with Clause 28. They both deal with the general vesting declaration and its effects. When we were debating the Question, That Clause 28 stand fart of the Bill, I expressed grave anxieties about certain people, and particularly owner-occupiers, who might find that they had lost their title to their land under a general vesting declaration, and lost thereby their power to raise money on that title, and remained unpaid by the acquiring authority. That may not matter to some people, but it will normally matter a great deal to owner-occupiers, because they need the money they get by way of compensation for the house they are losing in order to acquire or, at any rate, to pay a deposit on a house elsewhere to which they have to move,.

I raised this point in general terms on the Question, That Clause 28 stand part, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, was good enough to say: I should just like to say that I will study the noble Lord's remarks with care, and We can revert to this point at a later stage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26/6/68; col 1427.] I should be quite content if the noble Lord replied briefly in some such terms as those. I think he will recognise that the Amendment I have tabled here, giving a person entitled to compensation the right to claim a payment of nine-tenths of the sum certified by the district valuer on account, is very much in line with the practice which I understand the Ministry of Transport adopt when there is likely to be hardship through quick acquisition of land for road-making purposes. They are prepared to make a nine-tenths payment on account.

This Bill has valuable provisions to which we have already agreed that will empower the public authority which has over-paid compensation to recover the amount that has been overpaid. So it matters less whether you get the exact amount right quickly. I have tabled this Amendment so as to indicate the kind of solution which is passing through my mind, and to fill out in some detail the general proposition to which the noble Lord was good enough to say that he would give consideration at a later stage of the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 74, line 31, at end insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Brooke of Cumnor.)


I do not wish in any way to unsay what I said on the clause stand part discussion earlier, but the solution which the noble Lord has put forward is a rather extreme one. It goes wider than what he said, in that it covers all those with an interest in land, and not simply owner-occupiers about whom I thought he was worried. The Amendment is very abrupt and extreme in its effect, in that it requires the 90 per cent. payment to be made 14 days after the execution of the vesting declaration, and that is before the land actually vests in the local authority, which it cannot do under the Bill for a minimum of 28 days. There are many other things about the Amendment which would make it difficult to accept but, as I said a moment ago, I am not going back on anything that I said earlier, and we can refer to this again on the Report stage.


I am sure the noble Lord will have appreciated that I did not attempt to tailor this Amendment precisely to the words that I used on an earlier stage. I remain convinced that there is liable to be hardship unless we insert some provision of this kind in the Bill, and I hope that it may be possible to find a solution before the next stage of our proceedings on the Bill along the lines of the practice which I understand the Ministry of Transport have adopted with satisfaction to all concerned. Meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Application for listed building consent]:


Paragraph 7 of Schedule 3 is the paragraph dealing with appeals to the Minister against refusals of listed building consent. This Amendment would enable the Minister to prescribe the manner in which, and the period within which, such appeals are to be made. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 78, line 43, leave out ("under this paragraph") and insert ("served in the prescribed manner within such period as may be prescribed, not less than 28 days from the receipt by him of notification of the decision"). —(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This is consequential upon Amendment No. 38. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 83, line 4, after ("so") insert ("in the case of a listed building purchase notice served on account of listed building consent being refused or granted subject to conditions").—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This, too, is consequential on Amendment No. 38. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 83, line 11, at end insert— ("(4) If it appears to the Minister to be expedient to do so in the case of a listed building purchase notice served on account of listed building consent being revoked or modified by an order under Part II of this Schedule, he may, in lieu of confirming the notice, cancel the order revoking the consent, or where the order modified the consent by the imposition of conditions, revoke or amend those conditions so far as appears to him to be required in order to enable the land to be rendered capable of reasonably beneficial use by the carrying out of the works in respect of which the consent was granted ").—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This is a consequential Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 84, line 41, at end insert— (". Where in consequence of listed building consent being revoked or modified by an order under Part 11 of this Schedule, compensation is payable in respect of expenditure incurred in carrying out any works to the building in respect of which the consent was granted, then if a listed building purchase notice is served in respect of an interest in the land, any compensation payable in respect of the acquisition of that interest in pursuance of the purchase notice shall be reduced by an amount equal to the value of the works in respect of which compensation is payable by virtue of that paragraph.")—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 86, line 45, leave out ("43(2)") and insert ("43(3) ").—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This, too, is a drafting Amendment. I do not need to explain it any more than to say that the words, "and with it", were criticised as obscure and possibly excessively modish in the House of Commons. We have, therefore, improved on them. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 87, line 7, leave out from ("and") to end of line 8 and insert ("any listed building consent granted with respect to the building, while the notice was in force, shall also lapse"). —(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, as, amended agreed to.

6.50 p.m.

BARONESS SEROTA moved, after Schedule 4, to insert the following new schedule:


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