HL Deb 29 July 1968 vol 296 cc131-7

Application for certificate and appeal against refusal thereof

1. An application for an established use certificate shall be made in such manner as may be prescribed by a development order, and shall include such particulars, and be verified by such evidence, as may be required by such an order or by any directions given thereunder, or by the local planning authority, or, in the case of an application referred to the Minister, by him.

2. Provision may be made by a development order for regulating the manner in which applications for established use certificates are to be dealt with by local planning authorities, and, in particular,—

  1. (a) for requiring the authority to give to any applicant for such a certificate, within such time as may be prescribed by the order, such notice as may be so prescribed as to the manner in which his application has been dealt with;
  2. (b) for requiring the authority to give to the Minister and to such other persons as may be prescribed by or under the order such information as may be so prescribed with respect to applications for such certificates made to the authority, including information as to the manner in which any such application has been dealt with.

3.—(1) A development order may provide that an application for an established use certificate, or an appeal against the refusal of such an application, shall not be entertained unless it is accompanied by a certificate corresponding to one or other of those described in paragraphs (a) to (d) of section 16(1) of the principal Act (requirement of certificate that the applicant is the owner of the land or has given notice to the owners of his intended application, or has tried to do so) and any such order may—

  1. (a) apply for the purposes of this subparagraph the provisions of subsections (2) to (4) and (6) of that section, with such modifications as appear to the Minister to be requisite; and
  2. (b) make provision as to who, in the case of any land, is to be treated as the owner for the purposes of any provision of the order made by virtue of this sub-paragraph.

(2) If any person issues a certificate which purports to comply with any provision of a development order made by virtue of subparagraph (1) above and which contains a statement which he knows to be false or misleading in a material particular, or recklessly issues a certificate which purports to comply with those requirements and which contains a statement which is false or misleading in a material particular, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100.

(3) Where provision is made by a development order in accordance with sub-paragraph (1) above, the order may also include provision corresponding to section 17(3) of the principal Act (duty of local planning authority, and of the Minister on appeal. to take into account representations made by others interested in the land and to give them notice of the decision on the application or appeal).

Provisions with respect to grant of certificate

4. An established use certificate shall be in such form as may be prescribed by a development order and shall specify—

  1. (a) the land to which the certificate relates and any use thereof which is certified by the certificate as established;
  2. (b) by reference to the paragraphs of section (Certification of established use) (1) of this Act, the grounds on which that use is so certified; and
  3. (c) the date on which the application for the certificate was made, which shall be the date at which the use is certified as established.

5. Where the Minister, or a person appointed by him under section 19 of this Act to determine an appeal, grants an established use certificate, the Minister or that person shall give notice to the local planning authority of that fact.

6. In section 19(4) of the principal Act (register of decisions on planning applications) references to applications for planning permission shall include references to applications for established use certificates; and the information which may be prescribed as being required to be contained in a register kept under that subsection shall include information with respect to established use certificates granted by the Minister or by a person appointed by him under section 19 of this Act to determine an appeal.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have already discussed this Amendment under Amendment No. 21. I beg to move

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2 [General vesting declarations for land compulsorily acquired]:

BARONESS SEROTA moved Amendment No. 97: Page 79, line 34, leave out ("under the Act of 1946").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this Amendment falls under Lord Kennet's heading of "Machinery". I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR moved Amendment No. 98:

Page 81, line 31, at end 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 or by the vesting date, whichever is the later, to pay to him on account of compensation a sum not exceeding nine-tenths of the amount which the district valuer certifies to be proper compensation in respect of that interest.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, once again I am making a second attempt. I criticised the general vesting declaration procedure when we were in Committee, principally on the ground that it appeared to me to render it possible for the public authority to establish a title to land and to disentitle the existing owner without any guarantee of the owner's getting payment within a reasonable time. In Committee I moved an Amendment which would entitle the owner to require the acquiring authority to pay him 90 per cent. of the district valuer's value for the land within 14 days of his requiring it. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, quite rightly pointed out to me that, apart from everything else, this was faulty in that it might enable the owner to insist on receiving 90 per cent. of the compensation value even before the title of the land had passed to the acquiring authority.

My Amendment has been redrafted with the intention of correcting that mistake. I shall not be in the least surprised, of course, if the noble Lord points out that I have fallen into some other pitfall by the alteration I have made; but I am not a lawyer and it is all I can manage to do to draft these Amendments so that what they mean is clear to me and will be clear, I hope, to most of your Lordships. I am very well aware that I am exposed to the criticisms of the draftsman. I do not think there will be any doubt at all in the mind of anybody who reads this Amendment as to what it means.

What it seeks to do is to establish that the person, and particularly the owner-occupier, who loses all title to his land quickly through a general vesting declaration shall be able to make the acquiring authority pay him 90 per cent. of the district valuer's valuation quickly. If that valuation is wrong it will not matter so much when the Bill reaches the Statute Book because the Government have introduced provisions by which an over-payment by the acquiring authority can be re-claimed from the recipient. I would only say in conclusion that there is very strong feeling in favour of the Government's putting some obligation like this upon acquiring authorities. I have been not surprised but gratified by the support which has been disclosed to me for an Amendment of this general character. I think that the system of the general vesting declaration, which may have much to be said for it in respect of speed of operation, is gravely at fault if it may leave the owner without his title to the land, without any title on which he can raise money, and without any money at all, until such time as the acquiring authority, perhaps much later, decides to pay. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I am informed that the noble Lord has fallen into another pitfall. I think that in fact he fell into it the last time also, but it was, as it were, masked by the major one he was in then and it is now revealed. It is that the district valuer is not always necessarily engaged in negotiations on all compulsory purchase acquisitions, and if he is not then he does not have a view about what the figure ought to be. So that is a difficulty, but I do not want to make too much of it. It is only a technical pitfall. But what the noble Lord's Amendment does do, which is more serious, is to extend this 90 per cent. right to anyone who is entitled to compensation. In Committee the noble Lord referred especially to owner-occupiers, but at present he is allowing all owners, whether owner occupiers or landlords, to benefit from it; and this seems to be wider than is probably justified. However, the real objection to this Amendment is the mere fact that this provision would be here in the Bill requiring the local authority to make advance payments on request.

I think that at an earlier stage Lord Brooke, or if not he then another noble Lord, drew an analogy with the practice of the Minister of Transport who often, or even usually (I am not sure), does this: pays 90 per cent. over. The Minister of Transport, however, is not statutorily bound to do it. He just does it on occasions when it seems to him to he the right, the just and the convenient thing to do, and not on other occasions. Equally, the Land Commission, who first got this short vesting procedure and on whose procedure the procedure in the Bill is modelled, do not have a statutory obligation to make these 90 per cent. payments.

So what the Government object to in this Amendment is not any suggestion that it is a good idea to pay over 90 per cent. when you can, when the man needs it and when it is clear what it is 90 per cent. of. That is obviously a good idea if there are no difficulties about it. What the Government object to is the proposal to write it into the Bill as a statutory obligation for the first time on any public body. That being so, and given the, I should have thought, reasonably just, merciful and equitable performance of local authorities in cases of this sort so far, which I have no doubt will be continued under the new dispensation, I hope the noble Lord will be content to rest on that.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for having taken the trouble to explain at length the difficulties about accepting my Amendment. The one point to which I would take exception was when he described it as an "advance payment". I must say that if I received an account from a shop for goods of which I had taken delivery some time before, I should hesitate, if I sent a cheque for 90 per cent. of their bill, to dare to describe it as an "advance payment" to them. I do not think that would be well received, certainly by some shopkeepers whom I know. I wonder whether the noble Lord would be willing to cover this point in a circular to local authorities.

I am not so much concerned about Government Departments, I am not so much concerned about a body like the Land Commission, which is a creature of the Government. I am anxious about the local authorities, some of which are very good payers and some of which are slow payers. I think it would be decidely helpful if the Government, perhaps by drawing the attention of local authorities to the practice of the Minister of Transport, or in some other way, would put into their minds that they should be ready to make a substantial payment on account where there is liable otherwise to be hardship. That is what I am seeking to achieve, and if that can be done in a non-statutory way I should feel it was well worth while to have ventilated these matters here. I hope the noble Lord will consider this point.


My Lords, before the Amendment is formally withdrawn, I should like to assure the noble Lord that we shall certainly consider putting that in a circular. I should just remind the House that after vesting day and until the final payment is made, interest accrues on what is not paid.


My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

BARONESS SEROTA moved Amendment No. 99: Page 82, line 27, leave out paragraph 16.

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is occasioned by the provisions of the Theft Act, which received the Royal Assent last week, and which was so recently discussed in your Lordships' House. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

8.23 p.m.

LORD KENNET moved Amendment No. 100: After Schedule 2 insert the following new schedule: