HL Deb 14 March 1968 vol 290 cc383-439

4.22 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, I should like first of all to thank the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, for his solicitude towards our Committee. I think I should be speaking for all the Committee if I said that we felt perfectly capable at all times of carrying out the duties laid upon us and that at no time, to my knowledge, did we ever really feel very sorry for ourselves. I must first explain the length of time that it has taken to report the findings of this Committee. We had a chapter of accidents, with the Christmas Recess intervening. My noble friend Lord Morton of Henryton had the misfortune to break his arm and then, later, "yours noble and truly" (if I may so describe myself) suffered from a severe attack of shingles. I know now the origin of the Bible story of Job who sat in ashes covered in sores. He had shingles. And I am glad to say that neither of us cursed God.

My Lords, this has been an unusual inquiry, in that there have been no Petitioners although there were a number of objectors at the public inquiry. Nevertheless, the Lord Chairman of Committees decided that as it was a controversial measure it should be treated as an opposed Bill. It will be remembered that an Instruction was given to the Committee by your Lordships' House. This has already been explained by my noble friend Lord Teynham, so I will not go into it again; but I will do all, I can to satisfy your Lordships during my speech that the Committee carried out this Instruction. Before leaving the subject of procedure I should like also to draw to your Lordships' attention the debate which ensued on the Motion of the noble Lord, the Chairman of Committees, to empower the Committee to hear evidence other than that tendered by the Promoters. In that debate I felt that it would be right for me, as Chairman-designate of the Committee, to make it quite clear as to how I understood the Motion; and these are the words I used: We have no Petitioners, and I believe that it would be wrong to allow Petitioners to come forward of their own wish in this Committee. As I understand it, our role will be to hear the evidence of the Promoters; to discuss that evidence between ourselves; to decide whether we shall call any other witnesses of our own wish, so that we may clarify any points on which we are not satisfied…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23/ 11 /67; col. 1148.] This understanding of the Motion was agreed both by the Lord Chairman and by the House and we proceeded accordingly.

The first question which we, the Committee, had to decide upon was whether there were national demands for more yachting facilities, and if so, whether Brighton was a suitable site for a Marina. The Committee heard evidence as to the requirement for moorings, and the evidence showed that there is a general increase in yachting as a recreational pastime in Great Britain. The two main centres are the Solent and the Thames Estuary, where there are moorings for several thousand boats, but the exact numbers are not known at present. Between these two centres is the exposed South Coast, from Selsey Bill, in the West, to Ramsgate, in the East, where there are probably fewer than 1,000 moorings, and this total includes the small Marina at Newhaven. It was shown that a Marina at Brighton would be a considerable attraction to yachtsmen, as Brighton has very good rail and road communications and, time-wise, it is the nearest coastal resort to London. The catchment area would include South London, Sussex and the greater part of Surrey. As an estimate of the potential demand for moorings at Brighton we were given the figure of 2,520 by 1974. At this stage the Committee were satisfied that there was a demand for moorings at Brighton and that it was a suitable place to build a Marina.

The Committee heard evidence as to the viability of the scheme, both as a project for a yacht harbour alone, with ancillary requirements, and as the far bigger scheme which included reclamation of land for residential and recreational purposes. For planning purposes an assessment was made that the average length of boat which would use the Marina would be 27 feet, and that £5 per foot per annum would be the maximum fee that could be asked, taking a national average, which works out at £135 per annum per boat. If there were exceptional demand it might be possible to cater for 30-feet boats, with charges of £6 10s. 0d. to £7 10s. 0d. in fees, but this appeared to be unlikely. It was estimated that 1,800 moorings at 27 feet could be provided in the inner basin allowing reasonable room for manœuvre.

Apart from this, facilities for the modern yachtsman must be taken into account; facilities such as repair yards, chandlers' shops, accommodation of various kinds, with hot baths, garaging, yacht club, public houses and restaurants. Evidence was given and tables were handed in of estimates by two firms for expenditure and return on capital for the Marina and ancillary works, and, in comparison, for the harbour and foreshore works, which included the larger recreational plan envisaged in the Bill. For the Marina works, expenditure was estimated at £6,669,000 and income at £348,400, giving a return on capital of 5.2 per cent. On the full scheme the estimated expenditure was £13.506,000 and the return on capital was 8.9 per cent. Evidence was given, and fully accepted by the Committee, that no company would feel that the harbour alone would be a viable scheme, and this point was agreed by the Corporation. The Committee at this stage agreed that the full scheme must be accepted or the Bill would fall.

My Lords, the Committee then heard evidence from the Financial Director of Allied Lands Holdings, which company became seriously interested in the Brighton Marina in October, 1966, and has a 74 per cent. interest in the Brighton Marina Company which was acquired in March of this year, making it a subsidiary of Allied Lands. In evidence, the Financial Director stated that the percentages quoted by the architects were only for letting the buildings listed in the Bill, and that his company would look to a percentage of about 15 per cent. by granting building leases, subject to approval by the company's architects, and in some cases taking a percentage of the gross income of any project carried out on the site.

The Committee considered the financial aspect of the full scheme, and gave anxious thought to the large sum involved in the completion of the whole scheme as divulged by the evidence and the ability of the company to carry out the project. The Committee cline to the conclusion that as, under Clause 57, the company had to give 28 days' notice of their intention to start the works detailed in Part II of this Bill, and provide the Corporation with such documents and information as may be requisite to enable the Corporation to assess the probable cost of the works and the financial resources which are and will be available to the company for the purposes of the works, the future of the works was assured. Those works, of course, go as far as the marine works, the approaches from the land and the cutting through of the cliff. Apart from this safeguard, two members of the Corporation will be on the board of the company, which will give the Corporation a strong voice, in the development of the Marina.

Maybe it would be right at this moment to state the terms of lease of the site to the company. The Corporation shall lease the land for 125 years. For the first five years the rent will be a peppercorn rent. For the next five years the rent will be £3,000 a year. Thereafter, in addition to the above rent, the company shall pay to the Corporation 30 per cent. of the amount by which the net income exceeds 12 per cent. on the capital cost of development. This last proviso (which the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, did not mention) indicated that in the view of the Corporation the estimate of profit stated in evidence by the financial director was not an impossible one. The Committee were satisfied that no sale of assets could take place until the construction of the works detailed in Clauses 5, 6 and 7 had been completed, and then only under the terms of the Bill.

My Lords, this left the Committee with the question of the unique character and environs of Brighton, and they decided to visit the site, which they did on December 6. They viewed the whole site from the road at the top of the cliff and at shore level, from Black Rock swimming pool. We came to the conclusion that from a visual point of view there could be little objection to the site. It would be hidden from any of the houses on the cliff, as they stand well back, except for the top Hats of the Marine Buildings, a large block of flats which would have a view of some of the buildings. Naturally, the part of the harbour extending into the sea would be visible, but it is hard to surmise that this, together with the moored yachts, would be objectionable.

So far as noise is concerned, naturally there can be no definite judgment, but it appeared that the cliff would blanket the sound of activities to a great degree; and since the site is some distance away from inhabited areas, the nuisance should be minimal. We also viewed the approach routes and studied the one-way traffic system which would be put into use to facilitate entrance to the Marina. We had heard evidence in Committee from the Town Clerk that the system as suggested had been contemplated for some years, and on our visit it appeared that the scheme contemplated would cause the least possible disturbance to householders. The entry to the Marina would be by an underpass under Marine Drive and a cut in the cliffs near to Black Rock. The fact that the company had agreed to subscribe the one-way traffic circuit to the amount of £250,000, and that the Corporation felt that this system would in any event be necessary to Brighton in the near future, led the Committee to the conclusion that, apart from the initial disturbance, the new roads would be of advantage to the community as a whole.

The Committee noted that car-parking facilities for 3,600 cars were to be provided on the site, and they heard evidence that the Corporation had no plans for further car parks on the cliffs in connection with this scheme. The Committee were satisfied that there need be no intrusion by car-parking in historic squares.

At this stage the Committee reviewed the evidence and felt that, in order to carry out the Instruction, they should hear some evidence from others than the Promoters. As Chairman, I had received a number of letters offering evidence, and with the concurrence of the Committee, I asked Lord Holford and Professor Cun- liffe, both residents and ratepayers in Brighton, to submit written evidence and subject themselves to cross-examination by counsel for the Promoters, and, of course, answer any questions which the Committee wished to ask. It appeared to the Committee that the main factor in this evidence was that both were disturbed that if the scheme was approved, some extension along the foreshore might result. In fact a small township was mentioned. The Committee satisfied themselves from evidence that no extension could be made without planning authority, ministerial permission and a new Parliamentary Bill.

My Lords, after careful consideration the Committee were of opinion that the Bill should proceed. I realise that there is in this scheme an element of speculation, but I cannot believe that anyone who had gone through the first amount of works which is the Marine site, and which is fully covered in the Bill, would not want to carry on and deal with the whole situation as is detailed on the model and in the Bill. I hope that I have been able to explain to your Lordships what the Committee felt in this Bill, and I trust that you will give it a Third Reading.


My Lords, before the noble Lord concludes, I wonder whether I might ask him one question. It is whether the Committee sought to obtain any evidence, or obtained any evidence, about alternative methods of subsidising the short-fall in the Marina income, other than by expropriating a large portion of the public beach and building on it.


My Lords, frankly speaking, I think that the Committee was responsible for looking at the Bill and hearing the evidence, and it would have been beyond our terms of reference to try to find alternative methods of dealing with the situation. We had to go by the evidence and by the Bill.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships will agree that it is not one of my responsibilities to take part in any discussion on the merits of a Private Bill, but as a Motion has been put down to reject the Bill on Third Reading, I should like to intervene briefly to remind the House about some of the procedural aspects of the Bill and some of the procedural implications of the noble Lord's Motion.

Those who wish to oppose Private Bills—and this is a very general statement which applies not only to the Bill under consideration by your Lordships this afternoon—and those who advise them how to do so are faced by a dilemma. When the Bill is read in your Lordships' House a second time, they are told that it is better to leave it to a Select Committee, who will have the opportunity of hearing the witnesses and the argument of counsel. Then on Third Reading, when the Select Committee have reported (as the position is this afternoon), they are told that they should not oppose the Bill because it has been approved by a Select Committee of the House. I sympathise with anyone in this dilemma. I can only say that it follows inevitably from the long established procedure by which Parliament considers Private Bills. The effect of this procedure—and I should like to underline this—is that it must ultimately be left to a Select Committee to adjudicate on a Private Bill, as they have the advantage of hearing witnesses and the evidence and counsel in argument, whereas, of course, the House has not.

If I may revert to the Bill which is now under consideration, your Lordships will appreciate that procedurally the Bill is unusual because, although it has given rise to a great deal of controversy, it has not been petitioned against in this House. In view of the controversial character of the Bill and of the Instruction moved by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, on the Second Reading, I reported to the House that, though unopposed, it should be dealt with as an opposed Bill and considered by a Select Committee. Subsequently, as the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, has pointed out, the House agreed to a Motion in my name which gave the Committee authority to hear evidence other than that submitted by the Promoters. The purpose of this admittedly exceptional procedure was to make quite sure that the Committee would be able to hear all sides of the case. I should like to emphasise this point, because I think that the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, was not quite satisfied that the Committee was able to hear all sides of the case.


No, my Lords, the point that was troubling me, and perhaps other people, was that counsel appeared only on one side. I asked about this when the question of calling further evidence was raised. The evidence given was the evidence of only one side except for the two witnesses on what I might call planning and amenity questions, whom the Committee themselves called. They never heard, and never could hear, any advocacy against the Bill or any evidence against it other than what I hope I am describing fairly as evidence they happened to find.


My Lords, the fact that they could not hear more than one party was because there was no Petition against the Bill. The exceptional procedure which I have just described was to enable the Committee to hear all sides of the case and, if necessary, Witnesses who would put the case against the Bill, in spite of the fact that there was no Petition and therefore no party to oppose the Bill.


My Lords, would the noble Earl not agree that one of the difficulties is that to mount a case of this nature, requiring an enormous examination of fact, requires a great deal of money? I suspect that this is one of the reasons why there was no Petitioner. This seems to me to be one of the weaknesses of our whole present system of trying to elucidate the truth.


My Lords, if the noble Lord is suggesting that there are defects in our procedure, making the payment of large sums necessary to brief counsel and so on, that is really a matter for the Promoters and the parties, who have the responsibility for putting their case in the best way they can before the Select Committee on Private Bills.


My Lords, my point is that in order to have "demoters", as it were, some means has to be established by which one can pay for it. This is a fault of the system of Parliament, and has nothing to do with this Select Committee.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that it has nothing to do with this Committee—that was the point which I thought he had in mind—and that he was making a much more general observation. The House has before it a Special Report from the Select Committee, from which it will be seen that in addition to hearing and considering the evidence submitted by the Promoters—I think that it is important to note that the Committee took advantage of this exceptional procedure—they also heard two other witnesses of their choice, the noble Lord, Lord Holford, and Professor Cunliffe.

I am afraid that it is my duty to repeat what has been said on similar occasions by my predecessors in this Office. There have indeed been a few attempts to challenge the Third Reading of a Private Bill, but my researches show that at least for the last fifty years no Private Bill has been rejected by your Lordships' House on Third Reading. On very rare occasions a Private Bill has been thrown out or substantially amended on Second Reading, but never on Third Reading.

The Select Committee sat for two days to hear the evidence submitted by the Promoters and spent another day visiting the site of the proposed Marina. They met for a further day to hear the evidence given by the noble Lord, Lord Holford, and Professor Cunliffe, which I think shows the thoroughness with which the Select Committee addressed themselves to their task. The House will also appreciate that the Committee gave careful consideration to the Instruction moved by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, to which I have referred, and to which they have alluded in their Special Report.

If the House were to agree to the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, I must point out that they would be making two assumptions which are contrary to the accepted practice of this House in dealing with Private Bills. The first is that after hearing numerous witnesses and the arguments of counsel and considering the Bill and the Instruction at length, as this Committee did, and visiting the site, the Committee came to a wrong decision. The second assumption is that the House is more likely to make the right decision after one after- noon's debate and having heard no witnesses and, of course, not having visited the site. These are the procedural considerations in relation to the established practice of the House which I am sure your Lordships will wish to bear in mind when considering a Motion to oppose the Third Reading of a Private Bill.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl one question before he sits down? Has he noticed that in the particular case I referred to, in 1955, in which the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, offered some observations a trifle inconsistent with what has been said to-day, he was opposed by the then Lord President of the Council, the Marquess of Salisbury, who said this: The point raised by the noble Lord is a perfectly simple one—namely, has the House any interest—'discretion' is probably the right word—in this Bill once the Select Committee has reported? The answer is that the Select Committee is a Select Committee of the House, and the House is, as it were, the sovereign body in the matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14/7/55; cols. 778–9.] The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, then went on to state (and my noble friend the Lord Chairman will find it in Erskine May, second edition) that this is a power that ought not to be exercised unless there are new and special considerations. I beg leave to think that in this case there are new and special considerations, and further, that the doctrine expounded by the Lord Chairman, to whom I owe and pay the greatest respect, would in effect prevent the public interest from being represented by advocacy or evidence in the case of an unopposed Bill.


My Lords, I venture to think that there is nothing in the Statement which the noble Lord read out, made by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in 1955, which contradicted anything that I said. I agree that this House is the sovereign body in relation to a Private Bill, as it is in relation to a Public Bill. That is not a matter where I think there would be any difference of opinion.


My Lords, before the noble Earl resumes his seat, may I put this question to him? He will remember that at the time when the Committee which selects the Select Committee were discussing this matter I pointed out to him—and afterwards I put it in writing, at his request—that in a case where the national interest is involved, rather than some private interest, of the kind usually reasonably well provided with the funds for petitioning against a Bill, there is really no provision by which evidence can be called and arguments put. It has been suggested that this is a case of that kind, where the national interest is involved. The noble Earl, the Chairman of Committees, said that this was obviously a point of substance, and that he would go into it. I should be grateful if he could tell us whether he has been able to go into it, and whether he has been able to evolve any scheme by which, in a case where the national interest is involved, witnesses can be called and argument made, if necessary at the national expense.


My Lords, perhaps I might intervene at this stage. This is not the first time that I have seen your Lordships in trouble on a Private Bill or a hybrid Bill. I would appeal to noble Lords to recognise that we are engaged in a Third Reading debate. There may be deficiencies in our procedure, but the fact is that this procedure has existed for many years, and it is a little late, when we are actually debating the Bill, to start trying to change that procedure. This is not to suggest for one moment that the point the noble Lord has made is not a valid one. I support the noble Earl, the Lord Chairman of Committees, in saying—he may have used the expression Morton's Fork or not—that we are impaled on this. It is the simple proposition (I have heard it stated on other occasions) that your Lordships have by a sort of self-denying ordinance decided that the full House is a place where it is difficult to arrive at as good a judgment as one of our own Select Committees.

Our Select Committees make their reports, and have always been treated with the greatest respect and seriousness. It remains in your Lordships' hands not to respect their decision. It is perfectly open for your Lordships to follow the procedure, which is open, and adopt the Amendment. The fact that it has not been done has arisen from the deliberate policy that your Lordships have for a long time followed in this matter. I hope, therefore, that the debate might now be allowed to proceed. It will be open to noble Lords who regard the procedure as unsatisfactory to make the point in their speeches, but I f eel that we should be in grave trouble of a debate on Third Reading turned into what is fast becoming a series of interesting points of Order: and there is no one to prevent this from being done.


My Lords, perhaps on that point I can support what the noble Lord the Leader of the House has said. There is a perfectly well recognised procedure by which the public interest is safeguarded—and I have often seen it done when a Bill is produced on Second Reading: that where it is considered by any Member of the House that the Bill raises matters of national interest, then it is open to any Member to draw attention to it and, as is often done, to move a Special Instruction to the Committee that this ought to be considered. This has been done over and over again, and it is surely the regular procedure of the House. It could perfectly well have been followed on Second Reading in this case.



My Lords, I should like to put a question to the noble Earl, the Chairman of Committees, because I am not sure where we stand. I agree with the noble Lord the Leader of the House that we should not get bogged down in a debate on Third Reading with questions of procedure. He has said, and I think he is absolutely right, that the House is sovereign and can, if it wishes, decide not to accept the Report of the Committee. At the same time, I must say that on a matter like this it seems that a Third Reading debate is something which is rather pointless if that power can never be exercised. But I do not gather that he goes as far as saying that.


My Lords, I chose my words with the greatest care. I said that the House by its own will had decided that it would not, as a general practice, ignore or reject the report of its Committees. It remains open to this House to do so, and only this House can decide; there is no one who can rule to the contrary. All I was trying to do at this stage (I do not doubt that other speakers will return to this matter) was to encourage a return to the debate. Of course, in another place Mr. Speaker would by now have called the name of the next speaker.

4.56 p.m.


My Lords, I am thankful to the noble Lord the Leader of the House that I am not obliged to enter into these procedural matters. But I do support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, and I support it warmly. The warmth of my feeling might perhaps be judged by the fact that, after a week-end's study, I find no occasion on which I was in the same Lobby with him in another place. Moreover, I have harboured a certain resentment for sixty years, because sixty years ago he tried to kick my shins, unsuccessfully, when we were at Eton together—and when I say "shins", I am perhaps using a Parliamentary expression for another part of my anatomy.

That the Prince Regent would turn in his grave at this development is perhaps a contingency which would be accepted with some equanimity by noble Lords in most parts of the House. Nevertheless, he was one of those responsible for making Brighton into the delightful resort which it now is, and which, if this Bill is not amended, it will cease to be in the future. The generations following the Prince Regent have at least succeeded in keeping it one of the really few attractive enclaves of civilisation on our much exploited and despoiled coast. The devastation which this kind of development will bring in its train can be seen, for instance, in the South of France. Villages and roads which I used to enjoy motoring through as a young man have been completely destroyed. Many of these areas look like the environs of an industrial city. That is the main point.

The other point is that my worst instincts are aroused at the sophistry which is used to support the scheme. I must confess straight away to my noble friends that I am no yachtsman. My motto about yachting has always been: "Nothing under 30,000 tons." This arises from my experience at sea in small yachts in my earlier life—experiences which I think would have ended abruptly the life of Lord Nelson. So I came to a conclusion about yachting early. I know nothing about it. But I am wholly willing to accept that a yacht anchorage would be a great addition to the amenities of the South Coast.

It is when we come to the idea that the yacht anchorage cannot be sustained—I am told that is rather an old expression; I ought to say "cannot be made viable", because that is the modern jargon—unless a casino and other developments are to be added on the beach, that I find myself in violent disagreement. This is what I describe as sophistry. If this is allowed we shall soon find a case where the vicar says that he cannot run his parish at a profit unless he is allowed to build a betting shop as an annex to the vestry. I do not like this at all. A new race of developers will be born who will start on some desirable addition to our towns or villages and add a few bingo halls, petrol pumps and fun fairs to sustain the amenities. Vandalism reinforced and supported by sophistry will, I hope, prove too much for your Lordships' stomachs, too much for your Lordships to swallow, and I beg your Lordships to give due weight to Lord Mitchison's idea that the matter should be postponed for six months.


My Lords, I did not put down my name to speak, but perhaps your Lordships will allow me to.




My Lords, my name is the next on the list of speakers, and I am perfectly willing to allow the noble Lord to speak before me if he would like to do so.


My Lords, I think we had better stick to the "batting order". We got into trouble on a similar matter yesterday. If a noble Lord has not put his name down to speak, there is usually time for him to do so at the end.

5.2 p.m


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, warns me that I may be in some danger of insulting the Committee by disagreeing with them and wanting to support Lord Mitchison's Amendment. Nothing is further from my mind. I particularly do not want to insult the Committee by rejecting their advice. What I want to do, in rejecting their advice, is to suggest that there is something wrong with the whole system by which we try to elucidate the truth in Parliament with regard to matters of this nature. I was frankly astonished when the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, said that the Committee were never in any doubt as to their capabilities to do this job, because it seems to me that it was a job which was not capable of being done. The reason why it was not capable of being done is that it was totally impossible for that Committee to have evidence of facts given to them in the circumstances in which the Committee worked.

As the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, pointed out, the financial case put by the Promoters was subjected to virtually no cross-examination at all. I know that certain noble Lords on that Committee put extremely pertinent and valuable, and indeed searching, questions. But there were two reasons why their questions were neither searching enough nor extensive enough in the kind of cross-examination they should have given. The first has already been mentioned by the noble Lord. The Committee are, after all, sitting in a judicial position, listening to evidence, and they cannot themselves follow up cross-examination with the necessary rigour. Secondly, they did not have the facts. It is no good anybody thinking he can ask searching questions unless he knows what searching questions to ask. My suggestion is that this Committee did not have, and could not have, the facts at their disposal to ask the searching questions that they needed to ask. The financial case put up by the Promoters was supported by two estimates which are described in the Report as independent. But, my Lords, they were not independent: they were both, I think, estimates that were asked for by the Promoters. To that extent people were retained by the Promoters to produce estimates. Those estimates may be very good or they may be very bad; and it is interesting that they are both very near to each other. But this is neither here nor there. Those two estimates, as I say, were not subject to any kind of rigorous cross-examination.

I know that the Bill is treated as an opposed Bill, and therefore the Committee must be allowed to ask for witnesses; and indeed they called two most valuable witnesses on the subject of planning and on the subject of amenity. But they did not ask for financial evidence to be put before them, because, as I suggested before, to produce that financial evidence would require a great deal of time, money and ability. My criticism is not that the Committee did not ask for that financial evidence to be given in rebuttal of the two estimates put forward by the Promoters. The machinery for doing that does not exist, when you think of the time and money that has to be put up to do it. This was the point of my intervention.

The reason why there were no Petitioners at this stage of the Bill was that to mount this kind of operation against the Promoters would have required more money than was available. This is one of the great dangers of our Parliamentary system, and it is revealed in other ways. Look at the Ferranti scandal. Look at the recent scandal of Bristol-Siddeley. Parliament often has to accept estimates put before it with no means of, as it were, cross-examining those estimates and finding out whether in fact they mean anything at all. In the case of Ferranti and of Bristol-Siddeley we know that those estimates meant nothing at all, or at any rate nothing at all from the point of view of the general public's interest. The same thing is happening here with regard to Allied Land Properties. They are doing exactly the same thing: they are making an estimate which they have put up and for which they have made a very strong case. But under the system by which our Committees work it is totally impossible to challenge that estimate. This is not the fault of the Committee; it is not the fault of noble Lords who sit on the Committee. It is the fault of the system, and until we can get, not only with regard to our Select Committee but with regard to Committees in Parliament, cross-examination, if necessary, under oath, of civil servants, Ministers and so forth, we shall not be able to ask searching questions, because we do not know what searching questions to ask. This is exactly the position here.


My Lords, on the question which the noble Lord is discussing, the Committee did have evidence from two marine engineers, who gave separate estimates for the cost of works, and their estimates came very close to each other.


My Lords, I quite agree. But I am suggesting that those estimates are not truly independent, because they were estimates asked for by the Promoters. They may have been very good estimates—I am not suggesting that they were not. What I am suggesting is that they were not subjected to rigorous cross-examination, because the Committee had not the means to cross-examine upon them.

The land development company has made its case, and it has not been rebutted because it could not be rebutted; and it is now asking Parliament to change the law in its favour. Parliament, which is being asked to change the law in the company's favour, has demonstrated perfectly clearly, to me at any rate, that it was unable in fact effectively to question the case on which this proposition is based. I cannot help thinking that that is a most extraordinary state of affairs. So much for that. The Committee accepted the evidence put before them because it was difficult for them to do otherwise, since there was no other evidence. And I think I have given your Lordships the reasons as to why there was no other.

The Committee then go on with a line of argument which again seems to me to be fallacious. They have said that the proposition for the Marina would not be viable without the onshore works. But what I want to know is: Viable for whom? If there is a great demand for this Marina at Brighton—and there seems to me to be no doubt of this. Furthermore, there seems to be no doubt, so far as I can see, having read all the evidence, that everyone agrees that probably Black Rock is the best place in Brighton—why cannot the yachtsmen themselves pay for it? The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, started an intervention to ask this very point. If, on the other hand, they cannot afford it, and it is a proper subject for subsidy, let us have a straight subsidy and know where we are. I am all for subsidising sport, if necessary. That is what Governments, corporations and local authorities are for. But let us not have the project paid for in this under-cover way, in which the public are being asked to foot the bill by giving a franchise to a private company to exploit something which successive Governments have said should not be exploited.

Thirdly, I am not happy about what the Committee has said on the subject of control. The Committee has said that this will be quite all right; Brighton Corporation will ensure nothing nasty happens. My Lords, to hell with that! Brighton Corporation are partners in this. Previously I used the word "racket". I do not want to be rude to anybody, but Brighton Corporation are partners in what I regard as a dubious proposition. Are they now to be the guardians of what happens at this Marina?


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? Is he suggesting that a creditable local authority like the Brighton Corporation has not the interests of the local inhabitants at heart?


My Lords, they may think they have the interests of the local inhabitants at heart, but they may well be wrong; they may do things that they think are in the interests of the local inhabitants but which clearly are not. I am saying they are not the best guardians of this interest.


Then, my Lords where are we going in local government?


My Lords, may I put one last proposition? If we do in fact pass this Bill the project should be put out to public tender instead of a franchise being given to one company to operate as a monopoly. If this project is going ahead, it seems to me that that might to some extent offset the question of too much profit going into the wrong hands and the question of whether the subsidy is in the right hands. As I said on Second Reading, I feel strongly that this Bill is against the public interest, and that is why I looked so closely at the Committee's findings. I could not accept those findings because they were unable to ask the sort of questions which I felt should be asked. That is the reason why I support the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, in his Motion to-day, and I hope others will support it also.

5.13 p.m.


My Lords, before I add a word or two I should first like to thank my noble friend Lord Grenfell and his Committee for giving us the benefit of their Report on this difficult and controversial subject. I recollect that the last time the noble Lord was Chairman of a Select Committee it was in connection with a controversial matter with regard to enclosing water at Cow Green in Teesdale. Now he must be finding that enclosing water in the sea is almost as controversial as enclosing it on land. I should also like to thank the noble Lord for his speech, which of course cogently supports his Report.

I had three queries which I tried to balance in my mind against the benefits of the Marina, and I must acknowledge to the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison (who I am sorry to see is not in his place at the moment) that he has added two more which seem to me to be cogent. His major query was whether the Promoters have the financial capacity and the ability to carry out the scheme. This must be a matter of judgment, and after carefully reading the evidence and the Report I am prepared to accept the advice of the Select Committee. I think they formed the best opinion that can be formed, but I would readily acknowledge to the noble Lord, Lord Henley, that this procedure is not perfect in every respect. The Select Committee has done a first-class job within the limits of the procedure. It is a matter of choice whether or not one accepts it, and I am prepared to accept it.

With regard to the other important point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, that this is really against regional development policy, surely the Building Control Act 1966 gave the Government, any Government, adequate control. That Act requires that a licence must be given for any project over £500,000, and quite obviously a Government would not give such a licence unless they were satisfied that at that time it was in the national interests.

My own three queries were, first, the major one which was dealt with at length on Second Reading, about enclosing a length of the seashore. I am sure this ought to be debated and decided in Parliament because it is obviously of great importance. My second query was dealt with by my noble friend Lord Chandos, and concerns the location of Brighton, and the third query is about the scale of the developments not directly connected with the Marina. These are obviously the three major queries, and in my opinion it all depends on how strongly I want to see a Marina at Brighton. I confess I do strongly wish to see one the re. I believe that sailing is an admirable sport. Like my noble friend Lord Chandos, I am not a sailor—I am quite happy to leave it to other people, but it is a sport which is growing rapidly. I see a good deal of this as Chairman of the Thames Conservancy. We do not have many reaches of the Thames where it s possible to sail on the river, but there are some, and of course we have had a tremendous increase in small boats on the river in the last ten years. In fact, we are pretty well up to capacity, so I know that increasingly people must go to the seaside in order to sail or to boat, whichever they wish to do, and I should like to see this desire provided for.

Here I differ from the noble Lord, Lord Henley. I feel it is such a small minority of the community who wish to indulge in this sport, admirable as it is, that this is something I would hesitate to ask the community to pay for, either by taxes or out of the rates. Therefore, I would not expect Brighton Corporation to bear the cost of subsidising this. We all agree that the Marina cannot be self-supporting, so either one puts the balance on the rates or taxes or one gives a private Promoter the chance to do it, with some ancillary development on which he will make the balance of his revenue. This is a matter of taste, but I think the ratepayers in any locality, Brighton or anywhere else, would complain like mad if they had to bear such a cost. I notice that even the noble Lord, Lord Holford, complains that at present he finds the burden of rates heavy—I think they have doubled in the last ten years—and I am quite sure the ratepayers would complain a lot more if they had this additional burden put upon them.

I feel I should not take much time to talk about the enclosure of the seashore, which was debated on Second Reading, but if we are to have a harbour and a Marina inevitably a part of the seashore must be enclosed. It is unusual to find a site like Chichester, where this can be done inland. I think we all agree that if this Marina is going to be on the South Coast, Black Rock is probably about as good a place as one could choose. I remember that in days gone by I used to bathe from the beaches at Brighton and Hove, but nobody ever bathed from Black Rock. You really could not. If the proposition was to enclose a part of the beach in front of Brighton or Hove I would feel very differently about it, but at Black Rock we are making the minimal interference with the general enjoyment of the seashore; and wanting, as I do, a harbour for yachts, I am prepared to accept (with proper examination of the merits) the enclosure of some of this seashore for that purpose.

With regard to the location of Brighton, on which my noble friend Lord Chandos feels so keenly, I do not agree with him. I lived at Brighton for some years. I think it is great fun living at Brighton; it is a most exciting place. But Brighton is not entirely composed of elegant Regency Squares. The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, said the Prince Regent would turn in his grave, but, God bless my soul!, when you look at the Pavilion you could not find anything much more of an extravaganza. This is part of Brighton; it is the fact that it is an extravaganza which makes it the exciting place it is. I should have thought that this really is not out of character with Brighton. Brighton is a very strong place. It has all kinds of things in it, and none the worse for that. And again putting the Marina at Black Rock means that it is out of sight; nobody's view of the sea is going to be spoiled. I should not have thought that it was objectionable from the amenity point of view. I would join with the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, in paying tribute to Brighton Corporation. I think they are very conscious of the value of their heritage and do their best to take care of it and add to it.

The third query—and this has been developed at length already—is the question of the scale of the development and directly concerned with the Marina, and I suspect this was the major point on which the noble Lord, Lord Holford, felt doubt in the evidence he gave; and I look forward with interest to hearing him speak in this debate. The Select Committee, who had the best chance of look- ing at this point, are quite firm on this, that this degree of development seems about right.

There must be an element of speculation in this, as the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, said. Nobody can be sure, but these people are prepared to risk their money and in the course of doing so they are going to build something that we all agree is desirable, that is, this yacht harbour. It seems to me that Clause 57 gives Brighton Corporation complete control to see that the shore development does not go ahead without a Marina being built. The only question is whether there is enough steam in the Promoters, the money and drive and ability to do the job. This is part of the major argument that the noble Lord, Lord Mitichison, put to us. One cannot tell. These people have a good reputation of doing big things, and I should have thought they were entitled to the benefit of the doubt, that they have got the steam in them to do it, the ability and the finance, and as they are going to do, at any rate partially, something we want we ought to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I listened with great interest to the advice given by the noble Lord Chairman, Lord Listowel, who said that if we rejected this Bill on Third Reading it would be the first time that he has any record of this happening—certainly it has not happened in the last fifty years. Therefore there must be a considerable bias at this stage of the proceedings that we should give this Bill a Third Reading, allow these people to go ahead and see what they can do, with the necessary safeguards that are very completely written' in, both from the local and national point of view. Therefore, I support the Third Reading.

5.23 p.m.


My Lords, first of all I should like to thank the Chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, for his Report. Listening to the debate and reading the Report, although I am against this Bill I have tried to see the other side. But I must say that I find it rather difficult, after the absolutely brilliant and devastating speech by my noble friend Lord Mitchison. I cannot say that I have really changed my opinion about the project, because the principles involved are really very divisive, the enclosure of a public foreshore by a private development company. Although it is not the first precedent, it is a bad follow up even if it is not the first one. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chandos, that by this argument we could mutilate the whole coastline of Britain. Private developers have a distinctly roving eye, some might say a predatory eye, and we should be very careful and reluctant to bulldoze some of the wild natural scenery of our coastline.

On this point the Select Committee did not convince me at all, and I say that with the greatest respect for the Committee. In fact I think those for and against this Bill stand exactly as they did before the Report came out. Some of those who do not regard the words "private enterprise for profit" as dirty words still do not produce instant genuflexion when they are said. We do not invariably put the interests of business before pleasure, and so I cannot believe, nor can I accept, that no other place could have been found for the Marina than that particular spot at Black Rock.

But supposing we were to grant that a Marina at Black Rock was desirable, can we really accept the necessity for all these ancillary developments to pay for that Marina? There is much talk to-day about how democratic sailing and yachting has become as a sport, and how we are considering the modest boatmen who will benefit. But from the evidence of the Report I could not adduce this at all. The minimum rents to be charged still seem to me to be very high for the more modest boatman. I agree that yachting is a very healthy and even a very romantic sport, and it is very good that more people can afford to enjoy it. But, again judging from the evidence of the Committee, it seemed to me either that the company were going to lose a lot of money if moderate rents were charged, or that the people the company said they had in mind would not be able to afford to go there.

It was said in the evidence that a casino was essential for a yachtsman. Now, my Lords, what sort of nonsense is that? I am not against casinos so long as people enjoy losing money as much as they enjoy making it, but is a casino a "must" when you have a Marina? simply cannot see that at all.


My Lords, will the Baroness refer to the point in the evidence where that is said? I was a member of the Select Committee, and certainly I do not remember it being put so strongly as that.


My Lords, I think if the noble Lord looks at the evidence he will find that it was put as strongly as that. The answer was, "Yes, I think it is essential". Those of us who still have doubts about the scheme do not see this development as a paradise at all, when there will be perhaps 3,500 cars and 2,500 boats in the harbour. So the Select Committee Report only serves really to reinforce my original anxieties about the Brighton Marina rather than to overcome them.

Also, the Instruction to the Committee still seems to me to remain unanswered. I think that the works proposed and many of the provisions of the Bill go far beyond what is necessary to provide the harbour. That was one of the Instructions to be considered. I think that Black Rock is a very unique spot in Brighton and part of its character—and here may I say that the noble Lord the Chairman of the Committee suggested in his explanation that those who were against this Bill on the Third Reading had not been to see the spot. I do not think that is quite accurate; I think that everyone who is speaking here on the Bill would have been to see the spot. Black Rock is one of the places where when walking one can get a little solitude, and I know solitude is becoming a luxury which only the rich can obtain today.

I believe there has been another small factor which influenced people who are in favour of this gigantic project. It was that beautiful model which was displayed in the Committee Room upstairs. I think that some people have succumbed to what I call the lure of the miniature. If you take a development project which is half a mile along the coast and a third of a mile in the sea and reduce it to about two yards square, it looks what the Americans call "cute". But this doll's Marina is not the thing we are going to get; rather we are going to get an octopus of a township rising from the sea and costing all this money, which is not so much a risk as a gamble by the promoting company. I hope that in the future, when Governments will have to consider recreational activities as we begin to enjoy more and more leisure, every time we consider such amenities they will not need to be financed by casinos, luxury flats and all the trappings of La dolce vita, and that we shall become more jealous of preserving the remaining parts of the wilder shores of our precious coastline.

5.31 p.m.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who has allowed me to take his place in the order of debate this afternoon. I do so because I have to address the Westminster Society at half past six, and it is an engagement I cannot break. Your Lordships will know from the Report of the Select Committee that I was in fact called by the Committee, along with Professor Cunliffe. We were extremely well received by the Committee, and I should like to pay a tribute to them for that. We were, however, the only independent witnesses, the others being witnesses called by the Promoters of the scheme. I produced a memorandum, which I think has been laid before your Lordships, and I was cross-examined on this by counsel for the Promoters. As Lord Henley has just said—only he blamed it on the system and not on me—I was not in a position to bring financial evidence to bear. It is extremely difficult to carry out valuations and do market research in a matter of this kind. Therefore, I had simply to make my case mainly on amenity and planning grounds.

I was not, however, in the least surprised that the Committee were convinced "by the financial evidence they heard", that the construction of the Marina, as they say at page 3 of their Report, would not be feasible without the additional income expected to accrue from the development of the foreshore as set out in the Bill. Had I been a member of that Committee, I think I should have been convinced by the financial evidence. In other words, the harbour itself, with its 1,800 moorings, with the marine stores, the garages, the repair shops, the clubs and the other accommodation for yachtsmen, was not calculated by the Promoters to bring in the 15 per cent. return which I think in the end they were aiming at.

The day after the hearing by the Select Committee I was reported in the Press as having changed my mind. This was fair comment, because I confess I had. Three and a half years ago I had welcomed the scheme for a yacht harbour and for the restoration to Brighton of something which it has lost; namely, a fishermen's quay. But I had most strongly objected to a site which was right in the middle of the beach that stretches across Kemptown right on the site of Madeira Drive. But when the site was moved to the east beyond Black Rock, I accepted it without reservation. Perhaps I should have had reservations, but I had no interest in particular in the scheme. The architects had produced the original drawings, and afterwards prepared the model which the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, has described as so seductive. I simply wanted Brighton to have the facility of a yacht harbour.

My reservations began as a result of the public inquiry in January, 1966, which I was not able to attend, and on reading the Minister's Decision Letter in September of the same year. They increased with the passage of the Bill in another place, where certain points which seemed to me to be important were not in fact argued. As it happened, I was abroad at the time of the postponed Second Reading of this Bill in your Lordships' House on July 20 last. But I read the debate, and I noted the Instruction to the Committee. Finally, quite recently, I read the evidence given to the Select Committee on behalf of Allied Land Holdings Limited, who have now taken over this project from the original Promoter, and the Brighton Corporation. So by the time I was called by the Committee last month—I want to be quite clear about this—I had in fact changed my mind. I admitted this when I was cross-examined by counsel for the Promoters.

I should like to take this opportunity of making absolutely clear to your Lordships, albeit with some brevity, what my change of view really amounted to. In the first place, I have not changed my mind about the attraction for Brighton of a safe harbour for boats; nor about the enterprise and the undoubted skill which will be required to construct it in that situation and to those dimensions. Secondly, if a Marina is built, I have not changed my mind about the site at Black Rock. Here, at least, one can take advantage of independent access from inland, whereas the earlier site meant that traffic could reach the Marina only by going in one direction, along Marine Drive to the East, and in the other passing that curiously thwarting roundabout opposite the Palace Pier. I do not think it was possible to site the Marina where it was originally to be sited.

Nor have I changed my mind about the need for ancillary buildings for the Marina. A modern harbour needs these, and they are provided in marinas all over the world: such things as stores and filling stations, car parks, yacht clubs and marine hotels and restaurants, and even places of amusement and exercise, and for food and drink for those who stay ashore; a swimming bath perhaps, which, one hopes, would be a little more attractive than the open bath which is at present sited at Black Rock. All these things can have a marine character; they belong to the sea. In a resort like Brighton such a place could be justified on the foreshore.

This brings me, at last, to the first point on which I have changed my views; namely, the importance to be attached to this question of economic feasibility. From the Promoters' point of view, I accept that this is everything. One can be led a long way towards acceptance of the Bill as it stands by the logic of this article. To summarise it, if you spend roughly £6½ million on marine works, and if the rent and charges from moorings are kept at a reasonable figure, then the return on the investment might be as low as 5.2 per cent., as was stated, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, or it might be a little more, depending on the length of the boats and so on.

But if the backland is fully developed, with shops and flats, and with entertainment of all sorts, so that the total investment rises to something like £13½ million, the overall return would be nearly 9 per cent.; it might be 10 per cent. As this type of development is more profitable, and the profitability grows with development, it might eventually rise to a figure which the Promoters desire. In other words, if more backland development is added, the return might rise to 15 per cent., which is where the Promoters, and presumably the Brighton Corporation, would wish it to be. The Corporation would receive 30 per cent. of the amount by which the net income of the lessees exceeds 12 per cent. on the capital cost of development. No one can quarrel on financial grounds with the logic of this argument. What one can quarrel with—and what I do quarrel with—is the conclusion that financial viability is the only criterion that matters in the public view of this case. I have no prejudice whatever against the Promoters—in fact, I think I have shown rather the contrary. But they are proposing to lease a very special and very limited parcel of land and sea and atmosphere, which—up until now—the public have valued precisely for its lack of development. These values are not expressed in figures; but they are values all the same.

Brighton has been called "London by the Sea"; and it is the sea which the millions come to enjoy in their sometimes odd ways—from the land, on the water, or even just by breathing the bracing air. It seems to me to be in the spirit of Brighton to invent ways in which people can enjoy the sea in greater numbers or more intensely or more actively; and a yacht harbour is one of them. Brighton, as has been said, is generous in scale as well as in spirit; and one would expect these public acres, on and beside the sea at Black Rock, to be developed in such a way as to provide a large number, and a great variety, of marine attractions, and to make them accessible to more people. This is why I am in favour of the yacht harbour. This is the justification for enclosing an open landscape by walls and turning natural resources into rental values. At the outset I thought that any form of development on the backland which would enable the Marina to pay its way could be justified. But I think now that the only justification for development on the dwindling coastal reserves of this small island is when that development intensifies people's awareness and enjoyment of wind and water, fishing and boats, and the things that go with the sea.

I believe, in short, that a distinction can be made, and should be made, between the two types of development. I am afraid that I am a little like the man who falls in love with a girl and then gradually comes to realise that, if he is going to set up house with her, he may be taking on also the mother-in-law and a whole host of undesired relations. So when the financial director of the Holding Company says in his evidence … our interest from an investment point of view would be in the shops and residential properties ", I accept it as a sensible and legitimate aim for the company to have. But I contend that this kind of town development can be carried out in areas of urban growth, or by redevelopment nearer the centre of Brighton: it does not justify, even by reclamation, the use of the foreshore.

Returning from Rottingdean by the undercliff walk—which this project, it is only fair to say, retains unaffected—it would not be in the least incongruous to see masts and sails, groynes, boat-houses and yacht clubs bordering the last half mile before emerging in Kemptown. But it would be a quite different experience to walk in the shadow of the rear wall of a multi-storey block of flats which comes between you and the sea. This is one reason why I think the Bill still requires amendment and why I support the Amendment so ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison.

The other reason can be stated very briefly indeed. It is that Brighton Corporation, for their own sake as well as for the sake of the Promoters, are more or less committed to balancing the less remunerative works, such as sea walls, by development of a more profitable kind. The judgment of future councils will not easily be able, any more than it does now, to weigh social costs against financial returns. And although any physical extension of the Marina, East or West, would require new approvals and further powers from Parliament, what is thought now to be desirable and viable will almost certainly be thought so again in fifteen, twenty or twenty-five years time—and for the same reasons. Even more so if the construction costs of this enormous project turn out to be higher than the Promoters have estimated. The precedent will have been established, not only for development of the coastline, but for planning consents based on the need for financial viability, rather than on the independent question of appropriate land use. One would like to see some permanent covenant against development, in favour of the foreshore and cliffs, as far as Rottingdean. For these two reasons, also, I hope that your Lordships will postpone the passing of this Bill.

5.47 p.m.


My Lords, our debate this afternoon has had running through it two threads. The first is the merits or demerits of the Bill before us, and the second is the merits or demerits of the existing long-standing procedures by means of which this House has examined the Bill. It is no part of my duty to say anything about the second thread, which has been dealt with by my noble friends, the Lord Chairman of Committees and the Leader of the House. It is an interesting topic which may be debated in general terms at a later time.

To turn to the merits or demerits of the Bill itself, I should like to put into focus the surrounding situation. The Bill put forward by the Promoters has been through the House of Commons and met with agreement there. It was sent by this House with an Instruction to the Committee. We have before us the Report of the Committee, and I join with other noble Lords in thanking the Committee for the work which they have done on our behalf. It is now un to the whole House to judge whether it agrees with the Committee's Report, bearing in mind the remarks of the Lord Chairman of Committees about the infrequency with which the House has omitted to agree with its Committees' Reports on Private Bills.

The Bill before us is not the only factor which will determine whether or not the Brighton Marina is built. There are three other "boons" (and for all I know there may be other factors; I must watch my step here, because this land is planted thick from coast to coast with laws) which have to be gone through. The first is planning permission. The Promoters already have outline planning permission for the Marina, and the attendant bits which are to pay for it, in the form in which it stands in the Bill. If they wanted to change the whole concept of it, or to take more land, or to do it in a radically different way, that would be a variation in outline planning permission and they would have to go back for another outline planning permission. Even if they do not want to vary it, they will still have to get from the local planning authority—in this case the Brighton Corporation—detailed planning permission on the drawings of the buildings, the precise location which they propose, and so on. That is a hoop which is extraneous to the Bill and which has already been gone through.

There are two other hoops extraneous to this Bill which have not yet been gone through. The first is the Harbours Act 1964, and the second is the Building Control Act 1966. The Harbours Act requires that any expenditure on providing a harbour above a certain financial level, which is a long way below what this harbour would cost, requires the consent of the Minister of Transport. I believe it has been reported in the Press—though I have not seen it myself—that the Minister of Transport intends to grant such a consent as soon as the Bill becomes law. I think I should inform the House that these Press reports are not founded on fact. The Minister of Transport proposes to consider the matter at an appropriate moment.

The last hoop to which I referred, the Building Control Act 1966, requires once again that any buildings in certain categories, which include this project—that is, apart from the harbour, which is dealt with by the Harbours Act; the remaining buildings fall under the Building Control Act—are subject to a financial ceiling which is way below what is intended here. So this will come under the Act and will require the consent of the Minister of Public Building and Works if they are to be built. He has not yet either given or withheld that consent, for the very simple reason that nobody has yet applied to him for it. Those two hoops beyond the Bill are a place—I do not say the only place; your Lordships' House is another such place—where the broad national economic considerations referred to by my noble friend Lord Mitchison can be taken into account.

In conclusion, I should like to say again, as I said on the Second Reading of the Bill, that this is a private Bill to promote a certain project, and from the general issue whether or not it ought to be promoted the Government consider that they ought to stand somewhat aloof. The long and the short of it is that the Government are neutral on this Bill and are content to leave the decision to the House, without any Persuasion one way or the other. The House will, of course, bear in mind the fact that it has already had recourse to its customary procedure for obtaining a detailed examination and evaluation of such a proposal.

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, it is unusual, to say the least of it, to have a debate of this kind on Third Reading. It is a Third Reading of this Bill which we are discussing, although it seems to me that some of the discussion has ranged somewhat wider than our terms of reference. Although I have the utmost sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Henley, who I am afraid is not here now, that there is certainly a good area for discussion as to where would be a good place for a harbour on the South coast, that is not the question with which we are concerned this evening.

This matter has already been discussed on a number of occasions in this House, and it has received treatment of kind which I believe to be almost unprecedented, in that not only has it been referred to a Select Committee, but a Special Instruction was issued to the Select Committee by the House last, year. Before the Bill reached this Home the proposals had already received approval by all those people and bodies properly concerned with them. It had passed the planning authority, it had passed through all its stages in another place, and I think it had even received the blessing—and the noble Lord, Lord Holford, wig correct me if I am wrong—of the Royal Fine Art Commission. Under the Bill the local authority will have two seats upon the board of directors of the company, so that planning authority will continue to be represented after the scheme has gone forward.

In view of all this, I really cannot think that the present stage provides a very appropriate opportunity for reopening discussions. Like the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, I cannot help but remind my noble friend Lord Mitchison—and we are friends—that he has on more than one occasion reminded us that in his view your Lordships have no status to enable you to interfere with the democratic processes of Parliament, and I cannot see how he can feel able to depart from his contention in this case.

I gather, also, that it has been suggested that Canadian interests are behind the proposals for this development. But the Allied Land Company is a British company, and although I believe it has a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary company, that company is in no way concerned with this enterprise. Although one of the directors of Allied Land is Canadian born, he and members of his family, consisting of his mother and sister, between them own less than 1 per cent. of the company's capital which is split up among, I think, very nearly 10,000 shareholders. So it cannot be said to be in the hands of any one individual or body. When I spoke with this director on the telephone yesterday morning, he told me that, so far as he was aware, there was no other Canadian interest whatsoever in the matter, and I am a little concerned to know how this rumour originated and where.


My Lords, I doubt whether it matters very much, but it originated in the evidence of Mr. Martens, who said that Close Brothers, who are a Canadian company and investment bankers with offices in London, had a substantial interest. When a friend of mine rang them up they said: Yes, it was substantial; it was controlling.


My Lords, where the noble Lord and I disagree is that Close Brothers is not a Canadian company.


In form it is not. But it is in fact.


This is a matter which perhaps appeals to a lawyer, but it does not appeal to me.


It appeals to the Stock Exchange Gazette


In any case, my Lords, I can think of worse currencies than Canadian dollars. I do not suppose the noble will disagree with that. I think that to raise the matter at this stage for further discussion is really less than complimentary to the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, and his colleagues who spent so much effort and time and care in their deliberations on the Select Committee of which the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, was the most distinguished Chairman. I feel that the least we can do to express our warm thanks to the Select Committee, is to accept their advice and allow the matter to proceed to a normal conclusion.

What is so special about Brighton Marina? I think it is that—and I should like to make it quite clear that this is what I think, and not what anybody else thinks; possibly I am wrong—a few local residents, who are more influential than numerous, have set out to destroy this imaginative scheme because they think it will interfere with their own private personal amenities. In their selfishness they have been lobbying Members of your Lordships' House for months past. Perhaps they think the scheme will bring the wrong sort of people to their end of Brighton. If that is the case, then I for one have no sympathy whatsoever with them.

5.59 p.m.


My Lords, I am to some extent in the position of long-stop for the Select Committee. I am also in the position of being able to talk about my fellow members, because my only reason for being selected was that I sit on this side of the House and that I have taken part as a member or as chairman of a number of Committees in the last 13 years in this building. As regards the other members of the Committee we know that the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, took the chair and we know his qualities as Chairman. We then had the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Henryton who we know is a most distinguished judge. We had the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, who is of course a most distinguished trade unionist and then we had the noble Lord, Lord Granville-West, who had a long career in another place and is an inhabitant of another South Coast resort, so he knows quite a lot about that sort of thing. So much for the Committee.

We feel that this is to some extent a vote of no confidence in our finding; and it is difficult for me to see what new and special circumstance (I think the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, said that that was how Lord Salisbury described it) has arisen since the finding of the Committee. We went into it extremely carefully, and we studied, among other things, the unique character of Brighton, following the Instruction given to us by the House at the instance of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman.

I should like your Lordships to come with me in imagination to the eastern end of the promenade at Brighton. There is situated one of the most superb aggregations of Regency buildings in the country, the Kemptown terraces, on the right of which is Arundel Terrace. There is a road next to Arundel Terrace dividing it from a most extraordinary building, the French convalescent home, which is like a moderate-sized chateau from the period of Louis Philip. Go East from that, and you come to a large one-storey garage of no architectural interest whatsoever. East of that still, on top of the cliff, is a rather pleasing block of modern flats, coloured white, in the form of a sort of horseshoe, called Marine Gate. I asked the Town Clerk or, I think it was, the surveyor, who was taking us round, why the place below was called Black Rock, and he said, "It appears that it is because it was there that they used to unload coal for the gasworks". Directly behind the buildings I have mentioned stand the three cylinders of the gasworks, and it is around them that the traffic will now gyrate. The original plan, when the public inquiry was held in Brighton, was that the traffic should gyrate so that the western portion of the circle should come next to Arundel Terrace. That was obviously deleterious to the end of Arundel Terrace, and I am very glad to say that that has now been entirely removed from the plan.

The plan on shore, so far as I can make out now, does not depend on this Bill. It depends on a scheme which the Brighton Corporation will in any event put into operation; that is to say, the gyration around the gasworks. The company are going to pay Brighton a considerable sum of money (I believe a quarter of a million pounds) to accelerate the construction of this scheme which Brighton is to undertake in any event. The Committee looked carefully at the site, and we certainly ca me to the conclusion that these buildings would not be out of keeping with this curious conglomeration of buildings that already exists. I should say that the garage to which I have referred will be swept away by the gyratory road, so that at any rate that will not be there to damage the general unity of the buildings in the area.

I do not think I need say very much about the complaint that this money ought to be spent elsewhere. I think, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has said, that that is a matter of Government policy, and the Government could easily stop the construction of this Marina until a time at which they think the money can be spent to best advantage. Then the question of noise was raised. The noise from this Marina will obviously be considerable, but it is all below the cliff; and before you get to any houses above the cliff there runs the main coast road along the South of England, where there is already the most infernal noise. I doubt whether the noise from the Marina will add very much, if anything at all, to the general rate of noise which the houses behind must have to suffer.

The noble Lord, Lord Henley, suggested, if I understood him aright, that because there was no opposition to this Bill we ought not to pass it. I cannot help thinking that this is the most extraordinary state of affairs.


My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? That is far from what I said. What I said was that a franchise is being granted to this company on financial arguments put out by that company, and not challenged; and those arguments were not challenged because, I say, the system makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do so.


The noble Lord is of course quite right; the system does that. But I do not know whether he is suggesting that this afternoon we should reject this Bill because these estimates have not been challenged. I do not know that the Committee could do any more than listen to the evidence and come to their conclusion; and their conclusion was in favour of the financial aspects of this Bill.

I can also say that our impression of the Brighton Corporation was that they were not born yesterday, and that, in the interests of the ratepayers of Brighton and the general amenities of the town, they would certainly use their powers over the Promoters—and very considerable powers they have—to see that nothing untoward happened. I myself certainly came to that conclusion, particularly having seen the Town Clerk give evidence. It has also been emphasised several times this afternoon that the Brighton Corporation have directors on the board of the company. I have no doubt that they will afford directors of such a calibre that they also are capable of exerting considerable control.

As to the extent that this Marina and the ancillary buildings will damage the amenities, we looked at this aspect carefully. A flag was put up on the top of the cliff to show the distance that would be taken. It really is a very small portion of an extremely second-rate beach that we are taking over. It is true that the people who walk along the undercliff walk will have to look through a forest of buildings, but it is only a short distance, and I cannot see that it is really going to destroy the amenities of those who want quiet. They will have to walk just under a third of a mile further, but I should have thought they could do that with advantage; and then they will have the whole coast going away four or five miles towards Newhaven. Indeed, I think I was told that there are about eighteen miles of cliffs there. I am fully aware of the necessity to preserve rural England, but I do not think this scheme is going to do very serious damage. I commend this Bill to your Lordships, and ask that your Lordships do not accept the Amendment.

Before I close, I should say that I think the noble Lord, Lord Holford, was slightly mixed up about the effect of the Amendment. I think he believed that further amendments could be made to the Bill if the Amendment were passed, but, of course, it would mean the throwing out of the Bill, and no further amendment could be made.

6.8 p.m.


My Lords, I think it is the very last words of the noble Lord who has just sat down that bring into relief the issue between us. He said that this was a second-rate beach, that the encroachment was not very significant, that it did not matter very much, that it was not very beautiful, that we could build upon it and that you had to walk only a little way to find a better and more beautiful beach. I submit to your Lordships that in two or three years' time another person similarly disposed to the noble Lord's views will be making an exactly similar speech about the beach a little further down the sea shore. It is precisely on that account that we are so strongly opposed to this Bill. It is not that we are opposed to a Marina. I do not believe that there is a Member of your Lordships' House who does not welcome enthusiastically the idea that there should be established in Brighton a Marina where yachts can be based and where people can enjoy the salubrious and healthy pastime of yachting, and who would not give every assistance within his power to bring this about.

I venture to submit to your Lordships—you may think that this is "pitching it high", but I do not think so—that this Bill has absolutely nothing to do with a Marina. Nobody opposes a Marina. This Bill has to do with the very simple question of whether, when you have a civic project which is desirable and which people want to bring about, because it is expensive you can therefore subvent it by another civil project which is undesirable, which involves unprecedented encroachment on foreshores and public land, and all sorts of elements which have no precedents in this House or elsewhere and which are from beginning to end thoroughly suspect. If I may say so, that is what this Bill is about.

We have a preliminary problem which was raised by the noble Lord, the Lord Chairman, and referred to by the noble Lord, the Leader of the House, as to whether, because this is a Private Bill, we should not seek to defeat it at Third Reading. May I say that this is not in any ordinary sense a Private Bill? This is a Bill involving very important public aspects. I do not know, and I have not had the opportunity to study, the precedent of fifty years ago when this House last decided that it would defeat a Private Bill on Third Reading. But I should need to be persuaded by a very convincing precedent that a Bill of this kind, involving all the public implications which could not be considered by the Committee, should not be dealt with in the perfectly ordinary way of a Public Bill.

The test of a Private Bill, the reason why a Private Bill should be dealt with and adjudicated upon by a Committee, is the one which was put to the House by the Lord Chairman: that it would be unfair to deal with the matter without hearing the evidence. But on the real issues before the House here, the evidence is totally irrelevant; the matters we are considering are not matters upon which this Committee took any evidence at all. They did not take evidence about what sort of undesirable precedent would be established in other areas if it was once decided that one project could be subsidised by another project of this size. This is the sort of consideration that weighs with me. This is the sort of consideration that makes it entirely appropriate that we should give this measure the fullest consideration on Third Reading and regard ourselves as totally uninhibited in regard to the voting. I should need to be heavily persuaded of two things. I should be very slow indeed to seek to persuade your Lordships to abandon a settled precedent of this House of fifty years' standing, but I should also need to be persuaded that that precedent could, as a matter of common sense, have relevance in relation to this particular Bill.

I do not know whether anything more is to be said on this subject by the noble Lord the Leader of the House, but my own feeling is that we are not inhibited by considerations of this kind. The public aspects of the Bill entirely swamp, entirely supersede, the private aspects. The private aspects in the Bill are matters to be dealt with by expert evidence, and the public aspects of the Bill are matters to be dealt with by the consciences of the individual Members of this House. It is on account of the appeal to those consciences that I say that we are entirely justified in voting as we feel in this matter.

Having made those comments in relation to the procedural aspects, I should like to say, first, that there is no question at all, as was suggested by the noble Lord who moved the Motion for the Third Reading, that we are in any way offering an insult to the members of the Committee who considered the Bill. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that this Committee did, according to what was possible, an entirely competent and efficient job. But I endorse what was said by my noble friend Lord Mitchison (if I may so call him), that it was not within their competence to do an efficient job in the circumstances in which they had to consider this matter. I did put to the Lord Chairman of the Committee what I regard as the salient consideration in this matter. I asked whether they had sought to take any evidence about any alternative method of subsidising this Marina other than by encroaching on the public beach and building there a number of buildings, contrary to all precedent in this country and contrary to our tradition that we shall preserve the beaches for the people of the country for marine use.

He answered frankly that they had not. He said, in effect, "No, we considered—and rightly so, since our job as a Committee is to consider the terms of the Bill, every clause of the Bill, and not to go ranging outside the Bill, which is a matter for the Second Reading—that our job was to look at the Bill, clause by clause to see how the clauses shot ld or should not be improved as a matter of drafting and as a matter of general consideration. But when it came to the principle of the Bill, we did not think it necessary for us to make those inquiries." But, my Lords, those inquiries were absolutely crucial for the whole of this question. Because the whole of this matter postulates that it is not possible to have a Marina for Brighton unless, in addition, permission is given for the erection of an enormous number of unregulated buildings on a piece of the foreshore, appropriated for this purpose by Act of Parliament, by an Act of this House and of another place that has no precedents. It was admitted by the learned counsel who presented the matter to the Committee—and who presented it with a fairness that one would expect from a leading counsel in this country—that he could find no precedent for anything of this sort elsewhere.

Consider what a precedent we shall be establishing. There is not a seaside town that has not some worthwhile civic project which it is not at the moment able to afford. How are we to say to those seaside towns who want their cottage hospitals, their recreation spaces, the repertory theatres and the thousand-and-one amenities for which, at the moment, they cannot pay, that they are not entitled to appropriate, or expropriate, a piece of the beach, which after all would provide an extremely economic building site, and build all over it because of the spurious pretext that they are doing good elsewhere for the town? This is a totally unacceptable principle. It is a matter of total astonishment to me that this Bill has got as far as it has, and the suggestion that, because it has got so far, we should therefore lamely and tamely accept the position, and not seize the last opportunity of destroying a principle that will do great damage all round this country, seems to me to be one we should not countenance for one moment.

Nobody speaking in this House has the slightest animus against Brighton, against the people concerned with this Bill, or against the project as a whole. What we have is a very strong animus against projects which will involve encroachment on natural beauty spots. To the noble Lord, Lord Cawley, I may say that I know that area better than he does. I thought the method of procedure by the Committee, in the way of their archaeological and historical investigations to find out why the beach was called "Black Rock" by asking a garage proprietor on arrival, was most unusual and perhaps not the most satisfactory one to adopt.


My Lords, it was the engineer and surveyor to the Brighton Council who was asked. Furthermore, is the noble Lord aware that the Brighton Sky Deck Act, which was passed about two years ago, provided for the appropriation of certain portions of the foreshore at Brighton?


I am aware that there are a limited number of Acts. This is a point to which I am most obliged to the noble Lord, in that he anticipated my making it myself. This pinpoints the extreme undesirability of this Bill as an Act of Parliament. I know there are individual Acts of Parliament which, with great precision and care, define the circumstances in which you may encroach on a foreshore, in which you may encroach on public land and in which you may encroach on to beauty spots. Obviously, there may be matters of public urgency which make it necessary to do so. But if you do that, if you are going to legislate in that fashion, you must ensure that there is a most precise definition of what you are going to build and that the most precise controls are contained in that Act of Parliament.

May I draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 40? For what this Bill does is not only without precedent in relation to encroachment on a foreshore but without precedent as to the enormous rights, the carte blanche rights, it gives in relation to building. Clause 40 of the Bill gives these building rights. They have been read in this House several times. They are as follows: … without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing"— I suspect this is one case where there could not be any generality in the foregoing; there is no generality to exceed the words that follow— 'car parks (either over or underground) filling stations, hotels, restaurants, club premises, offices, theatres, cinemas, casinos, dance halls, ice rinks, playgrounds, boatyards, bowling alleys, shops, houses, flats and other residential accommodation … and so on. It could not give a wider range; you could not have a clause drawn in more brazen terms; you could not have a clause drawn in terms more contemptuous of this House. What the Promoters are doing is to take powers not to build all these places but to build any of these at any time. We are asked as a Legislature to permit this—


The noble Lord speaks of taking powers; but my memory is that the last time this clause was read the noble Lord who read it was invited to read the following subsection with it. That following subsection bore upon the question.


I shall be delighted to read the next subsection. That, again, I was coming to. What we are asked to do is to say that we are prepared to authorise the mischief by allowing this to happen in this Bill but will ease and assuage our conscience by leaving it to some other authority to repair the mischief. In short, we are going to leave it to planning authorities to undo the damage which we shall have done by this Bill. If I may say so, greater timidity, greater cowardice, I have never heard.

There is a further proposition. Is any planning authority going to refuse permission in the light of the fact that there is expressed statutory authorisation for the erection of this miscellany of buildings? Of course it is not. It is total humbug to suggest that you can depend on planning consent to undo the damage which will be done by this Bill; of course you cannot. The Bill is an utter novelty which will affect every seaside town in the country. It is totally unrealistic to suggest that it comes within the confines of a Private Bill.

When I moved the Instruction in this House there were three matters that concerned me. I suspect the findings of the Committee in relation to the matters to which I drew their attention. Whether I agree with them or not, it is not appropriate that I should re-open them. But there are three reasons why I asked that this Instruction should be introduced by this House and why, if I may say so, I think the Resolution was passed by this House. The first was because I was seriously exercised by the monopoly aspect of the matter. There was a strange aspect of this matter which bears very seriously on the suggestion made about total responsibility of the local authority concerned. There was the strange fact that this matter has developed by constant conversation and communion between the local authority and one body, if not one person. There has, so far as I know, never been any other company or organisation invited to consider this matter. The whole of this subject is based on the notions and proposals of one company. No other company has been asked to participate. Yet, if I may venture to say so, not a word on this subject was adduced before the Committee.

In the Second Reading debate there was a serious criticism made in connection with the Mover of the Resolution, but there is not a word on this subject, and no explanation of why this Council, so responsible and so concerned with the welfare of the locality (and I have nothing to say to the contrary) should not have sought tenders; should not have invited other opinions; should have allowed a project of this size and magnitude to continue as though it were a monopoly. It has been said, I think, by a witty Member of your Lordships' House—and I see him sitting in the Chamber—that monopolies are rather like children; no one likes them until he has one of his own. The relevance of this matter is that it exposes another public aspect of this Bill. It exposes why it is great nonsense—with the greatest respect to everyone concerned—that this Bill should be considered in terms of a Private Bill and procedure relating to a Private Bill of the kind promoted for restoring drainage under a particular roadway, or matters of that kind, and should circumscribe us in dealing with a matter of the magnitude in principle of this particular Bill.

I invite your Lordships, if you arrive at the conclusion that it is right and proper that this Bill should be enacted, to consider very carefully what are the implications. If you vote in favour of it, vote, I pray you, with the knowledge of what may follow. I do not see why any seaside town in this country cannot urge it in aid when seeking to have a project of this kind used to subsidise some other project for which, of course, they could advance grounds of genuine worth. I do not wish to detain your Lordships too long, but I said that one of the matters that concerned me when I moved the Instruction was the monopoly aspect of the matter. The second matter that concerned me was the appropriation of a public beach. Now it is even odder that so little evidence, if any evidence at all, on this matter was adduced, except a visit by the Committee to Brighton, We have heard from the noble Lord. Lord Cawley, of his own impressions. I venture to say that I have different impressions. I know Brighton very well. I have been there on many occasions. I spent a very large portion of my childhood walking along this very beach, and the suggestion that this beach should be built on—


My Lords, did the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, say that he spent his time walking along the beach at Black Rock?


My Lords, I spent a good deal of time walking along the beach walk which, as the noble Lord well knows, goes alongside and if I may say so—


My Lords, the noble Lord referred to a beach. There is no beach there, only rock. There is a beach walk.


This is a matter of definition. As I understand it, there is indeed a beach there, and there has been a beach there, according to the understanding of the inhabitants of Brighton, for many years. But we will not fall out over words. The fact remains that this has long been regarded as a most tranquil and attractive walk. It has long been regarded as one of the amenities of Brighton. It is on the side of Brighton that has deliberately (and here I wish to comment on something said by the noble Viscount, Lord Addison), and in contra-distinction to the other part of Brighton, been maintained quiet, tranquil and peaceful.

The noble Viscount, Lord Addison, suggested that there was propaganda against this Bill; that it was necessary, in fact, in order not to like this Bill, to have some personal proprietary interest in a house on this side of Brighton and wish to discourage low, vulgar people from coming. The propaganda, if I may say so, has been entirely on the other side. It has been that this is the people's will, that the people want this, that the fun and joy of life will be seriously enhanced and advanced if these buildings are put on the beach, but that there is a collection of rather lofty patricians and austere bourgeoisie who are campaigning bitterly against it. This is a nonsensical argument. I said during the Second Reading debate that it suggested that nobody could be concerned about tranquillity and quiet at Brighton unless he happened to be a patrician. I still believe, and I repeat what I said previously, that all the people in this country are just as much concerned about the preservation of beauty spots as the alleged patricians who, it is suggested, live at the top of this cliff.

Another argument, apparently, is that as this beach is at the bottom of a cliff, things built upon it will not be seen. It seems to be regarded as a novelty that we should find beaches at the bottom of cliffs. I am prepared to take the Committee to quite a number of places where they will find cliffs with beaches beneath them, and if we were to establish the precedent that every beach which is concealed by a cliff may be built on, there would be many thousands of acres which in no time at all would be covered with delectable buildings of this kind.

The point I want to emphasise is, as I said, that this has nothing to do with the Marina. The noble Lord, Lord Holford, in a very valuable and knowledgeable speech, which I venture to hope will much influence the House, said that there is a difference between buildings of a marine character and buildings of the type which would be erected on this beach as a result of this plan. They are to erect a casino, and may I say that I have no particular animus against casinos. People have been going round talking of "casinos" as though it were a dirty word. I do not particularly like casinos, but if the people of Brighton want a casino, I see no reason why they should not build a casino. I believe that they already have at least one casino at Brighton which is firmly established and which no doubt is flourishing. Why they should want to put another on the beach defeats me completely.

I do not believe that the people of Brighton, if they were asked to vote in some sort of plebiscite arrangement, would produce any majority in favour of putting a casino on this beach. There was some rather tenuous evidence designed to suggest that yachtsmen want a casino. In the course of the evidence, when endeavouring to establish a connection between the provision of a casino and other buildings it was said that yachtsmen, when they came home tired, liked a little "flutter". I know little about yachtsmen and not much about gamblers, but I should think that yachtsmen no more require a "flutter" than gamblers want to go out and have a sail on a yacht. I have very rarely seen the haggard-faced people at the tables at Monte Carlo and elsewhere leaving their chips and racing out and sailing off in a yacht anywhere; and if other people have seen it, I should like to hear from your Lordships. I doubt very much whether the average yachtsman has any powerful urge to find himself adjacent to a casino where he could spend whatever money he may have tried to get into his soaking trousers after having been sailing.

I think that a remarkable number of very remarkable propositions have been advanced in support of this Bill. I urge your Lordships to say that this is not a Private Bill; that this is a Bill with extremely important public implications, and that it involves questions of high principle. I shall unhesitatingly vote in favour of the Amendment, and I urge your Lordships to do likewise.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise for seeking to address your Lordships without having put my name on the List of speakers. This was due to the fact that I was in very grave doubt whether I could get here this afternoon. But I want to speak because I have only one home, and it is in the Brighton area. It is not one of those gracious Regency residences about which people are so much concerned. I live in a flat. I have not a great many friends who live in these Regency establishments, but I have a large number of friends who are ordinary people living in ordinary dwellings in Brighton and I mix with the people of the town. I know what they want, and they want this scheme. There is no question about it at all. Talk to any of the people in Brighton and you will find that they want the benefits for Brighton which this scheme would produce.

I have listened to most of the debate and it is not necessary for me to go into the procedural questions that have been gone into this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Teynham, and my noble friend Lord Addison have pulled the leg of my noble friend Lord Mitchison about his Question of last Wednesday. I would have done it if they had not. My noble friend's great defence on this is that it is different. One can defy another place if it is a Private Bill, but not when it is a Public Bill, so when it is a Private Bill by all means stand up against it. Then the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, gets up and tells us that this is not a Private Bill.


My Lords, so far as I am concerned, if it can be established that there is a single Member in another place who was elected on a mandate to support the Brighton Marina, other than Brighton Members, I shall accept the view that they are not entitled to vote against it.


My Lords, before this Parliament has gone far, we shall find a lot of things done which are not in the mandate, and many of them will be put in Private Bills. This is not the answer to the question. My noble friend Lord Mitchison is on a very weak spot after asking that Question a week ago last Wednesday.


My Lords, I thought this sort of thing would happen. I was quoting my Party's Election pledge, and if my noble friend thinks that it is not an Election pledge, even about Private Bills, he is more of a fool than I think he is. To make quite certain, I put in a part of the Question saying exactly what I thought ought to be done to carry out part, at any rate, of that Election pledge, and I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, is going to get up and pull my leg again.


My Lords, I am not going on with this battle with my noble friend. We are good friends. I could not miss the opportunity of saying these things, particularly when my noble friend Lord Goodman said that it was not a Private Bill at all. I am not going into the procedural questions, except to say that we have had all the possible inquiries there could be about this. Every detail has been gone into. This measure has gone through the whole procedure in another place and of your Lordships' House, and the sum total of it all is that this Bill is only waiting a Third Reading. Most people are now agreed that this scheme should be put into operation.

Just one word about amenities. Here the noble Lord, Lord Cawley, was so right. I know what this "beautiful" beach is like. If you try to bathe there, you would break yourself to pieces on the rocks; there is nothing but rocks. There is a pleasure path along the top, but it is not going to be interfered with. When the noble Lords, Lord Goodman and Lord Holford, talk about taking away the fresh air and the sea and so forth, how much is being taken away? Right up to Rottingdean from the Black Rock there is all the air and water anybody will ever need, and it goes on much farther. To suggest that if this Bill goes through there will be marina stages every three miles round the coast is sheer exaggeration. I support my noble friend Lord Addison. I am sorry to say that a certain small section of people, because it affects them personally, have brought about this agitation against something which the whole population of Brighton want, and I would say to your Lordships, to use the words of my noble friend's Question, get away from the "frustration by delay or defeat" and give Brighton her Marina.

6.36 p.m.


My Lords, may I be allowed to say two things which have been wrung from me by some of the observations made against this scheme? The first is this. As a member of the Select Committee, I thought that it would be adding a very useful amenity to Brighton if this scheme were accepted. And I may add the Corporation of Brighton seems to think that it is a good idea, as 74 out of 75 of the Council members voted in favour of it. Secondly, the scheme cannot possibly interfere with the appearance of Brighton. Having gone down and looked at it, I find that it is miles away from that beautiful city and it is completely hidden behind a high cliff and is to be erected on the foreshore.



I will withdraw "completely", and say that it is almost completely hidden. Nobody going along the road above would see it, and there are only one or two buildings from which it can be seen. Broadly speaking, it will be hidden behind this cliff, and I had to go quite a long way along before I saw the site. The buildings have been so arranged that they will not go above the height of the cliff.

6.38 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend Lord Teynham because I was unable to be here to hear his speech at the beginning of the debate. I think that admittedly two questions arise—the point of procedure and the point of the amenities. On procedure, the Lord Chairman of Committees pointed out very fairly what were the difficulties. If one had an objection on principle or on national grounds and raised it to prevent the Bill from going to a Committee, one would be accused of preventing the Committee from considering it. If, on the other hand, one let it go to a Committee but still opposed it on public grounds, one would be open to the accusation that one was insulting the Committee.

Let me say at once that I have the utmost respect for the Committee, on which sat very valued friends of mine, in whose judgment on most matters and in whose complete honesty I have an unqualified belief. But that does not in any way affect the truth of the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that this Bill raises matters and sets precedents of extraordinary importance that concern not merely Brighton but England.

My doctrine on this matter is quite simple. It must be true that at some stage this House is entitled to give its view about these great national issues raised by the Bill. I thought it was right that we should let the matter go to a Committee with an Instruction. But now we are absolutely entitled, and, in my submission, under a duty, to look at what the Committee have said in submitting their Special Report answering the question raised in the Instruction. In the vital paragraph they say at the end: The committee are convinced by the financial evidence they have heard that the construction of such a Marina as is proposed would not be feasible without the additional income expected to accrue from the development of the foreshore as set out in the Bill. On the evidence before this House, any noble Lord can bona fide differ from that conclusion. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, the Chairman of the Committee said that they did not seek any further evidence on that subject beyond the witnesses that came before them. No doubt this may be the cheapest way for Brighton to obtain a Marina, but I very much doubt if it is the cheapest way for England.

I now come from the propriety of coming to a different conclusion from the Committee to the question of merits. Here I find myself in such complete agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Holford, that I do not propose to add anything. Our coast is one of our rarest and most magnificent possessions. It is very easy to eat it away. My noble friend Lord Chandos drew attention to what had happened in the South of France, within the memory of many of us. Unless we take great care of the coast this encroachment will not be the last.

It only remains for me to say two things. I thought that we should get through this debate, whichever view we took, without impugning the motives of those who took a different view. But two noble Lords on the other side have said that we are either people living at Brighton who think our property will be adversely affected, or we are people deceived by unscrupulous propaganda. I would say that I do not live, and never have lived, at Brighton, and I have received no propaganda either way, or very little; but that does not prevent me from caring passionately about the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Holford, on the merits. As a Minister many years ago I learned of his great merits as a planner.

The only thing I want to say, in conclusion, is that I am heartily in favour of an anchorage for small boats at Brighton. When I was much younger and a very incompetent navigator, I often wished as I came rather dangerously past Brighton that it would have been possible to find anchorage there. It is not from any hostility to providing a Marina, but because I think there are great issues raised by this Bill before us that would entitle us on national grounds to oppose it, that I have ventured to intervene.

6.44 p.m


My Lords, I will not keep your Lordships for more than a moment, but, in view of what my noble friend has just said, and what other noble Lords have said, about the ruination of the shore, I should like to say that when I was asked to support this Bill I wrote and asked for particular details as to the nature of the site where it was proposed to place this Marina, and I had in reply a detailed description which tallies very much with what my noble friend Lord Cawley described. Then lower down came this paragraph: We would mention that as regards the foreshore site the Brighton Corporation have indicated that this is not one of Brighton's better beaches being rock-strewn and of little attraction and use to bathers. The Corporation feel, therefore, that its loss can have no adverse effect on the town's available seaside facilities.

6.45 p.m.


My Lords, I propose to be short in reply to the debate. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, is unable to accept the findings of the Select Committee. I suggest, with all humility, that he has made his statements without goring thoroughly through the whole proposal, which I admit is a difficult one. I certainly do not agree that great national interests are involved in this particular case.

We have heard what was really a Second Reading speech from the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison. In fact, he complained that this Bill had not really been debated. It was thoroughly debated on Second Reading, and it seems a little late to have a Second Reading speech on the Third Reading. He has raised questions of finance. Surely the Brighton Corporation, who are parties to this scheme, are well aware of the financial position, and are satisfied with the position. I am quite sure that they are. The noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, talks about a "half-baked scheme". I would say, on the contrary, that this is a very well thought out scheme, and I certainly propose to accept the findings of the Select Committee. I do not know exactly what influence the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, has in Brighton. No doubt he likes to go there, and he may have other interests. As I say, I do not know. All I can say is that the Brighton Corporation want the Bill, and the people of Brighton want the Bill. Why on earth should they not have it?

If the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, has no interest in yachting, I am not surprised at his opposition to the Bill. But I suggest that he might have expressed his opposition at an earlier date, perhaps on Second Reading. I have little doubt that if the Prince Regent were alive he would appreciate a yacht harbour at Brighton, and would no doubt have brought his yacht into the harbour. We have had an amusing speech from the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. As a matter of principle, I should lice to ask the noble Lord if he has any family vested interest to disclose in this Bill, because he seems so vehement against it. It may well be that he is arguing against the Bill only in the national interest. Perhaps the noble Lord would like to answer that question.


My Lords, I will gladly answer the question. I have no family, professional, financial or other interests that touch on this Bill in the slightest, and I am puzzled that the question should be asked.


My Lords, we have heard a number of objections and suggestions about proceedings on Private Bills, but as was suggested by the Chairman of Committees, and I think by the noble Lord the Leader of the House, this really has nothing to do with the Bill to-day. I am sure your Lordships are fully aware that if the Amendment to this Bill is carried, the Bill will be dead, and unlikely to be brought forward again for many years. I would say that if this Amendment is accepted the House will have dealt a blow at the young people of this country, so many of whom now take to the sea for recreation. The scheme under this Bill, I maintain, is an excellent one and has been well thought out, and I trust that your Lordships will give the Bill a Third Reading.

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, do not propose to take long, and I hope that we shall all part on a friendly basis after what I have found to be an interesting, sincere and amusing debate. All I have to say is this: I still think that the point about excessive profits—which is what it comes to—on houses and shops, and the resulting excessive rents, is a serious one. I doubt whether the Company will make a success of the scheme it is promoting, and I am afraid that, if it does not, the trouble will not only be that of the Company but that of Brighton and, if some noble Lords are right, of the country, too. On æsthetics, I feel rather like repeating Alan Herbert's election address to Oxford University: "Aesthetics—I do not know anything about esthetics. It was agriculture." Anyway, it was stated very fully.

I think the other point, about spending as much money as that in Brighton at the moment, was a serious one. It has been fully discussed and I am not going to add anything to what has been said. I would only say to the members of the Committee that I do not think we ought to follow their conclusions slavishly. Of course we respect them for having considered the matter. I think they did it under insuperable difficulties which were not of their own making; and I can tell them afterwards, your Lordships will be glad to hear, but not now, what I would have done if I had been cross-examining on the other side. I kept passing point after point and saying, "Oh, my goodess! Why wasn't there someone to cross-examine about that?" If I may say so, I thought they did awfully well in those circumstances. I should have liked them, when they came here, to tell us a little about both sides of the case, because after all that was what they had heard, and I do not think we ought necessarily to follow their conclusions. My Lords, may I offer you my personal thanks for keeping me thoroughly amused for the whole of what I thought was going to be a rather dull afternoon.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask whether he would agree that 30 per cent. of the money made after the Company had made 12 per cent. on the whole project was a profit-sharing scheme and that, as he said, excess profits were not in that category taking place?


Yes, my Lords, but with great respect I think the noble Lord has missed the point. The point is that the cost of these buildings and the return from them was stated on a letting basis; that was letting at full market value. And what the company said they required was an addition that amounts in effect to £2 million on full market value. Therefore, what you have to do is to use your shops and houses in such a way as to get between two and three times the full market value on a letting basis. I think that is a gross error in calculation, and when it comes to the point I do not believe the Company will face up to it. I very much doubt whether when we pass this Bill anything at all will ever happen because I do not think it will pay the Company, and quite naturally and rightly the Company are promoting the Bill for their own profit. As somebody has said, the Marina is a sprat to catch a whale. I do not want to be nasty to anyone about it. It is their business, and there it is.

Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.


My Lords, there are several drafting Amendments to be moved. I beg to move the first Amendment.

Amendment moved— Clause 6, page 8, line 4, leave out ("electric") and insert ("gas")—(Lord Teynham.)


My Lords, I beg to move the second Amendment.

Amendment moved— Clause 6, page 8, line 8, leave out ("electricity") and insert ("gas")—(Lord Teynham.)

6.54 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 38; Not-Contents, 67.

Airedale, L. Garnsworthy, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Albemarle, E. Goodman, L. [Teller.] Robbins, L.
Annan, L. Henley, L. Segal, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Hirshfield, L. Shepherd, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Sorensen, L.
Birkett, L. Iddesleigh, E. Strabolgi, L.
Chorley, L. Ilford, L. Strang, L.
Conesford, L. Leatherland, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Dilhorne, V. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Waldegrave, E.
Drogheda, E. Mitchison, L. [Teller.] Wigg, L.
Faringdon, L. Norwich, V. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Foot, L. Peddie, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Plummer, Bs.
Addison, V. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Mountevans, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Gainsborough, E. Moyne, L.
Ampthill, L. Glasgow, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Atholl, D. Granville-West, L. Oakshott, L.
Auckland, L. Greenway, L. Raglan, L.
Audley, Bs. Grenfell, L. [Teller.] Redmayne, L.
Bessborough, E. Grimston of Westbury, L. Rosslyn, E.
Beswick, L. Hall, V. Rowley, L.
Blackford, L. Hawke, L. Royle, L.
Boston, L. Heycock, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Bowles, L. Horsbrugh, Bs. St. Helens, L.
Burden, L. Kinnoull, E. St. Oswald, L.
Carrington, L. Lindgren, L. Sandford, L.
Carron, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Shackleton, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Cawley, L. Mancroft, L. Somers, L.
Coleraine, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Stonham, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Merrivale, L. Swansea, L.
Craigmyle, L. Milford Haven, M. Teynham, L. [Teller.]
Crook, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Trefgarne, L.
Denham, L. Milverton, L. Vivian, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Morrison, L. Williamson, L.
Dundee, E. Morton of Henryton, L. Wolverton, L.
Elliot of Harwood, Bs.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move the next Amendment.

Amendment moved— Clause 47, page 29, line 36, leave out ("those sections") and insert ("that section")—(Lord Teynham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move the next Amendment.

Amendment moved— Clause 47, page 29, line 38, leave out ("those sections") and insert ("that section")—(Lord Teynham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move the last Amendment.

Amendment moved— Clause 64, page 57, line 37, leave out ("purposes") and insert ("purpose")—(Lord Teynham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Teynham.)

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.