§ 3.20 p.m.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR SCOTLAND (LORD HUGHES)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Hughes.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [Preparation of structure plans]:
§ On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I wonder whether I may raise some points on this clause, which is one of the major clauses of the Bill. The general idea of a structure plan was outlined in the White Paper on Town and Country Planning which was presented in June, 1967. The passage on development plans begins, in paragraph 15, with these words:The present development plans are failing to meet current needs. Part of the trouble is that the areas they cover are too small; the plan-making process is based upon local government boundaries which divide areas with competing and complementary needs and resources and, indeed, create planning problems by artificially separating town from country at the point where pressure for change is greatest.Under the Bill, the planning authorities remain the counties and large burghs, and this gives rise to several questions. First of all, it makes it difficult for us to discuss this clause without reference to what is likely to happen in the future, because obviously the clause is drafted with a view to the presentation of structure plans in the future. The clause begins:The local planning authority shall, within such period from the commencement of this section within their district as the Secretary of State may direct, prepare and send the Secretary of State a report of their survey under section 1 …That implies that the Secretary of State may prescribe different times for different 1305 districts. It would be useful to know what the noble Lord thinks will be the time schedule in regard to the preparation of structure plans under the new dispensation.
Secondly, it seems fairly clear that the clause looks forward to new arrangements which are likely to be proposed by the Royal Commission. I think that one can safely deduce from the White Paper that the local planning authorities in future are likely to be larger than they have been in the past and also that the distinction between landward areas and large burghs might to a considerable extent be removed. I do not think that one can read Clause 2 in any other way. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to confirm that this is what we are likely to have.
Even if in certain cases the Royal Commission were not to recommend larger areas, it would be possible for the Secretary of State—and it is his intention—to bring together local planning authorities into groups. If that is so, we can turn to the discussion of what is meant by regions. Subsection (3) of the clause says:The structure plan for any district shall be a written statement—And, in the following subsection, it is stated that the plan
- (a) formulating the local planning authority's policy and general proposals in respect of the development and other use of land in that district …
- (b) stating the relationship of those proposals to general proposals for the development and other use of land in neighbouring districts which may be expected to affect that district; and…shall have regard—(a) to current policies with respect to the economic planning and development of the region as a whole; …I do not think that there has been any legal definition of the word "region", and so far as I can see there is no definition of the word in this Bill. Of course, we have had the Scottish White Paper and regional studies of various kinds, of the North-East, the Borders, Tayside, the Lothians and the Moray Firth, some of which have already been published, but it is still difficult to see exactly what is meant by… current policies with respect to the economic planning and development of the region as a whole.1306 What is to be the status of these regional surveys? Have the structure plans to conform to these surveys? Are they to be approved in any particular form by the Secretary of State? Are there to be any opportunities of making observations on them and appealing against certain provisions in them? Are they to be fully debated in Parliament? We want to see exactly what the local planning authorities are being asked to have regard to here and how they are to prepare their structure plans.
Then, with regard to co-ordinating with other regions, I think we get into a rather curious situation. I wonder what is meant by "general proposals". If they are the proposals in the structure plan, where do we start? If region A has to have regard to the general proposals in the structure plan of region B, then plainly region B's plan must come out first; but region B in turn has to have regard to the general proposals in region A's plan. I hope that this point has been fully thought out. I am sure that it has, and I hope that the noble Lord will be able to tell us about it. It is important that we should know exactly what are the general proposals in question, who formulated them, where they emanate from, how they were discussed and arrived at anti what degree of consultation and co-operation is to be expected between local planning authorities in arriving at their structure plans. Is it intended, for example, that there should be regional consultations presided over by the Secretary of State for Scotland? How are we going to start on all this? I hope the noble Lord will be able to give us some idea.
One would like to know whether general proposals are going to be in fact general—for example, such proposals as the transportation studies which have been done for Greater Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow, the population study for Grangemouth and Falkirk or the planning that is going on towards (as they always say) West Central Scotland urban development. One fully understands that all these things are going on, but it is difficult to see how they are going to be crystallised or how they can provide adequate guidance to the local planning authorities in the preparation of their structure plans. I thought it right to raise this matter because unless we 1307 can get in mind the way in which plans are to be formed and worked out, and the point at which they should start, I do not think the idea of the structure plan will be of much use, and it will not be much of an improvement on what we have already.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ LORD HUGHES
As the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said, it is generally admitted that the existing districts of local authorities which are within the boundaries of counties of cities and large burghs are in many cases inappropriate for the purposes of good planning. But we have already, to a certain extent, got over some of the worst of these difficulties, because the local planning authorities themselves recognise the defects of the system under which they have had to work. They have therefore sought to eliminate some of these difficulties by getting together of their own free will. We have recently had examples of the growing extent to which this is taking place, for instance, in West Central Scotland. The counties of Ayr, Lanark, Renfrew and Dunbarton have all got together with the burghs within the county boundary to work out common arrangements, not all on the same purpose but on things where they have a common planning interest or where their interests impinge on each other's. That is working very well. No-one can compel them to do this, and no-one has had to compel them. Forces of circumstance made them realise that they all had something to gain from doing this sort of thing.
We are now approaching the point where there is a possibility of such a working party from two counties. I do not wish to be pressed to name them, because while we are hopeful that it will be set up, perhaps the one way of ensuring that it will not is if it is thought that pressure is being put upon them to do it. The new planning machinery can help to make this co-operation more effective and make it more likely that more authorities will see right away the advantages to themselves of this voluntary co-operation. I should at this point emphasise the fact that the regional plans which would emerge from this co-operation are non-statutory. The only statutory plan is the structure plan. In the 1308 same way, the use of the word "region", to which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, referred, has no legal definition in the Bill. I do not want to predict whether "region will have any statutory definition in the future as a result of anything that may come out of the Wheatley Commission, but at the moment "a region" means merely the territory of a number of authorities. The new system will be brought into force gradually area by area—and again "area" has not any specific meaning—and will not be applied in advance of local government reorganisation in any areas where the Secretary of State does not regard the circumstances as ripe for it. But the provisions of the Bill will be applicable and appropriate to the reorganised forms of local government, whatever shape they may take in detail. There is no reason to foresee any need for major new planning legislation when local government reorganisation takes place.
The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, spoke also about the general plans of local planning authorities, and foresaw the difficulty that, with planning authority A looking to its structure plan, and planning authority B looking to its structure plan, one appeared to be in vicious circle, as each of them had to start first in order for the other to get anywhere, and that made it impossible for the one who started to get anywhere. It will not work in that way. What is envisaged is that authorities will have an idea of what they want to do, but it must be obvious to them, before setting it down in detail, that it cannot be worked satisfactorily in isolation from their neighbours. Having a general idea of where they are going, they should first of all have discussions in general terms with their neighbours so that it is more likely that the structure plan which each will in due course evolve is likely to fit in to the maximum extent with those which their neighbours will bring forward, with the result that we shall have good overall planning over the whole area. Therefore we use the word "general" simply from the point of view that the sooner people get together to start discussing in detail what they are going to do, the more likely it is that they will not waste time on details which will be a source of argument, rather than a source of agreement, among themselves.
1309 I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who, with his usual courtesy, gave me notice that he intended to put these questions to me. I say that partly in case your Lordships may think I have rather unusually got all the details of this subject at my fingertips. I have them to the extent to which I had notice from the noble Lord, and I may say that his having done this has enabled me to put my reply in a more concise form than I should have done if I had had to waffle about a bit.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for what he has said. For my part, I would say that the conception of this kind of prestructure co-operation between local authorities is highly desirable. I take it that this can work across the boundaries of any regions that may exist. It will be a question not only of getting local plannning authorities together within a region, but it can cross the boundaries, as well. This is all to the good.
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3 [Publicity in connection with preparation of structure plan]:
§ 3.37 p.m.
THE EARL OF DUNDEE moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 4, line 17, leave out ("in their opinion").
§ The noble Earl said: Clause 3 deals with publicity in connection with the preparation of structure plans. Subsection (1) says that a local authority are required to take such steps as will in their opinion secure adequate publicity. My Amendment proposes to leave out the words "in their opinion". The noble Lord may reply that the local authority are not likely to take such steps as will, in their opinion, not secure adequate publicity, or as will, contrary to their opinion, secure adequate publicity, but I think it goes a little further than that. Suppose that other people think the local authority are mistaken—they are not infallible, and they can only do what they think in their opinion is right—and want to appeal to a tribunal or to the Secretary of State against the steps which the local authority are taking, then as the clause stands the tribunal may be obliged to rule that since the local authority had 1310 taken steps which in their opinion were right, therefore, they had fulfilled their function; whereas if the words "in their opinion" are left out and the objector can prove that the local authority are mistaken, the tribunal will be in a position to give a contrary decision. That is really the whole point of this Amendment. I hope that the noble Lord will consider it favourably.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
I should like to support this Amendment because too frequently we read in Acts similar words to "in their opinion"; for example, "with reasonableness". All such phrases and words tend to allow the Executive—in this case, the local authority—a very convenient route of escape if they make a mistake. I submit that we have far too much of this language in our modern law now. The phrase "in their opinion" is a very wide term. It is an absolute Godsend, of course, to barristers, to people such as my noble friend in front of me, who practise the law. I support most strongly this Amendment to leave out the words "in their opinion".
§ LORD HUGHES
I dislike to disillusion the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, in thinking that the Government are on the side of the barristers and that he is against them, but, in fact, if we accepted the Amendment it would indeed be a Godsend, not to barristers but perhaps to advocates, because it would mean that right up to the very last minute decisions of a local authority might be open to challenge in the courts simply because the omission of these words would leave the question open to be determined on the opinion of anybody. Only the courts could then decide whether or not the matter had been acted upon properly.
The next Amendment, to Clause 7, is of course inherently in the same category. Both of these clauses impose obligations on the local planning authority with respect to publicity and participation in the preparatory stages in the formulation of structure and local plans respectively. Those obligations require the authority to take steps which will in their opinion secure the obligations set out in the clauses. The effect of the Amendment would be to delete the words "in their opinion" and leave an unqualified obligation to undertake the 1311 required general action, which would inevitably be different in different areas and which could be tested only in the courts. That would be undesirable. The limits within which the local authority can act are subject to what the Secretary of State may lay down in regulations. But, subject to broad considerations (such as the period during which any notices must be displayed and the opportunity of inspecting documents), the local planning authority are the most competent judges of what publicity will produce adequate results.
Moreover, under Clause 3(3) and Clause 7(3) the actions of the local planning authority have to be reported to the Secretary of State, who has the power to withhold consideration of the structure plan and return it to the planning authority with directions to take further steps, or to direct the authority not to take any further steps for the adoption of a local plan, without taking further specified action. It is highly undesirable that plans should be at the risk of invalidation at the last moment as a result of challenge in the courts on the ground that publicity given to things proposed to be put in the plan was not adequate. If there are inadequacies in publicity they should be corrected at a much earlier stage—at any rate before the formal public inquiry is held.
The essential point here is that, as the Bill stands, the local planning authority will not be the final arbiter as to what steps are adequate. The words "in their opinion" do not in any way prevent the Secretary of State from imposing firm obligations by way of regulations under Clause 13(1)(b); and in addition general advice, based on the Report of the Skeffington Committee on Public Participation in Planning. The combination of regulations, general guidance and the Secretary of State's powers under Clauses 3(4) and 7(4) should ensure that full effect is given to the intention that there shall be adequate publicity and participation.
I hope that, by drawing attention to these other parts of the Bill, I have assured the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, that the Government fully accept the point which he makes, that the local authority will not just ride roughshod over what is reasonable and that there 1312 are sufficient safeguards to make it quite certain that what he seeks to do by eliminating these words will be carried out in a way which does not run the risk that the matter might be left in the melting pot with the possibility of court action right up to the last possible moment. For these reasons, I cannot accept the Amendment, but I hope that I have satisfied the noble Earl that I am in agreement with him in principle.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am grateful for that explanation. I am glad to hear the noble Lord say that the local authority would not be the final arbiter. Could he tell us this? He said that if there are inadequacies in the steps which are taken they should be dealt with at a much earlier stage. What would be this earlier stage? Who would be consulted and who would be likely to protest against the steps which were being taken?
§ LORD HUGHES
Objections might arise either locally, from people who are interested, or from the Scottish Development Department, who, through being aware of what was being done, might advise the local authority," We do not think you are doing enough in this direction. You should do this, that, or the next thing".
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am grateful to the noble Lord for the trouble he has taken to meet the points which I have raised. I think that in the circumstances your Lordships will wish me to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
May I ask the noble Lord a question of which I have given him previous notice? The same point arises also on Clause 7. Clause 3(2) provides:the local planning authority shall make copies of the plan … available for inspection at their office and at such other places as may be prescribed; and each copy shall be accompanied by a statement of the time within which objections to the plan may be made to the Secretary of State".I seem to remember that it has generally been the practice in legislating about main plans to lay a duty upon the local authority to publish the fact that the plans are available. They are required 1313 to give notice and to "publish in one or more journals circulating within the area" (I think those are the words usually used) the fact that the plans are available, and saying where they can be inspected. I am well aware that local authorities generally may be expected to do this without being told to do so, but it is curious that a practice which seems to have gone on for quite a long time is being dropped. I should have thought it was a desirable thing for the public, especially if there is to be a time limit within which objections may be made, that as soon as the copies are made available this should be made known publicly and published in the papers. I quite understand that there is likely to be comment upon the plan in local papers, and they at any rate will be notified right away. But the time element may be important here, so the sooner the public know that the plans are available for inspection, the better. I wonder whether the noble Lord can enlighten me on this point.
§ LORD HUGHES
The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said that he has already given notice that he wanted to raise this point. This is a very reasonable thing to do because the matter is being raised, not for the purpose of embarrassing Her Majesty's Government or myself, but in order to obtain information. As a result of his giving notice, I hope I shall be able to give the noble Lord all the information he seeks.
It is correct that the requirements as to publicity for planning proposals under the new Bill will be much greater in scope than the present requirements, which already include an obligation to advertise the availability of plans for inspection. The reason for not expressing this requirement in Statute is that it is only a part—and under what we hope will take place not necessarily by any means the most important part—of the whole scheme of arrangements for fostering and facilitating public participation in the planning process at its formative stages which the Government intend to make in the light of, among other things, the recommendations of the Skeffington Committee. To set down in the Bill one particular obligation of this kind would be to give a disproportionate prominence to it, perhaps at the expense of other arrangements. The 1314 noble Lord will appreciate that this is being put in slightly more lay terms than the usual ones of "without prejudice to the generality', and so on.
The Bill sets out the general requirements which can and will in due course be filled out, partly no doubt by regulations and partly in the form of administrative guidance. Clauses 3 and 7, for example, require the planning authority among other things to publicise their planning survey, to secure that persons who may desire to make representations know that they are entitled to do so and are given an adequate opportunity to do so; to make copies of their plans available for inspection and, above all, to satisfy the Secretary of State that they have performed the foregoing duties satisfactorily. If the Secretary of State is not so satisfied he can return a structure plan or direct that no further steps should be taken with a local plan, adding specific instructions on what more they have to do in the way of publicity. This in itself would practically ensure that the deposit of plans for inspection would have to be publicised. In addition, however, the Secretary of State has power under Clause 13(1) to make regulations providing for publicity or notice to be given about a wide variety of matters, including proposals to include matters in plans and procedural steps. These powers would extend to requiring notice to be given of the availability of plans for inspection.
An assurance can therefore be given—and I readily give it—that there is ample provision in the Bill for ensuring that the public are made aware of their right to inspect plans at appropriate stages in the planning process, as well as their rights in other respects to participate actively in the formation of plans. It may well be that in the early stages of the new procedure the Secretary of State may have to send back structure plans, or he may have to say, "Do not proceed any further with a local plan", because the local authorities are not in fact publicising it as widely as he would want. I would not expect that any local authority accustomed to having to advertise in two or more papers would suddenly stop doing it, but it may well be that some of them do not give much thought beyond that, and we would not want that. But I am quite satisfied that 1315 after a fairly short period of time all planning authorities will know the extent to which they have to go beyond what they have done hitherto in order to accomplish the wide degree of local knowledge and participation which we are now seeking to bring into planning procedures.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation, but I would again lay stress on the fact that the time factor may be important because of the time within which objections to the plan have to be laid down. It is important that everybody should know at the earliest possible moment when the plan is laid, and it is from the date when publicity is given to the laying of the plan that the time for making objections should run. I hope the noble Lord will look at this point again. I quite understand what he has said, but the mere fact that there has been previous consultation and that people know much more about what is likely to be in the plans does not obviate the necessity to let people know when the plan is laid so as to give them the longest possible period of time in which to make objections.
§ LORD HUGHES
I shall certainly be happy to look at this particular aspect of the time factor and perhaps it would be appropriate for me to send a note on the subject to the noble Lord.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Clauses 4 to 6 agreed to.
§ Clause 7 [Publicity for preparation of local plans]:
§ 3.56 p.m.
LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 8, line 30, after ("time") insert ("(being not less than two months)")
§ The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment is to ensure that the time within which objections to a local plan may be made should not be less than two months from the time when copies of the local plan are first made available for inspection. It is obvious that adequate time has to be given for individuals to consult their legal advisers, 1316 for local groups to consult together and for objections to be lodged. In the case of a local authority's plan for a substantial part of a district I do not think two months is excessive and I hope that the Government will accept at least the principle of the Amendment.
§ There is a difficulty which I readily recognise, which is that Clause 10 applies the same procedure to alterations to a local plan as to the plan itself where such alterations are made on the initiative of the local planning authority or at the instance of the Secretary of State. Where the alterations involve the replacement of the entire plan, much the same time for objections will be required, I should have thought, as for objections to the plan when it was first made. I am not sure whether two months would be necessary in the case of comparatively minor alterations, although one has to remember that they can upset the lives and interests of people very much indeed—particular people, admittedly, but nevertheless people—and on the whole I feel that two months should be the minimum, unless the noble Lord can convince me to the contrary.
§ Even if the noble Lord can so convince me, I suggest that in the case of minor amendments the right course would be not to leave the time for objections entirely to the discretion of the local planning authority, as seems to be the case at present, but to provide in the Bill for the Secretary of State to allow a shorter period than two months in appropriate cases of alterations to a plan.
§ I hope that the noble Lord will agree that it is wise to lay down a minimum time for objections, if only because the shorter the time which is allowed for objections the more objections there are likely to be. If the time is too short persons affected by the plan are likely to object first and to think later, and I suggest that it is desirable to lay down a minimum time in order to enable them to consider whether their interests are affected. In that way I believe there will be fewer objections. I beg to move.
§ LORD HUGHES
I am in agreement with much of what the noble Lord has said. My only objection to the Amendment is that it would impose a rigidity which the noble Lord himself was fair enough to recognise could be undesirable 1317 in some circumstances. Local plans will be of many different kinds. Some indeed may well approximate to the full scale of an existing development plan; for example, setting out proposals for land use throughout the whole of the district of the local planning authority in complete detail. Some will cover only part of the district, and some will concern themselves only with perhaps a single aspect of the planning. There are circumstances where obviously two months would not be too long a period for the more elaborate case, though I would point out at the present time the period is six weeks in all cases and this has not given rise to any complaint other than the fact that things take too long.
One of the difficulties about these procedures is that when we attempt to fix a period it must inevitably be fixed at the longest time so that no one is open to injustice. The result is that you have a dreadful waste of time in many cases. I have been looking time and time again at the procedures in connection with getting new road works under operation, and one of the annoying things is that the statutory procedures take longer than it takes the contractor to do the actual job. In some cases this arises because of the need to protect people's rights by prescribing periods and then these arc multiplied perhaps two or three times in the course of the Bill concerned. Sometimes every minute is necessary if the thing is hotly contested, but there are other cases where it is nothing other than a sheer waste of time and people are sitting doing nothing just waiting for the expiry of the period laid down.
In this case we do not think that it is necessary to have rigidity of this kind because we have the safeguards elsewhere in the Bill. The object first of all must be to give objectors or people wishing to make representations—not necessarily the same thing as objections—a sufficient opportunity for making those representations. Clause 7(1)(b) already requires the local planning authorities to take steps to secure thatpersons who may be expected to desire an opportunity of making representationsare made aware that they are entitled to an opportunity of doing so and are given adequate time in which to do it. But Clause 7(4) empowers the Secretary of State to direct the planning authority 1318 not to take any further steps for the adoption of the plan if he is not satisfied that the appropriate steps have been taken under Clause 7(1).
I want to make it quite clear that in the exercise of his powers under Clause 7(4) one of the things which the Secretary of State will look at is the time which has been allowed for objections to be made in the particular case. If the local authority have in fact allowed two weeks and the Secretary of State thinks that this is merely going to make more trouble than would be the case if a more reasonable period of, say, six weeks were allowed, then he will so tell the local authority. We therefore hope that as a result of Clause 7(1) and 7(4) we shall have four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, or in some exceptional cases even longer if this should prove to he desirable.
We hope, therefore, by means of this flexibility to safeguard the rights of any individual, and I can assure the noble Lord that if we are going to err in the Scottish Development Department in this direction we will always err on the side of giving too much time rather than too little. But we are able to safeguard the position. We must not waste time by specifying a standard lengthy period when it is obviously net necessary. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will accept that Clause 7(4) combined with Clause 7(1) gives the Secretary of State an opportunity of arriving at the same conclusion its he would wish, to give full time lo people to pursue their interests without necessarily applying it in all cases where, as he himself so generously said in his remarks, it is unnecessary. I therefore invite him to withdraw the Amendment.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply, but what worries me a little is that he seems to be confusing subsections (1) and (2). Subsection (I) talks about what a local planning authority are to do when they propose to prepare a local plan and the publicity they have to give at that stage. Of course, it is a very good idea that they should have this publicity given to their intentions and that opportunities should be giver for representations to be made at that stage. But my Amendment has nothing to do with that at all. My Amendment deals with the stage when the local authority have prepared the local plan under subsection (2). This is related to the time 1319 within which objections may be made to the authority and, if necessary, an appeal to the Secretary of State. This is the important period, as I understand it.
I think it might be desirable for the noble Lord to look at this matter again to see whether, especially in regard to larger plans and the more important plans, a longer period may be desirable. But, of course, the period within which an appeal has to be made cannot easily he prejudged by the local authority themselves because they cannot know the individual circumstances of the people. The plan may be published just at the moment when somebody is going on a business trip for a couple of months to promote exports or something of that kind. A fairly generous latitude of time is required, simply because the local authority cannot know what the individual needs of the public are. It seems to me that the practice that has been adopted in the past of specifying the period within which this has to be done is preferable to leaving it entirely open to the discretion of the local authority, subject, as the noble Lord says, to what the Secretary of State has to say. It scams to me that a period of time within which objections to the local plan should he made should be well known, otherwise mistakes will be made in different cases. I think that uniformity in this matter is a good thing, otherwise you will have trip-ups. I commend this to the noble Lord and hope that he will look at it.
§ LORD HUGHES
While the noble Lord was speaking I have read Clause 7(1) and (2) and I remain satisfied that the wording of subsection (4) will give adequate protection to a person who wishes to make representations or wishes to object. It would be wrong for me to refuse to look at the matter again, although I am quite convinced that if I deal with this matter again, either in correspondence or at a further stage, the point of view I express will be exactly the same. The powers in Clause 7(4) have been designed to make certain that we can give the maximum publicity and yet enable the Secretary of State to intervene, certainly in the earlier stages, simply because the local authorities are not going as far as the Secretary of State 1320 would like in making it possible for people to participate—and "participate" must of course include adequate time for them to object if they think their interests are being adversely affected. If we go back to this business of setting statutory limits, we shall not in fact be getting the maximum benefit for everybody concerned from this more flexible concept of planning legislation that we are seeking to bring about. It is obviously right that everybody should have adequate time in which to protect his own interests, and I submit that this provision makes it possible for anybody to be given that adequate time without tying it in every case to the maximum, which would be desirable only in some of the cases.
In these circumstances, I ask the noble Lord not to press this Amendment. Certainly I will look at it. I will read carefully in the Report of to-day's proceedings what the noble Lord has said, and if there is anything further that I can say to assure him or convince him, then again I will do so by letter so that if he remains unconvinced he can come back with the matter at a subsequent stage.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I certainly do not intend to ask my noble friends to join me in pressing this Amendment today. But I think that when the noble Lord comes to look at it again he will find that he is a little off the mark, and that subsection (4) relates entirely to subsection (1), the preparation of the plan to be submitted to the Secretary of State, and has nothing whatsoever to do with subsection (2), which is the publication of the plan to the public at large, as well as sending a copy to the Secretary of State, who then has to see whether sufficient publicity has been given before the plan has been prepared. It is nothing to do with the time elapsing afterwards. However, if the noble Lord will have another look at this point perhaps we can return to it later. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 7 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ LORD STRATHCLYDE
I have not given notice to the noble Lord the Minister that I intended to raise a particular point here. The reason for that is 1321 that I felt the answer would be so simple, so far as he was concerned, that there was no need to do so. But I would ask the noble Lord why the provisions in respect of the publicity for preparation of local plans, inquiries with respect to local plans, the adaption and approval of local plans and the alteration of local plans should be different from those which are laid down and to apply to structure plans, as is set forth in Clauses 3, 4 and 5. It seems to me that to the individual citizen the local plan may be of more importance than the structure plan, and therefore the measures to protect the rights of the individual should be no less stringent than those which apply to the structure plan.
I do not know that they are less stringent. From my reading of Clauses 7, 8, 9 and 10 they appear to have equal effect, though arrived at by a somewhat different route. But if I am correct, I would ask again, why should not the same procedures apply to each of these two types of plan? Why should not Clause 7 merely state that the provisions of Clauses 3, 4 and 5 in respect of publicity, approval and alterations of the structure plan apply equally to local plans? Certainly it would make for a greater amount of simplicity, and it would have prevented my spending a considerable amount of time in reading these clauses.
But my chief anxiety is that in both cases there should be a right of appeal to the Secretary of State, and that in fact he should be the final arbiter. That seems to me to he provided for without doubt with regard to the structure plans. I believe it also applies to the local plans, but I would ask the noble Lord whether he can definitely assure me that that is the case. I have doubts cast upon it merely by the wording of Clause 9(4)(b). It may be irrelevant, but it seems to me to have some relevance to the question I am asking.
§ LORD HUGHES
I believe the House is awaiting a Statement. If we could now resume the House that would give me a little time to look at Clause 9(4)(b).
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF LISTOWEL)
I think I must put the Question because I have put it once already and I should collect the voices.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.1322
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
In order that we may hear the Statement by my noble friend Lord Winterbottom I beg to move that this House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, House resumed.