§ 3.3 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY (LORD ABERDARE)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Aberdare.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.876
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]
§ Clause 174 agreed to.
§ Clause 175 [Public health]
THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT (LORD SANDFORD) moved Amendment No. 102Q:
Page 125, line 31, leave out ("sections 5 and") and insert ("section").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment 102Q. We are now moving into functions, and we start with public health. This is little more than a technical Amendment to do with public conveniences and the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. It would take me a little time to explain it all in detail; all I need say is that all the local authorities that are empowered to provide public conveniences remain under a duty to provide for the needs of the disabled. The effect of the 1970 Act is undiminished. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 175, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 14 [Amendment and Modification of Public Health Acts et cetera]:
LORD SANDFORDmoved Amendment No. 102R:
Page 276, line 26, leave out from ("a") to ("and") in line 28 and insert ("county by the county council and in Greater London by the Greater London Council, except that the powers conferred by section 76(1)(c), so far as they relate to the provision of plant or apparatus for sorting and baling waste paper collected separately from other refuse, shall be exercisable concurrently by the local authority and the county council or the Greater London Council, as the case may be.")
§ The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 102R brings us to a subject which will raise the spirits of your Lordships— refuse disposal. In recent technical advice that we have had—there have been two recent reports—it has been recommended that the disposal of refuse function should be exercised over the larger of the two areas in which we have the principal spheres of local government, and that it would be better to divide the collection from disposal rather than have disposal dealt with in areas the size of districts. The present disposition goes back to 1936 877 whereby both functions of disposal and collection were discharged at the district level. In the course of the reform of local government in Greater London we thought it best for the London boroughs to collect refuse, and for the G.L.C. to dispose of refuse. The present position in the Bill is that in the new metropolitan counties matters have been arranged so as to correspond with the arrangement which Parliament thought best in the case of Greater London, and which has now been endorsed by the two technical reports that I mentioned and proved by nine years' of practical experience.
§ Under the Bill the position in Wales remains as it has been since 1936, the districts being responsible for both collection and disposal, the reason for the latter case being that the areas of the new districts in Wales are quite as large as present counties in Wales, and larger than some English counties. The issue therefore to be settled is where should the refuse disposal function lie in the English non-metropolitan counties? The Government's view is that it should be with the county councils. The case for disposal being exercised by the counties does not rest only on the fact that with their larger resources they can invest in, construct and operate larger and more sophisticated incinerators and other fixed disposal facilities. It rests also very much upon the fact that it is they who are responsible for the larger-scale planning functions that include land reclamation—a function with which refuse disposal is so often associated in municipal refuse tips—and also because transport and highways is also a county responsibility. These are considerations which also come into play in managing the large numbers of regular trips by large vehicles dealing with refuse disposal.
§ I also submit that this is a function where the improvement of the quality of life—and that is what we shall be discussing in this range of functions to do with the environment—directly depends on the efficiency with which this operation of refuse disposal is carried out, and where one can safely press the case for operational efficiency over and against the case for local democratic control and for public participation. In all these functions we have to strike a balance, and I submit that in the case of refuse disposal we can safely go for operational efficiency. 878 For those reasons, I beg to move Amendment No. 102R.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
When the noble Lord indicated to us that he was going to deal with the fascinating question of refuse disposal I seemed to sense that a titter went round the Committee. This is not an amusing matter but a vital one where public health is concerned. Also in the context of reorganisation it is a very complicated one which is going to please some people and considerably annoy many others. I suppose I am the only one among your Lordships who has some expert early training in the art of the dustman—not that I ever carried the bins myself, but before I degenerated into journalism I was the chief cost accountant of the refuse disposal department of the Birmingham Corporation. When my friends in that office learnt that I was to desert them to go into newspapers, some of them facetiously said that I was giving up refuse disposal and taking on refuse production.
Be that as it may, the complicated situation which now faces us is this. The Bill, when it was originally introduced, suggested that collection should be the function of the district council and disposal should be the function of the county council. Then the Commons made an Amendment and took that disposal power away from the county and gave it to the district so that the district would be responsible for the two functions of collection and disposal. Now we are considering a proposal by the Government to turn it round again and transfer the disposal of refuse to the county while leaving the collection of refuse with the district.
As I said, there is considerable difference of opinion about the merits of the various approaches that could be made to this matter. The Institute of Public Cleansing, for instance (and I agree that they have a vested interest), want to see the rank of the cleansing inspector raised higher and higher, with more expert knowledge at his disposal. But a year or two ago a Working Party was set up by the then Ministry, first of all to investigate the art and science of refuse collection, and then similarly to investigate refuse disposal. Their fundamental finding was that collection and disposal should be carried out by the same authority; and they suggested that in a two-tier régime 879 that authority should be the larger, the top-tier authority; namely, the county. The Amendment which the Government are putting before us now is not suggesting that.
I do not know whether your Lordships are acquainted with the statistics of refuse disposal. About 90 per cent. of the refuse is tipped: about 89 per cent. of it is tipped in its raw state; about I per cent. of it is tipped in a pulverized state, which enables a hole in the ground of a given size to accommodate a larger quantity of refuse than if it were tipped in its raw state. Only about 10 per cent. of refuse goes to destructors to be incinerated. It is expected that in a few years' time the amount incinerated might rise to about 25 per cent. So we have to visualise the possibility of new incinerator depots being built in various places, and it naturally becomes germane to the issue as to whether it shall be a county incinerator or a district incinerator. Tipping is of course much cheaper than burning—very considerably cheaper; but a good deal of the tipping is done by little councils, and done very carelessly, without proper staff and proper appliances and plant on the tip; and it can become a menace both to the convenience and to the health of the public in the neighbourhood.
When controlled tipping is undertaken—that is to say, a layer of refuse is put in, and then a layer of soil—this can develop into a fine example of land reclamation. There are examples all over the country of fine works of land reclamation that have been carried out through the medium of controlled tipping. If you are to have controlled tipping on a big scale I think you must assume that very big holes will be filled up with very big loads of rubbish—old cement pits, old brickyard pits and so on. That would have to be a strategic operation carried out by the county and not merely a localised operation carried out by the district. So there is an argument in favour of the county being responsible for disposal if it is tipping. If it is to be a destructor it probably means that there will not be a destructor in every little locality in the county: there might be four or five regional destructors in a county. That will involve enormous expense in transport; and the transporta- 880 tion of refuse, or of the clinker which results from the incineration, is one of the largest money items in the whole question of refuse handling.
So I do not know whether it is best to make disposal a county service. Hygienically I think it is; from the point of view of expense and convenience I do not think it is. I think we are trying to reach a decision too soon without having before us the fullest available information. This is no reflection of course on the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. I am just saying that this matter of refuse destruction is now in a state of flux and we ought to see how things develop before we make a final decision and probably take the wrong step. So I suggest that this whole question of refuse collection and disposal should be left for further consideration—perhaps by another Working Party because things have moved on enormously since the recent Working Party. If it is to be accepted, as the Working Party said, that collection and disposal should be the job of the one authority, you cannot possibly suggest that it ought to be the county authority which is responsible for the household collection of refuse in all the streets of a district. There are enormous arguments saying "Yes"; there are enormous arguments saying "No". I am suggesting, very humbly, as a supervising dustman ought to in your Lordships' House, that we really should wait a little longer, consider the matter more fully, not only in its present day application but in the light of the situation that will develop, say, in the next ten years, and come forward again with specific proposals in our next batch of legislation.
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ LORD WOLVERTON
I think it is wrong to reverse a decision that the House of Commons reached, although I know it was the Government's original intention in the Bill that the responsibility should be split and collection should be done by the new second-tier authority, the district, and destruction should be done by the new county. I must declare an interest as Vice-President of the Urban District Councils' Association. Both the Urban District Councils' Association and the Rural District Councils' Association are strongly opposed to the reversal of the decision which was arrived at in the House of Commons. I feel naturally the 881 force of the argument on the other side. Many of these authorities which are going to be amalgamated into second-tier authorities have gone to tremendous expense in recent years. Some of them have put in plants of their own and some have done so jointly.
May I give your Lordships one or two examples. Slough Borough, with a population of 120,000, have already spent on very up-to-date plant £396,000; it is a pulverisation plant. Epsom and Ewell Borough, with a population of 70,000, have spent £182,000 on their very up-to-date plant. Lichfield, in the Midlands, a rural district, with a population of 70,000, have spent £250,000. Mansfield, with a population of 80,000, spent £397,000. They are all going to be second-tier authorities. Looking at other plants which are fairly up to date I will give only one or two figures. Leicester City have gone in with Wigston Urban District and Blaby Rural District. They have a population of 206,000 and have just spent £1,535,000 on incineration plant. Wetherby and Tadcaster, with a population of 42,000, have spent £150,000. If any of your Lordships are interested in these figures I will certainly give them to you for study.
I believe we ought to leave it as it is and allow the second-tier authorities to collect and destroy the stuff. I am not keen on joint responsibility. I know that responsibility can be delegated if powers for destruction are given to the counties. I think that joint responsibility is wrong; Parliament ought to lay down the responsibility clearly and not leave this as a delegated power. That does not work. My experience when for nine years I was on a county council was that county councils are very loth to give up their powers and to delegate them downward. Parliament ought to decide one way or the other. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will have second thoughts and leave it to the second-tier authority, which in future will be pretty big, anything from 75,000 to 100,000 in population. I think those authorities will be quite capable of incinerating and pulverising refuse and filling in holes which should be filled. This is very important for tidying-up the country. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will not press this Amendment to a Division.
§ LORD SLATER
I sincerely hope that the Government will have second thoughts on this matter. In his speech the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, expressed the type of attitude which is in the minds of the general public in regard to refuse collection and disposal. My experience as a local councillor on a district authority goes back many years. I well remember the old system by which we let contracts, for refuse collection. A large number of people used to make application for contracts to clear refuse and dispose of it. That system continued until such time as we were able to formulate policies within the districts, introducing collection by direct labour. This form of direct-labour collection and disposal has worked tremendously well in the areas concerned, particularly in my county. I know what it means to the district itself and what it will mean to some small authorities dealt with by the Bill. Under such a system the general public know the day when collection will take place. They know when the bins have to be put out and the refuse will be collected and disposed of. Services rendered to the general public by the systems operated by district authorities through direct labour schemes have been to the advantage of the public.
The noble Lord, Lord Wolverton, made reference to county authorities which at times are not too generous about delegation. I have in mind what happened about delegation of authority from the county in regard to highways. I was a member of a district authority which had delegated powers by which we had our own highways authority, but the time came when the Durham County Council decided to take away those powers and undertake direct responsibility for the highways of the whole county, and they absorbed the district surveyors. We must never forget that under local authorities there are public health inspectors and sanitary surveyors. All these people fit into the picture of sanitation and the collection and disposal of refuse. I sincerely hope and trust that the Government will have second thoughts, instead of putting further powers into the hands of county authorities, and will give that little extra freedom to the work which has been built 883 up by district authorities which have knowledge of this problem.
Let us not have the same situation arising as when the Labour Government in 1945 introduced the National Health Service and, as it were, took away hospitals from district authorities whose members had had experience in administration of those hospitals. Many noble Lords on both sides of this House have had great experience in local government administration. I served my apprenticeship as a parish councillor. Then I moved on to the district council, and later to the county authority after which I became a Member of the other place and, eventually a Member of this House. I have had long experience not only in local government administration but of Parliamentary life. I sincerely hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to this question and will not force the Amendment through making county authorities responsible for this function which should be the function of district authorities.
§ BARONESS HYLTON-FOSTER
On the question of "who does what", bearing in mind what the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, said, will the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, take into consideration the possibility of constructing more com-posting plants? I think that the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, called them something else, but the principle is the same. Incinerators take up a great deal of space, and space is becoming scarcer, whereas, although they are expensive, composting plants—of which I believe there are only four in the country at the moment—put back into the land much of the refuse, so that in the end the soil will benefit.
§ 3.28 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF MANSFIELD
I hope that the Government will think again on this matter. I do not like the Government Amendment because it divides responsibility. If responsibility for refuse collection and disposal is divided, it will confuse the public. If I had to make a choice, I should say that either the whole operation should go to the first tier, the county council, or collection and disposal should go to the district councils. I appeal to the Minister to say that the proposed division of responsi- 884 bility shall not be acted upon. This is how confusion might arise. Suppose the refuse has been collected and is going to the disposal plant on the instructions of the county council, as it would be if this Amendment were carried. The county council might say that it ought to be disposed of at point A. The district council responsible for collection might be of the opinion that it would be better. and certainly more economical, to dispose of it at point B. I hope the Minister will give some consideration to the possibility that unpleasantness and friction that might arise out of circumstances such as those. This all comes back to the first point I made, the question of divided responsibility in the interests of local government which may not be in the interests of the public.
May I put one other point? With all due respect to the county councils—I was a member of one for eleven years—at no time during their existence from 1888 onwards have they had any dealings with, or any experience of, either the collection or disposal of rubbish and refuse, and at this stage, when certain technological developments are taking place and some of the district councils have taken advantage of those technological facilities, it would be a retrograde step to change the system. Take incinerators, for example. The noble Lord opposite mentioned the town from which I came. Already the town of Mansfield has embarked on a fairly substantial project of incineration, which will shortly be opened. Having had experience over a long period, they have come to the conclusion that this is the most up-to-date and modern method of disposing of waste and rubbish. Under this Amendment all that would go to the county council, who have no experience at all, either in the old method of disposal or in the utilisation of this new technique in the form of incineration.
One further point about the town of Mansfield. Not only will this incinerator dispose of the rubbish but my information is that the heat produced will supply heating and hot water to new commercial premises which are now being erected on some 28,000 square yards of land, and the existing borough council, which will be part of a new district council, will be under legal covenants to supply this heat. Enormous problems will 885 arise if the control of the incinerator is not in the hands of the district council.
It is my view that there is no logical argument at all for the functions of refuse collection and disposal to be a divided responsibility. In conclusion, I would ask the Minister to make it one thing or the other. Do not let us have any halfway measures: either give the whole of the service of collection and disposal to the county council or retain such functions with the district council. If there is a disposition to vote against this Amendment I shall certainly go into the Lobby against it.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
This House never fails to produce a Member with expert knowledge. The other day when we were discussing Essex, the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, dazzled us with the variety of the responsibilities he had carried out in connection with local government. To-day we have one more expert. I fear that I have only one association that I can remember with refuse disposal and that is rather a painful one. About twenty years ago a lorry turned to dump its refuse, and in the course of doing so it dumped me, following it in a car, on to the road and broke my thigh. I fear your Lordships will not consider that to be a very powerful reason for intervening this afternoon.
I think perhaps I must declare an interest because the proposal is to restore the position in the Bill, which laid the responsibility for disposal primarily on county councils, and I have the honour to be President of their Association. I think there is no dispute at all that collection is an appropriate function for the most local tier, but when we come to disposal I should have thought that for technical reasons the balance of argument was the other way. These technical reasons seem to be strong, and getting stronger every year because of the nature of the refuse to be disposed of. I think it was only in 1971 that the Departmental Working Party on Refuse Disposal made recommendations which I understand are in line with the provisions in this Bill.
With regard to fare question of divided responsibilities, in general that is a bad thing, but I should have thought that this was a pretty clear point at which responsibility could be divided—at the end of collection and when disposal begins. I 886 mentioned the nature of the refuse and I suppose it is true—the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, will doubtless correct me if I am wrong—that every year that goes by increases the proportion of refuse that has to be disposed of otherwise than by dumping. I am thinking, for instance, of such things as the ever-increasing amount of plastic containers. There is one question I should like to put to my noble friend. Am I right in thinking that there is no reason why, if there were a clear case where disposal could be most efficiently carried out by the district, it should not be the subject of an agency agreement? In general, I think that the arguments adduced by my noble friend in introducing this Amendment ought to predominate and that the arguments for delay, in view of the recent technical report, were not very strong.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My own view is that new destructor plants should be erected and worked by county councils, but I am concerned about those district councils which in recent years have spent a lot of money and put a great deal of thought into the erection of new and thoroughly up-to-date plant. I want to know how we can best secure that while new plants and new plans shall be made by the county council, the district councils, which are already doing the job admirably in their own areas, can be left alone to carry on with it. That is an important point, which has been made by several noble Lords. At the moment, the county councils have absolutely no experience of refuse disposal, whereas the district councils have. As we all know, some of them do it in a very crude way, and that ought to stop. But some of them have specialised in disposal and already know far more than any county council staff could possibly know. I should like my noble friend to advise me how I can help to bring about what I think is a desirable object, and which I believe is largely desired by all your Lordships. Can we best do it by voting for or against the Amendment?
§ LORD REDCLIFFE-MAUD
Perhaps I may say that this is one of the points on which, as Chairman of the Royal Commission, I do not have to declare an interest, because under the scheme that we proposed outside the metropolitan 887 areas the process of divided responsibility did not arise, and therefore we were able to satisfy those who argued that it was a pity to divide responsibility. But we had to look at this question of the metropolitan areas very closely, and we proposed three. There we were much impressed. Not, of course, that we had the deep personal experience which was revealed by the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, and which I think we were all so much impressed by, but we went into it as closely as we could and on this occasion we had the remarkable spectacle of the Greater London Council and the London boroughs unanimously submitting a single advice to us; that is, that although on balance divided responsibility had disadvantages, the advantage of the boroughs doing collection and being able to respond to a variety of local conditions, meant that they both thought it was an advantage in a metropolitan area for the metropolitan county to do the disposal and for the boroughs to do the collection; and that is what we proposed in Greater Birmingham, Greater Manchester and elsewhere.
The Committee has been impressed by those who have pointed out that the counties as we have known them and as we know them to-day are not experts in the sphere of incineration and refuse disposal or collection. The Committee will also agree that what we are discussing is in some respects fundamentally a different sort of county. These are counties in which what at the moment are county boroughs have been absorbed and the existing county councils have disappeared. The new counties which we are considering, whether or not they have disposal functions, will have among their elected members and chief officials people who are deeply experienced in the problems of incineration and so on.
I hope the Committee will as far as possible not judge this very difficult matter in terms only of the present. I appreciate that matters are made more difficult and delicate by the Government's asking us to reverse a decision which was reached in the other place. I am sure that in considering this issue the Committee will wish to look at the merits of the case from the point of view of our children and grandchildren. It 888 is tempting to take the advice given by the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, and say, "Let us have another working party and see whether we have all the advice we need", but I do not think your Lordships would be likely to get a unanimous piece of advice from those who took full account of the political as well as what one might call the efficiency considerations.
In my view, technicians looking to the future are bound to say that disposal as a subject is on the move, as it were; it is becoming more sophisticated every year. From a democratic as well as an efficiency point of view, our children and grandchildren will be more and more concerned with the quality of the environment and will be anxious not to prejudice it by the indiscriminate tipping which in the past has been the cheapest way of getting rid of plastic non-returnable containers but which, let us hope, will not be the case in future. We must not in 25 years or so from now find ourselves continuing to be content simply to throw these containers away and hope that nobody notices them.
Thus, on behalf of the future I appeal to your Lordships not to think of this matter in terms of a controversy between authorities that exist now or even between authorities that are not yet in existence. It must be considered from the point of view of those who need servicing, and although there would be advantage in a system such as that which the Royal Commission recommended but to which I have not referred—it would avoid the problem of division and have one authority doing both disposal and collection—it is right in the circumstances that the districts should have responsibility for collection and the new counties responsibility for disposal. Am I right in thinking that there will be sensible and flexible arrangements to ensure, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, pointed out, that the best possible use is made of existing incinerators?
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
I hope the Government will comment on the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, that under the present policy it might be possible for the Government to delegate this work to districts which are doing the job properly instead of upsetting the present arrangements. I hope that cognisance will also be taken 889 of the fact that where a county council takes over the task of reclamation, that is just as important a subject from the point of view of preserving the environment. Some local authorities are carrying out reclamation work extremely well. This might be overlooked by the big county councils, which may not consider it worth while to save rate expenditure in this context. Small local authorities obtain quite a large proportion back towards the rates as a result of reclamation work, and I hope that this point will not be overlooked.
While I do not wish to widen the debate too much, I am anxious to speak from the point of view of a rural area. I speak as a countryman and I urge the Committee to accept that it is wrong for your Lordships' House to go against the other place in this matter. Let us accept that in a democracy the House of Commons really counts. In considering whether the county or district should have the responsibility about which we are speaking, I would plump for the district. After all, the new counties will be taking away many of the powers and responsibilities of the districts. Indeed, unless we leave certain responsibilities with the districts there will not be much point in having them. I fear that unless the districts continue to have responsibility for the disposal of rubbish the counties are likely to say, "We want all rubbish taken to point A" and the districts may reply, "We prefer point B because it will cost much more to take the rubbish to point A. Point B is much more convenient to us." For this and other reasons the districts should have the power of disposal.
We cannot wait for a working party to look into this matter in the way the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, suggested, because the R.D.C.s are already running out of disposal space. At present they do not know what to do for the best. They do not know whether they or the county councils will finally have this function and will want to look for new disposal space. I could quote an example where this difficulty has arisen in my area but I do not want to weary your Lordships. We must make up our minds whose responsibility this function is to be and, as I say, I wholeheartedly support its being the districts' responsibility.
890 I live in an area which does not have main drainage, at any rate not in my part of the district, so I have my own cesspit. When I want it cleaned out I get in touch with my local district council and a machine is sent to do the job. When it is cleaned out, the stuff is put where I want it to be deposited. It does wonders for my grassland and I get a fine crop. This is an aspect to be considered because we do not want to waste our muck. It should be used to the best possible advantage. I therefore cannot support the Government in this matter.
I see no difficulty whatever here. My county is amalgamating with the three county boroughs of Brighton, Hastings and Eastbourne. The new county, which will contain representatives of those three boroughs, will, as the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, rightly pointed out, want to give to those areas the task of disposing of their rubbish. But not only will they do that; they may very well ask them to dispose of the rubbish of people nearby. The population is not absolutely static; it changes from one place to another. There must be some flexibility in this, and therefore I think it would be better if the county were the authority which would make agency agreements suitable to the populations of the different districts. We had a discussion about agency agreements yesterday and this would be a very suitable subject for agency agreement.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ LORD PARGITER
If it were not for the fact that we are changing out of all nature the districts themselves, if there were no changes to be made, I would say that this is not a matter I would prefer to do anything about. People are talking as if the districts will remain as they are, but the fact is that we are making changes, and very large changes, in the structure of the districts. In any case, there have to be very considerable changes in the general structure of disposal. There has to be a change in the structure because you will not have three or four districts using different types of places for dumping, some using incineration and some continuing to tip. Therefore there is no particular point in saying that we should not change, because we are going to change anyway. What is the most efficient change to make at this 891 particular point in time, whether or not we go for the large authority, with its greater powers and able to look over a very wide area? When it is looking at where its disposal points shall be—and this seems to me to be the important thing—I know from experience the difficulty that there is when in one particular district you have no room for disposal and you want to go to another district which does not want it.
It is very difficult to get over this problem of disposal. That is why the London boroughs are prepared to give the powers to the Greater London Council. They have no room, and it was increasingly difficult to find room, for their rubbish. Nobody wanted it and therefore the larger authority, with greater powers and facilities, was given the powers in London; and the system works. That is the answer to those who say that you cannot divide the functions. London is a specific case in point where division does work, and most efficiently. None of the boroughs is complaining about the problems of disposal. Each of them is glad to be relieved of it. Is this going to be a development of the future? It will not apply everywhere at this particular point in time, and if there are efficient incinerators working it may well be that the counties will want them to continue working. In fact they may want to extend them. The incinerators may be in a suitable place to dispose of rubbish from a much wider area than they are covering at the present time.
If this is to be done—and various districts may be brought into this—looking at it from the point of view of incineration at a central point, or even from the point of view of controlled tipping at a particular point, it seems to me that the larger authority will be much more capable of doing this than the districts themselves, particularly when the districts, as happens in many cases have to look outside their own areas in order to find tipping space for their own refuse. Incineration is not the end of the problem. Having incinerated the rubbish, they still have to dispose of it. They cannot compost it all. It is not only a single problem that one faces here and therefore it seems to me that if changes are to be made this is the appropriate time to make them. It is no good 892 leaving the districts as they are and letting them settle down into a new pattern and then decide that is not the right pattern. It is much better, if there is going to be a change, that the full change should be made now. I support the Amendment.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I must say that I rather thought the noble Lord, Lord Sandford—and I am sorry to say this—asked us in a rather perfunctory fashion to change a decision that was taken by the House of Commons. The fact is that in about five minutes he disposed of the matter from the Government's point of view. We have to consider very carefully whether or not this is something on which we are going to reverse the Commons decision. So often when we consider Commons decisions on matters, Government tend to say that the other place have decided and we ought not lightly to alter their decision. The Commons decided this on a Division, not in the early hours of the morning but at about 10 o'clock at night. There were 376 Members voting and there was a majority of 14 against the Government—a majority which the Government have said is ample for the purposes of the E.E.C. Bill. But I would not say, with the noble Lord, Lord Nunburnholme, that we ought not to upset Commons decisions: occasionally it is right to do so, but in this case I believe that the decision taken by the Commons was the right one.
I listened very carefully to my noble friend Lord Leatherland, whose knowledge of this subject is quite obvious and exceptional in this House. I must say that I was not quite sure on which side he was going to come down eventually. I am still not quite sure. It seems to me that he was deciding that this ought to be put off until some future date when a decision on the whole matter might be taken. What I would say in this connection is that this is the Bill that ought to decide this. This is a Local Government Bill, and it will decide to allocate functions to some extent and to reform the local government of this country.
What I dislike particularly about a reversion to the Bill as it originally was, and as the Amendment of the noble 893 Lord, Lord Sandford, would mean, is that we should be back to a division of responsibility between two tiers of local government. We should be dividing the function of collection from the function of disposal. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Slater, that division of functions of that sort can be a source of continual friction between the different parts of local government. Anyone who has ever had experience of local government, of delegated responsibility from one tier to another, will know what friction that has caused and will know particularly of the frustrations that eventually come about if one tier of local authority decides to take away the function which had previously been allocated or delegated to another. I would say that a division of that sort, as is projected in the Government Amendment, would be a cause of disharmony between the county council and the district council of the future. A quarrel between local government bodies on an aspect of functions becomes a canker which can spread through the whole area of district and county cooperation. There will be, if this Amendment is carried, a struggle by a district council to prevent the refuse of another council from being tipped on its land. I can well imagine that any district council would struggle very hard to prevent the county council from deciding to tip its refuse on to land which that district council had, especially if the refuse did not happen to be refuse from its own locality.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, that land reclamation comes into this matter, and there is a tremendous advantage in letting the people on the spot supervise the disposal of the refuse, particularly where controlled tipping is to continue—as it certainly will for many years to come. The local people in the district know the area; they are certainly more sensitive to local pressures and will be very much more careful to ensure that proper control is exercised over both the visual and the pest control aspects. This I believe is the case, and we must take this into consideration when deciding what to do about this Amendment. I sincerely hope that the Committee will follow the House of Commons and decide against the Amendment moved by the noble Lord and by the Government.
894 The Consultative Document for Wales said of this function and functions of this sort:These will consist essentially of the functions most closely connected with the physical fabric of individual towns and villages and the countryside.And among the functions named as being essentially suitable for districts was the collection and disposal of refuse. The conditions in England are not so different from the conditions in Wales as to justify a difference between the two countries.
Generally, in this connection, disposal of refuse, I think that the suggestion of the noble Baroness, Lady Hylton-Foster, is an excellent one and will have to be given attention, not of course in this House to-day, but by the local authorities that have the function of disposing of refuse. The cost of incineration has been mentioned. All the figures I have seen of modern plant for incineration show that the large modern plants will be well within the financial reach of the new district councils. In any case, whether such plants are district or county, the cost will fall on the ratepayers. These plants already exist, and I think they should be left to the districts who own them to operate them with the expertise which is already there. The districts have the expertise because they are at present doing the job.
I do not think, with the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, that this is a suitable function for agency arrangements under Clause 100. There the power is only permissive. I am strongly of the opinion that this should be firmly allocated in the Bill and not left to the play of Clause 100, with the difficulties which result as a consequence both of the use of the agency clause and the new transitional clause to follow Clause 108. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, was asking for advice about the future of this function. I am bound to say that my advice to him is to vote against the Government's Amendment because I believe that it is quite misconceived. The job that the districts are now doing is one which on the whole gives us satisfaction. The county councils have no experience of this at all. I would say let them get on with the job, and do not reverse the decision of the House of Commons.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
The noble Lord, Lord Slater, has invited the Government to have second thoughts, but, of course, following the defeat of the Government in another place, which was not by 14 votes but by 4, the Government have had second thoughts. As the Committee will have realised, our second thoughts are exactly the same as our first thoughts. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Mansfield, rested the greater part of his argument on the fact that the whole business of dealing with refuse would not work well if the collection were separated from the disposal function. But, as I said in my opening remarks—and I was glad to have powerful confirmation of the fact from the noble Lords, Lord Redcliffe-Maud and Lord Pargiter—the fact is that for the last eight or nine years these functions have been divided in Greater London, since the reform of local government in Greater London, and not only do we know that the system has worked satisfactorily but we have confirmation from the G.L.C. and the London boroughs in a unanimous comment that in fact the system works well. So I do not think it can be said that the decision to split the functions between collection and disposal leads to any clear inefficiency.
That is not to say that where districts have already provided and are operating large-scale incinerators or other disposal plant satisfactorily there will not be a very strong case for an agency arrangement under which they can continue to do so when those districts or county boroughs form part of a new county. I was glad to hear the view of my noble friend Lord Gage that this is certainly what he would expect to happen when the three county boroughs come together within the new county of East Sussex. I would expect that a whole lot of new counties, influenced and guided by new members drawn from the old county boroughs who do have experience in this field, will soon arrive at satisfactory agency arrangements—not delegated arrangements, as my noble friend Lady Emmet suggested, but the much better and more flexible agency arrangements provided for in the Bill under the clause we have already discussed. My advice to my noble friend Lord Brooke would be that he can rest on the assurance 896 certainly that agency arrangements will be worked out, under the clause as amended by the Amendment which I am proposing, which will enable districts to continue to carry out functions of which they have considerable expertise.
The noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, said that the whole position was in a state of flux and that we ought to wait and do nothing to change the status quo for the time being. I am not quite sure what it was that was going to happen before we could come to a decision. But the fact is that we have two technical reports, one from the Working Party on Refuse Disposal and another from the Technical Committee on the Disposal of Toxic Wastes, and their advice is firmly in favour of conducting disposal over the larger areas and firmly against disposal being carried out at district level. This gives us further reinforcement of the conclusion which we arrived at here eight or nine years ago in respect of Greater London and which has been confirmed by practical experience.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
I wonder whether the noble Lord will permit me to quote from the report of the Working Party on Refuse Disposal to which he has just referred? It says:We consider that there are overriding advantages when both functions are under unified control, and we recommend that responsibility for both refuse collection and disposal should rest with the larger top tier authority.So they want to keep the two services in the same hands, which is against the noble Lord's Amendment, and they want to give both services to the county authority, which again differs from the noble Lord's Amendment.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I do not think it does; it harmonises exactly with what I have said: that the disposal function should be conducted over the larger areas and that the disposal function should not be conducted at district level. The argument which I was dealing with before was one which was designed to show that their feeling that on technical grounds the two functions should be carried out by the same authority is not borne out by experience in Greater London which has been confirmed by the London boroughs and by the G.L.C.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again, but 897 he is rather shuffling out of this. He called as one of his witnesses the Working Party on Refuse Disposal and on the strength of their report he proposes to divide these services, giving collection to the district authority and disposal to the county. Quite clearly, the Working Party on Refuse Disposal say that the two services ought not to be split and that they ought both to be given to the top tier authority. That is quite a different matter, apart from any merits or demerits, from what the noble Lord is saying.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I very carefully brought two arguments to bear; on the one in favour of dividing the two functions between the two authorities I did not rest on these two technical reports, I rested chiefly on experience in London. I do not think that I have very much more to add. I think that all possible points on this issue have been raised. I would hope that noble Lords' misgivings about the decision of the Government in the first case, and now, after second thoughts, in the second case, to provide for the discharge of the disposal functions by the counties, should have in some measure been set at rest. If they were to resist this Amendment, I would ask the Committee as a whole to support me.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I wonder whether the noble Lord could help the Committee on one point. The noble Lord, Lord Wolverton, called attention to the very substantial sums that have been spent by various district councils on plant. If this plant is taken over by the county council will there be an appropriate adjustment between the county ratepayers and the district ratepayers?
§ LORD SANDFORD
I wonder whether we could leave the question of financial adjustments between the two tiers to the discussion on the finance part of the Bill.
§ LORD ALPORT
Before my noble friend sits down, I wonder whether he could help me, and perhaps other members of the Committee, with regard to the constitutional implications of this particular matter which were raised by the
§ noble Lord, Lord Champion, during his speech. Am I right in supposing that the Division took place at the Committee stage in the House of Commons? If so, why did the Government not use the Report stage in the House of Commons to reverse the decision? Even if it was done on Report stage—and I am prompted by the noble Lord on this—is it right that the House of Lords should be used to reverse a substantive decision by the House of Commons on a matter on which there was clearly a very strong opinion? Is it not proper that the Government, in this case, should accept the decision of the House of Commons and not ask the House of Lords to act on behalf of the Government, so to speak, to reassert a policy which the House of Commons has rejected? Are not the Government in danger of placing your Lordships' House in a very difficult and embarrassing position vis-à-vis the House of Commons if, as may well happen, when this Bill is returned to the House of Commons for our Amendments to be considered, this Amendment is again rejected by the House of Commons?
§ LORD SANDFORD
I should have thought that we have always regarded ourselves as a revising Chamber. The reason why the Government did not change the decision in the Commons was, as the noble Lord will have realised, because it was taken at the Report stage. I am sure that it would be wrong for the Government to take the view that the Bill required revision, in the sense that I am moving that it should be revised, without giving second thoughts to the matter. We have given second thoughts. The fact that the Commons took the view that they did is of course one of the factors which we have weighed, but, having weighed it, we still are of the view that the Bill should be amended so that the disposal function is a function of the county authorities.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 102R) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 98; Not-Contents. 56.899
|Aberdare, L.||Amherst, E.||Balfour, E.|
|Airedale, L.||Amory, V.||Barnby, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Balerno, L.||Bath and Wells, L.Bp.|
|Bathurst, E.||Fortescue, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]|
|Belstead, L.||Gage, V.|
|Berkeley, B.||Garner, L.||Moyne, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Gladwyn, L.||Northchurch, B.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Goschen, V.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L,.||Gowre, E.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Caccia, L.||Gridley, L.||Pargiter, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Rathcavan, L.|
|Cawley, L.||Reay, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Hankey, L.||Redcliffe-Maud, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Helsby, L.||Reigate, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Henley, L.||Ridley, V.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Roberthall, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Inglewood, L.||St Just, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Kilmarnock, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Kindersley, L.||Sandys, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Kinloss, Ly.||Savile, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Latymer, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Limerick, E.||Selsdon, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Digby, L.||Listowel, E.||Simon, V.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Lothian, M.||Strang, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Loudoun, C.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Eccles, V.||MacLeod of Fuinary, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Mansfield, E.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Elgin and Kincardine, E.||Middleton, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.|
|Elles, B.||Monck, V.||Vernon, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Morrison, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Exeter, M.||Mottistone, L.||Young, B.|
|Alport, L.||Janner, L.||Rowallan, L.|
|Bacon, B.||Jessel, L.||Royle, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Kennet, L.||Rusholme, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Lauderdale, E.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Leatherland, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Lee of Ashridge, B.||Segal, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Shackleton, L.|
|Champion, L.||Long, V.||Shannon, E.|
|Congleton, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Crook, L.||McLeavy, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, B.||Maelor, L.||Slater, L.|
|Faringdon, L.||Maybray-King, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Fletcher, L.||Milverton, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.[Teller.]|
|Geddes of Epsom, L.||Moyle, L.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Nunburnholme, L.||White, B.|
|Hale, L.||Platt, L.||Wise, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Popplewell, L. [Teller.]||Wolverton, L.|
|Hoy, L.||Rathcredan, L.||Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Rennell, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 4.23 p.m.
Page 276, line 29, leave out ("the").—(Lord Sandford.)
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 102T:
Page 277, line 47, leave out from (" authority") to end of line 50 and insert—
("(2) In section 87(3) for the words "a county council or local" there shall be substituted the words "any such council or" ").
§ The noble Lord said: This is a technical drafting Amendment to do with the provision of public conveniences in or under highways. I do not think I need detain the Committee by explaining it all in detail. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I beg to move Amendments Nos. 102U and 102V, which 901 are no more than drafting Amendments on the same subject.
Page 278, line 2, after ("street") insert ("being a highway").
Page 278 line 3, leave out from second ("authority") to end of line 6.—(Lord Sandford.)
§ LORD SANDFORD
I beg to move Amendment No. 102W. This is another drafting Amendment to correct an earlier error which crept in in another place and which affects a provision to do with street names.
Page 280, line 1, leave out sub-paragraph (2) and insert—
(" (2) A resolution under this paragraph disapplying—
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 102X:
Page 280, line 23, at end insert ("and
(b) served, not later than the date on which the advertisement is first published, on the council of every parish or community whose area, or part of whose area, is affected by the resolution or, in the case of a parish so affected but not having a parish council (whether separate or common), on the chairman of the parish meeting.")
§ The noble Lord said: This is a slightly more important Amendment, though it is still a minor one. The effect is to require local authorities to serve notice of an intention to pass a resolution under paragraph 25(1) of Schedule 14 on any parish or community council or chairman of a parish meeting likely to be affected by such a resolution, as well as advertising in the local papers their intention to pass such a resolution, as they have to do at present. This concerns matters such as hackney carriage licensing, music and dancing licensing, street naming and so on. I beg to move.902
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 102Y:
Page 282, line 21, leave out paragraph 40 and insert:
("40. The powers conferred on a local authority by sections 44 and 46 of that Act shall, in the case of a street outside Greater London which is a highway, be exercisable by the highway authority as well as by the local authority.")
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment relates to a reallocation of functions under Sections 44, 46 and 48 of the Public Health Act 1961. It makes powers to do with barriers in streets exercisable concurrently by a highway authority and a local authority, instead of by a highway authority only; those to do with forecourts exercisable concurrently by a highway authority and a local authority, instead of by a highway authority only; and those to do with ventilators and lights in pavements exercisable by a local authority only, instead of being divided between the two authorities as appropriate. I beg to move.
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 102Z:
Page 283, line 23, at end insert:
49. In section 5(1) of the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act 1972, for paragraph (a) there shall be substituted the following paragraphs:—
'(a) in England, county councils and the Greater London Council;
(aa) in Wales, district councils; and'")
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment is, in a sense, consequential on Amendment No. 102R about which we have just had a substantial debate. It is necessary because it was tabled in another place but was not moved when the Amendment with which it was associated was carried against the Government. Now that that decision has been changed, this Amendment is required. I beg to move.
§ Schedule 14, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 176 agreed to.
§ Schedule 15 agreed to.903
§ Clause 177 [Town and country planning]:
§ 4.29 p.m.
THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS) moved Amendment No. 102EE:
Page 128, line 20, after ("to") insert ("section 178 of and Part I of").
§ The noble Viscount said: We now come on to the planning part of the functions and, with a particular eye to my noble friend Lord Balfour, who I am afraid I left behind last time, I think it would be convenient if we dealt with Amendments Nos. 102EE, 102FF, 102GG, 102HH, 102J, 102TT, 102UU, 102WW, 125XX, 125YY and 125AAA altogether, as they all deal with the same matter. The point of—
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
Yes, I did say No. 102UU. I was going to refer to my noble friend Lord Ridley, because there are two points on that Amendment which we might want to discuss and I intended to mention them specifically. Amendment No. 102UU is really the substantive part which a number of these Amendments all lead up to. The idea, first of all, is that we should pool all the amendments to legislation relating to planning in one place, in Schedule 16, whereas at the moment some of it is in Schedule 29, and some is not in the Bill at all; and, secondly, that, in the process of doing that, we should make some Amendments to some of these provisions, which will appear in Amendment No. 120UU. All of the first batch of Amendments—Nos. 102EE, FF, GG, HH and JJ—run up to this and introduce the idea of a second part of Schedule 16. The substantive Amendment, in which my noble friend Lord Ridley will be interested, is Amendment No. 102UU, and then there are some consequentials which appear in Schedule 29, where we are taking out all the previous references to these matters of planning importance.
The main Amendment, therefore, is Amendment No. 102UU. which is the big, long, second part of the Schedule which we are putting into Schedule 16. There are four sections to this Amend- 904 ment. The first of them is the Building Restrictions (War-time Contraventions) Act 1946, which, rather suprisingly, still has some life, because although it is a matter of saying whether or not buildings put up before the end of the war period complied with planning control—and one would have thought that was long since over—as a matter of fact, so long as such buildings are still in certain hands, particularly the hands of the Forces, you cannot start a determination for the purposes of this Act. Therefore there are still occasions, though I think they are very rare (I think I met only one in the course of my practice in this field), when this Act is still extant. The idea is a perfectly simple one. It is an improvement upon what at present appears in Schedule 29, in that the decision whether or not the planning control was complied with in the course of the erection of that building long ago during the war falls either to the district or to the county authority according to the question whether the matter is a county matter or nest. Primarily the decision will be that of the district authority unless it is a county matter. This has been expanded and brought into accord with the rest of the planning functions on this rather small and subsidiary matter.
We then get to the Land Compensation Act, and the somewhat sophisticated procedure which originated in the 1959 Town and Country Planning Act, which if I remember rightly, when the land is being acquired compulsorily or is under threat of it, allows a person to apply to the planning authority for a certificate to say what would be the appropriate planning permission which would have been given if the land had not been under compulsory acquisition for something else. For example, the obvious case is land being bought for a school, say, and the person who owns the land saying, "Yes; but, in actual fact, if it had not been acquired for a school this is land which would obviously have been allowed for residential development"; and it affects the price at which the acquiring authority buys the land. So the certificating procedure is there, and there is an appeal, of course, to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. Here we have again attempted to assimilate the procedure to the general planning position in the Act whereby it will be the district council 905 which deals with the matter unless there is a county matter concerned. I know that it is upon this particular point that my noble friend Lord Ridley has a certain number of reservations, and I should like to listen to him, if I may, to see whether I can offer him any solace in the matter when he has explained it.
We then have the New Towns Act, which was a consolidation measure, and I can promise the Committee here that, although this is set out afresh in this particular part of the Amendment, there is no change from what is in the Bill already. I think that part, therefore, is comparatively straightforward. Fourthly, we have the question of Section 8 of the Town and County Planning (Amendment) Act, which deals with the notices that can be put on an unlisted building in a conservation area. We say here that the power to do this shall be exercised by the district planning authority except in a National Park. On that, seeing that there are Amendments down on a very similar subject to be moved by the noble Baroness, Lady White, and the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, I think perhaps I ought to reserve judgment. But, at any rate, what is put forward in this fourth category in the Schedule is consonant with what we have done elsewhere in the Bill.
If the Committee should decide to accept the various points made on this sort of subject in later Amendments—listed buildings, conservation areas and building preservation notices—then I have no doubt that this part of the Schedule would have to follow suit. But perhaps the Committee would accept at this stage that what I am proposing is in accordance with the handling of these matters at present in the Bill, and, therefore, if that is accepted it would be without prejudice to anything that happened on those cognate matters in a moment. That is the effect of this rather large group of Amendments. I can, I hope, explain further any of the detailed parts which may be of interest to noble Lords, but meanwhile I hope that that will do. Therefore, although I am speaking to all these Amendments, I beg to move Amendment No. 102EE.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Colville for allow-mg me a lead-in, as it were, to Amendment No. 102UU. I had hoped it was not 906 coming on until after tea, but never mind that. It is a very small point that I want to raise, and I feel certain that my noble friend will be able to help me in his normal, helpful way. I am dealing here with certificates of alternative development under Section 16 of the Land Compensation Act 1961; that is to say, the new paragraph 43 in the Amendment on page 6 of the Marshalled List. The Bill as originally drafted was simple and clearcut—paragraph 21 of Schedule 29. Now, the noble Viscount's Amendment seeks to give district councils the authority to issue these certificates themselves unless, as in subparagraph (5) of the new paragraph 43—I am sorry about all these figures, but I have nearly finished quoting them—they think that the certificate could be a county matter. The point here is that they do not have to consult the county first in all cases. I understand—I may be wrong, but this is what I understand— that for this purpose highways are not a county matter. Therefore, there could be a question in a case in which a district issued these certificates for a piece of land which the county might subsequently want for a county road. It is purely to stop friction between the two councils that I ask my noble friend to look at this little point again. I really do not think this is a matter of the county councils trying to struggle for power with district councils on the earth-shaking matters which we have just decided by vote.
The issue of these certificates is not a frequent occurrence, and they really are more of a technical matter than one of policy in which the elected members get involved. But I think it should be incumbent upon whatever authority issues these certificates—and it does not really matter which authority issues them—to consult the other tier, because I think that would obviate a great deal of friction in the future. For instance, if a new piece of ground was required for a road and a certificate of alternative development had been issued, as my noble friend said the price of the land might completely alter the planning of the highway authority. I hope I have got that right. I think it is something which could very simply be put right if the noble Viscount will consider the point. As I say, I am not here trying to grab for the counties powers which should belong to the districts, because it is only sensible, I think, that the districts 907 should issue these things, but they really must consult the county before doing so.
§ 4.38 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
I think my noble friend is perfectly right on this. I am not quite sure that the example which he has given is correct, because if the land was required in the real world of planning for a road, I suspect that it would be the highway authority, which is the county council, that would be making the compulsory purchase order, and therefore the question would arise in the context of the land's being required for a road and what other purpose it might hypothetically have been used for if it were not being acquired for that purpose. Where I think one might get examples of difficulty is where, for the sake of argument, some other development—say, a park—was in the mind of the acquiring authority, a development that would not, at least on my hypothesis, create a great deal of traffic and the suggestion by the person from whom the land was to be acquired was that, in the hypothetical world of the Section 17 certificate, planning permission would otherwise have been granted for housing, which would have generated a good deal of traffic. In those circumstances, the local highway authority, which is the county, would, I think, be justified in saying, "Yes, planning permission doubtless could have been, in the alternative, granted for housing; but not until the highway had been improved." Therefore, as is possible in this procedure, a condition could have been imposed deferring the start of the hypothetical housing project for a certain period of time.
I have looked at this point because my noble friend was good enough to give me notice of it, He is right in thinking that highway matters are not county matters. I think that in general terms the provision in paragraph 43 of the new Part of the Schedule ought to result in proper cross-consultation between county and district. Nevertheless, I think there may be something to be said for a specific power relating to highway matters, since I note that paragraph 17(b) of Schedule 16 specifically provides for this in the case of ordinary planning applications for the operational use of land. I do not think it could be adapted 908 straight, because that provision refers to a development order. I do not think that that provision could extend to the Land Compensation Act. I should like to consult my advisers and the draftsmen on this matter, to see whether we can draw a parallel to Section 17 so that where highways are involved in the case of Section 17 certificates under the Land Compensation Act the county council, as the highway authority, will be consulted and given an opportunity to express its views. I think that this could be done simply; it is merely the matter of a technical Amendment. If my noble friend is happy with that then I shall see what we can do before the next stage of the Bill.
Page 128, line 25, at end insert ("Part I of").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
Page 128. line 28, at beginning insert ("Part I of")—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
Page 128, line 30. at end insert ("and Part II of that Schedule shall have effect with respect to the exercise by such authorities of functions under other enactments relating to town and country planning and for making minor amendments and modifications of such other enactments.").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ Clause 177, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 16 [Functions under, and amendments and modifications of, Town and Country Planning Act 1971]:909
Page 284, leave out lines 2 and 3 and insert—
§ (" FUNCTIONS UNDER, AND AMENDMENT AND MODIFICATION OF, ENACTMENTS RELATING TO TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING