HL Deb 03 April 1973 vol 341 cc149-264

2.59 p.m.


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 Sandford.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[THE EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Right to compensation]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 1: Page 2, line 12, after ("the") insert I "appropriate").

The noble Lord said: Before speaking to this Amendment I should like to make two points in connection with this stage of the Bill. First, I would offer an explanation to the Committee for the very large number of Amendments put down by the Government. This has arisen because the Bill is a complex one dealing with highly technical and legal matters. It was not possible fully to consider all the valuable suggestions made from both sides in another place, and we are dealing with the result of mature consideration of matters raised at earlier stages in the passage of the Bill through Parliament. I must also apologise in advance for my own shortcomings. To do justice to this Bill one has to have either legal training or valuation experience, and I have had neither. But I am to be assisted later by my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross who is experienced in this subject, but he is not here at the moment.

Amendment No. 1 is a paving Amendment to Amendment No. 19 which amends Clause 18 and I think it would be helpful if your Lordships would look at Clause 18 in which certain terms used in Part I of the Bill are defined. All that these two Amendments do, taken together, is to set out what is meant in Part I by "the appropriate highway authority". When we get to Amendment No. 19 it becomes clear that the definition of "the appropriate highway authority" is required because there are numerous statutory provisions enabling one highway authority to carry out improvement work on a highway for which another authority is the highway authority. Some of these provisions also provide for the transfer of a highway constructed by one highway authority to another highway authority. Similar situations could arise under the Bill, especially in Part II, and these could give rise to questions of liability as the Bill stands. The Amendment ensures that the authority carrying out the work is the responsible authority for the purposes of claims under Part I of the Bill. I beg to move the Amendment.


I am sure that the Committee will sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in the situation in which he finds himself. The Government are fortunate to have someone with his ability to take on the task. The noble Lord has referred to the very large number of Amendments tabled by the Government and to the highly complex and legal nature of the Bill. I find myself in the quite unexpected position of being called on to move a number of Amendments, and if the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is in some difficulty I think that I am in even more difficulty, not having at my disposal the resources that are at the disposal of the noble Lord.

Having regard to the very large number of Amendments and the highly technical nature of the Bill, it would have been helpful if the precedent which was set when we were considering the Local Government Bill had been followed on this occasion, and if we had been in possession in advance of some notes from the Government indicating what was behind their Amendments. If we do not complete the Committee stage to-day, and I do not see how we can, I hope that something may be done in that direction. If such a situation should ever occur again with regard to a Bill, I hope that very helpful precedent will be followed. We on this side of the Committee will do our best, but we did not anticipate being confronted by about 100 Government Amendments. So far as this Amendment is concerned we have no criticism to offer.


May I ask a question which, if it is answered, may save time later on when we get to the Amendment to which this is a paving Amendment? There is already a definition in Clause 18 of a "highway authority" in relation to Scotland which has the meaning assigned to it in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1970. Does this definition of an "appropriate highway authority", which presumably applies to places other than Scotland, have the same meaning in both countries?


The noble Lord will see that "highway" in relation to England, Wales and Scotland is already defined in Clause 18, and "highway authority" in relation to Scotland. The new definition in Clause 18 introduced by Amendment No. 19 applies to all parts of the United Kingdom, so far as I can see at the moment, but if this is not so I will expand on that point when we reach Clause 18.


I will accept that, but I will come back to the point when we discuss that clause. If this applies to the whole of the country we have the peculiar position, so far as Scotland is concerned, that we have a definition of a "highway authority" and a definition of an "appropriate highway authority", which would seem to indicate that the first one is an inappropriate highway authority.


I do not think that is necessarily so, but we can go into it further when we discuss Clause 18.


Will the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, respond to the invitation of my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy to provide notes to help us in the consideration of this Bill? My noble friend called attention to the fact that on the Local Government Bill, which the Government wanted in a hurry and which was a highly complex and difficult Bill, the Government provided notes and they were extremely helpful to the whole House. I think that a Bill of this sort justifies the same sort of provision to help in the consideration of this highly difficult matter. Would the noble Lord con- sider this and consult his colleagues about the possibility of providing notes, even at a late stage?


I will certainly consider that. I think that such difficulties as we have on this Bill are of a rather different kind, but as we go through the Bill I will do my best to make sure that all the matters which require explanation are explained as fully as possible.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 1, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


Before we part with this clause, I should be grateful if my noble friend would clear up a couple of small matters which seem to be causing some concern. It may be that the answers are to be found elsewhere in the Bill, and if so I apologise, but I have been unable to find them. According to the clause, when the value of an interest in land is depreciated the interest qualifies for compensation, payable by the responsible authority. I take it, therefore, that whether the land is required for constructing, let us say, a highway, or whether, as the result of that highway being brought into use, land adjacent is depreciated, it will qualify for compensation. It would appear from later clauses that compensation can take various forms; cash, acquisition by the authority by compulsory purchase or by agreement; and the further question which would ask my noble friend is, who decides the form compensation is to take? I ask that because I note from Clause 23, for example, that under an agreement the provisions, including those of a financial character, are left to the decision of the highway authority. Should the decision as to the form of compensation not rest with those who have an interest in the land which is being depreciated? Should such a person not have a right to claim that the authority should purchase his land at the price it would have commanded if there had been no question of a highway or other public works?


May I put one further question to the Minister which arises on Clause 1(6)? The object of subsection (6) is to exclude the right to receive compensation in cases in which there is still preserved a right to bring an action for nuisance in respect of the physical factors which are mentioned in subsection (2) of the clause. I should like to ask the Minister to explain the Government's thinking on that. Would I not be right in thinking that when one is talking about compensation for depreciation in the value of land owing to the physical factors in question, that compensation being measured in terms of Clause 4 of the Bill, one is talking about something which is different from the damages that can be awarded in an action for nuisance? Would I not be right in thinking that you cannot really succeed in an action for nuisance unless you can show that you have been seriously inconvenienced by something which I would describe, perhaps rather loosely, and possibly inaccurately, as a rather unusual user of the roadway or the highway, or whatever it is that is the source of the nuisance of which you complain?

The depreciation that one is considering in this part of the Bill is something different. It is any diminution in the value of the interest in the land concerned which flows from the presence of the physical factors which are described in subsection (2) of this clause. So far as my thinking goes, it does not become immediately apparent why you should not have a right to seek compensation for which this clause provides and also have your right to bring an action for nuisance. I should have thought that clearly if you had received compensation and you then brought an action for nuisance, if there was an overlap between that area covered by the compensation you had received and the damages which might otherwise be awarded to you in your action for nuisance, your right to damages would be correspondingly reduced, but they do not necessarily overlap. I think it could often be the case that the owner of an interest in land could rightly complain that his interest had suffered depreciation and he also could say in addition, "I have a cause of action in nuisance which I desire to bring". It is true to say that one is more extensive than the other. If that view is correct, or substantially correct, I should not have thought that there was adequate ground for excluding the right to compensation by virtue of subsection (6) unless the right to bring an action for a nuisance is also included by the relevant statutory provisions which govern the carrying out of the work that one is concerned with.


Perhaps I could deal first with the point made by Lord Stow Hill by spelling out in rather more detail the philosophy underlying Clause 1(6) which is I think the part that concerns the noble Lord. The broad policy is that the subsection specifies that, except in the case of highways, compensation shall not be payable unless immunity from action for nuisance is conferred in relation to the public works by a relevant Statute, for example, in the case of aerodromes, Section 41(2) of the Civil Aviation Act 1949. As the noble Lord knows, since 1845 it has been a principle of the law of compensation for injurious affection that compensation is payable only where the right of action has been taken away by Statute.

The fact that compensation under Section 68 of the Lands Clauses Act for injury caused by the construction of works is only payable in the circumstances referred to by Lord Blackburn in the Caledonian Railway case of 1882, namely, compensation is confined to damage arising from that which would, if done without authority from the legislature, have given rise to a cause of action", means that logically compensation for the use of works so constructed for which we are providing in Part I should be payable only in similar circumstances. Thus the Bill will not apply to works constructed and in use in circumstances where statutory powers afford no protection. In the absence of any express provision in a Statute, the question depends upon the facts of each case and the construction of the relevant statutory provision and, beyond what I said, no general construction can be given to the question whether an action is maintainable against a particular authority. The noble Lord will find, as we go on, that what I have just been saying here as relevant to this particular clause will be modified and expanded in a variety of ways.

In answer to my noble friend Lord Strathclyde who asked how the compensation will be assessed, the base is of course the valuation. Where there is an obligation to pay it the Lands Tribunal come in; where it is a matter of discretion the decision rests with the authority exercising the discretion, and the general principle is, as I explained on Second Reading, market value plus a number of additions such as the new farm loss and home loss. Apart from those general remarks I think I would want to deal with specific instances as we come to them in the Bill.


There is one point that I should like to ask apropos of this clause. In subsection (2) various factors are mentioned which qualify for compensation. Would it not be possible to include obstruction of view? If one lives in open country and suddenly has a gigantic concrete structure placed at the end of one's garden, would not that qualify for compensation?


No, I do not think it would be possible to draw the line in that way. The nearest factor in that field is artificial lighting which is one of the things introduced by highways and roundabouts in the countryside and things like that. To go beyond that will make it impossible to draw the line effectively.


Does the noble Lord really consider it proper that the authority responsible for causing depreciation should have the right of decision in certain matters?


I think I made it clear that that is appropriate in those cases where the power to pay compensation is discretionary, but not of course where it is an obligation under the Bill.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Interests qualifying for compensation]:

3.20 p.m.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 3, line 17, leave out subsection (4) and insert— ("(4) In this section "owner's interest", in relation to any land, means—

  1. (a) the legal Fee Simple therein.
  2. (b) a tenancy thereof granted or extended for a term of years certain of which, on the date of service of the notice of claim in respect thereof, not less than three years unexpired.
  3. (c) a business tenant, who holds for a term not less than three years, with a statutory right to an extended lease.
  4. 156
  5. (d) a tenant of a house who has a right of enfranchisement under the Leasehold Reform Act.
  6. (e) a tenant with a lease less than three years unexpired but with an option right to extend this lease.")

The noble Earl said: Clause 2 defines the interest in land which would qualify under Clause 1 for the new compensation for injurious affection. I think this new compensation is to be very much welcomed. The purpose of this Amendment is to seek to widen those interests in land which at present are not included. There are three additional interests included in the Amendment. First, the business tenants with statutory right of extension under the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act; then the tenant of a house with the right of enfranchisement under the Leasehold Reform Act and, thirdly, the tenant with a lease of less than three years but with the right of option. The Government undertook in another place to look at this clause again to see whether it should be extended. I would submit to my noble friend that all three cases could suffer a permanent depreciation of their legal interests and of their value. I hope that my noble friend will be able to accept the principle of the Amendment even if he is unable to accept its drafting. I beg to move.


My noble friend is right. We undertook to look again into some of the matters in his Amendment. His Amendment, in paragraphs (a) and (b), incorporates two features which are already in the Bill. The item which forms part of his paragraph (d) we undertook to look into again. We are still looking into it; but the problems of providing a satisfactory solution for what has turned out to be a difficult subject have unfortunately prevented the necessary Amendment being prepared and tabled in time for this stage. If a satisfactory Amendment is feasible on the lines of the Amendment my noble friend is seeking to introduce, it will be presented at the Report stage; but it will not necessarily extend entitlement under Part I to the other two categories of persons which my noble friend's Amendment seeks to cover.

It is a normal basis of the compensation code that compensation is not paid for anticipated rights or profits unless such expectation is reflected in the value of the interest or unless it is based on some statutory entitlement. That is the argument to my noble friend's paragraph (e). The rent payable under a new 50-year tenancy under the Leasehold Reform Act is based on the ground rent and is thus limited only to the value of the site. Depreciation to the value of the bricks and mortar is not covered. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, the right to a new 7-year or 14-year tenancy is acquired at current market rental value which would reflect depreciation due to the use of the public works. Thus, to some extent, business tenants already have a remedy. I hope that with that explanation covering some aspects of my noble friend's Amendment, and with the assurance that we are doing what we can in respect of the Leasehold Reform Act, he will not press his Amendment now. We shall do our best but I cannot give him a guarantee that we shall be successful.


May I ask my noble friend on what lines the Government's collective mind is working with regard to paragraph (d)? This is a peculiarly difficult subject because a person has a right of enfranchisement in certain circumstances after five years. He may not have asked for it. Is he then to come in. when compensation is about, and ask for it—when he has not asked before and when no negotiations have taken place as regards price? What lines are the Government pursuing in solving this question?


Those are the very sorts of point which make this a good deal more difficult than was originally thought.


I am grateful to my noble friend for giving the assurance that this matter will be looked at again. Perhaps I could draw his attention to one aspect under subsection (4)(c) which deals with business tenants. I think he said that the principle of compensation would not normally cover a statutory right of renewal of a tenancy. I would draw his attention to Clause 43 of the Bill which as I understand it grants the principle of compensation to agricultural tenants on The ground of their security of tenure. With that short point in mind I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Assessment of compensation; general provisions]:

3.25 p.m.

LORD STOW BILL moved Amendment No. 3: Page 5, line 17, at end insert ("and account may also be taken of depreciation due to physical factors caused by the carrying out of any works preparatory to and undertaken for the purpose of any such alteration extension or change as is referred to in subsection (1) of section 9 of this Act").

The noble and learned Lord said: I beg Ito move this Amendment which would slightly enlarge the scope of subsection (2) of Clause 4. Clause 4 provides the guidelines by reference to which the depreciation is to be assessed and the consequent compensation calculated. Depreciation in terms of subsection (2) is to be due to physical factors caused by the use of any public works and account has to be taken of the use of the works as it exists on the first day of the claim period. If one asks what that means, one must go back Ito Clause 3(2) where one finds that the claim period is the period of two years beginning on the expiration of 12 months from the relevant date. If one wants to know what is the relevant date, one must go back to Clause 1(9) where one finds that it is, broadly speaking, the first day on which the highway, if it is a highway, was thrown open to public use or, if some other building, then the first day when that building was used.

The provision for compensation is however expanded by Clause 9 of the Bill, to which my Amendment relates. This is a clause which gives a right of compensation where you find there have been alterations carried out to public works or where there has been some change of use, or some extension. Obviously, if one is going to try to apply Clause 4 and the measurement provision of that clause to that situation one has to ask oneself what in the case of an alteration or extension or a change of use is the relevant date because you must find the relevant date before you can find what the claim period is. The relevant date in the case of such an alteration, if I may so compendiously describe what Clause 9 provides, is the date which begins after the completion of the alteration.

Relating that to Clause 4, which I seek to amend, I would submit that where you get a case of an alteration of a highway or an alteration of some other public building one knows from experience that particularly in the case of a highway, frequently extensive works have to be carried out in order to prepare it for the change of use. Likewise, in the case of a large-scale building of some sort and, equally long before the alteration in the building is completed, months or even years of work may have been carried out; and the carrying out of that work, whether in the case of a highway or in the case of a building, may have given rise on a very extensive scale to physical factors of the sort we are considering. If that is the case, is it not arguable that if you are seeking to find when depreciation in the interests of some particular property owner sets in you will find that it begins when the preparatory work carried out for the purpose of alteration is undertaken? In the case of a highway, bulldozing may have been taking place for months in order to extend it or to change its track in some way or other. I am not a valuer and, as has been said, one really needs the advice of an expert valuer in this case. But I should have thought that the depreciation sets in when the work begins to be undertaken, and that a great deal of depreciation in the value of the interest of the owner has already occurred by the time the alterations have been carried out.

The submission that I make to the Committee is that if Clauses 4 and 9 remain in their present form the owner of the interest in the land concerned may lose a great deal of compensation which justly he should receive. Supposing when the claim period begins—that is to say, in the case of alterations one year after the alterations have been carried out—the depreciation in the value of his interest is found to be X, if one looks historically at the date when that depreciation set in. one may find that nine-tenths of that X had set in almost as soon as the preparatory work began to be carried out for the purpose of achieving the alteration. If that is the right view, and if expert opinion would confirm it, then I would submit for the consideration of the Government that, with the language of Clauses 4 and 9 in its present form, the owner would receive only one- tenth of X, and he would lose the nine-tenths of X which was attributable to the carrying out of the preparatory work: all he would be entitled to receive would be one-tenth of X; namely, that proportion of X which he could show had set in during the year the period specified in Clause 1. That period has to elapse before his claim period begins. He has to wait for the year; then his claim period begins; and then you ask what was the depreciation at the time of the claim period.

I may be wrong on this, and if so I hope the noble Lord will correct me, but I would submit that the result might be that most of the depreciation would pass him by. What he ought to have is all the depreciation that has set in from the time when the alteration works have first been undertaken, and that should cover all the depreciation which you find has occurred up to the time when his claim period begins. If an Amendment somewhat on these lines is not embodied in the Bill, I would submit that he may get a great deal less than he should in justice receive. Those are the grounds for the Amendment.


If I may say so, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, is making a perfectly valid point, but it need not be made by his Amendment because it is catered for in a slightly different way by the Bill as it stands. Before explaining it in more detail, perhaps I would ask the Committee and the noble and learned Lord to distinguish between the permanent depreciation in value which is caused by the use of the public work when altered or constructed—which is what Part I is to deal with—and the temporary depreciation which, as he rightly says, also occurs in the course of construction by virtue of the execution of the construction of the changes, which is of a temporary nature, but may in some cases lead from one to the other.

The Bill, as I hope I shall show, seeks to deal with these two separate effects in two separate parts of the Bill. The purpose of Part I is to remove the restrictions which have been placed on the interpretation of Section 68 of the Lands Clauses Act, and the intention of Part I is to provide a remedy for permanent depreciation in the value of an interest affected by the use of public works which have protection against actions for nuisance at common law. It is the use of highways, aerodromes et cetera which permanently depreciates property and about which the representations have been made and for which Part I of the Bill is designed. The noble and learned Lord is quite right in saying that the actual process of construction of new public works may certainly temporarily depreciate property; but that particular kind of depreciation stops when the construction work stops.

The Bill alleviates construction nuisance—and I have tried to distinguish between the two—in a number of ways, but not in the Part of the Bill that we are dealing with now. The comprehensive acquisition powers provided for in Clauses 21 and 25 should prevent properties situated next to public works which are being constructed or altered from being seriously affected. Remedial works to minimise construction nuisance can be undertaken as provided for in Clauses 22 and 26. The sound insulation provisions under Clause 19 (all in Part II) will in relation to highways enable sound insulation to be installed to minimise construction noise, as well as the noise arising from the use of the public works.

I am tabling a new clause to follow Clause 26 which proposes that the expenses of persons moving temporarily because of the construction works will be refunded, and where there is negligence or works are carried out in an unreasonable manner there is a right of action at common law against the contractor. So in all those ways the Bill deals with the points which I think are concerning the noble Lord. Actions for injurious affection can already be taken where a person's legal rights have been physically interfered with by the construction of public works which have protection at law; and where they do not have protection, actions at common law for nuisance, trespass et cetera can be taken. Claims have been upheld under Section 10 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 in respect of works obstructing rights of way, interfering with the right of ancient lights or causing flooding—all things to which the noble Lord has referred—and claims might also be made in respect of nuisance caused by the deposit of mud, dirt et cetera on somebody's property.

I hope that with that explanation the noble and learned Lord will see that we have not been unmindful of the effect of these kinds of preparatory works, and have in fact provided for them. But we have provided for them separately and differently, because I think the depreciation which they cause is separate, different and temporary as compared with the depreciation caused by the use of public works, which is permanent and is therefore dealt with in Part I.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that careful and full explanation. I hope he will forgive me if I say that it does not altogether convince me, and I would ask the Government to think about this a little longer. The basis of the noble Lord's answer really constituted a contrast between temporary depreciation and permanent or long-term depreciation. His argument was that if you look at other provisions of the Bill—for example, Clauses 21 and 22 with regard to insulation—you will find that that temporary depreciation is already catered for. He said that, in any event, existing actions for nuisance, depreciation and so on were covered. With great respect to the noble Lord, is that quite right?

Is there really any real distinction in the case of the depreciation we are considering, between that which sets in when the road work is first undertaken, and that which remains when the reconstructed road is thrown open to use? This is a matter for a valuer. I am sorry that I do not have the expertise to enable me to express a view about that. If a person has a house adjoining a highway, and it is obvious that the highway is going to be completely transformed because a host of workers and implements are brought upon the scene and they begin to enlarge it or change its character altogether, as from the moment they begin that work is it not then apparent to all would-be purchasers of the house in which the relevant interest resides that the house has permanently and finally depreciated in value? From the point of view of the prospective purchaser, it is not much consolation to him to know that under Clause 22 insulation proceedings will be instituted in relation to that house.

The action for nuisance I thought was excluded. I would doubt whether an action for injurious affection under the 1845 Act would cover that loss of depreciation. It relates to something different. All I am asking the noble Lord to say this is obviously a highly technical matter) is that he will give it further thought in. case it is the result of the language as drafted by accident—and I accept it is not intended—to exclude from the ambit of the compensation that may and should be justly awarded what in individual cases may be nine-tenths of it. I know that the noble Lord would not want that result to eventuate, if that is the result of the existing language. I should be content to withdraw my Amendment if the noble Lord is able to tell me that he will give it some further thought.


I am a little puzzled by the reply which the noble Lord made regarding the Amendment of my noble and learned friend when he suggested that sound insulation under Clause 26 would provide a remedy. In all probability the unfortunate person who is adjoining these works will not know until the works begin that his house is going to be drowned with sound and that he will not hear his correspondent speaking on the telephone. By the time sound insulation is put in perhaps the works will have already been completed. Surely this is not a remedy.


It is not a remedy in that particular case but there are other cases where the construction work might well go on for a considerable time and the remedies to which I have referred would be valuable and useful. I can give the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, the assurance that I will look into this matter again and make sure that his point is fully met. My present advice and belief is that it is.

I would ask the Committee to recognise that, although there may be many cases, it might be the most usual case where the first thing that happens is a lot of noise, mess, dirt, smell and fumes occasioned by the construction of new works, followed by noise and fumes and general depreciation caused by the new use of public works. But this is not always the case. There may be some cases where people who will in due course suffer from the new use suffer nothing at all as a result of the new construction. There will be other cases where people suffer a temporary depreciation from the new construction works, but, when they are finished, suffer no depreciation from the new use resulting from those works. It is for these considerations that we have found it necessary to make separate provision for a total episode which may in many cases look as though, as the noble and learned Lord indicates, it is all one part of one single piece of depreciation, starting in the first case with temporary depreciation caused by the construction works, followed by permanent depreciation caused by the use of the works. I will certainly look into this matter again.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he said and ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Before I call Amendment No. 4, I should point out to the Committee that if this Amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 5.

3.45 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 4: Page 5, line 40, leave out from first ("be") to end of line 42 and insert ("or could have been carried out, or in respect of which a grant could be or could have been paid, under any of the provisions mentioned in paragraph (a) above have been carried out but, in a case where the authority having functions under that provision have a discretion whether or not to carry out the works or pay the grant, only if they have undertaken to do so.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 4. In view of what the Chairman of Committees has just said. I and in the hope that the Committee will agree to the Amendment I am moving, I would point out to my noble friend Lord Kinnoull that it is the view of the Government that his Amendment is unnecessary because the purpose my noble friend seeks is achieved already. Two points are covered by Amendment No. 4: one of them arises from a suggestion made by the Opposition in another place. In applying the powers for sound insulation in Clause 19 the Government's present intention is to provide in the first set of regulations (which will deal with noise from highways) for an entitlement where a road has come into use since October 17 1972 (the White Paper date), and also a discretionary Power for authorities to sound-insulate where a road has come into use up to three years before that date. This three-year retrospection reflects the three-year retrospection in relation to Part I compensation claims provided for in Clause 1(8).

During the Committee stage in another place it was suggested that in applying the permissive powers of Clause 19 it would be wrong to provide that Part I compensation should be based only on the assumption that the works had been carried out, which is what the clause at present states, but that there should only be an assumption that the works could be carried out in cases where the authority had given an undertaking to do so. Secondly, if it were not to be assumed that insulation had been carried out where it could have been there might be incentives for people to refuse insulation and hold out for injurious affection compensation instead, which could then be spent in other ways—such as a holiday in Majorca. This would be especially unwelcome where the landlord might refuse insulation which benefits his tenants, and the housing stock, so as to pocket the compensation. The Amendment achieves both these objects.


I support my noble friend's Amendment and thank him for giving the assurance that Amendment No. 5, which is in my name, is unnecessary.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 [Assessment of compensation: assumptions as to planning permission]:


Before I call Amendment No 6, I should point out to the Committee that if this Amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 6A.

3.50 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 6: Page 7, line 4, leave out from ("above") to end of line 6 and insert ("; and, if planning permission has been granted in respect of the relevant land or any part thereof for such other development, it shall be assumed that the planning permission has not been granted in so far as it relates to development that has not been carried out.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 6. This is little more than a drafting Amendment. The concluding words of subsection (4) were intended to exclude the value attributable to any planning permission already granted for development other than existing use and which had not actually been carried out. This Amendment is to remove any doubts and ensure that the development for which planning permission was granted has been carried out. The value will be part of the existing use value unless it was carried out after the relevant date, that is the date when the works first came into use, when it will be excluded by Clause 4(5).

In view of what the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees has said, should perhaps say this to my noble friend: planning permission is ruled out by subsection (4), as if the development takes place the value will normally be enhanced and if it has to be revoked compensation for planning restriction may be payable. Certificates—mentioned in Amendment No. 6A, tabled by my noble friend—are only relevant in acquisition cases to protect claimants where land is required for non-remunerative use. Even if they were relevant it would not be right to have regard to them as they are not issued for loss of development value. Compensation is not payable, for instance, for refusal of planning permission or for the imposition of planning conditions or restrictions. If it were, it would undermine the Bill.

I thought I owed it to my noble friend, whose Amendment is pre-empted by mine, to give him that explanation. I hope my explanation of Amendment No. 6 will satisfy the Committee. I beg to move.


Perhaps I might again thank my noble friend and apologise for the rather late Amendment that I tabled yesterday. My purpose in tabling Amendment No. 6A was really again to consider this matter which was considered in another place during the Committee stage. I fully appreciate the view of the Government that the basis of compensation should be on existing use; but again the purpose of raising this matter is to ask the Government whether they would not consider this to be a rather harsh attitude. Indeed. I wonder why it is considered that the principle of compensation would be fully stretched if this Amendment were accepted.

The reason I say that is because it seems quite possible that in future a number of hardship cases will arise. One has only to consider the case where someone purchases a property—it may be a house; he purchases that property with the benefit of planning consent, for, say, a shop or offices. The house value may be £6,000 and the shop value may be £10,000. It is then decided to build a motorway and the purchaser claims injurious affection, and although he has established a market value of £10,000 he will only receive (as I understand it) injurious affection for £6,000. It seems an odd principle of compensation that in order to alleviate—which the Government do under Part I—the injurious affection claims, they seem to be creating a host of other hardships that will arise from this new compensation principle.

The other point on which I should like to seek clarification from my noble friend is exactly at what stage is existing use value established? For instance, if we take the case of the house being converted into a shop, would existing use value run from the moment when the first brick had been laid for the shop or would it have to be fully converted before it would be eligible for the injurious affection claim? I hope my noble friend can reply to this point and perhaps say whether the Government would consider the aspect that I have raised.

Finally, perhaps I may say that under the certificate of alternative user, which comes under the Land Compensation Act 1961, it seems to me the principle has been established that where land is compulsorily acquired—say agricultural land—and the owner is able to establish alternative user he could well receive development value for it. Therefore I think this is a close parallel to the case of injurious affection under Part I.


I think there is some considerable disquiet about the Government's approach to this matter. This is one of the occasions when I could wish I were a lawyer. I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has said and I have tried to understand the position as the Bill is affected by this Amendment. It would appear to me that there is to be exclusion of compensation for loss of development value. This seems to indicate quite clearly that the Bill has been drafted in a Department that is taking a purely departmental view of things, and it might have been better if it had been drafted by someone who was concerned with considerations of justice rather than limited to what may seem best in terms of public policy. It may be that I have it wrong. I shall certainly not be at all put out if I have. But I have tried to put clearly my understanding of the position, listening to the noble Lord and reading the Bill as best I can. I think possibly again and again we shall be returning to this question of justice, and it would seem novel, if I am right, that compensation for loss of development value is going to be denied.


Of course the noble Lord is quite right: this Bill was prepared in my Department; but that does not mean that it was prepared without taking into account, and giving full weight to, a whole variety of opinions that were consulted in the course of its drafting. One has only to look at the nature of the Bill to see how wide consultation would have to be, and has been, in this particular case.

In answer to the particular question asked by my noble friend, existing use value is value at the date of the claim. That derives from Clause 4(3)(a). Dealing with the points made by both noble Lords, Clause 5 requires, as they both recognise, the making of assumptions which have the effect of restricting the value of an interest in the land for the purpose of compensation, to its value for the purpose of existing use on the date of the claim. The decision to limit compensation to existing use value follows logically from the decision to limit eligibility for compensation under this part of the Bill to those who may be suffering hardship in their existing situation. Hardship is what we are seeking to alleviate. Furthermore, to pay compensation for loss of development value in this context would not square with the other fundamental concept of planning compensation that no payment is normally made for the refusal of planning permission.

My noble friend asked me a number of more detailed questions, but I really cannot do better than to draw his attention to Clause 5(3) which sets out in full detail a number of modifications and extensions of that broad principle which have just enunciated, and I cannot do better than use the words in the Bill. hope noble Lords will be satisfied that it is because we are anxious to do justice here without breaching any other basic and fundamental principles of planning that we have drawn the line where we have.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [Reduction of compensation where other land is benefited]:

4.0 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 7, line 19, leave out from ("(1)") to end of line 25 and insert ("The compensation payable on a claim shall be reduced by an amount equal to any increase in the value of—

  1. (a) the claimant's interest in the land in respect of which the claim is made; and
  2. (b) any interest in other land contiguous or adjacent to the land mentioned in paragraph (a) above to which the claimant was entitled in the same capacity on the relevant date,
which is attributable to").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 7 and to link with it, and speak at the same time to, Amendments Nos. 8 and 9. All three Amendments are technical and the latter, Amendments Nos. 8 and 9, are consequential on Amendment No. 7. All that is necessary for me to say is that Amendment No. 7, together with Amendments Nos. 8 and 9, is necessary to enable any increase in value attributable to a road scheme—and sometimes there is an increase in value—to be taken into account as well as the depreciation due to the physical factors. Without this provision, compensation might become payable where no actual loss was suffered. I beg to move.


I am a little puzzled by this Amendment. I am sure that there must be cases of the sort which the noble Lord has in mind because he has indicated that that is so. As Clause 6(1) at the moment reads, the compensation in respect of depreciation in an interest in land is to be reduced by reference to any increase in the value of adjacent or contiguous land. That seems to me to be perfectly good sense. The object of the Amendment is to expand that and to provide that compensation is to be reduced not only by reason of an increase in the value of contiguous or adjacent land, but also by reason of an increase in the claimant's interest in the land in respect of which the claim is made;". I had assumed that no claim ex hypothesi could possibly lie unless it could be shown that there was a decrease in the claimant's interest in the land in question. Supposing that the land in one sense depreciates to the extent of £10,000 but that that depreciation has been mitigated by a corresponding increase in valise from some other aspects, to the tune of, say, £5,000. I should have thought at the outset that the claim could only be a claim for £5,000, and I do not see in what circumstances this Amendment could operate.

In what situation does the noble Lord contemplate that a claim might be brought where there was an increase in the interest in relation to which the claim was brought, which wholly wiped out the loss? There must be a loss and surely that loss can be calculated only by a balance struck between any decrease in value and any increase in value of the same asset, the same interest in land. I do not see in what circumstances the Amendment could operate. It seems to me that the existing provision is the more reasonable one, but I should be perfectly content if the noble Lord could give an example in which that sort of situation could arise. Supposing you are considering a house; you could say that in one respect it has increased in value but in another respect that it has decreased, and you must deduct the decrease because otherwise there would be no loss at all. Nevertheless, a claim brought in respect of that would arise. Can the noble Lord give an example?


Certainly. I apologise for not having dealt with this fully in the first place because it would have saved time. Subsection (1) of Clause 6 provides that, where a claimant is entitled to an interest in other land contiguous or adjacent to the claim land, any increase in the value of that interest which is attributable to the existence, use of, or prospective use of, the works, is to be set off against any compensation payable. This "set off for betterment" provision does not set off betterment to the land in respect of which a claim is made. Thus the bringing into use of a highway, for example, may substantially increase the value of a plot of land since that land may, as a result of the works, have access from a road and could be used for housing or some other development. In fact the public development could substantially increase the net value of his interest in land, but without this Amendment no account could be taken of any such increase. As at present worded, it would also be open to claimants to parcel up the "claim land" and the "adjoining land" in such a way as to defeat the purposes of the clause. I hope that that explanation meets the query raised by the noble and learned Lord.


I am grateful for the explanation. I still have some slight doubt as to whether, if you have a house which in consequence of the opening up of a road has doubled in value, you could ever seek to bring a claim for depreciation in the value of that house, but I shall not press it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 8.

Amendment moved—

Page 7, line 27, at end insert— ("( ) Sections 4 and 5 above shall not apply to the assessment, for the purposes of subsection (1) above, of the value of the interest mentioned in paragraph (a) of that subsection.")—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 9.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 29, leave out from ("claim") to ("land") in line 30 and insert ("an increase in the value of an interest in").—(Lord Sanford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 10: Page 7, line 38 after ("acquisition") insert (",not being an acquisition in relation to which secton 8(6) below has effect,").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 10, a technical Amend- ment required to avoid double compensation being paid. Clause 8(6) to which this Amendment refers, provides that where an interest in land has been injuriously affected in circumstances giving rise to a claim for compensation under the provisions of Part 1, and the interest is subsequently acquired compulsorily for the purposes of the same scheme by an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers before the payment of the claim, to which I have just referred, compensation for the acquisition will be assessed by reference to market value disregarding the effect of "the scheme" so that the undepreciated value will be payable. It also provides that the compensation payable under Part I, which is for injurious effect of the scheme, will be deducted from the compensation payable on acquisition. I think that your Lordships will see that without this Amendment there is the possibility of double compensation and that possibility has been excluded by the Amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 [Exclusion of compensation]

4.8 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 11: Page 8, line 24, leave out from ("£50") to end of line 25.

The noble Lord said: We have been dealing with compensation and with reduction of compensation, and in this clause we are dealing with the exclusion of compensation. The clause is a very brief one. It reads: Compensation shall not be payable on any claim unless the amount of the compensation exceeds £50, and if the amount exceeds that sum shall be payable only as to the excess. It may be that a case can be established for not entertaining or not encouraging claims for sums below £50 for loss of amenity. So far as that goes, it may be reasonable to exclude them. But since claims in excess of that figure of £50 are to be allowable, what case in justice can be advanced for not allowing the first £50, when the people themselves are in no way responsible for the situation that has developed and in which they find themselves? If the Government are anxious to persuade people not to submit trivial claims, what is to be said when a claim of £60 is submitted with the first £50 excluded, which leaves a claim for £10: even, say, it was £100. It may well be suggested that the trouble and the possible expense of dealing with claims up to £50 are not justifiable.

But the clause goes much further than that, and one asks what justification or justice is there in the clause as it is now drafted. To exclude the first £50 appears without question to be intended to deter—and I venture to suggest that the clause is worded to deter—a great many people from making claims that are not too greatly in excess of that figure. To suggest that a £50 claim is trivial is one thing, but to eliminate the first £50 of any figure in excess of that is quite another matter. Once a figure is agreed as justifying a claim for loss of amenity, if that claim is supportable it surely ought to be met in full.

When the Bill was at Committee stage, the Minister for Local Government and Development said in the other place that a sense of injustice would be felt by those with smaller claims: that just because a man had a larger claim he would be getting his first £50. The unwillingness to consider claims of £50 and below is surely not based on any consideration of the justice of the claim, but merely on the triviality of the claim. The effect of the clause as now worded seems calculated to deter those who feel that claims not greatly in excess of £50 should not be presented solely because the first £50 is not allowed. One might as well argue that the first £50 of any claim for restitution might be ignored, and I fancy if that were suggested there would be a public outcry. I hope the Minister will accept this Amendment, because I believe there is no good case at all for the clause as it now stands. I beg to move.


I should like to support the appeal that has been made to your Lordships by my noble friend. A person might be able to gauge that his claim is not likely to be sufficiently large to justify the steps that he has to take in order to ascertain what compensation he is likely to receive. I am not too happy even about that, because if a person has a claim, even if it is below £50, that is not a real justification for refusing to admit that claim. Everything depends entirely upon the individual concerned, what his means are and so on. But accepting the fact, as my noble friend has dote, that claims should not clutter up the proceedings in relation to any scheme that is suggested, what earthly reason can there be for refusing to meet the whole of claims—after excluding what might be regarded as trivial or shall we say unreasonable, claims—in excess of the figure that has been fixed in respect of claims which cannot be accepted.

It is a ridiculous position. A person has to go to the expense of deciding whether his claim is above a certain amount. Of course, if a limit is fixed, to a certain extent, I suppose, one has to accept that. There can be no earthly reason at all to reduce a claim which is considered not to be a trivial claim. That is really what is at the root of this; the £50 is considered to be a trivial claim, or a claim which ought not to be considered because it would be unreasonable to admit claims of that amount. But you have fixed a limit, and having fixed that limit surely a person whose claim exceeds the amount of that limit is entitled to have compensation for the full claim he is making. I just cannot for the life of me see what reason or logic there is in refusing that, All it is doing is saying that although we in our wisdom, or otherwise—and I think otherwise—will not admit a smaller claim, we are not prepared to admit a claim in excess of that amount.

I do not know whether your Lordships appreciate that there is an expense attached to the individual's inquiring and research into whether he has a claim and on what grounds, and I think it would be a shocking thing to refuse to let him have what he is obviously entitled to. If he has a claim, he has a claim, and, therefore, the decision would be that he has to lose a certain sum of money. If that sum of money is in excess of £50, where is the logic in refusing the legitimate evaluation of a claim, losing the first £50 of it? Whatever may be the reasons, or, shall we say, the unreasons of the first £50, certainly nobody can suggest, or should suggest, that just for the sake of depriving a person of £50 which he is entitled to, he should have only the balance. It does not make sense to me. In the circumstances, I hope the Government will realise that it is not an appropriate thing to do, to deprive a person—that is what it means—of £50 of a claim which he has legitimately made and to which he is entitled.


I support the Amendment, and I hope my noble friend may be able to accept it, because it seems to me that the words which the noble Lord opposite wishes to exclude are both unjust and unjustifiable.


Is not this clause as it stands a perfectly plain statement that no claim will be paid in full? If a claim is for only £100, it will be cut in half; if it is for £1,000, certainly it will not be cut in half. None the less, no claim will be paid in full, and it is quite obvious that anybody making a claim will claim for £50 more than they should in order to gain what they should have.


This clause requires two points to be met. First, there needs to be a threshold below which it is really unrealistic to ask valuers to make a valuation. In selecting the figure of £50 we have probably already gone too far and made the job of the valuer too difficult, in asking him to make an assessment as precise as this in the kind of valuation exercises which will be involved in this part of the Bill.

Second, we have to produce a reasonable balance of justice between various claimants, and particularly between the claimant whose claim is refused at £49 and the one whose claim is accepted at £51. The whole matter is very much one of balance and judgment. We are not by any means sure that so low a figure as £50 is practicable from the point of view of the valuer. But I am happy to tell the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, that we are persuaded that once a claim has been substantiated and goes over the threshold, whatever it might be, the balance of argument is in favour of granting the whole of it. For that reason, and bearing in mind what I said earlier about the actual figure of £50, I am happy to accept the noble Lord's Amendment.


I probably represented the feeling of everyone in the Committee in expressing appreciation to the noble Lord for being so forthcoming. I am extremely grateful and appreciate very much the straight forward manner in which he has dealt with the situation. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment. I am sorry, that is the last thing I want to do. The noble Lord took me somewhat by surprise. It may be that as the Bill goes on I shall get used to my Amendments being accepted, and shall not make such a slip again.


The noble Lord may not get many chances like this.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 [Other restrictions on compensation]:

4.22 p.m.


moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 9, line 38, leave out from ("compulsorily") to end of line 3 on page 10 and insert ("acquired, then, if—

  1. (a) the value of that land has been diminished by the public works to which the claim relates; but
  2. (b) the compensation in respect of the compulsory acquisition falls to be assessed without regard to the diminution,
the compensation in respect of the acquisition shall be reduced by an amount equal to the compensation paid or payable on the claim or, if the acquisition extends only to part of the land, to so much of the last-mentioned compensation as is attributable to that part.")

The noble Viscount said: This Amendment is really a piece of redrafting, but it is a rather technical matter which ought perhaps to be explained briefly. It relates to the situation where land has been bought and used for, say, a road, and there is some property alongside on which a Part I claim has been made under this Bill. Then, later, the moment arrives when the property enjoying the Part I claim itself falls to be acquired compulsorily in whole or in part. There is the complication that, in certain cases of compulsory acquisition, you have to leave out the rest of the scheme for the purpose of assessing compensation. If you are buying land for a new town, you do not take into account the extra value created by the whole concept of the new town when you are calculating the compensation for compulsory purchase of each bit of it. You work only on the basis of what the planning assumptions would have been without the introduction of the new town.

Where a road is constructed and compensation is paid under Part I in respect of the land next to the road and then that land is in its turn acquired, we could have a situation where, on the acquisition of the second piece of land, we would, normally speaking, disregard the effect of the new town, including the road which had already been put there which has already enjoyed the Part I claim. Therefore, one has to see that the second piece of land being acquired, which has already enjoyed the Part I claim, does not get double benefit by then being acquired without taking account of the Part I claim that has already been paid. We are therefore providing for compensation for the acquisition of the second piece of land to be assessed without regard to the diminution in value of the interest attributed to the use of the new road, which was part of the new town development and which has to be disregarded, even though compensation for the depreciating effect of that road had already been paid under Part I. So the Amendment provides that the amount paid in Part I compensation shall, to avoid duplication, be deducted from the amount paid on any subsequent acquisition where, under the existing law, one has to disregard the road scheme as part of the new town. The meaning of "public works", as defined in this Bill, is wide enough to embrace something like a new town and other matters which are dealt with in this way in Schedule 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1961.

In addition, under this Amendment it will be possible to apportion the amount of Part I compensation over the land, so that it is not necessarily spread evenly, bit by bit. If one bit were more affected by the original public works than another, then one could attach more of the Part I claim to that than to another bit which is perhaps farther away and less affected. That is why the Amendment includes the words … so much of the last-mentioned compensation as is attributable to that part". If necessary, that enables the compensa- tion to be spread unevenly over the land. This is a redraft of a technical matter which I think is an improvement. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 [Alterations to public works and changes of use]:

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 13: Page 10, line 31, leave out ("or aerodrome").

The noble Lord said: It might be convenient if we discuss with this Amendment, Amendments Nos. 14, 16 and 17, which are consequential. This clause was amended during the Committee stage in another place, clearly as a result of an afterthought by the Government, not that it appears to be a particularly happy one judging by the debate which is reported in cols. 90 to 114 of Hansard for Standing Committee A on December 12 last year. No one but the Minister seemed to see any virtue in the Amendment which he proposed, to bring in a highway or aerodrome. When the Committee divided it was carried by only one vote.

This Amendment does not touch the matter of the change of use of highways, although I think everyone in the Committee will know that the change of use of highways can have a tremendous impact and can result in very considerable loss of amenity. I almost feel like apologising to the Committee for not including highways as well. Like many who sit in this House, I know what can result from changes of use and I wonder why they should be inflicted upon us. Suddenly, we find that one-way traffic schemes or other changes are introduced, and huge juggernauts of fantastic length come into streets that, formerly, were quiet residential areas, bringing sudden and quite undesirable loss of amenity. That is bad enough, but it seems to me that the situation in regard to aerodromes can, in the long run, sometimes amount to something much more serious.

To a degree, I suppose I have some interest to declare, since I live not too far from Gatwick to be unaffected by what goes on there; and what goes on there affects others, who live closer than I do, much more. Some of us know how intensification of use—the addition of new terminal buildings, improved facilities at an airport or a change of planes—results in loss of amenity of one kind or another, disturbing us at night and fouling up the atmosphere. It is one thing to watch the beauty of a plane at high altitude leaving behind it streaks of white vapour in the sky which, when dawn is breaking, I have to say, change to a lovely pink as the sun rises; but it is quite another matter to hear the incessant noise and to have to put up with the pollution of the air which follows from intensive use by jets and Jumbos incessantly landing or hovering.

What is going to happen at Maplin is anybody's guess, except that we know that another vast area of our precious land may well be condemned ultimately to no one knows what. If I understand correctly what the Minister said in column 104 on December 12, the Government accept that claims can be made under subsection (5) where there is an alteration in the carriageway or in the runways; but we know that loss of amenity can follow as easily from a change of use. I can well recall the days when Gatwick was unnoticeable. Now it is quite another story. Again, it seemed to me that the Minister in the other place acknowledged that the strengthening of a runway is an alteration which would attract a claim if intensification of use followed. Then why not accept that intensification of use should of itself attract compensation? Who can doubt or question that the more intense the use of an aerodrome the greater the loss of amenity and the greater the reflection on the value of the residence one occupies? I beg to move.


I have to start, I am afraid, with a slightly technical point, because when one is talking about a change of use in this context one is talking about a planning change of use. I will deal with, or attempt to deal with, the noble Lord's argument about intensification of traffic or the introduction of larger aeroplanes or lorries, or something of that sort, in a moment, but what we are in fact involved in here in the case of this Amendment to Clause 9(1)(c), and certainly in the case of Clause 9(7), is a change of use which constitutes a change of use under plan- ning law. The argument that the noble Lord has directed does not in fact go to this point at all. If you have a road, it is a road, and however much you use it as a road you will not get a change of use which constitutes development under the Town and Country Planning Act. If you have an aerodrome and you go on using it as an aerodrome even more intensely—I am not talking about using it as a racetrack, or something like that—then I cannot see any situation in which the use of larger planes or the more frequent take-offs or landings would constitute a planning change of use; that is to say, development. That is the technical situation, and if the noble Lord wants to catch an intensification of use of the sort that he is talking about then I do not think he can go about it in the way that these Amendments do because they do not really bite on that situation at all.

The noble Lord said that we put in subsection (6) of Clause 9 as an afterthought at the Report stage in another places. I do not know whether that is unhappy or not, but the fact remains that, certainly when one is dealing with aerodromes, we have extended the situations in which people can get compensation for the carrying out of new public works, such as extending or strengthening runways. I have some personal experience of this in the planning field, where a quite short extension of runway in fact allows very much larger aeroplanes to land and take-off, and where one can easily imagine a case where large extensions of the apron would increase the throughput of the airfield by allowing more aeroplanes to park, to unload their passengers and that sort of thing. So we have gone some way to meet this.

The difficulty the noble Lord has been talking about is really one where you have something like a road or an aerodrome and, over time, it gets used more and more. It gets used by larger aeroplanes and certainly at the moment, perhaps, noisier aeroplanes, although we hope that this will not continue too far into the future. Or, if it is a road, it gets used by bigger lorries or noisier lorries in greater numbers If the noble Lord looks at Clause 4(2), he will see that when one is dealing witht a Part I claim for compensation under this Bill, one takes account of the use of the works as they exist on the first day of the claim period —and they would have to be comparatively recent works of course for this to bite at all—and one takes account of any intensification which may then be reasonably expected. The noble Lord will know from his own experience that those who lived around Gatwick in the 1950s I think complained very bitterly about the use of Gatwick as an aerodrome at all. There was a very stormy inquiry, if I remember rightly; and certainly in recent days, when the second runway at Gatwick was being considered (or even quite small extensions at Gatwick, which was an inquiry which actually took place) for the purposes of saying how awful it would be, everybody was assuming the greatest possible intensification of the use of that runway. I am afraid it is a fact of life that people do this.

Now we are saying that compensation under Part I will be assessed on that basis, on the reasonable intensification that one can foresee. There may be a runway or a road opened, and in early years it carries comparatively little traffic. But what we have done is to allow people to claim compensation on the basis of what the reasonably anticipated intensification will be over the years. The Government's case on this is really that this is the only line that one can draw. We have a time-scale on this. We have certain public works which are caught by the Bill and others, further back, which are not. One cannot get away from this. One cannot be endlessly retrospective, although we have tried to be retrospective. We have this assumption which allows people to look into the future and make their claim on this basis. Where else do you stop? If, regardless of the fact that the road is exactly the same or the runway and the airport are exactly the same, you allow any person who lives anywhere near it to go on claiming compensation every time one of the major airlines turns over to a different sort of aeroplane or every time one of the large foreign companies turns over to some bigger scale of trailer or produces a bigger juggernaut lorry, where do you stop? This is a Bill which is intended to be generous, but it has to be based on certain principles. We have based it on principles which constitute new works back to a certain date and the reasonably anticipated intensification of use of them, so you can look into the future and get a once-for-all payment.

Although I sympathise with what the noble Lord was saying, I cannot see where any other line can be drawn if you are not going to involve all uses of existing facilities of this sort of a greater degree than they are at any given moment to class for compensation under Part I. The noble Lord may think that this is right; but it means that you will never have any finality, that you will open up the question of all existing roads and of runways built many years ago. It may be a pity that this Bill was not law at the time, but it was not. It would mean reopening all these matters over and over again—not once, but many times, as lorries and planes got bigger and bigger and some other detriment got worse. One cannot go beyond the border, beyond the principles that underline this Bill fundamentally, those that I have been talking about.

I hope that it will be thought that we have gone some way—even if the noble Lord is not happy—to meet the aerodrome point under subsection (6). There is then the whole question where a claim is made of sound insulation. This is going to be helpful. I have to ask the Committee to support the Government in drawing the line where we have, even if there are hard cases outside. Compensation always brings about hard cases. I have always known of border lines beyond which you cannot go; and this is one of them. I would ask the Committee to agree that we have drawn the right border line in this case despite the problems that Lord Garnsworthy has mentioned.

4.42 p.m.


I should like to probe this a little further. The noble Viscount, as he always does, made a convincing case. I entirely understand the difficulty he adumbrates about a never ending examination of the process of change and so on. That is one side. I accept and appreciate the difficulties. But on the other hand, what is the material we are dealing with? We are dealing with a situation in which people live in the vicinity of an aerodrome, where happenings may take place which make their life in their homes virtually impossible. I should have thought that, as a measure of justice we ought in that situation to err perhaps in the direction of risking claims which, on investigation in the future, may turn out to be tiresome or even unsubstantiated. This is human material and we should be extremely sensitive to it. These are people who are in no way to blame, people who are the victims of the evolution of modern society, modern techniques and modern science. I would submit to the Government that the tilt should be rather in the other direction; though I accept, as always, what the noble Viscount has said.

My noble friend Lord Garnsworthy really spoke to a number of Amendments here. He spoke to Amendments Nos. 13 and 14 and coupled with them in his argument Amendments Nos. 16 and 17. It is No. 17 that deals with intensification. Perhaps I might address my argument first to the question of intensification. The noble Viscount pointed out that in Clause 4(2) there is already provision that in assessing depreciation you should take into account any intensification that then may reasonably be expected. The Government, in a sense, have gone halfway towards what my noble friend is asking with regard to intensification. Clause 9 says that intensification is not to constitute a change of use. The implication, I suppose, is that if it were not for subsection (7) of Clause 9, intensification would constitute a change of use. I should have thought as a matter of common sense that it ought to do so. If there are different types of aircraft, if there is a wide proliferation of use of aircraft—perhaps a large number of smaller aircraft crammed into a day's schedule far in excess of the number possible at the moment—and if one refers to other changes of technique, then aerodromes might be used in quite a different way from the way in which they have been used heretofore.

If you look at Clause 4(2) you must try and guess what the measure of intensification would be. Is it not better, as a matter of justice to people who will suffer if there is or if there turns out to be a major intensification in years to come, to look at it at the time when it arises, to assess its degree then and to form a view at the time when the intensification really becomes noticeable, as to whether it is substantial? That is the sort of change of use that Clause 9 seems to be designed for. That, as a matter of justice, should be the approach that is likely to produce over the years some reasonably accurate assessment of the inconvenience that adjoining occupiers suffer.

Let us suppose that you have a Clause 4 assessment in the year 1976, and that in the year 1976, in an attempt to assess the degree of depreciation, an estimate is made of the intensification which (within the meaning of subsection (2)) may then, in 1976, be reasonably expected of the use of the works. In 1980, that estimate, which was made four years before, may be wholly falsified. It is likely in this present age that it will be so; because modern science progresses so rapidly that it is probable that changes of use, in the sense of a greater intensification of use, will from time to time devolve on us and subject people who, in 1980, will be living in houses close to the aerodrome. Therefore, dealing first with the Amendment which would seek to leave out subsection (7), I would press the Government to give this a little more thought. That is just the sort of happening, a massive intensification of use, which could constitute the sort of thing that Clause 9 is designed to deal with. That is the first point.

Then, in answer to my noble friends argument the noble Viscount said that really all you are considering when you are looking at Clause 9(1) is planned change of use. No doubt, alteration or something pursuant to planning permission, is what he had in mind. The answer to that is that subsection (1) is completely general in its terms. What my noble friend was arguing and what I would support him in is this. He said that as Clause 9(1) is at present drafted, the aerodrome is wholly removed from the scope of a change of use within subsection (3). I should like to see that brought back, if the aerodrome is brought back into subsection (3) then automatically, as a consequential Amendment subsection (3) and also subsection (6) should go because they depend on that exclusion.

The way in which I would respectfully put the argument to the Government is this. What is the case for excluding the aerodrome from the ambit of change of use? There may be all sorts of changes of use apart from intensification. There may be a new terminal built which will be an inconvenience to people who live nearby. There may be various different circumstances which eventuate and give rise to what could be regarded as a change of use. I would submit that the aerodrome should be brought back within the scope of the subsection (3) so that where you find a change of use because of a new terminal that should be applicable in the case of an aerodrome just as it is in the case of any other public works. I submit that the exclusion of an aerodrome is an irrational one. I am not certain what aerodrome one is dealing with. If one looks at Clause 74, it provides that Part 1 is not to apply to any aerodrome in the occupation of a Government Department. I am not quite sure what the expression "in the occupation of a Government Department" there means. Does it include Heathrow, which I should have thought is not in the occupation of a Government Department? I should have thought the answer to that is, "No". At any rate, all aerodromes other than those in the occupation of a Government Department are included within the scope of Clause 9. Why should not change of use from a new terminal, for some other reason which wholly recasts the role of that particular aerodrome in the shifting of air traffic in this country of in and out of the country, be a subject which within the meaning of Clause 4 could be taken into account for the purposes of assessing compensation?

I think that we all have the same objective in view. We have in mind the private citizen whose interest in land, his dwelling house or whatever it may be, is adversely affected through no fault of his own and he has to suffer for the common benefit. It is not as if he could prevent the change of use; he has to put up with it. Elementary justice requires that the community should look to that man and say, "You should not personally suffer what may be, for you, a major loss in order to bow to the common interest". I submit that it is desirable to have regard to the private citizen who is, after all, powerless in the face of these gigantic concerns that one is considering, and see to it that he is adequately protected.

At the moment subsection (3) greatly limits the sort of alteration which is relevant when you are talking about aerodromes. It is alteration only. in respect of physical factors caused by aircraft unless the alterations are runway or apron alterations. Why limit it? Why not any alteration as in the case of any other public building? There is other legislation, I know, which affects civil aviation. But so far as I know—I hope that the noble Viscount will correct me if I am wrong—private citizens will not find an adequate remedy in that other legislation. It is in Clause 9 or it does not exist. I ask the noble Viscount to say (this being a matter, as I think he said, of balance and consideration on both sides of the line, which I accept at once) that he will consider further whether the balance ought not to weigh down in favour of the private citizen whose whole happiness may be at risk as a result of something which he cannot control, and in which he is a completely helpless factor.


I am afraid that we are beginning to get a little adrift on this matter. I must ask the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, to cast his mind back to his very long and distinguished experience with the law on planning and ask him to try to remember the particularly difficult brand of enforcement notice cases which related to intensification of use. The sort of thing one used to deal with was a field in which there were two or three caravans and the owner brought on another 25 and said, "This whole field has been a caravan site for a very long time." Let us say more than four years at the stage when the four-year rule applied to use. The owner might say, "Therefore, the whole field is a caravan site and I can put as many caravans on it as I like."

The noble and learned Lord will remember perfectly well that one then had a situation where one had to decide, or rather the Ministry of Housing and Local Government of those days had to decide, whether, as a matter of fact and degree, the increase in the number of caravans was something which constituted a change of use, and therefore development, so that the enforcement notice could, after all bite. The way in which this Bill is drafted at present deals with changes of use of this sort. The noble and learned Lord will remember also that the other sort of development is buildings. So building a new terminal is not a change of use, it is the other sort of development. Change of use relates only to using the physical attributes of the land and any buildings on it exactly as they are, but for a different purpose. So here we cannot get involved in any question of building, although I will come on to buildings in a moment. Therefore, we have to make certain that what we are talking about is an intensification which constitutes development under the planning Acts because it is held to be a change of use.

At the moment, the Bill does not apply this concept to highways, or to aerodromes, at all. The noble and learned Lord is suggesting that it should. But I ask him to draw on his own experience. I expect that probably he will have been involved also in cases relating to aerodromes. I ask him to consider whether he would be able to contemplate a case where, without changing the strength or the length or the width of a runway, or buildings or pavings or aprons, or anything of that sort, such a change of its use by aircraft could take place that you could have what is, in law, development by virtue of change of use.

The usual situation would be that you might have a grass aerodrome. Nobody can land a fully laden Jumbo Jet on a grass aerodrome. Before you started to try to do that you would have to put down a properly strengthened and concreted runway. Therefore you would not be talking about a change of use but about a physical development of the building sort. Equally, if you have a fairly small aerodrome with shortish runways, you cannot (as the noble and learned Lord, I am sure, will know from his experience) land very big aeroplanes unless, they are totally unladen, nor can you make major changes in the type of aircraft using that runway without strengthening or lengthening it. There have been many rows about exactly this sort of project, where what appeared to be a quite small extension to the length of the runway in fact enabled the operators of the airport to bring in entirely different, much bigger, heavier and possibly noisier aircraft.

I cannot think of a situation where, without a physical change of this sort, you would get that degree of change in the use of the aerodrome which in planning law would constitute a change of use. In these circumstances I think the argument on the technicalities of the planning law, and on one's knowledge of what happens on consideration of the planning degree necessary to allow a change of planning use, does not apply in the case of aerodromes. I am quite sure that it does not apply in the case of highways. I can imagine no circumstances whatever where, without some sort of physical enlargement such as turning a single carriageway into a dual carriageway—which is caught by the Bill in any case—you could change the character of the use of the road in such a way that, in the Town and Country Planning Act terminology, you would have a change of use. That is why, when looking at this question of change of use, I applied my mind to other sorts of public works. If we get away from aerodromes and highways there could be uses of land or buildings constituting public works which could be changed and then developed. That is caught under 3(1)(c), except in the case of intensification; and when I consider what one might have by way of intensification of existing public use other than highways and aerodromes of such a type as to constitute development, neither I nor my advisers could think of any. I am willing to contemplate any which the noble Lord or any other noble Lord might care to suggest, but at the moment I cannot think of any which are within the reasonable bounds of possibility. Therefore we have the situation where I think, at least in practice, in relation to aerodromes, Clause 9(3) and (6) are what matter.

I would say to the noble Lord in parenthesis that the reference in Clause 74 to a Government Department is in fact a reference to the Ministry of Defence aerodromes. Heathrow would not be included; it belongs to the Civil Aviation Authority I think, so that is not really what we are talking about. In Clause 9(3) and (6) we are talking about the physical alteration to the buildings, the sort of developments which increase the noise. A terminal of itself does not necessarily, or probably at all, increase the noise that is made by the airport as a whole. It may increase the comfort of the passengers. What increases the noise, what brings about the greater degree of traffic, the heavier traffic, the noisier traffic, is extensions of runways and extensions of apron facilities so that you can park bigger planes and handle more planes and so on. They are not change of use; they are ordinary development. They are dealt with under Clause 9(1)(b) and subsections (3) and (6), and they are the things that will affect the public.

I agree with the noble Lord that when there are alterations of this sort then one ought to take them into account, and the Bill does take them into account. These sort of alterations would attract Part I compensation claims, and they would attract them to the ultimate use of that extended runway or that increased apron size. If you know anything about aircraft—landing weights and distances which aircraft have to run under the rules that govern their taking off and landing—you will know the degree and the size and the noise that they are likely to make in the future because this is a pretty skilled art and there is a good deal of knowledge stored up in many places including the records of a number of professional people who are experts in sound; places like the Institute of Vibration at the University of Southampton know a great deal about this. One will be able to forecast what the effect of this sort of extension will be, and this is what the Bill catches. If one simply goes overboard on the idea—I am not suggesting that this is what the noble Lord is doing; I am sure he is being concise about this—and if one abandons that sort of precision there is no end; there is no method of measurement; there is no way of saying, "The situation has now arisen where there are two or three more jets a day going over this house and therefore we should bring into operation machinery for claims under Part I."

There is no other line that can be drawn. We have drawn the line in relation to aerodromes on the things which actually cause the increase in noise, in annoyance and in discomfort to the people who live round about. I hope with that rather long and somewhat technical explanation that the noble Lord will agree that we have attacked the problem in the right place and in the right way, and in accordance with what does make sense under the planning laws, and that he may think that after all we are not being so unjust to the individual as at first sight I agree we might seem to be.

5.4 p.m.


I have listened to the noble Viscount's arguments as to the difference between extensions to runways and aprons, on the one hand, and the small changes in use that might be made of an aerodrome without the extension to those facilities. If I may say so with great respect, I think that theoretically he must be wrong because it is quite possible that in the future noise regulations will not be sufficiently restrictive to prevent the introduction of aircraft with higher decibels than the DC.8 and the 707 which we have to put up with at the moment. I am thinking in particular of Concorde. I realise that the manufacturers say that by the time the aircraft comes into production the noise levels will be comparable with those of present day subsonic jets, but they will still be a great deal higher than the high by-pass ratio of jets which are now being introduced into service, the Jumbos, the Lockheed TriStars and the other wide-bodied jets which we are now seeing coming into service in increasing numbers.

I would ask the noble Viscount at least to entertain the possibility that people living near Heathrow would find a material change in their circumstances, having received some blessed relief from the general reduction of noise levels consequent upon the introduction of the Jumbos et cetera, and then finding in 1975 or 1976 the Concorde coming into service, thus going back to the situation from which they hoped they had escaped. I do not think it is only Concorde that one has to consider in this connection. There could possibly be the greater frequency of helicopter operations at certain airports which would obviously not require an extension of runways, terminal facilities, aprons and so on. They could quite well operate from a section of the airport earmarked for that purpose. In the United States, quite a number of the airports have special helicopter services for people travelling into the city centre. I know we have not reached that stage yet. I was merely asking the noble Viscount whether he would not entertain the theoretical possibility that this might occur. A more obvious one is the question of the incidence of night flights. I know that the Government have this matter very much in mind and are proposing to reduce still further the permitted total of night flights at certain airports during the summer. But this can be reversed at any time if public opinion will allow it and I think the noble Viscount will agree that that does constitute a very material change of use.

Let us take the noble Viscount's example of caravans, which of course would not occur now because of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. He was speaking about the old days when if you had a few caravans on a field—I think the figure he gave was three—you could increase it to 20 and then there was an argument as to whether this constituted an intensification sufficiently great as to be a material change of use. Let us take the number of movements of aircraft. If there were X movements of aircraft from an airport during the day and the Minister of the time at some future date allowed the same number of movements at night so that movements were doubled, I would contend that this did not constitute a doubling of the nuisance. It would be very much worse than that, because what people might be able to put up with during the day, when in any case a great many of them would be away at work, would be quite different from what they would be prepared to put up with at night when they were trying to go to sleep. Certainly from the point of view of people in the neighbourhood of those airports this would constitute as much a material change of use as an increase in the number of caravans which was contemplated by the noble Viscount in the example he gave. There could be circumstances in which one would find the subsection we are discussing too restrictive. I hope the noble Viscount at least will be prepared to think about this again before Report stage.


The best that I can do for the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, is to say this. I do not want to be tiresome, but we are in danger of getting right away from the whole concept of planning into the control of airports, which is operated by the Department of Trade and Industry. The whole question of night flights is, I know, an intensely felt local issue at places like Luton, and many others as well, where it arouses the most passionate feelings for reasons that I can very well understand. But I am not at all sure that the Committee would wish to try to deal with this particular matter, which is subject to an entirely different form of control, by means of amendments to a Land Compensation Act.

I suspect that the reason why this Amendment has been drafted so as to exclude highways and aerodromes from the whole concept of change of use is that the planning idea of intensification and change of use just does not apply to an aerodrome. That is the planning concept. I can understand that to the ordinary man in the street it is very easy to say: "Oh, yes; the whole operation of this aerodrome has altered out of all recognition over the last ten years. It is not a bit the same as it used to be." But I am still not convinced that this is a change of use in terms of development control. I very much doubt whether it is. It may be that the example of the caravans was silly, but you can see them on the ground and you can see the actual area of the field which they cover. But when it comes to aircraft using an airfield, they go along the same runway, and if the runway is not increased they go along the same bit of the same runway. All that happens is that they do it at different times of the day and in different numbers. I do not think that the concept of change of use under the Town and Country Planning Act is at all easy to apply to this sort of thing. One must bear in mind that increases in noise, certainly at Heathrow, can be dealt with to some extent by changing the boundaries of the area where you get sound insulation under the Civil Aviation Act. So there is some remedy where you have an airport covered by that sort of provision.

The best I can do is this. I am sure the Committee will agree—I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, will agree, too—that one has to draw the line somewhere. It is no use backdating Part I claims to the day when Fairey Aviation test airfield at what is now Heathrow was taken over for a bomber station some time in the course of the last war. We cannot go that far back. I do not know how far back we can go. I should have thought that the Committee would agree that the date that we have chosen, 1969, is as far back as one should go in legislation of this sort. Therefore, one cannot take account of changes in the type of user of a place like Heathrow which do not involve physical developments which have happened since that date: at least, I do not think we can, because otherwise I think we breach the whole concept of the Bill and we find ourselves lost in the bounds of antiquity with no firm base line to go on.

If noble Lords can produce some sort of definition of what they consider to be the sort of change of use that everybody has been talking about (but which is not a planning change of use), and will tell me what should be the measure of user which gives rise to compensation and what should be the measure that does not—the threshold, as it were—indeed, as is apparent, it is not my Department's Bill—and which is measurable in law and as a matter of valuation, as it must be, I cannot promise anything, but I think it would be reasonable for me to say that I should be glad to look at it. I cannot promise that it will be adopted. I think noble Lords will find that it is a very difficult problem, but I would invite them to apply their minds to it. Those who have spoken have great experience of planning—the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has experience on the aviation side—and I do not want to turn down good ideas. However, at the moment I think that all this is getting a long way away from the ideas of the Town and Country Planning Act and land compensation, which have always been enmeshed together, and that we are getting into realms of entirely different sorts of control and different legislation which it could be easily a great mistake to confuse with the particular sort of measure with which we are dealing at the moment.


First of all, I should like to express my gratitude to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, for the extremely courteous and thorough way with which he has dealt with the arguments which have been advanced in support of this Amendment. I think that probably we are all a great deal wiser than we were before we started, in that the noble Viscount has confronted us with problems that have to be surmounted if we are to satisfy him that the Bill can be amended to meet the points we have raised. For our part, I hope that we have reminded the noble Viscount (he probably knew most of it, if not all of it, before) of the problem not only as we see it, but as a great many people who live near aerodromes see it. I am sure I am right in my recollection that reference to highways and aerodromes was inserted in the other place. If the matter was as important as our debate would seem to indicate, I am rather surprised that those words were not included in the original drafting. I must confess that the feeling I had from reading the debate in the other place was that there was considerable disquiet there.

The noble Viscount has invited us to do some thinking and to see whether we cannot produce some ideas. I started off this afternoon by regretting that I had no legal training, and I am beginning to regret that I do not have the experience of planning law possessed by the noble Viscount and my noble and learned friend Lord Stow Hill. I am extremely grateful to my noble and learned friend, as I am to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, because it seems to me that they have put their fingers on points of considerable importance. The noble Viscount says that if we seek to remedy the matters about which we have expressed concern we ought to go about it in a different way. I think a great many people will need to give a good deal of thought to this. But the noble Viscount says: "Where do you stop? The Bill is intended to be generous, and you have to stop somewhere." A great many people do not feel that the Bill is all that generous. But when he asks, "Where do you stop?" by way of compensation, many people are asking—and I think it is right and proper that we should ask it this afternoon: Where is the change of use that affects people so drastically, that reduces amenity so savagely, going to stop? Quite rightly, the noble Viscount says, "Carry on thinking about it." I would make the point that the Amendment is limited to aerodromes. I did not include highways—it was probably my fault for using the example of juggernauts using our roads and what they could do. I think the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in drawing attention to what can happen in the way of supersonic bangs and the intensive use of helicopters, has pinpointed the kind of thing that can happen and about which there is so much concern.

If the noble Viscount is able to think further on this, or to get his advisers to do so, in order to endeavour to meet our concern, we should be grateful, because I am sure that the resources available to him and within the Department responsible for this Bill are much greater than we can put our hands on. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment, hoping that your Lordships feel that the debate we have had on it has been throughly justified. It is probably a matter that we can come back to again at a later stage of the Bill or at some other time.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.20 p.m.


moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 11, line 25, leave out from second ("if") to end of line 28 and insert—

  1. ("(a) the location, width or level of the carriageway is altered (otherwise than by re-surfacing); or
  2. (b) an additional carriageway is provided for the highway beside, above or below an existing one;
and the reference in subsection (2) above to depreciation that would not have been caused but for alterations to the carriageway of a highway is a reference to such depreciation by physical factors which are caused by the use of, and the source of which is situated on, the length of carriageway which has been altered as mentioned in paragraph (a) above or, as the case may be, the additional carriageway and the corresponding length of the existing one mentioned in paragraph (b) above.")

The noble Viscount said: This is another drafting Amendment to clarify something which is not plain at the moment. The intention is that depreciation caused by the noises, smell and horridness of traffic on the whole width of a widened length of carriageway should qualify for compensation. As drafted at present, Clause 9(2) will admit claims in respect of a highway that has been altered; but what we do not do is pin down the area of land which can benefit by the claim so that it corresponds with the part of the road that has been altered. In other words, it is possible at the moment to have a piece of road which is not widened on the immediate frontage of a house, not to the left of the house, but to the right of the house, somewhere farther down the road. It would be wrong to allow a claim regarding the widening to the right of the house, the traffic on which is inaudible from the house, although the same traffic then comes past the house on the piece of road which is not at that point widened. We think it wrong that a claim should be made in respect of the alteration farther away which has no appreciable effect upon the house. Therefore what we do is to try to pin down the widening, and the claim that arises out of it, to the land adjacent to the widening and not to any other part of the road. I beg to move.


I am very grateful for this Amendment. I had intended to comment on the wording of paragraph (a) since the method of increasing road and traffic capacity is very often to lay a second carriageway, in which case the original carriageway—technically speaking—has not been altered. This Amendment covers that in paragraph (b), which says: an additional carriageway is provided for the highway beside …". Therefore I feel that meets the question.


The noble Lord's point is already there in Clause 9(5). But if they put an additional carriageway somewhere else, not opposite the house on which the claim is being made, the principle I was trying to explain would still apply under the Amendment. The noble Lord's point is already provided for in the Bill.


I wonder whether the noble Viscount could advise me on the exact interpretation of this Amendment so far as the meaning of the word "carriageway" is concerned. It would be possible for a section of road to have hard shoulders added, or a slip road put in, which would not, within the meaning of the word "carriageway", be part of it, but which nevertheless could increase nuisance to adjoining occupiers. The hard shoulders or the slip road—if used, for example, for a lorry drivers' pull-in—would enable vehicles to come closer to houses.


Subject to correction, the slip road would certainly be a new carriageway. The addition of a hard shoulder would be the alteration of a carriageway and would therefore come within the ambit of the Bill.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 10 to 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 [Action for nuisance following unsuccessful claim where relevant authority have disclaimed statutory immunity]:


I beg to move Amendment No. 18, which is a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 22, leave out ("relevant") and insert ("responsible").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [Interpretation of Part I]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 16, line 1, at end insert— (""the appropriate highway authority" means—

  1. (a) except where paragraph (b) below applies, the highway authority who constructed the highway to which the claim relates;
  2. (b) if and so far as the claim relates to depreciation that would not have been caused but for alterations to the carriageway of a highway, the highway authority who carried out the alterations;").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to this Amendment in moving Amendment No. 1. I mentioned to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, that, if I was wrong in what I told him about what an appropriate highway authority was in Scotland, I would correct myself now. I am glad to say that I was correct. The definitions here, and the way they are framed, only reflect the difference between England and Scotland and the fact that there are differences. Draftsmen representing the Scottish Office thought it was as well to have "highway authority" defined, but those in England and Wales thought it unnecessary. The new definition of "the appropriate highway authority" covers England, Scotland and Wales. I beg to move.


I accept that it would not appear to be wrong that the new wording, "appropriate highway autho- rity" should apply over the whole country because the authority which has to pay compensation was defined first of all as the responsible authority, and later on the responsible authority was defined as the highway authority. I do not think that the noble Lord is correct—or that his advisers are correct. We now have two definitions in this clause. We have the definition of the appropriate highway authority, which I have just been told applies to Scotland as well as to England. But there remains in the Bill a definition of a highway authority. It says that a highway authority in relation to Scotland has the meaning assigned to it in the said Act of 1970. The result of the first Amendment, the paving Amendment which the noble Lord has moved, has been to remove from the Bill any reference to a highway authority. We are now defining something which does not exist in the Bill. The only thing which is in the Bill now is an "appropriate highway authority", which is defined in the Amendment he now moves. I suggest that you cannot define something in a Bill which has been removed from it.

The Scottish Office have perhaps slipped up in not realising that bringing in this reference to an appropriate highway authority to apply over the whole country makes their definition of a highway authority in Scotland no longer appropriate. I therefore invite the noble Lord's comment on that. I have no objection generally; in fact, I prefer to have a different definition for Scottish conditions where necessary. But I object to having one which does not seem to make sense.


I would much rather not comment any further. I will certainly undertake to look at this matter. If a further Amendment is needed, we will incorporate it at the Report stage.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.29 p.m.


Page 16, line 26, at end insert— ("(3) In the application of this Part of this Act to a highway which has not always been highway maintainable at the public expense defined above—

  1. (a) references to its being open to public traffic shall be construed as references to its 199 being so open whether or not as a highway so maintainable;
  2. (b) for references to the highway authority who constructed it there shall be substituted references to the highway authority for the highway.")

The noble Viscount said: Here we have the same trouble about the adoption of private streets. There are many private streets which are not maintainable by the highway authority at public expense, but are still used as highways. They are maintainable by the frontagers until the street is adopted. As the Bill is drafted, the adoption of a highway of this kind would create eligibility for a grant under Part I, as from the date of its adoption.

We think that this is wrong because it is an artificial distinction, and it is wrong that depreciation could arise simply from the action of a highway authority in adopting that road which has been used for public traffic for a long time but repaired by the frontagers. What we therefore do by this Amendment is to seek to retain the period of eligibility—that is, the three years under Part I—from the date the highway was first open to public traffic (this would be, probably, in this case under its private ownership) and not from the date when the highway became maintainable by virtue of the adoption and then continued to be used for public traffic. So we do not cut out the case of a road which is taken over after originally having been private and adopted by a public authority, but we put a time limit on it so as not to create what would otherwise be an artificial and I think a ridiculous distinction. I beg to move.


This is quite appropriate when it comes to private roads in towns, but it could be, by a stretch of the imagination, applied to, say, a rough country lane which leads to a cottage and on beyond it, which was later converted into a perfectly good metal road and adopted. That would change the character of the house considerably, whereas, of course, the mere adoption of a private road in a town would not. I wonder whether the noble Viscount could say something about that?


I should have thought that if that happened the chances are that there would be more than a simple adoption of the road. The usual thing that would happen in this case would be that the road would be substantially improved by the highway authority, and this would be a different matter altogether. What I am simply talking about at the moment is a street which is, although technically private, still used by through traffic, then technically taken over, and continued to be used by through traffic, so that there is an artificial distinction. I think that the noble Lord's point would probably relate to a different state of affairs, and a little grassy road would not be adopted without substantial alterations and probably widening by the highway authority.


Might I ask whether this is an extension of the Private Street Works Act to the highway authority? As is well known, you have the highway authority responsible for private streets. Does this come within that category? They must come under their specification before they will take them over as their responsibility as a highway authority.


They would of course use one of the two Codes under the Highways Act 1959 if they were going to adopt the road. This would mean, if it was not already made up—which it might well be because, for instance, under Section 40 agreements under the Highways Act, a new estate road is built and owned privately in the first place and then in due course, if it is properly made, it is taken over by the highway authority. That is one way of doing it. There are other private roads. I can think of one in Dulwich which is a perfectly good road, perfectly well made up, but it happens to be a private road. It has through traffic on it already. Whether any works would have to be done under either of the Codes before it was adopted, I would not know. In any particular case one would have to look. Sometimes there are some, and sometimes there are not. But you can still have roads which are perfectly adequate from the highway point of view but are private. We are trying to deal with these in the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.

Clause 21 [Acquisition of land in connection with highways]:

5.35 p.m.

LORD FOOT moved Amendment No. 21: Page 18, line 22, at end insert ("or for improving the appearance of the highway and its surroundings and the enjoyment thereof by the pubic at large.")

The noble Lord said: My noble friend Lord Henley asked me to express his apologies to the Committee for not being able to be here this afternoon, but he has asked me to look after this Amendment, and Amendment No. 24, for him. The Council for the Protection of Rural England and other amenity societies which are concerned for the preservation of the English countryside have for a long time been concerned that highway authorities—and I include in that the Department of the Environment so far as trunk roads and motorways are concerned—have not had the power compulsorily to acquire land beyond the limits of the highway for landscape purposes. This has, as we think, put a severe limitation upon road designers and landscape architects in carrying out their tasks. On this account we very much welcome this Part II of this Bill, which appeared at first sight to go a long way, if not all the way, to remedying what we have thought to be a defect. At first sight, as I say, it appears to afford some substantial relief.

If I may just briefly summarise the three things which this Part of this Bill achieves, I would say they are these. First, it allows a highway authority compulsorily to acquire land beyond the limits of the highway itself; secondly, having acquired the land in that way, it permits the highway authority to carry out works on such acquired land; and thirdly, it empowers the highway authority to enter into agreements with interested persons—persons interested in the surrounding land—for the purpose of restricting the use of the surrounding land. But those three powers are subject to one precedent and overriding condition, and that is that the land can only be acquired and built upon and dealt with in that way, and those powers can only be exercised, for the purpose of mitigating any adverse effect which the existence or use of the highway may have on the surroundings of the highway. The question which I seek to raise here this afternoon is whether that precedent condition is in fact too narrowly drawn.

Perhaps I could illustrate the point best by posing two different questions. The first is this. Who is actually concerned in mitigating the adverse effect of a highway and the building of a highway upon the surrounding land'? I suppose the obvious first answer is that the people primarily concerned are the people who live and work in the surrounding land or near the surrounding land. The second class of people who might be said to be concerned in this matter, I suggest, are the public at large to the extent that the public are interested in the beauty and pleasantness of the surroundings of the highway. But if you go on and ask a rather wider question, and inquire who is concerned that our highways should be as beautiful and attractive as they can be made, then I suggest that a third class of persons comes into the picture. That is the public at large in their capacity as users of the highway. Do not the public in that capacity have a special and identifiable interest not only in the impact or adverse effect of the highway upon its surroundings but also in any impact of the surroundings upon the highway itself? Or to put the matter, if I may, rather differently: Should not the highway authorities have the power to acquire land outside the limits of the highway. not only for the purpose of mitigating any adverse effects upon the surrounding land but for the purpose of making the highway itself as attractive as it can be made? May it not be the case—and very often I suggest it is the case—that in the process of highway landscaping the architects may wish to acquire land outside the limit of the highway itself for the accomplishment of the overall design, for the purpose of making the best job they can, and they may not be able to justify the acquisition of that land on the ground that they are doing so in order to mitigate any adverse effect on the surroundings?

If I may take a precise example, what will be the situation if this Part of the Bill becomes law and a highway authority planning a new road in fact wishes to take over some part of the surrounding land and compulsorily acquire it? The owner of the land which is sought to be acquired who is aggrieved by this then goes before the appropriate tribunal to try to resist the compulsory purchase order. Surely he will be entitled to say to the highway authority, "What do you want my land for?" If the answer is, "We want this land in order to make this highway as splendid a thing as possible", he will no doubt retort, "That is all very well, but you are not asking for it for the purpose of mitigating the adverse effects upon my land; you are seeking to acquire it for a different purpose." In those circumstances, I should have thought he would undoubtedly win his case because, of course, where we are dealing with the taking away of private property rights we always have to construe a Statute in the most favourable sense to the aggrieved person.

I ask the Minister this question. Can he give any assurance that the Bill, if it becomes law in its present form, will not in fact be interpreted in that restrictive form? I myself doubt whether he can give us such an assurance, because the interpretation of a Statute is not a matter for him or for the Government but for the court. Therefore, the purpose of this Amendment is a simple one. It is to add at the end of this clause, that is, at line 22, these words—and perhaps I may read it as a whole so that the sense of it will emerge: … a highway authority may acquire land compulsorily or by agreement for the purpose of mitigating any adverse effect which the existence or use of a highway constructed or improved by them, or proposed to be constructed or improved by them, has or will have on the surroundings of the highway. Then the Amendment adds: or for improving the appearance of the highway and its surroundings and the enjoyment thereof by the public at large". I hope the Amendment speaks for itself.

Strangely enough, those words which we seek to add by this Amendment are reproduced in substance in the next clause of the Bill; namely, Clause 22(3), and I understand that these words, which I am about to quote, were inserted in the Bill when it was going through another place. It is provided there that: A highway authority may develop or redevelop any land acquired by them under Section 21 above"— that is the clause which allows for the compulsory acquisition of land— or any other land belonging to them, for the purpose of improving the surroundings of a highway in any manner which they think desirable by reason of its construction, improvement, existence or use. There we have provision made whereby once a highway authority have acquired land under Clause 21 they can then take action not only to mitigate any adverse effect upon the surroundings but also to improve the surroundings of the highway for the benefit of the highway.

It might be that at first glance that really meets our point, but I suggest it does not, for two reasons. The first is that those words allow a highway authority to do works on surrounding land for the purpose of improving the highway and the surroundings of the highway, but only after they have acquired it under the terms of Clause 21. Therefore, before they can do such works for the improvement of the surroundings of the highway they have to justify the acquisition of the land in the first place for the purpose of mitigating the adverse effects on the surroundings. Therefore they might find themselves in this situation that they cannot implement subsection (3) because they cannot acquire the land and they have no justification for acquiring it.

The second reason why I suggest that subsection (3) does not give us a remedy for the grievance which I am speaking about is that the words enable the highway authority to do such works only on land that they have already acquired. It does not permit them to acquire land for the purpose of improving the surrounding land. I notice that the Minister is nodding his head, and I dare say he will agree with me that subsection (3) does not cure the defects to which I have been drawing attention. I shall be interested to hear what the Minister can tell us about this and what assurances he can give. I beg to move.

5.48 p.m.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Foot, for moving this Amendment because it gives me an opportunity of expounding the Government's view on the whole business as well as dealing with particular technical matters raised by his Amendment. I think it might be convenient if, in speaking to this Amendment, I spoke also to Amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 24 because they are all related to the same general objective which I think we all share, which is that when we are constructing these new roads, and particularly major new roads in the countryside, everything possible should be done to make the very best use of the entire opportunity, and as the noble Lord is a distinguished member of one of our National Park bodies we might perhaps have a National Park in mind, and the situation where my own Department, being responsible for a trunk road, is improving one in a National Park.

Here there is a major consideration to be applied, because if a road has to be improved for any reason it is important—and particularly in sensitive countryside—that it is done in the best possible way and that all considerations are taken into account, including the enjoyment of the public who are in the park to see its beauties; the necessity to provide for the traffic and the opportunity to make provision on the road for picnic sites, and so on. All these factors come into play and I believe everybody will share the noble Lord's wish that everything possible should be done to make the road fit into its surroundings well, to make it beautiful and to enable those who are travelling along it to enjoy the view, and also to make provision (where appropriate) for them to stop to picnic or to admire the view in a more leisurely way. But rather than give all these functions, some of which are not appropriate, to a highway authority and to the highway authority that is doing this work, the important thing is to make sure that each particular authority involved has the necessary powers to do those particular pieces of work, planning, and management which are appropriate to it.

Here, in a Bill to do with land compensation, we are concerned with what a highway authority needs in addition to its already existing powers to fulfil the Short Title of the Bill, which in this Part is provides for the acquisition of land, the execution of works by public authorities for mitigating the adverse effect of certain public works on their surroundings". That is the purpose of this Bill. Highway authorities have other functions and the provision of a picnic site, for instance, would be carried out under powers under the Highways Act of 1971. The acquisition of further pieces of land outside the envelope of the road is, I submit to the Committee, a job which may well need to be done, and the noble Lord, Lord Foot, is perfectly right about that; but it is not appropriate to the highway authority in every case, and particularly not if the land in question is not contiguous to the road. But planning authorities have powers under Section 112 of the planning Act of 1971 to acquire land for the improvement of the surroundings of the highway and it is the local authority in that capacity which should use those powers for this purpose.

In the case of a trunk road through a National Park there will also be other authorities involved. There will be my Department constructing the road; the highway authority of the county in question, responsible perhaps for alterations to highways below trunk road status connecting with it; and functions for the National Park authority acting as the planning authority in the area. But I do not think that because of the necessity to deal with this whole business of the improvement of a trunk road through a National Park it is right to blur the responsibilities of the particular authorities in the way in which the noble Lord is suggesting.

There is a great deal more that could be said on the details of this matter, but that is the broad proposition: that the powers to do what he is seeking to do are not conferred in this Bill and in this clause because we are dealing with the narrower business set out in the Short Title of the Bill. I confirm that what he is seeking to do is provided for by powers that are already available. As I say, it would be possible to deal with his point more extensively if the Committee wished me to do so, but perhaps I could sit down having given that broad and general assurance and see what members of the Committee feel about it.


May I ask the Minister one question arising from that reply? I do not want to trouble him to give me chapter and verse for what he has told me and told the Committee about the powers of planning authorities, and so on, to undertake this sort of acquisition; but may I ask him, where a planning authority or a local authority—whoever it may be—acquires land contiguous to or adjacent to or surrounding a highway for the purpose of improving the highway itself, whether it would not be appropriate to have something in this Bill, which is a Bill dealing with compensation, to enable the local authority or the plan- ning authority to pay compensation? Surely that is something which would be appropriate to this particular Bill.

My experience in the Dartmoor National Park Committee is that the resources that we have available for paying compensation for this sort of thing are almost non-existent. I do not know of any powers that we have to pay out compensation upon any substantial scale such as would be involved, for example, in the making of a new road through a National Park, or indeed through the countryside. Could the Minister give me some reassurance about that without my asking for the details of the different enactments under which this situation could be met?


I can probably do that. First of all, I want to refer to Clause 23 in the Bill, which gives highway authorities the power to enter into agreements for restricting or regulating the use of land and specifies that any such agreement may, in particular, make provision for the planting and maintenance of trees, shrubs or plants … That is the most economic way of doing what the noble Lord is suggesting because it does not involve the acquisition of the land, and in view of that it is not likely that compulsory powers will be needed. It would be going too far, and certainly too far within the terms of this Bill, to give highway authorities compulsory powers to acquire land to provide cosmetic treatment to highways, either in towns or in the countryside, to facilitate enhancement, whereas it is appropriate in this Bill to give them powers to acquire land, if necessary by compulsion, in order to mitigate their adverse effects.

There is one particular case in Clause 23 where there is power to enter into agreements, not necessarily to acquire the land but to use land for mitigating the adverse effects of roads by such things as planting trees and shrubs, which is what I think the noble Lord had in mind. But it would be going too far in this Bill to confer additional powers on highway authorities to acquire land by compulsion to make the sort of improvements about which he is talking. That is not to say that I do not think these improvements are desirable, and not to say that I do not think they can be secured by agreement under Clause 23 or, if need be, by compulsion in the exercise of planning powers.


I am greatly obliged to the noble Lord for that explanation, and unless anyone else wants to say anything about it, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 21 shall stand part of the Bill?

5.58 p.m.


May I ask the Minister one question on something about which I am a little uncertain? Clause 21(4), which deals with the exchange of land, begins: Where under the powers of this section a highway authority have acquired, or propose to acquire, land forming part of a common, open space or fuel or field garden allotment … Should that read: … part of a common, open space or fuel allotment or field garden allotment"? I do not quite follow this. I seem to have heard the expression "a fuel allotment", but I am not quite certain that I have heard the expression "a field garden allotment". Is there possibly an error there? Would the Minister be so kind as to say whether he would look at it? I am sure that it is capable of some simple explanation which I am afraid has by-passed me.


I shall hazard an explanation, subject to correction, and if I am wrong I shall write to the noble Lord immediately. I think that all this phrase is designed to do is to distinguish, for the purposes of clarity and to avoid any doubt, between a fuel allotment and a field, an ordinary garden allotment. I think that that is the only reason. I do not think that there is anything wrong with the clause as it stands. I agree that it is rather unusual phrasing because one usually talks about ordinary garden allotments and there is no necessity to make the distinction.


I am obliged to the noble Lord.


As the noble Lord has given an explanation which appears to have satisfied my noble and learned friend, could he satisfy my other noble friend Lord Garnsworthy and myself and tell us what is a fuel allotment?


It is just an allotment which one keeps for the purposes of fuel—wood.


That is a peculiar reason for getting an allotment.


There are all sorts of reasons. One can also keep livestock on allotments. But the one we most commonly see is the allotment where one grows flowers and vegetables.


May I ask one question, of which I am afraid I have not given the Minister prior notice? It is connected with the subject raised by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, but it is not exactly relevant to his Amendment. There are a number of cases where, in the making of highways, the contractors need more earth fill than can be obtained by cutting out in the next section, and, therefore, they have to use what are known as borrow pits. They have, therefore, as the legislation stands at the moment, to enter into negotiations with neighbouring farmers. In an instance which I know of they conducted a kind of auction—I do not know whether Dutch or otherwise—between various farmers as to who could supply fill, earth, that is, at the cheapest price. In this case that I know of, and think I know of others as well, it ended with quite a good deal for the farmer concerned. On the other hand, it ended also with a very adverse effect on the scenery, because a great hole was carved in the side of the hill and the hill does not look as well now as it did previously.

Also it seems to me that the public purse could sometimes be saved. If, when the highway authority are designing a road, they could compulsorily acquire a certain area of land, a suitable place to be used as a borrow pit, they could go to the contractor and say: "This is where you must take your fill from. This is the best place; and you can have it at a certain price", thereby the price of the contract would be diminished. May I ask the Minister whether under this Clause 21 the highway authority would have power to designate a certain area of land from which contractors may take their fill?


Certainly the noble Lord has a good point here, but, as with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, it is not met in this particular Bill. The opening up of a borrow pit, and the winning and working of aggregate for that kind of purpose, does require planning permission; so the control over the damage this operation might do to the environment is exercised in that way. But we have by administrative means gone one stage further. We now have this practice. The last time that I am aware that we exercised it was in the construction of the M.62. There the contract went out to tender on the basis that the tenderers had to submit tenders for collecting the material they needed for fill from, in this case, a particular derelict site which needed to be cleared. You got two tenders, one based on getting the material from the cheapest source for which planning permission could be got, and the other for collecting it from an area where it might be more expensive but there would be greater environmental gain. Wherever practical, this is the way we proceed.

Clause 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Execution of works in connection with highways]:

6.5 p.m.


This is a small probing Amendment. It is really to ask whether there is a definition of the words "develop" or "redevelop" and whether these words would give the highway authority power to alter or improve property. It has been suggested that there may be cases where the highway authority acquire land which includes possibly blighted property, blighted houses, and they will find that they do not have the power to improve that blighted property. As I say, this is only a probing Amendment. Perhaps my noble friend could advise us what the answer is. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 21, line 33, after ("redevelop") insert ("alter or improve").—(The Earl of Kinnoull.)


I am glad to respond to this, and I would confirm that the word "redevelop" does embrace the words "alter or improve" so that the Amendment is not, strictly speaking, necessary. The power to develop or redevelop the remaining land acquired under Clause 21 and left over after mitigating adverse environmental effects, and to deal similarly with any other land owned by the highway authority, would cover the purpose of the Amendment. But once again I would confirm that that redevelopment by a highway authority would be subject to the ordinary controls of the planning authority.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.7 p.m.

LORD FOOT moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 21, line 37, at end insert— ("(4) A highway authority may enter upon land and carry out works thereon either compulsorily or by agreement for the purpose of improving the appearance and surroundings of a highway constructed or improved by them or proposed to be constructed or improved by them.")

The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment is to draw attention to a small practical problem upon which I should like to hear from the Minister. May we assume that a housing authority, in laying out a highway, have taken advantage of the powers conferred upon them under Section 21—that is to say, that they have seen fit in building the highway to acquire some surrounding land in order to mitigate the adverse effects of the construction of the highway on the surrounding land? Then let us assume that they have paid proper compensation to the owner of the land and have carried out works in order to mitigate the adverse effects. And then let us assume they are left with ownership of that piece of land not forming part of the highway.

They may have no useful purpose to which they can put it—that is, the highway authority, the local authority or anybody else; they may not have the facilities to manage the piece of land, but they have got it. The original owner may not wish to reacquire it because of the alterations made to it, and there may be nobody else interested in acquiring it. The purpose of this Amendment is to try to meet that practical problem. What is suggested here is that there should be an additional subsection to provide: A highway authority may enter upon land …"— not acquire it, but enter upon land— … and carry out works thereon either compulsorily or by agreement for the purpose of improving the appearance and surrounding of a highway constructed or improved by them or proposed to be constructed or improved by them. The effect of that would be that they would not have to acquire the land. They could, compulsorily or by agreement, enter upon the land and the ownership of it would remain with the original owner. He, of course, we foresee, would be paid proper compensation.

The Minister may say it is going a bit far to empower a highway authority compulsorily to enter upon a man's land. If he takes that view I would be prepared to withdraw a step and say we should be satisfied if there were provision only that this could be done by agreement. It would be of some advantage if there were power to enter into negotiations with the owner to see that suitable works could be done which did not involve acquisition of the land by the authority. I beg to move.


Once again we agree with the noble Lord, Lord Foot, that it is desirable that something like this could be done if need be; a similar point was raised in another place, I think on the inspiration of the Greater London Council. My right honourable and honourable friends there indicated their sympathy with it, and undertook to consider putting down an Amendment. But when we went into the matter we found that it was not really necessary, because something very close to the powers for which the noble Lord, Lord Foot, is asking are already there. We take the view, as he suspected, that it would not be right to go quite so far as to give powers to a highway authority to acquire land compulsorily in order to provide for these cosmetic works; it would also go beyond the scope of the clause if we enabled improvements to be made by the conferring of such powers. We agree with the noble Lord that giving powers, if necessary by compulsion, to acquire a right over land instead of title to it would be quite proper, but an Amendment is not needed because it transpires that Section 47 of the Highways Act 1971 does exactly that, and highway authorities can agree with frontagers the right to carry out tidying works of the sort envisaged. In cases where the owner is not known, compulsory powers could also be used.

Use of these powers has been limited administratively in the past, and a distinction has been drawn between prevention or reduction of damage to local amenity and enhancement. In line with the spirit of the White Paper, as carried forward in the Bill, the carrying out of cosmetic works made necessary by the construction or improvement of a highway—whether by use of compulsory powers or by agreement—will be appropriate to the Department's own schemes and will be eligible for specific grant on local authority principal road schemes. So I think I can say that the noble Lord's point is almost entirely met, in a different way from what he intended but just as satisfactorily.


I am very grateful to the Minister for that explanation, and I shall of course to-night study the Highways Act to see exactly what it says. I do not know whether he can tell me off-hand whether the Highways Act specifically authorised and empowered a highway authority to enter upon land and do works simply for the purpose of mitigating the adverse effects of the highway upon surrounding land. The noble Lord may not be able to tell me that off-hand, but that is what I am immediately concerned about.


If the noble Lord will be studying the Highways Acts in detail, I ought to be a little more comprehensive. The sections concerned are Section 214(8) of the Highways Act 1959, and Section 47 of the Highways Act 1971.


That is my latest law tutorial and I am very much obliged. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 [Agreements as to use of land near highways]:

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 25: Page 21, line 45, after ("for") insert ("the carrying out or contribution to the carrying out of works for restoring and improving the appearance of such land including").

The noble Earl said: The Committee will be aware that Clause 23 gives powers to a highway authority to enter into agreements—such as the noble Lord, Lord Foot, referred to earlier—with owners of land adjoining highways, in order to landscape and plant trees and generally lo improve the appearance. The purpose of this Amendment is really to explore with my noble friend whether the present drafting of this clause is a little narrow, and to ask whether it would cover a contribution to maintenance and planting. I shall be grateful if my noble friend can say whether a highway authority would have power to make a contribution not only to buildings but to general improvements, as well as to the planting of trees. I beg to move.


I really cannot say more than I have said to almost all of the Amendments in this Part so far. We believe we have gone far enough in conferring additional powers on highway authorities to meet the purposes of the Bill, which are to provide for the acquisition of land and the execution of works by public authorities and for mitigating the adverse effect of certain public works upon surroundings. I hoped I had shown that the very laudable and worthwhile purposes, which we all recognise need to be met, can be met under other legislation conferring other powers on highway authorities, or on other authorities who will need to work in concert with them. But for the reasons that I have given, I cannot recommend the Committee to accept the fairly wide extension of the powers of highway authorities under this Bill, which my noble friend's Amendment would confer. I hope that with the explanations that I have already given, to which I cannot add, he will not feel it necessary to press the Amendment.


I certainly do not feel it necessary to press the Amendment. In fact, all I am doing is asking for a little information. I know that everyone welcomes these new powers, but what is a little unclear is exactly how far they go. My question is whether, under this clause, highway authorities will be allowed to offer a contribution to adjoining owners.


I do not think I can go beyond what is stated in Clause 23(1). That gives them powers to enter into an agreement for regulating the use of the land, and it makes provision for the planting and maintenance of trees. Any agreement which serves those purposes falls within the powers conferred.


So one can assume that a highway authority would have power to offer a contribution to an adjoining owner?


Yes. But that does not mean that I can accept the Amendment, because it goes a long way beyond the terms of the clause as drafted. But provided that the agreement and any financial arrangements under it fit in with the clause as drafted. I can give my noble friend the assurance for which he is asking.


I am grateful for my noble friend's clarification, and I am very happy to beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 23 agreed to.

Clauses 24 to 26 agreed to.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 26: After Clause 26 insert the following new clause:

Power to pay expenses of persons moving temporarily during construction works etc.

("Expenses of persons moving temporarily during construction works etc. —(1) This section has effect where works are carried out—

  1. (a) by a highway authority for the construction or improvement of a highway; or
  2. (b) by a responsible authority for the construction or alteration of any public works other than a highway,
and the carrying out of those works affects the enjoyment of a dwelling adjacent to the site on which they are being carried out to such an extent that continued occupation of the dwelling is not reasonably practicable. (2) Subject to paragraph (3) below, the highway authority or responsible authority, as the case may be, may pay any reasonable expenses incurred by the occupier of the dwelling in providing suitable alternative residential accommodation for himself and members of his household for the whole or any part of the period during which the works are being carried out. (3) No payment shall be made to any person under this section in respect of any expenses except in pursuance of an agreement made between that person and the authority concerned before the expenses are incurred: and no payment shall be so made except in respect of the amount by which the expenses exceed those which that person would have incurred if the dwelling had continued to be occupied. (4) In this section "public works" and responsible authority" have the same meaning in section 1 above.

The noble Lord said: This new clause will provide a discretionary power, which hope the Committee will welcome, for highway authorities and other responsible authorities to pay to the occupants of dwellings, which are seriously but temporarily affected by the carrying out of highway or other public works, those reasonable expenses incurred in providing themselves with temporary alternative accommodation. It fulfills an undertaking given, when this matter was discussed in another place, by my honourable friend Mr. Eldon Griffiths.

The intention is to deal with those cases where the effects of the carrying out of the works are so serious as to cause physical hardship such as to make the continued occupation of the dwelling unreasonable in the short term. Clauses 21(2)(a) and 25(2)(a) provide powers for the authorities concerned to acquire land by agreement where the enjoyment is seriously affected by the carrying out of the works over a longer term. Entitlement under the subsection is limited to the occupiers of dwellings, since these will be the vast majority of the hardship cases involved. The restriction to "adjacent to the site of the works" follows broadly the line adopted on sound insulation, where entitlement is related to the use of the new highway or other public works. There is a good deal more that could be said on this new clause, and if any Member of the Committee wants to draw me further I shall be happy to expand on it, but I think that what I have said indicates well enough the broad intention; and, on the whole, the rest of the clause speaks for itself. I beg to move.


This is one of the occasions on which one could have wished that there had been more time to consider the numerous Amendments submitted by the Government. As I understood the noble Lord, he used the term "discretionary power", and I notice that subsection (2) says that the highway authority "may pay". I want to ask the noble Lord whether this means what he said, that it is a discretionary power, and whether the highway authority can please itself. I think this is a matter of some considerable importance. I should have thought that to say that the highway authority "shall pay" would be better than "may pay". That is a matter to which we may want to return at Report stage unless the noble Lord is able to satisfy us on that point. It seems to me that when a person living in a house has to move out because, as a result of the work which has been undertaken, living in the premises has become unendurable, not merely ought there to be no question of an opportunity to make a claim but, it seems to me, there ought quite clearly to be the right to have a claim met when it has been established.

It seems to me that the proposed clause, the principle of which I welcome, certainly improves the Bill, but it does not strike me as being generous if the words used by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, bear the meaning that they usually do. In addition to that, I think we ought not to underestimate the considerable difficulties that can arise when people have to move out. There is the very big problem of finding suitable alternative accommodation, and there is a point, I think, at which people have a right to expect that the alternative accommodation will provide comparable amenities. If in point of fact they are going to have to endure hardship because the alternative accommodation is lacking in amenities which their own house provided, surely there ought to be some recognition of that.

There are all sorts of things involved here. There is the question of fuel use, as to whether more fuel is required. How long will it take before claims for these things can be dealt with? It seems to me that if a family is living very much on a hand-to-mouth basis there is need for speed in deciding how it should be treated financially. I have the feeling that the new clause as drafted is probably rather tighter than it ought to be if undeserved hardship is to be avoided. It may well be that the noble Lord, having offered to give more information, will be able to satisfy us on the points that I have raised.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I do not think that what he has said really requires me to expound the clause itself in any more detail, but to make a rather different point. Of course, if the rights of private individuals affected in this kind of way were met, protected and safeguarded only by this clause standing on its own, it would be quite inadequate, and the mere power of discretion would be totally insufficient. But this has been introduced as providing for the authorities concerned an alternative to, for instance, outright acquisition. It may be that the circumstances are such that it is quite impossible for the occupier to stay in the house over a period of two or three weeks while some particular constructional operation is going on, but that if that particular three weeks could be bridged he would be glad to go back, the highway authority would be quite happy to get him back and the particular reason for his having to move out would have passed. But without this clause the highway authority, willing as it might be, and the occupier, willing as he might be, would not be able to come to terms in this fashion. That is why the discretion has been introduced. I think that, looking at it in that context and against that background, there are other rights on the owner-occupier and there are other powers available to the highway authority which could meet the case as well; this additional discretion is desirable and not ungenerous. I would certainly confirm that it enables the highway authority concerned and the owner-occupier affected to come to an agreement which will lead to the owner-occupier knowing the terms under which he is going to be recompensed before he incurs any additional expense.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord. We shall look very carefully at what he has had to say. I think I understand what he has said, but perhaps I ought to reserve the position and say that we shall study his remarks very carefully and, if need be, come back to this matter. Perhaps he himself will look at whether the word "shall" might be substituted for "may" in the second line of subsection (2). I appreciate, on the basis of what he has just said, that he probably thinks it is not at all necessary, but no harm will be done if this matter is looked at again. I think I can say that this has been almost sprung on us rather suddenly. It has been quite a business, preparing for the Committee stage of this Bill; but I am grateful to the noble Lord for the explanation he has just given.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 27 [Right to home loss payment where person displaced from dwelling]:


Before I call Amendment No. 27 I have to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that if Amendment No. 27 is agreed to I shall not be able to call Amendments Nos. 28 or 29.

6.30 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 27: Page 25, line 11, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: I think it may meet the general convenience of the Committee if, in speaking to Amendment No. 27, I were to cover Amendment No. 28, although I appreciate the position that the noble Baroness, the Deputy Chairman, has just mentioned. Clause 27 provides for the making of payments to persons displaced from dwellings in consequence of compulsory acquisition and of the making, passing or acceptance of certain orders or undertakings under the Housing Acts; and the persons entitled are those who have been in occupation for not less than five years.

Amendment No. 27 is tabled with a view to giving the Minister an opportunity of telling us why any time limit at all for a home loss payment is included in the Bill. If the aim is to prevent speculators from moving in and benefiting, that is quite an interesting situation. I think the Committee generally would welcome that. But if that is the case, then cannot the Government with all the array of legal talent that they have, find a better solution? I think it is quite fair to put that to the noble Lord, in view of the fact that not long ago we on this side were told that the way to deal with the problem was not the way we were suggesting but that we might apply our minds to finding an alternative method of dealing with it. If the aim of the Government is merely to prevent the kind of speculation I have mentioned, it would seem to me, speaking as a layman, that they could find some way of going about it other than to have the clause worded as it is at present.

At what point does one establish a home? How many years does it take to establish a home? What period of time? Does it really take five years?—because when the Bill was before another place originally it was seven years. It was in response to considerable pressure that the Minister reduced the period to live years. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, will know that there was a very considerable demand in the other place that the period should be less than the five years that is now included in the Bill. I welcome the provision for compensation generally, as I appreciate that the Government have reduced the period of occupation when a person shall have been in residence as set out in subsections (2)(a) and (2)(b), as I have said, from seven to five years as the qualifying period for establishing a right to claim.

I do not think that the Government have come up with the right answer. I think they could have accepted that genuine, bona fide residence of any length justified a claim. But if the Government are unwilling to accept the justice of that approach then I ask them to accept that three years is long enough to meet all their requirements to establish claims in good faith and based on acceptable terms. It is a concession that I think the Government could well make and I am persuaded that it would be welcomed in all quarters. I am prepared to withdraw Amendment No. 27 if the Minister is able to indicate that Amendment No. 28 is acceptable. I beg to move.


Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee and would save a little time if I now spoke to Amendment No. 29 which is in the name of the noble Lord. Lord Henley, and myself, and which is the same in principle as this one. Indeed, the three Amendments are variations on the same theme. They imply that the period of occupation before a person is entitled to home loss payment should be less than five years. Perhaps my noble friend the Minister will be good enough to comment on my Amendment when replying to this one.

There is very little doubt that this Bill was conceived with the best intentions but, due to a long period of gestation and many Amendments in another place, I feel that parts of it have become slightly muddled and there seems to have developed a certain confusion between the intention and the Bill as amended so far. I think that criticism applies to this clause in particular. I think it is important that we should agree the principle behind the home loss payment. Is it a consolation payment for the grief incurred at losing one's home, or is it to be regarded more as a quantified payment for disturbance? The White Paper states that when people's homes are acquired for public developments, the occupiers who are obliged to uproot themselves suffer personal upset, discomfort and inconvenience. From that, I would interpret that the payment is to be one for consolation for grief—in which case I cannot see why the distress should be that much greater after five years than after two or three years. One can envisage cases where a great deal of work has been put into improving the house and garden in the first year and where there has been all the expenditure on the original fittings, furniture and carpets. Acquisition in the third year would mean that the occupier had hardly had any time to enjoy the fruits of his labour. In this case it would be more of a burden for him then than it might be if after five years he was going to decide to move house anyway. As the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, reminded us, the qualifying residence period was reduced in another place from seven to five years. It seems to me both logical and equitable that the period should be further reduced.


I share the noble Viscount's doubts about just what it is that the home loser is being compensated for. Home loss was described in the White Paper which preceded the Bill as a mark of recognition of the special hardship of compulsory dispossession from a house. As such it is to be welcomed. There may be financial hardship; there almost invariably is. I think that this is a more practical way of looking at the matter than to treat this form of compensation, as did the Minister in the other place, as an attempt to compensate for feelings of loss and grief by the home owner who is turned out, or as compensation for what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, described during the Second Reading debate as "distress" because you have to move from your home.

Whether the special hardship be material or mental, why should it be any less in a period under five years from the date of occupation? There may be cases where a person becomes the owner of a house because it is near his work or, as the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, mentioned, cases where the owner has had to provide furnishings and fittings necessary for that particular house. The hardship for these owners may be all the greater through dispossession after a short period. The Government have already recognised this to some extent by reducing the period from seven years to five years. I accept that there may be a minimum period of two years necessary in order to avoid attracting speculators, but I would support any Amendment to reduce this qualifying period to three years or to two years.


May I just contribute one short point? The justification for a qualifying period has been that speculators must be kept out. With that we would all agree. How realistic is the risk of speculators when you bear in mind that under subsection (2) there is not only the time qualification but also the qualification requiring the occupier of the house to have been in occupation by virtue of an interest or a right to which the subsection applies? If one then looks to see what is the interest or right, one finds that set out in subsection (4) under four subheadings. There must be either an interest in the dwelling (I suppose a leasehold or a freehold interest) or there must be a right to occupy as a statutory tenant under the Rent Act 1968 (and that is a right which is difficult to acquire) or there must be a similar right under Scottish legislation. Finally, there must be a right of occupation of the dwelling under a contract of employment.

The submission I would put to the Committee is this. The requirement that the person in the house must be able to show that he is occupying it by virtue of one of those interests or rights to which I have referred would, in the vast majority of cases, make it extremely difficult for the speculator to put himself in possession of the house. The quantum of the payment is set out in Clause 28. It is either seven times the rateable value, if the displacement is before April, 1973, or three times if it is after 1973, subject to the £1,500 maximum and the £150 minimum figures. I submit that in those circumstances very few speculators are going to be able, or think it worth their while, to go through the prolonged process—as it may well be in many cases—of qualifying in the sense of possessing themselves of the relevant interest or right.

I advance that argument in support of those already advanced by noble Lords. I submit that the reasonable thing would be to say that there should be no qualifying period at all, or that it should be not more than three or—if I may say so to the noble Viscount—two years or even one year. I do not want to repeat arguments already used, but surely it is the common experience of the vast majority of respectable people—I hope we may consider ourselves a respectable community—that before you move into a house you incur a great deal of expense. You may have had to wait a long time before getting the house. It is the house of your choice, and the crux of the history is when you first go into it; when the lady of the house proceeded to alter the curtains, the carpets and all the rest of it. That is when the expense is incurred, and that is the time by which the solemn and firm resolution of the household has been taken that that is where they want to live. I submit that in those circumstances, even if there were no qualifying period at all, there would be very little abuse and it would be much fairer to the dozens of households where there are perfectly respectable people who are happy in their home and who suddenly find that they have to go. I hope the Minister will be able to withdraw the qualifying period altogether, or in the alternative substantially to reduce it either to three or two years, or even less.


No one would be happier than I or any of my colleagues if one could be as generous as everyone would wish on occasions like this. But the fact is that one has a certain finite amount of resources and money available to underpin Bills and enactments of this kind and make good this kind of compensation. The question is what to do in order to ensure that what is available goes to the people who deserve it and need help most. That is what we have been trying to do.

I think it would be helpful, as my noble friend Lord Davidson suggested, if I were to speak, as we have been doing, to the three Amendments that bear upon this together—Amendments Nos. 27. 28 and 29—because the arguments that I have to put forward apply to all of them. The first thing we have to remember is that we are talking about something that is paid after the main compensation has been paid at full market value. As my noble friend Lord Davidson said, the home loss payment is a special, additional and new type of payment designed as a consolation for the personal grief of residential occupiers who are forcibly displaced from what have become their homes. Clearly, all noble Lords are right who say that it is extremely difficult to give an actual figure to the emotional attachment that people feel towards their home, created over the years within the fabric of the building. It varies greatly from one person to another; and the grief which forcible displacement causes will vary also because that moment may coincide with a whole variety of circumstances. Nevertheless, I am sure the Committee would agree that it is fair to say that, in general, a person's attachment to a particular property as his home, as distinct from the purely physical protection and comfort that it affords, takes some time to form.

What we are seeking to deal with is that which derives from having lived in a particular house for some time, or in a particular area. It is for this reason that eligibility for a home loss payment is limited to those people who have occupied their homes for a certain minimum number of years. That would be my main argument for resisting any proposal to eliminate it altogether. It is fundamental to our concept of this new provision, which is in addition to what there has been before, that there should be some cut-off point; and it is necessary as noble Lords have inferred—though this is not the main reason for it—to deter the speculator. I will come back to that in a minute. The choice of five years' occupation as a qualifying period has been made to ensure that those occupiers who were likely to suffer the greatest amount of distress through being displaced from their homes would benefit, while at the same time keeping the cost within reasonable limits. As I say, the funds available for all this are not in practice limitless, much as one would wish that they were. The resources available for mitigating this grief and suffering will, if the period is kept at live years, go to those who are subjected to the greatest hardship.

Many public works take quite a time to plan and to prepare, and even with the cut-off period at five years there will be several occupiers who will have been aware at the start of their occupation that they were likely to be displaced, if necessary by compulsory acquisition, in the foreseeable future; and for whom, therefore, the personal upset on displacement will not be as great as if they had taken up occupation in expectation of remaining there until they chose to move. To reduce the qualifying condition to three years would bring in many people who knew that their period of occupation was likely to be of limited duration. Although there is nothing marginal in the choice of five years as the cut-off period, the emotional attachment to a dwelling as a home, and hence the degree of distress on displacement—however difficult it may be to quantify—is certain to be greater after five years than after only three years. I do not think any member of the Committee would quarrel with that, although we might disagree about the actual figure we should attach to it.

If it is argued—and it has been—that logically there should be no qualifying period at all, because some people form a strong attachment to their home quickly. I think I would give two answers. First, as I and other noble Lords have said, it would encourage speculators to buy property which they knew was likely to be taken for public works in the near future. Most of the property involved in schemes is slum property which is very easy to buy up, and that would be made desirable if the occupancy qualifying period were reduced to one or two years, or if there were no qualifying period at all. It has also been argued that the distress from displacement is often at its most acute after the first year of occupation when all the work has been done to make the home to the taste of the occupiers. Clearly this can be so, but reversibly once again the cost of reducing the qualifying period in this way would be very high and the benefit to those who really need this new home loss payment would be correspondingly reduced if the benefit had to be spread in this way. It is chiefly in order that the funds available for this should be concentrated upon those whose grief is undoubtedly the greater because they have been in their house longer, that the Government want very much to leave the figure at five. I hope that your Lordships, after reflecting on what I have said, will see that this is where justice lies though if there were no limit to our generosity—which I am afraid in the hard practical world there is—it might well he better to dispose differently. But in the circumstances where there are limits—and I am sure all noble Lords will agree that this is the case—it is better, for the reasons I have given, to keep the figure at five and give the benefit to those who need it most and require it most. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lord will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment.


I am very grateful indeed to the Minister for the care he has taken in presenting the Government's point of view. I am sure he was doing himself no less than justice when he said that nobody would be happier than he if he could be generous and accept the Amendment. Nevertheless. I have the feeling that the argument he has advanced is very little different from the one that was advanced originally in support of seven years, and I would ask him to reflect whether three years is not quite a reasonable term of years, having regard to all that he has said. I should like to express appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Middleton, and to the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, for what they had to say. When I moved the Amendment I did it as briefly as I could. I think they dotted the i's and crossed the t's, and certainly they reinforced the argument which I endeavoured to advance. I think the Government will be making a mistake if they underestimate the strength of feeling that exists on this matter.

It seems to me that my noble friend Lord Stow Hill really touched on a number of matters that were not disposed of when the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, replied. I thought he had established the fact that the situation was very thoroughly secured by all the references he made to things that are contained in other clauses in the Bill, and I would suggest that whereas Amendment No. 27 asks that there shall he no period for qualification, the Amendment to which I attach the greater importance is one that represents a compromise, a compromise that is not even cutting the figure into half. I am not going so far as his noble friends behind him: they want two years. The noble Lord keeps talking about spreading the available money more thinly. Can he tell us what limited sum is available to meet this situation? If there is a limit to the sum that can be available, is there any reason why that figure should not be exceeded? In any case, having regard to continuing inflation, is it really suggested that a figure which is laid down to-day will be adequate for all time to come? I would ask that further consideration be given to that point. I believe that acceptance of Amendment No. 28, while it would not remove all injustices, would introduce a greater area of justice and would ensure a better balance.

I hope that the Minister is not going to indicate that the Government's mind is made up and that they cannot be persuaded on this point. As I said, I am quite willing to withdraw Amendment No. 27 provided that the Government will accept Amendment No. 28. I want to make it quite clear that although I should very much like to go as far as his noble friends behind him and bring the figure down to two, in an attempt to meet the Government and to be as reasonable as possible I feel that I must press the issue of three years in substitution for five.


I hope the noble Lord will not feel it necessary to do that after what I have said. He asked me about the amount of money available for all this. I think I mentioned on Second Reading that through this Bill we are increasing the amount of compensation to people affected by all this in various ways by about £50 million, which I should have thought was a very considerable and generous advance. Within that, it is necessary to do what is just and fair between all those who are affected, and it is this desire to arrive at a figure which is roughly just—and we cannot do more than that when we are talking about the grief and compensation for the loss of a home; we cannot put a figure on it—which dictates the choice of five years which is in the Bill at the moment as the result of a compromise arrived at in another place. So it is not as though the Government were taking a firm and inflexible position. All the arguments which have been adduced this evening were adduced before, and my right honourable friend has considered them carefully and compromised to the extent of reducing the figure to five. But when we get down to the figure of three we are coming into the situation which I described, where we shall be benefiting some people who knew that their period of occupation was likely to be of limited duration when they originally moved in, and the degree of injustice as between some people who benefit and some people who do not—some who benefit without deserving to and some people who do not benefit but do deserve to—will become much more acute.

It is for those reasons that I am resistant to any further change, but that is not to say that we approach this Committee stage or the Report stage with our minds closed; certainly not. All the things which noble Lords have said in the course of this debate will be considered and weighed once more with all that has been said and considered before on this subject. My mind is not firmly made up any more than my right honourable friend's mind is made up. It is open to persuasion by what has been said in the debate so far. What I hope the noble Lord and the Committee will agree to do is to withdraw the Amendments which have been moved to-day, in the light of the explanation I have given, and on the understanding that the matter remains for us to consider and weigh between now and the next stage: and of course it is possible for any noble Lord who wishes to return to it at the next stage to do so. If the noble Lord does press the Amendment now, I shall have to invite the Committee to resist it.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has just said. There are one or two points that I should like to raise. First of all, with regard to the offer that he made, I should like to think about it if he can say he will lot me know well in advance of the Report stage what the decision is so that there can be ample time to do so. I have heard assurances such as the noble Lord has given on other occasions, and although they are given in good faith there is really no firm undertaking that we can expect an Amendment from the Government. The noble Lord spoke of the £70 million available as though that were a limited sum of money. Maybe somewhere I ought to have picked it up, but there was no reference to the time schedule. What does £70 million mean in terms of time? I think that is important.

The noble Lord laid great stress on people taking up occupation knowing that houses were going to be acquired. I did not want to take up the time of the Committee, but I should have liked to deal with people who wait seven years, five years or three years to get into a house, and after years and years of searching and waiting they find somewhere that they think is going to provide them with a home. I wonder whether that has been balanced? I wonder whether due consideration has been given to the grief that is going to be caused when those people lose their homes? I think the term of three years, although of course not completely satisfactory, is much more satisfactory. I cannot believe that the amount of money involved is so much that the Government need to be firm on this issue.


I was not resting my case entirely on the absence of funds, though I was making the point that £70 million per annum is a substantial addition across the board for compensation of this kind. I was deriving the figure broadly from page viii of the Explanatory Memorandum, which has been subject to one or two minor adjustments of the kind that I announced on Second Reading. The second leg of my case is that whatever the amount—and it is conceivable that it could be marginally increased this is a period of time which is also more just than the shorter period of three years, in that it applies the resources that are available for making good the damage, if it is the figure I have spoken of or a little more, more fairly between those who deserve to receive this compensation and those who, because their attachment is less and not so strong, deserve it less. It is, I think, a fair figure.


Is the noble Lord giving me an assurance that I will know in ample time before the Report stage?


I apologise to the noble Lord. I will certainly undertake to let him know as soon as we have reached our conclusions on the reconsideration of this in the light of what has been said.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I asked the question about £70 million because, as he will appreciate when he reads the OFFICIAL REPORT, he gave no time for it, and I think it is as well that we have it clear. In the light of what the noble Lord has said, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Amendments Nos. 30 and 31 are both technical Amendments necessary to include within the scope of the clause persons displaced by an authority possessing compulsory powers by virtue of a private Act which does not involve the making of a specific compulsory purchase order. I beg to move Amendment No. 30.

Amendment moved— Page 25, line 21, leave out ("coming into operation of the compulsory purchase order") and insert ("date on which the acquiring authority were authorised to acquire that interest").—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 31. Perhaps I can take this opportunity to say what I should have said before, that Amendment No. 36 is linked with this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 11, leave out from ("and") to end of line 12 and insert ("the authority (if not authorised to acquire the interest compulsorily) had been so authorised on the date of the agreement.")—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 32: Page 26, line 20, at end insert ("and 'redevelopment' includes a change of use").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment follows and embodies the proposal made by the Opposition in another place. The purpose of it is to provide that, where a person is displaced from his home in consequence of the change of use of a building, after it has been acquired by an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers, he has the same entitlement to a home loss payment as a person displaced in consequence of redevelopment (which normally involves demolition). It is designed to cater for the situation where, for example, an authority acquires a dwelling and changes its use to, say, an office, thereby displacing its occupier. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 28 [Amount of home loss payment in England and Wales]:

7.8 p.m.


Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 are drafting Amendments. I beg to move Amendment No. 33.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 34, leave out ("multiples") and insert ("multipliers").—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT DAVIDSON moved Amendment No. 33A: Page 26, line 43, after ("value") insert (",unless such rateable value shall have been reduced as a result of a proposal made to the valuation officer or of a finding of a local valuation panel under the General Rate Acts 1967 and 1970 by reason of physical factors mentioned in section 1(2) of this Act when the rateable value shall be the higher rateable value as certified by the valuation officer without regard being had to any of the physical factors (whether existing before or after the date of the coming into operation of this Act) which gave effect to such reduction of the higher rateable value").

The noble Viscount said: This Amendment is really a probing Amendment. The matter was raised quite briefly in Standing Committee in another place and the Minister undertook to look at it and do something about it. In fact, at columns 310 and 311 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of Standing Committee A a case was quoted where As a result of trunk sewer works adjacent and close to people's homes, with their noise, dust and nuisance, the residents applied for a reduction in their rateable value to offset or compensate for the nuisance. Within a year or 18 months, that group of houses will be the subject of a compulsory purchase order due to road development plans. I shall expand on that in a moment. In reply, the Minister admitted that the honourable Member who had put this point had put an interesting argument, but that unfortunately he had prepared an argument against another argument, and he, the Minister, was therefore unable to give a satisfactory answer. The reason for this Amendment now is to ask the Minister to look into it more closely at this stage.

The point here is quite a narrow one and does not really concern a great number of people. I will not delay the Committee by going into details, but the cases I have in mind are of those people who have already suffered from depreciation caused to their property as a result of one or other of the nuisances covered by this Bill. They were able, under the General Rate Act 1967, Section 19, to claim a reduction in their rateable values. Now however, faced with dispossession due to further expansion of the development, they find that the home loss payment will be determined as a multiple of a rateable value which has already been reduced as a result of that same nuisance. It could of course be argued that they have already benefited on the revenue account, as it were, and cannot have it both ways. But I do not think that that argument really accords with the spirit of this Bill, and I hope therefore that the Government will give serious consideration to what I feel is an anomaly, and an unfair one at that. I beg to move.


I am grateful to the noble Viscount, but I am not quite certain that I have fully digested the purport of his Amendment as it appeared rather late. But I can say this. There are two quite separate circumstances in rateable values affecting home loss payments. The first concerns a reduction in rateable value which is made as a result of events outside the scope of the scheme for which the dwelling in question is ultimately acquired. The factors which are taken into account in assessing rateable value are many and varied and it would be quite wrong, not to say impossible from a practical standpoint, to attempt to add on to an existing rateable value an amount which purported to make allowances for factors which resulted in the rateable value being set at a level lower than it might otherwise have been. The other circumstance in which a reduction in rateable value would affect the amount of a home loss payment is where a reduction is made as a result of depreciation caused directly by the scheme for which the dwelling is ultimately to be acquired. In practice the number of occasions where this occurs are very few and far between.

To cater for them would, on practical grounds, be extremely difficult. For example, where a re-rating has been carried out the assessments will have been made in the knowledge of any scheme involving the compulsory purchase of the properties in question and the scheme will have been one of the factors taken into account in arriving at a valuation. To offset any notional reduction in the assessment which was made it would be necessary to carry out a fresh valuation of the property and in practice this would be virtually impossible. Moreover it should be remembered that the person concerned will have an element of choice in the matter. It will rest with him to judge whether to seek a reduction in his rateable value and thus pay a little less each year until he is displaced instead of receiving an undepreciated home loss payment, or whether to bear the existing cost of his rates and benefit in full from the home toss payment provision on displacement. Reductions in rateable value in the circumstances on the few occasions when they would be made would be likely to be very small and even when multiplied by three for the purpose of calculating a home loss payment they would scarcely be large. He would in any event receive not less than £150. I hope that that explanation will be sufficient for my noble friend for the time being, but, if not, we can perhaps continue the matter by correspondence.


I am most grateful to my noble friend the Minister for his reply. It was slightly technical, and the whole problem is rather a technical one. But, as I said, this was a probing Amendment and it dealt with something that was not properly dealt with in the other place and I am glad it has been aired. With those remarks, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 28, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 29 [Amount of home loss payment in Scotland]:


I beg to move Amendment No. 34.

Amendment moved— Page 27, line 21. leave out ("multiple") and insert ("multiplier").—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 29, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 30 [Supplementary provisions about home loss payments]:

7.14 p.m.

LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 35: Page 25, line 30, after ("rooms") insert ("whether or")

The noble and learned Lord said: Thi, Amendment raises a short point. Subsection (4) of Clause 30 deals with a qualifying period. It enables an occupier of a dwelling to count as part of his qualifying period a period during which he lived in another dwelling in the same building. Supposing a house is converted into flats and, say, a young family lives in one flat for a period of time then perhaps children come and the couple move down to a rather larger flat on a lower floor, or something of that kind. They are entitled by virtue of subsection (4) of Clause 30 to count as part of their qualifying period for the purpose of Clause 27(2) both periods during which they lived in the two flats. There is a restriction on that right, however, which requires that the two dwellings should not have been dwellings constructed structurally as separate dwellings.

I submit to your Lordships that that is a rather unreasonable limitation. I should have thought that the actual case that would arise over and over again is that of a Victorian house, perhaps, which has been converted into flats on each landing and the flats are given separate front doors; in other words, they are constructed as separate dwellings. If the family in question moves from one to another of those flats in the same building they could not count both periods for the purpose of their qualifying period of five years; they could, however, if they did not have separate front doors for each flat. My Amendment seeks to remove the provision that if there are separate front doors they cannot count both periods. It can be said, perhaps, "Well, what do you mean by the expression ' the same building '?" It could be said that there might be the case of a large block of flats and of a family moving from one flat to another in that large block. That might be the case, but it would be the rare case. A very common case would be the case I instanced of the private dwelling-house converted into a number of flats on each floor.

I do not quite know what other difficulty could arise. It could not, I should have thought, be said that, for example, terraced houses in a single terrace formed one building; they are obviously separate buildings. They are constructed as separate curtilages. I should have thought that there could be no practical difficulty in implementing that subsection if it were amended as I seek. If any difficulty arises from the use of the word "building" and it is necessary to find some different expression to limit it to what we normally think of as a separate house, I should have thought that that was something for which skilled draftsmen could provide; and I would hope that the attempt would be made. As the subsection reads at the moment, in my submission it would exclude a number of deserving cases by accident where the lessor has thought it desirable to give each family a separate front door. I should not have thought that was the Government's intention. It would be very hard on individual cases of persons who needed this home payment and I would hope that the Government could see their way to accept this Amendment or, if they cannot accept it, to say that they will consider it with a view to finding some expression to replace the words "same building", which would exclude, say, the case of terraced houses or something of the kind where physically the bricks and mortars are juxtaposed side by side with each other. It cannot be too difficult to find some expression which is limited to what in ordinary terms we think of as a separate house.


Everyone will have sympathy with the noble and learned Lord's point, but, as with a number of other cases concerned with this Bill, our view is that it is difficult to meet it because it is not possible or practical to draw the line firmly other than where we have drawn it. But perhaps I might just go back to the main purpose of Clause 30, and particularly subsection (4). It is to provide that where persons move from one room to another in the same house they are not on this account deprived of a home loss payment. I think that is well worth securing. The justification for the subsection is that a person who has occupied different rooms in the same house, whether furnished or unfurnished, for five years may have an attachment to the house—and after all that is what we are talking about—rather than the room that he actually occupies at the time in question. The same cannot be strictly said when the room or the rooms are self-contained. The attachment is then to that particdar unit. In that case they become, in effect, flats of one or more rooms.

If one were to admit the case which the noble and learned Lord is asking us to admit into the home loss scheme there would be no logical point left at which to draw the line, because then one would have to consider all the different flats within a block of flats, and although it sounds fairly easy at first sight to draw a line in individual buildings it is not in fact practicable to do so. It would be difficult to resist including people who have moved next door or across the street, and then by continuing this process of reasoning, people who have moved from one street to the next street, and so on.

For this reason I would invite the noble and learned Lord not to press the Amendment because it is a matter which we have looked into most carefully. We want to extend the clause in the way I indicated at the beginning, but we must find a point at which the line can be firmly drawn and held, and we believe we have got this right in the clause as it is at the moment drafted.


In view of what the noble Lord has said, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 36.

Amendment moved— Page 28, line 39, leave out from ("and") to end of line 41 and insert ("the authority had been authorised to acquire that interest before he gave up occupation of the dwelling.").—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

7.23 p.m.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 36A:

Page 28, line 45, at end insert— ("(7) A home loss payment shall carry interest, at the rate for the time being prescribed in section 32 of the Land Compensation Act 1961 or, in Scotland section 40 of the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1963, from the date of the submission of the claim.")

The noble Earl said: This Amendment has one simple purpose, namely, to insert into this clause concerning supplementary provisions about home loss payments, that interest will be payable on home loss claims from the date of submission of the claim. This is in line with other parts of the Bill. It is in line with Part I, it is in line with farm loss payments and with disturbance payments. I submit to my noble friend that it is also in line with the fundamental principles of compensation, something to which, I have noticed this afternoon, my noble friend rightly attaches importance.

In moving this Amendment I am aware that it is laid down in subsection (3) of the clause that these payments are supposed to be made within three months, but having spoken to certain professional bodies it seems there is some doubt whether it will be practicably possible to make these payments within three months, due to such problems as proving titles and adjusting rateable values, and while it is clear that claims can be submitted it is doubtful whether they can be paid.

Again we see from a previous clause that the amount of claim is based on the rateable value and has a maximum of three times the rateable value. I understand that the maximum claim under the home loss is £3,500, and if the claims in fact take perhaps one or two years to settle, and if interest rates remain at the present level, I would suggest to my noble friend that it would be equitable that interest be payable from the date of submission of the claim. I hope my noble friend will feel that he can accept the principle of this Amendment. I beg to move.


The reason for the exception of the home loss payments from the general provision that these compensation payments should carry interest is because the Bill requires the money to be paid within three months of the claim or the date of displacement. and I do not share my noble friend's view that it will not be practicable to meet this. Therefore in the belief that it will be practicable I would say that the amount which might be added by way of interest will be disproportionate to the administrative complications of determining how much it should actually be. I hope with my assurance that the money will be paid within the time prescribed in the Bill my noble friend will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment.


I am afraid I do not agree that it is not necessary. I am sorry my noble friend cannot share the view that I tried to explain, because the evidence which I gathered was from practical people. I certainly do not intend to press this Amendment to a Division, but I shall try to collect further evidence before the next stage of the Bill, and perhaps before then I can have a discussion with my noble friend.


I shall be glad of that.


In those circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 30. as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

7.28 p.m.


May I ask the Minister two short questions. The first is with regard to subsection (3). Why is the limitation included there that the occupation of the previous occupier referred to in subsection (3) should have terminated with his death? Why could his occupation not have terminated by reason of a transfer to the existing occupant? The object is to enable the qualification with regard to time of residence to be more easily fulfilled. Supposing there is a family with the father and son, and for a period the father lives in the particular premises as the owner or lessee of them; the son lives with the father and then, in the course of time, without the father dying he simply transfers the property to his son, either by assigning the lease or conveying the house. Why should not both of those periods be aggregated, even though the father has not died? It seems to me to be an unnecessary limitation which again imposes an obstacle in the way of the displaced occupier being able to show that he has qualified for the existing five years.

The second point is with regard to subsection (6). What is the time, going backwards, for which a displacement qualifies? Supposing there were a displacement 10 years before this Act comes into force; then, as I read it, so long as the claim is made in the period of six months beginning with the date of the passing of this Act, and although the displacement may have been 10 or 15 years before, the claim qualifies. Is that intended? Looking backwards, there is no time limit that I can see within which the displacement must have occurred. I shall be grateful if the Minister will enlighten me.


I shall try, but if I am not successful with this shot, we can perhaps continue in correspondence. I shall deal with the last point first. Subsection (6) is a transitional provision to cover the case where someone is displaced from his home between October 17, 1972, and the date of the enactment of this Bill and it provides that in these circumstances a claim has to be made within six months of the enactment. That corresponds to the six months' claim period in subsection (1).

Dealing with the other case, subsection (3) provides that where a person has been in occupation of a dwelling, or a substantial part of it, as his only or main residence for a period of not less than five years ending with the date of displacement, then provided (a) that he occupied it immediately preceding the date of displacement by virtue of a qualifying interest, even though he had not possessed such an interest or right throughout the five years, (b) that another person held a continuing qualifying interest or a right and had occupied the dwelling as his only or main residence, and his occupation ended with his death, and (c) that the total period for which the deceased person held that qualifying interest or right together with the period for which the displaced person held a qualifying interest or right is five years or more, then the displaced person will be entitled to claim a home loss benefit. The cases where this might apply would be where a husband and wife or unrelated companions lived together in their home for, say, twenty years and the husband or companion in whose name the property was held died leaving the property to his wife or the surviving companion. If the wife's or companion's interest in the property was for less than the five years qualifying period, they would, by virtue of the period of residence in the home, qualify for a payment. I hope that has met the noble and learned Lord's point, but if it has not then I should be glad to write to him further on either of the two points.


I shall be very grateful if the Minister will write to me.

Clause 30, as amended, agreed to.

7.32 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 37: After Clause 30 insert the following new clause:

Home loss payments for certain caravan dwellers .—(1) Sections 27 to 30 above shall, so far as applicable, have effect in relation to a person residing in a caravan on a caravan site who is displaced from that site as they have effect in relation to a person displaced from a dwelling on any land but shall so have effect subject to the following modifications. (2) No home loss payment shall be made to any person by virtue of this section except where no suitable alternative site for stationing a caravan is available to him on reasonable terms. (3) Section 27(2) above shall have effect as if for paragraphs (a) and (b) there were substituted—

  1. "(a) he has been in occupation of the caravan site by using a caravan stationed on it as his only or main residence; and
  2. (b) he has been in occupation of the site as aforesaid by virtue of an interest or right to which this section applies."
(4) Sections 28(3) and 29(3) above shall have effect as if—
  1. (a) paragraphs (b) were omitted; and
  2. (b) in paragraphs (a) and (c) for the word "dwelling" there were substituted the words "caravan site together with a caravan".
(5) Section 30 above shall have effect as if for subsection (4) there we substituted— (4) Where any land comprises two or more caravan sites and the claimant has been successively in occupation of different caravan sites on that land, section 27(2) and subsection (3) above shall have effect as if those sites were the same site. (6) Sections 27 to 30 above shall have effect as if in any provision not modified as aforesaid for any reference to a dwelling or land there were substituted a reference to a caravan site. (7) In this section "caravan site" means land on which a caravan is stationed for the purpose of human habitation and land which is used in conjunction with land on which a caravan is so stationed.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 37, the insertion of a new clause. This new clause follows an undertaking given at the Report stage in another place to include within the home loss payments schemes people displaced from residential caravans on permanent caravan sites. The conditions of eligibility for caravan occupiers are the same as for occupiers of traditionally built dwellings, modified only where necessary to take account of the mobile nature of caravans.

The purpose of the home loss payments scheme is to provide a financial consolation to occupiers of dwellings in which they have a specified interest or right when they are forcibly displaced provided that they have occupied the dwelling for a period of five years or more. To the occupier, a residential caravan is as much his home as is a traditionally built dwelling to any other occupier, and the personal grief and upset suffered when his caravan site is acquired and he is forced to dispose of his caravan may be just as acute. The main difference between someone in a caravan whose site is acquired and, say, the tenant of a house, is that if an alternative site is available the caravanner can take his home with him on displacement. He does not therefore lose his home as such, and for this reason the new clause specifically excludes him from an entitlement to a home loss payment if a suitable alternative site is available to him on reasonable terms. That is subsection (2). I do not think that there is any need for me to go more fully into the various subsections which I hope speak for themselves. I beg to move.


I am sorry to have to criticise this new clause which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has brought forward in response to the undertaking given in another place. I entirely applaud the objectives that caravan residents should be treated on an equal footing with those who live in traditional houses. But first of all this clause is defective, and secondly it does not go far enough.

May I deal with the technical points and the defects which I see in this clause? They centre on the definition of a "caravan site" which is given in subsection (7) and which repeats the definition given in Section 1(4) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. As the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is well aware, having been immersed in these problems for some considerable time, the term "caravan site means the whole of the area within which there may be as many as 100, 150, or 200 caravans, and it does not refer to the individual pitch. Since we are connecting the home loss payments to the rateable value of the property from which the occupier was displaced, we must therefore look at the caravan and the pitch on which it is situated and not at the whole of the caravan site. I refer the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, to the definitive case on the subject which was Field Place Caravan Park Ltd. v. Harding, Queen's Bench Division, 1966, Vol. II, pages 497-8, in which Lord Denning said: The correct proposition today is that, although a chattel is not a rateable hereditament by itself, nevertheless it may become rateable together with land, if it is placed on a piece of land and enjoyed with it in such circumstances and with such a degree of permanence that the chattel with the land can together be regarded as one unit of occupation. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, went on to describe the characteristics of the separate unit of occupation on a caravan site which we generally understand by the term "pitch". That term will be familiar to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, I believe. It is unfortunate that we have a convenient definition of "caravan site" in the 1960 Act, to which I have already referred, but nowhere in our legislation is there a definition of the "pitch" which is the rateable unit, the hereditament, on which the home loss payment ought to be calculated. I am afraid that if we stick to the definition which we have here we shall run into all sorts of difficulties because we are proposing to insert in Clause 28(3)(a) the words "caravan site together with the caravan" in place of the word "dwelling". We thus make paragraph (a) read: If the caravan site together with the caravan is a hereditament for which a rateable value is shown in the valuation list … and so on. Of course, it is not. The hereditament for which a rateable value is shown in the valuation list is the caravan together with the pitch on which it stands and that is only a part of the caravan site. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has followed my reasoning and that he will agree that the wording needs to be tidied up. We need to substitute the word "pitch with a suitable definition wherever it occurs in his new clause for the word "site".

That is not really the point of substance which I should like to make on this clause. The noble Lord said that the conditions of eligibility are the same as those for the people who live in traditionally built houses except that they have been modified—and I think I have his words aright—to take account of the mobile nature of caravans. He referred us to subsection (2) which provides that no home loss payment can be made where there is a suitable alternative site which is available to the person who lives in his caravan, on reasonable terms. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, will be aware that when anybody moves from one caravan site to another there are certain charges that he faces. He will first of all inevitably have a towing charge which will vary according to the distance between the two sites. Almost certainly he will have to pay a substantial siting fee for the privilege of being able to station his caravan on an alternative site.

Increasingly we find in the National Mobile Home Residents Association, of which I have the honour to be an officer, that site operators are not allowing anybody to come on to their sites unless they first buy a new caravan through the owner. The reason for this is quite plain: the owners of the land not only obtain a large fee every time a new resident comes on to the site but they also get commission through the caravan manufacturers or agents. If somebody brings his own caravan on to the site, obviously they are going to forgo that commission and will need to make up the income from some other source.

While the terms available on an alternative site may look reasonable on the face of it, one is limiting one's consideration to the amount of the weekly charge far the occupation of the site. The resident may be paying £2.50 where he is and moving to another one where the charge is £3, but to get there he has first to pay towing charges, £30 or £40. Then he has to pay a site fee of several hundred pounds—and I am not exaggerating; that is the order of magnitude of the charges made at the moment. Fie may not even be able to do that unless he consents to buy a new caravan from the site operator who owns the second site.

I think we need to be very much more specific in subsection (2) and to define what we mean when we say "suitable alternative site". Do we mean that it must be equivalent in its amenities to the one he occupies at the moment? And what do we mean by "reasonable terms"? Are we confining our attention, in this rather indefinite and vague clause, to the charges he is going to pay for occupation of the pitch, or are we going to look at all the surrounding factors, including siting fees and the commission he might pay to the new site operator? I do hope the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, will be able to consider these points, and perhaps come back with this clause at Report stage with a revised wording which will take into account the objections I have made.


There are enormous deterrents to trying to do anything over caravan sites, because they are so immensely complicated, but we will press on with our good work and with the benefit of what the noble Lord has said. I rather agree with him that there are a number of terms used in this clause which are quite different from the terms we normally use when talking about caravan sites in different contexts. But I am grateful to him for his welcome for the general approach, and I will look into the precise wording in the light of what he has said.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 31 [Right to farm loss payment where person displaced from agricultural unit]:

7.44 p.m.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 38: Page 29, line 15, leave out from ("tenancy") to end of line 17, and insert ("that comes within the Agricultural Holdings Acts.")

The noble Earl said: We now come on to the very important farm-loss provisions under the Bill. Clause 31 provides for the making of payments to persons displaced from agricultural units in consequence of compulsory acquisition, who begin to farm another agricultural unit within three years of that displacement. I must admit that I am somewhat confused now as to the position of the agricultural farm tenant. I used to understand the disturbance claim. I think I now understand that he is entitled to a home-loss claim. I certainly do not understand the claim that he apparently will get under Clause 43, the claim for loss of security of tenure. And something which certainly confuses me is why he is not entitled to a claim under this clause.

The farm-loss payment is, I understand, a special payment for loss of profit during a move from the farm from which the farmer has been displaced to a new farm, and one has to remember that it is a move he has to make within three years. In other words, it is to mitigate an assumed temporary loss while the farmer is adjusting himself to the new farm, and, as was disclosed in another place during Committee stage, it is based on a five-year period. It is a trading-loss benefit. The question that immediately comes to mind is why, therefore, should a farm-loss claim be limited only to the owner-occupier, or indeed the tenant who is lucky enough to have more than a three-year lease left? Why is the normal agricultural tenant under the Agricultural Holdings Act, who is basically an annual tenant. deprived of this claim? This does seem very inequitable and I hope my noble friend, when he comes to reply, will be able to express sympathy and be able to adjust the situation in the Bill before it leaves this House.

I think it is generally considered among the farming community that the compensation for tenant farmers is already more inadequate than for owner-occupiers. To attempt to exclude them from this provision seems to many people quite incredible. The vast majority of tenant farmers whose land is compul- sorily acquired suffer total extinguishment of their business, because they are unable to find another farm to rent. The few who are able to find another farm to rent face exactly the same loss of productivity for the three to five years as the owner-occupier does, and for exactly the same reasons.

The purpose of this Amendment is very simple: to include all tenants under the Agricultural Holdings Act—and they, of course, are the majority of tenants—within the provisions of this clause. I hope my noble friend will be sympathetic to this Amendment. I beg to move.


I would urge the Government to consider very carefully the claims of tenant farmers. I welcome the help given under Clause 43, which I believe was added in another place. But surely that clause does not really go far enough? A tenant's claim to farm-loss payment must be as good as that of the owner-occupier, and in my opinion even greater. We all know the difficulty of obtaining a new tenancy. It is more than likely that there will be a hiatus when he has to give up his old farm and before he can obtain a new one. During that time he has to sell his stock and machinery; he has nowhere to house it, nowhere to feed his stock. In other words, it means a complete new start for the business. This payment may be vital to a tenant, who is unlikely to have capital resources to tide him over the early years on his new farm. That is exactly the reason for this farm-loss payment. I simply cannot understand why tenant farmers are not included. I do hope that the Government will accept this Amendment or put down another one of their own.


My noble friend Lord Kinnoull said that the subject of farm loss payments was important. He is quite right. He has failed, I think, entirely to do justice to what I consider to be the very substantial difficulty of this subject. It is the result of the building up of legislation over a fairly long period. I hope I may be forgiven, but I will do it as quickly as I can. I will run over the situation to try to explain why there is, in fact, a difference, and why I can suggest to the Committee that the difference is justified.

The situation about compensation for people who have a very short tenancy—year to year, or less than a year—when their property is compulsorily acquired has always been a source of frightful difficulty. It used to be dealt with under Section 121 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845; it is now Section 20 of the Compulsory Purchase Act, 1965, which is the same thing. But this, in the case of farmers, has not over the years been considered adequate. Therefore the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 contained a new provision in Sections 9 and 12, specifically applying, under Section 12, to cases of compulsory purchase, which provided for payment of four times the annual rent of the holding. The purpose was expressed at the time to be so that a farmer could reorganise his affairs; in fact, exactly the same purpose as the farm loss payments which we are talking about now. It is a capital sum and this no doubt endows it with certain merit in the eyes of those who receive it. It is perfectly true that any other tenant if he has a longer lease will also, in theory, be entitled to this payment, but I shall come to the distinction in a moment.

Going back to the yearly tenant, who under this Bill does not get the farm loss payment, he will get an aggregate of all these things which I shall mention. He will get his normal compensation under the law as it stands at the moment. That will be the value of his unexpired interest in the land at the time of the notice of entry. In fact, this usually boils down to a loss of profits calculated over a certain period and any loss of the profit rent that he would have enjoyed for the rest of his tenure. Beyond that, he gets the ordinary disturbance payment which will cover most of the things my noble friend Lord Digby mentioned, such as storage of machinery, physically moving the stock, live or dead, and the other normal concomitants of any compulsory purchase order which are covered by a general order of disturbance. So he gets all that, at any rate. He also gets compensation for the improvements which he has made to the holding. Added to that, under the 1968 Act he now gets four times the annual rent. In Clause 43—and if noble Lords do not understand it I do not blame them, because neither do I; but I hope I shall by Thursday when I have to deal with it—we have made a further concession.

This would be the wrong moment, for reasons which I have already explained, for me to go into details of what it is, but we are reversing a decision of the courts, and, to some extent, a provision in the 1968 Act itself, which gives to the agricultural tenant a notional security of tenure if he is a tenant from year to year, so that he could not be said inevitably to be displaced by the road, or whatever it may be, that will be built on his land; and, therefore, he could not claim any compensation on the basis that he had security of tenure under the Agricultural Holdings Act. We are repealing that provision, setting aside the result of the court case, and we are restoring to him the situation that, at least in relation to the project for which his land is to be acquired, he will not be considered to have lost his security of tenure. In other words, one disregards the road and one leaves him as a secure tenant under the Agricultural Holdings Act, unless there is some other reason, totally extraneous to the scheme in hand, which would serve to displace him. That is the contribution we are making, and if the amount of money that he would get under Clause 43 exceeds the total of all that I mentioned earlier, then he will get that extra payment. So he is guaranteed the four times under the 1968 Act, but if he has a further claim for more money under Clause 43, to which we shall come later, he will get that in addition.

Under this Bill, that does not apply to the owner, who is dealt with in a different way. Whether he is an owner or a tenant with a long lease, he will have an interest in the land which is likely to be of very substantial value. It will either be the capital value or it will be the capitalised value of the remains of the lease. So the likelihood is that a fairly substantial sum will come to him by way of payment for the interest in land that he owns. The fallback is that the four years' payment of rent would take the place of that ordinary payment for the value of the land, only if the four years' payment of rent exceeded the market value of the interest that is being taken. Usually, of course, the market value exceeds the four years' payment of rent. So that is only a fallback—as it were, a floor below which he cannot go—and usually he will get more. So that provision for allowing him to reorganise his affairs on a capital basis does not normally, at the moment, apply to the owner or to the long-term tenant, and that is why we have decided to give them the equivalent of the standard four year payment to the short-term tenant for exactly the same purpose, to allow them to reorganise their business.

I hope that I have succeeded in explaining this provision. The reason why there is a difference is that, from the very beginning of time in terms of compensation for compulsory purchase, people with a term of one year or less have always been dealt with differently, whether it is in farming or in business or in anything else, when it comes to the compulsory purchase of their interest. This is an historical fact. Upon it has been grafted a succession of legislative measures which I hope I have accurately described, and we cannot disregard this history when we try to produce a fair deal for all sorts of agriculturists. I suggest to the Committee that the addition of Clause 43 in this case certainly ought to sweeten the pill. When one is talking about money to reorganise a business, a short-term tenant will normally rely on that four times payment under the 1968 Act which is not in practice available, as a rule, to other tenants with a longer lease or to the owner. I hope that my noble friend will be satisfied with that explanation. He probably knows all about it already and, if so, I hope he will forgive me for explaining it again, but there may be members of the Committee who were not fully aware of this matter.


I am indeed grateful to my noble friend. He suggested at the outset that I had failed to do justice to the problem. I would say, with sadness, that he has failed to do justice to the tenants. He cited, first of all, the fact that tenants were entitled to a farm loss claim under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. I suggest, with respect, that this claim is basically for disturbance. In my recollection, it was raised from two years' rent to four years' or even six years' rent. In other words, the basis is rent; there is no time limit and it is automatic. The farm loss claim is based on profits; there is a time limit and it is not automatic, because should the last three years' farming show losses there will be no claim at all.

My noble friend then referred to Clause 33 and said that the tenant was being offered something. I am very glad that the tenant is being offered something, but I should like to know exactly what he is being offered. It was said in another place that the basis of the claim under Clause 43 would be the security of his tenure, but his security of tenure (or, rather, his lease) is not marketable. He cannot assign his lease. What value can a valuer put on his lease? I would suggest to my noble friend, in all seriousness, before we get to Clause 43, that it is a monstrous responsibility for any valuer to try to interpret Clause 43, and I hope my noble friend will be able to come to this on Thursday and look at it again. I am not personally satisfied with my noble friend's reply, but I would hope that possibly before the next stage I could have a word with him to see whether the position of the farm tenant could not be further mitigated. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 39: Page 30, line 3, after ("1971") insert ("or").

The noble Viscount said: This Amendment and Amendment No. 40 go together, Amendment No. 39 being a paving Amendment. The purpose here is to improve the lot of the farmer, and therefore I should think that the Committee is likely to think this a good Amendment. At the moment there is a bar, in the last few words of subsection (6), on an entitlement to a farm loss payment where part only of the owner-occupied farm is being compulsorily acquired, and this bar takes three forms. It is where he serves various blight notices, and also where he serves a counter-notice under Clause 47. It seems that it will be a little hard if, having lost part of his farm, and having proved that the rest of it is not reasonably capable of being farmed and that therefore he can serve a counter-notice—the acquiring authority should take the whole of it—in other words, where it has been shown that they have effectively messed up his farm for good and all—and he should then not be entitled to get a farm loss payment when he moves. What we are doing is restoring the farm loss payment to him in these circumstances. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 40.

Amendment moved— Page 30, line 4, leave out from ("1965") to end of line 5.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

8.4 p.m.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 41: After Clause 31 insert the following new clause:

Compulsory acquisition of agricultural land . Where land constituting or included in an agricultural unit is compulsorily acquired or is sold by agreement to an Authority possessing compulsory purchase powers, the acquiring authority shall pay to the person owning the unit, in respect of his owner's interest, an additional payment of not less than fifteen per cent. of the agricultural value of the land where the basis of value is existing use value.

The noble Earl said: The purpose of this Amendment is, I think, very clear and simple. It is to grant to owners of farms an additional 15 per cent. above the agricultural value of their farm in cases where that land is being compulsorily acquired. Theoretically, the farmer should always receive compensation which fully covers reinstatement, but in practice I think it has been proved that this is simply not so, for certain reasons. The first reason of course, is that some 70,000 acres a year are lost to farming, and the demand exceeds the supply. In the second case, one often finds that those farmers whose land has been acquired, in perhaps a New Town area, are all vying for farms within that area, and consequently the purchase price of new farms is possibly above the compensation they receive. The third point which very much affects farms is the question of the provisions of the roll-over tax, or the roll-over provisions. This is where, when the sale of a farm takes place, the farmer has to reinvest that money within twelve months or else he is subject to capital gains tax.

The new clause would, as I have said, restrict the compensation to agricultural use value only. It is suggested in the new clause that 15 per cent. should be added to this compensation figure. This is not in any way creating a precedent: it will mean that we shall go back to the pre-1919 method of compensation. The Government's reply at Committee stage in another place basically was against this suggestion for the reason, I presume, that it would open up the general principles of compensation in relation to all types of property. But I believe that agricultural land is a special case. As I have said, supply cannot match demand, and it deserves special treatment. There is one other practical reason why I believe this clause would commend itself, and that concerns cases where land is being acquired particularly for reservoirs. I believe that district valuers and the statutory authorities would have a much smoother ride if farmers felt that they were receiving fair and adequate compensation. I beg to move.


Whatever my noble friend may have thought of the reason why the Government thought this was a bad Amendment in another place, I hope I shall leave no doubt in his mind why I think it is a terribly bad Amendment in this place. He is absolutely right: it is a major heresy which goes to the roots of all valuation practice which has been built up by Acts of Parliament over a very substantial period. It is quite true that, as a sweetener—


May I interrupt my noble friend? Is he referring to post-1919 or pre-1919?


I am just about to refer to both. It is quite true that before 1919 (because this was not dealt with in the Land Clauses Act) the courts were in the habit of giving to those whose land was compulsorily acquired an extra 10 per cent., really for the unpleasantness of being involved in nasty things like compulsory acquisition at all. In 1919, Parliament quite firmly and definitely abolished that practice in the Acquisition of Land Act of that year. I am sure that there are many people who would wish to talk about special cases in compensation, as in other contexts popular in Parliament at the moment. But I am wholly unconvinced that there is room for more than the special cases that we at present have in the compensation code. I will remind the Committee—I think my noble friend Lord Kinnoull knows this perfectly well—that the only exceptions which have ever been made by Statute are where the land has no market value, such as a church, or one or two rather difficult buildings of that sort, where you cannot get any sort of alternative and you have to go and build, and where, therefore, equivalent reinstatement is allowed. I observe there is a later clause in this Bill which allows the same principle in the cases of people whose houses have been specially adapted because they are handicapped.

My noble friend says that there is a great shortage of agricultural land. That is true: I am sure there is. I do not know how many schemes of comprehensive development or action area schemes he has been involved in when there have been pleas put forward on behalf of small shopkeepers. How often they say, "We have got our row of shops down this street, and we own them. If the land is compulsorily acquired from us, we shall have nowhere to go; or, if we do have somewhere to go, it will be shop units which will be rented to us by the acquiring authority; and goodness knows what the leases will be. What we want are our own shops, which we have got now. We like them very much. We do a good trade. We may not be immensely prosperous, but we are very useful and we ought to be preserved." That is an exact parallel to the case which my noble friend has put forward. Are they to have an extra 15 per cent.; and, if so, why? And what about all the other people that one builds on to this? No; I am sorry. It is a good try on my noble friend's behalf.

I do not suggest that we should start talking about roll-over tax, because if we are going to set down principles of compensation for compulsory purchase which relate to the specific provisions of a Finance Act which can be changed at any time, then I think we shall be on a slippery slope indeed. I stand perfectly firm on the straight principle which has stood in relation to compensation law in Parliament, in the courts and in the practice of everybody concerned in this matter ever since 1919: that we do not add sweeteners to people when their land is compulsorily acquired. I would invite my noble friend to accept this and to withdraw the Amendment.


With the greatest respect to the Minister, I do not think that this comparison between farmland and a shop is correct. I think that the comparison between a farming business and a shop as a small business is correct. The fact is that you can go and build new shops elsewhere; you cannot go and manufacture agricultural land. Agricultural land is a diminishing asset in this country. We are losing it at the rate of 70,000 acres a year. Unless you make more land—for example, out of the Wash—you cannot get more agricultural land. With shops or any other business or with manufacturing industry, there is land to be built upon. That is where the 70,000 acres of agricultural land is disappearing to.


I could not have made my argument plain. The analogies that I was drawing are familiar to those concerned with the redevelopment of town centres. It is true that you can go and build a lot of small shops outside the town but I doubt whether that is what the small shopkeeper who will be displaced from the periphery of the town centre or from streets off the main street is talking about. There is no alternative site in the town centre where he can get a small shop. It is the same as the farming situation. There is a net loss of privately owned land for small shops in the vicinity of the town centre. I would suggest to the Committee that this is an exact parallel which is repeated time and time again in redevelopment schemes in town centres.


I am amazed at my noble friend's reaction to this Amendment and at the extent of his feelings. I can only suggest that it is due to the lateness of the hour and that perhaps he is missing something in his stomach. I would remind my noble friend that most of us have been here for six hours. I am not sure how long we are to go on. Perhaps he could advise us.


There is nothing at all wrong with me. I promise. I, too, have been going for a long time. I opened a prison block in Rochester to-day and came back to the Committee stage here. The reason why I react fairly strongly against this Amendment is that it goes to the roots of everything that we have had since 1919 in terms of market value. That is the reason; and nothing more. I cannot help my noble friend. He may think that I am being firm and that it is due to my own feelings. It is not. It is based on experience nearly as long as his in the field of valuation or in connection with it. It seems to me to be a principle that we should not breach over an argument of this sort in this Bill.


I apologise for intervening. I am as fresh as a daisy and the reason for that is that I have not been here for hours. But having heard the peremptory way the Amendment was dealt with, I am rushing to the support of the noble Earl who moved it. You can build shops on ash-tips but you cannot process food from land that has not been comforted and cozened by ploughmen and farmers and their ancestors over a number of years. This is a completely different argument from that of building a shop. You can build a shop on artificial land or on a raft but you cannot produce good farmland unless the yeomen of England have devoted years to it. Consequently, I think we should have double thoughts about this and that this would be a good place at which to end the day's discussion in good temper so that we may discuss it again another day.


I did not answer my noble friend. I thought that we might manage to get to the end of this and the next two clauses because they are all on the subject of farm-loss payments.


I should not have taken part. I apologise.


I am grateful for the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek. I still feel unrepentant on this. In view of the support that I have received I almost feel that I should divide the Committee. But that might end the proceedings to-night. I would remind my noble friend who speaks of the 15 per cent. "sweetener" that if he had been dispossessed of his farm 12 months ago he would have found that by now his land had gone up 50 per cent. and that he had lost about 85 per cent of the capital value. I am unrepentant on this issue but in view of the lateness of the hour I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 32 [Amount of farm-loss payment]:

8.17 p.m.

VISCOUNT DAVIDSON moved Amendment No. 42: Page 30, line 32, after ("to") insert ("three times").

The noble Viscount said: I should like to move this Amendment on behalf of the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, and would suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee to consider at the sam;., time Amendments Nos. 43, 44, and 45 as they are all directed to the same problem of farm loss. We have had rather a long day. I think that some of the Amendments which have been put forward have been extremely reasonable and fair Amendments, and I am disappointed at the reception that some of them so far have received from the Government. Nevertheless, I hope that as time goes on they may have second thoughts about many of the matters that have been put forward and may come forward with Amendments of their own at the next stage.

The question of farm-loss payment is quite a new one. I do not think I shall be accused of any heretical faults if I say it ought to be increased—which is what I intend to say. I think that we must all welcome the fact that the Government have at last appreciated and recognised that it is not only the capital value of land which should be compensated for when an owner-occupier is dispossessed but the loss of income from the loss of the farming business. I see that we have now got accepted the division between the business of owning the land and the business of farming which is superimposed on the business of owning the land.

I do not believe that the proposed payment, although we appreciate it in the farming industry, is anything like enotigh. I am talking purely of the farming business. The mere fact that farming is a long-term business should indicate that the working capital requirements are very high compared with those of manufacturing industries. Your Lordships will all know that if you plant a field of wheat in the autumn you wil probably not sell the produce from that field until 18 months later. Meantime you must buy the seed and sow it, buy the fertiliser and the sprays and carry the harvesting costs until you get the receipts. The same goes for breeding livestock—and cows in particular—where it can be up to 4 or 5 years before you get the benefit from a decision to breed a cow with a certain bull. So it is a very long business; and it always appears to be longer when you are starting off a farm. Once you get into the rhythm the seasons go by quicker; but when you start it is a very long time before you make it viable or, to put it another way, before the receipts catch up with the expenditure.

The farmer going into a new farm is rather like the housewife who goes into a new house. However good the conditions of the house, the housewife will always require that something should be done slightly differently. In the same way any farmer going into a new farm will inevitably require to incur added expenditure, particularly on such items as drainage and other improvements.

Even by asking for the amount of payment for farm loss to be increased from one year's profit to three times one year's profit I do not see any chance of any farmer making a profit on the deal. What we are asking for is to make the loss less severe. That is the concept which is perfectly in accordance with the principle of fairness with which this Bill is basically concerned. I beg to move.

8.20 p.m.


There is indeed no danger of being heretical about this because we are trying to do something where there is certainly on the Government side a lack of firm information. I suppose that to a certain extent to choose one year is a matter of judgment which is supported by valuation practice in other fields. My noble friend Lord Kinnoull said that the way that this had been worked out was that one year's loss of profits was based on the assumption that the losses likely to be suffered on the move would be spread over about five years. I think this coincides with what my noble friend Lord Davidson was suggesting. But plainly, these losses would taper off as the farmer became familiar with the new territory.

It is to some extent a matter of judgment. In some businesses the total extinguishment payment tends to be in the region of about one year's purchase of the profits and that is the same sort of order that we are suggesting in this Bill. What we lack is the details of any examples of this sort of thing happening. I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Davidson has some detailed calculations that we could look at and which we could check. I think that perhaps it is a little hard to expect Government to take the word of those who say that this or that year's losses occurred on transfer, without being given the opportunity to check up that it is so.

I am on very unfamiliar ground when I am discussing agriculture and I would welcome details of the kind of thing that my noble friend Lord Davidson was talking about. At the moment in Government we are short of information. The information that we have been given is not in a form that we can check what the subsequent events have been. I think the situation now is that the farming industry ought to help Government, if they want a change of mind on this, by the provision of information. I hope that in those circumstances my noble friend will not press this Amendment, but will accept that the onus of proving this has shifted from those who put forward one year—ourselves—to those who wish to change that provision in favour of something else. I do not know whether any Member of the Committee or anybody else can help on this, but if they can we should be grateful.


My noble friend has made an encouraging reply. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Davidson will wish to take up his offer, and will try to get evidence. I would entirely support that.


I agree entirely and I am most encouraged by that reply. So far as getting the facts are concerned, I should have thought that a certain amount of liaison between the Departments could produce some useful figures. I am quite certain that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, would be able to produce figures.


This is the trouble. We have tried hard within Government, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to get the figures, and we have not any figures. I think they would have to come from the market and from experience outside.


One of the difficulties has always been finding the facts. I carried considerable responsibility for the 1968 Act and the four-year agreement arrived at in that case. We were always asking for facts and I shall be most interested if the facts are given in this case. I am bound to say that my experience was that apparently the facts were difficult to produce. I do not know whether the same applies to-day. Perhaps the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, or the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, who has a fairly strong association in his professional capacity with this kind of thing, could produce facts. But during my time in the Department, despite our ask-111E4, the facts were never forthcoming.


I am sorry to hear that, but I take the point. I think that those of us who are involved will try to find out as many facts as we can, particularly as the Minister has been so responsive, and has admitted that he has no facts. We shall do our best. This is a completely new field for us all and certainly those organisations with which I have something to do will do their best to contribute as much as they can. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 43: Page 30, line 32, leave out ("the average annual profit") and insert ("the expectation of the average annual profit to be derived.")

The noble Earl said: This is a probing Amendment. Its purpose is to cover the point where a farmer has perhaps not made a profit for the last three years. Should that be the case, how would the farm loss be assessed? I beg to move.


I had not anticipated that that was the point of this Amendment. As an absolutely off-the-cuff answer, I would say that I should have thought that the farm loss payment would be nil. But I must confirm whether that is so and if I am wrong I will tell my noble friend. The difficulty about trying to value on anticipated profits is that it is one of the most difficult exercises that a valuer can do. It is bad enough to try to work out the loss of profits based on past years' accounts. To have to try to do it based on hypothetical future years' accounts is something that I think valuers would shudder in their shoes to contemplate.


Except Mr. Micawber.


In that case I suspect that the answer also would be "nil", and that would be no comfort to my noble friend. On the substance of what he was asking, I must check whether my answer is right.


While my noble friend is checking, would he also consider the situation where a farmer purchases a farm and his farm is compulsorily purchased, say within two years? In those circumstances, it would be very unlikely that he would make a profit. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


May I again probe my noble friend on the question of notional rent. Could he explain a little more what notional rent will represent? I beg to move Amendment No. 45.

Amendment moved— Page 31, line 1, leave out subsection (3).—(The Earl of Kinnoull.)


I think I can explain this because, after a while I understood it myself. It is a point which relates to the task of the surveyor and valuer. I feel sure that my noble friend knows this. One has two elements in the compensation that is being paid on a normal compulsory purchase. What you have is the value of the interest in land and you also have disturbance which takes account of loss of profit. Where you have an owner-occupier of land or somebody who is occupying at less than the full market lease, the value of the interest in land takes account either of the capital value or of the profit rental under which the person is occupying it. This is a separate element from the loss of profit which comes in as a matter of disturbance, and in order not to get a double compensation you have to deduct the notional rent or difference between the actual and the profit rent in order to avoid that element being taken into account in the profits which are then capitalised for the purpose of disturbance. As a standard accounting and valuation practice, you deduct from the profits a notional rent which is the market rent for the land whether it is owned or whether it is on a tenancy held at below the market rental. This is all we are doing in this case in order to avoid double payment. I hope that that explains the matter to my noble friend. I gather that it is absolutely standard surveying value practice.


I am most grateful for that explanation and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Page 31, line 23, at end insert— ("and as for a freehold interest therein (or, in Scotland, an interest as owner thereof) with vacant possession; (b) by reference to the condition of the land and its surroundings and to prices current—

  1. (i) in the case of the land comprised in the land acquired, on the date of displacement;
  2. (ii) in the case of land comprised in the new unit, on the date on which the person concerned begins to farm the new unit;")

The noble Viscount said: Subsection (6) of Clause 32 deals with the bases for valuing acquired land, the old land which the farmer had before, and the land where he is reinstating himself in the new land in order to reach a comparative settlement. The Bill as drafted sets out these bases. I am afraid they are not sufficiently complete and we are remedying the defect in this Amendment by providing, first, that the value of both the old and the new land should be the value of a freehold interest with vacant possession; secondly, that the value of the old land should be determined by reference to the physical state of the land and its surroundings on the date of displacement at current prices on that date. Thirdly, the value of the land in the new units should also be determined by reference to the physical state of its surroundings on the date when the claimant begins farming on that land and on current prices at that date. I think these dates are the natural ones in accordance with the spirit of the Bill. I would also think that anybody who has even been concerned with farming land would know that it is important to take account not only of its physical state but also of its surroundings which sometimes can have a marked effect on its value. I beg to move.


May I ask the noble Lord one simple question. In lines 2 and 3 it says: and as for a freehold interest therein which is quite clear, and then in brackets: (or, in Scotland, an interest as owner thereof". Is that meant to be the equivalent of one of the freehold interests in England and Wales?


The noble Lord, Lord Hoy, has a habit of asking me horrid Scottish questions to which I do not know the answer. I think it is meant to be exactly the same but turned into Scottish phraseology. I can see no reason at all why we should make a different provision in Scotland, but I suspect that the Scottish draftsmen preferred this form of words, and that this fits in better with Scottish legal vocabulary.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 32, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 33 [Supplementary provisions about farm loss payments]:


Page 32, line 18, at end insert— ("( ) Where a person dies before the expiration of the period for making a claim to a farm loss payment and would have been entitled to such a payment if he had made a claim within that period, a claim to that payment may be made, before the expiration of that period, by his personal representative.")

The noble Viscount said: This puts right a horrid state of affairs where a person who would otherwise have a right to a claim for farm loss payment dies. We think that in these circumstances the personal representative should be able to make it on his behalf and the Amendment allows this to be done. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT DAVIDSON moved Amendment No. 48: Page 32, line 38, leave out from ("1963") to end of line 39, and insert ("from the date of displacement until payment.")

The noble Viscount said: The argument in favour of this Amendment follows much the same reasoning as that adduced in favour of Amendment No. 42 on the question of increasing the amount of farm loss payment. It is quite a simple point and I should have thought that it was fully justified in the circumstances. Whatever the rate of interest, there is little doubt that the dispossessed owner-occupier will suffer an unfair disadvantage if he gets paid only the interest on the farm loss payment from the date on which he files his claim rather than from the date of actual displacement. I am not quite certain, but I should like to ask my noble friend the Minister what the date is that is referred to in Clause 33(5). It says: from the date mentioned in subsection (1) above until payment".

We then go to subsection (1) and the dates are mentioned in Clause 31(1)(b). I take it that the owner-ocupier who is dispossessed could well lose up to four years' interest from the date of displacement to the date at which he files his claim, and in view of the fact that he is not being sufficiently well recompensed, as we have already discussed this evening, for the loss of his farm business, to lose the interest from the farm loss payment for as long as four years to my mind is really rather unfair. I beg to move.


I have been through that exercise as well, and I do not think it is the date of displacement; I think it is the date when he starts farming in the new unit. That does not, I think, work out at four years; I think it is a maximum of three years. The point is that it is the date on which he starts farming in the new unit. I do not wish to sound unsympathetic about this, but one of the underlying parts of the scheme for farm loss payments is that there should be an encouragement so far as the farmers can to get on with their new farm as quickly as possible, and I do not think that as a matter of policy we should wish to do something which allows them to profit from delay, which this would actually do. They would be getting the interest on a notional farm loss payment for which they have not yet qualified in achieving, and the longer they put off starting up again on a new farm the more interest they would get. I would suggest that this may not be the ideal way in the philosophy of this Part of the Bill to make up what my noble friend thinks are the deficiencies of the farm loss payments.

I should therefore think that the more hopeful approach is the one which we were discussing a moment ago. Just as a footnote to that, he will of course realise that when one gets away from farm loss payments and the interest on that, the dispossessed farmer will get interest on the ordinary price paid for the land compulsorily acquired, disturbance and all the rest of it, as from the date on which he was actually dispossessed. So to that extent the existing law covers the payment of interest from the moment when he has to leave his old farm. I would rather consider any additional benefits under the heading of farm loss payment by reference to the previous Amendment than tinker with the existing arrangements for the reason which I have explained.


I thank my noble friend for his helpful answer because it did put the other side of the picture. I am not quite sure whether he is right in saying that by having the interest payable from the date of dispossession it will make the dispossessed farmer feel that he need not get reinstated in farming as quickly as all that. But I take my noble friend's point. I think it wants looking at closely, and with those words I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 33, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed.