§ 3.44 p.m.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, begins, may I say that I am somewhat concerned. I hope I am in order—
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT (LORD SANDFORD)
My Lords, I do not think we are.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, my noble friend is perfectly in order to raise a matter of business at any time, and that is what he is doing.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, I want to protest that this afternoon, at the Report stage of this Bill, we are being called upon to consider over fifty Amendments tabled by the Government. The first I knew about these was yesterday morning through the post. It has been agreed throughout the consideration of this Bill that it is a highly complex measure and few would disagree that it is the kind of Bill that creates a lawyers' paradise. I have done my best to cooperate with the Government in securing the passage of this Bill through Committee, despite the fact that the Government tabled about 100 Amendments for consideration at the Committee stage;I very much appreciated that, after it was requested, we were supplied with notes as to what the Bill was intended to achieve. The vast number of Amendments submitted at the Committee stage made it extremely difficult, despite the fact that after we had started Committee stage we had received those notes, to understand what it was all about and how it all fitted in. I am not the busiest of men but I do have other commitments, and to receive notice 1056 yesterday morning that some fifty-odd Amendments were to be tabled to-day, most, so far as I can understand, applying to Scotland, put me in a position of very considerable difficulty.
I have no wish to hold up the work of the House but I feel that unless some protest is made this kind of practice may grow. It is not that I as an individual have a right to expect that I shall be acquainted with the Amendments to be considered at the Report stage. Every Member of this House is entitled to similar consideration. I should like to know from the noble Lord, Lord Sandford (I understand there has been some discussion through the usual channels: I have only just come into the House), what consideration is going to be given to the difficulty in which the House is placed as a consequence, apparently, of the lack of understanding on the part of those responsible for this Bill as to how the rest of us live and how we begin to approach doing our job in the House. I am extremely sorry, because I think we have been having very amicable relations so far as this Bill has gone, but I must confess that yesterday morning I really felt that no consideration had been given to us.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I was proposing to say a word or two about this, following some discussions which had been held earlier this afternoon before the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, was in the House, when I moved, That the Report be now received, but I am glad to follow the noble Lord now. As my noble friend Lord Polwarth has already explained in correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, most of these Amendments—and certainly there is a large number of them, 58—are adaptations of the existing provisions of the Bill to the law of Scotland. I think I mentioned at the Committee stage that we would be making these. Scottish Law, especially in the area of agricultural land tenure, is somewhat different from the law of England and Wales. Scotland has certain unique kinds of tenants—crofters, land holders, statutory small tenants and cottars—who have no direct counterparts South of the Border, and clearly the same principle should be applied to those special groups as to the other kinds of tenants. The purpose of the bulk of the Amenrments is just to achieve that.
1057 The Government have recognised that with Scottish applications scattered throughout the Bill in separate clauses, subsections and Schedules the Bill would be cumbersome for Scottish practitioners to use, and I should therefore like to repeat at the outset of this stage the assurance given by my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland when the Bill was given its Second Reading in another place, that as soon as the Bill became law it would be re-enacted for Scotland in purely Scottish terms by consolidation. The reason why there are several non-Scottish Amendments on the Marshalled List is that the Bill is not only (as the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, and all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate know) complex but is one which has so far moved quickly through Parliament in the course of which it has been amended considerably following debates in both Houses. This has meant that it still required Amendments of a technical nature even at this stage. But I am glad to say that, apart from the formal adaptations for Scotland, the number of Amendments the Government propose to-day is relatively small. But, in view of what the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, has said, and subject to anything that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes may say, if there are any Amendinents of Scottish adaptations about which my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross and I cannot give a satisfactory explanation at this stage, we shall be entirely happy to withdraw them, and to re-table them on Third Reading so that more consideration may be given to them. And, of course, I shall quite understand if the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, or any other noble Lord opposite, wishes to put Amendments down on Third Reading in order to clarify points in this area of Scottish adaptation. I can assure your Lordships that the Government do not expect to table any further Amendments introducing fresh material into the Bill on Third Reading, but the time between now and then will be used to look carefully at this complicated Bill and to make sure that all the details are in order.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I had not expected to be speaking this early in the proceedings, but rather after an explanation had been given of the first Amendment. Perhaps it would be as well if we 1058 were to finalise the matter now. I received a very courteous letter from the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, dated April 12, which, for reasons best known to the Scottish Office and the Post Office between them, did not in fact reach me until Saturday. Yesterday was a holiday in Edinburgh. It has proved impossible to get any further information, and while Lord Polwarth's letter, which ran to one and a half foolscap pages, was very courteous, it was not very informative in the way of a general description of the purpose of these Amendments. When I say that there are Scottish Amendments to Clauses 2, 40, 47, 52, 54, 57, 58 and 82; that there are four new clauses which come under Clauses 47, 57, 58, and 62 and that there is a new Schedule; and when one considers that the Bill came to this House on February 23, nearly eight weeks ago, it is really a bit thick, when the Government knew that they were going to put these Amendments, that they do not appear until this very late stage. No, it was February 23 when the Bill was introduced, and I agree that some of the Amendments, at any rate, are consequential on alterations made at a late stage in another place.
My Lords, my suspicion, and it is no more than a suspicion, is that after having had an opportunity to examine these Scottish Amendments thoroughly, and after having had consultations about them in Scotland, I shall probably find that they are perfectly acceptable; that they are merely a translation into Scottish legal conditions of what is being done in England and acceptable to people in Scotland. But all of us who have had to deal with crafting legislation, or legislation affecting crofters and similar people, have learned by bitter experience that it is not enough to be satisfied oneself that one is doing something for the benefit of crofters; because so often we have found that the crofters object to what seem to be the most reasonable things. I have no reason to believe that they are other than satisfied on this occasion. It may be that I can be told to-day that the Crofters Commission has been consulted and is in agreement with these changes, but in itself that is not an answer. The times when crofters have disagreed with the Commission, which is there to look after their interests, are too numerous to mention.
1059 A number of devices were suggested as ways of dealing with this matter, but I think the best one is that none of these Amendments should be moved to-day by the Government but that they should all he re-tabled for Third Reading, and I hope that on Third Reading I shall be in a position to indicate that there is no reason to object to them. If that is not done, it would be a ridiculous waste of the time of your Lordships if I formally objected to every one of these Amendments just because I did not know that they were acceptable. I hope, therefore, that what will happen will be that to-day the Government will proceed only with those Amendments which are of a non-Scottish character and re-table the others for Third Reading: and I hope that at that time I shall be able to support the Government in these Amendments, unless I find that there are reasons to the contrary. If there are, then the onus is on me to put down further Amendments to back tip the advice which I have been given.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, when I intervened to say that my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy was in order to do this on Business, I had not expected that the exchange would be quite so long. It might have been better to have discussed this on the Motion that the Report be now received. If I showed lack of confidence in the noble Lord, it is because no later than yesterday two Members of the Government tried on one occasion to move three Orders simultaneously and later to move two Orders simultaneously, and I rather lost confidence in the Government's knowledge of procedure. But as I understand it—no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and the Leader of the House will consider what was said by my noble friend—the agreement between the two sides was as the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, suggested. It might well be that my noble friend would feel that one or two Amendments could go, but it might produce rather an untidy situation and the Government might like to consider what my noble friend Lord Hughes has said. I hope that noble Lords do not think that this is the Opposition just making a demonstration for fun. I think we have been extremely co-operative with 1060 the Government and there is very good co-operation generally, but every now and again Governments—and in particular Departments who do not always understand the procedure—tend to think of your Lordships' House as though it were the House of Commons, and it is exceedingly difficult when complex Amendments are put down. As my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy said, we hope that the Government will be able at least to consult the Opposition on the timing and give them indications. On the whole, we work together very well, as my noble friend said, but it is awkward when this sort of thing happens, and it is not good for the House.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, as I said, there were discussions before we began this debate and the proposal that I made was the result. I am certainly not anxious to conduct business which the Opposition do not feel prepared to discuss, and if, in the circumstances, the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, would rather that we totally and completely omitted all the Scottish adaptation Amendments at this stage I am very happy to agree with him, though I am sorry that he has not given us the opportunity at least to try our hand. But if that is his wish that is what we will do.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
It is, of course, possible to recommit on the day of the Third Reading in respect of them, and the Government will find that we will cooperate to get the Bill through on the timetable. But I would stress that there are other noble Lords and, it may be. Scottish Lords, who might be interested but who have had no time to know that what is, so to speak. Scottish business was to be conducted. Perhaps even the Scottish Minister did not have time.
EARL ST. ALDWYN
My Lords, I fully accept what the Leader of the Opposition is saying, that this Bill can be recommitted if that should prove necessary. After there have been further consultations we can see whether it is necessary or not. But I must take issue with the noble Lord on one point, when he said that the Government moved three Orders together. This is quite untrue and I must ask him to withdraw that. My noble friend Lord Ferrers said that he would speak to two Orders, which he did, but he certainly did not move three Orders together.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
—but not only were three Orders moved, also they were put from the Chair. Despite the argument, we had some difficulty in explaining that each Order must be put separately. The noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, for whom we have the greatest affection, in fact tried to do the same thing again, and the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, was there trying to teach him the "facts of life".
§ Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Sandford.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Clause 1 [Right to compensation]:
§ 4.0 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 2, line 41, at end insert ("after completion").
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, certainly this is not a Scottish Amendment. All it does is to make certain that the date from which the period of claim runs starts when the public work is open for the public, not while it is open for some sort of use, for instance, by construction traffic. It is therefore beneficial to claimants. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [Interests qualifying for compensation]:
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 3, line 37, leave out ("and 11") and insert (",11 and (Tenants entitled to enfranchisement or extension under Leasehold Reform Act 1967)").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2, and at the same time to speak to, but not to move, Amendments Nos. 5 and 12. These Amendments taken together—and the substance of them is the new clause after Clause 11, which constitutes Amendment No. 12—fulfil the undertaking given in another place, and repeated by 1062 me at the Committee stage in response to an Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, to do with leasehold enfranchisement.
§ Clauses 2 and 3(2) require that in order to qualify under Part I a claimant must have a qualifying interest before the start of use of the works and still be in possession of that interest when a claim is made. Two cases need to be covered: first, a tenant having three years or more of a tenancy to run may have served a notice under the Leasehold Reform Act and, if he acquires the freehold or an extended lease after the start of use and before a claim can be made, he will have acquired his interest after the relevant date and it will be disqualified by Clause 2(1); and secondly, a tenant having less than three years of his lease remaining when the claim was made would be ineligible even though he may be entitled to, and have served a notice of his desire to, have the freehold or an extended lease under the Leasehold Reform Act.
§ The new clause embodied in Amendment No. 12 therefore provides that, where a person is entitled under Part I of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 to acquire the freehold or an extended lease of a house by virtue of a tenancy and has given notice, before the start of use of the works, of his desire to have the freehold or an extended lease, but has not yet acquired it, he shall be entitled to make a claim under Part I irrespective of the length of the term of lease remaining unexpired on the date of the claim. Thus a tenancy with less than three years to run would qualify.
§ I think the separate subsections of the new clause that constitutes Amendment No. 12 speak for themselves. All I would add is that the assessment of the landlord's injurious affection will be related to the depreciation in the sum he could have expected to receive on enfranchisement from the holder of the tenancy. The tenant would receive depreciation in the value of his original tenancy before enfranchisement under the claim to be submitted under subsection (3) of this clause. This value would reflect the benefit of the notice served under the Leasehold Reform Act to purchase the freehold interest or extended lease. If a notice under the Leasehold Reform Act had been served 1063 after the start of use of the works and the extended lease or freehold had not been acquired when the claim was made, the assessment of compensation would nevertheless already take account of that notice and the award would reflect this. This does not therefore need to be covered.
§ That is the extent to which we can meet the undertaking that we have given. It does not go the whole way that my noble friend Lord Kinnoull indicated, but in my response to him I warned him that that might be the case. It is as far as we can go, and I believe that it fulfils the undertaking so far as it is practicable to do so. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 4.6 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 3, line 42, after ("of") insert ("(a)").
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this is the first Scottish Amendment, although it does not look like it, and is a paving Amendment for Amendment No. 4. I beg to move formally in order to ask the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, whether the idea of actually including the crofter and the similar specialised forms of tenant in Scotland in Part I so as to make them eligible, so that we may consider the details of it later, would be acceptable to him at this stage. I leave it entirely to the noble Lord. That is all the Amendment does. It simply brings them within the ambit of the Bill so that we may deal with them in the Agricultural Department later on. If the noble Lord would rather leave this Amendment along with the rest of them, I shall be happy to do so. Meantime, I beg to move.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, on the face of it, it would seem to be eminently reasonable that Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 should be agreed to. Nevertheless, I should prefer that they be left over, for this reason only. The Scottish Office, in the Bill as it stands, have a definition of the application at this stage to Scotland. They are now bringing in as a second part of that definition crofters and others. I want to be absolutely certain that no one can suggest that by a definition of this kind we are in any way altering the 1064 status of a crofter in Scotland They are intensely jealous of the peculiar nature of their holding, which I believe has no parallel anywhere else in the world. We therefore ought not, without being absolutely certain, to do anything which might be construed as having an adverse effect in any way.
My Lords, I have been going through the Amendments, and I think the Scottish Amendments are Nos. 3, 4, 31, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57 and 58. I hope that I have not missed any, but certainly all these bear on the same point, the application to agricultural conditions in Scotland of what is being done in England. I should be grateful if it were accepted at this stage that none of these Amendments be moved to-day, but should be re-tabled at Third Reading. I will certainly undertake immediately to investigate the matter so that I can acquaint both the noble Lords, Lord Sandford and Lord Polwarth, of any possibility of amendment which I may wish to make to any of these so that the matter can be investigated. I do not want to put down Amendments which prove to be needless.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I am happy to agree with the noble Lord on this. I have been through the list, and I think he is right. There is a small Scottish adaptation in Amendment No. 15, to which we will come. It has nothing to do with agriculture; it is simply the definition of "highways", which I feel sure is right. As for the rest of the Amendments, I think the noble Lord has the list right, and I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 [Claims]:
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I explained Amendment No. 5 when I was speaking to Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 23, leave out ("section 13") and insert ("sections (Tenants entitled to enfranchisement or extension under Leasehold Reform Act 1967) and 13").—(Lord Sandford.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1065
§ Clause 4 [Assessment of compensation: general provisions]:
§ 4.10 p.m.
LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 6:
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: My Lords, I apologise to the House for reverting on Report to an Amendment in precisely the same terms as one that I moved on Committee. I feel the more apologetic in that the noble Lord. Lord Sandford, not only gave a very careful and full answer to the arguments I then advanced, but he has since written to me fully on the matter and, indeed, has been so kind as to furnish notes on clauses to explain the general position. If I venture now to trouble your Lordships again with the same point, I do so only because I think it has some importance; and with very great deference to the noble Lord, I wonder whether he has really met the point I was trying to make.
Clause 4 deals with the principles on which compensation is to be assessed. The situation envisaged by the Amendment standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy is as follows. Take, for example, a residential property adjoining a highway. Work begins on the highway with a view to its being widened, its conversion to some different use or something of that sort. The work involves substantial reconstruction. Bulldozers are used: there is a great deal of noise and a number of those visible factors which are described in Clause 1(2) as being the relevant physical factors immediately emerge. As soon as that work begins, if I may quote the words of that subsection, there is
noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, artificial lighting",
and so on. And those physical factors are present in a very substantial degree and cause a great deal of nuisance to those who live in that residence. For one reason or another, no action of nuisance lies, and therefore the disturbance which is occasioned by the presence of those physical factors does qualify, or
I submit at any rate should qualify, for the purpose of the assessment of compensation payable under Clause 4.
§ When that residence is first exposed to those physical factors and the grave inconvenience they cause, I would have submitted to the House (and as I said before, I do so in the absence of expert valuation advice) that the property in question is there and then depreciated. Its value is assessed in accordance with the rules set out in Section 5 of the Land Compensation Act 1961, which are the rules applicable in such a case, as is provided for in Clause 4(3)—and those rules, I should have thought, certainly envisage that that sort of thing ought to be taken into account.
§ I would further submit that the language chosen by the Minister would leave that depreciation out of account. In that assumed case, the house suffers depreciation in the sense that within the meaning of the rules of the 1961 Act a willing purchaser would be prepared to pay much less for that house than he would have been prepared to pay if that preparatory work had not been undertaken. Once that work is undertaken, it is perfectly obvious to any prospective purchaser, first, that that work itself is likely to continue for several months and that the physical factors associated with it are likely to continue either fully, or perhaps subject to some abatement, for the whole of that period. Then, the preliminary work having been done, the road or the highway, or whatever it may be, is thrown open to public use. Then under the provisions of the Bill a year has to elapse from the period when the road is thrown open for public use before what is described in Clause 3(2) as the "claim period" begins.
§ It is only when the claim period begins that a claim can be put forward. One is told, when one looks back to Clause 4, that one has to assess the nature of the interest and the damage done to it by reference to its condition when the claim period begins. By that time, the depreciation will have already set in. If, before anybody goes near that road and begins to carry out these works, the value of the house, in the view of a willing purchaser, is, say, few in the open market, once the work begins and perhaps has proceeded for a few days so that its general extent and magnitude is obviously 1067 visible, £x may have been reduced to half £x. That house will not be worth more than half £x ever after. It will be worth half £x while the preparatory work goes on; it will be worth half £x after the road is thrown open and the half by which £x has been diminished will, under the terms of Clause 4, never enter into the compensation as an element by reference to which it should be calculated.
§ I cannot help thinking that the Government cannot have intended that. If that is really their intention, I would submit that they are being very unfair to the owner of that house. His house is depreciated because the preparatory works are undertaken and because those preparatory works result in the physical factors which are said to be relevant in assessing the compensation. Its value, there and then, goes down and stays down. I have looked very carefully at Clause 4 again and also at Section 5 of the Land Compensation Act 1961 in order to try to discover in the language of the clause or in the 1961 Act anything which would require that half Ex to be taken into account in assessing the compensation. It may be it has escaped me, but if the language is there I must confess that I have not found it. So far as I can understand the effect of this clause, what those who are concerned to assess the compensation have to look at there is the condition of the house on the first day of the claim period. By that time £x has sunk to half £x, and half the damage has been done.
§ I am sorry if I have repeated the arguments that I used on the Committee stage. My only excuse for doing so is that I think this is a matter of importance for the owners of a house of the kind I have described, and I cannot help wondering whether the Government have really successfully brought into the scope of the compensation that half £x. I think they have not. I stand to be corrected if I am wrong. If I may say so with the very greatest respect to the noble Lord, I do not think that he used arguments which were satisfactory to demonstrate to me that I was wrong. I apologise at once if I am wrong, and all the more so to the House for having again taken up time on precisely the same point. But I think this is a matter of importance and I would 1068 be most grateful if the noble Lord would give it further consideration.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, when I saw that in spite of having written to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, he had tabled a further Amendment on this matter, I realised I should have to try to improve on my case and my argument. And now, with the expenditure of some time, I will try to do so. I think that perhaps it would be easier to discuss this if we were to distinguish at the outset as clearly as we can between the effects of temporary depreciation in value which is caused by the construction of works; the permanent depreciation, which is caused by the use of public works; and depreciation caused by visual intrusion, which is not compensatable under Part I of the Bill. All three are things which are in the mind of the noble and learned Lord and if we realise that all three are separate elements it will be easier to understand this matter. Once the noise and dust caused by construction works stop, the temporary nuisance stops and the temporary depreciation arising from that cause ceases as well. So what is left at the end of the completed construction works may be visually intrusive and may cause depreciation. But the visual intrusion arising from the works themselves is ruled out of Part I. However, further noise and more dust, and other physical factors enumerated in the Bill, may arise again when the road comes into use. That would cause permanent depreciation. This is just what Part I compensation is designed for.
The Bill provides that compensation shall be assessed by reference to what the property is worth for its existing use on the valuation date. The noble and learned Lord is clear in his mind about that. That is one year after the start of the works, taking Clauses 4(1) and 3(2). Compensation will then be paid in respect of any depreciation which it has been found has occurred as a result of physical factors caused by the use of the public works, as provided for by Clause 1(1). The implication is thus a comparison between the market value of the claimant's interest with and with out the effect of the physical factors arising from the use of the works—noise, vibration, fumes, et cetera. To refer 1069 back to what the property was worth before the works started would result in false comparisons in view of changes of market conditions and circumstances other than the physical factors caused by the use of the road.
The valuation provisions are intended to be sufficiently flexible to enable the actual assessment of depreciation clue to the physical factors caused by the use of the road to be approached in the most appropriate way in the circumstances of individual cases—there could be objection to having a particular method of valuation too precisely prescribed.
Perhaps I could reinforce that by way of example. Suppose a house is worth £10,000 before the road construction works begin. After they begin, because of the dust, disturbance and unsightliness, the owners, who want to sell, find no buyer willing to pay more than £8,000. That is while construction works are going on, and the whole thing is subject to all the nuisance arising from them. After the works have been completed and have been in use for 12 months the construction nuisance has disappeared. But let us suppose that buyers will not then pay more than £9,000 for the house. The owner then claims compensation for injurious affection under Part I of the Bill. The valuer then compares such valuation at the valuation date within the then current values of similar neighbouring property not affected by the use of the road. He finds that prices of £10,000 are being obtained for similar properties. He then has to judge whether all or only part of the difference of £1,000 is due to the physical factors caused by the use of the road, or whether part of it is due to any visual intrusion, the latter not being compensatable under Part 1. Supposing that the whole of the depreciation is attributable to the physical factors caused by the use of the road and none to the visual intrusion, then compensation at £1,000 would be payable. I hope that that explanation, which is necessarily rather long and involved, coupled with the example, serves to show the noble and learned Lord that the system we have adopted is capable of meeting the point about which he is anxious.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, before the noble Lord resumes his seat, regarding depreciation and the subsequent increase in value after roadworks have 1070 been finished, what consideration is going to be given to the following situation: A house is worth £10,000; but if the roadworks had not occurred, if the house had in no way been affected by this kind of work, experience in the surrounding neighbourhood indicates that at the end of two years the house might be worth £18,000. What justification is there for compensating on the basis of only £9,000?
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, that introduces a red herring into the discussion I am having with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, which is on a different and rather narrow point. It would be easier for the House if we dealt with the issue the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, raised. The issue that the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, is raising is a matter of inflation—an entirely different point.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, if the House will allow me, we are dealing with this Amendment now. Although I may have raised something different from the point mentioned by my noble and learned friend Lord Stow Hill, the words the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, used in saying that this reflects the influence of an inflationary situation—if he did not use those words that was what they amounted to—are pertinent to this period of time through which we are living.
§ LORD STOW HILL
My Lords, if I may have your Lordships' permission to speak again, I should like to thank the noble Lord for the obvious trouble he has taken. I am stubborn and obstinate by nature and I am much too old to change. While I followed with great interest the arguments he used, I am no: entirely satisfied. But, having regard to the fact that we can all say to ourselves that the point has been fully discussed and fully considered, I ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 5, line 17, at end insert—
("( ) In assessing the extent of the depreciation there shall be taken into account the benefit of any relevant works—
§ The noble Viscount said: This Amendment goes with Amendments Nos. 8 and 9. It makes sure that we take the right account of the benefit of sound insulation. The example which most easily shows how this would work if the Amendment is agreed to is to take another house worth £10,000, which has appreciated by £250 by the inclusion of sound insulation; but then, after the public works have taken place, it depreciates so that it is worth only £9,500. One wants to make sure that the compensation will be the difference between £9,500 and the £10,000, which is the depreciation caused by the work, and not between £9,500 and £10,250—£250 of which would have been paid as an extra grant. Therefore there would be a double payment. This Amendment is for the reorganisation of the clause to make perfectly certain that the person claiming gets the two halves of the claim correctly in their proper place: the depreciation for the depreciation, and the claim for sound insulation where that should properly lie. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 5, line 20, leave out ("subsections (4) and (5)") and insert ("subsection (5)").— (Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 5, line 30, leave out subsection (4)—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1072
§ Clause 6 [Reduction of compensation where other land is benefited]:
§ 4.31 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 7, line 40, leave out ("an increase in the value of an interest in land") and insert ("in respect of any interest in land, an increase in the value of an interest in other land").
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, Amendment No. 10 and Amendment No. 11 go together. It is a technical point again relating to set-off and betterment of a different sort. The intention in Clause 6(3) and 6(4) is to make certain that where a Part I claim has been reduced—that is under subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 61—through taking into account the increase in value of other land belonging to the claimant, such an increase in value as is set off shall be taken into account if that other land is subsequently acquired. The clause as drafted does not quite get this right, but with the Amendments it does. I beg to move Amendment No. 10.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 8, line 5, leave out ("in relation to which section 8(6) below has effect") and insert ("of the land in respect of which the claim is made").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, we discussed Amendment No. 12 when I moved Amendment No. 2. I beg to move Amendment No. 12 formally.
After Clause 11 insert the following new clause:
Tenants entitled to enfranchisement or extension under Leasehold Reform Act 1967
—(1) This section has effect where a person is entitled under Part I of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 to acquire the freehold or an extended lease of a house by virtue of any tenancy ("the qualifying tenancy") and—
(2) The qualifying tenancy shall be treated as an owner's interest as defined in section 2(4) above whether or not the unexpired term on the date of service of the notice of claim is of the length there specified.
(3) If no claim is made in respect of the qualifying tenancy before the claimant has ceased to be entitled to it by reason of his acquisition of the freehold or an extended lease he may make a claim in respect of the qualifying tenancy as if he were still entitled to it.
(4) No claim shall be made by virtue of subsection (3) above after the claimant has ceased to be entitled to the freehold or extended lease but such a claim may be made before the beginning of the claim period if it is made before the claimant has disposed of the freehold or extended lease and after he has made a contract for disposing of it.
(5) Compensation shall not be payable before the beginning of the claim period on any claim made by virtue of subsection (4) above.
(6) Any notice of a claim made by virtue of this section shall contain, in addition to the matters mentioned in section 3 above, a statement that it is made in respect of a qualifying tenancy as defined in this section and, if made by virtue of subsection (3) or (4) above, sufficient particulars to show that it falls within that subsection.
(7) In relation to a claim made by virtue of subsection (3) above section 4(3)(a) above shall have effect as if the reference to the date of service of notice of the claim were a reference to the relevant date."—(Lord Sandford.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 14 [Information for ascertaining relevant date]:
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, this Amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 1. I beg to move Amendment No. 13.
Page 15, line 22, after ("used") insert ("after completion").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 18 [Interpretation of Part I]:
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 16, line 35, leave out ("sections 3(2) and 13(1) above") and insert ("section 3(2) above but subject to section 13(1) above and subsection (3) below").
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this and Amendment No. 15 go together. The House may remember that we dealt with private streets on the Committee stage of the Bill and Clause 18(3) now provides that where an existing highway 1074 is taken over and becomes maintainable at public expense the "relevant date"—which starts the period for the Part I claim—shall be the date at which the highway was first opened to public traffic, even though at that stage it may still have been a private street. So as it stands the three years can start from that first date, but it may be that the time when the highway is taken over comes very much towards the end of the three-year period and unless somebody is pretty smart they would not be able to submit their claim in time. Therefore, what we are doing is to lengthen the claim period to a period of a year from the date when the highway becomes maintainable at public expense. Again this is beneficial to claimants and I hope it will meet with the agreement of the House.
§ The second Amendment is a drafting Amendment to secure the Scottish equivalent for the purely highway provisions of Clause 18. I think it is in absolutely standard form; it has nothing at all to do with agriculture and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will feel that at least this Amendment can go through. I beg to move Amendment No. 14.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I have no intention of suggesting that Amendment No. 14 should not be taken to-day, nor Amendment No. 15, but I should like to say in regard to Amendment No. 15 that the wording adding to the references to the highway authority at the end of the clause really refers back to the first part of the clause, where the appropriate highway authority is defined. The Ministers will remember that at the last stage I queried the need for this definition of "highway authority" in relation to Scotland which still remains in the Bill, when "appropriate highway authority" is defined in such a way as to be applicable to both sides of the Border. It still seems to me that we have two definitions of a highway authority in the Bill and I really cannot see any need for this definition in lines 4 and 5. It may be that the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, can say some, thing about this as otherwise I shall table an Amendment at Third Reading to delete lines 4 and 5 on page 17, as I do not see that they answer any useful purpose.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I remember the noble Lord making this point at the last stage. So far as "highway authority" is concerned 1075 it is not the point of Amendment No. 15 and, if I may, I will ask the Scottish advisers to my noble friend Lord Polwarth to look at this point again. But Amendment No 15 is necessary because when we are speaking about "private streets" in Scotland there is the situation under the Roads (Scotland) Act where a "highway" is a road maintained by the public authority and what we in England call a "private highway" is a road in Scotland. Whether it is publicly maintained or privately maintained if it is open to the public in England it is a highway and is so known technically, but in Scotland a private highway is a road. Therefore we must have that definition in the Bill. But in regard to the other point I will consider that again.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I cannot speak again at this stage but before the noble Viscount sits down may I say that I merely used this as an opportunity to try to get an answer to the point which I raised at the last stage.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 17, line 23, at end insert ("and no claim shall he made if the highway does not become a highway so maintainable within three years of the relevant date as determined in accordance with paragraph (a) above but, if it does, the claim period shall be treated as continuing until the end of one year from the date on which it becomes a highway so maintainable if, apart from this provision, that period would end earlier.
(4) In the application of subsection (3) above to Scotland—
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 28 [Right to home loss payment where person displaced from dwelling]:
§ 4.40 p.m.
LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 16:
Page 26, line 38, leave out ("five") and insert ("three").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment follows consideration at the Committee stage of what a "reasonable period" should be that might be defined in the Bill, setting out entitlement to home loss payment where a person is displaced from a dwelling. To qualify at all he must have been in occupation of the dwelling, or a substantial part of it, as his only or main residence, as already mentioned. He must have been in occupation by virtue of an interest or right. That is the position as set out in Clause 28, (2)(a) and (2)(b). In Committee we discussed leaving out the subsection altogether and thus removing any question of a qualifying period at all. That discussion ranged over the different periods that may be reasonable: the five years laid down in the Bill; the two years as suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, and his noble friend Lord Middleton, and by the noble Lord, Lord Henley; or indeed, as in the Amendment I moved on that occasion, a nil period. This Amendment represents a compromise, or at least on my part an attempt to achieve a compromise. It follows an Amendment I moved and, on an undertaking from the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, that further consideration would be given to the matter, I then withdrew.
§ I should say that the Government themselves had moved from their original thinking and had reduced the qualifying period from seven years to five years in the light of the discussion which took place in the other place, where very strong feeling was expressed, and where a nil qualifying period was also advocated. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has been good enough to write to me at some length but I do not think he will disagree when I say that he has not moved an inch from the position which he took up in Committee. I have read most carefully what he set out in that letter and I am not persuaded that the Government appreciate the position of the aggrieved people who are to lose their homes, as lose them they will. If the object of the scheme is to provide a solatium in respect of the situations which were not to be foreseen, then how is the period of five years determined? What figures can be fixed? What information can be given us to show that five years is a proper, fair, minimum period and one that is known adequately to meet the 1077 position? Does it take five years to become attached to a home? Is it to be argued that the numbers of people who deliberately move into a house knowing that it is going to be compulsorily acquired is a very large and very significant number? I should have thought that the limitations on the amounts that could be claimed, as set out in Clause 29, met that situation if it is a serious one, because Clause 29 lays down a minimum of £150 and a maximum of £1,500. I do not think that there are any fortunes here for anybody. The Government could be a little more generous than they have so far indicated a willingness to be.
§ It seems to me that the Department has drafted this Bill without a full understanding of, and sympathy for, the public interest, in the sense of the public interest of that section of the community which is to be deprived of its homes. For the public interest would seem to me to demand recognition of the right to compensation for disturbance except where clearly there was an intention on the part of the speculators to exploit the situation. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, expressed concern about the cost of claims if the qualifying period is reduced below five years. In Committee he drew attention to the Explanatory Memorandum which provides £70 million a year to meet the claims. May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, to inform the House how that £70 million was computed? On what basis was it assessed? On what turnover of properties was it calculated? I do not know how often properties turn over in cases like this, but I was interested to inquire what was the average turnover of properties in counties such as the one in which I live, in Surrey, and the average turnover, having regard to everything that goes on in the county, as I understand it, is that people move once in ten years. So it would be interesting to know how the Government have arrived at the figure of £70 million per annum and how it is that they are satisfied that that is the right and proper figure.
§ I should like the noble Lord when he replies to give us some detailed information. What would be the financial consequences of reducing the figure from seven years to five years? Perhaps the noble Lord will also tell us what the financial consequences would be if the figure was reduced from five years to 1078 three years. I think that the House needs these figures, and without that information we ought not to be inhibited from deciding to bring into the terms for compensation those who otherwise will be denied compensation for displacement. And, further, unless it can be shown that the increase would be quite unreasonable, may I submit to the House that the Amendment ought to be carried. I feel that justice is being somewhat avoided by arguments as to the effect that a reduction of the qualifying period could inhibit proposals to increase the minimum of £150—to which I have already referred and to which the noble Lord has referred in the letter he wrote to me. I do not think that the two things ought to be dealt with in such a way. It is surely inequitable to say that consideration of a just and fair claim for one group must be denied because of the interests of another group which is to be compensated. I hope that the Amendment will be accepted. If not, I hope that the House will decide that the Bill would be the better for its inclusion. I beg to move.
§ VISCOUNT DAVIDSON
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has asked me to apologise for the fact that he is not able to be here this afternoon. As the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, reminded your Lordships, the noble Lord, Lord Henley, and I put down an Amendment at Committee stage to reduce the qualifying period for home loss payment to two years. There was, indeed, a long and detailed debate on the whole question of the qualifying period. All those who took part in that debate, with, I regret, the exception of my noble friend the Minister, expressed the view that five years was too long and that it should be reduced either to three years, or to two years, or to no years at all. I do not think that I can possibly call this Amendment an all-Party Amendment, but it is a very reasonable compromise, representing a balance of the views expressed. I have read very carefully in the OFFICIAL REPORT the reply made by my noble friend the Minister to that debate, and I must confess that I remain unconvinced by the arguments which were put forward. One of those arguments was the question of the extra cost that would be involved if the qualifying period were to be reduced and I hope that we shall hear 1079 more about that in reply to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, on that particular matter.
But this is a Bill about compensation. This is a Bill which puts into effect a White Paper which, I would remind your Lordships, was entitled Development and Compensation: Putting People First. If we are really putting people first, I submit to your Lordships that all other considerations, including that of cost, should surely become secondary factors. I do not wish to repeat all the arguments which I thought were very skilfully deployed at Committee stage, except to say that this new concept of a home loss payment has been widely welcomed. All we are doing in this Amendment is saying that the underiying principle of fairness should be extended to include a group of people whose sense of loss, grief, distress, call it what you will, will, in our view, be no less than that suffered by those others who will be able to claim compensation for the same reasons and on similar grounds. It is, of course, almost impossible to quantify suffering in monetary terms. It is equally difficult to assess fairly a cut-off point at which the loss of one's home becomes a special hardship causing a sudden upsurge in one's feeling of distress, and this difficulty was very much appreciated in another place when the qualifying period was reduced from seven years to five years. I hope that your Lordships will take it a stage further along the path of equity by agreeing to this Amendment.
§ LORD MONK BRETTON
My Lords, I am sorry to make any difficulties for my noble friend Lord Sandford about this, but I would say that I see a lot of common sense and good in this Amendment as proposed. My noble friend spoke a great deal at Committee stage, I recall, about people's emotional attachments and the length of time required for those attachments to build up. I must say all the time he was doing that I could not help taking a more practical view—that this was a matter, first, of such things as carpets and curtains and fittings and problems of that kind. I also felt somewhat aware that our stock of housing, as usual, was far from limitless, and that there was a distinct need to occupy houses even when one knew that one had less 1080 than three years to go. Quite often these houses that are to be demolished for other schemes are not by any means uninhabitable but nevertheless require maintenance during that period. Essential repair has to go on. It is often a costly and unsatisfactory thing that it has to when there is only a short-term view to be taken.
At any rate, my views, I am afraid, must be somewhat coloured by the feeling that, while we have always known that there has been a good deal wrong with compensation, there will, alas! still continue to be a good deal wrong after this Bill becomes law. I do not think we have gone far enough. It is for this reason that I feel that there must be pretty strong arguments for trying to get this little bit of the Bill improved. I would myself prefer three years to five. I find it very difficult not to agree with this Amendment.
My Lords, I did not mean to say anything on this Amendment, but as the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, referred to it as an all-Party Amendment, or said that he did not know if it was, perhaps I may say this. I know very little about the subject, but I would say that as a Member of this Party at present sitting on this Bench I would, if it were put to the vote, be tempted to vote for the Amendment, on the grounds that three years seems to be a more reasonable period than five years. I will not go into any exotic reasons, but in a three-dimensional world rods, poles and perches are as far as I can go in measuring three dimensions, and certainly I will get on to the theological problem of three Persons; but the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, said this is about people, and as a person, even only a Back-Bencher, I feel that three years is quite long enough to get attached even to two Benches. That is all I have to say.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, we indeed discussed this question at some length at Committee stage, and I am glad of the opportunity to discuss it again. We have to start by recognising that we are not here talking about the main compensation which is going to be paid to anybody who is displaced from his home, which will be reflected by the payment of compensation at the rate of full market value; and, of course, it is 1081 within that that the fittings and carpets and so on which my noble friend Lord Monk Bretton mentioned will be reflected. We are not talking about that. That is the underlying basis of compensation; it has been improved in a number of ways during the passage of this Bill; and that is where we reflect the full financial value of the home in question.
What we are talking about here is the wish of the Government to introduce a further additional payment, on top of full market value, to reflect the grief and distress of being uprooted against one's will from a place that has become one's home. The Government started from the position that they thought a period of seven years should be the qualifying period, and, in response to debates in another place, reflected on the question of whether that figure was the right one, and, in the light of the views expressed in another place, adjusted it from seven years to five. So the Government have already indicated their flexibility, their willingness to compromise, and have listened to all the arguments that could be made for a reduction in the period from seven years to five. We have heard the same arguments cogently put by many noble Lords in this place, but they are not different from the arguments put in another place which led to the Government's adjusting the period from seven years to five. I must plead that as one of the reasons for not making any further adjustment, and to rebut any thoughts that there might be in the minds of noble Lords that we are unwilling to be swayed by arguments to change our original position. We have indeed changed our original position from seven years to five. Throughout the proceedings on this Bill the Government are seeking to be generous and to be sympathetic to people's personal feelings, to put people first, and it is because of this that we have introduced this entirely additional new payment on top of full market value. I would submit that we are being generous.
In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, out of the overall figure of £70 million a year about £25 million a year is the figure that will be paid on all the various aspects of compensation. That is extracted from the Explanatory Memorandum in the front of the original Bill. The significance of that will come out in a moment. We are trying to be generous.
1082 I believe we are being generous. We are certainly being more generous than any Government has been in this field before. We want our compensation to go to those who most merit it, whose hardship and whose grief is most severe and the greatest, and I believe that that would be the wish of all noble Lords present who have taken part in this debate. We do not want the beneficial effects of this Bill Ito be spread thinly over a lot of people, some of whom really need it, some of whom do not merit it. We want any additional generosity to be concentrated on those whose need and grief and distress are greatest. That is one of the reasons why we have selected this particular period.
If the Amendment were accepted, the increase in cost would be of the order of £5 million a year. I am not basing my case on the argument that that amount could not be afforded, so much as on the fact that if that extra amount were made available there are many other people than those who have been in occupation of their homes for these shorter periods whom we should want to assist. I shall come back to that point in a moment. I do not think I need rehearse the argument which I used on the previous occasion, to the effect that one's attachment to a home grows as the period lengthens, and is certainly stronger after five years than it is after three years. But the choice of five years as the qualifying period was made to ensure that those occupiers who were most likely to suffer the greatest amount of distress through being displaced from their homes would benefit, while, at the same time, keeping the cost of the scheme within reasonable limits. When your Lordships compare the £5 million increase effected by the proposed change with the £25 million which is the overall cost of all forms of compensation under this Bill, you will see that there is a case for keeping a sense of proportion.
But I would return to another argument which I used previously, that many public works take quite a time to plan and prepare and, even with the cut-off point at five years, there will be some occupiers who were aware at the start of their occupation that they were likely to be displaced, if necessary by compulsory acquisition, in the foreseeable future, for whom the personal upset on displacement 1083 cannot be so great as if they had taken up occupation in the expectation and hope of remaining until they chose to move. To reduce the qualifying occupancy condition to three years will include many more people who knew that their period of occupation was likely to be of limited duration, and a flavour of cynicism over the whole idea of the home loss payment would creep in. Moreover, although there is nothing magical in the choice of five years, and a figure cannot be arrived at by any mathematical calculation since it is a matter of judgment, the emotional attachment to a home, and hence the degree of distress on displacement, will certainly be greater after a period of five years than after a period of only three years.
If the Amendment were accepted and the period were reduced to three years, a good many more people would become eligible. Although in itself that is perhaps no bad thing, it would cost more money—as I said, £5 million, compared with the £25 million which is the approximate cost of all compensation under this Bill. That is somewhat out of proportion. But it would also mean that if at any time consideration was given to raising the guaranteed minimum payment of £150, which the Secretary of State can do by order under Clause 29, more people would be eligible for such an increase. Therefore, either much more money would be involved in meeting the new minimum figure, or the minimum figure would be kept down so that the extra funds that might be allocated could be spread across an increased number of people caused by a reduction in the qualifying period.
I think that in the real world all these points must be considered, remembering that the public purse is not inexhaustible and that there are limits to the amount of money that can be made available by even the most generous Government that anybody could wish for. Any Government, of whatever complexion, would in future have to face the problem that the extra call upon funds to raise the minimum figure could work against the interests of those most eligible for it. In this connection, it is worth noting that most of those who will benefit from the minimum figure, at whatever level it is—and it could be raised—live in 1084 slum clearance areas, and it is within those areas that five out of six houses required for public works are situated.
Those are the reasons why a five-year period, though at first sight appearing to be less generous than a three-year period, will have the effect of directing our generosity—which, as I said, can be increased under the order-making power in Clause 29—towards the people who need it and concentrating it upon them, whereas the Amendment will spread it too thinly over a whole lot of people whose grief and hardship is not of the same order as those whom we are seeking to help. I hope that that rather more extensive explanation will help to satisfy the House, and the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, in particular, that it is not because of a lack of generosity, but rather a wish that the generosity should be concentrated upon those who, in our view, deserve it most, that we should resist his Amendment.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, I am sure the House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, for the effort he has made to defend what is, apparently, a determination to resist acceptance of this Amendment. I find it a little difficult to accept the force of his argument; indeed, I find it quite unconvincing. I do not think the House will be inclined to accept that the sum of £5 million a year is likely to bring catastrophe in its wake. The noble Lord said that if the Amendment were carried the amount of money available will have to be spread thinly over a larger number of people; but we are talking about only £5 million at the most. We all appreciated that we were not talking about compensation for the full market value of a property; and we discussed the issue of grief and distress in Committee. But how can anybody say that it takes five years for people to feel grief and distress as a result of compulsory displacement? The noble Lord does not appear to realise the feelings of people who move into a little cottage and proudly put up a name on the gate, "At last". For years they have sought a place; they have now secured it, and then at the end of three years it is taken from them. Their grief can be as great as, and sometimes greater than, that of people who have lived in a property for a very long time.
1085 The noble Lord said that quite frequently plans are known long years in advance of people buying properties, and that is true. But if no property changed hands because there was talk of some development taking place at some unspecified date, a great deal of property would not be bought and sold. Many of us have had to live with the fact that there were proposals to construct roads back in the 1930s, but they have never been built. Society outside does not work in this kind of way.
I should have thought that to insert a minimum period of three years is such a reasonable compromise that it would be gladly accepted. As I say, at Committee stage we were discussing whether there should be no period or a two-year period. Now the noble Lord says that the other House talked about it and, as a result, the Government not being inflexible, reduced it from seven years to five years. But the very reason why we
§ are discussing the Bill in this House is that we can think about the matter further. In Committee in the other House there was a good deal of discussion about reducing the period below five years. I think I ought not to repeat arguments which have been made on a number of occasions. I am extremely grateful for the support of those noble Lords who have spoken. This is clearly an issue that cuts across Party boundaries, and I shall ask the House to decide, since the Government themselves appear to be unwilling, for the sake of such a small sum of money, to meet reasonably generously those who will otherwise suffer as a result of decisions for which they are not responsible.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 16) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 57; Not-Contents, 59.1087
|Addison, V.||Energlyn, L.||Phillips, B.|
|Airedale, L.||Evans of Hungershall, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Ardwick, L.||Ferrier, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Gainford, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Barrington, V.||Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.]||Shinwell, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Hawke, L.||Slater, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Henderson, L.||Somers, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Hoy, L.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Hughes, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Hurcomb, L.||Taylor of Gryfe, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Jacques, L. [Teller.]||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Killearn, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Longford, E.||White, B.|
|Davidson, V.||Milford, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Monck, V.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Diamond, L.||Monk Bretton, L.||Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.|
|Douglas of Barloch, L.||Northchurch, B.|
|Dundonald, E.||Ogmore, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Peddie, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Elgin and Kincardine, E.|
|Aberdare, L.||Cowley, E.||Ironside, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Daventry, V.||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Allerton, L.||Denham, L. [Teller.]||Kindersley, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Long, V.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Dundee, E.||Lothian, M.|
|Auckland, L.||Ebbisham, L.||Loudoun, C.|
|Balerno, L.||Eccles, V.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Exeter, M.||Merrivale, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Ferrers, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Fortescue, E.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Garner, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Greenway, L.||Oakshott, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Rankeillour, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Hanworth, V.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Inglewood, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Sempill, Ly.||Thorneycroft, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Strange of Knokin, B.||Thurlow, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Sudeley, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.||Young, B.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Clause 31 [Supplementary provisions about home loss payments]:
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 17:
Page 30, line 3, leave out from ("period") to ("then") in line 5 and insert ("resided in the dwelling, or a substantial part of it, as his only or main residence but without being in occupation as required by those paragraphs").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 17 and at the same time to speak to Amendment No. 18, which together with No. 17 is the paving Amendment to Amendment No. 21. Amendment No. 21 is no more than a technical Amendment. As the clause is drafted, a claimant relying on Clause 31(3) mug have been in occupation of a dwelling as his only or main residence at a time when another person was in occupation of the dwelling as his only or main residence and by virtue of a specified interest or right. It could be argued that while that other person was in occupation the claimant could not be, and that he was merely residing in the dwelling. For the avoidance of doubt, the Amendment provides that the claimant relying on Clause 31(3) need only have been in residence in the dwelling and not necessarily in occupation of it for the appropriate period. My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 17.
§ LORD STOW HILL
My Lords, purely as a matter of drafting, while I entirely accept and indeed welcome the purpose of this Amendment which is to clarify the situation, I would just ask the noble Lord whether the language is quite right. What he is providing is that the second person about whom one is talking need not have been in occupation as required by those paragraphs, namely, Clause 28(2)(a) and (b). I should have thought that the words were wide enough to include paragraph (b), but surely that cannot be intended. The noble Lord explained the purpose of the Amendment as being in order to prevent its being said that the claimant could not also be in occupation. That I quite understand, but I wonder whether inadvertently the 1088 language he has chosen to achieve his purpose does not go rather further than he intended in excluding the operation of subsection (2)(b) as well. I apprehend that that was not his intention, and I should be grateful if he would look at the wording as a matter of drafting.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I will certainly undertake to do this, and, if I find he is right, to amend it accordingly.
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 18:
Page 30, line 6, leave out ("both").
LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 19:
Page 30, line 7, leave out from ("period") to ("the") in line 9.
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this Amendment, which is designed for a humanitarian purpose, its object being to dispense with the rather gruesome requirement that the pre-existing occupation should involve the death of the occupant. It seems hard on him that that should be the case. I know the noble Lord to be a man of generous and compassionate nature and we all have a great affection for him because we know his gentle and kindly disposition. I cannot believe that he would have wished the death of so many innocent people before this clause could be operative. In another place right honourable and honourable gentlemen have just been busy expressing their dislike of the sentence of death. Is it right that we should partially and vicariously, by a side wind as it were, reintroduce the death sentence for some quite important purposes in the terms of this clause?
§ I believe the objective is to bring about that where there is, say, a father and a son who live in a house, the father first and then the son, the period of their joint residence could be aggregated together in order to fulfil the requirement of five years' residence of the house. I should have thought that the situation normally would be that the kindly father, in the fullness of time, feels that he can 1089 appropriately hand over the tenancy or other interest he may have in a house to his son, who perhaps is taking upon himself the family responsibilities of running the family business and so on. It is a very humanitarian provision, if I may respectfully say so, and I think noble Lords on all sides of the House would thoroughly approve it. But it has a cruel edge to it, in that the note of death must creep in. I should have thought we could keep death out, and I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to accept the exclusion of the words which import the presence of death. The noble Lord has been so kind as to give me some reason to hope that he may be melted by my entreaty, and I hope that I am not pitching my expectations and anticipations higher than he intended.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for the case which he has put for his Amendment, but before commenting on it I should say that it is not out of any sense of relief that we have had such a narrow victory over Amendment No. 16, not because of the gracious remarks which he addressed to me personally, but because of the merits of his argument that we are disposed to accept it.
§ LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 20:
Page 30, line 11, at end insert—
("(3A) Where a person ("the deceased") dies before the expiration of the period for making a claim to a home 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 any person, not being a minor, who—
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 20 and at the same time to speak to Amendment No. 22. The purpose of the first Amend- 1090 ment is to provide for the case of a claimant who is entitled to a home-loss payment but who dies before the expiration of the six months' claim period after displacement and without making a claim. The new subsection provides that in these circumstances a claim may be made before the end of the claim period by any person (other than a minor) who resided in the dwelling as his only or main residence for not less than five years ending with the date of displacement of the deceased, and who is beneficiary in title to share in the estate of the deceased, whether by virtue of testamentary dispositions, or the law of intestate succession or the right of survivorship between joint tenants. This follows the form of words used in Clause 11(2). Where there is more than one such person, the subsection provides that the home-loss payment should be divided equally between them (again excluding minors). The second Amendment to which I am speaking, No. 22, is consequential upon Amendment No. 20. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 21. We considered this matter when I spoke to Amendment No. 17.
Page 30, line 12, leave out ("been successively in occupation of") and insert ("successively been in occupation of or resided in"). —(Lord Sandford.)
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 22. I spoke to it when discussing Amendment No. 20.
Page 30, line 15, leave out ("and subsection (3)") and insert ("above and subsections (3) and (3A)").—(Lord Sandford.)
§ LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 23:
Page 30, line 29, at end insert—
("( ) In the application of subsection (3A) above to Scotland—
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 23 and in doing so I hope the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will agree that, whilst this is a Scottish adaptation, it is a non-agricultural one and therefore he will be willing to accept it. It provides the Scottish adaptation for the new subsection (3)(a). Paragraph (a) deals with the point that "minor" in Scotland is a technical legal term covering girls between 12 and 18 and boys between 14 and 18. Paragraph (b) adapts the provisions on succession. I beg to move.
§ Clause 32 [Home loss payments for certain caravan dwellers]:
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 24:
Page 30, line 38, leave out ("Section 28(2) above") and insert ("Subsection (1) of section 28 above shall have effect as if for the words preceding paragraph (a) there were substituted the words "Where a person residing in a caravan on a caravan site is displaced from that site in consequence of" and subsection (2) of that section").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 24 which is little more than a drafting Amendment to apply the reference in Clause 28(1) to displacement from a dwelling to the situation where a person residing in a caravan on a common site is displaced from that site.
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 25:
Page 31, line 12, leave out from ("has") to ("and") in line 13 and insert ("successively been in occupation of or resided in a caravan on different caravan sites on that land, section 28(2) above").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is another drafting Amendment. It provides for the avoidance of doubt that a claimant need only have resided in and not necessarily been in occupation of a caravan on different caravan sites on land comprising two or more caravan sites in order to benefit from the provisions of Clause 32 The same point was discussed on Amendments Nos. 17, 18 and 21, but in respect of caravans. I beg to move.1092
§ Clause 34 [Amount of farm loss payment]:
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No 26:
Page 33, line 28, at end insert—
("( ) Where the date of displacement is determined in accordance with section 33(3)(c) above and the person concerned has on that date been in occupation for more than three years, he may elect that the average annual profit shall, instead of being computed by reference to the profits for the years mentioned in subsection (1) above, be computed by reference to the profits for—
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, my incursions into the field of agriculture have been rather curtailed to-day and this is the only one I can talk about It can be genuinely presented as being something for the farmers who, as we discovered at Committee stage, still thought they were having a raw deal from this Bill.
§ This Amendment is concerned with the situation where an agricultural owner-occupier who has had his land compulsorily acquired is permitted by the acquiring authority to remain in occupation for a period before being required to give up possession. As the clause is now drafted, any farm loss payment to which he may subsequently be entitled has to be computed by reference to profits for the three years ending with the date of displacement. This could be bad for him since profits may be affected after acquisition by changes in the pattern of farming and the level of investment in the land as a consequence of the switch to tenant farming and the limited life of the farm.
§ The Amendment therefore provides that in this situation any farm loss payment to which the farmer becomes entitled may, if he so elects, be computed by reference to profits for any three consecutive periods of twelve months for which accounts have been made up and 1093 for which he was in occupation, subject to the last of the twelve months' period in any group of three consecutive periods ending on or after the date of completion of the acquisititon. If there are no three consecutive periods of twelve months for which accounts have been made up, it will be computed by reference to any three consecutive years for which the farmer has been in occupation, subject to the last of the twelve months' period in any group of three consecutive periods ending on or after the date of completion of the acquisition.
§ The clause as amended will enable an owner-occupier farmer who is not displaced immediately on the acquisition of his land to benefit, for the purpose of calculating a farm loss payment, from whichever of the consecutive three-year periods mentioned above produces the highest amount. Thus, for example, if an owner-occupier farmer has been in occupation for the three years before the date of acquisition and stays on as a tenant for two further years up to the date of taking possession, he can choose any three consecutive years (in terms of accounting years) for the purposes of the computation. The provision could make quite a difference to the amount of the farm loss payment if the three years on which it must be calculated under the Bill as it stands turned out to be bad ones while the other two in the example were good. I beg to move.
§ Clause 37 [Amount of disturbance payment]:
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is no more than a drafting Amendment. It is a Scottish adaptation but again not an agricultural one. It makes reference to the Social Work (Scotland) Act. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will agree that this does not present any difficulties. I beg to move.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I should make it clear that there are a number of purely Scottish Amendments to this Bill 1094 of the value of which there can be no doubt. This is one of them. It would be churlish of me to give it other than an enthusiastic welcome.
§ Clause 40 [Power of relevant authority to make advances repayable on maturity to displaced residential owner-occupiers]:
§ LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 28:
§ Page 42, line 39, leave out from ("person") to end of line 42 and insert ("who occupies it on the date of displacement and either—
- (a) occupies it on that date in right of a freehold interest therein or a tenancy thereof granted or extended for a term of years certain of which not less than three years remain unexpired; or
- (b) if the displacement is in consequence of the matters mentioned in paragraph (c) of section 38(1) above, occupied it in right of such an interest or tenancy on the date on which the land was acquired or appropriated as mentioned in that paragraph.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 28 and at the same time to speak to Amendment No. 30. These are matters of slightly more substance and relate to the advances to displaced owner-occupiers which an authority may make for the purchase of another dwelling, repayable on maturity—that is, with periodic payments only in respect of interest on the capital sum. The circumstances of displacement to which the clause applies are, first, acquisition by an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers; second, the making, passing or acceptance of a housing order et cetera; and third, redevelopment following acquisition or appropriation by an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers. In the last case, the person residing in the dwelling may have been the owner-occupier at the time of the original acquisition or appropriation, but he could have ceased to have an owner's interest when displacement occurs. The first Amendment safeguards the position of the former owner-occupier who remains in possession until redevelopment displaces him by retaining the benefit of the clause to him notwithstanding that he has lost his owner-occupier status by the time of displacement. Amendment No. 30 is consequential on Amendment No. 28. I beg to move.1095
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 29:
Page 43, line 5, leave out subsection (11).
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 29 which is a technical one. The effect of subsection (11) as drafted is to exclude from the benefit of Clause 40 any person who did not take up residence in the dwelling in question until after a particular stage in the proceedings—specified in subsection (6) of Clause 38—had been reached. Clause 38 places a duty on authorities to rehouse residential occupiers in certain circumstances. A restriction of this nature is, however, not necessary in Clause 40 since that clause provides only a discretionary power for local authorities to make advances repayable on maturity, and the Amendment is designed to remove the restriction in this case.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 30. We discussed this when dealing with Amendment No. 28.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 43, line 20, after ("(9)") insert—
("(i) in paragraph (a).").—(Lord Sandford.)
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 32 and at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 33 and 34. All three are drafting Amendments and do nothing more than remove a small defect. Together they have the effect of causing the age of the shareholder referred to in the subsection to be measured in exactly the same way as that of the occupier in Clause 1. It is clearly equitable that this should be so and clearly necessary that it should be measured in some way rather than left in the air as it is at the moment. I beg to move Amendment No. 32.
Page 47, line 36, after ("sixty") insert ("on the date there mentioned").—(Lord Sandford.)
Page 47, line 38, after ("age") insert ("on that date").—(Lord Sandford.)
Page 47, line 39, after ("age") insert ("on that date").—(Lord Sandford.)
§ Clause 47 [Compensation in respect of agricultural holdings]:
§ VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 35:
§ Page 48, line 42, leave out from ("landlord") to ("and") in line 3 on page 49 and insert (" which would not be or would not have been effective if—
- (i) in section 24(2)(b) of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 (land required for nonagricultural use for which planning permission has been granted etc.) The reference to the land being required did not include a reference to its being required by an acquiring authority; and
- (ii) in section 25(1)(e) of that Act (proposed termination of tenancy for purpose of land's being used for non-agricultural use not falling within section 24(2)(b) the reference to the land's being used did not include a reference to its being used by an acquiring authority;").
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment and Amendment No. 36 go together. It is rather an obscure subject, but it was Clause 43 when we had it in the Committee stage and it was subject to some discussion then. The arrangement is that where an acquiring authority is buying land we shall provide that the tenant shall not have his compensation assessed, nor shall the landlord have his compensation assessed, on the basis that just because the acquiring authority is taking the land by compulsory powers the landlord is thought to be able to have got vacant possession of it. So you disregard the acquisition by the acquiring authorities by compulsory powers and assume that the tenant retains his security of tenure under the Agricultural Holdings Act and the landlord is not given compensation on the basis of vacant possession. But there is one qualification. That is all very well when you have residents, but if the acquiring authority is buying for housing purposes and planning permission has been obtained, the landlord may have got planning permission as well. In those circumstances the landlord would, 1097 quite apart from the action of the acquiring authority in buying the land for housing, also have been able to get possession of it from the tenant for his own housing development. In those circumstances we think it right that the tenant should not be given the protection of virtually permanent security, and we therefore make a small exception for that particular type of case. It derogates from the generality of what we are doing in this clause, but it tightens up this one small anomaly which would occur.
Page 49, line 13, leave out from ("landlord") to end of line 16 and insert ("which would not be or would not have been effective if the said section 24(2)(b) and 25(1)(e) were construed in accordance with subsection (2)(a)(i) and (ii) above.").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ Clause 48 [Compensation where occupier is rehoused]:
Page 49, line 40, at end insert ("compulsory").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ Clause 62 [Amendment of section 35 of Roads (Scotland) Act 1970]:
Page 65, line 38, leave out ("grant") and insert ("creation").—(Lord Sandford.)
§ Clause 67 [Land affected by orders relating to new towns]:
§ 5.49 p.m.
LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 48:
Page 71, line 25, leave out from ("any") to ("section") and insert ("land under that section where the period of seven years specified therein has expired").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, subsection (6) of Clause 67 repeals Section 11 of the New Towns Act, 1965, and that repeal will deprive owners of properties in some new towns of valuable rights which have accrued over the years. The question of where the owners of some properties stand has given rise to very considerable concern and has covered issues such as clubs and churches. I understand that the Churches' Main Committee, through the advice of the Bishop of Winchester, have been in contact with the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Graham Page, and if in the course of the debate the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is able to say anything about how their position is secured that will be very interesting, because here again he wrote me. I am very grateful to him for writing at length, particularly in regard to this clause; and I am a little surprised (and perhaps it is unfortunate) that it fell to his lot to deal with the point. Churches do not always benefit where a development takes place. Sometimes their congregation is removed from them and they find themselves unable to attract enough people to keep going the church that exists. That raises quite a problem. I hope something may be said that will clarify it, because in Committee I raised the issue, and I raised it in connection with Redditch particularly, where there is a fine church right in the centre of the town and, as the noble Lord reminded me and as I think I stated in Committee, they do not pay rates; they do not have a rateable value. Their position would appear to me to need clarification.
§ My Lords, these valuable rights of which I have spoken in regard to owners of properties are rights which require development corporations to acquire properties in New Towns after seven years have elapsed from the date of the designation. As I have already stated, there are a number of New Towns where these rights have accrued. And I am sure I have it right. Under this Bill as it stands those people will be deprived of those accrued rights. It will be our duty that owners in all designated New Towns will be assimilated into the proposed National Blight Code which is a singularly unattractive thing to owners and particularly to those to whom I have referred. In future only owner-occupiers of residential property, owners of small businesses and 1099 agricultural land will be able to serve blight notices, and I understand that these will be subject to a limitation based on a rateable value, at present, of £750.
During the Committee stage I asked the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, what constituted a small business. I am sure that he will not mind my quoting what he told me:
You ask how a small business was defined. The position is that the national blight code applies to owner-occupied property in certain classes. These are houses, farms and other property with a rateable value not exceeding £2,250. Churches are not caught as they are of course not rated and neither would be the clubs you mention as they are over the limit of rateable value".
So in future it will be a limited section, so far as owner-occupiers are concerned, below the present rateable value of £750—we may well be told that that figure will be raised as a result of revaluation—and owners of small businesses not exceeding a rateable value of £2,250. It will be this limited section who will be able to serve blight notices and be subject to the possibility of a counter notice. Because it is not possible to serve a blight notice in respect of a church as it has no rateable value, it will no longer as I understand it be possible to require a development corporation to acquire this type of property. If I am wrong I shall be happy, and I am sure that the House will be pleased to have an authoritative statement covering the point.
My Lords, the Amendment I propose is very different from the one I moved in Committee. That would have reserved all the rights that Section 11 of the 1965 Act confers. This Amendment is limited to the preservation of rights which have already been approved and would cause the subsection to read as follows:
Section 11 of the said Act of 1965 (right to required development corporation to acquire land within area designated as the site of a new town) shall cease to have effect except in relation to any land under that section where the period of seven years specified therein has expired before the coming into force of this section.
I hope it will be appreciated that I have endeavoured to be as reasonable as possible and to confine myself to defending the rights of people where those rights have accrued over a period of years. The noble Lord was good enough to reply to a number of questions which I asked
in Committee and I have no wish to take up your Lordships' time by repeating them. I am satisfied with the replies which the noble Lord gave to me. But in order that it shall be clear in the Record I should like to ask this. Will a draft designation order in itself constitute automatic blight and consequently compel the development corporation to acquire a property without resort to counter notice?
I have before me a copy of what Mr. Graham Page has said and I think it is largely borne out by what the noble Lord wrote to me. Perhaps it would be a good thing to get it on the Record so that everyone will know where he stands:
As applied by the Land Compensation Bill to new towns the National Blight Code would allow service of blight notices at any time after the publication of the draft designation order. The right to object to a blight notice will apply, but until the development corporation have worked out their plans for the development of the new town it would not seem possible for the corporation to substantiate the assertion that they do not require the property".
There has been conjecture by many people about precisely what is meant in the light of the discussions in another place and in Committee in this House. I should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, if he would confirm what I have read out, and particularly the last part of it, that it would not seem possible for the corporation to substantiate an assertion that they do not require the property. It is very difficult to see what they will need as the years roll on. Will the noble Lord confirm that it means that draft designation is equivalent to blight and that owners would not have to wait for specific proposals? If the noble Lord can answer that question in clear terms it would be helpful to a great many people. My Amendment would certainly reserve rights which have accrued over the years and would clarify the position. I hope the Committee will feel that the Bill would be improved by the acceptance of the Amendment.
§ I do not know whether it is any use appealing to the Government at this stage. It may well be that the Government have made up their mind and the Minister has no freedom of movement. But if he has any at all, I ask that consideration be given to the acceptance of my Amendment, which would seem to me to make very little difference to the Bill so far as 1101 the vast majority of cases are concerned. But it would secure the position of those who otherwise will be deprived of rights that have accrued. This would happen in towns of some standing—Redditch, for example. There are a considerable number of people in such towns who feel that they will be adversely affected unless something on the lines of my Amendment is included in the Bill. I do not speak for myself on the basis of my own interpretation of the position. I am grateful to have had advice from the Urban District Councils Association, and others. I mention that not only to support the view that I have advanced but also as an indication of the extent of the concern that exists over this matter.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, perhaps I may deal first with one or two particular questions which the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, asked me arising out of his general interest and concern in this subject, before I deal more closely with the terms of his Amendment. First, he asked about the effect of draft designation. I confirm that it is equivalent of blight and the owners would not have to wait, as is the case outside New Towns for six towns for a precise, particular proposal. But as I mentioned in my letter to him, in a paragraph which I do not think he quoted:Under the National Blight Code a qualified owner-occupier may serve a blight notice in the event of a public authority's proposals of a kind specified in the Act affecting his property. It is open to an authority"—and it would be open to a New Town authority—to object to a blight notice on a number of grounds, one of which is that they do not propose to acquire any part of the property.My letter to the noble Lord went on to say:The decision in cases of dispute is a matter for the Lands Tribunal.The noble Lord also asked about the position of churches and referred to correspondence which the Bishop of Winchester, on behalf of the Churches' Main Committee, is having with my right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and Development. This was taken up with the plight of churches caught in planning areas, for example near a clearance area. If the area is clear around or near a church, then most of the congregation goes, as opposed to the 1102 situation in a New Town where fresh recruits for the congregation arrive. But in the clearance case, eventually the church is acquired and demolished and then it is dealt with on the basis of equivalent reinstatement, since there is no particular market in churches and the market value criterion which applies to other properties cannot apply to churches.
My Lords, to turn to the points raised by the noble Lord's Amendment, as he says, it raises a whole series of quite different issues from those raised by his Amendment in Committee. On that occasion, the noble Lord argued for the retention of Section 11 of the New Towns Act in its entirety. Now he is seeking the retention of the section in those towns where it has become operative, because seven years have elapsed since designation; but he is accepting that it should not apply in New Towns or in extensions designated less than seven years ago and to any future New Towns or extensions of existing ones. The effect of that would be that Section 11 would remain operative in 17 of the 23 New Towns in England and Wales, but would not become effective in the remaining six; namely, the Central Lancashire New Towns, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Newtown, Warrington and Peterborough. It would not apply in parts of towns where extensions were designated less than seven years ago; that is, in Corby, Peterlee, Skelmersdale, Telford and Washington. In regard to Telford, the effect of his Amendment would be that Section 11 would apply in one half of the town, but not in the other half. There are, as noble Lords will know, likely to be substantial extensions in Bracknell, Harlow and Stevenage.
The nub of the case for this partial retention of Section 11 is that property owners in those towns where the seven-year period has elapsed have acquired the right to serve a Section 11 notice, and it would be wrong to deprive them of that right. The noble Lord's case, although it has been persuasively argued and is obviously motivated by a desire to remove what he regards as an injustice, would certainly be creating another, and I think worse one. There would be a distinction created between towns; that is, in the 17 New Towns where Section 11 notices could be served, while in the other six they would not apply. There 1103 would be distinctions between parts of New Towns because some extension took place less than seven years ago.
Again, if one considers the timetable, one finds that Milton Keynes fails to qualify by eight months and Peterborough by 15 months, but at Aycliffe a substantial portion of the town qualified five days ago as an extension order was made on April 13, 1966. The Amendment would also be anomalous in that in the 17 towns it would leave Section 11 and the national blight code existing side by side—although I would not wish to over-emphasise the implications of that. The Government believe that the overall effect of the changes made by Clause 67 will result in more equitable arrangements and—this is the most important point from the point of view of property owners—more expeditious arrangements in relation to land that is blighted in New Towns. We are reinforced in this belief by the fact that there have been no representations against the clause by any associations of property owners since the repeal was announced in the White Paper last August. I hope that that explanation, which covers a different range of considerations from that which I gave to the noble Lord in Committee, coupled with my letter to him and my explanation on the points that he raised in Committee, will satisfy the noble Lord that we are doing the right thing and he will not feel it necessary to press the Amendment.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. He has been very patient. My Amendment was moved in order to protect the rights of some people who are going to lose accrued rights. I thought it reasonable on the Report stage, having been unsuccessful in persuading the Government in Committee, to ask for something less. I have learned that if one asks for a whole loaf and does not get it, it is sometimes worth while asking for a quarter of the loaf, and one gets reward. In this case, that is what I was attempting to do—to salvage something from the operation, if I may put it that way.
One wonders at what point Governments are inclined to give way when those who are not satisfied with what is being done try to compromise and show willingness to reduce their requests. The 1104 noble Lord repeated the point he made in Committee, that no representations had been made since the White Paper was issued. I should like to ask him whether any representations have been made since the discussion in another place. I should be very surprised if the Department have received no representations since then. The noble Lord will appreciate that the Urban District Councils Association sought an opportunity of consultations with the Department on this matter, and although the Deparment consulted with the New Town Development Corporation Association, they did not see fit to meet the Urban District Councils Association. I hope that that may be seen by the noble Lord as something of a reply to the reassertion that no representations were received following the White Paper. Why did that come about? It was not until a public health inspector in Redditch spotted this that anybody was alive to it. But I am certain that the Department would have received more representations than I had about the matter.
I realise that the Amendment, if carried, would leave distinctions; but it would protect accrued rights, and that is what the Amendment seeks to do. I think there would be little advantage in my pressing the matter to a Division this afternoon. I would much prefer the opportunity to be afforded for further thinking on the part of the Government and ourselves, so that we may possibly return to this on Third Reading. I shall certainly study carefully, and take advice on, what the noble Lord has said in reply to the arguments that I have endeavoured to adduce. I am quite satisfied that this is a point of some concern, for it is always a matter of concern when people are being deprived of some right that they have acquired over a period of years. With your Lordships' permission, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 71 [Land affected by new street orders]:
LORD SANDFORD: moved Amendment No. 49:
Page 74, line 1, leave out ("authority who made the order mentioned in that subsection")
and insert ("highway authority for the highway in relation to which the order mentioned in that subsection was made").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 49 corrects a defect in the definition, in subsection (3), of the term "appropriate authority"; that is, the authority on whom a blight notice may be served requiring them to buy land affected by a new street order. As the clause stands, this would be the authority who made the order, but in the case of an order made under Section 30 of the Public Health Act 1925 that authority may no longer exist. Also, bearing in mind that the blight arises from the prospect that the new street may be widened by the highway authority at some future time to include the claimant's land, it is appropriate to specify the highway authority as the authority to take service of the blight notice. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, with the greatest caution, in view of the discussions we have been having to-day and yesterday, but believing myself to be in Order, I propose not to move Amendments Nos. 50 to 53.
§ Clause 82 [General Interpretation]:
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 54, which is a drafting Amendment consequent upon changes made in Committee.
Page 81, line 34, after ("24") insert ("and, so far as it relates to highways, 27").—(Lord Sandford.)