HL Deb 10 February 1975 vol 356 cc1077-202

3.10 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Earl of LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Acquisition of land for purposes connected with offshore petroleum]:

Lord CAMPBELL of CROY moved Amendment No.l: Page 1, line 8, leave out from ("Scotland") to end of line 9 and insert—

(" for purposes relating to coastal works and installations required for the extraction, movement and storage of offshore petroleum.")

The noble Lord said: Clause 1 is the kernel of this Bill, and this Amendment queries the whole scope of the Bill and gives us an opportunity to consider it carefully. The Bill is to enable the Government to acquire land compulsorily, and it is at present drafted to cover anything related to offshore petroleum, whether the installations and works are inland or whether they are on the coast of Scotland. We must therefore ask what the Bill is needed for. The Amendment seeks to narrow the scope of the Bill to projects which are urgent and which might be held up by the normal procedures.

I start by saying that we agree with the Government on the need to get as much oil as possible from the North Sea and other parts of our Continental Shelf up to 1981, and that thereafter, when we should have reached self-sufficiency, we should expect depletion rates to be decided upon. In the meantime we must avoid unwarranted delays, in order not only to get this new source of energy but to secure the great improvement in our balance of payments which is possible. We believe that delays can occur with certain categories of project needed to get the oil from below the seabed, but we believe that these delays are more likely to occur when there are public inquiries associated with planning procedures. Where there have been no inquiries, where under the Town and Country Planning Acts planning permission has been granted by a Minister after written representations, little, if any, delay has occurred. In Scotland planning permission for as many as eight sites for building production platforms for North Sea oil was granted without the need for inquiries and caused no delay to the operations from the end of 1971 until February 1974.

To put this matter into perspective in discussing this particular question of installations and works, I must make it clear that the main delay in achieving the attainable programme in the next five years which is facing us now arises from general uncertainty being caused by the Government's policy, the effects of taxation, and the proposals for 51 per cent. Goverment participation. It is clear that companies are causing a slowdown and reduction in their plans because of this uncertainty. I fear that it could well be that some platforms may not be necessary for some of the smaller oil fields should the companies who are now waiting to see what the Government decide conclude that it is not worth their while to develop those fields. The Wall Street Journal a few days ago reported that international companies and their British subsidiaries were cutting back because of that uncertainty and because of the withdrawal of financing by the banks. So our target year for self- sufficiency, which I think is still 1980, may unfortunately have to be deferred.

It is against that background that we must consider the wording of Clause 1. Subsection (1) sets out a wide range of projects and associated plant and installations connected with the offshore oil industry. Subsection (2) mentions particular categories which are to qualify for expedited acquisition under subsection (5). However, it is subsection (1) which is so very wide, as at present drafted. The noble Lord, Lord Balogh, in the winding-up speech on Second Reading at column 442, pointed out that the sites for building semi-submersible and fixed concrete structures are to be found only in Scotland. That was why, he was explaining, this Bill was restricted to Scotland. But if the Bill were dealing only with those particular projects—building semi-submersible and fixed concrete structures, for which, I agree, there are only a few places where the conditions make it possible—then it would be quite unnecessary to set out the wide range of categories to be dealt with in this Bill as in subsection (1).

For example, this subsection would cover in its application the site of a factory inland, perhaps near Stirling, making pumps for offshore oil which might be used on land and not at sea. It would also cover a pipeline on land—not a pipeline coming to a terminal on the shore—because the pipeline would be pumping offshore oil. It would also appear to cover an office building in Dundee, provided that the office building was connected with offshore oil. We believe that matters such as these have not caused problems of the kind with which this Bill sets out to deal. The problems which have arisen have come from coastal sites, the difficulty in obtaining the kind of coastal site required for particular projects, and there are also those connected with projects for the production of oil, its extraction, transport, and storing. The problems have not arisen from exploration. Therefore, my Amendment seeks to exclude the word "exploration".

Exploration is carried out by rigs and drill ships which are, in turn, served by supply vessels. I hope that we can use the word "rig" here in its true sense —that is to say, as a mobile drilling unit—and not confuse it with production platforms, which are the massive structures to be permanently installed at a point in the seabed, each of them controlling 20 to 30 wells for the whole of their lives. Those stationary platforms are sometimes loosely referred to as "rigs". I shall try to distinguish exploration rigs, for which there has been no trouble in finding building sites. They can be built in ordinary shipyards. Incidentally, not many of them are being built in this country. The main one is at Clydebank by the Marathon Company, which started building them with Government help about three or four years ago.

There were opportunities for Britain to start on the rig production business when gas was found in the early 1960s in the Southern basin of the North Sea, but in fact British industry has not gone in for building rigs, and this market has been obtained by the Americans and others. If we were to build rigs we would not require the kind of sites which platforms need, the very exacting conditions. They can be built in most ordinary shipyards. Other vessels and structures connected with exploration have not caused the difficulties which we discussed on Second Reading. Therefore I think the kind of installation and works which we are con-sidering in this Bill are as described in my Amendment; the sites required are coastal sites and they are related to the production of oil and not to exploration.

The pipeline terminals present difficulties—that is accepted—but they, again, are connected with the production and flow of offshore oil. I agree with the Govern-ment that we must be ready for the coming of a new technology. We must be ready for concrete platforms—which have presented the immediate difficulties—to be suc- ceeded by yet further technological advances; the building of their successors may also demand exacting conditions at coastal sites. But that does not mean that some accelerated procedure should be introduced by Parliament in order to cover almost everything connected with offshore oil.

My Amendment would restrict the scope of the Bill to coastal sites needed for works and installations related to the production of oil. This would cover platform building, and not only the concrete platforms which have produced the difficulties of the last two years; it would also cover terminals. I accept that there can be complexes of piers required at terminals and also transshipment facilities seaward of the low water mark. I welcome the arrangements that are being made later in the Bill to designate the areas. This will help to fill in a gap which exists at present in our arrangements. I also accept that storage and pumping will require facilities at the coast which also might need an accelerated procedure in order to ensure that the oil which we so badly need in the next five years is not held up. It would be ludicrous if all the other arrangements were made and the platforms were put in position, and then because of some holdup in planning permission the oil could not be brought ashore because the terminal could not be built or finished in time.

I recognise that if this Amendment were accepted there would be consequential changes in subsection (2) of the clause, but I have not gone into the consequential arrangements because I think the Amendment itself is perfectly clear. I would include subsection (2)(d), because I believe that the immediate facilities required at a coastal site to cover urgent housing and so on should be included as part of an area which would be covered by this Bill rather than somewhere 30 miles inland connected with pumping oil in a pipeline well away from the sea.

In later Amendments we have put down our alternative proposals which we believe would, in a democratic way and with full discussion and consideration, help to reduce delays which occur in planning procedures. We believe that these are the real delays which are likely to be met. We consider that this clause—which seeks compulsory acquisition and does not deal with planning procedures—is much too wide as at present drafted. Although, naturally, one wants to be ready for the changes which occur so rapidly in this new industry, I cannot believe that all the points I have mentioned—such as an office in Dundee and a pumping station in the middle of the countryside—need to be covered by the Bill. I beg to move.

3.25 p.m.


I thought for one moment, when the noble Lord was talking about the purposes of this clause, that he had slipped back ten years in time because the rather fanciful fears which were introduced about the pumping station 30 miles inland and the office block in Dundee were the kind of arguments which were used when, from this Bench, I was supporting the Highlands and Islands Development Board Bill. Noble Lords opposite then pointed out the wide powers which that Board had and said that it would not even exclude the possibility of acquiring by compulsion land right here in the City of London; it was not confined to acquisitions in Scotland. In fact, none of the fears which were then voiced—it was implied that this was really a back door method of enabling nationalisation to take place in various directions both inside and outside Scotland—has to date been justified. It is rather interesting that the Highlands and Islands Development Board has never had occasion to use the compulsory powers of acquisition; it has always managed to act by agreement.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way; I apologise for interrupting him so soon. I would say only that that is what we prophesied at the time—that we did not think the powers would ever be used— but surely it is the job of Parliament to ensure that the Executive does not ask for powers which will never be used.


I am afraid that the noble Lord's memory deceives him; that was not the argument, certainly in this House. It was argued in this House that these sweeping powers were being given to Government, and fear was expressed about their use in exactly the same way as the noble Lord has expressed fears about the use of these powers. The noble Lord seems also to have a misconception about the different purposes in Clause 1. He accepts the need for the expedited procedure for certain of these projects in connection with the development of offshore oil, but he does not think it is necessary that these powers should be available throughout the whole range. The Amendment takes the section relating to those functions for which the expedited powers are provided and confines the powers of the clause to these sections alone. If the purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that only land on the coast can be acquired, then, for that purpose, it is defective in itself. Under the Amendment it would still be possible, for example, to acquire an inland site provided it could be shown that it was needed for a purpose relating to "coastal work ".

I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, that the kind of language which I am to use would be exactly the same as he would be using if he were standing here and I were sitting over there. It is the kind of thing which he, as Secretary of State for Scotland, has done so often. It is the kind of thing which does not change with Government; the facts do not change because Governments change. The expression : coastal works and installations required for the extraction, movement and storage of offshore petroleum is very obscure. The adjective "coastal" appears to govern "installations" as well as "works ", but this must obviously be wrong since, for example, platforms are not "coastal"; they are in the sea. But he does not want to stop these proceedings applying, for example, to platform work. The word "coastal" itself is very imprecise; at what distance from the sea do "works" have to be before they cease to be "coastal". The expression, "extraction, movement and storage", is too narrow. For example, it would not cover the land requirements of developments connected with exploration, drilling, or of separation and treatment plants at shore terminals.

I feel that I must return to my initial words, that to a certain extent this Amendment derives from unjustifiable fears that the Government have sweeping land nationalisation plans. The way in which from the beginning the Government have proceeded with this Bill has shown that they are concerned simply to ensure that crucial developments are not held up because sites cannot be made available. The wording of subsection (1) is designed to give some elbow room in terms of the purposes for which land can be acquired. We are legislating in a field of rapidly moving technology and one where, as the noble Lords will readily recognise, other factors are also subject to change. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, recognised this. Because of his past connection with this subject at the Scottish Office, he himself knows how difficult it is to be precise for very far ahead, simply because everybody concerned, not only the companies who are doing the work at sea but also the Government in their attempt to legislate for it, are working in fields which are totally new. If we are to confine ourselves in too narrow a way we may find that we shall add to doubts which exist. I will not follow the noble Lord into his ramble into the taxation field, which can hardly be regarded as part of the purpose of this Bill. But for whatever reasons there may be doubts, certainly we ought not deliberately to add to them by narrowing our legislation more than is necessary.

The general purpose of the Bill has been welcomed. There have been doubts, and, I would be the first to agree, genuine doubts, as to the best way of expediting procedure. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, when he was Secretary of State, took the line that the way to do so was by shortening the planning procedures. The Government have taken the line that the normal planning procedures should not be interfered with and that the way to shorten the procedure was at the resulting stage on acquisition. Once planning procedures have been gone through, at least those who have an interest in land which may be the subject of compulsory acquisition procedures have had the opportunity of participating, if they so wished, at the earlier stage. I do not understand why the noble Lord still persists in the argument that the planning procedure is the correct way of shortening procedures, because he has pointed out how little the planning procedures have interfered with the number of sites at present available.

If we examine the whole procedure, we shall find that in four out of five cases—or, shall we say, four-fifths of the cases—the record is exceptionally good. The one thing about which the noble Lord has no cause to feel that he can be criticised is the speed with which the planning procedure for this operation went through at the time he was Secretary of State for Scotland. We are seeking to improve on this performance. it is well known that there are delays in relation to planning procedures which the public do not understand, but the position is much exaggerated. There were 41,000 planning applications in Scotland last year, and only a few hundred of them were the subject of inquiry. The Secretary of State has had inquiries made, as well as consultations, with many authorities concerned, including the Law Society, the Faculty of Advocates, about methods of expediting planning procedures at the present time, cutting out needless delays, but always bearing in mind that we must not interfere with the rights of people at the planning stage. If this is done, then it is much more reasonable that we should be able to use this expedited procedure in these particular cases and in the wider field— this is the elbow room to which I have referred—where we may not need the expedited procedure but may find it necessary to ensure that sites are available.

For these reasons the clause is drawn in these terms. Therefore I cannot recommend your Lordships to narrow the purposes of the clause and, as the noble Lord has indicated, of the entire Bill in the way which would be effected if this Amendment were accepted. I am certain that on reflection the noble Lord himself would not wish to do so. Moreover the Amendment as now drafted would be totally unacceptable because the courts would find it impossible to interpret. I have no doubt that, given a big enough team of draftsmen and the will to encourage them something might be made of it, but as it stands it would be an absolute disaster if that proposition were incorporated into the Bill. It would then be much better to tear up the Bill from the beginning and tell the oil people that they would just have to get on with it.


If this Amendment were carried, would it not mean that nothing could be done in the way of compulsory acquisition except at the coastal point of installation or work? That surely would mean that the whole of the pipeline which runs now, I believe, from Cruden Bay to Grangemouth would not in any respect at all come under this Bill. Yet surely that is part of the whole scheme. If at any time it were necessary for any particular reason to have access to that pipeline, and that had to be done by acquiring land somewhere by the pipeline, this Bill would allow it but the Amendment would absolutely ban it. The Amendment would mean that the Bill would be restricted entirely to the coastal region, and yet the pipeline is not coastal.


If those remarks are directed to me, they bring me to the point which I have made: that there is no definition of "coastal". If we do not know how far out to sea is meant by "coastal", by the same token we do not know how far inland to go in defining "coastal ". Coastal is certainly not just the point where the land stops and the sea begins, otherwise it would be impossible to do anything at all. It would be just a line drawn on the map. That is one of the major defects of the Amendment: it uses a terminology which it would be incapable of applying on the ground.


May I take the opportunity offered by the moving of this Amendment to raise a more general point about subsections (1) and (2) which I hope is certainly not irrelevant to the Amendment and has a bearing upon it. One of the things which has caused me some anxiety, as I listened to what has been said this afternoon, is that there appears to be something anomalous about subsections (1) and (2) when one considers them together. First, subsection (1) gives the Secretary of State this power to acquire land for any purpose relating to exploration for or exploitation of offshore petroleum". When we go on to subsection (2) we do not find the words "those purposes are (a), (b), (c), (d) and so on", but we find the words: The purposes mentioned in subsection (1) above include in particular "— and then they set out the various purposes under headings (a), (b), (c) and (d). To my mind, that seems to imply clearly that subsection (1) includes purposes which are not included in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of subsection (2). If that is true, what are those purposes? If there are purposes which are not included in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of subsection (2), it seems clear, when one goes on to look at the further provisions of the clause, that the expedited acquisition order procedure could not be used in relation to purposes other than the ones specified in paragraphs (a),(b),(c) and (d). It is not simply a legal point as I see it. If the Government really want to define in clear terms what powers they are seeking to take to rewrite Clause 1, what would be the objection if they were to say that the Secretary of State "may acquire by agreement or compulsorily any land in Scotland for any of the purposes set out in subsection (2) below "?


I must just point out to the noble Lord that that is, in fact, the purpose of the next Amendment.

3.40 p.m.


I read the next Amendment and hoped that that was its purpose; if so, I shall be glad to give it any support I can. But though I may have read it rather cursorily, it did not seem to me to cover the point I had in mind. Perhaps we can come to that later on. However, I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, what would be the objection to rewriting the subsection in the way I have suggested. In that way, we should all know precisely what powers the Secretary of State was seeking to acquire, and should have a precise definition of the purposes of subsection (2). Unless the Government have something up their sleeves, have something to conceal or are seeking powers for some purpose of which we know nothing, what is the difficulty of limiting the purposes at present defined in subsection (2)?


Before the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, replies, may I ask one question relating to the Amendment? If I understood the noble Lord correctly, he based his opposition to the Amendment mainly on the use of the word "coastal" and the imprecise nature of the interpretation which might be given to it. Would he have any objection if the Amendment under consideration were drafted in a different order so that it read, for purposes relating to installations required for the extraction, movement and storage of offshore petroleum and to coastal works"?

The Duke of ATHOLL

The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, sought to cast doubt on my noble friend's Amendment by saying that it did not cover pipelines, but, so far as I know, no company has ever had to use compulsory powers to acquire wayleaves for pipelines in Scotland. If they needed to, I seem to remember that three or four years ago we passed a Bill which enables wayleaves to be compulsorily acquired for this purpose. Normally, the coastal installations—if I may use that word—would take so much longer to erect that there could well be time, if there were an awkward owner who would not let them through, for the wayleaves for the pipelines to be acquired under the Pipelines Act. The noble Lord said that if the Amendment were carried the maintenance of these pipelines might be difficult if one encountered an awkward landowner, but I believe that every time a company acquires a wayleave for a pipeline one condition is that it shall have the right to go on the land in the future, in order to maintain, repair and do anything else that may be necessary to the pipeline. So I cannot see that that would produce any difficulty at all.


Perhaps it would be convenient if I replied at this stage to one or two of the points that have been made on my Amendment. First, it is clear from what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said—and I think he has made the position very clear for us— that the Government are seeking powers to cover a huge range of activities; indeed, virtually everything related to off-shore oil. When I made my statement in another place a year ago, I made it clear that we were seeking to restrict the powers taken to certain special categories where special procedures would be needed in order to ensure that projects were not held up, as a result of which we might lose the very valuable production of a year or two from important oilfields.

The noble Lord referred to the Highlands Development Bill, with which I was concerned in another place, and we raised some objections there. The Committee might be amused to recall that we pointed out that that Bill referred to the whole of the country—for example, the Highlands Development Bill gave compulsory powers to acquire land in Cornwall or Kent—and we felt, as Parliamentarians do on such occasions, that those powers were not needed. Some of us in another place said at the time that we did not think that the Highlands Development Board would ever use those compulsory powers even in Scotland, and I think that in only one case recently— that of the Island of Raasay—has it invoked compulsory powers. I think that that was a justifiable case; but, otherwise, the Board has not sought to use the powers. My complaint about the present Bill is that for no apparent reason —although it covers such a wide range of matters—it is restricted to Scotland, though one or two of the particularly difficult projects, such as a terminal, might appear in Wales. However, we shall come to that later.

As regards the drafting, I hoped I had made it clear that I was not suggesting that my drafting was immaculate. All I was concerned with was to make my intention clear, because the Amendment would certainly need to be redrafted with consequential Amendments if the Government accept the intention. I think that I have succeeded in making clear what is the intention, and I feel that if I had achieved the correct language by resorting to the help of many draftsmen, and if I had not used the word "coastal", we should probably have ended up with your Lordships finding the Amendment much more difficult to understand. As regards the planning procedures, we shall come to those later. I was referring to the eight occasions when there were no inquiries; the planning procedures work quickly when there is no inquiry. It is the public inquiry system, as it exists at present, which can lead to very long delays. I am glad the noble Lord accepts that very little time was lost at Ardyne Point, Ardersier, Nigg Bay, Methil and other places where steel—or steel and concrete in the case of Ardyne Point— platforms are now being built. These were dealt with in a matter of days or weeks.

The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, talked about pipelines. I am glad to be able to tell him that the pipeline from Cruden Bay to Grangemouth has already been laid, and if not completed is as nearly complete as can be. There has been no difficulty at all and, as my noble friend the Duke of Atholl pointed out, there never has been any difficulty, because pipeline legislation already exists for the overland route. I should just add that we already have experience of this, because a pipeline was laid over 20 years ago from Finnart to Grangemouth and has caused no trouble, and it is now very difficult to see where it is below the ground.


I appreciate what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has said and also what the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, said. It is perfectly true that the pipeline is laid and that only wayleaves were required. I was referring not to the laying of the line, but to the possibility that there might be a requirement at some time in the future for a different sort of installation. For example, it might be necessary to put a station inland to link a pipeline from the Brent field to the Forties field. In that case, it might be necessary to have an inland station and that would not, I think, be covered just by a wayleave.


I can say only that that kind of problem has not so far caused delay and, from what I can see, it would be unlikely to cause delay, compared with the question of building production platforms for which only very special sites can be available, and the question of pipeline terminals and trans-shipment points. The noble Lord, Lord Foot, raised a point with which we particularly agree, but, as that is coming up on the next Amendment it would probably be best to deal with it then.


I should like to come in now before I forget the points to which I have to reply. The Government almost seem to have moved across the Floor temporarily. I wanted to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Foot, before we got too far away from his point. He referred to the wording of subsection (1) and the difference between that and subsection (2), and then went on to refer to subsection (5).

The Government have no ulterior motive in this. The point is that the items listed in subsection (2) are already known to be the part of the operation for which the expedited procedure is most likely to be needed. What the Government cannot say with certainty in this field—where so many of us are operating totally in the dark—is that these are the only purposes for which acquisition might be required as a means of speeding-up. There are two ways in which the industry can be helped; the acquisition of sites, either compulsorily or by agreement, to help the operation to go along, and the acquisition by the special procedure, the expedited procedure.

If they had something up their sleeve, the obvious thing would have been just to say, "Item 1", and then to have sought expedited procedure for any occasion when the Government thought it was necessary. We did not think that that was right. It is only in this limited field of which we know at the present time, and, so far as we can foresee, this field should cover the area where the expedited procedure would be justified; and outwith that there may be other occasions where we want to acquire the land. But not knowing just how widely these might range at the present time, it would be quite wrong to say that the expedited procedure was necessary.

The other point to which I wish to refer at this stage was that raised by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne. I did not base my objections solely on the definition of the word "coastal", without seeing in writing what it was; without obtaining an opinion from the noble and learned Lord on the effect—once he himself saw the definition in writing—I am not certain that it would necessarily be helpful. He still used the words "coastal works" and—


The words "coastal works" would come at the very end, so the word "coastal" would not cover installations,et cetera.


Yes, but it does not alter the fact that we still have to define what "coastal" is: how far out to sea would a coastal works be; how far inland would a coastal works be? I can just imagine that if we allowed this Amendment to go through, in anything like its present form, the noble and learned Lord and his colleagues might have a most enjoyable time, sometime in the future, in trying to determine how far from what Parliament thought it was doing it had actually succeeded in doing.


Both in another place and here, the noble Lord, from what he has just said, seems to assume that one of the justifications for expedited procedure, which is not really so very democratic, is that the preliminary hearing is a full democratic procedure which gives everybody an opportunity to give all the information. This was a question that I asked him on Second Reading at column 399 when I said: I do not believe that the preliminary planning application can in fact be adequate ventilation or safeguard prior to an expedited acquisition order, if only because, according to my information, if 1973 and the first half of 1974 is any guide, 66 out of the 184 planning applications were called in by the Secretary of State and did not go to public inquiry at all."—[Official Report, 28/1/75; col. 399.] As I understand it, if the inquiry is called in it need not be held locally. There is no real chance for affected residents, or amenity bodies, or other third parties, to be consulted at all. This seems to bear very importantly on the question of our view of expedited acquisition procedure. I gave the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, a note that I would ask this question, and I should be very glad to have an answer.


Yes, the noble Lord did tell me the other day that he wanted to raise this matter so that my answer could be on the Record. It is right that I should make it perfectly clear that a decision by the Secretary of State to call in an application for his own consent does not in any way alter the possible procedure. It is just as easy for an inquiry to be held on something which is called in by the Secretary of State as on something which proceeds in the ordinary way, through a local planning committee, and which provides the right to an appeal. Of oil applications which were called in by the Secretary of State, in two cases a decision was reached without an inquiry being held, and in the third one of fame, or notoriety, depending on how one looks at it—Drumbuie —an inquiry was held. I want to make it clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that the calling in of an application by the Secretary of State is not in any way intended as a means of short-circuiting the procedure. It is generally done where the application will be dealing with something of more than local interest, and where the Secretary of State calls in the matter, so that considerations other than those which might be expected to be considered merely by the local planning committee will be brought into bear. But it does not mean that the procedures in planning are short-circuited in that way. In fact, it could have the very opposite effect: because of the desire to have the matter looked at from a wider view than that which would be done locally, it might, if anything, increase the possibility of an inquiry being held.


It is clear that the Government are not to be influenced by this debate, but I hope that none the less they will consider the alternative which comes up in the next Amendment. Could I add to what the noble Lord has just said about inquiries, because the last time he spoke about this matter, on Second Reading, there were two or three remarks suggesting that when the Secretary of State called in an application it meant there would be no inquiry. Certainly when I was Secretary of State there were occasions when, to save time and at the wish of everybody concerned, the application was called in, but then an inquiry was held, because it was the most convenient and best way of handling it. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.58 p.m.

Lord STRATHCONA and MOUNT ROYAL moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, leave out lines 9 to 11.

The noble Lord said: I hardly think it is necessary for me to speak to this Amendment since the noble and learned Lord, Lord Foot, has really done the job for me—and a great deal more effectively than I could have done. We were a little dubious about the drafting in this Amendment and it may well be that a lawyer of the quality of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Foot, could have done it more completely and more effectively than we have done. The thinking here, of course, is very similar to that behind the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy. I still say, as we have said before—we said it on Second Reading—that the Government are not consistent throughout the Bill, on the one hand in restricting its scope to Scotland, and, on the other hand, saying: "We cannot see what is going to happen technically so we must include everything that we can possibly imagine could conceivably happen in the technical field."

I do not want to repeat the argument. We have had it before. I did not, frankly, understand the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, in his answer just now to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Foot. As I understand it, however, the expedited acquisition orders can apply only to the purposes in subsection (2), whereas the Government have the power under the Bill to acquire land for the other purposes, whatever they may be, under subsection (1), but not under an acquisition order. Perhaps this is the point the noble Lord was getting at. I hope I have understood him correctly. Perhaps he can confirm this for us in a moment. But I think we come back to this general principle, that Members of both Houses of Parliament —and Oppositions in particular—are here to ensure that Governments do not take powers which they do not need.

It is proper that Parliament should not trust Government. I do not wish to sound offensive to the noble Lord, who has always been most reasonable with all of us, but the fact is that some of his colleagues in this Governmenet are such that I think we can legitimately have fears. There are very strong influences from members of other organisations and it is not inconceivable to imagine a gentleman like Mr. Reid getting at Mr. Benn and inducing the Government to take over land for purposes which are not specified here and which we cannot all envisage. Can the noble Lord deny that they would have powers, as the Bill now stands, to do those things under that kind of pressure? If he cannot; then I believe he should listen to what the noble Lord, Lord Foot, has said. I beg to move.


Might I intervene to apologise to the noble Lord for having usurped his Amendment and spoken to it in advance? I see now that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, was right in saying that I was addressing myself to that Amendment. The reason I did not realise that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, was supporting the second Amendment was that his name was not attached to it. I thought that he had a preference for his own. I will not repeat anything that I said earlier, but I should like to endorse what that noble Lord has just said to us.


I, too, do not want to be repetitive. The way the discussion went on the last Amendment has meant that we have, in large part, also discussed the second Amendment. The Government cannot accept the Amendment for the reason I have already stated; that it is unduly restrictive. The Government have deliberately restricted the new, and in ordinary circumstances difficult to justify, powers to those items in subsection (2) of the clause. If we have been subject to what I gather is called "binary", then the noble Lord would now be appearing to import "Reidery" into the discussion, although I am not certain that there is any connection between the two, or whether the particular Mr. Reid is the one we are talking about, for we have not heard of him for some time.

If that had been the intention, the clause could have been much simpler. All that would have been needed was to follow subsection (1) with the expedited procedure. There are known directions in which speed may be the vital thing. It is for these reasons that the expedited procedure is asked for; and it is in these connections, in subsection (2), that we are seeking it. There may be other uses for which we may require land in the future. Noble Lords will remember that quite a number of the operations which companies are carrying out are of a temporary nature. Some things are permanent—an oil refinery, for instance. For that reason, the Government in another place made it clear that these purposes did not include land for the purposes of erecting an oil refinery. When you put up an oil refinery you expect it to be there for the rest of its economic lifetime; you do not put up an oil refinery and expect to reremove it in 10 or 15 years' time.

But much of the operations in connection with the new oil industry are of a temporary nature. It would be difficult in some instances for companies to acquire land for that purpose; whereas the powers which the Government are seeking enable land to be acquired, adapted to the purpose, perhaps leased to the companies concerned and then, as the Bill makes provision, if the land is no longer needed, reinstated in due course to its original purpose. It is because we do not know how far it may be necessary to go beyond subsection (2) that we have taken these wider powers of acquisition.

I can assure the Committee—and I am certain that, without naming anyone, I speak for any of my colleagues in Government—that there is no hidden desire to acquire land ostensibly for purposes in connection with oil when what we really want is to acquire it for other purposes. In many cases, we will not have resort to compulsory purchase powers because the present owners will be only too glad to get rid of it. It is of not much use to them or to anybody else at present. To go back to the question of taking of powers wider than one is expected to need, unless I am wrong in my recollection the pipelines came under the 1962 Act and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, said that there had been no need to use compulsory powers on any of that work. But the fact remains that in 1962 it was found desirable to include compulsory powers in case they should be necessary.

Here we are doing the same. We hope that compulsory powers will not be needed; we hope we will not need to acquire land; but we feel that it would be a great mistake to make the provisions so narrow as to discover at a time of urgency that we did not have the necessary powers, that the company concerned could not or would not go ahead and that, at the end of the day, the loss was the nation's. While I can understand the desire of Parliament not to move into any wider field than is absolutely necessary, we feel that to accept the Amendment would be to narrow the field in a way which would make it much too difficult for the industry to operate. I hope there-fore that noble Lords will be content to leave the Bill as it stands in this respect.


I should like to comment on two points. The first, which is a general constitutional point, is that it is natural always, as the noble Lord has said, for the Executive to ask for as much powers as it can possibly ask for; and, as was rightly said from the Opposition Benches, it is right also that Parliament should always question and seek to limit the powers that it confers upon the Executive. As a matter of general principle, I should have thought that the proper attitude for this House and the other place to adopt when asked to confer on the Secretary of State very wide powers for such things as the acquisition of land, would be to scrutinise closely the application made by the Executive for these powers. It ought to be possible for the Government, with the assistance of the draftsmen and everybody so concerned, to set down in plain language what are the powers sought. That is the first objection that I would still have against giving the Secretary of State these very wide powers in subsection (1), a sub-section which clearly includes something more than the powers conferred on him by subsection (2).

My second comment is this. The noble Lord said that the reason why it is so important to give the Secretary of State powers to acquire land in circumstances that we cannot now foresee under subsection (1), is that in the future we may suddenly find that we need to do something for a certain purpose which is not included in subsection (2); that it may be a matter of urgency and therefore it is necessary to acquire these powers now. But if such situations were to arise, if powers were sought for a purpose not specified in subsection (2) but included only in general, in subsection (1), then the Secretary of State would not have available to him the expedited procedure in order to overcome the urgency. The expedited acquisition procedure is available only for those specific purposes set out in subsection (2). If the noble Lord is arguing that a situation may arise where we want to do something that we have not foreseen and we want to do it urgently, then, as I see it, the Secretary of State will not be able to use the expedited procedure which, in the Bill, is made available only for the specific purposes listed in sub-section (2). It therefore seems that the noble Lord's argument is not only constitutionally defective, but also defective in fact, for the reasons I have attempted to describe. I hope, if I may say so, that the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, will carefully consider what I have said.


Is there not logic in what the noble Lord, Lord Foot, has just said? It might be the case based on the contention that the Government are conditioning Clause 1 far too rigidly by what is implied in subsection (2). The noble Lord, Lord Foot, has said that the conditions referred to in sub-section (2) may not be available under the expedited procedure, if indeed there is a need for speed in their application. Although it is some time since I had anything to do with this subject, it seems to me that when there is a suggestion that the Government are taking too much in the way of powers and there may be an accusation of back-door nationalisation, is it not the case that within the Continental Shelf Act the Opposition nationalised the North Sea without saying too much about it?

I do not know how widely one uses the words in Clause 1, "any land in Scotland ". Do they mean land in territorial waters? We have already heard from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, that the concrete platforms are offshore. I should therefore have thought that they are standing in land which is already in public ownership under the Continental Shelf Act. Therefore the Government are not asking for any increase in the powers they already have. I should like to know how far "any land" goes when applied to the rigs in the North Sea. Does it mean land which is already in public ownership? I do not want to get into the argument about whether we have found oil in Scottish territorial waters—that may be asking too much—but I should have thought there is a danger that if we are to be restricted as to the use of powers, and if the conditions laid down in subsection (2) are essential, that in a short period of time the Government will not be taking too much in the way of powers but will be taking actually none.


I am afraid that I did not make myself sufficiently clear to the noble Lord, Lord Foot, and I accept full responsibility for that. But I tried to make clear that the Government were doing two things. First they were taking a power to acquire land for two purposes —that was the general power in subsection (1). But they were also taking for specified purposes the power to use an expedited procedure after the planning procedure to get that ownership into land. The powers specified in subsection (2) are powers for which it is known urgency may be the most vital factor—what has been called "the window in the North Sea", the limited period during which, for example, floatout can take place and can make all the difference between getting oil in one year and getting oil in another, and in terms of balance of payments in a whole year would involve £175 million. That is where the urgency arises and that is where the need for the expedited procedure arises The wider powers are not necessarily related to urgency but to being able to get land in circumstances in which the State could get it, when the company might not otherwise be able to get it.

So we have the double purpose. As my noble friend Lord Lee of Newton said, if the Government had been able to identify all the possible purposes lying ahead we could have had Clause 1 in two parts. We could have had the part as it stands where no need for expedited procedure arises and we could have a list of these other items where acquisition might be necessary but which would not need to be the subject of expedited powers. It is not possible at this stage to say what those other purposes might be. I have mentioned some possibilities, such as service leases; pipe-coating works and warehouse storage. These are not likely to be matters of urgency, but it might be if there were not powers to acquire the land this would mean that the operation could not go ahead at all, particularly in those parts of the operation which are of a more temporary nature.

If this Amendment were to be made, it would mean that the Bill would have a very limited purpose. If land were needed for purposes other than subsection (2)—the expedited procedure—and it could not be acquired in the ordinary way the Government would have to introduce completely new legislation to deal with that situation. While I accept that it is the duty of Parliament to scrutinise carefully the extent to which the Govern-ment are seeking powers and not to grant them on too wide a basis, I submit that it is equally the responsibility of Parlia- ment not so to restrict powers and define them in such a narrow way that it would need only one small part to go beyond the definition and the Government would be without powers and time would have to be found in the Parliamentary programme for yet further legislation.

If noble Lords opposite were to consult the oil industry and seek a definition of the various types of oil operation for which land might be required and might be suitable for State acquisition, either by compulsion or agreement, and seek to list those as a definition of the powers then obviously we would look at it. It is very difficult, but this is just the sort of thing we have tried to do and we found, and if we cannot in the first part give particular definitions of what may be needed, as we have done in the second part, the duty of the Government is to seek a general power in the knowledge that in the past these general powers have been used only for specific purposes. There is no precedent of a Government having obtained powers of this wide nature and then used them in any way which could not be defended in a particular case. This applies to any Government of any Party. For these reasons, I do not think we are asking the Committee for too wide powers and if this Amendment were to go into the Bill and remain in it I am quite certain that the oil industry and the country would have great cause to regret it.


I should like to say a couple of words in support of my noble friend. As I understand it, the Government are asking for two kinds of power. One comes within the context of the expedited procedure. That can be defined, as indeed it is. The other kind of power the Government are asking for does not come within the expedited procedure for the obvious reason that the purpose is not accurately defined.

The noble Lord, Lord Foot, with his legal acumen, which I regret I do not possess, argued that the Government should define their purpose in relation to the power they require which is not related to the expedited procedure. That is what I understood him to say. Sometimes it is very difficult to understand what the legal fraternity do say. That is why there is so much disputation in the courts.

However, I do not want to enter into that subject. I have offered a few observations in support of the clarification given by my noble friend. This debate so far is reminiscent of those we had many years ago in the other place on the subject of the acquisition of the coal industry, the railways and so on. I had something to do with the introduction of legislation in connection with the acquisition of the coal industry and of electricity supply, and partly in relation to gas; and we had great difficulty in another place during discussions in Committee in dealing with teh argument adduced by the Opposition at the time that we were seeking extra powers. In other words, when we asked for the power to acquire the mining industry, which meant dealing with the production and distribution of coal, we recognised that it might possibly cause fragmentation of the coal industry as regards various oil products; and that the acquisition of land would be needed, among other things. That was objected to by the Opposition. They said, "If we must accept nationalisation, you can go so far and no further." It seems to me that the arguments which are being adduced by the Opposition today are pretty much along the same lines.

I was interested in an observation by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy. He remarked more than once, "We must declare our intent." But what is that intent? We really ought to know what they are driving at. It seems, if I have understood the argument correctly, that they want to prevent the Government from operating within compulsory powers. That means that the Executive could go much further than the Members of another place or of your Lordships' House might wish. But we are either to get this oil or we are not to get it. I would urge on your Lordships that we need to get it as speedily as possible. Why place obstacles in the way? Even if it should mean in the course of time acquisition without being able to specify the project, whether it be the acquisition of land or some other requirement for the purpose not so much of the production of the oil but of its distribution, I can see no reason why objection should be taken. I repeat that I have listened carefully to the arguments adduced by my noble friend. He has submitted them with the utmost clarity and I think he ought to be supported.


I am provoked into rising to my feet since this subject refers to Scotland. The last time I spoke in this House your Lordships were very kind to me, and I will not detain you for very long today except to say that there is a view in the North—in the Glasgow and the Dundee Chambers of Commerce and certain other places— that it is of the utmost importance to get the oil reserves ashore at the earliest possible moment. This is transcendent. Up to now attempts to acquire certain parts of land in connection with oil have been frustrated or seriously delayed because of the very lengthy procedures which can be invoked. In my view, this can no longer be accepted and it means that we must override, if need be, private interests. I think, with respect, that this view will require to be accepted.


I know there will be a certain amount of reluctance on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, to withdraw the Amendment, particularly in view of the encouragement—or should I say incitement?—which he is getting from the noble Lord, Lord Foot, but I am genuinely not seeking to make a Party point when I say that it would be very adverse to the interests of the industry if the Bill were narrowed in this way. What I would suggest to the noble Lord is this: that if he will withdraw the Amendment and consider seeking to put in a definition similar to that in which the Government have defined the items for which the expedited procedure of acquisition could be applied, I certainly will ask my colleagues whether it is possible to agree to something on these lines. If, after consultation, he can offer something of that kind, I will certainly undertake not necessarily to accept the Amendment but at least to offer this help. If he can produce a list of items I will give him the help which would at least prevent my saying that the Amendment was technically defective. I have never found it desirable to make that criticism. In fact, it is in my brief to point out the technical defects of the Amendment but I preferred to oppose it on its merits. It did not seem to me that it was very useful to oppose it on the grounds that it was defective. If the noble Lord, after consideration, finds in fact that he cannot do what I suggest, then I should regret it, but I could not object to coming back to the Amendment as it stands at the next stage. However, I think there is at least an obligation on him to attempt to widen the narrow purposes of Clause 2 rather than narrow the purposes of Clause 1. When I say "widen the purposes of Clause 2", I mean for the purposes of Clause 1.


I must thank the noble Lord for his last intervention. We have had a good discussion of this issue, which contains quite a large point of principle. I am sure the noble Lord will not misunderstand me when I say that on the whole I prefer the advocacy of the noble Lord, Lord Foot, to his own. I was going to say that I regretted the Minister's rather rigid attitude, but then right at the end he showed a certain willingness at least to consider the point we are trying to make. He has given us a great many sincere undertakings on behalf of the Government. We shall read these with interest and shall consider most carefully the suggestion made by the noble Lord. Meanwhile, I think it is appropriate in the circumstances to beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.29 p.m.

Lord STRATHCONA and MOUNT ROYAL moved Amendment No. 3: Page 2, line 8, at end insert (" nor shall they include land which is already being used for the purposes set out in subsection (1) above except by an order a draft of which has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: I shall try to deal more shortly with this one. This is really following up an undertaking given by the noble Lord during the Second Reading debate. It refers to the question of taking over the existing sites which are already being used for the purposes in the Bill. Again, we come back to a number of points we have already made this afternoon. The noble Lord said there was no intention on the part of the Government to take over existing sites if they were being properly run. I said at that time that the difficulty was to decide what is meant by that. The objection to the present situation, as I see it, is that it is up to the Government to decide what they mean by being properly run.

One, again, can conceive circumstances where there has been a strike, or there could be other special adverse circumstances which affect a site. As I understand the present situation, the Secretary of State can say: "This site is not being properly run. I therefore wish to take it over." What we are seeking to do in this Amendment is to say that this would be a highly exceptional situation. There is a very limited number of sites where this is already going on. Would it not be appropriate in those circumstances to come back to Parliament under the Affirmative procedure and ask for a special order in the rare cases where the Government claim that an existing site is not being properly operated? I beg to move.


The difficulty is that at the beginning of this debate I keep getting briefs marked "Resist" and yet finding that the Amendments are being moved in a way which is perfectly reasonable. That is even more so in this case than in the previous two Amendments. But unfortunately the Amendment goes much further than the point to which the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, has spoken. On Second Reading I said that there would be no intention of interfering with sites which were working quite properly. May I give the kind of circumstances where this provision might be relevant? Someone has a site; he has used it properly for the purpose for which it was acquired, and then, perhaps because of the way in which the job was done, he gets no further business. The site is eminently desirable to be used for the purposes of the oil industry, but the man who has it and cannot make use of it is unwilling to part with it, whereas there may be others with orders ready to hand who could use it. These are circumstances in which it would obviously be in the interests of everybody, except the existing owner, that the land should be acquired compusorily. Remember, this situation would arise only because he had refused to dispose of the site by agreement.

An Affirmative Order would be required to be made before an existing site could be acquired. The Amendment would not only apply to a site which was being acquired by compulsion; it would also apply also to a site which was being acquired by agreement. It would also apply to an appropriation order: for example (and this point arises on another Amendment later on), a site which was in the possession of the State for one purpose but was sought for another. In each of these cases one would be coming to Parliament for an Affirmative Order. The intention is that there would be two ways of dealing with acquisitions. In the case of an expedited acquisition order provision is already made for the Affirmative Resolution procedure, for whatever purpose, by Clause 1(6). If there is need for compulsory acquisition but no degree of immediate urgency in the national interest it is open to the Secretary of State to make a compulsory purchase order under Clause 1(4). In this case the normal compulsory code will apply, and if there are valid objections the Secretary of State will have to call a public inquiry before making the order. There is no need for Parliamentary scrutiny in addition to a public inquiry. The need for the Parliamentary process under an expedited acquisition order arises because in that case there is no obligation to hold a public inquiry.

If the acquisition is by agreement, or if it is a transfer from one Government Department to another, there is obviously no need to come to Parliament and get an Affirmative Order. If it is under compulsory purchase in the ordinary way, there is no need to come here because the ordinary planning procedures will have applied, including an inquiry where there is objection. In the expedited case the Affirmative Order will apply. I tended to regard the Amendment as being more probing than otherwise, and I hope that, if I am right in that assumption, I have assured the noble Lord that the provisions he is seeking to make by this Amendment are in fact made in the Bill as it stands.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I think he is saying that very few of the existing safeguards are abrogated by this clause as it stands and that therefore this Amendment is basically not giving any further safeguards to somebody operating an existing site beyond those he already enjoys at the present time. This was not my understanding of the way the Bill stood; but if he is saying that, then I am certainly satisfied to beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie)

Before I call Amendment No. 4 I should point out to your Lordships that there is a misprint. It should read subsection (10), and not subsection (1).

4.37 p.m.

The DUKE of ATHOLL moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 15, at beginning insert—

("Subject to the provisions of subsection (10) of this section ").

The noble Duke said : I apologise for the misprint, if it were such; I have no idea whether it was a misprint or whether the error was my fault, but I am sure that those of your Lordships who are of a detective bent had no difficulty in realising what I was getting at. This is purely a paving Amendment for Amendment No. 7 also standing in my name on this clause. In addition, various other Amendments are down the broad effect of which is to put a time limit on this Bill. I do not go so far as that. The object of my two Amendments is just to put a time limit on parts of this Bill relating to the period during which the expedited acquisition orders can run.


May I intervene? May I suggest that we deal also with Amendments Nos. 34 and 33 now as they have the same intent, although they differ, as the noble Duke said, from his Amendment?


We had considered that point, but as Amendments Nos. 34 and 33 deal with the duration of the whole Bill we think it would be more convenient if they could be dealt with separately.


As I said, my Amendment seeks purely to limit the time during which the expedited acquisition orders can be made. It seeks to limit it to seven years after the passing of this Bill. There are two reasons why I should like to do this. First, I feel that within seven years we should have all the platform sites we need. I believe it is universally accepted that it is undesirable to have too many sites; that there can be too great a proliferation of them. Therefore I should have thought that any that were needed would have been started in seven years. Secondly, as the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, himself said in resisting a previous Amendment, in ordinary circumstances these powers would be difficult to justify. I believe that, in his own words, seven years should be long enough in the circumstances for the situation to have become ordinary again, instead of extraordinary as I am prepared to admit it probably is at the moment. There is a very close precedent for this in Section 2 of the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) (Scotland) Act 1947. This gave to local authorities expedited powers in urgent cases for a limited period of time. I feel that that Act is an exact parallel to what I want to do now. I beg to move.


I think that this Amendment is based upon a misconception, from this point of view: that we do not really know how much oil there is in the North Sea and in various other waters under our jurisdiction. Some of the greatest experts in this field have recently stated—perhaps some of your Lordships will have seen the broadcast of the interview—that we shall not merely be self-sufficient by 1980 but that production will rise considerably after 1980 and will remain at a very high level, which means further production platforms and further rigs, until after the turn of the century. It seems to me, therefore, that this Amendment limits unduly the duration of these powers which, as we have seen, are necessary for the orderly development of the oil industry. This limitation would not be so bad if it were not for the reason that these oil investments are of immensely long duration. To limit this Bill to seven years, as the noble Duke has proposed, would import uncertainty and risk. Noble Lords opposite have always argued that the oil industry is a very risky business. I would ask the noble Duke to be good enough to withdraw his Amendment, because surely he does not want to make a risky business riskier.

The Duke of ATHOLL

I am not at all convinced by the argument of the noble Lord, because I had understood, though perhaps the noble Lord will again correct me if I am wrong, that these rigs take two years to build, that they are then launched and that they then make way for another rig on the same site. In seven years' time presumably we shall have as many sites for building these platforms as we want, and the object of my Amendment would be to restore the position as it now is in seven years' time. That does not mean that after seven years nobody will be able to build any rigs or platforms. All it means is that, after seven years, either they will have to acquire a site by agreement, and with planning permission, and if they acquire it compulsorily they will not be able to use this expedited acquisition order procedure, or they will have to build it on a site which already exists. I should have thought that that was eminently desirable.

As I have said before, we do not want sites to proliferate all round the coasts of Scotland. My Amendment is much narrower than the Amendments of my noble friend, Lord Campbell of Croy, and the noble Lord, Lord Belhaven and Stenton, that we shall look at later on, because it is limited to the expedited acquisition procedure and not to the Bill as a whole. I agree with the noble Lord that there are many parts to this Bill, and that it will probably be extremely useful for much longer than seven years. I am not an expert on Clauses 3 to 7, but I should have thought that they might well be useful. Personally I hope that we shall keep Clauses 8 and 9 for some time to come; I think they are extremely useful clauses. Therefore I cannot quite see why the noble Lord cannot agree to this Amendment, which seems to me to be very limited. I am in a difficult position because, like the noble Lord, I should have preferred my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy and the noble Lord, Lord Belhaven and Stenton, to set out their reasons for Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 which come after my Amendment. If they would be prepared to say something before I decide what to do, I should be grateful.


I apologise if my noble friend the Duke of Atholl was expecting us to take these Amendments with his Amendment, but we are suggesting that the whole Act should be renewable. Both Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 deal with a different point. I agree with what my noble friend has said. Perhaps I ought to reserve my main argument for the later Amendments, but the differences are that we are considering the whole Bill, and later the whole Act when it is enacted, and in the case of Amendment No. 33 making arrangements for it to be renewable for three years at a time.


As I have been asked by the noble Duke to speak, I can only repeat what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has just said; namely, that although in principle I agree with the noble Duke's Amendment, I think it does not go far enough. If the noble Duke will forgive me, may I reserve any arguments on the time limit to the Bill to the time when the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, is dealt with?


In the light of what has been said, at this stage I am prepared to withdraw this Amendment. However, I reserve the right to return to it at a subsequent stage of the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.47 p.m.

Lord HENLEY moved Amendment No. 5: Page 2, line 26, leave out subsection (7).

The noble Lord said: Subsection (7) prevents a statutory instrument made under the Bill from being referred to a Select Committee. My Amendment is to leave out that subsection. There is no precedent for this subsection—or indeed, in so far as there is any precedent, I think I showed at Second Reading that it had no connection at all with this Bill. At Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, argued that scrutiny of an order by a Select Committee was unnecessary because it would merely duplicate scrutiny which had already been carried out. I hope to convince your Lordships, particularly noble Lords on the other side of the House, that this is simply not so. The noble Lord, Lord Balogh, repeated the argument that Select Committee scrutiny was redundant, arguing that the planning procedures are preserved in their full rigour.

May we have a look at what that means in practice? Before the Secretary of State gives notice of his intention to acquire any land by means of an expedited acquisition order, the developer will have to obtain planning permission for the site. Under Section 32(5) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972—and the same procedure applies under the English Act—before determining an application to develop which is referred to him under the call-in procedure (the call-in procedure is where he calls it in to make the decision himself) the Secretary of State shall afford an opportunity to an applicant for planning permission—or the local planning authority, if they wish it—to be heard by, or appear before, a person to be appointed by the Secretary of State for that purpose. The point I want to make, because I think that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, gave the opposite impression, is that there is no obligation to hold a public inquiry.

However, under Section 28(2) of that same Act the Secretary of State has a general power to cause a local inquiry to be held. But in a case like this where national urgency is argued as the reason for having this procedure at all, a project which the Secretary of State considers calls for expedited procedure would be one that he would wish to deal with as expeditiously as possible at the planning stage. He can therefore call in the application; that is to say, he can direct that it be referred to him for decision.

This is where I take issue with what the noble Lord was saying to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, earlier in his understanding of the call-in procedure. I shall review what I understand to be the procedure here and the noble Lord can correct me if I am wrong. It is important because I think the whole issue of redundancy in part depends upon this. The highest obligation that the Secretary of State has under the call-in procedure is no more than to order a hearing if the applicant or the local planning authority require it. It need not be held locally, and, indeed, it generally would not be held locally; it would not be a public inquiry and there is no opportunity for third parties to be heard at all. From my own point of view, this is very important indeed, because it makes it extremely difficult for amenity societies, and so on, to present their case.

Furthermore, it is open to the Secretary of State to suggest that this matter can be disposed of altogether, without any hearing at all, merely by written representations, and, indeed, again under circumstances like this where urgency is being pressed, a local planning authority might be under great pressure to accept the alleged urgency and to accept that there need be no inquiry and that the third party's hearing could be dealt with by written representations.


The noble Lord has made a number of statements the justification for which I do not follow. He said that if the Secretary of State called in the matter and he had an inquiry then it would not be held locally and it would not be a public inquiry. What justification has the noble Lord for saying that? He has only to look at Drumbuie: that was local and it was public so why does the noble Lord say this? If he had said that it need not be, then I would have to admit that he was correct, but he is saying that it would not be.


I am perfectly prepared to withdraw the words "it would not be" and to substitute the words "it need not be ", but it makes no difference to my argument, which is that the Secretary of State has powers here to behave in a way which I think is wrong. If I may now continue, in any case this amounts to a very unrigorous procedure and the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, said that the full rigour of the planning pro-cedures would be followed. I ask what this means: as I have suggested, the words "full rigour" mean a great deal less than they ought to mean. Because of that there is in Parliament a safety net; which is to say, that the order required to effect the expedited acquisition is subject to an Affirmative Resolution.

The Affirmative Resolution procedure is such that an Affirmative Resolution can be objected to; if the Special Orders Committee are of the opinion, among other things, that there has been no proper inquiry already, they can recommend that it goes before a Select Committee. The criteria which they have to follow, in order to make certain that there has not already been a proper inquiry, are very rigorous, as I said on Second Reading. Furthermore they are even more rigorous under the recommendations put forward by the Joint Select Committee under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke—the Brooke Committee. Those criteria which must be followed—if there is to be a Select Inquiry before Parliament—are very stringent indeed. The safety net that should be there has been removed and this is what the Joint Select Committee under the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, recommended should not be done. The noble Lord's Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament said that it was a most valuable procedure and that it should not be removed unless there was proper and adequate machinery elsewhere. There is no proper machinery in this Bill, which is the whole point of my argument. Furthermore, they said that ideally procedure of this kind, which the noble Lord wishes to cut out, should be followed in both Houses; but for the time being and for various reasons it was best operated by this House on behalf of Parliament as a whole—all the more reason why we should not cut it out of the Bill.

I shall be moving an Amendment dealing with this later. There is in the Schedule provision to this effect: that any representations which may be made with respect to an expedited acquisition order shall be considered by the Secretary of State but he shall not be obliged to cause any inquiry to be held or afford to any person an opportunity of being heard. Together with the unrigorous nature of certain aspects of the planning stage procedure, the removal of the safety net in your Lordships' House and this further Schedule, it adds up to a state of affairs in which the Secretary of State has powers to deal with third party objections to a planning application by written representations only. For this reason, it seems to me that it is absolutely vital that this subsection should be removed from the Bill.

As I have said, there is no precedent whatever for doing this; there is no proper machinery in the Bill which would take the place of this safety net procedure in your Lordships' House, and it seems to me that the Government are on very weak ground here. I hope when they answer me they will show that they are at least aware of the weakness of that ground and that what they are proposing to do is, as I said during the Second Reading debate, constitutionally improper. It is a dangerous precedent and, if it were put into other Acts concerning not merely land and property but other less concrete rights, it would be very unfortunate indeed. I beg to move.


It might be convenient if before the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, replies to this Amendment I were to give him the opportunity in the course of his reply of dealing with some of the points I wish to raise, which, perhaps, are a little different from some of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, though I support him in thinking that it is really important as a constitutional matter that this subsection should be removed from the Bill.

As I understand it, the argument advanced is that individual rights are adequately protected by planning procedures, and, secondly, that to allow persons to continue to petition this House against hybrid orders would involve long proceedings. I venture to challenge both propositions. The first has been challenged by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, who has pointed out that although there can be inquiries it is not necessary; there is no right to an inquiry and the Secretary of State can call in a matter and can dispense with an inquiry. Most people will probably agree that some planning inquiries take a very long time indeed. At some inquiries, there is every opportunity of putting forward views and drawing attention to points. But no how matter protracted planning inquiries may be, in my submission to this Committee that affords no ground and no justification for what is proposed by this subsection.

Great emphasis is laid on the fact that this expedited procedure cannot be used unless planning permission is first obtained. So be it. That again gives no reason for abolishing petitions to this House against hybrid orders. Once planning permission is obtained, the Secretary of State can by-pass all the normal provisions relating to the acquisition of land if, in his opinion, the acquisition is a matter of urgency—and one suspects that the matter of urgency may arise either in delay in instituting planning proceedings, or because of the protracted nature of planning inquiries, et cetera. I should like to make it clear to the noble Lord that I am not seeking to criticise Her Majesty's Government for making provision for acquisition as a matter of urgency.

The normal procedure for acquisition has stood the test of time. It was introduced by the then Labour Government, so far as Scotland was concerned, by the Acquisition of Land (Scotland) Act of that year, referred to by the noble Duke. It is worth noting, as the noble Duke drew attention to it, that under that Act powers were contained—exercisable for a period of five years—for the speedy acquisition of land as a matter of urgency. What is significant in relation to this Bill is that those powers were taken as a matter of urgency without there being any attempt then to restrict or to abolish the right to petition against a hybrid order. Hybrid orders can be made under that Act. There was no such attempt. I am not aware that the failure then to restrict the right to petition this House has led to any inconvenience at all. I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, when he comes to reply, to say whether there is a single case where the exercise of the power to come to this House has delayed the speedy acquisition of land under that Section of that Act.

For the purpose of this Amendment, let me assume that the speedy acquisition is essential. In my view, that does not lead to the conclusion that the right to petition Parliament should be abolished. If the Secretary of State decides that the matter is one of urgency, then he has to serve notice of his intention to make an expedited acquisition order on every owner, occupier, lessee of land affected, and to advertise his proposal. Representations may be made to him but, as the noble Lord, Lord Henley, said, the Secretary of State is not bound to hold any inquiry. If the Secretary of State certifies that the requirements of that Schedule have been complied with, then that is that. If by mistake—and mistakes are sometimes innocently made—something has been done which has passed unnoticed and the Secretary of State gives his certificate, it cannot be put right. For instance, if the requirements to the Schedule have not been applied, if persons who should have received notice have not been given it, then if the Secretary of State gives his certificate—not being aware of those facts —that is the end of the matter. If one looks at the last paragraph of Schedule 1, one sees that the jurisdiction of the court is ousted. The individual affected will not be able to challenge what has happened.

It is against that background, with the ousting of the jurisdiction of the courts, that I venture to suggest this subsection has to be judged. It is true that these expedited acquisition orders are subjected to the Affirmative Resolution procedure, but we all know that an Affirmative Resolution procedure does not allow of amendment of the order in any particular. We all realise that it is unlikely that an order dealing with a wide variety of matters—some of considerable import-ance—will not be affirmed by this House or by the other House because injustices, however much they may bear on individuals, have been perpetrated.

As I have shown, the Bill not only proposes to oust the jurisdiction of the courts, but also to deprive this House of the power it now has to remedy injustice, and to deprive the people of this country —in particular the people of Scotland—of their right to have recourse to this House. Unless the injustice is so great that the Affirmative Resolution is not passed, if this Amendment is included in the Bill then injustice cannot be put right. For many years—I have forgotten how long; I have not looked it up—it has been the established right of individuals to petition Parliament in relation to a Bill which affects private rights. When the practice grew up of doing by order what used to be done by Bill, it was recognised that that right of petitioning Parliament should be applied to hybrid orders. It was agreed that those petitions should be brought before this House and agreed between the two Houses. Our procedure laid down by Standing Order No. 216, which it is now proposed to make even tougher than it is at present, contains very considerable safeguards against frivolous petitions, or petitions designed to cause delay.

In the first place, when the order is laid before the House, it has to be considered by the Special Orders Committee. If that Committee come to the conclusion that it is a hybrid order, any petition against it has to be lodged within 10 days or, by special leave of the Chairman of the Committees, 14 days after that order is laid. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, can regard that as very lengthy procedure. If there is a petition, then the matter comes before the Special Orders Committee, and the Committee have to consider the petition. They have also to consider whether the petition discloses substantial grounds of complaint—no frivolous petition will pass that. Secondly, the Committee have to consider whether the matter has been so dealt with upon a Departmental inquiry that further inquiry is unnecessary and, thirdly, whether the submissions in the petition could have been brought before a local inquiry, but were not. If the Special Orders Committee come to the conclusion that they were not brought before a local inquiry when they should have been, or that there has been a sufficient Departmental inquiry, or that there are no substantial grounds of complaint, the matter will end there and, I venture to suggest, within a very short time of the order being laid before this House.

The Special Orders Committee are required to go on to consider whether, having regard to the answers to the preceding questions and to the findings, if any, of these inquiries, and to the other circumstances of the case, there ought to be a further inquiry by Select Committee, and to report to the House accordingly. In reaching their conclusions on those questions, the Special Order Committee are required to take note of representations, but are not bound to hear counsel. They may, if they so wish; it is a matter within their own discretion. Up to that stage, the proceedings cannot take very long, I would suggest. It is only if something has gone seriously wrong that there will be any further hearing before a Committee of this House. That, surely, is a very considerable filter. With the juridiction of the courts being ousted, as I have said, does it not become even more important that this reserve power, this net should remain; that this reserve power of this House to remedy an injustice should be kept?

This is not the first time I have spoken on this subject, for this is not the first time that a Government has tried to get such a provision through this House. It is not the sort of provision that attracts much notice by Ministers when it is first inserted in a Bill If enacted it makes life much easier for administrators, for only in the event of an Affirmative Resolution not being carried will the order as drafted not go through. In 1965, an effort was made to get such a provision included in the Local Government Bill of that year. The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, gave evidence before the Procedure Committee. No witness in opposition was heard by that Committee. Her powerful advocacy led that Committee to recommend that it should be done, but this House by a substantial majority rejected it. So the power to petition against hybrid orders under that Act remained. I want to ask the noble Lord, Lord Hughes—and I think we should be told: has the fact that the power remains to petition against hybrid orders under that Act caused any inconvenience at all? I do not believe it has. I can quote words which the noble Lord himself used.


The noble and learned Viscount does not need to quote it. I have agreed it causes no inconvenience.


I am very glad, but I am still going to quote the words he used in relation to an earlier Amendment, because I think they are pertinent. He said: None of the fears has yet been justified ". None of the fears in relation to the petitioning of this House has yet been justified, and I do not think they will be. If there is any instance of inconvenience over the long years when this power has existed, that, surely, should be brought to the attention of this House. We should not be asked to remove what is a constitutional right of a citizen of the country on any hypothetical fears, on any argument that the matter will be sufficiently covered by planning permission, and so deprive the individual of his right of coming to Parliament.

Of course, the argument may be advanced that it is not necessary to have these powers if they are never used. I do not think there is much in that. It is a reserve power; it is a power to correct things if they go wrong. It should be kept for that reason. If it is seldom used it means that errors are seldom made. I cannot see that the deletion of this subsection will in any way impede the speedy acquisition of land as proposed by the clause of the Bill, and I am not prepared to accept that it will, unless the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, can give some instance of its having done so in the past. It is for those reasons that I support the noble Lord, Lord Henley.


We on these Benches also support this Amendment. The noble and learned Viscount with all his experience has plainly expressed to us his view and given arguments supporting it. What the Government are appearing to do is to slash Parliamentary procedure instead of streamlining planning procedures. They are slashing the Special Orders Procedure, which is a precious safeguard. It could be likened to someone going on a tropical journey and equipping himself with an ice axe, the wrong implement, but then, none the less, hacking away at the mangroves, and in this case aiming to strike at the roots of a traditional Parliamentary procedure. The Special Orders procedure is being by-passed, if this Amendment is rejected, for expedited acquisition orders.

This is a House of Lords point, because we are acting on behalf of both Houses and would be on the lodging of a petition. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, has referred to the Brooke Committee on Delegated Legislation, which upheld the continuance of this procedure. In November last, soon after the Bill was published, the Director-General of the National Trust and the Director of the National Trust of Scotland wrote in The Times newspaper. They raised the question of inalienability, which, of course, would be dealt with by an Affirmative Resolution if inalienable land were in question. In that case, acquisition of inalienable land has to be approved by Parliament. The point of their letter was that this should be by the full procedure laid down and not by a truncated procedure. I will quote just a short extract: Up to now, even through two world wars, this has been protected by a special procedure, the right to petition Parliament and to have that petition decided by a joint committee of both Houses. The National Trusts rely on the wisdom of Parliament in taking final decisions in each separate case about the inalienability of their properties. Clearly, they would be content if the matter were decided by Parliament using the prescribed procedure, and this need not be protracted. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, has just told us about the procedure, and said that it need not take an inordinate amount of time. The urgency of getting our own oil supplies quickly is understood; it is understood in Parliament. I think there is only one small Party, the Scottish National Party, who are against getting our supplies quickly in the next five years. Neither the Special Orders Committee nor a Select Committee, should that be necessary, would cause the months of delay which, for example, the parties at an inquiry, with several learned counsel briefed, could effect.

I ask the Government to think again about this in their own best interests. I believe they will unnecessarily antagonise Parliament and the amenity bodies if they try to eliminate this procedure in order to deal with delays much less serious than the planning procedure delays, if no change is made in planning procedures. The precedent which could be set if this were included in this Bill would be very serious, because then there would be other Bills where Governments would say that the situation was so urgent and serious that the same truncation was essential in the national interest. We certainly do not believe this is so in the case of the present Bill. This is a House of Lords point, which was recognised by Members of the other place, and unless the Government can shift their attitude considerably on this I hope my noble friends will recognise this and will persist in supporting this Amendment.


I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, how can we who want the United Kingdom to stay united go to our Scots co-citizens, who also want to stay in the United Kingdom, and explain to them that the United Kingdom Parliament is taking away from them constitutional rights which it is not taking away from other citizens of the United Kingdom? Surely, the Scottish Nationalists, the people who want Scotland to go its own independent way, must be thanking God for the insensitivity of Her Majesty's Government.


If I may take the easy one first, I shall take the point of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. So far as I know, there is nothing in the Bill which distinguishes between Scots and any-body else who happens to be living in the United Kingdom, and who may have an interest in land affected by the Bill. It may have escaped his notice, although it has not escaped the notice of the Scottish National Party, that not all land in Scot-land is owned by Scots.


The Bill deals with land in Scotland. That is the point I am trying to make. We are taking away rights from people who own land in Scotland, and presumably the majority of them are Scots. We are not taking away these rights from people who own land in England and Wales.


That is not what the noble Earl said. He said that we were inflicting things on Scots which we were not inflicting on other people. It relates to land in Scotland, and land in Scotland is not the sole ownership of Scots.


Could I come to the rescue of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow? I think that he was referring to the inhabitants of Scotland. The Scottish National Party is the Scottish national Party, and not the Scottish racialist Party, and the inhabitants of Scotland are the people affected by this Bill.


I have no doubt that the noble Lord is right. Some people have difficulty at times in making the distinction to which he is drawing attention. May I go first to the mover of the Amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Henley? There is undoubtedly, as has been made quite evident by, first, the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, a very strong case to be made for the Amendment which he put forward, but I did not think that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, made it. He, in fact, attributed to the Government in these proceedings things which are not in the Bill. First of all, in my intervention he said that things would not be done, that an inquiry would not be held, that it would not be locally, and then he accepted my correction that it "might not" be held and "might be" held locally. The 1972 planning Act provides that only the applicant and the local authority need be heard, but the principles of the Franks Committee and the practice of successive Governments ensures that the inquiry is public and that it is local. That has been the procedure since the Franks Committee reported. There is nothing in the Bill which will alter that procedure.


The noble Lord will agree that the Secretary of State can—I do not suggest that it is wrong—dispense with holding an inquiry?


I shall come to that point if the noble and learned Viscount will allow me a little time. I am just about to touch on it, because the next note I have is that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, referred to what my noble friend Lord Balogh said in winding up the debate, when he stated that the full rigour of the planning procedure would be applied. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, went on to say, "The trouble is that the full rigour of the planning procedure is not applied, but it ought to be." In fact, there is no change in what is being done in the planning law at the present time. In the great majority of planning applications there is no inquiry, because there is no objection. In many cases where there are objections they are resolved locally. It is only in a minority of cases where inquiries are held.

What will be done under this Bill in relation to planning is the same as it otherwise would be. My difficulty in connection with planning is that at one time I have the noble Lord, Lord Henley, saying that the planning procedure does not go nearly far enough, and then the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, wanting to short circuit it in some way. They cannot both be right.




Streamline or short circuit, it is the same thing. You want to eliminate part of the procedure, you want to cut it short, reduce the time that is taken in these planning inquiries. That does not need any alteration in the law. The Government have undertaken that, and within the next ten days or so we shall be putting out a circular to local authorities, drawing their attention to ways in which the procedure can be short circuited, or by which it can be streamlined without impairing the rights of individuals.

In these procedures we have gone as far as we can, and carrying with us the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates in the way in which the procedures will be streamlined, in order to reduce the time that is taken in the inquiries but without impairing rights. All that still applies in the Bill. The inference of the noble Lord, Lord Henley, seems to be that if the Secretary of State calls in a matter for his own decision, it is more likely than not that an inquiry will not be held. I suggest to noble Lords that it is, in fact, the other way round. It is because the calling in of an application by the Secretary of State recognises the wider than purely local considerations involved, that makes it more likely than an inquiry will be held.

I now come to the much more difficult task of attempting to reply to the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne. He said that he was not criticising the need for speed, and I do not think that he did, because in fact he did not deal with the situation that calls for speed. He dealt with the generality of the hybrid procedure and the generality of the protection of the rights of the individual in petitioning Parliament. He referred to Scottish legislation under which there had been an attempt to get the hybrid procedure set aside.


I was not referring to the Scottish Act setting aside the hybrid procedure. I referred, first of all, to the 1947 Act, which had powers of speedy acquisition without any attempt to destroy the hybrid petitioning procedure, and I think I referred to the Local Government Act of England.


I beg the noble and learned Viscount's pardon that I should have translated it into Scotland when he was on a more general piece of territory. He asked whether I could say if there had been any difficulties caused by virtue of the fact that these procedures had not been available. I shook my head, and then got up and confirmed in words that there had, in fact, been no difficulty because these powers did not arise.


I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again, but he said that these powers did not arise. The point is that the powers have been there the whole time, and the question I put to him was whether the existence of these powers had caused any difficulty. It is no answer to say that the powers did not arise. They have been there.


I am willing to accept that. The fact that the powers were there did not cause any difficulty in these cases of acquisition of land. But we are dealing with a totally different situation here, or a potentially different situation. The Government are not seeking, as the noble and learned Viscount said, to abolish the right of petition to Parliament; they are not seeking to abolish the right to go to the courts; they are seeking, in certain specified circumstances detailed in Clause 1(2) of the Bill to abrogate these procedures in the special circumstances which exist. These special circumstances have not at any time applied to anything we have sought to do in the past.

If we had had an occasion in the past when it might have cost a £175 million deficit in our balance of payments if we had to wait four or five weeks, or months, or a year, whatever the period may be, and if it had been any of these periods in relation to the procedures to which the noble and learned Viscount refers, it would not have mattered ; we would not have lost £200 million by these delays. But if at any time this had been involved, then I suggest that long before now there would have been a request to Parliament for something of this kind to be done.

After all, we are still operating a pro-cedure first laid down 50 years ago in 1925. During the whole of that time it proved to be a satisfactory procedure for the protection of the rights of the individual, or the greater part, if not the whole part of the field, until the present time. But here we are dealing with a situation where we have to extract oil from the North Sea, and I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, when he said that everybody except the Scottish National Party were accepting the need to extract as much oil as quickly as possible, certainly until the year 1980. Conditions in the North Sea are such that there is a limited time during which operations can be carried out. If one misses that opportunity, one can lose not just the weeks that the procedural events take but a whole year in relation to float-out. This, in the Government's view, is more than can reasonably be expected, particularly when the Government have gone out of their way to make certain that the planning procedures apply in full rather than that there should be any withdrawal of these powers.

If we accept the economic conditions of the country, the conditions under which the oil industry works, the need to get the oil as quickly as possible, the need to avoid any delay in getting it which can possibly be avoided, then this is the justification for a separate procedure. We are not seeking to abolish the right to petition Parliament; we are not seeking to apply the special procedure to the whole range of operations. We are applying it to a limited sphere of operations within the whole oil context. In doing that, we feel justified in substituting the Affirmative Resolution procedure for what was done. When the Bill came before another place in the first instance, the Negative Resolution procedure applied, and during the discussions in another place it was argued—and the Government accepted—that this was much too large a matter to be allowed to go through on Negative Resolution procedure. The Government, recognising the difficulties of Affirmative Resolution procedure, still altered the Bill and made it the Affirmative Resolution procedure. But, so that we do not lose all the benefits of the expedited procedure, this clause which we are now discussing was put into the Bill. The noble and learned, Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, started by referring to the ten days in the Bill. After that his arithmetic—


I was not referring to the ten days in the Bill.


The ten days in the Standing Order. After he left the ten days which was stated, the next stage would take a very short time and the stage after that would not take very long. With the best will in the world, I cannot add these two sentences together with the ten days and get a specific period out of them. I am willing to accept the basis on which the noble and learned Viscount is arguing but this need not, by any reasonable interpretation of the term— and what the Government would regard as a reasonable interpretation of the term —be a dangerously long period which would necessarily endanger what is taking place, given the time of year at which it happened. But if this should happen in the months of August or September how do we deal with it under these proceedings when the House is not sitting? Is it the intention that Parliament should be recalled for the period that the Committee would be considering this matter, or is it to be accepted that once one has missed the boat and cannot deal with it before the end of July one has to wait until October before one does anything about it? I know that it would be an unpopular proceeding if Parliament were recalled for the purposes of considering an Affirmative Resolution, but at least, if that were done, it would be a case of recalling Parliament for one or two days, not for some weeks or even months.


The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, put the point beautifully, if I may say so. I was wondering how it was going to be dealt with if the Affirmative Resolution was required during the time that Parliament was in Recess, and I gather that it would be the Government's intention to recall Parliament.


One would hope that it would not be necessary, but at least it is possible to a degree which would not arise in the other case. If one accepts the principle on which the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, argued his case, obviously the amendment ought to be made. On principle I cannot possibly disagree with him. But this is an exception to the principle which is sought, not a change in the constitutional procedure of Parliament—an exception for a very exceptional circumstance. If it is the wish of this House that the Government are not to have the opportunity of using that procedure in that way, given the fact that they have emphasised that they will go through ordinary planning procedures, I suggest that it puts the onus on the Secretary of State—where he has a discretion as to whether or not to hold a planning inquiry—very much more strongly to exercise his discretion in favour of an inquiry, when this is the basis on which the case has been made for abrogating or shortening the procedure at the subsequent stages. It is for Parliament to decide the way in which it ought to be done. But I suggest to your Lordships that what the Government have done in another place and what we are seeking to do here is to devise a method of helping the country to get the oil in the quickest possible way with the minimum inter- ference with the rights of private individuals. I am not suggesting that there is not a removal of individual private rights, but I suggest that it is the minimum interference which is consistent with private rights.

Finally, I do not intend to follow the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, with an ice axe through the jungles or the mangrove swamps in order to pick at the roots of Parliament. I do not think that, when he talks about inalienable land and the Parliamentary procedure, he is speaking to this Amendment. The special Parliamentary procedure which was referred to in relation to the National Trust is a different procedure altogether from what is contained in Standing Order 216. However, I do not think that it matters all that much because the principle about changing the procedures is fairly similar. We will be talking about inalienable land on another Amendment, so I do not propose to follow it at this stage. The Government are justified in what they are seeking to do in this case in the national interest and that interference with the rights of private individuals is the very minimum that can be effective for that purpose.


May I reply to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, because he devoted the greater part of his speech to what I said. I am not seeking to challenge the need for inserting in this Bill provisions for the speedy acquisition of land. There may be cases of urgency. I should think that a great many of them could be avoided, but I am not challenging that. A great deal of the noble Lord's speech was directed to the need for urgency. I find it difficult to accept the somewhat theoretical argument that foresight would be so lacking as to what is required to be done that one would have to have an Affirmative Resolution carried during a Parliamentary Recess in consequence of a recall of Parliament. Equally, I find it unconvincing to suppose that one would have to have a Select Committee sitting during a Recess to deal with these matters. There is some degree of foresight. If one accepts that there is a case for urgency, as I do, then what is the special necessity for abolishing this Special Orders procedure? The noble Lord was in this difficulty. For instance, he simply could not produce a single case where the existence of the right to petition Parliament against a hybrid Order had caused any delay at all. He asks this House to accept this matter as being so clear that no proof is needed; that if this power is retained the exercise of speedy powers of acquisition will be considerably delayed. In the light of past history I find that difficult to accept.

What does it mean? I may have confused the noble Lord by my reference to the Standing Order, but what I pointed out to start with was that anyone who wants to petition this House against that hybrid Order has to do it within ten days or, with the leave of the Chairman of Committees, within fourteen days of the laying of the Order. I cannot believe that the whole programme will be destroyed and millions lost because the time of fourteen days is given to lodge a Petition. I do not want to repeat it, but if there has been an inquiry and everything is satisfactory, the matter can be dealt with there and then by the procedures of the Special Orders Committee. I do not want to repeat what I have already said, but it seems to me that in his reply the noble Lord was dealing with the need for urgency and was not able to establish any real ground for saying that the retention of the power of this House to correct errors (if error there be) would in any way prevent matters from being dealt with promptly and speedily.

Viscount THURSO

I should like to make one further point to those of the noble and learned Viscount. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has not only not shown that there has been delay in the use of these procedures; to my mind he has not shown, either during the Second Reading of the Bill or in the debate this afternoon and this evening, that he will use the powers which he seeks in the Bill. Indeed, earlier in the debate he was at great pains to point out that such powers had never been used, although they had been given to the Highlands Development Board; that these powers which were in the hands of the Highlands Development Board (over half of the land area of Scotland and probably three-quarters of its coastline) had never been thought fit to be used during the whole of the time that the the Highland Development Board; that development of North Sea oil has been a subject of importance and exercising the minds of Government and Parliament. The noble Lord has not shown that there is any occasion upon which the acquisition of land for any of the purposes stated in the Bill would speed up the whining of oil from the North Sea. Indeed, I think that the whole need for legislation of this magnitude has passed and he can only require an Act of this kind as a form of threat, and such a threat, based on injustice or the removal of our constitutional rights, is not a form of threat which I should wish to put into the hands of any Government. I feel that the noble Lord has put a price tag on the cost of delay. Our freedoms and rights of appeal within the Constitution are matters almost without price and certainly worth a great deal more than the hypothetical price tag which he has constantly put on the hypothetical delays and the hypothetical need for which he has been asking.

The Duke of ATHOLL

I think I am right in saying that the last time a hybrid Order was referred to a sub-committee of the Special Orders Committee, concerned the Hoffman-Roche case, but in that case the sub-committee of the Special Orders Committee sat two, if not, three, times while this House was in Recess. That seemed to cause no difficulty. They did this in order to speed up the procedure.


Two points have arisen from what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said. If he cannot reply immediately they will come up later on other debates, but they are immensely important in relation to our discussion. First there should be clarification on the question of inalienable land. It sounded as though this inalienable land would not be affected by what he proposes in subsection (7) of Clause 1, which we seek to eliminate by the Amendment. It is important that we should have clarification, even though he may propose to change the procedures in other parts of the Bill. Secondly, on the question of the time taken, a matter raised by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, he has still not told us what he would consider to be an unacceptable amount of time. The amenity bodies consider that the Special Orders Procedure would not take more than twentyone days or very much longer if special questions arose. Can the noble Lord indicate what he would regard as an unacceptably long time?


I will take first the point about inalienable land. I was not suggesting that this clause did not apply to inalienable land. What I pointed out was that, if taken out, the special procedure which was available to the National Trust is not the procedure which operates under hybrid Bills. There is a special procedure in relation to taking away inalienable land. This different procedure—I do not know whether it is a longer or a shorter procedure, but it is a special procedure—is available to, the National Trust, to certain public bodies, to local authorities and so on, who may be objecting. In relation to hybridity, it is the Standing Orders of the House which apply.

It is impossible for me to say what is an acceptable delay. It depends entirely when it happens. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, said it must be a remarkable lack of foresight if this cannot be provided for; but Parliament at the best, is sitting for only two-thirds of the year, so there is at least one chance in three that it is impossible to avoid these things happening during the time that Parliament is not sitting. The initiating of these matters is not in the hands of the Government; it is in the hands of the applicants, of the oil companies; and if the situation arises that a decision is needed quickly, while it may be that a delay of two months at a particular time of the year is of no significance because it would not affect the "window" in the North Sea, there would be other times when a delay of two or three weeks could be vital. In fact this argument was put forward strongly earlier in the year as a justification why the Government should have proceeded with the Bill on planning procedures which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, wished to introduce. It was then argued that a delay of weeks would be vital.


The question was not a delay of weeks.


Yes, a delay of weeks. If the noble Lord looks up what he said earlier in the year he will find that that is the period that was discussed. The period of the "window" may be a matter of two or three months or it may be only weeks; it depends whether the weather in the North Sea is good or bad. But, as I understand it, the position is that the cost of hiring barges and so on is so enormous that it comes to a point in time where, if they cannot be certain that float-out will occur at a particular place, then the hiring does not happen. The time lost, therefore, is to the next float-out period, and the possible loss of time is a year. While it is all very well for the Liberal Party to talk blithely about putting price tags on things and that £175 million is neither here nor there, Governments must take a more realistic view, so I make no apology for mentioning the price that such delay would cause.

I thought that the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, had been unfair to me when he said that I had not produced any evidence of harm being done with these powers; that with these powers still being there the absence of a subsection like this had caused us no trouble in the past. I agree, but I do not think he was fair when he ignored the fact that we are dealing with a totally different situation, in which we have a limited period of time. In some of the other cases, it might be undesirable if the Government wanted, say, to acquire land in 1974 but did not do so until 1975 or even 1976. The consequences might be only minor; it would merely be putting things back, but not to the extent that we are involved in the North Sea oil operations. I think, therefore, that the fact that we have been able to do things satisfactorily in other directions with the existing hybrid procedure is no argument against taking these limited powers in this limited field in this connection.

I suspect that the matter will go to a Division and in the ordinary course of events in your Lordships' House, when a Labour Government's proposals are divided on, the chances are not always very great that they will win. However, I am sincerely of the opinion that what the Government are asking is in the best interests of the country. I hope, therefore, that if there is to be a Division my friends will follow me with enthusiasm into the Lobby in support of what the Government propose should be in the Bill.


The Minister, in the course of his earlier speech, referred to the quite proper pressure being placed on the Minister to order a local public inquiry in an appropriate case. Surely, the best way of exerting that pressure on a Minister is to leave the Special Orders procedure alone, because, if a local inquiry has been held and an order eventually comes before the Special Orders Committee, that Committee can dispose of the matter summarily upon the very ground that a local inquiry has been held. That part of Standing Order No. 216 was read out by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne. The Committee could dispose of the matter easily on the ground that a local inquiry had been held and we want the Special Orders procedure left in in order to exert pressure on the Minister not to dispense with a local inquiry when such an inquiry ought to have been held.


May I make an appeal to noble Lords on the other side of the Committee? It really is of vital interest—and perhaps I should declare an interest in this matter—for those who are involved that there should be a speeding-up of the procedure. If I may say so to the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, the Roche case, which he quoted, is the classic example of why this procedure should now be as the Government recommend.


It was not the fault of the Special Orders Committee which, if my memory serves me right, sat throughout the Recess to deal with this as speedily as possible.


Could this point be cleared up? Is it, in fact, the case that while Parliament is in recess it is open to a Select Committee or a sub-committee of a Select Committee to consider a petition and come to a judgment, or is it not? The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, certainly gave me the impression that throughout the Recess it would not be possible for anything at all to happen.


I apologise for making a maiden speech on what might be construed as a controversial subject. I should, however, like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, how he can ask us to ignore the noble and learned Viscount's point—which he admitted was, at any rate, technically valid—except by telling us that the liaison between the Government and the oil companies and the level of forward planning are so bad that a matter of ten days is of no significance whatsoever.

5.55 p.m.


I am sorry that a maiden speech should have made on such a controversial subject, because had the noble Earl, Lord Verulam, conformed to the traditions of this House I ought to have indicated a special interest in him as I gather that one of his subsidiary titles takes him to Edinburgh, for he is also Lord Corstorphine. I can certainly congratulate him on his brevity, but I am sorry that he should have come in on a subject which I must regard as controversial. I hope that we shall hear him at greater length, and perhaps with thorough homework he may find a subject which will make it possible to congratulate him both on his brevity and on the content of his speech.

I do not think I can add anything to what has been said already. The Government's case is that there is a need for urgency at certain times. I do not know what is the answer to the question about the Recess. As I understand it, provided the Recess does not extend beyond a certain period the Select Committee can carry on, but during the Summer Recess some other special procedure would be required. I do not know. I am not an expert on the procedures of the House, but the information that I have is that the Affirmative Resolution procedure would certainly present Parliament with less difficulty in the Summer Recess than the other procedure. I would not be prepared to take it any further than that.

Had there not been subsequent interventions, I would have been content to rest on the intervention of my noble friend Lord Shackleton, because it expressed what the Government seek. The procedure is in the interests of the country and there are times—and Parliament has recognised this in the past— when the interests of the country must over-ride the interests of the individual. This, we believe, is a case where this is being done and we think that in the present Bill we have taken every possible step to make certain that the interference with individuals' rights is kept to a minimum. We cannot go beyond that.


I do not propose to withdraw the Amendment and I shall press it to a Division. I feel that the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, are very unconvincing, as was the reason for what I considered to be an unnecessarily impassioned request to consider speed. Of course I agree that one must not be dilatory, but is the noble Lord really saying that, by retaining certain safeguards in our Parliamentary procedure which have never been done away with before, we shall lose millions overnight? I find this a most specious argument.


The noble Lord asked me a question. I say, Yes, in certain circumstances, that is what would happen.


I am sorry, I just cannot accept that. Nor can I understand why the noble Lord should be so passionate about retaining this procedure. If the proper procedures are as rigorous as he suggests, there will be no necessity for the Special Orders Committee to suggest that there should be a Select Committee, anyway. I think that the noble Lord misquoted me over the question of what the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, had said. He said that the full rigour of the planning stage would be complied with. What I think I demonstrated was that a most unrigorous state of affairs can emerge if certain things are not done, and that because of that the safety net of our special procedure must not be done away with. We were told in no uncertain terms that this was the case by the Joint Select Committee under the noble Lord, Lord Brooke.

We have been on this point for nearly an hour and a half, and I feel that I should be wasting your Lordships' time if I said any more. I think that everything that can be said has been said by this stage.

6.0 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 96 ; Not-Contents, 70.

Aberdare, L. Effingham, E. Ogmore, L.
Ailsa, M. Elliot of Harwood, B. Onslow, E.
Airedale, L. Elton, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Amulree, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Pender, L.
Arran, E. Foot, L. Perth, E.
Atholl, D. Gainford, L. Platt, L.
Barrington, V. Gladwyn, L. Reigate, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Greenway, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Grenfell, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Berkeley, B. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. St. Davids, V.
Bethell, L. St. Helens, L.
Bledisloe, V. Hawke, L. St. Just, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Henley, L. [Teller.] Sandford, L.
Byers, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Sandys, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hood, V. Selsdon, L.
Chelmer, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Sempill, Ly.
Chorley, L. Ironside, L. Sharpies, B.
Cork and Orrery, E. Long, V. Stamp, L.
Cottesloe, L. Lyell, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Courtown, E. Macleod of Borve, B.
Cowley, E. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Craigton, L. Margadale, L. Thurlow, L.
Croft, L. Meston, L. Thurso, V.
Cromartie, E. Monck, V. Tranmere, L.
Daventry, V. Monckton of Brenchley, V. Trefgarne, L.
Davidson, V. Monson, L. Verulam, E.
de Cllfford, L. Morris of Borth-y-Gest, L. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. Wade, L.
Derwent, L. Netherthorpe, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Dilhorne, V. Newall, L. Wemyss, E.
Drumalbyn, L. Northchurch, B. Wigoder, L.
Dudley, E. Norwich, V. Windlesham, L.
Eccles, V. Nugent of Guildford, L. Young, B.
Ardwick, L. Geddes of Epsom, L. Morris of Kenwood, L.
Bacon, B. Gordon-Walker, L. Paget of Northampton, L.
Balogh, L. Goronwyn-Roberts, L. Peddie, L.
Beswick, L. Hale, L. Phillips, B.
Birk, B. Hanworth, V. Pitt of Hampstead.
Blyton, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Popplewell, L.
Brockway, L. Henderson, L. Rhodes, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Shackleton, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Hoy, L. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Castle, L. Hughes, L. Shinwell, L.
Champion, L. Jacques, L. [Teller.] Slater, L.
Collison, L. Kissin, L. Snow, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Leatherland, L. Stow Hill, L.
Crowther-Hunt, L. Lee of Newton, L. Strabolgi, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller.] Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Wallace of Campsie, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Longford, E. Wells-Pestell, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L Chancellor.) Lovell-Davis, L. Wilson of Radcliffe,
Evans of Hungershall, L. MacLeod of Funiary, L. Winterbottom, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Maelor, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Gaitskell, B. Mais, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Gardiner, L. Melchett, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

6.9 p.m.

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 34, at end insert— (" ( ) An expedited acquisition order shall not be made in respect of any land or part thereof which has been declared to be inalien-able by virtue of any enactment.")

The noble Lord said: As the result of the last Division, and as I understood the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, to say that he thought that the last Amendment did not apply to inalienable land, I propose to move this Amendment but not to press it to a Division, in order to give the National Trust of Scotland an opportunity to see whether the Amendment that your Lordships have just passed is in fact satisfactory to them. If it is not satisfactory, then I give notice that I shall take the opportunity of putting down a similar Amendment on another stage. With your Lordships' approval, I should like to discuss this Amendment with Amendment No. 29.

When the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was speaking he said with great vigour that the predominant concern was that the interest of the country should be placed first. I want to show your Lordships that it is in the interest of the country that inalienable land should be saved from the dangers of the expedited acquisition procedure. When one says that, how much is one talking about? How much land? What is involved? That part of the property of the Trust that is involved is 40 miles, out of 6,400 miles of coastline. That 40 miles includes the cliffs of St. Kildare and similar quite unsuitable properties. Why, then, should one bother to take the trouble to put down these Amendments to free such a small quantity of land from the expedited acquisition procedure?—especially when one bears in mind that in the case of the Drambuie inquiry at planning stage it must have been a considerable point that the Drumbuie land was inalienable land, and that the Trust won their case at the planning stage. The National Trust for Scotland put virtually all their properties under the declaration of inalienability. The fact that they do this is the presumption on the part of the donors that the occupation of the property is for ever sacrosanct; that it belongs for ever to the National Trust unless a Parliamentary procedure which is hallowed by time and in which everyone has confidence is brought into play.

It is this point which makes it so vital that inalienablility should be left sacrosanct. There are safeguards before inalienability is declared. The Trust is widely representative: the cities, the district councils association, the Forestry Commission, the Scottish Touring Board, the Town Planning Institute and many elected members with diverse backgrounds which include the Scottish TUC and the political Parties. If, therefore, inalien- ability has to be broken—and it is recognised and has been recognised since 1947 that it might have to be broken in the public interest—there is already this legal procedure by which Parliament can break it. This Bill, at the best, does no more than substitute one type of Parliamentary decision for another. The price that you pay—and noble, Lords have spent nearly half an hour discussing this point—is the arrival just a little sooner at a decision. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, gave examples that decision might not take as long as one feared. What is the decision about? It is about acquiring 40 miles out of 6,400 —1/60th part of the Scottish coastline. I put it to the Committee that it is extremely unlikely that this procedure would ever be applied to any more inalienable land. But the cost is the permanent and justified loss of confidence on the part of the donors.

I should not be speaking like this if I had not recently spoken to a very good and prominent citizen who told me that in his will he had just given all his properties to the National Trust and that if this Bill had gone through he would have felt that if the procedure were breached once, it could be breached again and he would not have donated that land. It is that loss of presumption that the land is going to be inviolate that will prevent land and property from being given to the National Trust in the future. Let us weigh these two interests: the certain loss of property and land against a minute risk that if any inalienable land is taken it is going to be needed to be taken. In any case, it can be taken a few months, or perhaps a few weeks sooner. To go back to what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said, the case has to stand or fall on its value in the country's interest. I put it to noble Lords that the interest of inalienable land comes first.

6.14 p.m.


I do not wish to repeat what I said on Second Reading on this point. I confess that I am a little disappointed that the noble Lord who put forward this Amendment has expressed the intention to withdraw it. I can understand that he should wish to consult the National Trust of Scotland, and he has reserved the right to put the Amendment down again at the next stage, so I do not propose to challenge his intention to with- draw it. There is one reason which I regard as of very considerable importance why this matter should be pressed. It is that the procedure in connection with the National Trust for contesting a decision on inalienable land rests on a Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament. As my noble friend Lord Hughes indicated earlier, that is very important because it means that, as happened on the only occasion when this particular procedure was invoked three or four years ago at Plymouth, Members of another place take part in the decision. This I regard as very important in connection either with the National Trust of England or with the National Trust of Scotland.

I have referred previously to that important case. It arose out of the gift by the late Lord Morley of his very beautiful park and house outside Plymouth. The only way of making the Plymouth by-pass was through the park or through the outlying part of Plymouth itself, which would have involved the pulling down of a great deal of property, including a church. After going into the matter with great care, the Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament decided that less harm would be done to the national interest by allowing the road to go through the park, provided that a number of very important safeguards were taken during the construction of the road. That was a most valuable safeguard which the Joint Select Committee retained. It had the effect of getting a landscaped road which, while it has done a great deal of damage to that beautiful park, has left a great deal of its beauties quite unimpaired. That is the only occasion since the National Trust Act was passed in 1906 (through a period of almost seventy years) that this procedure has been invoked. It shows that it is a very sound method of dealing with the situation.

I was sorry that my noble friend Lord Balogh, in winding up the other day, made references to the half-dozen cases, then he said perhaps ten, and eventually the Council of the National Trust was there—ipse dixit—to be taken; but he overlooked the fact that I had pointed out earlier in the afternoon that if it is felt that the decision of the Council in making the particular land inalienable is a wrong one, it can be challenged in the way I have described. It can be brought before the Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament who can make such inquiries and hear such evidence as they think fit. Obviously, the fact that this method was employed only once over all this period shows that it is a very sound way of doing things. I am surprised that the Government have insisted on this clause. My noble friend Lord Hughes said "the National Trust and other bodies "; but I should like to know which other bodies he means. I do not know of any other bodies except the two National Trusts which have this power to make land inalienable.


I am afraid that I have not made that point clear. When I referred to the National Trust and other bodies and local authorities, it was to those who had resource to the Special Parliamentary Procedure; not to having a right to declare land inalienable.


The Special Parliamentary Procedure is quite a different thing. I would finish by saying that after listening to these arguments in another place and in this House I am sorry that the Government have not withdrawn this particular provision in the Bill. It looks almost as if they have been so upset by the Drumbuie inquiry—for, as I understand it, Drumbuie is the only place on the West Coast of Scotland where this sort of acquisition for the purposes of building could effectively take place—that they have put this subsection into this Bill in order to repeal, in effect, a decision come to by the Secretary of State himself after that inquiry. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to say that that is not so and that the Government will accept this Amendment.


I should like to support the Amendment. I think we should be careful before disturbing land owned by the National Trust on behalf of the nation. Furthermore, I do not think that in Parliament we should play around with words like "inalienable ". They should be seen to have the kind of meaning that the ordinary plain man or woman would expect them to have. We know that lawyers' meanings are sometimes a little different; but so far as the plain man understands it, "inalienable" means inalienable. As the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, said, there is very little land involved anyway. I simply cannot see the point of having this subsection in the Bill at all. I support the Amendment and I hope the Government will accept it.

6.31 p.m.


I should like to say a word or two in support of the Amendment moved by my noble friend, Lord Craigton. I think enough has been said by him and by others here and on Second Reading to convince the Committee—and, I hope, to convince Her Majesty's Government— that this proposed attack on inalienable land, however theoretical and however unlikely to eventuate, is unnecessary. For the sake of inserting this totally unnecessary thin end of the wedge, a great deal of distress and anxiety is being caused, not only in Scotland, to a great many good people, so that it is likely that further munificence and gifts to either of the National Trusts in any part of the United Kingdom will thereby be inhibited. On a few special points, may I apologise sincerely to the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, that I was unable to be present to hear his interesting speech at the end of the Second Reading debate in this House on the 28th January. I would say, with great respect to the noble Lord, that he was not right when he said that the Trust is sometimes the judge in its own case. The whole point of the present situation concerning inalienable land is that if there is an apparent conflict between various parties in interpreting what is meant by the "national interest", it is Parliament, and only Parliament, the highest court in the land, which is the judge in the case. This would be true even if the Trust had acted in some case without sufficient care in declaring any land inalienable. I do not think anyone has ever suggested that we have acted without due care. I am sure that the Trust has and will in future act with the greatest caution before declaring inalienable any land which might possibly be wanted for oil development or for some other foreseeeable important need.

We are not complaining that this Bill fundamentally alters the place where the final judgment in these matters lies. Under the proposals of the Bill, this place will still be in Parliament. Parliament will be the judge in cases where inalienable land is required, or is thought to be required, under this Bill. We object to the unnecessary changing, the anxiety-making changing, for some rather unnecessary reason, of the established and well-known Parliamentary procedure which gives people confidence. There is no necessity, I submit, for a change at all.

Finally, I regret that it has been impossible to get any assurance by Her Majesty's Government that this sort of thing will not be done perhaps at some future time outside Scotland. During the Second Reading debate (in column 411 on the 28th January) I quoted what Mr. Bruce Millan had said: that this legislation will not be used as a precedent for similar provisions in other legislation. I said that I hoped that when the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, replied he would be able to confirm that and to say, in particular, that it would not be used as a precedent for legislating against the inalienability of National Trust land in any other part of the United Kingdom outwith Scotland. In reply I got a letter which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was kind enough to write me. He said he could only repeat Mr. Millan's assurance that the Government will not use Clause 12(3) as a precedent; but he said that he could not commit the Government to an undertaking relating to legislation for the same purposes applying to parts of the United Kingdom other than Scotland. Those noble Lords who are interested only in England, if there are any, and not in the United Kingdom as a whole, may be sure that the "red flag" is flying.


Briefly, I wish to make it clear that I and my friends on the Front Bench support my noble friend Lord Craigton in this Amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will realise from what I said on the last Amendment and in quoting the letter from the Director-General and the Director of the two National Trusts, that they were content provided that the particular procedure of a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament was retained and not short-circuited, as appears to be the intention in this Bill. The noble Earl, Lord Wemyss and March, has just confirmed this.

May I raise a point referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley? It was not Drumbuie but Loch Carron, as a whole, where there were three or four sites which provided the special conditions he referred to and needed by the special concrete platform. What has happened—not unforeseen by many—was one of the sites has been selected and building is going ahead at Kishorn, five hours from Drumbuie and the other side of Loch Carron. I understand that the structures being built at Ardyne Point and Cambeltown in Kishorn, the Firth of Clyde area, will have to be towed round and the assembly finished in the waters of Loch Carron, because, as he said, that is the area where there are the conditions, including deep sheltered water, which are needed. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes will reply to his noble friend Lord Chorley and give him a clear confirmation that there is no question of applications for the particular Drumbuie site being reopened ; because that was turned down and Kishorn was accepted. So far we have been led to believe—and I speak of this because I was confronted with the problem before the present Government, and the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has accepted this—that one site in that area was needed and there was no need to open the Drumbuie application again.


Does not the noble Lord see my point? As one site in this area had been accepted, there no longer was any point in continuing to have this subsection in the Bill unless someone said, "We will get Drambuie in the end"?


I should say straightaway that I can see the Government's view that there could be similar situations elsewhere, but where inalienable land is concerned I do not know of any particular sites owned by the National Trust and inalienable which might at present provide the sort of conditions required. Presumably what the Government are providing for in this legislation is the possibility of inalienable land, or land made inalienable in the future, being the subject of a compulsory expedited acquisition order. What we are saying from these Benches is that, as we understand it, the National Trusts accept that it might be necessary in the vital and urgent national interest that such land should be acquired, but they do not think the normal safeguards and the procedure of including the Joint Committees of both Houses should be dispensed with in these cases.

The Earl of PERTH

Before the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, answers these various points, may I make a practical suggestion? I gather that we are talking about only forty miles, of which the greater part is of no particular or possible use from the point of view of any petroleum development. The land which we are talking about must be known both in its size, where it is and what are the probabilities of it ever being needed. If the need could be analysed, could it not be decided now that really and truly this large sledgehammer is not a necessary instrument so far as inalienable land held by the National Trust is concerned. So in respect of the land they have, knowing that that was the case, surely they could so arrange things that they could use the existing procedure rather than going to something else. Perhaps it might be all right for today, but what might happen in future on other land?

Surely the case of making the land inalienable is very difficult—and it is not only the National Trusts and a few bodies like them but the TUC, political Parties and so forth, who are represented on the body which decides whether or not the land should be inalienable. If it is difficult, surely it should be open to the Government, when such a declaration is being considered, to say that for this, that or the other reason this is the sort of site they might want. I suspect that under this representation the National Trust would not press the point and others who make the decision would say, "We do not agree with it". I wonder whether there is the prospect that there might be further inalienable land in relation to this measure.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

May I say a word in reply to my noble friend? I cannot of course commit the National Trust of Scotland indefinitely in the future, but I feel fairly sure that they will be very careful about any further declarations of inalienability where there is the slightest thought that the land might be needed for oil development. They would of course consult local authorities and others. This does not get away from the possible problem of land which has been declared inalien- able already, but I honestly submit that the likelihood of any land being wanted there, although not entirely absent, is so small that this proposed legislation, rightly referred to as a sledgehammer, should not be passed.


I noticed that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, exercised the caution which he rather regretted in my letter when I said that I could not of course commit the Government in relation to other National Trust property. He said, "Let the English beware, the Red Flag is flying." I do not know whether that was meant in a political context or the sense of an auction sale, in both of which the Red Flag has a signifi-cance. He said that although he does not think such a thing would happen, of course he could not commit the National Trust.

I can see the situation. Just imagine that the National Trust was offered a piece of very attractive land, beautiful in its scenery, the sort of land they would wish to use every endeavour to protect. but on which there might be a conceivable oil site and the owner of which had a greater interest in preserving its beauty than getting any price for it, and he offered it to the National Trust on the condition that they made it inalienable. It would be very difficult for the National Trust not to accept the land in those circumstances and subject to that condition.

I think the noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, is perfectly correct in saying that he could not bind the Trust not to take any such decision in future. It may well be that this would be a decision they would want to take. I think he was not quite correct about inalienable land on one point: that is, when he said that it does not rest just with the National Trust; it is Parliament which has the final decision.

My attention has been directed to the National Trust for Scotland Order Confirmation Act 1935, that unless there is something in the Bill which qualifies Section 22(2), there is no Parliamentary consent necessary. The subsection says: Subject to the provisions of this section whenever after the commencement of this Order any lands or buildings shall become vested in the National Trust for Scotland the council may by resolution determine that such lands or buildings or such portions thereof as may be specified in such resolution are proper to be held for the benefit of the nation and such lands or buildings shall thereupon be so held by the National Trust for Scotland and shall be inalienable. Unless there is something else in the Bill to which my attention has not been directed, there is no provision in the Bill for Parliament setting that aside. Is there such a provision?


I think it was amended by the Act of 1947.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

Possibly there is a misunderstanding here. What I said a little while ago was that Parliament was the judge in the case—and by "case" I meant in any conflict that might arise about taking inalienable land for something else. I think the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is quite right in saying that statutorily the National Trust for Scotland can declare land inalienable without Parliamentary consent. What I said more recently was that if not in the past, certainly in the future it is not going to do this without being very careful indeed. But that is not consulting Parliament.


The debate throughout has been on a note of complete apology, and I do not propose to depart from that. I am just as much interested in protecting the lands of the National Trust of Scotland as any noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. That the Scottish Office is so can be gathered by the way we dealt with the Drumbuie —I must emphasise that it is Drumbuie, not Drambuie, which, there is no dispute at all, is an excellent liqueur.

I wish to inform my noble friend Lord Chorley that I do not think he does a service to the National Trust when he suggests as a possibility that what the Government are seeking to do is to find a way of reversing the decision taken on Drumbuie. The Secretary of Secretary of State has demonstrated that in given circumstances he accepts that there is a position where, even though it can be shown very strongly that in the national interest a piece of land should be used for oil purposes, the national interest in preserving an amenity can be even stronger. This happened in relation to Drumbuie. If the Secretary of State had wanted to take the easy way out inside Government, it would have been just as simple for him to take the decision that the national interest, so far as oil was concerned, overrode the interests of amenity. But he did not do so and he has no intention of overriding his own decision on this. Indeed, I doubt very much whether he would have the power to do so having taken that decision. So let there be no doubt about that. The decision that has been taken is final and there is no ulterior motive.

I wonder why it is that when Governments seek to do things of a general nature the first thought that seems to get into some people's minds is: "What are they up to that is not stated in the Bill?" In this case there is nothing. I am going to stick my neck out a little and say this—I may find I am promising something which my colleagues are unable to accept. If the references had been made only to the 40 miles or so of land which is presently inalienable, it might—and I will put it no stronger—be possible to accept the argument that it should be excepted. What we cannot do is place ourselves in the position of having to resort to Special Parliamentary procedures because somebody in the future makes the land inalienable. I think the way in which the case has been spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, the noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, does not want that position to be provided for. If it were possible to distinguish between what is there and what might be there in the future, then it is at least possible that we might be able to go a little further. As I say, I am sticking my neck out, and if I have to come back at the next stage and say: "I am sorry, I ought not to have said that", then I ask the House not to hold it against me. I am trying to be helpful but the final decision is not mine, of course: I am only one of the minor cogs.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and I will stick my neck out a little here. I believe that if the noble Lord and his colleagues will look carefully at this and at the suggestion made by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, about a greater degree of consultation—which of course is greater in England now than it is in Scotland—I believe a formula can be found. If we can find a formula then the giving will go on; so I have never withdrawn an Amendment with greater pleasure. I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Extinction of rights affecting land]:

6.44 p.m.

The Duke of ATHOLL moved Amendment No. 8: Page 4, line 9, leave out "may" and insert "shall".

The noble Duke said: We seem to be getting back to familiar ground when the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and I have a discussion on footpaths. I can assure him that this will be a friendly discussion, matching those on the same subject that we have had in the past. I hope it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak to Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 at the same time as Amendment No. 8, since they all bear on the same point.

When I read subsections (5) and (6) of Clause 2 of the Bill, I felt they must have been drafted by someone more familiar with English conditions than with Scottish ones, because in Scotland —although not, I believe, in England— the registration of rights of way by local authorities has hardly advanced at all. I think I am right in saying that in England it is obligatory on local authorities to register all rights of way within their areas, whereas in Scotland this is not so and very few local authorities have under-taken it as yet. There is a consequential difference in that Ordnance Survey maps in England show rights of way in red, and other footpaths in black, whereas in Scotland, because there is very little registration of rights of way, all footpaths are shown in black. I should therefore have thought that there was a practical difficulty regarding Clause 2(6), in that people would not necessarily know what was a right of way. That is my first point in putting down these three Amendments.

The second point is that very often a place is a popular one for walking. The English National Trust have had their Operation Neptune to try to secure as much of the coast as possible for the future benefit of the nation. The Scottish National Trust, as we have already heard, have not gone as far as that, but nevertheless it is universally recognised that, largely, the coast of Scotland is extremely beautiful and that many people like walking along the coastal footpaths which are not necessarily rights of way. I feel that in all cases these footpaths should be diverted and, if it is necessary to divert them in order to undertake operations under this Bill, alternative footpaths should be made as conveniently as possible to the coast, so that people may still go rambling along the coastline of Scotland. I cannot see that this would be very difficult.

I have no doubt that my Amendments are defective in some way—they nearly always are—but I am just opening this up now in order to get the Government's views, and see whether they could possibly give an undertaking that even if this is not written into the Bill they will, wherever possible, make it a condition of a local authority, or whoever it is, being able to acquire these sites, that they should provide a suitable footpath as conveniently as possible to the original path so that people may continue to wander around the coastline in the way they are used to. I should like to emphasise that the law of trespass in Scotland—if there is one, and I am sure there is—is not very often either observed or enforced. I beg to move.


I should very much like to support what the noble Duke says—


Would the noble Lord allow me to speak first? I think it will help him. First, I wish to say that on this occasion I do not know whether or not the noble Duke is breaking his duck, but we can find no defect in the Amendments. They are technically perfect—so much so that I am prepared to accept the first of them. However, I cannot do the same, at least at this stage, for the other two, for reasons which I think the noble Duke will find are not unreasonable. I may say—and this is letting cats out of bags which perhaps I ought not to do—that at first my brief was to resist them all on the grounds that they are not necessary, but my reaction is to say, "If it is not necessary but does no harm, let us accept it ". This applies to Amendment No. 8.

However, on the second and third Amendments, there is a fear that they may do harm. We queried whether adding the words "or footpath "would broaden the situation. The advice I have been given —and we consulted both the legal people and the draftsmen on the matter—is that the term "public rights of way" includes any footpath over which such a right exists. The words "or footpath" in that context are not necessary. I am not certain whether the next point has been raised by the noble Duke, but he certainly came near to it. If the noble Duke's concern is to ensure that a properly made-up path is provided in any case where the right of way stopped up under the powers of subsection (5) was a properly surfaced one, then the powers in Clause 10(1) of the Bill would authorise the Secretary of State to carry out the necessary works without further authority when providing the alternative right of way. Of course the Secretary of State would have to enter into an agreement with the owners of the land before proceeding with the works or acquiring the land.

The difficulty we have is that if we accept Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 we might be in difficulties in relation to the provisions of other enactments or throw doubt on them. For instance, Part III of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 contains detailed provisions in relation to rights of way, which by definition includes footpaths and bridleways or a combination of those—and I think that is what the noble Duke was referring to when he spoke of past exchanges on the subject of footpaths. The term is also used in the Town & Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972. Therefore, the fear of the draftsman is that if we alter the definition now in this provision it could throw doubts on the full value of the definition in these two previous Acts. As I know that the purpose of the noble Duke is to have these things protected, the last thing he would want to do in this Bill would be to risk limiting what is in two existing Acts of Parliament.

However, I should like to look at this matter again in the light of what the noble Duke has said and discuss it further to find out whether anything else can or need be done. If he does not move Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 I will write to him a little more fully, and he may decide that the matter is satisfactory or he may wish to return to it at the next stage.


I wanted to say only that these coastal footpaths are enormously used and liked by ramblers, of whom there are now tens of thousands in the British Isles. Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the Isle of Wight where a great deal has been done in that much built-up island to provide a coastal footpath all round the island. That is tremendously appreciated. Even in the depths of winter many people are found making use of it.

6.54 p.m.


I would add one word because in my local authority I am having great difficulty because a well-known footpath is in jeopardy as it is not supposed to be a right of way. I believe that technically it has never been designated a right of way. For a hundred years local inhabitants have used this path. It does not happen to be on the coast but in a lovely Border area. Great trouble is going on now because there is a technical difficulty over what is called a right of way and what is called a footpath. It would be a great help to anyone in the same position if both words were in the Bill. It may well be that what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, says is correct—indeed, I am sure it is—and the right of way includes the footpath. But in the area to which I refer there is a great argument because it is said that it does not. There are threats to close gates and not to allow people through—in fact, it has been done —because it is said that the path is not a right of way; it has been used for a hundred years but has never been designated a right of way. There is a muddle here, and it would be very acceptable if both words could appear without endangering the sense of this clause in the Bill. I would support the use of both words.


The noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, said she did not doubt the accuracy of what I said. I assure her it must be perfectly accurate, not because I said it—I do not claim any knowledge whatsoever of this subject— but because it is highly professional advice and it has been cross-checked. Therefore, it is probably right. But I am a little surprised. One of the matters I raised when we were discussing the subject this morning was whether there was not some provision whereby, if it could be shown that the public had had unrestricted access for a period of years, a right of way could be established. I am told that at one time if it could be shown that a path had been used for 40 years, that was the position, and subsequently the period was reduced to 20 years. So a path can become a right of way by prescription. It is not necessary to produce the centenarians to prove a path is a right of way. If it can be established that it has been used for 20 years, I should think that, if the local authority wants to deal with it, there need be no particular difficulty.

Nevertheless, I am prepared to make the provision as strong as possible, and if on further examination this is found to be the right way to deal with it (we did not have a great deal of time in our preparatory discussions because it was well after 12 o'clock when this stage was reached) I would be at one with the noble Duke. But I am sure he would agree with me that if the effect of this was to weaken the general situation amendments should not be made.


I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, not only for accepting Amendment No. 8 but for his encouraging words about Amendments Nos. 9 and 10. I would say one further word about them. The Scottish Rights of Way Society have deposited with the Countryside Commission maps showing all the rights of way in Scotland which they claim as rights of way. These have not necessarily been agreed with the landowners concerned or with the local authorities. There are probably many foot-paths of the kind my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood was speaking about which are not on their maps and which therefore they do not claim as rights of way. I do not say they are the fountain of all knowledge on this subject, but they are the interested body which protects rights of way. It would be a pity if some footpaths along our coast which are regularly used—and I have seen their map of my particular estate and there are quite a few footpaths which are fairly regularly used which they do not claim as rights of way—are not replaced by alternative routes when sites were taken for these developments. I thank the noble Lord for accepting the first of my three Amendments and for saying he will look again at the other two.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Lord CAMPBELL of CROY moved Amendment No. 11: After Clause 2, insert the following new Clause—

Accelerated planning procedure in special circumstances.

"In the application of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act. 1972. the Secretary of State shall not be required to hold a public inquiry where—

  1. (a) an application for planning permission or for change of use of land is related to coastal works or installation for the purposes of building offshore oil production platforms or of providing terminal facilities for supplies of offshore oil; and
  2. (b) it appears to him that such an application should be considered as a matter of urgency."

The noble Lord said: I suggest it would be convenient if Amendment No. 42 were taken with this Amendment as it is simply to extend the Long Title of the Bill to allow for this new clause. Because of the view we have expressed from this side of your Lordships' Committee about the expedited acquisition procedure—that it is not the best way to reduce delays in the special urgent circumstances which the Government mention—it is only reasonable that we should show how we think the alternative system would operate. The question is how to avoid the many months of delay which public inquiries and a very restricted range of cases can cause.

The Government already accept that for similar public inquiries there can be delays—in fact, inordinate delays—and in referring to public inquiries for compulsory acquisition the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Energy said at column 310 on the 10th December in the debate in another place: It is well known that the major hold-up is the public inquiry procedure. It is a procedure that can be extremely time-consuming in the process of land acquisition ". We agree with that. Situations can arise in typical forms such as this: first, applications to local authorities, together with any objections which are lodged, can be called in by the Secretary of State pro-vided they are of national importance. In the cases for which we think that there should be streamlining of the procedures and the kind of cases for which the Government are proposing the expedited acquisition procedure, where there is urgency and great national interest then the Secretary of State will probably call in such an application at an early stage.

Local authorities may grant permission; but there can be an appeal to the Secretary of State against the granting of that permission, and he has to take the final decision in a semi-judicial capacity. There is also the application to the Secretary of State for a change of use, a change of the development plan, and the Secre-tary of State can deal with this by an Article 8 direction or by approving an Amendment to the development plan.


If I could—


May I just deal with this point, because I am probably going to deal with the point which the noble Lord wishes to raise. At present the Secretary of State can settle a number of these matters without an inquiry. It is only in certain circumstances where there is a great weight of objection that the planning Acts have been interpreted in the past as meaning that the Secretary of State is obliged to hold an inquiry. I am not saying that he has to do so in all the circumstances I have mentioned, but these are the main ways in which the planning decisions come to him from the local authorities. As the noble Lord has said, many are dealt with by written representations, but where there is a tremendous weight of objection—for example, where an area that is recognised to be of great national beauty is involved—in the past the Secretary of State has felt obliged to hold an inquiry under the wording of the Planning Acts. I want to ask the Government whether they still accept this situation. One possible explanation for the Government's proposals in the Bill is that in the circumstances which we are discussing— the limited number of cases for which the expedited acquisition procedure is sought —the Government have decided that at the planning procedure stage, which precedes this, they just will not hold public inquiries. That would be an explanation, but we always considered that that could not be an interpretation of the present Acts. If one were to do away with public inquiries for certain cases, then one ought to seek a modernising adjustment to the Planning Acts—in Scotland the consolidated Planning Act of 1972.

I think that we are all agreed that we wish to speed-up the planning procedures. "Streamlining" was a word that I used. The previous Government took certain measures, such as introducing a corp of full-time reporters to take inquiries in Scotland. This had not happened before. They also introduced the system of recording by tapes; there were situations where proceedings were held up because the shorthand-writer was ill and there was nobody to transcribe the reporter's notes. All these possible causes of delay were examined so that the proceedings could be speeded-up. None the less, there is no doubt that, in what could become complicated proceedings, six to eight months might be involved in an inquiry. Perhaps four months would be taken up with the actual proceedings and adjournments of the oral hearings.

I am the first to say that this new clause is probably imperfectly drafted. I make no claims to the perfection which my noble friend the Duke of Atholl has attained on Amendment No. 9. Therefore it will save the time of your Lord-ships' if I suggest to the noble Lord that he does not simply find fault with the wording of the new clause, because my aim again is clarity of meaning so that your Lordships may see what is intended. If, in principle, the Government were persuaded to change the system, I have no doubt that they would be able to draft something much better. Therefore I will say at the start that I do not intend to defend the drafting. However, we believe that the streamlining of the planning procedures, which come before any compulsory acquisition procedures can be started, is a better alternative to what the Government are proposing.

May I ask the Government another question. If they are faced with an application which involves an area of Scotland which is of outstanding natural beauty and there is a massive weight of objection, with all or most of the amenity bodies concerned, do they intend to hold an inquiry? In the case of Kishorn they decided not to hold an inquiry, but as it is so close to Drambuie they felt that they could use the proceedings that had gone on there for many months. I under-stand that the parties also co-operated in agreeing to no further inquiry being held in that case. If, however, there was to be an urgent application of this kind in the national interest which involved some part of Scotland which is a long way from Loch Carron—I shall not go into the question of inalienability but confine my remarks to the other conditions of a thriving tourist industry which is in danger of being spoiled because it is a place of great natural beauty— what do the Government intend to do? We believe that to make a modernising change for a limited range of cases, as I have described, would be far preferable to eliminating the special Parliamentary procedures which the Govern-ment were seeking to do under subsection (7) of Clause 1. I beg to move.


If this clause were added to the Bill, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, would recognise that it would completely change the character of the Bill which is before us. It would very largely seek to sub-stitute the Bill which did not reach Parliament for the Bill which is before Parliament. In fact, it would render invalid part of what we have already done. I cannot believe that anybody who was seeking to protect the public interest would wish to see in the same Bill a procedure which could eliminate public inquiries at the planning stage and eliminate them at the compulsory purchase order stage as well.


I entirely agree. I tried to indicate that this was an alternative. If this were accepted, then the Parliamentary procedures would not need to be amended.


No, but we would have a devil of a job tidying up the Bill at Report stage, taking out what we had put in already! There are two completely different approaches to this problem. Both the previous Administration and the present Administration are in agreement that there are certain circumstances when to follow through all the cumbersome procedures which have applied in the past could create an impossible delay. The Government have chosen to deal with it in the way which is set out in the Bill. This is an alternative way of dealing with it, and we think that the method which has been adopted by the Government involves the least interference with public rights and individual rights.

The effect of the new clause would be to make it unnecessary in the specified circumstances to hold public inquiries under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, which leave the Secretary of State no discretion as to whether or not to hold an inquiry. I sought to intervene very early in the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, because I thought he said—but I may have missed out some words of his statement and this is what wanted to clarify—that if the local authority granted a planning application there could then be an appeal to the Secretary of State. Is that what the noble Lord said?


I under-stand that there are situations in which there could be an appeal.


The normal position is that when a local planning authority has granted a planning application which is in accordance with the approved development plan, there is in fact no appeal against the local authority's decision. This could be one of the circum-stances when the Secretary of State would call it in for his own consideration, because it would keep the matter more open than if the local authority were considered as fitting into their own approved development plan. In these circumstances there is, in fact, no appeal; the decision of the local authority is final unless there is an appeal to the Court of Session within a specified period, because the procedure has been faulty in some way. But that seldom happens.

Under some sections of the 1972 Act the Secretary of State is obliged to hold an inquiry. For example, if there are objections to a proposed amendment to the development plan, an inquiry must be held; if the Secretary of State calls in an application for planning permission for his own decision, and either the applicant or the planning authority requests a hearing, there must be a public inquiry; or if there is an appeal against the refusal of planning permission and the parties do not agree to put their cases to the Secretary of State by written submission, there must be a public inquiry. The effect of these three is that almost certainly in any case of major public interest a public inquiry must be held. So what the Amendment would do is to alter that position.

In other matters the Secretary of State has discretion over the holding of an inquiry. The making of a direction under Article 8 of the General Development Order, enabling the planning authority to grant planning permission for development which is not in accordance with the approved development plan, comes into this category. Article 8 directions account for quite a high proportion of oil-related planning references to the Secretary of State. I can quote the figures. Twelve Article 8 directions were concerned and in only two cases was it necessary to hold a public inquiry; namely, Portavadie and Dunnet Bay. In these cases the Secretary of State is not obliged to hold an inquiry, although he will do so if there are substantial objections and he considers that an inquiry is necessary.

So we have three directions in which the Secretary of State has no option and when a public inquiry must be held. When the Government say that the planning procedure will be adhered to before the expedited procedure on compulsory acquisition, it covers these first three sets of conditions. Secondly, in the case of an Article 8 direction, although the Secretary of State is not obliged to hold an inquiry the practice has been— and I am sure it was so in the time of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and it certainly is so with the present Secretary of State—that where there are substantial objections he will normally consider that an inquiry is necessary.

The new clause would not affect these discretionary inquiries; it would still be the position that the Secretary of State could or could not, as he thought proper. It would give the Secretary of State discretion in cases where he is at present obliged to hold an inquiry. But how many serious delays to oil-related developments have arisen, because the Secretary of State was obliged, without any choice in the matter, to hold a public inquiry? The delays which have arisen have usually been the result of discretionary inquiries into applications for Article 8 directions.

Leaving aside the practical question of delay, there is a vital issue of principle here. The Government have repeatedly stated in relation to this Bill that it is our intention not to interfere in any way with the planning process. If we were to do this it would be tearing up all the undertakings which the Government have given in another place. The noble Lord will say that, of course, we are taking the other aspect out because if this goes in the other part—in relation to compulsory purchase—must come out. It is essential that the decisions as to where major developments should take place are reached in a fair and open manner. Even if we gave the Secretary of State complete discretion over the holding of planning inquiries, it is in the nature of this Government's policy that public inquiries will continue to be held where they are necessary, despite the risks of delay, as happens at present with discretionary inquiries into Article 8 directions. It is significant that in the Bill we are providing an expedited procedure for the acquisition of land only once the planning issues have been settled.

I may be over-simplifying when I say this, but I think that if we allow the planning procedure to go ahead with the inquiry in cases of importance or major interest, the whole range of matters is covered. The owner of the land which may be the subject of compulsory acquisition has the opportunity at that stage of coming in, but it is not only the owner of the land—other people are in at this stage. If we cut out the inquiries, then we have to rest on the compulsory purchase inquiry and that does not cover the wide general interest. So I hope I am not exaggerating the position when I say that the procedure in this clause could lead to just as much expedition as the procedure that the Government are adopting. It may be neither better nor worse; it may be as good or it may not be. I would not argue one way or the other on that, but certainly it would eliminate the public inquiry on the widest possible basis and substitute the public inquiry on the narrower basis of compulsory purchase, which we do not think is in the interests either of amenity or of other issues of national concern.

We accept that the process of ordinary planning procedures has given rise to delay, but I should like to repeat what I said at the earlier stage. The attitude of the public to planning procedures is governed by the Drambuie inquiry, the Turnhouse inquiry and so on—those which take a long time. But, as I said, there were 41,000 planning decisions last year and I believe that less than 500 of those were the subject of further proceedings of any sort. So in the great majority of cases the procedure is perfectly proper. But in considering that small number— the ones which hit the headlines and sometimes the ones which are very important, particularly the oil rig ones—we do not wish to take up any time that can be avoided without prejudice to the interests seeking to have the inquiry.

The noble Lord has referred to the improvement in these procedures during his time at the Scottish Office, and as a result of the decision then made we are now in the position of having four full-time Reporters in Scotland. At the present time, we are engaged in interviews which we hope will result in increasing the number of full-time Reporters to eight. This, in itself, will make a tremendous difference because, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, would be the first to recognise, one of the big difficulties at the present time, and the reason why he took the decision that there should be full-time Reporters, was the time one had to wait for the advocate who was acting as a part-time Reporter to find the time to take up the case, and the extent to which it was sometimes interfered with, because he had other jobs to do; the time that elapsed before he could get down to putting his findings on paper, and the time when he could find an opportunity to submit his recommendations. The full-time Reporter does not have any such outside calls upon his time. That decision we wholeheartedly support. If we could say that the decision of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, was responsible for the first four being appointed, then we could not give it better backing than to say now that we are seeking to add another four. If we can get others and it proves necessary, eight is not necessarily the end of the day. But we are going further.

We have had the report of a discussion group which included representatives from the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals which the Secretary of State invited to consider public inquiry procedures. As a result we are about to issue a memorandum setting out a new code of guidance for taking public inquiries. This code will preserve the Franks principles of openness, fairness and impartiality, yet if properly and consistently practised by all concerned it will considerably reduce the time, and therefore the cost and formality, of public inquiries. On these procedures, we have gone as far as we can go if we are to carry the law with us. What is going out has the support of the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland. We would have wished to go further, but when we see how this works at the next stage these people may be more forthcoming. What will be coming out in the next ten days will cut down the time spent in the inquiry, but will not cut out the fair hearing of people's views.

For all these reasons, I think that the procedure in the Bill will save as much time as would be saved if this clause were put in. It means less interference with the general rights to consider these major schemes than if we did the shortening at the expense of cutting out a certain number of public inquiries. The noble Lord asked whether it was the Government's intention not to hold public inquiries in certain cases. If I had put that question to him when he was Secretary of State, he would have said, "I cannot possibly give any such assurance ". I must say the same to him. All the evidence of the intention of the Government on this matter is that, given the expedited procedure on compulsory purchase, there is an obligation not to withhold a public inquiry where it is obviously in the public interest that this should be held. Where disagreements can be resolved—as happens in so many cases where objections are withdrawn because of discussion taking place—this will continue to be done.

Sometimes this is regarded as a cause of delay; someone makes an application and some time elapses before a decision is taken, because there is much negotiation. Sometimes the negotiation is successful and all the objections are resolved. but sometimes it is not completely successful and, after all the negotiations that took place, the public inquiry still goes ahead. In such cases as this, people say, "Why has it taken all this time to decide that a public inquiry will be held?". This is unavoidable unless we are to ride over public interests.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, will feel, having taken this opportunity of explaining the alternative way of working—a way which the Government do not find acceptable—that he must at least concede the fact that it is possible that our method will save as much time as that suggested. As Governments are entitled to have their preferences in the way they present legislation, the noble Lord cannot expect me to accept this Amendment when it has no conceivable advantages in time saving.


Of course, I have no intention of pressing this Amendment which, as the noble Lord has said would almost be a wrecking one at this stage of the Bill. But it has given the Government the opportunity to state their intentions. I am grateful to the noble Lord for having gone so far in indicating the kinds of inquiries which will have to be held because they are obligatory, and also for speaking of others as discretionary. I am also grateful to him for accepting that in the discretionary category there are some circumstances in which the Secretary of State would be virtually compelled to hold an inquiry. The noble Lord mentioned Dunnet Bay, where I felt an inquiry was necessary because many of the amenity bodies, such as the Countryside Commission and others, were objecting. That might have delayed—it did not, in fact, do so, but it took many months—production there if the company had not been doubtful about where they were going, and had not made up their minds before my decision was announced.

Ardyne Point; another example of where it was difficult to decide whether or not an inquiry was needed. There were not many objections. It is a beautiful part of the Firth of Clyde, but objections were not very great in number and it was possible to give planning permission without an inquiry in a very short space of time. This has now expanded to three berths, and has been hailed as a success because the platforms of concrete and steel are being built there. Had an inquiry been necessary, work would only just be starting today—nearly two years later. So there are not the number of cases that the noble Lord mentioned which do not go to inquiry, because the first platform building sites were easy ones. The steel platforms did not require difficult sites, and it was possible for people to go to places which were not bird sanctuaries, or which were not objectionable for some other reason.


The reason why they were not difficult was that the sites were already zoned for industrial development, and the decision could be taken by the local authority within the development plan. If they granted it, there was no appeal against their decision.


I do not wish to contradict, but the first two were Nigg Bay and Ardersier both within 20 miles of my own home. Both were Article 8 directions, if my memory serves me correctly.


I am thinking of the Fife one.


Yes, that was a simple one because it was an industrial area on the Forth. I was not even mentioning that as one of the possibilities. Also, when numbers are mentioned of planning cases, this is in a different category from the garages, the by-passes of villages and the normal run of planning applications. Unfortunately, the kind of platforms now being required, and the types that may be required in future, can be built only in certain places. Regrettably, those places have been found to be places of great natural beauty, or places where the community as very sparse and the social impact could be very harmful. I know the Government have been saying for months that they are not intending to alter planning procedures. We think this is a pity. The fact that the Government have been saying this means that they cannot change their minds now, and the noble Lord said that. Despite the improvement in machinery which the noble Lord mentioned, I do not see how difficult inquiries can fail to take several months. That is still the problem we have to face. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 [Designated sea areas] :

7.30 p.m.

Lord HENLEY moved Amendment No. 12 : Page 4, line 31. leave out from ("shall") to end of line 32 and insert (" not be made unless a draft of it has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament.")

The noble Lord said: This clause deals with designated sea areas and my Amendment seeks to change from Negative Resolution to Affirmative Resolution any Order dealing with designated sea areas. There may be very good reasons why the Government did not change this particular Order from Negative Resolution to Affirmative Resolution, as they did when dealing with expedited acquisition orders. The Government changed their original intention of having a Negative Resolution on expedited acquisition orders due to pressure in another place in order, if I may say so, to prevent the Secretary of State riding roughshod over conservation and amenity interests. Why was the same change not made here? As I say, there may be very good reasons. I beg to move.


I think there are good reasons, and I am fairly certain that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, will not be disagreeing with me when I have stated them. The purpose of the Amendment is to make the sea designation orders subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure, as he said. Since they apply to specific areas of sea, the Orders might become hybrid and then be subject to the Lords Hybrid Special Orders procedure about which we have had a great deal to say already. That is not certain. It may not be so. Similar Amendments to make it affirmative rather than negative were debated and rejected in another place.

The reasons why we did not substitute Affirmative for Negative procedure were these. Unlike an expedited acquisition order, a sea designation order does not of itself directly affect the property or interests of any person. No immediate consequences flow from the order, unless someone is already carrying out relevant operations in the area. Admittedly, an order is a necessary preliminary to the making of regulations and the granting of licences. However, these are not so much concerned with authorising opera-tions as with the control and regulation of developments which could otherwise take place in an uncontrolled and unregulated way. The purpose of making an order is, therefore, to provide an administrative framework, and for this type of instrument the Negative Resolution procedure is most appropriate.

In the previous case the precedents were all on the side of the noble Lord, Lord Henley. In this case, I am happy to say, the precedents are all on my side. But I do not want to found too greatly on that, because I never like to find that we cannot do something in legislation because it has not been done before. After all, if we had always followed that we would never have had any legislation at all. The precedents are these. The following are examples of orders which can be made under existing legislation subject to annulment by either House, whose effect is to designate an area of sea or land for the exercise of special powers. Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967: Orders under Sections 4, 5 and 6 restricting fishing by licensed boats in specified sea areas, and prohibiting the landing of fish caught in specified areas. Local Employment Act 1972: Orders under Sections 1 and 18 declaring part of the country to be a development area, or revoking that status. New Towns (Scotland) Act 1968: Orders under Sections 1 and 46 designating the site of a New Town, but only if objected to by the planning authority for the area.

The precise method of designating areas has not yet been settled. We want to discuss with local authorities, harbour authorities, the fishing interests and any others affected, where it might be helpful to consider how the power might be used. Let us take Loch Fyne as an example, since it contains several stretches of deep water suitable for completing the fabrication of concrete platforms and may be an area to which the provisions of the Bill will be applied. Depending on the views of the local people, it might be sensible to designate at the outset a large area of the Loch so as to have a co-ordinated system of controls. Alternatively, local opinion might prefer that the designation orders should be made only in relation to specific areas of water as the need arose. We would wish to consider these possibilities, but in the latter case we might need a number of orders. It would seem rather heavy handed to make each of them subject to Affirmative Resolution procedure. I hope, therefore, that as the purpose of this is to be helpful in generally preventing undue noise, undue nuisance, preserving amenity and the method by which we are going to consult all the interests concerned—the precedents which are there— the noble Lord will accept that the Negative Resolution procedure is not an unsatisfactory way of dealing with these sea designation orders.


I thank the noble Lord very much. His arguments seem to me to be satisfactory. I apologise to your Lordships for not having noticed that this was debated in another place. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Licences in relation to operations in designated sea areas.]:

7.36 p.m.


The next Amendment should be numbered 13.


I think possibly the noble Lord opposite will agree with me that as well as the harbour authority, which may or may not exist in the area of operations, it is important that the relevant local authority and river purification board should be consulted. In the cases I am thinking of it would of course at present be the county council, and in the near future will be district and regional councils. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 5, line 14, at end insert (" and the relevant local authority and the river purifica-tion board ").—(The Earl of Cromartie.)


I had noted that the Amendment was not numbered, and I thought perhaps it was because the noble Earl was superstitious. He would have been justified, because what it says at the top of my brief is "Resist". The effect of the Amendment would be to require the Secretary of State to consult with the relevant local authority and the river purification board before granting a licence. It would not have any effect in an area such as Loch Carron and the Inner Sound of Rassay because they do not have a harbour authority.

Clause 3 provides for statutory consultation by the Secretary of State with local authorities before a sea designation order is made. That seems to us to be the right stage at which to involve the authority, and those in another place considered that this consultation should be on a statutory basis. At that stage the kind of relevant operations that are likely to be carried on in the area will be known. The views of the local authorities on the most suitable locations for offshore operations and shore bases, and on the kind of restrictions that should apply to the conduct of the operations can then be sought and taken into account. Thereafter it should not be necessary for the Secretary of State to be statutorily required to approach the local authorities every time he issues a new licence, though of course there would be nothing to stop him from consulting them if unforeseen circumstances arose, and he would, as a matter of good administrative practice, do so. As the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, would be prepared to assure me, it is not a part of the ordinary procedure of Secretaries of State for Scotland to search out ways of making difficulties for themselves; they in fact try to make life easier. Good administrative practice is normally followed.

He would also consult the river purification board if, for example, there was any question of a discharge of effluent to tidal waters within their area of jurisdiction; just as he would consult the Post Office and the Electricity Board if there was any risk to their submarine cables, the ferry operators if their routes were interfered with, no doubt the local yacht clubs, if their racing courses were likely to be affected. This is all good administrative practice, but it does not have to be spelt out in the Bill. These various interests will not be affected on every single occasion when a licence is issued. A harbour authority is, however, in a special position. It has general responsibility for control and protection of navigation in its area, and it is almost inconceivable that any licence would not have implications for a harbour authority. Therefore, it seems right that they should always be consulted. I hope I have said sufficient to persuade the noble Earl. Lord Cromartie, that the point he has in mind is adequately taken care of without this Amendment being made.


I should like to thank the Minister for his reply. I find it perfectly satisfactory. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Terms and effect, etc. of licences under s. 4]:

7.40 p.m.

The Earl of CROMARTIE moved Amendment No. 14: Page 6, line 4, after (" a ") insert (" public community or ").

The noble Earl said: The clause quite correctly gives a right of compensation to a private owner, but it might well occur that a publicly-owned area can be in the same position, and I consider that it is right that this clause be amended to include such an area. I am thinking of land which is taken over, say, by a county council, or possibly by a village community. I beg to move.


When the Bill was under consideration in the other place, Amendments seeking to provide compensation for the loss of public fishing rights were debated at some considerable length. So far as interference with fishing in designated sea areas is concerned, the Government have no reason to believe that the Bill poses any greater threat to the fishing industry than already arises from the carrying out of works authorised under existing harbours legislation. That legislation does not provide compensation for loss of public fishing rights, so we should be introducing a new principle if we provide for such compensation in this Bill. This question of compensation in respect of fishing rights raises difficult issues which arise over the whole extent of off-shore oil operations and go well beyond the problems raised by this Bill, which will affect only waters close inshore. Even if compensation for loss of public fishing rights were desirable in principle, there are considerable practical difficulties in evolving a fair and workable scheme for the establishment of bona fide claims and for the assessment of compensation. The Government fully recognise the difficulties, and these questions are now being examined by the Fisheries and Offshore Oil Consultative Group with a view to assessing the impact on fishing, so that consideration can be given to the point of principle involved.

As a result of consultations within the Fisheries and Offshore Oil Consultative Group, the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association has already, for example, agreed in principle to the pro-visions of compensation for damage to gear from oil-related debris. Details are being worked out. This will be a voluntary scheme, and will not rely on legis-lation to make it work. The Bill already does much to protect the interests of fishermen. This is one of the purposes behind designated sea areas, which are intended to control operations through licensing and regulations so as to cause the minimum disturbance to other sea users. The Secretary of State must, under Clause 3(1), consult with the fishermen's organisations before he makes a sea designation order; he can impose licence conditions which take account of matters affecting fishing; and he can make regulations for the specific purpose of protecting fishing.

So far as the next Amendment is concerned, it is not entirely clear what other "public community" rights might be interfered with by sea-based relevant operations. The noble Earl may have in mind crofters' rights or udal rights, but the subsection relates only to such rights where they exist "in the sea or seabed" (see subsection (3)). The general principle still, however, holds good, that it is impracticable to compensate people for the loss of what are essentially public rights.


I rise to support the noble Earl. I also have an Amendment down which, though it says something different, means the same as this Amendment. I shall speak to this Amendment and not move my Amendment. I put my Amendment down basically because I thought that there was an important point of principle here which ought to be discussed in your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was kind enough to write to me putting the Government's position on it very reasonably, and I have also read the debate on Report stage in another place.

The principle involved here is very simple. It is that those who are deprived of their livelihood, or whose livelihood is affected by the activities of oil companies or other people, should be compensated, whether they actually use land or property or merely have the right to fish in a certain area which is open to the whole public, although on the other hand the whole public has possibly not invested £30,000 or more in buying a boat and the necessary tackle. I appreciate that the Government are in difficulties here and that it is an unprecedented situation to try to quantify public rights. On the other hand, I might call Lord Balogh's attention to a rather ingenious Amendment in another place produced by my honourable friend the Member for East Dundee, who is much cleverer than I am. The Amendment is not canonical, and I do not think that anybody wants to be dogmatic about how this ought to be done, but I think it would be of great comfort to the inshore fishermen and other people affected by the possible loss of public rights if they were assured by the Government and those in authority that at any rate some scheme was being sought whereby loss of this sort could be compensated.

Finally, may I deal with one argument urged by the Government in the other place. It was urged there that if inshore fishermen were compensated it would create an anomaly, as deep-sea fishermen would not also be compensated. I can only say that we already have an anomaly in that owners of salmon rivers and other private rights are already compensated, whereas no one dependent on the open sea, whether inshore or deep sea, is to be compensated at all. Surely if we do justice to one group of fishermen, or one group of people, we cannot be doing wrong merely because we have not yet come up with a workable scheme for another group.

I would conclude by saying that what I should wish from this Amendment is a serious commitment from the Government that they will give urgent consideration to the point of principle involved in this matter. Even if they say that it is unworkable, I hope that they will concede the common justice of the case that these people have and therefore do their best to try to work out some scheme whereby they could be compensated. Again I would refer the Government to the ingenious scheme produced in another place by my honourable friend the Member for Dundee, East.


I thought that I had explained that the Amendment was fully considered in another place and there was a long discussion. I do not agree with the noble Lord that he is in any way second to his friends in the Lower House. The particular Amendment to which he refers does not stand up to examination. It is an extremely difficult problem. We agree that an unprecedented situation has been created for fishermen, but the matter is being considered by the Fisheries Consultative Group, and the very fact that my right honourable friend is in close touch with the fishery representatives should perhaps give solace to the noble Lord, even if I cannot accept his Amendment.


I thank the Minister for his answer. I am satisfied that this has not been forgotten and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Regulations for protection and control of operations in designated sea areas]:

7.52 p.m.

Lord BALOGH moved Amendment No. 16: Page 7. line 2, after "persons" insert "and the movement of any vehicles or vessels".

The noble Lord said: May I move this Amendment in the name of my noble friend. This is a drafting Amendment relating to the Government Amendment to Clause 7(2). Its purpose is to amplify the description of matters with respect to which the Secretary of State may under Clause 6(1) make regulations for designated sea areas. Its effect is to make clear that regulations may be made for the purpose of regulating the movement of vessels in the designated area. A power of this kind—which is generally available to harbour authorities—may be necessary to enable the Secretary of State to exercise the degree of control necessary for the mutual protection of safety of "relevant operations" and other traffic in the area. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 [Execution and enforcement of regulations, etc. in designated sea areas]:

Lord BALOGH moved Amendment No. 17: Page 7, line 32, at end insert—

For the purpose of executing or enforcing regulations made under section 6 of this Act, any officer or servant of the Secretary of State or of a harbour authority or local authority to whom the powers of the Secretary of State have been delegated under subsection (1) above may. if authorised to execute or enforce the said regulations,

  1. (a) at any reasonable time board or enter any vessel, platform or other installation located in a designated sea area ;
  2. (b) if the person in charge of the said vessel, platform or other installation cannot be found or if he negects or refuses to do anything reasonably required for the purpose of execution or enforcement of the said regulations, himself (at the expense of the owner) do anything reasonably required for that purpose, including the removal of any vessel."

The noble Lord said: May I with permission move this Amendment in the name of my noble friend. The purpose of this Amendment is to broaden the powers of Clause 7 regarding the enforcement of regulations in designated sea areas so as to give a specific power to board vessels. The arrangements envisaged under Clause 7 as at present drafted are of the nature of "policing powers" to enable the Secretary of State (or a delegated authority) to ensure a surveillance over the area for the purpose of enforcing and ensuring compliance with the regulations. But they give no express power to board vessels for that purpose. Our legal advice is that such powers, if required, should be stated expressly.

The power might be necessary where, for instance, a ship which had broken down was obstructing operations and its owners refused to move it. The owners would be guilty of an offence under the regulations and be liable to a fine but the more immediate need would be to remove the obstruction. Similar powers might be necessary in relation to platforms or other installations located in the designated sea areas, for instance, to ensure that a regulation regarding pollution was being observed. The Amendment would give to the Secretary of State powers similar to those available in prescribed circumstances to regulating and enforcement authorities of one kind or another under other legislation for instance under the Harbours Act 1964 and the Harbours Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847, the Sea Fisheries Act 1968 and the Dumping at Sea Act 1974. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 [Reinstatement of land held under Act]:

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 18: Page 8, line 11, at end insert "and such other bodies ".

The noble Lord said: By leave of your Lordships, I would move this Amendment in the name of the noble Duke who has, as so many Scotsmen at this hour, to catch a train to the far frozen North. I should like to move Amendment No. 18 but not with it, at this stage, Amendment No. 19. There is an important point here which I think the Department must have missed in drafting this Bill. The Secre-tary of State, if he considers that land is no longer needed, reinstates it to the condition it was before, … after consulting such local authorities as appear to him to be concerned. Before reinstatement is carried out he consults, … with such other bodies as he considers appropriate.

My noble friend wanted to say—and I quite agree with him—that before deciding to reinstate, the Secretary of State should consult not only local authorities who appear to be concerned but also "such other bodies" as appear to him to be concerned. This seems to be an entirely reasonable provision and I beg to move.


I should like to support this Amendment. Knowing as I do all the work of local authorities I know that there is quite a lot of activity and interest among people who are not on local authorities but on preservation societies or in other groups interested in such a thing as the reinstatement of land. It would be most valuable if their opinions were taken before any decision was made. It would be a mistake if local authorities only were consulted because, although it is true that they represent a very large section of the population, there are other interests which have every right to be considered and brought in here. I support the Amendment very strongly indeed.


The Government accept this Amendment, and, as the hour is late, I shall not enlarge on the reason why they do so. It has clarified the drafting without substantially changing the effect and, therefore, we accept it. May I say to the noble Lord that we would also accept Amendment No. 19, if he were to move it.

On Question, Amendment No. 18 agreed to.


I am grateful to the noble Lord and I beg to move Amendment No. 19.

Amendment moved—

Page 8, leave out lines 13 to 15.—(Lord Craigton.)

On Question, Amendment No. 19 agreed to.

Lord STRATHCONA and MOUNT ROYAL moved Amendment No. 20: Page 8, line 19, after "aforesaid" insert "which purpose shall be specified in an order a draft of which has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament

The noble Lord said: I had some difficulty in drafting this Amendment. It is intended to follow a point made on Second Reading by which we were seeking to apply the Affirmative Parliamentary procedure to any scheme to change the use of land which has been compulsorily acquired. We are not disputing that there are cases where land has been taken over—for instance, a platform building site has been developed—and a considerable amount of disturbance has taken place in what might be called the social fabric; this becomes adapted to the change and therefore one can imagine circumstances in which it may be unfortunate to try to change it back again. One can imagine circumstances in which some kind of provision, such as is provided by this clause, is desirable, but there are two points.

The first point is that by its very nature platform building is a long drawn out process and it is most unlikely that there would be anything but a fairly long warning before a site was no longer required for building concrete platforms. Therefore there is no danger that a local authority, and, indeed, the Government, would not have reasonable time in which to realise that this employment was going to be phased out. One is on a two-year building programme here so one would have plenty of time to consider it. Bearing in mind that the land has been compulsorily acquired for one purpose, we are now suggesting that without any further ado it should be used for another purpose. There seems to me to be no good reason why the Government should not come back to Parliament and get an order for change of use. I beg to move.


The noble Lord's expression "without further ado", would appear from my brief to be an overstatement. Clause 8 (2) provides that the Secretary of State need not carry out reinstatement of land which is no longer required for the purposes of the Bill if he is satisfied, after consulting local authorities and other bodies, that the land should be used for a different purpose or should not, for any other reason, be reinstated. The Amendment requires any different purpose for which it is intended that the land should be used to be specified in an Order and approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament. There are already extensive controls over the use to which the land could be put as an alternative to reinstatement. First, the Secretary of State must consult local authorities and other bodies concerned, such as the Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission for Scotland. Then any material change of use of the land, or works on the land, would come within the scope of the Town and Country Planning law. With a few minor exceptions it would involve the intending developer in applying for planning permission. Even if the proposed development were to be carried out by a Government Department which does not need planning permission, there is a procedure applying whereby the proposals are notified to the planning authority for its observations and whereby publicity can be given to the proposals and, if necessary, a public inquiry can be held.

The noble Lord is suggesting that all this is not enough and that the scarce time of Parliament should be taken up by what is essentially a local planning matter. There is a very important distinction to be drawn between compulsory acquisition of land under an expedited acquisition order and the making of a change of use in land already in the ownership of the Secretary of State. In the former case someone is about to be deprived of the land he owns or occupies and it is right that such action should be subject to the most stringent safeguards. Where change of use is concerned, that sort of direct effect on the rights of the individual does not arise and it is really a matter to be sorted out between the planning authority and the Secretary of State, with a public inquiry if necessary. After hearing the explanation which I have given, I hope the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for those explanations. I am not entirely convinced, but I do not think there is any need for me to press the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 [Arrangements to ensure reinstatement of other land developed for purposes connected with offshore petroleum]:

8.4 p.m.

Lord BALOGH moved Amendment No. 21: Page 8, line 30, leave out (" under section 27(1)(b) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972").

The noble Lord said: I move this Amendment with Amendment No. 22 and in the name of my noble friend. When the clause in its present form was debated in another place the Government took the view that "a specified period "—an expression used in Section 27(l)(b) of the 1972 Planning Act—did not have to be expressed as a number of months or years and that, for instance, it could be a period contingent upon certain events. Counter-arguments, however, were advanced that under the present drafting of the Bill such a condition would have to relate to a period specified in terms of numbers of months or years and thus would be completely unrealistic in its application to an oil development of unknown duration. In particular, it was suggested that a condition could be imposed under Section 26 of the 1972 Act. The Government undertook to review the matter.

While not agreeing with that very narrow interpretation of "specific period ", we accept that it is desirable to clarify that the use of the power in Clause 9 is not restricted to circumstances where it is possible to specify in advance an exact period of time in a planning condition. Our Amendment seeks to achieve this aim. We hope that it will assist planning authorities in imposing a requirement under Clause 9 when the planning condition to which it relates is expressed in terms of a period of years or some other less narrowly defined specific period. We seek to achieve this situation simply by removing the words which have given rise to the doubts. The third Amendment has the purpose of ensuring that a requirement under Clause 9 might be enforced if it were a condition of the planning consent to which it relates. This would enable a planning authority to take enforcement action under the machinery provided in Part V of the 1972 Planning Act, where a developer attempted to start work in accordance with the planning permission without first making arrangements, to the authority's satisfaction, for providing or guaranteeing the reinstatement funds. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 23: Page 8, line 33, leave out (" may ") and insert ("shall").

The noble Lord said: In this Amendment my noble friend the Duke of Atholl has said that satisfactory arrangements must obviously be made. Would it not be right that they should be obligatory, instead of at the desire or otherwise of the authority? In the short time available to me I have tried to think of some case in which the authority would not desire to make satisfactory arrangements for rein-statement. I have been unable to think of one. I know that my noble friend and I will be glad to hear the Minister's reply. I beg to move.


The noble Duke's Amendments are Nos. 23, 26 and 27. The effect of these would be to leave planning authorities no choice as to whether they require guarantee arrangements; they would be obliged to insist upon such arrangements every time they granted planning permission for oil-related development with reinstatement conditions attached. What is at present a power would become a duty. Clause 9, as at present drafted, is already quite rigorous in its application. The Secretary of State is given power to direct the planning authority to impose a guarantee requirement. He must approve any such arrangements and can give general or specific directions to planning authorities about the exercise of the powers. However, the planning authority will have responsibility for imposing planning conditions and ensuring that they are carried out. Under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, planning authorities have extensive powers to enforce planning conditions. If a developer defaults and fails to carry out reinstatement the authority can do the work itself and recover the cost from the developer.

The problem arises where the developer has meanwhile gone bankrupt or is for any other reason not accessible for recovery of the debt. It is this circumstance which Clause 9 is designed to cover. A planning authority will generally be the best judge as to whether a guarantee is needed. The Secretary of State can keep an eye on things and intervene as necessary. However, this Amendment would deny the planning authority any discretion in the matter. We doubt whether the Amendment would be welcomed by the local authorities. It attempts to restrict the scope of local decision-making by elected bodies. It could lead to guarantee requirements being imposed where they are not really needed because the scale or duration of development is of a limited kind. I therefore hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the Amendment in the name of the noble Duke.


I am in a difficulty. The noble Lord, Lord Balogh, read so fast that I did not hear his answer. I thought he said that the Amendment would deny any discretion whatever to the planning authority, but I believe he was discussing Amendments Nos. 23, 26 and 27 together. Am I right?




Amendment No. 26 says that no requirement may be imposed except with the approval of the Secretary of State, which means that the local authorities have very little discretion. My noble friend wants to say that the approval of the Secretary of State shall be obtained for any arrangement entered into. In other words, my noble friend wants to do exactly what I think I understood the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, to say; that is, give the local authorities more, and not less, discretion. One arranges this first and then one applies to the Secretary of State; whereas, under the noble Lord's suggestion, the Secretary of State says, "I will tell you what to do." I do not want to prolong the proceedings, but I am in a difficulty about this.


It is the word "shall ". The wording is, The approval of the Secretary of State shall be obtained for any arrangement".


I give the noble Lord the point about "shall". I do not think my noble friend would argue about that. It is the taking of Amendment No. 23 together with No. 26 which I find difficult to understand.


I suggest that we could sort this out at the next stage of the Bill. Reinforcements have just arrived, and I shall gladly hand over to my noble friend if the noble Lord so desires.


The point at issue is that I do not think that Amendments Nos. 23, 24 and 26 are on the same point. What I should like to do is to withdraw the Amendment and formally move No. 26 in the hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, can tell me whether or not that gives the local authorities more or less discretion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Earl of Cork and Orrery)

Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 are in the wrong order. I must therefore call Amendment No. 25 before Amendment No. 24.


I think that Amendment No. 24 was discussed with Nos. 21 and 22. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 8, line 38, at end insert "and any such requirement shall have effect as if it were a further condition of the grant of planning permission, and shall be enforceable accordingly."—[Lord Hughes.]


As the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was not in the Chamber earlier, I should just say that as this is consequential on Amendment No. 21 we do not wish to raise any further argument against it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord CRATGTONmoved Amendment No. 26: Page 8, line 39, leave out subsection (2) and insert— (2) The approval of the Secretary of State shall be obtained for any arrangement entered into under subsection (1) above.

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this Amendment, and I wish only to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has to say about it. I beg to move.


My noble friend Lord Balogh said that reinforcements had arrived. I had been out for the purpose of securing reinforcements and am not sure whether it is an advantage when one comes back. Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 go together, as I understand it, and the effect would be to leave planning authorities no choice as to whether to require guarantee arrangements. They would be obliged to insist on such arrangements every time they granted planning permission for oil related development with a reinstatement condition attached. What is at present a power would become a duty.

Clause 9 as at present drafted is already quite rigorous in its application. The Secretary of State is given power to direct a planning authority to impose a guarantee requirement, he must approve any such arrangements, and he can give general or specific directions to planning authorities about the exercise of these powers. However, the planning authority itself will have the responsibility for imposing planning conditions and ensuring that they are carried out. Planning authorities have extensive powers under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 to enforce planning conditions. If a developer defaults and fails to carry out reinstatement, the authority can do the work themselves and recover the cost from the developer. The problem arises if the developer has meanwhile gone bankrupt, or is for any other reason not accessible for the recovery of the debt. It is this circumstance which Clause 9 is designed to cover.

The planning authority will generally be the best judge as to whether a guarantee is needed. The Secretary of State can keep an eye on things and intervene if necessary. The Amendment would, how-ever, deny the planning authority any discretion in the matter. We doubt whether the Amendment would be welcomed by local authorities. It attempts to restrict the scope of local decision-making by elected bodies. It could lead to guarantee requirements being imposed where they are not really needed at all, because the scale or duration of development is very limited.

If the position is that a local authority decides to require guarantees to be effected, the Secretary of State has the power to say whether or not these are acceptable. So the position in which a local authority takes the initiative in the matter is covered. If there is any danger that the local authority will not seek to obtain a guarantee in circumstances where it would seem to the Secretary of State that this ought to be done, then the Secretary of State can issue a direction that they should seek such guarantees; and, clearly, in such circumstances the question of his approval would not arise, because he would not direct a local authority to do something of which he would not in due course approve. So we think that it is better to give the local authorities discretion, and to work on the basis that local authorities act responsibly in matters of this kind, particularly as the Secretary of State has power to direct them to do so in the odd case in which they would not be acting as the Secretary of State felt was necessary.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. He was much clearer than the brief and I understand the point. Though, on behalf of my noble friend, I must reserve the right to look at this again, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill?


We got into a slight muddle in the earlier discussions, and I intended to raise one or two points on Amendment No. 21. It is simply that there is a certain amount of unhappiness in certain quarters that there may be some undesirable effects from some of the financial requirements and sanctions which will be imposed on these planning permissions. The real point is this. Can the noble Lord give us any undertakings as to whom he will consult before provisions of this kind are made? Will he consult the firms who are likely to seek planning permission? Will he consult with the owners of the land, or the applicants if they are different persons? If the noble Lord could give us some reassurance on this matter at this stage, it might save a little trouble later on.


In view of the fact that this assurance for which I am being asked is in relation to something which was discussed when I was not here, I would, with the consent of the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, prefer to read what has been said and write to him on the matter. I shall do so in ample time, so that if he feels it necessary to come back to this matter at the next stage he will not be in any way prevented from doing so.


That would be most satisfactory.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Supplementary provisions as to acquisition and appropriation of land] :

Lord STRATHCONA and MOUNT ROYAL moved Amendment No. 28: Page 10, line 35, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: This is purely a probing Amendment to invite the noble Lord to explain to the Committee, if he can, what is intended by this magnificent piece of gobbledygook, which is quite unintelligible to the ordinary man and, indeed, to some lawyers. If the noble Lord can convince us that there is a useful purpose served by this magnificent piece of prose, perhaps he will give us an undertaking that he will see whether he can re-draft it in intelligible language at a later stage in our proceedings. I beg to move.


I shall try, according to my feeble efforts, to give that enlightenment. There are likely to be cases where land which is suitable for one of the purposes of the Bill and is acceptable in planning terms happens to be already in the ownership of the Secretary of State and held for another use. In these circumstances, it would be quite unreasonable if the Secretary of State were unable to use the land for the oil-related purpose because he had no specific power to "acquire" it for that new use. A power of appropriation is therefore necessary, and is well pre-cedented in local government and plan-ning legislation.

The proposed platform site at Portavadie is a case in point. The land there is in the ownership of the Forestry Commission, and the title is held in the name of the Secretary of State for Scotland as Forestry Minister. To enable the land to be developed as a platform site, a formal Minute of Appropriation under Clause 12 will be required because it is for a different purpose. In this way the land concerned would become subject to the other provisions of the Bill—most importantly the rehabilitation provisions, which it would otherwise not have. I hope that my gobbledygook English did not prevent the noble Lord from following this point.


The noble Lord's gobbledygook English is very good indeed, but for a perfectly ordinary person like myself reading this Bill—and one who is interested in it—it still seems to me that this clause is very badly drafted. There should be at least two sections to it. I should like to suggest to the noble Lord that, in spite of the fact that he has read out the brief prepared for him by the Scottish Office, the matter is not at all clear. I quite realise that the Secretary of State may have two functions—he may be the Minister for the Forestry Commission and he may also be Minister with responsibility for oil. But that is not at all clear in the Bill. If the noble Lord, or the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, would take this matter back, look at it again, and produce it in perfectly simple English, which could be done quite easily, it would be appreciated.


I am surprised. This is very good draftsmen's English. After you have read it a second time, it is perfectly clear as to what it means. I admit that at first it is a little difficult, but the second time round it comes quite easy. My noble friend has explained the position, and the example he gave of the Forestry Commission is a perfect example of the sort of case. If we did not have this we would have the ridiculous position of the Secretary of State not being able to transfer to himself land which he had for forestry purposes because he wanted it for another purpose altogether.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. He has made a perfect case for saying that something is needed. I am very disappointed, and indeed surprised and somewhat shocked, that he should support this incredible phraseology, and that he is quite unwilling to look at it again to see whether he could not make it clear. I think we should be ashamed to pass legislation with clauses like this. I am not going to press this Amendment, but I really believe that this is the kind of thing that gets Parliament a thoroughly bad name.


That may well be so —I should not like to dispute it. But if the noble Lord is going to start blushing for this one, then he is about ten years late in starting his blushes, because we have been doing this all along. But I will undertake to find out whether it can be made simpler and yet keep the same purpose. One of the difficulties of these legal matters—and I can now say this now that the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, is no longer with us—is that when you make it sufficiently simple for the layman you seem to create enormous problems for the lawyers, and the draftsmen have in mind the fact that at the end of the day what is important is that lawyers understand what we are doing.


I am not totally unfamiliar with this problem, but I would point out to my noble friend on the Front Bench that Clause 12(1) is one sentence and it is at least 130 words. A few full stops would help and I think they could be incorporated in it.


If all that is wanted are a few commas and full stops, I can look at it more easily, but I thought that it was the language rather than the punctuation which was in doubt.


I am more interested in the language in Clause 12(2) than I am in the full stops in 12(1). The noble Lord has said that he will have a look at it and we could not ask for fairer than that. I should be happy to see something that was clearer, even if it used a few more words; but I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 12 shall stand part of the Bill?


I wanted to make one inquiry and this is the appropriate stage to do so. What provisions are there, if any, for when land is no longer needed for the purposes of this Bill? Are the Government allowing for this, or have they no intention of making provision for it in this Bill?


Is this not the point which has been covered elsewhere in connection with reinstatement, or is it a different point which the noble Lord is raising? We make provision that when the land is no longer required for the purposes of the Bill it may be reinstated in certain cases to its former condition.


This is a separate point. I will not press the noble Lord now. Perhaps the noble Lord will look into it and it can be dealt with at a later stage. My point is not re-instatement, because that occurs in certain cases, particularly coastal sites, where it is necessary to restore not necessarily to exactly the same conditions as obtained when the site was first acquired, but to remove any dereliction which the industry has caused and generally to make the site a good amenity site. I was asking about the question of ownership: how long would the Government propose to continue to own the land when there is no further use for it, when the platform has been built and the companies have disappeared? I realise that I have asked the noble Lord this at rather short notice. I just wanted to raise this point at this stage and, if he would like to give a considered reply, I should be perfectly ready to accept that.


At first glance, having looked at this while the noble Lord was speaking, I should have thought that the normal procedure applies in this case, but I should like to take advantage of the opportunity which the noble Lord has given me and look into this matter. If the normal procedure is being followed, or if it is a different procedure I shall, in either event, write to him to let him know.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Compensation for adjoining owners and exclusion of actions for nuisance]:

8.30 p.m.

Lord STRATHCONA and MOUNT ROYALmoved Amendment No. 30: Page 11, line 5, after ("works)") insert ("other than section 1(6) thereof")

The noble Lord said: With permission, I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 31: Page 11, line 10, leave out sub-section (2). Amendment No. 30 is paving the way for Amendment No. 31. I think I understand the point which is raised here. In another place on Second Reading the Minister, Mr. John Smith, speaking on this point, said that this would debar a payment for compensation under the 1973 Act from bringing an action for nuisance or applying for an interdict to stop the operation complained of, and he agreed to have another look at the matter.

The point here is, for instance, that river fishermen might be more interested in continuing to maintain their fishing rights and to receive compensation for loss of those rights. Later in the proceedings in another place the matter was dealt with rather hastily in the middle of the night in Committee and the Government at that point gave as the principal reason for resisting an Amendment to leave out subsection (2), Section 1(6) of the 1973 Act, whereby compensation is not payable unless immunity from actions for nuisance have been conferred from the authority. That is why I say that Amendment No. 30 is paving the way for Amendment No. 31.

One can imagine circumstances in which landowners or others may want to stop damage being done or harm inflicted rather than to claim compensation. There is the further point that certain special interests could be gravely affected by what we call the relevant operations, and I understand that those people would be debarred from a nuisance action but not entitled to compensation under the Land Compensation Act. I am further advised that it might not strictly speaking be necessary to have Amendment No. 30, since the Secretary of State has power in applying the 1973 Act to do so with such modifications as appear to him to be necessary ". So it may be that the excuse he gave of Section 1(6) of that Act was not in fact the relevant reason for eliminating sub-section (2) as suggested by Amendment No. 31. I know this is not a very simple matter to explain, but I hope that I have put over the essential points to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes.


This matter came up rather late in my briefing session this morning and to begin with I did not understand it. But I went into it fairly thoroughly and now I know the answer fairly well so I do not think I need bother reading the rather long story I have before me. The 1973 Act gives a choice. One may either have compensation under Section 6(1) or may raise an action for nuisance, but one cannot do both. The effect of the Amendment would in fact be to do that. If we made these Amendments, the person concerned would be entitled to compensation and also entitled, as an alternative, to raise an action for nuisance. The story I got said: "However, the noble Lord wants to be able to have his cake and to eat it. He wants people affected by relevant sections under the Bill to have compensation under the 1973 Act and also to be able to raise an action for nuisance in the courts."

That is not what the noble Lord said, but it is the effect of these Amendments. The position is that in the general run of things the choice must frequently be made; one can either have compensation or the right to raise an action for nuisance. As there is a time saving element necessary in this, it was decided not to give choice but to eliminate the right to action for nuisance and to allow compensation. If the Amendment were carried, the person would be able to obtain compensation and also to go to the court. That would be carrying the matter too far.


I am willing to withdraw both Amendments, but I certainly did not in-tend to have my cake and eat it and give opportunities for persons to do both those things. However, I fear that in taking away the right of action for nuisance we shall also have deprived certain people of the right to compensation. I am no lawyer but I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, agrees that this is not his intention. If he can assure me that all relevant parties will be entitled to compensation, I certainly will withdraw the Amendment. But of course I shall reserve my position if I am advised that we have both got it wrong.


All that has gone wrong is the right of action for nuisance. The right to compensation is preserved.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Power to require information as to interests in land]:

8.41 p.m.

Lord CRAIGTONmoved Amendment No. 32: Page 11, line 23, at end insert: without good reason ".

The noble Lord said: My noble friend the Duke of Atholl put forward this Amendment which would provide that after the words: Any person who, having been required in pursuance of this section to give any information, fails to give that information shall be guilty of an offence ", there should be added, "without good reason". That would be more acceptable. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, may feel disposed to accept the Amendment.


The optimism of the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, is totally un-justified. In fact we are founding on a precedent and he may be founding on an earlier precedent of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, in Section 270 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, or the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, has anything to worry about, because this kind of information is needed by the Secretary of State to enable him to serve notice on the owner of land, and any person interested in the land. Those persons are entitled to know what the Secretary of State intends in relation to their land, and it is obviously important that the Secretary of State should be able to find who they are. This is not an onerous provision. The occupier or landlord is merely required to state the nature of his own interest and the names of others known to him as having an interest. If he does not know of anyone else with an interest, no obligation is placed on him. I think the noble Duke felt that this was placing an obligation on the owner to search for information which he would have to prove in some way. But all the person has to do is show that he has given all the information known to him and that is a complete defence.


With that explanation, reserving the rights of my noble friend the Duke of Atholl, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clauses 15 to 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 [Short title, interpretation and extent]:

Lord CAMPBELL of CROY moved Amendment No. 33: Page 14, line 39, at end insert: ( ) This Act shall cease to have effect on the last day of 1980 unless its continuance in force is extended by three years at a time by statutory instruments, the drafts of which have been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament.

The noble Lord said: Earlier today there was a limited discussion about whether there should be a date set for the termination of a small and very important part of the Bill, subsection (2) of Clause 1, concerned with the expedited acquisition orders. The Amendment which I now move refers to the whole Bill, because it will not be required forever. I am sure the Government recognise that this is a Bill of limited operation, and I believe that the pattern of platforms, not only in the North Sea but in other areas around our coasts, and of pipelines will be known by about 1980, even if they are not completed by then. None the less, the Amendment proposes that the Bill should be renewable and extended by three years at a time, so that Parliament can consider the situation and what needs to be done.

I recognise that there are bound to be new situations and that different legislation will probably be needed to replace parts of this Bill. Again, I say that my drafting is not intended to be immaculate. This is a probing Amendment, so the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, need not take up the time of the Committee in explaining how my Amendment would be defective; but it indicates a way in which this question could be dealt with. I was concerned not only with the expedited acquisition order part of the Bill, which was dealt with by my noble friend the Duke of Atholl, but also with other parts, including Clause 1 which has a great deal to do with everything con-nected with the offshore oil industry. There is bound to be a time when it will no longer be necessary for these powers to continue. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said that these powers are unlikely to be needed, and I agree that they will be seldom needed. A time will come in a few years when they will not be needed at all.


If I may intervene at this point, it seems to me that this Amendment has essentially the same purpose as my Amendment which follows it. Basically, I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, on this, if not on other matters. I think the powers given in the Bill to the Secretary of State, albeit that the Bill has been considerably amended, are still very far reaching and, to some extent are the sort of powers given to a Government only in time of war or State of Emergency. I say that advisedly, knowing that some people say that the Bill is already out of date.

I think it was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, on Second Reading that we might as well throw it into the wastepaper basket. Whether or not that is so, the expedited acquisition orders give powers to the Secretary of State which I do not think should continue indefinitely. Although these powers have been explained by the Government Front Bench as being virtually harmless— and the noble Lord, Lord Henley, who is not at present in his place said that I thought they were harmless—I did not say that on Second Reading. I said I thought the Government's explanation of the expedited procedure made it out to seem harmless—which is something quite different.


I wish to follow the example of the noble Lords, Lord Campbell of Croy and Lord Belhaven and Stenton, and be brief on this matter. I think the basis is that we would not wish to accept either of these Amend-ments which represent a basic misconception of the purposes of the Bill. Some of the purposes, undoubtedly, are of a fairly temporary nature. If we had to choose between two evils, we should prefer the Amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy which at least enables the measure to be carried on for three years at a time; whereas that in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Belhaven and Stenton, would chop it off finally in 1985.

I think perhaps Lord Campbell of Croy may be with us in his thinking on the matter by consideration of the Bill he would have put forward. That Bill would have been of a more temporary character than this and, because of its limitation, would not cover the same wide ambit as does the present Bill. I do not know whether it would have included such a limitation; but it might well have been justified in that case. The development of the North Sea oilfields will continue beyond 1980, and every time a new estimate comes out it appears to have more desirable prospects; although I noticed that a certain professor in Aberdeen seemed to be disagreeing with one overseas. I do not wish to be unpatriotic, but I believe it turns out that the Scot is wrong. It may well be that as the search moves into deeper waters and as research and experience progress, new techniques will evolve.

We could not, for instance, say that there would be no new pipelines and landfalls required after 1980. The problem about doing anything of this kind is that we import a new element of uncertainty. As we are getting nearer to 1980, people will say we had better wait. We do not know whether the Parliament of 1980 will renew the Act for another three years; and it is not inconceivable, as we get to 1983, that the same situation would arise. I see no difficulty in not having a terminal period because the nature of the Bill is that it enables these powers to be used in certain circumstances. It would be like many other Bills before it and it would no longer be something which was being used.

The effect of the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, would be to bring the whole "shooting match" to an end, in 1980, in 1983 or in 1986. I think we must rest on the basis that when the Bill is no longer being used, it will become a dead letter and at some subsequent point it will be removed from the Statute Book. But so long as it serves a useful purpose, it would be a mistake to introduce into it that element of doubt which would be there if people asked: "Will Parliament extend the Bill for another three years?" For these reasons, I would invite the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, not to press this Amendment.


If I might just intervene before the noble Lord speaks, it could be for the convenience of the Committee, because it would save me the trouble of speaking to my own Amendment. I wish to say only a few sentences. I shall study what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said. I agree that we really do not want to cut out the reinstatement part of the Bill. The Bill, like the curate's egg, is good in parts. As I say, I shall study carefully what the noble Lord has said and reserve the right possibly to move another Amendment at Report stage.


The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has guessed that in our Bill we were intending to have terminal arrangements of this kind in the streamlining of planning procedure that we were proposing. As regards the reinstatement provisions, as we see the position these would govern agreements, arrangements and conditions of planning permission—one of the effects of the Amendments made this afternoon—and all these things would have been started before the Act came to an end. Their effect would continue for years ahead, payments would have to be made into a fund and so on. So I do not think the eventual reinstatement need have been jeopardised by the fact that the Act itself would terminate. However, in view of what the noble Lord has said, I beg leave to with-draw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 20 agreed to.

In the Schedules:

Schedule 1 [Making and revocation of expedited acquisition orders]:

8.52 p.m.

Lord CRAIGTONmoved Amendment No. 35: Page 15, line 26, at end insert "and on which the notice or notices erected under sub-paragraph (2) above were first displayed.

The noble Lord said: My noble friend the Duke of Atholl has proposed a point here which I hope will appeal to noble Lords opposite. My noble friend agrees entirely that a notice should be displayed, or be made operative so that action may be taken on it, for 21 days after it has been put into the newspaper. But no one knows better than my noble friend that in remote areas it will take a day or two more to affix the notices. Therefore, for those who have to affix notices as required, 21 days seems to be a shortish time and it would be fair to give the same provision for displaying notices as the 21 days for publishing the notices. This is a simple point and I hope that the noble Lord is able to agree with it. I see a smile on his face and I hope he means to approve it. I beg to move.


I fear that I am not able to accept this Amendment, and I shall try to explain why. The Amendment provides that representations against an expedited acquisition order should be made within 21 days of the date of publishing a notice and affixing such a notice on the land. The Amendment makes sense only if a notice were always affixed to a conspicuous object on the land on the same day that a similar notice was first published in the newspapers. It would not always be possible to ensure that these events happened on the same date. For example, the local paper might come out on a Saturday, whereas the notice on the land might appear on either the preceding Friday or the following Monday. To take account of this possibility, the wording of the Amendment would have to be different, along the lines of "which-ever date was the later ", or "whichever date was the earlier." There should be some such definition of the relationship between the publication in the Press and the affixing of the notice to an object on the land.

The date of publication has been chosen because it is clear and unequivocal. A copy of the newspaper with the date on it can be produced as evidence. The Secretary of State would always try to ensure that notices on the land would always appear on the same day as the advertisement, or as near the day as possible, but an Amendment of this kind would only cause confusion. Perhaps the noble Duke will get in touch with us and we will try to sort out this matter. In the meantime, perhaps the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw the Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said, and in view of his remarks I shall ask my noble friend to put in " 28 days " instead of " 21 days ", which will meet all cases. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Earl of Cork and Orrery)

Before calling Amendment No. 36. I should point out that if that Amendment is agreed to I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 37.

8.58 p.m.

Lord HENLEYmoved Amendment No. 36: Page 15, line 28, leave out from " representations " to " inquiry " in line 30 and insert " and shall cause a public inquiry to be held: pro-vided that if the Secretary of State is satisfied that such representations are frivolous or vexatious or have been adequately inquired into under the procedures for obtaining planning permission under Part III of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 then he shall not be obliged to cause any further ".

The noble Lord said: Schedule 1 deals with the making of expedited acquisition orders. Before making an expedited acquisition order, the Secretary of State has to do certain things, one of which is to, … state that representations in writing with respect to the proposed order may be made to the Secretary of State …". Well and good. Then it goes on to say: If any representations with respect to the proposed order are duly made the Secretary of State shall consider those representations ". That is all right. Then it goes on again: … but the Secretary of State shall not be obliged to cause any inquiry to be held or afford to any person an opportunity of being heard. Those are astounding words, and I can suppose only that they exist in some other Act, because otherwise I cannot think how anybody could have thought up such a state of affairs. My Amendment seeks to substitute for the wording that the Secretary of State need not be obliged to cause any inquiry to be held certain other words which seem to me to be reasonable. I hope they will appeal to noble Lords opposite. I am saying that there should be such an inquiry, unless the representations are frivolous or vexatious or that the matter has already been looked into adequately.

A good deal of what has been said with regard to adequate inquiry was explored under my earlier Amendment. I drew attention to these provisions under the Schedule because it seemed to me they almost amounted to an outrage if the Government were to refuse proper and full procedures under the hybrid Special Orders. At this stage, we have reversed that decision of the Government and I shall be very glad to know what the Government feel about my proposal that we should make this a little more reasonable, or so it seems to me, than what the Bill states. I beg to move.


Does the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, wish to speak to Amendment No. 37, because I believe these Amendments are alternatives?


The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, would rather wait to see what happens!


In that case, I am placed in the position that I shall reply to what the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has said, and reply to what the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, has not said, in anticipation that he might yet say it. The Amendments are very similar but not exactly the same in their effects. The effect of the Amendments would be to introduce statutory public inquiries into the procedure for making expedited acquisition orders. The Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, I hope will not find it necessary to move would leave the Secretary of State with complete discretion whether to hold an inquiry, whereas the Amendment which has just been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, would oblige the Secretary of State to hold an inquiry if representations had been made unless (a) he was satisfied that the representations were frivolous or vexatious, or (b) he was satisfied that the representations had been adequately inquired into under the procedures for obtaining planning permission.

I do not like referring to drafting errors, as I have made quite clear, but unfortunately there is a major drafting error in the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Henley, because in view of the fact that it refers to a further inquiry not being necessary, this opens the door to the fact that it would not exempt the Secretary of State from holding an inquiry into frivolous or vexatious representations, which is the very opposite of what the noble Lord wants to do. If the Amend- ment were otherwise acceptable, that would not need to be an obstacle, because it could be cured to make the Amendment work in the way the noble Lord intended. The Government are not opposed to the principle that an owner or occupier of land should be able to argue in public his case against its compulsory purchase. That is a valuable right of the individual in a democracy. However, it has to be weighed against other considerations, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Henley, recognises, we must to a certain extent be retracing some of the ground already covered in the earlier discussion.

The need to get the North Sea oil ashore is considerable and we want to avoid delay where it can possibly be reasonably avoided. Public inquiries take time. A compulsory purchase order which is subject to a public inquiry rarely takes less than six months—this is common knowledge—and sometimes it can take very much longer than this. There are circumstances in relation to North Sea oil development where, in the Government's judgment, delays of this kind are wholly unacceptable. It is to avoid these delays that we have provided the expedited procedure under the Bill, and the central feature of it is that it does away with the need for a public inquiry and substitutes other safeguards instead—Parliamentary scrutiny by the Affirmative Resolution Procedure and a requirement for prior planning permission. On this subject of prior planning permission, I cannot visualise the circum-stance where an owner of land is so concerned about the effects that a compulsory purchase order would have upon him that he would not have so organised his affairs that the public inquiry would have already taken place at the planning stage and his objections would have been wholly stated.


May I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? I hope he will not forget that it is not only the owner of land I am concerned with, even if that owner is the National Trust; I am concerned also with the position of third parties, and third parties often comprise bodies such as amenity societies which are at great risk when it comes to making representations against Ministerial orders.


If the objection of these bodies is to the use of the land, the proper place to make it is at the public inquiry into the planning procedures, not the inquiry as to whether or not the land should be acquired by compulsion.


But I have already, I thought, at an earlier stage made the point—and I do not think it can be denied—that so far as a third party is concerned he often cannot make any point except by a written representation. It is no good saying that he will be heard, because any hearing so far as he is concerned can be avoided by the Secretary of State.


Not if the public inquiry has taken place at the planning procedure. One of the difficulties is to stop the man at the back of the hall from having his say at the public inquiry under planning procedures—




—and one of the defects (if the noble Lord will permit me to finish) of the procedure we did not like in the Bill of the previous Administration was that it was going to tighten that up very much.


I have nothing to say for the previous Administration's Bill. I did not like at all their ideas of tightening up, as they called it, the planning procedures. I want to have the full rigour, as the noble Lord does, of the planning procedures. What I am saying is that it is all very well to say that a third party should argue all this at a public inquiry— and there is the man at the back getting up and saying so—but the Secretary of State can make it impossible for there to be a public inquiry. This is the whole point of what I am trying to say.


Yes; but the noble Lord is completely overlooking the fact that the whole basis for the Government's wishing to use the accelerated procedure, the expedited procedure, on compulsory purchase is that they made certain that the planning procedures were carried out in the earlier stage. We wish to avoid duplication and going over the same ground. It is not right that the person who is objecting and wants to have his say in relation to the use of the land should choose not to do so at the planning inquiry but seek to do so on the question of whether or not there is a case for taking the land out of ownership against the will of the owner, which is basically a matter between the authority seeking to acquire the land and the owner seeking to prevent it.


I am sorry to keep interrupting the noble Lord, but really this will not do. What I argued before is that in a case where somebody could have complained and did not any further inquiry would be stopped by the Special Procedures Committee.


If these Amendments are carried, we shall be carrying through compulsory purchase procedures under virtually the present situation, and it can take six months or more to get a com- pulsory purchase order through an inquiry. That is what, in fact, the noble Lord wants to happen; he wants provision for an inquiry to take place. If we were to accept these Amendments, we might as well throw the whole of the expedited acquisition order procedure out of the window, because it would be rendered useless. As the Bill stands, the Secretary of State could, if he chose, hold an informal hearing. If we accepted the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, that informal hearing would be replaced by a statutory inquiry, with all the delays that that would entail. However, the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, gives a discretion; the Secretary of State does not need to hold a public inquiry. But if we accepted the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, it would be either a public inquiry or nothing at all.

Having regard to the fact that this is an extension of what has taken place at the planning procedure stage, in many cases the most equitable way of dealing with the matter is to enable the objector to the compulsory purchase order the opportunity of the informal hearing, which almost certainly would be held by somebody appointed by the Secretary of State for doing so—probably one of the full-time reporters. This would enable adequate representations to be made in this informal way. At the most it might take a week, or perhaps two weeks, which, except in the worst pos-sible circumstances, would not be unacceptable. If we accepted the noble Lord's Amendment, it might be that the Secretary of State would feel that the situation was such that it could not justify the possible delay of six months or more through going for the statutory public inquiry. He would therefore have to say, " No, there will be no inquiry ", and that would mean nothing at all. This would put the objector in a worse position than he would be in under the Bill, because the Secretary of State would not have the choice of holding the informal hearing.

The Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Henley, moves goes even further. In many instances the granting of planning permission would have been preceded by a public inquiry. However, as he points out, that would not always be the case. Where there has not been a planning inquiry the Amendment would make a public inquiry into the expedited acquisition order obligatory and this would completely defeat the purpose of the expedited procedure. I read into all that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has said that it is his intention to seek to improve the protection of the indivi-dual and to protect the public interest by the procedures which he is stating; but if his Amendment were to go in, it would be virtually a wrecking Amendment of the Bill, and that is the last thing which I suspect the noble Lord has in mind.


I accept a good deal of the argument which the noble Lord has put forward. I accept that my Amendment is defective in two points. One is purely drafting, which could be got over. The other is that it would make an inquiry obligatory; and that is the last thing that I want to do. Nevertheless, I think that the noble Lord's argument will stand up only if the Government do not introduce legislation in another place to defeat the Amendment which was carried this afternoon. I hope the hybrid Special Orders Procedure will remain as a safety net, because I think that the Government are on weak ground here. I am most disappointed that noble Lords on the other side of the House view this as a Party issue and do not see that it is a very important constitutional issue, Only the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, has supported me. If, however, it stands up and the Government do not seek to reverse it, then I should be perfectly prepared to accept the arguments which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has put forward against my Amendment. I see the force of all his arguments and probably the right thing for me to do would be to withdraw my Amendment now, find out exactly what the Government are thinking of with regard to the position of safeguards, and then either re-introduce it at a later stage or try to draft a better Amendment at a later stage.

What I am seeking to do is this. I have said already that I totally reject these arguments of urgency; that I think the arguments put forward are specious, that they are, frankly, nonsense and that how-ever much one may wish, on economic grounds, to get the Bill through as quickly as possible—and I accept all of that—to seek to diminish the safeguards in Parliament not only for individuals but for bodies of individuals who are trying to protect what we must protect is a very great mistake. As I say, probably the best thing for me to do at the moment is to withdraw my Amendment, which is defective in certain respects, hear a little further argument from the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, on the question of " may " as opposed to " shall ", and then possibly come back at a later stage. I do not know whether the Opposition Front Bench would like to join in on that point or whether I should seek leave to withdraw my Amendment now. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.14 p.m.

Lord CRAIGTONmoved Amendment No. 37 : Page 15, line 28, leave out from (" representations ; ") to (" inquiry") in line 30 and insert (" and the Secretary of State may, but shall not be obliged to, cause an ").

The noble Lord said: The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, proceeded to discuss my Amendment with the one before it without giving me any warning that he was going to do so. He leaves me in a number of difficulties because he started off by saying that they were similar. I shall be glad to be corrected, but I do not think they are similar at all. The noble Lord says that under the Bill as it stands the Secretary of State does not cause public inquiries to be held, but as I read the Queen's English it says: the Secretary of State … shall not be obliged to cause an inquiry. He is not obliged to cause an inquiry, but it does not say that he shall not cause an inquiry.

The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, may not know it, but this clause has caused a great deal of alarm, despondency and almost offence in its wording. One is used to the Secretary of State having powers, but this is locking the door and giving the Secretary of State the key. I want the Bill to do no more than lock the door and leave the key in the door. The Secretary of State now is not obliged to hold an inquiry. I want to keep that fact, but I want to put him in the posi-tion of saying to me, if I have a claim to make, not as he could here, virtually, " No, I will not hold an inquiry "; I want him to say, in the words which I was going to use, "I, the Secretary of State, may, but I am not obliged to, and I am extremely sorry, but for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, in the Committee stage in the House of Lords some time ago the matter was too urgent to accept the delay that would be caused by an inquiry ". In other words, what I want to say is the same thing but in far more courteous terms and in a form acceptable to the public, because to my mind the present words are not acceptable. It is seldom that I have found such a complete negative as this. Clearly, from his brief the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, can do no more than say " No "; but I do ask him just to say that he will consider what I have said and let us see what happens before the next stage. I beg to move.


I will be brief in dealing with this matter. On the point about the Secretary of State's having discretion not to hold an inquiry, there is no difficulty between the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, and myself. The point to which I have already referred is the fact that the intention of this Amendment may be to put it more politely than in the language of the Bill, but the effect of it really is to limit the Secretary of State's discretion if he thinks there is the possibility of an inquiry being unlikely to change the situation and the alternative is to have no inquiry at all. In those circumstances he is likely to exercise his discretion not to hold an inquiry. But as the Bill stands, the Secretary of State's alternative to a refusal for an inquiry is not a long-delayed public inquiry but the possibility of a more informal type of hearing which would not be time wasting. So although the noble Lord may be importing a degree of politeness into the Bill, he is in fact removing from it the possibility of a hearing of a sort. I do not think that is desirable.

I think the Secretary of State's having a choice between no hearing and an informal hearing is reasonable. I certainly undertake to look at this point and to see whether we can pursue the position on the basis that the Secretary of State's discretion is as I have stated but to find out whether it can be put forward in the more acceptable wording asked for by the noble Lord, Lord Craigton. That is as far as I can possibly go tonight, and I hope the noble Lord will find that at least I am not locking the door and throwing away the key.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I still do not think that the question of " representations" and the words I wanted to add have any bearing whatever one on the other. But since the noble Lord has said that he will look at it, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Remaining Schedules agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.