§ [Nos. 25–25A]
§ Clause 41, page 39, line 29. leave out Clause 41 and insert the following Clause C:
§ Disposition of material interest by an authority
§ ("C.—(1) The Secretary of State may make Regulations prescribing the terms under which an authority may dispose of any material interest in land acquired under this Act;
§ (2) Regulations under this section shall not be made unless a draft of the Regulations has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.")1943
§ The Commons disagreed to this Amendment for the following Reason:
§ Because it would unduly restrict the scope and flexibility of the Secretary of State's control over disposals of land by local authorities.
§ Baroness BIRK
My Lords, I beg to move that the House doth not insist on their Amendment No. 25 to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 25A. As I and my colleagues have already explained when the noble Baroness, Lady Young, moved her Amendment, it is unacceptable to the Government to draw a distinction between land acquired under the Bill and land acquired under other statutory provisions. Local authorities will continue to be able to use their existing powers, for example under the Housing and Planning Acts, to acquire land for private development.
Given that, it would be quite unacceptable to have a situation under which the disposal of land acquired under this Bill and disposed of for private development was subject to control, whereas land acquired under other powers and disposed of for the same purpose, was not. It is clear that the intention is to issue general consents to disposals which will give authorities wide flexibility to dispose of land without the need for specific reference to the Secretary of State in individual cases. Where a local authority wish to dispose of land on terms not covered by the general consent, they will be free to come to the Secretary of State and seek his consent to other terms. This approach combines the advantages of giving a wide measure of discretion to local authorities with flexibility to deal with special cases on their merits and by reference to the particular circumstances of the case. I think it is of some interest that this Amendment was not pressed in another place, and indeed there was virtually no debate on it.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I detected that the noble Earl, Lord Middleton, was perhaps wishing to speak on Amendments Nos. 21 to 24. I am sorry if I failed to notice that. I fear we have now passed Nos. 21 to 24.
§ Lord MIDDLETON
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord. There does seem to be a complete misconception between us over the amendment of that particular clause.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
It will have to be a matter for subsequent conversations between the two noble Lords.
§ Moved, That this House doth not insist on their Amendment No. 25, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 25A.—(Baroness Birk.)
§ Baroness YOUNG
By Lords, I really cannot accept the argument that because there was very little discussion in the other place, or a vote was not taken, they did not regard this as an important matter. I have no doubt by the time they got to Clause 41 they were in the same state as we were when we got to Clause 41 in Committee; it must have been in the very early hours of the morning. Therefore one cannot say that because it had little discussion it was something that they regarded as not important. They, like us, have been working under acute time table difficulties, and as this was an Amendment which was moved at Third Reading only the day before they no doubt had the same sort of difficulties that we have had.
Again I am very sorry the Government have not accepted this Amendment. It was certainly something the local authorities would have welcomed, and I believe it would have made much better the financial workability of the Bill.
§ Baroness BIRK
My Lords, I only mentioned the matter because the noble Baroness has said several times that she was under some disability in not being able to get a note of what happened. I thought it would be helpful to her to have that piece of information.