§ [Nos. 26–28A]
§ Schedule 4, page 56, line 28, after ("development") insert ("of a kind consistent with the purpose specified as that for which the land is required")
§ Schedule 4, page 56, line 33, after ("approved") insert ("after a local inquiry or hearing")
Page 57, line 46. at end insert—
("( ) Where the land comprised in a compulsory purchase order consists of a dwelling-house and the occupier of the dwelling-house duly objects to the order and that objection is not withdrawn, the Secretary of State shall not rely on the foregoing modifications made by this paragraph.
( ) Where the land comprised in a compulsory purchase order comprises a dwelling-house together with other land and the occupier of the dwelling-house duly objects to the order and that objection is not withdrawn, then, if the Secretary of State relies on the foregoing modifications made by this paragraph, he shall not confirm the compulsory purchase order without excluding the dwelling-house from that order.
( ) Where the land comprises in a compulsory purchase order consist of, or comprises with other land, a dwelling-house, the Secretary of State may disregard for the purpose of Schedule 1 any objection made by the occupier of the dwelling-house which in the opinion of the Secretary of State amounts in substance to an objection to the provisions of the development plan defining the proposed use of the dwelling-house or any other land.
( ) In this paragraph "dwelling-house" means any building or part of a building in which a person is residing, and includes any other building or part of a building in which a person normally resides but from which he is temporarily absent.")
§ The Commons disagreed to these Amendments for the following Reason:
§ Because the Secretary of State's discretion to dispense with a public local inquiry or hearing should not be unduly restricted.
§ Baroness BIRK
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on their Amendments Nos. 26 to 28 en bloc, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 28A:Because the Secretary of State's discretion to dispense with a public local inquiry or hearing should not be unduly restricted.I have proposed that these three Amendments be discussed together because the point at issue in each case, and the point on which the Commons have disagreed, is that they would restrict the Secretary of State's discretion under sub-paragraph (3) to dispense with a public inquiry or hearing. Amendment No. 26 was originally moved in Committee here. It would provide that the Secretary of State would have discretion to dispense with an inquiry on the basis of a planning permission (head (a) in sub-paragraph (3)) only where the permission was for development of a kind consistent with the terms specified as that for which the land was to be acquired.
Amendment No. 27 would restrict head (b) so that the Secretary of State could dispense with an inquiry on the basis of a local plan only where there had actually been an inquiry or hearing into such plan and not merely the opportunity for such an inquiry or hearing.
1946 Amendment No. 28 deals with the position of residential occupiers generally, and seeks to qualify the whole of the new paragraph (4) in Paragraph 3 of the Schedule so as to provide a different basis for disregarding objections by residential occupiers, and thus dispensing with an inquiry in such cases, as is provided in the case of other types of occupiers. We discussed details in Committee and at the Report stage, and I do not want to go over that same ground; I do not think noble Lords would thank me for doing so. But I should like to emphasise two points made by my right honourable friend in another place when he was dealing with the Amendments.
First, as I myself stressed at the beginning of our debate on Schedule 4 in Committee, there is a strong divide of principle between the two sides of the House. Noble Lords opposite are basically against any change in compulsory purchase procedures. We on this side believe that some shift in the balance between public and private influence is justified. This is a fundamental difference of principle, and, I suggest, not one that can ever be resolved however long we spend in discussing individual Amendments.
Secondly, my right honourable friend emphasised that the provisions in the Bill as introduced in your Lordships' House have been accepted by the Council on Tribunals. Far too little weight has been given to this very important factor in the debates both in your Lordships' House and in another place. The best way that I can emphasise the importance that attaches to the views of the Council on Tribunals is by asking the House to consider what view might have been taken if the situation had been the reverse. If the Council on Tribunals had disagreed with the Bill, I feel sure that we would have heard far more about their views from noble Lords opposite. Having given rather a synopsis of these three rather complicated Amendments, I think for the moment I shall leave it there.
§ Moved, That this House doth not insist on their Amendments Nos. 26, 27 and 28, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 28A.—(Baroness Birk.)
§ Baroness YOUNG
My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite right to say that 1947 there is a fundamental disagreement of opinion about the balance between public and private influence. One has only to look at the Reasons given by the Commons for disagreeing with our Amendment to see how that balance has shifted. In Reason 3A it says:Because the power of authorities to acquire land should not be unduly limited.In 10A it says:Because the power of authorities to acquire land should not be unduly limited.All that we sought to do in these Amendments that we pressed to a Division in this House was to maintain the rights of people at present at public inquiries into compulsory purchase orders which will affect their property.
It is appalling that Parliament should have taken away people's rights; that they have shifted the balance to the duty and rights of authorities to acquire people's land and property, and have taken away the right to object. Although on every occasion we have had this argument that the Council on Tribunals is satisfied, I have taken the opportunity to find out much more about the composition of the Council on Tribunals and the kind of issues to which it usually addresses itself. Although I am not in any way wishing to denigrate it, I was surprised to discover that a majority of its members are not lawyers. When dealing with something as technical as Schedule 4, it seems to me that if you wish to get a really effective answer which protects individual rights, you must seek the opinion of people professionally qualified in the law.
I am quite certain that in other matters the views of the Council on Tribunals are invaluable, but on this occasion I suggest that they could be mistaken, and this ought to be made quite clear. I cannot accept that the Government are right on this matter, but at this stage it is a fundamental division of opinion.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Lord SANDYS
My Lords, some of us went along to another place last night for part of the time. I cannot claim to have been there at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, but I was there to quite a late hour, and in the minds of those who were listening there is no doubt whatsoever that the question of individual liberties and rights to a public inquiry was the most fundamental point about which the two 1948 sides of another place disagreed. There is no question or doubt that this has occurred again and again. Some of your Lordships will remember the deep disagreement over a decision on the Packing-ton Estate made by a Minister of Housing and Local Government, the late Mr. Richard Crossman in 1965—a situation which the Council on Tribunals were much concerned with at a later stage. This point is so fundamental that we wish to register our very great disagreement with what the Government have done in steamrolling their opinion through another place.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, it appears that we have not achieved the amendments that we considered necessary to Schedule 4, but at least we now have it on the record that where the convenience of the Secretary of State and the rights of individual owners, hitherto secured by Statute, are to be balanced one against the other, this Government will consistently favour the convenience of the Secretary of State and leave the private owner defenceless and without redress under the law. The Bill now leaves it completely to the discretion of the Secretary of State, as the confirming authority of a compulsory purchase order, to judge for himself whether the publicity, the public participation and the public inquiries leading to the adoption and approval of a local plan have or have not been good enough to justify the abandonment of the citizens' proper safeguards established under compulsory purchase procedures for the past 30 years, and all this under conditions far less threatening and menacing than they will be under this Bill.
§ Baroness BIRK
My Lords, I must, first, say that while the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and I very much appreciate the fundamental difference of principle that has divided us all the way through on this Bill, it is not true to say that people will not have the right of objection. We are saying that we believe there are ample safeguards in the Bill as drafted. The Opposition are saying that they do not think there are. That is the difference. It is not that we are saying that we do not believe there should be any safeguards or that they are unnecessary. We believe that the safeguards for individual liberty—for their right to object—are in the Bill, whereas the Opposition would 1949 rather have them written into it in a different way.
I must refer to the comments that have been made about the Council on Tribunals. I am advised by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor that the lawyers on that Council are extremely distinguished. I might add that on other occasions those of us who are not lawyers are quick to comment and criticise when we feel that there are too many lawyers about the place. I believe that the best kind of such council is one with a small number of distinguished lawyers but amply diluted by people of other disciplines.
§ Baroness YOUNG
My Lords, lest it be thought that I meant any disrespect to any of the distinguished lawyers on the Council on Tribunals, I hasten to point out that I have no doubt that they could not be more distinguished if they tried. My point was that we are dealing with a highly technical matter and that not all the members of the Council are qualified in the law, which seems a correct prerequisite for a full understanding of Schedule 4.
§ 6.34 p.m.