HL Deb 27 October 1975 vol 365 cc15-82

3.15 p.m.


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

Moved, that the House do again resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Birk.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Earl of LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Schedule 4 [Acquisition and appropriation of land]:

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 59D:

Page 57, line 41, at end insert— ( ) 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 noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 59D. This Amendment is consequential on the Amendment which I moved at the very end of our last Sitting on Friday. I would not normally speak to it at all because the point at issue has already been debated and I do not want to take up the time of the Committee. However, on looking further at this matter over the weekend I realised that I had made a drafting error in the Amendment that we debated, No. 59C, in that I had suggested that it ought to be introduced at page 57, line 33, when it should have been introduced at page 57, line 46. I apologise for this mistake, which I think is due to working on these things at the end of a very long day and well into the night. It means that Amendment No. 59D should also be page 57, line 46. I will put down an Amendment on Report to correct this. The point is that both Amendments should apply to paragraph 3(3) of Schedule 4 and not to paragraph 3(4).

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The Earl of KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 591: Page 58, line 16, leave out ("occupier of") and insert ("freeholder, occupier or any other person having a material interest in").

The noble Earl said: This is a simple Amendment, which I hope the Government may consider favourably. Paragraph 4 of Schedule 4 concerns the service of notice of a compulsory purchase order upon the "occupier" of the property. I am not sure whether only the occupier should be served with the notice. The kind of case which my Amendment is designed to cover includes those who are serving in the Armed Services or the Foreign Office, and are abroad—


I am finding it terribly difficult to hear the noble Earl because of his position in relation to the microphone.

The Earl of KINNOULL

I will move forward in the hope that I shall be a little clearer. I was saying that this paragraph deals with the compulsory purchase order notice being served upon the occupier, and the purpose of this Amendment is to strike out "occupier" and insert the words "freeholder, ocupier or any other person having a material interest in" the land. I do not think it needs any further explanation. The purpose of this is to cover those who are perhaps serving abroad and who are the freeholders and not the occupiers at that moment. I beg to move.

3.20 p.m.


It may help if I briefly review the history of this provision as it is now in the Bill. The original reserve procedure, as introduced at the Committee stage in another place, contained no special provision for residential occupiers. It was suggested by the Opposition in another place that if an owner-occupier would lose his or her home under the reserve powers, if the compulsory purchase order were approved, then the owner-occupier ought to have special treatment under the reserve powers. The Government accepted this point, and in introducing an Amendment at Report stage in another place went further and extended the treatment to all residential occupiers. In other words, anyone whose home was the subject of a compulsory purchase order under the reserve powers would have special treatment—the right to a public inquiry. But this special treatment was accorded only because it was the person's home.

The noble Earl's Amendment makes a subtle shift from "home" to "house". If it were accepted, anyone with a material interest in a house—the absentee landlord just as much as the occupier—would have a right to a public inquiry. The effect would be that we should have moved right away from the original concept which gave rise to the Amendment in another place, the special position of house-occupiers. Instead, we should now have a right for anyone with an interest in property to have a public inquiry, precisely the situation that the procedure was designed to get away from. Unlike the case of the residential occupier, there is in our view no reason, given the general philosophy of the reserve powers, for special treatment for non-residential house owners.

The Earl of KINNOULL

I am grateful for that explanation. May I put one point to the noble Lord? If an owner-occupier of a house is serving in the Armed Forces and serving abroad for, say, two years, and during that period the property is deemed to be development land, which we are talking about, would I be right in saying that as he has then let his property to what now becomes the occupier he would not receive notice although he is the freeholder, and although he is away for only a short period? That is the purpose of my Amendment.


I have explained that the Amendment goes considerably wider than the case of someone serving in the Armed Forces overseas. On that point I should like to take further advice, and possibly I could communicate with the noble Earl before the next stage of the Bill.

The Earl of KINNOULL

I am grateful for that undertaking, and happy to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.24 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 59F:

Page 58, line 40, at end insert— .Where an owner, lessee, or occupier of land comprised in an order made under this Act has made and not withdrawn an objection to such order, he shall be entitled to legal assistance and representation under the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1974 for the purpose of making representations at any public local inquiry held for the purpose of considering such objection.

The noble Baroness said: I hope that this is an Amendment which the Government will feel able to accept. Unlike most of the other Amendments to Schedule 4, this is one which is almost self-explanatory, and its purpose briefly is to give an objector at a public inquiry the right to legal aid. We have heard at different times in the course of the debate the kind of professional advice that someone concerned with this Bill may need, but at least he would require the services of a solicitor, probably a chartered surveyor, and quite probably a barrister. It would be readily apparent to anybody who has listened to these proceedings at all that if one has a knowledgeable barrister by one's side one understands the working of this Act considerably better than if one does not.

I understand that the Council on Tribunals have been looking at this question, and my information—and I should be interested if the Government would confirm it—is that legal aid ought to be available for individuals who have to appear at a public inquiry. Therefore, it seems to me that the organisation which has been set up to look at these kind of questions would support it. I believe that in such a complex Bill as this, by which many people may well be affected, it seems to be a reasonable provision that those who cannot afford to employ professional advice should be enabled to do so by legal aid. I beg to move.

The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-Jones)

As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, has said, the effect of this Amendment would be to entitle any owner, lessee or occupier who objects to a compulsory purchase order under the Bill to legal assistance and representation for the purpose of making representations at any inquiry into the order. As the law stands at present, legal advice and preliminary assistance is available to anyone whose income comes within the financial limits of eligibility who wishes to make representations at an inquiry into a compulsory purchase order under the Bill.

He can, therefore, through that machinery (it is called the Green Form Scheme) obtain advice from a solicitor and preliminary help in preparing his case. That important power exists, and one of the benefits of putting down this Amendment is to enable this fact to be more widely known than it is at present. The power to give advice and assistance under the Green Form Scheme is not by any means trivial, and in the case of a compulsory purchase order inquiry it could be very important indeed. It would enable and assist the objector in deciding what evidence was most helpful and most relevant, and in collecting the necessary material, and it would enable him to be fully briefed.

The hearing itself is not a formal court proceeding, and this preliminary legal advice that can be given is, in the circumstances, of considerable benefit. An objector cannot, however, receive full legal aid for representation before an inquiry itself, and this is because there is no provision, and never has been in the Legal Aid Act, making legal aid available for representation at any statutory inquiry.

When the previous Government introduced the Legal Advice and Assistance Scheme by the 1972 Act, which is now repealed and replaced by the consolidating Act of 1974, they made it clear that advice and assistance under the scheme should not extend to full representation before a court, a tribunal, or a statutory inquiry. That is provided for by subsections (2) and (3) of what is now Section 2 of the 1974 Act. Apart from the Lands Tribunal and the Commons Commissioners, legal aid is not available for any statutory tribunal. The Legal Aid Advisory Committee, in their 24th Report published in November of last year, having considered all the tribunals involved, recommended that legal aid should be extended to all statutory tribunals within the supervision of the Council on Tribunals. Your Lordships will know that such tribunals are set up by Statute to adjudicate on specific issues either between individual parties or between an individual and the State. Examples are the industrial tribunals and rent tribunals.

I am strongly in sympathy with my Advisory Committee's recommendation —as indeed I am in sympathy with this Amendment—that legal aid be made available for tribunals. Unfortunately, owing to the present financial circumstances it would not be practicable to implement the recommendation. This, unhappily, is no moment to call for further increases in public expenditure. The opposite course is indeed the appropriate way. In this area of social services, priorities have to be assessed, and there are other needs just as, if not more, serious. On my appointment I became even more aware than I was before of the unmet need for legal services, and therefore commissioned a far-reaching study into the problem as a whole. The work on this is nearly concluded, and I am expecting to receive the results in the near future. I shall then be in a better position to assess priorities.

My present feeling is that it is essential both to maintain the effectiveness of the existing legal aid scheme and to support such developments as law centres, community lawyers and solicitors working in citizens' advice bureaux. So far as possible, the first of these objectives is met by keeping the legal aid income limits of eligibility under review in line with increases in supplementary benefit. On the second, in March of this year we provided £50,000 by way of short-term financial provision for law centres, and we recently announced that a further £100,000 would be provided.

In paragraph 26 of the Report to which I have referred, my advisory committee said that there remained for future examination the large number of domestic and other tribunals which were not subject to the supervision of the Council on Tribunals, like the disciplinary tribunals of the Law Society and the JockeyClub—I am not necessarily equating those two institutions but merely giving them by way of example—and statutory inquiries such as that with which this Amendment is concerned, as defined in Section 19 of the Tribunals of Inquiries Act 1971. They said that as between these they thought that priority should be given to studying the need for advice, assistance and representation before statutory inquiries, and they recommend that the Lord Chancellor should instruct them next to consider this. Such a study will be a far-reaching and difficult one and I am afraid that, in view of the fact that the public money just is not there for further public expenditure in this important field, this is not a moment for me to call on them to embark on that study. I will, of course, study the problem again when I am considering the Report, which I hope to receive shortly, on the unmet need for legal services. As I have said, I fully sympathise with the intention and indeed the spirit of this Amendment, but I am afraid that in the present economic climate it is just not practicable to give effect to it.

The Earl of ONSLOW

In his reply the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor indicated that we were under an acute financial strain and that he could not recommend the extra expenditure of public funds, and I do not think any of my noble friends would disagree with that. Can he tell us how much he estimates would be the cost of free legal aid under this Amendment? If it is but a very small amount then it should be allowed, even though we want public expenditure to be cut back; but if it is a large amount then perhaps it means that there is something rotten with the Bill.


I am afraid I cannot give the noble Earl an answer to the first part of that question. However, the advice I have received is that it would not be an inconsiderable amount, but I cannot assist more than that.


If we cannot afford this small amount of money, I am not quite sure how we can afford the Bill at all. Would the noble and learned Lord say—I did not follow his entire reply, and I will read carefully his remarks in tomorrow's Official Report—how his remarks apply to hardship tribunals, from the point of view of legal aid for them? I do not ask him for an answer to that now. I will raise the matter when we come to Amendment No. 195C, when we are discussing hardship tribunals. By then, when I have read what he said, perhaps he would say again what I do not like.


What I am about to say the noble Lord will not like either. I am afraid that the same considerations will apply to hardship tribunals as to any proposal at the present time to spend more money on legal aid in fields where at present they do not exist. I wish that we were able to do it, but there are other priorities for public expenditure—hospitals, schools, housing and the rest—and they all have to compete. We have done quite well in the legal aid sphere—we are spending over£30million on it this year—and are making a not inconsiderable contribution as a social service. One simply has to assess the priorities and, in my view, the priorities are so far about right.


I have two observations to make on the Lord Chancellor's remarks. First, he rightly drew attention to the fact that anybody can, under the green form procedure, get legal advice on a compulsory purchase order in which he is involved, and he stressed that that was a valuable public service. It is, however, very limited in effect. If on going into a compulsory purchase order inquiry, one is to have the opportunity of presenting one's case in an effective manner, one must be in a position to cross-examine the witnesses and so on, and without legal representation one is fighting the battle with one's hands tied behind one's back. Therefore the green form procedure, while useful, is no answer to the problem.

Secondly, I entirely agree with the noble and learned Lord that it would be quite wrong to give the advantage and benefit of legal aid to objectors purely in the proposed case in this Amendment, of public inquiries into compulsory purchase orders; it would be quite wrong to amend the general law about legal aid as applying to tribunals and public inquiries of all kinds and introduce this advantage in this case only, and not, for example, in an ordinary public inquiry into some planning proposal which, as I understand it, is not included in this Amendment.

Thus, I think it inappropriate that this Amendment should be carried today, although I urge the noble and learned Lord to get on with the job of examining how legal aid is to be made available to people before tribunals of all kinds and, indeed, at public inquiries of all kinds, and in particular how legal aid or something equivalent is to be made available at public inquiries where amenity interests are concerned. This is a matter of very great public importance. I concede that under the present economic constraints this probably cannot be put into effect now, but I hope that the noble and learned Lord will, as he has indicated, push forward the inquiries and researches into this matter so that in more prosperous times there can be some equality in the law, whether one is appearing before a court of law, a tribunal or some sort of public inquiry.


I do not quarrel with a single word the noble Lord, Lord Foot, said. If one thinks of rent tribunals and of the inequality that sometimes exists between a well-represented landlord and a non-represented tenant, that is an example of a field where I would be eagerly anxious to see progress taking place. However, I do not want the impression to be created—and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Foot, did not seek to create it—that the green form scheme is not particularly useful; it is very useful. Unfortunately, at the moment the majority of matters which are being advised upon under the scheme are in the purely matrimonial sphere; it is "bagging", if that is the right word to use, about 70 per cent. of the funds in this field also. That is I think only because it is more widely known that it is available there, and I therefore hope that this debate will have highlighted the existence of the green form scheme in this sort of inquiry and proceeding.

3.39 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

I am, of course, grateful for the sympathy of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in this matter and I agree entirely that this debate has been useful in that it has publicised the green form scheme. I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Foot, on this subject. My only personal experience of public inquiries has been at those at which I have just observed, but it is perfectly obvious that the person who goes into a public inquiry with a solicitor or barrister to help him is in a far stronger position than the person who has taken the best possible advice he can get, either through a legal advice centre or in any other way before going to the inquiry. So although I think it is useful, that use is limited. May I ask the noble and learned Lord whether he will at least take steps to make the scheme better known at the kind of places to which people are likely to go when they find themselves involved with this Bill; I suggest such places as the Citizens' Advice Bureaux and organisations of that kind. No doubt people are very well aware of them, but objectors may not think of going to them immediately.

On the general thesis, however, I am not very happy. As I understood the noble and learned Lord, he has said that we cannot afford to accept the Amendment because it will mean an increase in public expenditure, which, in the Government's order of priorities, does not come first. I believe that that puts us all in a very difficult position, because here we have this legislation which is being pressed through very much at the end of the Session, the financing of which is by no means as secure as the Government would have us believe, and which, in the first instance, will inevitably involve a great deal of public expenditure both on the officials to make it work and on the borrowing requirement to purchase the land. At the same time, the Government are not prepared to put into their priorities any expenditure to help the individuals who may be affected. As the noble and learned Lord will know, the net result of not accepting the Amendment is that the rich man will be all right, because he will be able to pay for the help which is required, and that the poorer person will not be able to afford to pay for that help and will be the one who will suffer. I should have thought that, on any understanding, that would be very unfair.

I cannot accept the argument that my Amendment does not cover all tribunals, because I should have thought that they were right outside the scope of the Bill, and although I believe that one, could put forward a perfectly good argument as to why legal aid should apply at rent tribunals, the lands tribunal and any other tribunal, I did not feel that this was within the scope of the Bill and I do not believe that that is a valid argument against my Amendment. I believe that to wait for a future study, even if the noble and learned Lord is not able to put it into effect, would allow us to see what might happen. It will be about a year before the Bill comes into operation, and we shall probably not hear of any sad cases for about another year after that, so a great deal of hardship may be caused before anything can be done about it. Therefore, unless I hear something much more convincing than that the reason for not doing this is simply the Government's order of priorities, I do not feel that I can accept that as an argument. We on this side of the Committee feel that this is a priority of Government expenditure for those individuals who will suffer, and we believe there are other things which could well be put lower down the scale of priorities.


Can my noble and learned friend say in what degree this House is entitled to persist in an Amendment which, according to him, would undoubtedly increase public expenditure? I know that there has been great contention on this point in years gone by, but perhaps my noble and learned friend could enlighten us on the point?


I took the assurance of seeking a nod from the learned authority at the Table, and I do not believe that there is any objection to the House proceeding with consideration of this point or to noble Lords expressing an opinion about it. I do not believe that we are quite as shackled as that. But it would not have any practical effect at this stage, though if it had the blessing of another place that would be another matter. However, I am not quite sure from the muted words of the noble Baroness what is her intention in this matter, and I wait with interest to know whether she intends to recommend an increase in public expenditure.


It seems to me that a strong case has been made out for accepting the Amendment or the principle involved. Indeed, my noble and learned friend himself presented the strongest argument in its support; namely, that when representations have to be made at a public inquiry those who can use the power of the purse can be legally represented, whereas the others cannot be so represented. My noble and learned friend himself presented that point of view, and I believe it would be generally agreed that it is an anomaly which ought to be corrected.

Since he was unable to reply to questions, may I ask my noble and learned friend whether it is possible to indicate what is the likely expenditure involved in accepting the Amendment? It might be possible to ascertain before Report stage whether the expenditure would be considerable or inconsiderable, and whether it would be a reasonable amount which would not be a drain upon our financial resources to any great degree. If so, it might be possible to come to some conclusion if the Amendment were withdrawn and the matter were revived on Report stage, or even on Third Reading. In that way, it might be possible to satisfy everybody.


I shall, of course, do my best but we are very much in the realms of guesswork in this field. However, we shall apply what forecasting certainties, or even probabilities, are possible and I shall gladly let noble Lords know what is the result. As my noble friend has indicated, we have not yet established equality before the law. At present, the poor man very often does not have equality before the law. The only comfort I can give the House is that, in the criminal field—where his liberty is at stake—equality before the law is pretty complete. That is a great deal to have accomplished since the legal aid and advice scheme came into operation.

The Earl of ONSLOW

As this is a Socialist Bill, would it not be nice to see the Socialists trying to guarantee help to poor people, with the encouragement of the Tory Party, or is that perhaps too simplistic a view?


Strange though it may seem, even a Socialist Administration is concerned about public expenditure, and I am fascinated to learn that at the present moment the mood on the other side of the Committee is for increased public expenditure.

A Noble Lord

The answer is to drop the Bill.


I hope that my noble and learned friend understands the disquiet that some of us on this side feel about this Amendment. We understand that at present things are not very easy and that the money is not available, but under this Bill, which is so far-reaching and so complicated, there seems to me to be a strong case for giving consideration to the Amendment when the time is ripe to do so. It is very difficult for ordinary people to understand the Bill, which is also a revolutionary measure. Therefore, it needs special consideration.


We are all waiting to know what the noble Baroness intends to do about this. May I, in all friendliness, make the distinction which I tried but probably failed sufficiently to emphasise before, which is that I believe the difficulty about the noble Baroness's Amendment to be that she is proposing that we should write into the legal aid law that people who object at a public inquiry into a compulsory purchase order should have the benefit of the assistance which the Legal Aid Act provides. Apart from the matter of expense, I believe that there is a difficulty in dealing with the matter in that way, in that one would be creating an anomaly, because it would be only at public inquiries into compulsory purchase orders that the person affected would be entitled to legal aid, whereas there arc many other forms of public inquiry where the case for the representation of the impoverished or impecunious person is just as strong as it is here. I believe that it would be a serious error of principle to try to amend the legal aid law, as we all want to see it amended by being broadened and widened in this way, and thus introduce yet one more anomaly into the general law on legal aid. I beg the noble Baroness to consider that situation. I am wholly in support of everything she wants to do, but I think that this would be the wrong way to go about it.


Before the noble and learned Lord replies, may I add just one word? This is a different case from that of the ordinary existing tribunals. At the present moment tribunal defendants are not entitled to legal aid. But they do not always want legal aid: they want surveyors or doctors, or some technical expert to help them in their case; they do not necessarily want a lawyer. But this is a different type of case, because it is new law, revolutionary law—as the noble Baroness opposite said —and it is so complicated that an ordinary person must have some help to see his way through. Otherwise, I am not in favour of extending legal aid to all tribunals. I do not think it is necessary.


If I may again impose myself upon the Committee, may I say that I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley. Perhaps I should have indicated earlier that those who have had experience of public inquiries of this kind—and there are many distinguished lawyers in the House who have—will realise that the inspector who conducts the proceedings will certainly do his best to see that an objector's objections are properly expressed, expounded and ventilated, and that he or she can be assisted in the conduct of the proceedings. I am not for a moment suggesting that in all inquiries of this kind legal help is either essential or of very great value. But I readily say that in some cases it is. I should be a very strange lawyer if I said less than that; I certainly believe that to be the case.

But it is worth remembering that these are somewhat informal tribunals; where one of the duties of the inspector is to assist the objectors in what they are seeking to say. I agree with what my noble friend Lady Gaitskell said, and with what has just fallen from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Foot. The difficulty is that, worthy as is the intention in these matters, we are, unhappily, at this moment up against insurmountable financial difficulties.

Baroness YOUNG

It may seem strange, too, that I am slightly cautious about pressing Amendments to a Division, but I very much wanted to test the feeling of the whole Committee on this issue which, so far as I can ascertain, has not been raised previously during proceedings on this Bill. I should like first to answer the point made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I have heard on more than one occasion the argument that he has put so well: that public inquiries are not all that formal, and that an objector can make a case very well in front of an inspector who will be sympathetic to the way that case is being put. The first time I heard it was when a local government official was advising someone that he had nothing to fear from a public inquiry, that if he could not put his case well everyone would understand it. Long experience has now taught me—and if nothing else has taught me, these Committee proceedings have taught me—that if one has a good lawyer beside one, then one is much better off than if one has not; and I could do with a lot more help, I may say. I am quite certain that this is true in the serious matter of an inquiry, and I do not think that we are really arguing about it.

With regard to public expenditure, I am told that I am asking for increased public expenditure. But when I compare this with some of the other items on which the Government think it perfectly all right to spend a lot of money—I might quote, for instance, the winding-up of the 174 direct grant schools as a very good example—I believe that we are concerned here with a matter where money ought to be spent. I entirely see the point put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, that it is singling out one thing. I have singled this out in this case because

this is what the Bill is talking about. I quite see his argument (and his advice on this is right) that we ought to look at the whole question of legal aid; not pick out one thing, but look at a whole lot of things.

My reply to that is that if we wait to see how the Bill works in this or in other matters, we will, so far as I can see, inevitably wait for three or four years before we shall find out how it is working and whom has suffered, as well as whom we ought to have helped. Therefore many people who require help may have to do without it because they will not have legal aid. The whole matter of amending the legal aid law is not for me and is certainly not to be brought up on consideration of this Bill. Having listened to the debate, I shall press my Amendment and so test the feeling of the Committee as a whole.

3.56 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 59F) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 103; Not-Contents, 66.

Aberdare, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]
Airedale, L. Erskine of Rerrick, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Ferrers, E. Newall, L.
Amory, V. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Arbuthnot, V. Gage, V. Onslow, E.
Arran, E. Glasgow, E. Piercy, L.
Balfour, E. Glenkinglas, L. Reigate, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Grenfell, L. Ridley, V.
Barnby, L. Gridley, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Belstead, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Sackville, L.
Berkeley, B. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Birdwood, L. St. Helens, L.
Bledisloe, V. Halsbury, E. Saint Oswald, L.
Brooke, of Cumnor, L. Hanworth, V. Sandford, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellt, B. Harmar-Nicholls, L. Sandys, L.
Camoys, L. Hawke, L. Savile, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hayter, L. Shannon, E.
Carrington, L. Headfort, M. Somers, L.
Clitheroe, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Stamp, L.
Clwyd, L. Hylton, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Coleraine, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Strathcarron, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Kemsley, V. Strathclyde, L.
Cowley, E. [Teller.] Killearn, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Cromartie, E. Kinloss, Ly.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Kinnaird, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Daventry, V. Kinnoull, E. Strathspey, L.
de Clifford, L. Leinster, D. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Derwent, L. Long, V. Tenby, V.
Drumalbyn, L. Loudoun, C. Thomas, L.
Dundonald, E. Lyell, L. Vickers, B.
Ebbisham, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Vivian, L.
Eccles, V. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Effingham, E. Ward of North Tvneside, B.
Ellenborough, L. Merrivale, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Elles, B. Middleton, L. Young, B.
Elton, L. Monck, V.
Amherst, E. Gaitskell, B. Noel-Buxton, L.
Ardwick, L. Gardiner, L. Pannell, L.
Aylestone, L. Geddes of Epsom, L. Phillips, B.
Bacon, B. George-Brown, L. Platt, L.
Balogh, L. Gladwyn, L. Roberthall, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gordon-Walker, L. Sainsbury, L.
Beswick, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. St. Davids, V.
Birk, B. Grantchester, L. Shinwell, L.
Brockway, L. Hale, L. Slater, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Snow, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Henley, L. Stedman, B.
Burton of Coventry, B. Hoy, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Byers, L. Jacques, L. [Teller.] Strabolgi, L.
Castle, L. Leatherland, L. Summerskill, B.
Champion, L. Lee of Newton, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Chorley, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Wade, L.
Crook, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lovell-Davis, L. [Teller.] Wells-Pestell, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Lyons of Brighton, L. Wigoder, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) McLeavy, L. Willis, L.
Maybray-King, L. Winterbottom, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Melchett, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Foot, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

4.4 p.m.

Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS moved Amendment No. 59G: Page 59, line 10, at end insert ("and where the Secretary of State gives such directions, section 192(1) of the Act of 1971 and section 181 of the Scottish Act of 1972 (blight notices) shall have effect as if the land specified therein included land which is the subject of a compulsory purchase order the consideration of which has been postponed by directions given under sub-paragraph (1) above and as if the acquiring authority had served no counter-notice objecting to the blight notice.")

The noble Viscount said: I am afraid that this Amendment looks as though it needs someone to interpret it, but it goes to a point which seems to me to be of some importance. If your Lordships would be so kind as to look at paragraph 5 of this Schedule your Lordships will see that a new provision is inserted here in relation to what the Secretary of State may do when a compulsory purchase order is presented to him for confirmation. He can confirm part of it and (this is what is new) he can postpone his consideration of the rest of it. What I should like to know is: what is to happen to that part of the land the consideration of which is to be postponed? I may have missed it, but so far as I know a clue has not been provided anywhere in the proceedings so far.

I should like to paint two simple pictures. There is a farmer, the whole of whose farm is to be acquired by a com- pulsory purchase order under this Bill, part of it for (shall we say?) housing and part of it for industry. It is run as a single unit, and the local authority sends the compulsory purchase order up to the Secretary of State for confirmation. The Secretary of State confirms the compulsory purchase order as to part of the farm and postpones his consideration as to the other half of the farm. What is the farmer to do with the half of the land which is not acquired by the local authority? It is only half of a unit, and he will presumably find it very difficult to farm it on its own. I cannot imagine that anybody would want to take it off him as a tenant because, first, again it is only half a unit and, secondly, there is absolutely no guarantee when the Secretary of State will come to the end of the postponement and will finally decide what he is going to do with the land. So that seems a very awkward predicament for the farmer.

Secondly, let us take an urban case, where we are talking about urban redevelopment. There is a block of 50 houses, and it is decided by the local authority that they will buy the whole of this—let us say half of it for housing and half of it for a recreation centre. The Secretary of State confirms the part of the order, relating to 25 houses, which concerns the land proposed for housing but decides to postpone consideration of the other part, relating to the other 25 houses, because he does not think that the case has yet been made out or, it may be, because it is not yet possible to afford the recreation centre. What is to happen to the owners of the 25 houses on the land in respect of which the compulsory purchase order has not been confirmed? They will presumably, if they wish to, continue to live there, but they will certainly never be able to sell their houses to anybody else if they want to move.

This is not a unique set of circumstances. I have not moved an Amendment to take out the power to postpone, although it seems to me to be an odious power. I have tried to draft a more modest one and to refer to what is a perfectly well-known procedure where local authorities or the Central Government step in to make it impossible for the citizen to deal privately with his land. I must assure the Committee that if there is a compulsory purchase order hanging over a piece of property, the consideration of which has been postponed, it is most unlikely that it will be possible privately to deal with that land. Nobody will touch it with a barge-pole. Therefore, I have tried to bring in what is commonly known as the blight notice procedure, which applies in a whole lot of similar circumstances. If the local authority decide that they want your land for a road or some other scheme for which they have compulsory powers, then if you cannot sell it on the open market at anything like a reasonable price you can offload it on to them. The only extra complication is that, normally speaking, they have a right to object, but in this case, in my Amendment, I have taken away that right to object because they have already promoted a compulsory order on the land itself and therefore, presumably, they must say that they want it.

I believe that if the procedure is necessary, which I very much doubt, then at least it ought to be tempered in favour of the citizen's rights in some such way as I am suggesting in this Amendment. The drafting is no doubt defective, but I hope the Government will be prepared to accept the spirit of it because otherwise we shall have yet more hardship of the sort which, in all the Amendments I have been dealing with, I have been attempting to avoid. I beg to move.


I accept the noble Viscount's good intentions, but I think that in this case the Amendment is misconceived. By virtue of Section 70(1) of the Land Compensation Act 1973 persons entitled to blight protection can already serve blight notices on authorities as soon as the CPO has been made and submitted for confirmation. The ability to serve a blight notice is therefore in no way affected by any directions the Secretary of State may give under paragraph 5 of Schedule 4.

The Amendment is unacceptable because it would deprive the authority of the ability to challenge a blight notice by serving its own counter-notice, as the noble Viscount said. There may, however, be good grounds for such an objection; for example, the blight notice could be defective or served on the wrong authority, or the authority might have decided not to acquire. If the owner-occupier does not accept the counter-notice he or she can refer the matter to the Lands Tribunal for determination.

This procedure is standard for all blight notices regardless of the circumstances under which they are served and there is no justification for departing from it in this one instance. Moreover, authorities can either use the powers under this Bill or their powers under the Planning Acts to acquire land for private development. As the provisions of paragraph 5 of Schedule 4 are also found in the planning Acts, compulsory purchase orders which were made under the planning Acts but confirmed only in part would be unaffected by this Amendment. The noble Viscount gave the impression (to me, at least) that this was a new procedure; but it is also to be found in the planning Acts; so that where the authorities use the planning Acts they will still be able to object to blight notices made under the same circumstances as if they had used the powers under this Bill. I think this would be anomalous and could not be justified.

The noble Viscount spoke of a farm. I think he will know that a local authority could under existing law take all the farm unless the part could be taken without material detriment to the rest of the property.

The Earl of BALFOUR

Can the noble Lord say to which section of the 1973 Land Compensation Act he was referring?


I was referring to Section 70(1) of that Act.


The noble Lord set out clearly the present procedure, but I hope he does not think by setting it out that he automatically confirms that it works fairly and properly. Facilities are there to go to the Land Tribunal and for all the stages that he has described. It may well be that this Amendment is defective and would be an anomaly. I accept that; but perhaps the noble Lord can take the argument behind this Amendment to confirm that it is acting unfairly at the moment because of the delay that is occasioned by the working of the present procedure. You may have land owned by a company who are working on borrowed money. Part of their land comes under a compulsory purchase order for very good public reasons and they are not able to agree with the district valuer or whoever it may be on what is considered to be fair compensation. The fact that it is under a compulsory purchase order puts it as a blighted area and it means that they cannot test the market in the normal way to find out what the true value is likely to be in order to sustain their argument. The result is that if they are working on borrowed money with high interest rates the delays occasioned by the present procedures may mean that they are losing more money because of the high interest rates on the loans covering that land than they can gain by arguing and getting proper compensation.

The whole point of my intervention is not to suggest that this Amendment will answer the whole problem but that it may be used as a hook on which to hang the argument to present to this or to any other Government that they must not be complacent about the present procedures. In theory they look fair; in theory all the facilities are there for people to get a fair deal. But when you recognise the length of time it takes to arrive at a real conclusion, then the net result to many people is that they are being treated unfairly because of the delay. If on this Bill the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, can use his influence to speed up the procedure, then I think it would be a good thing that we have had this chance of putting on record these arguments.


In certain respects the Bill does speed tin the compulsory purchase order procedures. In that respect it conies in for some criticism from noble Lords opposite; but I do not think that the intervention by the noble Lord really arises on the Amendment that we are discussing.


I think it does. My noble friend was talking about the delay in the blight notice procedure. To that extent, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. if he inquires into the standard timetable for one of these things, will find that my noble friend is correct. I would certainly bear out what he has said. This is a laborious process. It is the best we have, but if the noble Lord does not think that that intervention was relevant then I would invite him to take a good deal of further advice on how the blight notice procedure works. He may then be induced into doing what my noble friend has suggested and into using his influence towards a possible speeding-up in this procedure. That was not an irrelevant intervention. It is an extremely severe problem.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for reminding me of the provision in the 1973 Act. I am sorry that I overlooked this and I am grateful to have had the explanation. But he has mystified me in one respect. He says that the powers to postpone a decision as to part of the land already exist under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. I do not think they do. I think that what is happening is that by the Amendment in paragraph 5, we are amending Schedule 1 to the Acquisition of Land Act 1946. Therefore, if after this Bill is on the Statute Book a compulsory purchase order is made under Section 112 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, it will thereafter be possible to postpone a decision although it is not, in fact, possible to do so now. It is because the Amendment in this Schedule is to the 1946 Act that it will then be able to be used in a compulsory purchase order made under legislation other than this Bill. I do not think there is any precedent for it. We must all wait to see how it works out, but I think it will cause difficulty. However, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.18 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 60:

Page 59, line 10, at end insert— ( ) Where the Secretary of State gives a direction under sub-paragraph (1)(b) above on any land which is being farmed as agricultural land or which has been developed, he shall not grant a compulsory purchase order authorising the acquisition of that land without allowing any objection to be raised as if the original order had not been submitted to him.

The noble Earl said: The purpose of this Amendment is basically that where the Secretary of State issues a direction postponing a compulsory purchase order of any land which is being farmed as agricultural land or which has been developed he should not grant a compulsory purchase order without allowing any objection to be raised as if the original order had not been submitted to him. The problem is this. Paragraph 5(1)(a) deals with where a compulsory purchase order has been made and the Secretary of State "is satisfied that the order ought to be confirmed". But a little further on in the same paragraph it says, so far as I can see, that he can postpone it almost indefinitely. I want to try to make certain that if he then changes his mind at a later date—because the wording in paragraph 5(1)(b) is, has not for the time being determined whether it ought to be confirmed"— then he may confirm it at a later date. At that stage I should like those people who might have withdrawn an objection to have a second opportunity to raise it because there has been a change of circumstances. I beg to move.


Before he very unfortunately left the Chamber, the noble Viscount contradicted what I said about the split decision procedure being in existing planning law. He often berates members of the Front Bench opposite him for talking while he is speaking. I am now in the position of having to contradict him when he is not in the Chamber. It is a fact—and I hope that one of his noble friends will draw this to hisattention—that the split procedure in paragraph 5 is identical to one which is derived from the 1947 planning Act and is now in Section 132 of the 1971 planning Act. That Act does not contain provisions similar to those proposed in the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Balfour. In any case, the procedure is intended to be used only on the rarest occasions when the land comprised in the part of the order confirmed is urgently needed for development, but more time is needed to consider separate issues arising only in relation to the remaining land for example, planning issues arising only in relation to that land which were the subject of concurrent planning inquiry. It is of course possible that with the passage of time between the first and second decisions new considerations may arise in relation to the remainder land, which should be taken into account in deciding whether compulsory purchase of that land should be authorised.

The split decision procedure will not be used unless an inquiry or hearing has been held into objections—my right honourable friend gave an undertaking to that effect at the Commons Report stage, on Monday 13th October at col 1084 of Hansard—so that the Compulsory Purchase by Local Authorities (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 1962 will apply. Under these Rules, if the Secretary of State shoud receive any new evidence after the inquiry, or takes into account any new issue of fact which was not raised at the inquiry, and this new evidence or new issue of fact disposes him to disagree with the inspector's recommendation, he must notify the parties and any one of them may insist on the inquiry being re-opened. Furthermore, the Secretary of State may in any other case cause the inquiry to be reopened if he thinks fit. Thus if any owners, lessees or occupiers wish to raise new issues in relation to the part of the order on which the decision has been postponed they are at liberty to do so, and if the Secretary of State considers that this issue warrants re-opening the inquiry then, clearly, he will do so. There could be new issues other than agricultural ones which would justify such a course and these would not be covered by the Amendment.

While the Government therefore accept that there may well be cause for allowing a further opportunity for objections arising from the deferment of the decision, and not only objections related to agriculture, they take the view that the Inquiries Procedure Rules make adequate provision and that the Amendment is unnecessary. Moreover, if accepted, the Amendment would mean that the paragraph would differ significantly from the planning Act precedent—about which the noble Viscount did not believe me, but which certainly exists—from which this provision is derived, which would make the Statute Law in this area more complicated than it is already. I hope that the noble Earl will withdraw his Amendment.

The Earl of BALFOUR

This is one of the times when I am grateful for the reply, and I am glad that I put down the Amendment. The very fact this has been brought to light will help. It could be used in a question of dispute at a later date. I am much obliged and beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.23 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 61:

Page 59, line 10, at end insert— (" ( ) Where any land is under a compulsory purchase order which the acquiring authority do not acquire within two years of the date of the order, the authority shall forfeit the right to acquire that land compulsorily except under a direction from the Secretary of State and then only for the development land value to be arranged by the district valuer.")

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is to deal with a case where any acquiring authority say that they will acquire a piece of land and then do nothing about it. If they have made a compulsory purchase order or propose acquisition of the land, and then leave the poor owner wondering whether he will be paid for it, or what is to happen, he could then force the authority either to do something or to forfeit the right to acquire the land. I think the last two words of my Amendment, "district valuer" should have been "valuation officer" or perhaps "the proper officer of the valuation department". I trust that this defect does not make my Amendment unacceptable. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

The effect of this Amendment would be that where the Secretary of State had given directions postponing consideration of a compulsory purchase order so far as it related to land specified in the directions, the powers of compulsory acquisition would lapse if, the order having been confirmed in due course in relation to that land, acquisition did not take place within two years after the date of the order. Since the Amendment is presented as an additional subparagraph to paragraph 5, it is presumably intended to apply only to the circumstances of that paragraph.

I agree it is not unreasonable that there should be a time limit to the exercise of compulsory acquisition authorised under the Bill. This is recognised in paragraph 4 of the table in Part I of Schedule 7, the effect of which is that the authority are to be regarded as abandoning their power to purchase the land if they have not served notice to treat within 12 months (not three years as under the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965) after the order comes into operation; that is after notice of confirmation is first published.

The period in the Amendment is two years from "the date of the Order which presumably means the date on which the authority made the order before submitting it for confirmation, and a substantial part of that period would be taken up by the procedure leading up to the part confirmation and part deferment. The rest of the period could be unreasonably short to allow for the consideration of the deferred part to be concluded, for that part of the order to be brought into operation and the subsequent service of notice to treat and completion of acquisition. The Government therefore consider that the shorter time limit imposed under Schedule 7 should stand in relation to orders dealt with in the manner of paragraph 5. I hope that the noble Earl now accepts this point.


There is more to the problems which people have to face than those described. If it is a compulsory purchase order for a scheme which can be allowed to lapse and not carried on, then I agree that the facilities for seeing that right is done seem to be satisfactory. But there are many circumstances today where an area is blighted without a compulsory purchase order having been put upon it. The example I have in mind is this. A ring road is to surround an existing city or town. Part of the ring road has been built and is in operation, and it is known that the rest of the area on the line of the ring road will eventually have to be acquired for the purposes of completing the road scheme. No compulsory purchase order has been put upon certain sections, because the authority like to phase their compulsory purchase orders to lit in when the money is available to carry the scheme through. So we have a situation where, for overriding national reasons of having to economise in the spending of money, a delay has been imposed upon the completion of ring roads and other developments.

The owner of the land in such an area is left with blighted land because, while the land does not have a CPO upon it, it is known that the ring road will eventually have to be completed and that land can be used only for the completion of this ring road. So one is in a position where the owner of land has land which is blighted, although it does not have a compulsory purchase order. In those circumstances, this Bill, or some other measure, ought to make clear that the local authority or people responsible for completing the ring road, should be made to complete the purchase. Otherwise, there is an asset which may be backed by borrowings—which are expensive today—and which cannot be used, and its owner is being made the victim of these circumstances.

I appeal to the noble Baroness not to think that the problems we have to face are the straightforward ones such as she described, which can be met by appeals and the withdrawing of compulsory purchase orders, because there are other circumstances where schemes have to be postponed and where unjust treatment is being meted out to owners of land. So I should like to feel that in this Bill, or in another one, something can be done about this situation.

Baroness BIRK

What the noble Lord has said is very interesting, and I have listened very carefully. But the Amendment we are discussing is quite specifically referring to any land which is under a compulsory purchase order, and I think we must confine ourselves to that Amendment. Furthermore, the blight categories to which the noble Lord referred were extended by the 1973 Land Compensation Act, which was brought in by the last Administration. I do not quite understand why, if there was a problem, the previous Administration did not do something about it then. We may be able to discuss this at a later stage of our deliberations, but it really has nothing to do with the point we are discussing at present.

The Earl of BALFOUR

This is also something I should like to look at again, particularly in view of the comments made by my noble friend. I may not have this Amendment in the right place, and in order to save time I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.31 p.m.


I beg to move Amendment No. 62 and to speak to Amendment No. 63 at the same time. Both are minor drafting Amendments.

Amendment moved— Page 59, line 36, after ("3(1)(b)") insert ("of Schedule 1")—(Lord Melchett.)


These are simple drafting Amendments which we shall be glad to accept, but 3(1)(b) is a key paragraph and it might be for the convenience of the Committee, before we leave Part I of this Schedule, to raise a point arising where paragraph 3(1)(b) is referred to on page 57 in line 28. The Committee will now know that we are dealing in Schedule 4 with a provision for modifying procedures for authorising compulsory purchase orders. Those procedures are laid clown in Schedule 1 to the Acquisition of Land Act 1946. Paragraph 3 of Schedule 4 to the Bill we are now discussing amends paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 to the Acquisition of Land Act 1946. But paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the Acquisition of Land Act stands, and is not modified by any part of Schedule 4 or anything else in the present Bill.

In paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the land Act (to which the noble Lord's Amendment makes more specific and clearer reference as a result of the drafting Amendment, so we are quite sure what it is we are talking about) we read the following, which is part of the preliminary procedure of authorising compulsory purchase orders: Before submitting the order to the confirming authority the acquiring authority shall … serve on every owner, lessee and occupier … of any land comprised in the order a notice in the prescribed form stating the effect of the order …". That is part of the preliminary procedure leading up to a compulsory purchase order, which is not modified by Schedule 4. That being so, I can see no reason for the words which are printed in our Bill at lines 29 and 30 on page 57, to which we might conveniently refer as (8)(b,) since that is how it appears, as follows: has specified an address for the purposes of this paragraph,". I can see no reason for that to be there, because it is quite obvious from what I read out from Schedule 1 to the 1946 Act that the acquiring authority will already have the addresses of all the occupiers and owners in order to serve that initial notice on them; so from that point of view (8)(b) on page 57 is unnecessary.

It also seems to me that every owner and occupier is entitled to know the outcome of the compulsory purchase order, which is what sub-paragraph (8) is all about. Therefore I would ask the noble Lord if he would please look at this to see whether sub-paragraph (8)(b) ought to come out. I should also be grateful if the noble Lord could tell me, although not necessarily now, if he comes to the contrary view, how he jusifies its retention.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for not expecting a definitive answer at this stage. I suspect that this may be another thing for which we have to blame the Renton Committee. We are being discouraged from legislation by reference, and it may be that this ought to be in. Another reason why subparagraph (8)(b) might need to be in the Bill is that these notices under subparagraph (8) will be served by the Secretary of State and, as I understand it, the Secretary of State will not necessarily have the addresses.

The Earl of BALFOUR

We are at present dealing with almost the very bottom of page 59 and what particularly concerned me here was that in paragraph 7 it says: Where the compulsory purchase order was made by the Land Authority for Wales"; and my noble friend read out exactly what 3(1)(b) says. It starts by saying, "Before submitting the order". This is dealing to a great extent with local authorities, and surely there should be some words in the present tense rather than in the past tense in line 34 so that it might read: Where the compulsory purchase order is made by the Land Authority for Wales". I wonder whether, between now and the Report stage, the noble Lord would look at this point again?


I really think we are getting a long way from my drafting Amendments. This is a point which perhaps the noble Earl might more conveniently raise on the Question, Whether Schedule 1 shall stand part of the Bill?


I beg to move Amendment No. 63.

Amendment moved— Page 59, line 41, after ("4") insert ("of that Schedule".—(Lord Melchett.)

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 64:

Page 60, line 31, at end insert— ( ) sub-paragraph (1) above shall not apply to any right of access from adjoining land or existing way leave over or under the land acquired.

The noble Earl said: Here we are considering where the rights of any person over land have been extinguished. Paragraph 9 of Schedule 4 says: … all private rights of way and rights of laying down, erecting, continuing or maintaining any apparatus on, under or over the land shall be extinguished …". This is one of the few occasions where I must declare an interest, because it could affect me personally at some time or other. I am seeking here to cover a situation where a pipeline could be underneath the ground and it might be supplying water to a farm or an industry. For instance, in the case of ICI, I understand that they have pipes which go from one of their factories to another. I hope that in such a case this pipe does not have to be lifted or perhaps diverted—which might even involve a pumping station—and that where these connecting pipes, or perhaps a culvert under the ground, exist and rights were given to the old owner, when the local authority acquires them we do not sacrifice the position completely. That is the point I am seeking to deal with here, and I beg to move.


With this Amendment of the noble Earl we come to Part III of Schedule 4 and I hope that we are now sailing into calmer waters—not that there has been undue turbulence on the earlier parts. Before I deal with the noble Earl's Amendment I should like to make a general point about Part III and the remaining Amendments to the Schedule which may be of assistance in our further discussion of these matters. All the provisions in this part of Schedule 4 are taken direct from the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. As the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, reminded us recently that was a consolidating Act. These provisions derive from the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and they have therefore been in operation for almost 30 years and therefore presumably have been approved by several intervening Administrations.

These provisions are about what an authority can do with the land once it has acquired it. They have nothing to do with the compulsory acquisition itself. It would have been possible, therefore, for us to attract these provisions to the Bill simply by providing in it that land acquired under Clause 15 should be treated in the same way as land acquired under the Town and Country Planning Act. That would no doubt have saved us all from what I hope will not be too prolonged a discussion, in the circumstances, of the matters arising in this part of the Schedule. But legislation by reference is now looked upon with disfavour—the Renton Report has emphaised that—and clearly if what is referred to can conveniently he expressed in the Bill dealing with the matter, this is obviously desirable. I hope I shall not be censorious in saying that the trouble about doing that is that it submits the old legislation, in detail, before either House of Parliament and provides a temptation for a crucial reappraisal which would not otherwise have taken place. I acknowledge that there are moments when reappraisals may he necessary, but perhaps they ought to be done with reasonable restraint so as not to prolong discussion unnecessarily.

I mention this background for two specific reasons. First, there will be cases in the language of Part III where the wording is somewhat antique and relates back to an earlier era; and, secondly, as to the definitions it is highly desirable that they should not diverge from the definitions in the planning Act itself. This is not just a matter of tidiness. If we produce a situation in which there are different definitions of the same thing, in the Town and Country Planning Act and the Community Land Act—as in due course it will become if it receives Royal Assent—then the courts will be bound to take the view that Parliament had some good reason for producing that divergence. This means we should look carefully at any suggested changes for these could lead to problems of interpretation, not only of this Bill but of the Town and Country Planning Act also.

I come now to the Amendment proposed by the noble Earl. Its effect would be that where land had been compulsorily acquired under the Bill any right of access to the land from adjoining land, or any existing way leave over the land acquired, would not be extinguished under paragraph 9 of Schedule 4. This Amendment would, I fear, frustrate the development of land acquired under the Bill where the continued existence of the rights in question would, or certainly might, conflict with that development. It will be appreciated that paragraph 9, which we are considering, corresponds to Section 118 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, and, like that section, is intended to ensure that land acquired compulsorily, after due consideration of any objection, may be developed for the purposes or reasons for which it was acquired. It would be quite unacceptable that, in these circumstances, private rights in or in relation to the land acquired should stand in the way of its development.

The remedy provided by these provisions is compensation under the Land Compensation Acts. Sub-paragraphs (4) and (5) give entitlement to such compensation to any person who suffers loss by the extinguishment of rights. With regard to the precise problem of pipe-lines it will he possible, if these provisions go through, to terminate rights to have those pipelines under the relevant land. Indeed, this is what the power is there for, if it should prove necessary for the type of development. But again there compensation would of course have to be paid, and if it were a major pipe-line, local authorities might well put the development round the pipe-line and get round the problem in a pracical way of that kind rather than terminate the right to the pipe-line, which I concede could present difficulties. Those are the reasons, to prevent frustration of proposed development, why this Amendment should be resisted.

4.46 p.m.


If a layman dare express a point of view different from that of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, I do not think one can easily accept his suggestion that, because a definition was fixed some years ago—a definition which has not been altered, as he said, over 30 years—that means there ought not to be another definition in the light of more recent events and more recent thinking. I do not think there is any hardship in having two slightly different definitions. Here we have a situation, surely, where the owner of land does not particularly want to sell; he does not want it altered. But for good public reasons certain things must be done to that land and the public authority in some form or another wishes to acquire it. If the public authority in the name of the nation wants to alter something which the private owner does not particularly want altering, I believe the private owner ought to have the choice of any number of definitions in order to establish his position in resisting public encroachment upon his position. If the public authority does not have a case good enough to substantiate its position under both definitions, or several definitions, then the matter ought to be looked at very carefully before it has its way.

I am arguing only on what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said rather than on the specific effect of this Amendment. But if it is that he attaches a lot of weight to his suggestion—he said it was not for neatness; I can think of no reason other than neatness—I do not think one could easily accept the fact that judges could not see the problems and could not differentiate so far as using their authority and their discretion is concerned. It is purely neatness. And it could well be, as so often happens when bureaucracy takes over, that neatness happens to act unfairly against the private owner.


What the noble Lord has said goes to underline how foolish it is to attempt to make general observations before introducing a substantial part of a Schedule. I was only cautioning the Committee that if we alter a definition here it will mean altering a definition in the Town and Country Planning Act which has wide implications all over the country and might, by reason of amendment now, have implications for what has gone in the past. I am giving only advice and a cautionary word of notice. I do not think the precise point arises on this Amendment, and I shall not make the mistake of giving general advice again.

The Earl of BALFOUR

May I say a final word before withdrawing this Amendment. I am sure that noble Lords who have had anything to do with land transactions are well aware that whenever one buys or sells a piece of land one gives to the adjoining proprietor certain rights over it for the extraction of timber, or whatever it may be. I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for being here to answer this question. All I ask is that when this Bill becomes an Act the noble and learned Lord will bear in mind that any directions given to local authorities or to the Secretary of State should give to adjoining proprietors the normal rights that are given to them by local authorities, even in the case of development, wherever that is physically possible. If I can be given that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.


I can hope only that developments of this kind will be dealt with sensibly and with as much agreement as possible between all the parties affected. If agreement is not possible the remedy will have to be compensation, but the less the necessity for that the better. Therefore one hopes that sweet reasonableness will circumvent even pipe-lines.


Before the noble Earl withdraws his Amendment, may I take this opportunity to ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor whether Part III of this Schedule is simply a re-enactment of something that can be found in the 1971 Act?


Yes, it is.


Does that apply also to Part IV?


It applies to Part III but not to Part IV. In fact, it could not apply to Part IV. That Part deals with special provisions which seem to be influenced by the Peak Park Joint and the Lake District Special Planning Boards. Apart from that, Part III is a repeat of the earlier provisions in the 1971 Act.


If that is so, it follows that all of the Amendments from Amendment No. 64, which is the one we are now considering, to Amendment No. 74A and, indeed, the Government's own Amendment, Amendment No. 74B, are out of order in the sense that if they were carried they would alter the existing law. Therefore, there must be this general objection to all of the Amendments between Amendment No. 64 and at least Amendment No. 74A, that they would be introducing new definitions which would be in conflict with the definitions in the 1971 Act. If that is so, could not we abandon Amendments Nos. 64 to 74 which would have the advantage of expedition and might keep us here for a shorter period in the early hours of tomorrow morning or the day after?


I find the noble Lord's suggestion devastatingly attractive! No Government Amendment would be embarrassed by that radical Liberal proposal. Amendment No. 74B would take out the one thing that is not precedented, and therefore that would not embarrass me! If the noble Lord has the power to move a general Amendment to that effect, he will receive enthusiastic support from the Government Benches.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.54 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 64A: Page 60, line 33, after ("statutory") insert (",industrial and mineral,").

The noble Baroness said: As I rise to move this Amendment I am very conscious once again that the noble Lord, Lord Foot, does not approve of my activities. I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the information that the whole of Part III is taken from the 1971 Act. I had realised that parts of it were, but I must confess that I had not appreciated that the whole of it was taken from that Act and I am relieved to think that he, too, might have found it a little difficult! Notwithstanding the strictures of everybody, I must inform the Committee right away that I intend to press Amendment No. 64A and at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 67B, 69A and 69B. We could usefully discuss some of the points which must inevitably arise on this Amendment in the context that the 1971 Act was a consolidating Act. That Act was passed by a Conservative Government, and I should be hard put to it to say that, staunch in my support of my Party as I am, it cannot be considered again.

With those introductory words may I turn immediately to Amendment No. 64A, which would have the effect of giving to industrial and mineral undertakings the same rights under this Schedule as statutory undertakers. Within the United Kingdom there are a number of major heavy industrial and mineral installations which are connected by feedstock pipelines to works in other parts of the country. For these pipelines, permanent rights in the land have been acquired and the pipelines are integral to the production processes.

The point of my Amendment is that pipelines should be treated by any authority—it is a planning development of the surface—in exactly the same way as overhead power lines and railways will be treated under the provisions of Schedule 4. It is more than likely that at some time or another land acquisition by an authority will lie across such a pipeline. It should be impossible for an authority to acquire the pipeline land unless it has made out a very special case under the same procedures as are laid down in similar circumstances in respect of statutory authorities.

I am aware that this point was raised in another place. As I understand it, at that time the Minister gave two reasons why this procedure could not be adhered to, and perhaps I may say why I do not find them entirely satisfactory. The first reason was that a statutory undertaker is doing something for the whole community. As we do not quite know what "community" means, it is equally arguable that somebody else may be doing precisely that. The Churches and charities have already argued that they are, although I am not putting them all together in this Amendment. The second reason was that the industrial operator or mineral undertaker would receive compensation in any event. The second argument is not always relevant to the circumstances which I have described. That the pipeline should continue to exist in order that the industrial processes may continue could be far more important than any amount of compensation. It could mean, otherwise, the end of the operations altogether. With those remarks I beg to move.

4.59 p.m.

Baroness BIRK

The noble Baroness has explained the purpose of her Amendments to which, with the leave of the Committee, I shall speak. It is true that mineral and industrial undertakers are not defined in the Town and Country Planning Acts, or in the Bill, but in the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1973, for the purpose of planning permission granted by the Order; and "industrial undertakers" means undertakers by whom any industrial process is carried on, and mineral undertakers" means undertakers engaged in mining operations.

Apart from the general point that has already been made, that the provisions in question correspond to provisions in the Town and Country Planning Acts, there does not seam to be any justification for granting special protection for the rights of such bodies, because they are not providing public services but are operating commercially. Any objection on the ground that acquisition and development of the land would prejudice their operations through the loss of their rights in the land would be for consideration in relation to the compulsory purchase order. On the other hand, Think we are all agreed it is entirely appropriate that statutory undertakings, whose operation has been recognised by Parliament as of vital importance in the public interest, should be able to contest any proposal to extinguish their rights.

The procedures in paragraphs 17 and 18 are designed for this and, in the event of an unresolved dispute, the Minister responsible for the undertakers and the Secretary of State jointly determine the issue. Therefore I suggest it would be quite inappropriate that these procedures should be applied to mineral and industrial undertakers. We have to accept that statutory undertakers are in a special position. They are bodies established by Parliament, and to suggest that nearly all industrialists in this field should be included seems quite wrong and certainly should not be included in this Bill.

Baroness YOUNG

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that explanation. I have never argued that statutory undertakers are not in a special position; of course they are. What I tried to argue was that it could equally be said that a number of industrial undertakers were in a special position, especially now when anything that threatened their processes and the work they could do would have a direct consequence on the economy by way of employment. But that may be regarded as a point outside the scope of this Bill. I think it would be a mistake to assume that because they are not statutory undertakers they are not doing anything of great importance to the community. However, as I indicated at the beginning, I do not intend to press this Amendment, and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.3 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 64B: Page 61, line 20, at end insert ("but shall not be given until after the proposals and any objections thereto have been heard at a Public Inquiry and the Secretary of State has been advised of the proceedings at such Inquiry").

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment follows on discussions that we have had earlier on Schedule 4, and its purpose is to require that public inquiries should be held in cases in which there are objections to compulsory purchase orders. This Amendment is designed to ensure that the Secretary of State shall not authorise any of the operations mentioned in paragraph 1(1) of this Schedule until an inquiry has taken place and he has been advised of its procedures. I beg to move.


I should like briefly to support my noble friend Lady Young, but from a different and wider angle. I should like to emphasise that there are other interests—as she said in speaking to preceding Amendments—outside those of statutory undertakings, which have vast interests in this country; for example, the building industry. Very wide powers are given to the authority under this Bill, and also to statutory undertakers. There are also in this country many members of the building industry who possess land banks, and I do not think the wide powers conferred by this Bill have been sufficiently appreciated. I can conceive of many interests in which the building industry are greatly involved, where statutory undertakers, or an authority itself, want to acquire land adjoining or going over land banks which exist at present. As this is rather a specialised interest, which can be known only to the building industry itself, I should like to see a right of inquiry given to the building industry and for the Secretary of State to call for this in these circumstances. If this were done, it would remove the present uncertainty and stagnation in regard to the building of houses in this country.


However slowly houses are being built now, they are being built a great deal faster than they were a short while ago. I hope that the noble Lord will agree with that. He said that the Bill will mean that the authorities have to acquire vast amounts of land, but we have made it clear on several occasions that the Bill does not interfere with the existing planning system. So it does not mean that any additional land will be coming into development. So if the noble Lord will accept that at the moment vast amounts of land are being bought for development by private developers, then I will agree with him that the same amount of land will continue to be bought in the future, but more of it by public authorities than in the past. It is not the case that vast extra quantities of land will be developed because of this Bill.

Turning to the Amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, I should like to make two points about it. First, there is nothing in the 1971 Act, as she may have suspected, which says that before land can be acquired (either by agreement or compulsorily) or appropriated for planning purposes, planning permission for its development must first have been obtained. But if a local authority propose to acquire land compulsorily under the planning Act, then, as they will know, the long-established practice of the Secretary of State is not to confirm a CPO unless he is satisfied that the planning aspect has been properly covered. If land was acquired for planning purposes by agreement, it would of course be unlawful for the authority to develop it unless planning permission had been granted (after any procedures applicable to the grant of such permission—including, where relevant, an inquiry—have been carried out).

Secondly, this Bill—like the planning Act—does not specifically demand that planning permission shall have been granted before land can be acquired. But the Government have made it quite clear that the community land scheme, and hence land acquisition under the scheme, is, as I have just said to the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, planning based; and there is the evidence of the Government Amendments to Part I of Schedule 4 to show that there will be CPO public inquiries into owners' objections where the planning status of the land has not been established by processes involving an inquiry. That is an area of the Bill which we have been over in some detail.

But that is not the end of the matter. The fact that land has been acquired, whether for planning purposes under the planning Act or under the Bill as land which is suitable for development, does not override the need to obtain planning permission before development can be carried out—and if it has not been obtained beforehand, then it must be obtained subsequently. Furthermore, in both cases if the procedures before planning permission is granted involve a planning inquiry, then an inquiry must be held.

Thus the opportunities for owners and the general public to object to development proposals on planning grounds will be neither more nor less for land acquired under the Bill which is proposed to be developed under the powers of paragraph 10 of Schedule 4, than for land acquired or appropriated under the planning Act where Section 124 of that Act applies. In both the planning Act and the Community Land Bill the availability of planning permission will obviously be a crucial factor in the Secretary of State's consideration of an application for consent to carry out the development, and I should make it clear that such consent would not constitute the grant of planning permission. I therefore cannot accept that any additional procedures of the kind suggested in the Amendment are justified.

Baroness YOUNG

I should like to thank the noble Lord for that reply. It is useful to have that statement on the record, so that we can study it, and those who arc concerned about the workings of this part of the Schedule can also read it. With that, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.10 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 64C: Page 61, line 24, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is really a probing Amendment so that perhaps we may have some idea of the way in which the Government believe the discretionary powers here will be exercised. The Amendment is to require the Secretary of State to direct authorities to advertise any points which appear to him to be requisite, rather than leave him to decide whether or not to require their advertisement. It would be useful to know the situation in which the powers are likely to be exercised. I beg to move.


This subparagraph corresponds to subsection (4) of Section 124 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. The section applies to any land acquired or appropriated by a local authority for planning purposes. As with most of the rest of this part of the Schedule, the section goes back to the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. It is not a prerequisite of such acquisition or appropriation that planning permission has been granted for any form of the development of the land, and where development is proposed to be carried out by a local authority, which is the local planning authority, permission is deemed to have been granted by the Secretary of State unless the development is a substantial departure from the development plan. In that case the procedures which operate require the authority to advertise the proposal, but in other cases it is desirable for the Secretary of State to be able to require the authority to sound out local opinion about the development proposal, bearing in mind that it will not be development for local authority purposes.

The situation with regard to planning permission will be the same as that under Part III of the Bill, but it does not demand that there should be advertisement in each and every case, as I understand would be required by the Amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Young. It should be left to the Secretary of State to exercise his judgment as to when local opinion will be relevant in deciding whether the authority should be allowed to carry out development, which they would not otherwise have power to do.

Baroness YOUNG

Once again, I should like to thank the noble Lord. Lord Melchett, for that explanation, and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 65: Page 61, line 33, at end insert ("acquisition and").

The noble Earl said: Briefly, I wish to move Amendment No. 65, and to speak to Amendments Nos. 66 and 67.


I wonder whether I may interrupt the noble Earl for a moment. It would be greatly to our convenience if he could speak merely to Amendments Nos. 65 and 66. We understood that Amendment No. 67 was on a very different point.

The Earl of BALFOUR

All right; I will speak to Amendments Nos. 65 and 66. Sub-paragraph (5) of this Bill is taken from Section 124 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. I have been interested, particularly with regard to Scotland, in Section 114 of the Scottish Act. There are quite a number of differences here. If I may draw the attention of your Lordships to a point, one reason for this Amendment has regard to the position in Scotland of the Scottish Special Housing Association.

If I may go through sub-paragraph (5), it says: An authority may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, enter into arrangements with an authorised association". I argue here for the inclusion of the words, "acquisition and". I want to put in those words because in the case of the Scottish Special Housing Association, they would buy the land, … of any operation which, apart from the arrangements, the authority would have power under this paragraph to carry out,". I think it would not be in their interests that the words, (including terms as to the making of payments or loans by the authority to the association)", should be left in, particularly bearing in mind the special position of the Scottish Special Housing Association. It is on their behalf that I am really interested in trying to make certain that they will have exactly the same rights in future as they have at the present moment. With those few words, I beg leave to move the Amendment.


Are we not getting ourselves into considerable trouble here?—because not only is this in conflict with all the powers in the 1971 Act, but we are introducing yet another anomaly. I am afraid that the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, is not even grammatical. If we read it with the Amendment—if the noble Earl will follow me—we read: An authority may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, enter into arrangements with an authorised association for the acquisition and carrying out by the association of any operation …". As I understand it, you cannot acquire an operation, but if you are not acquiring an operation, what are you acquiring? It cannot be right as it stands, both grammatically and with regard to the context of the 1971 Act.


Those are both points I was going to make, so a little time has been saved. I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, for merely speaking to Amendments Nos. 65 and 66, which makes our life easier. So far as Amendment No. 65 is concerned, besides the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, the provision in the Bill is designed to enable authorised associations to carry out development in place of the authority, without the land being transferred to an authority. If it is felt that land acquired under Part III should be disposed of to an authorised association so they can carry out development for their own purposes, such disposal, if considered under the relevant provisions governing the disposal of land—I must correct myself before going any further. I started off by saying, the provision in the Bill"; I meant to say the Amendment of the noble Earl would have that effect.

In this Bill the provisions governing the disposal of land are to be found in Clause 41, and the duty to have regard to any application of a former owner in material interest is set out in Schedule 6. The strictures which the noble Lord, Lord Foot, applied to Amendment No. 65, so far as it is in conflict with the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, apply also to Amendment No. 66. I also find it hard to understand why the noble Earl should wish to prevent an authority under the control of the Secretary of State from making grants or loans to an authorised association in appropriate cases. As I understand it, that is the effect his Amendment would have.

The Earl of BALFOUR

This part of the Bill certainly does not comply with Scots law. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, would look at Section 114 of the Scottish Act of 1972, some time between now and Report stage. I must quite firmly draw that to his attention. It is supposed to apply to both countries, but there are a remarkable number of differences between English and Scottish legislation. I am concerned about this. However, I will not press it further, and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.20 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 67: Page 61, line 44, after ("suit") (",or in Scotland the instance,").

The noble Earl said: In Scotland we do not have suits. I insist that at this stage, this Amendment is necessary if this Part of this Bill is to comply with Scottish law; otherwise, some other Amendment must go in at some other place. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

If the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, agrees, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 67, 68, 68A and 218W, as they all connect.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I expect that is all right.

Baroness BIRK

The first three are in Schedule 4 and No. 2I8W is in Schedule 10, Page 88, line 18. They are all the same: after "suit" insert "or in Scotland the instance". The interpretation of the legal term "suit", as I understand it, would be the same on both sides of the Border, but I acknowledge that the alternative proposed by the noble Earl is a purer form of words in the context of Scottish law, and therefore I have very great pleasure in accepting all those Amendments.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 67A: Page 62, line 8, leave out ("the working classes and others") and insert ("letting").

The noble Baroness said: It is, of course, easy to see why these words have crept into this Part of the Schedule. I understand that the Schedule is taken from the 1971 Act which is a consolidating measure, and clearly this term must appear in a much earlier Act. Without in any way wishing to be facetious, I am inclined to think that there are two classes nowadays, those who work and those who overwork. I think that Members of this Committee could put themselves in the latter class without any difficulty. The term "working class" is a term not generally used, and what is meant in this case is authorised housing associations with houses to let to people. Therefore, it seems to me an anachronism to use these words. I put down this Amendment to see whether we could find something better. I have no doubt the argument will be that as it is in the 1971 Act it cannot be altered, but I should have thought this was something which ought to be looked at again. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

I agree with the noble Baroness that the term is archaic and anachronistic. When I saw it in the Amendment and in the Bill itself I thought, "This is rather what I call the Upstairs, Downstairs Amendment", now a very popular programme, with Mr. Hudson and Mrs. Bridges every week seeming to have a much better time than the people with all the traumas going on upstairs; maybe it has now become encased in our social history. That I would say hastily, is not a good enough reason for keeping the words in the Bill and if my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor were here he would explain in a far more learned way why it is so.

To be serious, it is not just the original Acts which would have to be changed. I agree there is a strong case for any Government with enough legislative time to bring things up to date, but over the last decade or more we do not seem to have had a Government with enough time to do it. But also change would mean that all the articles and memoranda of the various associations would also have to be brought up to date. This provision is in exactly the same words as Section 124(8) of the 1971 Act. I can only say: Thank goodness it was not an original idea of this Government to put it into this Bill. It was originally introduced in the last century and was then incorporated into the Town and Country Planning Act 1932. While I very much appreciate what has been said, and particularly the feeling behind it, as it comes from the other side of the Committee, I must resist the Amendment.


I suppose the noble Baroness would claim that "others" includes the rest of the population, because I can think of a very large section of the population which would not be included in the "working classes". Nowadays one attains one's majority at the age of 18, but a great many people are still studying after the age of 18. Are they called "working classes" when they are studying? Some of them are, and some of them are not. I should not have thought they came into the category of working class. Then, of course, there are the quarter of a million or so who are, unfortunately, regarded as unemployable. They come from what is generically called the working class, but they are not working because they are incapable of being employed. Then there are a certain unknown number of people who prefer not to work, because they find they can make a very good thing out of having a large family on the dole. That finally leaves about 5,000—I believe that is the estimated figure—who never have worked and have no intention of working. I take it that this paragraph includes everybody except the 5,000?

Baroness BIRK

I do not think I will follow the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, in his political and social swipes across the community, except to say that maybe one should now define the working class with the old definition of the middle class. If you think you are in it, you are in it.

Baroness YOUNG

I do not intend to press this Amendment. I can see the reasons why the term is brought into this Bill. I think it is now a completely misleading term and to use some such word as "letting" would be infinitely preferable, but it would obviously put a lot of people to a great deal of trouble to alter it at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.27 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 67D: Page 62, line 19, leave out from ("applies") to end of line 20.

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend, I beg to move Amendment No. 67D. We now move to paragraph 11 under the general heading of "Power to override easements and other rights". The effect of my noble friend's Amendment is to deal with that part of the paragraph which would allow modification of the effectiveness of restrictive covenants. I am not sure which noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite will be dealing with this, but the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will certainly know that this sort of thing is normally done, even in the case of a compulsory purchase order, under Section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925, which despite its date is still apt and appropriate, and in fact was modified by the last Labour Government and widened in its extent. My question is: what is wrong with Section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925 in this case, and what difference in compensation will there be between that which will be assessed, if the Bill remains as it is, under paragraph 11(4), and that which will be assessed if it is done in the ordinary way, under the Law of Property Act. I beg to move.


I am not sure about the Act of 1925, but paragraph 11 is identical with Section 124 of the Town and Country Planning Act and is intended to serve the very same purpose. I therefore call in aid a more recent parentage to the legislation than the 1925 Act, if recency of parentage is an impressive argument. Turning to the merits of what is proposed, the Amendment does not argue against the overriding of interests and rights to which paragraph 11(3) refers—"any easement, liberty, privilege, right or advantage annexed to land and adversely affecting other land, including any natural right to support"—but for some reason it singles out contractual restrictions. Several of those restrictions, of course, would have had a contractual origin.

But, in any event, the purpose of paragraph 11 is to ensure that any land that has been acquired under the Bill with a view to development may be properly used for that purpose, whether by the acquiring authority or any person who purchases or leases the land free of any restrictions relating to the land. It would clearly frustrate that purpose if contractual restrictions on the user of the land were allowed to survive, and, of course, it cannot be ruled out that contracts might be entered into with the very object of preventing development.

The paragraph provides, as your Lordships will see in sub-paragraph (4), for the payment of compensation under the Land Compensation Acts on the basis of injurious affection. Compensation is the established and precedented remedy in situations of this kind. Overriding the restrictive covenants is done under the 1925 Act by private individuals. For local authorities the overriding is done under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. In both cases compensation is assessed by the lands tribunal and in theory, therefore, the compensation basis should be the same in either case. With great respect, I do not think that there is anything in this point, particularly since sub-paragraph (3) has been surrendered without a protest.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. As I understand it, the answer is that Section 84 is the part of the law which is used when the issue is between private individuals, and Section 132 of the Town and Country Planning Act is used when local authorities are involved. I shall read in Hansard what the noble and learned Lord said about compensation factors, which I was not able to follow as he was going along. I beg leave to withraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.32 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I beg to move Amendments Nos. 68 and 68A formally.

Amendments moved—

Page 63, line 7, after ("suit") insert (",or in Scotland the instance,").

Page 65, line 5, after ("suit") insert (",or in Scotland the instance,").—(The Earl of Balfour.)


Before the noble Baroness accepts these Amendments, which I understand is her intention, may I inform the Lord Chancellor that while he was out of the Chamber just now she betrayed the pass, because she admitted an Amendment to a clause which I understand is an exact reproduction of the 1971 Act. She has, in the noble and learned Lord's absence, given the whole game away.

I do not know whether the situation can now be retrieved. May I suggest an argument to the noble Baroness to reverse her previous position? It would be this: the word "suit", where it is used, is not used here in this Bill in its legal sense, or it need not necessarily be regarded as being used in its legal sense—that is, a suit at law. It can be regarded as being used in its colloquial sense. If I may read the earlier passage, it reads like this: … which is actionable at the suit of any person on any ground". If you read "the suit" in its colloquial sense and not in its exact sense, it applies equally quite suitably in Scotland. I am afraid that the noble Baroness has got herself into difficulty, and I do not know whether the situation is now beyond repair.

Baroness BIRK

With great respect, I do not think it is I who put my foot in it. The Scottish Act refers to "at the instance of" in the sections which are equivalent to the provisions in these paragraphs, so the golden rule was not in fact broken. It does not go against the dicta of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. In this case it is an extremely simple operation. It also applies to Scotland. I always think that different things often apply to Scotland than apply to England. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Foot, that I have not broken any rules, and that in fact it is in the Scottish Act, and if he desires I shall draw his attention afterwards to the exact provisions.


May I confirm that my noble friend has not erred from the path of rectitude in my temporary absence. What is proposed is an exact reproduction of the English Act, but it did not take into account the 1972 Scottish Act. "Suit or instance" is an admirable combination of the two.

5.36 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 69: Page 65, line 26, leave our paragraph 15.

The noble Earl said: I never like putting down an Amendment to any piece of legislation to leave out a paragraph or a clause. I should like to quote—and I think this is the best way I can do this—to show how paragraph 15 is virtually an extraction from Section 119 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, or Section 129 of the English Act of 1971. I should like your Lordships to compare paragraph 15 with the words that I shall now read from the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, quoting Section 119(1): Any land being, or forming part of, a common or open space, which has been acquired by a Minister, a local authority or statutory undertakers under this Part of this Act or compulsorily under any other enactment, or which has been appropriated by a local planning authority for planning purposes, may—

  1. (a) in the case of land acquired by a Minister, be used in any manner by him or on his behalf for any purpose for which he acquired the land; and
  2. (b) in any other case, be used by any person in any manner in accordance with planning permission,
notwithstanding anything in any enactment relating to land of that kind, or in any enactment by which the land is specially regulated. (2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as authorising any act or omission on the part of any person which is actionable at the instance of any person on any ground other than contravention of any such enactment as is mentioned in subsection (1) of this section. The wording in this Bill is very much wider than the wording that existed in the Town and Country Planning Act. One thing I am concerned about is that this allows the use of development land, particularly in the case of open spaces, and there is a serious risk that we may lose things like commons or, worse still, part of the Green Belt areas which exist around some of our industrial cities. I ask particularly that this matter be investigated between now and Report to see that these Green Belts are protected, and that nothing in the Bill will enable a local authority perhaps to take advantage of a provision whereby that situation of the lands is weakened.

One of the disadvantages of the reform of local government has been the creation of very much bigger authorities. When the Local Government (Scotland) Act was going through your Lordships' House, I explained how the green belts of Edinburgh and Glasgow, to mention but two, had been beautifully protected because no authority ever gave planning permission for any development on that land without the consent and agreement of the other authorities connected with them; and because no authority ever agreed, nothing was ever built in those areas.

I have quoted some past legislation and in spite of what has been said by noble Lords opposite—about most of this part of the Schedule being an extract from town and country planning legislation—it is clear that it is not an exact extract and that there are a considerable number of differences. I have pointed to some, but it is difficult to point to each difference. I hope, therefore, that this matter will be examined between now and Report, because I am sure that all noble Lords are anxious not to see weakened by this provision what we have been able to protect in the past.

Baroness BIRK

The purposes for which land of the categories mentioned in paragraph 15, which the noble Earl wants to delete, may be utilised are generally regulated by statutory provisions of a severely restrictive nature. These restrictions may be overriden through acquisition under a compulsory purchase order, but such an order is subject to special Parliamentary procedure, whether or not there are any objections, unless—and I stress this—the Secretary of State certifies under the procedures in paragraph 11 of Schedule 1 to the Acquisition of Land Acts; that the area does not exceed 250 square yards, or the land is required for the widening or drainage of an existing highway, or that equally advantageous land is to be given in exchange. In other cases, where the land is acquired by agreement—and this is where it departs from the Town and Country Planning Act, because that does not cover acquisitions by agreement, which are covered by this Bill—there would be room for legal argument as to whether such land could be used for development purposes. Paragraph 15 removes that doubt and also confirms that position where the land is acquired compulsorily.

Paragraph 15 does not, therefore, represent a warrant for the taking of open space or common land for development which is, I think, what the noble Earl is anxious about. The procedures which have to be negotiated before such land may be acquired for development, and which include an opportunity for public objection and in many cases an inquiry, are themselves a deterrent to attempts to erode commons and open spaces. But where these procedures have been passed through successfully, it is vital that there should be no doubt about the ability to carry out development of the land.

The Amendment is possibly based on a misunderstanding, because its wording is not wider. The planning Act provisions cover all land acquired by agreement and compulsorily under the planning Act, or compulsorily under any other enactment, including this Bill. The provision in the Bill is to cover acquisition by agreement made by the Bill. The real answer is to be found in the printed note, so the answer to the noble Earl's remarks is to be found in the Bill—in the note on the Schedule and in the clause—and I think there has been a genuine misunderstanding on his part which I hope my reply has cleared up. If he has not been able to assimilate such an enormous amount as I have had to say—I have had a great deal to say in a short time—perhaps when he reads the Report of my remarks in Hansard he will find that his doubts and anxieties are unnecessary.


I am seeking information, because I remember that when we took the London Government Act through your Lordships' House there were areas in London—for example, Wimbledon Common and Chislehurst Common in my constituency—which were covered; in fact, there was a cricket pitch in my area which was covered by an Act of 1812. We also have under that legislation commoners who regulate the public spaces in that area and I believe a similar form applies to Wimbledon Common. Can the noble Baroness tell me whether there is anything in this Bill which will wipe out the power of the established administration, by which in many areas of London commoners administer open spaces which, in the main, are places of beauty and amenity to the local area? Is there anything in this provision which will destroy the rights of what are now the established administrations of commoners and mean the taking over of open sites and commons which are at present great amenities of the local inhabitants?

Baroness BIRK

No. As I understand it, this provision has nothing to do with the point the noble Baroness raised. Nor was it the point about which I was speaking when dealing with the noble Earl's Amendment; it is the part of the Schedule which deals with the use and development of land for open spaces. The noble Earl's Amendment would take away a certain amount of the protection. As I pointed out, restrictions may be over-ridden through acquisition under a compulsory purchase order—it is only in extreme cases where they can be overridden—but, as I said, such an order is subject to special Parliamentary procedure, whether or not there are any objections, unless the Secretary of State certifies under the procedures in paragraph 11 of Schedule to the Acquisition of Land Acts, so there is a double safeguard.

As I pointed out, certification will apply where the area does not exceed 250 square yards or the land is required for the widening or drainage of an existing highway, or if equally advantageous land is to be given in exchange. As I explained, in other cases where the land is acquired by agreement—this would be the only other alternative—there would still be room for legal argument as to whether such land could be used for development purposes. In other words, even if there is agreement and somebody wants to give up the common land or open space—which is what I think the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, gave us an example—it could still be turned down by the courts. So my understanding is that there is no fear on that score at all.


Perhaps the noble Baroness can allay my fear on this. When my noble friend Lord Balfour was reading from the Scottish provision, it appeared to me that the land could be developed only in accordance with the original purpose for which it was acquired. Reading this provision, however, it looks as though that does not necessarily ensue, because it seems that a common could be taken into ownership by a local authority for one purpose, and then, perhaps because it has run out of money and the authority has to keep it for two or three years, it could decide to use it for a totally different purpose. In line 30, if, after "with" the word "the" were inserted, that would meet my point, but does it meet the point of the authors of the Bill?

The Earl of ONSLOW

When the noble Baroness says that land of equal value is to be put in its place, who is to decide what is land of equal value? I raise this because in my home area we have had a considerable issue over the replacement of some public open space by other land of equal value. Secondly, do I understand the noble Baroness to have said that, if a local authority does want such land, it would have to push an Act through Parliament to repeal the 1812 Act?

The Earl of BALFOUR

I fear that I am becoming rather concerned. I refer again to the wording of the Bill. Paragraph 15 says: Any land … forming part of a common … may be used by any person in any manner in accordance with planning permission". Planning permission is given only if something is to be developed; that is, if a building is to be erected. So far as I know, there is no need to apply for planning permission if the land is to be turned into a golf course. I may be wrong here, but I am concerned about buildings going up in the Green Belt area. Furthermore, the noble Baroness said that this paragraph would be subject to special Parliamentary procedure, but I should like once again to refer your Lordships to Clause 40, which deals with exclusion of Parliamentary procedure. So far as I know, the exclusion under Clause 40 would apply under Schedule 4 as much as anywhere else. As a result, I am rather perturbed about the situation and I hope the noble Baroness can put my mind a little more at rest.

Baroness BIRK

On the point about the exchange, it is not a question of value, but it is that the land should not be less in area and should be equally advantageous. It would be up to the Secretary of State to decide after an inquiry if there were objections. However, I must say again as I said when I originally answered the noble Earl's first point that, where the procedures have been passed through—and I spelt them out very carefully—and passed through successfully, it is vital there should be no doubt about the ability to carry out development of the land. In the last resort, therefore, and when all these filters have been gone through—and it would be extremely difficult to come out at the other end and to get permission generally to develop open land or commons—it may be that there will be some pieces of land on which, after all the inquiries and after the objections and even by agreement, if that agreement is ratified, there may be the possibility of development. That is quite clear. It is part of positive planning and part of this Bill, but it would be very rare.

It is the acquisition which is subject to the special Parliamentary procedure under the Acquisition of Land Act, and Clause 40 does not remove that requirement. I agree that it is a very complicated point and a very difficult part of the Bill, but it ties up with the Acquisition of Land Act in these points which I have touched on, and it does not go against any of the matters which the noble Earl is still concerned about.

On the point which the noble Baroness and, I believe, the noble Earl, made about the 1812 Act, as my noble and learned friend said to me, all we know about it at the moment is the overture—at least, that may not be his position but it certainly is mine. I shall look into this point, though, as of now, I do not believe that the noble Baroness has anything to fear. I undertake to look at it.


May I take the noble Baroness up on this point? At this moment, Wimbledon and Chislehurst commons are completely protected against development, and it is no good the noble Baroness saying that local authorities will have to go through all these filters before such areas can be developed if she is saying that if moves were made to take over either of these two commons—which I amusing purely as examples because I am familiar with them—which are at present completely protected against development, the Bill means that, despite the noble Baroness's filters, they could be developed for housing or anything else. This is a matter of very serious concern to people who cherish their open spaces.


May I also include the New Forest in this?


Now your Lordships have the great advantage of the presence of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor who is the Government spokesman on Welsh affairs, may I ask the noble Baroness whether the difficulties she has referred to apply to Wales or whether land in Wales is sacrosanct as it should be in this area of common land?


On the last point, can the noble Baroness inform me whether a local authority can acquire land for one purpose by going through all the correct procedures and then, by planning permission, use the land for a totally different purpose?

Baroness BIRK

On the last point, there are two processes: the land is acquired and planning takes place after that. The present Bill is concerned with development. I have explained at great length and several times the difficulties and obstacles in the way of acquiring the sort of land we are discussing at the moment—open spaces and common land —and I have underlined that there would be very great difficulties in the way of such land coming into development. But that land is not completely protected. On the other hand, it is not completely protected at the present time under the existing law. The Bill will not make the position any different. Wales is in exactly the same position, I should add, though I do not know whether the noble Lord will be happy or sad about that.

Paragraph 15 is in identical terms to Section 129 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. If it were deleted, it would have the odd result that commons and open spaces and all the examples that have been brought forward by noble Lords could be used without difficulty if acquired under that Act but not if they were acquired under the present Bill, despite going through the same statutory procedures. So I believe that there is unnecessary worry because what noble Lords are talking about is the position exactly as it now exists, and, if the Bill were amended in the way the noble Earl has suggested, it would make the situation worse and more complicated.


Do I understand the noble Baroness to say that, under the existing law and under the Bill, it would be perfectly possible for a local authority to acquire a common saying, while passing, through the usual hoops through which it had to go, that it intended to turn the common into a playing field but, finding after a year that it had no money to turn it into a playing field, later to obtain planning permission and to use it for a housing estate?

Baroness BIRK

No, it could not. If it wanted to do that it would have to go through the special Parliamentary procedure, and it would not be allowed.

The Earl of ONSLOW

With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, she has not allayed my fears, and those of the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, on the question of areas of public open space which are protected at present by specific Acts of Parliament. Stoke Park in Guildford is another such area, as well as Wimbledon Common and Chislehurst Common. If the Bill is to contain a provision which allows such protection to go, then that is something well worth worrying about very considerably. After all, our forebears in their wisdom decided that such places were worthy of special merit, and they asked and obtained from Parliament a special Act of Parliament to protect them. At the moment, through her replies, the noble Baroness has not given me anything other than cause for worry.

The Earl of BALFOUR

Although it was clearly not my intention that paragraph 15 should be left out, I put it to the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, that I do not think that paragraph 15 is giving the protection that is needed to existing commons and open spaces; and in this respect I particularly emphasise green belts. Would the noble Baroness please look at this matter very carefully between now and Report stage, to see whether paragraph 15 needs a lot of tightening up? Its present wording is far too wide, and protection needs to be given here. I shall give the noble Baroness one excellent example. Planning permission is obtained from the local authority. Let us take another example. At one time there was a move for responsibility for river purification to be put back into the hands of local authorities. Luckily, there were so many Members in another place who objected to that proposal that that responsibility was left under the private boards, for the simple reason that there are no worse offenders than the local authorities. In cases of planning permission, very often there are no worse offenders than local authorities when their own interests are involved. It is for that reason—and not because I or anyone else has any axe to grind—that I have asked the noble Baroness to protect what I think needs to be protected under the provisions of this legislation, regardless of the Town and Country Planning Acts, the Acquisition of Land Acts or any other Acts. I have acted to try to make certain that there is not a loophole—which I think there is in this provision—which would allow local authorities under this Bill to do something which they have not been able to do before. That is my point, but I shall not press it any further. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.4 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 70:

Page 67, line 36, at end insert— ("(7) In this paragraph and paragraph 19 below any person who has an existing cable, pipe or culvert crossing land acquired under Part III of this Act shall have the same rights as if he were a statutory undertaker.")

The noble Earl said: We are concerned here with pipes going across land, not with looking for compensation. Is there anyway in which a private pet son who has, say, a waterpipe feeding his farm, or a culvert draining land, can be protected in exactly the same way as if that cable, pipe or culvert—noble Lords will perhaps forgive some of the expressions I am using—was the property of a statutory undertaking? I do not think that I am asking for anything unreasonable here. It is not a question of compensation. If the sort of facility I have in mind was taken away, it could seriously upset an adjoining proprietor whoever he may be.

Let us consider, for example, an instance where the National Coal Board has a pipe taking water away from a disused coalmine into a river. The National Coal Board is protected as a statutory undertaker. But, for argument sake, there might be a private person who has a disused quarry which has become a lake, and which floods occasionally. He must retain the right of being able to drain water across land that may have been acquired by a local authority under the provisions of this Bill. I am concerned here about the extinguishment of rights of way and any rights to apparatus of statutory undertakers. Whatever rights they have to compensation or to anything else, a private person should occasionally have just as many rights to claim. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

This Amendment would give any owner of a cable, pipe or culvert crossing land acquired under Part III of the Bill the same rights as statutory undertakers have under paragraphs 18 and 19; that is to say, rights to object to a notice by the authority that the rights to maintain the "apparatus" are to be extinguished or requiring the removal of the apparatus; rights to be heard; and rights to compensation from the authority. As I said when speaking on previous Amendments the provisions of paragraphs 18 and 19 (and 20 in this case) are specifically designed to cover the special interests of statutory undertakers, who, as I pointed out in reply to Amendments moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, have responsibilities under Statute to provide services needed by the public.

Apparatus belonging to other persons is covered by paragraph 9 of Schedule 4, which, although it does not confer the same rights on the owners, clearly encourages authorities to reach agreement about the maintenance or removal of apparatus. Failing any alternative to the removal of the apparatus if the land is to be developed, compensation is payable in accordance with the Land Compensation Acts; but it would naturally be to the authority's advantage to reach an agreement if at all possible, since it would reduce or remove the compensation liability. But in view of the provisions of paragraph 9 of Schedule 4, which, as I said, provides for compensation and for agreements to be made with the owner of the apparatus, there does not appear to me to be any need for the provision that the Amendment seeks to make.

It is also unacceptable that paragraphs 18 and 19 should depart in any way from the corresponding provisions in Sections 230 and 231 of the Town and Country Planning Act. If they did so, the rights of owners would differ according to the power under which the land was acquired, which would be most unsatisfactory. It would put it all over the place, and the consistency that is needed here would be lost. I hope I have made the position clear, because once again there is this basic difference between statutory undertakers and other undertakers, which goes all the way through the Bill.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I am most grateful for that explanation, which will be of benefit to other people who may read the report of our proceedings. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.9 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 71: Page 69, line 19, leave out from ("Office") to ("or") in line 20.

The noble Earl said: I am seeking here to leave out the words "of the Inland Revenue Department". Surely in this case the Valuation Office is the district valuer who fixes the rates. I may be wrong, but surely this is a local authority matter, not a national exchequer matter. This is a probing Amendment to find out why the words "of the Inland Revenue" were included here. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

The noble Earl is right: he has, I think, misunderstood this, because paragraph 21 corresponds with subsection (7) of Section 280 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, in which there is a reference to "an officer of the Valuation Office", without the words "of the Inland Revenue Department". This, I think, is the misleading point. But Section 280 contains other references to such an officer, and to avoid repetition "Valuation Office" has its own definition in Section 290(1) as meaning the Valuation Office of the Inland Revenue. That, in fact, is the correct long title. In the Community Land Bill the only reference to the Valuation Office is in paragraph 21 of Schedule 4, and its title must therefore appear in full. In other words, there is nothing sinister about this. This is the correct expression, and it has just been spelt out in this one place in the Bill.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I am most grateful to the noble Baroness. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 72: Page 69, line 32, at beginning insert ("Subject to the provisions of paragraph 22 below").

The noble Earl said: This part of the Bill has been taken from Section 280 and Section 281 of the 1971 Act, and I argue that, as the two must be linked, the words, Subject to the provisions of paragraph 22 below are needed in this case, for it would then make this provision have the same effect as the equivalent words in the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. I beg to move.


I wonder whether, in answering this Amendment, the noble Baroness could deal with one other point about which I am a litle anxious; namely, that the authority given under sub-paragraph (3), to search and to bore as well as to survey, does not overrule the need for planning permission if the searching and boring involve the erection of any machinery—which, to the best of my knowledge, is development within the meaning of the Town and Country Planning Act, and could be done only if planning permission was available.

Baroness BIRK

The noble Earl's Amendment is, strictly speaking, unnecessary. The various provisions of paragraph 22 make it clear that they qualify the relevant powers of paragraph 21, including, as the context requires, not only sub-paragraph (3) but also sub-paragraphs (1) and (2). Nevertheless, the noble Earl has compared paragraph 21(3) with Section 280(9) of the Town and Country Planning Act, and it is also quite true, as he pointed out, that the latter has the opening words, Subject to the provisions of section 281 of this Act … I think I must be quite fair and say that it could be argued that in the interests of conformity, and in view of what we have said generally this afternoon, these words should be inserted in the Bill. Therefore, because it is such a personal pleasure every now and then, after all his tremendously hard work, to be able to say "Yes" to an Amendment which the noble Earl has moved, if he feels strongly about this one and the Committee feel that it would clarify the situation—although I must warn your Lordships that it involves putting a few more words into this rather long Bill—I am prepared to accept this Amendment. On the point which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, raised, I gather that he does not have any reason for anxiety. The answer is, "No".

7.15 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 72A: Page 70, leave out lines 19 to 24.

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Colville, I beg to move this Amendment, which is to do with modifications to the Land Compensation Act 1961. I have looked at the two sections concerned, Sections 2 and 4, and so has my noble friend, and we really cannot see to what matters any further regulations might refer. Therefore, we should like to hear from the noble and learned Lord opposite, or from the noble Baroness, what matters are to be covered by the regulations and what will be the scope of other modifications which might be introduced without the necessity to publish any regulations. This is merely a probing Amendment to find out what is in mind. I beg to move.


I confess that I find this Amendment, No. 72A, somewhat obscure. It is to leave out lines 19 to 24 on page 70.


I wonder whether I may interrupt the noble and learned Lord. It is merely a probing Amendment to find out the content of the regulations.


Section 2 of the 1961 Act provides that the Tribunal shall sit in public, governs the number of witnesses, entitles a member of the Tribunal to enter on and inspect land and requires the Tribunal, on application by either party, to specify the amount awarded in respect of any particular matter the subject of the award; and Section 4 deals with the costs of proceedings and provides for the delivery by the claimant of a detailed notice of claim. Those basic provisions clearly are desirable if the Lands Tribunal is to determine compensation disputes under paragraph 22. It is unlikely that regulations will be made—they have not been made under the 1971 Act: they are not likely to be made under this Bill—but these basic provisions in regard to the procedures will remain, and they effectively protect the position. That is the position with regard to regulations, and I cannot take it further than that I am afraid.


I think the Committee will agree that it has not taken it any further. The noble and learned Lord is perfectly right, of course, when he describes what is in Section 2 and Section 4 of the Land Compensation Act, but, as I explained, that was not the purpose of the Amendment. Clearly these will be relevant, and I do not for a moment intend to press the Amendment. I hoped, however, that we would hear from the noble and learned Lord what regulations might be needed and why it might be necessary to modify these very basic elements in the Land Compensation Act which no one has found it necessary to modify so far. But perhaps it will be possible for the noble and learned Lord to write to my noble friend and myself to tell us what the regulations will do, or perhaps he may be in a position to tell me now.


I do not think that the SOS information that I have received takes the matter any further, but perhaps I may say again that this is a provision taken from the 1971 Act, which contemplated the possibility that regula- might need to be made. They have never been made under the 1971 Act and we cannot presently contemplate them being made under this new Act, as it will be; but if regulations ever were made under the 1971 Act it should be possible for the same to be done under this Bill, to keep the two in line. But I will look into the matter to see whether there is some domain where regulations might be needed, and if the answer is that there is no such possibility we might even consider eliminating the regulations, if the noble Lord, Lord Foot, who is not here, would permit so unorthodox a procedure.


This side of the Committee has been suspicious about this Bill; but when the Secretary of State takes unto himself powers to frame regulations and import modifications into an Act which has had hitherto no need of them and cannot tell us why he needs the powers, I am bound to say that our suspicions are increased rather than diminished. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 73: Page 70, line 31, after ("undertakers") insert ("manufacturers").

The noble Lord said: The statutory undertakers have a certain protection here. This involves land which has been used for boring or rights of entry, and I feel that it is perfectly fair that a manufacturer in this case should have the same rights as the statutory undertaker. I feel that "manufacturers" would adequately cover the case, as under the Development Agency Bills. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

Sub-paragraph (6) of paragraph 22 provides that if the land is owned by statutory undertakers who object to a notice of intention to carry out works under paragraph 21(3) on the grounds of serious detriment to their undertaking, the works can only be carried out if authorised by the appropriate Minister. The Amendment proposes that this provision should also cover "manufacturers".

Paragraph 22(6)—corresponding to Section 181(6) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971—recognises that statutory undertakers have responsibilities towards the public for providing services and that any rights to carry out survey works which would seriously interfere with the provision of those services should not be exercisable without the authority of the Minister responsible for the undertakers. In short, this provision protects the interests of the general public.

Although the business interests of persons or bodies other than statutory undertakers should not be interfered with more than is necessary—and this we all agree—there is not the same element of public interest involved and accordingly the application of the procedure to manufacturers would not be justified. In any event, it is to be expected that in practice the rights would not be invoked without previous attempts to secure agreement to entry for the purpose of carrying out the works in question.

The same point applies here as to all Amendments proposed to Part III of Schedule 4; that is, that the provisions correspond to provisions in the Town and Country Planning Acts, and for the reasons reiterated this afternoon it is highly undesirable that they should differ.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I accept what the noble Baroness has said, but I wonder whether she would bear in mind in relation to any directions subsequently given by the Secretary of State that in many cases industry today is getting more complicated, more delicate types of machinery are in use and there is more highly-skilled production in highly technical fields. When anything like this is done, it is possible that, unknowingly, damage could be done to that industry. In many cases compensation is not the answer. I do not want to delay the Committee and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 74A: Page 70, line 38, leave out paragraph 23.

The noble Baroness said: I am aware that a similar provision to this is in the 1971 Act; that is, the Secretary of State may displace the 1968 Rent Act or the equivalent Scottish Act in the land acquisition that takes place. I think it will be helpful to have on record what will happen to people who would be so dispossessed under the Rent Acts because there is one way in which the position of a tenant will completely change. He has security of tenure under the 1968 Rent Act; whereas if he becomes a council tenant he will not have any security at all in that way. I should like to know what the Government propose on this matter, whether or not the 1973 Compensation Act will apply and whether such persons who might be dispossessed would be rehoused and compensated and in what way. I beg to move.


The answer to the question put by the noble Baroness is that the Land Compensation Act 1973 or Part III of the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973 which cover such matters as rehousing, home loss payments and disturbance payments, would all apply and the tenant would be protected by those provisions. This paragraph reproduces the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. The only difference is that under the 1971 Act the provisions apply only to local authorities. As the relevant authorities under this Bill include (as noble Lords will know from Clause 1 of the Bill), local authorities, new town authorities, the Peak Park Joint Planning Board, the Lake District Special Planning Board and, in relation to Wales, the Land Authority, the provision applies equally to their procedure and their powers. The important point is that, as I have already said, those affected will be rehoused and compensated.

Baroness YOUNG

I am grateful for that answer and glad to have it on record for those who may be affected by this Bill so that they should know that this will he the case. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness BIRK

Amendment No. 75 is consequential to Amendment No. 17 and to several others moved earlier. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 71, leave out lines 1 to 4.—(Baroness Birk.)

6.29 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 75A: Page 71, line 16, at end insert ("if and only if other land is available to fulfil the purpose for which the land is still required").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment on behalf of my noble friend, Lord Colville. We now move to the final Part of this long Schedule—Part IV—which deals with the local authority's powers to appropriate land. All this is in the context of the object of the Bill: the promotion of positive planning. It seems to me that, under paragraph 25, if land was acquired for a certain purpose—for example housing—it may now, under the powers conferred by this paragraph, be appropriated away to industry. A short time ago, we were talking about those powers in relation to commons. This appropriation can be done even if there is still need for housing land. The purpose of this Amendment, which seems to me to be a reasonable constraint on what otherwise look to be sweeping powers, is to allow such appropriation only if there is by now other land to fulfil the need for which the original acquisition took place. Without this limitation, local authorities can acquire land using the powers under this Bill for one purpose and, without waiting to fulfil the purpose for which the land was acquired and publishing a reason, they can then appropriate it, using powers under this paragraph, for some other purpose, leaving the original purpose, for which the first acquisition was justified, completely unfulfilled. For reasons of logic alone, it is necessary to have an Amendment on these lines. I beg to move.


The purpose of sub-paragraph (1)(a) of paragraph 25 is to enable a local authority or planning board to appropriate land for the purposes of Part III of the Bill—and thus, in effect, to bring it within the ambit of the land scheme—so that advantage may be taken of the provisions of Part III of Schedule 4 to the Bill; for example, the power to override easements or other rights, powers to develop and extinguishment of rights of way. This is in step with the Town and Country Planning Acts under which the provisions corresponding with Part III of Schedule 4 cover both land acquired or appropriated for planning purposes.

Where such an appropriation is effected, land would still be developed for the purpose for which it was held before appropriation, but the land can be used more effectively when the authority can apply the relevant provisions of Part III of Schedule 4 by an appropriation bringing the land within Part III of the Bill. On the other hand, where land is held under Part III of the Bill as development land, it is still required for development if it is to be used for a school. Subparagraph (1)(b) provides the power in that example to transfer the land for specific purposes of education. Again, it is not a question of creating a deficiency of land for the purpose for which it was held. I am advised that this Amendment —although I hesitate to suggest it—may have arisen from a misunderstanding of the purposes of paragraph 25. I hope that my explanation of the technicalities will have helped the noble Lord opposite.


It has helped in that I have an explanation which, together with my noble friend, I will want to look at. My first understanding of what the noble Lord has said is that it is his right honourable friend's intention to use the powers conferred in Part III in a more sweeping way than I originally envisaged. I will look at what he said more carefully, and, with my noble friend, decide what to do about the Amendment at the next stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 76: Page 71, line 20, at end insert—

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