HL Deb 28 October 1975 vol 365 cc404-89

Disposals of which notice may, but need not, he given

3A.—(1) This Part of this Schedule applies to a disposal by an individual of a material interest in land which is the whole or any part of his private residence.

(2) This Part of this Schedule also applies to a disposal by trustees of a material interest in land held in trust where—

  1. (a) that land is the whole or any part of a person's private residence, and
  2. (b) that person is entitled, under the terms of the trust to occupy that residence or to receive the whole of the income derived from, or from the proceeds of sale of, the material interest.

3B. In this Part of this Schedule— disposal" includes a contract for a disposal, dwelling-house" includes part of a dwelling-house, an individual's "private residence" means—

  1. (a) land comprising a dwelling-house which, at the date of the disposal, is that individual's only or main residence, and
  2. (b) land which at that date he has for his own occupation and enjoyment with that dwelling-house as its garden or grounds up to an area which, when aggregated with the area of the site of the dwelling house, does not exceed one acre;
and a person's "private residence" shall be construed accordingly.")—(The Lord Chancellor.)


Amendment No. 185A was discussed when the local land charges were dealt with. Therefore, I beg to move Amendment No. 185A, together with Amendment No. 185B.

Amendments moved—

Page 83, line 13, leave out from ("map") to ("to") in line 14.

Page 83, line 15, after ("council") insert ("and (if they are not a local authority keeping a local land charges register) to every local authority keeping such a register").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

3.45 a.m.


Amendment No. 186 went with Amendment No. 173. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 83, line 19, leave out ("the") and insert ("any")—(Lord Melchett.)


Amendment No. 187A again relates to the local land charges provisions, along with Amendment No. 187B. I beg to move both Amendments Nos. 187A and 187B.

Amendments moved—

Page 83, line 35, at end insert—

("Transitory provisions

6A.—(1) In relation to any time before the coming into force of the Local Land Charges Act 1975, paragraphs 1(2), 2(6)(b) and 4(2)(b) above shall have effect subject to the following modifications.

(2) For paragraph 1(2) there shall be substituted— (2) As soon as practicable after passing the resolution the authority shall send a copy of the resolution and of the map to the proper officer (for the purposes of section 15 of the Land Charges Act 1925) of every local authority whose area comprises any part of the disposal notification area and as soon as practicable after receiving the copy of the resolution the proper officer shall register the resolution in the local land charges register in such manner as may be prescribed by rules under section 19 of that Act. In this sub-paragraph and in paragraphs 2(6)(b) and 4(2)(b) below "local authority" does not include a county council or the Greater London Council.

(3) In paragraphs 2(6)(b) and 4(2)(b) for the words from "(if" to "a register" there shall be substituted the words "to the proper officer (for the purposes of section 15 of the Land Charges Act 1925) of every local authority".")

Page 83, line 37, leave out ("(2) and (3)") and insert ("and (2)").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Schedule 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 24 agreed to.

Clause 25 [Assumptions as to planning permission on or after second appointed day]:


Amendments Nos. 188 and 189 were spoken to with Amendment No. 20. I beg to move Amendments Nos.188 and 189 en bloc.

Page 24, line 25, after ("during") insert ("the whole of").

Page 24, line 27, leave out from ("has") to ("and") in line 28 and insert ("been owned by a charity (but not necessarily the same charity throughout)").—(Lord Melchett.)

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 189A: Page 24, line 28, after ("charity") insert ("or an approved pension scheme").—

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lady Young, I beg to move Amendment No. 189A. But before doing so, I wonder if I may ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, as we are now moving on to an issue which includes the word "charity ", whether I understood him aright when earlier on this evening he indicated that before the end of these proceedings he might be in a position to give us some indication of what the Government were proposing as a result of the deputation they had a few days ago from the Churches and the charities. If fie could do so, it would be useful for those of us who are still taking part in the proceedings to know at what point he is going to raise it, so that everyone concerned—which would be most of us—could be in the Chamber when he did so.


I have no statement to make tonight, but I hope that before the night is out I shall be able to show the noble Lord the Amendments that it is proposed to put down on Report stage, arising from some of the matters we discussed in relation to the charities. I am afraid that the pressure of the last two or three hours has made it difficult, but before we part this evening I hope to have some copies available.

May I take this opportunity, as the matter of Churches and schools has been raised, to refer to something which I said during our discussion—it seems like years ago, but it was obviously only a day or two ago—on an Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, to Schedule 1. I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Somers, how schools of any variety would stand under the Bill, and I should now like to explain the position rather more clearly than I did on that occasion, and perhaps even more accurately than I did then.

It is not the case that only Church schools will receive special exemption. The advancement of education is, of course, one of the four purposes recognised as being charitable. If a body such as a school is a charity, because it fulfils that purpose—and I suppose if it is worthy of the name of a school it ought to be doing so—it will qualify for the special provisions relating to all charities which were announced by the Minister in another place on 15th July.


I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and the Committee will indeed be glad to know that before we part later on this morning we will have drafts of the Government's proposed Amendments at Report stage relating to Churches and charities. We look forward to those with eager anticipation. I will leave it now to my noble friend Lady Young to explain the purpose of her Amendment No. 189A.

Baroness YOUNG

I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the fact that we are to have this information about the Amendments on Churches and charities. While speaking to Amendment No. 189A, I should like at the same time to refer to Amendments Nos. 191 and 191A. The purpose of these Amendments is to put pension funds in the same position as charities. Pension funds are responsible for other people's money, in many respects in a similar way to charities, and the results of their investment will, of course, decide what the incomes will be on which people will be able to retire.

In talking about pension funds, we are talking about enormous numbers of people. It is estimated that about 12million people are now in occupational pension funds, and that does not include wives and families; the total numbers covered could be as high as 24 million people. So we are talking about a great many people who will be affected by this Bill and by these Amendments. It will be readily clear that pension funds frequently invest their money in property and that much of their property will have been bought at a price which reflected its development value in the future. It is therefore very necessary to look at how they will be affected by this Bill.

On the first appointed day, land values will probably fall slightly, but may well remain fairly steady—although of course we cannot be certain about this—until the second appointed day. But what many people will wonder is why a local authority would choose to buy land between the first and second appointed days, because, of course, after the second appointed day it could get the land at current use value, and then the value will drop immediately. In the case of charities the Government have agreed, and I am very glad that they have, to preserve the rights of charities in respect of land investments made by them before 12th September 1974, for reasons which I do not think it is necessary to repeat and with which we absolutely agree. What I am suggesting in these Amendments is that pension funds are in a position somewhat similar to charities, in that they are not there as private individuals making a profit or interested exclusively in their own affairs, but to look after the value of other people's money, and therefore they must consider very carefully the investments they make.

If the Bill remains unamended, it could be said that this is retrospective legislation, in that it will apply to inevestments made in land before 12th September, at a time when, before the publication of the White Paper, no one could possibly have expected the Bill to come. Certainly, even if they had ever thought there might be this kind of Bill they could not have known its detailed provisions. Therefore, it bears hardly on people who bought land before 12th September and who need to maintain the value of their investments in order to secure for millions of people their proper income in retirement. I hope that I have explained the purpose of my Amendment, which is on this matter of compensation to bring pension funds into the same category as charities. I beg to move.

3.56 a.m.


As the Amendments have been moved, it might be a convenient moment for me to reply. I have to tell the noble Baroness that the Amendments are not acceptable to the Government since it is not the intention of the Government to make similar provisions for pension funds as have been made for Churches and charities. As the statement made by my right honourable friend the Minister in Committee stage in another place on 15th July made clear, and as my noble and learned friend has repeated here, the Government regard Churches and other charities as being in a unique category. I do not think I need —just as the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and the noble Baroness did not feel the need—to go into that in any detail.

Unlike pension funds, Churches and charities are not acting like commercial and industrial companies and undertakings. Pension funds in particular are free to invest where they will, and to transfer assets as they wish. So far as the latter are concerned. the issues have already been discussed at great length, and the Government have made their position clear. Pension funds will in any case have the benefit of being able to rebuild within a 10 per cent. tolerance of existing floor space, without going through the duty prohibition, and the benefit of compensation, taking into account Schedule 8 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 redevelopment rights.

With respect to the duty prohibition provisions, property owned by pension funds will not necessarily be devoted to use for the benefit of the community. The provisions in favour of Churches and other charities are based on the need for such organisations to continue to provide services to the community without the superfluous need for their land to pass through public ownership. Land belonging to pension funds does not come within the same category. This is a matter which was touched on at some length in a certain broadcast recently, and it might be helpful if I put on the record some of the Government's responses to the facts as stated in that broadcast.

First, in the broadcast it was stated that pension funds have invested £1,500 million in land and buildings, and this we accept is a fairly accurate reflection of their holdings in land, real property and ground rents. But, in fact, the sum represents only about 15 per cent. of the total assets of pension funds, whose interest in property has, in the case of private funds at least, become significant only in the past 10 years, increasing particularly during the boom in land prices in 1972–73 in common with a great many other financial institutions and insurance companies, and so on.

Land and property are therefore neither an inflexible feature of pension fund portfolios nor an absolutely essential one. The land scheme will not, as I think has been claimed by noble Lords opposite, cause a sharp drop in income of the funds. Existing holdings and the income from them will be unaffected, and they will fall due for redevelopment only at a very gradual rate, while under the proposed excepted development regulations rebuilding within a tolerance of 10 per cent. of the existing floor space will not come within the duty to acquire. This tolerance is, in our view, a reasonable reflection of that for which planning permission could now be expected, and this touches on the part of the noble Baroness's remarks when she said she felt that this was retrospective in some way.

As I say, the tolerance of 10 per cent. is a reasonable reflection of what planning permission could now be expected to give. In addition, where the land is acquired, compensation will include rights contained in Schedule 8 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, so they are a fair reflection in our view of existing expectations, regardless of the Bill. Thus, the Bill will affect the policy of pension funds only towards future investment in new development or major alterations and extensions, where they will be treated in the same way as any other developer or property investor.

Baroness YOUNG

I was about to say that I was very disappointed in that reply, but perhaps I should have expected it. The Government are at present having discussions, as I understand, not simply through the Pilcher Committee but directly with the pension funds, to whom they are looking to finance the land scheme itself, and it would seem to me, if they are looking to the pension funds to help them in this way, that they might at least offer a helping hand to the pension funds. To say that it will be satisfactory and that they can rebuild within the 10 per cent. tolerance is not good enough, because, for the reasons I gave when we debated this matter previously, the 10 per cent. tolerance may not keep up with existing values, because the kind of requirements that would need to be included would come over the 10 per cent. tolerance, and therefore they would not stand the benefit of having this excepted development.

The noble Lords said that the Government could not accept the Amendment because, unlike charities, pension funds were not benefiting the community. I do not know who the 12 million people are who benefit from them. If they are not the community, they must be a large part of it. I am told by them that each person who is in an occupational pension scheme has a wife or husband and probably one child. So we are really talking about 24 million adults and possibly 12 million children, which is a great many people, and if they are not part of the community I do not know what they are. I feel that this is something which, if not in exactly the same bracket as the charities, is certainly distinct from commercial and industrial undertakings and others and it seems reasonable that they should be treated equally on this question of compensation. I did not find the noble Lord's answer satisfactory, and unless I hear something more satisfactory I shall feel inclined to press this Amendment.


I do not think I said—unless I said something I did not mean to say—that pension funds did not provide a service to the community, although of course it would not be the community in the sense that we mean it, which is of course all ratepayers and taxpayers, the generality of people in the country; they apply to particular categories. What I did say was that Churches and charities are in a unique position, and I should have thought that that had been accepted by noble Lords on both sides of the Committee. The noble Baroness said that the 10 per cent. tolerance is not satisfactory, but my understanding is that this is a reasonable reflection of what planning permission is likely to be granted for at the present time. Thus, investors in commercial and industrial property will not be in a different position under the Bill, so far as those existing investments are concerned, from what they would have been in had the Bill not come into force. Of course I accept for the future that discussions should continue. We touched earlier on the point that investment may well be needed from pension funds and that is why discussions are taking place, but that is a different point.

Baroness YOUNG

I do not find this argument convincing. We have already discussed what is mean by "the community", and this merely goes to show that it is a word which is very difficult to define. If the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, thinks it means the ratepayers, he should by now be far better informed than I am of the fact that one of the great criticisms of the rating system is that not everybody in an area pays rates. We are not even talking about all the people in a local authority area, so I do not feel that it is a good analogy. We are talking about a great many people and I am not suggesting that all the Government Amendments concerning Churches and charities should apply to pension funds; I am talking about the particular case of compensation and I

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

4.13 a.m.


I beg to move Amendments Nos. 190 and 191 en bloc. These were discussed initially with Amendment No. 20 and subsequently with Amendments Nos. 188 and 189.

Amendments moved—

Page 24, line 31, leave out ("not").

Page 24, line 31, leave out ("otherwise than").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Baroness YOUNG

I beg to move Amendment No. 191E.

Amendment moved—

should like to test the feeling of the Committee on this point.

4.7 a.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 189A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 66; Not-Contents, 40.

Aberdare, L. Elliot of Harwood, B. Newall, L,
Abinger, L. Elton, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Falmouth, V. O'Hagan, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Ferrers, E. Onslow, E.
Arbuthnott, V. Gainford, L. Ridley, V.
Atholl, D. Greenway, L. Sandford, L.
Auckland, L. Gridley, L. Sandys, L.
Balfour, E. Hanworth, V. Savile, L.
Belstead, L. Harvington, L. Sempill, Ly.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hayter, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Carrington, L. Hives, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Clinton, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Colville of Culross, V. Kindersley, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Cork and Orrery, E. Kinnaird, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Cottesloe, L. Kinnoull, E. Sudeley, L.
Cowley, E. [Teller.] Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Swansea, L.
Crawshaw, L. Long, V. Teviot, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lyell, L. Vickers, B.
de Clifford, L. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Middleton, L. Wise, L.
Digby, L. Monk Bretton, L. Yarborough, E.
Effingham, E. Mowbray and Stourton, I., Young, B.
Elles, B.
Ardwick, L. Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lyons of Brighton, L.
Arwyn, L. Melchett, L.
Bacon, B. Gardiner, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Bernstein. L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Paget of Northampton, L.
Beswick, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Peddie, L.
Birk, B. Harris, of Greenwich, L. Raglan, L.
Brace of Donington, L. Hoy, L. Segal, L.
Castle, L. Hughes, L. Stedman, B.
Champion, L. Jacques, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Collison, L. Kirkhill, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Crowther-Hunt, L. Leatherland, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Cudlipp, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. White, B.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Winterbottom, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L., Lovell-Davis, L.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Page 24, line 32, after first ("charity") insert ("or an approved pension scheme").—(Baroness Young.)


I am advised that this Amendment is otiose as the noble Baroness has already sought to include the words "or an approved pension scheme" after "charity "in both places where it appears in line 32 of the clause in her Amendment No. 191A.

Baroness YOUNG

If, as I understand by that reply, my Amendment is quite unnecessary and I put it forward in an excess of enthusiasm for my cause, I apologise, and beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.15 a.m.

Baroness YOUNG

I beg to move Amendment No. 191A.

Amendment moved— Page 24, line 32, after ("charity") in both places where it appears insert ("or an approved pension scheme").—(Baroness Young.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness YOUNG

This Amendment, No. 191B, is consequential, defining what is meant by "approved pension scheme". I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 24, line 33, at end insert— ("(c) in this section "approved pension scheme" means a retirement pension scheme approved by the Commissioner for Inland Revenue under section 222 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 or a superannuation fund approved by the Commissioners for Inland Revenue for the purposes of section 208 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970.")—(Baroness Young.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness YOUNG

I beg to move Amendments Nos. 191C and 191D. These would insert into the Bill a new concept of replacement development, which is defined in Amendment No. 191D. We discussed this concept on an earlier Amendment, and I beg to move.

Amendments moved—

Page 24, line 42, at end insert ("or replacement development").

Page 25, line 30, at end insert— ("(7) 'Replacement development' means development that fairly and reasonably represents the replacement or adaptation of an existing building or buildings by the construction of a new building or buildings or the carrying out of works (whether or not entailing the demolition of any existing buildings) to provide buildings in which the existing use of the land can be carried on being development which does not increase the cubic capacity of the buildings concerned beyond that of the existing building or buildings to a greater extent than is reasonable having regard to current levels of building costs and rental values as may be required to meet the best current development standards including appearance, methods of construction, heating, ventilation and other service facilities precautions to be taken against fire and other safety measures and such other factors as may reasonably be called for having regard to the nature of the accommodation to be provided"). —(Baroness Young.)


I think we covered this matter on Amendment No. 11, and it is my recollection that Amendment No. 11 was withdrawn by the noble Baroness. I do not know whether she intends to withdraw these Amendments. If she would like me to reiterate, at some length, the arguments which we went over then and, in particular, to refute convincingly the arguments which she put forward on that earlier occasion in this Committee stage I should be happy to do so, but perhaps she will give me some indication as to what her intentions are as to these Amendments before I spend some time doing that.

The Earl of KINNOULL

While my noble friend is looking at her papers, perhaps I could recall that I think the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, said that Amendments Nos. 11A and 15C were designed to replace the existing tolerance contained in Schedule 8 to the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. I think the advice which my noble friend has received—and, indeed, I have received a copy—is that that is an incorrect assumption. The 10 per cent. tolerance contained in Schedule 8 to the 1971 Act applies for valuation purposes, it does not affect an owner's right to rebuild; and these two Amendments were designed to allow an owner to carry out replacement development. I think that is the point my noble friend particularly wanted to pursue.

Baroness YOUNG

I apologise for taking up the time of the Committee, but I had temporarily mislaid my papers on these Amendments. This was in fact the point we debated at an earlier stage, and at this time I will withdraw these Amendments. I will consider the whole question, including what the noble Lord said earlier, and, if necessary, come back with an Amendment on Report.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 25, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


This is the clause which deals with compensation, and I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, who I understand is to deal with this, about the way in which the rate of compensation is effected now that we have Schedule 1 in the Bill and these concepts of exemption and exception under Clause 3. The noble Lord will know that this was an issue discussed during the Report stage in another place (column 1214 of the Official Report) when this clause, which was then Clause 27, was discussed. The position is that certain things are exempted from the operation of this Bill according to whether or not they are in Schedule 1 or whether or not they are buildings within the terms of Clause 25(3) (b) and according to whether or not they are exempted by the Secretary of State by regulations under subsection 3(c). In all those cases, it seemed to me that the compensation should be adjusted as well. I should like to know whether my understanding of that is correct.


As I understand it, all exempt development and the potential value of exempt development will be included in current use value; that is, any value that would accrue to a piece of land with the benefit of any exempted development would be included and the valuation based on current use value. Excepted development does not come within current use value, but it will be excluded from development which is within Schedule 8 to the 1971 Act which is therefore exempt development.


That is helpful. Can we refine it one stage further? The noble Lord remembered that I asked a question about the operation of Article 4 directions which are local and special variations of the general development order. I hope that I am right in assuming that where those are operating the compensation values are not affected.


I confess that I have forgotten what response was given to the noble Lord when he asked that question before and who gave it. My recollection is that it was said that this would not affect the valuation basis. At the present time I see no reason to revise that judgment.


I am grateful to the noble Lord.

Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

4.23 a.m.

Baroness VICKERS moved Amendment No. 191H: After Clause 25, insert the following new clause:

Compensation for dispossessed farmers

(1) This section shall apply to compensation in respect of every compulsory acquisition of an interest in agricultural land in pursuance of a notice to treat served on or after the second appointed day.

(2) The compensation payable to any owner or occupier displaced from any agricultural land acquired after this enactment shall be such sum as will be equal to the loss or expense which such person sustains by reason of the resulting disturbance of his trade or business, or is put to by reason of having to quit agricultural land.

(3) The provisions of this section shall be in addition and not in derogation of any enactment or any rule of law relating to compensation for disturbance.

(4) For the purposes of this section, owner shall mean the estate owner in respect of the fee simple of any agricultural land and occupier shall mean any person entitled to a tenancy thereof.

(5) In the above subsection "tenancy" has the same meaning as in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

The noble Baroness said: During the Second Reading debate of the No. 2 Bill on August 4th (in cols. 1411 and 1412 of the Official Report) I mentioned the anxiety felt by the farming community in regard to compensation should farmers be displaced by compulsory acquisitions, many of whom have farmed their lands for several generations and others who have decided to take up farming as their career.

In Paragraph 52 of the White Paper it was promised that the Government would consider whether the switch to current use value meant that any special provisions were needed to protect working farmers. The conclusion was that the ability to apply to the financial hardship tribunals for an additional payment was considered the best way of providing that protection. However, in Hansardof 27th October last (col. 18) the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor replied to his noble friend Lord Shinwell: 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 under the law. So, again, the farmer may be left without any real protection.

Having originally put my Amendment down to follow Clause 27, I hope I am in order in mentioning the financial hardship tribunals, as they may be needed in regard to Clause 25 compensation in respect of every compulsory acquisition of an interest in land (whether under this or any other enactment). The basis of my new clause is to allow valuers—as is done in Holland and France, two of the European Economic Community countries—to deal with each case on its merits, and then come to an agreement with the farmer whose land is being compulsorily purchased.

Having served on the Local Government Committee of the Council of Europe, I know that the methods in Holland and France have shown that there appears to be less difficulty in the compulsory acquisition of land for community purposes than in other European countries, including Britain. It is essential to realise that what is worrying the farmer is that his livelihood, which may have taken his life-time or generations to build up, and which is the only profession he knows, may be taken from him and he will not be allowed to continue with his family—and I want to emphasise this—on an equivalent farm.

I might mention that in various water authorities, in the South-West in particular, the principle of equivalent reinstatement has been accepted. The water authorities have recognised that even at market value compensation farmers may not be able to re-establish themselves especially at a time when there is considerable competition for land. In regard to the proposed reservoir development, assurances have been given that compensation will be paid in such a way as to guarantee that the farmer is in no worse a position after dispossession than before. When physical reinstatement is not possible, then the equivalent financial payment is made. This is a discretionary payment by the water authority under the 1963 Act and also under the Clewedgog Reservoir Act. For a farmer to get equivalent financial payment, the cost of the land is not the only factor to be considered. His workers, whom he has trained to his type of farming, may need rehousing and the stock will have to be moved. Should his mother, for example, have a cottage on the farm, she will also require other accommodation, and there are many more domestic matters that have to be considered.

A farmer in his sixties may not consider it worthwhile starting again, and I should like to know whether he will get adequate compensation so that, for example, he can buy an annuity? In other words, the farmer who has had his land compulsorily purchased, should in justice be in no worse position than before his land was taken. One of the other matters which worries me is that most of the land taken for development is likely to be from agriculture. We have heard of butter mountains and wine lakes, but now, regrettably, there might be land banks and also the creation of widespread non-statutory blight.

The terms "agriculture" and land "are both found in the interpretation part of the Bill, and "agriculture" is in Section 290 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. So subsections (4) and (5) in my Amendment have been tabled to try to cover the problems of interpretation of phrases which do not appear to me to be covered in this Bill. The farm loss payments introduced in the 1973 Land Compensation Act might help to solve the difficulties of re-instatement. However, this is not satisfactory as I consider that all dispossessed farmers—whether tenants or owner-occupiers—should have equivalent value for their farms. I want to stress that. The 1973 Act improved compensation payments, but these were not equivalent reinstatements for which I am now asking.

The technical quibbles about the definition of working farmers, were, I understand, the main reasons for an Amendment similar to mine being dismissed in another place; that after the second appointed day dispossessed farmers would not normally be in any worse position than at present. Secondly, at the proposed financial hardship tribunals, which arc meant to act as a safety net, it is now known that there will be no legal aid, so that many farmers may not be able to afford to go before a tribunal.

Farming could and should be one of Britain's major industries. The more that is produced on the land the more the balance of payments will be helped. More consideration should be given to the problems of agriculture, and the more self-supporting this country can become in regard to food supplies, the better for all concerned. This is called a materialistic age. Many commodities could be dispensed with, but food and water cannot, if one is to keep a healthy community.

For this reason, I hope that the Government will accept my Amendment, so that whatever the people of Britain may have to do without in the future, they can be assured of the maximum amount of home-grown food that Britain can produce. This can be done only if farmers have confidence in the Government, which the Bill before us does not give them. Equally, I consider that Clause 27(4) is too vague in regard to financial hardship tribunals. There it is stated: … in accordance with the provision of the said regulations… This is one of the worrying things about this Bill: so many of the regulations are still unknown, and this gives the farmer no confidence. Without being disrespectful, I hope that I shall not receive the standard answer given during debates in another place: that the farmer can purchase agricultural land elsewhere at no extra expense, and can appeal to the financial hardship tribunal. I do not think that answer should be given tonight.

What about the price of land which is "saved "from development and the time lag between finding another farm?—both of which could lift farm prices above current use value. Therefore I hope this new clause will be acceptable. If it is not acceptable in this form, I hope that the noble Lord the Minister could guide us to the type of Amendment which could be put down, which would safeguard the future of the farmers. I beg to move.


I should like to support my noble friend Lady Vickers in her plea for fairer compensation for dispossessed farmers—though I must agree with noble Lords opposite that this is not the time to go into a full review of compensation terms. This Bill actually highlights the problem. and that problem was raised in Standing Committee G by Mr. Clegg on the 2nd July at column 2111, when the Government suggested in their notes that the way to deal with the problem was by means of the financial hardship tribunals. I should like to ask a few questions on this point.

I think I am correct in saying that legal aid may be given for preliminary assistance, but no aid is available when one is appearing before a financial hardship tribunal, even though the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor appeared to be in favour of this. May I ask whether this legal aid for preliminary assistance could include the services of a chartered surveyor? I do not understand why you can get legal aid for divorce, which is a self-inflicted wound, but not for a State-inflicted wound when your farm is taken away from you.

I would point out that compensation is a very sore point with farmers. They consider it to be inadequate; and it is a cause of their producing less food, when they anticipate dispossession. Inadequate compensation causes a further loss of food production. I feel that the principle should be that the more land that is taken for development the better the compensation should be, to enable the farmer to produce more food off a smaller acreage of land.

Therefore, will the Government look sympathetically at this problem of compensation for the dispossessed farmer? Will they say that when the farmer appears before the hardship tribunal consideration will be taken of the points raised in subsection (2) of this Amendment? What will happen, I ask, if the compensation code is inadequate between the first and second appointed days? Will encouragement be given to local authorities to exercise their discretionary powers to make good the losses?—I think they have a power here under Section 22 of the Agricultural Miscellaneous Provisions 1963. Can the noble Lord or the noble Baroness who will answer me tell me whether he or she would consult with the agricultural organisations, the National Farmers' Union and the county landowners' associations, on the composition of these hardship tribunals? Will the hardship tribunals be given guidance on the kind of agricultural hardships which may arise? Will agricultural assessors be appointed to sit with these hardship tribunals?

These are questions to which we really would like to know the answer. I am not asking them destructively. It is what we should like to know. It would give us great confidence if we could be given some of the answers. Please do not give me the answer that these difficulties should not arise, because under the second appointed day, as my noble friend has said, we shall all be at existing use or current use (I think it was called) and therefore all is well. It does not wash, that one. I am sorry to ask all these questions, but farmers are worried about these points, and worried farmers like worried children, do not produce of their best. If these points could be cleared up for us either now or at Report stage, it would be of great assistance to the agricultural industry.

4.37 a.m.


There is a very real problem here. The Amendment deals with the problem of compensation and of reinstatement of farmers whose land is taken from them. If land is within a disposal notification area or within a development plan, and the owner finds that his land is thus devalued, of course he can serve a blight notice upon the local authority which will enable them to make up the difference between the devalued value of the land and its normal value. But that does not mean that he will be in a position to find himself reinstated elsewhere. The danger, as I see it, is this. As a result of these notification areas there may well be a situation where land somewhat away from notification areas will be at a premium simply because of that fact. Therefore, a farmer who is compensated by virtue of his position will nevertheless find that he cannot reinstate himself elsewhere. That is the problem. To put it in a graphic situation, land within a notification are a might be, for instance, of the value of £500 per acre, yet if someone were to try to find a farm elsewhere because his farm had been removed from him he would have to pay £800 an acre. It would seem on the face of it that that is not a fair or a just state of affairs.

Then we get to the situation where maybe a farmer who is farming a reasonable acreage finds that he has three or four fields taken away from him and instead of farming, say, 300 acres he finds 60 of them are removed for development and so he now farms only 240 acres. All his overheads are therefore spread over a lesser acreage. I would suggest that it might not be fair to reimburse him only for the cost of the land which he has lost, because in fact the viability of his enterprise has been diminished.

If one then imagines that happening to several farmers within an area, so that several farmers find that part of their land is taken from them, they will all be disadvantaged; and if some more land is made available and comes on the market close at hand there will be competition from all those farmers who have had their land removed from them to obtain this extra land. Again, may I suggest that if compensation is paid solely on the basis of the value of the acreage removed from them, it will be inadequate to enable them to reinstate themselves in the position that they were in before this came about.

It is perfectly true that hardship tribunals are set up under this Bill to deal with hardship cases. However, I hope that the Government may think that this is not the correct way to deal with it, and that written into the Bill there should be something which we would all wish to see; that if, through no fault of his own, a person is dispossessed, either in whole or in part, of his livelihood, he should be compensated in such a way as to enable him to continue his livelihood in the same way as he would have done had he not been dispossessed of it.

4.41 a.m.


I deeply regret being dragged into what has in the past been a private fight between the National Farmers' Union and the previous Administration of noble Lords opposite. I have to resist this new clause on a number of grounds.


I am sure that that will be very helpful and informative, but perhaps the noble Lord could explain exactly what he means by that remark? This was supposed to be a helpful Amendment.


If the noble Earl will give me a moment I will certainly explain what I mean by it. I have been on my feet only for a moment or two. I have to resist the new clause on a number of grounds. First, the Bill is not an appropriate vehicle for remedying alleged defects in the compensation code. We have already dealt with changing the compensation code, and I have made the point that the Land Compensation Act was passed in 1973, only two years ago. That Act introduced a number of fresh benefits for farmers, in particular farm loss payments. I am advised that the provisions of the new clause have no relevance to the Bill. Clause 25, which changes the basis of the compensation code to current use value, merely eliminates the development value from agri cultural land. Such land still retains its agricultural value, and as at that stage of the scheme all agricultural land everywhere will be at current use value, regardless of whether it is sold privately or to an authority, the position of a displaced farmer who wishes to reinstate himself elsewhere will be no different from what it is at present. Indeed, it will be rather better, for at present the value of land still in agricultural use may well be forced up by an element of hope value; namely, hope of development gain in the future. That, of course, will not be the case once we move to current use value.

Secondly, even if it could be accepted that such provisions had any place in the Bill, the additional benefits which the new clause would impart are quite unacceptable and would have to be resisted, both because of their implications for public expenditure and because they would put farmers in a better position than any other category for compensation—better off, indeed, than they would have been if their land had never been acquired, for it is unlikely that they would ever get such benefits from a private sale.

Not only would they get the kind of disturbance compensation to which they may be entitled under the existing compensation code—which covers removal expenses, cost of alterations to equipment, and so on, to fit a new farm, loss on the forced sale of live or dead stock and the value of inexhausted manures, incidental expenses incurred in securing an alternative farm, such as advertising and travelling and such legal costs as would be appropriate in acquiring a comparable interest in a farm like the one they are being displaced from—but they would get all of these benefits twice over, because of the provisions of subsection (3) of the new clause.

Moreover, because subsection (2) of the new clause seeks to put in statutory form a right to disturbance compensation which is largely contained in case law and precedent, it is impossible to predict how the courts would interpret it. It could well result in farmers being compensated for items not covered by the existing code, including, possibly, alleged losses only indirectly related to the displacement, or even the cost of reinstatement which the present compensation code does not provide, except where there is no general market for the land for the purpose to which it is devoted. That cannot be said to apply to agricultural land.

Such an open-ended and uncertain liability to compensation is, I regret to say, totally unacceptable in the terms of public expenditure, and also quite contrary to the general principles of the compensation code, which the Administration of noble Lords opposite—and this is the point which the noble Earl was asking about—defended very vigorously, I am told, when in Government, against similar attempts by the National Farmers' Union to widen it in favour of farmers. So I hope the noble Lord will accept that what I said when I started was accurate.

I was asked one or two specific questions by the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley. He asked about legal aid for people at hardship tribunals. This is a matter which will be settled when the time draws near for the tribunals to be set up, which may be some time away. It will have to be attuned to the regular practice in respect of tribunals generally at that stage, if a coach and horses have not been driven through the reasonable policy of treating all tribunals alike when it comes to assessing the requirements of the legal aid scheme. The noble Lord also asked for guidance on what is hardship to farmers. As I understand it, Clause 27(10)(c) provides that the criteria for deciding questions of this kind will be presented by regulations. I hope that that answers the questions asked by the noble Lord, and also indicates quite clearly why, regrettably, the Amendment is not acceptable.


The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, indicated absolutely clearly why it was not acceptable, but I am bound to say that I think he had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for arguments. The noble Lord says, "Here is this Bill, but we really cannot, for reasons of public expenditure, give farmers the proper compensation when they are dispossessed". Yet this whole Bill involves colossal public expenditure. The whole premise behind the Bill is that these vast profits made out of land are to accrue to the community. Yet out of these vast profits, apparently, it is not possible to pay reasonable compensation. I am bound to say I find that quite extraordinary.

Then, when the noble Lord went on to say that there is no point in doing this because the value of the land will not be the same as there will be no hope value, he missed the whole point of my argument, which is that I ventured to suggest that he will find that land away from those areas will be at a premium, because it is away from these areas. I was not asking the noble Lord or the Government to give the agricultural community any superior benefit. What I am trying to point out is that if people have their livelihoods removed from them for purposes not of their own making, they should be in a position to be reinstated. It may well be that they could be reinstated at the same price as the current use value in the area where their farm happens to be.

The point I was also trying to make was this. If you are in a notification area and your livelihood is removed from you, so you are obliged to move away, and the compensation which you are given is inadequate to enable you to get a new job and a new farm, then that will be unfair. I am quite amazed, not that the noble Lord should turn it down, but that he says he does so for reasons of public expenditure. That is the most unsatisfactory answer of the whole lot.


I am afraid the noble Lord did not answer my questions. Perhaps I should learn from my mistakes and ask only one question. The noble and learned Lord said on Monday that we would get legal aid for preliminary assistance. Will this include a chartered surveyor?


Under the Green Paper scheme for those who qualify—below a certain income they would qualify—all persons are entitled to go to a solicitor to receive advice and assistance before the hearing. That would apply to a hardship tribunal, but it would not cover legal representation before the tribunal itself.


I accept that, I fully understand that. But the first person the farmer will go to is a chartered surveyor and he will ask, "Have I got a case? "This will be a preliminary before going to the hardship tribunal. Will that be covered?


The Green Paper scheme applies to the taking of advice from solicitors only, I am afraid.


Listening to the noble Lord's reply, I am not quite clear. Is it a fact that people dispossessed by this Bill, whether from a factory or house, will be entitled to compensation, but if it is farming land being taken, or roads are being driven through it, they are not entitled to compensation? Or are they entitled to compensation under another Bill altogether? It seems to me that the argument of my noble friends made an absolutely cast iron case for the farmer to be treated in the same way as others. It is exceedingly difficult to move farming land. It is not like moving a house. It is a large area, and farming land is very difficult to get. It seems to me grossly unfair not to compensate, unless they are compensated under some other Act.


Farmers are given compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973 and, as I said, generously acknowledging the good work of noble Lords opposite, that Act introduced a number of fresh benefits for farmers. I cannot accept that the public expenditure argument is not a valid one. As I understand political history as writ by noble Lords opposite, in 1973 everything was well with the country and in 1975 we are in the direst financial crisis since the war. In 1973 it was apparently wrong for noble Lords opposite to extend the compensation for farmers. Now, when I am told we are in the direst financial crisis and public expenditure must be cut back, I am told that this is a valid case for extending compensation.


The whole point of this Bill is that vast profits are to accrue to local authorities, and what we are suggesting is that out of those profits adequate and commensurate compensation should be paid. It is not a question of saying that what was all right in 1973 is not all right in 1975. The noble Lord knows that perfectly well.


I am delighted that one noble Lord opposite acknowledges that profits will be accruing, but I think it would be unfair of the noble Earl to commit his noble friends to saying that profits will come very quickly, because we have been told time and time again either that there will be no profits, or that they will be a very long time in coming, I am certainly prepared to consider that the compensation code should be reviewed when the profits become available, but now is not the time.


Does the noble Lord mean that he does not anticipate that profits will be accruing?


I anticipate profits, but certainly not in the early years of the scheme and not in all areas, and that is why this would not be the time to introduce a widening of the compensation scheme.

Baroness VICKERS

I am disappointed at the reply. If somebody cannot go on working because he is too old, will he have sufficient money to be able to buy himself an annuity, because he is one of the few people who will not be able to take up another job? Most people, if they lose their job, can get another one, but farming is different, especially when farmers get to the age of 60. If he does not want to spend the money on another farm, can he get compensation?


That is an impossible question. It surely depends on what sort of annuity the farmer wishes to buy, what size of farm he has to sell, and how much money he or she has coming in. I cannot help the noble Baroness with that question.

Baroness VICKERS

Perhaps the noble Lord could think about it for the future. In view of the very unsatisfactory reply, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.


Before the noble Baroness withdraws the Amendment, may I say that I am very unhappy with the answers I have had from the noble Lord, particularly over the hardship tribunals. Before Report stage, will he give some thought to how these hardship tribunals will judge the troubles that will come before them, and at some stage say how the Government feel about this, because it needs urgent consideration. We are worried about it, and we want to know how they think. The noble Lord has not told me, or maybe, like his noble and learned friend, I have not understood and I shall read the Report of it tomorrow.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 26 [Compensation payable in transactions between certain authorities]:

4.57 a.m.

Baroness BIRK moved Amendments Nos. 192 and 193: Page 25, leave out lines 36 to 41 and insert ("a body mentioned in subsection (1A) below or a body specified in an order made under this paragraph by the Secretary of State; (c) the person acquiring the interest is a Minister, a body mentioned in subsection (1A) below or a body specified in an order made under this paragraph by the Secretary of State. (1A) The bodies referred to in subsection (1) above are local and new town authorities, the Land Authority for Wales, the Peak Park Joint and Lake District Special Planning Boards, and joint boards established under section 2 of this Act.")

Page 26, line 4, leave out from ("State") to end of line 8 and insert ("considers it expedient to make by order under this subsection.

(3) An order under this section—

  1. (a) shall not be made without the consent of the Treasury, and
  2. (b) shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.")

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I now move Amendments Nos. 192 and 193, which are mainly technical. The purpose of Clause 26 is to ensure that when the DLT legislation is passed the local authorities will be able to buy from private owners net of tax. One authority will then be able to buy from another on the same basis. Since the financial basis for transactions between local authorities is the Land Compensation Act 1961, which would not cover a net of tax formula, it is necessary to be able to amend the Land Compensation Act to achieve that formula. The Amendments would do no more than enable the amended provisions of the 1961 Act to be applied to other bodies than those already specified. Any order to that effect cannot be made unless a draft has been approved by Resolution of each House. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

5.0 a.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 26, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


Before we leave Clauses 25 and 26 relating to compensation, I should like to ask a question about development land tax, which the noble Baroness just mentioned and which we have been told, and as we all know, is vitally linked to the Community Land Bill. We read in paragraph 59 of the White Paper in September 1974 that the effect of these proposals, … will be that the community will enjoy the full value created when land is developed. A little later we read: The Government will consult with the local authority associations in order to arrive at a rational distribution of the benefits. Then, six months later, we read in the Consultation Document, which was issued not before but at the same time as the Bill was published and introduced into another place: Though compensation would remain market value, the cost of land to local authorities would nonetheless be reduced during the transitional period. This would be achieved because when local authorities buy development land, whether under the Bill or under any other statutory powers, the cost to them would be reduced by the amount the vendor would have been liable to pay in development land tax had he sold privately. The details of the way in which the development land tax will operate were set out in a statement issued by the Inland Revenue on 4th February. The procedures for buying net of development land tax will be set out later, following discussions with the local authority associations. And we were told six months earlier that they were to be undertaken; that is, March 1975.

In August 1975 we were told in Appendix C of Cmnd. Paper 6195: In the White Paper 'Land' the Government announced their intention of enabling local authorities to buy land net of development land tax which would have been payable by the vendor had he sold his land privately. The arrangements for giving effect to this intention are still under discussion with the representatives of the local authorities. That was 11 months after the White Paper. When are we to hear how it is proposed to give effect to this intention that local authorities will be able to buy net of development land tax?

The whole operation of this scheme hinges on that and one can see that it is a complicated business. It involves the valuer acting on behalf of the owner of the land, it involves the district valuer, it involves the local authorities and it involves the valuation officer of the Inland Revenue. But exactly who does what is not at all clear yet, and in spite of these three statements we are still in the dark as to how it is to be done. It is worth recalling that it was the failure to get this matter clear which caused the Land Commission to do so little work in its short life, and it was the factor which led to the Central Land Board being so ineffective in 1947.

Baroness BIRK

I did not want to join in a sort of knock-about game on this. If I did, I would ask: what about the Land Compensation Act 1961 and the Land Compensation Act 1973? Nothing much has been done on either side, so I see no point in kettles calling pots black, red, blue or any other colour. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is right to tiethis—as I did when I was speaking to the Government Amendments—to the development land tax, and obviously the basis of this will have to be that legislation. But at present discussions on the procedures, to which the noble Lord was drawing my attention, for buying net of DLT are still continuing. They are continuing because the local authority associations are not yet agreed on a method, so the discussions will continue, at any rate for the time being, until they reach agreement.

I imagine that the noble Lord will find this a satisfactory answer, because I am well aware of how keen and enthusiastic he is about having consultations as often and as widely as possible and about getting this throughout the Bill. At the moment it is impossible for me to give a firmer or more precise answer than that it is being discussed and that the local authorities themselves are working out the method of procedure.


That is not an answer to the question. The question was: when are we to know how this is to be done? It is not just a question of the local authorities: the Inland Revenue will need to be able to operate this and more particularly the owners of the land will want to know how the assessment is to be made because they cannot begin to see how to enter into negotiations. Who is to value what?


I should like with a very brief intervention to support what my noble friend Lord Sandford has just said and give an example affecting ourselves. We are at present in negotiation for the acquisition of land, but we are finding it extremely difficult to draw up a form of contract simply because the owner of the land does not know what he may be charged as a result of development tax. This is just one example of many which are occurring throughout the country at the present time.

Baroness BIRK

As I said, the arrangements will be set out in the Development Land Tax Bill when it is published. I cannot at this moment say when that will be. The noble Lord was also asking about the procedures and the way this should be done: this is a combination of the legislation and the discussions between the local authorities. Incidentally, the noble Lord was comparing what happens with the Land Commission and I should point out that the arrangements for the Land Commission to buy net of betterment levy were set out in the Act itself and that it worked perfectly satisfactorily. The difference now is that, with that Act, one had, broadly, one central body which, we acknowledge, also had its disadvantages, whereas now there are many local authorities involved rather than one Commission. That must increase the scope of the discussions and the time they take.

Clause 26, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 27 [Financial hardship tribunals]:

5.8 a.m.

Lord MIDDLETON moved Amendment No. 193A. Page 26, line 9, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Lord said: With permission, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 1931. We now come to the clause which deals with financial hardship tribunals. When the clause was first debated in Committee in the other place, the Minister appeared to take some pride in saying that this was the first Government in history to create a financial hardship tribunal. That may well be perfectly true, but what seems sad is that we should have legislation of such a kind for the first time in history and that it should be thought necessary by a British Government to introduce provisions for dealing with hardship which it is anticipated will follow legislation.

The notes on Clause 29 say that it is hoped that, in the event, there will be very few cases where acquisition at current use value will cause genuine financial hardship. So hardship is certainly envisaged and this view is reinforced by what we heard the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, say just now about dispossessed farmers. Therefore it seems wrong that the Bill merely allows the Minister to set up hardships tribunals, instead of making it mandatory that he should do so. This Amendment seeks to make it mandatory, and since compensation provisions do not come into operation until the second appointed day, Amendment No. 1931 provides that while the tribunals should be constituted before that day it does not lay a duty to set them up before they are needed. I beg to move.


The setting up of hardship tribunals has been thought desirable by the Government, and I am sorry that it should now be the subject of reproach. It seems that one cannot please everybody all the time. At any rate, hardship tribunals will be set up when experience shows the necessity for their coming into being. It would be certainly premature to do so before the need for their existence arises. The reason for not moving immediately to current use value has been the wish of the Government that the scheme should not cause any unnecessary hardship to individuals who had made transactions or entered into commitments which could be adversely affected by an immediate move to current use value, and that is why the rather elaborate transitional arrangements have been introduced to provide a period in which people will be able to adjust to the arrival of the second appointed day through the gradual operation of the development land tax and the procedures for authorities to acquire net of tax.

Clearly, the Government will ensure that adequate notice is given of the move to compensation at current use value, and it is hoped that in the event there will be very few, if any, cases where acquisition at current use value will cause genuine financial hardship. The financial hardship tribunals are intended basically as a safety net. We cannot at this stage attempt to forecast with any precision the kind of situations that might occur which could give rise to a justifiable claim of financial hardship arising from the scheme. But if when the time comes for the move to current use value it becomes clear that the tribunals will in fact be needed, the necessary regulations will certainly be made. But that need may not arise, and it would be wrong to impose a duty on the Secretary of State to make the regulations setting up the tribunals and therefore to incur administrative costs if in fact there is nothing for them to do. Similarly it would be wrong to provide that the final move to current use value cannot take place until financial hardship tribunals have been set up if it is evident at that stage that there will be no need for them.

There was a great observation at one time by the noble Earl, Lord Lloyd-George, who said: It is undesirable to traverse a chasm in two leaps", That is a piece of wisdom which is sometimes important in contemplating a situation where hardship might arise. I assure noble Lords that if, when events take their course, the need arises, we shall be ready and willing to set up what has been promised. I submit that the suggestion in the Amendments of a mandatory provision and the setting up before the second appointed day are quite unrealistic and should not be accepted.


I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord could tell me this. If in fact the word "shall" were to be used in lieu of the word "may", would the noble and learned Lord's point still not be covered? Because it would then say: The Secretary of State shall, for the purpose of enabling cases of hardship to be considered under this section, make regulations. If in fact there were no cases of hardship to be considered, then of course he still would not have to do it.


It would then become a mandatory provision that he would have to act upon as a statutory duty.


The point I am making is that he would only have to set those up if there were cases of hardship. What the noble and learned Lord indicated was that there might not be cases of hardship, in which case they would not be set up.


The substitution is to be made in Clause 27, on page 26 at line 9. It would mean as I understand it, that the Secretary of State would forthwith have to make the relevant regulations. It would become a mandatory duty on his part in accordance with Clause 27(1), as it would then read: The Secretary of State shall, for the purpose of enabling cases of hardship … make regulations constituting the tribunals. So under that mandatory duty they would have to be set up, and I have little doubt that it may be thought prudent to do that in any event so that a tribunal might be prepared for; but the substitution of a discretionary requirement in Clause 27(1) instead of the mandatory power I think meets the reality of the likely situation that will arise.


I think it cannot be said often enough that there are far too many places in the Bill where we have to take it on trust that the Minister will make some regulations or will exercise some discretion, if he has a mind to, in the future. There is no doubt in our minds that there will be financial hardship resulting from the acquisition of land under the Bill. If the Minister had not thought so he would not have put this clause in the Bill, which makes provision for financial hardship. Finally, what persuades me that I cannot withdraw this Amendment is that, unless a tribunal is set up in the first place, it seems to me that it will be very difficult to tell whether or not hardship has been suffered.

5.18 a.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 193A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 59: Not-Contents, 40.

Aberdare, L. Auckland, L Clinton, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Balfour, E. Colville of Culross, V
Amherst of Hackney, L. Belstead, L. Cork and Orrery, E.
Arbuthnott, V. Campbell of Croy, L. Cottesloe, L.
Atholl, D. Carrington, L. Cowley, E.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Hives, L. Savile, L.
de Clifford, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sempill, Ly.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Kinnoull, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Digby, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Effingham, E Long, V
Elles, B. Lyell, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Macpherson of Drumochter, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Elton, L. Middleton, L. Sudeley, L.
Falmouth, V. Monk Bretton, L. Swansea, L.
Ferrers, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Teviot, L.
Gainford, L. Vickers, B.
Greenway, L. Newall, L. Vivian, L.
Gridley, L. Onslow, E. Wise, L.
Hanworth, V. Ridley, V. Young, B.
Harvington, L. Sandford, L.
Hayter, L. Sandys, L.
Ardwick, L. Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor) Melchett, L.
Arwyn, L. Gardiner, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Bacon, B. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Bernstein, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Paget of Northampton, L.
Beswick, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Peddie, L.
Birk, B. Hoy, L. Raglan, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Hughes, L. Stedman, B.
Castle, L. Jacques, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Champion, L. Kirkhill, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Collison, L. Leatherland, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Crowther-Hunt. L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. White, B.
Cudlipp, L. Llewelyn Davies of Hastoe, B. Winterbottom, L.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Lovell-Davis, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lyons of Brighton, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

5.26 a.m.


I beg to move Amendment No. 1931.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 11, at end insert ("before the second appointed day")—(Lord Middleton.)

The Earl of KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 193B: Page 26, leave out lines 12 to 20 and insert ("conferring on the Lands Tribunal the duty of discharging such functions as may be specified in the regulations. The Lands Tribunal in carrying out such functions is referred to in the following provisions of this section as a "financial hardship tribunal".")

The noble Earl said: In moving this Amendment perhaps I could mention that the Chamber is getting distinctly chilly for those of us who have been here for some time. Cold air seems to be blowing in.


It would be regrettable if there was an excess of hot air! At an earlier stage, I observed the distinguished figure of Black Rod moving in the direction which might have brought us some more warmth.

The Earl of KINNOULL

The purpose of this Amendment is very simple to understand. The clause setting up financial hardship tribunals states that the Secretary of State would confer on one or more existing bodies, or groups of bodies, the duty to act as tribunals. This is felt to be a little "woolly" as to which bodies would be the tribunals. It has been thought that the Lands Tribunal would be the ideal body. It is a body well recognised for its extensive knowledge and experience in all property matters, and would bring confidence to this whole tribunal. I beg to move.


The effect of the Amendment would be to provide that the functions of a financial hardship tribunal should be conferred on the Lands Tribunal. It would remove the discretionary power which the Secretary of State would have under the clause as it stands to decide whether to set up a new tribunal or tribunals, or alternatively to confer the functions on one or more existing bodies or groups of bodies. We certainly would not rule out the possibility of conferring the functions on the Lands Tribunal, and there would be made advantages in that. But I have to inform your Lordships that that tribunal is already severely overworked. I do not know that I would be very enthusiastic about adding to its burdens. Again, it may well be that the number of cases that might arise when the hardship arrangements are in being may not make that a serious factor. It will be necessary to consider, if and when the time comes, whether a less formal body than the Lands Tribunal would be more appropriate. Local valuation panels have been mentioned, as have various tribunals which come under the Department of Health and Social Security. The disadvantage of the Lands Tribunal is that it is a national body, and local bodies might be more appropriate.

But we cannot really decide on these matters until the volume of work likely to arise is more clearly identified. I can assure the Committee that the Council on Tribunals will be consulted before any regulations are laid before Parliament and they will consider the adequacy of what is proposed. That will be done and, in all the circumstances and in view of the assurances I have given, I hope the noble Earl may feel disposed not to press this matter and to leave the flexibility provided by the present terms to the Secretary of State, so that we may make the best decision when we know more clearly what will happen.

The Earl of KINNOULL

I am grateful for that reply and am happy to accept that assurance. The noble and learned Lord said there may be an advantage in having a more informal tribunal. We are dealing with what could be very substantial sums of money in compensation, and I should hope that the Lands Tribunal would be the choice. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.32 a.m.

Earl FERRERS moved Amendment No. 193H: Page 26, line 26, leave out ("pensions").

The noble Earl said: This subsection allows the Secretary of State to appoint the members and chairman of the tribunal. It enables him to regulate the appointment and tenure of office of the members and allows him to provide for their remuneration and pensions. Three Amendments ago—the one on which we divided—the noble and learned Lord said he thought it might not be necessary to have any tribunals. Here in this clause not only do we pay the members of tribunals, but we also give them pensions. It occurred to me to wonder what the membership will consist of. If a person becomes a member of a tribunal is he there, as it were, for life? Is it rather like joining a firm such as ICI, in that you get on to a tribunal and you stay there for the rest of your life and are pensioned off at the end of it? If so, it seems to be rather at variance with what the noble and learned Lord said earlier. I have no doubt there will be hardship tribunals, and it is quite right that the members should be paid, but I cannot for the life of me understand why they have to receive pensions. I beg to move.


All this, as I said earlier, is by way of a precautionary measure, to meet the situation that arises when it may become clear that a tribunal will have to be set up to administer the hardship scheme, and regulations will have to be issued. If they are issued it will be in circumstances where it has become apparent that the setting up of an appropriate tribunal is necessary. When such tribunals are set up, it is normal to provide for pensions, salaries and other things in the normal way. There is nothing new in that, and it would be less than fair to those involved if these considerations were not carefully considered in advance.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for that reply. I thought that was probably the reply I should receive. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord MELCHETT moved Amendment No. 194:

Page 27, line 23, at end insert— ("(bb) make such provision as may be expedient for dealing with the cases of deceased persons who, if they had survived, would or might have been entitled to additional payments under this section.")

The noble Lord said: I wonder whether I might speak to Amendment No. 194A when dealing with No. 194. I understand that during the Committee and Report stages in another place, the Opposition moved Amendments seeking to ensure that the right to make a claim, or the benefit of a claim which is accepted by a financial hardship tribunal, can pass to a personal representative of any person entitled to make a claim. The Government stated that they were sympathetic to the intention behind these Amendments, and my honourable friend Mr. Oakes undertook during Report stage in another place that, since it had been ascertained that this objective could not be achieved by the process of general law an Amendment would be placed into the Bill. These two Amendments accordingly provide that regulations may make such provisions as may be expedient. It is right that this should be done by regulation since it accords with the status of the matters in subsection (8) which the regulations have to cover. I beg to move.

Baroness YOUNG

I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, for that Amendment which meets an undertaking given in another place. We are grateful.

5.37 a.m.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 194A:

Page 27, line 26, at end insert— ("(d) stipulate that the right to make a claim or the benefit of any claim which has been made shall be capable of being assigned and shall pass with or without express assignment to the personal representative of any person entitled to make or having made a claim.")

The noble Baroness said: I am not sure that the whole of Amendment No. 194A is covered by the Government's Amendment. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, would confirm whether or not it is. I rather understood from what he said that it was covered, but will he confirm that? I beg to move.


It certainly is my understanding that the Amendment which I have moved and the Committee has accepted meets the point.

Baroness YOUNG

With that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment 194B: Page 27, line 27, leave out subsection (9).

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is to leave out subsection (9) but its purpose is to find out why an upper limit has been set on the amount that can be paid on any one claim. I appreciate that the figure has already been raised from £25,000 to £50,000, but it all has to be seen against the background of inflation at its present rate, and that sum of money will diminish very rapidly. After all, the Bill will not be in operation until 1976, and it is unlikely that anybody will make a claim immediately at that point. Therefore, the time when any claims will be made is several years on. It seems to me that to put an upper limit such as this on the amount of money is an unwise and unfortunate thing to do. I hope therefore that the Government will reconsider it. I appreciate that there is the proviso, or such higher amount as may be prescribed by regulations". Nevertheless, I should have thought that we could do without the fixed upper limit. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

As the noble Baroness probably knows, at Committee and Report stages in another place Amendments were moved on this point and withdrawn. But at Committee stage the Government accepted an Amendment which increased the maximum from £25,000 to £50,000 on the ground that there could be cases, especially where working farmers were involved, where the original figure of £25,000 might not be adequate. However, some limits must be set to the amounts that can be awarded by the tribunals; otherwise, there is a risk that they could become a means of preserving substantial amounts of development value which would then be for the benefit of individuals rather than the community.

It would not, we feel, be right to impose an open-ended liability on public authorities, and it would also not be acceptable in terms of public expenditure. It would be particularly inappropriate to give what may prove to be a relatively informal body the right to make any award that it wished. The provision for the maximum to be increased by regulations, which would take account of inflation, should not be brushed aside quite so lightly by the noble Baroness, because it is written into the Bill itself. Moreover, in view of the representations which have been made in Committee and in particular bearing in mind the circumstances of working farmers, the Government have already doubled the original proposal. For the time being I think that that is about right. The figure can be kept under review—there is no question that this is a set figure for all time—and powers exist to vary it, if necessary. However, we cannot make any concession on the principle of having a maximum limit.

The Earl of KINNOULL

May I support my noble friend in this Amendment? I begin with the premise that if there is a hardship tribunal, as was promised in the White Paper, there should not be a limit placed on the compensation that is due to one. Secondly, may I say to the noble Baroness opposite that she indicated that it would, in her words, be "a relatively informal body". That is not, however, what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said when dealing with a previous Amendment.

Baroness BIRK

I am afraid that the noble Earl speaks in such a soft, gentle voice that it is sometimes difficult to hear him. Could he repeat what he has said, because neither I nor my noble and learned friend heard him?


It might help if the noble Earl would keep an eye on the perpendicular object suspended from the roof.

The Earl of KINNOULL

May I assure the noble Baroness that my soft, gentle voice masks a very harsh point! I began by saying that I start with the premise that if there is a hardship tribunal, as was promised in the White Paper, there should not be any limit to the compensation to which you are entitled. Secondly, the noble Baroness said that it would probably be wrong for a relatively informal body to pay out from the public purse very large sums of money, and she referred in particular to farmers. When replying to a previous Amendment the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that it was not at all certain that it would be an informal body. It could well be a judicial body. It could well be the Lands Tribunal. In the circumstances, it should probably be the Lands Tribunal; it should not be an informal body if large sums of money are to be paid out. I agree with the noble Baroness about that. The point about which I feel most strongly, and about which I hope that my noble friend will feel equally strongly, is the principle that if you set up a tribunal you do not set it up with a maximum, like an insurance policy. You set it up and look at the hardship suffered and decide what is a fair settlement.


I am a little concerned that the noble Baroness said that if there was no limit this may be a method whereby an individual could recoup for himself a substantial amount of development value in the land which is being acquired from him. and with which he has been concerned. I do not believe that this is necessarily the case. I believe that the working farmer may be one matter, but that we shall also have cases—certainly we will have cases if the second appointed day comes fairly soon—where people will have bought land before the legislation was ever contemplated at a value which was then the going value, which may or may not have included development land, and they will have to sell it to a local authority at current use value. Through no fault of their own they will have suffered a very substantial, or a minimal, or whatever it may be, financial loss simply as a result of the legislation.

I do not believe that the Government would wish, as it were, retrospectively to penalise people who bought property on the open market at the going price that it was worth at the time they bought it. And in those circumstances it may well be that without them making a penny profit, simply to get the money back that they originally paid, perhaps with sufficient increase to take account of inflation, they may have lost more than £50,000. That is not recouping the development value that ought otherwise to go to the community in accordance with the philosophy of this Bill. That is only seeing that people are at least repaid the amount they originally spent on the land; otherwise, they will be out of pocket as a result of the intervention of this legislation. I do not think the noble Baroness ought to exclude people who come into that category altogether if their loss happens to exceed £50,000.


The Government will be selecting the members of the tribunal, and presumably they will be selecting very distinguished people. It would be quite wrong to fetter them like this, prejudicing their decisions in the matter. The distinguished people selected to come to a decision on the matter should be left to make this decision, and this should not be written into the Bill.

Baroness BIRK

It is important to get it quite clear that hardship awards are not compensation. This is a quite special part of the Bill; it is a special set-up. In answer to the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, it has not yet been decided whether it should be a judicial body, or how it should be composed. The words I used were "relatively informal"—it may or may not be. These are awards that will be keyed to an assessment of hardship and within the criteria laid down, will be assessed on the circumstances of each case. It would be absurd if huge sums far exceeding any compensation payments were possible, and the removal of the limit would do this. Since we do not know how it will work out the limit of £50,000 is hardly ridiculous, and since by that subsection there are provisions for varying it under regulations with the consent of the Treasury, I suggest that at this moment it is far preferable to leave it as it is, and see how it works. As I pointed out, there is nothing to stop the varying of even the present maximum sum in the future.


But the trouble about that is that you will not discover, according to whatever criteria are used by the tribunal, that there are sums in excess of the £50,000 that the tribunal would have awarded until it has dealt with the case and finds it cannot. The regulations which raise the limit are never retrospective, and you will have to have a series of cases before such regulations can be satisfactorily introduced and justified in Parliament, which will have had to be dealt with by the tribunal on the basis of the existing limit now in the Bill. From that very hypothesis, there will be a number of people who ought to have been awarded more than the limit, who are precluded from that award by the fact that the £50,000 is in the Bill. I do not know how else it can work, because these regulations are never retrospective.

Baroness BIRK

I appreciate that, but the only alternative is to leave it completely open-ended, and the Government are not prepared to do that.

Baroness YOUNG

I think that is a very unsatisfactory reply. We have a sum of money which will be eaten away by inflation on one side, and as my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross pointed out we shall not even know that it has created hardship until after it has been shown that it is not enough, and then we shall not be able to put it right. This is a matter on which we shall want to read again the Report of the answer of the noble Baroness in the Official Report, and consider the matter again on Report. I beg to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Amendment, No. 195 is purely drafting. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 27, line 42, leave out ("by") and insert ("in pursuance of")—(Lord Melchett.)

Clause 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 28 [Power to acquire unoccupied office premises]:

5.51 p.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 195D: Page 28, line 21, after ("of") insert ("usable").

The noble Earl said: We now come to Part IV of the Bill, and we are dealing here with 5,000 square metres of floor space. I feel that it must be 5,000 square metres of usable floor space, not the sort of space that cannot be used, filled up with cupboards or things which are not part of the office accommodation. I feel this is perfectly reasonable. I beg to move.


If the word "usable" were to be carried into Clause 28 it would cause endless argument about its meaning. Any floor space is usable for some purpose; it is amazing to what purposes some floor surfaces are put. Moreover, there is no point in attempting to qualify floor space in this way. The figure of 5,000 square metres without any qualification represents the minimum amount of office accommodation which the Government consider would merit consideration for acquisition if it has remained 75 per cent. unoccupied for two years or more. If there were to be any doubt about the amount of floor space in the office accommodation, the courts would resolve it in favour of the owners, so it is unlikely the Secretary of State would attempt to acquire office accommodation on the borderline. However, the Government could not accept a reduction to the amount of the "usable floor space", whatever that may mean.

The Earl of KINNOULL

Would the noble and learned Lord consider putting in the word "net". I think that is the word often used in particulars when letting office accommodation. The difference between "net" and "gross" is that "net" is the actual floor area that people can work in, and "gross" covers corridors and lavatories and so on.


This, again, introduces a difficult refinement of what is dispensable and what is indispensable. Some of the premises to which the noble Earl referred are highly indispensable, especially since the health in offices regulations were passed. Net floor space has no statutory meaning and I think it would really add to the confusion. Where there is a borderline around the 5,000 square metre margin, I should have thought a Minister would be reluctant to take the plunge. I think we had better leave it as it is. I do not think the words "usable" or "net" improve the matter at all.


I do not have with me the part of the Town and Country Planning Act which deals with office development plans, but there is a formula there which says what is meant by "floor space" for the purposes of offices. It is required to see whether it is within or outside the exemption limit. There is a good formula in the Statute.


I shall be delighted to look at that and see whether any of these interesting adjectival phrases are included in that.


It is more than that.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I am grateful to my noble friends for having supported me, but in view of what has been said I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.56 a.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 195E: Page 28, line 23, leave out second ("land") and insert ("building").

The noble Earl said: Here we are dealing with any building that has been erected, whether before or after the passing of this Act, on any land. This subsection applies to that land, as it reads at the moment, and any other land. I feel that the words there should be "building and any other land", because in this case to a great extent we are dealing with office accommodation in the form of the building. Amendment No. 195F would be consequential. I feel that there could be doubt as to what is land and what is land taken up by the building, or vice versa. I beg to move.


These Amendments may arise from a misunderstanding. If the noble Earl will look at Clause 4 of the Bill he will see that in subsection (I) the expression "land" is defined to mean: any corporeal hereditament, including a building and includes an interest in or right over land. Clause 28(1) applies that clause to the land on which an office building, as defined, has been erected. It means that subject to subsection (4) the power of acquisition in subsection (2) covers all interests in the office building, and the land on which it stands. Apart from the definition in Clause 4, the Interpretation Act 1889 defines "land "to include buildings. That is the explanation of the language.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I am grateful for that explanation. It has helped me understand it a little better. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 28 agreed to.

Clause 29 agreed to.

Clause 30 [Additional powers of acquisition]:

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 195G: Page 31, line 21, at end insert ("unless it can be shown by the owner that it would be detrimental to a development for which there is or has been granted planning permission.")

The noble Earl said: Clause 30 is to some extent carrying on from Clause 28. If it is considered necessary to acquire any other land, the Secretary of State may acquire that other land either by agreement or compulsorily. I am concerned that in built-up areas other people, or even the owner of the land originally, can be affected, unless he can show that it would be detrimental to a development for which there is or has been granted planning permission. Here is a case where somebody could be trying to develop his land and then the Secretary of State steps in. perhaps because something has gone wrong in relation to Clause 28, and as a result the owner will miss out both ways. One can imagine all sorts of complications arising—for example, if one owns an office block and one is trying desperately to keep rights of access, rights of entry and so on, perhaps even over adjoining land.

The Earl of KINNOULL

Why does the Secretary of State require this specific power when, under Clause 28, he has compulsory purchase powers to acquire an existing office block? I do not think it is development so much as an existing office block. Here we see him taking additional powers to acquire adjacent land to make up a better package. But the district valuer, when acting for the Secretary of State, will have taken into account whether or not the existing block by itself is of great or limited value and therefore the Secretary of State will have purchased it with that in mind. If he has powers to acquire additional land, he will be adopting the role of a developer. By putting a better package together he will make a great deal of profit out of it. I am not suggesting that that is a bad thing; I am just wondering why he wants that role.


There is obviously a misunderstanding over this and I will see whether I can help. The first point to make clear is that Clause 30 is very much a reserve power. It would be a very exceptional case where the office building the Secretary of State had acquired was not capable of being used as offices, and therefore disposed of for office use without other land being added. We are talking about very exceptional cases. This provision is, therefore, designed to close a possible loophole for the owner of an office block bent on frustrating the Secretary of State's objective of bringing the office accommodation into use. For example, the owner might have so arranged things that the only access to the empty office accommodation was through a small part of the building which had been leased and which was effectively in office use and through which the owner had unfortunately—deliberately or inadvertently—failed to reserve a right of way.

It is not therefore envisaged that the power would be used in such a manner as to hinder or prevent the proper development of other land, and obviously any objection to compulsory acquisition of such other land on the grounds mentioned in the Amendment would merit very serious consideration. The Amendment would in fact widen the loophole which the clause seeks to close and is therefore not acceptable. Of course, if it was necessary under this clause, in these very exceptional circumstances, to take land which was detrimental to a development, the remedy would be in compensation. So far as adjacent land is concerned, full compensation would be payable for it, not the reduced compensation as in Clauses 28 and 29.

The Earl of BALFOUR

Perhaps I am a little slow at this hour in the morning, but I am rather concerned over what the noble Lord said. I should like to be certain that full compensation will be paid, but that is not the impression I got when I read the clause. I wonder whether we could look at this again, for I feel that, although what the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, has said may be the intention, there is serious doubt as to whether the clause actually specifies what he says it does. Can the noble Lord look at this again between now and Report stage, because I feel that it is quite an important point? I do not want to delay the Com- mittee and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 30 agreed to.

Clauses 31 and 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 [Determination of date of completion]:

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 195H: Page 33, line 7, after ("shall") insert ("not").

The noble Earl said: I believe that this may perhaps be all right, but it is one of the little paragraphs which appear in legislation from time to time and which somewhat irritate me as a layman. It reads: The date specified in a completion notice shall be earlier than any date on which, by virtue of subsection (1) above, erection of the building to which the notice relates would, but for the notice, be deemed to have been completed for the purposes of this Part". I am afraid that that leaves me wondering what on earth it means. I feel that a wording which might be considered is: The date specified in the completion notice shall not be earlier than the date on which, by virtue of this section, the erection of the building would be deemed to have been completed". This is one of those horrible bits of drafting which goes into rather complicated situations and I should like to know exactly what it means. I beg to move.


I feel that the noble Earl is being a little hard at this time of the morning, but if he really insists on an explanation I suppose that we still have an hour or so left. The Amendment which he has put down to insert the word "not" would negative the whole purpose of the completion notice procedure. Perhaps, having put the point in that way, the noble Earl may take it from me at this time in the morning that that is so.

The Earl of BALFOUR

Yes, indeed. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 33 agreed to.

Clause 34 [Power to obtain information]:

Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS moved Amendment No. 1951:

Page 35, leave out lines 4 and 5.

The noble Viscount said: This is not a weighty point, but I feel that the wording of the subsection is infelicitous. When the notice specifies what is wanted by the Secretary of State for the purpose of extracts or copies, surely it will not specify the facilities to be afforded. What are they—two shorthand typists or the free use of Mr. Hyams' Xerox for a fortnight? Surely what is wanted is simply that the notice should specify that the Secretary of State's officer will require extracts to be made or copies taken. Could not the wording be made a little less alarming? It seems to me to be unnecessarily severe for the purpose. I beg to move.


I shall be very glad to look at this. The dictionary meaning of "facility" is "unimpeded opportunity". I hope that that was not in the mind of the noble Viscount in relation to the typing staff to whom he referred. We will have a look at this point if the noble Viscount does not press it at this stage.


I have no intention of doing so and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 34 agreed to.

Clauses 35 and 36 agreed to.

Clause 37 [Acquisition of land by the Crown]:

6.10 a.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 196: Page 36, line 37, after ("opinion") insert ("and that of the local planning authorities concerned").

The noble Lord said: We are in the last but one Part of the Bill. In moving this Amendment, I wish to speak—at any rate to start with—to the next Amendments standing in my name on the Marshalled List. The general point I wish to pursue is to ask what justification is there in this Bill for either strengthening or extending the local powers of the Secretary of State in a Bill designed to confer powers on local authorities, which are already the local planning authorities, and which are being made the local land development and acquisition authorities? In my view it is no business of the Secretary of State to consider what is environmentally or economically best for any particular areas. That is the function of the local authorities. On the other hand, I should agree that perhaps in a Bill dealing with land it is a good thing to tidy up the powers and functions which the Secretary of State already has, and where it has been found that his powers are inconvenient and do not work smoothly, to do something to amend the situation. If that is the reason, then it is important in my view that he should not be able to exercise those powers without consulting the local planning authorities in the area. He should be under a statutory obligation to consult them, and that is the purpose of Amendment No. 196. If Amendment No. 196 is acceptable, then Amendment No. 197 is consequential upon it, and Amendment No. 198 is consistent with it. Perhaps we could go that far before I speak to the remaining Amendment, No. 199.


Can the noble Baroness, in her reply, confirm that before the Secretary of State promoted, for himself to confirm, a compulsory purchase order under this clause, it would be necessary to decide for what purpose the land was to be used, and that there would have to be a procedure under —is it now Circular 80?—whereby the deemed planning permission, or machinery equivalent to planning permission, has to be gone through, and the local authority would therefore have been given an opportunity to have its say in that way? Would the noble Baroness also confirm that if the procedure under Circular 80 had led to a clash with the local planning authority, where by the Secretary of State was trying to promote a scheme with which the local planning authority did not agree, that this would be a very good ground of objection for a private owner to put to the Secretary of State at the inquiry in an attempt to ensure that a compulsory purchase order was not confirmed?

Baroness BIRK

As the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said, it is perfectly true that these are tidying up Amendments, but when he puts them together Amend ment No. 196 goes farther than consultation, because it refers to the opinion of the local planning authorities concerned. I am advised that this would give the local planning authorities a power of veto, and so the situation is not really quite what seemed to be indicated by what the noble Lord said; the words seem to be stronger than that.

The noble Viscount is absolutely right: it is the Government's invariable practice, under what is known as the Circular 80 procedure, to consult local authorities about all proposals for Crown development. We are talking about Crown development; that is what this clause is specifically concerned with. Consultations with local authorities would normally have taken place already, before any land was acquired under the powers in Clause 37. In many cases incorporation of features not strictly required for the public service—for example, public open spaces, or landscaping of surrounding areas—will often be the result of consultations with the local authority at the design stage.

There may be some cases where the Secretary of State has acquired by agreement a piece of land that has come on the market before consultations with the local authorities have taken place. The consultations will be held before development itself takes place. This is a sensible, tidying-up arrangement to make it all very much more efficient. So I hope noble Lords will accept these procedures, which apply to all Crown development proposals and have operated since 1950 in one form or another. To require him, as some of the Amendments do—for example, No. 196—to obtain the agreement of the local planning authority would be unduly restrictive. If this was so it would make it impossible for the Secretary of State to override the local authority in those cases where the development was essential in the national interest, or perhaps on security grounds. The result would be to leave the Crown with fewer rights than those of the individual. Where there was a serious conflict between the Secretary of State and the local authority arising from these proposals, the Secretary of State would normally arrange for a public inquiry to be held before reaching a decision. But in the last resort the final decision must be for the Secretary of State to make, as he would with a private developer.


I am grateful to the noble Baroness for those remarks. I agree with what she has pointed out with respect to Amendment No. 196. That would be giving local planning authorities power to veto, and that, I agree, would be going too far. I think the upshot of what she said, and particularly what she said to my noble friend Lord Colville, is that local authorities would be relying on the Circular 80 procedure, and that would almost certainly involve the Secretary of State in some prior consultation, which is what we want to see. I think it might be better if we disposed of Amendment No. 196, which I will withdraw, and Nos. 197 and 198, which I will not move; but I have one further point on No. 199. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 196.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.17 a.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 199: Page 38, line 1, leave out subsection (6).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 199, which is on a slightly different point. First, I have one relatively minor point. If we look at subsection (4) on page 37, I think we have to say either that the rubric on page 36 is misleading because it refers solely to acquisition, or else there is a missing rubric on page 37 at subsection (4), from which point the clause deals only with disposal. I think that either the rubric at the beginning wants to be amended to include both or the clause wants to be broken and we want to have "Disposal" at the beginning of subsection (4). That is a minor drafting point.

The substantial point that I want to be reassured about is over the page, in subsection (6). The words used there seem at first sight, at any rate, to be far too sweeping and to enable the Secretary of State to circumvent all the conventions which have been established over the years about the procedures for offering land back to previous owners—the Crichel Down things—the rules, regulations and enactments which govern agreements about the development of land which is being disposed of; Section 52 et cetera. But perhaps the noble Baroness can reassure me that I am mistaken in this point. I think I must be, because the words seem far too sweeping. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

Under existing legislation it is doubtful whether the Secretary of State can acquire land compulsorily when he intends that its development for the public service shall be carried out by a third party; for example, a lessee under a building lease. The purpose of this subsection of the Bill is to remedy this deficiency. The Amendment would unjustifiably limit the Secretary of State's power to dispose of land (in order to secure the appropriate development of the land for the purpose for which it was acquired) to those cases where the original acquisition was by agreement; and it would destroy altogether the objectives of Part IV of the Bill if the Secretary of State were unable to dispose of unoccupied office premises he had acquired in order to secure that they were effectively used.

But having regard to part of the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, on Second Reading (col. 1087 of the Official Report) it seems that he may have misunderstood what Clause 37 is all about. I shall not take up the time of the Committee to read it; but the noble Lord knows what he said. He might well have gone on to read out the following words of the clause: and in particular may under this subsection dispose of land held by him for any purpose in order to secure the use of the land for that purpose". This is the nub of the subsection, the intention being to enable the Secretary to enter into leasing arrangements under which the development for public service purposes, or development for a mixture of public and private uses, would be carried out by a third party. Since the freehold would remain with the Government, such arrangements would be entirely consistent with the community land scheme.

There is no "anti-Crichel Down" motive. The Crichel Down policy for offering back to former owners agricultural land which is surplus to the requirements of the holding Department will continue to be applied. It would be odd indeed if the Secretary of State having acquired land compulsorily for public service development and found out that some of it was not needed, could not sell it back to the former owner even if that were the right and proper thing to do.

But, as I have said, the disposal power (apart from the Part IV aspect) is primarily designed to enable the public service development to be carried out by others if that would serve the interests of effective and efficient property management. I take it from the way the noble Lord moved it that this is a probing Amendment. I hope I have satisfied the noble Lord that there is no foundation for the motives he has ascribed to subsection (6). Really, it all boils down to the fact that the clause merely gives a disposal power to the Secretary of State; it is not in any way affecting how that power is exercised. The Crichel Down rules will continue to apply as they always have done.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord SANDYS moved Amendment No. 199A:

Page 38, line 14, at end insert— ("( ) The provisions of Schedule 4 to this Act shall not apply to the acquisition of land by the Crown under this section.'')

The noble Lord said: The proposal in Clause 37 greatly extends the power of the Secretary of State acting for the Crown to acquire land for the public service. The purpose of this Amendment is to disapply the provisions of Schedule 4 to the Act. We believe it should be a safeguard that there is a right to a public inquiry. If the noble Baroness can give us an assurance that this Amendment is unnecessary, I shall be happy to withdraw it. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

I can easily and readily give the noble Lord that assurance. The Amendment is unnecessary. Schedule 4 does not need to be disapplied from the acquisition of land under Clause 37, because it is already clear that none of its four parts applies.


Is not the answer that Schedule 4 applies only to acquisitions under Clause 15 of the Bill?

Baroness BIRK



I am much obliged to the noble Baroness and my noble friend. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 37 agreed to.

Clause 38 agreed to.


This Amendment went with Amendments Nos. 17, 75 and 181. It has already been discussed. I beg to move Amendment No. 200:

Amendment moved— After Clause 38, insert the following new clause:

Application of Act to Crown land

(1) Notwithstanding the Crown or Duchy interest—

  1. (a) a private interest in Crown land may, with the consent in writing of the appropriate authority, be acquired compulsorily under section 15 of this Act, and
  2. (b) sections 23 and 44 of this Act apply to a material interest in Crown land which is a private interest as they apply to a material interest in land which is not Crown land.

(2) In this section "Crown land" means land in which there is a Crown interest or a Duchy interest, and—

  1. (a) "Crown interest" means an interest belonging to Her Majesty in right of the Crown, or belonging to a government department, or held in trust for Her Majesty for the purposes of a government department,
  2. (b) "Duchy interest" means an interest belonging to Her Majesty in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, or belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall,
  3. (c) "private interest" means an interest which is not a Crown interest or a Duchy interest,
and "appropriate authority" in relation to Crown land shall be determined in accordance with section 266(7) of the Act of 1971, or section 253(7) of the Scottish Act of 1972.'—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Clause 39 [Grants to authorities who buy or rent Crown Land]:

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendments Nos. 201, 202 and 203:

Page 38, line 37, leave out from ("where") to end of line 41 and insert ("any interest in land is acquired from the Crown on or after the first appointed day—

  1. (a) by a local or new town authority, the Land Authority for Wales, the Peak Park Joint or Lake District Special Planning Board, or a joint board established under section 2 of this Act, or
  2. (b) by a body specified in an order made under this subsection by the Secretary of State with the consent of the Treasury.

An order under this subsection shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been approved by a resolution of the Commons House of Parliament.")

Page 39, line 2, leave out ("mentioned in subsection (1) above") and insert ("concerned")

Page 39, line 5, leave out from first ("the") to ("interest") in line 6 and insert ("body to the Crown in respect of the").

The noble and learned Lord said: It is intended that where authorities buy land from the Crown, the price they pay should correspond with what it would have cost them under the community land scheme if the land were in private hands—that is to say, market value less the amount of any development land tax payable by the vendor. But because the Crown will not be liable to pay development land tax Clause 39 makes special provision designed to achieve that result. The arrangement is that the acquiring authority will pay market value but will then receive, under the authority of Clause 39, a grant representing the amount of tax which would have been payable.

Clause 39(1) as it stands specifies bodies to whom the grant arrangements are to apply, but it may well be necessary to extend the coverage to other authorities who, under the Development Land Tax Bill, may be entitled to buy land net of tax. The effect of the Amendments is to enable the Secretary of State, with the consent of the Treasury and, subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure, to specify by order additional bodies to whom the grant arrangements may apply. The need for a power to specify additional bodies arises mainly from the timing of the Development Land Tax Bill since until that Bill is enacted there can be no certainty that the list of bodies to whom the grant provisions apply is complete. But even then there remains a possibility that future legislation may create new bodies which should benefit under the grant provision.

While the general undesirability of leaving matters of this kind to subordinate legislation is appreciated, it cannot be avoided in this instance: but the application of the Affirmative Resolution procedure secures full control by the House of Commons over the exercise of the power. The Orders require approval by the House of Commons only, because they fall within the privileges of that House. It is for that reason, too, that a Privilege Amendment will be needed regarding the Amendments. I beg to move.

Clause 39, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 40 [Exclusion of special Parliamentary procedure]:

Lord SANDYS moved Amendments Nos. 203A and 205A:

Page 39, line 26, after ("except") insert ("(i)")

Page 39, line 27, at end insert ("or (ii) where the interest belongs to a parish council or parish trustees of any parish in England or to any community council in Wales, and the interest is to be acquired for the purposes of any enactment other than this Act.")

The noble Lord said: I should like to take with Amendment 203A Amendment No. 205A, in view of the fact that Amendments Nos. 204 and 205 will not be moved by my noble friend Lord Sandford. With the agreement of the Committee, I would say that these two Amendments—the first being a paving Amendment to the second—are concerned with special Parliamentary procedure. The special Parliamentary procedure, as your Lordships will know, prevents the predatory instincts of county and district councils purchasing land belonging to local councils if they so wish. However, the existing protection will be abolished when the Bill becomes an Act, and it follows that protection of local councils would also be abolished. In view of the very brief terms in which the Amendment is expressed, it is self-explanatory and I shall not enlarge on it. However, my noble friend Lord Kinnoull may wish to do so. I beg to move.

The Earl of KINNOULL

I should like briefly to support my noble friend. He has put the case so ably that I do not really think I can add anything.


The effect of these Amendments, as I understand it, would be that the exclusion of the special Parliamentary procedure provided for in Clause 40 would not apply that is to say, the procedure would continue to apply to the compulsory purchase of interest in land belonging to parish or community councils in the circumstances set out in the Amendments. Having said that, I wonder whether that remains true after the withdrawal. I did not quite follow the withdrawals the noble Lord mentioned. Is he still maintaining Amendments Nos. 203A and 205A?


Those two Amendments I would be willing to withdraw on receiving assurances from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. However, we may wish to propose some Amendments on Report. I beg leave to withdraw these Amendments.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

6.34 a.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 206B.

Page 39, line 27, at end insert— ( ) Section 1(2)(c) of, and paragraph 12 of Schedule 1 to, the Act of 1946 (or as the case may be the Scottish Act of 1947) shall include after the words "site of an ancient monument or other object of archaeological interest "the words" or land within an outstanding conservation area or land designated in a National Park Plan as land requiring the protection afforded by this subsection or this paragraph as the case may be.".

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 206B. This relates to Clause 40, to which the rubric is Exclusion of special Parliamentary procedure. I have no objection at all to the exclusion of special Parliamentary procedure in respect of compulsory purchase orders relating to the land of statutory undertakers. We know that the Government feel that this will facilitate better use of disused land of statutory undertakers. I do not wish to revert to the argument we had about that, but while we are looking at the use of special Parliamentary procedures I believe we should consider whether there is any case where its use should be extended. I believe that there is. The provisions for special Parliamentary procedure are to be found in Part III of Schedule 1 to the Acquisition of Land Act 1946. From paragraph 12 of that Schedule we can see that special Parliamentary procedure is applied whenever a compulsory purchase order relates to the site of an ancient monument or other object of archaeological interest. I think that was right when the Bill was enacted in 1946, and is right today.

However, in 1946 the sites of ancient monuments were almost the only sites which had a special protective designation. Since 1946 we have developed a considerable number of further designations. We have started the process of listing historic buildings; we have designated national parks; we have designated outstanding natural beauty; we have designated heritage coasts, and have set about designating conservation areas. All those are sites, places and areas which have been given some special national significance. I should have thought that all of them were roughly on a par with sites of ancient monuments and deserved at least consideration for the same kind of protection and the use of special Parliamentary procedure.

Still more recently, at the instance of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and my noble friend Lord Molson in a debate in this House on an Amendment to the Water Resources Act, the use of special Parliamentary procedure was invoked in all cases where compulsory purchase orders were confirmed on behalf of water undertakers seeking to develop reservoirs and other things in national parks. So the use of special Parliamentary procedure has already been introduced in that special instance.

The object of my Amendment is to show by way of illustration two particular categories; namely, the outstanding conservation areas—there are only a limited number of them—and specially defined areas within national parks which could perhaps be accorded special Parliamentary procedure without going too far along the line. I would not want to press on the Government any particular categories at this stage, but if they would be prepared to accept either this Amendment, or the principle of it and try another one themselves, this would ensure that another place could look at this proposition and in the course of dealing with it decide which particular categories of all these designations it would be appropriate to accord the protection of special Parliamentary procedure.

I do not think we ought to let this opportunity go by without seeking a rather more rational situation than we have at the moment, which is protection for ancient monuments, because they happened to be the only designated sites in 1946, plus protection for those parts of national parks which are threatened by proposals from water undertakers. I am sure noble Lords will agree that this is a very ad hocand arbitrary state of affairs which we ought to try to put right. I beg to move.

6.39 a.m.

Baroness BIRK

Of course I well recognise the noble Lord's interest in this particular area, as it ties up with some recommendations in the Report of the National Park Policy Review Committee of which he was Chairman. It is true that the Report contained proposals for designation within national parks of national heritage areas. Here one would get the link with paragraph 12 of Schedule I to the Acquisition of Land Act, which applies special Parliamentary procedure in special circumstances where the land is the site of an ancient monument or other object of archaeological interest.

I imagine that this proposal is probably the foundation for the noble Lord's Amendment; but as the Report records, the review committee were equally divided on this proposal, with four members supporting it, and four against it, the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and one other member preferring to reserve their position. I must point out that the Amendment anticipates that the Government will accept the national heritage area proposal, whereas they have not yet published their views upon it or, indeed, upon any part of the Report. I am quite certain that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, must be feeling rather sad about this.

The Amendment is concerned with national park policy issues which have yet to be decided. I am sure that the noble Lord will appreciate that it would be quite wrong to write into this Bill any provisions which are based upon a forecast, or an assumption, or even an expectation or hope, that the policy decision might favour a particular point of view. Apart from that, the substance of the Amendment, which proposes to widen the range of categories attracting special Parliamentary procedure, is not germane to Clause 40. That clause proposes to exclude special Parliamentary procedure in cases where at present it applies, primarily in the interests of the community land scheme. The proper occasion for promoting further applications of the procedure is in legislation arising from the policies. I mentioned the national parks. This will depend upon the outcome of the Government's consideration which, as the Minister of State has recently announced, may be expected soon. The Amendment also mentions outstanding conservation areas. It is not clear whether these mean conservation areas as defined in the Town and Country Planning Act or areas of outstanding natural beauty as may be designated in development plans. In any event, whichever it may be, Clause 40 is not the occasion for considering the addition of these kinds of lands. 1 hope that the noble Lord will feel that, as he has made his point and ventilated something which needed ventilating, he need not press his Amendment.

6.43 a.m.


Certainly I shall not press the Amendment. In moving it I hope I have made it clear that I am not trying to pre-empt or to forestall the Government's decision about heritage areas. If that had been so, I should have used the term. I was seeking to point out to the Government that while they are dealing with the application of special Parliamentary procedure—as they are in Clause 40, although I agree that it is in terms of excluding it in certain cases—in a Bill which is dealing with land and the compulsory acquisition of land, they ought to look at Schedule 1 paragraph 12, to the Acquisition of Land Act, and take this opportunity to bring into the protection of paragraph 12 some other categories in addition to that of ancient monuments. It would be much better to have a separate clause in the Bill to deal with the extension of special Parliamentary procedure rather than its exclusion. I am not particularly "sold" on any particular category, either conservation areas or national parks. I leave it to the judgment of the Government to select which areas are appropriate. I am sure, however, that it is wrong to leave the protection applying to ancient monuments alone because they happened to be the only designated areas in 1946, and to leave us with the anomaly that it is only works of statutory water undertakers in national parks which invoke protection at the moment. That is an unsatisfactory position. We have the opportunity to put it right and I hope that the Government will take it. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 40 agreed to.


Before I call Amendment No. 206A, may I point out to the Committee that if this Amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 207D.

Clause 41 [Consent for disposals]:

6.45 a.m.

Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS moved Amendment No. 207D: Page 39, line 31, after ("(1)") insert ("Subject to subsection (1A) of this section,").

The noble Viscount said: This is a small point, but in the Local Government Act there is a power for a local authority to dispose of, and therefore deal with. very small areas of what is called public trust land. Often this takes the form of a small bit of common, which may be wanted for a minor road widening, and when the Committee realises that the maximum area is only 250 square yards it will be seen that this is not a large or important matter. Nevertheless, if they require to do so. it can be done only after local advertisement and consideration of objections which arise from that advertisement. It is a useful power which maybe is not used very often, but when it is required, it is useful.

I hope the Government will exempt this from the general withdrawal of the freedom to dispose without the consent of the Secretary of State, because I am afraid this will happen. Even if, having withdrawn—as the Bill does—the whole matter of the local authority being entitled to dispose of land on its own account, and having imposed a requirement that the Secretary of State shall consent to each disposal, the next thing will be for some general consents to be issued.

If a general consent was issued which coincided with the terms of Section 123(3) of the Local Government Act, I do not believe that that would necessarily allow the local authority to dispose of such land if there was a contentious case. It would still be possible, I believe, in those circumstances, for the terms of the general consent to withdraw it where the Secretary of State wished so to do, and thereby we would be back to the old system of a long delay and a possible public inquiry. I am suggesting that the Local Government Act thought it was safe to allow responsible local authorities to make these small disposals even when it was common land after considering locally objections that were made. If we want speed—and speed is sometimes very neccesary—we simply cannot afford to have the consent of the Secretary of State subjected first to a public inquiry system. I hope, therefore, in view of the very recent legislation granting these powers, that it will be possible for the Government to maintain them, and to leave the situation as it is. I beg to move.


I hope I have apprehended correctly what the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, had in mind. It is a problem of disposal of land under Section 123(3); that is to say, where it is under 250 square yards, and where the requirement as to advertising and the consideration of objections have been complied with. The noble Viscount is making the point that it would be wrong to impose a further obligation for the authority to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State under Clause 41.

The answer is that in practice there would be no real difficulty about getting consent under Clause 41 in such a case. While we cannot at this stage give a definite undertaking that such disposals will be covered by a general consent, because there may be other factors to be considered—for instance, the possibility, albeit remote, of the abuse if public trust land were to be parcelled up for freehold disposal over a period of time—I am told I can give a clear indication that normally such disposals will be able to go ahead as the amounts of land involved are de minimis.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. While not wishing to prolong this matter at this juncture, may I ask him whether he will look at this? I expected that that is what he would say, but will the general consents contain a power whereby in specific cases the Secretary of State still hangs on to the requirement to give consent himself?—because those will be the cases that cause the difficulty. Those are the ones that the local authority is now allowed to deal with on its own without interference from outside, but taking account of local objections, and those are the ones where one needs speed. The moment one gets the Secretary of State's requirement for the consent being reimposed, one will impose delays, public inquiries and an interminable protraction of the whole thing. That is what I want to avoid. Will the noble and learned Lord look at that, without saying anything about it today. so that perhaps we can come back to it later?


Most certainly, we will do that. We want an avoidance of situations like that, if possible.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.51 a.m.

Viscount RIDLEY moved Amendment No. 207: Page 39, line 33, after("land") insert ("which is for the time being entered in an account kept by them under section 42 of the Community Land Act 1975.")

The noble Viscount said: The whole question of the disposal of land is raised under this Amendment. This has given considerable worry to local authorities, and they regard it in many ways as totally unjustifiable interference with their powers to do as they wish under the Local Government Act 1972 and other Acts. Indeed, the Association of District Councils feel very strongly that this is a severe setback to their efforts to secure a greater measure of local discretion. This Amendment seeks to exclude from the Bill such land as is held before White Paper day; in other words, land which has been purchased for other purposes than development under this Bill, for road works, schools and so forth, and a multitude of other purposes which we do not feel should be subject to the permission of the Secretary of State for disposal in any way whatever. I referred to this on Second Reading and I have no intention of saying again what I said then. I think this is an important issue from the point of view of local authorities, and I beg to move.


The Government seem determined to control the sale of development land by local authorities, and we shall be discussing this later. But this clause refers to "any land", not just development land, not just land acquired under this Bill, but "any land". For instance, where a local authority wants to rationalise a smallholdings estate and wants to sell one field and to buy another, they do not have the power to do this without the permission of the Secretary of State. It is another case of Central Government removing the freedom of local government, and I can see no justification for it.

Baroness BIRK

The accounts kept by authorities under Clause 42 will not generally include land they acquired before the first appointed day. The only exception to this is land already acquired by authorities under the special £80 million loan sanction scheme for which special provision is to be made in the land accounts to allow authorities to offset part losses. That covers the point about "all land". We are well aware of the feelings of some local authorities.

The answer is that the controls are needed to ensure that local authorities conform uniformly with Government policy on disposals. A basic principle of that policy is that land for commercial or industrial development is to be disposed of on a leasehold basis with provision for regular rent revisions. The essence of leasehold tenure is that it enables the community to retain a share of future increases in value and to have a major say in the redevelopment of the land when the time comes. It is important also that authorities should be able to use their ownership powers to promote positive planning, which is a major objective of the land scheme.

While we are certainly prepared to look sympathetically at cases where authorities had already entered into commitments to dispose of the existing land holdings on certain terms, and feel morally bound to honour such commitments, there can be no general waiving of government policy as regards disposals of land acquired before the first appointed day, because it would be quite wrong and anomalous for authorities to continue to be free to dispose of certain land freehold for industrial and commercial development simply because they happened to have acquired it before the first appointed day, whereas in respect of all other land they would be bound by the provisions of Clause 41.

This is not a small matter. Many authorities already have large land holdings and it would be quite unjustifiable for these to be totally outside the scheme, as they would be under the Amendment. There is also the point that as the stage is reached when authorities become virtually the monopoly suppliers of development land, there may well be a need to make provision for some method of testing the market; for example, by competitive tender. For this to be effective it would have to apply across the board and it simply would not be feasible for these purposes to distinguish between land acquired after the first appointed day and land acquired before.

It is quite wrong to attempt, as the Amendment does, to make the provisions of Clause 41 conform to the requirements of Clause 42. Clause 42 is essentially concerned with the financing of the scheme, and as there are new accounting arrangements it is right that these should apply to land acquired after the first appointed day. But Clause 41 is concerned with the way in which authorities dispose of this land in the light of Government policy on public ownership, and that policy applies equally regardless of when the land was acquired. I am sorry that this had to be such a long explanation, but it is an important point and I felt that the Committee deserved a full explanation of the Government's policy.

Viscount RIDLEY

I am afraid I do not find that a satisfactory answer. I was under the impression that in another place the Government gave an assurance that existing land holdings would be excluded from the Acts and thus from the schemes under the Bill. I have not found anywhere in the Bill before us that this is the case. I am unable to say whether Amendment No. 207F, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, is more acceptable or less, but it covers very much the same point. With the reservation that we shall return to this subject when we reach No. 207F, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.57 a.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 207A; Page 39, line 33, at end insert ("except land for non-relevant development")

The noble Earl said: I should like to ask, in moving Amendments Nos. 207A and 207C, whether in this case the Secretary of State's consent is required even where land is being disposed of for non-relevant development. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

I hope the noble Earl will not be pressing this. The Amendments are defective, because not only would they free land for non-relevant development from the controls imposed by Clause 41, but they would also free it from all existing statutory controls, including the provision of Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 and the corresponding Scottish provision. I do not think this is what the noble Earl intended, but this would be the effect of his Amendment. As the main argument of principle as to why Clause 41 covers all land is exactly on the lines on which I answered the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, I will not go over that again. In particular, it will be necessary to ensure that land for commercial or industrial development is disposed of on a leasehold basis. Land for housing will continue to be available freehold to owner-occupiers. We are continuing to discuss with various representative bodies our proposals with respect to the length of leases and the need for regular rent revisions.

It is also important that the private sector should know that there are clear guide lines controlling the manner in which local authorities make land available, so that they will have the confidence to continue to invest in land and to make their forward plans. For all these reasons it is important for the Secretary of State to retain overall control over local authority land transactions, regardless of the type of development for which the land is being made available. This of course does not mean that local authorities will have constantly to go to the Secretary of State for consent in every case. Wide-ranging general consents will be given, but the controls must apply to all land, not least because the concept of leasehold disposal, other than for housing, is a fundamental element in the Government's philosophy of community ownership. I have rather abbreviated this reply, but I am sure the noble Earl will understand the main points I have made.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I may be a little dimwitted at this hour and, although I was not very pleased with the noble Baroness's reply, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.1 a.m.

Baroness YOUNG moved Amendment No. 207F:

Leave out Clause 41 and insert the following new Clause— ("—(1)The Principal Council shall not dispose of any material interest acquired in any land under the terms of this Act, except as prescribed by the Secretary of State by regulations. (2) These regulations shall not be made unless a draft of the regulations has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.")

The noble Baroness said: I tabled this Amendment, because it seemed that this might be a way of getting over the dilemma of the difficulties that local authorities find themselves in over the provisions in Clause 41 with regard to the disposal of land. Local authorities mind very much that they do not have this freedom to dispose of land, as they feel they should have, even in the restricted form of Amendment No. 206A which we were discussing earlier and which proposed that a principal council might dispose of a material interest in land. It seemed to me that by putting the clause in this form it would give discretion to local authorities, but at the same time it would be a discretion limited by regulations prescribed by the Secretary of State and in this way we could get freedom for local authorities and the Secretary of State could state the limits. I appreciate that there could be cases where it would be necessary for the Secretary of State, to intervene, and therefore I think it right that these limits should be stated in regulations. I will not pursue this argument at this hour in the morning, but I hope that at least the Government will view this Amendment sympathetically.


I will not weary the Committee at this hour with the technical defects in the Amendment, especially as there are more substantial objections to it in practical terms. All previous statutory provisions concerning controls over local authority land transactions have been couched in terms of the need to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State, or the appropriate Minister, and have made no provision for control by regulations. In this respect, Clause 41 is merely following well-established precedent. But there are also good practical reasons why these matters cannot be dealt with by regulations. Circumstances on land transactions tend to vary widely between one sale and another and it is not the case that all transactions fall into a uniform pattern. There are often special factors to be taken into account which arise out of the nature of the transaction. It would, therefore, not be practicable to frame regulations which would cover every case. Flexibility is essential and this can be achieved only through the framework of consents. General consents can be given which will cover the vast majority of transactions, but where the particular nature of a transaction requires that special factors be taken into account, then the case can be looked at on its merits and consent given if it is appropriate to do so within the terms of the overall policy on disposals.

The general principles which will inform the Secretary of State's use of his Dowers under Clause 41 have already been made known and consultation is still continuing with interested bodies. The basic policy is that land for commercial or industrial development is to be disposed of on a leasehold basis with provision for regular rent revisions. The essence of leasehold tenure is that it enables the community to retain a share of future increases in value and to have a major say in the redevelopment of the land when the time comes. It is important that authorities should be able to use their ownership powers to promote positive planning, which is a major objective of the land scheme.

We accept also that the private sector should know that there are clear guidelines controlling the manner in which local authorities make land available under the scheme so that they will have the confidence to continue to invest in land and to make their forward plans. We will therefore ensure not only that there is full consultation with all interested bodies, including the local authority associations but also that guidance on the basic principles of disposals policy is made available to developers and local authorities alike. I am afraid that the Amendment, as it stands, is unacceptable.

Baroness YOUNG

I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for explaining the Government's view. One of the difficulties which he described was the fact that there might not be a uniform pattern throughout the country. We are of course perfectly aware that different situations will arise in different areas in relation to the disposal of land. This is not something which can be uniform and there must be a flexible approach. That is why we are suggesting that this should be done by regulations which could, of course, prescribe the kind of circumstances which might apply in different places. I should have thought that flexibility could be brought about in that way rather than by the Secretary of State having to give consent to a disposal in every case. That would make everything move extremely slowly and, on a matter which everybody has acknowledged as being of crucial importance to the working of the Bill, far from having a system which would work effectively, this would work very slowly indeed.

I do not find the noble and learned Lord's answer very satisfactory or appealing, but I feel that this is something which I should like to consider and return to at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 41 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness BIRK

This seems to me to be the right moment to cover a point which was raised earlier. My noble friend Lord Melchett explained during the discussion on Schedule 6 that my right honourable friend was considering, in the light of representations made by interested bodies and of recommendations made by the Pilcher Group, the question of the length of leases to be permitted when land was disposed of for commercial and industrial development. I can now give a clearer indication on this than was possible at the time when the point was raised.

My right honourable friend agrees with the view that 60 years is too short. He is contemplating providing that local authorities would, in the normal course of affairs, have discretion under the terms of the general consents to grant leases of up to 99 years. Where there is a good case, longer leases would be considered, but those would require the specific consent of the Secretary of State on a case by case basis.

Baroness YOUNG

I should like to thank the noble Baroness for giving us that information. I feel that this is also a matter which we should like to study and, if necessary, return to on Report.

Clause 41 agreed to.

Clause 42 [Accounts and records]:

7.9 a.m.

Viscount RIDLEY moved Amendment No. 210:

Page 41, line 14, at end insert— ("(2A) The expenditure of any authority in providing infrastructure required in connection with the development of land under the provisions of this Act shall be Debited in the accounts.")

The noble Viscount said: This Amendment would seek to probe the possibility that an authority, in assembling land for development, should be allowed to debit to the land tribunal some of the costs of infrastructure which are relevant to land which is not within the site concerned. I hope that that is as clear as it can be at this hour of the morning.

Section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, which I now understand to be still in existence, though I see very little incentive for a developer to take part in it, would have allowed that access roads and so forth could be charged towards the costs of development. The problem is that if this is not done, there is a great danger that land could be assembled and could be developed, but that the necessary access would have to be provided by some other source; for example, from the rates. In my opinion, and in the opinion of other experts, this could lead to piecemeal development which is not what we are looking for; nor is it in accordance with the Government's ideas. Therefore, this Amendment seeks to see that the necessary off-site costs could be included in the community land account; in other words, paid for out of the profits which are expected and are supposed to arise. This is an improvement, and it is meant to be a constructive improvement, and I hope that the Government will give their views on the Amendment. I beg to move.


There have of course been discussions between the Department of the Environment and the local authority associations over what infrastructure costs might be allowable. The Government's view is that they should be limited to on-site costs only. After all, that has been the rule for a long time with the closely analogous Housing Revenue Account, and the principle was reaffirmed by the last Administration of noble Lords opposite with the enactment of the Housing Finance Act. As the noble Viscount has intimated, the local authority associations have argued for a wider definition and I wish to put forward the three main objections which the Government have.

First, once the definition is taken beyond on-site costs, there is great difficulty in drawing a clear dividing line in the right place. This is shown clearly by the present Amendment, which would go very wide indeed, covering everything that could possibly in some part be attributed to the new development, even if it would have been needed anyway for some other reasons. Secondly, anything that is not an on-site cost is really a cost incurred in respect of the general development or amenity of the area concerned. For instance, any development will obviously place demands on transport services and facilities, schools, hospitals and health facilities, public open space, and so on. But these are very rarely specific to a particular development; they are wider local amenities. In other words, they are a proper charge on the rates. They are precisely the kind of expenditure that ought to be covered by rates, and for which local authorities are indeed empowered to raise rates.

Thirdly, it has been argued, and indeed local authorities have raised this point with the Department, that wider infrastructure costs ought to be allowable, because in the past it has often been possible to persuade developers to meet off-site infrastructure costs in return for the granting of planning permission, thus avoiding a charge on the rates. It is argued that the land scheme and development land tax will now prevent this. But this relies on past experience when, unfortunately, circumstances have changed.

It is true that at the height of the land boom a few years ago, developers regarded such payments as a small price to pay in order to bring land into development and make massive profits by so doing. I think all noble Lords will accept that conditions today are very different, and it is unlikely that local authorities would have very much success in persuading developers to make contributions to off-site infrastructure costs. These costs now fall as a perfectly legitimate charge on the rates, and it is our view that that is a situation which should continue.

Viscount RIDLEY

Although I am not satisfied, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.14 a.m.

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 210A: Page 41, line 18, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Earl said: It is stated in Clause 42(4): Where any item debited to an account kept under this section has been defrayed by borrowing, the authority shall not be required…to make any annual provision for the repayment of the capital. They must borrow the capital from somewhere, and this is something which I should like to know. I beg to move.


Normally, where authorities borrow money for public purposes they are required to make annual provision to cover both interest charges and the repayment of a part of the outstanding capital, but there are certain circumstances where this is not so. The most important case is where a project is expected to show a profit over a period of time and that profit will be more than sufficient to repay both the original capital and the accumulated interest charges. In such circumstances, authorities are allowed not to repay any capital and to capitalise the interest charges until these can be repaid out of the profits. There is a precedent for this approach in a field closely analogous to the land scheme—the financing of town centre redevelopment schemes by local authorities, with which I am sure the noble Earl is familiar. So a number of local authorities have been carrying out the kind of functions which authorities will now be carrying out under the land scheme in this way, and it is therefore appropriate, in our view, that the land scheme should be financed in the same way as those have been.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 42 agreed to.

Clause 43 [Community land surplus accounts]:

7.16 a.m.

Lord HENLEY moved Amendment No. 211C: Page 42, line 9, leave out ("So much of").

The noble Lord said: I believe that this Amendment would resolve a conflict which I regard as a very serious one. Under the Bill as it stands, local authorities are both planners and developers, and I think the pressure on them from the ratepayers, and indeed within themselves, to make planning decisions which would be rejected on purely planning grounds, and to do so because there is substantial financial gain to be made from them, is too great. I think my Amendment overcomes this without doing any damage to the philosophy of the Bill. The effect of my Amendment—and it should be read together with No. 212A —would be that the paragraph, which is on page 42 in subsection (2) of Clause 43, would read like this: Any surplus in a community lend surplus account shall be paid by the authority to the Secretary of State. That is to say, instead of the money going in part to the local authority which generated the profit, it would all go to the Secretary of State. Now the Secretary of State can give it back to whoever he likes. He can give it back to the authority which generated it; he can give it back to any authority which is in need. But it cuts out the difficulty, as I see it, of the conflict within the local authority through being under pressure to make bad plan ning decisions for financial gain. I beg to move.


As the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has said, these two Amendments would overturn the arrangements for the sharing of surpluses between central and local government which were agreed even before the Bill was introduced. The reasoning behind the arrangements is that Central Government should receive a share in recognition of the tax it is losing in allowing authorities to buy land net of development land tax. But the major share of 60 per cent. will go to local government. Half of this will stay with the originating authority—after all, it will be that authority which will have done the work which created the surpluses —and the other half will initially be shared between authorities which have not yet come into surplus pro rata to their deficits. As the noble Lord has said, the Amendments would not prevent the Secretary of State from merely paying back to the authorities the share that they would have got under the Bill as it is presently drafted, but that seems to me, if I may say so, a very cumbersome way of going about things and I am quite certain that it would not be felt to be acceptable to the local authorities.

As I say, the Amendments would upset arrangements which have been agreed with the local authority associations—and with the Treasury, it might be worth adding; and with some difficulty—and they would also, of course, leave no financial incentive with the authorities actually operating the scheme to press ahead and operate it in the most effective way. I think that this is wrong in principle so far as we on this side are concerned. I cannot accept the noble Lord's lack of faith in local authorities: that just because they are going to gain some financial reward they are going to behave in a way which I think would be quite out of character with local government in this country.


I reject all the arguments jut forward by the noble Lord. It is wrong to suggest that I have a lack of faith in the local authorities in this matter. Local authorities are no different from human beings: they arc under great pressure and they give way to it as often as not. Everyone knows that. Nor do I think it removes any incentive to press on and develop land as it should be developed. On the other hand, it ensures that decisions are taken with regard to planning and that they are not taken with regard to financial incentives.

I do no think it is in the least cumbersome—another of the noble Lord's points. It is simplicity itself. The money goes directly to the Secretary of State. I am sure that this is what the Treasury would have liked in the first place and the Secretary of State then decides who should best have it. If he feels that the local authority which engendered the financial gain should have it all, he can give it to them; or he can spread it out to those authorities who need it.

I accept the fact that it overturns an agreement already arrived at—and I accept that one does not want to overturn agreements already arrived at: but I feel it is wrong in principle that financial gain should be divided in this way —and I feel that my Amendment in no way cuts across the philosophy of the Bill. It is not a wrecking Amendment, but finds a solution to a most unfortunate conflict.

I should not dream of pressing this Amendment because I know that I should not get support from many noble Lords who were party to the orginal agreement. Nevertheless, I hope that the Government will bear it in mind. I am certain that what I said about the pressures on local authorities were not unfair remarks on the local authorities or on anyone else.


Before the noble Lord withdraws the Amendment, may I make a point that I did not make before. I accept that there is a danger if one gives local authorities too great a financial incentive; but I think the financial sharing arrangements which have been agreed strike the right balance. I hope that the noble Lord might give consideration to that. It is also quite clear that local authorities will not simply be able to ride roughshod over the planning system to line their own pockets. The scheme is designed to be a tool of planning. Clause 17 makes it clear that the scheme must be operated within the framework of planning in each authority's area.


I have made my point at both Second Readings and I have made it again now because I think it is important. Having done that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount RIDLEY moved Amendment No. 212B: Page 42, line 10, after ("account") insert ("but not exceeding 60 per cent.")

The noble Viscount said: We have already discussed this. It is the division of the spoils, the "carving up of the lolly", however one may put it. The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, answered the noble Lord, Lord Henley, more effectively than I could have done at this hour. Here my noble friend Lord Sandford and I are seeking to redistribute slightly the share of the surplus. The agreement which the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, says has been reached I was not aware was unanimously agreed by the local authority associations. I may be wrong. It was that 40 per cent. goes to the Exchequer, 30 per cent. to equalisation between the authorities in deficit, with which 30 per cent. I would not quarrel. Only 30 per cent. reverted to the authority making the development. I think that is the wrong way round; I am directly contrary to the noble Lord, Lord Henley. My noble friend and I feel that 40 per cent. should go to the authority making the development on the grounds the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, has already advanced. I beg to move.


Obviously, there are two views and I am attempting, as always, to strike a reasonable compromise on the matter. To deal with the question of the Exchequer share, the local authority associations have accepted that there is a case for an Exchequer share. A substantial proportion of the infrastructure costs which are essential to the carrying out of development fall on Central Government, either because they themselves provide facilities, for example, motorways) or through the rate support grant. It also needs to be borne in mind that the scheme will lead to some loss of tax revenue compared with the present situation, at first because authorities will be buying net of development land tax, and later because virtually all development value will accrue to them through purchase at current use value. It may be wise, having obtained this amount from the Treasury, not to interfere with the arrangements. That would be my advice to the noble Viscount.

Viscount RIDLEY

I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.27 a.m.

Viscount RIDLEY moved Amendment No. 214D:

Page 42, line 12, at end insert— ("( ) In the event of the total of all deficits in all community land surplus accounts being less than 30 per cent, of the total of all surpluses, the total payments to the Secretary of State under subsection (2) shall not exceed the said total of all deficits plus 30 per cent. of the total of all surpluses.")

The noble Viscount said: This Amendment seeks to make sure about the 30 per cent, when the deficits are extinguished. I hope that is clear and that it is clearer to the Committee than it is to me. I beg to move.


I expected to have to answer a string of Amendments on this matter. I am at a loss to discover the particular point on Amendment 214D. The noble Viscount has not given me much assistance!

Viscount RIDLEY

Amendment No. 214E is part of it.


If anything, that makes matters worse! My understanding of Amendments Nos. 214, 214D and 214E is that they would allow for redistribution in line with the Government's proposals in the early years, but would make no provision for redistribution when all land account deficits had been eliminated. At that stage it will still be true that some authorities have far greater surpluses than some others. The need for redistribution will still be there. These are flexible arrangements, and this is something which the Secretary of State could consider at the time.

Viscount RIDLEY

I am grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord CASTLE had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 214B: Page 42, line 13, leave out ("Subject t subsection (4) below, the") and insert ("The).

The noble Lord said: In view of the gracious way in which the Front Bench have dealt with the other Amendments under this heading, I feel it would be the desire of my noble friend Lord Pitt of Hampstead not to move this Amendment.

Clause 43 agreed to.

Clause 44 [Disposal of land at direction of Secretary of State]:

Baroness BIRK moved Amendments Nos. 216 and 217:

page 43, line 9, leave out ("or of").

page 43, line 14. leave out ("or of").

The noble Baroness said: If I may, I will take these two Amendments together. Their effect would be to limit the powers of the Secretary of State to direct disposal under Clause 44 to the disposal of a material interest in any land included in the land account. The purpose of the Amendments is merely to correct a technical drafting defect. Land by itself is often understood to mean the freehold and interest in land together with leasehold. All the clause tries to say is that the Secretary of State can direct the disposal of either a leasehold or freehold. However, "material interest" is defined as covering both freeholds and leaseholds, so it is not necessary to refer to both land and material interests in the clause. The Amendments simply delete the unnecessary words.


My noble friend spoke to this Amendment with Amendment No. 17. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 43, leave out lines 23 to 25.—[Lord Melchett.]

Clause 44, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 45 agreed to.

Clause 46 [Certification of appropriate alternative development]:

The Earl of BALFOUR moved Amendment No. 2181: Page 44, line 6, leave out from ("and") to ("shall") in line 8.

The noble Earl said: This Amendment does not concern only my own opinion. It has been raised by the Writers to the Signet in Scotland and it concerns the insertion of Section 49 (3) of the Land Compensation Act 1963 and Section 172 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1973, neither of which are in any way appropriate here. Your Lordships will see that Section 17 and 25 of the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act are amended in Schedule 9. You will be aware of how Section 25 will be amended under Part II. For the sake of brevity, I shall read to your Lordships what Section 179(2) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act says; which is: In the term local planning authority', whenever it occurs in any enactment or instrument made under any enactment, the word local' should be omitted. So I would say that this has nothing whatever to do with the Bill, and I beg to move.


I am very sorry to have to disappoint the noble Earl, but my understanding is that there have been two changes: one in Section 49(3) of the Land Compensation Act 1963 and another in the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Schedule 9 merely incorporates both sets of changes, and the Amendment would just remove from the Bill the explanation of why the Schedule differs in these respects from Section 25 of the 1963 Act. I hope that in the light of that explanation the noble Earl will see fit to withdraw his Amendment.

The Earl of BALFOUR

I think I understand now, and I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 46 agreed to.

Clause 47 [Powers of Secretary of State]:

7.35 a.m.

Baroness BIRK moved Amendment No. 218BB:

Page 45, leave out lines 25 to 38 and insert— ("(41 The Secretary of State shall not make the order except after holding a public local inquiry unless the authority from whom the functions are to be transferred have consented to the making of the order: and an order made after such an inquiry has been held shall he subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.")

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I will take Amendments Nos. 218BB and 218CC together. Briefly, at Commons Report stage the Opposition argued that an authority from which functions were being transferred should have an absolute right to a public inquiry if they so wished. At the time, the Government thought that in some circumstances a hearing might be sufficient and that the holding of a public inquiry should be left to the Secretary of State's discretion. However, they agreed to consider the point and, on reflection, we think the Opposition is right and the safest course is to provide for public inquiry in all circumstances where an authority objects to the making of a transfer. Amendment No. 218BB does this and thus brings Clause 47 into line with the provisions of Clause 2 on joint boards. Amendment No. 218CC deletes the previous provisions. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

I beg to move Amendment No. 218CC.

Amendment moved—

Page 46, line 22, leave out from ("day") to end of line 31.—(Baroness Birk.)

On Question, Whether Clause 47, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


I do not want to spoil the atmosphere of cosy consensus between the two Front Benches that we should finish with this Committee stage as quickly as possible but I should like to ask one of the noble Lords speaking on behalf of the Government whether he can give the Committee some indication of how the powers in Clause 47 are paralleled elsewhere, whether in planning legislation or in any other legislation. Having said that, I shall sit down and listen.

Baroness BIRK

It is, as I understand it, usual to have reserve powers. They go through most of our legislation in some form or another. In this case the operation of the LAMS scheme in both England and Scotland will depend on the ability and willingness of local authorities to press ahead with the job within available resources. The phasing of the introduction of the scheme will take account of the capability of, and the resources available to, local authorities. Because of this Bill, the planning benefits that will flow from the operation of the scheme, and the fact that it will provide a way in which development values can accrue to the local community, it is expected that there will generally be a willingness to acquire land for private development. These reserve powers parallel those—I have had this confirmed—of the Secretary of State under the planning Act. If the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, wanted just an answer to that question, that is the answer. But if he wants a further explanation, as he was moving to delete Clause 47, I will give it to him but I will not hold up the Committee if he is quite satisfied.


I understood that one of the purposes of Committees was to have explanations, but I also understand that that is not the general will of the Committee now. So I will not ask for more now, and I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Clause 47, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 48 to 52 agreed to.

7.40 a.m.


Amendment No. 218DD will apply the provisions of Section250 of the Local Government Act 1972, which deals with public inquiry procedures, and the equivalent Scottish provision to all local public inquiries held under the provisions of the Bill. It corrects an oversight in drafting. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

After Clause 52, insert the following new clause.

Local Inquiries

52A. Section 250 of the Local Government Act 1972 or section 210 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 shall extend to any public local inquiry held under this Act."—[The Lord Chancellor.]

Clauses 53, 54 and 55 agreed to.

Schedule 10 [Minor and consequential amendments):

The Earl of BALFOUR

I beg to move Amendment No. 218W.

Amendment moved—

Page 88, line 18, after ("suit") insert (",or in Scotland the instance").—[The Earl of Balfour.]

Baroness BIRK

This Amendment is consequential upon other Amendments that were accepted and we accept this Amendment.

Baroness BIRK moved Amendments Nos. 218EE, 218FF, 218GG and 218HH:

Page 90, line 30, at end insert ("in") Line 32, leave out ("shall cease to have effect") and insert ("for the words from 'that' to the end there shall be substituted the words 'at the beginning of the period of twenty-one days ending with the date of the application, no person (other than the applicant) was the owner of any of the land to which the application relates'.")

Page 91, line 10, after ("tenants") insert ("in") Line 11, leave out ("shall cease to have effect") and insert ("for the words from 'that' to the end there shall be substituted the words 'at the beginning of the period of twenty-one days ending with the date of the application, no person (other than the applicant) was the owner of any of the land to which the application relates'").

The noble Baroness said: All of these Amendments deal with the same technical and drafting points. Section 27 of the 1971 Act and Section 24 of the Scottish Act of 1972 provide that a local planning authority shall not entertain an application for planning permission unless it is accompanied by one of four certificates prescribed in the section.

The amendment of these provisions in paragraphs 6 and 7 of Schedule 10, together with the consequential repeals in Schedule 11, were designed to ensure that only the owner of a material interest would be notified of a planning application for land in which he had an interest, but by removing the first of the four certificates which covers the case of a person owning all interests in the land the Bill as drafted might have prevented such an owner from being able to make a valid planning application. The Amendments rectify this situation.

The period of 21 days mentioned in the substantive Amendments Nos. 218FF and 218HH gives the applicant time to complete his inquiries, and his form, without having to make a last minute check on ownerships. This period is precedented in Section 27(1)(b) of the 1971 Act and the equivalent Scottish provision.

This is a minor and technical amendment to the existing provisions of the Bill, and we hope that it will commend itself to noble Lords opposite, as its intention is to clarify the position.

Schedule 10, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 11 [Repeals]:

Baroness BIRK

I have already spoken to Amendment No. 218II. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 92, column 3, leave out line 24.— (Baroness Birk.)

7.45 a.m.

Lord CASTLE moved Amendment No. 218KK: Page 92, line 24, after ("Section 27(1)(a)") insert ("In section 52(1), dental and consequential"").

The noble Lord said: I am told that noble Lords opposite have been so good in the last few minutes that I will not attempt to prolong this discussion and so keep noble Lords from their breakfast or lunch. But we return here to a matter we discussed earlier, which is the restrictive nature of Section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. The purpose of this Act seems to be to prevent the main impact of an agreement between a council and a private developer, or private person of any kind, from having as its main purpose a financial consideration. This seems to be unnecessarily restrictive, and when the matter was discussed in another place the Minister gave an undertaking to enter into the fullest possible consultations with the GLC on the matter. I can give the reference if necessary for the appropriate column of Hansard. In view of that, perhaps the noble and learned Lord who is to reply would be able to give some assurance that the matter is still open.


I am sorry at the close of our proceedings to say that it is not open. We discussed this at an earlier point of time, and I there adumbrated the reason why it is the view of the Government, as Section 52 agreements are about planning, that we would not want them to be used for achieving purely financial ends. I expressed the view then that the powers available to the relevant authorities under Section 52 and Section 111 are satisfactory for the fulfilment of their functions and the performance of their duties under the relevant statutory provisions, including that of the Community Land Bill, if and when it becomes the law of the land.


Despite the somewhat unsatisfactory reply of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, I feel entitled to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness BIRK

I beg to move Amendment No. 218JJ.

Amendment moved—

Page 92, column 3, leave out line 30.—(Baroness Birk.)

Schedule 11, as amended, agreed to.


This may be the opportunity for me to express gratitude for the fact that we have accomplished the great labours on the Committee stage of this Bill before the appointed time. May I say that all noble lords have admired the enormous survival, strength and continuing abilities of the two noble Baronesses who have distinguished themselves throughout these long debates. It is a formidable accomplishment, and, if I may say so, a very fitting thing to have taken place in International Women's Year. It is really an arduous ordeal, and we are very grateful to them, and congratulate them.

May we thank also the occupants of the Chair, who have also laboured through the night. May I also express our gratitude to those who have maintained the facilities available for those of us who have been able to escape to enjoy a hearty and admirable breakfast. It really has been quite an enjoyable 24 hours.

Baroness YOUNG

I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord for his very kind remarks, and take the opportunity of saying that although it would not really be quite true to say we have enjoyed all this Committee stage, we have throughout appreciated his continual good humour. I must say that we shall all go away with a wonderful collection of anecdotes.

The PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie)

May I express my thanks to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on behalf of the Lord Chairman and my colleagues.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.