§ Report stage resumed.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 5:
§ Page 4, line 25, at end insert—
§ (" ( ) The powers conferred by paragraph (a) of subsection (1) above shall only be exercised in respect of agricultural or forestry land when the Board proposes to change the use of such lands to other purposes.")503
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment inserts a new subsection into the Bill and also gives an opportunity to Her Majesty's Government to put beyond question the sincerity of their twice-repeated statement that they have no intention of embarking on agriculture, horticulture or forestry. In the remarks that follow, it is not necessary for me to refer specifically to horticulture because we shall shortly be taking an Amendment in which a definition of " agriculture " is proposed which includes the definition of " horticulture ". I should be grateful if your Lordships would understand the term as including both.
§ On Committee stage we emphasised, and I think persuaded Her Majesty's Government to agree with us to some extent, that there was a need to secure the confident co-operation of the agricultural and forestry community which the terms of this Bill are intended to protect and advance. The price of doing this is to exclude from the Bill any power for the Board to compete with them in their own activities or to regulate those activities by regulation. On Committee stage, we excluded such activities specifically from paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of this clause, and the only plausible objection in my view to such a course, advanced by noble Lords opposite. was that on occasion such activities were necessary as, for instance, when a block purchase of development land was necessary in advance of the development of parts of it. I accept that where it is necessary to buy 5,700 or 5,000 acres for purposes of development and only 2½, 250 or 2,500 acres are called into use by the contractors and developers at any one time, the remainder cannot properly be left to degenerate into a wilderness. But this should not be an excuse for the undertaking of acts of husbandry on a commercial scale for other reasons. We now therefore table a revised Amendment which specifically admits the use of the powers granted in paragraph (a) of this subsection only where it is necessary to do so in order to preserve the nature and the amenity of an area that is in agriculture, because the use of the whole of it is intended by the Board to be changed.
My Lords, paragraph (a) at present empowers the Board
to acquire, hold, manage, develop and dispose of land or other property;
§ and the Amendment lays down that where such powers are used in respect of agricultural or forestry land, they can only be exercised with a view to the change of use of that land. Therefore, it will not be open to the Board to farm land in perpetuity: it will be open to it to manage land for agricultural and forestry purposes when it has had to purchase more than necessary to satisfy its immediate needs.
§ There remain other loopholes in Clause 3(1) in which the Board might become engaged in the commercial growing of crops. We have already discussed paragraph (g) in extenso, and paragraph (h) may also be called in aid. While we accept the sincerity of the protestations of Her Majesty's Government that they had no such intentions, we feel that as these amount to a political undertaking, they should make sure that there is a political means of seeing they are honoured by entrusting the task to a politician in charge. Amendment No. 6, therefore, which your Lordships might care to consider at the same time, lays down that any decision to embark on such a course shall be subject, under subsection (4), to approval by the Secretary of State.
§ Acceptance of these Amendments will in no way circumscribe the proper functions of the Board. It will do much to allay fears, which, however groundless, are very real, as to the long-term intentions of the Government for the operations of this Board, which may be the responsibility of other Governments totally unforeseen by us in the next 10 or 15 years. It will be welcomed, therefore, by us. Noble Lords opposite will find it difficult in the extreme to persuade me that this is not the appropriate stage to improve the Bill in this manner. I beg to move.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, may I begin by emphasising that the whole purpose, the whole approach, behind the proposals in this Bill is the need to supplement the economic development of the towns and villages in rural Wales, and not to intervene in the agricultural and forestry industries of the area. That is well understood in Mid Wales. It will be well and truly appreciated by the members of the Board. When the Consultation Document in relation to these proposals was issued, outlining the Government's intention that 505 the Board should not engage in agriculture, forestry and fishing activities, that was publicised and known. Indeed, on behalf of the Government and the Secretary of State I repeated that at the Committee stage, and I repeat now that it is not intended that the Board should acquire land for the purpose of engaging in farming.
§ I quite understand the concern which has led the noble Lord to put down these Amendments, but in order to assure him that there will be, so to speak, political controls to restrain any future intention to engage in farming, and in order to be sure that the farming community is protected from any attempt by the Board to engage in the restructuring of agriculture or farming for its own sake, I invite the House to note, first, that the Board must submit the proposals it has in mind to the Secretary of State for his approval under the provisions of Clause 2(1)(b). If proposals to take over or engage upon agricultural or forestry or horticulture were contemplated, there is no doubt whatsoever of the response that such proposals would receive from the Secretary of State.
§ Secondly, the power conferred on the Board to acquire land is a power to acquire land with the approval of the Secretary of State where land is acquired by agreement, and only if authorised by the Secretary of State where land is acquired compulsorily. There will be the customary public inquiries and other protections in regard to compulsory acquisitions. But in either case the Secretary of State would clearly wish to know the reasons for the purchase, and it is inconceivable, in the light of the public and authoritative statements that have been made, that there would be a departure from the real purpose of the setting up of the Board. Finally, the Secretary of State has the power to give directions to the Board should either of those two checks on the activity of the Board in one way or other not be applied.
§ Therefore, I invite the House to take the view that there are these safeguards. The whole point of the setting up of the Board is, as I said at the beginning, to supplement the economic development of towns and villages. There is no intention of intervening in the agricultural life there, the 506 farming. Accordingly, I hope in the light of the provisions of the Bill and the assurances that I repeat once again, the noble Lord will feel content not to press the proposed Amendments which he has moved.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, I am sure we are all very grateful for the eloquent way in which the noble and learned Lord, and indeed others, have sought to calm and in some way allay our fears on behalf of the agricultural and forestry industries, if I can call them that, in rural Wales. But I must say that, despite the eloquence of today's words by the noble and learned Lord, my fears are not entirely stilled. We all agree that for all sorts of development in rural Wales there needs to be such a thing as a land bank for development. The noble and learned Lord referred to towns and villages, and one might need to take agricultural land to ensure that the towns and villages should be placed on a viable footing, with regard to housing, possibly light industry, recreational building and things of this nature. Of course, we agree that land would need to be taken for this, and that the Development Board, or indeed local authorities, would need to build up what we call a land bank. I think these points have been covered in earlier stages of the Bill, and certainly by I my noble friend Lord Elton.
Nevertheless, as the Bill stands at present, I and others of my friends on these Benches believe that agriculture and horticulture may well be harmed —we do not say it will be, but it may be—as opposed to being encouraged, as so eloquently set out by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. They have stressed that everything in this Bill seeks to encourage forestry and agriculture as an integral part of rural Wales. We accept their good wishes, but we are not entirely convinced that the Bill as it stands does indeed cover every aspect of this encouragement that we would wish to see.
We agree that there is nothing in the Bill as it stands to preclude the setting up of a land bank, which, of course, is a laudable concept. Possibly I could give your Lordships one example of what we have in mind. There might well be some good low-lying land around a small town, 507 a new town perhaps, or a village. This might be part of a farm with good low-lying fields which provide winter fodder for stock, sheep, cattle. I can imagine cases where these good acres would he needed for further development as part of a land hank, for one or perhaps more villages, and for several purposes; it might not be for housing or for industrial purposes, it might be for recreational purposes. We heard a considerable amount about this aspect at an earlier stage from the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. Of course, we agree with this. But there could be the possibility that the good acres of this particular farm would be needed for development, they would be zoned for development and be acquired, compulsorily or by agreement, from the farmer.
But some of us would like to know what is going to happen to the poor upland area, which, without the low-lying acres which grow the fodder, will probably not be a viable unit. If the good acres have been removed for development, for the total benefit of the whole community—let us admit it—these particular acres would be without any viable means of support in an agricultural sense. I think this argument would also apply to forestry. If it happened that the good and very fertile land so far as it would go, were to be acquired for other purposes, it is entirely possible, and indeed probable, that the existing farmer would not want, and would not be able to afford, to go on farming this piece of land.
Certainly, what is in my mind—and I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord will be able to still this fear in my mind—is who would take over, how they would take over, and how much it is going to cost. Is it not going to be very expensive for the purposes of taking over this rather poor land? This is something that, as a farmer in another part of the United Kingdom, worries me. As the Bill is drafted I do not think that all my fears are covered, and indeed my concern is as great as ever.
§ Lord COLLISON
My Lords, I have not just walked in; I have been standing by the telephone and listening to the debate. There are two points I should like to make. First with regard to what the noble Lord has just said, it is accepted that when one physically plans for 508 development purposes, building purposes, one should and does go for the poorer type of land where it is possible to find that type of land. No one wants to see good agricultural land taken over for building purposes. I have said this before, and I am quite sure that it is the intention of the Government that one should proceed in that way whenever one can.
I want to make one point because no one has mentioned this. In planning for development one has to take into account the needs of the public, particularly in what I would call marginal town areas. One has to provide for open space and for parkland. This may not be relevant, but one has to be quite sure of what one is saying when one talks about farming. I have seen sheep in Hyde Park to keep the grass down. Is this farming or is it not farming? If these Amendments would preclude any operation of that sort in perpetuity, that would be a mistake.
There is another matter which interests me. There is a need to provide what one could call open farms, exhibition farms, so that the public could visit them and understand farming practices, and take children to them in order to let them see how farming is done, and to see the animals, to catch the animals, to play with the animals and so on. I am a trustee of a venture of this kind in Milton Keynes, which is far from Wales but nevertheless the concept is the same. If land is taken over and managed by a local authority which wished to establish such an open farm for perfectly good purposes, then it would be a mistake if these Amendments would exclude the use of any of the land in perpetuity for that purpose. I appreciate that I may be off target and saying things which are not relevant to these Amendments, but since no one else has mentioned or perhaps thought about this aspect of the matter, I thought that I ought to get on my feet to mention it.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, as I have been asked questions, perhaps I may be accorded leave to speak again. The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, raised first the question of the land bank. There is no provision in the Bill for the creation of a land bank and no intention in the 509 Bill to create any new powers for that purpose. He expressed concern that, for instance, what might he the most viable and profitable part of a farmer's land might be taken over. On the extent of any land acquisition involved in what is proposed in the Bill, which is essentially a Bill to provide small industry and to help towns and villages to develop economically, may I first emphasise that what will be required for those purposes by way of land acquisition will be very limited indeed. If it does become necessary then of course there will be provision for compensation.
The whole essence of the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, was to be sure that there was no intention in the Bill, or in the powers that are provided, that the Board should embark upon farming. I am afraid that I must disappoint my noble friend Lord Collison by indicating that it is certainly not the intention to develop farming as part of the powers of this Board, however useful he, in his great experience, has found it elsewhere. If I failed to give that assurance I should have the noble Lord, Lord Elton, breathing very fiercely down whatever portion of the anatomy is relevant. Certainiy we have no intention of pursuing farming as part of the powers and functions exercised by the new Board. In the light of those assurances—and I do not know how often one must repeat assurances of Ministerial intentions, reinforced, as they are, by provisions in the Bill—I hope that the noble Lord will feel sufficiently satisfied not to press these Amendments.
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, I have to tell the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that, in spite of the length of his wig, it is his neck that I breathe down, and I breathe down it now. It is not the intentions of Her Majesty's present Government that are in question: it is the powers of some future body not yet created; and the powers do not exclude the possibility of agricultural land being used for agricultural purposes per se. The noble Lord, Lord Collison, brought into question the definition of agriculture, to which we shall be reverting in a later Amendment, and Which I can assure him does not exclude the use of ornamental and other kinds of park and recreational 510 land since it is taken from the Planning Acts which themselves enable these areas to be developed for that purpose. I take note of what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said about exhibition farms. In the generality these are suitable attributes or conjunctions for conurbations in large cities. Rural Wait's, with which we are dealing, is rural after all, and most primary school teachers are within a 5p bus ride (which may get dearer) or half-an-hour's or 20 minutes' walk of a mixed livestock farm, and I think that those were the sort of purposes he had in mind for them to be used for.
The noble and learned Lord advanced three very telling arguments to the effect that the Secretary of State would be called in and would exercise an executive responsibility where land was acquired by the Board and where plans were submitted to him by it. Also he said that he had the power to direct if these powers themselves proved to fail, and therefore, he said, that political direction and political protection of this undertaking existed. I have no closed or unreasonable mind. If, as I suspect, on re-reading them, the points he has made on this Amendment prove to be convincing then I shall be perfectly happy, but all those arguments so far have been directed against the second of the two Amendments we are discussing, Amendment No. 6. The only thing that we had in mitigation of the worries which gave rise to the principal Amendment, Amendment No. 5, was that the Government did not propose to intervene in agriculture. As I said at the outset of my reply to this small debate, we are not questioning that. We do not suspect them of harbouring darkly covetous views of pleasant patches of arable or grazing land in Wales. What we are exercised about is the fact that they propose to give this possibility to a body over which they eventually will not have control. That is what is exercising the anxieties of those whose support and interest we, and also he, seek to enlist to further the course of this Bill. Therefore, I cannot be satisfied by what he has said about Amendment No. 6.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 5) shall he agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 111; Not-Contents, 66.511
|Alport, L.||Emmet of Amberley, B.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Exeter, M.||Ogmore, L..|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Faithfull, B.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Amory, V.||Ferrers, E.||Onslow, E.|
|Ampthill, L.||Gage, V.||Radnor, E.|
|Arbuthnott, V.||Gainford, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Garner, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Glenkinglas, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Banks, L.||Goschen, V.||Rochester, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Greenway, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Grenfell, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Berkeley, B.||Gridley, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Halisham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Hanworth, V.||Sandys, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Burton, L.||Hatherton, L.||Somers, L.|
|Byers, L.||Hawke, L:.||Stamp, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Home of the Hirsel, L.||Strang, L.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Hornsby-Smith, B.||Strachclyde, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Cathcart, F.||Inglewood, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Killearn, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Kinloss, Ly.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Lauderdale, E.||Swinton, E.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Cross, V.||Long, V.||Thurlow, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Loudoun, C.||Tranmire, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Luke, L.||Vernon, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Lyell, L. [Teller.]||Vickers, B.|
|Denham, L.||Mancroft, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.,||Mansfield, E.||Ward of North Tyneside, B.|
|Dundonald, E.||Merrivale, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Mersey, V.||Wigoder, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Middleton, L.||Willingdon, M.|
|Elles, B.||Monck, V.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Newall, L.||Young, B.|
|Elton, L. [Teller.]||Northchurch, B.|
|Annan, L.||Goronwy-Roberts, L.||Phillips, B.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hale, L.||Platt, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.||Popplewell, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Henderson, L.||Rhodes, L.|
|Bowden, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Rusholme, L.|
|Brimelow, L.||Hoy, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Jacobson, L.||Samuel, V.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Jacques, L. [Teller.]||Segal, L.|
|Castle, L.||Janner, L.||Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)|
|Chorley, L.||Leatherland, L.||Slater, L.|
|Collison, L.||Lee of Newton, L.||Stedman, B. [Teller.]|
|Crowther-Hunt, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Stow hill, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||MacLeod of Fuinary, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B.||Maybray-King, L.||Taylor of Gryfe, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Melchett, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Milford, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Evans of Hungershall, L.||Northfield, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Oram, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Pannell, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Gordon-Walker, L.||Peddie, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Lord ELTON had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 6:512
§ Page 4, line 34, at end insert—
§ (" or
§ (c) to carry on any agricultural undertaking or business.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of this Amendment was to secure 513 protection against the danger, to which I alluded when discussing an earlier Amendment, that agricultural undertakings might he taken on board by the Board in some section of Clause 1 not covered by the previous Amendment.
§ In the light of what the noble and learned Lord said in his reply to our Amendment No. 5, which I believe covered the ground very adequately and to which I have already said I shall give careful attention because I feel that it shows the possibility of covering the case, I shall not move the Amendment.
§ Clause 5 [Acquisition of land]:
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 8:
§ Page 6, line 18, after (" subject to ") insert (" Part IV of that code and ").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this is a drafting Amendment which involves no change of substance. The explanation of it is somewhat technical and complicated but if, on this warm and agreeable afternoon, your Lordships would like me to embark upon that exercise I shall do so. However, as I give my assurance that the Amendment makes no change of substance, it may suffice for me simply to beg to move the Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 11 [Limit on public money made available to the Board]:
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 10, line 15, at end insert—
(4) Notwithstanding anything in subsection (1) of this above, moneys received by the Board by way of grants or loans from the Commission of the European Communities shall not be held to contribute to the aggregate amount referred to in that subsection.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that this will prove to be a fairly simple Amendment. We should like some assurance that any or all financial assistance which would come outwith the sources detailed in subsection (1)(a), (b) and (c) should be treated entirely separately. By that, I mean that I hope that it will be totally agreeable and acceptable that such assistance should be treated as a valuable bonus on top of the limits which have been 514 discussed and agreed to earlier. The total limits which were mentioned at earlier stages were, I believe—and the noble and learned Lord will be able to correct me—in the region of £25 million with a possibility of an increase to £40 million at any one time.
§ The Amendment seeks merely to ensure that any financial assistance to rural Wales from, let us say, the EEC or any other source outwith the sources of finance mentioned in the present clause should be treated as a bonus and should go direct to the Development Board for Rural Wales. The Amendment seeks to ensure that, though, they may have to come through the Treasury, such sums should not be treated as part of the totals of £25 million or £40 million available for borrowing. We hope that this is a simple matter and we look forward to knowing whether the noble and learned Lord will be able to confirm what is in our minds. I beg to move.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I should greatly wish to be able to give an immediate affirmative to the suggestion that is proposed. The purpose of the limit of £25 million which the clause places on the monies to be made available to the Board is to limit the net cash requirements of the Board to that figure. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, does not need me to say that, at this moment of time above all moments of time, it is essential to keep a tight rein on the expenditure of all bodies that are financed from the Exchequer. If those bodies, for the purposes of their duties, are able to obtain funds from other sources, thereby reducing the extent of Exchequer expenditure, I am sure that the Opposition Front Benches, of all Front Benches at this moment will echo the view that if anything can be saved for the public Exchequer it should be. The provisions of the clause are the means used to control the expenditure of the Board. Similar limitations are imposed on other public authorities. For instance, a year ago similar provisions were included in the Welsh and Scottish Development Agency Acts, although the figures were of course different.
Clause 11 is drafted to include all borrowings by the Board, from whatever source, within the overall limits of public 515 money to be made available to the Board, together with grants from the Secretary of State and sums paid by the Treasury in fulfilment of guarantees. That includes borrowing from Europe. It would be quite wrong and contrary to the way in which the expenditure of public bodies is controlled if it were otherwise and wrong to make different arrangements for the Board in this respect from those that apply to other comparable public authorities.
I ought to add that assistance from the EEC would never be more than a supplement, within agreed expenditure limits, to the main source of finance, which is the Exchequer itself, although there could be direct benefits to the Board. Noble Lords will he aware that loans from some European sources, for example the European Investment Bank, can be at attractive rates of interest which, if the Board were to obtain exchange risk cover from the Treasury, would give at least a percentage point advantage in interest rates over alternative courses, so making it cheaper to finance activities within its overall expenditure limits.
With regard to grant assistance from the EEC, a number of public authority activities are eligible for assistance and some of the Board's activities may be eligible in the same way. Naturally, since the various funds are set up for different purposes and operate in different ways, a variety of arrangements exists to deal with different types of grant. In many cases, only the central Government may apply for and receive grant aid, either on their own behalf or on behalf of project sponsors. For example, for infrastructure schemes under the European Regional Development Fund project, sponsors can receive grant assistance through central Government. The grants are then used to relieve authorities of part of their borrowing requirements, so making it easier and more economical for them to carry out their existing programmes, but not to finance additional spending. In the case of the FEOGA—and lest noble Lords may believe that to be yet another Welsh word which I have introduced into the discussion, it means Fonds Européan d'Orientation et de Garantie Agrieole—Individual Projects Scheme, the Board would have to make a contribution itself and be in receipt of specific grant aid for the project from the 516 United Kingdom Government as a condition of application before it could apply to the EEC. As the application would be processed through the United Kingdom Government, account is likely to be taken of possible receipts from the EEC in calculating annual grant-in-aid to the Board. In any event, it is not certain what the future holds for these schemes when the present financial provisions have been exhausted.
I have gone into this matter in some detail in order to avoid raising false. hopes and because of what I suspect will now emerge from the Opposition Front Bench—that is, the importance of avoiding excessive expenditure at this time. If money becomes available to the Board from other sources, it should be taken into account in the amount of Government grant which should go to sustain the Board's activities.
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
My Lords, I hope that the Opposition are quite clear about what they are trying to do. I recall that when we wanted German military exercises in Pembroke there was no discussion at all about how much money was spent for the German Army to exercise there because they did not have enough room in Germany. That was the story. As an old member of the German Youth Hostel movement, in pre-Hitler days, I used to contribute. Let us suppose that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor is presented with an act of graciousness on the part of the EEC in which it wants to make contributions to the youth hostel movement in many of the beautiful parts of rural Wales. Would the Opposition prevent that because it was getting nearer this £25 million?
Wales is not receiving any eleemosynary help from the Common Market. The House should be clear about this. The Opposition should have read the White Paper on public expenditure which was published the other day. They will see that the Common Market received from Britain £181 million and gave us £77 million. I am quoting the White Paper, and it will be seen that in 1974 the Common Market received £179 million from us and gave us £148 million. We would have done better keeping the lot. In 1975 we paid £342 million to the Common Market and received £396 517 million. I am not arguing whether we are in a better or a worse position, but we have given more money than we have received. We made a gross contribution of £470 million in 1976 and got £305 million. I do not expect to get a great deal from Wales. I think it is rather niggardly. I want relationships with the Common Market, and I want them to he relationships which will build up international understanding and which will eradicate war. Europe must come together one day. But for heaven's sake forget it. It was presented as though we were getting gifts for nothing from the Common Market. We are paying in, and perhaps in some cases it is worth while. But I do not see any use in this Amendment. In fact, in many ways, including international understanding, it may prevent progress in rural Wales.
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, it is tempting but I shall try not to pursue the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, too far along the tantalising avenues that he opens before us. But I must put the record straight. First, the object of the exercise is to enable us to take full advantage of any money that is going, and I am not one to say that we should not have more. But if the effect of the Board's getting a grant from some European body (whether it is FEOGA, or some other organisation with a less Welsh-sounding name) is simply to reduce the amount of money it can get from central Government, then the incentive for it to do so is reduced. The incentive then rests at Cabinet level and Treasury level. The Treasury says, " You must reduce your borrowing from the central Government by getting some money from somewhere else." If, on the other hand, there is no advantage to the Board in getting the money, it makes no difference to them whether they pay their interest in francs or in pence. Then there is much more incentive if they advance their position by getting extra money. Therefore I do not think it is unpatriotic, nor do I think that it is curmudgeonly, to suggest that this would be a good thing. As to the manoeuvres on Castle Martin Camp, with which I am so painfully familiar (with the camp, not the manoeuvres) one should notice an element of reciprocity because of the training carried out by British troops on a much larger scale in the Federal Republic. I do not want to pursue the 518 matter further than that, and I think that my noble friend who moved the Amendment wants to say something in conclusion.
We wanted to get an exposition, which we now have, of what is the status of funds obtained from Europe, and it is the Government's view that these should he taken in reduction of funds available from Westminster. I am not sure that we follow in that; it is a matter which we might pursue in another place. But in case my noble friend wishes to add to this, I will give way to him.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, I suggested that this was a fairly simple Amendment but it seems to have generated quite a lively discussion. We are very grateful for the intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek. The noble and learned Lord said that he hoped he had clarified some of the points I raised. I go further than that and say that he has been most generous in his clarification, and in setting out differences in borrowings and in grants. He has set at rest many of the doubts which were in my mind and in the minds of my noble friends, amid an avalanche of statistics and details. We would not wish to pursue this matter further and, thanks to the explanations given by the noble and learned Lord, I seek leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 14 [Powers of entry]:
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 10:
§ Page 12, line 5, leave out ("48 hours'") and insert ("5 days").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, it may be convenient to discuss Amendment No. 11 with Amendment No. 10. During the Committee stage of the Bill the noble Lord, Lord Elton, giving a vivid description of his life as a shepherd watching the flocks by day and by night, satisfied me that to empower representatives of the authority concerned to go within a matter of hours to investigate the sub-soil might disturb not only the shepherd but also the sheep. Accordingly, the Government have thought it right to accept, in effect, the Amendments which he proposed. The effect of the first Amendment is to extend the required 519 period of notice before persons authorised by the Secretary of State, the Board or a local highway authority can enter on land to survey it from 48 hours to 5 days for non-residential land, and from 7 days to 14 days for residential land. In the light of this acceptance of what was asked for from various parts of the Chamber during Committee stage, I hope that this Amendment will prove acceptable. I beg to move.
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, it is with great pleasure that I rise to reply to that generous statement. I notice that on each occasion when I seek leave to get an Amendment for an extension of the period of notice, the noble and learned Lord is very reluctant, but he always gives way in the end, and for this I am grateful. He also takes amusement in my earlier pursuits in the agricultural field. I think it is worth noting that the occupants of the Benches opposite do not have an exclusive monopoly of the experience of manual labour which they hold in such high esteem—and very arduous and unpleasant labour it sometimes is as well. I am not at all ashamed of having earned my living in this way for a number of years, and I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for allowing me to turn it to the profit of countless other shepherds in the hills and valleys of Wales. I welcome the Amendment.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I should like to say at once by way of explanation that I did not regard it as a matter of amusement that the noble Lord was once a shepherd; on the contrary, it is a matter for great admiration which I am sure the noble Lord will now receive by way of accolade not only from me but from all noble Lords present in the House.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 11:
§ Page 12, line 6, leave out (" 7 ") and insert (" 14 ").
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 32 [Interpretation.]:
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 12:520
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords. the purpose of this Amendment is purely clarification. I have referred to it sufficiently in advance with other Amendments. Its principal effect is to include horticulture with the meaning of the word " agriculture " and " horticultural with " agricultural This will clarify the effect of the Bill in cases of land under husbandry which might be thought to be a market garden rather than a farm. That is the principal effect, but obviously the Bill needs a definition of the word " agriculture " and this seems the most appropriate. I beg to move.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, it is imperative that the word " agricultural " should be defined in Clause 32. The definition proposed has an eminently respectable origin, and is acceptable to the Government.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 1 [The Development Board for Rural Wales]:
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 13:
§ Page 20, line 22, leave out (" consultation with ") and insert (" consulting—
§ (a) the council of each county and of each district any part of whose area is included in the area for which the Board is responsible; and
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, here again I am happy to say that, with their customary reasonableness and willingness to listen to all reasonable argument and suggestion in debate, the Government find themselves in effect able to accept the proposed Amendment. It indeed gives effect to the view which was expressed in Committee with great eloquence by a formidable array: my noble friend Lord Champion; the noble Lord, Lord Elton; the noble Viscount, Lord Simon; the noble Viscount, Lord Amory; and my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek. Who could resist such a powerful combination? It requires the Secretary of State now, when consulting on the membership of the Board, to consult each 521 county and district council any part of whose area is in the Board's area of responsibility, in addition to such organisations as appear to him to be representative of local authorities in Wales as already provided in Schedule 1, paragraph 3(3). I beg to move.
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
My Lords, may I, in reply to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, and on behalf of my noble friend Lord Champion, who is unavoidably absent, say, " Thank you " and how grateful we are for this? The unity on both sides of the House in this case I find very enjoyable indeed. I do not want to delay the proceeding any longer, but I wanted to say that my noble friend Lord Champion is not here today because he is unable to be present.
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, I should merely like to add my thanks, in concurrence with what has been said by the noble Lord.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Lord LYELL moved Amendment No. 14:
§ Page 20, line 24, at end insert—
§ (" (4) One office as member of the Board shall be held by a member appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Wales Tourist Board.
§ (5) One office as member of the Board shall he held by a member appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with bodies that appear to him to be representative of agricultural and forestry interests in the area.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this may possibly seem a little repetitious, because we have discussed at length earlier in this Bill, and at earlier stages of this Bill, rather careful and what might be considered rather fastidious little definitions. The House will see in paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 the appointment and tenure of members, a statement of how many members there shall be and, in sub-paragraph (3), a very rough guide as to the composition of the interests of the area within the Board's aegis. Subparagraph (3) gives an approximate outline of who shall he represented on the Board; but the purpose of Amendment No. 14 is to define a little more closely those interests which we feel should be represented as of right, if I can put it that way, on the Board. I think the noble and 522 learned Lord may well say that of course it would be in the mind of the Secretary of State that such interests should be represented on the Board, but, nevertheless, my Lords, we are not convinced that it is adequately provided for in subparagraph (3), and we would be very grateful for the views of the noble and learned Lord on this matter. We hope this Amendment is not unduly fastidious, but we should like the safeguard of a provision that such interests should be represented on the Board. I beg to move.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the Government view still remains that, however well intentioned is the Amendment which has been moved by the noble Lord, it is not necessary to impose on the Secretary of State requirements such as those set out in the Amendment. When it is set up, the Board must take decisions on the problems that confront it based on an overall view of the whole area—decisions that are not biased towards one particular interest or another. The members of the Board will he appointed by the Secretary of State for the contributions that, as individuals, each can make to the deliberations of the Board. Members must not regard themselves as delegates of particular interests, or indeed be placed in the position of representing a particular interest, because if we started on that road a number of other interests would claim the right of representation and we should have an enormously large Board for what is, after all, a limited purpose.
The Welsh Tourist Board, agricultural, forestry and other interests will of course be free to submit names to the Secretary of State for consideration, and it is quite likely that one of the members will have experience of, for instance, the tourist industry. Indeed, I would think it inconceivable that the Board will not contain members with close links with agriculture in this area, in mid-Wales. But, with respect, I do not think it is necessary to allocate expressly a place on the Board to a representative of one particular interest, and so invite pressure from other interests of the kind that I have mentioned. Amendments to restrict the freedom of the Secretary of State to secure a membership of the Board which reflects the economic and 523 community interests of the area as a whole would not, I think, be helpful for the purposes that, across the hoard in the House, we have in mind in the case of this new institution, and accordingly I hope that this Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Lord NORTHFIELD
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will be satisfied with that suggestion from my noble and learned friend. The sort of thing that he is laying himself open to by this Amendment is a request from, for example, the chamber of commerce of Newtown saying, " If the farmers can be represented on this Board as of right, why cannot we, who contribute more, possibly "—I do not know, but possibly contribute more—" to the economic prosperity of this particular region be similarly represented? Why should not we, the commercial and businessmen of Newtown, have a representative as of right on this Board?" As my noble and learned friend says, once you start this there is no end to it—and I could add other categories, all of whom would claim equality of right to representation. I think that in the appointment of public boards generally in this country we have steered a way which is fair to all the interests which are covered by such boards, and in view of our long history of success in these matters I hope the noble Lord will accept the assurances of my noble and learned friend.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, if I may first comment on the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, I, too, think it is inconceivable that representatives of new towns, and particularly such a distinguished new town as Newtown, would not be on the Board. Nevertheless, possibly the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, did not think of joining us in a similar Amendment to see that a representative from Newtown was included on the Board as of right.
§ Lord LYELL
I see. Then there might be a divergence of interest, but I should be grateful for further explanation after the debate is over. Nevertheless, I take the points which the noble and learned Lord raised. I agree with him that it is inconceivable that the interests which 524 we set out in subparagraphs (4) and (5) would not be represented. It was just that we would have been glad to see those interests with a statutory right to be represented on the Board. However, we take the noble and learned Lord's points that it might be unduly restrictive and that it would possibly be unsuitable to restrict the Secretary of State's discretion at this stage.
I would draw to the attention of the noble and learned Lord the comments made earlier by my noble friend Lord Elton that we are not dealing necessarily with a Board or even a Secretary of State that we see now; hat we are possibly setting up a Development Board which may well go on for 50 or 100 years. There may well be further pressures and an Assembly for Wales in the near future. Therefore the role of the Secretary of State may, or may not, become confused. And this is in the nearer future than we see it. However, in the light of the assurances, if I may so call them, that have been given, I beg leave to withdraw this particular Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 15:
§ Page 22, line 43, leave out from (" consult ") to end of line 46 and insert (" the Board ").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the effect of this Amendment is to change the present requirement for the Secretary of State to consult with the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Board before giving directions to the Board under Clause 7(6) to a requirement to consult with the Board itself. It also removes the discretion of the Secretary of State to dispense with consultations by giving directions in cases where 'such consultations are impracticable because of urgency.
§ The Government were urged in Committee by the noble Lords, Lord Elton and Lord Lyell, and they were supported by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. After giving the matter consideration, we have decided that what is proposed is practicable and sensible and, accordingly, I beg to move.
§ Lord ELTON
My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to welcome the Amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord. In 525 fact, I think I have already said, earlier this afternoon as well as in Committee, why it was welcome and therefore it is enough to do the noble and learned Lord the courtesy of thanking him for meeting us in this way.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 3 [The New Towns Code]:
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 16:
§ Page 38, line 19, leave out (" this paragraph ") and insert (" sub-paragraphs (2) and (3) below ").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this again is a minor drafting Amendment which involves no change of substance. At this hour and in this climate I hope that your Lordships will accept that assurance from me and permit me merely to move the Amendment. If there is any intellectual curiosity still surviving, I will do my best to meet it. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.