HL Deb 25 May 1976 vol 371 cc192-219

6.22 p.m.


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

Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Baroness TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE in the Chair.]

Clause 23 [Provision for staff of the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas]:

On Question, Whether Clause 23 shall stand part of the Bill?


My recollection is that our last business was Amendment No. 30 to Clause 22, but we did not take Clause 22 stand part. If there is an opportunity to speak to that, I should like to do so.

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

That is correct.

Clause 22 [Transfer to the Board of industrial property of the Welsh Development Agency]:

On Question, Whether Clause 22 shall stand part of the Bill?


I wanted to seize this fleeting opportunity, because in the light of the Statement this afternoon on the Government's intentions about devolution, the situation has changed somewhat since we last discussed this Bill in Committee. This clause deals with the transfer to the Board of industrial property of the Welsh Development Agency, which we hear will now be made an agent of the Welsh Assembly. I realise that this is all sub judice, but I hope that the noble and learned Lord will allow me to take this opportunity to ask him to think about the change in status, as it will affect not only this clause but also the questions which I asked earlier about the budgetary arrangements, with particular reference to the FEOGA payments. It is something of an artifice for me to raise it here, but there should be something on the record to show that the functioning of this Bill will be altered in some respects—not least, in its financial respects—by the provisions of the devolution legislation when we get it, and as it is now adumbrated I think that the budget will be fairly considerably affected. That is all I wish to say at this stage.


I doubt whether what has been said affects in any substantial degree what was said when we were last in Committee on the Bill. But I will certainly look at the point and we can return to it at Report stage if any elaboration, or even alteration, of what I said earlier is called for.

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 [Provision for staff of the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas]:

On Question, Whether Clause 23 shall stand part of the Bill?

6.25 p.m.


There is a Motion in my name on the Marshalled List to leave out this clause. This relates to, and is a paver to, a subsequent Amendment to leave out Schedule 6. Your Lordships will remember that I put down a probing Amendment in similar terms on an earlier Schedule, the object of which was to enable the Government to say that they intend by means of advertisement to recruit new skills where they are available. The Government were somewhat pessimistic in their reply, saying that the difficulty would be to keep what they already had. I hope that they will be able to breathe sufficient enthusiasm into the new organisation to overcome that difficulty. But since the last debate I have received messages from beyond Offa's Dyke saying that there is a feeling that it would be a good thing if posts were open to advertisement, which I suppose would necessarily involve some posts already occupied in prospect, as it were, by COSIRA employees. When there is an opportunity to use a new broom, I suppose it should be taken. I do not expect that the Government's reply will differ from that given earlier, but, again, this is an opportunity for them to add to anything they have said in the past.


The object of the clause and of the Schedule is, of course, to protect and make provision for the stair of COSIRA whose activities in regard to Wales are to be transferred to the Welsh Development Agency. The Schedule itself contains an elaborate account of what is contemplated for the purpose of protecting the staff of COSIRA. We are confident that under the new arrangements the opportunities for those who have been concerned with its activities in Wales will be even greater, and we have every hope that the future bodes well for them. But the purpose of the Schedule and of Clause 23 is essentially to protect the employees of COSIRA from any risk of deterioration in their conditions and circumstances by reason of the change.

Clause 23 agreed to.

Clause 24 [financial assistance to bodies contributing to the social development of Wales]:

On Question, Whether Clause 24 shall stand part of the Bill?


We now come to what I regard as a rather odd clause, because although this is a Bill about the Development Board for Rural Wales there is no mention of the Board in it. It is giving a power to the Secretary of State without any relationship to the Board shown in this clause, or indeed in any other provision of this Bill that I can find. It is almost as if it is a postscript slipped in after the post has gone with the previous letter; namely, the Welsh Development Agency Act. It is rather extraordinary to find this arrangement, and I imagine that the noble and learned Lord's attention has been drawn to this Amendment and he will be able to explain why this power is given to the Secretary of State in this place. It appears that he is being given an opportunity to act somewhat in the role of the Arts Council and to subsidise events which, although doubtless highly beneficial to the region and to the culture, do not seem to have a place in this Bill except as they come within the purview of the Board, but the Board appears not to figure in the clause. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord can lighten our darkness.


I understand the mystification of the noble Lord, but I assure him that there is nothing sinister about the intrusion of this provision into the Bill. It is not like the circumstances whereby an unhappily married town clerk is supposed to have inserted in the Schedule to a waterworks clauses Bill the provision that " The marriage of the town clerk is hereby dissolved ", in the days when one needed a Bill to accomplish that. The explanation is this. The proposals contained in the Bill involve the taking over by the Board of the functions of the Development Commission so far as its activities relate to Wales. The Development Commission has responsibility for making grants to a number of bodies in Wales for either social development or social purposes. The bodies that are presently in receipt of those grants include the Council of Social Services for Wales, the rural councils and the voluntary services councils which are successor bodies to the rural community councils.

As I have said, for some time the Development Commission has been giving grants to those bodies throughout Wales, in addition to its better known activities of building advance factories, mainly in Mid Wales. It is now intended that the Commission should withdraw from Wales and hand over its functions to Welsh bodies. The Board that we are setting up is being empowered by Clause 3(1)(d)(ii) to give assistance to bodies in its area that contribute to social development, and this will enable it to take over responsibility for Development Commission grants in its area. But Clause 24 is intended to give power to the Secretary of State to take over responsibility for the Development Commission grants in the rest of Wales, outside the Mid Wales Board area. There is simply no other body to which this power should be given. The Welsh Development Agency, for instance, is not so empowered and the only solution appears to he to give the power to the Secretary of State for Wales. Details of how those grants will be administered under the new arrangements remain to be worked out administratively, but- that is the explanation of the inclusion of Clause 24 in the Bill.


I should like to make sure that I have got this point right. As I understand it, the Bill already empowers certain functions of the Commission to be discharged by the Board.


Yes, that is so.


It is enabled to do so within the area that is quite properly within its purview and not in any other. So now we have a Bill dealing with the area to be administered by the Development Board for Rural Wales, and it contains one clause that says what shall be done by somebody other than the Board in an area other than that administered by the Board. That is right, is it not?




Well. I find it astonishing and very droll. I am sure that it is not a matter of earth-shaking constitutional importance but it must be a rare example, that the area specifically excluded for its operation in every other part of the Bill shall be the area in which this clause functions and that the authority which is set up by this Bill shall not be mentioned in the clause. However, I wanted to discover what the explanation was and the noble and learned Lord has now lightened my darkness. It is a very odd answer which I shall think about between now and Report, but it is not a matter of great difficulty.

Baroness WHITE

I hope that noble Lords opposite will accept this anomaly. I think we must all agree that this is an anomalous and most peculiar clause. But may we let the ghost of Lloyd George rest quietly in its grave? This clause is due to the very wide terms in which the duties of the Development Commission were originally drawn. As your Lordships know, the Development Commission is a body which has lasted for quite incredibly long. It seems to me that we should accept this clause in an historic spirit, which I am sure will appeal to the noble Lord, and allow it to go through, although I agree entirely with him that it is a rather odd piece of legislation.


I agree about the oddity of the clause, but it is included to maintain a useful public purpose which has been carried out by the Development Commission. The Long Title of the Bill contemplated the conferring of this power, but I am grateful to my noble friend Lady White for giving me her support and, in the process, calling in aid the shade of Lloyd George. It is droll but, faute de mieux, it is the best suggestion that we have for dealing with the situation.


Before the noble and learned Lord finally sits down, I wonder whether he could lighten the slight cloud —I will not say darkness that hangs over the financial assistance. The rubric to the clause begins " Financial assistance to bodies£" and I should be very interested to know whence this financial assistance will come. The noble and learned Lord will remember that on the last occasion when we were discussing Clauses 9 and 10 of the Bill—the budgetary and financial powers—he gave some fairly detailed explanations. I am wondering whether the financial powers contained in this clause are included in the provisions of Clauses 9 and 10 or whether they will come from some other source. I should be grateful if the noble and learned Lord could remove this small cloud on the horizon.


I conceive that they will come from the source from which the grants to the Development Commission for these purposes were drawn. I do not know that I can take the matter any further than that. Those funds were made available to the Development Commission, and that portion of them which is requisite for the purpose of helping the Council of Social Services for Wales and the other bodies that I have mentioned will be appropriated hereafter, through the Secretary of State, for the purposes in Wales for which the grant portion attributable to Wales was previously used. I hope that is right. If it is not, I will put it right at Report stage. I see a nod of confirmation from a certain place.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord and I will be happy with that answer.


Thank you very much.


So indeed will I. The question to which the noble and learned Lord is to address himself will already be before him in the question: how much of the monies we have been considering have to be under the ceiling imposed by Clause 10? We are a little confused about this point but I am sure that the noble and learned Lord will be able to help us at Report stage.

Viscount SIMON

We discussed this matter briefly during the Second Reading of the Bill when it was made quite clear that these sums are outside those provided by Clauses 9 and 10 of the Bill because they do not pass through the Board.


I think that they come from the Development Commission sources. I think that the noble Viscount's intervention is right, but if there is any doubt about it I will clarify the point at Report stage.

Clause 24 agreed to.

Clauses 25 and 26 agreed to.

Clause 27 [Regulations. orders and directions]:

6.39 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 17, line 23, leave out C' (except a compulsory purchase order) and insert (" (other than orders excepted from this provision by subsection (1A) below) ").

The noble and learned Lord said: Perhaps it would he convenient to take Amendments Nos. 31 and 32 together. As it is presently drafted, Clause 27(1) provides that all regulations or orders under the Bill, except compulsory purchase orders, shall be made by Statutory Instrument. This Amendment will add to the exception—namely, compulsory purchase orders —orders made under Schedule 3, which sets out the new towns code. Schedule 3 re-enacts the various provisions of the New Towns Act 1965. Your Lordships will notice that no fewer than 30 pages have had to be added to the Bill to provide for the necessity which, we have previously agreed. arises from the avoidance of legislation by reference: but it imposes an intolerable addition to the very size of the Statute Book that in a modest Bill like this we are having to restate, in effect, 30 pages of what is already on the Statute Book, with only minor alterations. But there it is: we have committed ourselves to it. It is a generous age, with public expenditure, public printing and so on and this is the price we arc having to pay. I only mention that en passant.

As I have said, Schedule 3 re-enacts various provisions from the New Towns Act of 1965, including the power to make orders concerning the extinguishment of public rights of way, power by order to extinguish rights of way and rights as to apparatus of statutory undertakers: power by order to extend or modify the powers and duties of statutory undertakers and similar power to direct in certain circumstances that statutory undertakers be relieved of the fulfilment of an obligation. Under the New Towns Act of 1965 the orders that I have identified are not made by Statutory Instruments: they are simply executive orders and it is desired to make this Bill consistent with the New Towns Act in that respect. They are essentially executive orders rather than legislative in character and we do not think that they need to be made by Statutory Instrument.

As at present drafted Clause 27(1) provides that the power to make all orders shall he exercisable by Statutory Instruments, hut as I have said. certain orders—and perhaps I had better identify them—under paragraphs 38(1). 44(6) and (7), 46(4) and 48(1) of Schedule 3 to the Bill are not made Statutory Instruments in the equivalent provisions of the New Towns Act of 1965 and the purpose of these Amendments is to make the provisions of this Bill consistent with the New Towns Act in this respect. I beg to move.


I feel I must make a rejoinder about what I call the Renton Schedule to the Bill. I accept that there is a good deal of expense in paper and print in reprinting amended Statutes at the back of new Acts of Parliament. On the other hand, I think a great deal of ink, time and oil are saved in countless lawyers' offices and planning offices, and more particularly by those not trained in the law, in discovering what is their position under an amendment to an old Statute, because they have not got the benefit of the Library that we have. Therefore 1 shall be interested to see whether these savings occur. I hope they will.

While I should like to look a little more closely at the provisions of the Amendment, they seem to reduce what might become an unnecessary and intolerable burden on the Parliamentary process and my first reaction would be that there is a duty on public and privately supported bodies to look out for an abuse of the system rather than to insist that all these orders should he subject to the Statutory Instruments procedure of the Houses of Parliament. That is all I wish to say at this stage.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I was certainly not intending to decry the changes that are recommended in regard to the form of the legislation, but I have little doubt that before long there will be furious complaint about the enormous increase in the size of the Statute Book and I simply want to remind ourselves that this is the price that unfortunately we have to pay.


The remedy lies in the hands of the noble and learned Lord and his friends: we must have less legislation.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.43 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 17, line 24, at end insert-—

(" (1A) The orders excepted From subsection (I) above are compulsory purchase orders and orders under any provision of Schedule 3 to this Act.").

On Question Amendment agreed to.


We have in fact spoken to Amendment No. 33 with Amendment No. 3. It was a means which has in any case been rendered nugatory by the Amendment we have just passed, on providing for an Affirmative Resolution procedure in two particular cases. As I said earlier, this is something to which we may return at the Report stage. but at this stage it is not necessary for me to move the Amendment.

Clause 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 28 to 30 agreed to.

Clause 31 [Interpretation]:

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 36:

Page 18, line 40, at end insert-—

(" " local authority means the council of a county, of a district or of a community and includes any joint Board or joint committee if all the constituent authorities are local authorities:")

The noble and learned Lord said: This Amendment has already been discussed along with Amendment No. 14. which was agreed. T beg to move.

On Question. Amendment agreed to.

On Question. Whether Clause 31. as amended. shall be agreed to?


I apologise to the Committee for not giving notice of my intention to speak on this clause but there are one or two points I. should like to raise. On the question of definitions it has been suggested to me that there is a need for the definition of the term " function which does not at present appear in the clause, as comprising powers and duties and other such terms which occur particularly frequently in the earlier part of the Bill. I merely ask the noble and learned Lord to give his expert view on that after he has had an opportunity to look at it. As I have not given him notice of this I would not expect him to be able to do it at this time, but I gather that there arc respectable precedents for this and that it can be of service.

There is another point on which I should like clarification. namely, the general question of the interrelationships between planning authorities, particularly in the National Park area covered by the Bill. If the DBRW goes ahead as has been said to be probable—and I do not know whether it is reliably so said—with a new town either at Bala or Brecon, what will be the consultation prodecure before the Board's proposals are accepted by the Secretary of State and will there be automatic prior consultation with the local planning authority or will it simply he subject to the Board's general obligation to consult: and what is the planning authority of the National Park? One might think that that is a simple question to answer. but I believe it is not. Schedule 17 to the Town and Country Planning Act is very difficult to interpret. It may he that the noble and learned Lord will surprise, delight and indeed impress me by having the answer to that point also at his fingertips, but if he has not I think it might be proper for me to table an Amendment at the Report stage, getting as near the mark as I can to what I think is the interpretation and he, in Ins refutation or acceptance of it, will be able to show whether or not I am right.


I would also be impressed if 1 knew the answers to those questions which have been addressed to me. However, I assure the noble Lord that I will look into them. They have come somewhat like a bolt from the blue, but I will certainly examine them and perhaps we can deal with them expressly and publicly at Report stage or I can write to the noble Lord.

Baroness WHITE

While my noble and learned friend is examining this, will he at the same time examine paragraph (6) of Part I of Schedule 3? There is a reference there to local planning authorities, and I would suppose—although I have not had time to look at this with much attention—that it might be necessary to consider park planning authorities at that stage also.


Certainly this debate on the definition clause is raising very interesting general questions which might be fitted in to sonic other part of the process at Report stage, but I will have to look at them.

Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Schedule 1 [The Development Boar/ for Rural Wales]:

6.51 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 20, line 18, at beginning insert—

(" With the exception of the office referred to in sub-paragraph (3A) below ").

The noble Lord said: I suppose we all think we are hands at Constitution making. At this stage I should explain that the purpose of this Amendment taken with Amendment No. 38, to which I hope your Lordships will think it convenient that I should speak at the same time, is to ensure that the balance of the membership of the Board shall preponderate in favour of the local authorities. Earlier in this Bill we were at pains to say that we wished to preserve as democratic a means of government in the Principality as was possible. Your Lordships will recall that when we alluded to a consultative council we were beaten with our own stick, being told that there was such a proliferation of bodies that the ordinary voter in the valleys would he lost among those. This is an attempt to make sure that the ordinary voter in the valleys is properly represented upon the Board, by giving him seven seats for his representatives rather than five. Amendment No. 37 paves the way, and Amendment No. 38 specifies how the extra seats shall be allocated.

It is possible, of course, to argue for a long time about the relative merits of the total number or the quorum of the Board, but I hope your Lordships at this juncture will be primarily concerned not with those considerations, albeit that they are important, but with the consideration of whether they wish to see this Board as the servant of the Secretary of State, as the servant of the Assembly, or as the servant of the local authorities involved. I should have thought that, of the three only the latter two were suitable suggestions and that while the future nature, let alone existence, of the Assembly remains in doubt and obscurity, it would he wise to say that the preponderance of wisdom and guidance should be drawn from local authority sources. I beg to move.


I am not sure that Amendment No. 37 does not more readily amount to a paving Amendment in relation to Amendment No. 40: one sees reference to paragraph (3A) in Amendment No. 37, and one sees paragraph (3A) set out in Amendment No. 40. But it may be convenient for us to discuss together Amendments Nos. 37. 38 and 40, and to reserve Amendment No. 39 for my noble friend Lord Champion who has waited so long for this matter to be raised.

Amendment No. 38 provides that seven rather than five of the 11 to 13 members of the Board will be appointed after consultation with local authority organisations, and that would have the effect of making the majority of the Board members local authority members. While I think it is obviously important for local authorities to be adequately represented on the Board, it is equally important that other interests are adequately reflected on the Board as well. Indeed, this is reflected in other Amendments, in particular Amendment No. 40 which, for instance, provides for representation of agricultural interests on the Board, and an Amendment calling for cross-membership with the Wales Tourist Board. In addition, if it is to be wholly effective, the Board will need to have among its members people with experience of finance and business, and the real question is one of the balance of the Board. The view of the Government is that local authority interests are adequately represented by five out of the 11 members to be initially appointed. These include the chairman and deputy chairman.

A further point which I think perhaps ought to be made is that the Board will be administering moneys provided by central Government rather than money from the rates. This would seem to me to point to adhering to the balance of local authority membership rather on the lines proposed in the Bill. The Bill provides that five of the members of the Board shall be appointed after consultation with local authority organisations. As I have said, we think that this strikes about the right balance. Members will in any event be appointed for the contribution they personally can make to the deliberations of the Board, and not as delegates of any particular interest. The Board will be taking independent decisions which will serve the best interests of the area as a whole.

With regard to Amendment No. 40, which proposes that the chairman and deputy chairman of the Wales Tourist Board should ex officio become also members of the Rural Wales Board, in my view that is not a helpful or, indeed, even possibly a desirable proposal. The Wales Tourist Board has responsibilities over the country as a whole. As I say, the Board itself will have to take the impartial view as between conflicting interests which will arise on the problems it will confront, and it should be so far as possible free from the pressures arising from the divided loyalties of its members. We do not think it would he helpful for the chairman or deputy chairman of the Wales Tourist Board to be members of the Board as of right, but there will clearly he need for close liaison between the two Boards, because tourism obviously is going to form an important part of the economy of rural Wales and of Mid Wales. Inevitably there will be that link and liaison between them, but I do not think there is justification for the automatic allocation of two places on the Board to the chairman and the deputy chairman.


If I may intervene for just a moment, the Amendment says: …the chairman of the Wales Tourist Board or his deputy It is not two places, but one.


I am sorry; I have been in error there, but my criticism applies to either being automatically entitled to appointment to a place on the Board. It is a nationwide organisation suddenly being projected into wider membership, and I can well imagine, if this were introduced, that there will be clamant demands from other nationwide organisations possibly to have a place among the membership.

The second part of Amendment No. 40 reads: Two offices as members of the Board shall be held by members appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with such organisations as appear to him to be representative of agricultural interests in Wales. As I said when we discussed this earlier, agriculture is one of the area's basic industries, and clearly there will he some farmers, or people involved in agriculture, whose claims for membership will be considered. But, here again, if we were to identify particular interests with a claim to representation, as suggested here, we should need a Board much larger than the present 11 to 13 members we are contemplating. There is little doubt that the membership of the Board will include persons with close links with the area's basic industries, of which agriculture is one. I hope therefore, in the light of what I have said, that these proposals will not be pressed and that the general balance that is suggested in the composition of the Board may be accepted as a reasonable balance.

Viscount SIMON

I should like to support strongly Amendment No. 38, although I am bound to confess that 1 would prefer Amendment No. 39 when the noble Lord, Lord Champion, comes to move it. The noble and learned Lord suggests that because this Board will he administering funds provided from central Government there is not a case for having a majority of local authority representation. But, as I said on Second Reading, it seems to me that it is enormously important, if this Board is to have the confidence of the people in the area which it serves, that they should see that the Board is close to their own feeling. I would have thought there was everything to be said for having a Board the majority of whose members represented local elected interests. I hope the noble and learned Lord may perhaps be able to give further consideration to that point. I do not want to speak to Amendment No. 40; I have no very strong views, and on the whole I agree with what the noble and learned Lord said about that. But I feel that either Amendment No. 38, or preferably when we come to it Amendment No. 39, should be given very serious consideration.


I am much obliged for the support received from the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. at least on one of these Amendments. I am sure he will see that we would not wish at this stage to allow it to collide, like a frigate in the cod war, with Amendment No. 39, and that, of course, we shall avoid. But I am not really very happy with what the noble and learned Lord has just said to us. I feel that there is a strong case for the introduction of a preponderance of local authority seats in order to secure the confidence of those whose confidence is essential for the working of the Bill. I thought we were on common ground. I was rather surprised by the noble and learned Lord's remarks about the Wales Tourist Board and the agricultural interests, because it was, I thought, established at Second Reading that the purpose of this Bill was to maintain a healthy economic and social structure or society in the area of the Board, and that this economic and social structure was in fact a rural and agricultural and touristic economic and social structure.

If it is to operate to the benefit of the area, it is important to include those interests on the Board, in different capacities, because the Tourist Board is in itself supporting the area as an outside body whereas agriculture is essentially an inside body. It would be helpful to have people on the Board who are thoroughly conversant with its business because they are attendant at all its meetings, so that it is not necessary to canvas the opinion of outside bodies, however representative and well organised, when it comes to matters of policy for discussion at Board meetings. I would have thought that if there were, for instance, two farmers, or two people appointed by the Secretary of State after consulting the farmers, they would be of immense service to the Board; they would be of greater service to the Board by being members of it and therefore present at every meeting, than they would be if they had to be rung up or written to every time an agricultural question arose. As for the Wales Tourist Board, I think we are agreed that the tourist industry is in a unique position in this area, and this was a method, we suggested, of ensuring the liaison which the noble and learned Lord, in this and many contexts, tells us is certain to take place. and nobody in his senses would try to run the board without it. It would be better if the fellow was there, to put it bluntly. I do not want to make an issue of it at this stage, because we have rather a large group of Amendments and I do not want to hold up the proceedings. I should like the noble and learned Lord to reflect upon this, possibly beyond the confines of his brief, before we meet again on this Bill. I think perhaps it would be as well if I gave him an opportunity to furnish an ad hoc rejoinder at this stage.


I am certainly willing to reflect upon this. I have little doubt that when I discuss the matter with the Secretary of State one of the things he will tell me will be that he will, of course, welcome nominations from any source of persons for consideration for appointment to the Board. I have little doubt that the agricultural interests and others will be making their suggestions. Clearly the membership of the Board should reflect the paramount interests in the area, the farming interests, other interests and tourism. I have no doubt that that will be the aim of the membership of the Board, that it should fairly represent those w hose livelihood is involved, those whose participation will be crucial to the success of the development that we contemplate. But I am bound to say that I am at the moment persuaded, where there is a statutory obligation for at least five of the members of the Board to be representative and nominated by local authorities, that that provides an effective hard core of those directly linked to local authorities. But I am perfectly willing to ponder over this again and discuss it with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.


I am sure there is nobody better at pondering than the noble and learned Lord, and I feel very confident in leaving it in his hands. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 38:

Page 20, line 21, leave out (" Five ") and insert (" Seven ").

The noble Lord said: I think all these stand or fall or are withdrawn together. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord CHAMPION moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 20, line 22, after (" with ") insert (" the councils of any county which will be wholly or partly included in the area of the Board and ").

The noble Lord said: The Amendment that I am now moving was suggested to me by a county council. That county council feels that the county councils of the area in which the Board will operate should either themselves have a direct power of appointment or at least a direct power of suggesting appointees as members of the Board. I did pot think it was very likely that my noble friend would be prepared to accept direct appointment by the county councils to the Board, so I took the very much more moderate step, and I hope the more acceptable suggestion, of giving the appropriate county councils the function of suggesting people for appointment to the Board.

Last Thursday, in reply to an Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, my noble friend said that the Government's proposals for the constitution of the Board permit the appointment to it of members with wide experience of the locality. With that sentiment I am wholly in sympathy, for this is to be a body which is to be responsible for the social and economic development of its locality. I would think that there cannot be any authority with greater experience and knowledge of the area to be covered by the Board than the county councils within the area.

My noble and learned friend will probably in his reply to me call my attention to the words in the paragraph I am seeking to amend which say that the Secretary of State will appoint five members: £after consultation with such organisations as appear to him to be representative of local authorities in Wales. That is better than nothing, but it has to be remembered that such organisations tend to be a little remote from the day to day knowledge and experience of the area of each county council within the Principality.

I was for some time the chairman of an education committee. I represented my committee on the body which was representative of the Welsh education authorities, and I served on its executive council. That was an excellent body in every way. I do not say that merely because I was sitting on it; it was a good body before and it remained a good body afterwards. But that body did not know the personalities, nor the requirements, of my authority's area anything like as well as I did, for I lived in it, I knew it and I served it. I am not, however, proposing to cut out consultation with such organisations. What I am proposing is that we should, by Statute, require the Secretary of State to consult the authority, or authorities most directly affected before appointing members of the Board. This is a moderate and modest proposal.

In addition to the argument which I have advanced, I think that the very act of consultation and possibly the appointment of a person, or persons, suggested by the county councils might have the advantage of facilitating the consultation that the Board is to have under the terms of Clause 2(6) with the planning authority and, £such other local authorities and other bodies as appear to the Board to have an interest in preparing its proposals for submission to the Secretary of State. I am grateful for the support, which I am sure I am going to get from the noble Viscount, Lord Simon. He has already indicated this fact. 1 greatly value his support. I have had experience before of his excellent suggestions, and I am sure that my noble and learned friend will, if not think of my encouragement and request to him, at least consider the opinion of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon.

For the reasons that I have advanced, I sincerely hope that my noble and learned friend will give careful consideration to the suggestion that the county councils should at least be consulted about the people who will serve on the Board. I am not asking that the Board should be increased in size, or anything like that, at this stage, but rather that the county councils, the body most affected, should at least have a say in the whole matter of the appointments. I beg to move.

7.13 p.m.


In so far as I am capable of conversion on the road to Newtown, I can assure my noble friend that he would be very effective in accomplishing it as, of course, would the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, also. But may I try to explain how I see the land lies. At the moment, within the ambit of the proposed Board, there will be included in the Board's area a number of county councils; the Powys County Council as a whole; Gwynedd; and Dyfed in part, and then there will be five district councils as a whole. Schedule 1(3) provides, as a statutory duty imposed on the Secretary of State: Five offices as members of the Board shall be held by members appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with such organisations as appear to him to be representative of local authorities… Now the county councils have their own organisation in Wales—the Welsh Counties Committee. With that body, as I understand it, the Secretary of State has had discussions. I further understand that the Bill's provisions have been drafted in the light of the discussion with the organisation representing the county councils. To channel a decision upon what nominations should go forward to the Secretary of State through the county council's own organisation would seem to be an easier, certainly a quicker, way of achieving the best result than a series of separate consultations with one, two, three county councils, and possibly live district councils as well.

Not all county and district councils can be represented on the Board. The kind of approach that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has in mind will be to invite the submission of, say, four candidates from the Welsh Counties Committee of county councils, and possibly four from the Council of the Principality of borough and district councils, from which the five appointments will be made. Then he, the Secretary of State, must make the final decision in the light of securing a Board best capable of achieving a balance of the appropriate geographical, professional and other interests. That is how the matter stands.

Manifestly, on a matter of this kind, the county council within the Board area, by its representatives, would be keen to have its favoured son's name considered for nomination. And rather than clutter up this organisation with a massive series of consultations, which could really hold things up a great deal and lead to a great deal of unhappy conflicts of loyalties here and there which do arise in most parts of the country, I should have thought that to channel it through, as is suggested, the Welsh Counties Committee organisation was really the most sensible way of dealing with this modest problem.

Viscount SIMON

I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Champion, in this Amendment, and say briefly to the noble and learned Lord that there are of course difficulties where there are a number of people who, it may be thought, would be suitable members of the Board. I think that the noble and learned Lord let the cat out of the bag by saying that it would be much simpler if the Secretary of State could go to the County Councils Association. He is really only passing the difficulty to the County Councils Association. They have then to determine who the suitable people will be. After all, at least half the County Councils Association are not concerned in the matter at all.

This seems to me to be essentially a matter where the discussions should be with the elected representatives of the people concerned rather than with the County Councils Association. It is quite appropriate to consult this body on matters which affect the whole of Wales equally but not, I suggest, on a matter which concerns only a section—an important section but a fairly small section—of Wales. I urge the noble and learned Lord to give further consideration to this matter between now and Report.

Viscount AMORY

I support what the noble Lord, Lord Champion, has proposed and also what the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, has said. As the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said, there is a Welsh Committee of the County Councils Association and at first sight it is attractive to think that that might be the body which it would be simplest to consult. However, I think there is something in what the noble Viscount said in that that body is concerned primarily with the interests of the county councils in the whole of Wales and is set up primarily for the purpose of consulting the interests of the whole of Wales in this matter.

I should have thought that the complications of consulting four or five county councils in a specific matter of this kind would not have been overwhelming and that some way could have been found to consult them without it being too enerous or complicated a task. I hope very much that the noble and learned Lord will consider this matter further and will see whether the objections he put forward to Lord Champion's proposal are really as strong as he asked us to accept they were. The noble and learned Lord with his usual courtesy will, I am sure, treat this suggestion carefully and will see what he can do to meet the wishes that I thought were put forward very clearly indeed, and for very clear reasons, by Lord Champion.


Before my noble and learned friend replies, I would question him about the phraseology that is used in connection with the appointment of members to the Board after consultation with organisations " as appear to him " to be necessary. Considering the semantics and etymology of the word " appear ", it could be a shade or a shadow; an appearance may not be a reality. My noble and learned friend is so mellifluous and embracing in his language that we are liable to fall for the fact that once again we are introducing into central legislation even more remoteness, this at a time when we wish to destroy remoteness. One of the difficulties of the material age in which we live is the distance of the ratepayer and taxpayer from the operative forces that control his life, be it the local gas board or the Welsh Committee, and we should do all in our power to avoid this feeling of remoteness. We want nearness, and that seems to be the succinct purpose of this gentle Amendment.

The phrase, " No taxation without representation " should be impressed on us today when we in London are surrounded by so many Americans. We want democracy to come nearer instead of growing more and more remote, but I fear that with each piece of legislation which 20th century legislators turn out, remoteness grows. We in this tiny country are appealing for remoteness to disappear. I therefore beg my noble and learned friend to look at this matter again—to consider, if necessary, the possibility of ad hoc representation in the transition—and so meet the wishes of noble Lords.


It was clear when the noble Lord, Lord Champion, rose to his feet that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor was outflanked. When the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, rose to speak it was clear that he was surrounded. I can only counsel that he surrenders, and he can do so honourably since he will be surrendering to his friends. The case has been argued with such cogency and eloquence by Lord Champion and by all the four speakers who preceded me that it is necessary for me only to say that I share their motives and would welcome any success which they may obtain.


I agree that is is very important that we should have on the Board people of the area people who know the area and who can look after the interests of the area—and the fact is of course that on the county council's own organisation in Wales, Powys, Gwynedd and Dyfed will all be represented there; they will all have their man there. That noble roll of great Welsh authorities will be there represented by no doubt eloquent representatives with almost the eloquence of my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek, though to expect them to have as much eloquence as his would of course be an absurd expectation.

I will look at this matter again. I note the views that have been expressed. One of the problems that occur to me is that the Board's area will in due course possibly be extended, and then there will be yet another county council which will need its membership consulted by the Secretary of State, and so on ad infinitum. We want a little practicality, a little bit of sense, in this and I should have thought that where there is an organisation in existence representing these various councils, we should use it. If Lord Davies thinks that it will not appear to the Secretary of Stale that he should consult with the county councils and their representatives, it will indeed be a very remarkable politically minded person who would forget to do that when he has undertaken to appoint five representatives of the local authorities to the Board. I will, as I say, look at the matter again, but I implore noble Lords not so to clutter up the organisation of this modest body with such an excess of consultation that it will not only break the heart of any Secretary of State who will have to do it but reduce the thing to impotence in the operation. Without giving any promises, I will look at it again.


My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor is very persuasive. Equally, however, noble Lords who have supported my case have been very persuasive and I am delighted to realise that my noble and learned friend is willing to yield to that persuasion and to look at the matter again between now and Report. At least it appears that lie is likely to give it some consideration between now and then. With that in mind, I will not delay the Committee beyond thanking noble Lords who have supported my proposal: and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule I agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Members and staff of dissolved development corporations]:

On Question, Whether Schedule 2 shall be agreed to?


I had put down a marker to speak to this Schedule, but, having spoken to the paving Amendment, I will not delay the Committee further.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3 [The new towns code]:

7.29 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR moved Amendment No. 42:

Page 55, leave out lines 39 to 42.

The noble and learned Lord said: This is consequential on Amendment No. 36, which simply transferred the definition of " local authority " into Clause 31 itself, thereby applying the definition to the whole Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 4 and 5 agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Staff. of Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas]:

On Question, Whether Schedule 6 shall stand part of the Bill?


Again, I feel that I have spoken to a sufficient extent and have received sufficient answers to press this no further.

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Amendment of Acts]:

7.31 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 71, line 31, at end insert-—

(" (6) After section 47, at the beginning of Part VI there shall be added the following section:

" Consultation with Board about acquisition or disposal of land by Land Authority for Wales.

47A. The Land Authority for Wales shall consult the Development Board for Rural Wales upon all decisions to acquire or dispose of land in the area for which the Board is for the time being responsible and upon all matters concerning the management of land for the time being in the ownership of the Authority or of any of its agencies in that area.".")

The noble Lord said: At the end of the day, we present the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor with the opportunity of undertaking the difficult task of explaining precisely what are to be the relationships between the Board and the Land Authority for Wales in the matters specified in the Amendment. We spent some time in our deliberations during the first day of the Committee stage discussing the relationships between the Board and other authorities. This seems to me to be perhaps the most difficult of all. It did not seem right to allow the opportunity to pass at the Committee stage for the noble and learned Lord to do more than say that it is perfectly straightforward and to see exactly what the relationship should be. The Amendment proposes that, where the functions of these two bodies appear to us to overlap the Land Authority—which would appear to be the superior or more powerful body in this context—shall not act without consulting the Board because if it were to do so, it might well prejudice, pre-empt or, indeed, destroy plans which the Board had for the development of its own area. Since it was very clearly pointed out to us earlier on that the acquisition of land very often meant also its management for some considerable time, it is probably proper that mention of management as well as acquisition and disposal should be a matter for consultation by the Land Authority for Wales with the Development Board for Rural Wales. However, I would concede on a point of drafting that " all matters concerning the management of land " is probably an excessive demand.

I feel that we might be swifter in our deliberations if I now gave the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor a chance to reply so as to see whether the reply, which I am sure he will already have prepared, suffices to answer what might be a longer and more elaborate dissertation upon my part. I beg to move.


The effect of the Amendment which the noble Lord has moved is to require the Land Authority for Wales to consult the Board on all decisions to acquire or dispose of land in the area of the Board and upon all matters concerning the management of such land. Provision is already made in paragraph 15 (2) of the Schedule requiring the Land Authority to consult the Board in considering whether any land which is within the designated area of a new town within the Board's area is development land under the terms of the Community Land Act 1975. The Amendment seeks to extend the requirement for consultation to land other than land comprised in a designated new town area falling within the area of the Board. It also requires consultation prior to the disposal of any such land and upon all matters relating to management of such land.

In my submission, it is an unnecessary restriction on the Land Authority's role to impose such an extensive statutory requirement for consultation. It is envisaged that the bulk of the land acquired by the Board will be for purposes in connection with new town development. The Board has a major role in the development of the present new town and any future new towns. It is important that the momentum of this new town development should not be disturbed by uncertainty between the Land Authority and the Board as to which authority should acquire land within designated areas. Under the Comunity Land Scheme, the Board will at all stages be able to acquire and dispose of land for its own purposes without necessarily having to deal through the Land Authority. It is envisaged that it will itself acquire land for new town development without dealing through the Land Authority. Outside the designated area of a new town, it is anticipated that the Board will require small areas of land for advance factories and for housing key workers. The Land Authority, as the authority for the purposes of the Community Land Act, will have at first the power and eventually the duty to acquire land for development, and it could well he that, where the Board requires land for advance factory building and housing in support, it will acquire such land from the Land Authority. Alternatively, it will he able to acquire such land direct from private owners. However, its role in acquiring land for these purposes will not be so extensive as to require the extensive consultation that the Amendment specifies.

It must be remembered that both the Land Authority and the Board will be subject to direction from the Secretary of State, who will ensure the co-ordination of their respective activities. It is inevitable that consultation will occur between the two bodies, albeit not on the scale imposed upon them as a statutory requirement by the Amendment. The relationship established under the Community Land Act is between the Land Authority for Wales and the planning authorities. There is a statutory requirement for the Land Authority to consult county and district planning authorities. Their land acquisition programmes have to be based on local authority plans and to insert the Board into this process would be confusing and unnecessary except within new town areas where the bodies are required to consult under paragraph 15(2). I hope that that admittedly complex statement will satisfy the questions raised by the noble Lord in what is undoubtedly a difficult field.


Clearly, I shall want to read with care what the noble and learned Lord has said. However, I have listened with care and I take his point about paragraph 15(2) placing an obligation upon the Land Authority to consult the Board in certain cases. The noble and learned Lord went on at some length—and I do not say that critically, so I hope he will forgive me—to say that the Board should not be required to consult the Land Authority on a number of cases, including that of housing in certain areas.

However, the Amendment does not seek to impose such a duty; it seeks to impose a duty to consult upon the Land Authority for Wales when the latter does the acquisition. It may be that a closer study of the sub-paragraph will relieve my fears. But if it does not, then I think it is relevant to say that throughout the debate it has been implied by the Government that consultation, when it takes place as a result of Statute, is in some way more onerous than consultation which takes place ad hoc as being the commonsense way of carrying on. If that be the case, then it is an argument for statutory requirements to consult, because it would seem to imply that ad hoc arrangements may on occasion act superficially. But I think I ought to read with great care what the noble and learned Lord said about what is, admittedly, a very complicated matter, and it would be better if I did my thinking between now and Report stage rather than on my feet. Therefore. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.