HL Deb 12 June 1989 vol 508 cc1194-7

7.05 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

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

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The BARONESS LOCKWOOD in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Removal from registers]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, leave out lines 12 to 18 and insert—

  1. ("(a) that—
    1. (i) there is a dwellinghouse on the land and, if and so far as the land is not the site of that dwellinghouse, it is ancillary to that dwellinghouse; or
    2. (ii) the land is ancillary to a dwellinghouse which is not on the land; and
  2. (b) that the requirements of paragraph (a) above have been satisfied at all times since 5th August 1945.").

The noble Baroness said: Not for the first time today I have cause to be grateful to my noble friend the Minister and his officers for the enormous consideration which has been given to this Bill between Second Reading and this stage. Most of the points that were raised at Second Reading have been considered. Noble Lords will see that the amendments on the Marshalled List are the result of that work.

Amendment No. 1 clarifies the position of land which is ancillary to a dwelling, whether or not that dwelling is situated on the site. The substance of what will be the rewritten Clause 1 and subsection (2) remains the same. The scope of this Bill is therefore not extended by this amendment. We have clarified the position.

At Committee stage there was confusion about a dwelling and the garden. The word "curtilage" was mentioned. However, this rewritten subsection clarifies the position. I am reasonably confident that the wording is right, although there has been some difficulty in arriving at that wording. I should like to put on record that the changing of this subsection of Clause 1 in no way inhibits or thwarts the progress towards presenting a major Bill on common lands at some future date. I beg to move.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

To the best of my knowledge and understanding of the matter I accept entirely what the noble Baroness has said. She is aware that there are those outside the House who take a great interest int his matter, who are very keen that nothing more than the minimum should be taken at this stage, pending the major Bill. The Minister will recall that in a sense the provision was a manifesto commitment. We are waiting to see whether this tidies up the matter.

I shall read with care what the Minister says. I am grateful for what the noble Baroness has said. There are other stages in this Chamber. It is very important that the noble Baroness should have taken great care to ensure that there is no scope for people to misinterpret what has been done. Neither should it be used as a peg to argue other issues in a procrastinating way in another place. I am not teaching my grandmother to suck eggs but it is absolutely crucial that one avoids that possibility. I have heard what the noble Baroness has said and I raise no objection to the clarification.

Lord Monk Bretton

I welcome Amendment No. 1. It will deal with what we referred to colloquially at Second Reading as the garden-only case. I am quite sure that that is all to the good. I am very pleased to see that something has been done to clarify this situation. I strongly support the amendment.

Lord Hesketh

I undertook at Second Reading to look into the matter of whether the garden-only situation was adequately covered and to take appropriate action after discussion with the sponsors. The amendment gives effect to that undertaking and removes the ambiguity that previously existed.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham, asked about a Bill and its arrival. I cannot add to what I said on Second Reading a month ago. It remains our aim, as we stated in our response in January 1987 to the Common Land Forum Report, to introduce comprehensive legislation based broadly on the forum's recommendation at a suitable opportunity when parliamentary time permits. The situation remains to day as it was a month ago.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Before the noble Lord sits down, the arguments until about six months ago were that there was, if not dispute, doubt as to what should be included in the Bill. Refreshing my memory on my feet, my understanding is that the major objections to the thrust of the new legislation were clarified. That is therefore out of the way and the Government are simply saying that it is now a question of the management of parliamentary time. There is no issue of substance but merely a question of finding time.

This Bill has gone through quickly and I appreciate that it contains only one tiny element of a major Bill that is to come forward. The Minister will understand that there is likely to be considerable all-party support for that Bill when it arrives. If these few words encourage him to produce that Bill sooner rather than later, then our purpose will have been served.

Lord Hesketh

I think I should clarify the situation. Not all the outstanding issues have been completely resolved, and that is part of the reason why we have not yet been able to consider a firm date.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 2 and 3: Page 1, line 27, after ("relates") insert ("or in the case of any part of it"). Page 1, line 29, at end insert ("or, as the case may be, that part of it.").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I shall move both amendments together.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 give the power to the Commons Commissioner or his agent to consider part of a person's land or property. It is reasonable to assume that, with the Bill as drafted, when an application is made, for example, for deregistration and it involves a house, some land, and perhaps some other land over which there is doubt on whether it is ancillary, it is likely that if any one part of it does not conform and is not consistent with the requirements of the Bill, the whole package could be rejected. These two amendments allow the commissioner to consider any part of an application. In other words, perhaps two parts accepted and one part rejected.

My noble friend Lord Monk Bretton also had a particular concern and I believe that these two amendments go a long way towards meeting that concern. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 3, at end insert— ("() Section 17(2) of the said Act of 1965 (procedure of Commons Commissioners) shall apply to a matter referred to a Commissioner under this section as it applies to a matter referred under that Act.").

The noble Baroness said: The amendment simply takes Section 17(2) of the 1965 Act and applies it to this Bill. It is a purely procedural piece of legislation. Again, it enables the Commons Commissioners to refer an application to another commissioner. Perhaps I may quote the appropriate part of Section 17(2) of the 1965 Act. The reason why I wish to include this part in the Bill is that it refers only to the 1965 Act and we wish it to apply to the present Bill. It reads: Any matter referred to under this Act to a Commons Commissioner shall be dealt with by such one of the Commissioners as the Chief Commons Commissioner may determine, and that Commissioner may sit with an assessor selected by the Chief Commons Commissioner from the panel appointed under this section".

It is purely a procedural amendment designed to bring this Bill into line with the 1965 Act. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Regulations]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 5 and 6: Page 2, line 6, after ("also") insert ("(a)"). Page 2, line 7, at end insert— ("(b) require any notice of such an objection to be accompanied by such documents, statements or declarations as the regulations may prescribe; and (c) require a registration authority, on receiving such a notice, to take such steps as the regulations may prescribe for informing the public of the objection.").

The noble Baroness said: Again, with the leave of the Committee, I move these amendments together.

The amendments give power to the Secretary of State to make regulations, and in particular to make regulations notifying the public. The whole purpose of having this Bill before the Chamber at the moment is because this amendment was not included in the 1965 Act. It seems to me that among all the regulations that need to be made by the Secretary of State he must make a regulation that requires notification to be given not only to owners of land but also the kind of notification that one would make with any planning application. Therefore, these are particularly key amendments. Although regulations were made under the 1965 Act, this was a glaring omission and I hope that these two amendments will receive support. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

In the Title:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 7: Line 3, leave out ("is") to ("; and") in line 4 and insert ("a dwellinghouse or which is ancillary to a dwellinghouse and in respect of which that requirement has been satisfied at all times since 5th August 1945").

The noble Baroness said: This is the final amendment to the Bill. It is a consequential amendment making the title consistent with the amended Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.