Orders of the Day — >clause 1. — (Designation of areas of extensive war damage, and of land needed for providing for replacements in redevelopment thereof.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th October 1944.

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Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 23, at the end, to insert: Provided that where in any case all the land in an area of extensive war damage is held by one owner and he is able and willing to develop or redevelop the land consistently with the proper planning of the area of the local planning authority nothing in this Act shall authorise the local planning authority to purchase the interest of the said owner compulsorily."—[Lieut-Colonel Dower.]

Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

12.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr Stanley Prescott Mr Stanley Prescott , Darwen

When the Committee concluded its proceedings yesterday I had just stated that I supported this Amendment. I had not time to qualify that statement, as I must do, or to express the reasons why I support the Amendment. I will be as brief as possible. There is nothing in the Bill, so far as I can gather, to indicate what constitutes an area of extensive war damage. It might be two or three acres or more, or it might be a very small area. The only matter on which the Minister has to be satisfied, so far as I can gather, is that it is an area of extensive war damage and that it is desirable that it should be redeveloped as a whole. I fully appreciate that, with regard to most of the areas of extensive war damage of considerable size, it will be inevitable, and more than desirable, that they should be acquired by the local authority and redeveloped as a whole. That will apply especially in London and some of our larger cities. But I am en- visaging the case of some 10 or a dozen houses—and my support is limited for that reason—in a small area, which have been completely demolished as a result of one or two bombs. Those houses all belong to some developer who has built them at his own cost. The redevelopment of that site would be subject to town-planning restrictions, because the whole country is now deemed to be subject to an interim development order. It might be desirable that the owner should have permission to redevelop and that it should not be open to the local authority to make an application for an order under Clause 1.

If the right hon. Gentleman replies that in a case of that kind he would not give his consent to an application under Clause 1, I shall be quite content with that assurance, and will press the matter no further. In any event, even if this Amendment in toto were accepted, it would be possible for the local authority to avoid its application by incorporating one additional house on adjacent land, in which event the land would not belong to one owner, and therefore the local authority would be entitled to purchase it. In the case of a clearance order it is necessary that there should be one or more houses which are deemed to be unfit for human habitation. In that case, some restraint is placed upon the Minister in making an order, but, in the case of an order under Clause 1, I can see no limitation on the powers of the Minister. If there be a small area in which are three or four or 10 houses belonging to one owner, and he wishes to redevelop them in conformity with the scheme, he should be entitled to do so. I do not want it to be thought that I support a proposition that really extensive areas should be subject to this proviso—I do not—but I wish my right hon. Friend to consider the point I have put to him and, if necessary, to give some protection to the small man.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

I am amazed by the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend opposite and cannot think what is behind it, unless it indicates a sudden stirring among certain sections of the community who feel they have a special responsibility to look after the landed interests. During the last 24 hours they have come to the front singing that old tune "Don't touch my land." I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman will be led astray by the suggestion which has been put forward. There is no reason why the owner of a large property should be privileged in comparison with a small owner. I understood, according to the latest ideas, that hon. Members opposite claim that they stand for the small man, but if this Amendment were to be accepted all the replanning and redevelopment of bad areas which we have in view would be paralysed. I hope the hon. Member will not hold up procedure in this Committee by proposing what I can only call reactionary methods of this kind.

12.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I rise at this early stage in the proceedings in the hope that I may be able to assist the Committee to come to an early decision. I am afraid that it is quite impossible to accept the Amendment. It applies to areas of extensive war damage, and I cannot conceive of an instance of extensive war damage in an area in which all the property belonged to one man. I would further point out that to re-develop an area it is not necessary to acquire only the freehold but necessary for the authority to acquire all the interests, leasehold and any others. The whole object of this Clause 1 procedure is to clear up this mass of conflicting interests. If my hon. Friend can think of a ease where the fee simple of the land is in the possession of one owner and he has not leased any of it but still possesses all the interests in the land, I myself cannot conceive of such a case.

It would be quite impossible to accept the Amendment for that reason alone, but there are many other objections. Surely the area, if it is necessary to unite the ownership of it, should be in the hands of the local authority, which has to provide the sewers, the roads and all the other services which go to make a living community possible. I also feel that the words "willing and able," if they were allowed to remain in the Bill, might in future give rise to great questions of fact which it would be impossible ever adequately to resolve. Though it might be possible to say whether a man was willing, how could one guess or estimate his ability to carry out a long-term project of this character? To sum up my arguments against the Amendment I would say that the chances of its ever having to be put into operation are so infinitely remote and the possibility of future litigation arising are so great that I hope the Committee will come to an early decision against it.

Photo of Major John Mills Major John Mills , New Forest and Christchurch

I should like to put another Point of view to my right hon. Friend, speaking not as a private landowner but to represent the case of a statutory body such as the Church Estates Commissioners, who do own extensive properties and have all the interests such as he has mentioned in those areas. They have endeavoured in the past to be good landowners and to help in the development of building estates, not only in their own interest but in the interests of the prospective tenants of those estates. I need mention only housing schemes in Westminster, Vauxhall and Lambeth. Their properties in London have not escaped the attentions of the enemy bombers or of flying bombs, and the Commissioners do intend to redevelop such war-damaged areas in accordance with the plans of the local authorities and in the best interests of dispossessed tenants. The Commissioners have substantial resources and they propose to do the work, and it cannot be necessary or right for a local authority to purchase compulsorily considerable areas of the land of the Commissioners if they are willing to develop it or redevelop it in accordance with the views of the local authority. The Commissioners have not in view the making of large profits out of such building, but would regard it as their duty as good landowners to do the work and help in the reconstruction of these devastated areas. The help that such a body as the Church Estates Commissioners, with their resources, would be able to give to the local authority would assist in the problem of reconstructing London, and I feel sure that if they applied to the Commissioners that assistance would be forthcoming.

Photo of Mr Lewis Silkin Mr Lewis Silkin , Camberwell Peckham

The suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and all other agencies capable of carrying out this work ought to come to the assistance of local authorities is one thing, and I can assure him that the help of no such agency will be despised. The task of reconstruction will be so great that if the Ecclesiastical Commissioners come in to help their assistance will be most gratefully accepted. But that is quite a different matter from the proposal in this Amendment, which goes much further, and I am sure the hon. Member will agree that with this assurance that there will be the closest co-operation the Amendment should not be pressed.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

I am glad that my hon. Friend has just spoken, because I think his reply is very much more satisfactory than the reply which has been given by the Minister. The point I should like the Committee to consider is what the Minister is going to do with this land after it has been acquired. I would say respectfully that it is quite likely that he will sell a long lease of it to speculators—not to the owner of the land but to speculators; and it seems to me that where there is a good owner who takes pride in his land and is ready to do the right thing and to do what the town planning authority wants he should be given a chance of doing it rather than that the matter should be left in the hands of a speculator who may have bought a lease of the land from the Minister after the land had been compulsorily acquired.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I beg to move, in page 2, line 2, to leave out "replacements," and to insert: re-location of population or industry or for replacement of open space. This Amendment is designed to provide a more satisfactory and realistic definition of what we have been accustomed to call "overspill". It is an ugly word, and I wish I could think of something short to express the same idea. The fear has occurred to me that the mere use of the word "replacements" might be held to indicate that what is intended in the areas to be acquired is a mere housing estate replacing block by block the dwelling-houses which had existed previously. Of course, that is not the intention. What is desired is to create in these new areas proper neighbourhood units comprising not only dwelling accommodation but all the other buildings, public open spaces and so on which are necessary to a healthy and happy life, and though the definition is a long one I think the Committee will agree that it is better than the old wording of the Clause.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

May I ask for your guidance on this matter, Mr. Williams? This is entirely a question of definition and the Minister is proposing to substitute different words for what one may call the "term of art" which has been used in the Bill as drafted. He has another Amendment to the second paragraph of Sub-section (2) of this Clause, and I want to suggest a different drafting which would use the same word "replacements" which he is now proposing to omit and give to that word "replacements" exactly the same meaning as he desires to give to the words "re-location of industry." In doing so I do not want to be out of Order, but it is a little embarrassing when this point crops up here if it prejudices the definition of the word "replacements" or "relocation" as defined in the second paragraph of Sub-section (2).

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

This point of Order seems to deal with a somewhat technical point and perhaps we had better wait until we come to the second paragraph of Sub-section (2). For the moment we should discuss the Minister's rather simple Amendment which is before us.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

While I appreciate very much the concession which the Minister has made I would ask him to go a little further in this respect. The reference is to the replacement of open spaces, but there may be a number of cases where there was not an open space before but where it is very desirable that there should be one. Instead of "replacements" cannot he say "the provision of open spaces," so that whether people have had an open space or not in the past they will have an opportunity of getting one now?

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

I think the Ruling I gave a moment ago does rather concern what the Minister is doing in his later Amendment, and I would ask him if he could enlighten me on the position.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

May I explain that what the Minister is seeking to do, as I understand it, is to insert a series of words all through the Bill in order to make quite certain that what is commonly called overspill will include replacing not only residents but also industry and open spaces; and when we come to the definition of it I was going to suggest, merely for the purpose of avoiding the need for carrying a lot of consequential Amendments, that we should redraft slightly the interpretation in order that the word "replacements" all through the Bill should include not only the replacement of residents but also the replacement of industry and open spaces.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The point of view that I would like to commend to you, Mr. Williams, and the Committee on this matter is that it is primarily a drafting consideration that the words used should he as descriptive as possible of the idea which it is intended later to define. I feel that, though there would be some convenience in adopting the course which my hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) suggests, the word "replacements" does give a fundamentally false picture of what it is intended to describe in the longer Amendment which follows. It is not a question of merely replacing things as they were but of relocating people, putting them in another place with all the necessary equipment. For that reason, though the course which my hon. Friend suggests has a certain convenience, it is only a matter of machinery to get the words put in, and I would suggest that the words "relocation of population and industry" are more descriptive of what is intended than the word "replacements" and I would ask him when we come to that point to accept my words.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

That point will be arguable on the Amendment when we come to it.

12.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Vernon Bartlett Mr Vernon Bartlett , Bridgwater

I would like to come back to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) whether my right hon. Friend does not think that the word "provision" would be a more suitable word than the word "replacement." He has met an Amendment which we have down in a later Clause and we are grateful to him, but it seems to me that, assuming that these blitzed areas had no open spaces at all, if we use the ward "replacement" it does not give the authorities the liberty they should have.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

My hon. Friend can be assured that every proper provision is made for open spaces.

Photo of Mr Hugh Lawson Mr Hugh Lawson , Skipton

As well as the replacement of existing open spaces, will this Amendment allow of open spaces on a very much more generous scale?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Do I understand that the word "replacement" really includes the provision of open spaces?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Re-location, not replacement.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, leave out "within," and insert "before the expiration of."

This is a drafting Amendment, consequential upon what I have previously put before the Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, leave out "commencement of this Act," and insert "date appointed under the preceding subsection."

This is also consequential on what I have previously stated.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, after "Act," to insert: and in the case of agricultural land after consultation with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The purpose of this Amendment is to secure that land which is really suitable for agriculture shall not unnecessarily be taken for the purpose of building. Houses can be built on almost any kind of land, provided it is not of a swampy character, but good agricultural land is not found everywhere. I am sure that my right hon. Friend, as an ex-Minister of Agriculture, will be entirely sympathetic to this proposal. He may feel some objection to the form of the Amendment on the ground that, it might be considered to impair the doctrine of collective Ministerial responsibility. That aspect of the matter was raised during the passage of the Education Bill. An Amendment was inserted in another place which required the Minister of Education in certain circumstances to consult with one of his colleagues. The Minister of Education resisted the Amendment in this House and he resisted it mainly on the ground that, if he were going to consult one of his colleagues, having regard to the immense scope of the Bill, he would haves, in one way or another, to consult most of his colleagues about various matters that would arise in pursuance of the Education Bill. He, of course, mentioned that it infringed the doctrine of collective Ministerial responsibility. I do not think that that doctrine ought to be pressed too far, because, after all, if it were carried to its logical conclusion, we would not find in Bills and Acts reference to the Minister for this or for that. We would more conveniently just use the term "the Government," but as we always assign responsibility to the particular Minister to whom the work is appropriate, I think it is not unreasonable to suggest, when the Department of another Minister is intimately concerned, that that Minister should be brought into consultation before a final decision is taken. Indeed, in this very Bill, we find that certificates are required from other Ministers.

For instance, a certificate is required from the Minister of War Transport in certain circumstances. Well, that is something rather stronger than the consultation proposed in this Amendment. I feel that there are real merits in securing consultation with the Minister of Agriculture, but the presence of these words in the Act would also emphasise the vital necessity of regarding agricultural land in this country as of special importance. We have had sufficient experience now of its vital value to the community, and I think that planning can proceed quite unimpaired by respecting such agricultural land as is really good agricultural land, and that a distinction between good and bad agricultural land will be much more apparent after the war than it is at present. At present crops are being raised on all kinds of land regardless of cost, but when cost becomes a very real matter, and when subsidies eventually disappear, as I hope they will, then farmers will be vitally concerned with cost, and crops will be raised only upon such land as is good land. Therefore, it would be a great pity if, in the hurry of planning in the next year or two, good agricultural land were built upon, and I hope very much that my right hon. Friend will accept this Amendment in order to emphasise to local authorities the importance of respecting good agricultural land.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

I hope the Minister will give favourable consideration to this Amendment because, after all, in the national interest to-day, we are giving instructions as to what use is to be made of land, and when we are interfering with the free choice of the agriculturists, I think it is desirable that the opinion of the Minister of Agriculture should be considered. I do not say that he should have a controlling interest, but that the view of the Minister of Agriculture should be considered before any decision is come to by the planners who, themselves, would not know much about it. The Minister may say that, naturally, in the course of things, this consultation would take place as between Departments. That is quite true, and we know that a great deal of consultation does take place, but I think it is desirable that provision for such consultation should be in the Bill, because it is not assured that that will always be the case, whereas if it is specifically provided for in the Bill, it would mean that the matter would have the consideration of the Minister in whose charge it is.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

My hon. Friend who proposed this Amendment and my hon. Friend who has just spoken have both interpreted in advance what I am about to say, both in its favourable sense to their Amendment and in its unfavourable sense. Certainly it is one of the objects of Government planning to secure that land is put to its best use and that good agricultural land shall not be sealed off from production where houses can be placed on land of less value. I have stated that principle many times and we have carried it into effect. Indeed, I can tell the Committee that, to enable this purpose to be adequately pursued in future, we are in possession of more information now than we were in the past. A survey has been carried out of the agricultural land that is likely to be affected and its varying degrees of fertility assessed, and these particulars are in my Department and also in the Department of the Minister of Agriculture. The co-operation between us to secure this primary object of planning, extends not only to the Ministerial level, but the regional level where both he and I have regional officers who collaborate closely together, and I can tell the Committee that in the selection of sites for the projected housing programme, the agricultural aspect of the matter has been considered in every case before consent has been given. That never happened before, but it is a daily occurrence and habit of the two Departments now.

There remains only the objection to statutory provision for the consultation. There is the constitutional objection to which my hon. Friend refers, namely, that the Government speak and act as one. To require consultation with one particular Minister, does transgress that principle. In the work of my Department I have to consult, not only the Minister of Agriculture but many other Ministers, because a policy of the proper use of land in any particular instance brings in the widest considerations of Government and the well-being of the people in their various districts. I would give my hon. Friend and the Committee the most firm assurance that not only will this policy be followed in the future, but that it is being done now, and that machinery exists for this process to go on continuously and without interruption. With that assurance, I hope my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment.

Photo of Mr Robert Morgan Mr Robert Morgan , Stourbridge

I intervene only to say that I was going to support my hon. Friend in his Amendment, but I think it very important that we should get a clear-cut issue about the land required. I am not thinking only of good agricultural land, but of land which is now cultivated and in a poor way. I am talking about farm land in an area where they might want a school, or where a large part of the land might be needed for new houses. What I would like the Minister to assure me is that such plots of land, very considerable in size, would be carefully examined, and, if necessary, the owners of that land would not be required to give a three years' extension of notice after the end of the war. It seems to me that it will hold up the whole scheme of planning for a large city because of the threat that they have got a three years' lease after the termination of the war, which would seriously handicap large-scale planning in many areas.

12.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I understand that the Minister gives us an assurance that agricultural property will be properly looked after. No sound town and country planning scheme can be evolved, unless agricultural production is properly safeguarded. If the Minister gives us this assurance, why does he not put it in the Bill? We have several Amendments on the Order Paper on the same subject, and I am not sure that they will be called. We want more protection in the Bill for agricultural production. The necessity for this has been pointed out, and, if we want food production and agricultural interests in this country fostered, this recommendation which the Minister himself has made, and which I am sure is approved by most of us, should be carried out. I think the Bill should have some safeguard in it, and I cannot see why these words, which are really a minor safeguard, or this proposal, should not be put into the Bill. We may have Ministers of Agriculture who understand agriculture and are in sympathy with it, but we may also, at some time, have a Minister who does not. This provision may not always be carried out, and agriculture may be reduced, by war damage and other things, to the state in which it found itself 20 years ago. It is easy enough to deal with war damage on the farms. It is not like the towns, where you have whole streets demolished. It is essential that knowledge of the planning of the countryside should be available, and that the Minister of Agriculture should be consulted. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give more than the present assurance, but will have a provision put in the Bill, even at a later stage.

Photo of Mr Vernon Bartlett Mr Vernon Bartlett , Bridgwater

If I may support my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken, I would say that we ought never to forget the terrible discrepancy between the money obtained for agricultural land and that obtained for building land. For that reason, I still hope that the Minister can make a greater concession and put this provision in the Bill. I think it very important that it should be emphasised.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

I rise to support the arguments advanced in the last two speeches. The Minister's speech was satisfactory, as far as it went. It showed that my right hon. Friend will take all the steps he can to see that agricultural land is not used for building, if other land is available. It is, I think, of great importance that something should be put in the Bill in regard to this matter. I cannot see the difficulty, because—I think it is in Clause 12—the Minister of Agriculture is brought in with regard to commons, and, if he is brought into consultation in regard to commons, why should he not be brought in regarding other land? It is important that we should have this put down in the Bill.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

While I appreciate the difficulty of my right hon. Friend in accepting the words of this Amendment on constitutional grounds, I wonder if he could not find some way of putting into the Bill words which would operate as an instruction to planning authorities to have full respect for agricultural land. The Minister spoke of consultations, not only at the Ministerial level but at the regional level. That may be all right for the moment, but regional authorities may disappear immediately after the war. Personally, I hope very much that they will. If they do disappear, consultation at the lower level will disappear with them.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

My right hon. Friend is aware that there is another stage of the Bill at which he could introduce words to secure that consultation shall take place at the lower level. I think something is necessary to impress upon local authorities their duty in respect of agricultural land.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I hope my hon. Friends will accept the assurance I gave, which I do not think could be in stronger or more definite terms, that agricultural needs and necessities will be a primary object of Government policy in the use of land. We shall try to keep all the good land we can; we have too little of it now. But the constitutional objection remains. Reference was made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tiverton (Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte), to consultations with the Minister of Agriculture, under Clause 12, in regard to commons. That was put in because the Minister of Agriculture has, by statute, certain duties and obligations in regard to commons, and it is to clear that up that it conies in there.

With regard to what has been said about regional authorities, I would like to clear up what is probably a misapprehension in the mind of the mover of the Amendment. When I dealt with co-operation on a regional level, I was not referring to the Regional Commissioners set up for the purposes of the war, but to the subordinate officers of our two Departments, being all of them civil servants who are dispersed into the various Regions, and act there between, the local authorities and ourselves here, and it is these people who will actually have to secure that local authorities have regard to the needs of agriculture. In every case, that has been done, and they are not likely to disappear.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

Does the Minister mean that the Land Commissioners and the War Agricultural Executive Committees will be consulted by the planning authorities?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The machinery for this is novel, and, if it would interest my hon. Friend, I would add that, in each Region, there is a Regional Rural Land Utilisation Officer. He is an officer of the Ministry of Agriculture whose concern is to watch over agricultural land in all these planning schemes. There is also an officer of my Ministry, the Regional Planning Officer and these two will consult together before the land is devoted to non-agricultural purposes. It is new machinery, created for the purpose of carrying out the spirit of my hon. Friend's Amendment, and I hope he will not press it by transgressing upon the constitutional question.

Photo of Mr Ernest Shepperson Mr Ernest Shepperson , Leominster

Our difficulty is that the statement which the Minister has made goes out in HANSARD, but this Bill, if passed, goes on the Statute Book, and future authorities will be governed by the Statute and not by HANSARD. That is our only difficulty in regard to the Bill. We would like to have the assurance that, during the whole duration of this Bill, we would have the present Minister in charge. If we had that assurance, there would be no difficulty.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

If my right hon. Friend will not put this in the Bill, will he make it an instruction that the land utilisation officer is bound to be consulted by the planning authorities?

Mr. Hug;h Lawson:

While I fully agree that the Minister should consult the Minister of Agriculture on these matters, I am a bit worried by one thing which the Minister said—that it was a primary object in these matters to regard land for the purpose of agriculture. It seems to me that it could quite easily happen that an area of overspill might be regarded as desirable for building a satellite town. If you are going to do that, you will have to take in a large amount of agricultural land and convert it to urban use. I do not want the Minister to say anything which would discourage local authorities, in suitable cases, from taking agricultural land, if it is necessary, for building satellite towns.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

Before I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, would my tight hon. Friend answer the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Tiverton (Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte)?

Photo of Major Sir Derrick Gunston Major Sir Derrick Gunston , Thornbury

I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, after "land," insert: whether within their area or not. This is a qualifying Amendment, and I think we ought to make the position quite clear. It would be rather disastrous, I think, if it was discovered after the passing of this Bill, and after the Minister gave his consent for the compulsory acquisition of land under Clause 1, that the scheme for some of this land outside the area of the authority could not be carried out. I understand that the words "any land" would cover the point, but perhaps the Minister would give us an assurance on the matter? I should like to ask my right hon. Friend or the Solicitor-General if they are satisfied that there is no danger that, in future, it may be interpreted as applying only to land within the area of the authority? I think it would be wise if these words were inserted.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I can reassure my hon. and gallant Friend that this Amendment is unnecessary, and, because it is unnecessary, it is undesirable. So far from strengthening the point which my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind, it would weaken it, because the words which he seeks to insert are plainly covered by the Clause as drafted. In every passage of the Bill, when the intention is to limit the purchase to land within the area of the authority, the Bill expressly so provides. It would be undesirable to qualify the expression "any land" by the words which my hon. Friend suggests, and, with that assurance, I hope he will withdraw the Amendment.

Photo of Major Sir Derrick Gunston Major Sir Derrick Gunston , Thornbury

I thank my hon. Friend and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Commander Robert Bower Commander Robert Bower , Cleveland

I beg to move, in page 2, line 9, at end, insert: Provided that the Minister shall not make an order declaring the land to be subject to compulsory purchase for the purpose of replacements which is occupied and used for the purpose of industry or business. 1.0 p.m.

The object of this Amendment is, I think, quite clear. We feel that, as the Bill at present stands, a planning authority may very well do great injury to existing industry by taking over premises which are actually being used for industrial purposes, in order to rehouse people brought from blitzed areas. We feel that, in the very difficult circumstances of the transition from a war-time to a peace-time economy, it is essential that there should be as little interference as possible with building up industry and trade immediately after the war, especially having regard to the enormous commitments in the way of social services with which we know the Government are going to be saddled. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some assurance, even if he does not accept the Amendment, that some steps will be taken to see that undue interference with the progress of industry will not be tolerated in any of these schemes.

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

I hope that the Minister will resist the Amendment, which seems to be contrary to all sound town planning principles. Up to now residential land has always had preference over industrial, and when a business asks to be allowed to extend inside a residential area, it is prevented from having more than the permitted one-eighth. It would be unfortunate if the tendency to remove a business from a purely residential area were interfered with in any way. I would be surprised if the mover of the Amendment did not complain if he found a factory developing itself at his front door. He would take steps to see that his own residential area was as free from factories as possible. I hope that in future town planning will tend towards the separation of residential from business areas. It would be a pity if a man came to regard his home not so much as his castle, but as the back door to someone else's factory, and I trust that the Minister will resist the Amendment.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The Amendment, as it stands, cannot be accepted because it would unduly prejudice proper planning in the future and I can give my hon. and gallant Friend the assurance that he requires. Common prudence would prevent a planning authority from unnecessarily demolishing a building in beneficial occupation for trade or industry but to insert the restrictions that my hon. and gallant Friend proposes might seriously prejudice the planning of an industrial area in regard to the construction of some necessary road which might be advisable for the amenity of the community. My hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that good administration, both locally and at the centre, will prevent unnecessary extensive destruction and I hope he will withdraw the Amendment, which would, I think, unduly hamper proper planning in these areas.

Photo of Commander Robert Bower Commander Robert Bower , Cleveland

In view of the assurance of my right hon. Friend, although I am not prepared to admit that all local authorities are invariably acting with common prudence, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out from "expression," to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert: 're-location of population or industry' means, in relation to an area of extensive war damage, rendering available elsewhere than in that area, whether in an existing community or in a community to be newly established, accommodation for residential purposes or for the carrying on of business or other activities, together with all appropriate public services, facilities for recreation, worship and amenity and other requirements, being accommodation to be rendered available for persons or undertakings who are living or carrying on business or other activities in that area or who were doing so but by reason of war circumstances are no longer for the time being doing so, and whose continued or resumed location in that area would be inconsistent with the proper planning thereof; and the expression 'replacement of open space' means, in relation to an area of extensive war damage, rendering land available for use as an open space or otherwise in an undeveloped state in substitution for land in that area which is so used. This Amendment is really consequential on what I said earlier. It is a new definition of replacement, and I do not know whether the Committee would like me to spend time upon it. I think it is wide enough to cover all requisites for creating good communities in these areas.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

The next Amendment to the Clause stands in my name—in page 2, line 11, after "providing," insert "in connection therewith," and there is an Amendment later in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stafford (Major Thorneycroft)—in page 2, line 18, leave out from "state," to end of Sub-section. Are they now to be called or can we deal with them on this particular Amendment?

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

We have to decide whether the words proposed to be left out are to stand or not.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

Is it made clear, with the substitution of the words in the proposed Amendment, that, in considering the question of open spaces, it will not be the duty of the planners to provide open spaces where open spaces have previously been in existence, but to provide them where they are necessary in other areas under their planning schemes? It is common knowledge that open spaces should be provided in all areas where they are necessary and not where they existed before. If I am assured of that, there will be no necessity for the Amendments to which I refer.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

Is there any object in the last few words of the Amendment: In substitution for land in that area which is so used. Would it not be more convenient if it were left with "land available … in an undeveloped state"? I doubt whether anything is met by the additional words.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I can give my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) the assurance he wants, and I can reply to my hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) in the following way. The general words in the proposed definition are wide enough to include the proper provision of open spaces within that proposed new community. The later words to which he referred relate to a contingency which it is possible might arise, namely, that in the replanning of a congested urban area, it may be a good plan to cover the existing open space with houses. These additional words give power to a planning authority to provide, in substitution for the open space which is covered in the built up area, an open space outside for the people in the built up area.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

I beg to move, in page 2, line 28, after "statement," to insert "and map."

The Amendment is a very simple one. Sub-section (4) as at present drafted reads: An application … shall be accompanied by such statement … indicating the manner in which it is intended that the land … should be laid out. The Committee will readily agree that a verbal statement, however precise and carefully worded, cannot give an adequate and clear impression of what is proposed. I hope that it is not necessary for me to argue this at any length and that the Minister will find his way to accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I can accept the Amendment in principle though not in the words proposed. There is no doubt that a map will be required to illustrate the proposals of the local planning authority. The actual form of the words, however, requires rather careful consideration and I would suggest to my hon. Friend that he should withdraw his Amendment on the undertaking that the matter will be considered and an appropriate form of words will be moved by my right hon. and learned Friend at a later stage.

Viscount Hinching;brooke:

If the Parliamentary Secretary will look at Sub-section (3) he will see that a map or maps annexed to the application are required. It is surely sufficient for the purpose to attach the map to the application, as provided for in Sub-section (3). Each Sub-section deals with a different point—No. 3 with the map and No. 4 with the statement, and both have to be attached to the application.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I will certainly look at the point that my hon. Friend has made.

Viscount Hinching;brooke:

That makes the Amendment unnecessary.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I think not. I will satisfy my Noble Friend when we come to deal with the Clause.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hammersley Mr Samuel Hammersley , Willesden East

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment on the undertaking which has been given by the Minister.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

I beg to move, in page 2, line 29, after "indicating," to insert "in general terms."

The words fit in well with the Amendment which has already been accepted. Those familiar with the preparation of schemes for town planning as it existed before the procedure outlined in the Bill, will be aware that the task of defining in words with any exactitude what was intended involved a great deal of labour, and did not, in the end, convey to anybody anything more than could have been found by consulting a map. It has been agreed in principle that a map should be an appropriate part of the procedure in Sub-section (4) and, therefore, if any provision is retained to secure descriptive matter, it is only right that that descriptive matter should be of a general character, and not of the old-fashioned exactitude which has proved such a hindrance in the past.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

There is no intention at all to ask for particulars from local authorities in excess of the degree that it is necessary to establish the case for the acquisition of the land. Therefore the addition of the proposed words would not alter the general existing practice very much but would be mischievous in another sense. It might be necessary in some cases, particularly on the fringe of the area that is designated, that a proposed new road or the land ought to be indicated with preciseness. I fear that if the Amendment were accepted, I might be precluded by the words of the Statute from requiring that degree of precision in such a case that would be necessary for the proper administration of the proposal. That is my fear, but I think that nothing could be more reasonable from the point of view of local authorities than the proposal in the Section, which is that in the first place it is for the local authorities themselves, not me, to decide what statement is necessary to establish their case. Then I am given powers to ask for further particulars if I should require them. What I have particularly in mind are the fringe areas, the lay-out of new roads and so on, and I would therefore ask my hon. and learned Friend to leave the Clause as drafted.

1.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

Would the right hon. Gentleman particularise his assurance a little further? He referred to the existing practice which does in fact cast a heavy duty upon those preparing these plans. I agree entirely with what he said about the necessity for more particularisation in respect of the fringe areas and on the lay-out of roads—there is a case for them—but here we are dealing not only with the fringe and the roads but also the way in which the land will be developed inside the area, and the local authority ought not at this stage to be tied down to extra particularity on the method, any more than would be outlined in a map. I would ask my right hon. Friend, for the assistance of the planning authorities and not for any other purpose, to extend his assurance a little and to say that he will not demand, with respect to the internal description, the same particularity as he will with regard to roads and fringe areas.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I can give the general assurance, if it will assist my hon. and learned Friend, that the proposals should be indicated only sufficiently to establish the case for the order. I cannot go further than that. I shall try to administer the Section in the best and most reasonable spirit to secure precision where precision is necessary, but not to clog administration by requiring information in excess of the amount required for me to discharge my duty.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

Upon that assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Colonel Albert Ward Colonel Albert Ward , Kingston upon Hull North West

It seems to me that the next five Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin)—in page 2, line 34, leave out from "arrangement," to "and," in line 35; in line 38, at end, insert: Provided that the authority, with the consent of the Minister, may vary the statement from time to time."; in line 38, at end, insert: (5) An application for an order under this section shall be further accompanied by such information as may be necessary to indicate the relation between the intended lay-out of the land in the area of extensive war damage and the existing or intended lay-out of the surrounding locality.''; in line 40, after "statement," insert "and further information as aforesaid,"; and in page 3, line 4, leave out "and of the statement submitted to. him"—cover very much the same ground, and it may be for the convenience of the Committee if they are all discussed together.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

I beg to move, in page 2, line 34, to leave out from "arrangement" to "and," in line 35.

This Amendment is, as you say, Sir Lambert, a suitable one on which to discuss this principle. My hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) and I are very much obliged to the Minister for the undertaking he has just given as to the spirit in which the arrangements will be carried out, and we are glad he agrees that it would be undesirable to go into over-precise and rigid detail at this stage of the business. We think, however, that it would be better if these words were left out so that there is no requirement to deal with the surrounding locality. We think perhaps the case would be best met—for the reasons which the Minister explained and well understood, and which it is unnecessary for me to go into again—if the arrangements with regard to the surrounding locality were dealt with in a separate document submitted to the Minister which would have regard to the general relationship between the proposed development and the surrounding locality, which would be indicated for the Minister's information and would contain all that he wanted it to contain, by additions subsequently, if necessary, to satisfy him that this was an Order which he ought to make.

It is proposed to make it clear that the lay-out of the area shown in the statement is not unalterable and these subsequent Amendments deal with that; it is not to be a rigid plan which cannot be subsequently departed from, because, if that is insisted upon, will it not lead to hasty work which subsequent experience and development might make it very desirable to amend? The local authority might, to take one aspect of it, be unable within the time to do all the exact and precise work that is necessary, and being quite unable, of course, to foresee the development during the years to come, it would make a general request for a requisition of large areas of land which might not be necessary at all. It would be very much better in our view, therefore, if the authority were able subsequently to amend and adjust and make more precise its plan in the light of experience. If these words were amended, what is required to be done, in the spirit of what the Minister said, would be confined to the area, and the surrounding locality would be indicated in a separate document for the Minister's information to enable him to have the information that he ought to have in coming to a judgment on the application, and then this surrounding area could be subject to amendment and adjustment and improvement. That is the spirit of these Amendments and perhaps, if I leave it there, it would suit the convenience of the Committee.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I appreciate what my hon. Friend the Member for Kennington (Mr. Wilmot) has in mind, but I cannot advise the Committee to accept this series of Amendments. I think really the conclusive argument against them is perhaps this, that the relationship of the proposals for the war damaged area to the planning of the wider area must be made public in order that the question whether the proposals for the area of extensive war damage are good justification for the compulsory acquisition may be settled. The justification of the compulsory acquisition will depend on the plans as a whole. Indeed, if you take the plan for the internal area alone, it may be unintelligible, and the position of a person who wishes to argue whether the proposed acquisition is justified or not, must depend on some knowledge of the relationship of the planning of the internal area with the surrounding area.

The various points on good planning and planning for a complete area, which I know the hon. Member for Kennington has very much in mind, demand that they should be considered together, and I think they also demand that anybody who wishes to have an opportunity of commenting on the validity and rightness of the plan should have that same knowledge. For those reasons I cannot advise the Committee to accept this Amendment. As for the spirit with which my Ministry proposes to co-operate with the planning authority, I do not think there is any difference in any quarter of the Committee, but I think that the proposals for the limited publication, which this series of Amendments would allow, would really not be in accordance with the justice of all parties which we have endeavoured, by the drafting of this Clause, to secure.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

Would the Minister be willing to make it clear that the plan of the area shown in the statement is not necessarily to be unalterable but can, with the consent of the Minister, be amended in the light of greater experience or new circumstances? If that were done, it would go a very long way to meet the intention of these Amendments. Could I have the Minister's assurance on that?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

Does the hon. Member mean that if there is amendment, there should be no publication of the amendment?

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

No. The Minister has already given the reason why he cannot accept that, and I am bound to accept it too. Within that limitation which he finds it necessary to impose, provided there is publication at a subsequent date of an alteration of the original plan made in the light of new circumstances, I want that to be in order and to be within the framework of the Act, so that the Minister may have discretion to approve the alteration and so that the original plan shall not be cast out as unalterable.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I am anxious not to give any assurance that I am not quite certain is right, and it may be that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General will help us further on this. My view at the moment is that there will be no impossibility of desirable amendments provided there is adequate publication of the amendments, but I do not think, at the moment, that I am in a position to give the assurance for which my hon. Friend is asking me. However, I will consider the point.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

I am very much in sympathy with the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Kennington {Mr. Wilmot) and I think it would be a great mistake if the original plan were cast out. However, one must look at the other point of view, which is that if any modifications or alterations were made to that plan, then there must be the same safeguards and the same checks which the Minister has been good enough to suggest should apply to the application as a whole. If my right hon. Friend is able to devise some means by which those can apply to any alteration in the plan, then it would certainly have my wholehearted support.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Perhaps I might say just a word on this matter as I know it is very important. We shall certainly consider everything that has been said. The position as I see it is this, that in so far as the local authority concerned is asked to provide few particulars, these particulars are of major importance. In the case of a highly detailed requirement, of course, such a requirement would entail upon the local authority the duty of providing a great deal of minute information, but in so far as the administration requires only the broad outlines, it would not be right to allow those broad outlines to be varied without suitable notice. I think that all my hon. Friends are after is that if there is anything of importance which is required to be varied, then it should be published, but that the authority should not be unnecessarily tied down with minutiae from proceeding with the reconstruction of its area in strict accordance, it may be, with minor points in its application.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

May I press the Minister to go a little further? We have only got to the stage when an authority will be providing a map, and upon that map will appear, I hope, fairly generally, the type of development in the different parts of area to be planned. It may well happen that between the time when this has been accepted and the Order made under Clause 1, to the time when development and acquisition under Clause 2 actually take place, a proposition may be put to the local authority which would need an adjustment of the different areas, say the industrial as compared with the residential.

1.30 p.m.

I have in mind an inquiry in which I took part, although I now forget whether I appeared for the owner of the property or for the authority. What happened was that the area, which was destined for industrial development, turned out not to be large enough to enable further industrial development to take place. The area was described as industrial and pleasing in appearance and it was said the development would not affect the amenities of the nearby area for residential purposes. In such a case I think it would be quite right for the local authority to adjust the boundaries laid out in order to permit such a desirable development. As things are now I do not see that such a possibility would be open to any authority. I quite agree that they should be required to give proper notice of their intention but I would like the Minister to say that there should not be, about these boundaries, a finality that would prevent the planning authority from altering them, subject to the Minister's consent and subject to publication before they got to the next stage.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

The Minister has gone so far in this matter that I hesitate to press him further but he used the term "minutiae." It is rather more than that. Let us take a possible case: A planning authority anticipates industrial development and it provides, therefore, in its original plan for the surrounding authority, an area of housing development on the only land that is available, agricultural land. That plan is sanctioned. If, subsequently, it appears that industrial development will not take place to the extent anticipated and, therefore, the housing development may not be required, it would be quite wrong not to be able to amend the plan to meet the changed circumstances. That would not be a change of detail but a change of major outline. I want to ask the Minister to include that kind of possibility within the definition which he has made, because it would be quite wrong to make rigid something which was drawn up in circumstances which were different from those which had occurred. If the Minister would enlarge his definition to the kind of case I have mentioned I should be very happy.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I hope the Minister will consider carefully indeed before accepting the suggestion which has just been made by the hon. Member opposite. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hughes) based his support of the Amendment on two grounds, which seemed to me to be quite distinct. While I would be prepared to support the view that there should be flexibility for alteration of the layout within an area which is the subject of the original application, it seems that if you are going to leave discretion to the local authority—

Mr. Manning;ham-Buller:

To the local authority to alter an area affected by its application from time to time, maybe more than once, you will get no finality in this matter. You may get a local authority applying in the first place for more than it wants and a lot of people would be put to unnecessary trouble in being served with notices with which they ought not to be served. I want the local authority to do its job properly. After all, they have five years from the date of the passing of the Act to put forward proper applications, and I should have thought that that would suffice. In regard to the internal layout of the application, I agree that that should be subject to alteration from time to time if the local planning authority and the Ministry think fit, but different considerations seem to apply with regard to the extent of the area. There may be a case for saying that in certain circumstances there should be minor adjustments, but I hope the Minister will consider carefully before he gives any assurance with regard to the area.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , Dorset Southern

I think my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) is too harsh. What he has been saying is tantamount to a freezing of the plan of the local authority, agreed upon at any time during the next five years, until we choose to legislate again on this subject. I think opportunities must be given to local authorities to vary their plans. We are, in a sense, in this Committee, up against one of the great difficulties involved in planning on a big scale. I hope the Minister will look into the possibility of giving both local authorities and individuals means by which a readjustment of their plans, as a result of changes which are bound to take place through the development of trade and industry, may be made. We must not arrive at a situation in which we freeze a particular plan, and insist upon it being carried out to the last detail.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

It is a rare occasion when I find myself in partial agreement with the Noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), but I feel rather sympathetic towards the Amendment from the point of view which was put forward yesterday when we discussed the question of accelerating dilatory authorities. My right hon. Friend said some words would be brought forward on the Report stage with a view to removing unnecessary delay, following our request for a reduction of the period from five to two years.

Mr. Manning;ham-Buller:

The Minister said nothing about reducing the period. He gave an assurance about investigating the possibilities of speeding up local authorities, but he made it quite clear that he was not prepared to reduce the period from five years to two.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Perhaps I might try to help the Committee in this difficult matter, which arises not so much on the words of the Statute which it is being sought to amend but on the problem of administration, in holding the proper balance between the two great interests which are at stake. I gave my own description of how I thought things would work out and said that on broader issues I should have to have notice but not on little things. I have been asked to go a stage further, and my hon. Friend opposite quoted an interesting case which might easily arise. I hope he will not ask me to expand my assurance, but will accept the general spirit of this administrative problem, which is that local authorities and the Minister, any Minister in my position, must act as co-operators in a common task and not fight against each other. If both local authorities and my Department administrate in that sense then I feel sure that the difficulties which appear formidable will not arise.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

That suits me admirably, except for one point. The Minister may not be protected against property interests who might say that in consenting to an alteration of plans which have been laid and published he was doing something which was ultra vires. I should be glad to have an assurance from the Solicitor-General that if the Minister thought such a case as I mentioned was a case where plans of the surrounding area should be altered, and he approved it, he would not be acting outside the Statute or be attacked for doing so.

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

I quite appreciate the importance of the point which has been raised by the hon. Member, and he will appreciate that it is very difficult here to get out of the region of degree and distinguish it from the region of principle. If there was a complete alteration in the suggested plan, the view might well be taken that that should be a matter for a fresh start.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

It would be too late for a fresh start.

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

I think it is best, if I am not derogating from the authority of my right hon. Friend, to consider again the question of an amendment of this scheme.

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

At this stage. I entirely agree that practically every problem will be an administrative one, which will be covered, but I should be very pleased to give my attention towards assisting my right hon. Friend on the point which is worrying my two hon. Friends opposite. If we consider that any special provision for amendment, with the corollary of protection of those who are affected, is required, we shall bring the matter before the House again. I hope that will satisfy my hon. Friends.

Photo of Major Guy Lloyd Major Guy Lloyd , Renfrewshire Eastern

I have listened carefully to what the Solicitor-General has said, and I would like to say that some of us here are divided on this point, are not by any means in agreement with the argument which has been put forward and towards which my hon. and learned Friend has appeared to be unduly sympathetic. I hope the matter will be given very careful consideration.

Mr. Moelwyn Hug;hes:

I would like to assure my hon. and gallant Friend that we appreciate what it is that he desires to protect and that the Amendment is concerned with the users of the land more than with an area of acquisition. As regards land which may be affected by acquisition it is quite immaterial to them what may be the purpose to which the land will be put. The assurance given will not prejudice in any way property interests that may be affected.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

In view of the wide assurance given by the Minister and the undertaking which the Solicitor-General has given to see that the Minister is not stopped from exercising his discretion, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Colonel Albert Ward Colonel Albert Ward , Kingston upon Hull North West

I take it that the hon. Member for Kennington (Mr. Wilmot) does not wish to proceed with the other Amendments.

1.45 p.m.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, after "hours" insert: and a place where a copy may be obtained on payment of a prescribed fee. What I have in mind is a case where a vast number of people who are very seriously concerned as to how an application will affect them, and who will be wondering whether they are going to lose their homes, their shops or their businesses or, alternatively, may welcome the new development as a means to reinstate their shops or homes, when they go to see what is to happen will not have proper facilities for examining the application carefully. These official documents may be understood by Members of Parliament but very often their constituents have not the foggiest idea what the words actually mean. I see a picture in my mind of people, very harassed, wondering what is to happen, going there and being told, "There you are. Those are the particulars. Have a look at them and then pass them on." I do not think that is really treating the public as they ought to be treated. If, as occurs now, anyone is affected under an Act of Parliament he can go to the Stationery Office and buy a copy of the Act and take it to his friends or to his family solicitor, if he has one, and ask exactly what it means and how it will affect him. The same kind of provision should be inserted in this Bill. You cannot do very much more to a person than take away his home, or provide him with another, as the case may be. He is affected in his most vital interest. His whole future life may de- pend upon it. Will he have to leave his circle of friends? Will he lose the goodwill of his little shop? Will he have to change his whole method of life? I do not think it is unreasonable to ask that there shall be made available for him a copy which will show him how the application will affect him, so that he can take away a piece of paper which in his own time and in his own way he can examine to find out what is to happen to him.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not accede to this almost impossible request. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is apparently not familiar with planning maps. It has been the rule for authorities to have these maps available for inspection, and the smallest possible scale from which any particular owner of property may expect to get some indication of how his property will be affected is the 25-inch ordnance map. The hon. and gallant Gentleman stressed the case of the small shopkeeper. You cannot ascertain how a small shop will be affected from any ordnance map less than the 25-inch one. Planning maps which are exhibited in the offices of local authorities generally require a special room and a wall to themselves. The Amendment calls for a copy of the map covering the area to be re-planned. It is not a request for the reproduction of a small piece of the map but for a copy of the whole map. To make these copies available at a prescribed fee would lead to all sorts of fantastic results. In the first place, the reproduction of the map would be extremely costly, and if the Committee decided that it had to be reproduced, we are faced with the fanciful figure of the small shopkeeper taking home with him a copy of the map of such a size that he has not a wall in his shop where he can hang it up to study it. It is difficult to imagine that the Amendment was thought out before it was put on the Paper. I hope the Committee will not waste time upon it and that the right hon. Gentleman will reject it out of hand.

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

Are not most planning maps made in sections?

Mr. Hug;hes:

The Amendment refers to copies of the map which the authority will have to submit to the Minister, and it is one copy and not a collection of maps which will have to be submitted. The question of sections does not arise.

Mr. Coleg;ate:

I support the Amendment because of the peculiar circumstances in which many of these owners will be placed during the next few years. I am not certain that, if we were in fairly normal times, I should support it. The hon. and learned Gentleman has shown no appreciation at all of the conditions that are likely to be found. We are considering a period about five or six years hence. It is clear that during the next five years thousands of owners will be overseas not only in the Army, but in the Navy and the Air Force—they will be required in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, all over the place [AN HON. MEMBER: "Wrekin and all."]We are not frightened for The Wrekin. Many a lad from the Severn lies beside the Nile today. It shows a complete lack of imagination on the opposite side not to realise what conditions are to-day and what they will be during the next five years. Why should an owner serving overseas not be able to get a copy of a plan that is going to affect his property? Perhaps he writes to his sister or his wife to ask what is happening. Is she, an unqualified person, with no technical qualifications, to go to the Town Hall and reproduce in detail, with all the legal terminology and so forth, exactly how that person's property will be affected? The simplest thing is to have a copy of the scheme and the map.

The hon. and learned Gentleman is quite wrong about the map. It is a copy or copies. Many of these schemes will have scores of maps connected with them and it will be easy and cheap to reproduce them. I have had a great deal of work with maps on the 6-inch scale. It is quite possible to reproduce a portion of the 25-inch or 6-inch ordnance survey map at a low price, accompanied by the printed descriptive matter, showing how the scheme operates and will affect owners whose properties are included. We hear from time to time that the interests of people in the Middle and Far East are forgotten. I do not think it is in the main true, but here is a signal case where we can show that we are not going to neglect those men and the conditions under which they are serving in the next few years, and that we are taking the trouble to make provision which will ensure that they shall get proper and adequate information about the schemes that we are passing in their absence which will affect their property interests.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

I think the Amendment is absolutely necessary and, if it is not incorporated in the Bill, the result will be chaos. Let the Committee contemplate what will occur at the place where the copy of the application, etc., is to be seen. There will be people queueing up while the person who at the moment has access to the copy, or to the map, is scribbling away, trying to get down a copy of it for his own, use and trying to sketch out something resembling a map. I do not think that is unduly fanciful. It may well take him an hour or more to get down on paper the part of the map and the descriptive matter which affects his own property. While he is doing that there may be scores of people waiting to do the same. Unless some provision is made to meet a case like this it will create great public indignation. Surely this is quite a common sort of provision in an Act of Parliament. I believe that under the Companies Act shareholders, indeed I believe the general public, can obtain copies of lists of shareholders at a prescribed fee. There is a much stronger case here, where everything will be done in rather a hurry. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be helpful about this. It will cost very little to have copies made of the application and the descriptive material. I was rather surprised that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hughes) made such a strong objection about the map. The 25-inch maps can be purchased quite cheaply and they could be sold at cost price to applicants. It is only fair that if somebody's property is to be affected he should have facilities for purchasing a 25-inch map, and he would probably be content with having the Ordinance reference number and getting a map from the Stationery Office. I cannot understand why there should be any objection to the Amendment.

2.0 p.m.

Viscount Hinching;brooke:

I am a little disappointed at the attitude of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hughes). Members opposite are always showing a great interest in a thriving democracy, and their friends in the country are constantly advocating an interest in civic affairs. I feel that this Bill is a great moment for the local authorities, and no doubt the more enterprising of them will arrange exhibitions of plans and maps such as we have seen in London. They might charge a fee, as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend. I do not see why we should not insist in this Bill that there should be some form of local exhibition of the plan with maps in order that the public could see what was proposed. That is not very dissimilar from what my hon. and gallant Friend suggests. He asks merely that a place should be fixed where a copy of the map and plans could be inspected on payment of a fee. That is very little different from the conception which I have envisaged, and I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will alter his outlook on the matter.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

On the question of an exhibition, I would whole-heartedly support the Noble Lord, but the Amendment refers to obtaining a copy on payment of a fee. That is a different thing from the project of the Noble Lord, with which I agree.

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

All of us have the greatest sympathy with the idea behind the Amendment, namely, that everyone should be well and completely informed as to what is going on. We start from that general agreement, but it is important, before we put new and unprecedented burdens on administrations, to consider what it is that we are anxious to secure for everyone concerned. What the owner wants to know is, first, whether his land is in the area made subject to compulsory purchase, and, second, what the proposals are for redevelopment on which the planning authority base their case for purchase. My Noble Friend, with the full concurrence of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hughes), is agreed, indeed, everyone is agreed, that there should be ample powers for inspection and observation of both the Order and the map.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

And the encouragement of exhibitions.

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

Without tying ourselves down by putting it in the Statute, we all want the greatest encouragement for exhibitions and the fullest opportunity given for observation and, of course, for taking any notes that may be required. Again, I think that we are all agreed up to that point. The question is whether that is enough. We have to look at the facts of the position, and if anything further is needed it will be from the point of view of taking some action or making representations or the like. In my own experience, which I do not think is unique, practically all the action is generally taken by organisations dealing with classes of property. It is always open to any individual to make an individual objection, and it is right that he should be able to do it, but the effective action has, in my experience, always been taken by those organisations in which a number of individuals are included. It may be an ad hoc body of residents.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

That is only because the other people are so small that they do not want to be involved in costs and they feel that they are between the devil and the deep sea.

Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby

I am only putting my own experience. I have been in a great number of these inquiries, and I have found that when there is a matter that has to be brought up, it is generally brought up either by an association or by a group of people combined ad hoc to do it. I never found that anyone was debarred from putting forward his objections, or that anyone has been handicapped in going, as we agree they should be entitled to, and are entitled to, to have a look at the big map with the colouring with which we are all so familiar, and the statement. If in any special circumstances there is some big interest, in the sense that large numbers are combining to make certain representations—which is the practical way in which it works—I have no doubt that the local authorities will help. They always have done so in the past in matters with which I have been familiar by providing a map by private arrangement.

My hon. Friends are proposing to go further in this Amendment. They are by implication placing the liability on the local authority to prepare a vast number of copies of both statement and map. My hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor) called precedent to his assistance. That was a matter of asking for the balance sheets of a company in accordance with a procedure which has gone on since 1869. I think, however, that my hon. Friend, with all his assiduity, will not find a single precedent in the town planning or housing Acts for the burden which he would impose. I could not sympathise more with the aspect of the matter which my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Colegate) had in mind. We all realise that there will be numbers of people who are overseas and we have to consider their position. If, however, a man is overseas, I really think that the control of his property must be in the hands of his solicitor or some relative or some agent.

I would ask the Committee to remember that we are trying to get a move on with a most urgent problem. We are trying, as my right hon. Friend has said, this morning, to get that co-operation between the central and the local authorities which is absolutely essential if this matter is to be made a success. I ask my hon. Friends to accept it that everyone sees, the Government especially, the need for the greatest information being available and not to press in so difficult a task for this unprecedented liability to be placed on local authorities, on whom so heavy a portion of the task lies. I therefore ask them to take the via media, which came almost simultaneously from my Noble Friend and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen, of full inspection, exhibition and information.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr Ernest Shepperson Mr Ernest Shepperson , Leominster

I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, after "time," insert: (not being less than twenty-eight days after the date of the first publication of the notice in the local newspaper). This is an Amendment to obtain time, and because I am asking for time, I will be careful that I do not waste any time. Sub-section (5, a) states that notice of the application and its contents must be published by "Gazette" and local advertisement, and we think that the notice should specify the time in which objections to the application should be made. On the previous Amendment it was mentioned that many men who are concerned are overseas. The Amendment simply asks for 28 days after the notice as the period in which objection to the application may be made. Those of us who are in rural areas are not quick moving. We are slow as a rule, and we want a little more time because of our dilatory and slow methods.

2.15 p.m.

Mr. Coleĥate:

I support the Amendment, which comes from those more intimately concerned with agriculture. The reason we ask for 28 days has been put by my hon. Friend quite succinctly. It is very important that some time limit should be in, and it will be agreed that 28 days is as short a time as could be expected. It will not hold up the scheme in any way. There seems to be a belief in some quarters of the Committee that by jockeying things through we hurry things up, but the only true way of getting things through quickly is to see that all the interests concerned know, at the earliest possible moment, what a scheme is and have an opportunity at an early date to put forward their objections. I hope that the Minister will see his way to accept this very small period.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I think the Committee, in general, will agree that the spirit in which the Amendment has been put forward is reasonable. I propose to accept the Amendment in principle, but to have a look at the actual drafting before committing myself to the words. Having given that assurance I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Ronw Hughes Mr Ronw Hughes , Carmarthen

In accepting it in principle, is the Minister accepting the period?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I will not confine myself to the actual period stated in the Amendment. The time limit for objections to schemes made under the Act of 1932 is 21 days from the second publication in the local newspaper, and that is roughly the same as the 28 days proposed in the Amendment. I see nothing prima facie unreasonable in what the Amendment proposes, but I will reserve my opinion till the matter has been further examined.

Photo of Mr Ernest Shepperson Mr Ernest Shepperson , Leominster

I very greatly appreciate what the Minister has said, and therefore I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:

In page 3, line 8, to leave out "such," and to insert: every owner of the land to which the application relates and on such other."—[Sir J. Mellor.]

In page 3, line 10, at the end, to insert: and(c) serve by registered post an individual notice to each owner affected."—[Dr. Russell Thomas.]

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

It may be for the convenience of the Committee if these Amendments are discussed together, if the Committee are agreeable to that course.

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

I beg to move, in page 3, line 8, to leave out "such," and insert: every owner of the land to which the application relates and on such other. The purpose of the Amendment is to secure that the owner shall receive notice of the application as of right, and not merely in the exercise of the discretion of the Minister. I use the expression "owner" in the sense used in the interpretation Clause 49, which includes under that expression not only freeholders but leaseholders, in cases where the unexpired term exceeds three years. In the ordinary way there should be no difficulty at all in effecting service of notices upon owners, hut there are cases which might happen quite frequently, particularly in the next few years, in which owners cannot easily be found. There are other cases in which the identity of the owners cannot easily be ascertained. I do not think that that should in any way reinforce objections to the Amendment.

Those two contingencies are amply provided for in Clause 43, which gives details about the service of notices. In regard to owners who cannot be found, paragraph (b) of Clause 43 enables service to be effected by leaving the notice at the last known place of abode. Under (c), service can be effected by sending the notice in a prepaid registered letter addressed to the person at his last known place of abode. I think they amply cover any difficulty arising through owners not being easy to trace. With regard to the other aspect of the matter—and this is mentioned in the Uthwatt Report—difficulty often arises through its not being easy to ascertain with any great certainty the identity of the owner. That contingency is also amply covered by Clause 43, which states: If it is not practicable, after reasonable inquiry to ascertain the name or address of a person on whom … it should be served, service can be effected by delivering it to some person on the land or by affixing it … to some conspicuous part of the land. The latter provision is rather like the service of a notice of the arrest of a ship, when the Admiralty Marshal's notice is affixed to the mast. Clause 43 affords the widest possible facility for effecting service of notice in almost every conceivable kind of case.

The importance of securing that the owner should be entitled to service of the notice in the best way that can be devised in practice, seems very much greater here than in any ordinary state of affairs, because the owners are likely to be scattered over the face of this country or of the earth. If they do not get notice, it will be impossible for them to make any lawful objection. I do not think that acceptance of the Amendment will involve the slightest delay, but if it did involve some small delay that would be justified by the fact that the planning authorities are allowed five years—a very long period—in which to make their applications.

Photo of Dr William Thomas Dr William Thomas , Southampton

I support all that has been said by my hon. Friend. I was not impressed by what the Solicitor-General said a moment ago that this would add to the burdens which we are placing on local authorities. We must not lose sight of the fact that great injustices may be inflicted by the Bill upon particular individuals. Hon. Members opposite might perhaps be a little more generous to their fellow-citizens. They are constantly concerned with saying that the local authorities must get on with the good work for the sake of the people, but they must remember that the people are composed of individuals who may well be exposed to harshness and injustice. We should make certain that we not only notify people in a general way, but definitely notify each person, and we should take the trouble to see that he gets a letter signed by the local authority in order to ensure that he knows what is going to happen to his property.

Advertisement in the local paper will not be sufficient. It was suggested yesterday that everybody in the particular locality should read the debates of the local authority, but people are very unlikely to do that. Far more than notice in tie local paper is required when the Minister makes new orders; individuals who are concerned should not only receive notices, but the notices should be sent to them by registered letter. This is an entirely different matter to the preliminary advertisement in local newspapers we discussed yesterday. Many districts of this country have hardly a local paper at all, and they probably would not be taken by the individuals affected. Advertisements of this kind are frequently surrounded in the columns of the newspaper by other advertisements and may escape the notice even of a reader. Moreover, many of these people are scattered overseas fighting for their country and it would be deplorable if they should come home and find that property in the blitzed areas has been taken away from them.

2.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I do not think there is much difference between the Amendments which we are discussing together. Paragraph 2 (b) of the Second Schedule states that the notice has to be served on every owner, lessee or occupier. On reading this part of the Bill I wondered why the Minister should have any discretion at all. Why should he be able to say that a person who is affected as the result of an application need not be given notice?

That is the power which this Clause would confer on the Minister, the power to omit certain individuals, whom presumably he selects, from receiving notice of the application under this Sub-section. That seems to me wrong. I can see no reason for extending the Minister's powers to that extent. One does not want to delay the making of these orders and compulsory acquisition in any sense at all, but it seems to me only right that the persons whose land is affected, the people who are living on the land, whose homes may have been there for generations—they may have been living in a small house there for generations—should have notice. When the local planning authority are contemplating taking their land away it seems to me absolutely right that those who are serving the country overseas should not have their land taken away without some attempt being made to give them notice of the proposal. As the hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor) has said, the provisions of Clause 43 are quite wide enough for all adequate steps to be taken for giving proper notice to all persons affected without any delay being entailed. I am not very concerned about the actual form of the Amendment, and I am not prepared to enter into discussion as to whether the form which my hon. Friend has moved is better than the form of the Amendment standing in my name, but I urge the Minister to cut down his powers a little, to deprive himself of this discretion, and to make it a condition precedent to the exercise of these powers that steps should be taken under Clause 43 to serve notice on every person affected.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

I quite understand the desire of the hon. Member who has just spoken that no person should suffer injustice in this matter. The hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. Thomas) said he did not want, in fact they both said they did not want, to delay the replanning of the blitzed towns, but surely this would make for great delays, because the local authority does not know where all the owners are, and it is impossible—

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

Will the hon. Member look at Clause 43, where it says: Any notice or document required or authorised to be served or given under this Act may be served or given either … Then follow (a), (b), (c) and (d) which set out the various ways; and paragraph (f) says: if it is not practicable after reasonable inquiry to ascertain the name or address of a person on whom it should be served or to whom it should be given as being a person having an interest in land … by affixing it, or a copy of it, to some conspicuous part of the land. That is all that has to be done.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

I should be out of Order in pursuing a reference to a later Clause, so I shall have to confine myself to the Amendment already moved. It seems to me and my friends that the Clause as drafted is quite satisfactory. No one will want to take harsh measures, but to go through the complicated process known as reference will mean months of delay. The hon. Member for Southampton {Dr. Thomas), like myself, represents in this House a stricken area. We both have thousands of constituents who not only may suffer but are suffering now; they are homeless, and there is nothing much that can happen to a person which is worse than being homeless. They will remain homeless until the actions which this Bill is designed to make possible are carried out, and I think we ought to be very careful that we do not clutter up the machinery with safeguards and provisions which will have the effect of continuing the present chaos after the men come back from the war. To avoid that seems to me our major objective. We have to get people housed, and we have to do it with a minimum of hardship to the owners of property, but we cannot allow formal "referencing" and "noticing" and the rest of it to obstruct the main purpose of erecting houses and planning the site. I am convinced that if this Amendment were carried in its present form that is what it would do.

Photo of Major Guy Lloyd Major Guy Lloyd , Renfrewshire Eastern

I cannot follow the argument of my hon. Friend opposite that the Amendment is likely to cumber or clutter up the Bill or cause unnecessary delay. The Amendment in connection with Ministerial powers, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manning;ham-Buller) has spoken, is rather different from the others in that while all of us who are associated with these Amendments feel that notice should be served on those who ought to receive notice, our particular Amendment deals with the case where the Minister has delegated to himself to decide upon whom notice should be served. I cannot see why he should desire these particular powers. I await his explanation on that particular point. I feel myself that a very important point of principle is involved in the Amendment. I hope the Minister will be able fully to justify notice not, apparently, being served on those who certainly ought to have notice, if he wishes to have the power to differentiate between those who shall, and those who shall not, have notices. If that explanation is anything like the explanation given by my hon. Friend opposite, that the Amendment would clutter up or cumber up the process of the Bill, I shall be surprised.

Photo of Mr Stanley Prescott Mr Stanley Prescott , Darwen

I have had some personal experience of the kind of work involved in referencing an area which has been scheduled, or is about to be scheduled, as a clearance area under the Housing Act. The work to be done in giving notice under Clause 1 would be similar to the work which has to be done under the Housing Act in trying to acquire an area of houses unfit for human habitation. I entirely sympathise with my hon. Friends who urge that everything possible must be done to see that all those vitally interested are given such notice as is reasonably possible, but I ask them to hesitate before pressing the Amendment on the Minister, and the Minister to hesitate before he accepts it. This is a matter of some urgency, and the areas one is dealing with under Clause 1 are of a very special nature. Very largely there is no property on them, and I think that in circumstances such as this it is necessary to disregard some of the provisions which under ordinary circumstances I would myself advocate most strongly. In this case the enormous amount of work that has to be done ordinarily should be dispensed with. One hon. Member has referred to Clause 43. I think I may mention in passing paragraph (f). It has been argued that if the owner were not know notice could be given by a notice being affixed on the land. That is perfectly true, but if the Amendment were carried surely it would mean that in any area of extensive war damage a separate notice would have to be affixed on each plot of land, whereas the Minister can properly and with equal effectiveness put up one huge hoarding on the land, which would give better notice. I suggest that while the objects behind these Amendments are good they should not be pressed.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

I agree with everything that has fallen from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Darwen (Captain Prescott). I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew {Major Lloyd) that this series of Amendments raise an important matter of principle. In fact, they really go to the whole root of this Bill. The purpose of this Bill is chiefly to provide an expeditious procedure for dealing with the devastated areas. If it were required that the ordinary procedure should be applied in the case of the blitzed areas there would really be no gain in this Bill. One of the Amendments now being discussed is taken from the Second Schedule, and the Second Schedule provides the procedure under which land can be acquired under Clause 10, that is, the non-expedited procedure. The effect of that Amendment would be in effect to do away with the expedited procedure. Therefore, land acquired under Clause 1 would not receive any more expeditious procedure than land acquired under Clause 10.

As regards referencing, as was stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor), there is a procedure for giving notice under Clause 43, but if he will turn to Clause 49 he will find that the owner is defined as anyone entitled whether in possession or in reversion and includes also a person holding or entitled to the rents and profits of the building or land under a lease or agreement. Therefore in order to ascertain who all the owners were who would be entitled to receive individual notice it would be necessary for these local authorities to ascertain all those who held any one of these interests in land which are specified in Clause 49. Under this Bill as originally introduced, and as it still is, there are these different degrees of expedition in acquiring land, and under an Amendment we shall be discussing later the Minister is proposing to alter the structure of the Bill to give himself some discretion to specify what persons can reasonably be expected to require individual notice of the acquisition of land. I regretted the tone of suspicion which I thought crept into some of the speeches. I see no reason why the Minister, who is accountable to this House, should not hold the balance quite fairly and evenly between a local authority seeking to acquire the land, and the owners of the land themselves. I hope, therefore, that the Government will resist these Amendments which, as the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew has said, are important because they really do go to the root of the Bill.

2.45 P.m.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

It has already been pointed out that the urgency is to provide houses for the blitzed areas, for people who want houses now, because that is the cause of the introduction of the Bill. But there are a number of Members of this Committee, Tory Members, for whom the urgent question is the protection of landlords' rights. On the one hand, there are those who are concerned with the urgency of providing people with homes, and, on the other hand, there are those who are concerned with the urgency of protecting the landowners' property. I say that some Conservatives have been less concerned with protecting the people who need homes, than with protecting the rents of the owners.

Photo of Major Guy Lloyd Major Guy Lloyd , Renfrewshire Eastern

On a point of Order. Has this anything to do with the Amendment?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I was hoping that the hon. Member would address himself to the Amendment.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

There is another point, and I want to recommend it to the protectors of landlords' rents. The hon. Member opposite asked why the Minister should have discretion. The answer is very simple. One of the Minister's colleagues is the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has made a very great study of this question of land and has put it on record, so that everyone can read it, that the land of this country has been obtained by murder, robbery—

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

This has nothing to do with the Amendment.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

The question has arisen as to why the Minister should have discretion. I am pointing out why it is necessary that the Minister should have discretion. The Secretary of State for Scotland has put this down, so that everybody can read it. He says that many of the landlords have got their land by murder, robbery, rape, and—

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

The reference to the last method by which the hon. Member has said that the landowners have obtained their land is nonsense.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

It is not my statement! I am not addicted to that form of accusation. It is the statement of a colleague of the Minister. Surely it is right that the Minister should have discretion to deal with a landowner who has got his land by murder. I would only say that I am in favour of serving a notice on every landlord to go to work in a pit, or at some other useful occupation.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

We have heard a variety of speeches, and I think that, with the exception of the last—which, incidentally, described various novel means of land acquisition—most people have shown a desire for two things. The first is that the main purposes of the Bill shall not be defeated: that is to say we must get rid of those proceedings which, in the experience of the Ministry and of the local authorities, are so burdensome and so long that they hold up schemes. On the other hand, we must see that adequate notice is given, if possible, to all persons who are affected. That is the object of the Clause, as drawn. These Amendments, in one form or another—and I am glad that, for the convenience of the Committee, we are taking them together—restore the burden of referencing—I must use the term which has become universal, horrible though it is. Both my right hon. Friend and I made it perfectly clear in the Second Reading Debate that one of the main improvements achieved by this Bill was to get rid of the burden of referencing.

I would remind the Committee that referencing means compiling a book of reference of all owners, lessees, and occupiers, and of their individual holdings, and of serving notice upon those people. My right hon. Friend, in the Second Reading Debate, gave an example of the amount of work that could be involved in compiling that book of reference. He gave the example of the experience of the London County Council. They found that to compile such a list of the owners of 1,500 acres in six weeks would require 1,500 men. The burden is a quite impossible burden if we are to make quick progress with this urgent work.

My hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and others quoted the definition in a later Clause, and pointed out alternative modes of service where the primary mode of service enjoined was not practicable. But that does not meet the question of the labour involved in compiling the book; and that is the main difficulty which it is the purpose of the whole structure of the Bill to avoid in these urgent cases. As to the discretion vested in the Minister, that is a discretion, of course, to direct individual service in addition to the prescribed notice laid down in the previous Sub-section. If it stood alone and there were no adequate provision for advertising, the position would be very different. I must be careful not to allude, except in passing, to anything subsequent in the Bill, but I hope that my hon. Friend who questioned the simplification introduced into this matter by the Bill will have in mind the fact that we are proposing that, after the original advertisement, any person affected can at his request receive individual notice of each subsequent stage. We are merely avoiding the burden, which has proved quite intolerable to the local authorities, and the delay which it has involved, and which is necessarily involved if this book of reference has to be compiled in the way that would be involved by all the Amendments we are considering.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

Would not such a book have to be compiled for purposes of compulsory purchase, even if it were not required for designation?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I cannot deal with those conditions. They come at a later stage, and we can consider them then; but I will be glad to satisfy my hon. Friend when we come to that point that it does not involve the burdensome task of referencing. Because it would abolish one of the main improvements which it is the purpose of the Bill to provide, I must advise the Committee to reject the Amendment. Having said that, I hope that I and my right hon. Friend will not be suspected of minimising the importance of seeing that adequate notice is given to persons affected, so that they can exercise all the rights that Parliament has given them; but this burdensome referencing will have no corresponding advantage. It will be possible for any landowner who takes a reasonable interest in these matters to follow the advertisements which are provided. To make it a condition precedent to setting the whole proceedings in operation that such a book of reference should be compiled and the old course followed, would be really to defeat the main improvements proposed in this Bill.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I have listened with care to what the Parliamentary Secretary has said. I am sure that we are all in agreement that what we want is that everybody shall get adequate notice of any improvement. The hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) seems to regard any persons who disagree with him as being suspiciously-minded. I am not concerned with trying to get referencing or delay, but when the Parliamentary Secretary says that the object of this Clause is to see that everybody concerned gets adequate notice, I must say that it does not seem to me to provide any such thing. It seems to me that the Minister can omit to give adequate notice to anyone who is concerned. I would ask him to see whether between now and the Report stage the wording of the Clause could be improved, to ensure that adequate notice is given, as far as possible, and to remove the possibility of any person concerned not getting notice.

Photo of Captain James Duncan Captain James Duncan , Kensington North

I would like to support my hon. Friend in asking the Minister to consider this question. In view of the galaxy of legal talent here, I hesitate to intervene. Both yesterday and to-day I have seen no fewer than four legal Members on the Front Bench. As an ordinary person, without legal experience, I hesitate to intervene, but, having had some experience in the last four years of giving leave to soldiers to go to London about their blitzed property, I think we are in a dilemma between doing justice to the ordinary people who need houses quickly—and they, of course, are mostly soldiers—and doing justice to the owners of property. I want to see as much justice as possible done to the individual, whether he is the owner, the lessee, or the occupier of the property, consistent with the urgency of this question of replanning the blitzed areas. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Darwen (Captain Prescott) says that most of these properties would be rubble. That is not quite correct, because the Clause takes in not only the rubble but the area contiguous thereto. It seems to me that we have to be careful about giving up citizens' rights in the interests of easy administration and of the alleged speed of administration. It is said that this book of reference could be compiled more quickly. That is letting the machine get hold of us, and letting the citizens suffer. I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will reconsider this matter, and see if some measures to safeguard the ordinary citizen cannot be achieved between now and the Report stage.

3.0 p.m.

Photo of Dr William Thomas Dr William Thomas , Southampton

I do not see how the Bill is going to help in the direction of solving the housing difficulty.

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

The question does not arise. The hon. Gentleman has spoken once and moved his Amendment.

Photo of Dr William Thomas Dr William Thomas , Southampton

The point has been made by an hon. Member opposite and by the Parliamentary Secretary.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

As the Parliamentary Secretary based his case upon the considerable labour which would be involved in the preparation of such a list, I do think that I am entitled to a rather fuller explanation than he gave as to why he contemplates that that labour should be done in the preparation of a book of reference for the purpose of compulsory purchase, but cannot be done for purposes of designation. I cannot see all that difference in it, and I wish he would give a fuller explanation.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I am most anxious not to be discourteous. What I say, of course, applies to the compiling of a book of reference for the purpose with which we are dealing in Clause 1. If my hon. Friend has some point, on something which is to be compiled under a later Clause, I would suggest for his consideration he might leave it until we reach that Clause. I am not sure to what he is referring.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

The Parliamentary Secretary's point is the great difficulty of compiling such a book of reference. He bases his rejection of my Amendment on that. Surely the work has to be done sooner or later because a book of reference would have to be compiled for the purpose of compulsory purchase and if it has to be done sooner or later why not sooner?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

It has not to be done sooner or later. In the Sixth Schedule the order takes effect as a block notice to treat. We cannot discuss that now. My hon. Friend is wrong in thinking that a reference list has to be compiled for the later stages.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

In that case, I think it makes it all the more necessary that we should insist upon this Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

I beg to move, in page 3, line 10, at the end, to insert: and the provisions of the Schedule (Procedure for dealing with objections) to this Act shall have effect in relation to the application if any objection thereto is duly made. This is the first of a series of Amendments for the purpose of introducing a new Schedule for dealing with objections. The points of detail that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will wish to discuss might be most conveniently dealt with when we come to consider the Schedule and, if that commends itself to the Committee, I would suggest passing this series of Amendments formally, and having a full discussion on the Schedule. I do not know whether that course would commend itself to hon. Members.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

A large number of Amendments have appeared on the Paper and some of them will come in very late. This particular Schedule is of more importance than most hon. Members, I think, realise, and I want to ask whether when there are objections, there will be a public local inquiry.

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

The Parliamentary Secretary made a suggestion which, I hope, will commend itself to the Committee. It is that the discussion on the Schedule should take place when we come to the Schedule itself, and if the Committee are agreeable, that these particular Amendments be formally moved now, preparatory to the inclusion of the Schedule, at a later stage.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

Will not that course mean that we agree to dispensing with a public inquiry in cases under this part of this Bill? If this Amendment is taken without any further discussion, then the provision in Sub-section (6) about holding a public local inquiry will be deleted from the Bill without any discussion or Debate at all, and it may or may not come in later on. Will not that be the effect?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

No, I do not think so. It will be competent for the Committee, when it comes to the Schedule, to discuss that point.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

As the purpose of these Amendments is to substitute discretionary inquiry for inquiry as of right, is not that a question of major principle which should be discussed on the Clause, rather than on the Schedule?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I do not think it would be competent to discuss at this stage what the Committee may or may not do on the Schedule.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

Arising out of what has just been said, I do not see how, if some of us object to some of the provisions in this series of measures, if we let them pass formally now, we are to register our vote. Are we to discuss points or vote on the Schedule?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

There is, of course, nothing in the least to prevent the Committee amending the Schedule when we come to it, or voting against it in toto.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 11, leave out from beginning to "in," in line 20, and insert: (6) Subject to the provisions of the said Schedule in a case in which those provisions have effect in relation to the application, the Minister may make an order."—[Mr. H. Strauss.]

Mr. Manning;ham-Buller:

I beg to move, in page 3, line 17, after "report," to insert "which shall be published."

The purpose of this Amendment is to provide that the person concerned will have an opportunitiy of knowing the views of the person who has made the report. One of the difficulties in the past has been that when there has been a public inquiry no one has known what report has been made, and the result has been that the objector has gone away with a considerable feeling of dissatisfaction on many occasions.

It does seem to me that, if the objector was told the reasons why his objection had not been sustained, he would, at least, be satisfied to some extent or other. If the Minister is not prepared to accept the report, the Minister will be able, no doubt, to justify his actions. But, in the case of inquiries, it would not be uncommon perhaps to find a person who had gone to considerable trouble in attending the public inquiry and putting forward his case—a case which did not appear to be answered at all at the inquiry—and who would find that all his efforts were entirely fruitless, that the order had been made and he had never been told and could not understand why it had been done.

Photo of Major Guy Lloyd Major Guy Lloyd , Renfrewshire Eastern

I wish to support the argument put by my hon. Friend. This is one of many Amendments prepared with the object of protecting the individual who is planned for, against the bureaucrats who plan, and the case for it has been so well put that it does not seem necessary for me to say any more.

Photo of Viscountess Nancy Astor Viscountess Nancy Astor , Plymouth, Sutton

Could I ask my hon. and gallant Friend what he means by "bureaucrats who plan"? It is the democrats who plan.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

No doubt, when there is a provision for an inquiry, or a tribunal or inquiries of any kind, it is always a question of legitimate discussion whether it is desirable that the report or evidence should be published or not. You can always understand people who say that publicity is quite a good thing. But there are circumstances, and we suggest to the Committee that this is one of them, in which the purpose of the inquiry would, to a large extent, be defeated or, anyhow, not furthered, if you insisted on publicity. The object of this inquiry is that the facts may be ascertained, that people may put their case and that the Minister may be advised. I think it is the general experience of everybody, that, if you want good advice you will not get it if you tell the person advising you, that it must all be published in the newspapers.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

The Privy Council, as a lawyer's point, is a bad one. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend cannot even think of the answer to his own question. I will tell him. The opinions of the Privy Council are final decisions of a tribunal and are really judgments, and, of course, have to be published. In this case, I quite agree that people may take different views. It was very exhaustively discussed on the Planning Act of 1932, and I think the reports on interim development orders have never been published and that reports under the Housing Act, to which my hon. Friend referred, have never been published. I believe the general opinion, and certainly the opinion of all those who have to work this type of machine, is that, if you insist on publicity, you will really defeat the purpose and object of the report, or, possibly, you will find that the report is made in such a watery way because it might put a Minister, or someone else, in a difficulty, and its purpose be undermined. For those reasons, although there is always scope for argument into that kind of question, we advise the Committee to follow what is in the Bill and not to insist on publication of these reports.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

My right hon. and learned Friend relies on the precedent of the Housing Act, and, if I may coin a phrase, that is a lawyer's point and not a very good one.

3.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

That is stealing a phrase.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

It has been argued more than once from time to time across the Floor of this House, and particularly by the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), who I am sorry is not in his place, because he is much more expert than I, and I should like to be corrected if I am misleading the Committee—the argument has been used, against requests for inquiries, that tiresome people, if they have the opportunty, ask for an inquiry, but the result of the inquiry always is that the local authority is authorised to do what it had wished to do. That argument has been used frequently in this House in connection with the Housing Act, to which the Attorney-General referred. If that argument is to continue to be made, it seems to me important that the public and the House should be able to judge whether the reason why the result of the inquiry and its advice are always on one side is because, in fact, the persons asking for the inquiry are always in the wrong, or whether it is for some other reason. Unless there is to be publication of the results of these inquiries, I do not see how the House, or the public, or anyone else, can ever be satisfied upon that question.

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I have to withdraw this Amendment from the Committee, because I had not observed that the Committee, on a previous Amendment, had ruled all these words out.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

May I make that small joke over again?

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

It was because I thought that, Major Milner, that I raised the point of Order with you in regard to the Minister's previous Amendment, and I understood that it was this Amendment which was called.

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. I did not take notice at the time.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I beg to move, in page 3, line 21, to leave out from the first "any," to the end of the Subsection, and to insert: modification except (unless all persons interested consent) a modification extending the order to any land not thereby designated. I do not think this Amendment is affected by any other Amendment. I would like the Committee to consider the effect of the last few words of this Subsection. As I understand the Sub-section, it gives the Minister power, when making his order, to modify the applications submitted to him whether excluding any of the land thereby, designated or including land not thereby designated. That means to say, as I understand it, that the Minister can add to the land without the owners of the land knowing anything from the local "Gazette" about his intentions to do so, without the service of any notice from him in the Minister's discretion and without him having any say in the matter at all. It seems to me a particularly curious wording, because, later in the Bill, when one comes to acquisition and compulsory purchase orders, one finds that land cannot be added unless all persons concerned consent. It does seem that the words in this Sub-section should be similar to the words in the First Schedule, Part I, paragraph, (4), which are the words of the Amendment which I have moved.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich

Considering the number of occasions on which it has been, and perhaps will be, my duty to oppose my hon. Friend, I am glad on this occasion to say that in the opinion of the Government, what he says has substance and the Government accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I beg to move, in page 3, line 42, to leave out from "on," to "and," in line 44, and to insert: any person who has duly made an objection to the application and at the time of making it or thereafter has sent to the authority a request in writing to serve him with the notice required by this Sub-section specifying an address for service. This provides for service of notice on the making of the Order on objectors to appear at the public inquiry. Under the new procedure which I later propose, a public inquiry is not necessarily held in every case and inquiry will commonly be held into applications covered by the words in Clause 1. The Amendment, therefore, provides that notice of the nature of the Order has to be given to any objector who has asked for it and notified the address to which it can be sent. If a person considers himself to be sufficiently affected by subsequent proceedings and sends the authority his name and address he should be given notice of subsequent steps.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 46, at end, add: (11) Where an authority who have made an application for an order under this Section are required by virtue of Sub-section (8) or (10) of this Section to publish any notice, they shall serve the notice on any owner of any of the land designated by the application who at any time after the publication of the notice of the application has sent to the authority a request in writing that he should be so served specifying an address for service."—[Mr. W. S. Morrison.] Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Photo of Sir Edward Keeling Sir Edward Keeling , Twickenham

I want to ask the Government what their intentions are regarding the National Trust lands. I do so at the request of the National Trust Council, of which I am a member. I beg the Government to give an assurance that they will not allow local authorities to acquire land and buildings held inalienably by the Trust. Not all land and buildings held by the National Trust are inalienable. In order to make them inalienable they have either to have been so declared in the original National Trust Act, 1907, or to have been subsequently acquired and declared inalienable by Resolution of the National Trust Council. I can give an assurance that the Council does not lightly exercise its power to declare land and buildings in its possession inalienable. It only exercises that power when the land or buildings are of exceptional beauty or historic interest. I therefore ask confidently that the Government will give an assurance that they will not allow the Trust's inalienable land and buildings to pass out of its hands.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I have been asked by my hon. Friend about properties of the National Trust. Parliament has recognised in many Statutes the special position of the National Trust and the great benefit which the public derives from the fact that properties are held inalienably by it. It would clearly be contrary to the wishes of Parliament and to the intentions of the donors if such properties were taken from the Trust, except in the case of an over- riding national requirement. I attach the greatest importance to the work of the National Trust and no Minister of Town and Country Planning would lightly sanction the acquisition of such properties whatever his powers might be and he would certainly never do so without the fullest consultation with it.

Photo of Mr William Nunn Mr William Nunn , Newcastle upon Tyne West

I want to raise a point which has some substance. It is the question of the interpretation of the phrase "sustained war damage." It appears that the Minister has to be satisfied that the area has "sustained war damage" and, later on, it says that an area on which the Minister has been so satisfied, has to be referred to as an area of "extensive war damage." But the mere fact that it is so referred to, does not make it extensive. There is some weakness involved here. If I may give an illustration, which is perhaps a trifle frivolous, it will allow the Committee to see the point more clearly. If the Minister were called upon to declare that an animal was in a field, and a rabbit were shown to him, that would be an animal in the field. In the last three lines on the first page of the Bill the Minister is entitled to describe that rabbit as an elephant, but it still remains a rabbit.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

While leaving these biological analyses, may I draw the attention of my hon. Friend to the first three lines of the Clause? I think they remove the objection, although I appreciate what he says. It says that the Minister has to be satisfied that it is requisite, for the purpose of dealing satisfactorily with extensive war damage …, that a part or parts of their area are to be replanned. It would not therefore be sufficient that in an area you found one house had suffered damage and that it was desirable to replan. You have to be satisfied that the making of the Order is requisite for the purpose of dealing satisfactorily with extensive war damage. If you bear that in mind then for that purpose it has been shown that it has sustained war damage and you describe it as an area with extensive war damage. I think they fit together. Some people might say that we should put in "extensive" before "war damage" in line 14 but it would be unnecessary, and the purposes and conditions as to which the Minister has to be satisfied are really quite made out.

Photo of Captain William Strickland Captain William Strickland , Coventry

I wish to raise a point, which is not very important but which has an importance, with regard to the taking over of land attached to the National Trust. The Minister said that no Minister would take over the land unless it was of overriding national importance. Does the greater include the less, and if it is of great local importance that a part of the land of the National Trust should come within the local scheme, will such local needs be regarded as of great national importance?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I would like to know how this Clause will affect the already existing country planning schemes under the Act. Does it mean that in respect of schemes under which we have been able to put cottages in one place and agricultural buildings in another, no Committee will abolish the security we have, or will such schemes still be considered as existing and come under the Bill as agreed planning schemes?

3.30 p.m.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

Before we pass Clause 1, I must say that I do not like the period of time in which applications can be made. We have had an assurance from the Minister that this will be re-examined by him and I do not want in any way to put into his mouth words which he does not wish to express, but my support of this Clause is entirely subject to whether we can get over that point. This is exceptional machinery which gives vast new powers and hon. Members of this Committee should definitely ask themselves whether they are willing to pass such powers. I do most earnestly ask the Minister to realise that the reason for passing these powers under Clause 1 is because of the urgency of the question and not necessarily because they may justify themselves as the normal procedure, under which this legislation should operate. Therefore, although I shall support Clause 1, it is with the proviso that I sincerely hope something will be inserted in the Bill on the Report stage to meet the case that has been made.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

In reply to the questions that have been asked, I should like to say to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Coventry (Captain Strickland) that I meant what I said, namely, that no Minister of Town and Country Planning would lightly sanction the acquisition of such properties, whatever his powers might be, without an overriding national purpose to be served

Photo of Captain William Strickland Captain William Strickland , Coventry

Could I interrupt the Minister? Is that the complete answer—that it must be of national importance, and that National Trust land is sacrosanct from any planning which may be required for the development of a city's plans?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I do not think we can carry this any further without a specific case in view. We cannot discuss it in the abstract. What I mean is that it would have to be a purpose of national importance which would make me, speaking for myself, sanction any application to acquire such land. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Clifton Brown) asked what effect Clause 1 has upon planning schemes already made. The Clause by itself has no effect at all, it merely enables an area to be designated as subject to compulsory purchase. At a later stage in the Bill we deal with powers to vary the existing schemes, where their variation has become necessary owing to war damage or other causes, and we can deal with that point when we reach it. I noted what the hon. and gallant Member for Penrith (Lieut.-Colonel Dower) said and of course he will recognise—and I think the Committee recognise—that our sole purpose in bringing this Bill forward is to deal with an urgent national situation, namely, the restoration of our former cities.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.