This, and the next two Amendments—
In line 11, leave out 'between' and insert 'of'
in line 11, leave out from 'development' to end of line 12"—
are slightly more than drafting. If hon. Members turn to page 16 of the Bill, they will find that these Amendments, if accepted, will make paragraph (a) of Sub-section (1) of Clause 10 read a good deal more simply. It will read, when these Amendments have been accepted, as follows:
(a) as a site for development of any class which is needed for the proper planning of the area of the authority, whether in its existing state or as intended, in order to secure a proper balance of development.
I think that is a happier wording than the words of the Clause as it stands.
Lords Amendment: In page 17, line 13, at end, insert:
(3) A local planning authority may be authorised in manner aforesaid to purchase compulsorily land in the area of the authority as to which the Minister is satisfied that by reason of the land being derelict and likely otherwise to remain so for a considerable period, it is expedient that it should be acquired by the authority with a view to securing that it is brought into use.
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
During our discussions in this place, the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and others brought to my attention the desirability of empowering local authorities to buy land which is becoming derelict from industrial or other processes. I promised to consider it, and these words give effect to what was then desired.
I would like to thank the Minister for the very full and entirely satisfactory way in which he has carried out what he said during the Committee stage here. I would like only to add that I hope local authorities will make ample use of the power that this Amendment will give to them to acquire, and restore to use, derelict areas, whether it be in towns or land derelict as the result of mining operations or as the result of iron-ore excavations.
I also am very glad that the Minister has taken steps to bring into being this Amendment. I have often condemned the position of another place, and have often held that that assembly was of very little use, but on this occasion it has served a purpose. In parts of the country where there have been mining operations, or other kinds of operations, land has been left derelict, or disfigured with slag-heaps which are an eyesore to everybody. This Amendment gives power to the local authority, if they so desire, to take over that land. I accept it, for that reason and also because the price for the land will be such as will take account of its being derelict land. I thank the Minister for keeping in mind the necessity of dealing with this kind of thing.
I am sorry that I cannot add my praise to this chorus. Although I am just as anxious as the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller), there are one or two points upon which I would like an assurance. First, as to the importance of the words:
likely otherwise to remain so for a considerable period.
I give second place to no one in wanting to bring about development, and my only criticism of the Bill is whether it will bring about development, but there are occasions where land does remain undeveloped and which are not the occasions when people are holding out for high prices—speculators, who my hon. Friend above the Gangway condemned, as I do also. But there are occasions when restrictions prevent the development of land and when negotiations have to take place so that land will be acquired either for the development of the whole
area or in order to carry out a single development. I want my right hon. Friend to give us an assurance that the words
likely otherwise to remain so for a considerable period,
which I regard as very important, will cover the case where land is to be developed as soon as possible and where, if it happens to be derelict land at the time, the local authority should not get the advantage of that fact in acquiring it under the provisions.
I would like to have a word of explanation from the Minister of the words:
A local planning authority may be authorised in manner aforesaid to purchase compulsorily land in the area of the authority.
I am not thinking of mining areas where you have a disused mine or anything of that kind, or of areas where there has been an aerodrome, I am thinking of the position in my native city of Glasgow, where great tracts of land are derelict. For instance, land belonging to the Duke of Montrose has become derelict and overrun with bracken. Am I to understand that the local authority, either of Dumbartonshire or the city of Glasgow, will be in a position now to get that land if they want it for housing, not at an immense price, but at the value which the Duke of Montrose, for instance, puts on it when he is paying his tax upon it? The city of Glasgow has been exploited time and time again by the Duke of Montrose. It has been laid down that, unless they are prepared to pay a certain sum to him, they will not get the land, which has become derelict and over-run with bracken so that nothing will grow upon it. Will the local authority be able to get that land at the price which, say, the Duke of Montrose puts on the land now and which is below agricultural value?
I want to thank my right hon. and learned Friend for the very handsome way in which he has met my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and others in this matter. I want it to be clearly understood that I can think of no one who will be more faithful to his pledge in every way and I want to thank him on this occasion.
I also wish to associate myself with the expressions of gratitude from hon. Members opposite. This Amendment will give the local authority powers which, hitherto, they did not possess. My local authority has been placed at a very great disadvantage by not having powers to purchase land in order to execute our town planning. This will afford us a great opportunity. As I stood in the centre of my constituency a few days ago looking North, South, East and West—whichever way I looked—I saw a patch of water or a large pit-heap that would be required to be taken into account for the purposes of planning. We have this opportunity and it is for local authorities to use it and make the industrial countryside, as I said on 24th June, a place of beauty and a joy for ever, and I thank the Minister for his assistance in this matter.
I can only speak by leave of the House a second time but I ought to say how grateful I am to hon. Members who have welcomed the new power—it is a very beneficent one—of which local authorities are to be possessed, and I hope that they will use it to the full. I would say, in reply to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Penrith (Lieut.-Colonel Dower) that he may be confusing undeveloped land with derelict land. This is land which has been destroyed practically by industrial processes and it is to deal with that that this new Sub-section has been introduced. It does not deal with the whole question of undeveloped land as such. In reply to the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), this Bill does not apply to Scotland, so that it will not affect in any way the relationships of his native city and Scotland, but I have no doubt that he will keep a vigilant eye on my colleague, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, when he comes to introduce similar legislation applying to Scotland, and he will get an answer from a much more competent source than myself.