I beg to move,
That the Town and Country Planning (Minerals) Regulations, 1949, dated 14th July, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th July, be approved.
These regulations are made under Section 81 of the Town and Country Planning Act, which provides for regulations of this kind being applied to minerals in order to make conditions regarding mineral workings harmonise with the general regulations which are made under the Act. The regulations are designed for three purposes, which I can explain briefly. The first is to ensure that mineral workers are not under a disadvantage by reason of their methods of operation so far as the workings of Section 63 of the Act are concerned. It enables them in cases where they are working, perhaps, a thin vein of land to get a larger unit of land for the purpose of making a claim than would otherwise be the case.
The second purpose of the regulations is to enable a fair allocation of the amount of a claim to be made as between the lessor and the lessee of a mineral working. It is very largely a matter of machinery. The third purpose is slightly to amend the earlier regulations (which provided that while the value of buildings, plant and machinery used for winning and working the minerals cannot be included in the calculation of the value of the land, the existence of these things can be taken into account) by extending them to cover buildings and plant and machinery used for processing the minerals as well as for actually winning them. All the points in these regulations have been discussed with the mineral undertakers and I have reason to believe that they will be acceptable to them.
I feel much tempted to take this opportunity of putting a series of questions to the right hon. Gentleman about the restoration of land where minerals such as iron ore have been excavated, but I fear that if I gave way to that temptation I should not be allowed to get very far. Therefore, I resist it on this occasion, although I give the right hon. Gentleman notice that I look forward to a very early occasion when we shall be able to hear from him an account of all the action that has been taken to solve that very pressing problem in my part of the world.
Having made those preliminary observations, which I hope did not get out of Order, I have no adverse comments whatsoever to make with regard to the regulations. There is, however, just one small point, which is not the fault of the right hon. Gentleman—it is the way our Parliamentary machine operates—to which I desire to draw attention. Although these regulations were made on 14th July, 1949, under our machinery it has been impossible, I gather, until today to have a Resolution in this House approving them.
Under the regulations all claims have to be made before 31st December, 1949, with the result that time is now a little short between the coming into effect of the regulations and the date by which a claim can be made. I am not blaming the right hon. Gentleman, but I hope he will not press too harshly for full particulars of each claim to be supplied to him by 31st December next. I am sure that all claimants will do their utmost to do this, but there may be some who can give notice in broad outline and really require more time to fill in the details. I feel sure that, having regard to the short interval of time, the right hon. Gentleman will be willing not to be too harsh in demanding the fullest particulars of each claim by that date so long as he has adequate notice of the claim.
On the first point raised by the hon. and learned Member, if I may go as far out of Order as he went, I will gladly meet him at any time and at any place on this very difficult problem on which I feel as acutely as he does. I am most anxious that we should be able to solve it. On the question of time, while I agree that these regulations have not yet been confirmed and have still to be confirmed by the House of Lords, nevertheless mineral undertakers have had a knowledge of these regulations since 14th July, and even earlier, because they have been the subject of informal discussions, and I hope that they have not been waiting until the regulations are confirmed by both Houses before they get to work preparing their claims. I gladly give the hon. and learned Member the assurance that the Central Land Board will not be indifferent over these claims and, so long as claims are submitted and claimants give the best information they can, they will not be rejected as being inadequate.
I Would point out, as I may have occasion to point out in the future, that there is a time limit to which we are working. Claims have to be paid by a certain date and it is impossible, if one is to carry out that statutory obligation, to leave too much time for the making of claims. All these claims have to be investigated, they are arbitrable, and when one knows to what the claims broadly amount, one has to make a scheme and make provision for payment, which is going to be a long job and very difficult to carry out within the time. For that reason, one would expect the mineral undertakers to do the best they can and to give the fullest information and, of course, to submit whatever claims they can make by the appropriate time.
I beg to move,
That the Town and Country Planning (Minerals) (Scotland) Regulations, 1949, dated 14th July, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18th July, be approved.
These regulations confer the same conditions for Scotland as those for England and, since there is no difference, I think it unnecessary to discuss these.