Clause 18. — (Prohibition of Excavation etc., of Materials on or Under the Seashore.)

Part of Orders of the Day — COAST PROTECTION BILL [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25 October 1949.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Marlowe Mr Anthony Marlowe , Brighton 12:00, 25 October 1949

I beg to move, in page 23, line 22, at the end, to insert: Provided that where, at the time of the passing of this Act, a person is entitled to excavate or remove any materials as aforesaid by reason of any contract, it shall be lawful for such person to continue such excavation or removal until the date of the expiry of such contract. The Clause will make it illegal to remove from the seashore any materials defined in the Bill, with the exception of seaweeds for agricultural purposes. Many businesses are now engaged in quarrying and moving sand, shingle or gravel from the shore, and the result of accepting the Clause in its present form would be to rob people in those businesses of their livelihood, because after the passing of the Bill it will be illegal to remove these things without a licence issued for that purpose by the coast protection authority.

Some of the people engaged in this business are so employed by virtue, perhaps, of contracts with the local authorities or the owners of the land concerned. The passing of the Clause as it now stands would mean the complete frustration of those contracts. The party which at present grants the permission to remove the materials from the shore will be relieved of any obligations it may have under the contract and those carrying on the business of removal will have their businesses taken from them.

I had not overlooked the question of compensation in such an eventuality but I came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to move any Amendment to safeguard or to create compensation in such an event because that would be outside the scope of the Financial Resolution. If, however, the rights of those concerned are protected by an Amendment such as that which I propose, no doubt those who wish to affect their contracts would be able to come to satisfactory terms, but at present the party which issues the authority will be relieved of all obligation without payment of any sum whatever. It seems to me very unfair that people who have been carrying on a perfectly legitimate business for years, and for the benefit, probably, of both parties, should have their businesses brought to an end without any kind of compensation being paid to them.

I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary would not wish that result to follow, but nowhere in the Bill is provision made for compensation in the kind of eventuality I have outlined. The Amendment, therefore, is designed to protect contracts of this nature and to ensure that they can be terminated only by the parties concerned coming to terms. Without the Amendment, contracts will be frustrated without the payment of any compensation whatever, a course which would be most unjust.