I beg to move, Amendment No. 21, in page 5, line 12, at the end to insert "or
(c) a person, carrying on a business consisting wholly or mainly of the execution of building operations or of building operations and engineering operations, has before the date on which this Act is passed commenced building works (including the demolition of existing structures) on the land, or part of the land, in respect of which the planning permission was granted for the erection thereon of such a building, or the making of such an extension, in accordance with that planning permission, and had before 5th November 1964 determined that the office premises to be created by such development would be occupied, wholly or mainly, by that person in connection with such business.
Although a long Amendment, this deals with a small point which I feel the Government want to clarify. The Government would wish to cover by the Bill the small number of people affected. At this late hour I will not go into the background, but certain regulations permit a person to carry on with a development if certain things had been done by 5th November, 1964, when the announcement was made by the First Secretary. Where persons are doing development themselves and would not normally be expected to be in contract with themselves, they should be able to follow the same procedure as that announced by the First Secretary.
We did not deal with this section of people in Committee. I admit that it is a small section, but we did not consider the point at all. As the Government have no desire to leave such a case out, I hope that they will accept the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear!"] We are attempting to make as much progress as possible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It would be interesting if those hon. Members below the Gangway who have just returned to the Chamber would have a few words with their own Front Bench, because they are not following the advice which is being quickly passed back to them. It is important that Clauses of the Bill which affect the business of ordinary people should be fairly and properly considered. This point was not raised in Committee and had escaped the notice of the Government. I hope that they will consider the Amendment in the spirit in which I have moved it and see whether something can be done to meet this very small section of cases which arises if we do not close this loophole.
I see what the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Peter Emery) is trying to achieve by the Amendment. I think that he has in mind the case of a building contractor who intends to build new offices for his own business and who cannot, of course, enter into a contract with himself to do so. I see the difficulty, but the solution proposed by the Amendment goes too far and would give a wider exemption to a self-builder, to call him that, than would be given to an ordinary developer under the Bill who had made contracts.
Under the Amendment the self-builder would merely have to have begun building before the passing of the Bill to escape the control, whereas the ordinary developer under the Bill must at least have had a contract before 5th November. Further, under the Amendment, demolition would count as building operations and therefore the self-builder would be able to claim exemption from getting a permit if he indulged in some demolition during the course of the passing of the Bill. That would not be so for the ordinary developer. We cannot accept the Amendment, which would place this type of builder in a much more favourable, and a different, position from everybody else under the Bill.
What we can do is to offer, here and now, that we will, where these cases occur, take into account any commitment to actual building operations which existed in such cases before 5th November—this would correspond with a contract entered into before 5th November—when we consider the application for a permit on its merits in the case of a builder of this type. If we do that we will, I think, meet most of the substance of what the hon. Gentleman proposes, and that I am very willing to do.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for those assurances. He will realise the difficulties in which one finds oneself when trying to define a person who enters into a contract with himself. That is exactly the position of a person who is developing on his own land—[Interruption]—and is his own building contractor. It was to get this matter considered by the House that the Amendment was worded in the way it appears. I thank the right hon. Gentleman once again for the assurances he has given—[Interruption]—and I regret that we have not been assisted by his hon. Friends behind him. I am sure that his assurances will meet a number of the complaints which have been lodged with US.
I did, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. We are in a rather surprising position. The Minister gave certain assurances, yet hon. Gentlemen opposite have been paying so little attention to what has been going on that they are attempting to frustrate the general speed of progress. [Interruption.] I think it only right that I should make that comment. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.