Material Development Regulations

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1967.

Alert me about debates like this

2.46 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I beg to move, That the Material Development (No. 2) Regulations 1967, dated 22nd June, 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th June, be approved. I believe that these Regulations will be equally welcome to the House, although they may invoke critical comment from the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). They extend the scope of exemption from levy. Incidentally, these Regulations also affect the Commission's power to acquire land—a point raised by the hon. Gentleman when he referred a few minutes earlier to material development.

The exemption from levy is extended in two ways. The first—I hope that we shall not be criticised for this—comes in response to a point raised by the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) when we discussed the principal Regulations. The right hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out that, as we had followed the General Development Order here, the various forms of industrial development which are defined as nonmaterial development and, therefore, exempt from levy, gained that exemption only when they fell within the definition under the General Development Order. In other words, extensions or alterations gained exemption where no industrial development certificate was required.

The effect of following precisely the precedent of the General Development Order was that, if an industrial development certificate were required, the development was material development. In that way, as a result of following precedent, we created anomalies because industrial development certificates are required for different areas of building in different parts of the country. We recognise that it is inappropriate to follow the precedent in this respect and that for levy purposes there should be equal and uniform treatment. Therefore, the first effect of these amending Regulations is to remove the reference to industrial development certificates.

The second extension of exemption from levy is made for a similar reason. I refer here to the exemption in respect of caravan sites—I think that it is paragraph 14 of the Schedule to the main Regulations—where, by following the General Development Order, we made the exemption subject to two conditions, each imposed for planning purposes. One of these conditions in the original Regulations was recognised as inappropriate. It is clear that both are equally inappropriate and should be excluded. The second effect of the present Regulations is to do that, and I commend them to the House.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I wonder, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether it would be convenient for the House to discuss, at the same time, the next Motion: That the Material Development (Scotland) (No. 2) Regulations 1967, dated 22nd June 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th June, be approved.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

If the House agrees, so be it.

2.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I should like to refer to that one also, because they are a little different, but I shall come to that in a minute.

Here again, we are on the second round of Land Commission Orders and amending those which came out at the time of the Act. It will become more and more difficult to ascertain what is material development. This is a vital point to the public, not just lawyers, surveyors and valuers but the public, because once one starts a material development it attracts betterment levy immediately. There are many fiddling things with regard to material development. If one sticks a flagpole straight up on one's house that is not material development, but if one sticks it vertically out of the window it is material development.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Order. We cannot discuss material development in general on these Regulations.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I will not develop that any further, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it shows that we need the definitions of material development all at one point where the ordinary layman can find them.

In the Regulations we are amending not only a parent Order but the Act itself. We start off with definitions of material development in Clause 99 of the Act, and then the parent Regulations to those now before us define what is not material development, which rather confuses the issue, there being a positive definition in the Act and a negative one in the Regulations.

There are two objectives of the amending Regulations. First, in Article 2 of the Regulations, paragraph 7(2,d) of the parent Regulations is amended. Under the parent Regulation the development by an industrial undertaker is not material development if it is an extension or alteration of buildings of not more than 5,000 ft., but it would be material development under the original Regulations if a Board of Trade certificate were necessary under Section 38 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1962.

I think that the practical point here—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me—is that under the Town and Country Planning Act the industrial development certificate required is cumulative from as long ago as 1960, and it may be that this year an industrial concern wishes to expand by only 1,000 ft., and that is cumulative if it is developed on a previous 5,000 ft. which would need a certificate. So far as the Land Commission Act is concerned the basic date is 6th April, 1967, and one must calculate the 5,000 ft. from that date. I think that that is the practical purpose of the Amendment and to that extent it is of value, but it is not easy to understand because we are working with at least two or three negatives in it.

The second point of the Amendment comes under Article 3. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can get away with this as easily as he tried to do. Whether it was a misprint or not in the English Regulations I do not know, but it was a very important misprint. The English Regulations deal with caravan sites, and a caravan site which involved new access or widened access to a road would have been material development by reason of leaving out a 1 or a 2—I cannot remember which it was. But under the amending Regulations the caravan site need not be material development just because one is widening the access to it.

Scotland got it right, but, unfortunately, it put brackets round these figures when the brackets ought not to have been there. On one occasion in dealing with a consolidation Bill I was teased by Mr. Speaker for saying that the bracket was in the wrong place. He thought I was being pedantic about the drafting of the Bill.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Order. I am sure that what Mr. Speaker said in that regard was correct.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I am sure that Mr. S maker was correct. However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I was being pedantic then, here is the right hon. Gentleman representing Scotland being super-pedantic: in bringing forward a solemn Statutory Instrument to correct those brackets. That is all that is happening in three paragraphs of the Scottish Order. Brackets were put round 1 and 2, and we have to have a Statutory Instrument to remove them. This goes to show again how these Orders were originally rushed through and insufficient time was given to consider them.

It will cause great confusion to the public to have to refer not only to the Land Commission Act for material development but also to the Town and Country Planning Act 1962, the Town and Country Planning (General Development) Order, the first of these material development Regulations, and now the amending one. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider putting the definition of material development in one place in some form.

Finally, I point out that the concession of extending the definition of material development may look like a gift to the developer. We are saying here that "This and that are not material development. You are, therefore, being let off betterment levy." But it is being put into current use value, and, therefore, the developer is being let off betterment levy but is paying Capital Gains Tax and Corporation Tax. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman ought to present it as a gift, because it is merely a change in tax.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,That the Material Development (No. 2) Regulations 1967, dated 22nd June 1967, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th June, be approved.

Material Development (Scotland) (No. 2) Regulations 1967, dated 22nd June 1967 [copy laid before the House, 28th June], approved.—[Dr. Dickson Mabon.]