I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 22, after first 'on', insert 'an aerial photograph or'.
It is surprising that it should be necessary to move this Amendment because, following a fairly lengthy debate in Committee, the Minister of State went some way towards indicating that he would look at the point raised very seriously, and one would have expected him to bring in an appropriate Government Amendment. He told the Committee on 16th December, when he was full of anticipation of the Christmas Recess:
I am prepared to look at this whole question in terms of the regulations to ensure that all ancillary aids are, where appropriate, used to supplement the basic provision."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee, 16th December, 1969; c. 20]
We hoped that this would include the use of aerial photographs.
It is not necessary for me now to go over the whole argument again. We expressed the view at the time that it was extraordinary that, in the 1970s, the Minister of State and the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) still showed such reluctance to be interested in or even know that there was such a thing as aerial photography and would much prefer to deal with maps, even if they were 50 years out of date.
I explained that some 25-inch Ordnance Survey maps are 50 years out of date and that, therefore, an up-to-date aerial photograph could be very much more accurate than such maps. I indicated how the speed of provision of an aerial photograph could be much greater than the provision of a map and could be more accurate. There could be vertical or oblique photographs and there are other advantages, such as the archaeological interest, which may be developed by using oblique aerial photography. Even a layman would understand an aerial photograph, particularly if he had a stereoscopic viewer.
The Minister produced arguments against the proposal which he did absolutely nothing to substantiate. He said that it was rather expensive to produce aerial photographs but I insisted that it was not and volunteered to take photographs of his garden, or that of his hon. Friend for a very modest sum.
Secondly, the Minister said aerial photographs were difficult to read, but, here again, the majority of the Committee were quite sure that laymen could understand such photographs perfectly well. The final argument of the Minister was that he had been a battery sergeant major in the Gunners and had never understood such a photograph. As a pilot in the R.A.F., that is something which I understand and in which I quite concur. But the point is that here in the 1970s aerial photography is of great importance and widely used in surveying, road-making and map-making. We on this side of the House feel strongly that there should be this supplement to maps and that it would be of great advantage under Clause 1.
I would like briefly to support my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) because I believe that aerial photography is easier for the layman to understand in that it is visual rather than schematic, and that we should allow aerial photographs to be used when we make regulations. I cannot think why the Minister is objecting to this Amendment.
I do not dissent from what the hon. Member for Galloway has just said. There is no reason why, in the regulations, we cannot make reference to aerial photographs and their value as a supplementary factor in determining these important matters. I thought that he summed up the case very well, but the House will remember that in Committee, during my pre-wedding euphoria, I said that I would consider quite a number of matters connected with the Bill, which was my obsession during my honeymoon.
On reflection, I realise that when it comes to a question of law and the interests of property, whether extensive property or the property or smallholdings of individuals, it is very important that the last ground of appeal should be something clearly understood and recognised. That is why we have stuck to this old-fashioned legal view of requiring a map. I have here some very good examples which I can show hon. Members privately of maps which are, in effect, a combination—or collusion is probably the right word—of aerial photographs. They are just as accurate as some maps that have been produced on occasions when there are arguments about property affected by road developments, perhaps even more accurate.
I am not arguing against aerial photography as such, but against it being a basic ground on which objectors and others base their arguments against the various orders that may be involved in relation to trunk roads, special roads, side roads and other matters connected with road-making. That is the whole point on which I found my rejection of this Amendment. I do not object to the sentiment behind it and am very glad that the Amendment has been moved so that I have been able to confirm that we shall seek to bring this into regulations so that air photography will have its place, as it must have, in road-making.
But I am putting on record as a principle of law and of discussion on property involved in road-making that we believe that it is better to stick to the basic instrument, namely, the map, without arguing about extensive areas of ground or small holdings. That is the point I am putting to the House and I shall expect to get its sympathy, particularly in view of the fact that as an ex-Gunner I demonstrated my affection for aerial photography.
For the Minister to say he did not need any aerial photographs on his honeymoon was disappointing, since during this period he has had time to consider this Amendment but has not been prepared to move in any way towards accepting our point of view. My point, made also by my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment, was that we are not stating categorically in the Amendment that there has to be an aerial photograph. There is an alternative here, so that if the Minister of State or the Secretary of State, or a highway authority wants to use a map rather than an aerial photograph there is perfect freedom to do so. There is no compulsion on the use of an aerial photograph.
Having said that it is there as an alternative throws open the question why, if it is just an alternative, there is any need for it. But the Minister of State gave the answer when he admitted that with modern developments a combination of map and aerial photography was probably as accurate as anything we can get. It may not be practical at the moment, with that particular kind of photography, to support a road scheme, but we see no reason why one should close one's mind to this being practical in the future, because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) has said, many of the maps which are used in these instances are extremely old, some as much as 50 years old and, in one case of which I know, nearly 70 years old, whereas an aerial photograph is something completely up to date.
I would have thought, therefore, that by writing this provision into this Clause we are not bringing in an obligation for an aerial photograph to be used, but giving the opportunity so that particularly in the case of new developments, an aerial photograph can be used instead of a map where it is thought appropriate in particular circumstances. Taking u all in all, therefore, I would have thought it would have been better to write such a provision into the Bill rather than leave it as a matter for regulation and I feel that my hon. Friend is right in moving this Amendment.
I beg to move Amendment No. 3, in page 1, line 27, leave out '50' and insert '25'.
This Amendment deals with the whole question of the degree of deviation that is allowed in the publication of any order in relation to a special or trunk road. This issue was debated at some length in Committee, when, with all due respect to the pre-wedding euphoria of the hon. Gentleman, the Committee was left in considerable confusion. The debate started with a discussion of how much a deviation should be and what was right or appropriate in particular circumstances, but the Committee did not learn exactly how and when this degree of deviation occurs.
Therefore, in moving this Amendment at this stage of the Bill I wish to raise two specific points. The first colours very much the more detailed point of whether degrees of deviation should be 50 or 25 metres. I wonder whether the Minister could explain exactly how this power to deviate is applied.
Having read the Bill again, and having reread the reports of the Committee, particularly the Minister's speeches, as I understand the fact that a deviation is to take place and the degree of variation must be specified in an order for a special road or trunk road. Unless a specific provision is made for deviation in the order, no deviation is possible. Perhaps the Minister will confirm this.
If provision is made for deviation and the degree of deviation is specified within limits not exceeding 50 metres as the Bill stands, the order could specify a deviation of 20 or 25 metres or any other distance which the Secretary of State in promoting the order may decide. That degree of deviation will be shown on the map, so that anyone affected by it may see exactly how he is affected. It has taken me a great deal of time to unravel the Minister's speeches. Will he say whether that understanding is correct? If it is correct, we have no objection to the principle of deviation in the specific circumstances mentioned in the Bill.
The Minister admitted quite freely in Committee, on 16th December, in column 29, that he had a completely open mind on whether the degree of deviation should be 50 metres or some other distance, and he promised to look at it. A deviation of 50 metres is very large. As my noble Friend the Member for Edinburgh North (Earl of Dalkeith) said in Committee, over a distance of one mile 50-metre deviation could mean as much as 50 acres. Has the experience of the Department shown a deviation of this size to be necessary? The Minister argued that roughly 50 metres is the normal width of a road, and he has taken this as as arbitrary figure.
If we write into the Bill too great a degree of deviation there will be a temptation upon the authority promoting the scheme, and on the Secretary of State, to allow for the maximum degree of deviation. This will affect a much larger number of people than would the smaller degree of deviation suggested by the Amendment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) said in Committee, a degree of deviation larger than absolutely necessary could give rise to unnecessary objections from people who at the end of the day might find that they were in no way affected. There might, therefore, be unnecessary objections in the earlier stages, the only result of which would be to delay the procedures. The earlier Clauses in the Bill are designed to speed up the procedure and so to speed up road building in Scotland. A too wide degree of deviation may result in a great many unnecessary objections, and the slowing down of procedure.
I accept that the 25-metre deviation proposed in the Amendment is an arbitrary one, but that is because we lack any good arguments from the Government as to why they feel that 50 metres is more sensible. From the point of view of the general principle of the degree of deviation and how it is applied and, secondly, in relation to what the degree of variation should be, I hope that the House will accept the Amendment.
There are two limbs to the argument here. The first, if I may say so with respect, results from a misunderstanding of the whole purpose of deviation orders. The second argument, that the figure should be 25 as opposed to 50, is related to what has been the experience of the Department in the last five years. I quite agree with the second argument, and this is why I gave an undertaking in Committee. The figures were not known to us. We had to go through the proposals—I think 15 of them—in the last five years to see how they would have been affected if we had had this rule.
Although the hon. Gentleman prefaced his remarks with a discussion about the principle of deviation, the Amendment does not raise that principle. However, I must seek to explain it. It may be that there has been some misunderstanding to which I may have contributed—I am not above chastising myself occasionally—by failing to explain this, although why a Minister has to explain it five times and the hon. Gentleman cannot work it out himself, beats me. We had no reasoned arguments in Committee for a lesser distance. It was left to the Minister to find out what the lesser distance would be, and the Opposition are shooting in the dark in choosing the figure of 25 metres. No Amendment was moved in Committee relating to any specific figure.
We may want a variation in the line of the road for a number of reasons. One may be to meet the wishes of the owners of the property. The line of the road, for good engineering reasons, may go one way, but the property owner may point out how disadvantageous that would be and say if the road went another way a farm would be viable or a property less materially affected. So a deviation is sometimes, although not always, in the interest of the property owner. Where, in engineering terms, the line of the road does not matter, we should have the ability to vary the order to meet the wishes of the property owner, all things being equal otherwise. If we do not do this right, the whole procedure has to be gone over again. The purpose of deviation limits is to avoid repetitive procedures and expenditure by objectors who have to object not once, but twice, and sometimes perhaps even a third time.
The second purpose of variation orders is for engineering reasons. Having decided on the line of a road, we may later find, from bores carried out in consequence of the preparation of more detailed engineering designs, that there are unsuitable soil conditions, or it may be known at the time that there are mine workings. We therefore need a wide deviation for this purpose. Therefore, the line of the road at that point is a valid matter that can only be revealed later on, when much more thorough investigations have taken place.
A third point to consider is that a move would avoid the need to demolish a property which may be of historical or other significance to the community. These are the reasons for a variation order to be brought in. The procedure is designed to allow an order to proceed, and yet not to allow the matter to be held up because of a variation which by unanimous agreement it may be desirable to carry out. This is to avoid the danger of highway authorities losing three or possibly six months progress because of delay in a simple matter involving statutory procedures.
I have said that about 15 variation orders have been made in the last five years and I should like the House to see this matter in perspective. Out of these variation orders, three have involved deviations of less than 50 metres. The Bill does not allow deviation of above 50 metres. If one looks at those three specific variation orders, two of them would have been knocked out by the Amendment because they were in excess of 25 metres. In the case of the third, there might have been a repetition of the objection already made as to the original line.
I suggest that an ideal variation order would involve something of substance, for example, an order concerning an important development on a special trunk road. I mentioned in Committee the Newbridge to Dechmont trunk road which was the subject of a variation order and there are others on the M.9 which are very important.
They were in country areas. In that case many of the circumstances become not less important, but more important. It is desirable that the principle of the use of variation orders should be preserved and that we should have a better limit than that which exists at present, rather than reduce the limit. It would mean that we would not have a fixed deviation limit.
Some fears expressed about deviation limits are founded on a misunderstanding of the procedure. Each draft order as advertised would show the maximum-limits of deviation for that particular road and these could vary at different parts of the road. There might be provision in a draft order for a deviation of ten, 20 or 50 metres for particular sections but there could be no deviation in excess of 50 metres. It does not follow that all deviations are within the compass of 50 metres, and it would be wrong to assume it. When, after consideration of objection, the order is made or confirmed, the approved limits of deviation could be less than those originally published, but could not be more.
In the light of these two points, which were misunderstood in Committee, the idea of the deviation limits does not seem quite as alarming as one would gather from reading the speeches in Committee. If concurrent proceedings, including compulsory acquisition, were being carried out, the scope for limits of deviation would be very much circumscribed because of the interaction of the various proposals.
It was suggested in Committee that a possible objector would be deprived of his right to object. But the maps accompanying the draft order would show the deviation limits so that anyone could see if he might be affected and lodge objections accordingly. A public inquiry would consider all objections both to the centre line and the deviation limits shown on the draft order.
I concede the point, about urban areas. In view of the changeover in road developments in the 'seventies as distinct from the 'sixties, it is important to recognise that we should not be frightened of the limits of deviation. Properly understood and properly used by the Department and by individuals, it is a way of getting ahead with road building at the same time as preserving good sense, not just accepting second-best lines of a road in order to buy six months' time or demolish properties that could be saved. Furthermore, we do not wish to inconvenience property owners because of having to rush ahead rather than to go through the procedures.
I feel that the change we are making is a good one. I feel that we should stick to the 50 metres as a correct figure in the context of large rural roads which are still being constructed. We are not merely talking of motorways. It should be remembered that a great deal of dual carriageway development takes place in the rural areas and it is right that we should preserve this procedure.
I am sympathetic to the suggestion that the distance of 50 metres might not be right; that it is, perhaps, too much. There is a distinction to be made between urban and rural areas. Obviously, the cases are somewhat different."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee, 16th December, 1969, c. 39–40.]
The Minister may remember uttering those words in Committee. I do not think he has adduced any new arguments to make him think otherwise. Perhaps he has been quietly brainwashed behind the scenes. The nub of the matter is the difference between urban and rural areas.
I suggest that this matter should be looked at again, when the Bill goes to another place. It may be that the Minister is correct in saying that we are shooting in the dark in suggesting 25 metres and I would not suggest that is necessarily the right figure. We could stipulate a figure of 5 metres in urban built-up areas and perhaps allow a figure of 50 metres in rural areas. There is a distinction to be drawn. However, a distance of 50 metres in built-up areas could have the most astonishing consequences on the lives of vast numbers of people and cause a good deal of unnecessary anxiety. It is surely unnecessary to have as big a deviation in a city——
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree with the illustration I gave whereby there would be limits in the draft order of a smaller amount than 50 metres and that this would probably be the practice in urban rather than country areas? Conversely, it may be even more desirable that there should be more variations in the orders relating to cities since so many properties have an historic or other value.
It is difficult to argue hypothetical cases, but I feel that it would cause unnecessary alarm and despondency among people who feel that they were being overridden in a roughshod manner by this type of legislation. I doubt whether a deviation would be anything like as great as the Minister suggests even in the sort of situation he envisaged. I suggest that he might look at the matter again.
I think that I expressed some doubts about this in Committee, because I was probably concentrating on the 50 metres point, because, certainly in an urban area, 50 metres would be rather too much. If it were possible to deviate a six-lane motorway through the Meadows, in Edinburgh, by 50 metres, which I understand is likely to be proposed, that would need to be looked at very seriously.
I was encouraged by what my hon. Friend said about the ability to put figures very much lower than that in the order itself. However, I neither accept nor follow his argument about historic buildings. When the line of a road is being made, surely one looks for historic buildings. They are not suddenly discovered under the surface of the ground. If it is not known that they exist when the line of the road is made, there must be something wrong with those making the road.
That may be, but if it is intended to use aerial photographs to assist in the determination of the line of a road, which I take it would be the normal procedure, any historic buildings would become apparent before the line was made. That seems to be common sense.
As I say, I accept my hon. Friend's argument, and I am glad to hear that the limits can be smaller. However, I intervene because I want to know just what the subsection means. Does it mean 50 metres either sides of the centre-line? If it does, that represents 100 metres. Does it mean that a deviation can be made within a limit of 50 metres either side of the line—that is, within 100 metres? Is that the interpretation?
I am quite prepared to talk for three or four minutes if my hon. Friend wants a little time to puzzle out what his Bill means. It says:
The centre-line of any road referred to in the last foregoing subsection as constructed may deviate from the centre-line as indicated on the map referred to in that subsection within such limits of deviation, not exceeding 50 metres, as may be specified in the scheme or order.
I suggest that, if the limit of deviation is 50 metres on one side of the line and 50 on the other side of it, the limits of possible deviation are 100 metres.
I cannot follow this. My right hon. Friend is saying that, at a given point, where there is power to deviate 50 metres either side of the line, it is possible to deviate the road both sides to make his 100 metres. However, surely it is only possible to deviate one side of it, which is 50 metres.
I am suggesting that the road can be deviated between 100 metres, 50 metres one side of the line and 50 metres the other. If the centre-line ran down the middle of the carpet in this Chamber, and it was possible to deviate to the red line opposite or to the red line on this side, the deviation limits would be between the two lines. My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) is a great logician and a mathematical student. I hope that he will apply his keen mind to the problem, because I am puzzled about it.
Can my right hon. Friend help me? I am anxious to understand his argument, despite the efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence). Does my right hon. Friend take the view that it is possible to deviate 50 yards from the centre-line on both sides at the same time? If we can have an answer to that question from my right hon. Friend, I think that we shall see the position more clearly.
It is possible to deviate in only one direction at any one time. However, the limits within which the line can be deviated are 50 metres on one side of the centre-line and 50 metres on the other side——
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have been interrupted several times, and those interruptions have probably resulted in my having to make two or three speeches.
At the outset of my intervention, I made a very humble request. I am always humble in my appeals to the Government. Having accepted the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Minister of State in preference to those which I ventured to put forward in Committee, I hope that he will be prepared to look at the subsection again in the light of what I have now said.
We have listened to a reasonable defence of the need to deviate a line in certain circumstances, and we do not contest that it is necessary to deviate when an order is made. Although 50 metres may not be unreasonable when one is dealing with land such as moorland or waste ground, I am a little worried about lines running through residential and other built-up areas.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) that, when one is given a possible 50 metres in a Statute, there is a temptation to take the maximum when getting out an order. If one does that in a built-up area, hundreds of people have to attend a public inquiry and make their objections on a hypothetical chance that a deviation will be allowed which will go through their back gardens. If they do not attend the public inquiry and the order is confirmed, they have no redress thereafter.
There is a problem here, and I hope that the Minister will look at it again to see if he cannot reduce the limits of deviation to a more reasonable figure in respect of residential and other built-up areas.
I had not intended to intervene because I did not serve on the Standing Committee. However, I am a little worried by what the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) have said. We have had a hypothetical case of a deviation being made and limited to 25 metres in order to avoid destroying someone's property. I have a bungalow on the side of a narrow road. If the deviation limit was 25 metres, bang would go my bungalow. If it was 200 metres, it would dodge my bungalow by going round the back of it.
I should have to table an Amendment to set the limit at 150 metres, because that would miss my bungalow. A limit of 25 metres would go through it, of 100 metres would take my garden, and of 150 metres would miss me altogether. I do not know whether it is possible to hand in a manuscript Amendment. If it is permissible, I would ask leave to put one in to increase the limit to 150 metres.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) for that ingenious argument. We do not have a Clause which discerns between urban and rural areas. I have looked at the 15 variation orders in the last five years from the point of view of whether 50 is the right figure. At the moment, I think that it is. If we chose 25, we would do ourselves an injury, thinking in terms of rural areas.
If a local authority, oblivious to the situation which the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) described, asked the Secretary of State for a deviation in its draft order which involved a great number of people in the area, there would be such a massive inquiry that it would defeat the end which it sought to secure by the deviation system. That would be silly. Therefore, the in-built bias of the promoters would be to have as little deviation as possible in urban areas, thereby reducing the number of people who would attend the public inquiry.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), whose support I value, made a point about historic buildings. Perhaps I did not put it very well. Of course, we have a list of historic buildings. However, if my right hon. Friend considers the New Town in Edinburgh and thinks back to the quinquennial review, I think that he will see the point of having a variation for buildings of architectural merit. It is one of four or five reasons for the variation procedure. In the rural areas it seems obvious. In the urban areas it is difficult.
We are anxious to secure the best operation of the Statute, and we will certainly keep a very close eye on the matter. However, it would be a mistake to reduce the figure below the 50 metres that we suggest. It would also be a terrible mistake if we abandoned the variation procedure. I think that we are all agreed on that.
We may not be agreed on the figure, but I suggest that we should not accept 25 metres. We should not reduce it below 50 metres. We will see how the matter progresses. If it is a mistake we can rectify it at a later stage. If my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) is right that 50 metres is too little and that we should have a larger figure, we must also look at that.
I was worried, as the debate proceeded, that the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) would add still further to our confusion. However, I think that we have reached a conclusion on the matter. If we know that this degree of deviation is to be specified from the beginning and, having been specified, cannot be increased at any time, that will colour whether we think it should be a high or a low degree of deviation.
As I listened to the Minister I began to think that we should consider increasing this degree of deviation and introduce a wider element into it. What worried me most was that the Minister said that in three out of the 15 schemes he had examined the deviation was less than 50 metres and that therefore 50 metres would be applicable. But what about the other 12? I may be introducing a fresh element. Was the indication in the other 12 schemes that the degree of deviation was more than 50 metres? I wonder why the figure of 50 metres was accepted in the first place.
While I have no intention of pressing the Amendment because I accept the need for deviation, I am not entirely satisfied that 50 metres is the right figure. Therefore, I hope that, even in the later stages of the Bill, the Minister will consider whether the figure is right.
In the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
I beg to move Amendment No. 4, in page 2, line 8, after 'submitted', insert:
'and any relevant map or plan'.
This is a drafting Amendment, dealing with a minor ambiguity in the Bill, which was mentioned in Committee by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Wylie). I promised to
consider whether we should make an Amendment and I propose this one.
I do not remember this discussion in Committee, but I accept from the Minister that I had a hand in it. The Amendment refers to
any relevant map or plan".
However, subsection (2) refers only to a map. There was an Amendment down, which was not selected, to add "plan" to bring subsection (2) into line with the amended subsection (4). Can the Minister explain that? It seems that if there is reference to "relevant map or plan" in subsection (4), it would be helpful to have a corresponding reference in subsection (2).
That raises a fresh point which I had better look at. In Committee, we were comparing paragraph 3 of Schedule 1, which amends the Trunk Roads Act, 1946, and paragraph 5 of Schedule 1, which amends the Special Roads Act, 1949. The hon. and learned Member pointed out that we had to have the same period of six weeks for inspection and lodging of objections where these objections applied to plans as well as to schemes and to orders. That is why I promised to introduce words such as,
and any relevant map or plan.
I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman accepted the explanation. The Amendment seeks to tidy up a minor discrepancy.
As for the other point, I think that I had better look at it.