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Special Provisions with Respect to Land Held by or in Trust for Public Charity

New Clause 1 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th October 1975.

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  1. (1) This section applies to any land an interest in which is held by or in trust for a charity.
  2. (2) For the purposes of this Act a material interest in land is not outstanding if it is held by or in trust for a charity.
  3. (3) Subsection (3) to (6) of section 27 of this Act shall not apply in any case in which that section applies if the land in question is land to which this section applies.
  4. (4) The compensation payable in any case in which the said section 27 applies shall, if the land in question is land to which this section applies, be assessed—
    1. (a) as if this Act had not been passed, or
    2. (b) if the person entitled to the compensation so elects, as if planning permission had been granted for any development by virtue of which the use of that land would be made to correspond with the use which prevails generally in the case of contiguous or adjacent land.'—[Mr. Rossi.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following new clause and amendments:

New Clause No. 6—Special provisions with respect to land held by or in trust for an approved pension scheme

  1. (1) This section applies to any land an interest in which is held by or in trust for an approved pension scheme.
  2. (2) For the purposes of this Act a material interest in land is not outstanding if it is held by or in trust for an approved pension scheme.
  3. (3) Subsections (3) to (6) of section 27 of this Act shall not apply in any case in which that section applies if the land in question is land to which this section applies.
  4. (4) The compensation payable in any case in which the said section 27 applies shall, if the land in question is land to which this section applies, be assessed—
    1. (a) as if this Act had not been passed, or
    2. (b) if the person entitled to the compensation so elects, as if planning permission had been granted for any development by virtue of which the use of that land would be made to correspond with the use which prevails generally in the case of contiguous or adjacent land.
  5. (5) In this section "approved pension scheme" means a retirement pension scheme approved by the Commissioner for Inland Revenue under section 222 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 or a superannuation fund approved by the Commissioners for Inland Revenue for the purposes of section 208 of the Finance and Corporation Taxes Act 1970.
Government Amendments Nos. 270, 273, 129, 316, 317, 318 and 344.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

New Clause 1 relates to charities while New Clause 6 deals with pension funds. The amendments which we are to take with these are Government amendments which in part seem to seek to meet some of the objections that we raised to the Bill, namely that it fails to give any exemption to charities or Churches. The amendments appear to do nothing to deal with pension funds.

I will deal first with new Clause 1. Charities have had a somewhat chequered career under this Bill. It was clear from the White Paper and the Bill as originally presented on Second Reading that the Government had no intention whatever of giving any exemptions to Churches or charities in so far as their land was concerned. There was nothing of any kind and the Bill emerged in this House on 29th April—

Photo of Hon. John Silkin Hon. John Silkin , Lewisham, Deptford

The hon. Member will, I hope, remember what my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales said on Second Reading. He said quite clearly that this point needed some consideration and discussion.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

I know very well what the right hon. and learned Member said on Second Reading. But I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman heard what I was saying before his intervention. I was saying that it was clear that it was the Government's original intention, both in the White Paper and the Bill, not to give any exemption to charities. It was only after the Prime Minister had received a deputation from Church leaders a week or so before Second Reading that there was a sudden realisation on the part of the Government that they would be in considerable trouble if they did not do something about charities and Churches.

When we pressed the matter on Second Reading we received the assurance from the Secretary of State for Wales that the matter would receive further consideration. What further consideration did it receive? When we arrived in Committee there were amendments seeking to assist charities and Churches tabled by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. The amendments tabled by Government back benchers sought only to exempt Churches. We felt that that was not sufficient and sought to exempt Churches and all charities.

Even when we debated this matter in Committee early in June, the Minister was not ready. He did not know how far he could go, and we had the rather curious spectacle of some statements being made in Committee which were interpreted in a certain way by those listening in the Committee, reported in the Press and then denied the next day by the Department of the Environment. It was not until 15th July, by which date we had been told we would receive Government amendments, that we received not the amendments but a further statement by the Minister giving an indication of his intention to assist charities.

On that occasion the Minister spoke in some specific terms. But it is not until this late hour that we finally see what the amendments are. We have already had a debate on this matter, so I will not reopen the argument about the late-ness of the amendments. Even the amendments dealing with charities do not appear to be complete, because in Committee the Minister said there would be a concession for charities regarding the prevailing use value basis of compensation, about which we shall talk later. There is no amendment dealing with that. I assume that we shall have to wait until the Bill is in another place before there are amendments tabled to help charities on that score.

I have given this brief introduction to show the shambles the Government have been in on this question of charities and the patchwork way in which they have dealt with the matter and the uncertain direction in which they have moved. Even at this stage we must criticise the Government for not doing enough for charities and Churches, as we shall see when we look at the amendments.

I deal first with the intent behind new Clause 1. The intention is to give universal help to Churches and charities against some of the worst features of this legislation. We start by saying in sub-section (1) that This section applies to any land an interest in which is held by or in trust for a charity. That will include Church land, too. We say in subsection (2) that For the purposes of this Act a material interest in land is not outstanding if it is held by or in trust for a charity. "Outstanding material interest in land" is one of those curious terms of art introduced into the Bill which at first sight are unintelligible to the layman. What we are seeking to say by adopting that phraseology, which follows the definition in the Bill, is that for the purposes of the measure, land belonging to charity shall not be subject to the duty as to acquisition imposed upon local authorities by virtue of Clause 20. Therefore charities will be able to go about the development of their land without attracting the acquisitive duties of local authorities to take up that land the moment a charity seeks to carry out a development or even to apply for planning permission.

In subsection (3) we seek to exclude those parts of Clause 27 which deal with the payment in respect of land which is acquired by local authorities under this measure. Clause 27 deals with the compensation to be paid at current use value. We are saying that the current use value concept shall not apply to land owned by charity and acquired by local authorities.

The reason is simple. Most Churches today are having to give up redundant churches in inner city areas and make them available for development purposes. With the money received from that development or sale of land, they build new churches in the areas to which the population has shifted. It is essential to them in carrying out that new building that they should receive a full and proper market price for the redundant church and not merely a current use value, which would be the price that would be put on a redundant church used as a redundant church—an empty church building which has a minimal value, if any.

What we seek to say is that the Churches should get more than the current use value. They should get what the land is worth in the inner city so that they can go about their work of developing churches or carrying out other charitable works in other parts of the country.

Subsection (4) of the new clause seeks to say that the compensation shall be assessed (a) as if this Act had not been passed, or (b) if the person entitled to the compensation so elects, as if planning permission had been granted for any development by virtue of which the use of that land would be made to correspond with the use which prevails generally in the case of contiguous or adjacent land. That is the prevailing use concept to which I referred a few moments ago, about which we received an undertaking in Committee and concerning which there is as yet no amendment before us.

The concept is simply that where the Church wishes to sell its redundant building it will not be paid by the local authority, on acquisition, the value of a redundant church as such but will be entitled to say, "What is the prevailing use of land in this neighbourhood? Is it industrial or is it commercial?" Let us assume that our redundant church has planning permission to be developed in the way in which land in that area is being generally used. The price payable for the land by the local authority would be that prevailing use value—in other words, a value based upon the purpose for which the local authority will ultimately develop the land. By that we can be assured in this situation that the Churches and charities will be able to go about their business.

4.30 p.m.

In seeking to meet some of the objections that we raised in Committee the Minister has tabled his Amendments Nos. 270 to 344 as they appear on the Notice Paper, but he goes only a very little part of the way towards meeting our objections. I suggest to him that this so-called concession is of little use to Churches and charities.

First, the amendments give exemptions to charities from the effects of the legislation for a period of only 10 years. When we debated this matter in Committee the Minister informed us that he considered that the 10-year period would be sufficient to enable charities to arrange their affairs in respect of the land they now own. In fact, the charities and Churches consider that that 10-year period is far too short for their purposes. They urge upon us that even in normal circumstances it can take 10 years or more to devise a scheme, get it approved, arrange the necessary finance and obtain planning permission. However, in the present circumstances and the current economic climate building programmes of all kinds are having to be postponed. This is particularly true in respect of institutions and homes. Therefore, for them this 10-year concession is unrealistic.

The second reason why these proposed amendments or suggested concessions by the Minister fail to help the charities is that a rigid distinction is drawn by the amendments between pre- and post-White Paper day land. In other words, the concession that I have indicated applies only to land which happened to be owned by Churches and charities on 12th September 1974. The concessions do not apply in any way to land which they acquired subsequent to 12th September 1974. The activities of Churches and charities are fossilised if they are to be tied down to their existing land banks.

A great deal of Church and charity activity is in exchanging land that they do not need for the time being for other land that they will require for future use. Under a strict interpretation of the amendments as tabled by the Minister they will not be able to carry on that kind of activity and, therefore, will be considerably impeded in the work in which they are engaged.

One of the complaints made to us by the charities is that they are being treated far worse than statutory undertakers, who are being allowed to develop land for their own purposes irrespective of when land was acquired. The charities believe that at least they should be treated on a par with statutory undertakers, because they consider that their land is being used for the benefit of the community as a whole. Therefore, I ask the Minister to bear in mind and to consider sympathetic-ally the strong objections that the Churches and charities have raised with us, and, I have no doubt, have raised with him, as to the inadequacy of the concessions he has made.

I turn to the 10-year limitation. After a period of 10 years Church and charity land will be acquirable by local authorities at current use value. Churches wish to borrow today on the value of their land as a security, to enable them to carry out their work of building new churches, old people's homes, new Church schools and all those kinds of things by which they make such a great contribution to our community as a whole. If the value of their land takes a substantial nose-dive in 10 years' time, the borrowing they can achieve today on that land is extremely limited. Therefore, again the so-called concession by the Minister is of little help to Churches and charities in that area.

We are discussing also new Clause 6 which deals in similar language with an entirely different situation. New Clause 6 proposes Special provisions with respect to land held by or in trust for an approved pension scheme. The wording of new Clause 6 follows closely the wording of new Clause 1 and, therefore, there is no need for me to go through the subsections seriatim, as I did before, to explain their intention and meaning. I need deal only with the general principle underlying the matter.

We discussed this subject at some length in Committee and, therefore, I shall not go over the ground today. I shall simply read into the record, as it were, the debate that took place in Standing Committee G, Sixth Sitting on Tuesday 10th June 1975, where those outside the House who are interested in these matters will find the facts and details examined in some depth. Suffice it to say, for the purposes of this discussion, that pension funds are dependent on being able to provide buoyant pensions for their pensioners—that is, pensions that keep pace with inflation—and on being able to redevelop their commercial and industrial holdings.

We are told and advised by pension fund managers that when a pension fund buys investment land today it does so on the basis of looking ahead some 150 years. Within that period it seeks to redevelop or rebuild a commercial or industrial building, such as an office block or a factory, twice or perhaps three times. On each occasion not only does it modernise the building but it may increase the floor space, or even alter the type of accommodation or mix up the development, to ensure that it gets the best return for its investment that the market will pay.

If a pension fund wishing to carry out that kind of redevelopment for the benefit of its pensioners has to work within the context of the Bill, it will lose severely and will not be able to maintain its pensions.

The concession announced two or three days ago by the Minister, that 15,000 sq.ft. of commercial or industrial building extensions will be exempted by some regulations he is to introduce in the future but not spelt out in the Bill, does not help the pensions funds. We have been into this matter with them and they say that that is far too restrictive and the Bill will impede them in their work if they are not given exemptions of the kind that are enunciated in new Clause 6.

In order to assess the size of the problem, I will remind the House of one or two figures which have already been given. These are from published figures. A quarter of a million former miners are today living on pensions. Of their pension fund, £45 million is invested in commercial and industrial buildings—a total of 30 per cent. of the entire capital of the pension fund. In Standing Committee G at column 278 similar figures are given for the electrical workers, and local authority pensioners are affected in much the same way.

The effect of the Bill as it stands is that the moment a pension fund seeks to carry out a redevelopment to increase its income base, to increase the value of its land or the rents coming in to maintain its pension level with inflation, and applies for planning permission, it will be obliged, if the local authority so requires, to sell that land to the authority at current use value after the second appointed day. Then, if the local authority in its magnanimity chooses to allow the pension fund to carry out the development itself and not have it carried out by the local authority, the authority will not even sell back the land to the pension fund; it will lease it on a short lease on the best market terms available for the local authority after the development has been carried out. The difference between those two values is, in effect, a sizeable tax imposed upon the pension fund. Pension funds regard the operation of the Bill as the imposition of a heavy tax on pension funding which up to now has always been exempted from fiscal legislation.

It is for that reason that we seek to move new Clause 6, in respect of which there is not one concession in the Bill despite the real anxiety that has been expressed by the managers of pension funds throughout the country. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will support me when we seek to press new Clauses 1 and 6 in the Division Lobby.

Photo of Hon. John Silkin Hon. John Silkin , Lewisham, Deptford

It may help the House if I intervene at this early point in the debate, although my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will hope to deal with the main threads of the discussion later.

A number of matters have been put together in the Government's group of amendments. Hon. Members may find it useful if I indicate how they relate and in particular what the amendments seek to do.

The bulk of the provisions in the group is concerned with a special provision relating to charities. This is the theme of new Clause 1, which has been moved by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi).

Part of Government Amendment No. 270, the whole of Amendment No. 344 and Amendment No. 273 introduce a definition of "charity" for the purpose of the Bill. The other Government amendments are formal. Amendment No. 129 is consequential on Amendment No. 270 through the transfer of the list of bodies whose interests in land are not to be treated as outstanding material interests from Clause 20 to Clause 6. Amendments Nos. 316, 317 and 318 are drafting amendments in Clause 27 designed to accommodate the substantive Amendment No. 344.

As I understand it, new Clause 6, which relates to pension funds, has been included more because it has identical wording with new Clause 1 than for any new points which were to be raised. As the hon. Member for Hornsey fairly said, we debated this matter at some length in Committee. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will be prepared to come back to the point again and to reiterate what was so eloquently expressed in Committee.

4.45 p.m.

I should like to turn to the content of the substantive Government amendments concerned with charities, which is paragraph (a) of new subsection (2B) in Amendments Nos. 270 and 344. These amendments give effect to two of the three areas for which I announced in Committee that special provision for charities would be made in the Bill.

Hon. Members may have noticed that in another place on 4th August my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State announced that amendments for the purpose would be available before the Bill reached its Committee stage in another place. I emphasise this, because I want the House to realise that there was never any promise that the question of charities would be dealt with on Report. It is only because Report follows the recess that we are able to begin the series of amendments here. As I said, my noble Friend clearly said that the amendments would be dealt with in another place. However, we have done better than that. The amendments that I have mentioned cover most of the provisions promised in response to the "McNamara clause".

The one area of importance which will be provided for in another place concerns the circumstances which the hon. Member for Hornsey raised in which the prevailing use value basis will apply when charity-land is acquired for development. There are still some technical problems to be solved in giving expression to the provisions required. Negotiations with the bodies representing the Churches and other charities have been continuing and I hope to complete these discussions before the Bill is debated in another place where the final additions for charities will be made.

Amendment No. 270 concerns more than charity matters, and I shall come to the rest in a moment. The charity provision appears in the new subsection (2B)(a) and gives effect to my announcement in Committee that Churches and other charities will be able to carry out development on land owned by them on White Paper day without local authority intervention. In other and more technical words, a material interest if held in these circumstances will not be treated as outstanding for the purposes of the Bill. This is a straightforward provision.

Amendment No. 344 deals with the basis of compensation to be used in the circumstances that I announced in Committee; namely, that Churches and other charities would retain the right to receive market value for a 10-year period or until the move to CUV on the second appointed day, whichever is the longer period. This is achieved by introducing a new sub-section (2) into Clause 27. To do this, as I have mentioned, requires a few drafting changes provided for in Amendments Nos. 316, 317 and 318. These provisions require a definition of "charity" in Clause 8. This is done by Amendment No. 273, which, incidentally, also provides a definition of "community council" which has so far been lacking.

I should also like to draw attention to the three benefits which charities will now receive under the Bill.

First, the charitable organisations attach importance to the continuation of the charitable status of the land if it is held by a charity on White Paper day and later transferred to another charity without a break. I accept that proposition, and the wording of Amendments Nos. 270 and 344 secures it. This provision will be specially helpful in some re-organisations which I understand are currently taking place in Church and other charity contexts.

Secondly, as is being done with other types of transaction in the Bill, the time which will count in establishing when a material interest which a charity may have in land exists will be the time when the charity entered into a binding contract to acquire the interest rather than the somewhat later date of the conveyance itself. In relation to acquisition by an authority this is secured by the first part of the new subsection (2C) in Amendment No. 270 and in relation to the market value basis by Amendment No. 344.

Thirdly, hon. Members will no doubt have seen the announcement two weeks ago about the intended content of the regulations that will lay down the development that will be permanently excluded from the land scheme duty. One type of development that will be excluded is development, other than industrial development, where the total floor space created does not exceed 10,000 sq.ft.—15,000 sq.ft., as the hon. Gentleman said, in the case of industrial buildings, and 10,000 sq.ft. in the case of other buildings. Whatever the hon. Gentleman may say, this will exclude many buildings on the smaller scale, including, no doubt, many modern churches and also halls used for social purposes.

I should like now to come back to Amendment No. 270 simply to refer to its non-charity elements. These secure the following: first, a general rearrangement of the material in Clause 20(7) which appears in paragraph (a) of sub-section (2A) describing non-outstanding material interests; secondly, also in paragraph (a), the addition in Scotland of the council of a district within the area of a general planning authority. Thirdly, a material interest is to be treated as outstanding if none of the bodies mentioned in subsection (2A) has entered into a binding contract for the acquisition of the land—paragraph (b) of subsection (2A). This is a formal general change to be found in other places in the Bill. Fourthly, there is power for the Secretary of State to prescribe by order land which is not to be treated as an outstanding material interest—paragraph (b) of subsection (2B)—and such an order is to be subject to negative resolution procedure by virtue of the second parts of subsection (2C).

Perhaps I might now say a word about this last provision. The House will recall that in the White Paper last September we said that statutory undertakers and some comparable bodies would be able to acquire and develop land needed for their statutory functions without the intervention of local authorities. In considering who these bodies might be it became apparent that some were akin to nationalised industries and others more akin to local government bodies. The distinction is based on the fact that nationalised industry land can be in either operational or non-operational use, whereas land owned by local government type bodies can hardly be regarded in those terms. As a result, I have decided that the "comparable bodies" should be split between Clauses 6 and 7, with those akin to local government bodies being prescribed by order under Clause 6 and others being covered by Clause 7. The bodies that I intend to prescribe under Clause 6 may be exemplified by the Commission for the New Towns and the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies.

I hope that what I have said will help the House in its journey through this rather long group of amendments.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask him to deal with two matters that I raised? I am grateful to him for the technical explanation that he has given about the meaning of his amendments, but he has not answered the two matters of principle that I raised. The first of these is the White Paper day point about land owned before and after by charities. The other point was about the too short tenure period. Both matters are dealt with in the amendment and are substantial matters of principle, and I hope that we shall get an answer to them.

Photo of Hon. John Silkin Hon. John Silkin , Lewisham, Deptford

As I said earlier, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State Will deal with such matters when he replies to the debate.

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Melton

The House attaches the maximum possible importance to the legislative provisions relating to charities, and, therefore, it is important that any concessions that the Government seem to have made on this subject, whether they be the matter of acquisition of them or taxation, because the two are inextricably mingled for the purpose of the Bill, should be examined in detail.

Since I thrilled the Standing Committee with my oratory on 15th July I have been engaged in a gargantuan struggle in correspondence with the right hon. Gentleman on this matter and on the points that he made when he courteously replied to my speech on that occasion.

I am disappointed with the specific wording of what I can only describe as clause (2C) of Amendment No. 270 where it refers to 'a charity had entered into a binding contract for its acquisition. When I raised this matter first in Committee I asked: What about land for which they "— that is charities— had sought planning permission before White Paper day, which they did not own but which they were under contract to buy had planning permission been obtained? Why should that not come under these concessions? "—[Official Report, Standing Committee G, 15th July 1975; c. 2673.] In a letter of 4th August which the right hon. Gentleman courteously wrote to me he said: We are considering the question of both binding contracts and also contracts conditional on the grant of a planning application which was still to be decided on White Paper day. That being so, in view of the reasonably hopeful reply which the right hon. Gentleman gave on that occasion, and also in view of the specific concession given in the draft development land tax Bill for conditional contracts, I am amazed that this minor concession has not been made here and that the provision refers solely to binding contracts. I ask the Government to think again about that before the Bill gets to another place. I cannot believe that the amount of land which charities were, in effect, under conditional contract to buy on White Paper day is so great as to prevent the Government from making a concession of that sort.

The second more substantial point is the question of taxation which is inextricably related to these matters, although I appreciate that it is not the subject of Amendment No. 270. The difference between White Paper day and non-White Paper day is so sharp that I am surprised. In a letter of 5th September the right hon. Gentleman said: In respect of land acquired after White Paper day there will be no liability to DLT when this land is developed for the church or charities' own use but they will become liable to DLT on selling such land, that is on realising its development value. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) said in his excellent opening speech, we attach such importance to the future continuation of charitable activities and having an adequate stock of finances to deal with new situations such as populations moving, and so on, that we see no reason why the Government should not be prepared to make this concession and take away the rigid demarcation line of 12th September. They should accept that charities are in a different position from any other form of developer and say that they do not want them to be involved in this action at all and will, therefore, make this concession and let them out of it. That seems to be the only satisfactory way of dealing with this situation.

I welcome the Minister's notes, of which I am one of the recipients, being a member of the Committee. In his notes he refers to Amendment No. 270 and says that it secures that land owned by a charity on White Paper day and still owned by any charity at the time in question—that is, without an ownership by a body other than a charity—shall not be treated as an outstanding material interest; that is, it will not be subject to the acquisition duty and the suspension of planning permission.

I see no reason why that provision should be made. I can understand what is in the right hon. Gentleman's mind. He is saying that he does not want a situation by which a charity sells land to a developer who does not develop but sells it to another charity. The House knows that I have an interest in this matter. I should have thought that the number of occasions on which a developer would want to sell land to one charity having bought it from another would be very few indeed. I see no reason to believe that that sort of activity is likely. This sort of provision will, I believe, cause possible difficulties in charities, since dealing through an estate agent or in other ways that charities may have to use may be the most effective way of getting land released so that they can deal with a new situation.

This sort of looking for loopholes in case someone should make a profit causes great problems in legislation, particularly relating to land. Here again, the concession would be so minor that I urge it on the right hon. Gentleman.

5.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight

I support the Opposition proposals, although I appreciate that the Minister has gone a long way over the provisions relating to Churches and charities. I am worried about the 10-year period. I accept that he has come forward with the 10,000 sq.ft. exemptions, but some bodies will still be caught.

I understand from the Minister's notes and speeches that it is proposed to introduce the necessary clauses in another place. Would he not look back to his revered father and the 1947 Act scheme of the global sum? Could not Churches and charities be compensated out of a global sum?

I do not like the idea of chosen charities being treated in different ways over the sale of land, which is what we are trying to get at. We are trying to get land down to an existing use value or a sensible price so as to bring down the price of property. The Churches should not have this benefit ad infinitum, but they should be properly compensated for the securities they have. Ten years is not long enough. Nor do I think that this concession will cover all Churches and charities. There are bound to be some caught which will suffer.

I take very much on board the point of the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) that the securities of these bodies, which they may have to leave with the bank, have already been hit and that, with this 10-year limit, few bank managers will be disposed to lend. There will be those who rush to get on and develop, probably badly, at a time when there is little demand. So should not these bodies be compensated from a global sum?

I am very sad that the question of pension funds has not been taken on board by the Minister. They are still in the same position. We argued about this in Committee, when I moved some amendments myself. I will go no further now, but the pension funds should be given some concession. They are already suffering substantially. If nothing is done in the Bill, I fear for the future.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

It would be churlish of those of us who served on the Committee not to recognise that what my right hon. Friend has announced are important concessions to the Churches and charities.

I have been impressed throughout the debate by the great reasonableness shown by my right hon. Friend in approaching this difficult and thorny topic. In the concessions announced so far, either in amendments or by way of promises of action in another place, together with the fact that he will have more discussions with the Church and other bodies on the outstanding points which have been raised, we should recognise that my right hon. Friend has maintained the undertaking that he gave and continues to give, to the Churches and charities, and that the concessions made are important ones, both of principle and in extent. It is true that there are matters of detail still to be discussed, but the principles have been conceded.

As for the 10-year rule, I may be at loggerheads with people who have urged me in the past to put down amendments to the Bill. In trying to deal with the scandals associated with land over the past 25 years, the Government are trying to deal fairly between those Churches and charities which hold land and are seeking to use it for a particular purpose in the foreseeable future and those which may hold land not for an immediate and definite use but as a continuing resource upon which they wish to call and with which they just wish to play the market like anyone else, to get what they can, to gazump and make a profit where they can, often out of money and development made by the rest of the community.

I would not be associated with any group which sought to use land in that way. I came to this place believing that land belongs to the people. I still do so. When land is used to benefit people I will support amendments to help Churches and charities, but I will not help them to take part in some sort of roulette or gamble by increasing prices at the expense of my fellow citizens.

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

I would first declare a number of interests. Perhaps I should not risk incurring the Minister's wrath by listing them at length, but perhaps they could be on the record throughout this Report stage.

I go along with the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) in thanking the Minister for such concessions as we have had for charities. I suppose that the appropriate phrase is being grateful for small mercies. As we wend our perhaps weary way through this piece of legislation, we shall I fear become aware of numerous areas in which the Secretary of State has discretion. This has taken rather a long time—far too long, in fact. Some, including my hon. Friends, have already argued for these limited concessions. We cannot be encouraged about the efficiency and speed with which the legislation will be administered when we have had to wait nearly seven months for these concessions, which the right hon. Gentleman has described as substantial.

Of course, some of the most important of the proposed concessions for charities have not yet appeared. In spite of the reasonably lengthy recess, which I hope all of us, including you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have enjoyed, we have not yet seen the wording relating to prevailing use.

As for the 10-year rule, I am sure that many charities will join me in resenting what the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central referred to as charities "playing the market". As a trustee of a number of charities, I know that they are to all intents and purposes indefinite bodies. We look a long way ahead at our land holdings, because we hope that our functions will continue indefinitely.

Photo of Sir Walter Clegg Sir Walter Clegg , North Fylde

Would not many trustees be failing in their duties and perhaps open to action if they did not get the best possible price available for trustee properties which were sold?

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

I entirely accept what my hon. Friend says from the depths of his legal knowledge. This is, I think, the "fiduciary duty" of trustees. That is sometimes the excuse that charities use for accepting a better offer, and gazumping, but perhaps I had better not go into that.

The lack of concern for charities shown by the 10-year rule is likely to bring about premature redevelopment which could be costly and unnecessary to the charity. An example is a Church Army home which will in due course need replacement by more modern premises, more suitable for the continuing requirement. If the Church Army realises that if it brings the property up for revelopment after 10 years it is likely to be bought at current use value, it is likely to get on with the project now, even if it is not necessary or justified at this time. It could be argued, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg) suggested, that they would be failing in their duty if they failed to do so. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to rethink the 10-year rule. It is unnecessary to restrict the concession to charities in this way. I do not understand what abuse he is trying to avoid. New Clause 1 is the right answer for charities.

I appreciate that we had a lengthy debate on new Clause 6 during the sixth sitting of the Standing Committee. Since that debate we have, I hope, all been encouraged by the renewal of all-party support—a point which has been made by the Secretary of State for Social Services—for the rôle of the private sector pension funds. This has been substantially reaffirmed since the debate in Committee. It is against that background that we should re-examine the potential effect upon the assets of those funds if their property can be taken away from them at current use value.

New Clause 6 is not concerned with giving a special privilege to pension funds, as developers; it is concerned with the compensation that would be paid to pension funds if their land were compulsorily acquired. It is suggested in new Clause 6 that compensation should take into account the development of that land which would be compatible with the development control function exercised by local authorities. If new Clause 6 is not accepted the inevitable result will be a substantial deterrent to development by pension funds. Instead of developing those parts of their land holdings where there would be a change of use, they will sit on them.

I have no confidence—I doubt whether many hon. Members have much confidence—in the ability of local authorities to detect the smaller areas, and I do not regard 10,000 square feet, or 15,000 square feet for industry, as a meaningful exemption in this context. Local authorities will be unable to detect opportunities, social needs and pressures for redevelopment. The pension funds, which, as is well known, are substantial owners of property, will be completely deterred—not necessarily by themselves—from bringing land forward for development if the land is to be taken off them at only current use value.

Those who will suffer from this financial penalty are, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) has already pointed out, the beneficiaries of the pension funds, not least the miners, those who work for the Central Electricity Generating Board and other funds that are well known for their acumen in the property world and for the size of their property holdings.

Therefore, I suggest that new Clause 6 meets a genuine point in new circumstances where the rôle of the private sector pension fund has been given all-party support into the indefinite future. Those funds are entitled to recognition of their rôle by the Government.

5.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) complimented the Minister on a concession. So also did the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara). I wonder what is meant by "concession"? It means here that the Minister is ceasing to persecute charities by confiscating the Churches' land at below its value. I do not regard that as a concession. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will stop persecuting them a little more.

The Government are seeking to take not quite all the Churches' and charities' lands at under their current use value. They are doing that only after a massive outcry from the Churches and charities about the unfairness of the Bill. Those bodies have said that under the Bill as it originally stood their land was to be taken away from them at current use value, and that if they sought to develop that land it could be taken from them merely because they sought to develop it under the acquisition powers given to local authorities by the Bill.

Let us be clear what the cessation of persecution is. It is merely that those Churches and charities which held land on 12th September 1974 will escape from the power, and later the duty, of local authorities to take that land away from them at current use value, their planning permissions being suspended. They will escape all this for only 10 years. What will happen to a Church or charity that finds itself holding unprofitable land which it held on 12th September 1974, or land which is not suitable for the further development of that Church or charity—land perhaps in a residential area which has been run down and where the Church wishes to rebuild elsewhere, or land on which a charity may have alms houses which it wishes to dispose of and put elsewhere? Those bodies will be able to dispose of the land which they held on 12th September 1974 at market value. However, they will have to buy land to replace it at market value. Suppose that the Church or charity finds that that land is not suitable because of another great planning scheme which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. It will have to sell that land at current use value.

Therefore, it is only land which Churches or charities held on 12th September 1974 to which this concession applies and for which they will not be caught by the Bill for 10 years. During that 10 years they cannot change their investment or their land for development without running grave risks. There was an outcry from the Churches when the Bill was published. I am sure that all hon. Members have received letters on this matter. The Opposition have been complimented on having got this concession out of the Minister. Some have praised the Minister for giving this concession and a few have realised what a miserable and meagre concession it is in not recognising the public purpose for which Churches and charities exist.

Paragraph (2B) of Amendment No. 270 says: A material interest in land shall not be treated as outstanding for the purposes of this Act if—(b) it is of a description specified in an order made under this subsection by the Secretary of State. We do not know what that order will be except that a document was issued recently by the Minister called "Annex A to Document on Scope of the Community Land Scheme". My copy is not dated but it came into my hands only in the last few days. In it he indicates what he hopes to put in the order. If he can issue that document in that way, why cannot he put all the information in the Bill so that we know exactly what will be law and not just what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind at the moment? He had in mind many matters when he first printed the Bill; thank heavens we have got them out of his mind. I want to know exactly what are his intentions about the order.

Amendment No. 270 goes on to say that: any order made under that subsection shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament. That is a most extraordinary piece of drafting. I would prefer the order to be subject to the affirmative procedure. If the right hon. Gentleman then goes on to refer to my amendment (a) a few lines down the page and accuses me of asking for the same thing, I assure him that my amendment is to his previous amendment on the Notice Paper.

One confusion that has occurred during the past week is the way in which the right hon. Gentleman, having put down amendments on the Notice Paper a month or so ago, has suddenly whipped them off, so that we have to study the amendments all over again. That is unfair to hon. Members who served on the Committee and to those who come new to the Bill on the Floor of the House. I press the Minister to put into the Bill what he intends to put in the order, which he can do when the Bill goes through another place.

I support hon. Members who have spoken to new Clause 6. Apparently, there is to be no concession for pension funds. The great loss of value which will occur in those funds is an extremely serious matter. We must remember that pension funds are subscribed to by people of small means who put in their money in the hope that the funds will retain their value. The Minister will deliberately decrease the value of those pension funds, not just because when the funds dispose of property they will get only current use value but because at this moment the value is depreciated by the prospect of the application of the Bill to property owned by pension funds.

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a survey shows that 86·5 per cent of the issued capital of the major property companies is owned by institutions, a great many of which are pensions funds?

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that potent fact, which I hope will force the Minister to think again on this subject.

Photo of Mr Douglas Crawford Mr Douglas Crawford , Perth and East Perthshire

I wish to confine my remarks to the position of the Church. I should perhaps declare an interest in that I am a son of the Manse. My father was a Church of Scotland minister.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) is not here. I was surprised to hear his implication that the Church was using land for speculative purposes. Some Churches at some time may use land for speculative purposes but that is not the main purpose of the Church. The hon. Gentleman said that the land belonged to the people, but the people establish institutions, one being the Church of Scotland, which is an extremely democratic body.

The Church is in the possession neither of the public sector nor of the private sector. It is in the universal possession of mankind. For that reason the 10-year rule is too inflexible. The Church of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central has been in existence for a good deal longer than has my Church, but even my Church has been in existence for a long time and will be for a long time to come. I echo the plea made by the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) to the Minister to think again about the 10-year rule. Ten years is like an evening gone in the context of eternity.

I should know the answer to this question but perhaps one of the Ministers will either tell me or write to me. Does the Stornoway Trust count as a charity?

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Hon. Members on both sides of the House need to be clear about what has happened to the position of Churches and charities. We have gone from the stage of White Paper day, when they were totally forgotten about by the Labour Government in their zeal for the final total solution, to the halfway mark in the early hours of one morning when the junior Minister on duty told us that some charities would be exempt, to today where all charities governed by a certain Act are exempt for a limited period of 10 years. I admit that that is some degree of progress but it would have been far better had the Government recognised from the first day the real contribution that charities and Churches make to our country.

What surprises me is that the right hon. Gentleman in Committee made this statement: The Government accept that charities are in a unique position. The Minister used the word "unique" after several weeks' consideration of this matter. He went on to say: Traditionally, many have provided services to the community that otherwise would have had to be provided by central or local government…As we told the Committee in our recent debates, the Government considered that solutions to the difficulties should be comprehensive and not piecemeal."—[Official Report, Standing Committee G, 15th July 1975; c. 2646.] So in black and white the right hon. Gentleman is on record as saying that charities are unique; yet he has imposed a restriction of 10 years.

We are still in the fluid state of there being more amendments yet to come in another place after discussions yet to take place with interested parties and perhaps yet another Bill or at least regulations. Has the Minister thought through what effect this policy will have on our older universities? They have been in existence for centuries and have used their land for the benefit of students and their communities over the centuries. Has the Minister any idea of the technological developments which are taking place on land owned by at least two universities, one in England, the other in Scotland? I refer to science parks. Has he any idea how they will be affected? They will not be covered by the 10,000 or 15,000 sq.ft. exemption.

Has the Minister any idea of the effect of the 10-year rule on the voluntary aided and, indeed, the public schools? Has he any idea what will happen when a charity wants to develop an old peoples' home or to produce sheltered accommodation? After all, we have only nine years, not 10, because one year has gone by since the White Paper was promulgated. Is it his intention to say that after nine years charities may no longer go ahead and use the resources of their land for the benefit of old people and other interested parties? The exemption limits of 10,000 or 15,000 sq.ft. would have been useless in the recent major development of the Northamptonshire youth clubs, which would not have happened under the Bill.

I accept that the Minister has brought some degree of realism to the Bill from a situation of total neglect. He is to make provision within the Bill to exempt a single dwelling, but charities and Churches deserve far more consideration than does any individual because they have lasted for centuries and their work is for the good of the community. In the Minister's own words, if they are unique they of all parties deserve to be treated uniquely and should, therefore, be treated totally outside the Bill.

I do not think that the Minister realises fully the strength of the reaction that he will cause if he insists on retaining the 10-year limit. I hope that in replying the Under-Secretary will spell out for the benefit of all Churches and charities exactly why there has to be a 10-year limit. It had better be a good reason. I warn the Government that if the reason is not a good one there will be a positive reaction in the country. The Minister may smirk, but the charities are not smirking. They are bitterly disappointed at the fact that any Government could forget about them at White Paper stage. They believe that they have a rôle to play in the country, and they like to be treated properly.

5.30 p.m.

Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe

As the House is impatient to hear the Front Bench speakers wind up and as most of the points I wanted to make have already been made, I will make a very brief speech.

You and I, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have for some years been interested personally in a very large charity connected with children's homes. For some years I had the privilege of being the treasurer of that charity. During that period we followed a policy of rebuilding the home and rebuilding small houses for the benefit of the children. The operation of the Bill when enacted will prevent such a procedure being adopted.

Why is the Minister insisting on 10 years? Why apply a limit of 10 years so that the development which charities and Churches undertake will have to stop suddenly after 10 years? Does not the Minister realise that most charities depend for rebuilding on the revenue they receive and on such sales as they can make? If his conscience does not prick him hard enough to make him accept that, will he make an exception where rebuilding takes place in the grounds of a charity when the development is to be applied for the same purposes and for the benefit of the same type of people? Such an exception would not hurt anybody.

Photo of Dr Alan Glyn Dr Alan Glyn , Windsor and Maidenhead

It is known widely throughout the country that the Opposition have very little sympathy with charities. I will not say that they have little or no sympathy with Churches because I know that many hon. Members opposite have deep religious feelings. The Minister is one such Member.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

Will the hon. Gentle-man accept that many of us believe that the Opposition have no sympathy with charities?

Photo of Dr Alan Glyn Dr Alan Glyn , Windsor and Maidenhead

If the hon. Gentleman looks through Hansard he will be proved wrong.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

My hon. Friend is not aware that he made a slip of the tongue. He said that the Opposition had little sympathy with charities. I think he meant to refer to Government Members.

Photo of Dr Alan Glyn Dr Alan Glyn , Windsor and Maidenhead

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. I meant members of the present Government when in Government and in opposition.

The 10-year limit and the area limit may well be perfectly acceptable for anything but charities. However, the Minister should appreciate that charities and Churches follow long-term policies. After all, many of them have been in existence for hundreds of years, and some of them have existed for thousands of years. Planning of development cannot take place in 10 years.

It is fair enough if the Opposition want to abolish wealth in the private sector. [Laughter.] That is an entirely different matter. It is wrong to attempt to abolish charities and the Churches simply and solely by imposing on them rules which will make it difficult in the long term for them to follow policies in the general interest of the community.

Great attempts are made to redevelop some of the Rowton houses which are old and insanitary. No charity could make the modifications which are desired within a 10-year period; it takes much longer.

I know that the Minister is personally very sympathetic. I ask him to think carefully about the 10-year rule, because charities are different. They have been going for a long time. Many hon. Members on both sides wish their work to be continued. Anything that the Minister can do in the other House to help them to continue with their work will be welcomed throughout the country.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

This has been a short and interesting debate on a matter of great concern to many hon. Members on both sides of the House. I make it clear at the outset that, despite what a few hon. Members opposite have said about the Government amendment and about the concessions, those concessions have been warmly welcomed and appreciated by the Churches and the charities. They are major concessions. The amendment propounded by my right hon. Friend goes considerably further than the announcement he made in Committee on 15th July, particularly with regard to Churches.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

The Under-Secretary made a statement of fact. He said that the concessions have been warmly welcomed by the Churches and charities. They were warmly welcomed at first blush. They have since been studied. Most of my remarks were founded on direct criticism by the Churches and charities of the proposals as they now stand and on their feeling of dismay that this is the extent of the concession the Government are prepared to make.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

That is not reflected in the correspondence that I have had and which the Department has had with Churches and charities.

Governments are always in a difficult position. If they produce a Bill and stick to its wording, they are accused of being completely intractable, inflexible and unbending. On the other hand, if they pay heed to various organisations outside the House and listen to the Opposition, they are immediately criticised, as we have been continually today, for introducing new amendments, and for not being able to make up their minds in the White Paper. It is a little hypocritical of the Opposition to level these charges at a Government who, as the amendments show, have genuinely listened to representations from both outside and inside the House.

The major point in the debate arises on new Clauses 1 and 6. The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) asked why the concession had been confined to charity land held on White Paper day, whereas new Clause 1 would extend it to all charity land. The hon. Member asked, secondly, why the Government had chosen to have a 10-year period of exemption, which he considers to be too short.

I want to make it clear to the House what the Government were trying to do and what the Churches, certainly, and the charities, probably, understood that we were trying to do. We were not trying to create a separate privileged class of landowners for all time. In the amendment we are trying to meet the real difficulties which Churches and charities would have experienced unless we allowed a certain transitional period. The purpose was to allow a breathing space and to make concessions to charities which—I wholeheartedly agree with my right hon. Friend here—are in a unique position. I include Churches in that.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

I am sorry to interrupt the Under-Secretary again. I accept the statement he made in the spirit in which he made it. If he now finds that the charities consider the 10-year period of exemption to be too short, will he be prepared to extend the period? I have in mind, in asking this question, extending the period consonant with the Government's wish to make some concessions to charities but not to allow exemption for all time.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

I was dealing with the question of all land. I intend to come on to the question of the 10-year period. On the question of the length of the period of exemption, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) stated the position absolutely correctly. The Government were trying to strike a balance. We accept that there is nothing magical about the figure of 10 years. It is the period which the Government consider would be an appropriate length of time to provide this concession. As we think that it is a reasonable period, the Government are not likely to extend it.

It is a balanced judgment, I agree. The hon. Member for Hornsey may disagree with that as a figure. It is interesting to speculate that he is not saying to the House that the Opposition would consider that charity land ought to be exempted in all perpetuity. I take it that the hon. Gentleman, by the very intervention that he made when he asked whether we would give a greater period of time, was saying that he does not accept that charity land should in perpetuity lie in an exempted class.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

Our position is made quite clear in our new Clause 1. All I was asking was: if the hon. Gentleman refuses to accept outright perpetuity but considers that a certain period which would be of assistance to charities should be granted—in other words, if he finds a period of 10 years is too short—will he grant a longer period? I was not saying that the notion of perpetuity is wrong. I am saying that there should be a complete exemption for Churches and charities.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

I apologise. All I can say is that on balance I think the 10-year period is about right, and I shall ask my hon. Friends to reject new Clause 1.

Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight

The Under-Secretary has not dealt with the point which I put—

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

I shall be coming to the hon. Gentleman's point.

Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight

If the 10-year period is not extended, it will lead to considerable indecent haste on the part of a number of Church bodies and councils. It could lead to development which in many cases would be highly undersirable.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

I thought I had just said that the Government think that on balance the 10-year period is about right, so it is unlikely that the difficulties which the hon. Member is forecasting will arise.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

I shall deal with ail the other points which have been raised, but if I keep giving way to hon. Members I shall be wasting time. I shall deal with the points which have been raised by all hon. Members. I am not being discourteous.

Having dealt with these main preliminary points, I should like to run through the various matters which have been raised in the course of the debate. I deal first with the pensions point in new Clause 6. We considered in Committee and in the Department all the arguments that the Opposition have put forward with regard to exempting pension schemes. It must be accepted that there is something very different between an investment policy in a pension scheme and the position of a Church charity. A Church charity by its very foundation, by the sort of creature it is, cannot pick and choose where its investment shall be. It is a very different situation with a pension fund, which can make investment choices.

The point has been made by some hon. Members that pension funds will start to deplete because they own land. The Opposition in a disgraceful party political broadcast on 1st October—I am very glad to say that the person appearing in that broadcast was not a member of the Standing Committee and, therefore, pre- sumably had no knowledge whatsoever of what concessions the Government had given—stated that pension funds would suffer. The Opposition got the figures roughly right on the amount of money invested in land and property by pension funds, but they did not point out that that constitutes about 15 per cent.—that is all—of pension fund investments.

The second point is this. The existing investments in land are not affected by this measure. It is future investment policy which would be affected—the decision whether money is invested in speculative ventures on land. On broad economic policies, I hope the Opposition will agree that it would be a very good thing at the moment if pension funds invested much more in manufacturing industry and less in land speculation.

5.45 p.m.

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

Is the Under-Secretary suggesting that no pension funds are invested in any property which would be liable to be affected by a lower value by reason of the current use value provisions? Many of them have substantially more than 15 per cent. of their funds invested in property, including the funds for the benefit of those who work in the nationalised industries. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that in no case do they hold property which has redevelopment potential?

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

Of course I am not making that suggestion. Investments which were made in some property during the period 1970–73 have proved very bad investments, because the investors bought at the height of the boom. However, that has nothing to do with this Bill.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Haringey Hornsey

I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not want to mislead the House with that figure of 15 per cent. Thirty per cent. of the capital of the investment fund for miners is invested in industrial and commercial property; 28 per cent. of the capital in the pension fund of the workers in the electricity supply industry is in investment property; manual workers' unions have 30 per cent. of their funds in commercial property; the General Electric Company has 23 per cent. of its pension fund capital invested in property. It is not right for the hon. Gentleman to say that their existing investments are not at risk as a result of the Bill. They will be caught. They will have to sell to local authorities at one price and buy back at another price, and pay tax on the interest.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

It is investment policy rather than existing investments which is mainly at issue in this matter of pension funds.

The hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) referred to conditional contracts. I think the point he made was that where land was bought before White Paper day on a conditional contract the law comes into force after White Paper day. This is to do with land development tax, and I will put to the Treasury the points the hon. Gentleman made with regard to conditional contracts as well as binding contracts. I do not think there is a great deal between us, but I will put the point to the Treasury because it is a Treasury point rather than a point concerned with this Bill.

As the hon. Gentleman appreciates, the reason why charity land must not have an intervening owner is to prevent loopholes within the Bill. Loopholes could exist if that provision were not included.

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Melton

The hon. Gentleman will recall that I said that I thought the occasions on which that was likely to happen would be very few, but it might happen if a charity wanted land to be opened up and if the best way of allowing this to be done was to sell it elsewhere because the charity was not in a position to develop in a 10-year period. Would the Under-Secretary reconsider this matter? The number of loopholes likely to emerge would be absolutely negligible, and this provision might prevent some useful development.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

I accept that in practice it would rarely be likely to arise, unless it were picked upon as a means of avoiding the Bill in some way. But I undertake to look at the point again, without any commitment, and see whether anything may be done in another place.

The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) spoke of what he called an outcry from the Churches. Indeed it was, but I go back to what I said previously, that on Second Reading my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales made perfectly clear that we were reconsidering the posi- tion. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central put down his new clause, which was then considered in Committee. I understand that in the United States of America there is a McNamara Act. We have gone only so far as a "McNamara clause" on this Bill, but it was considered closely by the Committee, and then, as a result of that important new clause, concessions were made, and they have been reproduced in the amendments which we are putting to the House today.

The right hon. Member for Crosby, in his emotive way, talks of an outcry and of persecution of charities, suggesting that the Opposition are the ones to be thanked for the concessions in respect of charities, not the Government, but I remember one of his hon. Friends talking about grubby little pieces of paper about the Churches coming before the Committee, and if the Opposition—

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

I remind the junior Minister that the phrase was "some charities"—the Government had it in mind to give way to some charities.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that all charities, not merely some charities, will benefit. It is not our duty here—indeed, it would be an onerous task for the Government or the House—to sort out or make distinctions between one charity and another.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) referred to the Stornoway Trust. I have had a word with my hon. Friend at the Scottish Office, and I understand that this is an excellent institution. Apparently, the Stornoway Trust owns the whole town of Stornoway, and it seems to me that that is an idea adopted in Scotland which might with advantage spread south of the border. My hon. Friend at the Scottish Office will write to the hon. Gentleman; the hon. Gentleman will understand that I cannot deal with that specific question in this debate.

As I have said, most of the discussion has turned on the question whether there should be a 10-year period. In our view, 10 years is about right, and that is why the Government chose that period. I ask the House, therefore, to accept the substantial and generous amendments which my right hon. Friend announced during the debate, and to vote against the Opposition's new Clauses 1 and 6.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 232, Noes 266.

Division No. 330.]AYES[5.55 p.m.
Adley, RobertGray, HamishNelson, Anthony
Aitken, JonathanGrieve, PercyNeubert, Michael
Alison, MichaelGrist, IanNewton, Tony
Amery, Rt Hon JulianGrylls, MichaelNott, John
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Hall, Sir JohnOnslow, Cranley
Awdry, DanielHall-Davis, A. G. F.Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Bain, Mrs MargaretHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Page, John (Harrow West)
Banks, RobertHannam, JohnPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Beith, A. J.Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Pardoe, John
Bell, RonaldHarvie Anderson, Rt Hon MissParkinson, Cecil
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Hastings, StephenPenhaligon, David
Benyon, W.Hawkins, PaulPink, R. Bonner
Biffen, JohnHayhoe, BarneyPrice, David (Eastleigh)
Biggs-Davison, JohnHenderson, DouglasPrior, Rt Hon James
Blaker, PeterHeseltine, MichaelPym, Rt Hon Francis
Body, RichardHiggins, Terence L.Raison, Timothy
Boscawen, Hon RobertHowe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyRathbone, Tim
Bottomley, PeterHowell, David (Guildford)Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Hunt, JohnRees-Davies, W. R.
Braine, Sir BernardHurd, DouglasReid, George
Brittan, LeonIrving, Charles (Cheltenham)Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Brotherton, MichaelJames, DavidRidley, Hon Nicholas
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)Ridsdale, Julian
Bryan, Sir PaulJessel, TobyRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Buchanan-Smith, AlickJohnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Budgen, NickJohnston, Russell (Inverness)Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Bulmer, EsmondJopling, MichaelRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Burden, F. A.Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Carlisle, MarkKimball, MarcusRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Carr, Rt Hon RobertKing, Tom (Bridgwater)Royle, Sir Anthony
Chalker, Mrs LyndaKnight, Mrs JillSainsbury, Tim
Churchill, W. S.Knox, DavidSt. John-Stevas, Norman
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Lamont, NormanScott, Nicholas
Clark, William (Croydon S)Lane, DavidShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Clegg, WalterLatham, Michael (Melton)Shelton, William (Streatham)
Cockcroft, JohnLawrence, IvanShepherd, Colin
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)Lawson, NigelShersby, Michael
Cope, JohnLester, Jim (Beeston)Sims, Roger
Cordle, John H.Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Skeet, T. H. H.
Costain, A. P.Lloyd, IanSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Crawford, DouglasLoveridge, JohnSpeed, Keith
Critchley, JulianLuce, RichardSpicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Crouch, DavidMcAdden, Sir StephenSproat, Iain
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)MacCormick, IainStainton, Keith
Dean, Paul (N Somerset)McCrindle, RobertSteel, David (Roxburgh)
Dodsworth, GeoffreyMacfarlane, NeilSteen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMacGregor, JohnStewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Durant, TonyMacmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Stokes, John
Emery, PeterMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Stradling Thomas, J.
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)Madel, DavidTapsell, Peter
Eyre, ReginaldMarshall, Michael (Arundel)Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Fairbairn, NicholasMarten, NeilTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fairgrieve RussellMates, MichaelTebbit, Norman
Farr, JohnMaude, AngusTemble, Morris, Peter
Finsberg, GeoffreyMaudling, Rt Hon ReginaldThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Fisher, Sir NigelMawby, RayThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinThomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMayhew, PatrickThompson, George
Fookes, Miss JanetMeyer, Sir AnthonyThorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)Townsend, Cyril D.
Fox MarcusMills, PeterTrotter, Neville
Freud, ClementMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Tugendhat, Christopher
Fry, PeterMoate, Rogervan Straubenzee, W. R.
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Molyneaux, JamesVaughan, Dr Gerard
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Montgomery, FergusViggers, Peter
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)Moore, John (Croydon C)Wakeham, John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)More, Jasper (Ludlow)Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Glyn, Dr AlanMorgan-Giles, Rear-AdmiralWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Goodhew, VictorMorris, Michael (Northampton S)Wall, Patrick
Goodlad, AlastairMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Walters, Dennis
Gorst, JohnMorrison, Hon Peter (Chester)Warren, Kenneth
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Mudd, DavidWeatherill, Bernard
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)Neave, Airey
Wells, JohnWilson, Gordon (Dundee E)TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Welsh, AndrewWinterton, NicholasMr. Fred Silvester and
Whitelaw, Rt Hon WilliamWood, Rt Hon RichardMr. Anthony Berry.
Wiggin, JerryYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
NOES
Allaun, FrankFletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Anderson, DonaldFletcher, Ted (Darlingon)McNamara, Kevin
Archer, PeterFoot, Rt Hon MichaelMadden, Max
Armstrong, ErnestFord, BenMagee, Bryan
Ashley, JackForrester, JohnMahon, Simon
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Mallalieu, J. P. W
Atkinson, NormanFraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Marks, Kenneth
Bates, AlfFreeson, ReginaldMarquand, David
Bean, R. E.Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodGeorge, BruceMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Ginsburg, DavidMason, Rt Hon Roy
Bidwell, SydneyGould, BryanMeacher, Michael
Bishop, E. S.Gourlay, HarryMellish, Rt Hon Robert
Blenkinsop, ArthurGraham, TedMikardo, Ian
Boardman, H.Grant, George (Morpeth)Millan, Bruce
Booth, AlbertGrant, John (Islington C)Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurGrocott, BruceMiller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Molloy, William
Bradley, TomHardy, PeterMoonman, Eric
Bray, Dr JeremyHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hart, Rt Hon JudithMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Hatton, FrankMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Buchan, NormanHayman, Mrs HeleneMoyle, Roland
Buchanan, RichardHealey, Rt Hon DenisMurray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Heffer, Eric S.Newens, Stanley
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)Hooley, FrankNoble, Mike
Campbell, IanHoram, JohnOakes, Gordon
Canavan, DennisHowell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Ogden, Eric
Cant, R. B.Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)O'Halloran, Michael
Carmichael, NeilHughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Carter, RayHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Orbach, Maurice
Carter-Jones, LewisHughes, Roy (Newport)Ovenden, John
Cartwright, JohnHunter, AdamOwen, Dr David
Castle, Rt Hon BarbaraIrvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)Padley, Walter
Clemitson, IvorIrving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)Palmer, Arthur
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)Park, George
Cohen, StanleyJackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)Parker, John
Coleman, DonaldJanner, GrevilleParry, Robert
Colquhoun, Mrs MaureenJay, Rt Hon DouglasPendry, Tom
Concannon, J. D.Jeger, Mrs LenaPerry, Ernest
Conlan, BernardJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Phipps, Dr Colin
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Corbett, RobinJohn, BrynmorPrice, William (Rugby)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Johnson, James (Hull West)Radice, Giles
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)Johnson, Walter (Derby S)Richardson, Miss Jo
Crawshaw, RichardJones, Alec (Rhondda)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crosland, Rt Hon AnthonyJones, Barry (East Flint)Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cryer, BobJones, Dan (Burnley)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Judd, FrankRoderick, Caerwyn
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)Kaufman. GeraldRodgers, George (Chorley)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Kelley, RichardRooker, J. W.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)Kilroy-Silk, RobertRoper, John
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Kinnock, NeilRose, Paul B.
Deakins, EricLambie, DavidRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Lamborn, HarryRowlands, Ted
Delargy, HughLamond, JamesSandelson, Neville
Dell, Rt Hon EdmundLatham, Arthur (Paddington)Sedgemore, Brian
Dempsey, JamesLeadbitter, TedShaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Doig, PeterLee, JohnSheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Dormand, J. D.Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Douglas-Mann, BruceLewis, Arthur (Newham N)Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Duffy, A. E. P.Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Dunn, James A.Lipton, MarcusSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Dunnett, JackLitterick, TomSillars, James
Eadie, AlexLomas, KennethSilverman, Julius
Edelman, MauriceLoyden, EddieSkinner, Dennis
Edge, GeoffLuard, EvanSmall, William
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Lyon, Alexander (York)Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Snape, Peter
English, MichaelMabon, Dr J. DicksonSpearing, Nigel
Ennals, DavidMcCartney, HughSpriggs, Leslie
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)McElhone, FrankStallard, A. W.
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)MacFarquhar, RoderickStoddart, David
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)McGuire, Michael (Ince)Stott, Roger
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Mackenzie, GregorStrang, Gavin
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Mackintosh, John P.Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Flannery, MartinMaclennan, RobertSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Swain, ThomasWalden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)Ward, MichaelWilliams, W. T. (Warrington)
Thorne, Stan (Preston South)Watkins, DavidWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Tierney, SydneyWatkinson, JohnWise, Mrs Audrey
Tinn, JamesWeetch, KenWoof, Robert
Tomlinson, JohnWeitzman, DavidWrigglesworth, Ian
Torney, TomWellbeloved, JamesYoung, David (Bolton E)
Tuck, RaphaelWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Urwin, T. W.White, James (Pollok)TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.Whitehead, PhillipMr. Joseph Harper and
Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)Whitlock, WilliamMr, Laurie Pavitt.

Question accordingly negatived.