With this it will be convenient to discuss thefollowing:
Amendment No. 90,in schedule 2, page 37, line 6, at endinsert—
‘(3A) This paragraphdoes not apply to land owned or managed by a local authority, board ofconservators or charity as an openspace.'.
We are running out of time, so I shall be quick. I have not tabled the amendment just to get the board of conservators into the Bill. The amendment is important. It applies to those open spaces that were provisionally registered by their public body owners in the knowledge that that was not strictly correct, because all rights of common had been acquired and extinguished many years previously—nevertheless, no objection was raised and the registration became final. It is believed that that was done to perpetuate the memory of historic status. The amendment applies largely to urban centres, particularly London, where there are still a number of metropolitan commons as defined under the Metropolitan Commons Act 1866.
I move the amendment on behalf of the Open Spaces Society. I shall read the final sentence of its submission:
“It would be mischievous pedantry for this to be reopened now with no benefit to anyone, and the amendment would prevent this.”
The purpose of paragraphs 4 and 5 of the schedule is to enable rectification of the register when land can be shown to have been wrongly registered under the Commons Registration Act 1965.
I cannot agree to the amendment; it would not be right to exclude certain types of landowner from the benefit of the provisions. As I understand it, the amendment accepts that land owned by some local authorities may have been incorrectly registered, but as those authorities’ purpose in seeking to remove the land from the register may be motivated by the possibility of development, we should make a special case for them.
I do not accept that. I certainly recognise the possibility that some authority-owned land was registered without objection, notwithstanding that its eligibility for registration was doubtful; some parks and recreation grounds may fall into that category. I find it less credible that we should expect a flood of applications from opportunist councils and charities to have the land removed from the register.
The provisions of the schedule should apply equally to all landowners. We should not say that we acknowledge that some land was improperly registered and that we are going to enable the land to be removed from the register, but that we do not trust local authorities to do the right thing. It is certainly possible that some wrongly registered land will be developed as a result of application under schedule 2. That would be unsurprising, because a mistake in registration may have held up development. However, we cannot complain about that result. I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw his amendment.