Clause 18 - Enforcement of restrictions on land use

High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 1 March 2016.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 11:00, 1 March 2016

Clause 18 refers to enforcement of restrictions on land use and allows the Secretary of State, when entering into agreements relating to phase 1 of HS2 that impose prohibitions or restrictions on the owners of land, to bind successors in title as if they were the original party. That is despite the fact that the Secretary of State may not at any time of the agreement own land to be benefited by the prohibition or restriction.

The clause ensures that a change in the ownership of land required in some way for HS2 purposes does not extinguish any covenants entered into by agreement between the Secretary of State and the previous landowner. Normally, for such a power to be enforceable, one would require an interest in land to be benefited by the covenant. However, the Secretary of State will have such an interest only after he exercises power under the  Bill. The clause ensures that agreements entered into before the power to exercise are enforceable against successors in title.

Will the restriction or provision be a local land charge? Yes. The disapplication of section 2(c) of the Local Land Charges Act 1975 secures that the restriction or provision will be a local land charge.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

A point occurred to me when the Minister mentioned the succession in title and the power to bind the land subsequently, should the Secretary of State, as the single shareholder of HS2 Ltd, ever part company with ownership. I support the clause but would make another point. That situation could be avoided altogether if the Government committed to keep the railway in state ownership in perpetuity.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I think that might be a subject for debate another day in another place. Having seen the success of privatised railways in the UK, with our franchising model emulated around the world, I think we should keep all our options open—

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

—to ensure that we can deliver the best railway, which in my view may well include some private sector involvement.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

Amen to keeping all options open.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn

The question is that clause 18, in the meantime, stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 18 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.