Examination of Witnesses

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:40 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Alex Morton:

I support the idea of streamlining CPO. I would be quite nervous, as a small “c” conservative and a small “l” liberal, about the measure to have a direction from the Secretary of State setting out the value of land. As Will has just suggested, there is a potential area in terms of ransom strips or other areas. If that was narrowly defined in legislation, so that, for example, on brownfield sites where there is multiple land ownership, there may, in exceptional circumstances, be a direction by the Secretary of State, that would be quite different from the current powers, which look like they could be abused by a future Government that was not sympathetic to property rights.

There is a case, with some ransom strip owners and some landowners who hold out and are unreasonable, for there to be some kind of change to get those people. But that is a big shift in property rights, which should probably be set out in primary legislation and very tightly circumscribed to small areas of brownfield land where there are multiple landowners, or be more tightly defined than the current situation, which I think could be abused—probably not under this Government, but under a future, more radical Government that did not support property rights.