Mr Arthur Skeffington: I will see that that information is conveyed at the same time. One of the great benefits which this Administration have been able to afford to local authorities is the maintenance of the amount of the central contribution for all this additional expenditure.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: If the Government consider the former to be desirable, it will be done.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: The Countryside Commission is actively working on this report, but its publication cannot be expected for some months.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: I assure my hon. Friend that the threat to the coastline is very fully appreciated by the Department and by the Countryside Commission. There were nine reports which went into considerable detail. I hope that as a result of the deliberations 800 or 900 miles of coastline will be fully preserved.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: In the year ending 31st March, 1969, my right hon. Friend approved one multi-purpose sports complex, 12 swimming pools, two sports halls, five dual provision schemes for use by schools and the general public, and 153 minor schemes involving the lay-out of playing fields, provision of sports pavilions, changing accommodation, etc.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: This is a consideration that we have very much in mind.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: Up to 16th June, 878 planning appeals had been transferred to inspectors for decision.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: During all the stages of the Town and Country Planning Bill we had lengthy discussions about this procedure. I thought that this system had been generally welcomed as providing both speed and an independent arbitrator in a case where a citizen was displeased. It is early to judge yet, but so far we have no reason to believe that this scheme is either undemocratic or in any way unfair. The...
Mr Arthur Skeffington: Local councils have extensive powers and, I am glad to say, are using them increasingly for the purposes mentioned. Section 12 of the Civil Amenities Act requires them in appropriate cases to make the grant of planning permission conditional on the planting or preservation of tree cover.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: There will be financial incentives under the Housing Bill when enacted in regard to improving environmental conditions in improvement areas. Elsewhere, the number of new tree preservation orders, which is increasing at a very rapid rate, leads us to believe that this aspect is being satisfactorily catered for. We are always anxious to do better.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: We are in continual touch with the Forestry Commission and other agencies on this matter. Authorities have found our publication "Trees in Towns" very useful. This year we hope to publish a further booklet in relation to tree planting in both town and country.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: The average amount per dwelling paid in rates in 1968–69 by domestic ratepayers in England and Wales is estimated to have been £41 19s. This takes into account domestic rate relief, which amounted to an average of £2 19s. 2d.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: This is a matter that is very much in the Government's mind, particularly as a result of the Royal Commission's Report. But my right hon. Friend has said that the massive contribution which has been made by central Government Departments has meant that until last year many authorities actually reduced their rates instead of increasing them.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time. I hope that I might move this Motion with some despatch, because I am sure that the Clause will be generally welcomed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, and also because, in part, it owes its existence to the advocacy of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page).
Mr Arthur Skeffington: Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that under the compensation provisions it should be possible for public authorities to purchase even when there is no element of hardship? If that is his argument, he will realise that that would be an enormous extension of the commitment with which local authorities might be faced in many developments. That has never been the basis of compensation up to now.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: That is not what the Amendment says. It provides that, once a declaration was made, any owner-occupier would be able to serve a notice requiring the local authority to purchase and the local authority would not have, as it has under general compensation law, the right to serve a counter-notice.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: That is precisely what the Amendment says. That is why it is unworkable and completely against the compensation principles.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 3, line 10, leave out from first 'a' to second 'of' in line 11 and insert term of years absolute'.
Mr Arthur Skeffington: The effect of the Amendments is to extend the qualifying interest for all the types of grant included in the Bill to some of those who might under the original terms of the Bill have been excluded. I gave an undertaking to consider this as a result of observations by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) to the effect that a number of 21-year leases had been granted after the 1965...
Mr Arthur Skeffington: As the hon. Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg) has said, the first of the Amendments which the House has accepted goes some way to meeting the points that were made in Committee. As I said in my previous remarks, the words "term of years absolute" would include a mortgagee by demise. However, the point raised by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) will not arise. In the case that he...