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Clause 6—(Acquisition Of Land For Drainage Works)

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1943

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I beg to move, in page 5, line 5, at the end, to insert:

"Provided that no land shall be acquired under this Section unless the contract for the acquisition thereof is made, or, as the case may be, the notice to treat is served, while the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, is in force."
This proviso fulfils a promise made by my right hon. Friend on the Second Reading, namely, that these powers shall remain in force only while the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, remains in force. Since the Amendment merely gives effect to that promise, I hope it will be accepted.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 5, line 5, at the end, to insert:

"(2) In the case of land owned and/or leased by public utility undertakings the question of acquisition shall be subject to negotiation and failing a settlement to arbitration."
I move this Amendment in the interest of the public utility undertakings. Their interests, I think, ought to be safeguarded, as far as the compulsory acquisition of land is concerned. I appreciate that the Minister has made every endeavour to meet the wishes of the public utility undertakings and has given a certain assurance that their interests will as far as possible be protected. The main effort, of course, to-day is the war effort, and in it, I maintain, the public utility undertakings are playing a very important part to-day. We are not seeking much. Water, gas and electricity undertakings ought, I think, to have the privilege of negotiating with a view to agreement or, failing agreement, of having the matter settled by arbitration rather than to have, compulsorily, to surrender any land which may be required for drainage purposes. As I say, these bodies are making a great contribution to the war effort, and it would be an unwise policy if we impeded any progress they may be required to make in the development of their respective undertakings. It is in that sense, and purely in that sense, and more particularly in the interest of municipal undertakings, that I move the Amendment.

My hon. Friend's Amendment merely asks that in the case of land owned or leased by public utility undertakings, the question of acquisition shall be subject to negotiation and, failing a settlement, to arbitration. If I may say so with respect to my hon. Friend, that is exactly what the Clause provides. It states:

"Where it appears to the Minister that it is necessary for him to acquire any land for the purpose of executing drainage works thereon, he may acquire the land either by agreement or compulsorily."
It is clear that one cannot get agreement without negotiation. Therefore, agreement involves negotiation with the local authorities or the public utility companies, and only when that negotiation has failed to achieve agreement would compulsory powers be sought. My hon. Friend can see that the Bill, as it stands, foreshadows consultation and negotiation and, we hope, agreement with the local authorities and the public utility companies, and the Amendment, therefore, seems to me to be unnecessary.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 7 and 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.