Skip to main content

Clause 90—(Power Of Local Authorities And Statutory Undertakers To Contribute Towards Expenses Of Local Planning Authorities, Etc)

Volume 437: debated on Monday 12 May 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I beg to move, in page 95, line 40, to leave out "planning."

This Amendment is to be taken in conjunction with the three following Amendments on the Paper. It is to make it possible for a local authority to make a contribution towards the cost of compensation incurred by another authority.

6.45 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the object of this Amendment was to make it possible for one authority to contribute towards the compensation paid by another local authority. That is putting it in a rather mild fashion. As I read the Clause, the effect of the Amendments would be to entitle the Minister to order another authority to make a contribution. I would like to know whether there is any machinery whereby any intention on his part to make an order can be reviewed, whether there is any possibility, apart from putting down a Question, of checking the exercise, by the right hon. Gentleman, of the wide power he is taking? Why is it now necessary that the right hon. Gentleman should take power to order a local authority to contribute to the expenses incurred by another authority? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give us a little more explanation of the need for this Amendment.

I would like to add my request to the right hon. Gentleman for more information. When we find, in a list of Amendments to a Town and Country Planning Bill, an Amendment to leave out planning, we naturally view the context which it is supposed to affect with some misgiving. It does not appear, from the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, why he is asking for this Amendment. Line 40 takes us to Subsection (2) of the Clause, which says:

"Where any expenses are incurred by a local planning authority in the payment of compensation payable in consequence of anything done under Part III of this Act …"
certain consequences follow. The Minister wants to say
"… a local authority …"
instead of
"… a local planning authority …"
Part III of this Bill is headed, "Control of Development, etc." It includes Clause 12, whereby one has to apply to a local planning authority for permission. Anything done under Part III must be an activity of the local planning authority. It is the local planning authority which is put, by that part of the Bill, in control of development, etc. It therefore follows that the original words in Subsection (2) of this Clause are right, and should not be amended in this way. Where any expenses are incurred by a local planning authority in operating the planning part of this Bill there is to be power to recoup them. Unless the words "local planning authority" have no meaning at all, as different from a local authority, it seems that the definition in the original draft is the right one. Here is a local planning authority which, under Part III of the Bill, is to receive and consider applications for permission to develop, and is to operate the machinery of control of development, etc., which is set out in Part III. In doing so, it incurs liabilities for compensation. It is only right and proper that some other local authority, which is a beneficiary by the action of that authority, should be asked to recoup, but I cannot see what is the Minister's objection to the word "planning."

It appears from the insertion of the words in the third of the proposed Amendments that the Subsection would read:

"… require any other local authority to contribute towards those expenses such sum as appears to him to be reasonable having regard to any benefit accruing to that authority by reason of the proceeding giving rise to the compensation."
In the penultimate line of Subsection (2) we have a reference to "that authority." Perhaps the Minister will explain this point.

If the Amendment is accepted, the right hon. Gentleman can order a local authority to make payment to another local authority if it appears to him expedient so to do. If a different view were held by the authority ordered to pay, would there be any sort of right to be heard, or to make representations, or anything of that kind? I am sure the Minister would not have put these powers into the Bill unless he needed something of the kind in a proper case. It is rather a tall order that one local authority should be ordered to pay another on the ground that the Minister thinks it is expedient that that should be done, without having any power to make effective representations.

There may be an acquiring authority which is not a planning authority. In certain circumstances, a district council may be acquiring land, instead of paying compensation, and it would be proper, in that case, for the planning authority to make a contribution towards the cost of the acquisition. The Amendment does not alter the general principle which was passed in the Standing Committee. It merely provides for the case where it is necessary to make a contribution towards the expenses incurred by a local authority other than the new planning authority. The principle remains the same: that it is possible for the Minister, if he thinks it is expedient so to do, to require one authority to make a contribution towards the costs incurred by another. That was in the Clause as it stood, regardless of the Amendment, which merely takes note of the fact that a district council which will no longer be a planning authority may be involved. In that sense, I agree that the Amendment widens the provision. It takes account of that fact. and provides for the possibility of a contribution towards the costs incurred by a district council,

I have some difficulty in following entirely the Minister's explanation. He explained the reference to expenses incurred by a local authority in payment of compensation. He then appeared to explain circumstances which would arise when a local authority, not a planning authority, acquired land in lieu of payment of compensation, by which I understood him to refer to the provisions of Clause 17. Thus far I am with him, but how does he relate the expenses incurred in payment of compensation to the circumstances arising when compulsory acquisition under Clause 17 is initiated in lieu of compensation?

I fail to understand this matter correctly and I have a feeling that there may be some mistake. The explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman was that there may be a local authority, such as a district council, which was riot a planning authority, and that it might be appropriate in that case to arrange for a contribution to another local authority. But that cannot be right, because the Subsection says:

"Where any expenses are incurred by a local planning authority in the payment of compensation payable in consequence of anything done under Part III of this Act. ."
If the authority is not a planning authority it does nothing under Part III. If the transaction which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind is the acquisition of land, that has nothing to do with Part III of the Bill, but Part IV. Compensation for the purchase of land comes under Part IV. There is something mysterious about this, and if the right hon. Gentleman cannot explain it now perhaps he can put the matter right later.

We have become involved in a very difficult and technical point, but I do not think there is any real difference between us, namely that there should be power to direct, in proper cases, one local authority to make a contribution to the other. However, in view of the great authority with which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) speaks, I will certainly look into this drafting again. Fortunately for me, the matter can be dealt with in another place.

I would not like it to go on my authority. I am just a Member of the Committee, trying to point out a possible obscurity. If we let this pass now it might give rise to unpleasant consequences in the future. I have no desire to frustrate the purpose of the Bill, but I raise this point merely in an endeavour to get it clear.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 95, line 42, after "Act," insert:

"(including any compensation payable in respect of land compulsorily acquired by virtue of section seventeen of this Act)."

In line 44, after "any," insert "other."

In page 96, line 2, leave out "planning."—[ Mr. Silkin.]

Motion Made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

7.0 p.m.

With regard to the question of whether the word "planning" should be omitted, I would draw attention to Clause 31. This is included in Part III and gives powers to Ministers to delegate certain powers from local planning authorities to other local authorities. I should imagine that in pursuance of that power of designation under Clause 31 it was thought necessary that the ambit of Clause 90 should be extended from local planning authorities to cover all local authorities.

That is a most valiant attempt of the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) to come to the Government's assistance. While no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will welcome any assistance in solving problems raised by Clause 90, I do not think that that is in any way a solution to this problem, or that it alters the necessity of redrafting Clause 90 to carry out the right hon. Gentleman's intention.

I think that the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) is mistaken. I do not think that the explanation he has given can apply, because the powers under Clause 31 are limited powers of delegation which would scarcely explain the words which we have just been considering.

I am indebted to hon. Members for calling attention to what, I think, is a defect in the drafting of this Clause. The Clause is intended to refer to Clause 17 of the Bill, which is in Part III. To that extent the reference to Part III is correct. In Clause 17. acquisition is an alternative to the payment of compensation. for instance, under Clause 18 by the local planning authority in the case of a refusal, revocation, or modification of permission. The acquisition which is there contemplated happens to be not by the local planning authority but by the local authority. What I think is required is that after the words "payment of compensation" in line 41, we should include "or inclusion of land in lieu thereof," or words to that effect. We will look at that and make the Clause clear.

I think that must be the explanation. I have no desire to delay the Committee because I think that the matter can be put right by the redrafting which the Attorney-General considers appropriate We have allowed to pass in silence a number of consequential Amendments which hang on this matter. I mention that because I am confident that in the re-examination these Amendments will also have to be looked at.

Question put, and agreed to.

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