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New Clause—(Power Of Ministers To Contribute Towards Compensation Paid By Local Authorities)

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1947

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Where compensation is payable by a local authority under this Act in consequence of any decision or order given or made under Part III of this Act (including compensation payable in respect of land compulsorily acquired by virtue of section seventeen of this Act) then if that decision or order was given or made wholly or partly in the interest of any service which is provided by a Government Department and the cost of which is defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament or out of the Road Fund, the Min-

ister responsible for the administration of that service may pay to that authority, out of moneys so provided a contribution of such amount as he may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine.— [ Mr. F. Marshall.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning
(Mr. Fred Marshall)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This is a much simpler Clause than the one we have just been discussing. Local authorities are sometimes required to take restrictive planning action, at the request of Government Departments, in the interest of some national service. By doing this, the authority concerned may incur expenditure and the necessity of paying compensation, towards which it is only equitable that the taxpayer should contribute either in whole or in part. This Clause deals only with planning action taken in the interest of a service provided by a Government Department, the cost of which is to be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament, or out of the Road Fund. The particular restrictions which we have in mind are primarily those in connection with height of development around airfields and prospective trunk roads, although there are, of course, other possibilities. We believe that where local authorities are required to take this restrictive planning action in the interest of a national service, it is only right that they should be compensated for that service, and this Clause is intended to secure that end.

I think it is a reasonable proposition that if a local authority is rendered liable to pay compensation because of something done by the central Government, the central Government should be entitled to contribute to the fund of that local authority in order to meet that charge. That, I understand, is the real purpose of this Clause, and we support it. However, I remember that, on an earlier occasion, when I was asking about people who had non-conforming uses on such land as the result of obedience to Government behests, there was not the same readiness on that occasion to accept the view that the Government should pay.

My feeling is that this Clause does not go far enough. It seems to me that when the Government come along and require a local authority to do the kind of thing mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary— I admit that there may be many other things—the Clause should say that they "shall" pay to the local authority money in respect of compensation. At the moment it is permissive, whereas, in my view, it ought to be mandatory. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us what he feels about that?

I should say that the amount of compensation could be safely left as a matter for negotiation between the local authority concerned and the Government Department. Knowing local authorities as I do, I should imagine they will exact their pound of flesh in these matters, and I think it is quite safe to leave the Clause as it is.

Question put, and Teed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.